I am the first one to admit that I have a passionate on and off affair with the West Coast. My dad was from Lamberts Bay, my mom from Van Rhynsdorp, but it was the Sandveld accent and a very flat r that got stuck in my DNA. I have so many memories from my Lamberts Bay holidays and visits to my grandma’s pantry. She should get credit for my addiction to Giovanni’s selection of marzipan bars, the closest thing to her chocolate cake filling. My freckle collection, very successfully passed on to both my kids, originates from long swims with no sunblock or worries about the consequences.
Many years later I returned to the West Coast with a very irresponsible beach house purchase in the picture-perfect Paternoster. We turned it into a short-stay rental but it never felt like home. I missed the dark rocks, maybe even the boere-baroque architecture and that sense of an Afrikaans community. We loved our stay but moved after a few nasty petty crime incidents.
Read about our Paternoster adventure: https://engeladutoit.com/2012/09/15/house-paternoster-house-and-leisure-november-2008-2/
And then we discovered Yzerfontein. It was 2008, I just successfully escaped the corporate world and a dreadful 6 weeks in bed after a medical procedure. The husband spotted one of those quaint prefab houses from the early sixties on a special spot with a magic view. We decided to test the Yzer waters and did a quick renovation.
Read more about this project: https://engeladutoit.com/2013/10/21/west-coast-charm/
On my regular walks along the coastline I noticed this tiny blue-roofed house tucked away between the rocks and the West Coast vegetation in the heart of Yzer – very unassuming, also prefab retro but surrounded with some sort of magic – that magic that makes you stop and stare, wondering about the view from the kitchen and the light in the dining room. And then the most unthinkable happened, and yes, it is a long story, but we sold our place, and moved to this gem a few months later. I was not for sale with a landlord in America, but we could arrange a not-so-ordinary rental agreement in exchange to keep our hands on their piece of West Coast splendor.
The décor had a nostalgic Swiss ski cabin feel but this minimalist realized she can do this! It was built in 1967 with a few add-ons in the eighties. We added a fresh coat of paint, a few cushions and throws, art and smalls, fresh linen, and a reshuffle of furniture to suit our lifestyle. The kids loved the clutter, the 50 shades of blue, and that lived-in feel of a true beach shack. There was a specific smell, when you return for a weekend getaway, damp meets furniture polish with a strong undertone of pure West Coast.
The husband had a very rustic lapa and braai spot. The locals would stop him in the shops to ask him if he is the man with the grey hair at the braai on the rocks. We referred to it as Jannie-se-gat. We immediately introduced Yzerfontein cook-offs, not only to celebrate his love for cooking but to share our new-found piece of bliss. Boere-paella was the hit with fresh fish, sweet potatoes, home-baked bread in a solid 2nd position. Late-night desert was buttered bread with home-made apricot jam, toasted on an open fire.
We investigated every possible route to walk, we enjoyed every good weather day outside, we celebrated birthdays, simplistic Xmas gatherings, and shared all the goodness with close friends and good barbeques. Sleepovers were carefully planned to suit everybody’s busy lives but an invite for one night often developed into memory-filled two- or three-night stays.
Me, the closet case photographer, captured Meeurots in all the possible tones of sunset. As a confessed cloud addict I could play like never before. After the Kgalagadi cloudscapes Yzer was in a strong second place. The West Coast is known for 4 seasons in one day so me on my bicycle was often cloud hunting all the way to Pearl Bay.
So many pictures and so many more to share. But this episode came to an end in December 2019. Our landlord decided to sell this piece of heaven and we were not in a financial position to buy and renovate. It was a very emotional goodbye but we have enough memories to keep the West Coast affair going. Who knows, maybe this is where I will complete life’s journey but for now we focus on lockdown in the city – living in a time of the Covid 19-virus.