I had an old friend visiting from Australia (‘old’ is not just a figure of speech, we are both well past 3 score years and ten). We hadn’t seen each other for about 40 years. What to do? Where to go?
Using our home in Darling as a base there are many options to consider. We’re spoiled for choice in Darling. Arriving late afternoon Tuesday, staying Wednesday and leaving early Thursday for the airport was a tight schedule for Geoff, a schedule that effectively left Wednesday to catch up. Easy solution, take a drive up the Coast for lunch, a relaxed West Coast Meander.
Geoff has always enjoyed water sports (sailing, kayaking, and a touch with his scotch) so views of seawater seemed a good idea over lunch. With that settled over a bottle or two of the Cape’s finest on Tuesday evening we skated around the past and the present. We didn’t do too much skating, we were into entertaining chat very quickly, the mark of a good friendship.
(An aside – way back in the 1980s we sailed Geoff’s yacht competitively on the Vaal Dam. How we ever hit it off is a puzzlement as he is very precise and technical while I like to play the fool with words. A bleat from the back of the boat “Peter use the uphaul to raise the spinnaker” he would bellow above the wind to be met with “is that the red rope or the blue rope ?” The more grumpy he got the more I enjoyed using the wrong terminology. Surprisingly we won more races than we lost.)
So where to take Geoff on Wednesday. He lives at Bondi Beach in Sydney so salt water is safe and he had visited a ‘pub’ “somewhere in Lagebaan” 50 years back when delivering a yacht from Cape Town to Saldanha Bay. No brainer, Paternoster and Langebaan; obvious.
Lunch at Voorstrandt Restaurant on the beach at Paternoster seemed a good choice, and it was. Time to chat in the car about the past, old friends, many still alive, some not.
Paternoster is a fun venue, many changes from when I first visited 35 years ago. It has a sort of Greek feel about it as you approach, then the clean fishermen’s cottage theme takes over as you drive into and around town. Voorstrandt restaurant is a lovely venue. Right on the beach (literally), beautiful bleached sand, cool on-shore breeze, good food and charming service.
We decided on a 3 star rating system and tucked in.
We started with a plate of Crayfish soup – Geoff gave it 3 stars ( UPDATE: SASSI has red-listed and declared lobster endangered species – this means do not buy or eat.)
A plate of Snoek samoosas and a chilli sauce with just enough bite – I gave it 3 stars
Geoff’s main was a Malay curry – he enjoyed it enough to give it 3 stars
I had pan fried baby hake with chips. Chips great. Hake overcooked, easy to do with a thin fillet – 2 stars.
Geoff finished with a sticky toffee pud with ice cream and I slurped my way through another Darling brew – he was driving.
Good, uncomplicated pub grub. Washed down with a couple of Darling Brew beers and a glass of wine and we were well fed.
And all for approx R250. My visitor remarked that at Aus$22 it was remarkable value.
The very friendly staff at Voorstrandt cover all the bases; a chill wind off the sea and they produced small blankets to throw around the shoulders.
Booking is important to ensure a table closest to the beach. It is a very popular venue, for good reason.
If you want to take your dogs along, check with the staff when you book. Our dogs were welcome about 18 months ago. They sat quietly on the benches admiring the beach, then went for a trot on the beach after lunch.
There is a variety of good accommodation in Paternoster so if you want to chill for the week-end it is a good option.
We had taken the scenic route once we arrived at Paternoster, wrong turns here or there, so we decided to use his cell phone to help on the return trip. He switched on and soon Sheila (speaking fluent Aussie) was chirping away, “hello Bruce, are you lost?” Bless her, she got us to Saldanha while we talked.
Langebaan was really easy. Geoff had mentioned a pub that he had visited 50 years ago. That was obviously the Farmhouse Hotel. A cold beer on the terrace overlooking the Lagoon, perfect weather, blue sky, a light sea breeze, sun sparkling off the Lagoon while the Kitesurfers dipped and swirled over the water.