We took some time out between cattle auctions this weekend to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday in Stellenbosch. Our trip was far too short, especially since it was so cloudy and rainy that we hardly got a view of the beautiful mountains surrounding the town. At this time of the year the Cape is lush and green and beautiful – there couldn’t be a bigger contrast with the brown, dry Free State! Arum lilies grow wild along the side of the roads and it takes some effort to suppress feelings of envy towards the lucky people living in the gorgeous wine lands!
Fortunately we have an excuse to visit every once in a while and this occasion could not be missed. My dad has lived in Stellenbosch with his wife Barbara and their kids Johnny and Beatrice since I left university in 1997. It has been said that I have a complicated family: five step-brothers and sisters, two half siblings and one real sister… and that is before counting the in-laws, nieces and nephews! Rather than being complicated, I think it just makes life richer and more interesting. I have loved seeing my dad and his “new” family thrive in Stellenbosch over the past 15 years. Visits to the “Fasslers” are always indulgent, full of activity and most certainly never boring! My dad is a gynaecologist who makes his own “garagiste” wine and dreams of sailing the world in his yacht. Barbara owns and manages one of the top graphic design and photography schools in the country, Stellenbosch Academy, which she established from nothing. My brother is a philosophising Divemaster who spends his free time spear-fishing in the icy waters off Cape Town and Agulhas; and my sister is a kitchen goddess with a love of baking to rival Nigella Lawson! I think you get the picture.
We had an amazing lunch shared with close family and friends. My Dad unveiled his latest 2011 Fassler Cabernet and we were spoiled with a special tasting of the latest Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Just what one would expect from a birthday lunch on a rainy day in the wine lands! The meal ended perfectly with Beatrice’s beautifully decorated chocolate and pear tarts and a decadent cheese board.
My nieces Sibella and Sophia love visiting Oupa John and Barbara. There is always a menagerie of dogs and cats and lots of young people in and out the house to play with. After lunch we all collapsed in a heap and carried on chatting. The girls eventually convinced my dad to make pancakes for supper – as if we needed to eat one more thing! It was a wonderful, chilled out time catching up with family who we don’t see often enough. Happy birthday Oupa John – hope you have a fabulously happy year ahead!