Villa Diary





Cindy Whitfield.
With winter storms raging around us, we keep our heads down and do the best we can to make things happen for our guests. there is a lot to do indoors but of course the joy of Cape Town lies, really, in the outdoor experience. It’s museum time and coffee shop time and shopping time.

Just a short walk from the Villa one finds this lovely city park which gives you access to many of the city’s museums and also to the National Gallery (The Jewish Museum, The Natural History Museum, Slave Lodge and also to St George’s Cathedral where Desmond Tutu and others spoke out from the pulpit against apartheid.

The Jewish Museum is a superb display of South Africa’s Jewish history. A must for those interested in this community.

The entrance to the South African Jewish Museum through the Company Gardens.

In the early years, the Cape was used as an anchorage for Portuguese, Dutch and British ships. No permanent settlement existed until the Dutch East India Company issued a mandate to Jan van Riebeeck, a ship’s surgeon, to establish a settlement which could provide passing ships with fruit, vegetables and fresh meat (traded from the natives).

In 1652 the first garden was laid out by Hendrik Boom, the Company’s master gardener, on a site close to the Fresh River (near to the Grand Parade). Later that year, the garden crossed the Fresh River (where Adderley Street is today), and included a medicine garden. Within a few years it was 18 hectares in size.

As more produce became available from the Company’s gardens at Newlands and from the Free Burghers who had settled along the Liesbeeck River, the town garden was slowly converted into a botanical and ornamental garden, although the growing of vegetables did continue for a number of years.

The famous kilometer-long Government Avenue, which runs from the top of Adderley Street, also known as ‘The Gardens’, was originally planted with lemon trees and in 1700 with orange trees. During the time of Simon van der Stel, it was lined with oak trees, which remain today.

When I have a moment to spare on a busy day I love to walk down to the corner of Kloof Nek and Burnside (sometimes with Brandi our loving golden retriever who will first have  run in the small local park). I may have a cup of ‘flat white’ coffee (a favourite of our guests) at The Power and The Glory .
This is a very ‘alternative’ coffee bar by day and bar by night – very popular with the local arty set. I often have to place an order at the request of an arriving guest (‘just as a surprise’) at the wonderful flower shop Lush.

When I took these photos there was a film shoot taking place here but normally I will waste 10 minutes just taking in the surprising and beautiful arrangements taking shape on their basic work benches.

Then I may pop into the local Tamboerskloof Pharmacy to stock up on plasters or Grand Pa Headache Powders  for our first aid kit before heading home. If I have time I may visit Mooi our informal local ladies salon to make an appointment for a client or to chat to the staff there. Our female guests often pop in here for a facial, ‘mani/pedi’ or a hairdo before a wedding or just to spoil themselves.
I’ll then perhaps have a chat to the owners of our most popular local bistro The Miller’s Thumb (Jane and Solly) whose recipe for success is excellent food and personal, attentive service. If you go there twice they really WILL ” know your name”!

Our local heroes! These lovely policemen on horseback patrol our streets and they add an element of class to our neck of the woods. Thanks guys!


Connie’s Milk Tart
My Mom used to whip up this delicious (and easy-to-make) milk tart which is a firm favourite with the guests at the Villa at tea time

1 Tin Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Butter
3 Heaped Tablespoons Corn Flour
3 Tins Fresh Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Heaped Tablespoon Custard Powder
A Pinch of Salt
Half a packet of Tennis (or Lemon Cream) Biscuits Crushed.

Butter a rectangular tin (25cm x 30 cm) and line the base with crushed biscuits.
Bring to the boil in a double boiler 2 tins of the fresh milk with the butter added.
Mix together all other ingredients and beat well. Pour over the boiling milk while stirring.
Stir until thick (10 minutes). Ladle the custard over the biscuit base and leave to cool.
Dust with powdered cinnamon and slice into squares.

10 Oct: Spring has sprung on the tip of Africa and everyone is in the mood for a fresh start. It’s a great feeling. Predictably we have had a spate of babies being born – in the house and in the city.

At the Villa, our maintenance go-to guy, Cedric, has become a Dad for the 4th time – well done Ced and Olivia!

We wish your new little daughter, Tifani, a very happy childhood and a great life ahead.

The other joyous event this Spring has been the arrival of a litter of daschund pups produced by  the diminutive, but feisty Taylor – our chocolate brown bitch and her handsome beau the black-and-tan Monty. Taylor produced 6 pups on the 23rd of June – 3 brown and 3 black – 1 girl and the rest all boys.


They have all found happy homes and we were very sad to say goodbye to them :-(

On the wild side, there are some adorable (but still quite shy) new cubs at the Cheetah outreach project near Somerset West, about 40 minutes’ drive from the Villa. They are wonderful to see. There are also some older cubs which one can play with – though they are not quite as soft and cuddly as you may think to look at them!

Comments are closed.