Old Mac Daddy had a farm E-I-E-I-Oh – wait, sorry, wrong Mac, but still, hear me out! There is little better than a girls only road trip. Men just don’t get our music choices, complain about too many bathroom breaks or the necessity to cover the car in snacks. In my case, I usually get in trouble because I like to put my bare feet up on the dashboard and will usually leave toe prints on the windscreen. I have yet to understand why that would bother anyone, but I have gotten complaints on multiple occasions. So when the Old Mac Daddy in Elgin, an hour and a half drive from Cape Town, offers to host me for a night, there is only one person I consider taking with me – my cousin and good friend Thekla. Luckily she works freelance too and can take Monday morning off for a
romantic fun getaway.
Just before I am off to meet her the conversation via Whatsapp goes like this: “Leaving now, be there now now*. Don’t forget your costume, they have a pool!” – “Great! Will definitely pack cozzie.” Why this conversation is important becomes apparent later on.
*South African phrase for a time in the future which can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 3 hours. Not to be confused with now or just now. That’s just how we roll here.
A little later we are on the road heading to our first pitstop, Babylonstoren in Stellenbosch. It is not only a stunning wine farm but also famous for their gardens because Babylonstoren = the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, get it? In fact, the gardens are so famous and gorgeous they will even charge you a tiny fee just to see them (ZAR 10 well spent!).
We are here for more than a nice view because their main restaurant Babel is meant to be an absolute delight of farm fresh and simple gourmet fare. Needless to say, I get the usual answer when trying to make a reservation beforehand ‘Sorry, but we are fully booked!’ but we are not deterred and simply walk in. Luckily they have a whole little courtyard with plenty of empty tables we only have to share with some pumpkins (and no, I don’t mean the annoying girls on the table next to us, but actual pumpkins!).
The refreshing water mist makes some patrons eat and hold an umbrella at the same time, not that it helps the frizzy hair much. We are extremely grateful for any cooling though as we have chosen a scorcher of a day so much so that we use our ice cubes not only to cool the wine but also our cleavage. I never said I was a lady…
Food at Babel is always seasonal and comes almost literally directly from the garden to your table. That means cocktails and color themed salad starters that mix proteins, fruit, and vegetable. For me, it can’t get much better as I am a complete sucker for fruit in my salad. That is until there is fruit on my trout as well and I am very tempted to lick my fingers – Mom, I promise I didn’t do it!
We roll out and into the gardens to look for baby hedgehogs, but find only bees that make us both a bit nervous. We stroll and sweat and wonder how pumpkins that big can hang from vines without falling. We also unsuccessfully try to turn the koi pond into a fish spa before getting lucky in the greenhouse – the last two homemade kiwi-mint ice lollies are ours!
With sticky fingers and some takeaway wine bottles, we decide that it is simply too hot to linger and time to move on. After all, we have a pool waiting for us – “OH NO!!” Thekla has actually managed to forget her bikini. A quick underwear check reveals that this is not more than a minor inconvenience and we venture on to Elgin, home of Pinot Noir, apples, and Old Mac Daddy.
Old Mac Daddy is nothing like your average country getaway. While it is surrounded by typical Elgin fruit orchards, MTB trails, and a little dam for swimming, it is also a trailer park. If the word trailer park scares you, fear not because 12 American silver streamers have been individually themed and decorated and there is nothing trashy about them.
When I was little I dreamed of winning my very own RV, but these days I can honestly not think of a worse accommodation simply due to spacial reasons. That’s why I am very relieved when we are shown to our home for the night that not only consists of a streamer, but a huge living area, private terrace, and a really big bathroom.
Our trailer is called Digit which is a bit ironic because I don’t like numbers and Thekla hates boardgames and there is plenty of both to be found. Mind you, we just a add an apostrophe to the name, turning it into Dig’It, and all is well in our trailer park again, we are digging it! Other trailers include a jungle theme, an explorer’s den, and one in psychedelic candy colors designed by Cape Town’s most beloved cake angels, Charlie’s Bakery.
When on a road trip it is wonderful to have someone with you, who just like you, will already think about what’s for dinner while you are still too full from lunch to even move and who will organize an ice bucket before she puts her bag down. Thus equipped we settle on our terrace which overlooks the little pool and unfortunately blackened fields, a fire hs recently burnt the area badly.
While the lodge can organize a whole lot of activities like wine tasting, hiking, and various kids activities, we are happy to do absolutely nothing except to occasionally lift our glasses and take big gulps of wine and fresh air with our sunset view. The pool is a little too crowded for our taste and so we have further excuse to just chat away; I think Thekla is secretly happy that she doesn’t have to take her underwear for a swim.
A quick dinner at the restaurant (not sure how we even managed more food!), a frog rescued from the pool, and another very inconspicuous, unlabeled bottle of wine and we are in bed. While everything is provided for counting sheep even in the dark, we don’t need any help in that department. Some girls just wanna have fun, we want AC and sleep, road tripping is exhausting.
We get both and in fact, plenty of it. While that is lovely it also means we basically miss breakfast, guests with kids come with a clear advantage when it comes to scoring early morning treats from the buffet! Instead, we dip our feet into the dam, stock up on ice-cold water from the minibar and make our way back to the city, back to work – hello Monday! Only now do I notice the windscreen: full of little toe prints. Apparently I am not the only one who likes to put her feet up on the dashboard, maybe it’s a girls thing.
Old Mac Daddy is in Elgin, about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town, making it the perfect one-night weekend destination. They offer 12 trailers and Daddy’s Villa if you are a larger party. Keep in mind that it is a working farm; while the countryside offers tranquility and croaking frogs, there will also be the occasional tractor noise and one very persistent rooster. Kids of all ages are very welcome and even if you don’t have any, I dare say your inner kid may just come out to play when you see the inside of your trailer!