Hi all

Firstly, Richard and I would like to thank all of you who sent us – emails, phone calls and sms’s – which we received from all around the world - for the wonderful Anniversary wishes on 11 April – we really appreciated these, particularly as we are so far away from most of you and couldn’t share this time with you, but we still have our memories of our lovely day. We spent the evening with mom and Pam at a wonderful little restaurant in P.A. "The Olive Branch", where we were treated thanks to Bokkie and his staff - to lovely wine, champers, divine food – in fact the best restaurant in P.A. including other areas – and finished off with a shot of Witblitz – 100% Prince Albert made, which at the time was only a couple of weeks old, as the annual Witblitz stokery had just taken place.

It is amazing at just how much we have managed to pack into this first year of ours – we have even astounded ourselves - but have to say that we are both still so very happy and wouldn’t change a thing – even though we do have some really ‘off days’ which luckily are mostly due to the ‘builders’ and some of the silly things that they manage to do or rather not do, as well as the stress which goes with what we are trying to achieve and in such a relatively short time span with tight deadlines. We have realised that by the time July comes it would be exactly 1 Year since the first Drill was started up at Karoo View, to start digging the first foundation for our Pondokkie – amazing when we think about it... but more on this later.

Taken at the Annual Olive Festival, a few weeks ago . . . . and no that is not a spider web on my face . . . I had my face painted for raising funds for the homeless doggies and kitties . . . . but couldn’t get Richard to do the same . . . ah what a pity!

During the annual Olive Festival, which takes place in early May, the village comes alive with song, music, dance and lots of foodie and craft stalls... here was a rare treat, or so we are told, Belly Dancing in the Main Street – which had the locals enraptured...

More of the Olive Festival – our stall – Ju Ju Jewels, where mom and Pam visited us – it is absolutely amazing how they get out and about. Here you can see how well mom has "slipped into the country mode... with her pretty sun hat and rose"... something that she would never have done in the city... go mom go! ! !

Another Annual event which takes place in March is the Witblitz Stookery which is held by the Fransie Pienaar Museum, who has the only licence to distil Witblitz in the area. The event takes place over an entire day, and is filled with lots of age old traditions;

  • 1. The Antique Still has to be cleaned, by boiling a heap of grape leaves in the kettle, which are then removed and the kettle is rinsed with water.
  • 2. The condenser which is a coil of copper known as the ‘slang’ is rinsed in vinegar and hot water, And only after this long process may the making of the witblitz begin,
  • 3. Where 125liters of Rabat wine is poured into the kettle.
  • 4. The joints at the neck of the kettle, the helm, and in-between the helm and condenser are then sealed with bread dough. 5. All whilst a carefully monitored fire is kept going under the kettle, as you need to ensure that the kettle doesn’t boil as the aim is to condense the alcoholic vapours given off and not the water vapour. 6. The alcoholic vapours ‘breathes’ off the surface of the wine and collects in the ‘helm’ which then runs down the condenser (which you also have to keep cool with constantly changing the water).
  • 7. Condensation now takes place and potent witblitz – 63% alcohol runs a thin stream from the exit – to which a lemon leaf has been attached which forms a spout and has minute filtering and flavouring properties. Now for some really interesting names:
  • 8. The first alcohol that comes out is called the ‘voorloop’ and contains all sorts of nasty alcohols which are quite poisonous 9. Then comes the ‘loop’ which is THE WITBLITZ and then, 10. The last is called the ‘naloop’ which is also quite nasty and smells like nail varnish.
  • At the end of all of this – the total yield of using 125 litres is only 12 litres of Witblitz, which is definitely a labour of love. . . . and I myself am not too sure whether this local ‘moonshine’ is for me . . . but nevertheless a wonderful time was had by all.

Judy Maguire and Jeremy Freemantal – learning the art. This is a miniature version of the actual still that was used, but works brilliantly nevertheless.
Oops … camera problems as I can not enlarge the pic – but this is the Antique large Still and Kettle which was used and has been for years and years.

Another bit of excitement for us Prince Alberter’s and for us at Karoo View, was a local film shoot which took place in April. The short movie "The Far Far Tree" was written by Johnny Breedt who is a resident of PA, and who has been involved in the movie industry for 26 years. The movie used all local talent – auditions were held at the local schools and the lucky ‘main lead’ was Junaid Griebelaar, who incidentally is our builders’ son, together with our special friend Michael Brunner – who you may remember from the old Isidingo days, who is also now a resident of P.A.

What was exciting for us, was that as this was a low budget movie there were requests for free accommodation for the film crew – so not to lose out on a possible marketing opportunity – we took the plunge and offered our second suite for their use. ( as we still do not have a char / maid, both Richard and I have now added this function to our repertoire, as we have become pro’s at cleaning, scrubbing and making beds – all good character building I know). We had the privilege of hosting Rae Wynne Roberts who is a Scenic Artist and who is well sort after in the film industry (if I knew this beforehand I possibly may not have offered), but it all went off very well and we managed to spend a little time with him which was great, as we had the opportunity of asking for his feedback and comments . . . which was rewarding for both of us. He also left us with some lovely comments in our visitor’s book and we should get a mention in the ‘credits’ for the movie. . . . and he is also planning on returning to spend some time here with his family.

A still taken for publicity for the movie:

JANET & PETE who visited us in March... and coming back to stay in July

RAVI & ALLISON who visited & stayed with us for the OLIVE FESTIVAL

RICHARD ENJOYING OUR FIRST FIRE IN COTTAGE A – No smoke or mess & draws wonderfully - FANTASTIC

As you will see the house is also coming along quickly – as it was not so long ago that it was still at foundation level . . . . (In fact these were taken a few days ago, but now the roof is almost complete and the reed ceilings are scheduled for Monday, all going well). It is quite an amazing feeling walking around inside now, as you are able to get the feeling of it being a house, which is awesome. Peter our builder is working towards completing by the end of June and is quite adamant about this, so we should be able to re-locate ourselves once again – for the last time and finally have a permanent home, after living like Gypsy’s for more than a year. Richard and I will be so happy when this day comes and we don’t have to go searching through garages and boxes anymore. . . roll on July.

Our first ALOE in bloom this year . . . . Speckled Aloe. . . . and the only one of this type on our koppie . . . which is growing in a spectacular spot . . . . right in front of Suite A . . . so we really need to nature this one. It took just 1 month for the Flower Stem to start growing and then come into bloom (first pic has no flower). We are now waiting for all the other aloes to start their blooming, which shouldn’t be long now.

Well, today is one of those absolutely exquisite days – so difficult to describe or put into words, the closest description I have is to compare it to those wonderful days you experience when up in Drakensberg – during winter – when the air is crisp – the sun is shining – and it is so still . . . . Awesome . . . . and to think that at this time of the year almost every day is like this, how privileged we are.

Take care until the next edition.

All our love
Julie, Richard and Dad.

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