A group of enthusiastic members of the Aberdeen Garden and Social Club set off bright and early for Nieu Bethesda last week- so “bright and early” in fact that they actually arrived at their hosts’ home a full hour ahead of schedule!
This was no problem however for Belinda du Toit, and the guests happily looked around her Stoep Retreats property and settled in the garden with drinks while she fetched some delicious freshly- baked bread. Everyone was very keen to sample the bread, which was made from flour that had been stone-ground in the restored mill in the village, using local rainwater.
Her husband Charl, a minister, is involved in many projects in the town, and is passionate about the upliftment of the community. He is an extremely accomplished violinist, having started playing as a young boy, and also has a thriving business restoring violins and making bows. He enthralled the guests with a mesmerising rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, followed by part of the incredible classical masterpiece Czardas. Many of the visitors spent some time examining Charl’s bow in detail, and were fascinated in his description of the personal nature of each performer’s bow, which has to be made to suit the performer’s personality and playing style. An interesting fact that members learned is that wood for violins always comes from regions with a cold climate, as does the horse hair used for the bows. South African horse hair is apparently too thick!
After the talk, members made their way to the old mill, which Charl was instrumental in restoring. Work started about four years ago, and now he regularly makes stoneground flour to sell, and for his own bread. After sampling the bread earlier, he had several eager customers for the flour! To demonstrate the working of the mill, Charl first diverted the water to run over the mill, and then showed how the wheat kernels were put through the mill stone several times, to get the texture required. The many pertinent questions that were raised reflected the visitors’ genuine interest in the process.
Members were then free to wander around the town for a while, before meeting up for lunch at Die Waenhuis. A wonderful meal was enjoyed by all, who enjoyed not only the delicious food, but also the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. After many compliments to the chef and staff, it was time to return home, after an outing that most agreed was one of the most fascinating of the year.