April 9, 2012

Camping on Our Farm

We pack up the car with sleeping bags, pillows and blankets, lots of fruit, vegetables and bread and set off on an adventure to the farm. This will be our first overnight stay!

The flat is now clean, the hole sealed up, a makeshift kitchen set up and a wood burning stove fitted (found, discarded) in the end room. We have managed to find enough mattresses for all of us along with a treasure trove of useful items up in the attic - woolly socks, cups, cushions and a thick jumper, old pans, a coffee maker and stacks of great books.

We make our evening meal outside in the courtyard over a small fire - a hearty vegetable stew cooked in our huge, cast iron potjie pot (cauldron) that travelled with us all the way from South Africa a couple of years ago.

Cutlery and candles are two things we have neglected to bring and that the attic has unexpectedly failed to yield. So I tie Maia to my front and we take a stroll down the road, just a few hundred yards to the village stores.

There are three options - a 'drinks market' where you can buy beer by the crate (a whole range of local, national and imported, cheap, superior, dark, medium, light) and various juices for the feint hearted!

Next door up some steps is where I find what I need stacked amongst souvenir trinkets, plastic bicycles and flipflops, china figurines and greetings cards, little bits and pieces that clutter the place with the promise of being useful to someone at some point, perhaps.

I walk away with a packet of plastic spoons and a pair of slightly warped candles, as well as a printed newsletter that keeps the village up to date on any activities or changes afoot. I wonder how soon it will be before we drift onto its pages?

The third outlet is a mini supermarket located round the back of a garage. It feels a bit like a warehouse at first, with crates of local apple juice stacked up on all sides. Through the glass door is the shop proper. Everything on the shelves is in twos and threes, neatly arranged with ample space between as if to emphasise the importance of each item. They are mostly uniform, cheap brands of basic food items and it almost feels like how I imagine wartime rationing would have been like - nothing fancy, nothing unnecessary, everything simple, functional and without a particular identity. The back of the shop is dedicated to work gear - boots, overalls, tools and basic building and gardening materials.

Craving black tea I have to settle for peppermint and leave the 'shopping centre' having spent less than three euro! The simplicity is cost effective for me with my particular taste and obsession with quality and immediately as I leave I see in my mind's eye a full colour three dimensional image of our farm shop with sweet smelling fresh produce, brightly coloured jars of sauces and pickles, jams, wines and unusual experiments, the smells of cooking and freshly ground coffee... and I wonder with a smile how many of our fellow village folk will venture our way, intrigued or disapproving, curious or dismissive, embracing our endeavours or set on keeping things just as they are?

Weekly column 'A Taste of Earth' published @ www.porkandgin.com

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