Back home in Cape Town, after three years as the South African ambassador to Argentina, and I’m pretty much surrounded by permanent, deeply pleasing distractions (and attractions) like forests, mountains, beaches and waterfront.
I still spend a lot of time abroad lecturing (often on cruise ships!), doing business in my old haunts in South America and, more recently, in London, and really treasure the family time of a local holiday.
Two grown children and their partners, each with busy lives, and my wife with a hectic schedule, means we need a place within relatively easy reach and where ‘together time’ caters for everyone’s needs. Last December, for one idyllic week, we found just the ticket. Churchhaven, a tiny exquisite village in the West Coast National Park that is just two hour’s drive from Cape Town.
“It’s like living in a postcard!” my wife exclaimed when she first caught sight of the cottage we hired. It was perched just above the endless azure lagoon and bordered by carpets of fynbos and the evening delights of pink sunsets.
The shallow water was amazingly warm and a sighting of the dreaded pofadder (be warned, snakes abound there) was not enough to dent the rhythm and routines of lazy days and happy braai evenings. There must be few places anywhere in the world where the ‘beach scene’ consists of perhaps five people dotted around a long spit of sand, with drives into the wonderful park a relaxing counterpoint. For even the most jaded tourist palate, Churchhaven is beautifully restorative.
Tony Leon is the author of Opposite Mandela – Encounters with South Africa’s Icon (Jonathan Ball) and The Accidental Ambassador – From Parliament to Patagonia (Pan Macmillan)
Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyLeonSA