Play Alice in Greyton’s Wonderland, where it’s tea time, theatre time or fine dining time, and always shopping time
Words & Pictures: Richard Van Ryneveld
“Darling don’t you just adore these plates?” asks Dominique. “My Gran had exactly the same plates!” She’s on a roll. “They’re Alfred Meakin!” We are having a meal at Searle’s Trading Post in Greyton. But here’s a warning guys – oppas – you might not just walk out with Granny’s old plates but with the damask tablecloth as well. You see, everything is for sale at Searle’s Trading Post in the little village in the Overberg.
Actually Searle’s Trading Post arrived like a tsunami on the doorstep of Greyton. ‘It’s a way of life’ is certainly a fitting motto for this fabulous emporium that also doubles up as sophisticated restaurant, casual bistro, pub, small theatre and winery. It’s a bit like Saks Fifth Avenue (haven’t been there but it sounds belangrik). Every time you cross the threshold, owner Naomi Herselman and her business partner Derek Crabtree have somehow managed to fit in another ‘department’ in this quirky, eclectic establishment.
Naomi’s whirlwind nature is tempered by Derek’s quiet insistence. “I just work in the background,” he says. “Speak to Naomi.” Derek’s a botanist but also a builder of note and, as Naomi explains, “We work extremely well together.”
Naomi’s first idea was to open a coffee and furniture shop, in what she describes as the “ugliest building in Greyton”. She laughs. “I literally bought and paid for it in September 2011 and we opened the doors that December in time for the Christmas rush. No wonder Naomi heard, “You must be nuts”, a couple of times in the frenetic rush to open Searle’s.
Searle’s Trading Post has a constantly changing character, and combines all the talents and work experience of Naomi and Derek. What other establishment has a resident pig called Charlie, two donkeys called Boesman and Lena, and a horse called Blessings? Included in the menagerie is a dog called Blu, the unofficial mayor of the dorp, and a parrot called Picasso. Just a warning, old Picasso is a confirmed misogynist and prefers the male species.
Naomi’s magnum opus at Searle’s is withoubt doubt the bathroom. Billy Wilder once said, “I would rather sleep in a bathroom than another hotel,” and I believe that if he’d had Searle’s in the vicinity he’d have been on the road with his camp bed on his head. The message must have got out there, because there are a lot of people heading out to the funny building in the middle of town. But they don’t have beds on their heads, or is that heads on their beds?