It was May of 2000 when we bought our little house in Loxton, in the Northern Cape. A quaint little village between Carnarvon and Victoria West, with a 100 year old trees and “lei” water canals and sandy roads. My husband Dennis always loved the Karoo.
His mom’s side of the family originated on a farm called De Riet, in Van Wyks Vlei, approximately 180 kms away from Loxton. He used to spend all his school holidays there on this farm, and I think the big blue sky and open spaces must have got into his bones. He felt a need to go back to his roots!
We had gone down to the Cape on business in the month of May, and on the way home, we travelled on the back roads, via Loxton. Years earlier we had passed this little village of Loxton in the month of September.
The pear blossoms were out in full glory and beauty. The streets were lined with these unbelievable white blossoms and the “lei” water glistened in the sun gushing down the canals. It was peaceful and looked like Heaven. Dennis was very impressed with the place. He had said on many occasions that one day we would buy a little haven in the Karoo…. “600 kms from “nerens” And somehow this seemed to be the place!
We booked into the “kamers” opposite the NG Kerk around the circle. Right next door to the bottle store, very convenient! I will never forget, the local shop owner gave us a ball and claw imbuia dining room table and three chairs which we set up outside the rooms with our braai. We would sit out in the crisp cold and braai or have breakfast there in our pyjamas with our beanies and scarves. Hardly a soul around. It was only on the Sunday morning when we noticed a large number of white bakkies, all farmers and their wives and children, arriving for church, when we actually ran inside and felt a little embarrassed. We had been there for three days and never saw a person, besides a few locals that came to the bottle store and the local co-op, now the village was buzzing with people!
After breakfast we decided to take a leisurely stroll around the village and have a look at the houses. There was an old lady sitting on the “stoep” of an old white house, with black trimmings, and really ugly round black patterns on the walls, when Dennis greeted and shouted out “any places for sale here in Loxton?” and she said “yes, you can buy mine” and he said “okay” and that was that.
She invited us in. We took a look around, I was videoing at the time. And Dennis was saying, “this is nice, and that is nice,” and I couldn’t believe what he was saying!
It was an absolute ramshackle … ”hokke” and wire and chickens and “planke, aangelaste” here and “aangelaste daar”. It was a mess!! Dark and dingy, all the windows boarded up against the sunlight!! He said “we’ll take it” And we did!
The only thing good thing about the place I thought was that it had a magnificent garden, but there was still a lot of clearing up to do.
Once we got back home, Dennis and his brother Errol started organising tools and paint etc to start the renovating process of this 100 year old house. It was going to be a big job. We would travel down about twice a month and once it was all complete we decided to move down lock stock and barrel and settle into our retirement! We were so happy and just loved it!
My son Camdon bought me a blender and a preserving book, and I started bottling and canning everything in sight. The jams, marmalades, pickles, sauces etc. I really started loving this new hobby! Vanessa had lovely green lables printed for me with the words …”a little taste of Loxton, grown with care and prepared with love”… from Dennis and Lyndsay … I just loved this! Made all my hard work much more exciting now. We had an abundance of fruit, especially apricots, and grapes. Errol and Dennis built a “green house” and we started propagating our own seeds and growing vegetables organically.
We were delighted each time our plants would have a new leaf … and would check them everyday. The passion and the love that was injected into these plants was enormous and we eventually developed a bountiful garden of Eden in the Karoo!
We noticed that the local community were very underprivileged … this was when we came up with the idea of running an employment project to help the needy with work so that they in turn could feed and care for their families.
Loxton is ideal for garlic growing, so we bought more small properties and utilised the land for garlic growing. The chillies, tomatoes and onions were exceptional as well.
This was the start of my peri peri and garlic sauce making … It is very seasonal so each year I would make a batch give it away for family and friends to try and eventually started to sell it … and every year I would run out only to make more the following year … and every year after that my customers would phone and re-order. This was when I realised I was obviously onto to something. I had perfected an amazing product, which was spicy and delicious, which was preservative free yet still seemed to last.
Just as our Karoo experience, the beauty, the big sky, the open spaces, the freedom … had crept into our souls and touched our lives … I would like to share with you now, my homemade sauces, which were grown by us with care, and prepared with love in our little house in Loxton.