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Watching the whales

Watching the whales If quad biking is supposed to be so much fun, how come my mouth is dry, my knuckles are white, and I’m terrified I’m about the shoot through the air, land upside down and have four fat tyres pummel me into the sand?

Probably because I’m useless at it. But I won’t be defeated, and wrestle with the beast as we careen down sandy paths between Walker Bay and the 19th century manor house of Mosaic Farm. 

Quad bike trails one of the attractions offered to guests at Mosaic Farm’s two self-catering cottages and the six new lodges. It’s a perfect location for a short holiday based around the area’s main attraction of whale watching, with Hermanus only half an hour away. That’s by car, not by quad bike.

Hermanus is a pretty little place, but in whale-watching season it’s crammed to the gills and the relaxing holiday mood could take a dive when every shop and restaurant is heaving.

Instead you can enjoy your sightings then take the road less travelled to Hermanus Lagoon, and wrap up the day enjoying sundowners with the water and the bowl of Overberg mountains as the backdrop.If you hear the twang of American accents don’t assume they’re tourists, because Mosaic Farm is owned by an American couple, Breese and Kathryn Johnson. He’s a radiologist and she’s an interior designer, which was jolly handy considering that all the buildings were tumbling over when they bought the place seven years ago.

The 1892 Spookhuis manor was carefully restored, and now serves delicious meals cooked up by chef Craig Andersson. You can picnic under the outsized milkwood trees, stage a private party in its wine cellar, or just stand at any window facing in any direction and marvel at the magnificent scenery.

The  new lodges are simply furnished, and priced to attract local guests rather than fat-walleted foreigners.

As well as luring whale watchers they are capitalising on its location in the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. Not everyone is a fynbos fanatic, but if you are, this is the place to be.

You can gloat over the removal of intruding species and cheer on our less hardy home grown fynbos, which is making a reappearance in the spaces cleared of overbearing intruders.

For a bird’s eye view of the region farm manager Justin Boshoff can send you off on a day-long hike up the Overberg. He’ll probably even go with you, since he’s not averse to an arduous expedition.

Me, I was more a home reclining on the terrace sampling a scrumptious Chenin Blanc supplied by the Springfontein estate next door.

The nearest village is Stanford, a quaint looking place that a variety of artistic types have made their home. Among them is Richard von Geusau, a former accountant in the fashion business who now designs chocolates. I can’t pronounce his name, but I can vouch for the quality of his truffles. Tel: 028-313-2814.