The gentle town of McGregor has over time earned its reputation as the darling of the Breede River Valley region, but its friendly inhabitants weren’t always appreciated by their neighbours beyond the Riviersonderend mountains.
There is a tale often repeated that says frustrated parents would use threats like “I’ll send you to McGregor!”, to make sure their offspring stay in line. But time changes all things, and any such threats to send you to McGregor will only be met with, “Yes, please!”
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about this village that makes it so desirable – it’s everything. It starts and ends with its people, who always offer a wave as both a welcome and goodbye, depending on the direction you’re travelling in.
They’re polite to strangers who become repeat visitors, because if there’s one thing we need more of in this world, it’s friendly faces.
McGregor was named after the Reverend Andrew McGregor by the people of the settlement in 1904. The clan of McGregor is said to be the oldest and most honourable of Scottish clans.
Just down a dusty side road off the main strip is Dolce Vita, a special home away from home in McGregor that seems designed to create special family moments while being accommodating of adults who need to continue being productive in the real world.
There’s good internet connection in McGregor, which is half the battle of working from home these days. Quiet spaces to think is another challenge, but not here. It’s a dream modern facility for a large family or group to get away for a few days of work and play. Now that we’ve perfected living the unavoidable digital nomad life, due to the pandemic, this is the perfect place to explore that lifestyle.
Dolce Vita sleeps six people comfortably, with three double bedrooms and two family-sized bathrooms with bath and shower. There is more than enough comfort to make you feel right at home. This house is an entertainer’s dream. It has large and airy open spaces that flow from one to another, each with its own charm. The house is also pet-friendly so you can take your pooch along, as long as you clear it with management.
There are countless outdoor areas to relax in, a garden breakfast or an evening braai, a poolside braai, or a lunch picnic in the front garden – each of these spaces are separated and fully tabled for your convenience.
A gourmet kitchen with an island gas stovetop and more than enough space to swing a cat (don’t swing the cat) – makes you want to spend more time prepping food than you should while on holiday. I am a sucker for a fully-equipped kitchen.
The sun lounge is a magnificent area to relax in when the heat subsides. Surrounded by nature and the comfort of your family’s company, it’s easy to block out the world’s problems, and for one weekend we did just that.
The hot summer days can be relentless in this part of the country, so the immaculate swimming pool comes in handy as soon as you log off your computer and plunge in. There are few better ways to unwind.
The house also features two lounge areas, complete with plush lounge suites, hanging chandeliers, and each with their own charm.
The village is just 176km away from Cape Town, and yet it offers an escape from familiar, mundane lockdown surroundings. In this time of social distancing and anti-social practices, McGregor offers a warm and comforting shoulder to rest on, figuratively speaking of course. Time stands still here, but the village still embraces outsiders like friends. Far from being a place parents send naughty children to, McGregor is a child’s playground with open spaces and a feeling of complete safety and harmony with nature.
Pizza at The Fat Lady’s Arms is simply one of the best in the Western Cape, without a doubt. They have to be tasted to be believed of course, but the delicious base and fresh authentic flavours help them live up to their names of Michelle Obama, Nigella Lawson and the Kardashian.
Tebaldi’s Restaurant and Coffee Bar is another firm favourite here with a diverse menu filled with local favourites. And the outside is filled with peacocks which add extra flair and colour.
There’s enough to do in McGregor depending on your interests. And if you want to do nothing more than long walks, lazing around the pool and eating, there’s no judgment here. For others, there are hikes and bicycle trails to be enjoyed all around.
One day we’ll be allowed to buy alcohol again, and everyone hopes that the surrounding wine estates weather this storm, because to imagine a world without wine from the Robertson region would be impossible.
It’s been nearly a year since we’ve been in this never-ending state of limbo, and working from home has fundamentally changed the way we experience our lives. There’s no office, no commute and very little changes day to day.
But (under lockdown level 3 at least) there is no reason why you can’t travel and change your surroundings, even while working remotely. Digital nomads have been doing this for years, and it’s only recently that remote working has entered the mainstream way of life. A year ago most of us started our day early, drove to work and back and got home in time to prepare to do it all over the next day. But there is now a new way to approach work – and life in general. Change it up, change your surroundings for a little bit and send yourself to McGregor.
Picture/s: Nidha Narrandes