Swellendam is one of those small South African towns that is the epi-centre of everywhere… Everybody, on any road trip, has driven through it at least once, if not many times, but not many people stop and stay. I went on holiday there as a small child, and I have been dying to go back ever since… but somehow we always drive past. There are places there I desperately want to see… and after spending a few days there a while back, I thought it would be a good idea to showcase all that Swellendam has to offer in a series…

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I was recently invited to visit the inaugural Swellendam Winter School. The people of Swellendam have decided to show-case their town, during the Western Cape’s green season… which is our wintertime. Just like Grahamstown has a world-renowned Art’s Festival every June and July… Swellendam is introducing a Winter School and it is packed with weeks and weeks of the most amazing courses… the perfect wintery getaway. We packed so much into three days that I can not imagine fitting it all into one blog post. I will post a couple more posts about the fabulous accommodation and restaurants that we tried and then I will link all the posts together… I can’t imagine just popping it into one blog post, because there is just so much loveliness.

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Making full use of all the local expertise and the font of knowledge that accumulates in small towns, they have created a massive range of courses that anybody, who is interested, can join in… and learn all those things that you have always wanted to know but never got round to learning. A Week in the country during the summertime means lying about in a shady spot, waiting for your evening break. But during the wintertime, the days can be absolutely gorgeous and if you pick the course of your dreams, you could end up with the perfect quick getaway or break that you really need. The days are warm enough for beautiful walks and the evenings are perfect for cosying up to a cosy fire. Not to mention a town full of fabulous restaurants… they seem to eat really well there… so no need to do any actual work… learn, feast and relax. It really is that perfect.
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The media team got to experience the local accommodation and restaurants first hand, and then we got to experience a couple of the courses as well. We were driven from course to course and one learning adventure after another. And really, there is something for everyone. This is not your every day learning, and definitely not sitting at a desk kind of learning, this is hands on, full on and loads of fun!!! If you have ever wanted to play in a rock band, dreamed of fixing a motorbike, wanted to cook over an open fire or make your own soap, there is writing, and fynbos and pilates, painting and screen printing, walking in the wilds and photography… organic gardening and artisanal bread making… there really is a long list of courses to choose from.

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Swellendam Winter School Courses On Offer

Firstly, let’s take a look at the courses that are available… and if you are interested in a particular course then click on the link to discover more details about the course. At the links you can find out course availability, the dates, the prices for each course and a few more details, like what exactly you will learn and their is an introduction to each of the course co-ordinators as well.

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Personal Development:

Courses That Were Tried and Tested

The media team were divided into different groups and we all experienced a number of courses… and all of the courses looked absolutely fantastic.

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A Walk On The Wildside presented by Jonathan Booysen

Our very first experience was a walk through the wildlife with Jonathan Booysen, at the Kwetu Game Lodge. This would be the perfect course for me to attend, wandering through the veld and learning about wildlife: plants and animals, first hand, in the great outdoors. Jonathan had a very short time to demonstrate his knowledge to us, and our walk was intriguing to say the least… he taught us about the local plants as well as animals that they have at the Lodge. This course is perfect for anyone who loves the great outdoors and wants to know more about local wildlife.

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True South African Culinary Art presented by Morne Oerson

We had an absolutely stunning evening out in the countryside and Morné taught us how to roast beetroot with a Cape Cuisine touch. On Morné’s course you will learn about beautiful table settings and typical Cape recipes, with a focus on picnics and with his own experienced touch. Afterwards we were treated to a beautiful picnic on a game farm, called Kwetu Guest Farm, and I will blog all about it, later on in the week.

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Horse Human Harmony presented by Debra-Leigh Mohle & Jenni Van Niekerk

If you love animals then this is the course for you… really, really interesting. Imagine you are in the mountains and fields of green surround you, and beautiful rich music playing through speakers… and all the while communicating with horses in the field. Intriguing and enriching, all at the same time.

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Kos, of course, Lekker Kos! (Food, Glorious Food!) presented by Jamie Le Roe & Lawrence Scheepers

We spent an entire day on this course and it was fabulous, and could have gone on for ever. Lingering and chatting around a fire in the Bontebok National Park, all the while learning how to make typical Cape Food. If I had to describe this course in a word it would be “geselig” which is a very South African word meaning, lingering conversation… around a braai preferably. We learnt how to cook a number of very local recipes on the fire: Roosterkoeks and Koeisisters, Cape Malay Curry and Rotis. This will definitely be a post, later on in the week… you do want to know more about it!!!

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!Xairu Culture Connect Presented by Donovan Julius

Renowned artist, Donovan Julius, gave us a glimpse into settlement life, just outside Swellendam is the settlement of Suurbraak, it might be a few kilometres out of town, but it is a world apart. He intends to introduce visitors to Khoisan culture and spend time creating art, using materials that they have repurposed and sourced locally.

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Courses I Would Really Like to Do Still

The Swellendam Winter School Quickly realised that they couldn’t show us everything that was on offer, so they very cleverly created a beautiful evening, where we could meet all the presenters and learn about the particular courses that will be available. It was fantastic… and fatal, because now I know there are still a number of courses that will be a lot of fun to attend. For instance, I have this thing to learn how to make artisan bread… I really think I need to up our bread game and get going with a sour dough starter. Otherwise, ’tis the season… this time every year I really want to improve our gardening and a little inspiration in the organic gardening department, growing more than just my usual fare of spinach and tomatoes, is really exactly what I need. Not to mention a course on jams and preserves, and how to make them… that sounds like perfect heaven to me.

Follow the blog for the rest of the week, I am going to keep the Swellendam posts rolling out… more about where we stayed, what we ate and of course things to do and see in Swellendam.

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All the photographs from my visit to Swellendam and Swellendam Winter School can be found by clicking the image below:

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The Swellendam Winter School Series

I would really like to thank the Swellendam Winter School and the Winter School Community for hosting myself and the media team for a wonderful couple of days. This is not a sponsored post, and the opinions expressed are as usual entirely my own.

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