Curry can keep you chirpy for longer!

Over thousands of years curry has been a staple flavour-enhancer in many countries around the world. Curry is a complex blend of spices that can be mixed and blended to suit all tastes or enhance an array of dishes – from vegetables to goat! Sometimes it may even serve as a handy tool to ‘mask’ a rather miffy meal? Curry makes it all good – including your health, it may seem! Those foods that pack a punch in flavour could improve our chances of living longer.

Consuming curry-flavoured dishes on a daily basis – or at least twice a week – could lower the chance of an early death. So it seems that adding a little spice to your life would be worth the hot sweats, numb tongue and adrenalin charges brought on by a choice chicken tikka masala!

Of course a quality curry is a special blend of spices and ingredients, which may include cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, paprika, cardamom or star anise (perhaps even a little apricot jam if you have any South African heritage in you.) But the most commonly used hot-as-hell spice remains the chilli. Whether fresh or dried, big or small, red or green, with or without the seeds, any cook worthy of his salt will know when a dish requires a bit of this magic ingredient to take the flavour up a notch.

Medical professionals continue with this interesting research, but seem to agree that the spice, capsaicin, contains a bioactive ingredient which has long had anti-obesity, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, amongst others.

Of course, this is fantastic news for us here at Tolbos, where the winters bring with them such chilly nights. Hence, we added a dose of good medicine in the Patensie Valley with a Currie Evening last week. By the time guests left after a long evening of chatting, ‘chilli’ing and chowing at the buffet, bellies were bulging, cheeks were rosy and grins were wide. Definitely a bill of clean health and some feel-good for all who attended!

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An overview of Patensie and surrounds.

Tolbos is situated in the agricultural town of Patensie, where the main activity revolves around the cultivation of citrus. To get to the Valley, you will have to travel approximately 75km’s west on the N2, from Port Elizabeth. Pass through Loerie (famous for the South African ‘Naartjie’) and then Hankey (home to the world’s largest sundial and final resting place of Sarah Bartmann – a Khoi-San woman descendant of South Africa’s first inhabitants, the Khoi and Mfengu people), before arriving in Patensie. This is the last place to top-up, snack-up, refuel and refresh before heading off to the World Heritage Site of the Baviaanskloof (‘Valley of Baboons’). At Tolbos, we love to ‘chat’ tourism and will give all the info you may need for enriching your visit to the Gamtoos Valley. Take the opportunity to enjoy a hearty breakfast or sun downer snack platter while drawing up your travel plans.

Do experience farm-life, beautiful scenery or outdoor splendour by staying over at one of the many guesthouses, B&B’s or campsites in the Valley. Explore one of the challenging 4×4 routes or walk and bike a country trail route in the safe, rural area. Adventure and endurance racing are popular past-times and the Kouga region is proud to host many of these events throughout the year. Fancy something more relaxing or traditional? Try a spot of fishing, bird-watching – or aim for a birdie on the beautifully maintained Hankey Golf Course!

Keep an eye on local media for dates of Citrus festivals, traditional and extremely popular ‘Boere’ bazaars (fairs), sporting events and shows featuring well-known South African celebrities at various venues around town.

Should you have some spare time, take a slight detour to visit the Kouga Dam, about 32km’s en-route to the east entrance of the Baviaanskloof. This is the first double-arched dam engineered in South Africa, built in 1967.

From here, it is magnificence all the way into the 192 000Ha Baviaanskloof Wilderness area, nestled between the Kouga and Baviaanskloof mountain ranges. Truly worth a visit!

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World-Class Women in the Valley

Don’t think that because we are stuck in a small little town between there and nowhere, not much goes on and women just stand behind their farming men. Oh no, sister – here in the Gamtoos Valley the Girls have been making a name for themselves since the Bean Family exported the first boxes of citrus way back when!

We have ladies who labour away in the kitchen and are renowned the world over for their delicious fare – like Tannies’ Joey and Denise who makes the most awesome pies and darling Danika, who bakes and ices whimsical, romantic cakes. Let’s not forget about Jeannie du Preez whose macaroons are pure magic and the Melville Madam’s catering cuisine.

It doesn’t stop with food, mind you – we have women heading up the most fashion-forward clothing empires for kiddies and yummy-mummies alike. Take Max and Lulu who have managed to put out beautiful ranges of toddler’s clothing, with spiritually inspiring messages; then there is Nicky of Blume and Co., who sells jammies, baby wear and even chic ladies’ attire to clients all over South Africa. For an authentic ‘boeretwist’ look no further than Boer-e-Nooi Design Studio , owned by Anmagreth van der Merwe – who is always busy in her studio.

Speaking of studios, the Valley is ecstatic that Hilde Malan finally has a creative space to call her own – where she will continue to create her signature pieces that grace walls across the country. Another stalwart in the creative line is Hildie du Preez, who is continually busy scrapping – whether it be on spoons or crockery! To make sure everyone knows of the girly going-on’s in the Valley, you can rely on female professional photographers, such as Erin or Anneli, to get it on film. Heck, you can even have your hair and nails done by expert stylists in their studios!

Of course, it is not all arts and crafts here in the Patensie area: add in a couple of well-respected female doctors; a few headmistresses; businesswomen who are heading up cosmetic companies, the Irrigation Board and restaurants alike; and you will soon realise what a Female Powerhouse this Patensie really is! That would be physically powerful too – we have girls that run, cycle, hike and take part in triathlons and marathons.

Girls in this area can do everything. Do you need to organize a wedding at a ‘Grand’ venue, train up farm workers, audit a pack house or sell some fruit? We’ve got you covered. The P.T.A., W.A.A., and the Tourism Organisation are driven by dynamic Dames, such as Estelle, Rene and Nichola (who, along with Jansie, can give you a solid lesson on wines). Almost all the guesthouses are run and owned by women, too; and there are a number of ladies who successfully farm for themselves – whether they are harvesting strawberries or broccoli at the end of a hard day’s work. Rest assured you will almost always find a strong-and-in-charge woman in the admin offices too, who keep things growing smoothly.

Yup, this ladies’ list reads like who’s-who of women. Not sure if it is all the fresh air or the extra potent oestrogen emanating from the fertile farming lands – but girls in this Gamtoos Valley do not stand back for anything; we go out and make it happen! All of this while having babies and looking gorgeously good, too! A+ for Girl Power!

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Meet the Tolbos General Manager: Lana ‘Pixie’ Fourie

Lana has been part of the family for just on a year now and it has been an absolute pleasure to have a cool level-headed person to rely on. There is no drama, but a self-assuredness that drives this lady. She is deceptively young-looking and when you spy her buzzing to Tolbos on her zippy scooter in her funky outfit, you would never dream that she is well into her 30’s!

Lana earned the nickname of ‘Pixie’ while still at boarding school in Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu Natal – the story goes that her very short hairstyle emphasized her ‘Elfin’-like ears and, at Voortrekker Hoerskool, the cute likeness stuck. It would also seem that this nickname influenced her demeanour and when she is not managing day-to-day going-on’s at #Tolbos, she adores all things related to nature. Lana loves the outdoors and anything to do with plants and sums up her favourite past-time as #exploring. A good workout may include a stiff mountain trail on her bike in the nearby hills and to relax, Pixie Fourie also enjoys being creative by working up a storm of crazy, abstract art on canvas.

Lana started off in the restaurant trade way back in high school – with a part time job as a waitress. The bug bit and she continued on at a popular wedding venue, where she was exposed to many aspects of the hospitality trade. At age 19 she went on to work at an eatery in the #Drakensberg – where Lana stayed on for 5 years, eventually working herself up to management. As a young 20-something, it seemed an obvious choice to head to the big city and Lana tried out the fast pace in #Centurion – but it was definitely not the life for this girl-of-nature. So she ended up in the Eastern Cape, when she was offered a position at a hotel in #Grahamstown. Yet again, this offered Lana a great opportunity to further educate herself in various aspects of the hospitality trade – such as reception, housekeeping, budgeting, restaurant management, etc. For 4 years she worked in the #Frontier_Country and then this Pixie decided it was time to spread her wings once more.

Not sure whether to take a boat trip or study something new, she ended up in #Patensie, where exciting things were happening at Tolbos; and things clicked into place for this free-spirit. Lana has quietly crept into the hearts of locals and tourists that visit the Gamtoos Valley. She has managed to bag herself a ‘younger’ farmer and it is not complicated, but serious – part of the reason she has lingered longer in the Valley!

At Tolbos, Lana involves herself diligently in all aspects of managing the restaurant – whether it is ordering stock for the kitchen or getting down and dirty with the dusting. But her favourite tasks include all things creative – such as menu-planning, restaurant décor, event-planning and interacting with the locals and tourists alike. She is very good with staff training and secretly LOVES TO BE IN THE KITCHEN. We love this girl’s work and appreciate her contribution to the smooth running of our home-from-home – Tolbos.

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Drip, drip…here’s looking at the last drop.


By Carin Scheepers:

After taking a drive up the road to the #Kouga Dam this past weekend, we had the opportunity to meet #Drought face-to-face. And it was damn scary – if you would excuse the pun. In fact, it was nauseating to realise how deep (sorry, again?) in the dwang we are in this little Eastern Cape corner of #South_Africa. It felt like we were visiting a terminally-ill relative in hospital. The water was eerily still and grey as we were experiencing yet another uncharacteristically warm day for this time of year. The Dam seemed as if it was on its last legs, so-to-say…. It has resigned itself to its fate.

We have been fortunate enough to see the water spilling over this same dam wall not even 2 years ago. We had so much rain that our back roads were flooded for weeks on end. It was glorious.

Now, the dam level sits at a disturbing 20%. It is hard to comprehend what the implications are, until you are standing on the dam wall again and trying to do the Math. You guestimate how many acres of land have to watered here in the Valley and then you start figuring out the litres of water that still has to then pump through all the way to #Port_Elizabeth and surrounds for the millions of folk in the Metro. Yes, Houston, we do actually have a problem!!!

Please take the guys in charge seriously – we all have to do our part. Whether you farm or work in a factory, implement #water_saving measures now.  That old cliché, “Every drop counts,” is yet again very relevant. We take things for granted – think it is our ‘right’ – and then there comes a little reality-check.

South Africa is ranked as the 30th driest country in the world, so realistically our drought problem will always be around. In the meantime, we are praying for the miracle of rain – and some forward-planning from the authorities, so that our water-supply can be better managed in the future.

Kouga Dam


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Tolbos - time flies

How time flies……

By Carin Scheepers:

Well, I must say that this concept of time ‘flying’ is becoming all the more real to me these days. I would hate to admit that it may be an ‘age’ thing and am therefore sticking to the reasoning that it is definitely because we are so hectically busy.

From renovating the farm offices and drilling for water, to all the going-on’s at, it sometimes feels like we are a bunch of guppies gasping for air in a shallow puddle!

But hey, I’ll tell you this much… The little bit of water we are swimming in, is a vibrant, sparkling pool of life filled with so much good stuff.

And so I have managed to keep paddling with the Tolbos team for one whole year already. It has been such a great learning curve. Everyday has brought new challenges and developments and I have had the pleasure of getting re-aquainted with the good people of the Gamtoos. Of course, the stunning setting has made intergration into the community all the more easier.

Tolbos has grown to be a timeless institution in the #Kouga community and, looking back, we cannot believe that it all started in 1988…. before ‘padstals’ were cool! Over the years, Tolbos has kept evolving to meet the locals’ needs and welcome #tourists with generous information and tasty refeshments.

Here’s hoping that during my time with the Tolbos team, we can continue to spread our wings and grow. I am just too afraid to blink – I don’t want to miss a thing!

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A time to Chillax

Here, in our part of South Africa we live with the advantage of diverse, multi-seasonal days – not unlike the Rainbow Nation that populates the country! It makes things very exciting – you never know what to expect, but you can bet your bottom buck that no matter the weather, there is always time to take a moment.

Summers are really long and the early mornings stretch out into long, hot days. Over weekends, brunch and lunch turn into all day alfresco affairs. Just when the soul grows weary of the roaring temperature, dusk settles in and to pay tribute to the day that was, there is always a little wine-time in the cool shadows of the trees or on the stoep with the dog. (Although this kuier can get noisy – there is strictly no moaning or whining allowed!!) Refreshments are cold – food is snacky and delish – and the conversation is light hearted.


The Winter months bring with them mellow sunshine to flush cheeks and defrost stiff limbs. The opportunity to get cosy around the fire – maybe inside in the lounge; or outside around a braai is a temptation that is eagerly given in to. Soon the chilly air is forgotten as chatter heats up. The food is nourishing and hearty and the tipple is rich and full-bodied.


In between, there are crisp, chilly mornings to contend with; mozzies to fight off; some rain (here’s hoping and praying) and work to wade through. The wind blows every now and then; and on extremely rare mornings there may be a visit from Jack Frost. But we survive, if just to have an excuse to take a moment to chillax.


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Tolbos Coffee Loyalty Card

Warning! This post may contain dangerous information for Coffee Addicts!!!

Caffeine connoisseurs, get your newly launched COFFEE Loyalty card at #Tolbos. Keep caffeine levels at optimum level, on every visit ….. and fill up with the 10th cup on the house! For Free! #Gratis! Niks! That’s how we roll at Tolbos.

We understand long, hectic days are just not the same with a coffee shot. And that is why we pride ourselves on using only the best coffee beans from our supplier, #mastertons in Port Elizabeth. This family-owned Roastery has been in the coffee business for yonks – and boy, you can taste it in the freshly brewed cuppa joe! The girls at Tolbos pride themselves on being somewhat snobbish when it comes to their #caffeine fix of choice. If it is not wine o’clock, it is most definitely a quarter past  where’s-my-coffee?!?

First Loyalty Card User - Marieka Mostert

First Loyalty Card User – Marieka Mostert

Whether you are passing through #Patensie for pleasure or some serious business – boost your spirits with a shot of espresso. Locals, whether yummy-mummies of the PTA  or salt-of-the-earth farmers,  rely DAILY on our #bistro for their coffee fix to bolster their mood! REMEMBER TO PASS BY AND COLLECT YOUR LOYALTY CARD from Tolbos. Its legal and FREE! For more info about Mastertons coffee, visit their website at or go and check out their Facebook page.

Aaah, I’ll take mine with hot milk and 2 sugars, please…

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Even teeny, babies-on-the-way are most welcome at Tolbos #StorkParty

Tolbos is a fantastic venue for any party, special occasion or private function.  We were privileged to host this Stork Party with yummy eats and even better company! Here are a few pics of this glorious day. Select to view larger version

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Gamtoos - Patensie Valley

What a great place to wake up every morning!

I have had the privilege of living in so many parts of the world, but the best place to see the sun rise and set every day remains right here, in the farming community of the #Gamtoos Valley.

Patensie - Gamtoos Valley

I may be somewhat prejudiced because I was born and bred right here on the family farm, #Gonjah, en-route to the world-famous heritage site, #Baviaanskloof. But that aside, I still feel smug that I get to live this life and take in the scenery, while other poor souls are slogging away in the city, grinding through daily traffic and trying not to get too depressed by the concrete jungle. On a bad day, while travelling to #Tolbos, in the centre of our #citrus town of #Patensie, me getting ‘caught’ in the traffic may involve slowing down for a tractor or waiting for a guinea fowl family to scatter across the road!

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man (or woman!) healthy, wealthy and wise,” is such a relevant proverb – especially here in the country. Luckily, most mornings we are blessed with the most stunning sunrise, which gets every one pumped for the long days, filled with the productive busyness that goes with running a farm and providing essential services to all members of the community. And then, just when you think the day will never end, the sun is setting into the horizon we are engulfed by a spectrum of feel-good colours.

Time for retrospection, gratitude and a cold one on the stoep….

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