When Life Gives You Lemons

When life gives you lemons…

I will open this blog with a famous short story, you may have heard it before.

A terrible storm descents on a country town. Eventually the streets are flooded, and the water is rising fast. The town preacher is standing on the steps of the church, praying for deliverance, when a guy in a row boat comes by. “Better get in the boat, preacher! The water is rising fast!”

The preacher waves him away. “No. I have faith in the Lord. He will protect me.” And so the guy rows away.

The water keeps rising, and the preacher has to retreat to the bell tower. At this point, another guy comes by in a speed boat. “Get in, preacher! The dam is going to break, and we’ll all be washed away!”

Again, the preacher waves him away. “No. I have faith in the Lord. He will protect me.” And so the guy guns the engine and zooms away.

The flood waters keep rising, and the preacher is forced to climb to the very top of the steeple. About that time, a police helicopter flies overhead. The cops drop a ladder to the preacher and shout at him: “Grab the ladder, preacher! The dam has broken, and the water is coming this way fast!”

The preacher waves the chopper away. “No. I have faith in the Lord. He will protect me.”

Not long after the helicopter flies away, a huge wave of water comes rushing in, and the preacher drowns. He goes to heaven, and he is taken to see God. “My Lord! I had faith! I prayed to you! Why didn’t you save me?!”

Through the years I have learnt to look for beauty in the chaos, laughter through the tears and joy in the moments of sorrow. Life Is multifaceted, we can experience joy, pain, frustration, anger and disappointment all at the same time.

I have learnt to look for the lifeboats, live in the moment and breath in the fresh air.

It was last year September 2022 when I got the news, right after being unfairly dismissed from my full-time job. I had won a competition – a two-night stay for two in at a 5-star hotel in beautiful Franschoek.

Here’s a lifeboat, some lemons with which we shall make lemonade.

It’s April 2023 and time for us to take our long-planned break. I had decided to take my sister with m. We decided to make it a family getaway and my mother joined in too. A girl trip we don’t often get to have with the hustle and bustle of adult life.

Franschhoek: the perfect stop for a girls’ get away, just over an hour’s drive out of Cape Town with enough space and change to feel completely removed from the day to day routine. The small town has a French feel and the guest house where we stayed followed the theme with a French château feel, the colour palette similar to that of the houses in Provence in France, funnily enough the Hotel is right next to the La Provence Wine Farm. For those with a big budget Franschoek Guesthouse and Villas is a great option, a hearty morning breakfast is included in your stay in their spacious apartments with a big French style bathtub, 2 balconies (one Juliette and the other perfect for sunbathing overlooking the Franschoek Winelands). The site boasts three swimming pools, one warm and two cold, and a beautiful garden to wander in. The friendly and helpful staff are just a WhatsApp message away and a 5-star restaurant on the premises.

We settled in for a moment before heading out to stroll the streets of the quaint little town of Franschoek. We visited the Huguenot Chocolate Shop, where I had been commissioned to take interior photographs. However, no stop at the shop would be complete without sampling some of their delectable, gourmet chocolate, and we did not leave empty-handed. We later discovered that this famous chocolate shop supplies the wine farms with their chocolates for their wine and chocolate pairings. Some of the chocolates are even custom made and can only be found at the wine farm paired with its wine.

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the town and past the little boutique shops, later stopping at  one of our famous coffee spots  Terbodore Cafe, the home of one of our favourite coffees, and if you come on the right day you may even get to meet the legendary Great Dane himself.

We had a relaxed first day, as the following day we were to do the wine tram. In the evening we visited the buzzing Colcocchio for dinner for a hearty meal, lots of laughter and banter about life, love, dreams and family.

The following day we enjoyed our gourmet breakfast at our hotel and set off on foot to the wine tram. If you buy a tote bag at the Tram terminal, you can get a discount on the wine you buy a the farms. The staff were super vibey and helpful with directing us and explaining the wine routes, as these can be somewhat tricky and confusing to navigate at first. We were given a complimentary wine glass on the tram and heard about the wine farms as we passed by. Our first stop La Provence was a moment to let our bellies settle from breakfast. We walked through the statue garden and admired the beautiful artwork before heading off to our first tasting at the Franschhoek Cellar. We decided to do a cheese and wine pairing with a selection of white wines to ease into the day of wine and fun. We hopped back onto the tram and then straight onto the tram bus and enjoyed the tour, passing through numerous wine farms until we disembarked at our next stop, Chamonix, where we did a delectable chocolate pairing with red wines, my favourite. We had then decided to pop back onto the Tram, a second complimentary wine glass “well don’t mind if I do, kind sir”. We sat on the top of the bus and soared through the wine farms as if flying by, taking the scenic route, it’s good to do that sometimes. We stopped at our last spot for the day, Old Wine Co, where we did a popcorn and wine pairing. Getting to taste all new flavours of popcorn paired with delicious wine. We shared a meal and sat in silence as we watched the sunset on a magnificent day filled with laugher, silly moments, deep conversations and plenty of wine. We set off on foot back to our hotel which was but a hop and a skip away and spent the evening relaxing. It was as if someone had taken an iron and ironed out all the thought knots and crinkles of our minds that accumulate from day to day life.

On our last day we rose early again, –  you know the early bird gets the worm, and my sister and I are morning people. We made our way to breakfast where we discussed time travel ad fan fiction over a heartwarming meal as our eyes gazed over our beautiful surroundings and the sun came up on a new day. We stopped at the medicine garden and strolled past the medicinal plants on our way out of Franschhoek. On the road home we detoured to visit Babylonstoren, just a 20-minute drive from Franschhoek where we walked through the beautifully landscaped garden, allowing our senses to be soothed by the fresh fragrances in the air, we sat and Iistened to the water running, petted the donkey’s, purchased some of their fresh farm produce and we ended our stay sitting under a tree eating Gelato. A perfect way to round off our breakaway.

Our stay in Franschhoek afforded us a beautiful moment to create memories that life can so easily try and take from us. We must choose to carve out time to create space for magic and wonder. And, when these moments come, we have to make a distinct decision to lean in and be present, or else we risk simply sweeping by them, unmemorized and ruined by our own lack of conscious engagement, failing to perceive the beauty and respite such moments bring to our lives.

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