Winter is over and everything is blooming.

At least this week we have had one day with temperatures of 35 degrees!!

It has been a cold winter here in Montagu with night time temperatures down to zero following not one but two ‘cold fronts’ which headed our way. But whilst the days have been sunny it is obvious that the flowering fynbos is not as advanced as it was last year at this time.

We are surrounded by nature and cannot fail to be affected by the seasons, delighting at this time of year with everything waking up and coming into bloom. Here are a few pics of the early bloomers.

 

We are also pleased to see flower buds appearing on our olive trees – we are hoping for a good crop this coming year following our ‘fallow year’ caused by the reduction in height of the trees to make for easier harvesting – it’s a relief to see our ‘super healthy’ trees getting ready to fruit again.

flower-olive

Our Namaqua Daisies at the main entrance have really done well this year and are a bright and cheerful welcome to our new season’s guests – this pic also shows our ‘discreet’ additions to the kitchen and administration office – we feel that it really blends in well and possibly enhances the main house. No doubt we will be hearing the comments of our returning guests.

flower-building

 

When I’m calling you ……….

A recent innovation for our new season – beginning 14th August – will be an internal phone system.

Whilst upgrading our internet reception to create a much more reliable signal for WiFi in the guest suites we became aware that we could also install a VOIP internal system which will allow our guests to not only contact the main office but also to contact other rooms as well.

We see this as a great improvement which will be much appreciated by our guests – and whilst the exercise of walking to the main building when needing service or information was probably good for their health – there is now a technological alternative!

Wifi2.jpg

Water, water – everywhere!

Followers of this blog will know that we have been praying for water to fill our new 50 million litre dam in front of the property. Well it seems as though our prayers may be being answered.

 

In this area of low rainfall – just 250ml per year – we have already had more rain this year to date than in the whole of last year. Our rain gauge is proving very useful in providing this information. Of course it is not the direct rain falling into the dam that causes it to fill but the run off from the Langeberg mountains behind us – this vast expanse of rocks and kloofs act as a huge catchment for the surrounding farms and estates.

 

In a further attempt to find additional water sources we have been ‘flushing’ the existing bore holes on the property and are very pleasantly surprised to see that they are ‘alive and well’ and so by means of solar pumps we are able to have an additional source for irrigating the olives and also for filling the dam.

 

Speculation is rife as to how long it will take to fill up the dam – watch this space!

 

These ‘before and after pictures’ tell their own story. Also for those of you familiar with Geneva – it seems that we have our own ‘Jet d’eau’ here on Galenia Estate – as they were ‘flushing’ the bore holes.

Dam---Before

Dam---after

Galenia-bore-hole

 

Time for a break and a little additional construction

Our first season of operating as Galenia has surprised us all, as we have been far busier than we anticipated. So it is with a sigh of relief that we approach the South African ‘winter’ season and our decision to close for three months (we reopen on 14th August). This is not because we think that the estate is not suitable for winter stays – in fact the South African winter can be very similar to some northern European summers – with bright sunny days, but cool evenings and cold nights. Galenia is well designed for the colder season with log fires in each room and electric blankets on the beds and for those not brave enough to cope with the outdoor shower there is a free standing bath in each bathroom!

 

However this year we have decided to close in order to address a few issues that have arisen whilst operating with such high occupancies. Our kitchen is far too small and whilst we have tried to keep to a well thought out, but restricted, menu – behind the scenes has been pretty chaotic to say the least. So we are in the process of extending the kitchen area to include more storage, preparation and cooking space. Similarly our administration area/store/wine cellar just cannot physically fit in the number of people and the demands made upon it, so it is also a good opportunity to extend that as well. Work is well under way – and we will soon be ready for the thatchers and then Galenia will truly have a new ‘look’.

 

Hopefully all will go according to plan, and time schedule, and it will be finished and fully operational for when we are ready to welcome our first guests of the new season.

building

Galenia Extra Virgin Olive Oil receives International recognition

To say that we were delighted to win two gold and one silver awards in The South African Olive Association 2016 competition is an understatement. As this was our first year of producing our estate pressed oil, we were ‘doing it by the book’ literally, as well as calling in favours from friends and colleagues from near and far to give us their best advice. Well it certainly seemed to pay off.

 

Encouraged by our first year’s success we decided to enter our oil on an international platform by submitting it to the prestigious New York International Olive Oil competition. This is a truly international competition with Extra Virgin olive oils being submitted from most olive oil producing countries around the world. We were quietly confident that our South African produced oil was top quality, but reticent about how it would stand up internationally.

 

You can imagine our response to discover that we had been awarded a silver medal for our Directors Blend. This is particularly gratifying as this was our own blending of two of the three cultivars produced on the estate (Frantoio and Mission) to our own –now secret – formula! As each of the cultivars produces oil of its own particular ‘personality’ and that appears to change each year depending on weather and growing conditions we decided that the Directors Blend would be our selection as to which of the season’s oils complemented each other. Yes there was a fair amount of discussion – less of this, more of that – is it now too pungent? too bitter? – do we need that? In fact a group of amateur olive oil enthusiasts trying to engage their senses of smell and taste to produce a Galenia Estate oil we could all be proud of.

NYIOOC

Well we are certainly proud now!!!

 

 

Galenia africana

Galenia is a genus of plant, occurring within the Fynbos and Karoo biomes, but has a wide distribution, from Northern Cape through the Western Cape into the Karoo. The species found on the estate is called, Galenia africana, which can be easily overlooked, as there are several similar looking shrubs. However, it has quite a bright narrow, aromatic, greenish-yellow leaf, and same coloured inconspicuous flowers appearing from October to December. After two days of good unexpected rainfall in January, everything started shooting out and green returned to a lot of the drab wilted looking plants, which hadn’t received enough rain in the last year. This included the Galenia on the property, which were quite drab looking, and suddenly burst into life again, revealing itself all over the estate.

 

As you know Les Hauts De Montagu, went through a name change to Galenia – see blog of 27th June 2016 – but why Galenia?

 

The decision to change the name came about as not many people around the Montagu and surrounding areas, including our own guests who weren’t French speaking, could pronounce it correctly. This led us to play around with several name ideas, possibly Boontjiesrivier? The name of the stream originating and flowing through the property, but Boontjiesrivier is no easier to pronounce than Les Hauts De Montagu. It took us a long time and a lot of pondering to come up with the name, but in fact the name already existed on the property. Whilst out on a walk around the property, we stopped and looked at an old, historical staff cottage called, “Galenia cottage”.

That is when the name came to us, Galenia, it is pronounced exactly as you read it, (Ga-len-ear) without any silent letters, or guttural sounds.

 

The name Galenia, has Spanish origins and means, “small intelligent one” and is used medicinally for the treatment of wounds, eye and skin infections, whereby it is made into an aqueous infusion and then applied. In the Montagu region, this infusion is also drunk, to help with bladder infections and prostrate problems, however, in all pharmaceutical trials no evidence was determined that this is indeed a successful treatment against any of these ailments. So perhaps Galenia africana is still holding on to its secret, but whatever it is – we have plenty of it here on Galenia Estate.

Galenia

Compliments to the chef

 It has been interesting to see how the whole rhythm of the main building has changed – from hardly ever seeing any of our guests who used to go into Montagu for dinner we now find that from 6.30pm the lounge and bar areas begin to fill up with guests attending the olive oil tasting or having a drink before or after dinner.

 Almost all our guests opt to stay in for dinner – it makes a pleasant evening to have a relaxing dinner accompanied by local wines and to have no worries about driving home. Our four / five course menu can be a little too much for some of our guests but we try to keep our portions relatively small – knowing that we can always serve second helpings if desired. Our starters are ‘dainty’ our soups ‘rich and flavoursome’ our main courses concentrate on the main item with not too much starch accompaniment, we always have a vegetarian option which tends to be lighter. For those with red wine still in their glass, we offer a local cheese board before the dessert, but it can equally appear after the dessert depending on preference. Our desserts are tempting to the eye and to the taste buds.

For those who need a digestif with their coffee or rooibos we have sourced local Limoncello from Klaasvoogds, Grappa from Barrydale and Brandy from Robertson – we are certainly fortunate to be well located amongst amazing wine farms.

Our guests frequently comment favourably on their dining experience with us saying ‘imaginative and delicious’ ‘fantastic’ and ‘amazing’ for which we are highly flattered and grateful – we have tried to create our own style of ‘estate cuisine’ – simple and unpretentious letting the flavours and freshness speak for themselves and when our guests are happy then so are we.

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