Eyewitness Somerset West in South Africa. Ruth Marriott: Trustee at heART At Work

Ruth Marriott from heART At Work lives in Somerset West, a town in the Western Cape of South Africa which is roughly 40 kilometres from Cape Town. There are beaches, mountains, coffee roasters and wine estates; the area is a true paradise for foodies as well as for nature lovers. If you visit South Africa you will see that it is certainly a hell of a beautiful country, but you will also see the problems.

I found Ruth through her work with NGO heART At Work and I love what she and her colleagues do to support the community. They mainly support women who live in the townships in the Helderberg Basin, Cape Town, to develop skills with which to create a sustainable income for their families.

According to recent estimates by the World Bank there is a huge divide between the richest and the poorest in South Africa, and sadly, the country is also among the most unequal countries in terms of income distribution. Ruth is one of the people who want to bring on change in South Africa, and with heART At Work she is buoyantly striding into the right direction. She is someone who walks the talk.

Here she tells us about her Somerset West, lucky us, she shares the most amazing tips.

The Touristin: Three words that characterize Somerset West?

Ruth: Beautiful. Healing. Nurturing.

The Touristin: How do you get around Somerset West?

Ruth: Car or Uber, unless you walking in the vineyards and exploring the mountains.

The Touristin: What is the best kept secret about Somerset West?

Ruth: The fact that Somerset West is not just a place to live, it’s a lifestyle, especially for families with our amazing schools including a Montessori school (Newberry House) on the beautiful Lourensford Estate which goes up to matric, children friendly restaurants, beaches, mountains, trails for biking and running combined with a caring community.

The Touristin: What is your favourite town/borough/suburb/area in Somerset West and why?

Ruth: We love Sir Lowry’s Pass Village because there is still space.

The Touristin: The best place for a hot chocolate or coffee in Somerset West?

Ruth: The Coffee Roasting Company on the Lourensford Wine Estate, they have delicious coffee beans that they roast and grind daily, their Iced Coffee is just sublime. You can experience a coffee tasting there too.

The Touristin: What is one restaurant we must try out while in Somerset West?

Ruth: Gosh, there are so many, depending what you are feeling like on a particular day. If you like fine dining, then Waterkloof in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village is said by many friends to be equivalent to a 2 star Michelin restaurant, it has a magnificent view over the bay from high up and very friendly staff. I haven’t eaten there personally but love going there for the wine tasting, especially in winter, around the big fireplace next to the open plan kitchen where you can observe the chefs at work.

Otherwise, Giovanni’s, either at Waterstone Village where Peter the owner will make you feel like royalty with his warm hospitality, or at his Eikendal wine farm branch close by on the R44. Delicious Pizzas and Pastas. There are so many and each one is as wonderful as the next.

The Touristin: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Ruth: We love going down to the Strand Beach to body board and enjoy the Lourensford Market which is on every second Friday night and every Sunday where you can laze in the gardens or sit in the market venue enjoying the live music while sipping delicious wine, craft beer, fresh juices and delicious food to suit every palette.

We also like the Vergenoegd (Wine Estate) Market every Saturday where you will be able to watch their Runner ducks (used to eat the snails etc. in the vineyards) run through the market area a few times a day, live music, fabulous food and wonderful atmosphere.

They also host awesome well-known local bands the first Sunday of every month during summer.

Then there is the magnificent Nature Reserve or the many mountain biking trails in the area (True Grit in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and then you can also join the Wannabees Mountain Club to have access to the trails on the wine farms along the R44.) There are 4x4 trails, trail runs, yoga and sound journeys at Lourensford Wine Estate every week (where they also have the most amazing Montessori School). We are spoilt for choice in Somerset West and are very blessed to be surrounded by so much nature.

The Touristin: Do you have a favourite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in Somerset West?

Ruth: We love the Vergelegen Wine Farm, its 300 year old history with its ancient trees and historic buildings and magnificent gardens. Put a day aside for Vergelegen … after exploring, you can enjoy a wine tasting or lunch at The Stables.

The Touristin: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes?

Ruth: We are fortunate to have a wonderful little shopping center, Vergelegen Plein in Sir Lowrys Pass Village, with the best view a shopping center could wish for, home to Checkers with amazing prices and good quality food adjacent to Woolworths Food, which is great for quick fixes or special items for picnics and such. We have a very big picnic culture here.

For clothes, we always try to support the local entrepreneur first, in summer, the Country Craft Market have some lovely clothes, especially Annie of Cobwebs, who hand paints beautiful fairies, unicorns, wolves and elves onto tie dyed clothes for children and adults alike. Her quality is superb.

Then at the R44 market, all through the year, are the marvellous duo of Blue Rose Clothing, If you prefer mainstream, then we have the fabulous Somerset Mall, with all the usual chain stores, including H&M as well as some of the finest top brands.

The Touristin: What souvenir shall we bring back from Somerset West?

Ruth: The markets on the Wine Farms have amazing products but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a heART At Work product from the shop at the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

Otherwise, you will be spoilt for choice with all the delicious wines and olive oils as you explore the wine farms.

The Touristin: Thank you so much for your time Ruth, all the very best to you. Keep up the good work heART At Work.

For more info read Creative South Africa. Beautiful things you would want to buy on vacation in Cape Town. You will see what I just bought from heART At Work on my last trip to Cape Town

From Berlin with love