A Tale from the Garden Route

South Africa’s Garden Route winds through the mountainous coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Excusing my French, it is fucking beautiful. It’s called the Garden Route after its discoverer, Gordon ‘Garden’ Route. That’s not true at all.

So we’ve just torn through this lovely part of the world after realising we spent approximately heaps too long in Cape Town. But that didn’t mean that we were too rushed to smell the roses. Oh, you want a story? Here’s your bloody story.

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Looking at the South African coastline starts to get a little like looking at churches in Europe. ‘OH GREAT, ANOTHER FUCKING AWESOME THING. YAAAY.’

The one where two young studs get more than they bargained for.

The world needs more Beryls. I once read that if you gather all the Beryls in the world together you could iron every existing garment and preserve the global fruit supplies in one afternoon. It doesn’t matter how many Beryls you know, you could always do with more. Beryl, for me at least, is the female equivalent of Darryl. That’s the sort of level we’re talking here.

So a few days ago we were in the coastal town of Knysna. Sharky and I quite like a hike, so we decided to trundle the 8km from our accommodation to the majestic viewpoint at Knysna Heads. Being the aerobically gifted athletes that we are we made it comfortably, and by lunchtime we were looking for something else to do. We wandered past an old duck sweeping her gutter and asked where another nice viewpoint might be. She pointed to the end of her cul-de-sac. Alarm bells should’ve been ringing.

Posing like wanderlust vagabond wankers and taking photos that are sure to melt Instagram’s smarmy face off, we didn’t see the BMW hatch creep up on us but 5 minutes later. ‘Are you boys looking for a ride?’ cooed the gutter sweeping gran from just down the way. We weren’t. Or maybe we were? There was something about this sweet old pheasant that just said come hither. Unsure, we played an extended game of ums and ahs before she finally dropped the bomb.

“Oh and my name’s BERYL’.

It was decided. Yes Beryl, we will get in your car. Yes Beryl, we’d love for you to show us the hotspots of Knysna. For sure Beryl, if you feel like buying us lunch I suppose we’ll roll with that punch too.

Beryl somehow ended up living up to the standards of excellence that her name so unashamedly promised. She was a recently widowed wildcat who could swear like a sailor and would out-perve even the most budgie-smuggled 40-year-old European (although apparently neither the shark nor I quite sauced Beryl’s pudding – ‘I like the rugby physique’ she said).

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Pre-Beryl

She spoke about her life – a rough one even by South African standards. She had no remaining children, a car crash in the 70s killing her twin 3-year-old boys and causing her to miscarriage a pregnancy. Post-accident she and her husband had committed to making other kids’ lives better via sponsorships and scholarships, and managed to graduate a good number of students that wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance, including a doctor.

Beryl’s husband passed away a year ago, so I had assumed that this might’ve been a case of ‘lonely old widow looking for some company’. I couldn’t have been more wrong. At lunch every second person came up to Beryl and said ‘oh me MUST catch up for coffee’. She’d agree and ask how they were, then inevitably turn to me and whisper ‘I have no fucking idea who that is’. Popularity is indeed a heavy cross to bear.

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Stone cold fox

Between lunch, viewpoints and chucking mainys, we soaked up an entire afternoon with Bez. She was actually ready to kick on with us before we realised we hadn’t got organised to leave the following morning. I dare say it was a wise move to clean snap her in the late afternoon; I reckon she would have carved shapes around me had we moved onto a bar.

The point of the story? None really. Sometimes old ladies pick up young studs and it’s all above board; get your head out of the gutter. One clean takeaway that I think we can all put in our back pockets is this:

Find yourself a Beryl.

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