Blou Huisie is a Cape Cod-style beach home that offers the most idyllic retreat on the shores of Britannia Bay on the West Coast. Dreaming of a summer spent seaside, sunshine on one’s skin and a salt-scented ocean breeze blowing through one’s hair? That’s exactly what I had in mind upon discovering this prettily periwinkle cottage overlooking the sea. Perched atop a bluff borders a sheltered bay, Blou Huisie makes for the perfect family getaway, with two en-suite bedrooms and a loft sleeping 6-8 people in total. Soft tonal blues give the house its name whilst playful decor touches like sea creature decals in the bathrooms and a cheerily pink flamingo wall hanging provide character. Vintage chairs, pleasingly mismatched, are set around a scrubbed wooden table and the cupboard under the stairs is filled to the brim with beach toys.
A mom herself, owner Noortjie de Leeuw has made sure to kit out the house with all manner of goodies for little ones – from brightly hued buckets and spades to a small climbing frame in the front garden. For couples, a stay here is equally enjoyable what with a fully equipped kitchen (yes, and that most essential of appliances – a dishwasher), slow combustion fireplace and a wood-fired hot tub. And when summer’s southeaster allows for it, little is more romantic than immersing oneselves in the warm water and witnessing one of Britannia Bay’s painterly sunsets over a glass of wine.
As one half of a couple who loves to eat, I can unashamedly say that meals made in Blou Huisie’s fire pit were a highlight for us. After purchasing fresh harders, Cape bream and mussels in Velddrif, we cooked our haul of seafood over the coals, flavouring the fish with foraged dune sage and sea salt. What with our visit taking place a month or so prior to Christmas, I wanted to reimagine the tinsel and baubles for beach treasures and thus set up a table on the spacious stoep with a view of the beach, inspired by the colours and sandy treasures that reflected my favourite coastline.
A tangled tree root became the base for pearlescent perlemoen shells, brittle sea-green urchins and candles anchored in powdery sand. Set against’s Blou Huisie’s periwinkle backdrop, we braaied blue mussels over the coals, poured Sandveld wine and enjoyed a sweeping sunset over the Atlantic.
My sort of summer.
If your sort of summer involves leaving the cooking to others, then Britannia Bay doesn’t disappoint. Although this was my first time actually staying in the area, St Helena Bay (made up of 18 different bays of which Britannia is one) isn’t unfamiliar. No visit is replete with a stop in at Poetsie’s Deli for their homemade biscuits, freshly baked bread and utterly addictive droëwors. Further back towards the harbour, fish and chips at BP Marine Fish Products are praised as being the best in the West Coast and often fresh snoek can be purchased right off the boats. At the entrance to St Helena Bay lies Slippersbaai, a picturesque little cove that looks out over azure waters and the distinctively smooth granite boulders that border the coastline. One could be in Greece, what with summer’s grasses golden, the warm Berg wind moving languidly through the bluegum trees and copses of prickly pear adding their grey-green tone to an already bleached landscape.
This is the home of Alegria – a family-run restaurant specialising in Portuguese fare. After all, St Helena Bay is indeed where, in 1497, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama first landed on South African soil. A rambling property cladded in rough stone, Alegria boasts one of the best sea views on the West Coast, uninterrupted by development or unnecessary additions. Bistro-style bentwood chairs and clothed tables rub shoulders with picnic benches and strings of seashells. The menu is concise, with specials advertised on a blackboard. Expect grilled sardines with milho frito (mieliepap fried to a golden crisp), calamari, chicken livers in a robust garlic and white wine sauce, spicy peri peri chicken and yes, the eatery does damn good ribs too. Kick back and absorb the view, the food and ultimately the slower pace of life that Alegria celebrates.