(Written 14 Dec 2010)
Dear All,
Melton Wold is an oasis in the Karoo, near Victoria West, set up in the late 1930s as what I can only describe as an Edwardian retreat. Apparently, as late as the early 70s, anyone who was anyone in middle-class Cape Town (mainly Rondebosch) “took in the Karoo air” and engaged in some colonial activity such as riding, bowls, snooker, and taking afternoon tea on the patio; all the while surrounded by children frolicking on the lawns and gentlemen, in panama hats of course, reading old books in shady spots. It goes without saying that jackets were required to dinner and I expect many a sentence would have begun with, “My dear fellow…”, or “I say old chap… .”
While the buildings, in various states of aging and occasional disrepair still tell of more cultured times, there isn’t much left of what I imagine was the sense of the place in its heyday. The present owner strikes one as being something of an AWB militarist who has turned what was once a multifaceted working farm into a hunting establishment; thus trading the genteel atmosphere of “sheep may safely graze” (see Bach below) to one in which skittish game can occasionally be seen darting over distant koppies, no doubt in a desperate attempt to get away from boorish gun-toting characters in camouflage jackets who drink their double brandys with coke.
Nevertheless, enough of the original Melton Wold has survived to make the 9-hour trip from Cape Town worthwhile. An added benefit to being there is that there is no internet or cellphone connection, leaving you to enjoy Thomas Hardy’s Far from the madding crowd in some shady, peaceful spot… in your panama hat of course