Tuesday 17 May 2011

Montebello: forest phantasms

Where do you go for a lazy, lingering breakfast on a sunny weekend morning in Cape Town, maybe as a prelude to a walk on the  mountain or a day on the beach?

A favourite place of ours is the Gardener's Cottage, above and below, in the old farm buildings and forested land of Montebello, in Newlands. Sitting under the trees in the shade of the mountain, it feels like being deep in countryside rather than in the middle of a city suburb. 

The food is simple, unpretentious and best quality, and after you've indulged, there's a whole range of interesting distractions to explore, because in and around the old farm buildings are small workshops and cottage industries promoting local art and design, a working iron forge and a plant nursery ...

And seemingly growing out of the forest behind the forge, 

you walk into an extraordinary world of a woodcarver's imagination ...

His creations seem to grow organically out of the tree stumps he carves from ...

A tree becomes a hand becomes a plant holder ...

And here is the man with the vision behind all these creations - wood carver Right Mukare from Zimbabwe ...


  1. Thank you for taking us along for a delicious meal, and a tour of this sculptor's atelier. I do like the mixture of the carving and the retention of the wood's natural state.

    And once again, the quality of the light shown in your photos is so, so different from what I experience every day.

    Best wishes!

  2. I'm drawn to the photograph of the huge hand. Thanks your comments. After I've had a play with Picassa I might explore Picnik too - perhaps not much between them.

  3. Dear Karen,
    Don't know what to say.....
    This is all so beautiful, the landscape, and...
    showing peoples daily life! Nothing pretentious. I really can feel the atmosphere.
    You 'walk through' with a very open mind and eyes'. It's authentic!
    So good to see happy people on that continent!
    The wooden art is just amazing! I love these African sculptures, made 'by heart'!
    Thank you so much to take us with you...!

    I'm sorry to be so far behind with my commenting. We had some usual French country problems here...., electricity cuts, internet off, and...

    Are you still in Cape town? Or back in England?
    Looking very much forward to your next post!

    Many greetings from the Périgord,

    P.S. And thank you very much for your comments!

  4. Karen,
    I am the son-in-law of the owner of the Gardeners Cottage and I am busy building a web site for the restaurant.
    I would very grateful if you would allow me to use some of the photos you have taken of the restaurant and of Montebello for the web site.
    I would also like to give you credit so would need more details about you.
    You can contact me at brendandh@webafrica.or.za.

    Many thanks
    Brendan Drummond-Hay

  5. Karen,
    Sorry - that email address is :


    Brendan Drummond-Hay


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