Franschhoek, South Africa

franschhoek_01At the end of February we had some friends get married in South Africa and knowing this might be our last big trip before the little one arrives in May, Reid and I jumped at the chance to take full advantage of a long weekend in one of our favorite places. One of the nice things about traveling to South Africa from London is that you are only one or two hours ahead of your regular timezone and even though it is a long flight (around 11 hours) you don’t suffer from jet lag because there isn’t much of a time difference. So when we landed on a beautiful sunny day in Cape Town, we got into our rental car and headed out to Franschhoek in wine country where we would be staying for the weekend.

franschhoek_02franschhoek_03You may remember our first visit to South Africa when we stayed at Babylonstoren (probably still one of my most favorite places on earth). Unfortunately, it was already booked up when we got around to getting our hotel sorted but we made sure to stop by for a delicious lunch at their green house followed by a wander in the garden and of course checking out their farm and wine shop for goodies to take home. After we tore ourselves away we headed on to Franschhoek, about a 10 minute drive up the rode, and checked into the beautiful Le Franschhoek Hotel which came recommended to us by our friends who were getting married that weekend.

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franschhoek_05We lucked out with a seriously stunning view from our hotel room and I loved watching the sky change throughout the day. We could also see the pool from our room and I knew immediately that I wanted to relax there as much as possible. Overall, I was really pleased with the hotel and enjoyed wandering the grounds and soaking up all of the sunshine I could.

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The rest of our first afternoon was spent exploring the town of Franschhoek, which is very charming, followed by dinner at the hotel. Other than wedding activities, I knew I wanted to eat at The Table de Meye, a restaurant run by a wife and husband on a wine estate. I came across them through instagram and when they had a spot for lunch available on Saturday, I was so excited to get to go.

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Again the weather was absolutely beautiful so they had the different tables set up outside beneath the trees with beautifully mismatched place settings and floral arrangements. It all looked stunning and thought out but not forced. If the food had been sub-par, I still would have been a happy camper because of the setting but everything we ate was beyond excellent. You can see the menu we had that day on their blog here. I think Reid’s favorite dish was the starter of tomatoes on a puff pastry and of course I just about died when the dessert came out- a seriously decadent chocolate mousse.

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The rest of our time was spent wine tasting (for Reid, not me unfortunately), being outdoors as much as possible whether this meant having a picnic or taking a dip in the pool and of course, the main event, celebrating our friends’ wedding. It could not have been a more relaxing time and a great final trip as just the two of us. But hopefully one day we can make it back down south for a family trip in the future!

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Weekend Links

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It is very grey here in London today so I thought I would brighten the mood by posting an old photo from a past post on hidden London mewses. I just love these camellias with the sunshine popping through! And it makes me feel warmer just looking at it.

I also wanted to introduce a new thing that I hope to start doing at the end of every week and that is just a little round up of what I’ve been up to/have planned for the weekend/cool things I came across this week. So here it goes…

  • It looks like there is still space available for this Saturday’s doughnut master class being held at Bread Ahead Bakery & School (earlier this week I posted about the class I took there). I would definitely want to attend if I had more notice but maybe some of you more flexible folk could go along!
  • We are still settling into our new place and slowly gathering furniture for a few rooms- this is the most space we have ever had and want to thoughtfully acquire things. One place we’ve had luck is at Lassco down by the Maltby Street Market (I’ve got a post planned for this in the future- the St John’s doughnuts are to die for!) so hopefully I can make a stop by this weekend.
  • My younger brother sent me this link of 25 simple green side dishes. There are some great suggestions/recipes in there and I’ve already added some to my roster!
  • I’ve been reading this book and having such a good time learning all sorts of facts and interesting tidbits about London!
  • One thing I love about exploring a new neighborhood is finding new places to eat. We ate here last weekend with some friends and absolutely loved it. Can’t wait to find some other gems in the area.

That’s all for now! I hope you all have a lovely weekend and happy first day of Spring!

Bread Baking

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Borough Market is one of my favorite places to visit in London and I’ve written about it before. I just love the combination of the fresh and prepared foods along with the location and general hustle and bustle of the place. I have walked by the Bread Ahead Bakery & School many, many times and viewed all of the yumminess baking inside but had never taken a class. That changed this past January when my friend Kate invited me along to join her for the Quintessentially English baking class.

I think I had been intimidated by trying to bake bread at home because it always seemed to require an exactness that I don’t always follow when I am in the kitchen but this class made it all completely accessible. First of all, it was a small class (maybe 10 people in total) so you felt like you could always speak up and ask any questions you may have. And secondly, the bakers who taught the class were so knowledgable, they made everything seem incredibly easy!

During this class we learned how to make a cottage loaf, devonshire splits, bath buns and a lardy cake. Everything turned out better than expected and I was happy to go home with an armful of delicious bread! I was surprised by how physical kneading the dough can be but it also made it more rewarding in the end (and hey, its a fun way to get some good arm muscles going!). We were also given the recipes used for each type of bread so we can recreate them at home.

This was definitely an experience I enjoyed and I hope to take a few more in the future. They have all sorts of classes available ranging from a doughnut master class to an intro to french baking. They even have a gluten free baking class!

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Clyde

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Its been quiet over here since the new year and I had not really planned on that but we’ve had lots of exciting changes happening in the Murphy household as of late. To name a few… we moved house and have been settling into our new place and neighbourhood. We are expecting a baby at the end of May! And, just in case we didn’t have enough change going on, we also added another furry member to the family. Everyone, I would like for you to meet Clyde! He is an old english bulldog and has been such a fun addition- he’s even made our almost 13-year-old lab, Bonnie, more puppy-like. These photos are from the first few weeks we had him when he was only about 8 to 10 weeks old. Now he is a little over 4 months and has grown a ton (I’ll be sure to post some more recent photographs of him soon)!

 

I’ve got lots I want to share on here about fun things to do and see in London, more Londoner profiles, stories from around the home and of course stories of our recent travels. Until then, I hope you enjoy these puppy photos and see you back here again soon!

 

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A Look Back

Here’s a visual look back at the stories I’ve shared with you so far this year. I know Four by Three hasn’t been going for an entire year yet but I’ve been shooting for it for much longer than that. Anyway, thanks you much for letting me share these things with you and here’s to even more to come in 2015!

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