My delicious nephews are visiting. Twins aged five, they contain enough energy between them to power Cape Town on a cold winter’s night. Eskom could learn a thing or two from them. In fact we all could learn a thing or two from them: each day is a wondrous thing when you’re five, filled with possibility.
With this in mind, on a spring Friday that couldn’t decide if it was winter or summer, dark clouds chasing blue sky and sunshine around above us, we headed over the hill to Hout Bay to spend a morning at The Clay Café.
Up a rutted dust road as you head down the hill into Hout Bay from Constantia Nek, this old farmhouse on the side of the mountain has been converted into a working pottery. The Clay Café has been going since 1998, but has recently undergone a bit of a makeover. There’s a fabulous kids’ playground on one side, and a view of the mountains across the valley that’d make any tourist brochure proud.
The Clay Café consists of a long warm room (there’s a fire on cold winter days) with shelves along one side piled high with raw pottery – plates, bowls, mugs, fairies, the options are limitless. On the other side are paints, paintbrushes, sponges, stencils etc… All the makings of creative happiness. Outside, tables fill a large covered stoep fitted with awnings for protection from the wind. It must be the perfect spot on a summer’s day.
Owner Chris Bradburn welcomed us with delicious coffee, freshly baked scones with jam and cream and, for the boys, juice and chocolate brownies. I tasted a tiny bite of a brownie. They are directly from heaven.
The nephews hurtled around, deciding which pottery to paint, which colours, which brushes… so many choices. Five-year old attention spans are not dissimiliar to that of a goldfish, so I watched with interest to see how long they’d sit still to paint. Ages. They loved it. Complete creative freedom, blue fingers (and some blue lips – teeth being the opening weapon of choice) and the anticipation of something that would be used, by them, was a win.
While painting our own mugs (there was no way I was missing out on the fun) my sister and I happily chatted to Chris and her son, who has recently joined the business, and is the young blood behind some new ideas to make the place even better. They have a small, reasonably-priced menu – toasted sandwiches, hot dogs, baked goodies – and a larger menu from which to order for kitchen teas, birthdays, corporate building events, and the like. The table next to us was celebrating a birthday with brunch. The salmon and scrambled egg croissants looked delicious.
With mugs and bowls painted, and the sugar high from the brownies kicking in, the boys headed outside to the playground, where they made a beeline for the fantastic tractor-tyre swing as we watched them sedately from our sunny spot on the stoep.
We spent the best part of a day at this tranquil spot, and by the time we headed back home over the mountain we had two very happy and satisfyingly exhausted boys in the car, proudly comparing their blue fingers.
The Clay Café is open seven days a week, 9am to 5pm, and on Thursday evenings (5pm to 9pm) for pizza and pottery (bring your own wine), with a seasonal dinner menu including pizzas, lasagne, salads and soups. Book on 021 790 3318.