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Wedgeview Country House - reviewed by Helen Brain   
Thursday, 29 January 2009
A Tough Decision in Tranquil Surroundings - Wedgeview Country House Turning in at the gates, you soon realise that “Country House” is the perfect description for this establishment. Set in a fabulous old-fashioned garden with huge trees, expanses of lawn bordered by beds of fragrant herbs, lilies and roses, and even a vintage fish pond, Wedgeview has all the charm of a traditional thatched farmhouse complemented by the luxury of a top hotel.
Urgent need for a break
We arrived after lunch, feeling very stressed and overtired. We had a major decision to make – possibly the most important one we’d ever have to face. Last April, my husband Luke had a routine medical check up, which uncovered third stage colorectal cancer. Major surgery was followed by six rounds of chemo and 28 shots of radiation. We breathed a sigh of relief as he ended the last round of chemo. Our lives were about to get back to normal.

The next day he went for his six-month check up, and it revealed two tumours in his liver. He’s only 48, very fit, and in perfect health, apart from the cancer. Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that is still curable once it’s spread to the liver. The doctors wanted to cut away half his liver, and give him another eight months of chemo.

But he was exhausted and still filled with chemo drugs, which affected his mood. He couldn’t face another major operation, and another course of chemotherapy. He was considering not having the surgery but rather letting the disease run its course.

If ever two people needed to be soothed and pampered, it was us.

The lap of luxury
We settled into our large airy room with French doors opening onto the garden. Decorated in a typically African style, it was perhaps a little touristy for locals, but the room was luxurious with a king-size, super-comfortable bed – which is what mattered most. We could lie in bed and look out over the garden, vineyards and distant Simonsberg mountains.  

The joy of touch
When it was time for our visit to the spa, Luke was very reluctant to go. After so many invasive and painful medical procedures he didn’t want another stranger touching him, even if it was gently.

I persuaded him to give it a try. Lying in a cool darkened room, listening to meditation music, birdsong, and the distant sounds of a working farm, I hoped he was managing to relax. I know I was. My therapist, Gigi, was warm and calm, and set to work smoothing out my knotted muscles with a hot stone massage, Indian Head Massage, hair treatment and facial.
The stress washes away
Four hours later we emerged soothed, relaxed and hungry. Tea and scones were brought to our loungers next to the pool, and we wallowed in the Jacuzzi, letting the warm water wash away another layer of accumulated stress.

I’d pre-arranged dinner, and it was served on our patio while we watched evening descend on the vineyards. By 7.30 we were both asleep. It was the best night’s sleep in months. Eleven straight hours.
Facing the decision
A delicious full English breakfast was served in the garden next to the fish pond. At the next table sat the parents of the owners, Dave and Anouk Bakker. The Bakker have three small children, and they took it in turns to bring Granny and Grandpa their breakfast, helped by the smiling chef. Then a small boy climbed up into his grandfather’s lap.

‘We are going back to Holland today,’ Mr Bakker senior told me. ‘I’m going to miss the children. I have a special bond with this little boy.’

Tears filled my eyes as I realised why it was worth fighting onwards. So that one day our grandchildren could climb into Luke’s lap, and feel what it is to be so loved by a grandfather.

Rested, soothed, pampered and well fed, Luke felt the same. We packed to go home with hope back in our lives. Surgery and chemotherapy may be grim, but the world is still full of beautiful gardens, king-size beds, and warm and loving relationships.

Wedgeview Country House and Spa
Bonniemile, Vlottenburg, 7604
Stellenbosch – Western Cape

Tel: +27 21 8813525

Helen Brain is a freelance writer. She is the author of over thirty children's books, many of them best sellers, and an adult memoir.
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