Paternoster is known for its white-washed cottages that stand at attention in front of the wild Atlantic ocean. On this particular winter's afternoon the sun’s rays briefly reach through the clouds and skim over the grey-blue waves, reminding us just how little sun we've seen in the past few days. I turn my attention from the dramatic view for a moment to pour more hot tea as we sit snugly in the Orchid Room of Abalone House.
A little cat comes to greet my partner and I. The three of us have got to know each other since our arrival two hours ago and we’re already firm friends. I learn from Lindsay Stewart, Abalone House’s general manager, that the cat’s name is Chelsea.
“Chelsea Grace, excuse me,” she says laughingly as she points out the rather grand name for the small purring cat.
Now, most will agree that a purring cat, a hot cup of tea and a scone with homemade raspberry jam is a near-perfect combination. What could possibly make it more perfect?
How about an overnight stay at one of Paternoster’s most unique guesthouses, including that delicious afternoon tea, a dinner whipped up by executive chef Darren Stewart and a scrumptious breakfast the next morning?
And believe me when I say you'll feel right at home. By the time we sat down to tea, we were already feeling quite comfortable - as if Abalone House was the seaside cottage we'd been dreaming of owning. And no wonder, because the guesthouse was the home of owners Stef Venter and Johann Janse van Vuuren for seven years before they decided to turn it into a guest house.
You can tell that someone actually lived here - it's homely, natural and stuffed full of memories too. In fact, the art works and antiques are what inspired Stef and Johann to start the guest house in the first place.
The layout of the building is exciting and surprising, especially as it looks deceptively small on arrival. Eight rooms feature on the second floor, complete with a communal deck and jacuzzi which overlook a rather breathtaking view of the small bay in front of the property. Two rooms downstairs complete the little guest house.
An extra-length king size bed awaits us in our room, along with a flat screen TV, a coffee machine and a lovely large bath and shower. And for those who really feel the cold, you’re fully catered for as each room has underfloor heating.
Dinner at the Saffron Restaurant was an indulgent experience and, blessedly, it’s no further than a few steps from your room. With grand high-backed chairs in warm tones of orange and cerise, it offers a comfy and private experience.
Two menu options were presented to us – we could choose our meals from the bistro menu that consists of wholesome, hearty dishes like good fish and chips or Prego roll or from the Tasting menu that offers six smaller dishes that portray Executive Chef Darren Stewart's unique style.
Worth mentioning here is Darren's outstanding gift for making bread. A smokey raisin bread was the winner of the day, while a butternut bread, chocolate bread, seed loaf and just plain fresh white bread adorned the table each time we dined.
Breakfast is also a wonderful experience at Abalone House - enjoy a slap up bacon-and-eggs breakfast, or posh beans on toast amongst a good selection of other dishes. Breakfast saw us seated at the quaint tables in the sunny Orchid Room where we had taken our afternoon tea the day before.
Outside, a little Sunbird hovered busily amongst the flowers while an icy wind outside whipped the Atlantic into white horses. And all while a little cat slept contentedly on my lap.
Abalone House is offering a special winter package of R1200 per person sharing - which includes an overnight stay, afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast - that's available until end-July 2011. Make sure you book soon to avoid disappointment. Visit www.abalonehouse.co.za for more information.