And just like that their time in Cape Town had come to an end. Well, ‘just like that’ had meant another twenty days filled with adventures around the city – all, obviously led by Barley himself – and at least one portion of Eggs Benedict a day, for once Charlotte had learnt how to prepare them, she simply couldn’t stop. Their first trial had gone over greatly and had been a smashing success with everyone including a neighbor, who had knocked on the door at just the right time and had promptly been treated to a steaming dish of hollandaise-covered eggs and spinach buns. Later in the month, Barley even told his guests that word had gotten out about their invention and that people had started buying the rolls in order to try it for themselves. By then, however, Louis and Charlotte had long moved on and had tried the dish in new and different ways, replacing and eliminating traditional ingredients to their creative fancy and coming up with multiple new versions of the breakfast classic, some of which Charlotte still loved preparing on a lazy sunday morning all those years later. They had, for example, succeeded in baking their English muffins from scratch and had even played around with creating a spinach bread by themselves, though the result could never quite live up to the one they had used for their first ever version. And yet, though it seemed all but impossible to the three of them, the days had passed by mercilessly, leaving just three, then two, then one left until they had to bid their goodbyes to Barley and the beautiful city he was lucky enough to call home:
“I truly loved my time here, thank you so much for having us!”, it wasn’t more than a mumble , hardly intelligible, due to the fat tears running down Charlotte’s cheeks. She really had taken a fancy to her father’s old schoolmate, having felt right at home from the very first moment he had invited them into his house, a feeling that had only intensified over time.
“It was a pleasure to have you all! Honestly, you guys, come back whenever you want … better yet, simply move here”, a puppy-laugh fought itself to the surface, though it didn’t sound quite as carefree as it usually did: “You know you want to!”, he added winking, wrapping first Oliver, than Charlotte and lastly Louis into farewell hugs, before ushering them outside the garden so as for them to catch their flight.
Yet, even though their time in Cape Town had thus ended, the Eggletons were not quite ready to leave South Africa for good. After all, their time had mostly been spent in the capital itself or up in the North doing Safari and neither of them could shake the feeling that there was still so much more to be seen, so much more to be learnt and experienced. They still wanted to get to know this confusing and multifaceted country on a deeper level, strived to be able to finally understand it, and so Oliver and Louis had booked their little family into a farm B&B on the other side of South Africa – Gauteng Province – and had postponed their original flight for a couple of days. Here they stayed in a truly magical, Alice-in-Wonderland-esque garden, where hidden sceneries could be found on every corner and where the Eggletons were greeted and woken up by the excited noises of animals being fed. For the first couple of hours Charlotte couldn’t quite figure out if she loved the place for its remoteness and peacefulness, or if she was freaked out by just the same characteristics. Over the course of the next days, however, and even though they spent most of their time driving out to other farms or occasionally even into the city of Johannesburg, she learnt to fully appreciate the quiet and all the hidden corners. In fact, Charlotte found that she could roam the garden for hours, just investigating what she could find between the trees. There were multiple little houses, she spotted almost immediately, but there was also a pavillions and a hidden pool, which she only discovered shortly before leaving. She also loved being around the animals of the farm, to help feed the little piglets and always kept a safe distance from the ostriches. Her fathers, too, were very fond of the place, as Oliver could spend hours in the little vegetable garden – none of the others could understand this, for the place was not in full bloom due to the season – and Louis had soon found out that the farmer’s son led a restaurant in Johannesburg. From then on, the two of them talked about the preparation of different foodstuff almost without pause, until the chef finally invited Louis to cook with him for a night or two in the restaurant. Other than their adventures on the farm itself, Charlotte had been especially impressed with a visit to a chicken farm they did towards the end of the trip. Her father had wanted her to see a place where the birds lived in wonderful conditions, without being stuffed into little breeding cages. This, he argued, would be a great lesson for her to learn from a young age onwards, especially if she wanted to continue cooking with eggs as much as she did. And he was right: Charlotte was all but mesmerized learning about the chickens and how they were treated on the farm, which eventually ended in the proclamation that she wanted to only use the eggs of equally well-handled birds from here on out. Years later, she could still remember how she had felt walking through the wide area of the farm, feeling slightly apprehensive at first, but getting more and more comfortable with the animals as time went on. It was also this farm that stayed in her mind as they packed their bags a few days later and finally left for good.