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Vive la Deux Chevaux!

July 4th, 2013

Achim’s Citroën Deux Chevaux is not just a car, it’s a passion.

Achim and son Takuan standing proud with the 2CV

Achim and son Takuan standing proud with the 2CV

Hildegard remembers “A guy with, surprisingly, the surname ‘de Villiers’ - a family name that carries substance in the history of Cabrière and Franschhoek - helped Achim design the first label for Pierre Jourdan and then decided to emigrate. He had a red Deux Chevaux, the apple of his eye…
This being the famous little car that everybody drove in the olden days, since end of WW2 for the next 40 years -from student to granny - as a mode of transport in France. Achim had spent 4 summer college holidays away from Geisenheim in French cellars, late 60’s - early 70’s, and was surrounded by people who drove these little cars with the power of ‘ 2 horses’ deux chevaux (jokingly given that name; it has, of course, slightly more horsepower).”

“Many years ago,” says Achim, “I worked in a village called Bages near Perpignon on the French Spanish border. Mr Nogue the Kooperative manager drove a Citroën Pallas and the Spaniard who drove me to the local restaurant for lunch drove a Deux Chevaux - which literally means two horse power .I remember she cornered particular well. I fell in love with France and promised myself that one day I would drive Citroëns like these. Since then, we have had five Pallas, white, black & white, bronze and currently a red & white and blue & white. The Deux Chevaux is my personal car and my dream come true.”

“Memories and nostalgia overpowered Achim’s emotions,” continued Hildegard, “when he heard that ‘de Villiers’ had to sell this car, and, even so Achim had pledged to spent every penny he could spare on the development of his newly acquired smallholding Cabrière, he dared to spend R1000 on the purchase of this rare find!! We were subsequently, found by the original owner, German Joachim Fassmann, who had driven from Europe all the way via the Sahara to the tip of Africa and onto India with this little Deux Chevaux and had videos and many hair-raising stories to tell of his adventures with this little gem of a car.”

One such story Achim recalls, “Joachim spotted a tree in the middle of the Sahara, but the track stayed clear of the only shade for miles. He found this strange but he needed a break to eat and rest so he drove under the tree which turned out to be a thorn tree. Hearing a hissing noise of four punctures at once, he realised why nobody parked the vehicles in the shade.
To add insult to injury, to get out he had to reverse out along the same track. One learns by ones mistakes and there is always a reason!”

“My Deux Chevaux has such personality that I always say that I am having an affair with her, not in her. She was built for the farmers so that everybody could afford one and I like that there are only the essentials like flap up windows ,the back seat can easily be removed and she then becomes a bakkie. I am very fortunate that I have a dear friend who loves the Citroëns as much and can service and fix mine. The drive shaft and crank shaft that have had to be replaced are positioned in a prominent position of honour in my office and tell their own story. My Deux Chevaux is red and white - our family colours. She was meant to end up in the Quartier Français of the Cape, better known as Franschhoek. She is a permitted love affair and starts even on the coldest mornings - which is more than I can say for the Citroën Pallas which needs a garage. Vive la France. Vive la Deux Chevaux. Vive Franschhhoek!!!”

Achim with his Deux Chevaux

Achim with his beloved Deux Chevaux

Fascinating history of the von Arnim coat of arms

June 1st, 2013

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“The coat of arms at Haute Cabrière of the German von Arnim family is most fascinating”, explains Hildegard von Arnim.

“In the 13 the century our ancestors were in fact Dutch and one of them defended the town of Arnhem in Holland. The very same town that became famous thanks to the movie “ A Bridge too far”. Arnhem is a stronghold of the Netherlands’ border with Germany as the river around the town is a natural barrier to keep enemies out. Should, however, the enemy get in, the town is just as difficult to free - the story of the end of WWII and the movie.

Back to the 13th century: During the attack on the town our ancestor observed that the best way to defend the town would be to break away the blanks of the only bridge crossing the river. He bravely stood on the two bare beams of the bridge, killing anybody trying to come across. The town was successfully defended and he could take on the name ‘the savior of Arnhem’. The ‘van Arnhems’ wandered, centuries later, across the border into Prussia and became involved in the Prussian military. Their name was ‘germanised’ to ‘von Arnim’, they were knighted early on for bravery in the Prussian army.

The von Arnim coat of arms has a red background with 2 white beams across it: the white beams represent the beams of the bridge, red the blood that flowed into the river during the battle. It is a simple coat, testimony to the fact that it is a very old coat of arms, 13th century. The simpler the more ancient!

Achim’s father was still a military man, from age 11 educated at a military academy, his father a general. He was obliged to enter WWI at age 17 and fought on the Russian front. He was shot in the face, loosing part of his nose and almost froze to death, which caused him to suffer from stomach ulcers that caused his premature death at age 60 when Achim was only 13 years of age.

Nevertheless, Achim von Arnim senior never lost his sense of humour or adventure and decided to leave for ‘warmer’ pastures in the 1920s. He traveled to Africa becoming a businessman in Cape Town, importing paper as South Africa did not have paper mills in those days. He had many editors of magazines and newspapers as friends. Achim has inherited his father’s sense of humour,[even so, by his own admission, he was a useless soldier and a bit of a rebel during his army days]. He feels his family coat of arms has a right to be in our cellar and on our labels thanks to the red and white colours of the Arnim family. Red and white is, after all, the general description of wine. He suggests that we forget the blood and gore of the past and try to settle our disputes over a glass of red or white wine.”

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