The Midlands Meander

zebra Stocklands Farm is right in the heart of the KwaZulu Natal Midlands Meander, a maze of tarred and dirt roads, dotted with enterprising small businesses. What appears at first glance as uninterrupted farmland and indigenous bush, is home to a wide cross section of small businesses, from organic farmstalls to pottery shops and antiques barns.

Driving up to Howick was my first real little trip in the Silver Fox, and it ran like a charm. No aircon, though and it was really, really hot!

rooms

Stocklands is a lovely place, very lush with beautiful gardens and surrounds. The road leading up to the gate runs alongside the game reserve and the zebra were there, checking me out as I drove in. So pretty, and they seemed unafraid.

Evie has done a good job with the place. It has a lot of history which I will dig into as the original house is a Voortrekker house, and added on is an English settler house, with other additions through the years. Eve is actually writing a book about it.

The first afternoon, we went to a place on the Meander called Piggly Wiggly!  It's a little group of stores around the original coffee shop/restaurant. While we were browsing in the Huddy's used book store, a huge rain storm blew threw. I haven't heard rain that ferocious for years and the noise it made on the tin roof made it impossible to speak! And then, after 10 minutes of downpour, it simply blew away, leaving the ground steaming and big puddles to navigate. Lovely!

my-room

Back at the B&B, we had a great supper, with ample South African wine! Eve and I reminisced, Roland just listened to us go on about life way back when. Both of us discovered things we had forgotten and some of what she told me put a lot of things in perspective for me, the right time frames. Going back 50-some years is difficult, especially when there were things I really must have wanted to forget.

Back in my delightful self-catering room, (not that I was cooking or anything) I slept really well, got up my usual time as the sun came up and went out to the pool room (where I could get wi-fi) and enjoyed the quiet and birds waking up.

antique store

Breakfast was served on the veranda of the main house, and it was delish! Evie had stuff to do early, then we went out Meandering. First stop Dovehouse Organic Farmstall. Although they have a lot of organic stuff like soaps and shampoos and packaged organic foods like flax seed and milled oats, the fresh produce was disappointing. But maybe it's the season - too hot for many veges.

Next was the antiques store where Evie found a book she needed and I browsed. It was fun, but the stuff is getting expensive!

Then on to the Swissland Goat Cheese farm. We took a wrong turn on a very bumpy (and muddy) dirt road and ended up having to reverse out. No traction, no 4x4, so we sort of slid down the hill to a turning spot! Up we climbed to the farm where we petted the new, teenage goats that had just arrived. So cute, snuffling our hands as we fed them. The existing herd were making a heck of a noise, udders full, waiting to be milked. The cheese is delicious. We tasted and I bought a brie, a Drakensberg which is almost cheddar texture but blue, and a smoked chevre. Yum!

tp

Back at the house, I went for a swim and hung out by the pool for a while, then dinner in the big kitchen, again with ample wine!

It was a good time, and I will go back up to do a Voortrekker meander. We are going to track down some of the houses, some of which are in ruins and hopefully I will be able to do an article about it for some magazine, hopefully Country Life.

On my way back to Ashburton, I really got a taste of how bad South African drivers are. b. They have to be the absolute worst in the world, though I am sure others in different countries have the same complaints. Riding on the bumper seems to be the favorite, they must think they are Nascar drivers, leaving barely a foot between my back bumper and their front one! It is absolutely amazing! And want you to move over RIGHT NOW, even though the lane beside you is blocked with a non-stop line of heavies, leaving no where for you to duck away. Eish! as they say here - my words were a lot stronger.

It's amazing that within half an hour, the climate can be so drastically different. Here, it is grasslands, savanna with thorn trees and brush. Howick is totally the opposite, lush, forested and very moist. Both have their charms but I think I like the lush more, the humidity makes my skin feel good!