It is always such a blessing to be able to stay in the Marvellous Midlands of KZN and for the 3rd year in a row I have stayed at the wonderful Midlands Saddle & Trout. I have written about the accommodation at Saddle & Trout and various places to visit in the vicinity before – read here and here and here. The big plus for me for staying at Saddle & Trout are the glorious sunrises, truly spectacular. Other highlights are their beautiful horses. I did not go for an outride this year but I did go the previous 2 years. Their horses are well trained and well cared for. My Mother joined me on this Midlands adventure but unfortunately my sister could not join us again. We drove up on Monday 27 May 2019.
So what new places did I visit this year?
Our very first stop was at the new The Barn Owl (I had already visited their container coffee shop in Florida Road, Durban.) The photos of the building I had seen online do not show the full picture of how beautiful the structure is. It is an amazing space with lots of light. We first chose to sit at a table outside with scenery of rolling fields and hills, but then saw a lovely couch just inside that looked just right for the 2 of us. This was a coffee stop so we ordered 2 cappuccinos. We also had to have something sweet and carrot cake was the chosen item. Barn Owl use coffee beans from Steampunk. The cappuccinos made by the barista, Freedom, were perfectly prepared and at the perfect drinking temperature. They also pared so well with the wonderfully presented carrot cake. Barn Owl is a must visit spot in the Midlands. You will find them at Groundcover on the Curry’s Post Road.
Our next stop (which we had been to a few times before) was the lovely little St. Paul’s Church. We always make a stop here when we are on the Curry’s Post Road as we love this little church. We stopped as we normally do and walked into the graveyard surrounding the church when we were greeted by a man who introduced himself as Victor. He is the new caretaker of the church and he also works at The Old Hotel at Curry’s Post. He is a font of Curry family history and showed us the various graves of family members and even the grave of George Curry’s favourite horse. He told us that George Curry would ride his horse from Curry’s Post to Ladysmith so that he could train soldiers. He then asked if we would like to see inside the church and of course the answer was YES! The church contains a plaque to the memory of Alfred Curry and a Wilcox & White Harmonium (pump organ) that was built in February 1891. The walls inside the church are covered in wood. Victor also told us about the building work that is happening at The Old Hotel and how the Curry family are determined to make Curry’s Post as popular as the rest of the Midlands Meander.
For our last stop before going to Midlands Saddle & Trout we went to Indezi River Creamery so that I could buy cheese and yoghurt.
On Tuesday 28 May I fetched my Mother-in-law from her home in Howick and we all went to the The Treatery at Yard 41 for lunch. It is not the first time I have been there but it is the first time I have been there since they did major renovations. The Treatery started out as just a one roomed space which then added on a verandah area and has now extended into a 3 room area. I have always loved going to The Treatery and even more so now with its beautiful new decor and extended space. It was a special visit as it was my Mother’s birthday and we all had a wonderful time chatting and enjoying our chosen lunch. An extra highlight of the visit was the slice of carrot cake complete with a relighting candle that was served to my Mother. The staff also sang Happy Birthday to her. If you find yourself in Howick you must make a stop at The Treatery, even if it is just for coffee and cake. Yard 41 is a fantastic development and also contains The Farmer’s Daughter, Blackwoods Nursery, the wonderful Ruby Orchard and also other businesses.
Wednesday was a stay at home day and we enjoyed lazing around the Saddle & Trout unit drinking coffee, chatting and watching TV. In the late afternoon we took a walk to look at the horses and were fortunate to be able to see them get fed a treat from the back of the tractor trailer. The horses knew very well what the tractor meant and they all watched while it made its way from the stable block.
Thursday was a very misty morning and I was worried about driving in the mist along the back road to Mooi River and beyond to Nottingham Road. I was pleased to find that the mist was not that bad once I was driving and we drove through a lot of clear patches. This was the coldest morning of the week at 5 degrees. We headed straight to Flamme Rouge Cycle Cafe which is situated in Gowrie Village, Nottingham Road. This was my first visit to this coffee shop and I was so impressed with its location and decor. It is a very small coffee shop but wonderfully warm and welcoming. The cafe has plug points and free wifi so it would be a perfect spot to get some work done if you needed to. We ordered 2 cappuccinos which were made by Lawrence the barista. Flamme Rouge uses Terbodore coffee beans. I love the cups with their logo on the outside and when you have a few sips of coffee their name appears on the inside lip of the cup, when you finish drinking the word “ANOTHER?” is on the bottom. So I had to have another.
After Flamme Rouge we made a quick visit to Collective which is situated at The Junction in Nottingham Road. We wanted to look at their vintage furniture, decor and other bric a brac.
We then made the drive out to the Fort Nottingham Museum. It was a lovely drive seeing green fields, cows and horses. Unfortunately for us the museum was not open. I had checked online to see opening days and hours but it must have been incorrect. We weren’t too upset as it was a beautiful day and the buildings were interesting. We stayed for about 15 minutes and looked around and then made our way back to Nottingham Road. It was a bit early for lunch so we took a drive to Tsonga to look at their shoes.
There are so many places to have lunch at in the Midlands but I decided to head to Blueberry Cafe as it has such lovely views. It used to just be the Blueberry Cafe but many changes have been made with the addition of the Happy Days Brewery and the Fork n Cleaver restaurant. The main draw card for the cafe are the toilets with a view, floor to ceiling glass that looks out over the field of cows. As the notice on the glass says “only the cows can see you.” For the very first time when I visited the toilet I had a cow come to drink and this one decided to put his/her front legs into the water trough and then spotted me and gave a few loud moos, until it got upset that I wasn’t moving and it decided to leave. For lunch we enjoyed chicken mayonnaise sandwiches with Mom having tea and I had a refreshing homemade lemonade. Before leaving Blueberry Cafe we took a short walk to a field to take a look at the Alpacas and then got into the car and headed back to our home base.
Friday was check out day after our wonderful stay at Midlands Saddle & Trout. We left at 10am and drove the back roads through Mooi River and then to Nottingham Road. Before leaving the Midlands we made a stop at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa as my Mom wanted to see the new additions. If you want to know what I am talking about read about it over here. We shared one of their huge homemade farmhouse style scones with Mom having 5 Roses tea and I had Earl Grey tea.
I hadn’t planned to stop again after leaving Granny Mouse but as we neared Steampunk Coffee I decided we needed to have a cappuccino. We sat at a table on the verandah and watched the comings and goings of people buying coffee.
That was the end of the 3rd year of visiting the Marvellous Midlands with my Mother.