I’ve mentioned this before, but I have quite a spontaneous husband… This past week was a true example. He arrived home last Tuesday evening and decided that we should go away for the weekend – get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, people and noises and escape to the countryside. So we did.
On Friday afternoon, we packed our belongings (quite a few for little SJ – quite an art packing for a little one – think nap pies, creams, spoons, formula, bottles, pre-made food, towels, bath toys etc!) and we headed off to the Nottingham Road in the Natal Midlands. To say Notties is beautiful is an understatement – it is simply picturesque!
MC had booked us in at a stunning boutique hotel called Hartford House
. This is our favorite place to stay in Notties. It has a few small rooms and chalets near the main house, and four dam-side chalets which are all stunning and decorated in the most unique way. The room we stayed in this time is called Nhlanhla
– which means Good Luck in one of our local languages, Zulu. This room has a thatch roof, Moroccan decor and a copper bath.
A few notes about Nhlanhla:
Nhlanhla is one of the Zulu language’s most wonderful words. It really means “good luck”, but it also conjures good fortune, happiness, largesse and all the warm feelings we get when life is kind to us. Dubbed Nhlanhla by the Zulus who brighten our lives every day at Hartford, the name recalls the feelings of our team when they first saw Nhlanhla in its finished form. The suite radiates nature, the colours of our environment, warmth and originality, and as much as anything is a signal example of what the creative spirit can achieve from modest, locally sourced materials. The majority of the materials used in the erection of Nhlanhla were harvested off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, and where this was not possible, from our immediate environs.
This suite was the most recent of four comprising the Ezulweni (“in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford House’s colonial origins. The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Nhlanhla.In contrast to the rustic materials used in the development of the suite, the fine mahogany wardrobe housing the television and mini-bar, was imported to South Africa in the 1820’s and was acquired from a village in the Eastern Free State. The teak floors were rescued from the renovation of Durban’s “grand old dame”, the Edward Hotel, while the Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss when she was overseeing the renovation of what is now Lynton Hall. Internationally acclaimed for her work at Lynton Hall, Cheryl’s introduction of Indian antique furniture to that property recalls its association with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in Colonial Natal. The copper bath is a creation of a customer of the racehorse stud, Summerhill, while the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!
Unfortunately, I made one of the biggest school girl errors by arriving at the gate of Hartford House, pulling out my camera, just to realize that my full charged camera had no media card in it – so we were left camera-less for the weekend and all the below images are from our trusty iPhones. #FAIL
Our Natal Midlands are beautiful, and this time of the year is no exception. It is Spring and all the trees and flowers are starting to turn green and blossom. Driving through small dusty roads, you are always treated with postcard views. The rolling hills, animals (most horses on this stud farm) and beautiful dams and lakes allowed for beautiful images – and the pure sunshine weather was the cherry on the top!
Hartford House is well known for it’s 5 star food. Their executive chef, Hackie Cameron spends weeks planning her unique menu’s and dinner each night is a 5-course affair and absolutely delicious. We opted to stay in on Friday night and were served our 5 course dinner in the comfort of our lounge and little SJ sleeping just feet away. But on Saturday night, we hired a babysitter (to watch SJ sleep) and we enjoyed a great evening on the patio – although admittedly, a 5 course meal takes 2,5 hours to serve and these parents were exhausted, haha!)
The dinner menu included:
caramelised onion soup
lentil and tongue soup
garlic prawns on prawn risotto
springbok fillet and carpaccio
beetroot turkish delight and sherbet
cheesecake dessert with peanut brittle and sorbet
Stunning views and yummy food made our weekend great but the best part about it was the quality time we got to spend together as a family – just the 3 of us. This is the first time in 5,5 months, we have escaped from the city, from friends and family and busy social lives. And it was so special. We went for walks, we cuddled in bed in front of the fire, we relaxed outside on the sun, we visited the Meander and we just smothered each other in love… And special memories were made.
It is Friday again (yay!) and we are heading back to Nottingham Road again to spend the weekend with special friends on their farm – so another recap next week.
What are you doing this weekend?