From one magical setting to another, it once again took an all day drive to get to our final destination but so far the long drives have been worth it.
Our night in Underberg wasn’t quite as adventurous as Hogsback but it was charming it its own way. Tumble In (B& B) was lovely, the rooms were large and decorated with a homely feel with little unexpected touches, like the medicinal kit in the bathroom and bean bags to heat up in the microwave in case it got too cold. Our host was chatty (perhaps a little too much for the more introverted types) but she did recommend the Himeville Arms for supper which more than made up for it. The Himeville Arms Hotel has that olde worlde feel about it, reminded me of hotels we used to stay at when I was a child (yup, I’m now old enough to hark back to my youth and have it mean something). We started off by having drinks in the bar as close to the fire as humanly possible, nights around here are just a tad* nippy. We then retired to the dining room to dine on steak, egg and chips; eisbein, calamari and a veggie stirfry. There was one niggle but Tamsyn sorted that out by playing DJ on their hi-fi and getting rid of the “I want to see how long it takes you to cut your own throat” music to a more appropriate “yes I’m getting old and the modern music of today is driving me to drink” type (Richard Clayderman if you must know)
We set our alarms for some insane hour and hit our beds hard – well not before I had a bath, well attempted a bath, would you believe I was hankering for the hobbit sized one by the time I was done? Long baths and short people do not a good match make and so I gave up my lovely hot bubbly bath to the tall dude who could lie quite happily without drowning. His only comment “good bath pity about the foam stuff” Shock and horror! A bath isn’t a bath unless it has at least 3 types of bubbles in it and they reach up to your chin.
Another long day of driving but this time we did take time to stop at a few places along the way. The Natal Midlands Meander is stunningly beautiful and the people who own the various shops, restaurants and places to stay along it only make it more picturesque.
The conversation went like this:
Wouter: If you see somewhere you’d like to stop just yell
R320 worth of Belgium chocolate later and we were on our way again.
We stopped at the Ugly Duckling and judging by the number of cat type ornaments and bric-a-brac one could buy they just might be as cat mad as we are. The Piggly Wiggly (I just adore the name) centre had enough variety to keep us all happy including a chocolate bakery, with cupcakes smothered in Belgium chocolate – how could we resist?* A wine shop where the owner knew of Hermit on the Hill and agreed with us it was worth quaffing in vast quantities and a deli (3 Fat Pigs) with pink grapefruit marmalade.
The brewery was next (in all likelihood the real reason why we took the meander) and although the beers didn’t quite live up to their hectically cute names the lunch was lovely, steak pie, red pepper and feta soup and crispy prawn salad.
I’d worked it out, it’s been 25 years since I lived in Natal and as we were passing right by Richards Bay I thought it would be fun to take a drive by my old house; unfortunately time wasn’t on our side and it was already getting dark so we skipped the trip down memory lane (to be revisited another day) and headed for Pim and Thandi’s Bushbaby Lodge.
Our GPS might have led us astray a few times on this trip but she came up trumps this time because without her we would never have seen the off-ramp or found the lodge. What a welcome, a roaring fire and the promise of what turned out to be a damn fine (albeit totally over catered) braai. We also got to experience why the lodge is called what it is, I cannot describe how insanely cute bushbabies are up close, one even took a piece of fruit from my hand (something to mark off the bucket list for sure).
Which brings to me today, being an early riser I have managed to catch up on my travel journal (aka blogging) whilst listening to the birds and spotting a duiker wandering amongst the cottages; oh and heard the train pass by three times and still none of my family are awake. Nothing to do but sit back and soak up the solitude.
*starvation diet starts the instant we get home