Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Affordable Everyday Cooking with Stuffed Feeling

Local Durban food blogger, Megan Deane of Stuffed Feeling, made a brave move earlier this year and published her own recipe e-book. Many of us say “perhaps one day”, “when I have time” etc etc and I applaud her for achieving what she wanted to do. We see the completed product and it looks so easy to do, but a lot of hard work and I am sure very late nights were put into its creation.




The name of the recipe e-book is “Affordable Everyday Cooking” and consists of 21 recipes broken down into the following catagories : Vegetarian, Chicken, Seafood, Pork, Beef and Desserts. All the recipes were created with affordability in mind and Megan also gives advice on where to shop to get the best value for your money.

I made the Beef Pepper Hotpot and found it easy to put together and very tasty. I stretched the recipe with the addition of red kidney beans and mushrooms as she suggested and I served it on mashed potatoes. It is definitely a recipe that I would make again. The dessert section is calling and the next recipe that I have my eye on is Lemon Pudding #yummy

You will find the recipe e-book over here www.stuffedfeeling.co.za/ebooks/store


If you would like to find out more about Megan Deane and see her recipes take a look at her blog Stuffed Feeling


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Plump Up Your Skin with REN Flash Hydro-Boost

There are so many products on the market for all types of skin and all types of skin concerns. Products for sensitive skin, ageing skin, tired skin and so the list goes on.  There are also many products to aid dry skin, but this is the first cream that I have seen that uses water to activate the ingredients in the product.

I only occasionally get dry skin on my face (mostly on my cheeks) so I wasn’t sure what the product could do for me. So I was very pleasantly surprised that my skin enjoyed REN Flash Hydro-Boost and it felt so much more relaxed and properly moisturised. The product was also easy to use, absorbed very quickly, didn’t make my skin greasy and it has a clean fresh smell. It also didn’t affect the application of my foundation. I have only been using the product during the day to counteract the extremes of temperature that we always experience in KZN. The product can be used both morning and evening.

HOW TO USE : Apply the cream onto cleansed face and neck. Add a tiny amount of water to your finger tips. Massage the water into your skin using circular motions until the water is fully absorbed.





Plumps, smoothes and hydrates with Hyaluronic acid, Xylitol and Germ Peptide

THE PRODUCT
A water-charging hydration booster designed to work in harmony with the skin, to prevent the ageing effects of dehydration by enhancing the skin’s ability to transfer, lock and retain moisture. Long term use helps to reduce fine lines and prevent water loss from the skin.

THE SCIENCE
Water is the skin’s elixir of youth and the most essential anti-ageing ingredient. New hydra technology is the key to understanding the biology of water control and capture within the skin. Hyaluronic Acid boosts water in the cells to optimise levels, plumping the skin from within whilst Germ Peptide allows the transport and circulation of water throughout the skin. Xylitol promotes water capture from the environment and ceramides, fatty acids and phospholipids create the ultimate barrier against water loss.

RESULTS
Skin is instantly plumped and regains a fuller, smoother appearance. Long term, skin is protected from the ageing effects of dehydration.

SKIN TYPE
All skin types
RRP / SIZE
R740–40ml

Available at selected Woolworths stores and REN online

SUPERCHARGE YOUR SKIN WITH WATER!

* I was sent the product for review *


Sunday, 10 September 2017

New Executive Chef at Fairmont Zimbali Resort

- If you cook, cook with passion or don’t cook at all –


That is the philosophy of Tony Kocke, the newly appointed Executive Chef of Fairmont Zimbali Resort and Fairmont Zimbali Lodge. He is experienced, passionate, a visionary in the culinary field and a breath of fresh air in his new position.





Fairmont Zimbali Resort recently held an informal cocktail and canapé function in order to introduce Tony Kocke to the media. The event was held inside the Ayoba Mexican Cantina situated at their Beach Club. With exotic looking cocktails such as the Rainbow Ma Khaza and the divine canapés he certainly made a great impression. All the food was moreish and my particular favourite was the chicken pies. A wonderful, relaxing evening chatting to the Chef and fellow media ended well with crème brulee and a black forest dessert.


Ayoba menu, lighting, Rainbow Ma Khaza cocktail,
creme brulee, black forest dessert


Tony Kocke grew up in Germany and always knew that he wanted to be a chef. It was during his apprenticeship at Restaurant Papillon in Berlin that his passion for food was amplified. He spent 3 years in Berlin before moving to London in 1985 where he gained invaluable experience as a Commis Chef for The Dorchester Hotel, The Hilton and St James Club to name but a few. His love for travel steered him to Durban where he grew passionate about all things local, including (of course) local Rugby team, The Sharks.

When Tony was offered his first Executive Chef position at the age of 25, it was evident that his career in the culinary world would be the start of many accolades. He was voted Best Young Chef Garde Manger in South Africa and in 1989 he was awarded the Hudson Knight Chef of the Year award.

After 9 years in South Africa, Tony moved back to London where he briefly held the position of Executive Chef at Harry’s Bar and Restaurant, The Savoy’s then, newly opened restaurant serving international 5 star cuisines. He then cruised the Caribbean seas and served over 1750 guests daily when he became the Executive Sous Chef for Holland American Cruise Line at the end of 1992.

Chef Tony’s greatest accomplishment came later when he opened his own restaurant in Brandenburg, Germany. It was here that he was awarded a Michelin star for his high standard of quality and exceptional cuisine. After 5 years of owning his own restaurant, he decided to sell Ma Cuisine and move to South Africa, the place that stole his heart a few years before.

He spent the next 17 years of his career working for a number of different hotels, including The Cullinan and The Beverley Hills Hotel before moving to the iconic Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Fairmont Zimbali Resort.As the Executive Chef of this world-renowned property, Tony will oversee 11 kitchens and a 77 member kitchen-brigade.

Tony plans to incorporate his vast knowledge of international cuisine with his passion for local delicacies to create the ultimate dining experience. Similar to Accor and Fairmont Hotels and Resort chefs around the world, he is committed to purchasing from local purveyors and suppliers: the vegetables are grown on a farm less than 10 km away; a call as the boat pulls into the harbour alerts him to the catch of the day; and the ooh-la-la French-style cheeses are actually made by an artisanal cheese maker in the Midlands.  Curries, the best-seller, are authentically crafted by Indian and Zulu cooks, and the accompanying pickles and chutneys are made in-house.  

Food Philosophy : Local produce always leads to high flavoured, good contemporary food

Speaks : German and English

Most Famous Diners : Princess Diana, The Queen of England, Jimmy Carter, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, George Forman, Pitbull, Sigourney Weaver, The Springboks

Favourite Meal : Roast Duck with sour cherry sauce – his own delicious recipe

Fantasy Dinner Companions : Michael Schumacher, Michael Caine and Jodie Foster

Dreaming of Dining At : Grant Achatz’s 3 Michelin Star awarded Restaurant, Alinea located in Chicago 

Find out more facts about Chef Tony by following Fairmont Zimbali on social media with the #TonyTuesday 




Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Delectable Carvery at Fern Hill Hotel

On the 23rd of July we celebrated my mother-in-law's 80th birthday with close family at the Fern Hill Hotel in Howick. My sister-in-law Alison chose the hotel for their Sunday carvery and she did all the organising while my daughter Laura and I made a surprise cake for Mom. The staff at Fern Hill Hotel did a fabulous job decorating the table and we were treated to five star service at all times. Fern Hill Hotel has its own hotel school and the students assist at the Sunday carvery.



The carvery consists of hot and cold starters, the regular meat (chicken, beef, lamb and pork) and vegetables, but it is the desserts that are truly sensational (yes I do look at the dessert section first when I look at a menu). The desserts change all the time (according to the photos I have seen).  We oohed and aahed our way through lemon tartlets, chocolate and caramel tartlets, chocolate mousse cake and berry cheesecake. There were a few other items and a warm bread and butter pudding with custard. The whole carvery was a taste sensation and all the food was perfectly prepared and served.





The hotel uses Skyline Coffee and I enjoyed my cappuccino before and after the carvery.






We so enjoyed our time at Fern Hill Hotel and my husband Neil keeps mentioning that we need to return. Hope to see you again very soon Fern Hill Hotel and thank you again for making Mom's birthday so special.

The carvery is very popular so make sure you book in advance.

Fern Hill Hotel
R103 Midmar, Tweedie
Howick
KZN

Monday, 21 August 2017

Impodimo Game Lodge

South Africa is filled with so much splendour and whether you love the ocean, mountains or the bush, there will always be something new for you to experience. My husband and I were very blessed recently to stay at the amazing Impodimo Game Lodge and be able to experience a safari in Madikwe Game Reserve. We felt just like tourists.

We entered Madikwe through the Wonderboom gate which is outside Zeerust and approximately 4 hours from Jhb. The guard at the gate radioed Impodimo Game Lodge to announce our arrival and then gave us directions on how to get to the lodge. We were warmly greeted by Jacques who is one of the chef’s at the lodge and a few of the staff who were there to take our luggage for us. Welcome drinks were waiting for us inside and we were able to sit for awhile and relax after the drive. Jacques also showed us to our room and explained to us times for meals and for the safari drives. South Africa is in drought so we were requested to only use the showers (there is one indoor and one outside on a deck). He then left us to relax and investigate our fabulous accommodation. The first thing Neil did was open the door to step out onto our own private deck and then head back inside to make coffee. We took our own coffee plunger with and made sure we had a large supply of Skyline Coffee’s Ethiopian Sidamo. We sat drinking coffee and watching the Impala and Kudu stroll by. There is also abundant bird life either flying, sitting in the trees, in among the bushes and even on the ground.

Our stunning room


The main lodge


Just after 3pm we walked over to the pool area for High Tea. We had our jackets with as after High Tea we would be going on our first safari drive. While enjoying our savoury and sweet eats, Jacques came to ask us to choose what items we would like to have for supper. Declan one of the safari guides also came to introduce himself and we discovered that he was also from Durban. He was our guide for our entire stay. Just before 4pm we got into the safari vehicle and set off into Madikwe. If you are thinking that these are slow drives down the roads trying to see the animals – then you are very wrong. We went on a few roads, on lots of little tracks and many times completely off road and over thorn bushes and other vegetation. Now I know exactly what the term Bundu Bashing entails! We were taken to see a pride of Lions sleeping in the bush and the main Lion male lying out in the open. He was not concerned at all with the vehicles and the people staring at him and he just carried on sleeping.



Before the sun went down Declan found us an open space to stop so that we could get out. Declan and Lots the tracker set up a small table (with tablecloth), drinks and snacks. We chose what we wished to drink – I had Amarula and ice (safari = Amarula) and we enjoyed the snacks which were chocolate nuts and mini hamburgers. It was a beautiful evening and we were excited to see Elephants in the distance moving through the bush. Once we were done it was time to get back in our vehicle for the night drive. The darkness descends very quickly once the sun goes down and it also gets very cold. Impodimo Game Lodge supplies their vehicles with blankets which we were very grateful for. I was silly though not to have brought my hat or gloves with on the drive as I would have been much warmer. Lots the tracker held a search light to try and spot any animals in the bush on the side of the road. It was a lovely night drive and we managed to see a Small Spotted Genet. We made our way back to the lodge at about 8pm.

Happy, dusty tourists were met inside the lodge with a warm fragrant face cloth and a warming glass of brandy. Snacks were set up on the bar and we chatted and relaxed around the lodge fireplace. Two tables were set for dinner and we sat at the table hosted by Declan our guide. On the menu that evening was a salmon starter, Wildebeest for mains and a yummy lemon tart for dessert. It was nice to sit and chat with the other guests about what animals had been seen that day. Since Impodimo Game Lodge is not fenced we had to be accompanied to our room by Declan when we were ready.



A warm and welcoming fire was burning and the mosquito nets had been lowered around the bed. On the bed had been placed two sleep well nougat and a Hambakush Story about why a Lion does not eat fruit. Even though it was winter we were not going to miss out on having a shower outside. Let’s just say it was rather chilly but lots of fun. We were very glad to have the fire in the room and also the thick terry cloth gowns. The coffee we made also helped to warm us up. We snuggled into the comfortable bed and had a refreshing sleep.

Neil and I are early risers so we were up, dressed and drinking our coffee by the time Declan gave us our morning wake-up call at 6am. We made sure we had our hats and gloves this time and we had on our takkies as we were going to be doing a bush walk. It was still dark when we walked to the main lodge which had a cheery fire in the fire place and tea/coffee and biscuits and rusks set up for the guests. Neil and I had a few biscuits but we didn’t have anything more to drink as we didn’t relish the thought of having to take a toilet break in the bush. At 6:30am we were in the game viewing vehicle and on our way. It was really cold as we drove and we were so, so grateful for the hot water bottles that we found in the vehicle. It was a glorious morning and nothing can beat a sunrise in the bush. Declan drove to the place where he wanted to take us for a bush walk but it was occupied by a herd of Buffalo so we had to move on. He parked the vehicle under a Marula tree and we walked single file with Declan in front and Lots at the back. No loud talking was allowed and we had to make a sound by tapping our leg if we saw something. Declan found Lion spoor and told us about the various bushes and bird life, we also saw Giraffe and Impala.



We walked back to the vehicle and continued the game drive seeing Wildebeest and the best part was the Elephants drinking at the waterhole. Because of the drought Madikwe has to pump water into the watering holes to make sure that the animals get water. It was breakfast time so we took a slow drive back to the lodge. The tables were set and waiting and a variety of cold cereal, cheese and other items were available. I went straight for the muesli and yoghurt #yummy. I must, must ask if they can give the recipe for the muesli or where I can buy it from. It was so amazing! For the hot breakfast I ordered a cheese and mushroom omelette and some boerewors. It was about 10:30am when we had finished breakfast and went back to our room. We made coffee and sat on our deck and then Neil went for a long nap. I just continued to sit on the deck with my feet up and had a doze in the warm winter sun. It was so relaxing to just do nothing.

Just after 3pm we went to the pool area for High Tea. There were a few of the same treats from the day before and new ones – the mini doughnuts filled with caramel. Oh my, oh my, oh my! Decided on our choices for supper again and laughed at a naughty Ground Squirrel that was stealing sausage rolls and then having the sausage roll taken from it by a Dwarf Mongoose. Once we were fuelled it was time for the afternoon/evening game drive.

Not far from the lodge we saw a lot of Giraffe, Kudu and Zebra but the best was yet to come. What is wonderful about Madikwe is that all the guide’s work together to find the animals and there is constant chatter on the radio. That afternoon the chatter was all about looking for Cheetah as fresh spoor had been spotted. There was a lot of excitement and very fast driving when a guide from another lodge found 2 Cheetah brothers after hearing the alarm call of a Kudu. We were fortunate to be the 2nd vehicle there. The reason there was so much excitement is that there are only 4 Cheetah in Madikwe. It was an amazing experience as I have never seen Cheetah before (TV doesn’t count). After that sighting we went for our early evening sundowners, yes Amarula for me again and this time the snacks were chicken strips, dried mango and crunchy chickpeas.



With jackets zipped up and gloves on we were ready for the night drive. Declan didn’t have to do any searching this time as he heard on the radio that the Lions had been spotted at the dam. We drove out there and Lots shone the spotlight on the group of Lions drinking on the far bank. After they had finished drinking they walked back over the dam wall and Declan drove around so we could get a closer look. It was amazing to see them up close at night and they were not bothered by the spotlights. They came very close to the vehicle, almost in touching distance and we had to keep very still. We spent quite a bit of time looking at the Lions and then drove back to the lodge for supper.

That night’s supper had been set up outside in the boma with 2 tables, comfortable camping chairs, gas lanterns and a fire in the fire pit. We enjoyed soup as the starter served with a fresh warm bread roll, oxtail for mains and a minty chocolate dessert with caramel sauce. The dessert was so divine that I could have eaten another one and Neil threatened to lick the plate. After supper we sat around the fire pit and chatted to Declan and enjoyed being outside under the stars. Ruan, the other guide at Impodimo accompanied us to our room. As usual the room was warmed by the fire and the net curtains were down around the bed. A new bedtime story was on the bed – Elephant, Hare and Hippo (a Shangaan story). Since we had used the outdoor shower the night before, we decided to use the indoor one and because we were not keen to feel the outside chill again. But before showering we made coffee and went out on the deck to enjoy our last night in the bush.



We slept in later than we normally do but were awake for our early morning call from Declan. Once we were warmly dressed we walked to the lodge and then got into the vehicle for our last game drive. The chatter on the radio that Sunday morning was about the 2 Lion brothers spoor and Declan and Lots were determined to find them. Going as far as stopping the vehicle and walking through a dried out watering hole to try and find where they had walked. They were successful and it was wonderful to spend time in close proximity to the 2 Lions. Their camouflage is so good that I didn’t realise that one of them was about 2 meters away from my side of the vehicle. They started walking and we followed them for quite awhile before allowing another vehicle to take our place.  



The next animal Declan was determined to find for us to see was a Leopard. We looked for awhile and then stopped to look at the Rhino. I was very glad to see the Rhino as I had been worried we wouldn’t get to see them. There were many game vehicles out looking for the Leopard and it was finally spotted by Ruan from Impodimo. Only 2 vehicles follow the Leopard and we were the 3rd vehicle there so we had to wait our turn. What a majestic animal, so sleek and powerful. My camera battery died just as I was about to take photos and I was so glad to have my cellphone with me.  After seeing the Leopard we headed back to the lodge and passed a herd of Elephants. Declan laughed and said that all we needed to see now was Buffalo and we would have seen the Big Five. Well 10 minutes later there was a herd of Buffalo! He said it had been a long time since the Big Five was seen on one game drive.



I had muesli and yoghurt again for breakfast but decided not to have a hot breakfast and instead had pastries and fresh fruit. It was just after 10:30am and check out was at 11am. We sadly made our way back to our room to finish packing our things and then left the luggage in the room so that we could check out. We didn’t have to worry about carrying the luggage to the car as it was taken there for us. We said goodbye to the staff, loaded our luggage and took a slow drive to the Wonderboom gate.


What an amazing stay at Impodimo Game Lodge and safari experience in Madikwe Game Reserve and I hope that we get to go back one day.



Monday, 7 August 2017

Get Some Barista Love at Sihle's Brew

My husband and I recently took a trip up to Johannesburg and beyond to have a short holiday at a game reserve (look out for that blog post). The journey was too long to do in one trip so we stayed over at my sister's house in North Riding. My husband negotiated the Jhb traffic while I enjoyed looking at the shopping centres and other sights along the way. By now you should know that I LOVE coffee and I am always keen to find a new place to visit. We drove past a small shopping centre very near to my sister's place and my eye was immediately drawn to the sign on the metal fence - Sihle's Brew Barista Love. It looked so interesting but I wasn't sure we would get to see it as our weekend was going to be very busy. That was late on a Thursday afternoon.

We returned to Jhb from the game reserve on the Sunday and while en-route I discussed with my sister where we would go for coffee that afternoon. Two of the places she suggested were not open in the afternoon and then I remembered about Sihle's Brew. Google is a great friend and I was pleased to discover that the coffee shop closed at 5pm. 

The coffee shop is small, intimate and decorated with pallet wood couches and a few other tables and chairs. At the back of the shop is the pallet wood covered counter. A lot of care and attention to detail has made the place warm and welcoming. 

Yes, yes you say - but how is the coffee?

We ordered four cappuccino's and decided to sit on the long couch while they were made. A very friendly barista made and brought the cappuccino's to us. And ............. they were divine! Perfect drinking temperature, perfect foam and beautifully presented with latte art. We happily sat, chatted and drank our coffee's. We enjoyed the coffee so much that I bought a bag of the Signature blend beans to take home and a bag of ground coffee for my sister.







We opened and enjoyed some of my sister's bag of Sihle's Brew that evening and the following morning. After breakfast it was time to head back to Durban and it didn't take much convincing for my husband to stop at Sihle's Brew for large takeaway cappuccino's. This time we got to meet Sihle and he made the cappuccino's for us. It was nice to find out that he came from Durban and he was very excited about the new menu that he was launching in the coffee shop. Yes the cappuccino's he made were also divine!

Sihle Magubane owner of Sihle's Brew





So the next time you are in Jhb and need your coffee kick - I really, really recommend that you go to Sihle's Brew. Sit back, relax and enjoy the coffee.


Sihle's Brew
Barista Love
Shop B3 Northview Shopping Centre
Olievenhout Avenue, North Riding

Shop times :

Mon - Fri 6am to 8pm
Sat 7am to 5pm
Sun 8am to 5pm

011 - 0427440
082 041 4552

They have WiFi

Email

Monday, 10 July 2017

Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa Resort

In the Southern Drakensberg with a clear view of Rhino Peak lies Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa - a resort filled with so many activities that you need not leave the premises and you can happily keep yourself busy from sun-up to sun down.

Views from Glengarry Country Club




Whether you are an adventure loving couple or an on the go family, Drakensberg Gardens will have something for you to do. Activities such as : Golf, zip lining, horse riding, mountain biking, hiking and swimming. Take a look on the website for the rest of the many activities and costs involved.



Zip Line and an hour long horse ride



If you are not into any adrenalin pumping activity then why not relax at the onsite Spa, laze around the pool or read a book whilst watching the kids at the new water park.

Swimming pools and kids water park



After all the activities you can retire to your comfortable room and get ready to meet at the bars or restaurants. Drakensberg Gardens has Standard Rooms which consist of either one double or two double beds, bathroom with a bath shower combo, TV and tea/coffee making facilities. Superior Rooms which consist of two double beds, bathroom with a bath and shower, TV, mini fridge, hair dryer and tea/coffee making facilities. There is also a beautifully decorated Honeymoon Suite with a king size bed, comfortable lounge and large bathroom.


Superior Room


Views from the patio of the Superior Room




If you don’t wish to stay in the hotel rooms or eat in the restaurants, Drakensberg Gardens also has four sleeper and six sleeper self catering rooms.

There are five restaurants in the resort : Bergview, Bistro Terrace Cafe, Eagles Roost, The Vine Knot and Glengarry Country Club. Check with Reception as to which of the restaurants are open in the evening. Eagles Roost is a family restaurant situated in the main hotel and this is where breakfast is served daily.

Buck & Trout, Wildcat Sports, Bergview Pool and Glengarry Country Club are the four bars on the resort. The Wildcat Sports Bar is the place to be if you want to watch major sporting events or play a game of pool. The bar also has a large fire pit to sit around and enjoy the crisp cold air in winter. Drakensberg Gardens has a collection of South Africa’s best wines on offer and you can take a look at the list on the website.

Drakensberg Gardens is not just for leisure as they also have seven conference rooms of various sizes and the most beautiful areas for weddings.

Don’t miss out on family fun or relaxation. Make a booking at Drakensberg Gardens while they are running their Winter Special from R899 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast. The special runs until 31 August 2017.

Cold and frosty Winter morning







Tuesday, 4 July 2017

ECR House & Garden Show 2017

Every year when it’s the start of the July school holidays I look forward to attending the ECR House & Garden Show at the Durban Exhibition Centre. This year the show is bigger and better than ever. Other than the usual decor, home improvement, garden and food stalls whole new sections have been added. Sections such as the KZN Travel & Adventure Show, KAPOW Designer Cafe, Foodie Fair and H + G Maker Space.




The show is so big and there is so much to see and do that I had to attend the show twice. On Saturday I spent most of my time at the Chef’s Theatre in the main hall watching Culinary Artist Wayland Green from Granny Mouse Country House & Spa and Chef Sherwyn Weaichy prepare delicious food.




I also took a very slow walk around the KZN Travel & Adventure Show collecting brochures from various holiday places and chatting to a few of the people manning the stalls. I was especially interested in the KZN Battlefields route and enjoyed talking to Pam McFadden who runs the Talana Museum in Dundee. I spent 6 years living in Dundee and it was great to hear what Pam is doing to maintain the history of the area, and I am very keen to attend the Dundee Homecoming event in September.




The Homegrown Design Fair is amazing as always and I love seeing how creative people can be with what they make. A must see is Abide Creative, Elle Kay Fabrics, Hellooow Handmade and Rollin Vintage. You are sure to find gifts for family and friends and especially for yourself inside the Homegrown Design Fair hall.




I took a brief walk around the Foodie Fair and made sure to buy a cup of coffee from the Love Coffee combi. They use beans supplied by Steampunk in the Midlands. That was all I was able to see on the Saturday and that took quite a few hours.

I returned on Monday and went straight to get a cup of coffee from Exploring Coffee inside the Travel Show tent. Finally found the Durban Green Corridor stall that I had missed seeing on the Saturday. On Saturday I had breezed through the Builders Warehouse tent and so had also missed seeing the painting station set up for people to try out chalk paint. You are able to try out the Fired Earth chalk paint on a wooden picture frame for free and to take it home. It was great fun, easy to do and the paint dries so quickly.

My daughter Laura was with me and she had not had breakfast so we had to look at all the food stalls until she made her selection. She settled on pizza from Maddison’s Bakery while I enjoyed a pasteis de nata from Madeleine’s and a cup of coffee from Love Coffee.

Then we took a slow walk around the main hall looking at all the decor, design and home improvement stalls. I loved the decor in the KAPOW Designer Cafe and especially the faux flowered chandeliers done by Jennifer Jones interiors. Don’t forget to buy 1, 2 or many more pieces of delicious Tasha’s Fantastic Fudge.




We weren’t planning on going to the Chef’s Theatre again but in passing saw that Lucy Markewicz of CakeLab would be doing a demonstration at 1pm. She demonstrated icing and drip icing techniques on a buttermilk sponge cake. It was incredible how a few simple techniques and decorations created such an amazing looking cake. It tasted so delicious as well.


The show is on until Sunday so why don’t you go see and experience it for yourself.


Find all the show times and ticket costs on the ECR House & Garden Show website.



Sunday, 2 July 2017

Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort

You are keen to have a holiday in the Drakensberg but you have specific ideas for fun, adventure and relaxation. Where is a place that has golf, putt putt, a pool to cool off in, jungle gym and trampolines for the kids and even a Spa?

Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort has all of that and tennis, badminton, volleyball, fishing, darts, board games, pool table and mountain bike trails.

But do they have good food and will I be able to go hiking or for a scenic walk?

Yes, they have good hearty food with generous portions (really generous) and there is great hiking on the Monks Cowl mountain trails. There are so many other activities such as the birds at Falcon Ridge (make sure you have cash available to pay for the show), reptiles, Drakensberg Canopy Tour, chocolate tasting at Chocolate Memories and delicious breads and pastries at Valley Bakery. In fact Monks Cowl Golf Resort is centrally situated in the Champagne Valley with ease of access to all of these activities outside of the resort.


Kids will love the rock pool and slide


Monks Cowl Golf Resort has 35 superior hotel rooms one of which is a disabled room. The rooms have either dam or mountain views, 2 double beds, bathroom with shower and bath, air conditioning, DSTV, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar fridge and a private patio. There is one executive / honeymoon suite with a king size bed, Jacuzzi bath and a double shower.


Superior rooms and the Friar Tuck restaurant


There are also 8 self-catering units which are fully equipped with a master bedroom en-suite, second bedroom with twin beds and adjacent bathroom and 2 sleeper couches in the lounge. All units have DSTV, fireplace and a private patio with braai facilities.


Reception, putt putt and inside a self catering unit


The Monks Cowl staff are very friendly and helpful but don’t expect much assistance from the resident cat – Tom. He does however love to have his photo taken and you should get a visit from him in the bar at night.


Have a relaxing massage at La Vita Spa and enjoy great food at Friar Tuck


This was my third stay at Gooderson Monks Cowl and it was fabulous to be back, to see familiar faces and the views of the beautiful mountains. It was also great to have a new experience by attending the bird show at Falcon Ridge.





I have written about Monks Cowl before so click through and read here and here about my previous experiences.


To make a booking contact the Monks Cowl resort on monksres@goodersons.co.za or Gooderson central booking on their WebBookings


Don't miss out on the Winter Special. Stay from R975.00 per person per night, dinner, bed and breakfast. The price is valid until 31 August 2017.




Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Meandering Through the Midlands Part Two

Welcome to Part 2 of Meandering through the Midlands. In Part 1 I covered what we did on the Monday and Tuesday and now you will find out what we did and where we went for the rest of the week.

Wednesday started the usual way by waking up early to watch the sunrise over the valley and then we had breakfast and got ready to go. I drove the usual route into Mooi River and then along the old main road through to Nottingham Road. The first place we went to was Lilac Crane and it is very close to the bridge on Nottingham Road. The shop is filled with local arts and crafts and I found a beautiful necklace with the pendant made from a vintage ceramic plate and a handmade coconut coffee soap. I really wanted to buy a dish cloth with a coffee design printed on it. Unfortunately it was a bit too expensive.

Lilac Crane



We hadn’t chosen the next place to visit as we had decided to just take a slow drive and see what caught our eye. A sign with “The Shed – crafts and coffee” looked interesting so we turned off the road and drove up and over the railway tracks. My Mom chatted to the owner and discovered the building was a former chicken shed which they had now converted into a coffee and craft shop. A lot of the crafts for sale had been created by the owner and they were so well made. The train track was very close to the building and we saw 2 trains go by while we were there.

The Shed


Our next stop was suggested by Carryn as it is one of her favourite places to go to when she visits the Midlands Meander – Peter’s Gate Herbal Centre. We decided to look around the shop first before ordering tea. I bought a wonderful smelling lavender room spray and a cream that can be used on pets when they injure themselves. Carryn and I felt like having Rooibos tea and we really enjoyed the Laager Citrus & Ginger Rooibos tea that we were offered. Mom had her usual Five Roses tea. There was a cool breeze blowing but we enjoyed sitting on the veranda in the warm morning sun. In fact we found it very difficult to leave, but our tummies helped a lot by reminding us that it was nearly lunch time.

Peter's Gate Herbal Centre



We had decided on Caversham Mill as our lunch stop, but we first planned to look at the menu before a final decision was made. More dirt roads to drive on to get there but fortunately they were not teeth rattling and there was nice scenery. Ardmore is very close to Caversham Mill, practically a neighbour and we decided to go and see them after lunch – don’t forget the tummies were rumbling. The restaurant can only be reached by driving over a single lane bridge but there was no one around when I got there. Caversham Mill is not cheap but we were too hungry to go and find somewhere else to have lunch and the menu had delicious sounding items on it.

I am very pleased to say the servings were a very good size and the pot pie that I chose was delicious. The pie that day was chicken and mushroom and it came with vegetables and mashed potato. Carryn had soup with homemade bread and Mom had quiche and vegetables. Of course we had looked at the desserts before ordering our lunch and Crème Brulee was on it! So I’m sure you can guess what Carryn and I ordered. It was relaxing watching and listening to the water flow. Lots of old photos are on the walls showing what the mill used to look like and you can read its history as well. The mill wheel was washed away in a big flood many years ago. Definitely a place for a return visit.

Caversham Mill


After our delicious lunch we drove up the road to go and look at Ardmore. I’m sure you have heard and know all about Ardmore, but just in case let me tell you. Ardmore Ceramic Art was formed over 25 years ago and about 40 artists collaborate under the mentorship of the award winning founder, Fee Halstead. They create pieces that feature in fine art collections and exhibitions around the world. All I can stay is WOW! The intricate work, the animals and the sheer size of some of the ceramic pieces. It is part museum (dedicated to those artists who have died), part gallery and part showroom. The only problem is that you need very deep pockets or a strong credit card in order to buy one of the ceramic pieces. So we enjoyed looking and taking lots of photos.

Ardmore


On Thursday we decided to stay close to home base as I had done a lot of driving and we also wanted to spend some time doing more walking around Midlands Saddle & Trout. First on the list was the all important tea and scones that are served at 10am outside the restaurant. Oh my they were yummy – topped with just the right amount of jam and cream. Quite a few people came to sit in the warm morning sun and enjoy their tea and most stayed to play Bingo. We took a walk over to the Spa once we were done as we wanted to smell the perfumes they sell there and then checked what the night’s activities were on the board by reception. Carryn and I decided that we would go for the marshmallow braai at 6pm. We then walked back to our unit so that we could get the car and go to the first of two places that we were visiting that day.

Midlands Saddle and Trout


Remember in Part One where I mentioned that we had passed a fascinating church on the way into Mooi River? I had Googled and found the website and then emailed the owners to ask if we could visit and received a reply in the affirmative. I just needed to phone the caretaker and arrange a time. It was arranged for Thursday and we just needed to go and look before 12pm as guests would be arriving later. Guests? Guests in a church? Yes because this was no longer a church but a self catering guesthouse called St. Andrew's Retreat.

We drove through the original stone entrance and parked close to the added under covered parking with a building on top. We discovered later that this was another room and bathroom. The caretaker met us and said we were welcome to look inside, in fact everywhere. I had thought that we would just be looking around the outside of the building and was thrilled that we could see what they had done inside. It was amazing! The original stain glass windows and even the baptism font are still there while the stone pulpit hides a gas heater. There are 3 bedrooms inside the converted church and all have double beds and an en-suite bathroom. Two bedrooms are on the ground floor and the 3rd bedroom has been added above them. There are the most beautiful views over the garden and beyond from the windows of the 3rd bedroom and it is definitely the most luxurious. There is a fully fitted kitchen with a gas stove, two lounges and a dining room. All areas except the bedrooms are open plan. The church was built in 1906 and the owners have taken great care to keep original features and create a warm welcoming place to stay.

St. Andrew's Retreat interior


It was wonderful to walk around the beautifully layed out and maintained garden. A great place to sit and reflect on the beauty of the building and garden is under the lush arbour. After looking around the garden we took a look at the bedroom car port extension. It has a beautiful bedroom, bathroom and small lounge to relax in. St. Andrew's Retreat is definitely a place I would love to return to and stay at.

St. Andrew's Retreat exterior


After visiting St. Andrews Retreat we drove to Lords of the Manor which is next door to Midlands Saddle & Trout, it actually shares a boundary fence. Lords of the Manor was at one time called Oatesdale and was the home of the Oates family. My Father’s uncle married Muriel Oates and Dad stayed at Oatsdale when he was a little boy. The house had no electricity at that time and Dad had to climb the scary creaky stairs holding a candle. I’m pleased to say that is not the case now.

Lords of the Manor


We were very warmly welcomed and shown into the small lounge area and our order taken for cappuccinos (Carryn and I) and tea (Mom). They serve Terbodore coffee. While we were waiting the general manager Max Youngleson came to greet us and Mom asked if we could go up the stairs to see the upper level. Well it was even better than that as we were given a guided tour by a member of staff and even the owner of Lords of the Manor chatted to us. We were shown a family suite, classic suite and an executive suite which contains an original fireplace.  A joy to see another beautiful old stone building.

After Lords of the Manor it was back home to our cosy unit at Midlands Saddle & Trout. We had lunch and sat on the comfortable couch with blankets and watched a movie. Carryn and I decided to take a walk down to the trout dam and we were very surprised to discover how the weather had changed. A very cold wind was blowing and it had become very cloudy. It was a very “refreshing” walk and we watched while 2 brave fly fisherman tried to catch trout. After taking a few photos we headed back to the warmth of the unit. After supper Carryn and I ventured out again -  this time over to the bonfire area as we wanted to attend the marshmallow braai. Unfortunately they did not have enough people wanting to attend the braai so it was not happening. We were very sad as we had a craving for braaied marshmallows. A staff member told us to go and ask for some marshmallows at the restaurant. We did just that and were given enough to chase away the craving. The restaurant has been beautifully re-decorated and Carryn and spent quite a long time trying to get the perfect photo of their lighting. Then it was back to the unit and I started the fire so we could have our braaied marshmallows.

After another great night’s sleep we had to pack up and check out. It was quick and easy as I handed over the keys to the unit and we received a drive safely pack that contained small bottles of water for our journey. I drove out slowly so we could see the horses one last time. Midlands Saddle & Trout you were fabulous!

Just in case you think that the adventures were over – nope you would be wrong! We were driving into Mooi River to get onto the freeway when I heard a strange noise from the back of the car. I put my hazards on and slowly pulled over to the side of the road. At the same time a man in an Audi pulled up next to me. I wound down my window and asked him if it was my tyre and he said it was the back right. He asked if I could manage and I said I would not be able to. What a blessing to have someone right there when my tyre went flat. We had a chat as he changed my tyre and he said he worked at Hartford House and we told him about our lovely time there. It turned out that the man who stopped and changed my tyre was the Executive Chef Constantijn Hahndiek! We all thanked him profusely and gave him a hug. I then drove slowly into Mooi River to get the changed tyre pumped and we headed to Howick.

Howick and not home? Yip we had to end off our meandering adventures by stopping at ALL the charity shops in Howick and with coffee at the new Treatery at Yard41. A fitting end to our meandering through the Midlands adventures.

The Treatery at Yard41




I know that I didn’t mention picking up the keys at Midlands Saddle & Trout and that is because my family (husband and kids) and I went up on Saturday 3 June to fetch them and take a look at the unit. My daughter Laura and I took the opportunity to have an hour long horse ride. We rode very spirited horses and had a fabulous time. I have never seen so many horses at a resort before and I did confirm that all the horses belong to them. We had lunch in the restaurant (delicious curry, burgers and toasted sandwiches) and I was thrilled to discover that the coffee they serve is supplied by Skyline Coffee Roasters.

Restaurant at Midlands Saddle & Trout serves Skyline Coffee


Hour long horse ride on very spirited horses - great fun!


Yes this is the end!!