10 of my favourite things in the Midlands Meander

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So about 4 weekends ago, the only weekend in 6 years which it snowed in Ladybrand, Marc and I went on a road-trip to the Midlands Meander.

Although we were a bit bummed that we didn’t experience the snow at home we did have a most enjoyable long weekend. Midlands Meander is good for a weekend getaway! We’ve been there a couple of times. We did see a bit of snow fall there that weekend but it melted as soon as it touched the ground.

Here’s a good site if you want more info on KwaZulu Natal’s Midland Meander:midlandsmeander website

So, my top 10 things to do in the Midlands Meander are:

10. Karkloof Canopy Tours

This is very adventurous and not too scary…. Although I did do a lot of high pitched screaming. You slide along zip lines high in the trees with amazing scenery all around you… If you are brave enough to open your eyes it’s actually really stunning! You don’t have to be really fit but I don’t think you can be really fat… There is a moderate level of physicality to it. We did this about 2 years ago with a few friends.

9.The Faraway tree

Now this should probably not be on my top 10 list but every time we are in the Midlands with new people we go and show them the faraway tree… We always keep them in suspense until we get there… It’s just really different and something an ordinary person does not expect. When we were there this time they were busy relocating so unfortunately Sean and Cora couldn’t experience it this time round.

8. Piggly Wiggly and surrounding shops

Piggly Wiggly is like a big farm stall with a restaurant. They have yummy droë wors! There are very interesting shops around it; an essential oil shop, carpentry shop, art shops, candle-dipping store, linen shop, wine-tasting and a deli called the 3 Fat Pigs. A lot of fascinating things to see and browse through.

7. Nelson Mandela Capture Site

Near the actual capture site of former president Nelson Mandela is now an impressive sculpture and a small museum. The sculpture has a very clever design because you only see the picture from a certain spot. If you are not at that spot all you see is random jagged metal poles.

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6. Michaelhouse

Michaelhouse is just a cool school. The buildings are pretty and that book and movie, Spud, is based on Michaelhouse. We’ve driven through the school premises a couple of times. You can’t make a day’s outing out of this visit but it’s just a nice detour on your way to Piggly Wiggly and the Mandela Capture site.

5. Blue Berry Cafè

This place is relatively new and was recommended to us by Graham, the owner of Notting Hill, the guesthouse where we stayed. Blue Berry Café is on top of a hill overlooking the whole area. When we were there we could see snow on the Drakensberg mountains! They have a very original and interesting menu with many dishes containing blue berries. The manager promised us that next time we come we can have a slice of cheese cake on the house because they didn’t have when we were there and the waiter only told us that there’s no cheese cake half an hour after we ordered it. Maybe she was hoping a cheese cake would magically appear!? But apparently the service was not great that day because workers couldn’t get to work because of the Mooi River strike.

4. The BierFassl

We really like this German restaurant, the Bier Fassel. There eisbein and sauerkraut is recommendable. Ol’ Graham (or Greenham like I wound up calling him) was not keen on the Bierfassl. Apparently he has heard that many people get gastritis after eating there. We never have… But then again we have quite hardcore stomachs. It’s still one of our favourite places in the Midlands!

3. Nottingham Road Brewery and Rawdons Hotel Pub

Rawdons hotel is a nice place to go have supper or to just go out for a drink. It has a classic pub feel to it, the service is good and the food is tasty. Next to the hotel is Nottingham Road Brewery. They are famous for their beers! Marc recently made his first batch of home-made beer. It still needs to brew for another 3 weeks. It will be great if it tastes similar to Nottingham’s brew… They are a few years ahead in experience though.

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2. Ugly Duckling and Spiral Blue

There are 2 Ugly Duckling stores and I’ve only seen one Spiral Blue. They sell similar things. It’s very entertaining to browse through all the arty, colourful and weird creations they sell. Well worth a stop and a good place if you are looking for an interesting gift for someone.

1. Swissland Cheesery

We so enjoyed our picnic at Swissland Cheesery! It’s on top of a hill on a goat farm. We bought a picnic basket which was filled with various types of cheeses, melba toast, olives and patés. Sean and Cora had a bottle of wine in the car and the lady working there supplied us with wine glasses. We lay on the grass (on a blanket which they supplied) eating cheese, drinking wine and watching the goats. It was really awesome and I wouldn’t mind doing exactly that right now….You must just keep in mind that the place is closed for about 2 months from June to August because that’s when lambs are born and they don’t have a lot of milk for cheese making. Oh, and one more thing, you have to cross a train track to get there… Cross quickly! There are still trains and you can’t see the train until it’s like 5m away! We stopped at the tracks and there was no train in sight so Sean, as a joke, stopped on the tracks!! Luckily he doesn’t freeze under pressure because right then there was a train coming at us with a tremendous speed! Don’t even want to imagine what would have happened if Sean stalled the car at that moment! So, remember to look for trains and to pass the tracks quickly when you are on your way to Swissland Cheesery. Once you are there you can relax and forget about trains and other life stresses for a bit.

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