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Holy Cow! Gourmet Greek is great!

The newly opened Blue Cow Deli is one of the recent innovations of the Midlands based Gourmet Greek business. You cannot miss the large blue cow on the side of the road as you drive along the Lions River road.

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Drive past Lona’s Pianos and the Lions River Trading Post and then stop at this gorgeous little shop for a delicious cup of coffee and some Greek style treats.
Drawing on their Greek heritage – the coffee shop offers food and snacks inspired by traditional Greek food.

You can snack on their home made baklava – drool! Or tuck into a meze platter – with all their home made cheesy treats and dips. The crisp white shop with its soothing Greek music offers Midlands visitors a great new experience. With an occasional spash of blue, the shop is a little Greek heaven.
They make their own dairy products on the premises means that you would be crazy not to try their range of cheeses and yoghurts – bursting with goodness.

Filia Dimitriades and her brother Iakovos have taken the reins to expand the thriving business. Filia is a master cheese maker and has been experimenting with textures and flavours. Their best known product is the double thick yoghurt which is any Banting dieters dream.But must try items are their halloumi and soft feta cheese.

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The family owned business is a lovely blend of Greek and South African culture. The pretty drive to the shop is lovely and scenic and you will soak up this relaxing garden environment where everything is so green. A cosy fireplace inside ensures that guests will be warm in the cooler weather.
Milk urns filled with bright flowers are part of the country decor and the wooden paving stones are a lovely touch. Kids will enjoy the mini car track in the garden.

They offer an all-day breakfast and as the main restaurant/ deli is small. Large groups should book first.

For more information download the Midlands Meander App or check them out on our web page: www.midlandsmeander.co.za

Beautiful beads at Dragonfire Beads

They have changed location and now you can buy the beautiful handmade glass beads and jewellery from Dragonfire beads along the R103.

Barbara Magrath used to sell her beautiful glass work from Howick but she has recently relocated to the Tweedie T-junction at the R103.

The bead shop is located at the Serendipity center where you can see other gifts for sale and grab a cup of coffee.

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It is the perfect place for Barbara to do her glass blowing and create magnificent pieces of jewellery . You may catch Barbara behind the hot flames of her blowtorch and she loves to give demonstrations to those who are keen to see how she created the lovely glass items.

For the brave she offers one on one lessons in lampwork and groups can try and make their own beads.

When Barbara started making her lovely items she was only one of a few glass makers in the country. She is inspired by local colours and items and one of her popular items is a gorgeous rose and protea necklace with stunning pink and cherise colours.

While colourful beads are the main products that are used in exquisite jewellery items, Barbara has also used the glass beads to create luxury salad spoons and other novelty items. Glass decor and jewellery has been around for centuries and yet it has never gone out of fashion.

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The Murano glass made in Venice is known and admired by many people worldwide. The Italian style is iconic in glass design, but there are many techniques used nowadays to create different effects. Barbara keeps inspired by following international trends.

She imports her glass from a local supplier that gets the glass from Venice. She said: “You have to have a steady hand and an eye for mixing colours. It is like any other crafts the more you practice the better you become.”

The basic technique required a mandrill glass rod that is melted and twisted onto a metal rod. The bead is slowly created and the bead is dipped into a special liquid that allows it to slide off the rod.

“Originally glass making was only known to a small select group of artists, but the techniques and knowledge have become available as more people want to learn the art of making glass jewellery. Barbara says that like any art form there will always be signature styles unique to each artist.

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Details:

The shop is open every day from 9am -4pm

You can book a glass making lesson with Barbara on 0822972544 or email her on

barbara.magrath@gmail.com

Check out the website: wwww.dragonfirebeads.com

Magic at Millgate and the Mole

Millgate Cottage along the R103 is one of the Midlands Meander’s long standing members and the owners Jean and Ben Temkin came to the Midlands from Johannesburg and fell in love with the area.

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Both of them are published authors,  and in the late 1990s they had spent some time abroad and when they returned to Johannesburg it had not filled them with the same sense of home-coming they expected. A trip to the Midlands had inspired them to search for a property and the pseudo- Tudor house and cottages offered them a chance to settle down and run a business.

The pair also both artists have been inspired by the Midlands and they have had the time to let their creative juices run wild. The cosy cottages have many of their art on display. The Temkins are great believers in keeping minds busy and hands occupied and their B&B offers many little enterprises for the visitors.

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They started a clothing business offering country style clothes using local fabrics at reasonable prices (Mole Clothing) and they also have a small shop The Glass Studio offering interesting crafts and  knick-knacks, many items are made by themselves and other local crafts people in the area.

Jean’s son Chris Moon has relocated to the Midlands and he runs their small pub the Crafty Mole. Chris is a creative person and he has applied his talent to doing freelance cartoons via the internet, he is an artist and he has also begun experimenting making his own brand of local craft beer.

One of the secret ingredients in the Crafty Mole craft beer is the pure water they get from their underground borehole which runs 60 metres underground, it is fed by an underground stream from the Drakensberg mountains.

Craft beer is a burgeoning business in the Midlands with the growth of the Nottingham Brewery and the fact that more people are trying the expanding range of craft beers on the market.

Chris makes his own small batches and sells them to the local regulars that pop in to try his current brew. His last batch of brown ale beer was brewed with a hint of aniseed while the previous batch had a dash of elderflower.

They also do pub grub for the locals and Chris who is a music aficionado likes to spin the vinyls on weekends for those with a discerning ear. He has a vast collection of LPs and likes to share the music from the days of when music was made with real instruments.

The Millgate cottages are very homely and unpretentious, one or two some of the cottages were once sheds for angora rabbits but they have been expertly converted into sweet little self-contained units surrounded by lush garden and trees.

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The property is one of the few smaller properties in the area as it was sub-divided by a farmer who settled in the Midlands from East Africa after he fled from the Mau Mau uprising. His farm labourers built the main house without any building experience so some of the walls are slightly skew. Like many country homes it has quirky features that are part of its charm.

There are huge ancient trees on the property and their informal and friendly hospitality has seen the same guests booking for a holiday year after year. They have a large guest house which is perfect for large family gatherings it is also great for those who like to bring along their own pets.

The Temkins are animal lovers and their garden is full of chickens – free range ones – and dogs and often a small duiker or bush buck can be seen grazing on the lawn. The neighbouring farm attracts the wild life and birds and it is a veritable natural paradise.

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On their website Jean has written a delightful story about an imaginary creature – a Boggle – who lives in the natural forest and looks after the wildlife. It is the perfect setting for a fairytale or fantasy adventure.

Situated almost in the middle of the Midlands Meander close to Michaelhouse, Millgate cottage is perfectly positioned for meandering along the R103.

Go to their website for more information: www.millgatecottage.com

For more information on the Midlands Meander – www.midlandsmeander.com

 

 

 

Fan-Tash-tic fudge – to die for

 

One of the nicest things about the Midlands is that it is the home of the best fudge. Tasha’s Fantastic Fudge is a home business that has grown phenomenally and become a local institution. Known for its innovation and good old fashioned flavour this sweet story of success has gone from strength to strength.

Tasha Jardim is an ex Zim gal who came to South Africa in Grade 11, her cooking talent she inherited from her granny who was always making delicious things in the kitchen ranging from mulberry wine to  biscuits. Tasha’s great grandmother was also a confectioner so the sweet treat genes run in the family.

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While she was at school her Gran encouraged her to enter a few competitions. She won a cake baking competition and from then on, baking and creating became a way of life. In Matric she scored her highest mark for Home Economics – which was a lot of baking.

Her soft spot for confectionery continued when she studied at Silwood kitchens and she did her final exams on confectionery even creating three coloured jube jubes. As life continued with a marriage and baby – her love of cooking continued and in the  background there was fudge.

While she sold fudge at a local school to supplement her income, she realised the fudge was a huge seller and that is when the dream was born. Always her biggest supporters have been her family.

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Tasha said:” I did not imagine it would get this big, but I am glad it has because you have a dream and as the dream grows you have to grab every opportunity and grow with it.” The Tasha’s Fantastic Fudge shop in Hilton is a must for many tourists who want to choose their own “pick n mix” of flavours from the large glass jars.

Her business has grown too and they are now expanding beyond the borders of KZN and they are negotiating to sell the fudge to Dischem in three other provinces. Tasha has also made it possible for fudge addicts to order their fix online, her website has an online facility.

She says that her success has been a journey that has taught her a few lessons and it has also enabled her to learn other skills. “I knew that our original recipe was the winner and we have never deviated from that and we don’t skimp on ingredients. The original is still our best seller.

“I have a brilliant team from the cooks in the kitchen to my family and extended staff who are the backbone of the business;  (and) they have also grown with the business. Some of my staff were gardeners who have become involved in the production and packaging.

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“I had to take a gamble every now and again in order to grow and these small leaps of faith were what revolutionised the business and took us from being a small business to being a serious player.”

Tasha believes that in any market there will be competition and you have to believe in your product and offer service and be prepared to be creative. She offers fudge treats to corporates and fudge novelties to B&Bs who can offer fudge instead of the traditional chocolates on the pillows.

At Christmas she tried a mince pie flavoured fudge (flavour) and she has a red velvet fudge for the adventurous. For one ecologically minded corporate she made a green fudge for their event – with the slogan – anything can go green!

If you have a sweet tooth then do yourself a favour and visit Tasha’s Fantastic Fudge shop in Hilton – it is a den of sweet decadence. The flavours have to be seen to be believed and some may sound um – interesting,  but they are absolutely divine.

Website: www.tashasfudge.co.za

Email: tj@tashas-fudge.co.za

Ph: (0)83 381 8483

Austin Healey club comes to Midlands Meander

The Austin Healey classic cars were visiting the Midlands Meander this month. Organiser Les Uppink a Durban resident had planned for the cars to see a bit of the scenic Meander before heading up to the Drakensberg.

Their usual road trip was to become an Amazing Race while they were in the Midlands as they wandered from place to place looking for clues.

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They started the drive at Calderwood Hall in Boston where they spent the night and the first day they spent exploring the beauty of the Underberg area.

Then they set off for their Amazing race styled trip through the Midlands Meander – visiting as many of the attractions as they could.

The 30-odd cars made for quite an eye catching spectacle as they drove along the roads. The cars which are stylish and synonymous with British culture are collectors items. The owners buy the cars as investments and they are seldom seen on the roads.

Uppink said: “Its great to see these cars actually driven as they are meant to be – not sitting in a garage like an antique.”

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The sports cars are low slung and cannot handle dirt roads and bumps so the road had to be planned with care.

The drivers were accompanied with navigators who had to interpret the clues – sometimes cryptic.

The answers were all in the famous Midlands Meander guide.

The first stop at the Zulu Mphopomeni Tourism Experience was a challenge they had to visit a traditional hut and drink some traditional beer (Umquombothi)

Before qualifying for the next clue. The mainly older participants were game for the challenge and laughed and commented that the beer was far better than expected.

The women drank the “non-alcoholic” version – amahewu.

They popped in breiefly at the herbalist for a quick chat about herbal medicines before roaring off to the next stop, the Howick falls. No trip to the Midlands would be complete without a visit to the iconic Capture Site.

The Austin Healeys went to taste some craft beer at the Notties brewery and ended their short meander at Treverton college where they drove onto the school field and parked and showed off their cars to the interested school children who were excited.

Nikki Morris said the children were intrigued and fascinated at the cars and the headmaster enjoyed handing out detention slips (clues)  to the drivers for driving on the sports field.

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Amazing Antbear Lodge an eco-experience

An eco-friendly experience – close to the Drakensberg. This lodge is the perfect place to connect with nature and relax.

This secluded guest lodge is situated on the scenic route towards the mighty Giants Castle. Built by Andrew and Conny Attwood the lodge was built according to natural and eco-friendly principles.

Hay bale walls and glass bricks. Every effort was made to create a place that was friendly to the environment.

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This incredible getaway delivers unique South Africa accommodation options with a choice of en-suite doubles. The lodge is a showroom for Andrew’s stunning wood work – ranging from furniture and other unique pieces.

The special luxury cave was designed using a natural rock overhang and it gives guests the feeling of being in a cave but with all the luxury facilities of a jacuzzi bath and soft bed and luxury linen.

The communal dining experience in the lodge offers guests a chance to meet other visitors and to swap stories about their meanderings.  All food is prepared fresh and Conny has her own organic veggie garden and has learned to milk cows and make her own cheese.

Special private dining can be arranged – especially beautiful on the wooden deck outside the cave – a very romantic experience.

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The cottages are smartly appointed and individually designed and the fact that we are a small place makes for an intimate and personal accommodation experience.

Each of the accommodation units are different and are decorated with uniquely eccentric and artistic wooden furniture.  All our rooms are comfortable and have the standard features you expect like fireplaces, hair dryers, tea and coffee trays, a complimentary carafe of cherry and a mini fridge.

Andrew offers guests a chance to see the Berg from an arial view as he flips over the scenery in his microlite. They also can arrange a gentle cruise over the mountains in a hot air balloon.

Their horses are well trained and you can enjoy a horse ride through some gorgeous scenery.

Contact Antbear LodgeContact details for Antbear Drakensberg Lodge

Cell: 076 4412362

Tel: 031 813 5995

Tel: 036 3523143

Skype: antbearlodge

Email: reservations@antbear.co.za

Web: www.antbear.co.za

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Hawklee Country House is country hospitality

Belinda and Dean Lentz have created a beautiful country getaway at their B&B near Fort Nottingham in the Midlands. Both of them had dreamed of giving up the stress of city living they were sick of traffic and the rat race of working 9 to 5 jobs.

They had both had it in mind to find a property in the Midlands where they could settle and enjoy a less pressurised lifestyle.

It was on their third attempt when they found Hawklee House that they felt like “it was home.” The couple had looked at two other properties and put in offers to purchase but neither of those deals had worked out.

Belinda says that sometimes things happen for a reason, and Hawklee Country House situated along the edge of the Lions River is a beautiful spot in a less developed part of the Midlands. The scenery is breath-taking with horses grazing nearby in the meadows and plenty of bird life darting along the river banks.

The couple have invested in the property and have upgraded the rooms and facilities so that is has a luxury country feel. The dusty road turns into a driveway and their cheeky dog Tigger barks a raucous welcome to guests, the country style thatch house is inviting.

It is pretty and almost looks like a picture postcard, when you walk to reception along the stepping stones you may see the bird feeder swaying under the weight of dozens of little birds eating in a seed frenzy.

Guests can do a walk along the river’s edge to an old weir along the river, if you are lucky you may see an otter having a swim in the rock pools. or you can simply laze on the deck enjoying the sun and bird watching.  Belinda enlisted the help of Meander Member and decorator from Renaissance, Cheryl Wigmore to give her rooms a plush and inviting atmosphere.

She says that she does the cooking for guests and while she has always been a dab hand in the  kitchen she has loved making use of the fresh local produce that is easily obtainable in the area. “You realise that there are lots of benefits to living in the country – lots of space, things grow so easily and you make friends with your neighbours because you need each other.”

Lentz has become a member of the Midlands Meander Association board in an effort to get to know other people on the Midlands Meander and to share expertise.  “I have a corporate background and have some business experience but am a newcomer to the area and one can always learn from others. It is great to meet others and explore the potential of this beautiful place.”

The Lentz’s believe their B&B offers a place where people can come and relax and enjoy the beauty of the area and where they can also feel at home. “I know it is a cliché to say “a home away from home” but we don’t want people to feel as if they are on parade.

“We like people to feel they can curl up on the couch and read a book in the lounge if they feel like it. Their cat Maya will probably sit on top of the couch and watch guests with some curiosity. She expects some affection from visitors.  Adopted by the couple – she has learnt to be queen of the castle.”

Only a stone’s throw away from Nottingham road which has become known as a mini shopping hub in the Midlands and far enough in the country to be secluded and relaxed, Hawklee Country House is a lovely place to escape to.

Hawklee Country House (79) (Medium)For more details go to: www.midlandsmeander.co.za or  www.hawklee.co.za

 

 

Find de-lightful treasures at Aladdins de-light

Louise and Jan Van Niekerk moved from the Free State to the sleepy peaceful village of Nottingham Road many years ago before it became a fashionable hub of tourism.

The talented pair of artists fell in love with the beauty of the lush green Midlands and felt the little hamlet would have good tourism potential … and they were right and their shop Aladdins de Light has become a favourite stop for visitors to Nottingham Road who are looking for arts and beautiful objects.

Louise is a talented potter and she and her husband Jan are well known for their stained glass creations that are seen in many of the Midlands venues  decorating wedding chapels and adding decorative touches here and there.

She has been doing pottery for more than 30 years in both stoneware and earthenware, and especially loves producing Raku and smoke-fired vessels.

Aladdin’s-de-Light in Nottingham Road is the place to go for all things creative. Their range of stained glass lamps and window panels are inspiring, and they offer lots of pottery items – some functional and others decorative.

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Candles, mosaics pieces, wind chimes and sun catchers are amongst the range of affordable gifts from their large selection of handmade-with-love items.

Louise’s creativity knows no bounds and since they bought the property it has expanded from one small shop into a large shop, studio, bed and breakfast accommodation and at one stage they had a  80 seater restaurant.

Although the Aladdin’s restaurant does not exist anymore – because there are not enough hours in the day for the artists to do everything – Louise still sells her delicious Lulu’s pies.

Louise says: “We are very privileged to live here, no more rush hour traffic, big city crime, but instead fresh air and living a creative life!

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“We started doing Stained Glass in the eighties. Back then there were very few of us, classes were very hard to find, and our specialized supplies were, as today, few and far away. We have people coming from as far as Johannesburg to commission us, and we urge them to send us pictures of the room and the garden and pictures of images they like so we can get a feel for them and their home before we begin a stained glass window.”

They also produce a wide range of exquisite Tiffany lamps, from small, medium and large standing lamps, and hanging lamps.

One of the most enjoyable things that they offer at Aladdin’s is a pottery workshop for a group of friends or for a group of work colleagues.

Louise said: “The pottery workshop is such fun and a real bonding experience as people get to “play” they let their boundaries down and start to think with the right hand side of their brain. It is a wonderful experience and can be done as a hen’s party or a team build or just for fun for a group of friends.

To find out more about Aladdins go to www.aladdins.co.za  or contact them at 033 2666460/info@aladdins.co.za.??????????

Pottery guru on the Midlands Meander

Lindsay Scott’s Hillfold Pottery studio is one of those unassuming gems of the Midlands Meander. Scott was one of the original founders of the Midlands Meander and his original style of ceramics and unique salt glazing techniques have earned him a reputation as a leading South African ceramicist.

He has built his own high temperature ovens and also mixes his own clay.

The Midlands area is lucky to be the home to many accomplished potters and if you “meander” along the various routes you will be sure to find some delightful treasures for your home.

Watch a youtube video on this butterfly crafter …

 

Always in a Good Place