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