All posts by Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander is a beautiful part of KwaZulu Natal stretching from below Mooi River to Hilton village in the south. It has a countryside full of beautiful attractions and the Midlands Meander Association is proud to promote the members who belong to this organisation. I am Trish Beaver - an ex journalist and it is my pleasure to write about all the people, places and events in this area.

Cafe Bloom – bloomin marvellous!

Distinguished by its charming decor and delicious treats and goodies, Cafe Bloom is a stop on the Midlands Meander that is well worth making. Pass the time with a leisurely breakfast or enjoy a mid-morning snack (the brownies are rumoured to be particularly tasty!). When you’ve satisfied your appetite, why not browse the lovely botanical paintings and pottery on display? This one’s for craft and caffeine lovers alike.

It’s a melting pot of charming decor ideas, quirky collectibles and mouth-watering food, this quaint cafe is perfect for a mid-meander cuppa coffee. You’ll no doubt find it easy to unwind in the formal courtyard surrounded by neat hedges, complete with a billowing fountain.

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Michael and Sally Haigh, run the cafe, are clearly dedicated to the arts as much as they are to delicious homemade fare. Michael, himself a talented ceramicist who exhibited his work at the 2009 Design Indaba in Cape Town, proudly displays his original works throughout the cafe. You’ll see his distinct ceramics beautifully absorbed into the timeless decor of the space, featuring a visible influence of Classical and 8th Century Chinese ceramics.


Find it on the R103 towards Rosetta just outside Nottingham Road .

The fresh farm table with gorgeous freshly made salads and food is a nice way to make sure you can get a bit of everything tasty.

They have wonderful healthy homemade parsnip, leek and parsley soup served in enamel mugs, to their always irresistible cheesecake and other sweet treats. If you’ve built up an appetite after all the hours of meandering, there are also more substantial meals on the menu for you to try.

The mismatched chairs and characteristic barn-style red door make it an adorable cafe that oozes personality. A delightful touch is the special, hand-written snippets of wisdom that you’ll discover all over the store!


Birds bees and the BUGS!

Some people might think they are just about fun. Wherever they go the children smile and have a ball – whether it is getting hands dirty, painting walls or planting seeds.

The Midlands Meander Association Education Project (MMEP) is a fantastic organisation that does amazing things in the Midlands schools.

Using charm, humour and sheer exuberance – the BUGS – also known as environmental facilitators  – are to be found creating meaningful change in the local school communities.

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Using creativity and “magic” they make lessons come alive as they teach children the importance of environmental education. Based in the beautiful KZN Midlands it was imperative to teach children in under privileged schools the value of their glorious environment.

While the focus was initially on the environment and urging young people to look for sustainable options the bugs soon learned themselves that there were other issues that had to be addressed.

Planting food gardens at the schools became a huge priority and adapting the lessons to the school’s circumstances became important. The most amazing accomplishment is the bugs ability to turn lessons into magical stories.

In one lesson you may see a circle of children wearing brightly coloured wizard hats dancing on the edge of a forest. If you look carefully you may observe a handful of purple glitter that turns into a lesson on the spread of germs and bacteria.

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They may gather spinach for lunch in the school garden and learning how to cure chapped lips with a succulent plant.

Morals and lessons about our fragile earth are turned into fantastical stories about singing chameleon, a long blue silky sari that turns into a river for a water safety lesson. A lesson on anti-bullying was also added to the mix, collecting books for libraries also evolved into a project and this is just a drop of what they do on a weekly basis in 20 rural schools in the Midlands.

To the casual observer it may seem silly and fun but the core of these lessons is fundamental learning rooted in the CAPS system and these lessons give a new learning dimension to learners who struggle with conventional classroom techniques.

Many children at these schools are under-priviledged and suffer from learning problems and social issues that impact on their ability to perform well at school.

The MMAEP facilitators who are known as the ‘Bugs’ come from different backgrounds and use their widespread skills in gardening, environmental education, art, maths, literacy and communication.

They also work with WESSA to encourage and support the schools to aim for the WESSA Eco-School label.

The long term graduate schools receive fewer visits but are invited to share what they have learned with others. New schools receive frequent visits and support in their first Eco-School steps towards whole school development.

Over the last twelve years many schools have received tools, libraries, garden advice, bursaries and more but the reality is that it’s all about the Bug visits. When the MMAEP Bugs arrive at school there is a flurry of excitement and a real sense of anticipation from learners and their teachers.


This year the Midlands Meander Association Education Project celebrates their 14th birthday.

For further information on the MMAEP or visit the MMAEP facebook page .

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Songs of the wind

Lola and Frik Haupt believe the wind speaks and their wind chimes respond to it, on their Lidgetton property at the top of a small hill, the sound of musical notes float out over the countryside.
It is not only the chimes that make this scenic spot a charming place to visit, but the garden is bursting with the first spring blooms and the birds sing raucously as the go about their business making nests in the trees. The weaver birds are particularly noisy – chattering and gossiping as they construct their homes.

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“The swallows have not arrived yet,” comments Frik looking around the garden, “they are late this year.” Two rooms of their home are devoted to the chimes for which they have become known. Lola, is the saleswoman, and Frik is the more reticent of the duo, preferring to stay in the background and make the chimes.

“Each person has a sound inside their soul”
Lola invites guests inside and asks them to be still and to quiet their minds. “Each person has a chime that is meant for them, “ she says sweetly. I am doubtful, but as I wander around tapping the chimes I realize that likemusic, each chime has certain notes that are more dominant.
Chimes may look generic – an assembly of metal pipes assembled around a knocker. But the sound of the chime is not haphazard and a lot of thought goes into the distinctive noise of a chime. That is why the Culamoya chimes have become a sought after brand.
The Haupt’s were in the real estate business, when Lola felt that the stress of the business was getting too much. She had the strong feeling that they should retire and make chimes. Her husband was incredulous but he knew better than to contradict his determined wife.
Lola had a head for music as a piano player and all her family were musical, her relatives had a hand in creating the old national anthem, the Afrikaans parts are still used. The couple made quite a few experimental chimes, many of which hang in the garden.
But over the years they have created chimes that are soothing and pleasant. Today, twenty four years later, they have over thirty different varieties, ranging from one that sounds like Big Ben to others that sound like the tinkling ripple of a mountain stream.

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Lola believes that choosing a chime has a lot to do with one’s inner “musical note” finding its corresponding match. She takes me by the hand and asks me to step closer to a chime, “Close your eyes and listen,” she instructs.
She sets the knocker swinging and in second the notes come cascading one after the other, I also feel a vibration …. A pleasant humming in my head. This chime is called “Gran’s love”

Others are called St Pauls like the famous Cathedral, and others are called Dreams or Sixraindrops, each with a distinct sound.

Lola believes that while most people buy chimes for their musical qualities, there are many health benefits to having chimes. She says: “The chimes emit vibrations that are positive. You cannot enter a room where the chimes are tinkling and feel angry for long.”
The Haupts have also created giant chimes that stand up to three metres long , these massive chimes are supported in metal frames at the edge of their property. Named Love, Forgiveness, Giving. The chimes make a spectacle as they sway in the breeze.
These chimes are heavy and are seldom heard unless a strong wind blows them. The vibration and deep harmonious song is riveting. Lola says people come to their property justto sit and absorb the healing atmosphere. The noise of the chimes soothes troubled souls.
These massive chimes are sold to churches and spiritual retreats abroad, as their qualities seem to resonate across all cultures and religions.
Frik Haupt says chimes are a basic combination of engineering and music. “The sound quality depends on three things – the thickness of the pipe, the length of the pipe and the material of the pipe. Other factors affecting the notes are the weight of the knocker and the holes in the pipes.”
In their showroom they have collected chimes from many other cultures, glass chimes from Asia, bone and bead chimes from rural Africa and the earthy bamboo chimes that come from India.


Story by: Trish Beaver
Marketing Co-ordinator Midlands Meander


Our Mad Midlanders

When we conceived of this blog in the Midlands Meander Association office – we wanted to bring the Midlands Meander to life for you as more than just a beautiful picture postcard destination but to make you familar with the types of characters you will find in our neck of the woods. People who settle in the Midlands of KwaZulu Natal are a mixed bag of nuts – literally and figuratively. Some have come to the area decades ago and have long roots in the area stretching deep into the soil – they are figuratively the local royalty.

Those who have lived in the area long enough know the surnames and whisper them with a little reverence. Others have meandered into the district drawn by the sheer beauty of the area and the rich fertile soil .

They have given up the riches of those Jozi roads paved with gold and come to earn a living by toiling with the soil or making a way of life where they can escape the daily stress of the city.

It may be the fresh air or the slow pace of life but people here can be creative and they have time to do things the old fashioned way – making jams, preserves, quilting, embroidery, hobbies and crafts are all time consuming and here people have time to make and create.

Those running hospitality venues add those extra touches that make them homely and unique. Others are elegant and luxurious and offer stunning views that soothe the soul.

We found one of these creative types at one of our member socials – Chris Moon is a cartoonist and local craft beer brewer who runs The Mole pub at Millgate. He is a muso and lover of old music and vinyl and you can catch him playing his music at weekends. We persuaded him to draw us a selection of cartoon characters that can be commonly found in these parts and he did a splendid job.

Our Zulu mama, dope smoking hippie and tough macho farmer are just a few of the obvious characters you will find round these parts and each of them has a colourful story to tell about why they love the Midlands!





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New Beginnings

Welcome to Mad about the Midlands … the blog that aims to expose you to all the magic of the Midlands.

The people, the places … the events and the characters that are sometimes not seen by the casual visitor to the area.

This small geographical area that is situated between Mooi River and Hilton and has many country attractions from mountain views of the mighty Drakensberg to the gushing Karkloof waterfalls – we pride ourselves on old fashioned hospitality and offering people a glimpse of the laid back life when quality of life is more important than making money.

Here in our corner we would love you to kick off your shoes, enjoy the views and chill out.


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