Saturday, January 15, 2011

Midlands Meandering...

Last week my family and I took a drive up country to do what is called the 'Midlands Meander.'
Basically, the 'Meander' as we call it is a route that stretches all the way into the Drakensberg Mountains from the Hilton area, and along the route are a collection of shops of all kinds, as well as restaurants, markets, hotels, bed and breakfasts and farms. Most of the shops along the Meander are run by local country folk and much of their products are handmade and very unique. Depending on the sort of thing you are looking for, you can find yourself antiques, handmade soaps, candles, furniture, clothing, gifts, decor items, fresh farm produce, jams and preserves, shoes, children's toys, and the list goes on...
At the start of your 'meander,' you would usually grab yourself a special Midlands Meander booklet that contains a list of all the affiliated shops, restaurants etc, along with a map showing where each is situated and any information you will need to know to plan your trip through the country. 
I absolutely adore doing the Meander because not only are the stops along the way so gorgeous and 'countryfied,' but the area is just so scenic and serene that even just the drive is such a pleasure. 
We drove up last Thursday, did some shopping and had lunch at 'Cafe Bloom' before staying the night at 'The Bend' country cottages. We took a long drive home on Friday, stopping at many more shops along the way and enjoying the stunning weather that graced us with it's presence.
Below are some photos that I took along the way to give you a small taste of the Midlands Meander, and I hope that those of you who have never done it will be inspired to take a trip up there the next time you are twiddling your thumbs and wondering what there is to do in KwaZulu-Natal.

Our First stop was Piggly Wiggly which is a a quaint little farmstall and restaurant that stocks all the fresh farm produce you could ever need. Definitely worth a visit.

This cute little kitty I spotted sleeping inside a lovely shop Tous Le Jours where my dad bought me some pyjamas.

We treated ourselves to lunch at Cafe Bloom, and what a treat it was! Now officially one of my favourite restaurants/cafes, Cafe Bloom is set in a cobblestone courtyard and is decorated with a mixture of stunning wrought-iron and wooden furniture and serves the most deee-vine food I've tasted in a long time.

 I ordered this delectable looking dish for lunch, which was 3 English muffin halves topped with roasted vegetables, melted mozzarella and sweet chili sauce. Can anyone say heaven?

 Situated in the Country Courtyard along with Cafe Bloom, is the most amazing antique shop called 'Simply Sam Antiques.' I am a huge fan of antiques and anything belonging to a different era, so needless to say, I was in my element in this store. I found a vintage Singer sewing machine along with a record player and old suitcases, all of which I was prepared to go bankrupt just to own. Not only do they stock antiques but a range of gifts and ceramics as well. If ever in the Nottingham area, do pop past Simply Sam, or click here to view the website and online store.

 Probably the most popular stop on the Meander is The Junction which is situated centrally along Nottingham Road. At the Junction, you can have yourself a warm meal and whilst waiting, the kids can play in the lush gardens on the jungle gyms or go candle dipping whilst you browse the shops that include book, clothes, toy and furniture stores. If you're in the mood for something sweet as we were, you can go Belgian chocolate dipping which will definitely reward that sweet tooth!

 'The Bend' Country House where we spent the night.

 I a nice quiet time reading by the river. I can always think a lot clearer in the country air.

 Only in the countryside would you ever see a sign like this one.

My favourite stop on the Meander was this little shop situated at Lavender Trout on Nottingham. Of all the stores we stopped at, this one really knew how to speak my language. It was decked out from wall to wall with the most beautiful 'things' that included Lisa&Jo Stationery, Old glass milk jugs, vintage tins, decorative wall hearts, Lou Harvey merchandise, glassware, heart-shaped sugar cubes, sweets, cards, gifts and just about everything I love, crammed into one shop. What I loved most though, was the way the shop was decorated, so country and so 'farmy' yet so beautiful and tasteful. Stunning! Unfortunately I couldn't find a web link for the shop, so you'll just have to visit for yourself one day. 

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