Welcome to Part 2 of the Berg Adventure. If you haven't read Part 1 you must go back to see the pictures of the wonderful Gooderson Monk's Cowl Resort.
So as I said in Part 1 we arrived at the resort on 28 April checked in, unpacked, had lunch and then we went out to start our adventure. I'm sure you have all heard about Ardmore and their wonderful and quirky ceramics. Well Mom and I took a drive to the farm where it all began to take a look at the museum. The ceramics are no longer produced there but have moved to the Caversham Valley in the Midlands. I must add that to my 'must see' list. We followed the sign board and turned onto a road and then we drove and drove and drove. The road changed from tar to dirt and we wondered if we could possibly have taken a wrong turn but had a sigh of relief when we saw another sign up ahead. There are cottages to rent on the Ardmore farm and they have a tea garden. African Loom is in the same building as the museum and you can watch the ladies at work. Mom and I went into the museum section which also showcases Steve Bull's art. I must say we were quite disappointed with the museum. It was hot and stuffy and the ceramics were not labelled as to who had made it and in what year. Most of the ceramics are behind dusty perspex so I could not get a clear photo. Don't get me wrong – it was wonderful to look at the ceramics and also to see all the copies of articles that Ardmore has been mentioned in. But we felt that so much more could have been done. We looked at the wonderful products that African Loom make and I decided to buy a bag and i'm so glad that I did (you will find out why).
|Ardmore Museum ceramics|
|The bag I bought from African Loom|
I took the bag to the reception area to pay for it and we saw a beautiful Border Collie dog. Mom asked the lady about the tea garden but unfortunately it had closed at 4pm. So we hopped back in the car and headed back to our lovely room at Monk's Cowl Resort.
Cue day 2 (29 April).
Mom and I wanted to properly experience the glory of the Drakensberg mountains and so we had to go for a walk. First we thought about going to the Drakensberg Sun and do their fern shaded walk but found out at Monk's Cowl reception that we would need to phone and book. Our next thought was the hour walk to the waterfall at Monk's Cowl Nature Reserve on a circular route. That sounded like a nice stroll so we got into the car to drive there. It was a wonderful drive and the mountain got bigger and bigger. Oh yes the bag from African Loom! – packed with 2 water bottles, cellphone, tissues, camera and car key. We had hats on, sunscreen on (thanks to hubby for making sure I had packed it) and Mom had a walking stick.
We arrived in the car park and I suddenly had a thought – do we have to pay to go walk?? Our handbags are locked in the boot, so I had to get mine out. The answer is yes that you have to pay. Cost is R35 per adult and R5 for a map. You also have to fill out a form as to the names and ages of those going for a walk and which walk you are doing and the name and cell number of one person. There are also various boxes to tick – water? Jacket? Food? I just ticked the water box as we were only going to do the hour walk to Sterkspruit Falls. The longest hike at Monk's Cowl is 5 hours.
|The start of our hike|
So off we went on our 'walk'. It was wonderful walking through the cool forested area and we were really enjoying ourselves. Then we came to an open area and followed the trail down, down, down to the falls. By this time we were feeling rather warm and it was far more difficult. We realised that our walk was actually a hike. The Sterkspruit Falls were so beautiful and we sat down on the bench provided to have a breather and to drink some of our water. Now the challenging part began – we had to get back up the steep path! Walk, walk, walk, stop for a breather, walk, walk and walk. The next stop on our walk hike was to go and look at the pools. We went down slightly but the rest of the way was very steep so Mom just looked from the top and I went down to take a photo.
|Forested walk on the way up|
Then we started on the path back up – the most challenging part of our walk hike. It was a case of up, up, up, level out a bit, up, up and up. We just took our time and stopped for sips of water and even sat for a bit on a rock in the shade of a tree. Eventually we reached the top but the hike was not over! We still had to make our way through the shaded forested area. On we went and it was much harder going up through the forested area than it was coming down. There it was! The start and end of the trail and we had made it! I went to sign the paper so that they would know that we were off the mountain and calculated that we had taken 1 hour and 46 minutes to do the hike. We went to the bathroom to run cold water over our hands to cool down and then enjoyed an ice cold Coke at the little restaurant.
|Mom and I at the restaurant after the hike|
We then went to the car and drove back to Monk's Cowl Resort and I went to have a shower and change. Relaxed for a bit on our patio and drank some more water and had a cup of tea. It was rather a hot day. I think we were in the room for about 45 minutes and then we left again to discover new places. One of the managers of Monk's Cowl recommended a chocolate place in the Cedarwood Centre. That chocolate place turned out to be The Drakensberg Chocolate Memories who had given us chocolate slabs for a Durban Blogger Meet last year. That was the first time I had heard of them and tasted their fabulous chocolate. Mom and I entered the shop to see all the arranged chocolates to buy and we looked at the menu to see what is on offer. They have free chocolate tasting, chocolate dipping and chocolate and coffee pairing. I of course liked the look of the chocolate and coffee pairing and asked Mom whether she would like to try it as it was for two. Mom was uncertain and then said why not! So I ordered it for us. The coffee for the pairing is made using the siphon method (I had to ask) *makes note to research this coffee making method* It was so wonderfully presented with the chocolates down the middle and the small coffee glasses. The bottle that you see in the picture contains chilli essence. I was told to add 1 drop to my coffee if I wanted to. I decided to be brave and SHEW! My sinuses were definitely clear. I did not add the chilli essence to my second cup of coffee. Mom and I cut the chocolates in half and we ate a chocolate and then drank some coffee. It was a fun experience and if you are staying in the area you must do it. I paid for our chocolate and coffee pairing and I also bought 4 slabs of their chocolate.
|The Drakensberg Chocolate Memories shop|
Now after we were fuelled with coffee and chocolate Mom and I went to another museum. When we were driving to the Ardmore Museum the day before we passed a very interesting old house and the sign on top said "Negosie Museum". So as Mom and I love vintage and retro items it was a must see. The museum is owned and run by Sandra Lemmer (funny my Mom's name is also Sandra). Originally the museum was situated in Rosendal in the Free State but she has moved everything now to her husband's family farm. The museum is actually the contents of an old trading store (negosiewinkel) that date from before the 1970's that she discovered in Lesotho. You are able to buy some of the items if she has lots of that item. There are old sweets, medicines, haberdashery and lots of fascinating things to see. An amazing and funny walk into the past. No photos are allowed to be taken inside the museum (as the notice said by the door) but Sandra Lemmer allowed me to. I was so happy as I wanted to show my sister everything we had seen inside. Another building next to the museum is her shop filled with items to buy including vintage fabric. Please note that if you want to see the museum it is R20 per person which is so worth it. Sandra also has another antique shop in Winterton.
|Sandra Lemmer Antiques|
|Inside Negosie Museum|
We spent quite a long time looking and then chatting to Sandra Lemmer and she asked us whether we had been to the Village Bakery yet. We said we didn't know about it and Sandra said we must go and told us how to find it. By this time (around 4pm) we really needed to have something to drink so we happily went on our way. The Village Bakery was easy to find with its large white entrance wall with a small table and chair on it. We drove on a short dirt road to the bakery and parked under some trees. Loved our first view of the bakery with its beautiful hanging baskets and big entrance doors. It is a beautiful space with art completely covering the walls. We chose our table and Mom ordered tea and I ordered a cappuccino and a chocolate cupcake. It was a lovely cappy and I especially enjoyed the cupcake as it had a hidden marshmallowy filling – yummy! I went to pay and was shocked to discover that Mom's tea and my cupcake were only R10 each! Where can you go these days and only pay R10 for tea or a cupcake??!! After our lovely tea and coffee break we made our way back to Monk's Cowl Resort.
|My cappy and chocolate cupcake|
Thursday 30 April was heading home day and we were sad to be leaving the Monk's Cowl Resort and the Drakensberg. After checking out we took a slow drive towards Winterton and stopped to look at a vintage shop called Quite Interesting and I bought rooibos tea and watermelon jam from another little shop. We carried on our way but we were reluctant to end our adventure so we just had to stop before reaching home. The final stop was the Piggly Wiggly centre in the Midlands and we went to Piggly Wiggly for coffee and cake. We were very impressed with the makeover inside and with the new chairs and counter and the yummy display of available cakes. There was a cosy nook with two leather chairs and we decided that that was the perfect place for us. We both had cappys and I had a lemon meringue pie and Mom had cheese cake. It was such a lovely spot to sit and relax and chat about our time in the Berg. After coffee and cake we took a slow stroll around the centre and there were quite a few changes from the last time we were there. Enjoyed looking at the wonderful pyjamas in Tous Les Jours and I bought myself a room and linen spray (rose geranium).
|Tous Les Jours at the Piggly Wiggly Centre|
Well that is the end of Part 2 of our Berg Adventure and what a blessed time it was.
|Selfie when we arrived back home|
Ardmore Guest Farm and Museum with African Loom and Steve Bull Art Gallery
D275 road off the R600
Monk's Cowl Nature Reserve
Drive till the end of the R600
The Drakensberg Chocolate Memories
Negosie Museum and Sandra Lemmer Antiques
D275 road off the R600
Valley Bakery Coffee Shop and Art Gallery
Off the R600
Tous Les Jours at Piggly Wiggly Centre