Berg Adventures Part 2 : Gooderson Monk's Cowl Resort

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).

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Ardmore Museum ceramics
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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.

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Monk's Cowl
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Mom
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The start of our hike
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Sterkspruit Falls

 

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.


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The Pools
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sandra Lemmer Antiques
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Negosie Museum
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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.

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Valley Bakery
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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).

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Piggly Wiggly
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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.

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Selfie when we arrived back home

Gooderson Monk's Cowl Golf Resort

Ardmore Guest Farm and Museum with African Loom and Steve Bull Art Gallery

D275 road off the R600

www.ardmore.co.za

Monk's Cowl Nature Reserve

Drive till the end of the R600

The Drakensberg Chocolate Memories

Cedarwood Centre

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Negosie Museum and Sandra Lemmer Antiques

D275 road off the R600

Valley Bakery Coffee Shop and Art Gallery

Off the R600

Piggly Wiggly

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Tous Les Jours at Piggly Wiggly Centre

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Berg Adventures Part 1 : Gooderson Monk's Cowl Resort

On Thursday (30 April) afternoon my Mom and I returned home after a fabulous stay in the Drakensberg. Before I tell you about our stay I had better tell you how it came about.

In October last year I was blessed to win a 2 night stay for 2 adults at Gooderson Monk's Cowl Resort through the Sunday Times. Neil (hubby) and I were going to go but unfortunately the end of the year was so busy as was the beginning of the year. I could not use the voucher for long weekends, public holidays and school holidays so that made it more difficult. The voucher would expire at the end of April so I just decided to phone and find out if there was any chance of me using it. I was surprised and pleased to learn that there was a room available for the 28th and 29th. I asked my sister who stays in Johannesburg if she could come and join me but she was unable to. Neil had said to me before I asked my sister "take your mother!"

I asked my Mom and I was surprised and pleased that she agreed to go. In fact she was very excited and started packing almost immediately.

So on Tuesday 28 April we packed the car and left for the drive to the Berg at 9:15am. Neil had explained to me where to go and we had even looked on Google Earth so that I could not possibly get lost. This would be the first time I had driven my car that far away from home and surprisingly I was not scared but excited. Our first stop was at the Rotunda between Hilton and Howick for a toilet break and for me to buy an energy drink. I was sick the previous week and had taken my last antibiotic that morning. We then continued with our journey which seemed to be going by quickly. Maybe it was all the talking we were doing because we were suddenly at the Mooi River toll plaza and soon after that we stopped at the Estcourt Ultra City.

Approximately 5 kilometres after Estcourt Ultra City we turned off the freeway at the Bergville/Colenso exit. We drove through Winterton and not long after that we were amazed to discover that we had reached our destination. From Kloof to Monk's Cowl resort took us 3 hours.

Check in time was 2pm so we thought we would have to find something to do before we could get our room. We decided to go to reception anyway and were happy to discover that our room was ready. Very quick and easy check in with one form to fill out and the reception staff were very friendly and welcoming. We had a Superior Room in a very new part of the hotel. Wow! What a room it was. Two double beds, a lovely spacious bathroom and our own patio. Oh! First the card to use for entry was very clever. Hold it at the handle and the door unlocks and then place it into a slot just inside the room and the power is activated. Great electricity saving!

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Superior Rooms

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Extremely comfy beds

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Nice chairs to sit and decide where to go

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Our TV and a view of the kettle in the corner

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Cupboard and front door

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Love this bathroom

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Fabulous shower

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These windows gave a wonderful glow in the room

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Our own patio

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View from our patio

We unpacked and chose the bed we wanted to sleep in. Hunger pangs drove us out of the room, so we followed the path past the Adventure Golf and to the restaurant which is called Friar Tuck (Monk's Cowl - Friar Tuck - get it??) We chose a table on the patio and Mom ordered a toasted chicken mayo sandwich and I decided to have a chicken wrap. We didn't want to eat too much as it was rather late in the day for us to eat. The food arrived quickly and we really enjoyed our meal. After lunch we went back to our room and had tea and then decided that since this was an adventure we would have to get out and experience the Berg.

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Friar Tuck patio

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View of the swimming pool

But since this is Part 1 and I am only focusing on the resort, you will have to wait for Part 2 to find out where we went on day 1 of our adventure. We arrived back at the resort at about 4:30pm and supper is served from 5pm. Both Mom and I do eat early at home but we didn't want to get there too early as we had eaten lunch so late. It was wonderful to sit out on our patio, relax and enjoy the majestic view of the mountains. It was dark by the time we left for supper but the path has lighting so it was easy to make our way there.

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Inside Friar Tuck

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Divine oxtail

The supper menu for Friar Tuck has a lot of choices but I was drawn to the oxtail and Mom to the soup, so that is what we ordered. Wow! The oxtail was divine! Mom and I mmmmm'd our way through our meal. I'm sorry to disappoint you all but we were too full for dessert. We took a slow walk back to our room and stopped on the way to gaze at the stars. It was wonderful to be able to see them clearly without city lights interfering. Back in our fabulous room we had wonderful showers and then snuggled in our beds to watch TV. We only managed to stay awake until about 9pm as our day had been tiring with all the excitement. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday morning we were both awake at 5am and breakfast is only served from 7am. So we took our time getting ready and had a cup of tea and chatted about what we would do that day. Mom opened the front door to check how cold it was and there was a bite to the air. Definitely wore a jacket to walk to Friar Tuck for breakfast. We were the first there for breakfast as we were the first there for supper the night before. During the week Monk's Cowl do not have a breakfast buffet as there are not enough people staying at the resort, but we could order off the menu items we would have wanted from the buffet. Mom and I both decided to start with poached dried fruit and yoghurt and then to have an omelette. We really enjoyed the poached fruit and the omelettes were so yummy. I had cheese and mushroom and Mom had cheese, mushroom and tomato as a filling. While we were having our breakfast we were visited by the resident cat - Tom. Such a friendly cat who demanded to be stroked and to have his tummy rubbed. A cup of coffee each and we were ready to start day 2 of our adventure.

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Tom the resident cat

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Yummy omelette

On the way back to our room we stopped and checked with reception about various activities. Did our final getting ready and then got in the car. Read Part 2 for where we went.

We came back to Monk's Cowl resort after 12pm and I went for a quick shower, had tea and relaxed for a bit on the patio. No lunch as we were still quite full from breakfast. I went to reception again to ask for recommendations for a place we could go for a cappuccino and cake. So armed with information off we went again - yes yes Part 2!

This time we came back to the resort after 5pm. We only stayed in the room long enough to get our jackets as by this time we were very hungry.

Especially as we had had a very busy and fun day. This time I ordered the mountain trout and Mom had soup again but she ordered vegetables to go with. As was with the night before, we really enjoyed our meal. I am going to please you all by saying yes we had dessert! We both ordered chocolate mousse and we were expecting it to arrive in a glass but his was how it was presented ......

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Lots of oohs and aahs from us both and then lots of mmmmm's as we tried to scrape every last bit off the plate. We relaxed with coffee and Tom came to visit us again for more scratches and tummy rubs.

We took our happy tummies for a slow walk back to the room. The sky wasn't as clear as the night before but we did get a glimpse of a few stars. Had wonderful showers and then into the bed to watch TV. We watched 7de Laan, the news and then Captain America : The Winter Soldier. Lights out and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Mom was awake at 5am but I managed to sleep until 5:45am. It was going home day L We went for breakfast for the last time and Tom came to see us again for his regular tummy rubs. Had delicious omelettes again and ended with coffee. We sadly made our way back to the room and packed up all our stuff.

But before we packed the car we went for a last walk to see the new rock swimming pool and to look at the new self-catering units and other superior rooms. Everything looks fabulous and I am sure the rock swimming pool and jungle gym will be greatly enjoyed by the kids that stay at the resort. Well it was back to the room and then we packed all our things into the car and then checked the room one last time - just in case. Walked up to the reception to settle our bill which was just for the food we had eaten. Bye bye Gooderson Monk's Cowl Resort and thank you for the amazing time! The staff were always friendly and welcoming and your room was divine. The food at Friar Tuck was delicious. The only thing we would like you to do is to please update your local activities for the guests - maybe a separate booklet for the room?? If you do not know the area and activities available it takes some effort to find out.

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Adventure golf

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Beautiful new rock swimming pool

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The Gooderson "G"

Mom and I highly recommend Monk's Cowl resort and we would happily stay there again.

Monk's Cowl on Facebook | Website

So that is Part 1 of our Berg Adventure.

Me

Me

Hello my name is Nicola Meyer and I live in Kloof in what is known as the Upper Highway outside of Durban in beautiful Kwazulu-Natal.

The name of my blog is Run On Coffee as I am a mother of two and coffee is my fuel to get me through the day. But not any coffee - no no no! It has to be proper ground coffee which I make either in a plunger or my new Aeropress.

Let me get back to the personal stuff. As I said I am a mother of two – a son who is 17 and in matric and a daughter who is 14 and in grade 8. I have been married 20 glorious years and I am looking forward to many, many more with my fabulous husband. I have just turned 42 (on mother's day of all days). Why you ask am I so forthcoming with my age?? Well let me tell you – I am having more fun now in my 40's than I ever had in my 20's and 30's. I started blogging after my 40th birthday and the blogging world has brought me new friends and forced me to be bold and brave and to get out of the house. I like to blog about places and experiences so that others can share in my adventures. I am mostly a home executive and I do all the housework myself. One morning a week I drive down to Pinetown to do job costing, make new files and make sure order books are up to date for a company.

My hobbies (when I get time to do them) are scrapbooking, paper crafts and sewing and I have a great weakness for stationery – Typo!!!!!! I love to read mostly who dunnit books but

I also like romance. I also love magazines – Ideas, Your Family, Home, Good Housekeeping, Fresh Living and an awesome magazine called Mollie Makes (international so I don't buy it all the time *sob sob sob*)

I love going to markets like the Shongweni Farmers Market (vetkoek) and to I Heart Market (extremely talented people). Going for a walk on uShaka beach with Bolt our Greyhound is also a highlight. It is absolutely essential to stop off at Afro's Chicken after the walk for a cappuccino.

That is a brief explanation of who I am and I hope you enjoy reading my posts. Thank you Tasha Jardim for letting me use your blog.

Blog: www.runoncoffee.blogspot.com
Twitter: @NicolaLMeyer https://twitter.com/NicolaLMeyer
Facebook blog page: Run On Coffee https://www.facebook.com/runoncoffee

Chocolate Cornflake Crunch

This is a real trip down memory lane. My mom often made these for our birthday parties and they were very yummy. Now I have to find an excuse to make them for someone who is having a party so we can enjoy them. I find it very difficult to stop at one!

  • 60g butter, chopped into squares
  • 2 tablespoons syrup
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 80g cornflakes

Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup over low heat or in microwave. Stir in cornflakes and make sure they are all coated in mixture. Place spoonfulls into cup cake holders and leave till firm. Enjoy!

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