Have just spent two incredible days in the Midlands.
It's funny hey, growing up somewhere, you often don't realise how beautiful a place is. Until you go back as a now Vaalie-dwelling holidaymaker. Honestly, I rate the Natal Midlands the most beautiful part of this entire country.
When the folks ask us where we are from, I have to bite my tongue and say “Joburg..." 'Cos really, I'm as much a tourist as the china from Roodepoort now.
The Midlands is breathtaking. For starters, the hills are so green, it makes your eyes sting. The towns are fraught with agricultural outposts like Notties Pub and Rawdons (Which we simulatenously ate ourselves senseless at).
You feel like you're tripping half the time, no wonder hippies love this place.
Everywhere you look, there are fields of daises, horses, bovines, and gurgling streams. Along windy roads, which run parallel to a train track. It's a little slice of England right in SA, where wild roses and cascading weeping willows dot the countryside.
(It's made me all whimiscal-like, how're these chocolate-box descriptions here?)
And England, quite right, what what what what what. We ventured off the beaten track – and did a little Midlands Meander over the weekend. Hired mountain bikes and did a ride from Nottingham Road to Rosetta, stopping for some Earl Grey at the local pub.
I think I'm high from seeing too many green hills: Drove down a dirt road, reaching Fort Nottingham, a tiny dwelling in the middle of achingly pristine green mountains, laced with purple fields where horses grazed.
We stopped often, to take it all in.
Fort Nottingham, is a bastion on the foothills of the Drakensberg. A Scottish Fort, built in 1845 to ward off the San from stealing the farmers cattle. You go there today, and a man with a lip as stiff as concrete regales one with stories about kilts, guns and cattle. It's magic.
Our treehouses were crafted intricately by an eccentric farmer – set on stilts, and therefore high in the oak trees. Complete with tub, and an interesting ceramic red leg as part of the decor.
We even made some holiday friends. Love that. When you dine with everyone else, and a few bottles of red get thrown around the table, you tend to make long lost friends with people you ordinarily never speak to. All from Natal, we had an interesting chat about how this part of the world – from the Midlands down to about Westville, you don't hear Afrikaans.
It really is a slice of the UK in all manners of speaking.
For instance, Botha's Hill – a small dwelling near Hillcrest, is pronounced Both-ah's Hill. Booit-ha's Hill is not acceptable, the locals look at you funny. (It's named after a Cedric Both-ah, go figure.) The suburb of Kloof – is clue-f, not klooif. Even Boom Street in Maritzburg is pronounced boom, not booim. And Kerk Street is kirk, not the Afrikaans pronunciation thereof. It really is the Last Colonial Outpost – and now I realise why my Afrikaans is up to shit.
It's magical. And growing up there was special, I really was lucky.