How did You Sleep at Brahman Hills?

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“How did you sleep” is a phrase you hear often at Brahman Hills, both in the real world and online. This was something different, it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, like they were close friends or even family.

Although this sentence spoken by the all these voices creates a homely atmosphere, the resort is bold and fashionable. The architecture is a beautiful integration between classic and modern design; like the clean lines of the wedding chapel and conference venue offset by the country manor house.

After exploring the wilderness side of the KwazuluNatal (KZN) Midlands Meander and lunch at The Midlands Kitchen, we arrived at Brahman Hills at about 3pm. We received a fond aloe from everyone, a warm welcome from team members Melusi and Ayanda. After signing in, Melusi took us on a short tour of the beautiful hotel and sprawling spotless grounds at Brahman Hills.

He pointed to the left of the wedding chapel and said, “Your cottage is just over that hill, less than 1km.” I didn’t see the faint smile that flashed to his lips as he added, “but watch out for the lions!” My eyes widened before I realised he was joking and I felt like a real tourist (face palm).

I didn’t wait long to see the real Brahman Hills wildlife; on the first drive to the cottage and less than 100m from the road, I hollered my partner to a halt when I saw zebra and buck. At the sound of the shutter they stopped bucking about and turned looked right at me, ears on alert; a wonderful welcome indeed.

And then, when I thought I had experienced the best of the wonderment at Brahman Hills, I arrived at my overnight dwelling: the eco-friendly Impala Cottage. Solar geysers power the dual showers and basins and an unobtrusive cast iron fireplace assist the environment; while the delicious and large bed and couch plus the fully functional kitchen assist the guest.

And the cherry on top: I knew there were jacuzzis at Brahman Hills but I wasn’t aware that each self-catering cottage comes with a private deck and hot tub with breath-taking views. I have never in my life woken up and got straight into a jacuzzi – this is a memory I shall cherish.

Having dinner underground at 89 on Copper in a converted cellar is what you call an experience. Without windows, the natural light is substituted by a stunning array of different level hanging lights, wall light-boxes (actually circles), and table candles. It’s incredibly cosy and copper figurines and trims give it an elegant finish. Copper piping was discovered in while building the restaurant, inspiring the name & theme. Now the conduits shine elegantly along the corridors, lighting the way to experience.

The attention to detail in the a la carte menu is phenomenal, both in taste and presentation. In a sentence: shooting stars on the palate and robust symphony of flavours.

Aperitif: seared tuna

Starter: butternut soup with bacon, beetroot & saffron butter

Main: Green Thai Chicken & Prawn curry

Dessert: Lemon Cheesecake with carrot & mixed berry

From my younger days of silver-service waitering, I was delighted that our waiter, Joshua, checked all the boxes, giving right amount of attention and conversation while executing prompt, beautifully delicate, and efficient service.

The breakfast menu at Brahman Café has a lovely array of hot and cold, sweet and savoury style meals, and I loved the many windows and high ceilings in the room. My muesli came with a wonderful homemade Bulgarian yogurt, and I have made a note to next time try the option of the yogurt plus a veg/fruit of the day. And of course, my partner enjoyed his manly breakfast with incredible vigour! And the large size coffee is just what I am used to – a boat for a cup!

Another highlight of my experience of Brahman Hills was my favourites: the cows! I did not capture the living specimens themselves, but the artwork and sculptures captured me. Their sweet faces made me smile, like I did when I read the closing remark on my welcoming email from Brahman Hills: “we look forward to welcoming you in the herd!”

Wagon-loads of Goodness at Midlands Kitchen

The Midlands Kitchen branch in Nottingham Road, KwaZulu Natal, is exactly what South Africa needs in terms of road-side dining – and its in the right spot for it too, on the Midlands Meander right off the N3 highway at exit 132.

The SETUP: Indoor food market and restaurant put together. You can either order direct from each outlet or make use of restaurant section, with an all-inclusive menu of each outlet, plus gracious and sharp service. I visited on a Sunday for lunch, and the flow of people and cars was constant; they also all had seemed to have one thing in common: happy faces.

The hours are 06:00 – 16:00; there is a large outdoor area with antique wagon & some sort of steam engine, making popular for tired parents and stiff-legged travellers. There is also a completely separate Midlands Kitchen shop at the service station for a stop-and-go experience.

The FOOD: If I had to use two words: fresh and variety. Variety of food is fantastic, from Mexican to artisan coffee and woodfired pizza, gelato to burgers and Durban curry; and my favourite, the Vegan outlet.

I had the Wular Casserole (chickpea, coriander & lentil casserole with coconut milk & red pepper) – so so yum! And my partner had a Lamb Shwarma, he couldn’t stop remarking how flavourful & fresh it was. The value for money is also another attribute of the Midlands Kitchen, the casserole R50 and the shwarma R65 – and we were so full we wondered if we would need that wagon to get to our car.

Also, in the nature of my love for everything cow, I adore the names of the coffee sizes: Bull, Cow, Calf!

The SERVICE: You can tell many of the staff are invested in what they are doing, you can almost smell the enthusiasm. What also stood out was the speed in which the meals arrived, so fast and yet so tasty!

The CSI: The Midlands Kitchen employs local from the KwaZulu Natal Midlands area. From the beginning the owners decided their ingredients would be supplied by local farmers, even though it sometimes take 3 or 4 to meet demand which means more work. But the management team is as dedicated as the owners to uplifting the community and take the extra planning in their stride.

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The OVERALL: One of my favourite anonymous quotes is “Time is precious, he who wastes the least has the most,” and this is why I enjoyed the Midlands Kitchen. We were able to get in and out within 45  minutes but have an experience as full and delicate as a 2 hour lunch; and this my friends is exactly what many travellers are after.

Be still my Heart – Boston Bulwer Beat

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A lesser-known part of the Kwazulu Natal Midlands (KZN) is the Boston Bulwer Beat, perfectly positioned at the feet of the mighty Drakensberg mountains. I live in the farming village of Bulwer and +-40kms east is her twin-sister town of Boston.

In my typical Durban winter attire (socks & slops) or my usual leopard print gumboots, it takes me 2.5 hrs to get from Durban North to Bulwer because I stop for photos. Dad took 3 hrs to get from King Shaka Airport on his first self-drive trip. Remove stopping & traffic and you’re in for about 1.5 hrs to Bulwer and just over 1 hour to the start of the Boston Bulwer Beat.

Just a note: Boston currently has the most pleasant fuel stop and place to stretch your legs en route to the Southern Drakensberg. The owners are fifth generation farmers, and a few years ago they, like myself, kicked corporate to the curb. I smile when I pass at the far more generous offering that is now Boston Garage. Image Stewardship and Health, Safety, Environment recon trips where part of my corporate days in the fuel industry, so take my word for it.

The Boston Bulwer Beat is the ultimate and most splendid outdoor playground – hiking, biking, river rafting, paragliding, motocross, birding, wildlife & landscape photography, and pure off-road satisfaction.

Being my first winter in the area, I was dreading the ambiguous loss of eloquent summer vibrancy. But winter has stolen my heart with her rich earthy shades and is just as enrapturing in her stark beauty.

Every path calls you ’round the bend to complete serenity, with many an added thrill of high verges, cliff faces and powerful rivers. You can’t help but be endlessly 🚜atractored to the Boston Bulwer Beat, and surrender your heart to the Southern Kwazulu Natal Midlands.

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Sunrise over Sea – Another Fantastic Durban Sunrise

 Yes, another fabulous Durban Sunrise session this  yesterday morning.

Let me clarify about the title of my last post Durban Autumn Sunrise. I know it is not yet autumn in the southern hemisphere, but the crisp chill in the mornings  gives the impression of an early autumn.

THIS SUNRISE SESSION:

In the  hazy confusion of the predawn light, my focus falters, my lens afraid of the dark

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All is eerily quiet, the rays seem to be taking an eternity to break the horizon and flood the world with glory.

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Finally, the beginning of the end of the hazy, uncertain pre-dawn

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The break of a new day, all creation in its glory on display

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Silver lining, stalks, its the birth of a new day filled with promise

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The Woolly Neck Stalks and the cat are used are also out and about to watch His majesty grace this earth again, simply for us to enjoy

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No matter what circumstances occur, there will always be a sunrise.

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Something amazing and beautiful always emerges from even the darkest hour

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Something first dark, then serene and beautiful, turns into a powerful force

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The light of that power now touches everything it encounters

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All fear and confusion are conquered, all things working together for good, for beauty and for a new day

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Durban Beachfront Autumn Sunrise

I am fortunate enough to be blessed almost every morning by witnessing the amazing sunrise created for you and I.

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The Surf next to the pier at Umgeni River Mouth

The Surf next to the pier at Umgeni River Mouth

Durban’s beautifully engineered, and fairly new, promenade sets the stage for this amazing grace.

From Blue Lagoon (umgenie River Mouth) looking South towards Durban Harbour

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Lonely Ship lurks out at sea

The two companies (of which I am aware) involved with phase 1 and phase 2 of the beachfront rehabilitation, namely Fountain Civil Engineering (phase 1) and Vumani Civils (phase 2) have done a fantastic job.

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Phase two, Umgeni River Mouth side

The Umgeni River Mouth

The Umgeni River Mouth

Comparing the promenade to photos dating back to 1930, the difference is phenomenal.

South towards Durban City

South towards Durban City

Shore Sand Dunes

Shore Sand Dunes

The White Elephant, Moses Mabida Stadium, sits majestically keeping watch over Durban City

Malaga, Malgrove, Malpark Residential flats

Malaga, Malgrove, Malpark Residential flats

Jetski in the surf

Jetski in the surf

The sun peeped out from the horizon, only to disappear again behind the cloud bank

Now you see it

Now you see it

Now you dont

Now you Don’t

Yet another majestic morning from our creator

 

George The Chicken

For the last year and a bit, George the chicken has been living on this corner.

I have passed him on a bi-daily basis since he arrived there, and affectionately call him George.

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The corner of Umhlanga Rocks Drive and Westridge Road is where he makes his home, the kind man in that corner residence feeds him.

Around Christmas 2013, George vanished from his traffic light.

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After a few weeks, the story came out.

The kindly man of the corner house, had taken George and relocated him to a residential complex, where he is well looked after.

It was sad, but better for George.

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Then, yesterday, I spotted him. He has obviously broken free of the secure complex, and made him way back to the traffic light.

Misty Durban Beachfront

Early morning inline skating  sessions.

Start: Blue Lagoon (Umgeni River)

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Various options – pools on South Beach (Garden Court), Ushaka Marine World.

This is the Golden Mile: Battery Beach, Snake Park, Bay of Plenty and North Beach.

One morning en route on M12, Moses Mabida Stadium.

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Last night the tide was incredibly high, debris over the whole width of the promenade.

And, as per usual, the mist this morning was an early warning of an extremely hot day today!

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Mt Moreland KZN – Barn Swallows & Legavaan Sighting

The weekend before my Cape Town Christmas trip, my friend and I went up to Mount Moreland, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

Mount Moreland is about 15 kms from Umhlanga, and is best known for its Barn Swallows.

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The public can view this awesome sight of the up to 3 million Barn Swallows descending on their roost.

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This initiative is courtesy of Mount Moreland Conservancy

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Visitors bring their own chairs, food, drinks, binoculars, and mosquito repellent.

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The roosting time is about half an hour before sunset, but we went on the trip for the serenity and quite of the landscape.

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A pathway leads from the top of the view point, down towards the marshlands

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I begin descending, the only sound the wind whistling and rustling through the cane fields

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The path rounds a bend, and a tunnel of foliage leads down to the marsh, igniting the imagination

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The sparse clouds provide little relief from the midday sun, I head back up the path.

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En route out of Mount Moreland, we crossed a bridge

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Stopped to take photos, my friend noticed a Legavaan (or Rock Monitor) in the road behind us in the road

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The Legavaan vanished as quickly as he had appeared, scampering back to the safety of the brush.

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Further along our route back to Umhlanga, we came across the Dust Pit Tavern.

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It is housed in a picturesque building, Cape Dutch style almost.

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The road home

Typhoon-like storm in Durban, South Africa

Taken from the Caltex KZN South Branded Marketer – All Fuels headquarters in Umhlanga Ridge, Durban this afternoon.

The whole day, there has been a strange pressure in the atmosphere, something was brewing.

And, thank you windguru for the early warning system

My colleague drew my attention to the approaching storm at 14:10.

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The rain hasnt hit us yet, it is the light cloud that brings the cleansing rain down in sheets

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The power of the storm dwarfs the giant companies in the new town centre

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We flocked to the windows, and watched in awe as the storm moved towards our office block at an alarming rate.

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Local radio station, Gagasi Fm seems small in the magnitude of the onslaught

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Notice, the hill in the distance has disappeared

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The white cloud is upon us, and the rain begins

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The rain is upon us

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The rain beats down, a true celestial orchestra

Just reminds me of how small we are

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The rain continues to pout for around 50 minutes

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And by 15:00, its all over

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This taken at 15:55, all is quiet again

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About a 20 minutes drive from here, In Stamfordhill Road in Durban, the after effects are severe.

Funfair Rides, Durban Beachfront, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

If you haven’t been to Funworld or Waterworld, then you haven’t been to Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. You will experience exhilaration and excitement as never before. Share the excitement with family and friends. The Beachfront Amusement Park is a wonderland of fun and fantasy for both adults and kids.

Go to site to book.

I went there a couple weeks ago. The below is from the cable car ride. I also went on the Breakdance ride.

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Situated on Marine Parade opposite the Holiday Inn, the Amusement Park provides secure entertainment for the whole family in a world of carnival lights, music and entertainment. Spend time enjoying all the fun of the fair. The Cablecar provides a scenic and majestic view of the beach-front from the air, while the bigger kids have the fun and the exhilaration of the Breakdance and experience the thrill of the Swingboat. The little ones can experience the Elephant Ride or Carousel. All this in the safety of controlled facilities.

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Breakdance ride above at the bottom

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