The last few kilometres up to Granny Mouse Country House and Spa are postcard-pretty: horses and cows graze in the undulating fields, as rustic Tudor-style restaurants and inns dot the winding roads of the Midlands.
An eclectic modern-baroque design is woven throughout the interiors, with red wing-back chairs and lazy couches casually inhabiting the intimate living spaces and sitting areas.
The bubbly and charming Kara accompanies us to our room, one of the new deluxe suites, located on the Lion River with a gorgeous view. Later that evening we have a steak dinner - done to medium-rare perfection - in the cosy Bistro and retire to our room for an early night, relaxing in front of our very own fireplace.
The following morning, the skies are a heavenly blue and the clean mountain air serves as an instant mind-and-body makeover. After a scrumptious buffet breakfast, including smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, we set off to explore what the surrounding area has to offer families on holiday.
A definite must to visit is Zulu-lulu Ceramic Boutique, Art Bar and Gallery at the Piggly Wiggly Country Village. Starting out as a passionate pottery hobby in a small studio has created a truly South African range of ceramics that puts the art back into craft. The new Zulu-lulu ceramic boutique, ART BAR and Gallery brings together the ceramic retail space, carefully selected artworks in the gallery and a comfortable studio space for visitors to try their hand at being creative.
Ceramic artist Trayci Tompkins and her creative studio group bring a fresh and original approach to their work. Trayci tells me that the family ceramic painting activity on the premises is a massive hit with parents and kids alike.
“The kids love painting the ceramics of course since it’s a creative activity, but what is most surprising is the way in which their parents – especially the fathers – get so wrapped up in painting little pigs, plates and teapots!”
We take a leisurely drive to the elegant Rawdons Hotel with their thriving independent brewery which has long been delighting locals and visitors with a range of naturally-brewed ales and lagers.
The beer tasting is followed by a visit to Born in Africa, which produces locally-made vodka, liqueurs, and sherries in natural flavours ranging from orange and cinnamon to chilli – simply heavenly! They also sell children’s clothes and shoes made by the local community.
The weather in the Midlands is unpredictable, but the soft and soothing rain outside adds to the sublime massage at the Granny Mouse spa that afternoon. The spa is housed on the premises with full massage menu, hydro-bath, sauna and jacuzzi.
Dinner that evening is in The Eaves, the fine dining restaurant at Granny Mouse.
Soft, classical music greets us as we climb the stairs; cosy beneath the thatched roof, with candelabras on the tables, it makes for a perfect romantic dinner.
The menu is outstanding: I go for a cornucopia of small tasters in the forms of the salt and pepper squid with lemon aioli, then the saffron prawn bruschetta, followed by the pan roasted chicken on biryani crushed potatoes and topped off by the black forest torte with caramelised hazelnuts. Every course is better than the next – no surprise since head chef Evan hails from culinary establishments such as the Arabella and Cape Grace Hotels.
After exploring the grounds further with owner Gill Bowmaker the following morning, being shown the family units, disabled-friendly units (much neglected at most hotels and lodges), the corporate function and wedding facilities and spaces as well as the quaint chapel, we reluctantly make the great trek back to Pretoria.
Granny Mouse wraps itself around you like a warm blanket. The gardens, the waterfall, the misty mountains and the small details all lend themselves to a sense of romance, tranquillity and timeless surrender to languished luxury. Simply put, it feeds the soul...
For more information, visit www.grannymouse.co.za or call 033 234 4071.