This mom went on a kid-free adventure – and lived to tell the tale.
In this post I will give you my insider tips on a guilt free getaway at one of KZN’s top countryside destinations.
The Midlands in KwaZulu-Natal is beautiful no matter the time of the year. The rolling hills change from rusty hues to glowing green in every shade, and wide-open skies. Over the years I have stayed in many places along the popular meander, and Brahman Hills certainly tops the list.
You would think an email inviting me to stay and experience the property would have been a quick YES…. where are my bags. Alas that was not the case, if you are a mom of young kids, I am sure you can relate. Your mind instantly jumps to “the kids”, and how would they possibly survive 3 days without me. I had to play out the whole experience in my mind and plan every detail. I share my tips on how to plan and enjoy your time away at the end of this post.
My very large bag is packed (I took advantage that I would be the only one using the boot space). I packed for every possible weather occurrence, as the midlands can experience 4 seasons in one day. The pacing starts, I wander around the house double checking everything, food, bottles, and write notes on routines, just in case! The anxiety is kicking in a little, I start to worry about how my husband will cope, the drive there, have I forgotten anything, the people I will meet, and will I be able to completely let go and enjoy myself and not have my mind in two places.
The drive up
It would not be a trip to the midlands without a little bit of rain, it was a beautiful soft kind of rain, the type that dusts the roads and makes the landscape even greener. The drive was pleasant, and you really ease into the slow life. Arriving at Brahman Hills, you know you have arrived, you can’t miss the impressive entrance, the amazing laser cut brahman herd greets you at the gate. My compatriots arrived earlier that day, and were nestled in our self-catering cottage, the fireplace was crackling, and the glasses filled with bubbly – now that is how you start the weekend!
Once settled into my room for the weekend, we all donned our swimwear and headed for the hot tub on the patio, for more sparkling wine, one way to really ‘break the ice’ and get to know each other. Soon we headed to the dinner.
We dined at the family friendly a la carte restaurant that evening. A great option for a night off, especially when staying in the self-catering cottages. Even though this is the more casual dining option, you will still be treated to fine fare, packed with taste and variety. Brahman Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, includes a menu for children, plus its open to those staying at Brahman Hills or elsewhere.
We stayed in adjoining cottages a 4 and 3 bedroom respectively (Eland and Wildebeest). Each cottage has its own unique charm and design, the perfect self-catering accommodation for larger groups. I walked into my room, and immediately felt relaxed and ready to chill, I slept so well, and is that not key? If you don’t sleep well, you don’t stay well, the first night was chilly, and I was truly grateful for the heater blanket keeping me toasty.
The star of the cottages has to be the outdoor hot tubs, with amazing views of the Blue Crane Nature Reserve is something to be seen!
Those staying in the self-catering cottages can also be treated to a private chef who will whip you up a delicious meal in your accommodation – now that is lush!
Ready… set… meander – one of the most popular tourist attractions in KZN has to be the Midlands Meander, there is something for everyone. You can visit multiple times and each visit you will stumble upon another magic part of it. Brahman Hills is located perfectly to head out and explore. The ladies and I were amped to try out some fabulous coffee, but first we had to see the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, the art instillation is amazing to see, there is a large museum being constructed, and I will definitely be back to visit once complete.
The first coffee stop was Steampunk Coffee, an espresso bar and coffee roastery. They are situated at Thokans Garage in Howick. It was delicious – don’t forget to take your own cup!
Next was Piggly Wiggly… we loved saying that! Piggly Wiggly brings the best of the midlands into one central spot, get your ‘shop on’ while the kids are entertained by the miniature train rides and candle dipping.
One of the true highlights of the day was a visit to the Ardmore gallery and the estate where the amazing artists create the fine pieces – here is a link if you want to know more about the place http://ardmoreceramics.co.za/ – I will let my photos do the talking here.
Another awesome brew was had at Lineage (I am a fan, we have one close to where I stay too). We explored more of midlands shops. Here are some photos.
What time is it? LUNCH TIME!!!
Bring on The Midlands Kitchen, we had built up an appetite exploring, and it was time to get our ‘munch on’. The Midlands Kitchen is situated a stone’s throw from Brahman Hills and is right off the freeway for those passing through to grab a very well-made meal at the Nottingham Rd offramp. There is something for everyone, and well the views are pretty awesome too. The concept is unique to KZN and brings a number of different restaurants under one roof, where you are brought a menu to choose from and your friendly waitron is there to take your order.
I ordered from their fresh juice section ‘Juice Brew’ – the Very Berry – it was super refreshing. Then I tried the Spring Fresh Burger, I am not joking it was one of the best chicken burgers I have ever tasted – legit, not joking, I might drive there just for that burger!
There has been a lot of thought and care that has gone into The Midlands Kitchen, we were treated to the inside scoop by Emily Dyer-Schiefer, the food creative and restaurant specialist who has been assisting designing the menus, vibe and sourcing the best ingredients.
The Midlands Kitchen is a venue that will constantly evolve from what I see, with a menus being adjusted as they go to perfect their service to the customer. I hope you get a chance to experience it when next in the midlands.
During our chill time that afternoon I chose to explore the grounds and take the opportunity to photograph Brahman Hills during the most spectacular afternoon light. If you are planning on getting married or you know of someone who is, then please ask them to take a look at Brahman Hills, it’s a photographer’s dream (and the brides too). I can definitely see myself twisting my husband’s arm to bring me back to Brahman Hills for an anniversary or special occasion.
89 on Copper
Consider yourself a foodie? Or just love to eat? Well… maybe I am a bit of both, and I certainly was in for a treat at 89 on Copper, the fine dining restaurant at Brahman Hills. We had a five-course menu, paired with the most delectable wines! Set below ground you descend what seems like a reclaimed staircase from some old estate, into the belly of the estate, the ambiance is amazing, and the attention to detail is everywhere. The intimate dining area sets the scene for plate after plate of artful cuisine.
Sunday Bright and Early
The sun was shining, and a cool breeze was whistling through the grasslands, calling us to get moving, and explore the Blue Crane Reserve at Brahmans Hills by foot. We were guided by Wayne the Facilities GM, he is passionate about the reserve and their conservation efforts. I must admit I was super nervous about our trek, as I am so unfit, and the unknown can be daunting. But I was determined not to miss out (my FOMO kicked in). So off we went on our 3 hour, 10km hike. The landscape is stunning, we saw a number of game, including eland and zebra. I huffed and puffed and lagged behind, but my will power was stronger than my shaking legs. It was definitely worth it, I felt amazing afterwards, and enjoyed getting to see what many don’t get to experience when visiting Brahmans Hills.
Pamper Me NOW!
I think each of us could not wait for our afternoon in the Brahman Hills Spa, we almost skipped in delight as we strolled towards the dream boat of a building. As you enter the gates towards the spa, you are already transported to some other worldly place, where lavender sways and you cross the bridge into a magical land of bliss!
First up – lunch was served, in their suite where bridal parties are prepped for their big day. This room is kitted and a make-up artist and hair-stylists wish list venue. So much space, for even the grandest wedding party. We celebrated the day with mimosas in hand, and eagerly awaited our full body massages and scrubs. It was just what I needed, I have not treated myself to a spa day since last year August! That is way too long, and what a huge treat at such an amazing spa, it is immaculate, and you really feel like you are being spoilt.
I can totally recommend this part of Brahman Hills for either a treat for you and your friends or something special for you and your partner. Please if you are staying at Brahman Hills, make it a point to have a treatment at the spa or you will be very disappointed.
How to have a guilt free getaway as a mom
Well you might still have a little bit of mommy guilt, and that is okay, as long as you let yourself enjoy each experience and be in the moment.
- Be in control, before you leave on your getaway make sure those looking after your children are well prepared for the job. Create the lists, of what to do and when. They may not stick to it, but it will give you peace of mind and empower them somewhat.
- Stock up the fridge and pantry with quick and easy meal for those to make.
- I left a little gift behind so my daughter felt special and did not cry as I left. I also told her I was going to work, so it did not sound like something she would be missing out on.
- Ask for basic updates of what they have been up to that day.
- If your children are old enough a Whatsapp video is awesome, you get to see their little faces, and show them where you are staying.
- Know that you deserve time off, you are allowed to have experiences away from your children. Tell yourself that you can do it, and that you deserve it.
For more information on Brahman Hills and The Midlands Kitchen visit their website