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A fun-tastic time on the magical Midlands Meander

Robyn de Beer's journey in South Africa continues in the countryside.

The Midlands Meander is a place I can only describe as magical. If you look carefully you will find fairies. It is an 80km mesh of winding dirt roads neatly tucked away at the base of the Drakensburg Mountains. Right in the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. Even thought it’s only an hour’s drive from the city of Durban, it’s peaceful countryside, sprawling fields of wild flowers and slow pace of life will make you feel a million miles away from reality.

The term ‘meander’ means to wander around aimlessly and this describes the Natal Meander to a T, as around every bend in the road there is something to see or do. You definitely won’t hear the repetitive whinge of “Are we there yet?” from the kids.

I grew up around these parts and we returned in 2008 to get married. However, this is the first time we’ve taken the kids for a visit. We only had a few days, so we wanted to pack in as much as we could.

Our first stop was Piggly Wiggly’s, a miniature village showcasing a whole heap of local businesses. My two big kids bolted straight off the little steam train for a ride, while I waited patiently at the gate with my threenager, who was lying on the floor screaming because I had gone up the steps before her. “I wanted to go first!” she wailed, until she realised that the other two were on the tiny train and she was missing out!!

After (several) rides on the steam train, the kids wanted to try their hands at candle making. They loved every minute and I have to commend the staff on their patience. Watching small people with hot wax was giving me the shudders. I was in seventh heaven when I spotted the Annie Sloan paint and pottery shop and just had to sneak off and make myself a painted teacup. I also bought some lavender, lusted over the custom made furniture while trying to figure out how I could take some home to Australia. I also tasted some farm fresh cheeses, wine and home made chocolate treats.

Our next stop was the Karkloof Canapy Tours. Flying across the treetops held up by nothing except a zipline was not my idea of fun. My fear of heights was telling me it was a crazy idea. So like a good mum, I volunteered to keep my feet firmly on the ground and watch the kids while hubby took to the skies for a bit of an adrenaline rush. Josh, who is only 8, decided that he was brave enough to do it too. So off they went on the back on a truck and I must admit my heart was in my mouth a bit.

The tour takes you across 8 amazing tree top zip lines, with the longest being 180m. The views across the forest are apparently spectacular. Josh was on cloud nine when they got back to base and told me “It was super scary Mum, but SO epic. I felt like I was flying”. Hubby said he lost the bottom of his stomach a few times too, but it was an awesome experience. I’ll just have to take your word for it boys.

The next couple of days we just spent meandering. It was so relaxing and such a great way to have some much needed family bonding. We had the best chocolate waffles in the world for breakfast one morning at a quaint little German chocolate shop, climbed inside a huge fridge full of proteas at the Howick Protea Farm. The very same farm supplied the proteas for our wedding and they will forever be my most favourite flower. We also befriended a pot-bellied pig, rode a tractor and did some fly fishing.

The highlight of the trip for me was accidently discovering Nelson Mandela’s capture site. It was so unnoticeable from the side of the road that if you blinked you would easily miss it. However when you actually see it, it’s the most incredibly emotional sight. I’m not sure the kids appreciated its significance but I got goose bumps over my whole body as I stood and started at it.

I’m not sure when we’ll next make it back to the Midlands Meander but I hope it’s not too long away. There is just so much see and do and the whole area holds such a special place in heart.

I hope you get to visit one day too. It’s the perfect place for a family holiday if you ever find yourself in South Africa.

Robyn de Beer is a Sydney stay-at-home mum of three kids, aged 2, 5 and 8. When she is not tackling home work or doing the school run she share honest and amusing stories about motherhood, Thermomixing, photography, and everything in-between on her parenting and lifestyle blog Mrs D Plus 3

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