Van Reenen

The Naked Barista                                                                               8 May 2018

Usually we are up and ready to go at the crack of dawn when we set off to work…

Me, even more so than B, has the spirit of a ‘gypsy’ and loves most of all to travel.

Tuesday morning though, we were on a go slow as we had to leave our freshly new (1984), home on the farm.

We have recently, together with five  other partners acquired this beautiful piece of land right on the Touwsriver.  Tobie, who is one of our partners, claims that it is ‘our little piece of heaven’.

“Lochloerie” (our farm’s name), can really be described as being a piece of heaven with 108 hectares of indigenious trees and a river or two running through it. We feel superblessed indeed!

So it is with a dual feeling of ‘looking forward to travelling’ coupled with a feeling of ‘not wanting to leave’ our lovely ‘off the grid’ new home.

Gerhard, one of our friends and also partners of our farm, visited and also our friend, Gerrie, who we have not seen for the longest time, as he had been travelling, came to overnight on Monday and so on Tuesday morning we battled to get packed and on the road.

We had to fetch our four workmen in Sedgefield , which used to be our home, as well as an already packed trailer.

Eventually we were on the road, but first we had to travel to Port Elizabeth for some work equipment that B would need on site.

Our actual journey would have been around the Outeniqua pass and past Willowmore, but alas, Port Elizabeth it were to be.

After we made our detour to Port Elizabeth, we were lucky that the roads were not too busy and we arrived in Aliwal North  around seven o’clock.

We are superblessed with caring friends, as our friend, Charmain pre-arranged with her Dad, Roelf +27 82 558 9238, who owns Budget Accommodation, for a peaceful sleep experience.  We can certainly recommend the flat that we had as it has everything one might need and it is very spacious having enough beds to sleep around eight people.

We were also superblessed to have some of Gerhard’s, (one of the best cooks I know), leftover food to just warm up for a hearty dinner.

The next morning found us well rested and chirpy as we hit the tarmac to get to Van Reenen.

What an amazing drive it was, with majestic mountain ranges surrounding us as we feasted our eyes and marveled at age old stunning stone formations. We had lekker tunes playing as we drove past Wepener, Ladybrand and watching out for Zastron, but completely missing it. Every now and so often there would be lanes of trees that were planted many moons ago and I wondered about the history, who was it that planted them and for what reason. We passed by many farms with the owner’s names on signposts. I saw two surnames which could be family of mine.

We road tripped past huge plantations of the most brilliant yellow sunflowers, their lovely heads pointing straight to the sun vying for it’s attention. I took a photo and we send this to our daughter, Maryna, as this has been her favourite flower since she was a little girl.

We were truly superblessed with this road trip as this were one of the roads that we had never experienced before.

We arrived in Van Reenen just after three, but B had to check out the work site, which were out toward the other side of town.

We were on a dirt road following our GPS co-ordinates and after an half an hours drive we arrived on site. The men started doing some work while B had some phone calls to make. I had the luxury of giving over to some Facebook time. I try to keep Facebook time to a minimum as I have often wondered how much more we are capable of if we could learn to use our time more effectively.

I had managed, while we were still at home, (through Facebook off course) to secure a self-catering flat for us in Van Reenen. We also found the perfect space for our workmen on the same farm.

On our way to our accommodation, we were blessed with our first for this trip, beautiful freestate sunset…





We arrived at our accommodation and we felt superblessed with everything that we needed at our fingertips. Gratitude  begets more gratitude.

Our hosts, Berne and Karl (+27 82 804 3784), were very welcoming and we were invited to a ‘getting to know your town’s folk’ meeting at the Hotel, but we opted for some relaxation. I whipped us up a simple dinner and we watched a movie to settle in.

Life is good… (my son, Juan’s favorite saying) and any sentence we use  enough, becomes a reality…

Words are spells and through self talk, we magically transform our world.

Next morning we did not need to rush as B had a meeting only at 10h00 on site and could leave after nine.

As I have been slacking on my yoga for nearly a month now, I decided that I would bless myself with some ‘me-time’ and found an awesome Youtube yoga session. I felt amazing after this and then started on my re-write of my book “Bury the Past, Unlock the Future” which were published in 2010.

So the writing of “Open Doors” have at last begun. Salute to me…

Next morning, we were up at the crack of the dawn and after I did my duty as The Naked Barista, B asked me to go with him as we had to do some supplies shopping for our workmen and ourselves in Ladysmith.

So plans changed…with that, went my morning yoga session, but I was excited to see Ladysmith …

We dropped off the workmen on site and headed towards Ladysmith. I have mentioned Ladysmith in my ‘Battlefields’, but we had never spend time there.

After B had dashed through the necessary ‘tool’ shops, we had a Wimpy Breakfast before going shopping. We always try eating before buying food, as we tend to buy more when we are hungry. A simple way of spending less money.

As I write this piece, I can only emphasize  that we truly live in the most beautiful space in the Garden Route.

So…now for the rest of the time in Van Reenen …

I have settled in more than fine as our hosts are so much more than welcoming. They have a shop/restaurant called ‘The Rusty Spoon’ where I found Berne’s delicious homemade rusks as well as honey. B loves biltong and as our hosts have their own butchery, not only has B his wish of enough biltong on hand, but we shall not be running around trying to find meat supplies for our workmen.

Superblessed we are!

It can be quite cold here in May as there is snow on the Drakensberg.  Here is a pic of B’s work site… and yes…there is a very large cellphone tower behind the cold in the pic on the right…left pic is frozen grass…







Luckily, we are blessed with lovely brushed cotton winter bedding as well as an absolute essential electric heater.

Obviously, as always I am blessed with the animals, making our stay very homely.  This is Clara and her baby….

On the left is Mpho, who has adopted me. She is a stunning old girl who needs a lot of love and making sure she gets it by pawing me with her big paws. Mostly I have to beg her to lie down at my feet so I can write…with this comes the obvious melodious snoring.


Kerneels, still a kitten, looks minute next to Mpho.

Kerneels just wants to play, but has found out the hard way that I am a bit of a ‘pliggie’ (working more than playing), and now comes to lie on my lap when he is ready to sleep, which being a kitten, is more often than not.

We even see some ducks and sheep every now and again.


B had to work on Sunday and I went to explore the most advised eating place, ‘The Little Church Tea Garden’, which is just around the corner from where we stay.

Llandaff Oratory, is the smallest church (declared national monument) seating only eight people.

It was build in 1925 as the plaque of Commemoration and establishment reads as a place for reflection and worship. It has a magnificent hand-crafted wooden beam ceiling with beautiful stained glass window. At the altar I found idols and artefacts of worship and it seems to be in commemoration of Llandaff Matthew.

The Church obviously has a wonderful history…








To make it even more desirable to visit, it forms part of the Little Church Tea Garden,  a lovely, uncomplicated gem with friendly, welcoming staff and good country-style food. The peaceful garden setting is idilic and has a great view down into KZNatal.

Inside the welcoming restaurant,  we were blessed with not only one, but two cozy fireplaces as we discovered that this area can get seriously cold.  I went back a few days later and met up with the lovely managers, Geraldine and Malcolm.  She told me how she visits overseas during the winters, because she has witnessed and been part of meter high snowfalls on the roof of the restaurant… I am happy to say that we B’s job will be completed before this happens…

The shop has a delightful selection of historic and unusual old worldly paraphernalia as well as a wide variety of jams, honeys, soaps and other tidbits. It is also wheelchair friendly with lots of parking.

It has been very cold, because of snow on the Drakensberg not too far from us and B managed to  capture an amazing pic while at work.

To handle the cold better, I recommend Maharaj’s Van Reenen curries.  B had a few bunny chows and I had some rooties with lamb currie.  I still wanted to get a story from the spontaneous lady who runs this lovely, ultra clean and welcoming establishment on the N3, but time would not allow for this.

Seems like there is a gathering at the Green Lantern Hotel every Wednesday night in Van Reenen.  Residents get together in the bar for a drink and then have dinner in the dining room.  We were invited once again and this time we decided to join in.  The Hotel is definitely from another era with an elegant old worldly charm.  Silent movies are running throughout the day and were still on after dinner.  The Hotel gardens are stunning, we were told, but as it were very cold, we opted to rather go home and did not do a viewing of such.  Next time…

On the third Saturday in Van Reenen, we found a few hours to take a drive toward Bergville, again only after buying some site provisions in Harrismith.

We were superblessed with magnificent views and surrounded by majestic mountains.  Soon we were next to a huge expanse of water which is the Sterkfontein dam.  We could not believe how big this dam were…it just kept up with us all along the way as we were driving.

We came to a signpost on a turnoff to the right naming different places, but B wanted to continue until we passed Little Switzerland.  Our friend Skillie, told us about the restaurant, but as it were closed, we continued on wards to the Royal Natal Park.  We would have loved to do a hike, but we did not have enough time for this.

We decided to have a lunch at the Oak and Dale Restaurant which is part of Hlalanathi Drakensberg Resort.  What a peaceful setting overlooking a splendid golf course and many thatch roofed homes.

After lunch we had to return for B to fetch the workmen from site again.  Gratitude for a lovely day filled with nature’s eye candy.

The last Sunday before we left, we made time to view the much talked of gardens of the Hotel, albeit through the window, as we decided to have lunch.  It was too cold to sit in the garden, but we had a picturesque view through the window from our table.

We found some more history adorning the walls of the Hotel:









Monday morning, we took to the road and B decided to put foot for nineteen hours straight in his stoked attempt to get home…

I have to commend this man as he is truly the best driver I know and with such focus, we arrived back in paradise soon enough…



“Superblessed to have seen more of this side of the world…but so much grati to be home again…”


Sharing my life so openly is my legacy and symbol of gratitude and love.