Alignment of all things
These are a few of my favourite things – views down a valley, stone farm cottages next to a dam, Black Crakes (I know!), white décor and linen, freestanding deep baths and generous farm hosting. The stars have aligned and I find all these and much more at Fever Tree Cottage, Houtboschhoek in Mpumalanga. The perfect stopover, 10km off the N4 on my way to the Kruger National Park, I rather wished I had booked to stay here a week or more.
I arrive on an unusually cold, wet and misty night after a long day’s travel. A fire is lit in the gorgeous white open-plan cottage, warming the lounge, kitchen and pretty bedroom. Roasted pecan nuts, fresh milk, tea, filter coffee and fruit juice are provided in the cottage – rural hospitality at its best.
Someone with a keen eye for décor and texture has had a hand in the creation of this little haven, with the natural stone exterior of the cottage offset with whitewashed interior walls. A puffy white bed mirrors the uneven walls. Modern and stylish upholstery in the lounge references the rich bird and plant life outside the cottage, which has a private deck and overlooks the dam and valley beyond.
There is nothing dark or dingy about this cottage, and the open-plan design works well to give a fresh and modern feel in such a traditional cottage. Deep-set windows highlight the thick and lumpy stone walls in every room. The well equipped kitchen has also been done by a soul sister, with a butler’s sink, good coffee-making equipment and country style implements.
After a soft and cozy night’s sleep, I wander out early in the mist, walking around the cottage dam. I come across my said favourite waterbird, the shy Black Crake, swimming in the reeds. With an impossibly lime-green, elongated beak and neon pink legs, he is unaware of my presence. I have never before encountered one so happy and free as he splashes about, chortling and squeaking in delight. It quite takes my breath away and it feels like a rare privilege of belonging in this place. As soon as he becomes aware of me, he disappears in an instant into the reeds and the moment is past.
Amidst the stress and issues of life, this counts as a time in which everything in the world felt right and exactly as it should be. I hope you also have many moments like these where you can feel that rare alignment of all things, where life comes full circle back at you to give a glimpse of its beauty and imperfect perfection.