Sunday, March 25, 2012


The week following our excursion to Bloemfontein, we saw an announcement in the local e-mail newsletter that lists events in our area that a singer-songwriter named Belinda van Zwijndrecht would be performing at Franshoek Mountain Lodge, a B&B in South Africa not far from the Maseru border crossing. We decided to check it out, and make a night of it.

As it turns out, the lodge is nestled into a lovely valley:

The journey there was not long, and after we arrived we were instantly taken by how inviting the converted stone farmhouse was. The rooms were decorated in old restored furniture and the blue and white color combination on the linens is one of my wife's favorites:

The view from our room was not bad, either:

The grounds were a pastoral paradise:

So I, of course, could not resist a few moments of play:

That afternoon, I took a quick dip in the pool while Kathy made friends with some Canadians who, as it turns out, were just visiting from Lesotho as well. They were from Salt Spring Island but doing volunteer work in Lesotho. Small world, indeed.

Later, we returned to our room to prepare for dinner and the live music that had initially inspired us to go. As the sun slipped lower in the sky, the surrounding mountains began to glow.

We enjoyed our dinner in the converted common room of the old stone farm house. In fact, our hosts did a remarkable job of accommodating my vegan dietary requirements. I was quite pleased. (They even provided soy milk for coffee the next morning! We have taken to travelling with soy milk because almost no one does that...)

As dinner wound down, the music began. The lighting was dim (though not nearly as dim as it comes across in this image - one of the drawbacks of cameras that auto-adjust their settings), but that contributed to the intimacy of the setting. We eventually shifted from the dining table to the soft chairs and couches around the musician, Belinda - a journey of two or three meters at most.

I took one photo with a flash, just so that the setting and singer would be more clearly visible:

She sang some original songs, including a few in Afrikaans. Here is a clip from one of those:

She also performed quite a few covers, most of which were easily recognizable, such as in this clip, where I tried to give some sense of the surroundings:

We returned to our room for a restful night's sleep, followed in the morning - at least for me - with an enjoyable cup of coffee 9and a cup that I suspect enjoyed the view as much as a cup of coffee can).
This is the building in which we roomed. Just on the far side of it is where the old stone farm house is found.
The view as we walked from our room over to that stone house for breakfast was quite grand:

And the dining room is easier to appreciate as a setting for meals and music in the morning light:

After we left our lodging, but before we returned to Maseru, we decided to go for a hike up the valley.

It took us a couple tries to find the hiking trail, and the cows at its entrance were really no help at all. Eventually, though, we found our way up to this cave:

The views looking out from the cave were rather spectacular:

And this view of Kathy in the cave gives a good sense of the scale of the place:

Of course, when we reached the bottom of a largely dormant water fall (not nearly enough rain this year in our region of the world), I had to do some climbing:

And celebrate reaching my goal:

Too soon, though, we were headed out and back to Maseru. So glad we went. The brief romantic getaways are as crucial as any others...

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