The daily grind of everyday life can over time become taxing on ones physical and emotional state of being. Regular breaks, either away or just lazing around at home can be a rejuvenating experience that will recharge the body’s “flat batteries”.
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I experienced this “bodily revival” recently with 6 other bloggers (Nicola from Run on Coffee, Megan from Stuffed Feeling, Verushka from Spice Goddess, Cee from CeeCee Travel, Carmen from Midlands Meandering and Kirstin from Kirstin Hue Photography) when I travelled to the idyllic Antbear Lodge which is located in the Estcourt region of the Natal Midlands. It’s a very mountainous (Drakensberg) region with lots of farm lands so on your drive you’ll spot the odd buck, lots of cows grazing and crown eagles in search of prey.
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Antbear Lodge is owned by husband and wife team, Andrew and Connie Attwood. Built 16 years ago, the couple had in mind to create a sustainable living space, not only for themselves, but their guests too. The resources for daily living such as water and food are all sourced from their land. The property, which is on more than 250 hectares of land, boasts it own organic vegetable garden where the healthy green and orange produce is sourced from for meal times. During our stay, one of meals for example that we enjoyed was a delicious homegrown butternut soup and on another occasion we were served a scrumptious, crunchy spinach salad. All meals are served with bread or rolls that are freshly baked in the Antbear kitchen. The eggs are in-house from the chickens as well as the milk from the local cows. Cheese and yoghurt is made at the lodge too. “Sustainability is a huge part of the ethos of our lodge” – Andrew Attwood.
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One of the features that I absolutely love is the dining arrangement. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, is a communal affair. One of the dining room tables which seats approximately 25 people is where everyone sits together to eat. The idea is very social since you’re not allowed to sit next to the same person or use the same seat the next time you dine. What better way to get to know people.
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The lodge boasts the most intricate, detailed woodwork I have ever seen. All the carpentry is made on the property and Andrew is the brains behind all the beautiful detailed creations. It’s truly exceptional. Each room is uniquely crafted and individual with complex attention to detail. From the meticulously crafted chandeliers, towel rails, door mechanisms, headboards, table vases, chess boards and pieces, plates that we ate off; I could really go on and on, to the chairs we sat on, it’s an unforgettable experience to just see the woodwork. I was in awe for the entire weekend, there is just so much to admire.
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The Saturday after we arrived myself along with Nicola and Cee went horseback riding. Up until that point, I hadn’t ridden a horse in more than 30 years. The horse I rode was Spot and he was such a gentle boy who seemed very caring towards his friend Star the mule who tags along on trail rides and who thinks she’s a horse. Spot kept on turning around to make sure Star was in tow. It was a great experience even though I felt the brunt of it the next day. I had a few stiff muscles in some very odd places.
After our lovely trail ride on horseback, we headed to the workshop where all the beautiful woodwork creations take shape. Andrew was kind enough to make each lady a beautiful wooden plate to take home. I’ll definitely be using mine in a food photography styling picture sometime.
Another activity that guests can take advantage of at Antbear Lodge is microlighting. Owner Andrew is a licensed pilot and weather permitting, loves taking guests up in the air to experience the beautiful Drakensberg landscape and to glide with the vultures. Unfortunately due to said bad weather, some of our keen microlighting bloggers were unable to take to the skies. Next time ladies!
The room Nicola and I shared, Number 9, was very cosy and along with all the other 14 cottages boasted its own fireplace. Because of all the wood features and thatched roof, even without the fire lit, the rooms were relatively warm inside considering the 5 degree Celsius temperature outside. The beds were very comfortable and the duvets thick and warm. I was toasty and cosy in bed and certainly didn’t feel the icy air outside. Because of harsh weather conditions our Saturday stay over trip to Zingela Safari lodge was postponed until brighter sunny days. It was at this point at the lunch table that Andrew very kindly said we could stay another night at Antbear. It was at this point that we added lots more logs to the fire, switch on the TV to watch the Sharks annihilate the Kings, order slap tjips from the kitchen, drink hot chocolate and just enjoy each other’s company. What a great way to spend a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon. Of course there was lots of laughter!
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Sunday had us all sadly saying goodbye to eachother after breakfast before tactfully planning our next trip. Antbear Lodge was a weekend of great company, beautiful surroundings and delicious food. I can’t wait for round two!