Recently I had the fabulous opportunity to take a road trip and visit Leopard Lodge in the Hartbeespoort area.  I was really eager, as I just love road trips, the wide open spaces of the country side, the tranquillity.  This was a day during the week, so it meant being out of the office for a day, which is always pleasant as well.

Even with the current very hot weather, and the prospect of a two hour drive ahead, which included morning rush hour traffic, I could not wait.  I departed from home early, and even then, it felt as if the city did not want to let me go.  Traffic was slower than usual, and did not seem to flow on the freeway at all.  Or it might just have been me, being so eager.  Finally leaving the very northern parts of Johannesburg behind me, I was able to open the car window and let the fresh country air in.  Although it was still early, you could feel the heat of the day.

But once I have left the city, it was smooth driving.  The country side was beautiful and green.  The air was warm, and smelled of greenery and farmlands.  Soon I lost reception of my favourite radio station, as they only broadcast in the Johannesburg area.  Now I knew I was well on my way, and I put my CD on to listen to an audio book.

I basically avoided any busy areas from here onwards, and just kept to the quiet roads.  Only to soon did I reach the outskirts of Hartbeespoort.  I kept towards the western side of the dam, crossing over the dam, enjoying the splendid view as you pass over the water on a long low bridge.

One more last turn, and the Lodge was in sight.  The two hour drive was so worth it.  The lodge is located in beautiful terrain, with loads of trees and shrubs growing wildly and abundantly.  Following the twisting trail, you drive higher and higher up the mountain, until you reach the lodge building and reception.  It is stunning.  Parking is under the trees, it is peaceful, quiet, and so green.  I am stunned, I can hear and see birds all the time.

Arriving at the reception, the chandelier in the reception area is grand and immediately noticed.  It just adds to the character of the lodge and buildings.  The lodge building has a lovely airy feel, with the air flowing in and out all the time, remaining fresh and cool.  The high thatch roof and stone floors adds to the atmosphere.  I just loved the loads and loads of white paper lantern lights gently moving around in the breeze.  The pool were blue and inviting, ready for a quick splash, with deck-chairs inviting you to laze around in the sun.

The day turned out to be very enjoyable, I spent time with dear friends, we started off with coffee in the lapa, and then sat under the trees on the lawn, sipping icecold drinks.  The view was stunning, looking out towards the dam.  Even though a bit hazy, you could see for miles.  It was warm and sunny and very pleasant.  Walking in the area, you really got to enjoy the wildlife up close.  Birds are plentiful, and you can hear them singing and calling each other.  Other small wildlife is abundant, even though a bit shy.

Lunch was served in the huge dining hall area.  The air inside was cool and relaxing.  Only then did I realize that I am pretty hungry, and the aromas of the food were effective to make me enjoy the meal even more.  The lavishly laid out lunch were splendid.  Every taste and craving were catered for.  I had some fresh garden veggie salad, mussels in a creamy white sauce, with fluffy white home-baked little buns, then I tried the roasted potato, cheese and cauliflower, seasoned white rice, and roasted lamb.  There were also roasted beef and chicken options, but I still wanted to have pudding, so I did not indulge in all the offerings.  The fruit Pavlova were freshly made, and melted in your mouth.  You could also choose ice cream with hot chocolate sauce or chocolate filled samosas.

All the time the staff at the Lodge were helpful, friendly, smiling and ready for a quick chat or assistance.  Some of us had phone batteries running low, and the staff immediately assisted with facilities to recharge.  The bar where fully stocked, and the wines were just perfectly chilled.

After lunch we decided not to linger too long, as we still had to get back to the city again.  I decided that I simply could not visit Hartbeespoort dam, and not make a stop at the Jasmyn Farmers Market.  So I took the longer route home, stopping for some fresh homemade produce on the way.  Yummy bottled green figs were the first in my basket, as it is one of my very favourites since childhood, when my grandmother made them herself.  Other family favourites included pickled onions and mustard, and some Dutch biscuits, that we can just never resist.  And of course, their very popular cheeses.  I took 3 pieces, which I knew would not last very long, they are fresh and just perfectly ready for eating.

The gift section had the most precious gift goodies, but I did use caution, as I still have loads of Xmas shopping to do, and have loads of ideas, so I just splashed out on a small wall plaque for the home.  Not very sure yet, but I think it will look very nice in the kitchen, as I do spend a bit of time there daily, and it would be the perfect inspiration in the morning when I make tea.

And so another day came to an end, and I headed home, knowing very well that I will only be getting home around dark.  But the day was so perfect and I felt so relaxed and at ease, my mind was clear and ready for the final stretch until year end , when I get to break for the summer holidays.  A break like this is just what a person needs through all the work and home and traffic and life in general.  I would most definitely recommend it any time.  Not to mention the “retail therapy”, it is always great.

Until next time, enjoy and have fun.

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