My cup runneth over.

Yesterday, after 3 solid days of driving (from Hoedspruit to Joburg)… (Joburg to Bloemfontein)… (Bloemfontein to Karoo)… we finally arrived at the tiny hamlet of Klaarstroom – tucked into the mountains between de Rust and Prince Albert.

After much happy reuniting with Nick (and the kids clinging like limpets on to his legs for at least half an hour)… he introduced us to the cast and crew of “Faan se Trein” – the film they’re shooting in this tiny town.

I was struck by how the entire community seems happy to welcome cameras… crews… equipment… and have been massively accommodating:  churning out delicious food for the hungry team – and even removing fencing that appeared too “modern” – and allowing truckloads of dirt to be spread over their main road (which is actually tarred).  The film is set in the 50’s – and everyone has gone to an enormous amount of effort to make it all appear ‘legit’…

… not that it’s hard…

Klaarstroom feels like a time-warp-town as it is.  It’s utterly charming… very tiny… and smothered in history.  I’ll share some Klaarstroom photos and film-crew goings-on-photos in another post.

In THIS post – I want to talk about where we’re living…

We are currently based in the most gorgeous, historical cottage… tucked away in the hills… about 25 kilometres out of Klaarstroom.  So much love has been poured into the restoration of this cottage… every tiny detail took my breath away:  the original wooden floors… the artwork… the crisp bed linens… the freshly picked roses in glass vases… the roughly hewn wood (ready for the fireplace)… the very best quality of cutlery & crockery.

I don’t know about you – but I think that if I owned a self-catering cottage – I might be a bit snoep and stock it with easily-replacable… not-too-expensive stuff.  I might worry about strangers either breaking or stealing the “precious” stuff…

But not these folk.  We have been given full access to the most gorgeous of cups… plates… serving platters… knives, forks and spoons.  There are beautiful glass bulbs… the most stunning table cloths… and even tiny details for decor (like painted pebbles and stashes of candles)…

And, even though it’s a self-catering cottage – we have been left with a stockpile of good coffee, tea, sugar, milk and a large tin of home-made rusks!

On our beds are hot-water bottles in furry cases… and a little welcoming note.

The bathroom has a large block of home-made soap – ready to be used…

But let me stop typing… and show you some pictures:

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The little display on the bathroom window sill...

The little display on the bathroom window sill…

The kids' bedroom...

The kids’ bedroom…

Our bedroom...

Our bedroom…

The lovely little kitchen...

The lovely little kitchen…

I'm happy to wash dishes if I have this view to enjoy...

I’m happy to wash dishes if I have this view to enjoy…

On the kitchen window sill...

On the kitchen window sill…

One of the table cloths...

One of the table cloths…

IMG_4323And… it gets better…

Outside – there are ridiculous views in every direction and the owners have created a fairy-land of treasure-trails and little discoveries around every corner.  There are little pathways… little coves… little bridges… and meaningful messages painted beautifully in unexpected places.

The kids are, of course, beside themselves with glee…

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AND…

…they have a dam… and a crystal clear river that runs through the property.  We can go on walks… enjoy picnics and fresh swims – there is so much to do (without even getting in the car!).

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I flippin’ LOVE this place…  I even think I could live here!

And I also love Prince Albert… a town 30 kilometres away (in the opposite direction of Klaarstroom).  The kids and I stopped there briefly and (oh joy!)… there were so many wonderful coffee shops (and free wi-fi)… and a dairy churning out award-winning cheeses… and a little museum… and… and…

(I’d do a whole post on Prince Albert later).

Today, I bought some freshly-baked farm-style bread… and a home-made apricot jam:

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In the afternoon, we sat on the porch playing with porcupine quills that the kids had collected – and when Nick drove through the gate at the end of the day, the kids ran squealing to greet him.

He later told me that the whole scene felt a bit like a movie… seeing his family on the porch of this picturesque house… kids running to greet him… wife looking content and happy…

I think this all seems a bit surreal to him (and to me)… but especially to him.  He has worked so hard for such a long time… and most of the past 5 years has involved obscene amounts of stress (especially for him).  There have been many times when I have really worried about his health and well-being.

Last night he said to me “I am happy”.

It’s been a long, long time since he’s been able to say that with such conviction.

Living “outside” of the city rat-race… even for just a little while… feels like we’ve stepped outside of a thick fog and can suddenly see such a large variety of potential and options that – perhaps – we were blinded to before.

There are lots of people who live very happy and fulfilled lives “outside” of what we’ve come to know as The Norm.

And I’ve already met a number of people (in Hoedspruit, Klaarstroom and Prince Albert)… who have jettisoned their “old” lives for something a bit different… something that just fits them better.

Nick and I already feel that… this… kind of life is a much better fit for our family.