It’s nearing the end of Summer, and Nick and I are on our way to the Southern Drakensberg to enjoy an Easter break at Lake St. Bernard. The first half of the journey consists of 5 hours on the highway… but the 2nd half of the journey takes us on long, windy roads – right into the heart of the ‘Berg. It’s one of the most picturesque parts of the country: mountains, rolling hills, lakes and rivers… cows and sheep grazing in delicious, green pastures… crystal clear mountain streams… oh, it’s beyond blissful. There’s an oooh! and and aaaah! around every bend in the road.
In the back seat of our car, our children are sleeping – but Nick and I know that they’ll be awake soon – and that they’ll be hungry. We decide to look out for a place where we can stop for a short rest… stretch our legs… and enjoy a bite to eat – and, as if an answer to prayer, we round a bend and a sign beckons us: “The Pickle Pot Cafe”.
The Pickle Pot Cafe is a quaint little restaurant, tea garden and gift shop in Boston, KwaZulu Natal. It has a delightful tea garden, shaded by an enormous tree… with lawns which slope down to a rustic kids play area. Nick and I choose a big table under the tree which affords us a gorgeous view of hills, lakes and distant mountains. Morgan and Joah immediately run off to explore. Joah heads straight for the big wooden fort. Morgan heads for the sand-pit and swings.
Nick and I order food for the kids – as well as a big pot of coffee and a giant scone for ourselves. As we wait for our meal, we soak up the surroundings. Directly behind us, there’s wild garden: round bushes share their home with a variety of colourful flowers… and secret pathways weave in and out. Two small kittens wrestle and tumble at one of the garden entrances.
There’s a collection of freshly grown herbs which are planted in terracotta pots, lining the Cafe patio. Every time the breeze blows, I catch a whiff of their scent.
The staff are friendly. In fact, the owners chat easily with us. They tell us that they moved to this idyllic place 7 years ago. That they – too – are from Johannesburg. That they wanted to exit the rat-race and start afresh… somewhere beautiful. I can see that they ooze contentment… and their story encourages me that it IS entirely possible to start afresh and leave behind a life and a lifestyle that no longer fits.
Soon, our food arrives. The scone is huge… and fresh… and warm. It comes with a selection of interesting, home-made jams: Strawberry, Apple Ginger, Whiskey Marmalade and others. The cream is thick, yellowy and delicious – it tastes wonderfully different from the clinical, white kind that I’m often served in the city. The coffee is good… and strong. Nick and I add big dollops of cream into our coffee too.
Every sense is in it’s element… the sight of the exquisite view and, of course, watching my children happily play in this beautiful place… the smell of the flowers, the herbs, the coffee and the fresh, unpolluted air… the taste of the scone, the cream…. the sound of my children laughing, birds singing, and the quiet hum of conversation from other relaxed-looking customers… and, of course, the touch and the company of my husband – who can share the experience with me.
This is a beautiful moment.