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iol travel aug 27 nt granny chapel INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The Chapel overlooking the Caversham Valley is the ideal venue for a country style wedding.

Durban - It was the perfect break, since I was recently married, and even more recently in hospital. A trip out of the city was just what the doctor should have ordered, if only to unwind.

When the opportunity arose for a getaway to Granny Mouse Country House and Spa two weekends ago, I knew I was well on my way to recovery.

D and I anxiously packed our duffel bag after church for a two-night stay and by Sunday afternoon we were driving away from Durban through the Midlands Meander, with the sound of Albert Hammond keeping us company.

An hour and 35 minutes later, we arrived, awestruck by the magnificent country hotel nestled in the rolling hills of Balgowan.

Let me just mention that days earlier the Midlands had been swathed with snow and although we wished it would have continued until we got there, the only clue was the snow-capped mountains we had passed on our way, and the bum-numbing chill we felt as we jumped out of the bakkie.

We walked to the reception area briskly to avoid the cold air and were warmly greeted by front office manageress Lauren Huckle and her friendly assistant, Candy Sithole.

iol travel aug 27 nt granny mouse Red Lounge Relax in one of the many lounges before or after a sumptious meal at the restaurant. INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

We sipped hot chocolate taking in the warmth of the establishment until Candy escorted us in a golf cart to our de luxe suite. On the ground floor of a duplex, the aroma of lavender and sandalwood filled our senses as we entered the room.

Our suite was cleverly combined with country opulence and modern charm. A king-size bed with all the trimmings in shades of mauve and green and window beds that offered loads of natural light.

We were particularly excited about the bath, which had heated flooring and towel rails, a shower cubicle and a bathtub with a picture window of the Lions River as it flowed over the rocks below. The room also has a fireplace and a big-screen TV. But instead of watching TV we chose to gaze at the expanse of geography and listen to birds chirping. It was pure bliss to do nothing and be catered for.

Staff are readily available to help with any requests,. They even came in before bedtime to turn down our linen.

Our room had a stocked bar fridge, umbrellas in the closet and enough firewood to keep us warm during the single-digit temperatures. It was these little extras that made Granny Mouse so memorable

After breakfast the next morning, a hot and cold buffet, we strolled along the courtyard, decorated with hanging flowerpots and water features, to explore the rest of the hotel.

iol travel aug 27 nt granny pool Chill out by the pool, while taking in the sights and sounds around you. INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

We stopped at the quaint wedding chapel set against the backdrop of indigenous landscape, and walked through the other thatched cottages, lined with manicured verges and trees. We passed the spa and took a leisurely walk to the pool, then rested in one of the cosy lounges, soaking in the luxurious ambience of Granny Mouse.

And to think that this was once a family home. It now belongs to Gill Bowmaker and her husband, Mark Wood, who have retained the rich history and charm.

I asked Lauren what sets Granny Mouse apart from the rest of the hospitality places in the Midlands.

“People are always commenting about the excellent service and they always return. We don’t treat them as just another guest. Here it is always ‘welcome home’.”

And indeed it felt like home, only a lot more plush.Rates start at R1 235 per double room on a bed and breakfast basis. Call 033 234 4071, like them on Facebook or visit www.grannymouse.co.za to check out their specials. - Sunday Tribune

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