Durban - Unpolluted air, tranquillity and silence, emerald green pastures so lush they sparkle in the sunshine, rolling hills, pathways leading to the pleasure palaces of nature... what a recipe for relaxation.
The entrance to Clambridge Cottages, near Michaelhouse school along the R103 in the KZN Midlands, had no difficulty in selling itself to me.
The trees lining the road meet overhead, allowing sunlight to dapple the ground beneath.
That two friendly dogs raced out to greet me made the welcome even warmer.
The name Clambridge is interestingly different – a combination of Claire, Amy, Bridget, the three daughters of a previous owner.
The self-catering cottages, main house and granny flat are all located in a magnificent garden of tall, old trees. These in turn are ringed by an outer barrier of pine trees – almost like a laager encircling everything. An opening allows a clear view across the Balgowan valley far below.
A rubber crocodile head drifts around in the large swimming pool. Clearly someone in the family has a fun a sense of humour.
At night all one hears is the wind whispering in the trees, and perhaps the screech of a bird.
This is certainly walking terrain. Some of the paths cross paddocks and pastures, or meander over rolling hills.
One farm road leads to an African homestead tucked away behind trees. Walk further, and there is a view of the distant foothills of the Drakensberg.
The friendly Labrador and a German shepherd bounded ahead as I crossed the veld. Earlier the Labrador had brought me an offering of an autumn-tinged leaf, dropping it just where I was swimming in the pool. Now, after immersing itself in a pool beneath a weir, it was keen to cuddle up, and had to be firmly discouraged.
Every so often both dogs broke away to bark frantically at monkeys, chittering and teasing them from the pine trees.
The main house may be rented by a large group. The Granny Flat is more compact, while my favourite was Green Cottage, perched on the lip of the hill. It has a deck offering great views over the valley. It is also possible to lie in bed and indolently survey the scene.
Owners Kevin and Debbie Gray bought Clambridge in 2006 when they moved to KZN, because their four children were then to attend Clifton Prep in Nottingham Road. The family have moved to Cape Town, but would-be visitors may make reservations through Debbie or Where2Stay.
At sunset bats swooped. The colour slowly leached out of the landscape as night claimed the Balgowan Valley, and a feel-good peace settled over everything. - Sunday Tribune