The Bend Country House offers peace away from a fast paced life. Picture: Nabeelah Shaikh.

When the stresses of a busy life gets to you and you’re searching for the perfect break away from routine, a country house situated deep within the Natal Midlands could be just for you. This is what I had been yearning for and when I set out to the destination, I did not know what to expect. 

I arrived at the Bend Country House and was awestruck by its surroundings.

It was surreal and looked like something out of a painting. Picturesque mountains, crisp fresh air, the sound of the Mooi River flowing and beautiful animals scattered around 1400 hectares of lush greenery. 

This is what The Bend consisted off. The country house is situated on a nature reserve which features five eco-systems, including indigenous forest, grassland, riverine, mountain and pine forest, showcasing the area's rich diversity of flowers, animals, and bird life. 

This made it a destination that any nature lover, like me, would appreciate.  On my arrival, I met with the owner, Sheila Thornhill Holgado, who was warm and welcoming. 

Sheila turned the house into a bed and breakfast establishment in 1994, after being her family home for many years. Her aim was to create a homely environment for guests, as it was the house in which she lived and raised her children.

Sheila took me on a tour of the establishment’s main house, an antique style country home, where I spent two nights. 

The rooms were neat and tidy, with its own bathrooms and coffee stations. Sheila said the furniture and artwork were an integral part of the atmosphere which was collected over the past 40 years by her family. It reflected their interests and travels. 

Braving the chilly Midlands weather that night, I had a peaceful sleep using the room’s electric blankets and was ready to embrace the beauty of The Bend, the next morning. To start the day, one can enjoy a delightful breakfast with a number of options to choose from. I indulged in a cheese and spring onion omelette with baked beans and mushroom on the side. 

There was also a spread of yoghurts, cereals, fresh juices as well as tea and coffee to get the morning started.

If the mountains, rivers and greenery was not enough to impress me, the nine dams situated across the farm were also great to view. Families can enjoy the dam sites as picnic or fishing spots. Fly fishing as well as hiking and mountain biking are just some of the activities that guests can enjoy. 

During a hike through the forest, I got to experience drinking fresh water from a natural spring - something I thoroughly enjoyed. While driving through the estate, one can also stop to enjoy viewing the animals around which includes zebra, buck, goats and sheep, among others. Whilst been driven along the estate, we stopped by an onsite wedding venue which The Bend is also popular for.

Sheila said the establishment offered complete planning of weddings from start to finish including decor and catering.It also boasts a chapel, as well as a dining hall on site.  

After viewing the wedding venue, I headed back to my room before dinner. When done with the day's activities, one can enjoy relaxing in the comfort of the TV room, which also offers free Wi-Fi. Later that night, dinner offerings at The Bend, was plentiful.

One can indulge in a range of meals, in a bar area setting, while enjoying the comfort of a fire place. I enjoyed a butternut soup starter, a special Spanish-style fish with vegetables and chocolate cake for dessert. 

The next day, I woke up to a pleasant surprise. The Midlands is known for its chilly and occasional snow. On the day of my departure, I drew open the room curtains to find snow over the mountains. 

The Bend proved to be a relaxing holiday spot that makes one want to return. If you are searching for peace, tranquility, as well as a family friendly destination, then The Bend Country house should be on your list. 

* Nabeelah Shaikh was a guest at the Bend Country House.