What is it about a holiday that brings out the romantic in most, the nostalgia in some and the jaundiced eye in others? I guess it all comes down to attitude, along with a sense of adventure and a dose of wisdom in the mix.
Having owned a gift & decor retail outlet on the beautiful tourist route in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, known as The Midlands Meander, I witnessed, on more than one occasion, the arrival of the romantics who when stepping through the gates of our beloved courtyard gardens would sigh and exclaim that THIS is exactly what they would love to do for the rest of their lives!
I can relate 100% to this sentiment because it was the same one that we had, the year before the first of our family adventures, this one of leaving the firm and familiar of our Johannesburg city lives behind and embarking on an adventure into the rural hills of the Kingdom of the Zulus.
Fortunately for me, this was hardly unfamiliar territory since it was the area where I had been born and raised, but for a couple of valley’s between the farming districts of Boston and Nottingham Road.
As luck would have it, though I choose to see it as Divine intervention, that a year after our arrival in the Midlands, this much coveted, stunning little gift & decor shop came up for sale and we took the plunge into the romantic world of shop-keeping in the countryside… a rose-tinted spectacle dream on most days and a thoroughly jaundiced undertaking on a few others!
Twelve years later, that saw one major move from a rented outlet to the purchase and development of our own courtyard centre, we were able to sell the entire dream on to a far more talented owner to take the whole show to the next level of decor and design heaven, thus freeing us up to embark on our Euro-adventure.
Settling into our lovely rental apartment in NL and getting to grips with all things Dutch, we succumbed to another dream both rose-tinted and nostalgic for our days of hockey glory… Before we knew it, three years flew past and some of the finest friendships forged, we took off on our next mad-capped adventure. This time with only the first destination secured, thanks to the incredible generosity of one of our newly-forged friendships, the rural mountains of Switzerland.
Our arrival took us back to our rural KZN days of dwelling in happy-hermit style together, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Immediately those rosy specs appeared and we had them firmly affixed from our first morning’s walk/hike up the nearest mountain side: WOW!
What is not to WOW about Swiss mountain scenery – at the risk of sounding cliche , there really is nothing that truly describes the utter eye-watering beauty of this country’s natural topography. Perhaps it’s the complete contrast to the flatlands of NL, perhaps too a little tug of the homeland heartstrings drawing our memories back to the foothills of the mighty Drakensburg mountains.
No matter the reason, we were both thoroughly seduced and immediately Darling ventured a suggestion of a home in the Swiss hills – it’s that rosy holiday filter once again!
Farming being in my blood, I am nothing short of jaundiced-ly realistic with regards to the romantic notion most city dwellers have of a life lived off the land: it is NOT for the faint hearted and neither is it romantic! One only needs to have a good look at the local farmer’s wives to know that I speak the truth! These women wear many hats: homemaker, child bearer, gardener, haymaker, stable cleaner, tractor driver, milker, cow herder, and so the list goes on, come rain or shine, 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Thankfully the Swiss Franc and the prices of property are mostly prohibitive so Darling’s dream of owning a small Swiss farm in the mountains and about as likely to cement as a block of butter in the summer sun!