Bringing the outside in

In February, I surprised Mark with a camping trip. Shocked? Well, I shouldn’t really need to add this was no ordinary camping trip. I don’t have to take my hair dryer when I travel, but I certainly like to have cotton sheets. Afterall, I’m not a princess… but I am a champagne girl.

I literally stumbled across Kol Kol Mountain Lodge during that terribly boring Christmas season when I was office bound and doing a fair amount of twitter-moaning. I spontaenously booked it, and kept it secret for two months! I didn’t even join their facebook page at the risk of Mark seeing it. I told everyone about it, hinted at it on twitter, but the surprise was on!

Not without hiccup, as these things apparently go (or at least, thats what everyone said to cheer me up), we finally hit the road on Friday evening. The N2… the first clue.

After passing Elgin, and down Houwhoek pass – we took the offramp to unknown spot called BotRivier. I say unknown, as besides the recent twitter blasts about Beaumont Wine, I probably wouldn’t know what else was there. 6,7km along the gravel Van Der Stel Pass, we turned into Kol Kol Mountain Lodge.

I chatted to Karin a bit over email before I booked our weekend, umming and aahing like only I can between the cabin or the tent. Karin was completely honest with me and mentioned that while the tent was more private and a more unique experience, if the wind blew – we’d know all about it. The cabins looked charming, but not unlike other amazing places we’d stayed before – so I threw caution to the wind (no pun intended… really) and booked a tent.

There are two cabins and two tents, and as we drove up the hill (turning left at the shed) and passed the cabins, I was thrilled that I had booked a tent. Mark still didn’t know what he was in for, and assumed we were on our way further up to another cabin. Instead we were driving towards a fairly camouflaged tent.

The landscape itself is filled with rolling hills. Wait, backtrack.  Not the green lush ones you’re imagining. They’re a dry brown and densely spotted with brownish shrubs. Narrow hard leaves, twiggy branches – this was a landscape I hadn’t seen before. The picture I paint, may sound unattractive, but in its rustic, raw and dry state, its alive and beautiful. Around every corner in South Africa, there seems to be scenery that in unsurpassable until, that is,  you discover another!

Kol kol tent view
Something special about this

Thankful that we didn’t have ‘low profile’ tyres, we approached what, from the outside, looked like an old army tent. Olive army green, and shielded from the mountain wind we’d been warned about. We were camping!! The flap was open, expecting our arrival. We stepped onto a decked flooring and the small ‘chill area’ (a table and chairs), bedroom to our right and a kitchen to our left. The bedroom had an enormous bed, white cotton linen (always a plus in my books) and a mosquito net neatly tucked away. Red and green (not in a Christmas way) cushions were on the bed and I caught a glimpse of the victorian bath-tub through the doorway to thethe cordoned off bathroom.

The kitchen was complete, gas stove with oven and grill, NICE wine glasses (I can’t drink out of dinky ones) and complimentary coffee, rusks, sugar and salt. There was even a coolerbox shaped fridge freezer with a mineral water, milk and some butter. The tents are eco-friendly, using solar power for the in-tent lighting and the fridge, and gas for the geyser and stove.

We had arrived at dusk as the landscape was turning pink. We opened the door (flap) onto the front deck to breathe in the view and found our hot-tub, warmed and ready for us. Keeping to the green vibe, it needs fire to warm it up and plenty of coal stoking to keep it that way. But it was the shower that got us talking. It had the best view of the whole tent. To describe it as open air, is an understatement. Something liberating about showering on a hillside completely surrounded by fynbos and mountain views.

There are hiking trails, mountain bike trails and places to fish. But as we were only there for two days and in desperate need for some time-out, we didn’t leave our tent. I’d brought enough food (and champagne) to last, and while there’s a stunning restaurant (the Kitchen @ Kolkol) we only saw the inside of it for a coffee as we left on Sunday.

This is the type of camping I can deal with. Fully equipped and fairly luxurious, the remoteness and strange night-time noises made me feel I’d left the world I knew behind. Total relaxation with no distractions. Oh, and a hot tub.

hot tub kol kol

More about me

I’ve noticed that I’ve had a few click throughs from blogs where I have posted a comment. From an SEO perspective (yes, I do that for a living) this is great! Natural backlinks, social interaction blah blah. You got it. But what concerns me is if my blog is a true representation of me. I don’t think it really has grasped the concept. (To be fair, how could it?  I don’t think I’ve really grasped the concept of me yet. Its all in the name.. becoming mrs H )

So, without being entirely vain, I thought write a little bit more about me today.

I think first and foremost, it has to be said that I love the sunshine. I think this is what I love the most, which is a hard call to make given the other things I love in life. Second up, is probably champagne. The obsession with bubbles (and my personal liquid heaven) started on a visit to the Moet & Chandon Champagne Cellars in Epernay. My sister and I share our taste in quality champagne, and I consider myself lucky to have drank bottles of Bollinger, Lanson, Veuve Clicquot, Mumm and ofcourse, Moet & Chandon. (Thanks has to be given to my sister who sponsored most of the bottles). Back home its still my drink of choice, these days opting for Graham Beck if its available and Pierre Jourdan if its not. (Feel free to introduce me to new MCC’s you feel rival these!)

That could totally be me.. lying around sipping champagne! (I'd use a glass though)

I have a small obsession with luxury. I LUUUUURRVVVEE it! Lush, lush, lush! Give me cotton sheets, quality finishes, room servicing three times a day, turn downs with ferrero roche chocolates and a bedside bottle of water. Give me staff thats attentive but unobtrusive, gardens that are manicured and towels are that have been refolded every time I take a shower. Over the top, I don’t care. I love luxury hotels and resorts. Throw in a spa that have therapists who know what they’re doing, and I’m hooked.

I love to travel… and I love wine. I say these in virtually the same breath, as I especially like drinking wine while travelling. Italy, while for me doesn’t produce the best wines… it does offer some beautiful scenery to drink it in. I was fortunate to be grow up with a wine farm within 5km of my house, go to Stellenbosch University and now marry into a family with two wine-makers. We drink wine at every opportunity and I love hearing about new wines and trying them out. Spending an afternoon or weekend wine tasting is the best use of time!

Drinking wine in Italy
Me, enjoying a few glasses in Cinque Terre, Italy

I’ve been married for two years (celebrated that milestong in a lush hotel… obviously!) but I still love looking at wedding things. Photos, decor, dresses, flowers, colours, venues and churches. Weddings are the most beautiful thing ever. I love weddings.

I turn 30 in two months. As of right now, I’m not scared. I mean its there… its definitely looming in front of me. I’m definitely thinking about it. I’m just not scared of it. On the one hand, its just a number. On the other… OMG!! wasn’t I supposed to have had a career, have two kids and live in my house with a pool by now?!!!!

You see, totally easy to be scared of it. But I’m not. This isn’t one of those, “God and I have a deal” things… I just don’t feel 30. And anyway, apparently I look 23 (which is sometimes annoying) so I figure time is on my side.

So I live in a Green Point apartment (ok, its a flat but I prefer the word apartment). We do have a pool (shared between all 600 flats) and I have husband (not always the first step to the children part… but I’ll claim it). I work in Online Marketing for an agency that, well… for one of the ‘big players’ isn’t that well known in Cape Town. We do SEO. I manage some of the Accounts. Yes, that’d make me an account manager.

I love the online space, and I love marketing. After years of trying my hand at a couple of different roles (yes, that was me in the suit entering the glass doors of that Global Asset Management company), I really love the industry I’m in.

But what I really dream of, is indulging my big loves: sunshine, luxury, champagne, wine, travel and pretty weddings on a daily basis. I’m still working on a master plan to do this.