Family of mine live on a 6th generation Merino sheep farm outside of Bloemfontein that they also run as a guest farm called De Oude Kraal Country Estate & Spa. On our way back from George a month or so ago, we made time to stay over and reconnect with family we haven’t seen in ages. Family is such an important part of life and I believe it should never be taken for granted.
Even amidst the chaos of the Coronavirus pandemic and the tourism industry that’s been hit hard in 2020, things were rather busy as we arrived. As we entered the gates, Catha immediately showed us the beautiful horses beside the road. Ours one of three cars to arrive simultaneously and the kids were paste after a long drive. As we walked in at reception, Catha went straight through to the lawn on the other side. In the distance we could see some game grazing peacefully.
Gerhard Lombard (my mother’s cousin) welcomed us and we were guided to our spacious room, which was situated right next to the main house where dinner was to be served. It had a main bedroom with a king-size bed, a second room with a baby cot for Elian and an attic room that had Catha really excited! She went up and down the stairs at least ten times before dinner and played hide and seek in the colossal bathroom for what seemed like an hour. We had some time before our guests (my brother and his girlfriend) arrived to join us for dinner, so off we went to explore. The outstretched lawns were everything that day. Catha ran back and forth, dipped her toes in the swimming pool and tip-toed to where the peacocks paraded their colourful feathers. We then indulged in a Free State high tea in the garden, with geese in a large pond as a backdrop and leaves fluttering in a cool spring breeze. It was absolute bliss.
Dinner in the main house
The main house has been beautifully decorated and instantly makes you feel at home. Guests were already dining at De Oude Kraal’s Fine Dining Restaurant when we arrived for dinner and we were invited to first have some drinks on the veranda. When we booked, we had a choice of a five course or three course meal, or just mains. We opted for the mains (because we were broke after our holiday and we realised that the holiday spirit in terms of dining had to end somewhere) and even though I am sure the five course would have been worth writing another blog post about, I would rather save it for a special occasion. Five course meals with a 2-year-old and 10-month-old at the table don’t always end well. Now, if you are looking for proper South African cuisine, but you want silver service, De Oude Kraal’s Fine Dining Restaurant is where you need to go. Because we had kids with us (and I suppose Corona also had a say in the matter) we were seated in our own private dining room. There were two other tables too, but they weren’t booked, so we really had the room for ourselves, which was lovely. We didn’t have to worry about the kids annoying other guests and guests didn’t have to feel that we were spoiling their special evening with kids moaning and groaning while they really just want to enjoy each other’s company over a glass of red wine.
P.S. De Oude Kraal also has a restaurant called FEAST, which is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. They serve an a la carte menu from Wednesday to Saturday and on Sundays they do their famous buffet lunches. They serve mainly gourmet country cuisine with most dishes being inspired by the farm. Think gourmet lamb patties, wood-fired pizzas and slow braised lamb neck.
Breakfast, then home-bound
“He nods, as if to acknowledge that endings are almost always a little sad, even when there is something to look forward to on the other side.” – Emily Giffin
We were looking forward to going home, but it was also a little sad to leave the idea of being on holiday behind. I also always feel sad when I leave the Free State behind, as that is where my roots will always be.
Breakfast was included in the stay and we ended off our holiday on high note with a huge continental breakfast table, a waffle station, delicious baked goods and a proper English breakfast with a wide variety of options.
Things to do
Travelling with kids? No worries! De Oude Kraal has many ways to keep them busy. From hand led horse riding, a swimming pool, hiking trails and more. For a romantic weekend away, be sure to look into their stargazing, hot air ballooning, sheep farm tour and food demonstration activities.
*This post was not sponsored and we paid for our stay at De Oude Kraal Country Estate & Spa.
Image credits: Renate Engelbrecht and Eye Poetry Photography