It’s been a while since we’ve last visited the misty hills of the Midlands and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We also could not have chosen a better home away from home than the lovely, perfectly positioned Little Fields Country House and Cottages, right at the start of the Midlands Meander, close to Howick and Hilton.
It was already dark when we arrived. Although the cold, wet weather was dreamy, it was not ideal for two toddlers who have bravely and patiently been enduring a long drive. On arrival, the first thing I wanted to do was to kick off my shoes, and as we entered our country cottage – our home for the night – I realised that that was exactly what Little Fields wants you to do. Here, it is all about laying back, taking a deep breath of the Kwazulu-Natal Midlands’ fresh air and letting go.
Why stay at Little Fields?
Little Fields boasts two country-style cottages – the Loft Cottage and the Fern Cottage – and also the Country House. The owners, Phil and Di Taylor’s impeccable taste in décor had us dreaming of a refurb at our house back in Pretoria, taking mental snapshots of the bathroom’s botanical theme, the kitchen’s farmhouse feel and the lounge’s cleverly matched cushions and carpets.
Di – who is also has her own landscaping company – says Little Fields’ ethos is to create a space where families can enjoy being together. Her landscaping skills are evident in the lovely gardens surrounding the cottages and the country house, and also in the impressive vegetable garden – complete with artichokes, rhubarb and other vegetables ideal for edible landscaping.
A quick stroll through the well-manicured veggie garden led us to a bunny house where the kids got to feed the little furballs some lettuce leaves while trying to touch their ears. Seeing my two toddlers in that moment, all starry-eyed and excited, I once again realised how important it is to travel with kids.
Our country cottage
The Loft Cottage’s clever layout immediately lured the kids upstairs, where the loft was specially tailored for children keen to explore. A kitted-out doll house had them intrigued from the get-go, complete with miniature bears and little dolls lying in handmade, wooden beds under cute, quilted blankets. The kids’ room also boasted shelves filled with children’s books and a painting of an imaginary bubble forest. It is a special kind of space, encouraging kids’ imaginations to take flight.
But, it was the Loft Cottage’s bathroom that was probably the highlight of our stay. Wikus fell asleep in the bath three times (wine glass in hand) and Elian couldn’t get enough of bathing underneath the impressive hanging house plants. We had to drag Catha out of the bath and into bed and took turns to indulge in a long, warm candlelit bath while watching leafy shadows dancing on the wall. Pity there was no time (or better weather) to experience the outdoor shower.
Country living at its best
As the Loft Cottage is self-catering, everything about it has been well thought through. It has a front and back door and early morning you get to wake up with farm sounds like that of cows grazing on the opposite hills that form part of the most spectacular views from the lounge and kitchen windows.
The owners’ two beautiful Golden Retrievers are constantly doing rounds between Little Fields’ cottages and the country house and guests are encouraged to let them accompany them on walks. The two gentle canines had us all fall in love with them in an instant – especially the kids. They joined us – all wiggly tailed – on our walk to the bunny house, then patiently watched us pet the bunnies and peacefully escorted us back to the cottage.
Although the cottages are self-catering, they do offer breakfast. Ours came in an elegant, country-style basket filled with freshly baked bran muffins, butter and a glass jar of jam. As Di was afraid it might not be enough for the four of us, she later came back with an additional batch of scones too. We sat around the cosy kitchen table as a family, taking in every moment of just being together, building memories that would last a lifetime.
There are few places that succeed in truly putting families at the epicentre of its being. Little Fields Country House has set the bar quite high, carefully curating special spaces where families can spend precious time together.