Shew! It’s been an eventful and fun two weeks!
My sister Carryn came down from Jhb to spend time with my Mom and of course with me as well. But that is actually the wrong place for me to start.
I had won a stay at any Protea Hotel for two nights in December 2015 and with the busyness of 2016 I had not got around to use it. I tried to book a stay at the end of November 2016 but unfortunately the hotel – Protea Hotel Durban Umhlanga – was fully booked. The lovely people in booking told me not to worry and that they would like to extend the voucher to the end of March 2017. I made a booking for 22 and 23 March and this worked out perfectly as my husband had been working a lot of hours doing an installation at the new Ballito Junction Shopping Centre. This was great for him as he then didn’t have too far to drive. I was also quite close to the airport so I could easily fetch my sister on the Thursday (23rd).
My husband Neil and I were very impressed with Protea Hotel Durban Umhlanga. Quick and efficient check in, fabulous decor in the reception area and throughout the hotel. Our room was spacious and comfortable with two queen size beds and we adored the shower (we are going to redo our bathroom and I want a shower head just like it). There was also a welcome food snack basket in the room. Our room overlooked the building site for the new Oceans Umhlanga and we could also see the new Pearl Walk shopping centre. The hotel is so close to many restaurants and a short walk from the Umhlanga promenade and pier.
Our first nights meal was enjoyed at the new Butcher Boys Umhlanga as Neil had had a craving for steak. What a great restaurant and the steak was incredible.
We had decided not to have breakfast at the hotel and instead find a place on Chartwell Drive which is filled with various restaurants. We walked up the road to see what our options were and then walked back down once we had decided that we would eat at Vovo Telo. Neil had never eaten there and he was so impressed with the food that he said we would be having breakfast there again the following morning – which we did.
Neil went to work at Ballito Junction Shopping Centre and I had a few hours before going to fetch my sister from the airport. I was very happy to finally be able to visit and shop at Catalyst which is situated inside the Umhlanga Medisport Pharmacy. Catalyst is filled with fabulous South African products and I could have bought a lot more that I did. After shopping at Catalyst I passed the time reading the newspaper in the reception area and then watching a bit of TV back in the room. Finally it was time to take the drive to the airport.
As you can expect there was happiness, laughter and so much talking when I fetched Carryn. We headed straight for So Whipped at Gateway Shopping Centre for our usual cappuccino and a delicious cupcake. We then spent a bit of time looking at a few shops before I took her to my Mom’s place.
Neil managed to get back to Umhlanga before I did and had decided where we would have supper that night. I was very happy with his choice as it was a restaurant that we love going to in Kloof – Olive & Oil. It was a beautiful evening and we had great service and a fabulous meal at the Umhlanga Olive & Oil.
After supper we decided to take a walk down to the pier and to see the lighthouse. It was a warm evening but the walk was pleasant and it was lovely to see and hear the sea as it washes under the pier. I had expected to see quite a few people out walking but they must have all been inside the restaurants. After the walk it was back to our room at the hotel and to get some much needed sleep.
After a great night’s sleep we had another incredible breakfast at Vovo Telo and then Neil had to leave for the Ballito Shopping Centre as it was opening day and he needed to be there in case of any problems. I packed up our things and relaxed a bit before check out which was at 10am. Very friendly reception staff again and I quickly paid for the parking of my car, loaded the suitcase and made my way back to Kloof.
I didn’t go straight home but drove to the new Hey Gorgeous which had just opened that morning in Kloof. Such wonderful smelling products and lovely sales ladies and I bought a face mask for my daughter. I then went to look at the Hillcrest Aids Centre’s Woza Moya shop and then at one of my favourite decor shops – Muse. Then it was time to get home and unpack and have coffee.
Saturday was an at home day and on Sunday I went with my Mom and sister to the Kloof & Highway SPCA monthly Sunday market. On Monday we went to the Hospice shop in Pinetown and to a very interesting nursery directly opposite Hospice where I bought an old ribbed bottle and a beautiful Sylvac planter (thanks Amanda TheVintager for sending me pictures of the place).
On Monday 27 March I dropped my daughter at school and went to fetch my Mom and sister for our trip to the Midlands. Our first stop in the Midlands was at St. Paul's Church in Curry’s Post. It is a beautiful little church which is situated very close to my Dad’s uncle’s farm and my Mom and I had never been there. Carryn had found the church one day when they had been meandering on their way to Terbodore Coffee. We had a lovely time taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful morning sun.
Then it was time for coffee and we headed to Steampunk Cafe for cappuccinos before starting our charity shop visits. First up was the SPCA shop at Greendale Centre but there was nothing that caught our eye. Next door to the SPCA shop is a book shop called the Lazy Lizard which is unfortunately closing down. Unfortunately for them but fortunately for us fiction books were R5 and non-fiction R10. I found an art book for my daughter and a calligraphy book for myself. Carryn was in raptures as she discovered many beautiful old recipe books that she had never seen before. My Mom even bought a book and we left the bookshop very happily with our bargains. Just up the road is Hospice Howick where only my sister found something to buy.
It was already 11:45am and we needed to get to Fern Hill Hotel for our 12pm booking for lunch at the Snooty Fox restaurant. None of us had been to the hotel before so we needed time to get there and we were happy to find that it was quick and easy. The parking was chock a block full and we were blessed to get a shade parking close to the entrance. We were warmly greeted by reception staff and shown to the restaurant. There was only one other table occupied in the restaurant and after they left it was ours for the entire duration of our meal #bliss. It took time to decide what we would eat and of course we looked at the dessert section first. Chef of the hotel : Alex Poltera, told us that the dessert menu had just been changed. He asked if we would like him to make the dessert choices for us and we happily agreed as we love surprises. For actual lunch we all ordered the Beer Battered Jumbo Hake with pea puree. Carryn and I had it with shoestring fries and Mom had vegetables. They were not kidding with the “jumbo” part! A huge piece of hake and still another quarter piece! Lots of yumming sounds as we appreciated the crisp batter and delicious fish. We were served by Kobe who is a second year student in the hotel school that is run by Fern Hill. He was friendly, efficient and he didn’t catch us with food in our mouths while enquiring about how we were enjoying our meal. He also had great knowledge about the menu. We were all unable to finish our fish especially since we needed some space for dessert – very important!
Oh my, oh my, oh my – the dessert!! Three plates and three different desserts – Peanut Butter Parfait, Black Forest Crème Brulee and Tropical Citrus Pavlova. We had to taste all three so we passed the plates around. I started with the Tropical Citrus Pavlova which is ideal after a heavy meal as the flavours are fresh and light and very fruity. I am not really a peanut butter fan and didn’t want to be left with the taste in my mouth so I had the Peanut Butter Parfait second. I was pleasantly surprised. The taste of peanut butter was slight and perfect and the dessert was creamy and delicious. My final taste test was the rich and decadent Black Forest Crème Brulee. This is not a regular crème brulee but a deconstructed version with the crisp topping as shards placed into the dark chocolate mousse. A very rich and very satisfying dessert.
A very memorable meal and Carryn said she would be taking her husband there for lunch the next time they come down from Jhb and go for their regular Midlands Meander. Thank you Fern Hill Hotel for such a delicious meal and amazing service.
Our last two stops for the day were the SPCA bookshop and another SPCA shop in Howick. We then headed home on the N3 chatting, laughing and recounting all the charity treasures we had found, the amazing lunch we had enjoyed and the blessed time we had spent together.
This post is quite long so it looks like you will have to return for Part 2 for more of What, Where, When.