23 Jun Midlands Lifestyle
What pictures come to mind when someone mentions the KZN Midlands? Do you imagine rolling green hills, old mist-belt forests, small country villages, a slower pace of life, speciality shops, vibey coffee shops and restaurants, log fires in chilly weather … all of this and more? It’s a really great place to chill out over weekends or longer in school holidays, and even a couple of leisurely hours spent enjoying a delicious luncheon at a Midlands restaurant can be a great pick-me-up if you live in a city close enough.
But what about actually living in the Midlands? Granted, things happen more slowly, but many people have discovered through the Covid pandemic lockdown that a slower-paced, more aware lifestyle has great benefits, especially when it includes wide-open spaces and fresh air. The same restrictions have taught many employers and employees that it is perfectly feasible to work from a home office much of the time, which means less commuting in traffic with all the bad stuff that this does to blood pressure and tempers. And the cost of travelling, both in hard cash and time.
Quite seriously, if you have now established that you are well able to work from home and you are thinking of finding more congenial surroundings than an apartment or other urban dwelling, a country home (with office) is well worth considering. A Midlands home can offer you access to excellent schools if you have a family as well as opportunities for outdoor activities right on your doorstep. Life in a small village such as Rosetta allows for the development of friendships with people of similar interests, and ready participation in popular activities such as walking, mountain biking, fishing or golf to mention a few. It has been well established through a number of studies that access to natural areas and wildlife is greatly beneficial to general and mental health. This is part of the package for homes on Giant’s View Estate, for example, which has its own conservancy area with a river boundary and well-maintained paths. There is excellent birding and wild visitors include reedbuck, duiker, bushbuck, porcupines and serval. It is of note that the river on the boundary is the Mooi, which rises in the Drakensberg above Kamberg Nature Reserve and now feeds both the Springrove and Mearns Dams close to Rosetta.
The outstandingly beautiful Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park is within easy reach of Rosetta through the gates at Kamberg and Highmoor, both of which provide almost unlimited space for strenuous hiking or gentler, shorter walks; wonderful places for family outings. It is quite possible to hike from either reserve into the higher Berg for the more adventurous. The beauty of these places, with their pristine rivers and rugged peaks attracts photographers, artists and nature lovers of all ages, in addition to those who come for more physically challenging activities.
The Midlands is well-endowed in terms of good golf courses close at hand. Nottingham Road is home to the Gowrie Golf Club and a little further south at the Balgowan interchange on the N3 is Boschhoek. Howick has its own golf club and close to that is Sakabula Golf and Country Estate just outside Merrivale. Within comfortable reach of Rosetta is the Glengarry Golf Course in the Kamberg Valley. Glengarry also offers fine fly fishing opportunities, in both dam and river.
In fact there are many outstanding opportunities for fishing in dams and rivers in the Rosetta area, with the village’s own Dam being a catch-and-release fishing spot. Both Kamberg Nature Reserve and Highmoor have dams that are popular and a number of landowners have well-stocked waters where arrangements can be made for rod enthusiasts to enjoy their sport.
However, scenic attractions and relaxation aside, one needs to consider the day-to-day living, practical aspects of being resident in a village like Rosetta. There are plumber services and electricians who service the area and cell phone communications are reasonably good, with local internet service providers who cover most of the area. Rosetta has easy access to supermarkets and hardware shops in Mooi River, Nottingham Road and even more in Howick. At weekends there are farmers’ markets selling fresh produce and baked and other speciality foods. Midlands residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to a wonderful range of cheeses produced locally by a number of farm dairies, and other local growers offer free-range eggs, poultry and ethically produced pork products. Nowhere is really far from anywhere and traffic is seldom a problem in spite of the occasional tractor travelling slowly along the R103 for a short distance! The N3 toll road is a quick link from Mooi River, Rosetta or Nottingham Road to Howick and further afield to Durban or Gauteng.
There are pharmacies in Mooi River, Nottingham Road and several in Howick. Howick has a private hospital with ER services; ambulance services are on call from Howick or from a reputable medical emergency response team based between Rosetta and Mooi River. A large private hospital in Hilton has consulting doctors and offers a broad range of services, including obstetrics, oncology and specialised surgery. A number of medical specialists have consulting rooms in Hilton and Howick. The area is also well-supported by Department of Health clinics with access to hospitals in Pietermaritzburg. Additional private medical services such as radiology and pathology laboratories have rooms in both Howick and Hilton. There are a number of dental practices in both Howick and Hilton.
Mooi River, Nottingham Road and Howick offer veterinary services for small and large animals, as might be expected in an area where many residents own domestic pets or larger animals, horses in particular.
With regard to motor vehicle repairs, there are a number of auto repair shops offering their services; it is wise to ask local residents about the reliability and capability. Howick has several motor dealers, tyre merchants and exhaust repair shops as well as auto repair services.
Midlands families with school-going children have a number of excellent private schools to choose from, including Clifton Preparatory School and Kings School in Nottingham Road, and Treverton Preparatory in Mooi River, for the primary years. Secondary schools include Treverton College and Weston Agricultural College (Mooi River), Michaelhouse (Balgowan) and Hilton College, Grace College and St Anne’s Diocesan College (Hilton).
The entire area of the Midlands is a very popular tourist destination offering a wide variety of accommodation, from luxurious lodges to country cottages offering a self-catering option. This means that the area attracts supporting business services, such as stationery, bookkeeping and accounting, and many small-business satellite operations offering a wide range of goods, as examples: food, gifts, speciality clothing and adventure sports. There are excellent restaurants, quaint coffee spots and friendly pubs. The varied aspects of life in the Midlands is a compellingly attractive, eclectic mix that can open up new ideas and opportunities for those in search of them.