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Berg’s Best Kept Secret

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

I was legit about to pounce when I heard: “ Oooooh, Kitty!”, and without warning, was hoisted into ‘handbag position’ and lugged away from a potential morsel...

Folks, I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that for two whole days I was:

1) dressed like a doll,

2) brushed ‘til I was static, and

3) pushed in a pram up and down over endless sections of Sani Spoors

(, while the actual doll enjoyed uninterrupted catnaps!

Aside from breeding cat lovers, these Capetonians are in awe of the ‘berg winter. Harping on and on about how much it rains in the Cape and, “The wind! Yoh, the wind is hectic, bru!” There was also a lot of bleary eyed: “Yowzer Okes, the sun rises early here in KZN,” followed by big yawns and arm-stretching. “More time for running,” says Steve Black as he joyously starts up the mountain track. I’m used to his harebrained ideas. As we speak I’ve been left on my own while he runs to St Bernard’s peak. It’s his birthday and he wants to run his age. Don’t ask.

The thing is - and this is the berg’s best kept secret - nothing beats winter in the Drakensberg. Crisp mornings with white frost crunching under-paw, crystals glistening at the edge of the dam, rainbow icicles stalactiting from barbed-wire fences, ice blue sky, warm take-your-jersey-off-at-11am-and-then-scurry-to-find-the-darn-thing-at-4pm days, and star-riddled clear nights that leave you breathless!

As you know, my typical day starts with a cat-stretch, a downward dog, then the obligatory nut-scratch (over share?). Once fully groomed, I sit in my sunny spot on the stoep and assess the avian situation. The garden birds are cheeky beggars, and now that there are no leaves on the trees they are easy to see...and pick off. But wait, what’s this I hear? I have two words: “Get. Terrified.” Steve’s two grandsons have just arrived. “Wild” is too tame a word for them. FERAL! The first thing they do is grab the pellet gun and ketty, and disappear into the Poplars to shoot at targets. Once the Coke tin is mangled, they then start looking aloft - and that’s when my treasures take flight. No tender Finch breast for me this week...

I know why they’re here. They are pyromaniacs those two, and it’s burning season... a match made in heaven (pun unintended). What I love about the burning of the firebreaks is the light - a soft ethereal glow that makes the farm look otherworldly. It’s still and clear, and the dry veld crackles in an obedient line with the beaters following it slap-slapping at the flames. It’s a rhythmical business and Ana and I love to supervise. When dusk falls, the temperature drops, and the sky is an easel of pink and mauve and orange. That is when I turn homeward to jump through the window into the Aga-warmed kitchen, lap up my milk, and curl up next to the fire.

Winter is still around for a few more months, so book your break now! Find us on:

Love from a tired, but oh-so happy,

Ray x

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