Hartford House

Hartford House veranda

Hartford House is on a farm outside Mooi River. It is on the grounds of a horse stud farm. It is a 19th century sandstone house but it has new technology – it has electricity and hot water and anything a normal house would have. Inside there are all sorts of funny statues – there are little dogs that look very real in the hallway. There is a funny wooden donkey at the front door.

China dogs

Hartford has lovely gardens with lots of flowers. There are nice arch ways covered in creepers.


When we first arrived my mum and I had a salami platter with melba toasts and chocolate cake at the tea garden. The way you get to the tea garden is very fun because it is in the middle of a pond and there are walkways – like little blocks – that you have to walk on to get to the building itself.

Way to the tea garden

I loved the melba toasts that came with the salami plate. I had never had such thin, crispy, interesting toast before.

Great Melba toast

The chocolate cake was the best chocolate cake I have ever had – and I have had a lot of chocolate cake! It had rich flavours and a mousse icing between the layers and a great chocolate ganache on the top.

Chocolate cake before

As you can see I ate every last crumb!

Chocolate cake after

After lunch I lay by the pool and read my Harry Potter book for a bit.

By the pool

Then I discovered that our room was beside a lake. I saw that there were canoes and I asked Duncan, the General Manager, if I could take one out on the lake. He found me a life jacket and my mum helped me get the boat into the water. At first I struggled to row against the wind and I got quite cross and frustrated but then the wind dropped and I was able to paddle successfully. It was really fun once I got the hang of it. And satisfying to get good at something that I found hard at first. I was glad I persevered.

I did it

I had a great time but I did get quite wet. My mum threw me Kit Kat from the mini bar and I floated and ate my chocolate. I liked it so much that the next day I got up early and went for a paddle before breakfast. And again after breakfast too. Duncan says that he has a special trick for catching fish off the side of the boat and that he will show me next time I come.

Sailing off into the sunset

There are really great comfy chairs in the room with soft blankets for snuggling while you watch TV. I watched Total Wipe Out and Strictly Come Dancing.


At supper my mum forgot to bring the cell phone so there are no pictures of this part of the trip! I had pasta with lemon and Parmesan. My mum had the tasting menu (5 courses!) and she made me try a bite of each course. My favourite bits were the rock cod course and the quail leg. After dinner the chef (Constantijn Hahndiek) came out with a surprise – he had liquid nitrogen and meringue sticks. He put the meringues into the nitrogen and he waved them around so that they weren’t so cold then got me to eat them. It was amazing. Smoke came out of my mouth like a dragon’s breath! There was a big puff of smoke. So cool. I liked it so much I asked him if he would do it again for me at lunch the next day and he did. This time my mum hadn’t forgotten the camera so we got some pictures! He even let me come into the kitchen and showed me how he did it. He is a really kind chef. He explained that liquid nitrogen can be dangerous – if are in a closed room with it and no new oxygen it can explode and you can pass out.

Chef science

The magic begins


Call the fire brigade

I had great croissant with butter and jam for breakfast. I ordered an omelette too but it was a bit too cheesey for me so I mostly stuck to the croissants. Then I went back to do some more boating.

Croissant smiley face

I would recommend Hartford highly to any kid who likes to paddle and wants to have smoke come out of his mouth like a dragon.

Heading home

Hartford House; Hlatikulu Road (off Mooi River-Grants Castle road), Mooi River. 033 263 2713.

Travel is great but there’s no place like home.

Boyz in the hood


21 comments to “Hartford House”

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  1. Dear Josiah. I will be following your blog in each installment as you seem to be offering some excellent travel advice. I too love chocolate cake and crispy Melba toast, but I am not too mad about cheesy omelette. I think a nice breakaway to a lovely spot with yummy food and a very kind chef kind of sounds what I need right now. I will have to look up this HERTFORD HOUSE. It sounds simply lovely on your blog.

  2. Wow! Thank you for sharing your special experience with us, Josi. I feel like packing my bags and head straight to Hartford before school begins 😀. Eish, I can’t swim 🙈 though I would love to try canoeing.

  3. Hello from Cape Town Josiah!
    We read your blog with great interest and relish. I have never read one like yours before, it is so interesting. The others were all boring, as they were written by adults. When me and Clare go there we want to eat the chocolate cake too (it looked delicious!) and I want to go in the canoes. Maybe it will sink when I am in it with Clare! You never know your luck. Happy New Year, and hopefully we’ll see you in Cape Town soon. Eamon & Clare.

  4. I nearly got into my car and drove straight up to you! What great stories and descriptions. Chef Tim is one of my favorites too! Come and see is soon! Erica

  5. You have such a wonderful different perspective when it comes to detail which makes reading this such a joy,

    Thank you …

    It was an absolute pleasure having you up here, and looking forward to your next visit !!

    • Thank you so much for having me and for the transfiguration of me into a dragon. Love Josiah.

  6. Hello Josiah

    I have had the most enjoyable read through your blog review, and I cant tell you how happy I am to know that you loved your stay with us. I cant wait for the next visit and I have already decided on our fishing tackle and rods we going to need. You are a wonderful friend and a true little gentleman. Cant wait to see you soon buddy.


  7. I am very impressed with the style and content of this blog. It is really amazing and I am so jealous of your travels. What amazing places you visit! And the food looks incredible. Well done!

  8. I loved the visit I’m sad that it ended so quickly . I’ll be back with fishing skills . Love Josiah

  9. Hi Josiah, Juliet here from Talk Radio 702, I produce the Weekend Breakfast show and we would like to invite you to be our guest for our travel feature this Saturday, in studio or telephonic,
    Is there away that I can contact you perhaps fro your moms phone?

  10. Hi Josiah. We havent met. But i know your mom really well. Loved reading your story on Hartford House. It reminded me of my visit a couple of years ago. What a magnificent place … i hope to return there one day soon.

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