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.
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.
I loved the melba toasts that came with the salami plate. I had never had such thin, crispy, interesting toast before.
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.
As you can see I ate every last crumb!
After lunch I lay by the pool and read my Harry Potter book for a bit.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hartford House; Hlatikulu Road (off Mooi River-Grants Castle road), Mooi River. 033 263 2713. www.hartfordhouse.com
Travel is great but there’s no place like home.