Three white ducks with bright orange beaks silently cut through the mountain’s reflection on the dead still dam surface. The scent of smoking wood emanates from the hot tub the sound of translucent mountain water babbles below the cabin. Golden bamboo skirts the dam edge out front as the vineyards transform with the seasonal temperatures outback.
Olive Rock is clearly visible across the dam, while orange roads scar the mountainside a little further afield. The rumble of tractors ceases at the end of the farming day as silence immediately sets in only interrupted by the sound of frogs clicking and croaking at twilight.
We’ve come to stay at one of our favorite locations, the Arum Lily Cottages in Wolseley. We’ve checked the hot tub fire and added more wood. It’s not a weekend at Arum Lily unless hot tub soaking is involved.
In a Cabin Made for Four
Inside, curved logged walls rise out of dark timber floors. A cast iron fireplace warms the open-plan lounge area as a large leather couch provides space for one to snuggle with blankets. It’s Autumn and temperatures are dropping quickly, but aren’t low enough for us to avoid the hot tub outside.
Tiptoeing across the wooden deck, down the stairs and ouch! Onto the sharp stones surrounding the fireplace and tub – this requires backup. Remember those Boschendal slippers I fell in love with? They’ve been in my bag ever since and will now be sacrificed for hot tub living. Slippers on, back down the stairs, over the gravel, towel hanging up on pole, candles lit, steam arising, hello hot tub.
Cosy Cabin Living
While I wade around AJ goes about making the fire before jumping in. Bats are starting to shoot past under the grey sky as the farm dogs arrive to investigate our visit. The scorching sizzle of the water rising a little too high greets AJ as he steps into the tub. With long, spindly tongs, more wood is added to keep the temperature up. This is quite a deep tub and it’s been cool for a while so requires a little tender attention to keep the heat increasing.
I think we’re the only guests on the farm. It’s mid-week and lockdown hasn’t been a great time for travel, but we’re thrilled to be here and happy to be back at such a special location. After soaking for 3 or so hours, we eat dinner and retreat to the warmth of the cabin. A quick shower to rinse off the tub water, dinner and a bottle of local cider is enough to drive us to bed to keep warm. The electric blankets ensure the beds are toasty, however, the main suite only had a double bed which resulted in AJ leaving in the night to sleep in the single beds. Apparently, I like my space!
In the morning, it’s cool. The bedroom has double glass doors with thick curtains, however, the high windows allow the morning light to filter into the room. The high ceilings make the room tricky to keep warm but are counteracted by the electric blankets keeping me snug. The sheet allows me to cover my ears and snuggle in bed undisturbed. If you are, however, very susceptible to coolness then bring a beenie or headscarf to keep you extra warm.
12 Hours in Wolseley
While it’s so easy to stay at the cottage all day, we decide to push ourselves out in an attempt to visit the surrounding areas. We started our day with breakfast at the Winterberg Mountain Inn around the corner. A quiet restaurant observing protocol provides polite service and simple home cooking. The tranquility is rapidly disrupted by the thump of baboons running over the roof and into the garden. As the sun comes out, they roll and frolic in the warm light.
After breakfast, we pop into the Creative Hub, an eclectic mix of local arts and crafts, local produce, alcohol and meals. We take our time before moving onto the Mountain Ridge Winery where we pop in for a chocolate and wine tasting.
After visiting the cellar, we drive back towards Wolseley, popping into Die Boord Restaurant & Farmstall for some fresh veggies, snacks and sauces for dinner. Finally, we turn up the hill to the Waverly Hill Wine & Restaurant. With another warm fire crackling, exceptional olives and more delicious wines; our day is complete.
The Arum Lily Cottages are just a short drive away. Arriving before the sun sets too quickly, we walk around the dam and watch the light change as ducks wade past and birds take flight in fright. More visitors are arriving at the cottages and our sacred space is no longer free to pretend is ours. On both occasions, however, guests have been very respectful to one another as the tranquility of the location is maintained.
More fires, more hot tub soaking, more good food and more fireplace snuggling; our time is running out and we’re tempted to stay another day. Unfortunately, another commitment arises so we tear ourselves away in the morning. We will, however, without question be back again – and you should visit too.
Arum Lily Cottages offer 6 cabins on a working farm located just off the R46 between Ceres and Tulbagh. Each cabin is a different size, offering accommodation for couples, families or friends due to being charged per person per night via Nightsbridge. Fully self-catering, the cottages provide a well-equipped kitchen with inside stove/oven and refrigeration independent to the outside braai area.
Cabin 2 also includes a large back courtyard with outdoor shower. Towels are provided as well as simple toiletries including a vanity sachet.
There is internet at the cabin or e-mails and simple apps, however, streaming does not work (YouTube would not load for us). So if you are wanting to watch movies, be sure to pre-download large files. There is no TV in the cabin, but reading is recommended nonetheless.
Arum Lily is also well secured with the farm gate opening on a Whatsapp number and there is also an alarm in each cabin. Emergency numbers are included in a file of resources. We’ve personally never felt unsafe on the farm, but are aware that one much be vigilant.
Arum Lily Cottages is one of our favourite blog locations and we recommend them without hesitation.
Thank you to Arum Lily Cottages for having us! We will be back!