South Africa Midlands Day 8

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July 26th 2013
Published: July 26th 2013
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After arriving late last we had time to grab a quick shower to wash away the dust then we were treated to sumptuous five course meal at the award winning restaurant here, with wine selected for each course. After so much time spent on the road it was a fantastic way to finish off the day.

This morning after a posh breakfast we went on a tour of the stud. To explain, Hartford House hotel shares its site with Summerhill stud farm, with a grand tradition of producing racing thoroughbreds. No doubt those in the know would recognise some of the names of the horses that we were introduced to, i.e. paraded in front of us. Mick Goss who owns the place has met the Queen and is quite eloquent when talking about being a self-made man. He spoke to everyone before dinner last night and explained how he came to own the farm and stud and it’s an interesting story.

He has a clear philosophy: as part of the farm he runs a school providing courses in stud management and every year the top student goes to the UK’s national stud for a year thanks to a bursary scheme they have set up. But this philosophy also stretches to the hotel: when they set it up it was with the idea of becoming a centre of excellence for the hospitality industry with only the chef that was employed 10 years ago having any formal training. In those 10 years they have developed Hartford into the best restaurant in South Africa all with in-house trained staff from the local area. Considering that in 1989 there was 60% unemployment in the local township which is infamous for the first occurrence of ‘necklacing’ (where a car tyre in placed over your head and set alight) is testament to his vision for the new South Africa and to hear 80 year olds from the privileged aparteid era today talking of the rainbow nation with pride can only give you hope for the future.

After the tour we chilled out for a little while before checking out some of the more local towns that we had passed through in the dark last night and checking out the local shops.

Tomorrow we plan to go to see the falls at Howick, which are on the normal tourist route and check out what else in on in the local area – it is our wedding anniversary after all.

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