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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Going the extra mile - Day 346

In the Airbnb was a plaque which read “The beauty of Life lies in appreciating the ordinary things and doing them in an extra-ordinary way” This sums up our hosts here, going the extra mile.

At 9am sharp, Mercia came to our little private garden and placed a breakfast tray on the table and her husband Johan put the umbrella up to shade us from the hot morning sun. After our morning greetings, we sat down to healthy homemade muffins baked in a tin cup, with various condiments to go with them, a preserving jar each with muesli, natural yoghurt and fresh fruit on the top and apple juice with slices of apple in it. Wow! It was all displayed so nicely with fresh roses and pretty napkins, decent ones, not the paper kind. An ordinary breakfast turned into an extraordinary feast – our hosts indeed have gone the extra mile! I made some coffee, and we sat relaxing, eating and planning the day.

We were staying in Clarens just for the day. If we had realised what a gem of a place it was, we would have stayed longer. Imagine a large spacious village with delightful shops, cafes and art galleries surrounded by mountains with multi-coloured layers of rock and the sun shining. That is Clarens named after Clarens in Switzerland and established in 1912.

The town is renowned as an artists’ haven and even has an art route for tourists and, of course, #grownuptravellers like us, to follow. We stopped at No. 1 on the route: Tina de Beer’s Art Studio which was out of the hustle and bustle of the centre. Tina greeted us, and straight away we realised that she had a wicked sense of humour. Also welcoming us was her white Alsatian, Jasper, who, despite being a puppy, was massive and somewhat boisterous. He was behind a wooden gate, but I don’t think it will be long before he escapes by chewing his way through the thin wooden rails.

Tina showed us around her gallery, her paintings are mainly country scenes and flowers with soft tones. She shared that annually she has about 20 students from Lesotho come for 4 days of Art lessons with her. What a fabulous experience for these children. We had a lovely chat about her three sons and life here in Clarens and then carried on our way. We had other art to see.

Next was the Art and Wine Gallery, a spacious, well laid out shop with stunning sculptures and artwork from a range of Artists around South Africa. Our favourite were portraits by Jimmy Law who astonishingly is self-taught. What a talent. (Have a look at his work)

It was enjoyable walking around and admiring the artwork, many influenced by the dramatic landscape surrounding the area. I was surprised to see a style of art in Johan Smith’s Gallery, and paintings with a remarkably similar style and design by a different artist in another gallery just down the road! How strange.

We stopped off for a simple salad lunch then drove back to the Golden Gate National Park. Tim had intended to go for a short trek, but sadly time was ticking. The Mountains are incredible; however, I must say that our timing yesterday seeing them during sunset was perfect.

A three-hour drive to Bloemfontein, passing through Bethlehem and enjoying singing a good ol camping song “Oh, You can’t get to Heaven”. Tim’s favourite verse obviously was: “You'll never get to heaven in your girlfriend's bra, 'Cause your girlfriend's bra can't stretch that far.” I must admit that I do like “Oh, you can't get to Heaven in a Kleenex box, 'Cause God don't like no dirty snots.” Haha, one day we might grow up!

We had a short stop at a sleepy small town of Winburg, which proclaims to be the oldest town in the Orange Free State. We ordered some coffee and tea, sat in the back room, catching up on social media, and waited and waited. Eventually, Tim popped his head around the door, and the owner had forgotten entirely about us. She was so embarrassed about this. Talking of being forgetful, after arriving at our Airbnb, I realised that I left my little blue backpack there with our lovely new camera in it. Whaaa.

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