PS: Immerse your feet in dirt and walk in the wilderness this summer, EMAIL US HERE

Good Morning

Leigh Voigt’s LULU PHEZULU, is my current book of choice. I was reminded of its beauty when recalling the quiet oil paintings of her late husband, Harold Voigt, with a recent art collecting hiker of the Green Mountain Trail.

Lulu Phezulu (or ‘Lulu on top’) is the name of the home of Leigh (‘Lulu’) Voigt.  It is the house the Voigts built for themselves on a mountain top in a nature reserve in Mpumalanga. To fully experience the wonder of this book, you need to read it page by page. Here is a tiny bit of what I am busy learning. “Dassies are able to detect the approach of a predator a kilometre away, and since their main concern is attack from the sky they sunbathe with their eyes open, being able to gaze directly into the sun. This has led to the belief that they are blind. In fact their eyes possess a special membrane, the umbraculum, which protects the retina and allows light to penetrate only at the sides of the pupil. It is thus possible to detect a Black Eagle against the sun without damage to the retina.”

I have written before that in 2015 these iconic artists stayed in Birch Cottage, here at Wildekrans Country House. It was only well into their visit that we realized their respective art fame.

I am in the midst of a life lesson that I have not yet fully processed. Our working team are of an age where each year at least one of us loses a parent. Last week Ursula Goodwin’s father, who was due to celebrate his ninetieth birthday today, passed away. The Goodwin and Jantjies families subscribe to different churches so the celebration of his life was a series of three religious ceremonies, the middle one being outside, at his home. Standing there in the midst of enthusiastic gospel like voices, with the spring morning sun on my back and the Bot River breeze blowing through, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and acceptance. I would have liked to have remained standing outside the humble home of Ursula’s late father, in an attempt to hold onto the peace that spiritual and non material moments bring.

My one and only, Barry Gould, is a busier than usual bee, now that summer has arrived. We are working the gardens, they experience exponential growth at this time of year. The last of the winter rains, together with  the spring sun, must provide a growth cocktail of sorts. While the garden team attends to this “problem”, the rest of us are seeking inspiration for a suitable menu for our Elgin Open Garden weekends. If you would like to have lunch with us when visiting the gardens, please be in touch sooner than later.

The dates this year are 29 and 30 October and 5 and 6 November (09h30 till 17h00) GET IN TOUCH FOR LUNCH HERE.

Our artist of choice for 2022, is Sera Holland. Sera will fill our Barn with her thickly painted (impasto) oils and fynbos inspired ceramics to make up her garden show titled OUTSIDE IN. Please diarise to visit the gardens of Elgin and especially ours. Experience the peace of this little corner of our wondrous earth.

It is always a joy to share in the experiences of the hikers that come our way. Last week’s life loving group of friends from mostly Johannesburg, included the co-owner of a Wildlife tourism business in the Thorny bush Nature Reserve. Our guides, Jeffrey and Patrick, are walking tall, as on completion of their  four day and sixty kilometre trail, Andy told them that in thirty years of being in the business of nature, he had never learnt as much as he did walking with the two of them, this last week.

On page four of LULU PHEZULU, Leigh quotes Charles Dudley Warner (1829–1900).

“The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the latest. Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts. So long as we are dirty, we are pure. Fondness for the ground comes back to a man after he has run the round of pleasure and business, eaten dirt, and sown wild oats, drifted about the world, and taken the wind of all its moods. The love of digging in the ground (or of looking on while he pays another to dig) is as sure to come back to him, as he is sure, at last, to go under the ground, and stay there. To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch their renewal of life – this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfying thing a man can do.”

With love,


PPS: It is not too late to join INTERIORS, an art workshop facilitated by Jill Trappler. This happens over the weekend of 14 October 2022. ENQUIRE HERE.

PPPS: Confirmed trail dates with spaces 17 October (Green), 21 November (Blue), 28 November (Green), 5 December (Green), 11 December, 9 January and 13 February (all Green). JOIN HERE, YOU WILL BE DELIGHTED.

PPPS: Another quote from Leigh Voigt “Being human is to defy nature. We strive to curb natural diseases, which are sent to manage the population. We prolong the agony of a terminally ill patient, we persevere with exotic plants in desert areas, we get upset when our rivers dry up, yet still plant more timber and sugar cane. We eat foods that rot our teeth and tax our livers. As humans responsible for our own lives we can control our destinies and fulfil our ambitions. We should show compassion when it’s due while believing in the survival of the fittest.”