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Victorian Secrets



Witnessing the revival of Victorian spirits at Wolverfontein Farm Cottages in the heart of a retro-pioneer Karoo

This is a story of a farm of no ordinary windmill and waterpipe. Of no perfectly round calabash, but of a historic place where mediocrity has been swept away by the hot Karoo wind. This is a place where lambs are silent, and history is alive. Where two visionary people have revived the spirits of the du Plessis, and the de Wit. And those of other souls who have inhabited the Moreson Manor, back in the 1880's.

Victorian ladies pressed into corsets
Initially positioned on the top of a koppie like a fort, the original farm building, alas, more its owner, decided to move down into the valley below. It was the time of the ostrich, gracefully giving a debut to an era of both rise and fall. He wanted to keep a close eye on his precious feathers and fine leather. She however was not to taken by the idea. Well, feathers in her hat allright, but a move into the valley from lofty heights must have seemed to the owner's wife like a non-acceptable fall in class.

Somewhat understandable. What other laced-up Victorian lady pressed into a corset stealing her last breath, would have opted to give up clean, fresh air at the top of a hill for a dusty grind at the bottom, from where she was more inclined to faint than fascinate her husband? After all, the times required procrastination under the watchful eye of the church. The sparsely populated region of the Klein Karoo needed a boost of fair blood, whose culture would mirage itself  in the idealized historical paintings conserved for the latter world.

In search of family heritage
"It is not easy to decorate a space in a way that does justice to all different types of taste. To some, for instance, Tinus de Jong art prints may be comically nationalistic, to others they demonstrate an image of an idyllic world, bringing up memories of the past", contemplates Ashley while taking long strides through the Zara Cottage, one of the cottages on Wolverfontein Farm, formerly an ostrich palace. The self-catering cottage was named after Ashley's partner's faithful friend, who one night gently gave up his ghost on a dance-floor in the Cape. She now rests in peace on the historic family graveyard on the farm, a graveyard often visited by passers-by from up north in search of family heritage.

Leaving stage and mixing console behind, Ashley left a vibrant city life to have the curtains raised on a Karoo landscape: Wolverfontein farm near Plathuis, south of Ladismith. And this is probably the most ungrateful summary of this most extraordinary place. Geographical description alone does the farm no justice, as its truth lies in the lime-washed walls, the high wooden ceilings, and historic collections. A living museum where artefacts from Africana to a Zebra light-switch are not confined by space: some carvings and totems have found their way into the succulent and thorn-bush covered surroundings of the farm, embraced by the skyline of the Touwsberg mountains whose flanks are shaded in blue, illuminated in orange and dusted over in ochre.

A tongue-in-cheek look at country living in the past five decades
"Sure, there are ghosts. But they tend to stay confined to their favourite piece of thick wall, door handle or brass kettle", smirks Ashley while his Ridgeback is playfully jumping up at him. We take a stroll through time while ambling through the spacious bedrooms, wooden floored living room and ecclectic kitchen. All rooms are subdued in warm Karoo colours. Tranquility drifts through the old glass windows, and peace nestles on the comfortable couch. Everything seems to have been touched by loving hands, from potato peeler to antique Victorian cupboard. Interiors of both the Zara cottage and the smaller D'Waenhuis cottage are a vivid collection of the owners' extensive travels, and of many a bric-a-brac tour of the Klein Karoo. "The Zara cottage built in the 1930's is a tongue-in-cheek look at country living over the past five decades. And the Waenhuis with its high Oregon ceilings offers you to experience your wild side in a retro-pioneer interior", explains the former actor on our tour back in time.

"I saw a pair of owls with big googly eyes, and there was also a big field to run around in, and lots of hiding places!", recalls one of the youngest visitors to the Wolverfonein Farm Cottages.
One of the newest members of SafariNow.com, Wolverfontein farm cottages is the ideal place for inspiration, rejuvenation and even just a lekker braai with friends. There is plenty of open veldt in which to stretch your legs during the day and an uninterrupted view of the Milky Way for night owls. Self-catering deluxe with crisp duvets, stainless steel pots and pans, gas heater, microwave and fridge.

©Text: Barbara Ulmi

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