The Midlands Meander, a hub for creative people

The Midlands Meander has something for everyone. If you are a fisherman,there is fishing. If you are an artist, there is art. If you are looking for quiet country roads, or lush green rolling hills, the Midlands is it. If you are a foodie, you will eat your way to heaven. If you love wine, drink coffee or enjoy a craft beer or two – they’ve got you covered.

Nottingham Road

For me, the Midlands Meander encompasses many things, appealing to the quirky little interests I have – like old books, second hand furniture, art and of course the gentle landscapes that I love to capture with my camera. But most of all, it offers me inspiration. When I think of the Midlands Meander, I think of the people who live there – a group of individuals doing what they love to do. Many of them have escaped the rat race and have chosen to immerse themselves in what makes them most happy, something which often is risky and takes a fair amount of courage. For me, the Midlands Meander is a network of roads that makes it possible for these creative people to do what they love to do and to share it with us. I believe there are many stories that follow this theme along these winding roads and I have a couple coming up in the next few months.

The Midlands Meander is full up of people with special skills, talents and a heap of passion for what they do.  It’s a hub for creative people. Out of it, have emerged some big names such as the Nottingham Road Brewing Company, Terbadore Coffee, Fordoun Spa, The Gourmet Greek, KwaZulu-Natal’s few wine estates and not to forget, it’s one of South Africa’s favourite places to get married!

Fordoun Spa

Fordoun Website

Those are some of the big names, but it’s the smaller names that most interest me. Just recently I did a shoot for Notties Hotel and while in the area, I took a drive around the Midlands Meander. I found a trove of treasures and so many people doing what they love to do! Below are a few of the places and people I have discovered on my Midlands Meander weekend road trip! 

Aladdin’s de-light

Aladdin’s is a cluster of outlets in Nottingham road owned by artists, Jan and Louise Van Niekerk. While they specialise in ceramics and stained glass, you will find all sorts here from candles, old furniture, second hand books, art and paintings! They also hire out bicycles! 

Happy Days Brewery, Midlands Meander’s new craft beer

This is the new Happy Days Brewery on Nottingham Road. This craft beer brewery and unique bar is a tribute to the owner’s father who is a heart surgeon during the week and a farmer on the weekend. Happy Days Brewery not only boasts one of the best views on the Midlands Meander (especially for a Friday afternoon sundowner) but it’s a work of art in itself! Pop around for a craft beer in the ‘Doctor’s Room.’ It’s been decorated like a heart surgeons office, with blown up photographs of open heart surgery, leather couches, lanterns and doctors equipment. It will keep interested for a number of beers! Happy Days Brewery Facebook Page

Sterling Wrought Iron at Piggly Wiggly

Guy Sterling Blacksmith

I am incredibly excited to find this blacksmith, Guy Sterling! His shop, with some of his wondrous creations, is at the Piggly Wiggly stop near the Mandela capture site. This photo, however was taken in is actual workshop in Dargle which I could have spent days exploring! I cannot begin to tell you how many interesting pieces of old metal Guy has waiting to be made into art! I’m very excited because I’m going to be moving into a new house and am finally able to think about decor and making a place home. If you are looking for  some interesting features in your home, be it light fixtures, to metal sculptures or wine racks, or where ever your mind can take you, Guy is the guy you need to find! His designs are brilliantly creative and his passion for his work inspiring. I cannot wait to decorate my house! I will be doing a blog early next year about Guy and will be featuring some of his work and sharing with you his story. Website: Sterlings Wrought Iron

“It is life as it is lived.” – Gore Vidal

Newly renovated Nottingham Road Hotel

Nottingham road hotel has recently been renovated, offering stylish accommodation, conferencing and dining, not to forget the famous Notties Pub which embraces tradition and country hospitality.  It’s a great place for a pub lunch or a reunion!  Notties Hotel Website

Midlands Meander Scenery

Steampunk Coffee near Mandela’s capture site

My favourite coffee in the Midlands and the best beans for sale!  Steampunk Coffee

“Be independent of the good opinion of other people.” – Abraham Harold Maslow

Murray Roberts Bladesmithing in Dargle

Last but not least, this is Murray Roberts, an old school friend of mine! I have spent a good couple days harassing him with my camera and asking him deep and meaningful questions about his life! He remained cool, calm and collected throughout and mostly ignored me while I bumped and clattered around in his workshop! Murray makes handcrafted knives, a time consuming and meticulous skill. Each knife taking up to a week to make, with hours of designing, forging and polishing.  Murray designs and makes all sorts of knives, all individual and to order. I will be writing about Murray too and how he escaped the rat race to do what he loves to do. Not only does Murray make handcrafted knives, but he also offers a full day’s basic Bladesmithing course in which you get to make a knife yourself. He offers vouchers too for those of you who are looking for a thoughtful gift idea for someone this Christmas or for a birthday or maybe even a father’s day gift….or a mother’s day gift for that matter! Murray Roberts Bladesmithing Facebook page

I’ve been looking for a photographic project to do for sometime. I’ve mulled over ideas for a while now, wanting to start a documentary project that will be meaningful for me and hopefully you. I’ve got it now, thanks to people such as Murray and a few other people I have met who have been brave enough to follow their dreams or to change their life drastically. I will soon be starting a page dedicated to this theme called “LIFE CHANGE.” 

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

3 replies »

  1. Absolutely stunning photography (as usual:-). I’d like to hop on a plane right now and head there. RSA Tourism board should pay you for your fabulous promotion of South Africa. I’ve been following you for years and enjoy seeing this bit of your homeland!

  2. Being from the West Midlands myself, I often feel like Midlands have far less of a recognised identify than northerners or southerners. Great to see people such as yourself cutting underneath that perception. Really enjoyable post.