Review: Inverness Farm, a piece of Midlands Magic
Once in a while, I am privileged enough to come across something so special, that putting my experience into words can be somewhat challenging. My stay at Inverness Farm, located along the Midlands Meander route, proved to be exactly that.
From outstanding hospitality and uninterrupted views, to modest luxury and prime location – this stay was nothing short of memorable.
Arriving at Inverness Farm, we were given a better welcome than we anticipated… before we had even met our wonderful host. Bounding towards the car with sheer excitement were the resident canine crew: Humphrey, the humongous boerboel cross bulldog, Lulu his squint sidekick, and little Bonnie (who I am sure had both of the biggies under her thumb!) Not far behind was the lovely Jayne Foulis, co-owner of Inverness, and host extraordinaire. Having the matriarch of Inverness greet us at our vehicle made us feel incredibly welcome (and far more important than usual). Jayne took the time to give us the lay of the land, pointing out secret spots on the farm and must-see attractions in the area. No annoying check-in, none of the usual formalities – our cottage door was open, ready and waiting.
At this point, I was playing it coy – but in all honesty, Jayne had me sold on Inverness before I even crossed the threshold of the enchanting Crofters Cottage. I am not sure if it was the fresh air, rolling hills, or just the welcoming feel of the farm, but I felt instantly at home.
Now, when I did enter through the charming entrance of our temporary abode, it was an entirely heartwarming experience. It may be strange to think of a first-time visit to a new place as heartwarming, but that is exactly what made this stay so special. From a handwritten chalk-board welcome, to fresh lavender splashed throughout, it felt like the cottage had been readied just for me.
The feeling of importance and welcoming just kept coming.
As we explored our cottage, the personal touches revealed themselves at every turn. Freshly laid eggs in the fridge, courtesy of the farm brood. A range of NatureZone Low-Carb ice tea products, made from the Foulis’ very own mineral water, bottled at the farm. Dedicated make up towels (take note, this is something we need to see more of!) Jungle Oats, rusks, biscuits, sherry, hot water bottles, plush gowns, a hair dryer, bathroom care packs, bath salts, candles, and my favourite simple touch – a loadshedding survival kit (I won’t reveal too much more about that one, so as not to spoil the surprise, but trust me when I say that it was just pure genius).
The amount of thought and effort that went into the cottage was unfathomable. Apart from the small things, the cottage was also beautifully decorated, with rare antiques and one-off pieces that I have yet to see anywhere else. My excitement only grew when I saw one of my favourite features in any home – a beautiful fireplace – surrounded by comfy couches and french doors looking out onto the beautiful Caversham Valley. When looking through the welcome book, my husband was thrilled to discover that the DSTV package had extra sports channels, and I felt that the summary of restaurants and specials in the area was a lovely touch.
Once we had unpacked, we both opted for a lovely warm shower, in a hurry to get into those amazing gowns! We had arrived just in time for a magnificent storm, and were gifted with a sensory treat – loud rain on the tin roof, rolling mist coming up the hill, and the earthy smell created by the sudden heavy onset of rain. With the fire going, we created a lovely gin station, embellished with a range of garnishes courtesy of the fruit bowl. If it weren’t for the rain, we would have gone over to the herb/vegetable garden to look for some more accompaniments – so convenient!
After a light dinner, we played some of the games on offer before deciding to have a fairly early night, so that we could go exploring the next day. We had our pick of an inviting king, and an equally luxurious queen, and opted for the bigger of the two because, well, wouldn’t you? My husband was pleased to find an interesting textured overlay on top of the sheet, and was once again singing Jayne’s praises for the unique touch. I had my pick of outstanding pillows (which is always a deal breaker in my opinion) and snuggled deep under the covers to enjoy their warmth amidst the cool night air.
The Next Day
Waking up in the morning proved to be more difficult than I imagined, with my comfortable surroundings almost literally swallowing me whole. It was, however, my wedding anniversary, so as soon as my excitement for the special day set in, I was up and out of bed. After some quick sprucing, we were off to find a spot for breakfast. We found a couple of gems along the way, but unfortunately most of them were closed (disclaimer: Jayne had warned us to call ahead, because of it being a Monday morning). We eventually settled on a place called Full of Beans Cafe, who make a fantastic flat white!
After breakfast, we stopped for some supplies. We were originally going to go out for dinner, to one of the amazing surrounding restaurants, but I decided to make a lovely home cooked meal for my husband after just how much we enjoyed our first night at Inverness. That cottage was the celebration for us, and with the fully stocked kitchen, I had everything I needed to make a night in extra special. We headed back home, but I was not expecting the scene that we returned to. Walking in, we were greeted with the most delectable grapefruit smell, an immaculately cleaned space, fresh flowers, and a lovely new note on the chalkboard – “Congrats on your Anniversary, Jesse-Lee and Bryce”. That wasn’t the only surprise though. A personal, hand-written note accompanied by two champagne flutes, and a lavender heart, courtesy of our hosts Jayne and Peter, was waiting on our bed for us. Even the forgotten champagne I had been meaning to get was taken care of, ready and waiting in the fridge for us to toast later.
It really felt as though we were reliving the first-time magic of Inverness all over again, and it was truly remarkable. We enjoyed another afternoon of pure bliss, wandering around the farm – discovering cows, chickens, horses, and even sheep. I even got to see a cow with her adorable calf, Benjamin, who Jayne told me came into this world with very little luck on his side. The Foulis family noticed he was not doing too well, and did their best to restore him to health. Just when it seemed as though he wouldn’t make it, they returned home to him frolicking in the fields, healthy once more.
Lulu preceded her arrival, jovially jumping about, excited to have a new face around. After a quick catch up, we made our way to the other cottages and Jayne explained how they came to be. It was instantly obvious that her personality went into all of the cottages – they all shared the same unique decor, quirky touches and warm feel. I liked something different about every one of them, and would love to experience them all. Savannah cottage had the loveliest little garden, Shetland cottage had an inviting daybed beneath beautiful cottage pane windows, and SummerSon had a whimsical, luxury feel with warm lighting and beautiful views of the valley. Jayne also took me to see the horses, some of which were the inspiration for the cottage names.
I was also lucky to meet Pete, Jayne’s husband, the patriarch of Inverness and founder of NatureZone, who asked me if I would like to take a kitten home with me, as one of the stable cats had recently given birth to a litter. It truly felt like a sign – my husband and I had been wanting to adopt a kitty friend for our boy at home, and I thought the new family member would be a beautiful commemoration of our stay. After watching the crazy heard of sheep bleat their way towards their dinner (what a sight to behold – sheep truly are funny creatures) I made my way back to Crofters to try and convince my husband that we needed a new kitty. It didn’t take much, and the news set the tone for what was truly magical evening.
After a candle-lit dinner, I made my way to a lavender infused bath, and soaked the remnants of the day away. While we were out, new tinder for the fire, along with our wood supply, was replenished, so we started another roaring fire and snuggled up. The night ended with tea and biscuits, and silent acknowledgement of the fact that we didn’t want our stay to end.
In the morning Jaffy, a farm resident and employee, came over with six ADORABLE kittens for us to choose from. By far the most difficult part of our stay, we selected one and said our final goodbyes to the magic of Inverness farm – knowing that the small piece of it that we took with us would be a part of our lives for many years to come.
Your very own magic
For the chance to explore Inverness Farm, and the wonderful Midlands cottages, first hand – visit their website here or contact Jayne below. You can also book online, where you’ll be able to get a full view of availability, pricing, and even TripAdvisor guest reviews.
Jayne: 082 445 7397
Fax: 0866 19 2009