Friday, May 24, 2013

The perfect birthday gift ...

I have always believed that one of the most valuable gifts you can give another person is simply 

 In our modern-day, fast-food world, it is easy to pop into a store, select a gift or card and give it to the person. But giving of your time takes an extra-special effort.  It is something that I value immensely and has always been top of my birthday wish-list. Yesterday, I got my wish.

After dropping by the office to ensure everything was in order, 'The Boss' arrived back at home to spend the rest of the day with me. What a lovely gesture.  To celebrate the day, I suggested that we take a short car-trip out to the tranquil mountains of the Magaliesberg (about 45 minutes from Johannesburg) and find a place where we could stop for lunch.  It was a perfect South African winter's day -  clear blue skies, comfortable temperatures and companionable company.  I took along my camera too.

The countryside is etched in Autumn colours.  The dryness of winter can't distract from the beauty -  a million types of grasses in hues of gold and orange decorated the roadside.  The mountains too have a glow about them.  I love the little roads in the Magaliesberg.
Finally we came to a place called 'The Black Horse' - a small country restaurant with a private brewery. We parked our car under the trees and made our way up to the picturesque main buildings. 

Tall Pecan-nut trees towered above our heads.  

I could feel myself relax immediately amidst the open country atmosphere.  In the distance a horse grazed happily. 

To add to my delight, we were greeted by three very laid-back resident dogs.

We were formally welcomed by a host and offered a table - either outside, under the trees, or inside at the bar.  We chose to enjoy the fresh air outside.

  "The Black horse" is home to a small private brewery - beer - so the boss had to sample the wares: 

I ordered a pot of tea for myself and then went check out the place:

 (Above: the bar area with the brewery in the background.  The manager said that we were welcome to take a closer look)
 It would have been nice to have had a pamphlet to read about what these people do, but unfortunately none was available.  Although they don't offer bottles/tins of beer for purchase, one can order a glass or two to drink on the premises. On the menu is: "Red Irish Ale", "Black Horse golden lager" and "Home-made Ginger Beer".  Their "American Dark Lager" was sold out. 
(BTW, I'm not a beer drinker - preferring my tea - but the brewery did add to the ambience and I imagine that this is a good stop-over point for bikers on their Sunday excursions)
(Below: The bar area, although deserted - it was the middle of the week - looked very hospitable)

I had a good laugh at the sign below: "Never trust a skinny cook".  
 The 'attic' section of the venue is very tastefully decorated:

I then went back to our table to enjoy my tea and order lunch. The meal menu is simple but generous - more than sufficient for an outing such as ours.  "The Boss" ordered a rump steak and I ordered a pizza.
Being the middle of the week there was only one other couple present. Despite the lack of customers, it was obviously 'business-as-usual'.  The setting was comfortable and tranquil and there was pleasant music emanating from the bar area.  The country aromas (from the nearby horse-stable) just added to the ambience.  It's the perfect setting for a mid-week, country outing. The Boss and I really enjoyed the opportunity to relax and chat. I particularly enjoyed the presence of our constant canine companion.    I think she knew that I was a 'dog-person'.  Don't you just love her expressive eyes?

After lunch, we took a stroll through their garden.  I admired this little room, covered in pretty ivy.
We arrived back in the city feeling as if we had been away for a whole weekend. It was such a relaxing outing although the reality was that we'd only spent 3 hours away from home.

If you want a similar outing, I would recommend it.  It's a really nice break from the hustle-bustle of the city.  Be prepared, however, because your meal may take a while.  Rather sit back, relax and enjoy the fresh air and country ambience.

Thank you again to my hubby for a wonderful birthday - especially for taking a whole day off to simply be with me.  You are the best!


STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Hi Caryl, Happy Birthday to you. What a wonderful way to spend your day and well done to the Boss for taking time off work to take you out. So glad you enjoyed yourselves. Take care and have a great weekend. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

Unknown said...

Gorgeous! Fall in SA looks a lot like Fall in upper Michigan - crisp days and gorgeous colors! Looks like you had a wonderful birthday - 39, right☺.

Mrs. JP said...

Caryl, you look lovely and relaxed. It must have been a wonderful day. It is such a beautiful spot. I, too, love your little lunch companion. I am a sucker for brindle colored animals and those eyes look right through you. I am so glad you had a relaxing day.

Millie and Walter said...

What a fun way to celebrate your birthday. I think the resident pups really added to the pleasure.


Mary Lou said...

Yeah, I am not a beer drinker, either. {Well, actually, I have never tried any!!} But, I have sipped wine before. And I very much dislike that alcoholic beverage!! How different is beer? Hee, hee, hee.... ;)
"Never trust a skinny cook"!! Crack. Me. Up!! ;-D
I love that picture of you, my beautiful Friend!! Happy birthday!! ;)
Love, Raelyn.... Plus Rose, my BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE "Mystery Dog"!!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

A perfect birthday- that is what I see! And you are sooo pretty.

Becky Andrews said...

Happy Birthday! Sounds like a beautiful day.

Unknown said...
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My Dog Sam - Ruptured Disk said...

Happy birthday MaxMom.

NanaNor's said...

Dear One, Happy Belated Birthday! What a wonderful way to spend your special day-thank you for taking us along. I thing the pups made the atmosphere extra special. Sending love to you today.