Dargle Valley in the Midlands

When I acquired the latest copy of the Midlands Meander from a very friendly Estate Agent in Nottingham Road (I had left my copy at home), she asked me where we had been on previous visits.  She suggested we drive along the Dargle Valley and Lions River roads for awesome views with various stops along the way.  I’m sorry now that we didn’t stop more often for me to take photographs of the lush valley but it was lovely to sit back and enjoy the drive.  Farms interspersed with forests, farm roads, cattle grazing, rows of trees in autumnal shades, farm workers, tractors … all very rural and ever so pretty

IMG_7346

Our first stop was Tsonga before we reached Piggly Wiggly after which is the valley road.  For a couple of years there was a Tsonga shop in one of our local shopping centres, where I always admired the shoes, boots and bags in the window as I walked passed and always said to myself that I must go in and try on some this handmade soft leather footwear.  The shop closed it’s doors before I stepped over the threshold.  Serves me right for not entering sooner.   They moved further afield to a shopping centre/s I don’t frequent.   The genuine leather goods of Tsonga are made in the Midlands … used to be here at this establishment on the R103 but has moved it’s main factory to larger premises in Howick

IMG_7325

The shop assistant told us that the handbags and smaller items are still made here

IMG_7330

I finally got to try on some beautifully soft leather pumps but unfortunately there was a problem with the signal at that time and paying by bank card was a problem.  So my shoes, that I was so finally going to purchase, are still in that box above 😦

Collages241

Onward we drove along the Dargle Valley road making our way to Dargle Valley Pottery.  Before taking the road to the pottery place, we stopped at a very quaint country church, St Andrew’s.  Originally built in 1882 – present red brick structure dates back to 1934

IMG_7343

IMG_7335

IMG_7337

IMG_7338

IMG_7339

IMG_7340

Magnificent view of the valley  …

IMG_7341

IMG_7342

IMG_7344

We turned into the gravel road  following the signs to Dargle Valley Pottery.   On the opposite side of the entrance is the farm Lavender and Co. (mentioned in my post on Piggly Wiggly)  How I would have loved to have had a walk-about on that farm  (It’s closed to the public)

Entrance to Dargle Valley Pottery

IMG_7375

It was like stepping into another world … a world of Hobbits came to mind!

IMG_7373

IMG_7374 (2)

IMG_7366

IMG_7367

IMG_7372

IMG_7371 (2)

IMG_7370

I found a wonderful article on potter  Ian Glenny …  Art at Work Today   Worth a read, giving his background and accomplishments world-wide.

What a fascinating man!  He told us that he had bought the farm 30 odd years ago when he discovered the property had a waterfall and perfect clay for his pottery.  He built his house himself, overlooking the waterfall.  It must have been a gorgeous cottage-style house in it’s day, but now is in need of lots of TLC, hence he said, is the reason why he moved into his workshop.   His Mexican ovens and tagines are now his best sellers telling us there would be an advert in the Country Life Magazine in July and showed us the photograph of the oven which will be used for the ad.   I had to buy the magazine 🙂

IMG_8324

IMG_7349

Where he’s standing is a large room filled with old furniture, tables with bits and pieces of homemade crockery, old books on a bookshelf, wrought iron bed in one corner, fresh veggies on a table .. and all sorts of household items.  It’s here he told us about his house needing a new roof as a result of which he had moved into the workshop.   It looks as if he’s lived there for a long time.   When he explained the making of his Mexican ovens ie type of clay, firing etc,  and what he cooks in them, which appears to be everything he eats (he’s a vegetarian), he also said they are marvellous for heating not only the room they situated but adjoining rooms as well.   Hence the invitation for us to see one working .. in his living quarters ..

IMG_7347

For such a small fire, it was surprisingly warm

IMG_7350

He invited us to enter another room to feel how warm it was in there too.   How I would have loved to have taking many photographs but I didn’t want to pry.  We were there for the purpose of seeing how the oven worked, not to be nosey.  I couldn’t help it but my eyes wandered round the room briefly.  Also a large room with lounge area and partitioned off bedroom area with another gorgeous old wrought iron bed, knitted and crocheted blankets, more books etc.  I felt quite embarrassed actually being in a complete stranger’s living quarters.   It was fascinating though !!

IMG_7352

IMG_7353

The gallery …

IMG_7358

Beautiful Mexican ovens.  He told us his son, who lives in Hermanus,  also makes Mexican ovens but uses different glazing and firing

IMG_7354

Choosing what to buy was difficult as there were several I would have liked.  And, I just had to purchase something even if it was small.  I decided on a garlic jar as he makes them from the clay near the waterfall on his property … not painted or glazed.  Mine is the small one

IMG_7357

IMG_7356

Also bought the small blue vase …

IMG_7355

My ‘Ian Glenny’ pottery vase at home

IMG_8323

He invited us to have a walk-about passed his house to see the waterfall and the dam

IMG_7359

IMG_7360

IMG_7361

IMG_7365

IMG_7364

What a beautiful tranquil spot !!!

IMG_7363

I believe Dargle Valley Pottery is mentioned in the travel book “The Lonely Planet”, alongside Ardmore Ceramics and Granny Mouse Country House

Note : Several places in the Midlands that we came across don’t accept bank cards and only accept cash (as is the case at Ian Glenny’s Dargle Pottery)

Advertisements

About momsmeanderings

Wife ... mom ... granny .. in a nutshell ! Never a dull moment !
This entry was posted in art, autumn, countryside, crafts, holiday, Kwa Zulu Natal, Midlands, travel, trees and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s