I have just returned from Middle Earth.  Or at least, that’s what it feels like.  I had reason to travel to the Natal Midlands this weekend and while there, being alone, I decided to take myself off on my own little Midlands Meander.  It is a beautiful part of the country which not even the very inclement weather could disguise.  Winding lanes, paddocks sheltering sleek horses or jersey cows can leave one feeling quite confused as to ones whereabouts.  I half expected to see Peter Rabbit popping through the garden gate but such notions were soon dispelled by the scampering of vervet monkeys across my cottage roof.

Road to Middle Earth

Road to Middle Earth

Quite fortuitously, on the way down to KwaZulu-Natal (or KZN as it’s known locally), while stopping for coffee, I’d bought the latest issue of South African Country Life magazine, beguiled by the heading ‘Make Merry in the Midlands’ on the cover and once I’d checked into the Old Halliwell Country Inn and thawed out slightly, I checked out the article and a paragraph dedicated to Culamoya Chimes caught my attention.

November 2014 Country Life magazine.

For some reason I have always loved Bells.  I love their shape and I love the sounds they make.  The pealing of real church bells can stop me in my tracks and waking to their call on a Sunday morning is something I’ll miss when we move from this house which is just three doors down the road from St Martins in the Veld.

So not even winds, stormy skies and intermittent squalls of rain could stop me setting out on my own Midlands Meander on Saturday morning with Culamoya Chimes as my destination.  I have always loved having wind chimes in the garden and it just so happens that the set of musically tuned ones I’d have for years had only recently been reluctantly retired.

Culamoya Chimes Sign

A steep, tree-covered country road led me uphill to a pretty garden and there in front of me, at the edge of the garden just before it fell away into the valley below, stood three enormous chimes ‘ the biggest hanging wind chimes in the world.’

'There Were Bells on a Hill."

‘There Were Bells on a Hill.”

I was quite enchanted; not only with the huge chimes but also with the showroom and Frik and Lona Haupt, the makers of this vast array of musical chimes.  It was really hard to make a choice; all had names and some pealed out the notes of St Pauls or Winchester Cathedral; some had higher tones than others, some were very small and slightly ‘tinkly’ while others were deeply resonant.

One section of the showroom.

One section of the showroom.

I leant towards the deeper ones and eventually settled on one called ‘Cape’.  Frik explained that the thickness of the tubes has an impact on the resonance of the chimes and it seems that quite unconsciously I had chosen a set whose sound ‘shouldn’t carry too far’ which is probably lucky seeing they will eventually hang in a small garden in a built-up neighbourhood.  He wrapped them up very securely in bubble wrap and sent me on my way but not before he’d presented me with three beautiful long-stemmed proteas from his ‘daughter’s protea farm on the opposite hill’.  I had not realised that proteas grew in that part of the country but when he pointed, there I could see them quite clearly, marching in pink rows across the hillside.

Proteas in Jhb - all the way from Middle Earth.

Proteas in Jhb – all the way from Middle Earth.

It was a magical morning and when my Cape Chimes are eventually installed in our new little garden I will enjoy the memories they evoke.

Wind Chimes Reflected.

Wind Chimes Reflected.