It was love at first sight. Eleven years ago, when Joburgers Jennifer and Paul Hindle spent a weekend in the KwaZulu- Natal Midlands, they fell in love with a farm and decided there and then to abandon the hustle and bustle of the city in favour of the serenity of the countryside. By January 2004 they had opened their own Midlands Meander establishment.
Today, their farm is still home to the Indigo Fields Farm House and Spa and the couple has since also established St. Andrews Retreat – a beautiful old Anglican church 8km from Mooi River, which they’ve converted into a self-catering guesthouse.
Here, a Christmas celebration is truly special. ‘When St. Andrews came up for sale in 2009, Paul and I were passionate about giving this beautiful building a new lease on life,’ Jennifer recalls. ‘It seemed fitting to turn the 108-year-old Anglican Church into a retreat for folk looking for a quiet getaway. Paul conceptualised the floor plan and worked out how to transform the nave (the main body of the church) into three en suite bedrooms: two downstairs with the master suite upstairs on a mezzanine level complete with a stairwell. Of course, I did get a word or two in regarding the décor and kitchen design!’ laughs Jennifer. Paul felt strongly about the internal frame not having an impact on the building. The couple used dry wall partitioning to create the rooms so that in future St. Andrews can be returned to a place of worship.
Now that Jennifer and Paul’s daughters – Sarah Hindle and Kate Grimaldi – are grown up, the attention is focused on the extended family’s three grandchildren. ‘I love decorating the tree with the kids but as advised in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I remind them: “What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”‘
Jennifer makes sure that Christmas is a day the kids will cherish and remember. ‘Nothing beats waking up to the sounds of excited children on Christmas morning when they see that Father Christmas and Rudolph have eaten all the mince pies and – goodness me – have they left a mess of snow all over the place with reindeer footprints to boot!’ Jennifer laughs. And the best part of Christmas? ‘Watching the grown-ups behave like children!’
Words: Marian van Wyk and Johané Neilson, Home magazine
Images: Francois Oberholster, Home magazine