Richard the Friendly Ghost
We leave early, at six am. All a bit tired and groggy from Long Arm and Sakkie Sakkie into the night.
Mum drives the first three hours. We stop in Ladysmith for Wimpey breakfast. They have a strange prison type entrance system into the toilets which I can’t entirely understand until a staff member helps me. Then we sit down to our Wimpy breakfast, they’ve made it vegan for me. Gramps exclaimed that he must have left his smartphone in the toilet. We run to find it but sure enough it’s gone and the sim card has been removed.
We check the car and call it repeatedly but nothing. It’s a sunday and I’m sure there will be a very content church goer with a new phone. It’s a frustration but can be replaced and dealt with. So we get in the car and I carry on with the last leg. As we approach our destination we look at the time and Grandpa calls an old friend. We made great time and have arrived just after lunch, so we spend an hour with her, it’s been about ten years since I saw her last. Grandpas farm wasn’t that far from here and they were all great friends. She’s a wonderful sassy scotslady with a lovely restaurant and antique and craft shops.
The afternoon marches on and we bid our farewells to check into the hotel. It’s actually called an inn. As we approach it we realise that some of my great great grandparents would have inhabited the area, in fact this inn to be specific.
It’s lovely with sprawling buildings from the eighteen hundreds. Tired and a bit dazed from travelling we check in. The manager is an utter gem, she’s lovely to chat to and has a fascinating past. We unpack the car and they have welcome port at reception. My father and I have two servings.
Grandpa has a suite adjacent to our double family room. The grounds of this place are spectacular, the building is beautiful and we are all unanimous in agreement that this is the best hotel so far - apart from my cousins house! We are so at home here. We say to my father that we should have stayed at least two nights, he says something profound about travel and Eckhart Tolle esq about enjoying the moment.
So we do.
Monkey families leap over the roofs as we unpack. Mum videos them from outside, there are loads of them. When it comes to dinner I have the most amazing vegetable curry at our table beside the fire. Gramps cannot drink but we all say we fancy white wine. So we choose a floral Boschendal - perfect! The second bottle follows quickly.
We retreat to a drawing room to play Yahtzee. The manager pops by to ask about dinner and we gush with gratitude. We talk more about the history of the building and she tells of the resident ghost Richard. Her and gramps talk for a while about their ghost stories. He has always been very sensitive and when others can relate to the degree of his experiences is always fascinating to listen to. We find out about my great great grandfather who bought a farm in Namibia where he was wakened regularly by a ghost who would want him to visit the well outside. It was getting ridiculously annoying so he geared himself up and set about descending into the well where he found the remains of the ghost. It all feels a little “The Grudge” to me and I’m terrified.
So, glasses of Boschendal slushing in hand we go on a ghost hunt. To the bar.
The night ends as we swing open our hotel rooms to find lamps lit, fresh fudge on our pillows, hot water bottles and the fires prepped to simply be lit. I feel so welcomed in this place, it’s worlds apart from the previous location. I crawl into a warm bed and sip valerian tea before falling asleep and dreaming of Richard. I wonder if it was a dream or whether he did come to say hi.