Guess what? We're travelling through South Africa and I'm hoping you will follow us on our journey as I try to entice you to Africa for the holiday of a lifetime. First and foremost, with the Australian Dollar to South African Rand exchange rate, it's always a fantastic value-for-money holiday and that's what we all look for, isn't it?
Entrance to Rockridge Manor reception - Image: Elaine de Wet
We arrived in Johannesburg, which is in the province of Gauteng. Yes, I know Johannesburg has the infamous accolade of being the 'crime capital' of the world, but as I grew up here, and my mother, who is now 88, still lives here, this is to be our first port of call.
We always prefer to have our own accommodation and not rely on relatives, as this gives me the opportunity to catch my breath after the whirlwind of invites and of course, allows me much-needed thinking time for writing.
Experience Africa's wildlife - Image: Elaine de Wet
With this in mind, our go-to favourite is always Rockridge Manor, a luxury Bed and Breakfast, in the suburb of Fairland - fourteen kilometres from central Johannesburg city, in the Western Suburbs. Rockridge Manor was established in 1996 and is set in immaculately manicured gardens, with its own swimming pool and an array of accommodation types to suit businessmen to couples to honeymooners.
We always love the 'home-from-home' experience we have at Rockridge Manor, and the fantastic hospitality bestowed on us by the owner, Brenda and her husband, Tom, who always make us feel treasured and special.
All the rooms have DSTV, dressing gowns for the guests, hairdryers, tea/coffee facilities (including filter coffee), WIFI, safes for valuables, snack trays, mini-bar, toiletries, heating/cooling, quality towels and Egyptian cotton linen.
This is decorated in a true African theme to give the feeling of a typical luxury game lodge. A huge bathroom ensuite has a full bath and shower set in a garden patio. Lots of skylights make it bright and warm with the comforts of an air conditioner and a queen sized bed, TV, tea and coffee, snack trays and many personal extras, complete the theme.
Touches of lavender sprays, creams and golds are the decorative features of this cosy room. A sunken bathroom with shower has a glass roof to let the sun in all day and the rays of the moon by night. With lovely views of the garden, this room has a queen sized bed and a strong fan. A bar fridge, television, tea/coffee/snack trays are also provided.
The Iris Room is decorated in cool shades of blue and white, with a unique en-suite bathroom, constructed almost entirely of glass - even the basin is made of glass. One can literally bathe under the stars. The stunning bathroom has underfloor heating, perfect for a chilly winter night. A TV is also provided.
Almost as big as a house, this wonderfully private and secluded cottage consists of a huge bedroom with a queen size bed, a bathroom en-suite with full bath and shower, beautifully furnished lounge and dining room and fully equipped kitchen. You may have breakfast in the main house, or a continental breakfast delivered to the doorstep or if you prefer, self-catering.
It also has a patio for braais (barbeques) and its own DSTV with large flat screen TV. WiFi is a standard feature at the Cottage with your own private access to the swimming pool. Rockridge Cottage is also equipped with air conditioning.
You never know who you'll meet at the pool - Image: Elaine de Wet
A stainless steel and meranti (a South African timber) staircase takes you directly from the carpark to the little balcony with table and chairs. Enter through sliding doors into the stunning suite equipped with its own DSTV, large flat screen TV, tea and coffee facilities, mini bar, snack tray and complimentary extras. Spacious cupboards are in the dressing room area which leads to a full luxurious bathroom with a vanity and underfloor heating. Air conditioning and a king-size, extra-length bed. This is the perfect room for a honeymoon and is still my personal favourite even though we've been married for umpteen years. Privacy, quiet and peace with views through the treetops can be enjoyed with birds nesting, feeding their chicks and eating mulberries off the mulberry tree.
Brenda, the owner, personally prepares the scrumptious breakfasts with a choice of muesli, cereals, stewed fruit and then, if you can manage it, something from the 'hot' breakfast selections. The decision is all yours! Everything you can hope for is on the menu - omelettes, fried eggs and bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and even boiled eggs, should you be looking for something a bit lighter.
Rockridge Manor is a haven for the discerning traveller, who will have all their needs attended to. It's a home away from home: privacy, efficiency and comfort are provided with a skill acquired through many years of catering for visitors' requirements. We've been going back to Rockridge Manor for at least the past ten years (testament in itself) and have found it extremely difficult to find another bed and breakfast of such a high calibre.