Roughly halfway between Joburg and Cape Town lies the little dorp of Colesberg. Apart from being just that (halfway), it has little to offer but many travellers need an overnight stop on the 1,400 km trip. Stay at The Barracks and you will get not only a comfortable bed and lovely home cooked meal, but also quirky surroundings and entertainment by the landlords. When I phoned to say that we were running a bit late and hoped that we could still get dinner on arrival, Dave (the owner) promptly responded that it should be fine but he may need to hide his wife’s wine as she tended to get drunk towards 8ish. The friendly bickering between the two went on all night, with Lorrain proclaiming that Dave was on his final warning for, once again, folding the napkins wrong and Dave responding with a few choice words (but only under his breath, once Lorrain had retreated to the kitchen).
On account of too may redbulls, and subsequent toilet breaks (we were returning from an out-of-this-world experience in the desert where sleep was not high on the agenda – but more about that another time), we arrived late to The Barracks. This in itself was no problem (and it seemed Lorrain was still sober), but we were ravenous (food was also not high on the agenda in the desert) and Dave promptly showed us to our table next to a roaring fire. A while later, with a bottle of red wine and a falling-off-the-bones tender lambshank under our belts, we sat back and let Dave entertain us with stories about his and his family’s colorful past. The dining room was full of mementos, each one with its own story. As I am pretty sure Dave would have taken it as a personal insult if we didn’t, the evening was finished off with a generous whiskey from his surprisingly well-stocked bar.
The rooms are lovingly restored, with attention to detail and careful conservation of the long history of the house (which was initially used as army barracks during the Anglo-Boer war) but with the comforts that a cold winter’s night require; heaters, fluffy duvets and hot showers. Once we managed to leave the comfort of the bed in the morning, a full breakfast was served by the jolly hosts.
Our departure was slightly delayed due to a flat tyre (another side-effect of our desert adventure) but since the husband was “on it” (his words, not mine) I spend a little time in the cute and quirky garden before we finally set off on the final leg towards civilisation. If you are passing Colesburg and need a place to stay, I strongly recommend this wonderful little gem!