Solid and satisfying

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Walks, fishing and a whole plethora of activities abound in the Champagne Valley in which Ardmore is set, while some of the country’s highest peaks provide a mesmerizing, majestic backdrop.
James Siddall

Visiting Ardmore Guest Farm in a Honda BR-V leaves James Siddall feeling rather like one of Jay Gatsby’s boats…

Of late I’ve gotten into the habit of handing out copies of The Great Gatsby as birthday presents. I can’t claim to be too widely read, but for me the book’s opening and closing lines nicely précis much of the wisdom of the world.

Part of the intro reads, “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, he (the narrator’s father) told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

And, of course, the closing bit of the book hardly needs reciting. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past.”

Which is rather how I felt – but in a decidedly more upbeat manner than when F. Scott Fitzgerald penned those lines.

The range-topping Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance auto – my steed to Ardmore on this trip, costs R312 100

For one, I was piloting a Honda BR-V – this maker’s polished seven-seater, and an elegantly accomplished one at that, with a 1.5-litre motor making 86kW and 145Nm.

Indeed, the model in which I was heading Berg-wards, to Ardmore Guest Farm  was the top-range BR-V Elegance Auto, which makes do with a CVT gearbox that takes only a little adjusting too.

More than that, I have a long history with and affection for the Honda marque, having learnt to drive in a 1982 model, which proved near-indestructible and bulletproof, even after I got my license – although the tin worm finally got the better of it.

The BR-V seems to be made of sturdier stuff, and as I wafted Ardmore-wards in this smooth-riding Honda, I really did feel a little like one of Gatsby’s boats.

Horses at Ardmore Guest Farm

After all, I’ve now been a regular at Ardmore for 22 years, watching it grow from a couple of farmhouse rooms and a little cottage or two into an establishment with 16 units with one to two to three bedrooms.

And along the years I’ve seen owner and mate Paul Ross marry, raise a family and develop a thriving establishment. But not so thriving as to lose the sublime serenity and timeless tranquility that makes Ardmore so perennially popular with both locals and a sizeable contingent of foreigners, most of whom could afford somewhere far flashier and more gauche but to whom the European-style “pension” ethos of Ardmore sings a siren song.

James Siddall on an earlier trip to Ardmore with his canine companions

And some of the attractions include Jacuzzi spa baths, wood fireplaces…and no TVs in the rooms. That would just be contrary to the Ardmore ethos.

Walks, fishing and a whole plethora of activities abound in the Champagne Valley in which Ardmore is set, while some of the country’s highest peaks provide a mesmerizing, majestic backdrop.

And let it be said that Paul and his lovely English wife Sue have a preternatural sense in terms of whether guests want to be left alone – or not.

Perhaps best of all Ardmore is pet-friendly – ideally for dogs no higher than knee height.

Over the years I’ve visited with animals ranging from my dearly departed Staffie, Gatsby, to my two current rescues, Milo and Daisy.

One of the chalets at Ardmore Guest Farm

Two of the units, actually, are fenced and so pet-friendly, and that includes a self-catering cottage – although most guests stay on a dinner-bed-breakfast basis.

And let it be said that the food is genuinely home-cooked, nourishing, wholesome  – without being poncey.

  • Ardmore rates start at around R890 per person sharing including dinner, bed, and breakfast.
  • The range-topping Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance auto – my steed to Ardmore on this trip, with other steeds over the past 22 years ranging from a Jaguar XF to a BMW 7 Series – is a little pricier at R312 100.

But then that gets you Honda solidity, satisfaction, and the ability to load seven souls for your next trip to Ardmore.