Fish River is like an old-fashioned farming community. All over the country, similar social clusters have fallen apart, fragmented or dispersed.
In some cases it is because of drought, stock theft, selling to become game farms, or children not returning to the farms. Or, simply, a change of times.
But here at Fish River, the customs endure. Generations of old family names and their spouses are growing up here, bonding from toddlerhood and running around with cousins at the Fish River Tennis Club on any weekend you care to mention.
To get to Lowlands Country House (which is well signposted), you drive through the Fish River farming district and encounter famous farms as you go (Saltpans, Katkop, Glen Alpha), passing centre pivots irrigating lucerne and maize, sheep, red-brown cattle, pecan nut and walnut trees.
And as you arrive, you cannot help but thinking that this is like everyone’s perfect idealised picture of a farm. Chickens, a few sheep in a green field next to the house, meadows, orchards. The guest house has a grape-draped pergola, flowers and a lovely broad stoep.
Your hosts, Anne and Dave Bowker, are from the community. Their natural sense of hospitality is five-star.
Each guest bedroom at Lowlands opens up onto the garden, and unusually for farmhouse conversions, each room has a very decent bathroom.
There is a particularly handsome rooster running about here called Les – short for Les Miserables because of his haughty and somewhat sullen French mien.
The hens are the source of the lovely free range eggs at breakfast.
“Once we had a hen that laid an egg on a guest’s bed – they’d left the door open. They were thrilled!” – Anne Bowker.
- If you want the low-down on Lowlands, life in the Fish River area and the Karoo in general, follow Anne’s blog on their website: www.lowlandscountryhouse.co.za