By Ammie Pringle
As the early autumn light rolls over the hills and the last ribbons of mist lift over the valleys and forests, campers awaken and the first smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts over the old Mill.
A new dawn has broken over Bedford Country School’s 3rd Family Fun Weekend.
When a handful of parents got together a few years ago to discuss another fundraiser for our growing, independent school (which is by the way, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year!) it had to tick the boxes that give our school its unique character and which forms the cornerstone of what we hold dear – strong family values, community involvement, high quality, healthy living, adventure and fun!
Over the past few years, this weekend has not only grown in stature, but also in numbers to what is fast becoming a “must” on the year calendar.
The venue is the Mill Cricket Ground in the picturesque Cowie Valley, home of the Ainslie family, who also have 2 young next generation Ainslies attending Bedford Country School.
The focus is on good ‘ole family fun, but with stunning 10km and 21km trail runs and mountain biking routes into the daunting mountain thrown in for good measure! The routes are challenging, but the breath taking views from the top of the Cowie Mountains make it well worth the effort.
Off road motorbikes and Adventure bikes are catered for in various ways with the latter being treated with a full day’s riding into the surrounding countryside. This year the riders rode a 250km route which took them through the Baviaans River Valley to the foot of the majestic Winterberg mountain and down the Mankazana Valley (Mankazana is Xhosa for Valley of the Pretty Girls!) where they eventually ended up back at the Mill for a late lunch. The off roaders with their colourful riding suits and bikes did a short route and could be seen winding their way upwards on dirt tracks to the top of the mountain and back.
The popular “potjiekos” competition which continues throughout the afternoon under the 200 year old oaks, supply hungry guests with supper later in the evening. Competition is stiff and the first prize highly coveted! Many friendships have also been known to be re-kindled or forged around the black cauldrons…
This year we broadened the experience by adding a Survivor competition for children 7 – 18 years. Teams of 4 had to sweat it out in various events which ranged from pulling a tyre, asking for an egg in Xhosa and then boiling it, to crawling through mud and doing a blind tasting.
For the first time, we also hosted 2 days of the Eastern Cape Sheepdog trials which drew competitors and spectators from all over the area and as far afield as Rustenburg and Riversdal. Well-bred and well-trained dogs and their owners competed for top honours in various categories. This is serious stuff, but light-hearted banter and good coffee and ales kept everyone in good spirits!
I can rattle on about the schools’ cricket that was played on the Friday at the Mill Cricket Ground (our very own MCG!) and the Kiddies’ entertainment which ranged from a mechanical bull and a jumping castle to face painting and target shooting.
I can also spill the beans on the scrumptious, homemade food lovingly prepared, braai-ed and served by the Bedford Country School parents who also donated most of the ingredients. Pancakes, hamburgers and sosaties and egg and bacon rolls washed down with filter coffee all featured on the menu.
In an era where the busy-ness of life often interfere with the family bond, the Bedford Country School Family Fun Weekend is the opportunity to get out into the countryside and “chillax” with your nearest and dearest.
For more information contact Adèle van der Meulen on firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 875 3772.
The date for our next Family Fun Weekend is on the weekend of 13 and 14 March 2020.
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- Ammie Pringle is the Principal of Bedford Country School.