"The home of good conversation, fine wine and classic horses"
What's life without a little luxury? And if you want to indulge, well, what's better than Hartford House?
Being close friends with Mick and Cheryl Goss has a lot of upside. My braaimaster skills and his red wine have produced some memorable Graceland evenings. Mick's got the sense to know that whatever his cullinary abilities they would pale next to the master chef Jackie Cameron who runs the kitchen at Hartford House. So his reciprocation is often an invite to a dinner at the only five star boutique hotel housed on a major stud farm. Especially when interesting guests grace our district with their presence.
Last week was one of those memorable evenings. Remgro's top duo Thys Visser (CEO) and Jannie Durand (CIO) were convinced to overnight at Hartfordby their fellow Rainbow Chickens director Bill Lambert. Although I've known and admired Thys for years, this was the first time I'd met Bill Lambert, former Gold Circle chairman and, as you might expect, another infected with the horse disease. It's a pity, Bill is as articulate as he is charming - and judging by what Jannie Durand explained, deeply loyal too, a trait to admire.
Jannie, a Rhodes Scholar and former CEO of Venfin, was having his first visit to the Midlands. He promised to return soon. Hopefully Mr Visser will too. But I'm afraid despite Mick's best efforts - which included a personally guided tour and a close-up look at a covering - neither Thys nor Jannie opened their wallets to invest in our wonderful sport. Not yet, anyway.
The occasion was brightened by the inclusion of newcomers to the district, Cape Town asset manager William Meyer and his wife Claire. They've relocated to a farm called Balenso's that's directly opposite Summerhill and share their new home with a handful of warmbloods and even more dogs than Graceland's five. The other new faces for Jet and I were Midlands icons Guy and Di Smith - he the golf course developer of Prince's Grant and, more recently, Nottingham Road's spectacular Gowrie.
Guy is the elder brother of the Natal and SA wicketkeeper batsman "Titch", a man who has dedicated his life to serving God and does it by putting together projects that help hundreds of vulnerable people in rural KZN. Quite a family. Look forward to meeting Titch as well one day. Much that was said last evening will stay with me. Especially Guy's impassioned speech about breaking the commercial mould - chucking away return on investment calculations and, rather, to, instead, create the exceptional. He did that at Gowrie and has invited us to come see what's called "Guy's Folly" - a spectacular, massively over-capitalised home that dominates the development. Can't wait.
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