Monday, 20 June 2011

Hoogland Health Hydro - ??

I'm not a 'hydro' fundi by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, just the thought of forcibly eating micro doses of vegan for a day or two puts me in a protein-deprived state of nausea... What people see in these 'houses of health-pantomime' is beyond me. If you like decadence get a manicure and a head-massage an hour or two before lunch at the Saxon; then leave!

Nevertheless, I recently visited the Hoogland Health Hydro on a whim, had a look around and was underwhelmed, to say the least. This 400 hectare property, a little west of Pretoria in the Schurveberg, is home to a variety of game. It's also the most accessible site for the pretoriae subspecies of the Short-toed Rock-Thrush, an ornithological favourite for those thus inclined! Partially endemic flora and particularly the winter-flowering aloes are a personal favourite. The drive through the reserve down to the hydro is pleasant enough. Even so, geologically there's not much on offer, but the views, generally, from atop the mountains are memorable. That's the good part.

The first thing you'll notice at the hydro is the surprising number of guest vehicles parked haphazardly under cover or under suitably shady trees. The hydro is seemingly popular and for the life of me I'm not sure why. The grounds are shockingly unkempt. Old jacuzzi-baths and three-legged chairs decay quietly in the nearby flower-beds. Rusted drums and other discarded bric-a-brac are strewn casually around the grounds, migrating, eventually, under the pull of gravity to the nearby stream; an obvious health-hazard! Garbage is collected and burnt in an old concrete 'dam', well within an average health-nut's stones throw of the pool. The pall of black smoke hanging over the garden is testimony to that fact.

Built in the 1970s the buildings are somewhat derelict and in need of renovation or a little TLC, at the very least. The interior decor is dated and altogether a little grubby. In a nutshell the ambiance / atmosphere is reminiscent of a retirement village, forlorn and forgotten.

Amazingly, per the owner, 50% of the patients (his words not mine) are 'returning-regulars'; suckers for punishment if you ask me...

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