Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt instantly comfortable? As though they have either been your friends for years…or they would make a pretty good set of mates? That would be the Maclachlans. Meet Andrew, Ashley, Connor and Amber.
Andrew, as he introduces himself, smiles as he sits down at the Fig Tree. “Or, Andy,” he says. “No,” his wife, Ashley disagrees. “Andy. Andy is better.” It takes a moment for them both to concede, however, that he is far better known by his nickname, ‘Macca’. “I’m not sure that many people know who Andrew is,” he chuckles.
Originally from Jo’burg, Andy and Ashley always knew they would end up living along the coast. Andy’s parents had a holiday home in the Transkei, and he spent time in Port Alfred, which strengthened his desire to relocate. When he and Ashley visited Ballito, a friend showed them a few prospective places; the first of which was Simbithi.
“Development was around a third what it is, now,” Andy remembers. “We found a beautiful plot on Acacia Drive and I told Ashley I’d put in a cheeky offer. Two days later, our offer was accepted and our journey with Simbithi, began.” The couple lived in an apartment in Ballito while they built their home; at the time, Ashley – who Andy affectionately calls ‘Bash’ – was pregnant with their first child, Connor.
“It was a tough start for me,” Ashley shares. “I was pregnant, so I couldn’t do much to help with the construction side of things and we didn’t really know anybody here.” But, when they moved into their home in December 2012, they fell in love with the Estate and its community. Their daughter, Amber, was born four years later and – as Ashley and Andy put it – their children are incredibly lucky. “We started our family here, so all our children have ever known is Simbithi.”
The Simbithi lifestyle is perfect for the Maclachlans: Andy, who has his Masters in Zoology was quickly roped onto the Environmental Committee by longstanding former Director, Dudley Wang. “I helped set up the first camera traps years ago,” he recalls. Recently, he and Connor assisted Environmental Director, Derrick Lilienfeld with the rescue of an injured gosling. Here, his skills in kayaking and paddling were superbly used. “It was special to have Connor with me; he sat on the nose of the kayak with the net we used to capture the gosling,” Andy smiles.
An active family, the Maclachlans love the bush. Their home is cozily nestled among grassland and forest area, and the frequent sighting of a bushbuck is an occasion. “Simbithi lends itself to an active, outdoorsy lifestyle we could not enjoy in Jo’burg,” Ashley stirs her coffee. “I love lying in bed and hearing the birds sing into the quietness.”
Ashley, an interior designer, has her office at the Workstation in Umhlali; her business partner also lives in Simbithi. “They visited us a few times and then moved here a few years ago,” she laughs. “Interior design is what I’ve always done and loved.” She is involved in the revamp of the Country Club deck. “I am assisting with concepts for the layout and furniture. I think it’s going to be an amazing facelift for this space,” she says.
While the initial stages of the lockdown were tough – the Maclachlans ran a path around their home to keep fit – they are appreciative of the special time they got to spend with their children. And both wholeheartedly agree they would rather live nowhere else. “For us, and our family, Simbithi has everything we need.”