Steam Trains at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-08-11) Markets | Photo Gallery 15 JUL 2019

I have mentioned the wonderful Elgin Railway Market in these pages before, but a visit to this fantastic market with its breathtaking 1920s Art Deco inspired styling is even better if you manage to come through on a day that the brilliant Ceres Rail Company rolls one of its immaculately restored vintage steam locomotives into the station.

Like I previously said, the market on its own is a wonderful experience, well worth a visit if you do ever get the chance. Located in an old apple packing warehouse that has been transformed with the most gorgeous of steel, iron and wood finishes, the market features plenty of communal seating, an incredible atmosphere or vibe if you will, and some really interesting food and craft stalls, with their offerings stretching all the way from artisan gin through to couverture chocolate.

(There is technically a small play area outside for the kids, complete with climbing wall, as well, but seeing as I haven’t really had the girls running around that particular space yet, I can’t really comment all that much on it.)

As for the steam train element, watching one of these smoke billowing beasts pulling into the station is a crowd favourite, even more so when you realize that the train is actually ferrying people in from Cape Town to Elgin on what must be a thoroughly special trip. (So yes, one more thing to add to the never ending list of Cape Town adventures still to be had then I guess! :D)

On the day of this particular visit, it was beautifully restored Bailey, the 1930’s Class 19B No. 1412 steam locomotive, doing the charge to Elgin, with the equally stunning Dominique, the late 1940’s Class 19D No. 3332 steam locomotive, hitched to handle the reverse work.

Basically train heaven then.

Steam engines and a lekker vibe. What’s not to like?

Related Link: Elgin Railway Market | Ceres Rail Company | Grabouw

Fluttering about at Butterfly World in Klapmuts (2018-07-28) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 10 JUL 2019

Klapmuts’ very own Butterfly World has long since expanded since its early days of just breeding butterflies. Up until recently they had suffixed the word “Zoo” to their title, but that wasn’t really all that accurate, seeing as their expansion is based almost entirely on the public leaving unwanted, injured, or abandoned exotic pets with them. In other words, the recently adopted Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary is a much better suited moniker to rally around!

The girls and I drove out for a visit last year and as usual it was a fun, lengthy visit. There had been a number of changes to the premises since we had last visited, and so it was fun to discover the creepy skeleton park (courtesy of young taxidermist(?) Francois Malherbe), the new outdoor animal enclosures, the newly located tea garden, and even the addition of a hopelessly out of its environment Arctic Fox.

(The spider escapees were pretty funny too!)

Butterflies, guinea pigs, exotic birds, snakes, lizards, spiders, monkeys, meerkats and tortoises, Butterfly World continues to exist as a proper menagerie, with all of it beautifully and playfully presented in its iconic tropical styled garden setup.

As per usual, the girls were entertained, informed and occasionally weirded out, making for a properly memorable family outing then.

And then we popped over to next door’s Villa Visaggio for lunch.

In closing, the sanctuary does amazing work in accepting the general public’s selfishly unwanted exotic pets and is definitely one well worth supporting!

Related Link: Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary | Klapmuts

A Giant Jersey, Pancakes and Silly Fun at Tuinplaas in Albertinia (2018-09-22) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 JUL 2019

With the impossible to miss combination of colourful flapping flags and ridiculously dressed ostriches waving to you from the side of the road, sooner or later you are simply going to have to pull off the N2 at the edge of Albertinia and investigate just what exactly this silliness is that labels itself Tuinplaas. So that then is precisely what I did.

With the girls and myself travelling up for a weekend away in Mossel Bay with my folks, I decided to call up mom and dad (who were already there) and asked them to drive down and meet us in Albertinia for a quick breakfast. Amazingly, they agreed to my plan and soon enough we both pulled up in the vast parking lot of our destination. Hello Tuinplaas.

As it turns out, Tuinplaas is in fact a business that is wonderfully not afraid to throw anything and everything at you in order to be successful. At its core, Tuinplaas probably started out as a garden concrete mouldings specialist (hence the many concrete statues, pots and other garden pieces for sale), but then also successfully dabbles as a plant nursery, with a specific focus on its many beautiful succulents.

On top of all that, next is the homely restaurant (situated right next to all the plants and pots), and beside that, the intriguing farm museum that is host to an incredible collection of scale models (with over 8,000 models on display), ten vintage tractors (the oldest being a 1933 McCormick Deering), and incredibly (because this is Albertinia of all places), the Guiness World Record certified largest hand-knitted jersey (jumper) in the world!

And then there is the very silly, impossible to categorize, R.O.A.R., aka the Royale Ostrich Ancestral Republic, concrete ostriches “installation”. It is very silly (in a good way).

So, all in all, silly fun for the family then.

(And according to the Internet, they have since added even more to their fun little kingdom, meaning then I guess a return visit on our next journey past Albertinia.)

Related Link: Tuinplaas | Facebook | Albertinia

Milkshakes at the Pepper Tree Art Stable in Philadelphia (2019-05-12) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 01 JUL 2019

After a lovely mini weekend away to Darling, we took a bit of a detour coming home and ended up in the blink and you will miss it tiny village of Philadelphia, situated just off the N7 about 38 km north of Cape Town. (And yes, it is spelled exactly the same as Rocky Balboa’s home city in Pennsylvania, not to mention all the other same name towns scattered across the USA. Translating to more or less “brotherly love”, it’s a biblical reference in case you were wondering.)

With a history spanning back to 1863, Philadelphia is a small rural town that just so happens to be in possession of a couple of pleasant eateries, a handful of shops, and one or two art galleries lurking around its very few streets. One of these nice little eateries is the Pepper Tree Art Stable & Coffee Shop, taking its name from the impossible to miss, old gnarled pepper trees out in the front of the property.

(Incidentally, the Pepper Tree has now been operating for more than a decade already! I’m not entirely sure how this is the first time that I have ever heard of it.)

Although sitting down for a light lunch on the day would have been rather nice, Chantelle and I had picked our Sunday for this particular visit rather poorly, seeing as it was Mother’s Day and thus fully booked. Nevertheless, they were gracious enough to give us a table for drinks before the lunch rush hour could properly start streaming in.

And so we had milkshakes, marveled at the trees, and inspected all the art – before vowing to come back again as soon as possible.

Thirsts now sated, we next wandered across the road to inspect the incense heavy healing crystals shop (seems popular with visitors), followed by visits to the two decor shops opposite the aptly named Magic Minerals building. And that’s pretty much it for the commercial side of this strangely charming little town then.

Thus, because I as a dad rather like silly puns, the Pepper Tree is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Related Link: Pepper Tree Art Stable and Coffee Shop | Philadelphia

A Long Weekend in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay (2018-09-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 JUN 2019

The Heritage Day long weekend last year saw Jessica, Emily and I take a drive up to join Mom and Dad at their holiday house in the Pinnacle Point golf estate just outside Mossel Bay. With Spring now upon us, we were treated to plenty of sunshine and flowers – as well as some pretty rough seas thrown into the mix!

Starting off with breakfast and some silly fun at Tuinplaas outside Albertinia, the rest of the laid-back weekend revolved around long drives in the golf cart, ice creams at The Point, sightseeing drives around the area, lots of Jenga block towers, and even an enjoyable dip in Diaz Water Park’s indoor heated pool (in case you were wondering, the one at Hartenbos was closed for renovations).

All in all a fantastic way to spend a long weekend then.

Relaxing as always!

Related Link: Pinnacle Point Estate | Mossel Bay

Jessica Birthday Fun at Wild Wild West Kids Play Park in Strand (2018-11-11) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 16 JUN 2019

Last year Jessica took the option of enjoying a nice big birthday party with her friends and as such, we ended up taking her and a couple of her school pals to the awesome Wild Wild West Kids Play Park out in Strand industria to celebrate her eighth birthday.

Situated in a nice big warehouse with no residential houses nearby to complain about noise, kids can properly run wild as they tackle Wild Wild West’s Cowboys and Indians themed six level high climbing grid maze, climbing wall, 5m high slides, highline balance course, and Ninja Warrior course!

As you might then imagine, the girls had an absolute blast running themselves ragged on the exceptionally high quality wooden structures and at the end of the day, loads of fun was had by all (even if it does tend to run a little hot in the not that well ventilated industrial space).

Unfortunately for us on the day though, Wild Wild West’s little catering kitchen wasn’t particularly well stocked (not sure why, we had made the necessary inquiries beforehand), but luckily that was something easily solved by a jaunt down to nearby McDonalds (at Waterstone Village – they’ve got the nicest space) in order to feed and thus appease the pack of now ravenous young ladies.

And as if that fun day out with her friends wasn’t enough, Jess also got treated to Belgian Waffle House waffles, finally got her hands on a scooter (which at first ruthlessly extracted a lot of skin off her knees!) and, as a cherry on top, a lot more Lego.

Gah, my little girl keeps on getting older!

Related Link: Wild Wild West Kids Play Park | Facebook | Strand

Whale Watching from the cliffs of Hermanus (2018-08-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 JUN 2019

As my regular readers would by now very much know, Chantelle absolutely loves whale watching and given our general proximity to South Africa’s best land based whale viewing area, i.e. Hermanus, we always tend to make at least one trip each and every Walker Bay whale watching season.

Last year August saw us take a drive down to a very windy Hermanus for a spot of Southern Right whale watching, and although the gusty conditions ruled out a walk up Hoy’s Koppie, it didn’t seem to bother the whales at all as we enjoyed a fabulous day of watching whales cavort around in the windswept surf.

For a change we did most of our whale watching to the east of the Cliff Tops Piazza, favouring spots along the Hermanus Cliff Path like Sieverspunt, Kwaaiwater, Skulpiesbaai, Langbaai, Kammabaai and Voëlklip Beach. The adverse wind conditions meant that we weren’t jostling through crowds of fellow whale watchers, making for a whale watching expedition that felt leisurely and not people pressured at all.

That said, the delightful Aromatish Cafe and Bakery still proved to be way too popular for us to grab a seat (so we settled for a cup of coffee at the pleasant enough Groves Cafe instead). Pleasingly, Chantelle also relented and sacrificed some of her whale watching time to allow me the opportunity of popping my head into the Old Harbour Museum, the Whale House Museum, and the De Wet’s Huis Photographic Museum. (All things that have for long been on my list of getting around to).

Basically, a little bit of something for everyone but the kids then.

A whale of a time was had. (Again, not by the kids. This was definitely more of a mommy and daddy outing through and through.)

Related Link: Hermanus Cliff Path | Hermanus

The Silverhurst Trail in the Constantia Valley Greenbelt, Cape Town (2018-09-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 JUN 2019

The leafy, affluent suburb of Constantia in Cape Town is blessed with incredibly fertile soil and a lot of precipitation, meaning that greenery and natural beauty abound in every single direction. Towards the east is Constantia Valley, home to a wondrous Greenbelt area that features a large number of publicly accessible walking trails, all of which lazily wind between residences and natural features alike.

One of the easier, more accessible walking trails is the Silverhust Trail which starts just off Constantia Main Road and ambles along the Keysers River, past the Silverhurst Estate. It’s not much longer than 2 km in length (return trip), but of course you can easily make your stroll last longer by either hopping onto another trail or switching to some residential streets for a bit.

It’s tranquil, its green and you are alongside a stream, so super popular with dog walkers and lazy weekend strollers alike. (Or a family walking off a big Sunday afternoon lunch like we were on the day!)

Ridiculously relaxing to say the least.

Related Link: Silverhurst Trail | Constantia | Cape Town

Burgers and Play at Skilpadvlei in Stellenbosch (2018-09-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 13 JUN 2019

After a morning of strawberry picking at Polkadraai Farm you could of course just grab a simple bite to eat there, but if you want something a little bit nicer (with a 100% more beer), you would do well to quickly nip down the road to nearby Skilpadvlei, a wine farm, accommodation hub, wedding venue and most important of all, family-friendly restaurant.

This is exactly what the girls and I found ourselves doing one afternoon out and about in the Stellenbosch surrounds, and again, thanks to Skilpadvlei’s lovely kids play area (featuring an amazing jungle gym setup), friendly atmosphere and a good food and beer selection, I find myself once more highly recommending this as a lunch time option if you are out and about with small kids.

And yes, the 78 hectare, fully operational farm is charmingly named after the colony of tortoises that were found in its vlei back in the 1800’s.

Honestly, a lovely option for a family with kids lunch stop then.

Related Link: Skilpadvlei | Stellenbosch