Strawberry Picking in the Sun at Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch (2019-12-22) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 01 APR 2020

Of course strawberry picking season rolled around again and of course the girls and I headed out to our favourite strawberry picking spot, the super visitor friendly Polkadraai Farm lying just outside the town of Stellenbosch. This time around though we didn’t make the mistake of going to pick too early in the season, meaning that bringing home buckets of juicy red strawberries was a lot easier than the previous year’s excursion!

Polkadraai Farm has an expansive strawberry growing operation and its years’ worth of experience and experimentation with different strawberry varietals means that they are pretty much able to supply strawberries all year around. Picking season for the public however is only open during the months of September to January, and given the lengths that the farm has gone to in order to make this outing a proper family attraction, it attracts an ever increasing, huge number of local visitors with each and every passing season.

Because the actual picking of strawberries doesn’t take much more than 20 to 30 minutes, Polkadraai encourages longer family visits by having added tractor rides, pony rides, a mini golf putt putt course, two kids playground areas, two big stretches of lawn, and a food court – not to mention their well stocked shop that features all manner of strawberries and strawberry-related products (as well as a decent selection of local wines).

As for the strawberry picking itself, you head inside the shop on arrival, buy as many buckets as what you are people going into the strawberry fields, and then head out and fill the buckets with juicy red strawberries until they are filled to the brim. Pretty simple stuff.

This year the strawberry picking patch we were directed to was on the upper slopes of the farm (under the shade tunnels) which came as a bit of an unwelcome shock to my two girls who really weren’t in the mood to first walk up a hill in the blazing December summer sun that we found ourselves sweating under on the day.

Nevertheless, I managed to cajole them up the hill and into the plantation mounds, and despite all the sporadic groaning I think that overall fun was had by all. Not that it really matters though – the treasure trove of strawberries we returned home with were seriously delicious!

Walking the Girls at Radloff Park in Somerset West (2019-07-21) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 31 MAR 2020

Somerset West is scenically a beautiful space. Lying in the Helderberg Basin, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, and squeezed in between the Cape Winelands and False Bay, Somerset West is somewhat our local answer to Cape Town’s leafy suburb of Constantia. A good way to experience a bit of this suburban green space is with a walk out in Radloff Park.

The park, with its wide open space, grass fields, tree-shaded paths, and refreshing river water (it lies on the banks of the Lourens River), is an especially big hit with dog lovers – so much so that locally the site is pretty much known as the Radloff Dog Park. In other words, expect a LOT of dogs on your visit!

A number of sporting codes also call this greenbelt home, including the local cricket, croquet, squash, and baseball clubs, with even a small skateboarding park (for those less interested in playing with balls) tacked on as well.

Dogs and sporting code fields aside though, the area is green, tranquil, full of trees, teeming with bird life, and comes with amazing views and a lazy river walk to boot. The perfect spot for a family picnic outing then, or in my case, something to do with the girls!

SCV Wine, Brandy and Beer Tasting at the Barrydale Cellar (2019-07-02) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 MAR 2020

This is South Africa so of course we try to produce wine pretty much everywhere, and the Klein Karoo is certainly no exception. Situated along the Huisrivier river, right at the entrance to the diminutive town of Barrydale is the Barrydale Cellar, a well known local winery and brandy distillery that also plays home to a pretty unique restaurant experience in the form of the Cellar Restaurant.

In 2005 the Barrydale Cellar and neighbouring Ladismith Cellar joined forces to form the Southern Cape Vineyards (SCV), the umbrella label under which both wineries now produce their wines. In addition to the wine, the cellars also produce a range of other alcoholic drinks, including beers (like the Lady Lager and Barry Ale), ciders, grappa, and of course brandy, with signature lines like Oude Molen and the premium Joseph Barry being the most well known of these.

There is a small intimate tasting room at the Barrydale Cellar operation that allows you to get more familiar with their product lines, but for most the allure of visiting the cellar is of course the Cellar Restaurant – a restaurant space tucked into an old brandy aging cellar with its raw brick walls, aged cement roof, stacked wine barrels and rustic copper light fixtures. There is also a complete brewing room situated behind a glass wall, allowing you on certain days to actually see first-hand how some of the craft beer gets brewed.

On this particular visit of ours we were of course obligated to taste all the wines (which were excellent), but sadly enough, our plans for the day did unfortunately not include a meal at this most interesting looking restaurants. Oh well, another time then…

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2018-12-31) Photo Gallery 29 MAR 2020

With 2016 and 2017’s photo dumps already up, I now continue making a dent into the large “Unposted Photos” folder on my desktop with 2018’s batch. These are all (well mostly) photos snapped as we go about life in the Helderberg basin (Somerset West, Strand and our home town Gordon’s Bay) which simply didn’t have enough of a set to collect into (or warrant) a blog post of their own.

That said, these random life event photos are all important to me and a keepsake of a life well lived (and enjoyed), and as such posting them here is a way to safeguard their existence – after all, my laptop and its hard drive is now very old, and my ADSL isn’t nearly good enough to upload the full sized files to the cloud.

Anyway, as you can see for yourself, the Helderberg (and for that part the Western Cape itself) really isn’t a bad place to be able to call home:

A Year of Beach Walks in Gordon’s Bay (2018-12-31) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 28 MAR 2020

So here I am, slowly but surely whittling down my very large Unposted Photos folder with another ‘A Year of’ picture dump. I rather enjoy living in a small harbour town and very much doubt that I will ever willingly elect to live far from the sea again – primarily because it makes for such picturesque living space!

Although reasonably diminutive, Gordon’s Bay is surprisingly home to two harbours and two beaches (Main and Bikini), and with a mountain overlooking it all, there is no excuse to not wander about and enjoy the scenery. Of course, working remotely like I do, there really isn’t any excuse at all!

So here are a bunch photos that I snapped while ambling about the beaches of Gordon’s Bay in 2018:

Coffee and Curios at The Old Jail in Riversdale (2019-07-04) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 27 MAR 2020

Continuing our June school holidays adventure, the girls and I moved on from Barrydale, shooting past Algerynskraal, over the Garcia Pass and on to Riversdale, with the final goal being to make it back onto the N2 in order to end up in Mossel Bay. That said, there was a particular stop that I first wanted to make as we crossed into the small town of Riversdale…

One of the oldest historical buildings still standing in Riversdale, the original structure of the Ou Tronk (Old Jail) was first used as a trading store, before being purchased by the state in 1860 for conversion into a jail. Eventually closed down in 1979 (following the construction of the large prison in Oudtshoorn), the jail moved back into private hands (making it one of the only South African jail properties to actually reside in private ownership).

After inheriting it from her father who had bought it to store farming equipment, Louise Malherbe eventually found a second life for the unusual space by turning one of the courtyards into a coffee shop and renting out the remaining cells (there are 33 of them) as display spaces for various home decor and art creatives. (There are also a fair bit of historic artifacts dotted around, including an imitation of the travelling gallows that were used to hang the jail’s only receiver of the death penalty, one Gilbert Hay of Heidelberg who was found guilty of having murdered his mother.)

(There is apparently also a weekly farmer’s market that happens on a Saturday at the jail, but I’m not 100% sure if this is still the case.)

Despite its initial ghoulish overtures, the Ou Tronk (which actually in some ways looks a lot more like a Spanish hacienda than an actual prison) is quite a welcoming space for a cup of tea and a slice of their famous carrot cake. The courtyard is peppered with shade from planted avocado and banana trees and of course the location itself makes for some interesting conversation points.

All in all the Old Jail certainly makes for an interesting place to make a stop, that’s for sure.

Fun and Facades of GrandWest Casino in Cape Town (2019-06-17) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 26 MAR 2020

We were rather enjoying our little break from the girls, having already spent the morning traipsing around Bloubergstrand, taking photos of Table Mountain, visiting Big Bay, and indulging in much coffee and cake at Cafe Blouberg. I then put on the table to Chantelle that we should extend our outing a little longer by paying a visit to the GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World on the way home – primarily because I wanted to take some photos of its interesting facades. Amazingly (and inexplicably) she said yes.

Opened in December 2000, Sun International’s GrandWest Casino entertainment complex is built on the old Goodwood Showgrounds and is Cape Town’s only registered casino. It is a sprawling operation that features two hotels, a kids entertainment world (with arcade), a concert venue (The Grand Arena), loads of restaurants and bars (plus a fast food court), an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a bowling alley, movie cinemas, lots of conference facilities, dedicated exhibition space (SunExhibits), and of course the actual casino floor itself.

Now neither Chantelle or I am into gambling at all, and the kids are still a bit young to easily manage in the big crowds that the place tends to generate, so GrandWest isn’t actually a location that we visit very often (other than for the odd show or music concert) at all. That said, it was interesting that both Chantelle and I commented on just how eerie it is at how little the place has changed in the now 20 years of its existence!

The place is loud and colorful and full of people, and there is more entertainment on offer than what you can shake a stick at. I of course love the historic preservation effort the architects put into the design of this fun entertainment complex, with much of its external facades modelled after historic and landmark Cape Town city buildings, and the interior decor heavily trading on Cape Town’s rich maritime tradition.

So much to see, so much to photograph, no wonder then that Chantelle almost instantly got annoyed with me and immediately regretted having ever agreed to this unscheduled photo walk in the first place! (Not even Keith Calder’s playful seals out front were enough to appease her.)

Still, I had fun:

Nature Walk along the Kleinmond Coastal Walkway (2019-04-07) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 25 MAR 2020

Kleinmond is another one of those easy to love little coastal towns in the Overberg district, family friendly and perfect for tourist beach getaways. It also happens to be home to a very gentle, short but very scenic coastal walkway, which takes you all the way from the small Kleinmond harbour to the main Kleinmond beach.

The sandy route is about 2.5 km in length, and winds through the granite and fynbos that are emblematic for much of the Overberg’s gorgeous coastline scene, offering up spectacular views of the ocean and the surrounding peninsulas while you are at it.

For this particular stroll I somehow managed to convince Jessica to join me and so the two of us donned our hats, hopped into the car and enjoyed the scenic Clarence Drive trip, before finding a spot at the bustling Kleinmond harbour area and heading off up the rocky stairs that signal the start of the walkway.

The path is simple to follow and didn’t given us much difficulty, other than Jessica stepping into a bit of mud and then being utterly distraught over her now dirty school shoes. (They wear white takkies – i.e. trainers – at Gordon’s Bay Primary School).

Having successfully reached the beach (at the mouth of the Kleinmond lagoon), we decided to first grab a cooldrink from the popular Sandown Blues restaurant, before finally opting to head back via the streets (which takes you past the one time beach house of historic Afrikaans scholar and novelist DF Malherbe) – primarily because Jessica didn’t want to risk any more mud on her now not so white takkies!

Oh, and as if that wasn’t quite enough, she then wanted soft serve ice cream as a reward when we got back to the harbour. (Hmm, I am beginning to suspect that maybe she’s not joining my walks for the actual walking!)

In any event, a great little morning distraction that let us stretch our legs, take in some fresh sea air, and bathe in glorious warm sunlight. Not bad, not bad.

Warm Water Swims and Donuts at ATKV Hartenbos (2019-09-28) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 MAR 2020

I have already mentioned that last September I took Jessica and Emily up with me to Mossel Bay for a couple of days at Pinnacle Point with Ryan. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly play along for our trip away from home, but nevertheless we made the most of what we had and even managed to nip in a couple of warm water swims at the excellent ATKV Hartenbos Seefront while we were at it.

If you aren’t aware of it, the small town of Hartenbos was (as a lot of our old towns were) originally a farm, but in 1933 the South African Railways and Harbours (Transnet) turned it into a holiday resort for their lower-rung employees. In 1936 the ATKV (“Afrikaans Language and Cultural Society” in English) bought the farm, divided it into lots (but didn’t allow the construction of permanent structures until 1994!) and expanded on the resort facilities.

Over the years Hartenbos has grown into a proper little town (though for the most part its iconic caravan parks remain), complete with schools, a private hospital, sports clubs and several churches, and more importantly, has embedded itself as and remains an integral part of Afrikaner culture – so much so that to this day Hartenbos remains a bastion for Afrikaans holidaymakers.

The ATKV Hartenbos Seefront (i.e. seafront) development stands watch over the beach and forms the central hub for holidaymakers and tourists alike. With its fun-packed waterpark, shops and restaurants, amphitheater, colourful facades and vibey atmosphere (especially during the school holidays period), it is pretty much the place to be in Hartenbos.

Mini doughnuts from the Pizza & Donut Den aside, we’ve also quite taken to their indoor warm water pool, so much so that nowadays a visit to the Mossel Bay area is pretty much guaranteed to include at least one swim in their relaxing lukewarm waters!

So for this trip, bad weather be damned – the girls had a blast, Ryan and I were tired out, and a feast of chocolate and caramel drenched donuts were ingested – Dit is altyd lekker by die see!