Sharks and Skates at The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town (2018-11-17) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 SEP 2019

I was fifteen years old when the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town first opened its doors to the public in November 1995. A world class aquarium showcasing the incredible diversity of marine life found in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans through awe-inspiring exhibits and interactive touch-points, with a vision and mission to encourage love and respect for our ocean, and in so doing, train up a generation of young people to understand the need for using marine and other natural resources in a much more sustainable manner.

It also just so happens to be a wonderfully entertaining activity for parents with young kids.

After all, there is quite a lot to see and take in! From the big I&J Ocean Exhibit, the eerily quiet Predator Exhibit, the serene Kelp Forest Exhibit (unfortunately closed for reforestation during this particular visit), the always cute (if a little smelly) Penguin Exhibit, the interesting Touch Pool & Microscope section, the educational Smart Living Challenge Zone (lots of interactive/digital games to play around with!), and the Diversity Gallery, there is more than enough to keep you busy for a decent amount of time!

Then there are the various feeding times (the penguins are always a treat, not to mention the diver entering the big tank with all the sharks and rays), and if you are feeling particularly brave and have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you can head over for a diving experience that lets you scuba down into either the Predator, I&J Ocean or Kelp Forest exhibit!

Jellyfish, sharks, rays, crayfish, eels and sea horses, the girls were kept absolutely enthralled with everything they saw – even if they weren’t really all that sure about actually touching anything in the touch pools!

As always, a wonderful educational experience that I’m thrilled to have been able to share with my kids. Makes me wish all that much more that Cape Town still had a proper zoo to enjoy with them as well. Anyway, as expected, a lot of photos were taken on the day:

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Flowers of the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden (2018-09-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 SEP 2019

Located in the historical center of Stellenbosch, the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden is the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa. While the garden itself is relatively small, it houses an incredible diversity of plants both indigenous and introduced, and is an absolute MUST for anyone even vaguely interested in plant life!

Open to the public, for a negligible entrance fee you can leisurely stroll around the grounds moving from one beautifully arranged collection to the next, picking your way through the bonsai, fern, insectivorous plant, medicinal plant, oxalis, succulent and xerophyte plant collections, all the while taking in the vast array of rare, threatened, endangered, and even extinct Cape Floral Kingdom species around you.

And then there are the trees, including giant sequoia (the biggest tree species on earth), dawn redwood (thought to be extinct until 1948), California redwood (the tallest tree species on earth), and even olive trees grown from cuttings from the Garden of Gehsemane!

It is a lush, dizzying collection of the most wonderful plants, in a well cared for environment that is scattered with benches, fountains, sculptures and other pieces of historical interest. (And the occasional student frantically scribbling notes).

Also, if you just want to sit, drink a cup of coffee and take in all this verdant green nature around you, then the onsite Katjiepiering Restaurant has you covered. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

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Pirate Golf at Benguela Cove in Bot River (2018-11-10) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 AUG 2019

Across the water from the famed golfing Arabella Country Estate, lying on the opposite bank of the Bot River Lagoon, is the luxury Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate. Established in 2003, this lush Walker Bay farm has been developed to house a state of the art winery, luxury lifestyle estate, numerous restaurants, productive olive groves, and a vineyard that can boast about being one of the closest vineyards to the sea!

Which is probably then why you might just be surprised to learn that nowadays you can even play a fun round of putt putt there.

Because adults can’t have all the fun, last year saw Benguela Cove lift the wraps off of Benguela Cove Pirate Adventure Golf, a pirate-themed mini golf (or adventure golf) course aimed squarely at families with kids. A great strategy move on the part of the wine estate of course, but as a parent with two young kids who is always on the lookout for fun family activities, definitely one that is very much appreciated!

The eighteen hole course is standard putt putt fun, suitable for all ages and with pleasingly very few frustrating holes – you know, the ones that often leave kids in tears. Everything from entrance to score card is pirate themed and the course is dotted with pirate mannequins (even a Jack Sparrow when copyright lawyers aren’t looking) and other fun pirate props.

There is a small pirate-themed restaurant aimed at kids onsite (Blackbeard’s Diner), and as an added bonus, a colourful splash pad dubbed Benguela Splash next door, which boasts a variety of fun water spraying, squirting and dumping amusements. (They were still busy installing this when we visited late last year).

Pirate themed putt putt? Of course it’s great silly fun!

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The Western Province Live Steamers and their Miniature Trains in Parow (2018-09-01) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 25 AUG 2019

The first Saturday of every month, from 13:00 to 16:00, shrill whistles, puffs of steam and the occasional whiff of diesel fill the air from a small field in Parow, right next to the soccer fields of Vasco and Ajax Football Clubs. If you turn sharply and follow the unassuming little road, you will end up in front of a small little club house emblazoned with the words “Western Province Live Steamers”. Welcome to their running day.

Founded in 1980 by the late Jack Love, a school teacher with a love of building and running miniature steam locomotives, the first 13 years of the Western Province Live Steam Society’s existence were lived out on a piece of the famous Cape Show Grounds in Goodwood (better known as the Goodwood Showgrounds, now of course the site of the GrandWest casino complex).

However, with the subsequent sale of that particular property in 1993, the club found itself undertaking a long hunt for a new home, eventually finding their current space with the help of the Parow Municipality at the end of 1997.

A small, but passionate group, the Live Steamers built their own club house, laid the track of their main loop, and then slowly began the process of (successfully) building out their little rail empire.

As with most hobbies, constructing and running these little trains are the most rewarding when you can share you passion with other people, and as such, every first Saturday of the month the club’s gates are thrown open and the general public are invited (free of charge) to come along to watch and ride the trains with the model builders, to take advantage of the fresh air and green open space, and perhaps even throw a few pieces of meat on some coals.

Naturally this is something that I just HAD to show the girls, and given that it’s reasonably close to where my brother and folks are based (Bellville), I got Ryan and Dad to tag along on what turned out to be a particularly pleasant way to spend Spring Day.

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Fresh Farm Produce at Wild Oats Community Farmers Market in Sedgefield (2019-01-05) Markets | Photo Gallery 20 AUG 2019

There are a lot of weekend markets dotted around Cape Town and the winelands, but to be honest, very few (okay fine, Oranjezicht City Farm Market counts as one) are actual proper farmers’ markets. That said, even if there were a couple in easy reach of you, you would still be doing yourself a massive disservice if you never ever make the trip up along the Garden Route to Sedgefield, home of the multiple award-winning Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market.

Situated adjacent to the beautiful Swartvlei lagoon on the outskirts of Sedgefield, this 20 year old, world renowned farmers’ market was first launched back in 1999 and operates every Saturday morning from 08:00 to 12:00 (07:30 in Summer) come rain or shine. The market brims with the choicest locally produced foods, including all sorts of free-range meats, cheeses and dairy, bakes, and of course, fresh-from-the-field fruit and vegetables.

(And given the huge amount of locals and visitors who descend upon the market, there is a mass of vendors catering with a range of fresh breakfasts, coffee and other treats!)

The stalls are all covered, there are loads of trees to provide shade for everyone, and the constant buzz of people happily milling about or sitting and enjoying company of friends and family over a good cup of coffee (or pancakes like we did) makes for a wonderfully charming and vibey atmosphere.

The market is of course pet friendly, and if you want a little more visually, then the equally impressive Mosaic Outdoor Market at the Scarab Arts & Crafts Village is literally across the entrance from the Wild Oats Market.

It is fun, authentic and home to some truly delectable tastes of the Garden Route.

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Blacksmith Coffee and Sliders at Getafix Garden Cafe in George (2019-01-06) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 15 AUG 2019

George is the second largest city in the Western Cape, in order words, there can be a fair bit of hustle and bustle at times, meaning that the perfect place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat is somewhere that takes you away from all that busyness. Exactly why I like the Getafix Garden Cafe so much then.

Situated in a house on the grounds of the charming Garden Route Botanical Garden, this Asterix and Obelix themed eatery offers simple outdoor eating with a nice big kid (and dog) friendly lawn and a view of the magical Outeniqua Mountains in front of you.

If you don’t mind waiting (the kitchen is SUPER small), then the African Blacksmith coffee is particularly good, the menu fun, the vibe chilled, and of course whenever you feel like it, you can get up and stroll through the natural beauty of the botanical garden itself.

Oh, and they host an evening market every now and then too.

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A Gallery of Art and Concrete at the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town (2019-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 AUG 2019

Simply put, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, more commonly known as the Zeitz MOCAA, is a magnificent addition to the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town offering. Chantelle and I had for a long time been eager to visit the art museum since their grand opening back in September 2017, and come early January this year, we finally got around to walking through their impressive doors.

The Zeitz MOCAA lives in the wonderfully re-imagined historic Grain Silo (built in 1921 and decommissioned in 2001), with its space artfully carved out of the 42 densely-packed concrete cylinders that made up the original silo structure. The end result is a magnificent endless array of concrete curves and walls rising and falling around you, with a look guaranteed to leave a striking impression on any visitor that enters through its doors.

With the Silo Hotel and its stunning glass windows sitting high above you, the museum is scattered across a number of levels, requiring the use of either the spacious lifts or ornate metal staircase to access everything on show. (It’s well worth it though, because the higher you go, the better the views get!)

Interestingly enough, the Zeitz MOCAA is actually a not-for-profit public museum, commissioned through a public/private partnership between the V&A Waterfront and German businessman (and ex-CEO of Puma) Jochen Zeitz, with Zeitz’s extensive African art collection being available to the museum for the duration of his lifetime. In addition to these pieces, the chief curator also sources work from across Africa, resulting in an ever-changing collection of vibrant colours and cultural ideas.

Truthfully though, modern art isn’t really our thing (both Chantelle and I prefer the technical skill of classical art to the focus on idea that comes with contemporary art), but nevertheless there is more than enough to see, discuss, and make you think, that one can easily keep wandering through the museum’s many rooms for countless hours if you so wish.

It’s an incredible addition to the city, and injects a huge amount of life, feet and business into what used to be a pretty underutilized district. For art lovers it is a must see, and even for those of us that aren’t, it is well, well worth the visit – even if just to experience the amazing building itself!

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Slides and Life Jackets at Water World Strand (2019-02-23) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 05 AUG 2019

In February we took Emily to a friend’s birthday party held at Water World Strand. Although we kind of had an idea what the place was about, truth be told, we had never actually visited it before (shameful, I know), and so were in for quite the peasant surprise when we finally did!

Water World Strand (as the name might suggest) is a kid focused water play paradise, filled with all manner of small water slides and pools, an outdoor play area, picnic spots, and birthday party tents. The park is fully manned with lifeguards, meaning that your kids are always under a watchful eye, and the action is very smoothly controlled with the lifeguards ensuring that everyone sticks to the rules.

The coolest feature however is the abundant availability of life jackets – perfect for if your kid is small, a bit nervous, or you as the parent are terrified of the thought of them hurtling down a water slide under all that water! As it stands, neither of my kids are particularly comfortable with water, so they each immediately donned a bright orange life jacket and quickly managed to find eager ‘big people’ to go down the slides with them.

In addition to all the splashing happening around you, there is also a small beach bar restaurant type setup, serving pizza, snacks, ice cream, and cooldrinks to all the starving young ones (and parents who didn’t bring their swimming costumes).

It’s noisy, it’s vibrant, it’s just oodles of fun in the sun.

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Pizza and Wine at Jakkalsvlei near Herbertsdale (2019-01-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 31 JUL 2019

Herbertsdale is a small settlement that lies east of the Gourits river, 56 km north west of Mossel Bay. Travel another 6 or so kilometers on from there, and you will stumble upon a most unexpected sight – a winery and its vineyard, better known as Jakkalsvlei.

Situated at the foot of the Langeberg mountains with its cool temperate climate, Jakkalsvlei (named after the once abundant jackals found in the area) with its 34 hectare vineyard is perfectly positioned to produce high quality mountain-grown grapes which are then turned into a host of awarding winning wines.

The site is also home to a stunning tasting room/restaurant facility which surprisingly is almost always busy – despite Jakkalsvlei being VERY much out in the middle of nowhere! (In fact, they are so busy that come the December holiday season, the team has to put up an outside tent in order to cope with the sheer volume of visitors!)

Pizza, burgers, wine and cotton candy tastings (and the occasional live music act), Jakkalsvlei is more than worth the lazy drive out to the middle of nowhere.

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