Burgers and Colouring Pages at Villa Visaggio’s in Klapmuts (2018-07-28) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 OCT 2018

Jessica, Emily and I paid a long overdue visit to Butterfly World back in July, and after a nice lengthy walkabout of butterfly spotting and guinea pig stroking, I decided that we now wanted something to eat. So, I was rather pleased to discover that there is actually quite a nice lunch option situated right next door to the animal sanctuary these days – in the form of one Villa Visaggio’s.

Set up primarily as a stylish venue intended for weddings, conferences, corporate parties and other event gatherings, Villa Visaggio’s is also home to a really nice restaurant – featuring a decent menu packed with well priced, particularly good food. (I had their Mexican burger on the day, and I have to say, it was pretty damn delicious.)

Although not necessarily spacious enough (in terms of grounds) to be labelled as a kid friendly restaurant, there is however a small play area (complete with jumping castle) out back (though not visible from the dining area), and the menu certainly does a great job of doubling up as a neat little colouring page.

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All in all, I rather enjoyed stumbling upon this new option for our annual Butterfly World visit, and honestly, it might just be enough to lure Chantelle to also come out butterfly spotting with us for a change! ;)

Related Link: Villa Visaggio’s | Facebook

Feathers, Eggs and a Tractor at Safari Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-04) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 29 SEP 2018

When in Oudtshoorn with kids, visit an ostrich farm. I am pretty sure that this is a rule for the Little Karoo, and certainly one that I followed when we found ourselves spending some time in the ostrich capital of South Africa as part of last year’s June school holidays road trip.

Established as a tourist attraction in 1956 by 4th generation ostrich farmers Derek Fisch and Harry Lipschitz, Safari Ostrich Farm is a commercial ostrich breeding farm in Oudtshoorn with a focus on extensive farming of ostriches for meat, leather/skins and feathers.

The 1800 hectares large farm is built around a beautiful old sandstone homestead called the “Feather Palace” – built in 1910 and harking back to the beginning of the ostrich industry when the Oudtshoorn farmers farmed with ostriches exclusively for their feathers (which at a stage ranked fourth to gold, wool and diamonds in terms of the value of exports from South Africa).

The farm has about 280 breeding South African Black ostriches onsite, of which about 60% are female. Interestingly enough, Safari Ostrich Farm also happens to be the first South African ostrich farm where you can see both the Kenyan Red and Zimbabwe Blue ostriches (both of which are surprisingly a lot more aggressive than our local variety). The farm is also home to a few rare white ostriches, as well as some Australian emu.

For the visitors to the farm there is obviously the ostrich product shop and little eatery to enjoy, but by far the biggest hook is of course the Safari Ostrich Farm’s little ostrich ‘safaris’ – an informative stroll and tractor drive among the ostriches and around the ostrich farm itself. In other words, loads of fun for the little ones.

Basically, expect all the staples of an ostrich farm visit, made all the better thanks to a polished experience and super friendly guides.

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And yes, of course I had some ostrich for lunch.

Related Link: Safari Ostrich Farm | Oudtshoorn | #JuneHolidays2017

Driving over the Outeniqua Pass outside George (2018-06-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 26 SEP 2018

Whilst in Mossel Bay with the girls and my folks for a bit of the June school holidays this year, we were rather hoping to catch a ride on the Outeniqua Power Van – a 2.5 hour return trip aboard an old Transnet railcar up into the Outeniqua mountains via the historic Montagu Pass. Of course, my severe aversion to planning, let alone making reservations of any sort, resulted in us not getting a spot – though it did facilitate a madcap race through to George just in case some seats were left open on the morning!

There were none. So instead, we camped outside the George Botanical Gardens in order  to take a photo of the Power Van as it powered on by, following which we immediately hopped back into dad’s car for an impromptu drive over the famous Outeniqua Pass, the mounain pass that was built to replace the Montagu Pass as the primary route connecting George and the Garden Route coastal plain with Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo.

Built over a period between 1943 and 1951 (and undergoing more than a few upgrades along the way), the stunning Outeniqua Pass contains over 40 bend, corners and curves, and along the way you are able to spot four other passes in the area, not to mention gain an aerial view of George and the sea down in the distance.

As it turned out on the day, the weather was perfect for the drive (due to the elevation, the pass is often subject to mist and rainfall – and the occasional truck breakdown), and we were even lucky enough to hear and watch the Power Van chug along the Montagu Pass on the opposite side of the valley from one of the lookout points that we were stopped at!

After driving over the pass, turning around and then driving back over it (the best views – and lookout points – are in the Oudtshoorn to George direction), we next headed down into rural George, for a coffee, cake and ice cream with strawberries stop for the kids at Redberry Farm – a firm favourite family hangout for both tourists and locals alike.

And yes, of course the girls went for a spin on the mini train while we were there.

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From there dad randomly selected a dirt road to follow, and eventually we ended up back home. Exactly how a day out and about driving should be enjoyed.

Related Link: Outeniqua Pass | Outeniqua Power Van

Cape Town Sevens Rugby at the Cape Town Stadium (2017-12-10) Events | Photo Gallery 23 SEP 2018

Easily one of the most eagerly awaited days on the Cape Town sports calendar, the Cape Town Sevens (more correctly known as the South Africa Sevens) is ridiculously popular. Grabbing tickets is a tricky affair, but if you manage to land a couple, then go you absolutely must.

My dad and Ryan asked me to join them for last year’s addition, the second tournament within the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens Series. Seeing as I had up until then never been to a sevens tournament before, I eagerly said yes. Best decision ever!

Using the free pass guaranteed by our tickets, we parked in the city itself and grabbed a MyCiti bus to the gorgeous Cape Town Stadium, where after a short walk and a very slick gate operation, we filtered into the stadium and grabbed our seats.

We were there for the last day of the tournament (i.e. the most exciting day), and thanks to a particularly easy first round draw for South Africa’s Blitzbokke (namely Kenya, France and Russia), our team safely navigated their way to day 2, top of Pool A and ready take on Fiji in the first quarter-final of the day.

It was actually quite interesting to see first-hand. You see, the Cape Town Sevens isn’t popular because of the rugby itself, but rather for the massive amount of fun and atmosphere it generates, which means then that other than when the Blitzbokke are playing, the large majority of people are for the most part actually outside (in colourful costume), listening to music and catching some sun with drink FIRMLY in hand.

However, as soon as the South Africa team ran on to the field, the stadium would almost immediately fill up as the crowd grabbed their flags and started roaring in local appreciation. As it was, South Africa and Fiji put on a fighting game, ending with the Blitzbokke trotting away with a 31-26 win.

Next up was a clash with New Zealand, but sadly this battle did not go the partisan crowd’s way. Despite the thousands of waving flags and much, much cheering, the islanders put in a great effort, downing our local heroes 19-12.

That loss did of course leave a bitter taste in the mouth of most people there, meaning that the final, literally the last game of the day, played between New Zealand and Argentina (which New Zealand easily won) wasn’t as well supported as what it should have been. That said, thankfully the Bronze Medal Match between South African and Canada was still good enough to invoke a good old stadium roar.

Just as well that we won that then. (For the record, South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla ran out as the tournament’s top try scorer with 7 tries under his belt).

It was a very, very long day of quick, try-filled rugby. Loads of action, almost no down time to speak of, and plenty of festival atmosphere all around – in other words a thoroughly enjoyable day out and something which I can now fully appreciate the hype around. I liked it.

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Also, fireworks.

(And a very windy night time walk back to our car. In fact, we saw a lady get blown down some steps. She was more concerned about her skirt than anything else. It was kind of hilarious – if it wasn’t for the fact that the wind was sucking the hilarity out of pretty much everything around us!)

Related Link: South Africa Sevens | Blitzbokke | HSBC World Rugby Sevens | Cape Town Stadium

Staying the Night at Diaz Beach Guest House in Mossel Bay (2018-01-11) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 20 SEP 2018

Following a delightful December holiday stay in both Mossel Bay and Gouritsmond, this year kicked off with us having to leave the Hyundai Accent in George for repairs, returning home to Gordon’s Bay with the kids, and then Chantelle and I heading back up to George once the car was finally ready for collection. Now not wanting to just drive up and drive back down again in one day, the two of us decided to instead make a date of it and spend the night over in Mossel Bay – which was just as well really because it introduced us to the very lovely Diaz Beach Guest House.

Hard to miss and genuinely a stone’s throw from the super popular Diaz Beach, the Diaz Beach Guest House is a slickly run operation with secure parking for its guests, and rather nicely equipped rooms. Cool, comfortable and the perfect base from which to explore the beach (or if you are more like Chantelle, to enjoy an afternoon snooze in).

For the kids, other than the beach, you are literally next door to the excellent Da Playhouse indoor playpark (great for the smaller kids), as well as the heated indoor pool and super fun tube rides of Waterworld, while for the adults there are plenty of opportunities for a nice cold drink with a view, given all the hotels stretching along the beachfront in front of you.

As for Chantelle and my little getaway, ostensibly to collect our car, well we made sure to fill it with things like breakfast at Tredici in Swellendam, fish and chips as The Sea Gypsy Cafe in Mossel Bay, strawberries and ice cream at Redberry Farm in George, and milkshake and roosterkoek at Oude Post Bistro in Buffeljagsrivier.

Oh, and a delightful stroll along the lovely Hartenbos waterfront area (a first for Chantelle – she’d last been there as a kid), complete with mini doughnuts and a busking native American Indian in moccasins and a feathery headdress/war bonnet.

Apparently (according to Chantelle) his music is absolutely spellbinding.

So in other words, all lovely stuff.

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(Oh, but it wasn’t entirely all good news. The car fix was expensive, a good couple of thousand, and on checking out of the guest house, I walked up to my car only to say hi to a VERY deflated tyre. Final nail and all that I suppose…)

Related Link: Diaz Beach Guest House | Mossel Bay

Picking Youngberries at Wildebraam Berry Estate in Swellendam (2017-12-26) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 SEP 2018

Depending on my mood on the day, a drive up to Mossel Bay could either be a quick fire 3.5 hours long or a lengthy stop-filled journey that could take up most of the day. Our December 2017 drive? Definitely the latter.

While enjoying a lovely stop for a nice piece of cake at Swellendam’s Old Mill Guest House and Restaurant, my eye caught a sign referencing berry picking at Wildebraam Berry Estate, Swellendam’s self proclaimed “Berried Treasure”. (It must at this point be noted that as a dad and thus a fierce proponent of Dad Jokes, I truly LOVE that pun!)

Keen to see what this was all about, we made the drive down to the lovely Wildebraam Estate which, situated in the picturesque Hermitage Valley, is blessed with panoramic views of the Langeberg Mountains, is home to berry orchards, its own festival (1-2 December), pickled products and chutneys, and now accommodation options – plus, perhaps most important of all, is the producer of some very distinctive, very well known South African liqueurs.

We were of course not there to taste their liqueurs, sample their pickled products, fruit chutneys or atchar, nor peck at the fruit and vegetables, but instead wanted to jump straight into the picking of berries – hence the disappointment of learning on arrival that while berry season starts mid November, it only runs until the end of December, with a harvesting season of about 6 weeks only.

So this being the 26th of December meant that unfortunately we had arrived at literally the worst park of the berry picking window. Not to be deterred, Chantelle nevertheless grabbed a bucket and a pair of clippers and off we headed down the dirt road in search of some youngberries among the hidden orchards.

As it turns out, picking youngberries is not fun at all. At all. These tiny little fruit are protected by vicious little thorns (thank you rose family genetics), which you really need to get your hands into in order to get the fruit off. Also, the fruit is soft, so bruises easily, meaning that a gentle touch is required.

So sure, experienced pickers might make this look easy, but as we now learned, there is a reason that these little berries are so expensive. They’re difficult to extract! Anyway, we found an abandoned gardener’s glove (with an acceptable number of holes in it) that then gave Chantelle a fighting chance as she dove headfirst into the thorny bushes.

(For reference, I don’t love these berries enough for that, so the girls and I instead stood on the sidelines, shouting motivations and taking photos of her butt. There was also a friendly farm dog to keep us company.)

The problem is, as mentioned before, this really was the tail end of the season, meaning that there really was almost no fruit to be found. And we looked, may no mistake about that. The hot, middle of the day sun blazed down over us, the environment was prickly (but beautiful), and in truth, credit to a naturally stubborn Chantelle – she didn’t give up and eventually walked out clutching her prized (though truthfully quite empty) bucket.

(Crossing the little stream was a blessing in that it cooled us down, but also because it was a great source of entertainment watching a clearly scared Emily and Jessica cling to Chantelle like limpets, therefore making for quite the eventful crossing. For me at least!)

So. All in all, lessons learned, a new area discovered, a good distraction from the road trip, and now we all walk away knowing how youngberries are grown. That said, next time we’ll definitely make a stop much earlier in the season though…

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P.S. You know that you’ve had a particularly pitiful time out in the orchards when you get back to the shop for weighing, the lady has a look, and then says you really don’t need to pay for that!

Related Link: Wildebraam Berry Estate | Swellendam

Dinosaurs and Whales at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town (2017-08-20) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 14 SEP 2018

I pretend that any visit to a museum is for the benefit of my girls of course, but obviously that is very much a straight up lie – It is for me. Pretty much always. Case in point, I really really  wanted to see what the Iziko South African Museum, the national museum of South Africa, looks like nowadays. So off on a family outing we went.

Actually, given its location at the top of the Company’s Garden in Cape Town (where it has been located since 1897), a trip to the Iziko South African Museum always makes for a good family outing. You have the greenery, squirrels and nice eatery that comes with the Company’s Garden, the splendour of the various statues and memorials dotted about, the entertainment value that comes from a viewing at the now very impressive planetarium, and of course the wonder of the museum itself.

Founded by Lord Charles Somerset in 1825, the South African Museum started out as a general museum but later moved its focus to almost purely that of natural history, with a notion that very little divides the animal world from the human subjects it documents. In other words, there is a reason that there is relatively so little cultural history and material culture on display, despite this being a national museum!

The museum is organized on four levels, hosting a variety of exhibitions, from rock art to fossils, marine animals and meteorites. The ground level is home to “People past to present”, looking at aspects Southern African tribal history, “Karoo Fossils”, examining ancient dinosaur-like life in the Karoo region 250 million years ago, “World of Water”, depicting life in South Africa’s oceans, “Southern Oceans”, detailing animal life in the Subantarctic region, and the “Whale Well”, which features a unique collection of whale casts and skeletons – including a 20.5 meter long suspended blue whale skeleton that can be viewed from all floors.

(If there is one thing that I CAN remember as a kid going on all the museum bound school excursions, then it is most definitely that huge whale skeleton!)

Level 1 is home to “Sharkworld”, showcasing sharks, skates, rays and chimeras, “Our Place in the Universe”, a display depicting a cosmic zoom to view the universe on an ever-increasing scale, reaching back to almost the very beginning of the universe, “Meteorites”, three large iron meteorites, and of course the fantastic “Iziko Planetarium” (which I now really want to return to in order to watch an actual adult space themed feature following our viewing of the kiddy friendly “Tycho to the Moon”).

Level 2 showcases “Mammals”, “Birds”, “Wonders of Nature”, as well as the “History of the SA Museum”. It also houses a section entitled “Indigenous Knowledge”, which is a window on indigenous ways of using natural resources. Finally, level 3 is home to the “Stone Bones of the ancient Karoo” and focuses on the 250 million year old fossils from the Karoo. In other words, dinosaurs!

The museum is neat and tidy, the displays well looked after, the layouts great, and honestly put, I rather enjoyed the time strolling about. That said, the girls didn’t last very long before the “ugh, my legs are tired” moaning began, meaning that inevitably the visit was cut shorter than what it needed to be, ending with a grumpy dad stomping along in tow.

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Next time I am going to lose the girls in the gardens with the squirrels I think.

P.S. That photo in the gallery above of Jessica running towards me? That’s her rushing over to tell me that a flock of the garden’s famous pigeons had just flown overhead and one of them had pooed on her leg! Extremely amusing and in the end, nothing that a bite to eat and some play time over at Deer Park Cafe couldn’t fix…

Related Link: Iziko South African Museum | The Company’s Garden | Cape Town

Authentic Indian Curry from Foodmandu in Gordon’s Bay (2018-06-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 11 SEP 2018

Following a day spent up in Johannesburg for a meeting with one of the big banks for a potential project with them, Chantelle and I stole a moment of alone time by heading out for a midweek lunch at the slightly hard to find, but oh so worth it when you do, Foodmandu – a delightful little Indian restaurant startup tucked away towards the end of Gordon’s Bay.

Situated in the Cape Gordonia building (across from the old harbour), Foodmandu, a relatively new addition to the Gordon’s Bay food scene (which is strangely much larger than what technically it should be, given how small our little “village” is), was opened by a couple of staff members who left the popular Moksh Indian restaurant out in Somerset West, bringing with them their exceptional knowledge of North Indian cuisine.

That much is apparent when you work your way through the extensive but cleverly put together menu, literally filled with all manner of mouthwatering curries, kormas and masalas. Chicken, lamb, rice,  rotis and naan breads – the flavours are simply out of this world (or are at least for people like me who don’t usually get to enjoy much Indian food in the first place), making a visit to eat there a must if you ever find yourself in Gordon’s Bay with a taste for something other than the typical fish, pizza or a burger on offer.

Although the venue’s location and the lack of a liquor licence are definitely both hard challenges for this little eatery to overcome, I kind of really hope that they do. Foodmandu brings with it a welcome new flavour to eating out in Gordon’s Bay and if I have to bring with my own bottle of wine to do it (for now), then that is okay with me.

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Note: There is no corkage charged and although the most lovely hosts at Foodmandu may not sell you any liquor, they are more than happy to nip out across the road to source you some should you need it. Also, it is probably a good idea to listen to their suggestions when it comes to selecting a curry. Hot is hot!

Related Link: Foodmandu | Gordon’s Bay

A Week of Golf and Ice Cream at Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay (2018-06-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 08 SEP 2018

It’s kind of nice, this year the girls and I are getting to see quite a bit of Mossel Bay thanks to mom and dad’s place in Pinnacle Point (in particular because they managed to secure an additional week to their share, making the window of opportunity that much larger), though sadly for Chantelle, the cake business pretty much always prevents her from tagging along!

For example, these past June school holidays were especially nice – the girls and I managed to go up for a week (but only once the school concerts finally concluded of course), with the visit made that much better thanks to Riley and his two little boys also joining in for the fun.

Despite the season, we actually had some great weather and the week quickly flitted by, filled with golf cart explorations, short walks and plenty of card games. Soft serve ice creams at The Point,  putt putt at FantaSea, play time at Da Playhouse, heck, even a surprisingly good round of golf at the Mossel Bay Golf Club (where I somehow managed to split a ball in half!) all happened during the course of what was a particularly enjoyable week.

The girls and I finally got to explore the lush Harry Giddey Park, drove along the picturesque Outeniqua Mountain Pass, saw the old Post Tree, observed the fish and boarded the caravel in the Bartolomeu Dias museum complex, and in general just enjoyed a really relaxed, good time away from home.

Oh, and the girls and I even got spoiled with some whale antics in the bay on the final day of what can only be summed up as a successful school holiday family getaway.

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(Sure, mind you, it is worth mentioning that the last day wasn’t quite without its frustration. Angry people and hectic protests on the N2 shut down the main road out of Mossel Bay, and so after patiently waiting for most of the day to see if they would calm down, I eventually bit the bullet and followed the dirt back-roads to get out. Still, even that little bit of unpleasantness was in no way enough to detract from the good vibes overall!)

Related Link: Pinnacle Point Estate | Mossel Bay