Paragliders and Softserve along the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town (2020-02-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 MAY 2020

The Covid-19 coronavirus is currently happily running amok and we’re rightfully locked down in the hopes of slowing down the spread of the virus. Of course, before it reached our shores we were still okay with walking about among crowds of other people, which is exactly what the girls and I did following one Saturday morning visit to Cape Town’s historic Castle of Good Hope – with a meander down Sea Point’s famous promenade.

Stretching for ±7km along the Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Town’s most popular (and Instagrammable) promenade takes you all the way from Mouille Point to Sea Point, hugging the coastline with its broad walkway and panoramic views of the ocean and your Cape Town surroundings (complete with big ships lazily floating by). The iconic views of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain all slowly shift into focus as you stroll by the tiny beaches of Rocklands, Graaf’s Pool, Milton and Brokenbath along the way.

Populated with all manner of Capetonians keeping fit with runs, cycles and walks, the promenade is always busy, with swathes of open space filled with gym equipment, art installations and children’s jungle gyms, enough to entertain even the littlest among us. At the far end is the Sea Point public swimming pool, always a smash hit on a hot Summer’s day, as well as a small collection of food, ice cream and beverage vendors – plus an option or two to rent a drop and go bicycle if you are tired of tackling the walk on foot!

Dodging all the descending paragliders, the girls and I joined the promenade at Three Anchor Bay for this particular outing, soaking up the sun as we strolled up to the swimming pools, stopping every couple of minutes to play on a jungle gym or art installation (or in my case to take a photo or three). At the turn around point we stopped for a delicious softserve ice cream and something to drink, before heading back for one last jungle gym bit of play where we parked. It was hot, it was sweaty, Emily was moaning, but I had a ball.

Always such a great spot to grab some lekker Cape Town photos:

USA 2019 – 02 Strolling around Downtown and Chinatown in Washington DC (2019-10-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 MAY 2020

To be clear, most people probably wouldn’t enjoy going on holiday with me. I don’t want to go somewhere to relax – my life is relaxed enough – so instead I go somewhere to see as many new things as what I possibly can. Case in point, after arriving at the Hampton Inn and stowing my bags, I immediately changed into my comfortable walking shoes and headed straight out the door onto the streets of Washington D.C. (Jet Lag? To be honest, to this day I still don’t actually know what that is.)

Now I don’t have any real experience with cities. I have never lived nor worked in a city, so a visit to a proper city is always a big visual treat for me. (For reference, my nearest city is Cape Town, which beauty aside, is not a particularly big one – i.e. it counts, but it also doesn’t really count). Of course, I also don’t plan anything ever anyway, so my first Washington D.C. mission was a simple one. Get a visual idea of where I am, take a photo of the street name so I should be able to make my way back to it, and then just head off in a general direction until I get tired.

The general style of downtown Washington D.C. is in a word stately – so many amazing, massive government linked buildings clad in this amazingly solemn stone, standing upright and staring down upon you. The city is seemingly lined with trees and littered with small parks, almost all of which feature at least one stone or bronze statue celebrating some historically once relevant citizen like Edmond Burke or Samuel Gompers for example.

My initial foray into Washington D.C. started in the Chinatown district with its decidedly Asian-influenced twist on primarily Western architecture, before opening up into the more classical buildings of the Mt. Vernon Square area, as I slowly picked my way down the big avenues towards Lafayette Square, The White House and the National Mall area in general.

Honestly, I was a little in heaven. The scale of the buildings, the historical nature of most of the things around me, and the fact that on weekends the city itself grows quiet – literally the perfect place for me to be meandering through on foot. So, so many interesting buildings and statues to stop and take photos of, so so many things to go back and look up on the Internet once I eventually made it back to my hotel room following the setting of the sun and thus end of my walking adventure.

These are the photos grabbed at the start and the end of this great big circular walk that took me all the way to the White House, Albert Einstein, the Washington Monument and back again! (The rest are still to follow in blog posts all of their own…)

The Lowering Bridge at the Waterfront at Knysna Quays (2020-01-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAY 2020

Chantelle and I decided to take the girls out on the Knysna Lagoon as part of our late December School Holidays getaway down in the Garden Route, and so following a delightful morning of meandering through Sedgefield’s vast Saturday morning market scene of Wild Oats, Mosaic, and Scarab Village, we continued the scenic drive that had taken us all the way from Mossel Bay to George to Sedgefield to Wilderness and finally to Knysna, ending up right in front of the Featherbed Co.’s ticket office at the Knysna Waterfront.

Part of the idyllic Knysna Quays, a recreational harbour complex complete with waterfront and accommodation offerings, the Knysna Waterfront is yet another fantastic Knysna destination with its picturesque views over the lagoon, its pretty design aesthetic, its colourful selection of eateries, and of course its rich selection of boutique shopping. Perfect tourist fodder really.

Given that we don’t really ever plan these outings very well, we had some time to kill before our Featherbed ferry was to depart, and so we meandered through the Waterfront area, peeking into the shops, taking LOTS of photos, and then finally grabbing a seat at the seemingly popular Italian-themed Caffe Mario for some refreshments and a light bite to eat – all the while watching the lowering bridge theatrically rise up and down to allow yachts and other little boats entry into the canals every now and then.

So definitely no complaints from and me certainly one of those perfect inhabited spots to soak up some vibe and while away a little time on such a strikingly beautiful Summer’s day.

A Jump4Joy Emily Birthday Party in Somerset West (2020-02-29) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2020

As a lot of parents with young kids will know, having a child whose birthday falls within the school holidays inevitably means never throwing the big birthday party on their actual birthday – case in point our dear Emily, who turned six on January 13 but who had to wait all the way to the end of February to enjoy her big birthday bash!

To be fair, our reasoning was rock solid with this one. Seeing as Emily was starting out fresh with Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary School this year, Chantelle wanted to give her a little time to first make some friends so that we could invite kids from her class to the party. This approach paid off handsomely, resulting in a very successful llama themed party populated by a host of her new friends!

As for the venue, we picked the Somerset West branch of Jump4Joy, an indoor trampoline park tucked away in Somerset West’s industrial area which, although lacking the polish of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs’ offerings like Rush and be.UP, had everything we needed in terms of space and entertainment for the young ones.

Chantelle donned her Helderberg Cake Company cap and went all out in making a host of llama themed delights (we’re talking a smorgasbord of delightfully decorated cake, cookies, doughnuts and cake pops here), and the kids had an absolute blast bouncing around and getting rid of all their energy. In other words, total success! :)

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2019-12-31) Photo Gallery 25 APR 2020

So with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 image dump posts of all the photos which aren’t linked to a blog post now sitting all safe and sound with my web host, I guess that I need to add the 2019 batch as well, seeing as we are now well and truly into 2020. (Also, sorry for not doing one of my annual Goodbye Hello posts at the start of this year – honestly they’ve become a little too routine to continue for now).

This particular selection features first days, sport, concerts and voting at Gordon’s Bay Primary School, Mark Haze at Die Boer in Durbanville, a turn at Home Affairs in Somerset West, the view from my office in Westlake, Ocean Basket’s Harbour Island View in Gordon’s Bay, the solar panel parking and delicious green curry from Wang Thai at The Sanctuary in Somerset West, wine and cheese tasting at Steenberg Vineyards, planes at the Stellenbosch Flying Club airstrip, views from Somerset Mall and the Helderberg Shopping Centre of all places, a Somerset West night time Christmas market, walks along the Lourens River, strolls along the Strand beach promenade, and of course scenes from our home here in beautiful little Gordon’s Bay.

Plus Belgian waffles – because those things are of course delightful.

A Photo Walk at the V&A Waterfront and Silo District in Cape Town (2019-12-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 APR 2020

Forever on the prowl for entertaining things to do with the girls (that also just so happens to get me out of the house and away from the keyboard), this past December school holidays saw me gather Jessica and Emily up in the car, hand over our old point-and-click Sony Cybershot camera to them, and then head off to Cape Town’s premier tourist trap, the V&A Waterfront for a bit of a photo walk about.

The V&A Waterfront is of course ridiculously photogenic, and after parking in one of the many underground parking garages lining the Waterfront, we started our journey with a jaunt through the Victoria Wharf shopping mall in all of its African Christmas decorated glory. Surprisingly, and rather incredibly so, we struck it lucky with our timing because for the most part the Waterfront wasn’t its usual bustling throng of people self, meaning that we had plenty of space to amble, stop and take photos, and not desperately cling to each others’ arms to ward off getting separated and thus lost.

Exiting the shopping complex, our next stop was photos of the golden Oscar the Seal statue standing tall in front of Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel, before sauntering back past some pretty boats and painted rhinos to catch a fun little kids Christmas-themed sing and dance featuring mascots Jellie, Buttercup and Zoemba. Show done, we ambled past the restaurants to Nobel Square, took some photos and then cut past the Alfred Mall to pay a quick photo visit to the Cape Town Comedy Club building, the V&A Food Market building and the colourful curio filled Watershed (complete with its striking Falko One elephant and recycled/reclaimed plastics chandelier.)

The drydock too made for a good photo opportunity, but truth be told, the girls were far more interested in our time spent watching the cape fur seals play fighting and sunning themselves over at the Two Oceans Aquarium Seal Platform! We then marched away from the crowds, over the lifting bridge and past the elegant Cape Grace Hotel, before circling back to once again enter the waterfront area through the now quite artsy Silo Distict.

Impressive public art installations aside (like Dylan Lewis’ scene stealing walking fragment sculpture), I did of course select the Silo District as our turnaround point because we could stop and enjoy a selection of fine Lindt chocolates from the Lindt Silo Chocolate Studio – which I’m pleased to report went down a proper treat with the girls who at this point were just starting to moan about having to walk so far!

A spin in the Zeitz MOCCA spinning top chairs, a little play time on the jellyfish kinetic sculptures, and a crossing over the newly renovated swing bridge, we left the silo and clock tower districts behind, were forced to rewatch the Jellie, Buttercup and Zoemba amphitheatre show on Emily’s insistence, and finally wound our way back through the now slightly heavier crowds at the mall to find our car still happily parked in the shade of the underground garage.

Mission complete, and yes, we generated a LOT of photos.

Arts and Crafts at the Mosaic Village and Outdoor Market in Sedgefield (2020-01-04) Markets | Photo Gallery 15 APR 2020

Sedgefield. After purchasing all your fresh farm produce from the excellent (and famous) Wild Oats Community Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, your next step would undoubtedly be to simply cross the road and mosey in among the craft stalls of sister markets, the Mosaic Outdoor Market and the Scarab Village Craft Market.

The Mosaic Outdoor Market forms part of the Mosaic Village complex, a space mostly dedicated to art and sculpture businesses and its Saturday morning market offering strongly reflects this, with a large portion of the stallholders presenting the results of their artistic endeavours for sale.

Of course, all the other little odds and ends that you would expect from a market are also on sale, and to round off the offering, there are a few interesting food options as well. There’s a spacious space in the middle to sit down and enjoy a beer or two, and of course, given the general buzz of this part of Sedgefield on a Saturday morning, the vibe and bustle make for a great morning outing.

Right next door to the Mosaic Village (separated this time by an Engen garage) is the Scarab Art and Craft Village with its Saturday morning craft market, which is equally filled with a wide range of interesting art and textile products. Of course, the elephant dung paper, wooden owl boxes and the all important Sedgefield Craft Brewery all put on a strong show, and as with the Mosaic market, there is plenty of seating available for you to sit down and enjoy the hustle, as well as a small area to let the kids get rid of some of their pent up energy. (After all, it’s pretty boring going stall hopping if you’re a kid. Or at least that is what my two girls tell me!)

The Sedgefield market scene is incredibly strong and vibrant and the amount of visitors it attracts on a Saturday morning is truly something to behold. Something for literally everyone and you can easily lose yourself for an entire morning here among all the stalls. We kind of did.

Bunnies and Decor at Root 44 in Stellenbosch (2019-11-10) Markets | Photo Gallery 11 APR 2020

Having already wrapped up some stall browsing and pancake snacking at the always vibey Winelands Markets at Blaauwklippen (aka the old Blaauwklippen Family Market), we decided to also pop our heads in at the equally enjoyable Root44 market more or less just down the road, pretty much only because it had been quite a while since Chantelle had last visited there.

Situated on the Audacia Wines estate (right next to the big Mooiberge strawberry farm with all its crazy colourful scarecrows), Root44 is a sprawling market space with its ample food and craft traders operating out of big sturdy marquee tents, absolute loads of seating for visitors (both covered and uncovered), space for the kids to get rid of their energy, and constant music to entertain the seemingly never ending stream of people paying them a visit every Saturday and Sunday from 09:00 all the way to 16:00 in the afternoon!

Lots of beer and wine swirl together with all manner of prepared foods across a variety cuisine styles, all mixing it up with a wide variety of crafters showing off their wares. Simply put, there is usually a little something for pretty much everyone that visits. In addition to all of that, the fact that the market is situated in the Stellenbosch winelands also means then that the experience comes with some pretty spectacular mountain and vineyard views, thus making it a particularly perfect spot for groups of friends or families to congregate and enjoy a lazy day outside in each other’s company.

Chantelle, the girls, and I enjoyed a leisurely explorative stroll through all the big tents, managed to gather a small helping of various snacks from the food stall section, and amazingly found a table to claim and hunker down around. Also, as expected, I took a lot of photos.

And yes, those are indeed giant wooden bunnies in the picture above.

Wild Flower Watching in the West Coast National Park near Langebaan (2019-09-01) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 APR 2020

With the start of each Spring, the months of August and September see our West Coast region bursting with colorful carpets of wild flowers, instantly transforming this laid back and generally quiet part of South Africa into a total tourist mecca. With people streaming in from all over Cape Town and its surrounds, the West Coast and its sister Namaqualand are simply put, the places to be if you want to go flower watching.

The West Coast National Park (one of the few national parks that I’m actually older than seeing as it was only officially proclaimed in 1985, a full 5 years after I was born) is a 36,000 hectare strong nature reserve centered around the Langebaan Lagoon. Lying 120 km north of Cape Town, the park is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the R27 coastal road, and stretches from Yzerfontein in the south right up to Langebaan and its lagoon in the north. (It also has a few islands in Saldanha Bay attached as well).

The park is home to a number of antelope species, including eland, red hartebeest, bontebok, kudu, gemsbok, steenbok, and duiker, as well as ostriches and a host of smaller animals like the bat-eared fox, caracal, and Cape gray mongoose. Bird life is of course abundant (a bird watcher’s dream to be sure) and many Palearctic migrants spend their winter months around the Langebaan Lagoon. The coastal islands at the mouth of the lagoon are important breeding colonies for Cape and Hartlaub’s gull, Cape gannet, cormorants, terns and even the African penguin.

Then there is the flora of course, and coastal fynbos and scrub aside, the Postberg Flower Reserve (privately owned land situated within the national park’s bounds and which is included as a “contractual national park”) is the site where the majority of the annual Spring wild flowers bloom, making it the focal point come flower season.

The lack of big predators means that much of the park is open for human outdoor activities like walking, hiking, mountain bike riding, and jogging. There are a number braai facilities scattered around at sites like Tsaarsbank and Preekstoel (named after a large uniquely shaped rock found there), as well as spots to cool down on both the banks of the lagoon and the ocean. (The lagoon is also home to house boats that you can rent as accommodation).

I took Chantelle and the girls out for a flower watching jaunt last Spring, and as expected (due to the lengthy period of drought that the Western Cape had just emerged from), the flower bloom really wasn’t nearly as good as what we’ve encountered before, with many previously blanketed swathes of fields and koppies devoid of any of the characteristic carpets of colour that we’ve come to associate them with.

Nevertheless, it was a delightful drive through nature, and the lack of large crowds (because of the decreased amount of flowers on display) meant that it was slightly less stressful and we had a lot more opportunity to stop and explore than what we have had before.

We ended off our day of flower watching with a slightly overpriced lunch at the onsite Geelbek Restaurant (love its historic Cape Dutch building though!), before heading back out of the park to hit the long road home – but only because by this point Chantelle had had enough viewing for the day and wouldn’t let me traipse over to the bird hide on the lagoon!

I’ve mentioned before that the West Coast National Park is probably not the most exciting of our national parks to take a self drive through if you are interested in actual game watching, but regardless of that, the wide open space, the fresh air, and the long empty views do make for an excellent break from city/suburban life. Plus, if you go there during flower season (on a good year and somehow manage to miss the big crowd that comes along with it), it truly is an amazing natural sight to behold!