Staying at the Darling Lodge Guest House in Darling (2019-05-11) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 22 OCT 2019

I celebrated my 39th birthday with a stay in the delightful little West Coast town of Darling, known for its craft beer, toffees, wild flowers, and of course Evita Bezuidenhout. As for our accommodation for the night, we ended up booking with the charming Darling Lodge Guest House.

Situated in the heart of Darling, right across from the quaint Darling Museum, the beautifully restored Victorian country home features a wonderfully tranquil, leafy garden (an absolute bird’s paradise), a swimming pool for guests to enjoy, and a bright and cheery breakfast room, ready to delight come morning.

Although there are rooms in the old Victorian house itself, we instead stayed in the slightly more modern garden annex (next to the pool), with our bedroom so nice and big and comfortable that Chantelle opted to rather stay for a nice long nap than join me for an evening stroll about the dusty streets of Darling! (It was a great walk, she missed out.)

As for the town itself, well we tasted wine at Ormonde, sampled toffees at Darling Sweet, ate nachos and imbibed beer at Darling Brew, drove around, strolled around, took photos of churches, and dined on Eisbein at Bistro Seven. (The latter was particularly good).

In fact, the only thing that we didn’t get around to was a visit to Evita se Perron. Guess that will just have to move to the top of the list for next time then! ;)

...

Craft Beer at Triggerfish Brewing in Paardevlei, Somerset West (2019-04-09) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 21 OCT 2019

The guys at Triggerfish Brewing started brewing commercially in 2010, making them the second oldest craft brewery still brewing in the greater Cape Town area. That said, they are also so tucked away that unless you know about it, you’ll probably never stumble into them either!

Situated in an old factory building deep at the back of Paardevlei (an old forgotten industrial area which is currently undergoing a massive revitalization with a hospital, houses, apartment blocks, and office space all popping up at a rapid pace (the sculptures and vlei are my favourite bits), the brewing operation is also home to a tap room, restaurant, and small live-music/event space. (Plus a small pottery studio of all things).

Popular with locals in search of a removed from the city bustle Friday night beer, Triggerfish also makes for a quirky lunch spot, with the particularly nice bonus of being able to phone in your order beforehand (if your lunch hour is say a bit on the short side), allowing you to stroll in and sit down to food that has just been made – which then is exactly what Chantelle and I took advantage of one afternoon in April.

Surprisingly, the food is actually really good, well presented, and much better than what the scribbled walls, dimly lit, and slightly falling apart building would indicate! So very much like another favourite of ours Im Eimer, where first impressions really do mask a particularly nice food experience!

Also, the craft beer is fantastic.

...

Huguenot Fine Chocolates and Pizza in Franschhoek (2019-05-18) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 20 OCT 2019

Chantelle and I woke up one Saturday and decided that we felt like a drive out to Franschhoek in order to check up on how the Theewaterskloof Dam was doing now that we were finally getting some much needed rain this winter season. (The answer, much, much better since we’d last been to see it!)

The journey out over Sir Lowry’s Pass, through the gorgeous Grabouw/Elgin Valley and then Viljoen’s Pass, past the vast Theewaterskloof Dam, and then up and over the Franschhoek Pass into Franschhoek itself is magnificently scenic, and one well worth doing if you ever get the chance.

This particular day was a beaut of a winter’s day, with clear skies and a warm sun guiding us to the food and wine capital of South Africa, where we strolled down main street, taking in the beautiful buildings, the stunning art, and the bustle of the many foreign tourists that bring Franschhoek to life.

We treated the girls with some fun (and delicious) chocolates from the excellent Huguenot Fine Chocolates boutique chocolaterie and then, because it was lunch, had pizza at the Col’cacchio next door.

...

Gordon’s Bay Primary School Family Fun Walk (2019-09-14) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 19 OCT 2019

This year we were at last able to join in the annual BP/Gordon’s Bay Primary School Family Fun Walk fundraiser, something Jessica has been keen to take part in for quite some time now. (Last year she missed out at the last minute, thanks to a cold that swooped in literally the day before!)

Our local BP petrol station does a lot of great work in support of our primary school, and this annual fun walk sees parents and kids (and anyone else that wants to join in the fun) walk a 5 km route out into the suburbs and then back to the school again.

Last year the route was apparently a bit of a nasty one in that it was all up in the steep roads behind the school (which sits at the foot of our mountain), so this year it was relief to see that the organizers had taken the commentary to heart and switched to a much more friendly flat and fast route – i.e. accessible to everyone regardless of fitness level!

Jessica and I arrived super early (expecting a massive crowd), but unfortunately the newly opened Strand Park Run (on the beach) together with the long running Somerset West Park Run (which is strangely run in rural Gordon’s Bay) ensured that this wasn’t going to be a particularly big Saturday morning event – a pity considering that this is a bit of a fundraiser for the school.

(Also, this was meant to be a colour run, but disappointingly the organizers didn’t organize very many paint packets – so most of us just had to do without. That said, a lot of people did take the yellow and green dress-up brief seriously, so that was pretty nice to see.)

Still, the crowd was big enough to make it sociable, and as for the walk itself, Jessica got a mini heart-attack when she was briefly separated from me when the crowd set off, we saw plenty of our neighbourhood friends along the route, and Jess got to walk the whole way with one of her best friends, Shaelyn.

And the amount of moaning? Surprisingly little.

...

Nature Walk around Paardevlei in Somerset West (2019-04-06) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 17 OCT 2019

All the newly developed houses, apartment blocks and office spaces are now quickly springing up all around Paardevlei, but pleasingly the nature walk that takes you around the vlei is still open to the public – and if you know about it, then you have another great stretch your legs kind of place to add to the local list.

Seeing as this particularly shallow vlei relies almost entirely on rain and ground water for its supply, this year’s decently wet winter means that the vlei is again sparkling blue, and is once more brought back to life by the cacophony of bird life that has returned to its wetland charms.

With neither Chantelle nor the girls keen on joining me for a healthy walk on this particular day, I had the excuse to leisurely walk as far as what I wanted (for those who keep track of things like that, it is more or less 3 km of path if you go right around), to go as slow as what I wanted, and to stop and take as many photos as what I wanted.

Which I then did.

I also strolled about the business area a bit, taking in all the beautiful sculpture work on display. As one does in such pretty surroundings of course!

...

Breakfast in Bredasdorp Square (2019-03-23) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 15 OCT 2019

I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to head out to see the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, and thus the family was bundled into the car and off we went. Of course, L’Agulhas isn’t exactly just down the road from Gordon’s Bay, and so a breakfast stop was very much in order. Enter Bredasdorp. Or to be more accurate, Bredasdorp Square.

With its twin Victorian style buildings (built in 1894) looming over the PE Roux Memorial Garden at the center of this Overberg hub town, Bredasdorp Square is a commercial venture with three distinct arms – namely eat, sleep and shop.

Serving breakfasts, lunches, coffee and cake, Bredasdorp Square has four different spaces for you to pull up a chair and start nibbling, namely the Veranda, Dining Lounge, Courtyard and Balcony – the latter offering you distant views of the Arniston dunes. In terms of sleeping, Bredasdorp has four stylish, Victorian bath-equipped, rooms available – all featuring queen size poster beds decked out in percale linen, ready to enforce the feeling of old world charm.

Finally, the actual shop. Tastefully styled, with a sleek upmarket feel, Bredasdorp Square specializes in stocking quality interior decor items, artisan kitchen tools, and locally crafted gifts and curios. (As you might be able to tell from the photos below, there is definitely no boere chic going on over here!)

As for my trio of girls? Well they were here for one thing and one thing only – pancakes and scones all the way!

...

Devouring Cake at Soet Society Cafe in Durbanville (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 13 OCT 2019

I turned 39 this year and decided to celebrate it by taking Chantelle away for the night to the fabulous Darling. Of course, I couldn’t quite leave the girls out of all the fun, and so on the way to dropping them off with our folks in Bellville, we decided to kick the celebrations off with an impromptu stop for coffee and cake at the delectable Soet Society Cafe in Durbanville.

Known for producing extremely delicious cakes, Soet Cakes eventually opened what has become an exceedingly popular cafe in the heart of Durbanville, with the ever so fashionable (and modern) Soet Society Cafe delighting locals with all manner of artisan breads, designer cakes, Bootlegger coffee and beautifully presented bistro food.

The eatery in fact became such a popular hub that it has since gone on to spawn the Soet Emporium, essentially welcoming small artisan businesses to join them in the building, resulting in an eclectic mix of local boutique, hair salon, decor, skincare, art gallery, and biltong shops all situated in one single space.

As for this particular visit, we picked up two trays with a whole array of small slices laid out on them, thus sampling just about all the cakes they had on offer in one single go! Absolutely delicious, and of course, absolutely too indulgent. Mind you, not that anyone minded taking these leftovers home!

...

Grille Shack at the Pitstop Lodge in Gordon’s Bay (2019-03-03) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 11 OCT 2019

A super popular new dining spot landed in Gordon’s Bay this year (or more accurately, about 5 km outside of Gordon’s Bay), and of course, given that this is my home stomping ground after all, a plan was made to go and experience it.

Situated along Clarence Drive, one of the finest and most scenic coastal drive roads in all of South Africa, the Grille Shack (at PitStop Lodge) looms large in front of a person, dressed from head to toe in midnight black with splashes of red for accent, anchored by swaying Blue Gums, and nestled in between dramatic cliffs and a sparkling blue sea.

With some owner/chef DNA coming from the equally sublime Hickory Shack on the other side of the mountain, the Grille Shack grabs its setting from 1950’s era pump diner scene, with a twist of “lekker” South African tossed in for good measure. Loads of car and other vintage memorabilia help set the style and tone, the car grilles on the wall enforce the pun of its name, and the seemingly never ending stream of petrol-heads, road-trippers, families, adventurers, hikers, locals, free spirits, cyclists and tourists ensure the vibe.

Pleasingly, the quality and presentation of the food matches the setting and vibe, and Grille Shack puts forward a strong menu that should be more than enough to keep people interested for a long time to come.

Unfortunately for us though, this particular visit of ours didn’t go quite as smoothly as one would have hoped from such a great setting. Kitchen staff trouble and a boom of visitors on the day meant that service broken down more than just a little, so ultimately we walked away a bit disappointed by our overall experience.

Nevertheless, as you might have picked up from the glowing tone of my write-up from the get go, I can’t really fault Grille Shack on this at all. After all, these things occasionally happen to just about everyone, even more so if they are new. Instead, all it means then is that I just need to try again come another day – though maybe once all the initially curious crowds have thinned just a little bit more! ;)

...

Smelling the Roses at Chart Farm in Wynberg (2019-03-17) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 08 OCT 2019

Understandably, Chantelle was a little miffed that she still hadn’t been to visit the charming Chart Farm in Wynberg, despite my blog having already loudly exclaimed what a lovely place to visit it is. Obviously this then needed to be rectified, and seeing as we were off to traipse through the gardens of Kirstenbosch for the day anyway, I carved out a little piece of time for us to also stop and smell the roses. After all, happy wife, happy life.

As I mentioned last time around, Chart Farm (situated right across from the bustling Wynberg Park) is known for cultivating all manner of fresh produce across its 18 hectares of land, but is especially known for its robust rose growing operation.

Home also to the famous Ludwig’s Roses, Chart Farm grows an amazing array of rose varietals in their rose garden, all of which can be ready picked for special orders, or if you feel like using your own hands (and the secateurs and buckets supplied down at the farm stall out in front), snipped straight off any bush that is looking at you funny.

The farm stall itself stocks a dainty selection of preserves and other produce produced on the farm, and then there is The View @ Chart Farm, a charming coffee shop that serves a mix of delicious home-made cakes and light lunches while offering up a spectacular view over what is a very lush Cape Town greenbelt area.

Although this particular visit wasn’t ever going to show off Chart Farm in its best light (at the end of rose season, loadshedding affecting the kitchen), it nevertheless did more than enough to charm Chantelle, meaning a return trip is now definitely on the cards! And so, a fan is born…

...