In April we invited Chantelle’s folks to come out and lunch with us at the Hickory Shack outside Grabouw. Lunch was as always brilliant, but for dessert I suggested that we take the kids down the road to Peregrine Farm Stall – their soft serve ice cream (from the super convenient Padkos Express outside) and tractor strewn play area is always a guaranteed hit with my girls.
Chantelle agreed, but only because I agreed to look after the girls at the outdoor play area while she and her folks grabbed some coffee and actual proper from the actual Peregrine restaurant inside.
Now I’m quite fond of the outdoor area that Peregrine Farm Stall has crafted over the last year or two. The thing is, as a farm stall/bakery/restaurant they are incredibly popular and thus incredibly busy – literally all the time – meaning that the ability to skip the crushing bustle of inside and rather relax with your kids outside is something I almost always immediately gravitate to. (So much so that I can truthfully say that I’m not sure when last I’ve actually popped my head into the farm stall proper!)
Pleasingly, given the warm weather, the soft serve ice cream that we picked up from Padkos Express was amazing, though that said, neither girl was able to make much of a dent in the huge dollop of ice cream that they each received – meaning that moi had to do some serious mop up work.
Ice cream done, the girls headed off to play, I grabbed a delicious cider from the Everson’s Cider pop-up tasting room, and went browsing, with by far the most interesting find of the day being awarded to Burning Books and its beautiful shiny red truck.
An offshoot of Liberty Books (which I don’t actually know anything about either), Burning Books (perhaps not the best of names for someone selling books) is a clever mobile bookstore – hopping about from event to event in their converted, stunningly pretty, bright red 1955 Bedford Green Goddess fire truck.
(To be fair, given that bit of information, you might now understand just where the bookstore’s name comes from. That said, I’m still not a fan of the name.)
Anyway, it is a clever thing to see, the books are all beautifully presented, and given their closeness to the play area, plenty of moms and dads seemed to be finding themselves dragged by the arm to check things out.
Clever. So, book browsing, ice cream, swings, tractors, shopping and a cider for me. Can’t say that I didn’t rather enjoy this unplanned little visit to what must surely be the most popular farm stall along the N2 highway.
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(For completeness sake, Chantelle and her folks seemed to rather enjoy their little visit as well.)
Situated in the fertile Elgin Valley, just outside of Grabouw, Peregrine began life as a humble little fruit vending stall on the side of the N2 way back in 1964, and in the many years since, has morphed into somewhat of a road trip institution for anyone travelling over Sir Lowry’s Pass.
2014 marked Peregrine Farm Stall’s 50th anniversary, but as circumstance would have it, this was also to be the year of tragedy striking in the form of a destructive kitchen fire that destroyed most of the long-standing restaurant area.
This was however a perfect opportunity for new life to be breathed into Peregrine, and the new Peregrine Cafe that rose up in the old restaurant’s place is light, open, and with a very contemporary feel to it.
While the farm stall and bakery continues its long tradition of providing excellent local produce, artisanal creations and mouthwatering bakes to the public, it is the outdoor express section (complete with takeaways, a kiddies play area, and pop-up shops) that excites my girls the most, the result being that we quite often end up at Peregrine without actually stepping inside the cafe or old farm stall itself!
Not that I mind of course, the pies are particularly excellent no matter which counter you purchase them from – and besides, the fact that they wash down pretty well with some of Everson’s excellent locally produced cider (available right there!) doesn’t hurt either.
Also, how could we NOT stop to see the giant blue bunny, courtesy of the Art@Almenkerk project!? ;)
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It’s really, really hard to miss.
The last time that I found myself at the cleverly expanded Peregrine Farm Stall (which in truth is a lot bigger than just a simple farm stall these days), I didn’t get around to doing a tasting at the Everson’s Cider pop-up tasting room.
This time around though, despite the allure of the wonderful Elgin Open Gardens weekend that was now in full swing (which led to a lot of new exploring for us mind you), I made the effort and was rewarded with some really good cider in return!
First things first though – I needed to bribe the girls with some softserve ice cream from Padkos Express first! (Yes, shamefully, that is a pie and coffee in the picture as well. It is unavoidable really – Peregrine’s pies are excellent!)
Thanks to the Elgin Open Gardens attracting away most of the crowd that one would usually find milling about the always popular Peregrine Farm Stall, the girls and I got to enjoy a slightly quieter than normal play area, and the girls lost no time in enjoying the tractors, swings and jungle gym to the fullest!
Happy that the girls were now quite content with life (and having fun at the same time), I sauntered over to the Everson’s Cider tasting room (which is a cleverly remodelled shipping container, courtesy of Rocketfuel), grabbed a stool and got to tasting their five cider varietals.
In general I rather enjoy ciders, and other than the mulled cider which I wasn’t particularly fond of, the original, cloudy and pear ciders (all made from local Elgin fruit) were all pretty good, whilst the pomegranate cider was certainly an interesting taste.
Of course, the girls were super interested in what I was doing and soon arrived to steal some of my complimentary crisps – essentially the only way that I could convince them to both run off and play again!
So all in all, a good experience and certainly an outing that both the girls and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out of!
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Worth noting, but on the way home I decided to turn up one of the dirt roads and do some exploring around the ever shrinking rural bits of Gordon’s Bay – areas that most locals don’t even know still exist. The dirt roads lead to some interesting sights, including a beautiful example of classic Cape Dutch architecture, ornate gable and all! This though is not a picture of that house:
(By this stage, both girls were quite tired, not enjoying the bumpy dirt roads, and definitely not pleased with their dad that kept stopping the car to get out and take some photos!)
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Anyway, back to the original subject of this post. Here is a handy map to Peregrine Farm Stall and therefore Everson’s Cider tasting room (open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm):
Situated in the fertile Elgin valley, just past Grabouw, and first established way back in 1964, the ever popular Peregrine Farm Stall is somewhat of a mainstay when it comes to farm stall stops along the N2!
But this is no tired looking old farm stall any more mind you.
Following a devastating fire in 2014, Peregrine Farm Stall has rebuilt itself with a new focused identity (previously the cafe section was known as the Red Tractor Cafe), making for a fresh, delightful stop just before you tackle the scenic Sir Lowry’s Pass on your way down to Cape Town.
In addition to the classic farm stall, the freshly baked pies and breads from the bakery, and the newly rebuilt, modern cafe, Peregrine Farm Stall have also gone and expanded by erecting the beautiful little Padkos Express food bar, which now overlooks the also expanded children’s play area.
The play area is now dotted with old tractors, swings and jungle gym equipment, with the whole area being circled by beautiful little wooden pop-up shop boxes – making for a great family stop spot if you have small kids like I do.
As you may have guessed, the girls loved clambering all over the old tractor shells, while I made myself comfortable with a nice hot coffee and springbok pie!
Also, a nice bonus is the newly added Everson’s Cider Tasting Room which offers cider tasting from nearby produced (and quite frankly excellent) Everson’s range.
So yes, no wonder then that the newly refreshed Peregrine Farm Stall stop remains being as popular with both locals and travelers as what it is!
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They’ve been here since 1964, but just in case you still don’t know where to find them, here’s a handy Google map:
(Of course, if you are looking for something a little more ‘adult’ in terms of experience, then you could always just pop into the gorgeous Pool Room at Oak Valley Estate just down the road!)
In the middle of Houw Hoek Pass, as you travel between Grabouw and Bot River, you will pass by a very hard to miss white and green building, tucked away in a rocky corner with undoubtedly a lot of cars parked outside.
The popular building in question is of course the longstanding Houw Hoek Farm Stall, known for its quality, fresh, homemade breads, pies and bakes – a trait that makes it rather popular little stop among the locals.
Also, in addition to a good selection of local wines on sale, the shop section is stocked with all manner fresh fruits and vegetables from the farms of the surrounding Elgin Valley, all complemented by the normal farm stall home industry staples like biscuits, jams, biltong, and of course – cake.
Seeing as this is a chef-owned-managed business, the food and coffee on offer in the welcoming little coffee shop is particularly decent, and bonus, if sitting at a table and chairs doesn’t quite appeal to you on the day, then you will be pleased to know that picnic baskets can also be prepared on request.
Somewhat surprisingly, Houw Hoek Farm Stall is also home to three dams stocked with Rainbow trout – making it a great spot for some fly fishing then. (Naturally, rods and tackle can be hired from the farm stall itself.)
Oh, and finally they have a nice little space out in front that is open enough for the little ones to run around and give their legs a stretch.
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(Bonus: Just in case you were wondering, this particular stop took place back in March this year, when Jessica and myself drove up for a long weekend away with my folks in their place at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay.)
The plan had originally been for me to have lunch with the girls over at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club in Grabouw. However, that plan was abruptly put paid to on discovery of one lone “beware of snakes” signboard at the country club, meaning that a new plan was now hastily required – which is exactly then how we ended up for lunch at the nearby The Orchard Farm Stall instead.
(Honestly, it is just as worthwhile a stop as its more famous competitor farm stall!)
What’s particularly nice about The Orchard is its huge patch of lawn stretched out in front of the restaurant area, meaning plenty of run around space for the kids, thereby ensuring a reasonably good chance of being able to sit quietly and enjoy an ice cold beer.
(Incidentally, the Hermanus produced Old Harbour Beer is a pretty good craft beer, just in case you aren’t sure on what to have when there).
The farm stall itself, billed as the The Orchard Elgin Country Market, is superbly well stocked, with plenty of interesting produce and home industry items to cast your eye on, with the ambiance on whole being pretty friendly and pretty laid back.
Also, because The Orchard usually makes an effort in terms of providing some things for the kids to do (in this case a jumping castle and quadbike train rides), the girls were pretty satisfied with my hastily revised plan on the day.
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All in all, a great space to stretch the legs if you are on the road with little kids.
Related Link: The Orchard Farm Stall
The first thing you’ll see is the large rolling green lawn of The Orchard Farm Stall, a large airy farm stall filled with all manner of home made treats, farm produce and of course arts and crafts.
Of more importance to us here is the attached coffee shop / restaurant, which features a host of well priced, simple food options, covering you if you just want to stop and have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, or sit down and devour lunch proper.
The huge green lawn means that there is ample space for the kids to run around and play, and the owners also have had a little jungle gym with swings installed, perfect to keep the little ones busy.
Also, there seems to be a permanent jump castle setup as well – which needless to say keeps the kiddies pretty happy!
So if you want to get some fresh air, let the kids run around a bit, and just sit and relax, then a stop at The Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw is certainly not a bad option.
(My only complaint is a little one – given that it sits right on the N2, you do get the noise of the passing traffic – but in the same breath that gives you a little more to see and to talk about, so it’s not all that bad!)
Note, if your kids are of the older variety, then another great option slightly further along the route is Peregrine Farm Stall and its associated Red Tractor Cafe – looking particularly good following its recent refurbishment.
Oh, and on the way back, don’t forget to pull over and stop at the Sir Lowry’s Pass viewpoint. Stunning views of the False Bay, Gordon’s Bay, Strand, and Somerset West guaranteed!
(The day that these photos were taken proved to be a little too windy for the girls – they were back inside the car before you could blink!)
Sunday afternoon drives for the sake of Sunday afternoon drives are often quite enjoyable. This particular Sunday drive saw us head out over Sir Lowry’s Pass, through Grabouw, along the picturesque Viljoen’s Pass, past Theewaterskloof Dam and into Villiersdorp. One u-turn later and we were now on the R43, joining up with the N2 just before Dassiesfontein – the perfect excuse to at last stop and stretch our legs.
I have written about the unique little farm stall/restaurant that is Dassiesfontein before, and just like our last visit, it was a case of petting the donkeys, browsing through the inexhaustible pile of home decor odds and ends, and glancing over all the produce and crafts on display. (Honestly, this could probably take all day if you let it!)
Also, refreshing ginger beer and ice cream was had by all.
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To cap off our more than decent roundabout drive, we next popped into the ever reliable (and popular) Peregrine farm stall to stock up on some delicious supplies.
So all in all, not a bad Sunday drive to say the least.
The fact that I was going to be away for business in Sandton for my birthday back in May, meant that Chantelle and I bumped things up a little and headed out to breathtaking Franschhoek the weekend preceding Monday the 11th, free of the kids (thanks grandparents!) and ready to take in some culture!
Early Friday afternoon saw us hit the road, and the impromptu decision to head out to Franschhoek by looping around Viljoen’s Pass and then Franschhoek Pass was a good indicator of how the weekend was going to be. Relaxed, fun, and full of beautiful things.
An unplanned stop at the Peregrine Farm Stall resulted in some delicious coffee and cake to start things off, and then it was back on the road for what was one of the more scenic drives that I’ve enjoyed for quite some time!
The guest house that Chantelle had picked out for us (she organised the entire weekend mind you!) was a place by the name of Maison d’Ail – a luxurious guest house nestled under the Franschhoek mountains, fronted with a beautiful pool and even more majestic views. Given that there weren’t any other bookings for the weekend, the owner graciously upgraded us to his luxury suite – which came with its own little balcony and even more views of Franschhoek mountains!
The guest house was perfect, the food great and the accommodation comfortable – not that we spent all that much time there mind you. This was to be a proper weekend of being out and about! :)
Chantelle and I enjoyed a relaxing stroll around Franschhoek before heading out to supper on Friday evening, picking out the French Connection Bistro as our place of choice for the evening. As expected, both the food and wine was excellent, and seated outside for the view and fresh air, we were treated to a fantastic night out and about in Franschhoek.
Saturday morning was an early start, as we raced away after a hearty breakfast to an undisclosed location, me genuinely excited at not knowing where we were heading or what my big birthday surprise was meant to be, Chantelle super excited by the fact that I was both so excited and clueless at the same time!
Sadly for her though, her big surprise was ruined, when, after arriving at the Stellenbosch Flying Club (my mouth was hanging on the floor at this stage), a young pilot let us know that due to the overcast conditions at all the other landing strips, my intro flight had to unfortunately be cancelled. Absolute devastation.
Shame, Chantelle was literally in tears! (Note: a lot of rescheduling later, I did eventually go up in a Cessna Skyhawk – it was awesome!)
So it was a sad drive back to Franschhoek for Chantelle, but thankfully our next stop was exactly what was needed to bring back a little cheer to her face – the ‘chocolate experience’ tasting and informational session at the Belgian-trained chocolatiers, Huguenot Fine Chocolates.
Following that, we strolled around Franschhoek a bit, taking in the great sunshine and atmosphere, stopped for some coffee at Sacred Ground (the coffee shop / bakery that Chantelle used to supply with cupcakes and cakes back in the day), and booked our tickets for the Wine Tram experience on Sunday.
With that done, it was on to the next site for the day: Johan Rupert’s fabulous Franschhoek Motor Museum at the L’Ormarins Estate. Chantelle had organised a tour guide for the session, and we spent the next couple of informative hours strolling through the four massive barns filled with some of the most beautiful classic cars you have ever seen – an experience which even load shedding couldn’t take the shine off of!
And then the day got even better.
As we stepped out of the front door following our excursion, I was greeted by a beautiful 1959 Cadillac Series 62 convertible – to which Chantelle then strode and climbed in!
Yes, Chantelle had organised for us to be driven along the estate, stopping for a light snack in between. What a fantastic experience!
The excitement of the car museum behind us, we then decided to head out on a bit of a drive, and made our way through to the Hillcrest Berry Orchards for some scones and tea – a personal favourite of Chantelle and something we do without fail at least once or twice a year! :)
Relaxed, full and rather content with life in general, we finally headed back to Maison d’Ail to put our feet up for a little bit, before once again heading into Franschhoek, our goal the fabulous Roca restaurant perched on the top of a hill on the Dieu Donne wine estate.
Needless to say, the food at this particularly cosy and majestic eatery was absolutely brilliant!
Sunday was to be the day of wine, and following a good night’s rest and a great breakfast, we packed our bags, bid farewell to Maison d’Ail and headed off to the pickup point for the Franschhoek Wine Tram, looking forward to our first ever taste of their hop-on hop-off tour.
We selected the estates that we wanted to visit (in the end, we only made it to three of the six on our particular line!), and off we went, the cute and clever little tram and busses shuttling us off to the most wine tasting sessions we’ve ever experienced in a single day!
Rickety Bridge, Grande Provence, La Couronne – we had an absolute blast, took in some beautiful views of both landscape and art, enjoyed particularly good wines, experienced a cellar tour and even paired chocolates, cheeses and wine!
An absolute stunning day out which I can only but highly recommend to anyone who enjoys drinking wine!
And that was that.
The weekend was over and reality returned, meaning that after a quick stop for a bite to eat and coffee to rid us of the last tipsy effects thanks to all the wine, it was off to Bellville in order to pick up the kids and then finally back home.
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Without a doubt, a birthday weekend to remember! :)