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!)
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.)
To round off our weekend away with Oupa and Ouma in Barrydale, we stopped for lunch on the way home, pulling in at The Orchard Farm Stall & Coffee Shop in Grabouw – a pleasant N2 stop that I’ve mentioned before, perfect if you have kids that need a little space to run around while you tuck into something a little more substantial.
As luck would have it, by now we had escaped the overcast weather that had followed us all the way to Swellendam from Warmwaterberg Spa, meaning that we were treated to blue skies and a little bit of sunshine to go with it.
We picked an outside table, meaning that Jessica and Emily could get on with running around, climbing the jungle gym and falling off the swings.
Sadly though, Emily did have a bit of an accident with the milkshake, but other than that, we enjoyed a pleasant family lunch (hamburgers and sandwiches!) before saying our goodbyes and parting ways.
In other words, great end to our little Warmwaterberg Spa weekend adventure!
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(Oh, and in case you spotted the different timestamps on the photos, yes we did actually stop there on the way up – to stock up on biltongs and pies for the road!)
Related Link: The Orchard Farm Stall & Coffee Shop
Wow, for a change I got to pretty much spend the entirety of last weekend in Chantelle’s company, something which probably hasn’t happened in literally months! :)
After working from home on Friday (official office move was still in progress, meaning I was getting more done from here than what I could achieve over there), the evening was pretty much dominated by me rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in with helping Chantelle finish off all the preparations for the Willowbridge Market the next day.
Saturday kicked off like most market Saturdays, with Chantelle bolting out in the wee early hours of the morning, leaving me to take care of Jess until early afternoon before joining up with the family in Bellville, though this one took a sharp twist as instead of taking Jessie with to visit mommy at her stall as per usual, I dropped her off in the capable hands of Rob and Monty and headed out solo to the market, where I joined up with Cheryl and Chantelle in their stall, muscling my way to the front before donning my gleaming salesman demeanour as I worked the available foot traffic and in the process, managed to net quite a number of sales as well as the incredulous stares from a rather astonished pair of Chantelle and her mom!
After closing up shop following a now rather successful market, next on the weekend stop list was a spot of shopping at Ackermans in Tygervalley in the hopes of finding some replacement pyjamas and long sleeve tops for Jessie, following the accidental permanent disposal of some of her clothes by Rob the previous week.
As it turned out Ackermans once again didn’t let us down, meaning that the next item on the agenda was to drop Jessica off back with her Ouma and Oupa and Chantelle and I prepared to head out to meet up with the posse Evan had managed to round up in order to catch the awesome Avengers movie at Cape Gate.
A quick round of McDonald’s before the start (well, he had the group of 12 assembled an hour before the screening just to be safe!), and after a lengthy queue to grab some popcorn and drinks, it was into the cinema where we proceeded to all marvel at the fantastic Joss Whedon spectacular that is the Avengers movie (in 3D!).
Jaw-droppingly satisfying comic book action film is perhaps the only way I can explain it – truly Avengers cannot be criticised on any level, bringing with it an intensely enjoyable mix of fine actors, awesome visuals, action, humour and a great story. (To be quite frank, I haven’t stopped gushing about the film and it has been a week now!)
Being parents now for the most of us meant no hanging around to chat after the group filed out of the cinema, but it did mean that Chantelle and I got a good night’s sleep in, unexpected and rather pleasing considering that two weeks ago Jessica had made it almost impossible to sleep with whatever was paining her so on the night!
Refreshed, we tackled Sunday morning by getting stuck in to the packing up adventure, before heading out in convoy (Chantelle was driving her Dad’s car, Monty and Cheryl were in the Tucson, Mom and Dad were in their Lexus SUV and I of course was in the Getz), winding our way out into the Cape Winelands region, targeting the interesting sounding Babylonstoren Farm for an afternoon out and about.
Of course, we should have picked up something fishy when GPS revealed a POI named Backsberg/Babylonstoren, as it first lead us to Backsberg wine estate, before allowing us to reach a closed due to over capacity Babylonstoren farm. Not wanting to waste time by sitting around and doing nothing, the Lotter/Montgomery convoy opted to continue the journey out to Pniel, targeting the always fabulous Hillcrest Berry Orchard, where in the end we feasted on some of the most delectable scones, cream and jam you’ll find anywhere in the Cape!
After an enjoyable kuier, it was time to part ways, meaning a trip back to Gordon’s Bay for Chantelle, Jessie and I, which really brings me to the end of this little weekend update post.
Back in April this year we enjoyed a nice long weekend thanks to Freedom Day falling on a Monday, and looking back at the photos, it looks like we might just have filled up the weekend with visits to perennial weekend favourites of ours – namely Root 44 market, Mondeor Garden Restaurant, and of course, ponies and pancakes at the Blaauwklippen Family Market.
Seems like a decent way to spend a family-orientated weekend to me! :)
And Monday the public holiday? Well that saw us drive through to Grabouw of all places.
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Related Link: Freedom Day
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! :)