All posts by Craig Lotter

About Craig Lotter

Software developer, husband and dad to two little girls. Writer behind An Exploring South African. I don't have time for myself any more.

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!

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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!

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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!

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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! ;)

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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…

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Onion Rings and Fries at Wooden Barrel in Hermanus (2019-08-25) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 05 OCT 2019

This year’s annual outing to Hermanus in the hopes of spotting some Walker Bay whales was unfortunately a bit of a flop. The day started out promising enough, with blue skies, excited family, and a nice scenic drive out to the area, but that shine soon rubbed off as the clouds pulled in, the drizzle stopped by to say hi, and the whales made it abundantly clear that either they weren’t actually in the bay yet, or if they were, today was simply not going to be the day that they reveal themselves to a more than slightly dejected wife sitting next to me.

We started the day’s adventure first with a drive up to Fernkloof Nature Reserve to have a bit of a look around, then on to Grotto Beach to start the whale watching hunt, followed by stops at Voelklip Beach, Kammabaai Beach, Langbaai Beach, Kwaaiwater and finally Sievers Point.

Roman Rock and Kraal Rock didn’t turn up any sightings either, so we gave up at this point and went off in search for a spot of late lunch instead. At this stage the clouds were quite threatening in terms of rain, so after some milling about (i.e. I was sneaking in some sights), we settled on the menu at the Wooden Barrel bistro, opposite The Cliff Tops Piazza and sitting in the space which if I remember correctly was Europa (an old favourite of ours).

Surprisingly, lunch was rather nice, but still, it wasn’t enough to lift the mood of our by now very disappointed whale enthusiast. Plus it was getting progressively wetter, so we called it a day and headed back home.

So a bit of a soggy, unrewarding outing this one.

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December Holiday Family Fun in Mossel Bay (2018-12-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 OCT 2019

So the last term of school has just kicked off, meaning that we are now happily barreling towards the end of the year again. I’m not entirely sure what we’ll end up doing for the holidays this time around, but last year certainly saw us repeat what has become a bit of a tradition over the last couple of years – i.e. spend a chunk of the December school holidays with family on Pinnacle Point Estate in Mossel Bay.

Having now well established that December in the Mossel Bay/Hartenbos area is absolute chaos because of the hordes of people that make their way down to this popular coastal resort town for the holidays, we much better tailored our holiday expectations and managed to miss pretty much all of the crowds.

That’s not to say we just stayed in the estate and didn’t have any fun. Besides the swimming, exploring and enjoying of the natural fynbos beauty of Pinnacle Point, we also indulged in plenty of ice-cream fuelled strolls at The Point and Cape St. Blaize Cave in Mossel Bay, silly fun at Tuinplaas in Albertinia, cotton candy and wine at Jakkelsvlei near Herbertsdale, a walk through the ferns and forest in the Garden of Eden outside Knysna, fresh farm produce at Wild Oats market in Sedgefield, coffee and sliders at Getafix in George, and of course marvelled at the lions and jaguars of Jukani and the pigeons and parrots of the Birds of Eden at The Crags near Plettenberg Bay.

We tucked into donuts in Hartenbos, ambled down the beach in Dana Bay, took a bite at the Nibbling Squirrel in Riversdale, enjoyed refreshments at Pure Craft & Foods in George, admired the lagoon and Heads of Knysna, watched the sunset in Buffalo Bay, and sipped on milkshakes from Milk & Sugar in Buffeljagsrivier.

My mom and dad, my sister and her family, Chantelle’s mom and dad (who were also holidaying in the region) – in other words a proper big family December holiday experience!

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Walking alongside Dogs at Radloff Park in Somerset West (2019-05-05) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 01 OCT 2019

Lying in the Helderberg Basin, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, and squeezed in between the Cape Winelands and False Bay, Somerset West is naturally a beautiful space. A great way to get a taste of its natural splendour is by heading over to the green grass of Radloff Park and indulging in a lazy stroll along the banks of the Lourens River.

A number of sporting codes call this greenbelt home, including the local cricket, croquet, squash, and baseball clubs, and there is even a small skateboarding park for those less interested in playing with balls.

The park with its wide open space, grass fields, tree-shaded paths, and refreshing river water is an especially big hit with dog lovers – so much so that locally the site is pretty much exclusively referred to as the Radloff Dog Park. (Basically, go there expecting to come home with at least one big slobbery wet kiss and a butt sniff under your belt.)

Dogs and sporting code fields aside though, the area is green, tranquil, full of trees, teeming with bird life, and comes with amazing views combined with a lazy river walk to enjoy. In other words, impossible not to recommend!

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Gourmet Gelato at Coco’s Ice Cream in Barrydale (2019-07-03) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 SEP 2019

A scoop of well made ice cream is a wonderful thing. Especially if it is gelato, and especially if you are grabbing it on a nice and sunny day. So then we were rather pleased to spot the pinup style board beckoning us over to Coco’s Ice Cream Shop down main road Barrydale during our earlier June School Holidays trip.

Sandwiched into a small shop space that is part of a larger orange hued pumpkin-themed business complex, Coco’s Ice Cream Shop serves up a colorful array of gelato scoops, with the ice cream appearing in all manner of delectable (and interesting) flavours.

If you have kids or adults with a sweet tooth in your adventuring party, then you may as well give in already, grab a scoop or two, sit down on the shaded deck, and watch Barrydale main street life pass you by while you attempt to drip as little as possible.

Which really is kind of impossible if you understand the physics of ice cream and kids.

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