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.

Putt Putt Putting at Water World Strand (2019-08-10) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 30 NOV 2019

One of the things that I am immensely enjoying about my girls getting older is the ability to entertain slightly more complex outings with them – like playing a round putt putt for example. Pretty handy then that we just so happen to have one of those not too far from us, eh?

Situated on Beach Road alongside the beach and right next to Son Surf School and the thoroughly enjoyable Waterworld Strand, I am not entirely sure who actually owns/runs Strand’s mini golf course – the signage is strongly branded with the Waterworld Strand logo, but I’m not convinced that they actually operate it as no mention is made on their website – I’m inclined to think it more of a branding/marketing exercise, similar to what say Coca Cola does with all their shop name signage that you see on all the small spaza shops around you.

Anyway, not that it matters in the slightest. There are two colour-coded putt putt courses to attack, and on this particular day, at the halfway point of one of my daily “healthy walks” that I magically managed to get Jessica and her friend Shaelyn to join in on, I decided that we should break for a round of mini golf.

The girls very excitedly agreed to this course of action.

As it turns out, some kids are way more competitive than others when it comes to silly little games like this, but regardless of that, fun was had by all on what it a pretty nice and reasonably neatly maintained mini golf outing.

Lunch and a Stroll at The Lake House Restaurant in Somerset West (2019-06-02 ) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 25 NOV 2019

There is quite a number of housing estates rising up in and around the Helderberg area, with a lot them sitting quite squarely on the VERY nice side of things. One of our favourites is Somerset Lakes, built on a beautiful piece of elevated land that gives a great view of both the Hottentots Holland mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, with a birdlife-rich lake serving as the estate’s sparkling centrepiece.

As luck would have it, the estate happens to contain a wonderful restaurant known simply as the Lake House Restaurant which is housed in Somerset Lakes’ club house area. The restaurant feels light and airy, offers a fantastic view over the lake, and is home to some particularly delicious dishes – from divine thin based pizzas to freshly prepared steaks and even a lamb bunny chow.

Although no longer really encouraged, the estate does make for a great place to wander about, and if after a stroll around the lake you duck into the grove of pine trees just across the road from the restaurant, you will be delighted to find some rather unexpected child friendly entertainment.

The restaurant is certainly one of those hidden delights and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself looking for somewhere spacious to spend a relaxed afternoon with glass in the hand and without having to first drive out all the way to the winelands.

Lizards and Baboons in Rooi Els (2019-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 NOV 2019

Having just taken possession of my new car, I immediately took it out for a run along the achingly scenic Clarence Drive (as one should), in the process dragging Jessica along to join me for the drive and a bit of a stroll around Rooi Els and Pringle Bay – in return for something sweet of course!

As I mentioned, our first stop was the charmingly rustic Rooi Els with its single shop, pub and restaurant, where we enjoyed a gentle stroll along its dirt roads, taking in the sights, breathing in the fresh air, chasing butterflies, admiring the fynbos, and of course dodging the local troop of baboons.

Highly entertaining (though to be fair, a little terrifying for Jessica), if of course you aren’t actually carrying any food on you. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be so cavalier about getting this close to these furry more often than not pests.

(The babies riding on their mom were admittedly very cute though!)

Beer Tasting at Darling Brew in Darling (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2019

For nearly 10 years now, Darling Brew has been one of the biggest names on the local craft brew scene, an award winning staple of the Cape Town craft beer scene and surprisingly, holder of the title of being Africa’s first ever carbon neutral brewery. (They’ve been quite fond of the environment right from the start).

In addition to their many animal-inspired brews, Darling Brew also operates two restaurants/tasterooms in the Western Cape, the newest being their taproom in Woodstock, touted as being an effort to bring the Darling Brew experience from their home on the West Coast to the Mother City.

Talking about that Darling Brew experience, the home tasteroom really has become a major tourist attraction in the small West Coast town of Darling, bringing in a wealth of new younger tourists to what is already quite the charming place.

So naturally, this beer-soaked attraction overlooking the slick brewing operation was too strong a siren call to ignore forever, which then is exactly why I made point of paying a visit when Chantelle and I spent a night in Darling in celebration of my 39th birthday.

Nachos and a double tasting flight of all manner and style of beer? Perfect!

Lunch at the Country Pumpkin in Barrydale (2019-07-01) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 10 NOV 2019

This year’s June Holiday adventure took place at Warmwaterberg Spa, a spot just outside Barrydale in the Klein Karoo. We were spending the time away with Chantelle’s folks, and as such decided to meet up for an opening lunch at The Country Pumpkin on the way out to Warmwaterberg.

Mind you, selecting a spot for lunch in Barrydale is not the easiest of tasks, seeing as you are literally spoiled for choice given how many interesting little eateries have popped up alongside the R62 (otherwise known as Route 62) as it slides its way through the town. That said, the Country Pumpkin has been around for years now and this popular, brightly hued little restaurant is one of Cheryl and Monty’s Barrydale staples – meaning that I was quite keen to give it a shot.

Given that the weather was looking a little grey and cold outside, we opted to grab a table inside, and pleasingly the Country Pumpkin is quite a homely affair. The warm inviting atmosphere was pleasant, the food comforting, and as an added bonus, there is even a farm shop attached to the eatery, ready to further empty your pockets on all manner of delicious things as you leave the premises.

A good refuelling stop then (though it would have been nice not to walk out to a sky that had now given way to a couple of rainclouds!)

Wine Tasting at Ormonde in Darling (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 05 NOV 2019

After a morning session of cake in Durbanville and then dropping the girls off with their grandparents, Chantelle and I enjoyed the scenic drive out towards Darling, pulling into the charming little town well before we could actually check into the guest house we were staying at for the evening. Only one solution for that really – a spontaneous spot of wine tasting!

Situated on the edge of the residential part of Darling, Ormonde fell into the hands of the Basson family in 1970 when they bought the farm to start a dairy stud but in the process decided to plant some vineyards as well – in a time long before the area became the wine producing region that it is today.

The closeness to the cold Atlantic Ocean, the altitudes afforded by the Darling hills, and the eroded granite type homogenous soils of the plantation all mix to produce a terroir that has helped Ormonde produce numerous top award winning wines. (Though the 2006 investment into an ultra modern, international standard cellar didn’t hurt either!)

With a welcoming lawn area overlooking a duck-filled pond, a small outside eatery and lots of shaded nooks and crannies to enjoy, the Ormonde wine estate makes for a pleasant family outing space, though as Chantelle and I can now attest to, their excellent quality wines are more than reason enough to pay Ormonde a visit of your own!

Toffee Tasting at Darling Sweet in Darling (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 01 NOV 2019

The toffees of Darling Sweet have been an absolute success story. The hard to miss, colourful patterned boxes of joy seem to pop up all around the Western Cape, and the massive selection of flavours combined with the fact that toffee itself is somewhat underrepresented in Cape Town makes this one of those much sought after local confectionaries.

Having launched in 2014 with three toffee flavours (Tannie Evita’s Classic, Honey & Salt, and Sour Fig) whilst operating out of a small converted antique shop space and selling only at the local craft and food markets, Darling Sweet has since grown in leaps and bounds and now employs 21 full-time and 11 part-time local community members, operates out of a 500 square meter stately Edwardian building/production facility, has products available throughout South Africa, and boasts a massive selection of the most delectable flavours in the form of both toffees and toffee spreads.

Oh, and they’re also a big tourist attraction for the town.

So naturally, our trip to Darling couldn’t exactly be complete without a visit (and exhaustive tasting) of Darling’s sweetest attraction, and yes, we walked out clutching more than just one box!

Craft Beer, Pizza and Art at The Makers Brew in Barrydale (2019-07-03) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 OCT 2019

So craft breweries really are popping up everywhere. Of course the village of Barrydale hasn’t been spared, but pleasingly the one that they got is a pretty good one. Say hello to the The Maker’s Brew.

Started by a Capetonian looking for a change of pace, the Maker’s Brew stands out on restaurant-lined main thoroughfare of Barrydale thanks to its strikingly modern look. Its compact, sparse, contemporary space is eye-catching and the perfect complement to the pretty good beers that owner Ryno Reyneke has managed to concoct.

The Amber, Porter, Blonde and Saison styles are all represented, and you would do well to do a tasting while nibbling on a pizza, playing with wooden blocks, and watching the tourist traffic go on by.

(Oh, and if the beer itself isn’t beautiful enough, there is always next door’s Helen Vaughan Handmade ceramics gallery to admire!)

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Mad as a Hatter at Inspired in Heidelberg (2019-09-30) Photo Gallery | Shopping 29 OCT 2019

Travelling down the N2, it is impossible not to smile when passing the colourful Inspired in Heidelberg, an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter themed home decor shop that just screams “stop and see what we stock”!

So I finally did. The people at Inspired Creations specialize in manufacturing beautiful solid wood furniture and handmade decor items that are not “on the high street”. The brightly hued shop (which is housed in an old refurbished milk shed dating back to 1873) is packed with the most inventive and wonderful pieces of home decor, eager to turn a house into a home.

There is a lot of whimsy, artistry and craftmanship on display, and if you can’t quite make you mind up all at once, then you are welcome to have a cup of coffee, a delicious milkshake, or a yummy panini on their stoep.

Oh, and they have a selfie wall.

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