Category Archives: Photo Gallery

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2019-12-31) Photo Gallery 25 APR 2020

So with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 image dump posts of all the photos which aren’t linked to a blog post now sitting all safe and sound with my web host, I guess that I need to add the 2019 batch as well, seeing as we are now well and truly into 2020. (Also, sorry for not doing one of my annual Goodbye Hello posts at the start of this year – honestly they’ve become a little too routine to continue for now).

This particular selection features first days, sport, concerts and voting at Gordon’s Bay Primary School, Mark Haze at Die Boer in Durbanville, a turn at Home Affairs in Somerset West, the view from my office in Westlake, Ocean Basket’s Harbour Island View in Gordon’s Bay, the solar panel parking and delicious green curry from Wang Thai at The Sanctuary in Somerset West, wine and cheese tasting at Steenberg Vineyards, planes at the Stellenbosch Flying Club airstrip, views from Somerset Mall and the Helderberg Shopping Centre of all places, a Somerset West night time Christmas market, walks along the Lourens River, strolls along the Strand beach promenade, and of course scenes from our home here in beautiful little Gordon’s Bay.

Plus Belgian waffles – because those things are of course delightful.

A Photo Walk at the V&A Waterfront and Silo District in Cape Town (2019-12-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 APR 2020

Forever on the prowl for entertaining things to do with the girls (that also just so happens to get me out of the house and away from the keyboard), this past December school holidays saw me gather Jessica and Emily up in the car, hand over our old point-and-click Sony Cybershot camera to them, and then head off to Cape Town’s premier tourist trap, the V&A Waterfront for a bit of a photo walk about.

The V&A Waterfront is of course ridiculously photogenic, and after parking in one of the many underground parking garages lining the Waterfront, we started our journey with a jaunt through the Victoria Wharf shopping mall in all of its African Christmas decorated glory. Surprisingly, and rather incredibly so, we struck it lucky with our timing because for the most part the Waterfront wasn’t its usual bustling throng of people self, meaning that we had plenty of space to amble, stop and take photos, and not desperately cling to each others’ arms to ward off getting separated and thus lost.

Exiting the shopping complex, our next stop was photos of the golden Oscar the Seal statue standing tall in front of Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel, before sauntering back past some pretty boats and painted rhinos to catch a fun little kids Christmas-themed sing and dance featuring mascots Jellie, Buttercup and Zoemba. Show done, we ambled past the restaurants to Nobel Square, took some photos and then cut past the Alfred Mall to pay a quick photo visit to the Cape Town Comedy Club building, the V&A Food Market building and the colourful curio filled Watershed (complete with its striking Falko One elephant and recycled/reclaimed plastics chandelier.)

The drydock too made for a good photo opportunity, but truth be told, the girls were far more interested in our time spent watching the cape fur seals play fighting and sunning themselves over at the Two Oceans Aquarium Seal Platform! We then marched away from the crowds, over the lifting bridge and past the elegant Cape Grace Hotel, before circling back to once again enter the waterfront area through the now quite artsy Silo Distict.

Impressive public art installations aside (like Dylan Lewis’ scene stealing walking fragment sculpture), I did of course select the Silo District as our turnaround point because we could stop and enjoy a selection of fine Lindt chocolates from the Lindt Silo Chocolate Studio – which I’m pleased to report went down a proper treat with the girls who at this point were just starting to moan about having to walk so far!

A spin in the Zeitz MOCCA spinning top chairs, a little play time on the jellyfish kinetic sculptures, and a crossing over the newly renovated swing bridge, we left the silo and clock tower districts behind, were forced to rewatch the Jellie, Buttercup and Zoemba amphitheatre show on Emily’s insistence, and finally wound our way back through the now slightly heavier crowds at the mall to find our car still happily parked in the shade of the underground garage.

Mission complete, and yes, we generated a LOT of photos.

Arts and Crafts at the Mosaic Village and Outdoor Market in Sedgefield (2020-01-04) Markets | Photo Gallery 15 APR 2020

Sedgefield. After purchasing all your fresh farm produce from the excellent (and famous) Wild Oats Community Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, your next step would undoubtedly be to simply cross the road and mosey in among the craft stalls of sister markets, the Mosaic Outdoor Market and the Scarab Village Craft Market.

The Mosaic Outdoor Market forms part of the Mosaic Village complex, a space mostly dedicated to art and sculpture businesses and its Saturday morning market offering strongly reflects this, with a large portion of the stallholders presenting the results of their artistic endeavours for sale.

Of course, all the other little odds and ends that you would expect from a market are also on sale, and to round off the offering, there are a few interesting food options as well. There’s a spacious space in the middle to sit down and enjoy a beer or two, and of course, given the general buzz of this part of Sedgefield on a Saturday morning, the vibe and bustle make for a great morning outing.

Right next door to the Mosaic Village (separated this time by an Engen garage) is the Scarab Art and Craft Village with its Saturday morning craft market, which is equally filled with a wide range of interesting art and textile products. Of course, the elephant dung paper, wooden owl boxes and the all important Sedgefield Craft Brewery all put on a strong show, and as with the Mosaic market, there is plenty of seating available for you to sit down and enjoy the hustle, as well as a small area to let the kids get rid of some of their pent up energy. (After all, it’s pretty boring going stall hopping if you’re a kid. Or at least that is what my two girls tell me!)

The Sedgefield market scene is incredibly strong and vibrant and the amount of visitors it attracts on a Saturday morning is truly something to behold. Something for literally everyone and you can easily lose yourself for an entire morning here among all the stalls. We kind of did.

Bunnies and Decor at Root 44 in Stellenbosch (2019-11-10) Markets | Photo Gallery 11 APR 2020

Having already wrapped up some stall browsing and pancake snacking at the always vibey Winelands Markets at Blaauwklippen (aka the old Blaauwklippen Family Market), we decided to also pop our heads in at the equally enjoyable Root44 market more or less just down the road, pretty much only because it had been quite a while since Chantelle had last visited there.

Situated on the Audacia Wines estate (right next to the big Mooiberge strawberry farm with all its crazy colourful scarecrows), Root44 is a sprawling market space with its ample food and craft traders operating out of big sturdy marquee tents, absolute loads of seating for visitors (both covered and uncovered), space for the kids to get rid of their energy, and constant music to entertain the seemingly never ending stream of people paying them a visit every Saturday and Sunday from 09:00 all the way to 16:00 in the afternoon!

Lots of beer and wine swirl together with all manner of prepared foods across a variety cuisine styles, all mixing it up with a wide variety of crafters showing off their wares. Simply put, there is usually a little something for pretty much everyone that visits. In addition to all of that, the fact that the market is situated in the Stellenbosch winelands also means then that the experience comes with some pretty spectacular mountain and vineyard views, thus making it a particularly perfect spot for groups of friends or families to congregate and enjoy a lazy day outside in each other’s company.

Chantelle, the girls, and I enjoyed a leisurely explorative stroll through all the big tents, managed to gather a small helping of various snacks from the food stall section, and amazingly found a table to claim and hunker down around. Also, as expected, I took a lot of photos.

And yes, those are indeed giant wooden bunnies in the picture above.

Wild Flower Watching in the West Coast National Park near Langebaan (2019-09-01) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 APR 2020

With the start of each Spring, the months of August and September see our West Coast region bursting with colorful carpets of wild flowers, instantly transforming this laid back and generally quiet part of South Africa into a total tourist mecca. With people streaming in from all over Cape Town and its surrounds, the West Coast and its sister Namaqualand are simply put, the places to be if you want to go flower watching.

The West Coast National Park (one of the few national parks that I’m actually older than seeing as it was only officially proclaimed in 1985, a full 5 years after I was born) is a 36,000 hectare strong nature reserve centered around the Langebaan Lagoon. Lying 120 km north of Cape Town, the park is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the R27 coastal road, and stretches from Yzerfontein in the south right up to Langebaan and its lagoon in the north. (It also has a few islands in Saldanha Bay attached as well).

The park is home to a number of antelope species, including eland, red hartebeest, bontebok, kudu, gemsbok, steenbok, and duiker, as well as ostriches and a host of smaller animals like the bat-eared fox, caracal, and Cape gray mongoose. Bird life is of course abundant (a bird watcher’s dream to be sure) and many Palearctic migrants spend their winter months around the Langebaan Lagoon. The coastal islands at the mouth of the lagoon are important breeding colonies for Cape and Hartlaub’s gull, Cape gannet, cormorants, terns and even the African penguin.

Then there is the flora of course, and coastal fynbos and scrub aside, the Postberg Flower Reserve (privately owned land situated within the national park’s bounds and which is included as a “contractual national park”) is the site where the majority of the annual Spring wild flowers bloom, making it the focal point come flower season.

The lack of big predators means that much of the park is open for human outdoor activities like walking, hiking, mountain bike riding, and jogging. There are a number braai facilities scattered around at sites like Tsaarsbank and Preekstoel (named after a large uniquely shaped rock found there), as well as spots to cool down on both the banks of the lagoon and the ocean. (The lagoon is also home to house boats that you can rent as accommodation).

I took Chantelle and the girls out for a flower watching jaunt last Spring, and as expected (due to the lengthy period of drought that the Western Cape had just emerged from), the flower bloom really wasn’t nearly as good as what we’ve encountered before, with many previously blanketed swathes of fields and koppies devoid of any of the characteristic carpets of colour that we’ve come to associate them with.

Nevertheless, it was a delightful drive through nature, and the lack of large crowds (because of the decreased amount of flowers on display) meant that it was slightly less stressful and we had a lot more opportunity to stop and explore than what we have had before.

We ended off our day of flower watching with a slightly overpriced lunch at the onsite Geelbek Restaurant (love its historic Cape Dutch building though!), before heading back out of the park to hit the long road home – but only because by this point Chantelle had had enough viewing for the day and wouldn’t let me traipse over to the bird hide on the lagoon!

I’ve mentioned before that the West Coast National Park is probably not the most exciting of our national parks to take a self drive through if you are interested in actual game watching, but regardless of that, the wide open space, the fresh air, and the long empty views do make for an excellent break from city/suburban life. Plus, if you go there during flower season (on a good year and somehow manage to miss the big crowd that comes along with it), it truly is an amazing natural sight to behold!

Wood Cabins and Warm Water at Warmwaterberg Spa near Barrydale (2019-07-01) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 09 APR 2020

Lying some 26 km above Barrydale on the famous Route 62 tourist route (and sitting literally across the road from the famous Ronnie’s Sex Shop pub in case that helps you pinpoint it on the map), is Warmwaterberg Spa, one of the oldest hot spring resorts in South Africa, having opened all the way back in 1887!

Blessed with a natural warm water mineral hot spring and the tranquil landscape views of the Klein Karoo, Warmwaterberg Spa is a fantastic family friendly get away in the literal middle of nowhere, but with enough amenities that you don’t actually feel like you are in fact stranded in the middle of nowhere.

From its historic bath houses first built in 1886, its modern studio bath houses completed in 2015, the timber chalets, to the caravan and camping sites, the resort caters to all levels of budget and its wide open spaces, lawns and of course relaxing pool complex all come together to make for a perfect getaway where you can let the kids run amok while you soak up those warm mineral waters.

Given that you are more than 26 km from the nearest town (the resort sits somewhat between Barrydale and Ladismith), there is a simple restaurant and bar on the premises, as well as a small shop stocking some basic essentials (and of course a snack treat or two). There is also a big lapa which makes under roof gatherings possible should you need it. (Additionally, there are also two walking/hiking routes on the property, but truth be told, I have only ever been there to relax, not build up a sweat by waltzing around in the in Klein Karoo heat!)

For this particular holiday stay, we joined Chantelle’s folks Monty and Cheryl for a stay in one of the rustic timber chalets among all the peacocks, and in addition to the many trips to the always interesting little town of Barrydale, enjoyed many a swim, braai, and game of Jenga over the course of our stay in the resort. (Oh, and savoured a drink or two of course!)

Hunting for Proteas at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West (2019-07-27) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 08 APR 2020

Sometimes it just doesn’t work. I can’t convince, bribe or coerce my wife or either of my girls to head out for a walk with me. Mind you, not that it bothers me in the slightest – it is their loss after all and in any event, it just gives me an even greater opportunity to randomly stop and take a picture or three!

Residents of Somerset West are really fortunate to have a very nice, accessible and well run City of Cape Town managed and operated (with support from the local Friends of Helderberg Nature Reserve NPO) nature reserve right on their doorstep in the form of the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

Situated on the southern slopes of the Helderberg mountains (the peaks of which remain under the protection of Cape Nature), the Helderberg Nature Reserve originally came to be as a wildflower garden (and to protect the water resources in Somerset West) in 1960, following a period of lobbying by the local Rotary Club of Somerset West. Since then the area has morphed into a proper nature reserve with the now 402-hectare reserve protecting a swathe of Swartland shale renosterveld, Kogelberg sandstone fynbos, Cape Winelands shale fynbos and Southern afro-temperate forest pockets.

The lower reaches of the park is home to large tree shaded lawns, popular with families and perfect for the hosting of picnics, birthday parties and the occasional music concert, as well a small coffee shop and the Maskew Miller Educational/Visitors Centre. As you would expect, there are walking and hiking paths scattered around the reserve, catering to nature lovers of all fitness levels (and particularly popular with those who like jogging up mountains for exercise).

Surrounded by all manner protea species and birds galore, there is tranquility, majestic mountain landscapes and a sweeping view over False Bay below – what more could one looking for a break from suburban living possibly still need?

Spinning Cotton into Clothes with the Barrydale Hand Weavers (2019-07-02) Photo Gallery | Shopping 07 APR 2020

There aren’t that many commercial hand weaving ventures left in South Africa, but if you ever find yourself in the delightful little town of Barrydale on the border of the Overberg and Klein Karoo regions (and which is known for mixing farmers and artisans), you’ll stumble across one such venture that is very much thriving – and has a pretty feel good story to boot!

The brainchild of Carol Morris and German-trained weaver Tivane Mavuma (who come from running running a knitwear operation in Swaziland), Barrydale Hand Weavers was established to create quality hand-loomed products while also serving as a way to uplift the local community through upskill and opportunity.

Spun by members of the community itself, the finest high-grade cotton is then transformed by a group of trained local weavers into all manner of homeware products including bathmats, cushion covers, rugs, table runners, and their famous flat-weave towels – all on rickety age old wooden hand looms.

In addition to their local storefront in Barrydale itself, Barrydale Hand Weavers already supply boutiques and shops across South Africa, while also having found moderate success in exporting their woven products to countries such as Canada, the United States, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.

Once you are done perusing their wares, browsing the art, and maybe sipping a warm coffee in the unique brick courtyard of their main shop, you also have the option of taking a drive down the road to the actual factory itself – a nondescript building tucked away in Barrydale’s small industrial area that houses all of Barrydale Hand Weaver’s prized looms and weaving staff.

It is super interesting to watch how this centuries old craft works and how incredibly beautiful pieces of patterned cloth are able to emerge through such not quite as simple as what they first seem looms. (And yes, as you can see from the picture above, if you’re cute or ask nicely enough, they might even given you the chance to have a spin on the loom!)

Well worth a stop and look see then.

Blooms, Buds and Bridges in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (2019-03-17) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 06 APR 2020

As one of Cape Town’s premiere Big 6 tourist attractions, the magnificent Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is celebrated as one of Africa’s most beautiful gardens and is an absolute must do excursion if you are looking for a tranquil green escape from the bustling city bowl.

Nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain and administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Kirstenbosch estate covers an area of 528 hectares with its 36 hectare large cultivated garden placing a strong emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants only. Its main conservatory exhibits plants taken from across a number of South Africa’s biomes (like savanna, fynbos and Karoo), while the extensive outdoor garden places its focus on plants native to the Cape floral region.

Established in 1913 on land bequeathed to the Cape Colony by Cecil John Rhodes, the more than a century old Kirstenbosch garden is criss-crossed by a large number of different paths and walkways, each leading you to a different collection of plants and each patiently waiting to take your breath away as you traipse around the foot of the mountain.

In addition to flowers, tree and bird watching, there are of course the expansive lawns beckoning families to sit down and enjoy a picnic, the metal dinosaur sculptures looking to whisk you away to another age, the hauntingly beautiful African stone sculptures dotted around the gardens, the exquisite collections of Proteas (king of our floral kingdom), the twisted metal and wood of the snaking Boomslang foot bridge that takes you above the forest canopy, Moyo restaurant as well as the tea room for those not wanting to eat sandwiches from a basket on a blanket, an art exhibition space, a main exhibition hall, and of course come Summer, the annual (and incredibly popular) Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset music concerts which are an absolute sublime way to experience some of your favourite (both local and international) performing artists.

As for this particular visit of ours in March of last year, we struck it lucky in that the weather was a bit overcast on the day, making for much more pleasant walking conditions up and down the slopes of this magical green space. Not great for photos of course, but certainly very helpful in keeping the moaning of two little girls tired from all the walking slightly in check!

As always, a magical experience and certainly an absolute must do excursion for any visitor to our beautiful city of Cape Town.