Category Archives: Photo Gallery

Catching Sight of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand (2016-11-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 DEC 2016

Following a lovely morning spent at the Century City Natural Goods Market, followed by a trip to Canal Walk for some Lindt chocolate from their newly opened boutique shop, we decided to cool down with a trip through to Bloubergstrand, in the hopes of securing a lunch spot at perennial favourite, The Blue Peter Hotel – and of course to give the girls a chance to play in the sand by the sea for a bit.

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Of course, at this point any local would have already rolled their eyeballs at this plan, because anyone from the area would immediately point out that on such a gorgeous, wind free summer’s day, there is literally a snowball in Hell’s chance of actually finding a table at the iconic Blue Peter!

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They would of course be 100% right.

So no Blue Peter Sunday lunch for the Lotters then, but that’s okay, because there was plenty of space for us on the nearby (but popular) Little Bay beach, where we were rewarded with the most beautiful view of the iconic Table Mountain.

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Nice right?

This classic view of Cape Town’s beloved mountain is of course absolutely stunning, and something rather special to see if you don’t normally come out this way – i.e. like us.

(Plus, as a massive bonus, we even got to enjoy the famous Silver Falcons do two formation fly-bys over the beach while we were there!)

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We are working hard at getting the girls more comfortable with the sea (in preparation for our December trip to Gouritz), and amazingly, despite the icy cold Atlantic water which feels like ice blocks on your skin (thanks Benguela Current!), the girls allowed themselves to get wet and in the end had an actual ball – both going so far as to strip right down to their undies!

(We really should plan our beach visits better – you know, bring with costumes etc. At least we had the presence of mind to apply sunscreen to the girls in the morning!)

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The kids had a blast, we were left with a quaint collection of mud painted rocks and shells to bring home, and of course, mommy and daddy managed to soak up some sun as well.

Not a horrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon out and about then!

A handy map to where we were:

Related Link: Bloubergstrand | Blue Peter Hotel

Century City Natural Goods Market… and Lindt! (2016-11-27) Markets | Photo Gallery 30 NOV 2016

I spotted on Facebook that the Century City Natural Goods Market was at last kicking off for the 2016 Summer Season, and seeing as we had in the past spent quite a few Sundays selling cupcakes there as part of the Chantelle’s Cupcakery food markets phase a couple of years back, I was eager to head out that way and catch some of that good old nostalgia vibe.

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Getting the girls on board was remarkably easy of course – just one mention of the Temperance Flyer mini train being at the market was more than enough to have them jumping up and down with excitement!

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As always, the market was being held on the big green circular Central Park in the heart of Century City, right next to Railroad Square and of course Intaka Island.

The main trading action was all taking place under a large central Bedouin tent, with the other food trucks/trailers being accommodated along the wings of the market space. There was plenty of shaded seating and tables available (all very popular due to the great Summer’s weather on the day), with live music coming courtesy from the talented Capetonian singer Ryan Kidwell (former front man of the reggae outfit The Little Kings).

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For the kids, there was a magic show courtesy of family magician Magic Nick (which sadly we missed due to arriving too late), a jumping castle, a zorb orb, and of course the Temperance Flyer train!

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Interestingly enough though, and I’m not sure if it is just because it was the first market of the Summer Season or perhaps an indication of something else, the market certainly seemed a LOT smaller than what it used to be in terms of the number of traders on the day.

Sadly, this then meant that there wasn’t a heck of a lot of cool/interesting food choices on offer (like say what you might find at the bigger market cousins like the massive Root 44 or Lourensford), but nevertheless, we all managed to find something that we liked and in the end had a good morning soaking up the great sun, music and vibe that one can only get from coming to an outdoor market like this!

(So, maybe worth jotting down, but come the evening of the 7th December from 4 to 9pm, they will be having their first ever Summer Night Market which could be pretty cool to attend as well!)

Having enjoyed our time spent at the Century City Natural Goods Market then, we next headed down the road to the gigantic Canal Walk shopping mall, literally the first time in years since I’ve last been there. (We don’t come through to this side of Cape Town much in case you were wondering!)

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It is as always, an easy on the eye shopping centre, one of the nicest in terms of both architecture and design, though we didn’t have all that much time to admire our surroundings because Chantelle was pretty much focussed entirely on one very important mission – locating the newly opened Lindt boutique chocolate store ASAP!

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Seventh heaven for any lover of Lindt let me tell you, especially because you can buy flavours there that you can’t normally find on the retailer shelves. (Amazingly enough, Chantelle actually shared her Lindt haul with both the girls and myself. Talk about true love! :P)

(Oh, she wanted to check out Dunkin’ Donuts as well, but they were far too busy for us to be bothered with trying their stuff out. Plus, I was rather pleased to see that Baskin Robbins is hitting South Africa in the near future as well. I LOVED checking out all their ice cream flavours during my Japan 2014 trip!).

Anyway, here’s a handy map to Central Park if you want to catch the next Century City Natural Goods Market!

Related Link: Century City Natural Goods Market | Facebook | Canal Walk

USA 2016 – 01 Checking in to Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area (2016-07-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 NOV 2016

So the 11th of July saw me very excitedly hop on to Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER airliner at Cape Town International Airport and tackle the start of the VERY long journey to LAX in Los Angeles.

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As per usual when you fly with Emirates, the trip gets split into two segments, the first being the 9 hour long flight from Cape Town to their massive home base hub at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Apart from the length of the flight, the first leg went well for me. Loads of in-flight entertainment to pick and choose from on Emirates’ ICE system, food as always was decent enough, and thanks to my strategy of picking aisle seats in order to give me the most leg space with my still not 100% leg, I sat pretty comfortably for the most part.

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Happily, I wasn’t completely out of my element once in Dubai International Airport, having learnt a lesson or two from the last time that Ryan and I had found ourselves there.

For starters, I didn’t get lost and successfully navigated my way around the massive complex (Ryan would be amazed), secondly, I didn’t have anything in my luggage that would set off flags during the security check (again, Ryan would be amazed), and most important of all, I was in my designated boarding area with plenty of time to spare!

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Of course though, the real test of the journey was now here. That 16 hour long flight from Dubai to Los Angeles.

Yes, the Airbus A380-800 is certainly a comfortable plane to be flying in, but 16 hours? Now there’s a long time to be stuck in a confined space! (Incidentally, this route is currently the longest distance commercial A380 route in operation).

Nevertheless, similar to the first leg, this second half of the trip went pretty smoothly for me as well, and as an added bonus, the fact that we flew over the North Pole region to get there was a pretty cool thing too!

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Touchdown. I was in the United States of America.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for the first Stars and Stripes flag to make its appearance, and a relatively quick and painless trip through security and customs had me collecting my bag and stepping out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and into Los Angeles.

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Well not really, no.

My SuperShuttle bus arrived right outside the terminal, meaning that I didn’t technically step out into Los Angeles. Still, I got to see the dreary grey concrete that makes up most of Los Angeles from the shuttle’s front seat (I lucked out in getting that), so that counts, right?

(Hint, Los Angeles is not particularly pretty. Large swathes of it is in essence a slab of concrete, which you’ll see as you head out down the highways.)

Nevertheless, I was in full on tourist mode, my mouth wide open as I took in all the sights of the area as our bus whizzed on down towards Anaheim, the real destination for the actual business part of my being here in the first place.

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Eventually we turned into South Manchester Avenue in Anaheim (early evening if I remember correctly) where I hopped out the bus, thanked the driver for his wealth of local information, and headed into the Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area , my home base for this first leg of my trip.

(In case you are wondering about the unwieldy name, it’s because we’re in Anaheim which houses both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. In other words, prime hotel estate, and thus multiple Holiday Inn establishments in the area!)

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Greeted by a entrance wall decked out in original Disney artwork, I checked in, unpacked my bag, took a quick peek around the hotel and its amenities (nice pool, small gym, cool adjacent sports bar/restaurant called Burger Theory) and then hit the road, eager to properly stretch my legs and take in some American sights before the darkness descended!

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So I took a leisurely stroll down Katella Avenue, one of the main roads leading up to Disneyland and also the Anaheim Convention Centre (where the expo was to be held), enjoying the beautifully maintained sidewalks and taking in all the interesting… Americanisms around me.

I turned around at the giant Moreton Bay Fig outside the convention centre, and because at this stage I was still walking around blindly (i.e. I hadn’t yet checked out any maps), headed straight back down the same way that I had come.

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For some reason I decided that my first meal in America should be a fast food item, and as things turned out (i.e the restaurant was slap bang at the end of my route), this then would be a burrito from Del Taco – for which I was mercilessly teased for the rest of the trip by Johann and Carl.

Following that, and now eager to sample a selection of commercial beers and snacks in the comfort of my room before turning in for the night, I then hopped into this dodgy little Chinese-run shop (called Satellite Market), which ended up being a place that I would visit more than once whenever my snack supply started running low!

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And of course, as expected following that 5 km walkabout after all those hours upon hours of travelling… I slept like a log. #USA2016

(This is where the hotel is in case you’re interested)

Related Link: Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area

Shopping at the Dassiesfontein Farm Stall (2016-09-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 NOV 2016

Having thoroughly enjoyed a midweek getaway to Stonehill River Lodge in Buffeljagsrivier (near Swellendam), we were making our way back home on a warm Friday afternoon via the N2 when for the first time ever (note: I’m 36 and we’ve travelled the N2 since I was a baby),  curiousity got the better of me and I decided to pull off at the Dassiesfontein farm stall – which stands literally alone in the middle of nowhere between Caledon and Botrivier.

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Chantelle and the girls were a bit grumpy at having been woken up by me leaving the highway, but they soon cheered up when a) the girls spotted the lovely donkey encampment next to Dassiesfontein’s parking area and b) Chantelle discovered the incredible treasure trove of antiques, art, fashion and food that this rather incredible place actually houses!

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Back to point a) though. Amazingly the girls were far more enamored with the donkeys than I thought they would be. It might be their smaller stature, or perhaps because of the fluffier youngling in the pack, but Jessica and Emily (although the latter from an always safe distance) seemed to both genuinely enjoy interacting with these furry four legged beasts.

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Anyway, I digress. Back to the brilliant farm stall itself. Originally the Dassiesfontein farm stall was little more than a couple of homemade goods being sold from two wagons alongside the N2, before the farm stall was eventually built in 1995. The restaurant was added a year later, and believe it or not, Dassiesfontein has been a super success from then onwards.

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These days though, the quaint thatched roof that characterised the farm stall is nowhere in sight, having been completely covered with end to end solar panels, a big 60.13 kwp generating project brought to life by the team over at RenEnergy.

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Inside however is where the real magic lies. The first thing to note is that Dassiesfontein is much larger inside than what it looks from the outside. Each room kind of spills into the next, and the smorgasboard of items on sale is simply put, jaw dropping.

Antiques, art, clothing, shoes, kids, decor, furniture, food – you name it and they sell it.

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Without a doubt, if Chantelle was here by herself (i.e. with her wallet and without her disapproving of clutter husband), I guarantee she would quite easily be lost for a couple of hours, only to then return with a boot full of stuff!

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Incredibly enough (despite that fact I suppose that I already mentioned this fact in passing), Dassiesfontein even houses a restaurant in the middle of all the muddle, a restaurant which is known for its proper ‘boerekos’ served in portions that well, ‘skrik vir niks’. (Plus, Chantelle was gushing like a fangirl when she spotted their ‘Dover’ cast iron stoves in action!)

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Oh, and then there is the cheese and dairy on sale. So, so much cheese, not to mention the butter which was being sold at such a good price that Chantelle immediately grabbed my wallet and bought a box for her baking.

Right, looks like we’ll be stopping here a little more often now that we’ve finally ‘discovered’ the place!

Also, I have no idea where all these photos come from by the way – because there are very definitely signs up all over the place explicitly reminding you that the taking of photos inside the shopping area is strictly not welcome:

It’s difficult to miss because it is literally the only thing standing in the middle of nowhere, but just in case you need a map…

Related Link: Dassiesfontein Farm Stall | Facebook

Grand Canal Boat Ride aboard the Intaka Island Ferry at Century City (2016-09-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 NOV 2016

In September I took Chantelle and the girls for a bit of a bird watching stroll in the beautiful, 16 ha large wetland and bird sanctuary, Intaka Island – which is situated literally right in the heart of the architecturally beautiful Century City development.

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The weather was of course beautiful, the birdlife plentiful – and of course, the girls didn’t really like the long, hot walk at all.

However, what they did enjoy was climbing and playing on the two beautifully restored, plinth-mounted old steam trains outside the entrance to Intaka Island (right across from the Clubhouse and Century City’s Central Park), and even more so, the prospect of going on a boat ride along the Grand Canal on the Intaka Island Ferry.

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Tickets for the ferry were bought as part of the entrance package into Intaka Island, and so we made doubly sure that we were back at the boat for the prescribed launch time – not that the girls would have let us miss it anyway!

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The short boat ride is actually pretty cool – essentially you get taken out into the waterways surrounding Intaka Island, circle the island and then head onto the Grand Canal, passing through under the massive Knightsbridge towers and then heading all the way down to the beautiful African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel, where you turn around and head back towards the island again.

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The  architecture of Century City is of course amazing (seriously, Canal Walk and Ratanga Junction is not Century City. Do yourself a favour and walk out back if you have never done so before – explore the beautiful pathways and art installations that makes Century City such a serene jewel in the first place!), and thanks the the plexiglass and shaded roof, the trip is quite a comfortable one.

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Jessica of course walked up and down the boat for pretty much the entire trip, spending most of it hanging over the side to get a better look. (That was of course until the two of them spotted the cute little puppy that was also onboard for the ride!)

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All in all, well worth tacking on a boat ride the next time your find yourself buying a ticket into Intaka Island!

Also, Intaka Island is worth checking out if you’d quite enjoy a spot of birdwatching:

Related Link: Intaka Island | Century City | Canal Walk

Kitesurfers at Melkbaai Beach in Strand (2016-11-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 19 NOV 2016

Having enjoyed a good day out that started off with some yacht watching in Gordon’s Bay harbour, followed by a couple of hours’ worth of driving around the Elgin Valley and taking in some of the sights of the Open Gardens Weekend, the girls and I decided to cap off the Saturday with some KFC sprinkle pops for supper whilst watching the kitesurfers at Strand’s main Melkbaai beach.

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After chillling in the car, eating our KFC pops and marvelling at the kitesurfers doing their thing in the water from afar, I succeeded in convincing the girls that what we now needed to do was step out of the car and head in for closer look.

We were a little lucky in that although the wind was blowing rather strongly, it wasn’t whipping the sand around too much, meaning that we were able to walk a fair stretch of the beautiful pristine beach without being completely sandblasted to bits.

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Of course, with both girls being so mysteriously petrified of the sea at the moment, they pretty much clung to me like limpets, making the stroll a bit of a lesson in patience and deep breathing exercises, but we did get to see some pretty cool kitesurfing up close, not to mention the odd washed up jellyfish or two!

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Eventually the two of them found themselves rather enjoying the outing, loving the thrill of watching the kitesurfers doing flips and all manner of tricks in the waves, as well as the playful lifeguards milling and playing around in front of the Strand Surf Lifesaving Club HQ.

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Right, so now it’s just getting the two of them a little less petrified of the sea – we are after all going away to Gouritsmond for this upcoming December holiday period!

As always, a handy map to the beach if you too want to go kitesurfer watching:

Related Link: Strand

Yacht watching in the Gordon’s Bay Harbour (2016-11-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 NOV 2016

The so-called Old Harbour in Gordon’s Bay (where the South African Naval Training College is situated) is always a nice sightseeing spot, thanks to the large number of yachts moored there.

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Tucked safely within the harbour’s stout, dolos-lined walls, the yacht marina is also home to the Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club, whilst dotted around on the outside of the harbour you’ll find restaurants in the form of Harbour Lights and The Thirsty Oyster, as well as a small NSRI sea rescue base, and a few other odds and ends come to think of it.

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I was keen for a bit of a morning stretch of the legs, and so coaxed the two girls into joining me for a short walk about the harbour. Naturally, the two were completely terrified of the water, opting to either hold back to the safely of dry land when possible, or alternatively sticking to me like barnacles on a hull.

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Surprisingly, there weren’t too many people on the harbour wall trying their hand at catching fish like is normally the case (though I did spot a couple having a go from the adjacent Bikini Beach).

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The photos that I did end up taking when I managed to pry my hand loose from the tight grip of my two girls every now and then are a little misleading in that the sea appears rather calm – when in fact the reality was that there was a fair bit of swell breaking against the harbour walls! (Which seemed to both delight and terrify Jess and Emily mind you!)

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Anyway, once they finally calmed down enough to enjoy the sights, the girls did eventually agree that they rather liked the short sightseeing outing, and after a bit of time spent yacht watching and keeping an eye out for seals (no luck on that front), we turned back and left the beautiful sanctuary that is the Gordon’s Bay old harbour.

These are the few pictures I managed to grab, a feat considering just how stuck to me both the girls were for the most part!

Also, a map in case you want to check out the boats for yourself the next time you find yourself in my neighbourhood:

Related Link: Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club | Gordon’s Bay | A Little History

Bratwurst from Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery at Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 08 NOV 2016

Based in Ndabeni, Hoghouse Brewing Co. started out as a craft brewery before expanding into artisan bread making and believe it or not, Texan-style smokehouse barbeque food. Following a successful season or two of their popular bakery at the ever beautiful Spier Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery is now back bigger and better, with a giant new smoker and a tasty barbeque menu to go along with it!

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Having come to Spier for a bit of bird watching at Eagle Encounters, we decided to give the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery a go for a lightning quick lunch – and pleasingly, despite the lack of a booking, they were able to help us out with a small table right before the lunch rush began!

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If you are looking for smoked meat decadence, then Hoghouse’s menu certainly doesn’t disappoint, but because we were a  little on the clock, it had to be something small – hence some handmade fries for the girls to nibble on (they were too busy rolling around on Spier’s lawns in any event to even bother with actual food!), a good looking salad for Chantelle, and a bratwurst hotdog of all things for me.

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Mind you, I wasn’t just content with savouring their food alone – no, I also enjoyed one of their signature craft brews which happily turned out to be well worth it in terms of flavour.

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The staff were awesome, the vibe really cool, and surrounded by the Cape Dutch architecture and beauty that is Spier’s grounds, pretty much everything now points to the fact that we need to head out that way again for a proper lunch as soon as the chance arises.

After all, have you seen that BBQ listing on their menu!!!

A handy map:

Related Link: Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery | Facebook | Spier Wine Estate

Scones and Juice at Terra Madre in the Elgin Valley (2016-09-10) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 NOV 2016

The exuberant and bubbly chef, restaurateur, foodie and… property entrepreneur Nicole Precoudis certainly has more than just a little experience when it comes to the food business, having both owned and worked in plenty of restaurants over the course of her career.

Grabouw’s Elgin Valley region then most certainly lucked out when she decided to make it her home, and in 2013, following a stint as partner in and head chef of Oak Valley’s The Pool Room (which both Chantelle and I love), she thew open the doors of her and her family’s 18.5 hectare working apple and olive farm and launched the Terra Madre Market, which (open on only a few select occastions) specialized in “slow-cooked regional fare, farm fresh produce, sourdough bread, baked goods and more – all prepared on the farm”.

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Fast forward to September 2016, and Terra Madre, now producing an excellent champagne style apple cider (the Terra Madre Pomme Classique Dry Elgin Cider) as well as the most delicious fresh pressed, single varietal apple and pear juice that I have ever tasted, launched their Food Barn in order to complement their growing food delivery business.

Somehow, I managed to catch wind of this opening, and because I was looking for something to do over the weekend with my girls, I headed out to the Elgin Valley and turned off onto the Viljoenshoop Road, the first time that I’ve ever actually done that funnily enough.

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Although the signage is a bit poor, the GPS got me to the right gate, which confusingly was closed. However, nothing that a quick chat over the intercom couldn’t solve, so a quick farm road hop and the girls and I ended our drive up to the Terra Madre Barn – which was open for business… more or less.

Because I was coming in blind, I was kind of half expecting a little deli or something along those lines – however, the actual setting is a by far cooler one. In essence, you phone up ahead, book a lunch slot, and then get treated to a proper family luncheon out in the middle of the orchard  – and by the smell of and description of the food being prepared in the kitchen, those lucky people who had gotten this part right were definitely in for a major treat!

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Naturally, opening day, as it so often does, was not really going entirely to plan, with a lot of running around and things happening all over the place. However, the wonderfully affable Nicole and her family immediately made us feel welcome, and so we ordered some nice little scones off of the bake table and settled in to enjoy the surroundings.

Unfortunately for us though, in all the chaos of everyone getting ready for the actual lunch service, our order was kind of forgotten about – though that said, the girls didn’t seem to mind much. They were pretty much all over the place, making themselves at home, running around everywhere, sprinkled with bouts of Jessica randomly handing out hugs to anyone she could find!

Nicole brought some of the Terra Madre apple juice for us to try, and it is by far the best apple juice that I have ever tasted – a sentiment with which both the girls wholeheartedly appear to agree with. (Also, when our coffee and scones did eventually get served, well let’s just say that the scones were some of the best that I’ve ever had as well!)

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We thanked everyone for their hospitality, and made ourselves scarce before the real lunch time guests arrived, but not before we of course took a stroll around the grounds to admire the orchards and surroundings.

(That said, both Jessica and Emily were far to enthralled with the little puppy running about outside to care much about anything else that I was trying to show them!)

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So now that I know the setup (and apparently it has since been tweaked a little bit), I look forward to our next visit to Terra Madre where I can show off what looks to be an absolute gastronomic treat to Chantelle – making sure of course to take full credit for discovering this gem before she did.

A map in case you want to explore this interesting addition to the Elgin Valley tourism scene:

Related Link: Terra Madre | Facebook

A Quick Craft Beer at Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West (2016-09-17) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 17 OCT 2016

Driving home after having spent a lovely Saturday eating lunch at the beautiful Tokara wine estate, Chantelle asked if we could pop in at Vredenhof Organic Estate so that she could also see their cool play area that I was so enchanted by on a recent visit there with my girls.

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I happily obliged, but as luck would have it, by the time we walked through their gates, it was already pretty much closing time. (According to their website, they are open: Tuesday to Saturday from 08:00 to 16:00. Probably should have checked up on that first!)

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So no real showing off of this little hidden Somerset West gem to Chantelle then, but at least there was enough time for a quick coffee for her and a craft beer for me (a locally brewed, rather nice Stellebrau Craven Craft Lager if you must ask), while the girls enjoyed the already deserted, Disney-themed play area.

I guess then another future visit is in order?

As always, a handy map, and for more information, refer to my previous post on Vredenhof!

Related Link: Vredenhof Organic Estate | Facebook

Running on the Sand of Strand Beach (2016-09-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 OCT 2016

Having just enjoyed a rather unexpected midweek getaway in Swellendam towards the end of September, we returned home just in time for first me to fall ill on the Friday, and then Chantelle follow suit on the Saturday. As you might imagine then, the weekend was a bit of an indoor affair, though I did venture out on Saturday afternoon in order for the girls to stretch their legs with some play time at the main Strand Beach, also known as Melkbaai Beach.

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If you didn’t know that already, Strand has about 5 kilometers’ worth of white sandy beaches, which is probably why it is such a popular weekend destination then for beach fishermen and rock anglers, and of course holidaymakers come season time!

Melkbaai beach is one of the safer beaches for swimming and fishing, and of course there is more than enough to do in the area, including an Olympic-sized indoor pool which is centrally heated and is open all year round.

Naturally, water sports like surfing, sailing, power boating, paddle skiing and board sailing are also a pretty big thing in the area.

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Anyway, the girls and I were just there to stretch our legs for a bit, and so with a Jelly Tots chocolate slab as lure/motivator, I soon had the two of them running up and down the beach and getting rid of some their pent up energy!

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As you can see from the pictures that I snapped when the girls gave me a chance, it was actually a pretty overcast day – which was nice in the sense we had plenty of space to ourselves then! :)

(Also, because that’s how these things work, by the next day both of them were struck down with the same illness that was plaguing Chantelle. Poor babies…)

Anyway, here’s a handy map to the beach if you too want to go exploring:

Related Link: Strand

Pies and Play at Peregrine Farm Stall in Elgin (2016-09-10) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 07 OCT 2016

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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!)

Related Link: Peregrine Farm Stall | Facebook

Steenbras Dam and Sir Lowry’s Pass over the Hottentots Holland Mountains (2016-09-10) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 OCT 2016

We find ourselves taking the short hop over the mountain to visit the apple rich Grabouw/Elgin area quite often, which of course then means we travel via the N2 national road over Sir Lowry’s Pass and past the Steenbras Dam (Upper) to get there.

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On one of my recent expeditions to the area with my girls, I thought it a good opportunity to stop at both the entrance to Steenbras Dam (which is these days sadly closed to the public of course), as well as the Sir Lowry’s Pass view point.

(The girls were of course not impressed with this plan of mine, but I bribed them with the promise of ice cream, so all was good in the end.)

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Although still a bit on the low side in terms of water level, thankfully the Steenbras Dam (a reservoir for Cape Town as well as part of a pumped-storage power system) is looking a lot better than what it was just a few short months ago – which is a big relief when you consider just how gloomy the outlook in terms of Cape Town’s water supply for the upcoming season originally was.

(Sure, it’s still not great, but it is a damn sight more positive than the original forecast outlook!)

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Anyway, after a couple of minutes of standing next to the car and taking photos of the dam, guarded entrance and pretty tree next to me, I hopped back into the Getz and headed up the road, only to pull off at the Sir Lowry’s Pass view point which is probably only a kilometer or two away from where I had first pulled off the road for the dam.

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The girls opted to stay in the car once more, allowing me to take my time strolling around the rather large view point area, happily snapping pictures with my cellphone in pretty much every direction that presented itself to me!

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Named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, governor of the Cape in 1828, today’s modern and upgraded Sir Lowry’s Pass is essentially a cantilevered four-lane highway which then crosses the Hottentots Holland mountain range between Somerset West and the Elgin Valley.

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As you might imagine, the lookout point affords you a spectacular view of the Helderberg basin… not that you would necessarily say that if you have only ever had my not so great cellphone camera photos for reference! ;)

Lastly, a handy map in case you need a better idea of where this view point actually is:

Related Link: Steenbras Dam | Sir Lowry’s Pass | Wikipedia

Stroll along the Mostert’s Bay Section of Strand Beach (2016-09-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 OCT 2016

The Strand (Afrikaans for ‘beach’) is technically a seaside resort town on the eastern edge of False Bay, geographically between Macassar and Gordon’s Bay. It’s main attraction is of course the magnificent Melkbaai Beach which is known as one of the best and safest bathing areas in the country.

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However, as you head past the Pavillion complex towards the east, you’ll find yourself now walking along first Blake’s Beach and then Mostert’s Bay, both popular fishing and dog walking stretches of the beach area.

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Strand is super interesting in that despite it not appearing to be a wealthy area in the slightest, it features a stunning array of beautiful and interestingly designed high-rise apartment buildings which dominate the Golden Mile, Central, and Platinum Mile sections of the iconic Strand Beach Road that stretches the entire length of the beachfront.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but the nice thing about living so close to beaches whilst working from home is of course the ability to stretch one’s legs come lunch time by heading out for a sandy stroll – which is exactly what I ended up doing one recent Friday afternoon.

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For a change, instead of leaving my phone in the car, I forgot it in my pocket – which now means that I have a whole lot of photos for the blog again!

And of course, a map:

Related Link: Strand

Spring Flower Season in the West Coast National Park (2016-09-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 OCT 2016

The West Coast National Park is not the best SANParks national park to recommend visiting if you are looking for some big game to spot. However, with the idyllic Langebaan lagoon as its focal point, the 27,500 hectare large West Coast National Park is certainly more public friendly than most, with it being one of the few national parks where you can cycle, jog, braai, suntan, swim in the sea, picnic, swim in a lagoon, or even camp out on houseboat!

(Plus, there are actually antelope and smaller creatures to be spotted, and of course plenty of diverse bird life for the enthusiast).

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Spring however is when the park really comes to life, where the annual carpets of colourful wild flowers show their faces and turn the area into an amazing sprawl of delight.

Naturally, SANParks immediately hikes the entry fee to take advantage of this surge of interest in the area, but it is money well spent, believe you me (unless of course you own a Wild Card, because well then entry is free) – if you haven’t yet witnessed the incredible carpeted fields of colour that the private Postberg Flower Reserve unveils come Spring, then you simply have to make a plan for next year.

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Capetonians (i.e. people from Cape Town) descend on the park in their hordes, with lengthy queues at the entrance gate quite the norm. (Tip: If you don’t enjoy waiting in queues, you can go the long way around and enter via the Langebaan gate – usually a much less busy gateway into the park!)

Apart from these few weeks in Spring, the Postberg Flower Reserve section of the park is closed to the public, meaning that it remains unspoiled for much of the year. Every year this then pays dividends when the hills literally start exploding with colour as the flower season begins.

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Chantelle and I had seen this spectacle for ourselves for the first time last year (we even overnighted in Hopefield of all places!), and this year we were quite eager for the girls to also see this wonderful sight of nature at her best.

Having enjoyed a big family bash in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday the day before, Sunday saw us head out down the N7 and then R27 to Langebaan, where we met up with my Mom and Dad for a day of flower watching.

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This turned out to actually be a great plan, because we knew that the girls would probably become bored quite quickly (and thus start annoying each other in the back), so we split them up, with Jessica riding in Mom and Dad’s car while Emily stayed with us (on Chantelle’s lap).

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We spent the next couple of hours driving through the park, admiring all the colours and of course getting slightly flustered with all the traffic. As you would imagine, cars were parked everywhere, with pretty much anyone with even the slightest inkling of calling themselves a photographer spilling out to capture as much of the flower covered landscape as possible.

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We were treated to some amazing sights, and explored a bit more of the area than what we did last time around (this time I made sure I had enough petrol before going in!), and after our visual senses were properly sated, we headed down back to the lagoon for a bite to eat at the park’s Geelbek Restaurant.

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At least, that was the plan until we quickly realized that perhaps they were simply too busy to actually give good service, and so opted to abandon our table and rather exit the park to grab a now very late lunch from the nearby Beulah Farm Deli instead.

So in the end it was a day well spent, and I therefore suspect that next year we will probably be back again. Though perhaps this time even more prepared to make an even fuller day out of it! (In other words, remembering to pack a picnic basket for a change…)

Oh, and once again, taking pictures of fields of flowers doesn’t really work all that well when all you have is your Huawei cellphone for the job. Nevertheless, I tried my best:

(Oh, and sadly we did see less animals than what we did last time around. Not a big train smash though, so long as you go into the park knowing that animal spotting is not the big drawcard here!)

Related Link: West Coast National Park | Wikipedia | Postberg Flower Reserve