Last year saw me make an uncharacteristically large amount of Touchwork business trips to both Durban and Johannesburg (unusual because my work behind the keyboard generally means that I get to remain behind the scenes).
Not that I’m complaining though. New things to see, new people to meet, bank headquarters to visit, business relationships to cement, and all that.
Plus, it turns out that Bryanston is quite a leafy (and occasionally rather wet) spot. I honestly didn’t know.
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(Bonus Tip: Ghazal makes the most amazing Indian food! Worth keeping in mind if you ever find yourself traipsing around the Bryanston area…)
Related Link: City Lodge Hotel Bryanston
Following a delightful December holiday stay in both Mossel Bay and Gouritsmond, this year kicked off with us having to leave the Hyundai Accent in George for repairs, returning home to Gordon’s Bay with the kids, and then Chantelle and I heading back up to George once the car was finally ready for collection. Now not wanting to just drive up and drive back down again in one day, the two of us decided to instead make a date of it and spend the night over in Mossel Bay – which was just as well really because it introduced us to the very lovely Diaz Beach Guest House.
Hard to miss and genuinely a stone’s throw from the super popular Diaz Beach, the Diaz Beach Guest House is a slickly run operation with secure parking for its guests, and rather nicely equipped rooms. Cool, comfortable and the perfect base from which to explore the beach (or if you are more like Chantelle, to enjoy an afternoon snooze in).
For the kids, other than the beach, you are literally next door to the excellent Da Playhouse indoor playpark (great for the smaller kids), as well as the heated indoor pool and super fun tube rides of Waterworld, while for the adults there are plenty of opportunities for a nice cold drink with a view, given all the hotels stretching along the beachfront in front of you.
As for Chantelle and my little getaway, ostensibly to collect our car, well we made sure to fill it with things like breakfast at Tredici in Swellendam, fish and chips as The Sea Gypsy Cafe in Mossel Bay, strawberries and ice cream at Redberry Farm in George, and milkshake and roosterkoek at Oude Post Bistro in Buffeljagsrivier.
Oh, and a delightful stroll along the lovely Hartenbos waterfront area (a first for Chantelle – she’d last been there as a kid), complete with mini doughnuts and a busking native American Indian in moccasins and a feathery headdress/war bonnet.
Apparently (according to Chantelle) his music is absolutely spellbinding.
So in other words, all lovely stuff.
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(Oh, but it wasn’t entirely all good news. The car fix was expensive, a good couple of thousand, and on checking out of the guest house, I walked up to my car only to say hi to a VERY deflated tyre. Final nail and all that I suppose…)
One of our stops on last year’s June Holidays Road Trip was the ever delightful Oudtshoorn, a visit filled with caves, ostriches, camels and milk tart jaffles. In terms of accommodation, we went with De Oude Meul Country Lodge, a fantastic family friendly self-catering accommodation complex that lies about 14km out of Outshoorn, at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains.
A working ostrich farm come season, De Oude Meul has no shortage of facilities, counting among its many offerings a restaurant, two pools, free (and pretty decent) Wi-Fi, game hunting, hiking routes, 4×4 trails, a kids play park, fishing, a wedding venue/conference hall, and yes, as you can see from the photo above – a whole lot of bunny rabbits! (Plus a Shetland pony or two).
Our unit was more than spacious enough for the four of us, the braai worked a charm and a working DSTV a nice bonus. I adored the open space (prompting many a stroll through the well tended, lush green grounds), while the kids absolutely loved the animals and the play area.
The restaurant was pretty decent as well.
Being in the shadows of a mountain meant that it got bitterly cold at night, but nothing that a few extra blankets couldn’t solve! Besides, everybody cheered up the minute the bales of hay was carried towards the rabbit pen anyway…
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Bonus find – De Oude Meul commissioned this video to give you a bit of a better feel of what to expect when staying with them:
Pretty accurate and thus not hard to see that this is indeed a thoroughly enjoyable place to call home for a couple of nights – especially if you have small kids in tow like we do!
Last year’s December holiday was pretty nice, kicking off first with some beach time at Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay, followed by some more R&R in Gouritz for New Year’s. Sadly for us though, our ten year old Hyundai Accent developed a problem (lost power thanks to a blown coil), which then meant an unscheduled extension to our holiday with a trip through to George – the nearest town with a proper Hyundai Service Center available in it.
That of course then meant that we needed to source accommodation in the middle of the December holidays – not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do!
As things turned out though, we managed in the end to find space at the French Lodge International, a charming African-themed guest house situated right along George’s York main street (which coincidentally is also a delight thanks to the fact that it has a decent run of Christmas street lights strung up down the length of it!).
Owned for ten or so years by a charmingly helpful Frenchman with a penchant for motorbike safaris, these days the French Lodge International (complete with small replica Eiffel Tower out front) consists of the main building (which houses a number of the larger rooms) and a whole lot of smaller, more private thatch roof rondavels – all of which are centered around a large pool that quite truthfully, saw a LOT splash time from myself and the girls over the course of our short stay!
In short – our family sized room, the breakfast, the free WiFi, the convenient location, and the French Lodge International’s super friendly staff were all great, making for a good, comfortable stay.
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As for George itself, we hired a nice Volkswagen Tiguan from a local care hire company AutoHireSA, did a lot of driving around, visited a lot of nice places (as is our norm), and did our best to put our minds off the fact that the rather expensive R6,000+ repairs were going to take much longer than what we could afford to stay.
Luckily for us though, my Dad was on hand to help us out by driving all the way from Bellville to come and ferry us and our luggage home! Talk about Uber service! ;)
The last leg of our brilliant June/July holiday breakaway saw us spending two nights based in Sedgefield, a personal favourite stomping ground of mine, thanks to having grown up with grandparents living in this gorgeous sleepy little town.
In terms of accommodation, the Internet had come up with a suggestion of The Gull as a suitable sleepover spot for the four of us, and pleasingly, on arrival it was great to learn that for a change the Internet had most certainly not lied to us.
Built right on the edge of the sand dunes of Myoli Beach, The Gull offers fantastic self catering apartments, all nicely furnished, rounded off with a beautiful garden setting and access to a tiny little gym – in case you are not so keen on giving up all your hard earned gains just because you find yourself on holiday for a change!
In addition to the beautiful surroundings, an unexpected bonus was finding ourselves right next to the quirky PiliPili Xtreme Sports Centre and Bar, whose restaurant area spills out onto the beach sand and is lit up by a great big bonfire seemingly each and every night.
Useful if you crave some pizza and beer and don’t particularly feel like heading out for the evening!
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It was a comfortable stay, we were well impressed with the great (and super friendly!) service, good furnishings and fantastic location – easy to recommend in other words! :)
This year was a lot different than last year for me in that 2016 was dominated by going away at least once a month for some sort of weekend getaway, whilst 2017 saw that flipped on its head and instead everything was concentrated into a single, decent length family holiday back in June (which I still need to put down on paper here).
However, Jessica and myself did manage to slip one weekend getaway in at the start of this year, when the two of us drove up to Mossel Bay to join my parents for a long weekend away at their place in the gorgeous Pinnacle Point Estate.
With Chantelle and Emily enjoying some alone time back home (honestly, the abundance of rain spiders from our 2015 visit was the reason for this particular weekend of single parenting adventures), Jessica and I got down to the serious business of enjoying a very busy/fun packed weekend with Granny and Grandpa.
Pinnacle Point is of course paradise for little girls who are now big enough to steer a golf cart, meaning that plenty of golf cart explorations were the order of the day. Too chilly to swim, we were instead entertained with jungle gyms, visits to Oyster Bay beach, braais, and LOTS of Go Fish! and Monopoly Deal in the evenings.
Mossel Bay on the other hand was perfect for wool shopping, Putt Putt (made more exciting by the multitude of motorbikes that had invaded the town for the annual Buffalo City bike rally), a round of golf with my dad at the Mossel Bay Golf Club, and of course dassie gazing at the St. Blaize Cave.
(Sadly though, we couldn’t get mom to agree to allowing us to attempt crossing the narrow entrance bridge with dad’s Lexus SUV in order to visit The Island at Great Brak River.)
So, as you can see loads of fun was had, and as an added bonus, this time around we only encountered ONE rain spider – on the very last day of our visit.
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Love this place, and can’t wait to get invited back again!
If you are interested in the Cape’s architectural heritage, then a visit to Tulbagh should very much be on your agenda.
You see, the damage that the disastrous 1969 Boland Earthquake wreaked upon the town sparked a renewed interest in its heritage, with the result being extensive projects of restoration lead by the National Committee for the Restoration of Historic Buildings in Tulbagh and its Environment and later Tulbagh Valley Heritage Foundation groups.
Because of this work, Tulbagh’s historic Church Street is now home to the largest single grouping of Cape-Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian provincial heritage homes in South Africa.
That said, we were mainly there for the wine.
Towards the end of last year, Chantelle and I left the kids with the grandparents and struck out to enjoy a weekend away on our own, forgoing the allure of staying in an old heritage house and instead opting for the more comfortable amenities that the African Tulip Guest House promised on their website.
Just as well that we did, because our lavender-themed room was spacious, featured a giant en-suite bath, had direct access to a patio with the most gorgeous of views, and not to mention a particularly inviting breakfast nook that came paired with some particularly good breakfast, courtesy of our lovely Dutch hosts.
(Plus, given the heat, the pool was DEFINITELY a very welcome bonus!)
For Friday night’s supper we tucked into the most decadent of burgers at Tulbagh Hotel’s The Olive Terrace, all the while enjoying the live music courtesy of a Valiant Swart concert being held next door at Saronsberg Theatre.
Saturday saw us make an impromptu decision to first head out to nearby Ceres (via Michell’s Pass), followed by a longer drive through to Klondyke Farm for a stab at one of their super popular cherry picking sessions.
Back in Tulbagh, we first explored a bit, tasted chocolate at Moniki Chocolatier, and then while Chantelle enjoyed a late afternoon nap, I set about taking in all the historical architecture with a leisurely stroll down Church Street (photos of which I must still get around to posting!).
Saturday’s supper was taken at Readers Restaurant, a dining establishment that operates out of one of the heritage houses on Church Street and by someone who appears to have very much a thing for cats going on. I don’t know why.
Finally, Sunday saw us take our leave of the wonderful African Tulip as we embarked upon a day of wine tasting, stopping in first at Saronsberg (Tulbagh), then Waverley Hills (Wolseley), and following a jaunt over Bain’s Kloof Pass, ending it all off at Val du Charron (Wellington).
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So. Not a bad first ever stay in Tulbagh then.
We were extremely fortunate in September to get the chance join Chantelle’s folks Monty and Cheryl on a mid-week holiday to the fantastic Stonehill River Lodge, set along the strong flowing Breede river in Buffeljagsrivier (near Swellendam).
Stonehill River Lodge (part of the Dream Resorts group) consists of a small number of luxury self-catering units dotted along the Breede river, fronted by a stretch of lush green lawn and completed with breathtaking views of the Langeberg Mountains.
We arrived at the lodge early evening on the Wednesday, having been treated to some spectacular sunset skies along the dirt back roads you need to take in order to reach the destination.
The fire was already going strong, and that pretty much set the tone for our short two night stay in this truly stunning venue. (I.e. this setting calls for a braai every evening!)
The kids had a ball running and playing on the vast stretch of rolling lawn that fronts the river, while Chantelle and I got a kick out of enjoying some time in the jacuzzi that comes with quite the view.
Frisbee, trampoline, chess, and if you don’t have little ones to entertain, hiking and some good river fishing is all on offer at this particularly tranquil space.
I had to of course do some support work while I was there (it was mid-week after all), but for the most part it was all explore and play.
Thursday saw us encounter slightly wet weather (and a river whose level rose frighteningly overnight – a valid concern mind you, seeing as this place floods ever three or so years thanks to the way the river bends in the area!), which then meant a slightly damp sightseeing trip into nearby Swellendam – where we visited a chocolatier, spotted a spectacular church, had lunch in an old house, and explored a faerie sanctuary!
As you may have guessed by now, this little getaway was a huge success. Loads of fun was had in these stunning surroundings and I have to admit – I’m kind of eager to head out that way again once the opportunity arises!
(Primarily because I’m rather eager to cross the river on the famous pontoon at Malgas! Incidentally, it is the last hand-drawn pont of its kind in the country…)
Naturally, a place like this demands a fair bit of photos be taken whenever you take break from all the fun!
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A handy map. You’ll have to travel along a couple of dirt roads, but the final destination is well worth it!