Category Archives: Family Attractions

Strawberry Picking in the Sun at Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch (2019-12-22) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 01 APR 2020

Of course strawberry picking season rolled around again and of course the girls and I headed out to our favourite strawberry picking spot, the super visitor friendly Polkadraai Farm lying just outside the town of Stellenbosch. This time around though we didn’t make the mistake of going to pick too early in the season, meaning that bringing home buckets of juicy red strawberries was a lot easier than the previous year’s excursion!

Polkadraai Farm has an expansive strawberry growing operation and its years’ worth of experience and experimentation with different strawberry varietals means that they are pretty much able to supply strawberries all year around. Picking season for the public however is only open during the months of September to January, and given the lengths that the farm has gone to in order to make this outing a proper family attraction, it attracts an ever increasing, huge number of local visitors with each and every passing season.

Because the actual picking of strawberries doesn’t take much more than 20 to 30 minutes, Polkadraai encourages longer family visits by having added tractor rides, pony rides, a mini golf putt putt course, two kids playground areas, two big stretches of lawn, and a food court – not to mention their well stocked shop that features all manner of strawberries and strawberry-related products (as well as a decent selection of local wines).

As for the strawberry picking itself, you head inside the shop on arrival, buy as many buckets as what you are people going into the strawberry fields, and then head out and fill the buckets with juicy red strawberries until they are filled to the brim. Pretty simple stuff.

This year the strawberry picking patch we were directed to was on the upper slopes of the farm (under the shade tunnels) which came as a bit of an unwelcome shock to my two girls who really weren’t in the mood to first walk up a hill in the blazing December summer sun that we found ourselves sweating under on the day.

Nevertheless, I managed to cajole them up the hill and into the plantation mounds, and despite all the sporadic groaning I think that overall fun was had by all. Not that it really matters though – the treasure trove of strawberries we returned home with were seriously delicious!

Fun and Facades of GrandWest Casino in Cape Town (2019-06-17) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 26 MAR 2020

We were rather enjoying our little break from the girls, having already spent the morning traipsing around Bloubergstrand, taking photos of Table Mountain, visiting Big Bay, and indulging in much coffee and cake at Cafe Blouberg. I then put on the table to Chantelle that we should extend our outing a little longer by paying a visit to the GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World on the way home – primarily because I wanted to take some photos of its interesting facades. Amazingly (and inexplicably) she said yes.

Opened in December 2000, Sun International’s GrandWest Casino entertainment complex is built on the old Goodwood Showgrounds and is Cape Town’s only registered casino. It is a sprawling operation that features two hotels, a kids entertainment world (with arcade), a concert venue (The Grand Arena), loads of restaurants and bars (plus a fast food court), an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a bowling alley, movie cinemas, lots of conference facilities, dedicated exhibition space (SunExhibits), and of course the actual casino floor itself.

Now neither Chantelle or I am into gambling at all, and the kids are still a bit young to easily manage in the big crowds that the place tends to generate, so GrandWest isn’t actually a location that we visit very often (other than for the odd show or music concert) at all. That said, it was interesting that both Chantelle and I commented on just how eerie it is at how little the place has changed in the now 20 years of its existence!

The place is loud and colorful and full of people, and there is more entertainment on offer than what you can shake a stick at. I of course love the historic preservation effort the architects put into the design of this fun entertainment complex, with much of its external facades modelled after historic and landmark Cape Town city buildings, and the interior decor heavily trading on Cape Town’s rich maritime tradition.

So much to see, so much to photograph, no wonder then that Chantelle almost instantly got annoyed with me and immediately regretted having ever agreed to this unscheduled photo walk in the first place! (Not even Keith Calder’s playful seals out front were enough to appease her.)

Still, I had fun:

Warm Water Swims and Donuts at ATKV Hartenbos (2019-09-28) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 MAR 2020

I have already mentioned that last September I took Jessica and Emily up with me to Mossel Bay for a couple of days at Pinnacle Point with Ryan. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly play along for our trip away from home, but nevertheless we made the most of what we had and even managed to nip in a couple of warm water swims at the excellent ATKV Hartenbos Seefront while we were at it.

If you aren’t aware of it, the small town of Hartenbos was (as a lot of our old towns were) originally a farm, but in 1933 the South African Railways and Harbours (Transnet) turned it into a holiday resort for their lower-rung employees. In 1936 the ATKV (“Afrikaans Language and Cultural Society” in English) bought the farm, divided it into lots (but didn’t allow the construction of permanent structures until 1994!) and expanded on the resort facilities.

Over the years Hartenbos has grown into a proper little town (though for the most part its iconic caravan parks remain), complete with schools, a private hospital, sports clubs and several churches, and more importantly, has embedded itself as and remains an integral part of Afrikaner culture – so much so that to this day Hartenbos remains a bastion for Afrikaans holidaymakers.

The ATKV Hartenbos Seefront (i.e. seafront) development stands watch over the beach and forms the central hub for holidaymakers and tourists alike. With its fun-packed waterpark, shops and restaurants, amphitheater, colourful facades and vibey atmosphere (especially during the school holidays period), it is pretty much the place to be in Hartenbos.

Mini doughnuts from the Pizza & Donut Den aside, we’ve also quite taken to their indoor warm water pool, so much so that nowadays a visit to the Mossel Bay area is pretty much guaranteed to include at least one swim in their relaxing lukewarm waters!

So for this trip, bad weather be damned – the girls had a blast, Ryan and I were tired out, and a feast of chocolate and caramel drenched donuts were ingested – Dit is altyd lekker by die see!

Mini Golf at The Golf Village Tygervalley in Bellville (2019-05-04) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 30 DEC 2019

Putt putt. Mini golf. Adventure golf. Whatever you call it, I always enjoy tackling this fun little distraction whenever the chance presents itself, and back in May I found myself wandering about Bellville sans wife and kids. So I called up my brother and asked if he wanted to meet up for some putt putt. Surprisingly he said yes.

The Tygervalley Golf Village has been around for quite a number of years now, part of Pro Range’s host of driving range setups, and features quite a few facilities on site, including the main golf driving range with target greens and pins, medium and fast paced putting greens, a chipping and pitching practice area, a bunker practice area, a pub, and even a fully fledged golf academy.

Oh, and the all important 27 hole adventure mini-golf course.

The lengthy, colour-coded putt putt courses have always been on the more challenging side of things, but seeing as we aren’t just kids having a swing any more, it makes for an enjoyable (sometimes frustrating) challenge. That said, the Golf Village’s age certainly isn’t doing it any favours, because disappointingly we found the facilities to be in pretty bad nick overall.

Nevertheless, despite the obvious need for some maintenance, care and probably a lick of paint, the mini golf itself is still a lot of fun and if I remember correctly, on the day I had a slightly better round than Ryan. I think.

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.

Gordon’s Bay Primary School Family Fun Walk (2019-09-14) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 19 OCT 2019

This year we were at last able to join in the annual BP/Gordon’s Bay Primary School Family Fun Walk fundraiser, something Jessica has been keen to take part in for quite some time now. (Last year she missed out at the last minute, thanks to a cold that swooped in literally the day before!)

Our local BP petrol station does a lot of great work in support of our primary school, and this annual fun walk sees parents and kids (and anyone else that wants to join in the fun) walk a 5 km route out into the suburbs and then back to the school again.

Last year the route was apparently a bit of a nasty one in that it was all up in the steep roads behind the school (which sits at the foot of our mountain), so this year it was relief to see that the organizers had taken the commentary to heart and switched to a much more friendly flat and fast route – i.e. accessible to everyone regardless of fitness level!

Jessica and I arrived super early (expecting a massive crowd), but unfortunately the newly opened Strand Park Run (on the beach) together with the long running Somerset West Park Run (which is strangely run in rural Gordon’s Bay) ensured that this wasn’t going to be a particularly big Saturday morning event – a pity considering that this is a bit of a fundraiser for the school.

(Also, this was meant to be a colour run, but disappointingly the organizers didn’t organize very many paint packets – so most of us just had to do without. That said, a lot of people did take the yellow and green dress-up brief seriously, so that was pretty nice to see.)

Still, the crowd was big enough to make it sociable, and as for the walk itself, Jessica got a mini heart-attack when she was briefly separated from me when the crowd set off, we saw plenty of our neighbourhood friends along the route, and Jess got to walk the whole way with one of her best friends, Shaelyn.

And the amount of moaning? Surprisingly little.

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Searching for Strawberries at Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch (2018-09-15) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 19 JUL 2019

When Spring rolls in at the start of September, the strawberry plants start bearing fruit, and as such, Stellenbosch’s firm family favourite, Polkadraai Farm, opens its gates and allows the public to stream in and start hunting out the best of these sweet red juicy delights.

The last couple of years has seen the farm really cement its family outing offering, with the completion of a host of different upgrades, resulting in an experience with better parking, more shopping variety, outdoor eating options, a mini golf course, jungle gyms, dedicated party venues, pony and tractor trailer rides, and of course expanded strawberry fields for the picking.

It’s a colourful assault on the senses (even if the clouds were a little grey on this particular occasion) and a fun experience for the kids, whom these days don’t often have the opportunity to see just where their food actually comes from. Plus, the strawberries are absolutely delicious, so there’s that too! :P

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A Giant Jersey, Pancakes and Silly Fun at Tuinplaas in Albertinia (2018-09-22) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 JUL 2019

With the impossible to miss combination of colourful flapping flags and ridiculously dressed ostriches waving to you from the side of the road, sooner or later you are simply going to have to pull off the N2 at the edge of Albertinia and investigate just what exactly this silliness is that labels itself Tuinplaas. So that then is precisely what I did.

With the girls and myself travelling up for a weekend away in Mossel Bay with my folks, I decided to call up mom and dad (who were already there) and asked them to drive down and meet us in Albertinia for a quick breakfast. Amazingly, they agreed to my plan and soon enough we both pulled up in the vast parking lot of our destination. Hello Tuinplaas.

As it turns out, Tuinplaas is in fact a business that is wonderfully not afraid to throw anything and everything at you in order to be successful. At its core, Tuinplaas probably started out as a garden concrete mouldings specialist (hence the many concrete statues, pots and other garden pieces for sale), but then also successfully dabbles as a plant nursery, with a specific focus on its many beautiful succulents.

On top of all that, next is the homely restaurant (situated right next to all the plants and pots), and beside that, the intriguing farm museum that is host to an incredible collection of scale models (with over 8,000 models on display), ten vintage tractors (the oldest being a 1933 McCormick Deering), and incredibly (because this is Albertinia of all places), the Guiness World Record certified largest hand-knitted jersey (jumper) in the world!

And then there is the very silly, impossible to categorize, R.O.A.R., aka the Royale Ostrich Ancestral Republic, concrete ostriches “installation”. It is very silly (in a good way).

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Fun and Games at the Winter Wonderland Festival in Gordon’s Bay (2018-07-08) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2019

Next week Friday (the 14th of June 2019) the ninth edition of Gordon’s Bay’s very own Winter Wonderland Festival kicks off with its annual evening parade – and this time we even have one of our daughters dancing in it!

Started back in 2010 by the newly launched Gordon’s Bay Business Forum as a way of attracting visitors during the quiet winter months, the festival has gone from strength to strength, morphing from an intimate collection of food trucks on the site of the old Van Riebeek Hotel and lots of fairy lights running through the milkwood trees, to the slickly run, well marketed, sprawling array of tents and fun rides that you find on the carnival weekends today.

Every year the “Carnival Park”, now situated in Hendon Park right on Gordon’s Bay’s beautiful main beach is a blast, with loads of food trucks and food stalls, virtually non-stop live music, beer, arts and crafts, family activities and just plenty of fun. That said, the highlight of the festivities as far as the kids are concerned is always the fun park set up and operated by Funland Amusements SA – their collection of fun rides is always a massive hit for the event!

This year (as it has been for the last couple of years – basically a safeguard against the whole thing being rained out entirely), the festival is spread over two carnival weekends, 14-16 and 21-23 June. And yes, obviously we are going to have just as much fun as what we did last year!

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