Tag Archives: art

Food and Sculptures at Tokara Delicatessen in Stellenbosch (2016-09-17) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 29 DEC 2016

I used my weekends to visit a LOT of different places this year. One of the more visually interesting outings came about in September, when I took my three girls out for a light lunch at the Tokara Delicatessen, situated on the stunning Tokara Wine and Olive estate at the top of Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch.

Tokara is itself a very upmarket estate, so it is pleasing that the team saw it fit to create a secondary, child friendly venue in the form of the excellent Tokara Delicatessen.

Given the farm’s elevated location, you are afforded stunning views of the surrounding mountains, down into the valley below, and all the way across False Bay for that matter. Both the vineyards and olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see, and picturesque is really the only word that fits the scene as you arrive in Tokara’s parking area.

Tokara is know for four things – its wines (made of grapes from three separate districts – Stellenbosch, Elgin and Hemel-en-Aarde), its range of exquisite olive oils, it’s leading fine dining restaurant, and its extensive collection of art and sculptures.

It is this love of art and sculpture that first greets you as you exit the car, with a wide variety of modern sculpture dotted all around the grounds of the Delicatessen and neighbouring Olive Barn.

Peacocks roam freely and visitors enter the ground with an immediate sense of wonder and awe thanks to the beautiful and visually interesting surroundings.

There is a beautiful deck outside the simple but elegantly designed deli, great for warm sunny days, while the cosy interior with its walls of glass simultaneously makes for the perfect winter venue.

There is a large lawn for kids to run around and play on, with the garden itself also dotted with a host of very interesting sculptures to take in (and in some cases, play on!).

The deli’s food is of course much easier on the wallet than Tokara’s restaurant proper, but pleasingly the deli’s food is just as good, with us thoroughly enjoying what was set down before us on the day.

Naturally, Chantelle was in love with every single aspect of the place, whilst the girls were far more interested in running about outside than sitting inside with boring old mom and dad!

(Obviously I did a lot of strolling about as well, snapping loads of photos and ambling about the openly accessible vineyards and olive groves out back whenever the opportunity arose.)

With lunch done and Chantelle’s interior/product browsing curiosity now sated, the girls and I then trundled down Tokara’s sculpture path, an easy walk through the olive trees and then down the road to Tokara proper, with the route again being dotted all along with some interesting sculptures and pretty flowers to boot.

So in summary: Even if it is just a visit to the kid friendly, more accessible Tokara Delicatessen at Tokara, you can’t help coming away from that place feeling just that little more… sophisticated.

Highly recommended.

Here is a useful map if you wish to explore the exquisite world of Tokara yourself:

Related Link: Tokara Delicatessen | Tokara

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

Things to See in France: Le Palais Idéal (The Ideal Palace) Travel Attractions 26 AUG 2015

If you ever find yourself in Hauterives in southeastern France, chances are pretty good that you are there to see Le Palais Idéal (The Ideal Palace) – the culmination of 33 years worth of work of a single man.

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Ferdinand Cheval is reported to have said: “I was walking very fast when my foot caught on something that sent me stumbling a few meters away, I wanted to know the cause. In a dream I had built a palace, a castle or caves, I cannot express it well… I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself. Then fifteen years later, when I had almost forgotten my dream, when I wasn’t thinking of it at all, my foot reminded me of it. My foot tripped on a stone that almost made me fall. I wanted to know what it was… It was a stone of such a strange shape that I put it in my pocket to admire it at my ease. The next day, I went back to the same place. I found more stones, even more beautiful, I gathered them together on the spot and was overcome with delight… It’s a sandstone shaped by water and hardened by the power of time. It becomes as hard as pebbles. It represents a sculpture so strange that it is impossible for man to imitate, it represents any kind of animal, any kind of caricature.”

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Starting in April 1879, for the next thirty-three years, Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924), a French postman, picked up stones during his daily mail round and carried them home to build his Palais idéal. He spent the first twenty years alone just building the outer walls! At first, he carried the stones in his pockets, then switched to a basket. Eventually, he used a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp.

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The stones bound together with lime, mortar and cement, The Palais is a mix of different styles with inspirations from Christianity to Hinduism. It is as intricate as it is vast, and includes sculptures of exotic animals and mythical creatures, which were said to be inspired by the postcards he delivered.

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The Palace is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture.

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Just before his death, Cheval began to receive some recognition from luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso. His work is commemorated in an essay by Anaïs Nin. In 1932, the German artist Max Ernst created a collage titled The Postman Cheval. The work belongs to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and is on display there. In 1958, Ado Kyrou made Le Palais idéal, a short film on Cheval’s palace.

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In 1969, André Malraux, the Minister of Culture, declared the Palais a cultural landmark and had it officially protected. In 1986 Cheval was put on a French postage stamp.

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Cheval also wanted to be buried in his palace. However, since that is illegal in France, he proceeded to spend eight more years building a mausoleum for himself in the Hauterives cemetery. He died on 19 August 1924, about a year after he had finished building it, and is buried there.

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Related Link: The Ideal Palace | Wikipedia | Eupedia

A Chrome Extension that makes New Tabs Pretty Software & Sites 08 APR 2015

Google Chrome has kind of wormed itself into being my de facto web browser, and as such I spend a lot of time with it. In other words, I see that blank, expressionless white new tab screen a lot. A hell of a lot.

Which is exactly why I am so particularly enamored with Google’s recently released Chrome Extension entitled Google Art Project.

Developed by the Google Cultural Institute, the Google Art Project extension essentially puts fine art on every new tab that you open. This artwork is sourced from the collections of museums and galleries around the world, and apart just being given something pretty to look at, you might even be culturally uplifted in the process! ;)

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Needless to say, I find myself unable to stop clicking the new tab button at the moment!

(Not that this is the first such extension which Google has released before mind you. They also did something pretty similar – also worth checking out – using satellite images grabbed from the Google Maps service, called Earth View.)

Related Link: Google Art Project (Chrome Web Store)

Comic Book Art: Wonder Woman and Plastic Man by Dominique Fam Comic Book Art | Comic Books 16 AUG 2012

Dominique Fam is a Singapore-based illustrator who specializes in digital paintings. Outside of all his corporate work, he also finds the time to do a bit of fun stuff on the side, including this great shot of a visibly mad Wonder Woman discovering a sneaky Plastic Man plot!

And note the reflection of Power Girl just about to make him see the error of his ways in Plastic Man’s spectacles!

Comic Book Art: The Might Thor by Blaz Porenta Comic Book Art | Comic Books 12 JUN 2012

Slovenian artist Blaz Porenta is a fantastic artist, illustrator and digital painter who comes up with the most atmospheric and detailed portraits you could ever imagine.

Marvel’s The Mighty Thor of Asgard finds himself in the midst of a heated battle in this piece of mastery, courtesy of Mr. Porenta!

Comic Book Art: Iron Man by Blaz Porenta Comic Book Art | Comic Books 05 JUN 2012

Slovenian artist Blaz Porenta is a fantastic artist, illustrator and digital painter who comes up with the most atmospheric and detailed portraits you could ever imagine.

This particular piece of his depicts everyone’s favourite man in a tin can, Marvel’s Iron Man!

Comic Book Art: Akira’s Tetsuo by Dave Rapoza Comic Book Art | Comic Books 29 MAY 2012

Dave Rapoza is one heck of a talented digital freelance artist, known perhaps best for his hyper realistic depictions of classic cartoon characters, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for example.

Using his trusty Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and Photoshop CS3, and grabbing a few unused hours here and there, the man is capable of producing works as stunning as this.

Indeed, Akira’s Tetsuo looks even more menacing here than what he looked in the actual manga and anime versions!

Comic Book Art: Masters of the Universe’s Skeletor by Dave Rapoza Comic Book Art | Comic Books 21 MAR 2012

Dave Rapoza is one heck of a talented digital freelance artist, known perhaps best for his hyper realistic depictions of classic cartoon characters, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for example.

Using his trusty Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and Photoshop CS3, and grabbing a few unused hours here and there, the man is capable of producing works as stunning as this.

I truly doubt that Skeletor from the Masters of the Universe franchise has ever looked quite as menacing before!