Back in March of this year, the local Japanese Embassy hosted their fifth annual Japan Day celebrations in the form of a Japanese-themed, entertainment-filled market day in conjunction with the weekly Blaauwklippen Family Market in Stellenbosch (who themselves LOVE hosting themed market days anyway!).
Now we as a family love the Blaauwklippen Market thanks to it being such a great, family friendly affair (besides, Catje’s Pancakes makes hands down, the best pancakes found at any of our local markets!), and so the addition of even more free (and Japanese-themed!) entertainment made it a proper no-brainer to visit on the day.
So that’s exactly what the girls and I then did.
We first kicked things off with a bit of a stroll around the lovely, historic Blaauwklippen Estate, admiring the white Cape Dutch-styled walls (well in truth, only I was admiring, the girls were busy picking up leaves and acorns), and reveling in the breathtaking mountain views on offer from the estate.
Next we picked our way past the horde of international tourists (there for the wine and not the market), before picking a spot and settling down in front of the main stage.
The event kicked off with some words from the Japanese Ambassador and the KFM DJ hosts, followed by some energetic drumming from the always entertaining Tamashi Daiko taiko drumming troupe.
Following that, we browsed through the entire market, lingering past all the unusual Japanese food and craft exhibition stalls, before stopping for a fair bit in front of the Judo exhibition mat, something Jessica ended up taking quite an interest in!
As expected, we feasted on pancakes, bought some kids story books, and then ended off our market visit with some time spent hanging around the kids play area, with the girls enjoying pony rides and of course a trip on the ever present Blaauwtrein quadbike train ride!
In other words, yet another perfect market day outing.
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”45861,45862,45863,45864,45865,45866,45867,45868,45869,45870,45871,45872,45873,45874,45875,45876,45877,45878,45879,45880,45881,45882,45883,45884,45885,45886,45887,45888,45889,45890,45891,45892,45893,45894,45895,45896,45897,45898,45899,45900,45901,45902,45903,45904,45905,45906,45907,45908,45909,45910,45911,45912,45913,45914,45915,45916,45917″]
(Honestly, Blaauwklippen is always nice to visit, regardless of whether you are there for the market or for some wine tasting and fine dining.)
I visited the Blaauwklippen Family Market a couple of weekends ago in order to catch a glimpse of the official Japan Day 2017 celebration, an annual event organised in Cape Town by the embassy of Japan. However, that reminds me that Chantelle, the girls and I actually also turned up at the beautiful Stellenbosch-based Blaauwklippen wine estate last December, in order to partake in the rather successful Blaauwklippen Family Market’s yearly Christmas Night Market event.
Held in the evening, we lucked out with absolutely perfect weather – warm, no clouds in the sky and not a breath of wind, making for a perfect family outing.
As always is the case at any Blaauwklippen Family Market event, there were loads of things for the kids to do, with my girls naturally making a beeline for the pony rides first, followed up with a trip on the opportunistically named (I love it!) Blaauwtrein kids ride.
(For those of you not living in South Africa, the “Blue Train” or “Blou Trein” is one of our most luxurious train trips, and “Blaauw” is Dutch for blue. Incidentally, “klippen” is stone, hence Blaauwklippen is probably named for the stunning blue mountain ranges that surround it).
Anyway, Jessica is chomping at the bit to go on the mega trampoline, so we’ve promised to let her do that soon enough (we’re not 100% sure she’s ready for that mind you), though she wasn’t too keen on trying her hand at the exceedingly cute kids bull ride attraction on the night!
As always there was a great, positive buzz around the market, with the stalls (especially the food stalls) doing plenty of brisk trade. The live music reinforced the good vibe, and everywhere you looked you saw people having a great time!
We grabbed our usual delicious pancakes from Catje’s Pancakes, before Chantelle swooped in on some sushi, and I on some craft beer, before finishing it all up with some delicious handmade ice cream for the girls.
All in all, it was a particularly good outing, which I guess then means that come this year Christmas, we’ll have to do it all over again – and maybe drag some of our family and friends along with us for a change!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”43666,43667,43668,43669,43670,43671,43672,43673,43674,43675,43676,43677,43678,43679,43680,43681,43682,43683,43684,43685,43686,43687,43688,43689,43690,43691,43692,43693,43694,43695,43696,43697,43698,43699,43700,43701,43702,43703,43704,43705,43706,43707,43708,43709,43710,43711,43712,43713,43714,43715,43716,43717,43718,43719,43720,43721,43722,43723,43724,43725,43726″]
You’ll note that the last four images in the gallery appear to be completely unrelated to this post. That is because they are, but I don’t really have anywhere else to put them. Essentially, the day after the market we let the girls try out Baskin Robbins that had finally arrived in South Africa, followed up with some coffee and delicious sandwiches from the new Baconville eatery at Willowbridge Mall, and then finally a Spur playdate for Emily with her best friend Marli – which naturally included facepaint.
Also, back to Blaauwklippen Family Market, a map:
After a year or two of going to quite a few weekend markets, this year has seen us attend pretty much none! However, it was the Sunday just before I was to leave on my business trip to the USA, and with Chantelle at home with us for a change, we decided to treat the girls to some pancakes and ponies at the Blaauwklippen Family Market… though unfortunately for Jess’ sake, there was nary a pony in sight when we got there!
However, the disappointment was short lived, as we pretty much went directly to the (long!) queue at the ever popular Catje’s Pancakes stall in order to grab a big bunch of pancakes for the Lotters.
The market was super busy with people, so getting the pancakes took a while, but the plus side of this though was that it gave Chantelle plenty of time to browse through the other stalls and put together a nice selection of different snacks in the process!
If you have never been to this market before, then you’re missing out, because it is definitely one with the nicest vibe. There is always a good buzz, the live music never disappoints, the kids are generally entertained, and there is a brilliant selection of arts, crafts, fashion and food stalls for the browsing.
Plus, the venue itself is quite the stunner!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”39501,39502,39513,39503,39505,39506,39507,39508,39509,39510,39511″]
(Oh, and because it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t really come up with any excuse not to cap off the day with a braai once we eventually got back home!)
With Chantelle working on Sunday last week, and Retha off on a wedding shoe shopping trip, I decided to treat the girls to some pancakes and ponies, and so off we hopped down the R44 and made our way under the beautiful sunshine to a bustling, vibey Blaauwklippen wine estate.
We arrived to the uptempo beat of an unexpected junior drum majorettes (drummies) display, a show that had Jessica complete and utterly entranced. She was super excited by all the flags, maces and sequins, and very assuredly told me at the end of the routine that she wasn’t definitely going to be doing drummies when she goes to the big school!
(Which I’m sure would make Auntie Claire and Granny Cheryl super happy!)
Another event which got the little ones excited was the dynamic duo of a guy on his guitar and a girl on her violin pumping out some fantastic tunes (Dirkie & Talisa – very entertaining!), which entranced Jess and Emily to such an extent that they were happily dancing along front and center!
Catje’s Pancakes as always was a hit with the girls (and dad), but sadly for Jessica, she missed out on a pony ride because just as we sat down to enjoy our pancakes, Pearl the pony was led back to the stable for a bit of a rest break!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”35499,35500,35501,35502,35503,35504,35505,35506,35507,35508,35509,35510,35511,35512,35513,35514,35515,35516,35517,35518,35519,35520,35521,35522,35523,35524″]
We couldn’t stay and wait for her break to be over though – no, we needed to get back to Strand for Annabella’s birthday party, which was to feature this…
…which amazingly Jessica absolutely loved to bits! (Emily not so much).
Related Link: Blaauwklippen Family Market
If I look back to winter, then quite a lot of my weekends with the girls looked like this – after all, we had a pretty pleasant winter in terms of weather this year:
1) Spend a little time playing at home while I do a couple of household chores. (Mind you, quite often joined by the other little girls in the complex!)
2) Spend some time eating pancakes and playing in the sand pit at Root 44 Market.
3) Enjoy a drink and play on the jungle gyms at Mondeor Garden Restaurant (with Chantelle during her split).
4) Sundays almost always involved pony rides and pancakes at Blaauwklippen Family Market.
5) And yes, every now and then the girls would help me do a little shopping. They rather enjoy the trips through to Cape Garden Centre mind you. I wonder why…
And these photos? They’re all taken on just one pleasant weekend back in June!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”35169,35170,35171,35172,35173,35174,35175,35176,35177,35178,35179,35180,35181,35182,35183″]
In hindsight, seems a pretty decent way of spending one’s weekends then, don’t you think? :)
Weekend days with no birthday party celebrations pencilled in for October/November are pretty rare, but we did get one of these beauties towards the end of last month. Sadly though, Chantelle was working, which meant that it was up to the girls and I to entertain ourselves over the course of the morning with some much needed clothing (and extra LEGO bricks) shopping.
(Oh, and a stop for a cheeseburger, milkshake and play time at Waterstone Village’s McDonalds, because all of a sudden Jess is rather a big fan of doing this!)
As it turned out, Chantelle was working a split shift on the day, so I gave her a call and told her to come join us for some pancakes and ponies at the Blaauwklippen Family Market, a place we haven’t visited for a couple of weeks now.
Naturally, she jumped at the opportunity to escape Gordon’s Bay, and pretty soon the four of us were in Stellenbosch, lounging on the lawns of Blaauwklippen Wine Estate with pancake in hand, snapping selfies left, right and center! :)
As always the market was buzzing with excited people (though thanks to the Oktoberfest celebrations on the go, perhaps it was buzzing a little more than the norm), and despite the slightly overcast weather, everyone seemed to be having a ball of a time.
The girls ran around and played, I bought the kids some story books, and of course, we capped things off with a pony ride for Jess – who certainly hasn’t forgotten just how much she enjoys the experience!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”34736,34737,34738,34739,34740,34753,34742,34743,34744,34745,34746,34747,34748,34749,34750,34751,34752,34735″]
Related Link: Blaauwklippen Family Market
Back in April this year we enjoyed a nice long weekend thanks to Freedom Day falling on a Monday, and looking back at the photos, it looks like we might just have filled up the weekend with visits to perennial weekend favourites of ours – namely Root 44 market, Mondeor Garden Restaurant, and of course, ponies and pancakes at the Blaauwklippen Family Market.
Seems like a decent way to spend a family-orientated weekend to me! :)
And Monday the public holiday? Well that saw us drive through to Grabouw of all places.
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”35025,35026,35027,35028,35029,35030,35031,35032,35033,35034″]
Related Link: Freedom Day
A couple of weekends ago we got to experience two very different bits of European culture – On the Saturday we found ourselves out and about in Durbanville, and ended up enjoying some food at the kid friendly Dutch Haven Bistro, situated in the Garden Court of High Street.
Needless to say, they specialize in Dutch cuisine – and I have to say, their food is particularly excellent and well worth a recommendation!
(Hot Tip: Another gem to be found in the High Street shopping complex is the fantastic little shopfront of The Velvet Cake Co. – modern, funky and with cupcakes and cake to die for! Naturally, Chantelle was in seventh heaven when she finally did get to stop there!)
The Sunday saw us head out to Blaauwklippen Family Market for some pancakes and pony rides, and whilst both those were indeed on offer (by this stage Jessica is particularly fond of Pearl the pony), we were pleasantly surprised to discover that they were actually celebrating France’s Bastille Day on the day, meaning everything was naturally in tri-color – and they had both the music and the dancing to match!
As always, loads of fun and lots to see, and Jessica in particular surprised us by being taken so in with the music that she went up and danced on the stage all by herself!
Mommy and daddy could only but stare with our mouths hanging wide open! :)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”33444,33445,33446,33447,33448,33449,33450,33451,33452,33453,33454,33455,33456,33457,33458″]
Found another folder of weekend photos that I forgot to post, dating back to the end of March this year. Another dad alone weekend, but man, looks like I once again found myself with the pony at Blaauwklippen Family Market on the Sunday.
I’m beginning to wonder just how many times Jess has ridden that little pony this year… (I suspect more than what I can count might be the answer!)
From the look of it, this was a pretty good weekend. Planted beans and swung in the crate swing with Oupa Monty, spent some time with the friends at Stodels (Logan, Evalynne and Jessica had a ball), pony rides, ice cream and pancakes at Blaauwklippen, and some burgers and play time at Waterstone McDonalds.
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”32535,32536,32537,32557,32538,32539,32540,32541,32542,32543,32544,32545,32546,32547,32548,32549,32550,32551,32552,32553,32554,32555″]
Seeing these kind of makes me eager for Spring and then Summer to roll back into our lives! (After all, looks like possible snow hitting the Cape this week…)