Sunday afternoon drives for the sake of Sunday afternoon drives are often quite enjoyable. This particular Sunday drive saw us head out over Sir Lowry’s Pass, through Grabouw, along the picturesque Viljoen’s Pass, past Theewaterskloof Dam and into Villiersdorp. One u-turn later and we were now on the R43, joining up with the N2 just before Dassiesfontein – the perfect excuse to at last stop and stretch our legs.
I have written about the unique little farm stall/restaurant that is Dassiesfontein before, and just like our last visit, it was a case of petting the donkeys, browsing through the inexhaustible pile of home decor odds and ends, and glancing over all the produce and crafts on display. (Honestly, this could probably take all day if you let it!)
Also, refreshing ginger beer and ice cream was had by all.
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To cap off our more than decent roundabout drive, we next popped into the ever reliable (and popular) Peregrine farm stall to stock up on some delicious supplies.
So all in all, not a bad Sunday drive to say the least.
On one of our spur of the moment weekend outings last year (I suggested to Chantelle that we head out to Stanford for a cheesy picnic at the Klein River Cheese farmstead), I randomly decided to stop for a coffee in the middle of nowhere, ending up at the delightfully dusty Van Brakel Stoor farm stall along the R316 – basically somewhere on the road between Caledon and Napier.
Established way back in 1921, the Van Brakel Stoor originally operated as the local grocery store and mechanical repair shop for the area, before being rebooted in 2004 as today’s old-time country store and coffee shop.
The goal is simple – serve up local, home-made food with warm platteland hospitality.
In addition to the coffee and food on offer in its little dining space, the Van Brakel Stoor farm stall also stocks all manner of local wines, home-made preserves and baked treats (as well as a few essentials for the locals), and as an added bonus, the shop’s interior comes lined with all sorts of interesting farm relics from days gone by.
(Oh, and apparently the Van Brakel Stoor is also used as an events venue. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but that is definitely what their website states!)
Given the farm stall’s location in the heart of the Overberg, the surrounding farm landscape is also something worth taking in. (Basically, photos were just begging to be taken!)
So yes, I rather enjoyed this slightly unplanned little coffee stop then.
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P.S. The amount of food stuffs that can be pickled and preserved is mind-boggling. Also, it brought a huge smile to my face identifying all the old biscuit tins that I remember from my grandparents’ houses as a kid.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!)
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:
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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…
So finally, Chantelle and I took advantage of Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa’s long running promotion, The Real Deal (previously known as The Reel Deal, changed I suspect because most people – including us – failed to spot the pun first time around).
We headed out early Thursday morning (having left the kids to sleep over with Chantelle’s parents the previous evening), stopping for breakfast first at Fred & Max in Elgin (a failure, as it turns out that they do in fact NOT actually serve breakfast), followed by a fantastic breakfast at The Pool Room at Oak Valley (a success, because it turns out that they do in fact serve breakfast).
For R125 each, we received R100’s worth of casino credits for some slot machine play, a choice of selected meals from the daVinci restaurant, and free access to the Spa’s natural warm mineral pools – in other words quite a decent deal if you ask me!
Having stayed at the Caledon Hotel once or twice before (many years ago at the infancy of our relationship), we were looking quite forward to spending some time in the warm water pools again, but in the end we decided to first get the gambling out of the way – neither of us being particularly fond of casinos just by the way.
As per usual, the slot machines didn’t work out very well for me, but Chantelle had a great time, making a tidy little profit on The Queen of the Nile game – meaning that she walked out there with jangling pockets and a huge smile on her face. (But no photos, as those are strictly forbidden in the casino. They are literally on you as quick as a flash, as Chantelle discovered much to her surprise!)
I on the other hand had by then long since wandered out of the casino area and had ended up in the incredibly poorly stocked kids game arcade, happily playing some ancient Lethal Weapon pinball for entertainment!
The natural warm water pools were an absolute treat as expected, with us making sure to take a dip in pretty much all the pools on offer, including the Victorian Bath, the floatation pool, and the small, elevated, but unbearably hot Khoi San pools!
In the end, we spent the majority of our day in the pools, our muscles soaking in the warm, mineral enriched goodness and leaving us relaxed, light-headed, and content with the world!
(Also, it’s well worth after you are all dried off and dressed, just to sit for a few minutes in the tranquil Zen Garden space. Perfect spot for some reflection and quiet time!)
We finished up the day by taking advantage of our free food offer, and as for the meal at daVinci, well, it’s not fantastic of course, but that said, it’s not bad either – and when you think how much you have paid for it, you simply can’t help finishing up the day feeling rather chuffed with what really is a decent deal.
So yeah, I enjoyed my day and Chantelle certainly seemed to as well – after all, she posed for these silly photos at the end of our adventure, meaning that she must have been in a good/silly mood!
So a day well spent, and with our definitely worth it little break from life now over and done with, it was the long trip back to Bellville to pick up the kids (thanks Oupa and Ouma) and then head straight back home.
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One of our earliest weekend getaways together saw Chantelle and myself head out to the fabulous Caledon Spa, where on arrival our room was updated for no reason at all, leading to one fantastic weekend away from home! :)
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