Tag Archives: cape dutch

Exploring the Food Garden of Babylonstoren in Simondium (2017-02-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 08 NOV 2017

Dating back to 1692 and boasting one of the best preserved farmyards the Cape, the historic Babylonstoren stands as one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms currently accessible in the Cape Winelands.

As a thriving hub of commercial activity these days, Babylonstoren (situated in Simondium – just outside Paarl) is home to a hotel, a spa, multiple restaurants, a cellar (naturally), and a farm shop, not to mention the fact that it also hosts a variety of functions and workshops.

However, if you need one reason, and only one reason, to visit Babylonstoren then it should most definitely be to wander through their amazing food garden.

Inspired by the historic Company’s Garden in Cape Town, which supplied sailing ships of the Dutch East India Company with fresh vegetables and fruit during the days when the Cape was a halfway station between Europe and Asia, the Babylonstoren garden was commissioned in 2007 and handed over to French architect Patrice Taravella to bring to this 3.5 hectare marvel to life.

The resulting, carefully crafted garden consists of 15 clusters covering things like vegetables, stone and pome fruits, citrus, berries and even a prickly pear maze. Dispersed in among the grid layout is a variety of mosaic and other art pieces, and the fruit and vegetable garden as a whole is kept watered by a series of lotus, lily and waterblommetjie covered streams and channels that are fed via gravity from the nearby stream.

Although you are welcome to wander about the huge garden on  your own (and if you’re any good, identify the multitude of plants being grown while you are at it), but given that there are over 300 varieties of plants (all either edible or of medicinal value), a guided tour is by far the best option if you want to get the most out of the experience!

Given the beautiful weather on the day of our particular visit, we opted to grab some light refreshments from the popular outdoor Greenhouse restaurant, but as I mentioned at the start of the piece there are other options available, like the Babel restaurant (housed in a re-purposed old cow shed) or The Bakery perhaps.

In addition to the food garden, Babylonstoren also sports an unexpected Cycad section, featuring a large selection of these ancient, digitally chipped fossil plants, as well as a tranquil river walk that is home to an immense number of clivia plants (best viewed in September).

There is also the visually interesting, shaded walk known as The Puff Adder to wander through, with this slatted tunnel often playing home to an interesting plant exhibition or two – in our case its was succulents (and an impressive bonsai!).

We had the girls with us on our visit, but truthfully this is a place best enjoyed by adults, and more importantly, by adults with a keen interest in either gardening or food preparation.

In other words, Chantelle can’t wait to make a return without the kids in tow! ;)

Definitely worth a visit or two.

Related Link: Babylonstoren

Celebrating at the Lekke Neh Kids Carnival on Weltevreden Estate in Stellenbosh (2017-01-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 27 FEB 2017

We only discovered the beautifully restored, historic Weltevreden Estate last year. Packed with all manner of interesting art and sculptures, the classic Cape Dutch manor house and homestead is home to a brilliant little eatery that trades by the fun name of Lekke Neh, a wine tasting room, conference and wedding venue facilities, exquisite grounds, and most important of all – if you have little kids like we do – a separate, super kid friendly area known as the Kids Carnival – complete with a fantastic selection of playground equipment and of course kid friendly food choices!

As it turns out, we’re not the only ones fond of this place – my sister Claire also rather enjoys it, and so despite them living all the way out in Constantia, we were surprised to get an invite to join them for a family get together for their little boy’s recent birthday celebration.

Needless to say, our girls were rather excited by the prospect of heading out to The Carnival once more!

On such a beautiful summer’s day, the kids had an absolute blast playing on and with all the kids stuff, while we got to sit back as a family and tuck into some rather satisfying food.

(That said, if there is one constant disappointment when visiting The Carnival area at Weltevreden is that the service there is really, really poor. I think we’ve been there now four or five times in total, and each and every time we have come away complaining about how bad the service actually is! Pity.)

Nevertheless, the kids had an absolute ball, and that is what it really is all about, isn’t it?

Anyway, Chantelle and I are still overdue for a proper dining session at Lekke Neh (which really looks good), so yeah, I reckon we’ll be popping in there a couple of times more before they close up shop for the winter season…

Oh, and of course when I could grab a moment, I did wander around a bit in order to snap a few pictures of this beautiful estate (which incidentally has an official heritage status – it was declared a National Monument in 1975!).

Bonus: In case you are keen on discovering this great little gem for yourself, here is a nice and nifty map:

Related Link: Weltevreden Estate | Facebook