Tag Archives: cape town

Scratch Patch Gemstone Delight in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town (2018-05-05) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 OCT 2018

Honestly, taking your kids to go semi-precious stone hunting at the Scratch Patch is pretty much a Cape Town institution now. The original Scratch Patch in Simon’s Town was started in 1970, but of course it was the opening of the V&A Waterfront branch back in the late 90’s that really saw the experience take off as a fun little distraction for parents with small kids.

Anyway back in May this year, the girls and I got to head out to Pinelands for a friend’s birthday party at the hugely fun be.UP Park in Pinelands, a huge indoor trampoline and clamber activities haven that is guaranteed to put a grin on pretty much any kid’s face. (It was a first time visit for us, so the girls were HUGELY excited).

Successful party concluded (with remarkably few injuries to boot), I next decided that a long overdue visit to the V&A Waterfront was in order, more specifically a stroll over to the Scratch Patch – only fair considering that the last time we had treated the girls with a visit there was three whole years ago!

We don’t visit the Waterfront all that often, meaning that I almost always actually enjoy a trip there, primarily because there is always something to see and grab a nice photo of. Of course, this then means that I like to wander about, inflicting a massive amount of frustration upon two small girls impatiently champing at the bit to find out what the surprise for the day is going to be.

Pleasingly (they literally had NO clue as to our final destination), as we finally snaked our way over to the big unpolished stones serving as an advertising marker at the foot of the Scratch Patch building, they twigged where they were and literally ran around in circles yelling with excitement. Mission success I reckon.

From there it was through the door and straight into admiring the jewelry on display (they are girls after all), grabbing a container, and gleefully scratching about for brightly coloured stones until their cups literally runneth over – with daddy put on strict quality control duties of course.

Sadly, Emily is still a little too young for putt putt (mini golf) so we skipped out on a round of Cave Golf for this particular visit, but I reckon that it will be on like a scone the next time we pay a visit to this tiny little kid friendly wonderland.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know about it, in addition to the classic Simon’s Town and V&A Waterfront locations, these days Scratch Patch/Mineral World also has an outpost at the tourist friendly Cape Town Ostrich Farm. All the more reason to head out ostrich feather hunting again I guess…

Related Link: Mineral World Scratch Patch | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town

Cape Town Sevens Rugby at the Cape Town Stadium (2017-12-10) Events | Photo Gallery 23 SEP 2018

Easily one of the most eagerly awaited days on the Cape Town sports calendar, the Cape Town Sevens (more correctly known as the South Africa Sevens) is ridiculously popular. Grabbing tickets is a tricky affair, but if you manage to land a couple, then go you absolutely must.

My dad and Ryan asked me to join them for last year’s addition, the second tournament within the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens Series. Seeing as I had up until then never been to a sevens tournament before, I eagerly said yes. Best decision ever!

Using the free pass guaranteed by our tickets, we parked in the city itself and grabbed a MyCiti bus to the gorgeous Cape Town Stadium, where after a short walk and a very slick gate operation, we filtered into the stadium and grabbed our seats.

We were there for the last day of the tournament (i.e. the most exciting day), and thanks to a particularly easy first round draw for South Africa’s Blitzbokke (namely Kenya, France and Russia), our team safely navigated their way to day 2, top of Pool A and ready take on Fiji in the first quarter-final of the day.

It was actually quite interesting to see first-hand. You see, the Cape Town Sevens isn’t popular because of the rugby itself, but rather for the massive amount of fun and atmosphere it generates, which means then that other than when the Blitzbokke are playing, the large majority of people are for the most part actually outside (in colourful costume), listening to music and catching some sun with drink FIRMLY in hand.

However, as soon as the South Africa team ran on to the field, the stadium would almost immediately fill up as the crowd grabbed their flags and started roaring in local appreciation. As it was, South Africa and Fiji put on a fighting game, ending with the Blitzbokke trotting away with a 31-26 win.

Next up was a clash with New Zealand, but sadly this battle did not go the partisan crowd’s way. Despite the thousands of waving flags and much, much cheering, the islanders put in a great effort, downing our local heroes 19-12.

That loss did of course leave a bitter taste in the mouth of most people there, meaning that the final, literally the last game of the day, played between New Zealand and Argentina (which New Zealand easily won) wasn’t as well supported as what it should have been. That said, thankfully the Bronze Medal Match between South African and Canada was still good enough to invoke a good old stadium roar.

Just as well that we won that then. (For the record, South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla ran out as the tournament’s top try scorer with 7 tries under his belt).

It was a very, very long day of quick, try-filled rugby. Loads of action, almost no down time to speak of, and plenty of festival atmosphere all around – in other words a thoroughly enjoyable day out and something which I can now fully appreciate the hype around. I liked it.

Also, fireworks.

(And a very windy night time walk back to our car. In fact, we saw a lady get blown down some steps. She was more concerned about her skirt than anything else. It was kind of hilarious – if it wasn’t for the fact that the wind was sucking the hilarity out of pretty much everything around us!)

Related Link: South Africa Sevens | Blitzbokke | HSBC World Rugby Sevens | Cape Town Stadium

Dinosaurs and Whales at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town (2017-08-20) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 14 SEP 2018

I pretend that any visit to a museum is for the benefit of my girls of course, but obviously that is very much a straight up lie – It is for me. Pretty much always. Case in point, I really really  wanted to see what the Iziko South African Museum, the national museum of South Africa, looks like nowadays. So off on a family outing we went.

Actually, given its location at the top of the Company’s Garden in Cape Town (where it has been located since 1897), a trip to the Iziko South African Museum always makes for a good family outing. You have the greenery, squirrels and nice eatery that comes with the Company’s Garden, the splendour of the various statues and memorials dotted about, the entertainment value that comes from a viewing at the now very impressive planetarium, and of course the wonder of the museum itself.

Founded by Lord Charles Somerset in 1825, the South African Museum started out as a general museum but later moved its focus to almost purely that of natural history, with a notion that very little divides the animal world from the human subjects it documents. In other words, there is a reason that there is relatively so little cultural history and material culture on display, despite this being a national museum!

The museum is organized on four levels, hosting a variety of exhibitions, from rock art to fossils, marine animals and meteorites. The ground level is home to “People past to present”, looking at aspects Southern African tribal history, “Karoo Fossils”, examining ancient dinosaur-like life in the Karoo region 250 million years ago, “World of Water”, depicting life in South Africa’s oceans, “Southern Oceans”, detailing animal life in the Subantarctic region, and the “Whale Well”, which features a unique collection of whale casts and skeletons – including a 20.5 meter long suspended blue whale skeleton that can be viewed from all floors.

(If there is one thing that I CAN remember as a kid going on all the museum bound school excursions, then it is most definitely that huge whale skeleton!)

Level 1 is home to “Sharkworld”, showcasing sharks, skates, rays and chimeras, “Our Place in the Universe”, a display depicting a cosmic zoom to view the universe on an ever-increasing scale, reaching back to almost the very beginning of the universe, “Meteorites”, three large iron meteorites, and of course the fantastic “Iziko Planetarium” (which I now really want to return to in order to watch an actual adult space themed feature following our viewing of the kiddy friendly “Tycho to the Moon”).

Level 2 showcases “Mammals”, “Birds”, “Wonders of Nature”, as well as the “History of the SA Museum”. It also houses a section entitled “Indigenous Knowledge”, which is a window on indigenous ways of using natural resources. Finally, level 3 is home to the “Stone Bones of the ancient Karoo” and focuses on the 250 million year old fossils from the Karoo. In other words, dinosaurs!

The museum is neat and tidy, the displays well looked after, the layouts great, and honestly put, I rather enjoyed the time strolling about. That said, the girls didn’t last very long before the “ugh, my legs are tired” moaning began, meaning that inevitably the visit was cut shorter than what it needed to be, ending with a grumpy dad stomping along in tow.

Next time I am going to lose the girls in the gardens with the squirrels I think.

P.S. That photo in the gallery above of Jessica running towards me? That’s her rushing over to tell me that a flock of the garden’s famous pigeons had just flown overhead and one of them had pooed on her leg! Extremely amusing and in the end, nothing that a bite to eat and some play time over at Deer Park Cafe couldn’t fix…

Related Link: Iziko South African Museum | The Company’s Garden | Cape Town

Freedom Day at the Green Point Urban Park in Cape Town (2017-04-27) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 27 AUG 2018

The expensive whirlwind of hosting the FIFA World Cup back in 2010 brought a lot of welcome development and renewal to the Cape Town suburb of Green Point, ultimately transforming the road network, Green Point Common and of course stadium all for the better. One of my personal favourite legacies stemming from the hosting of the tournament is the establishment of the Green Point Urban Park, otherwise simply referred to now as Green Point Park.

This large, bright green lawn slathered slice of family outing heaven is the perfect venue for families to enjoy some outdoor life, or for people wishing to get some fresh air and a stretch of the legs in without having to leave the city or climb the mountain.

There are expansive lawns for picnics, a dedicated stage for performances, a delightful little restaurant perfect for a tea and light lunch stop (which naturally we make use of because planning ahead for something like a picnic is something seemingly beyond us), multiple play areas for the kids, outdoor gym equipment for those of us who never rest in bettering our bodies, and curved walkways perfect for both walkers and young cyclists alike.

The park is also home to a carefully curated Biodiversity Showcase Garden, whose sculpted pathways reveal some 25 000 indigenous plants, trees, shrubs, bulbs and ground-covers, all in all representing about 300 different plant species!

Also scattered about is a multitude of wonderfully quirky little nature sculptures and other exhibits, with all the important bits covered with some wonderfully informative signage.

So in summary, romantic fynbos strolls aside, the park is thus perfect for family get-togethers, picnics, birthday parties, and outdoor exercise. Also, don’t forget the scenic views either. In other words, the perfect place for Chantelle, the girls and I to spend a lazy Freedom Day public holiday together then!

Side Note: The kids play areas are amazing. Split into two, one for the older kids and one for the smaller tots, the equipment is very much unlike the standard stuff (i.e. way more exciting) that you would find in our older municipal parks. Explains perhaps why then the girls seem to absolutely love visiting there!

Related Link: Green Point Park | Cape Town

Cable Cars and Signal Hill Sightseeing in Cape Town (2017-05-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 AUG 2018

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has for many years now offered a free adult ticket up the mountain on a South African citizen’s birthday – a deal which I’ve seldom made good on, but not necessarily for the lack of trying. It has far more to do with the fact that my birthday falls in the Cape Town winter season, meaning that weather conditions are almost never in my favour.

After a rare success in 2016, I once again tried my luck in 2017, however the strangely quiet cable car station should have been enough of a hint that the operation was shut for the morning, thanks to adverse conditions at the top of the mountain.

Not too daunted though, I instead altered my trip to that of even more of a local tourist, opting to go on a scenic drive (filled with photo stops) past the nearby kramat up on the ridge, even further up to Signal Hill, over Kloof Nek and down into Camps Bay, round the coast to Seapoint, lunch in the V&A Waterfront, and then ending it all off with a tour of the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum. Certainly a more than adequate replacement plan then.

Talking about the kramat, Cape Town is actually surrounded by a ‘holy circle’ of kramats – shrines of great Muslim spiritual leaders. There are about 20 recognised sites scattered throughout the peninsula, with two of these sites actually situated on Signal Hill – that of Tuan Kaape-ti-low at the Army Camp, and that of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah on the ridge (the one that I pulled over at).

Continuing further up the road you will eventually reach Signal Hill, a great (car-accessible) location for viewing Table Mountain, Cape Town, its surrounds and the last vestiges of Peninsula Shale Renosterveld – particularly useful if you don’t feel like the strenuous walk that accompanies going up the likes of nearby Lion’s Head.

Driving down from Signal Hill towards Camps Bay, you’ll spot a couple of cannons overlooking Camps Bay along Kloof Nek road, originally placed there by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to defend the castle from attack via the wagon track which led from Camps Bay to the Castle via Kloof Nek. Yes, I did pull over and take a few photos. I can only imagine that Chantelle was very happy not to be tagging along with me for the day!

As for Camps Bay itself, as always it is breathtakingly beautiful (when not overrun with sun-seeking beach goers), and the public art installations along the beach makes for a nice distraction while stretching one’s legs.

The remainder of the drive takes you around the rest of the rich, beautiful (seemingly always under construction) Atlantic Seaboard towards Green Point, and because I like stopping to take pictures, I inevitably stopped along the Seapoint promenade to get my first ever glimpse of the once relatively controversial Michael Elion’s “Perceiving Freedom” public sculpture/Ray-Ban advert.

I didn’t really mind it all that much to be honest.

As for the rest of my day NOT walking about on top of Table Mountain? It was pretty pleasant.

Related Link: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway | Signal Hill | Camps Bay

Beer, Fries and Play at Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek, Cape Town (2017-08-20) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 18 AUG 2018

If you are out and about exploring in Cape Town with the kids, and now find yourself in need of something to eat but don’t necessarily really feel like being in the more bustling, touristy parts of the city, then take note – Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek is an absolute gem.

Situated on the upper slopes of Vredehoek, overlooking the city whilst guarded by the mountain above, Deer Park Cafe is a wonderfully relaxed city bowl eatery that is super popular with families thanks to it bordering on the fenced, welcoming Rocklands Road Park, a well maintained public park lined with trees and filled with loads of swings, jungle gyms and plenty of picnic worthy grass.

The food is artisan, delicious and well priced, the craft beer and wine selection good (I thought the Kings Craft Brewing Co’s LionHeart Lager particularly excellent) – so basically the perfect combination for a great casual dining experience then. The view, the relaxed ambiance, the public park – no wonder our girls (following a day out at the Company’s Garden, the Iziko South African Museum, and the Iziko Planetarium) enjoyed this unplanned stop as much as what they did.

Pro-tip: Go early on a weekend – these guys get pretty busy, pretty fast.

Oh, and apparently the cakes are pretty damn good as well.

Related Link: Deer Park Cafe | Vredehoek | Cape Town

Picking Roses at Chart Farm in Wynberg (2017-11-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 JUL 2018

If you ever feel that you need a vibrant burst of colour in your life, a drive up to Chart Farm, a slice of rural charm situated right alongside the bustling Wynberg Park, is an almost guaranteed solution – if in flower season that is.

Purchased in 1934 by the Garlick family, the Chart Farm covers about 18 hectares of land (a hectare or two was lost to the construction of the M3 highway), with about 12 hectares of that arable and being used to cultivate grapes, chestnuts, lemons,  and… compost – but it is of course the rose growing operation for which Chart Farm is most famous among Capetonians for.

Home also to Ludwigs Rose’s, Chart Farm grows a huge number of rose varietals in their rose garden, all of which can be ready picked for special orders but which are in fact much more fun to be picked out using your own hands and the secateurs and buckets supplied down at the farm stall out in front.

(Okay, so maybe I’m making this out to be a little more fun than what it actually is – but both the girls were SUPER excited to be walking among the roses bushes, selecting the flowers that were to be daintily removed with as minimal pricking as possible for their mom, and then making sure they made it safely back  to the pay point.)

As previously mentioned, down at the entrance to Chart Farm is their small little farm stall,  which offers fresh farm produce (in  season), including  items like lemons, limes, grapes, figs, chestnuts and cherries, as well as a selection of preserves and of course already cut roses (just in case you don’t have the time to meander among the flower beds).

Then there is The View @ Chart Farm, a perfectly situated coffee shop that serves delicious home-made cakes, breakfasts and light lunches, all whilst offering the most magnificent view over what is a very lush greenbelt area.

Seriously, it is a ridiculously picturesque spot.

All in all, it is impossible not to recommend Chart Farm as an outing with your mother (unless she is SERIOUSLY adverse to pretty roses), and as you might expect, Chantelle is very much itching for us to schedule a return visit so that she can see this gorgeous little find with her own eyes!

Tip: There is of course a thing as seasons for flowers, so the best time to come is late spring, with the roses generally being available from October all the way through to June.

Related Link: Chart Farm | The View at Chart Farm | Wynberg | Cape Town

Girls at Play on the Mouille Point Adventure Playground in Cape Town (2017-11-18) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 05 JUN 2018

The whole Sea Point, Mouille Point, Green Point stretch of Cape Town is always fantastic for family outings, with walks along the promenade, wave dodging through the railings, play on the various jungle gyms along the way, putt putt, a mini maze, the Blue Train Park, the Mouille Point Adventure Playground, and the Green Point Urban Park all on the cards for the little ones.

Talking about the Mouille Point Adventure Playground, I only just discovered how beautifully this kids playground has been upgraded during an outing with my girls to the Blue Train Park back in November last year. Open to all, it is the perfect mixing spot for all the kids of Cape Town to run around and play with one another.

So, while the Blue Train Park and its little blue train was definitely a hit, the fun ship themed jungle gym, inviting green sea monster and giant wooden jungle gym of the next door Mouille Point playground turned out to easily be the biggest highlight for my two munchkins on the day!

Seeing as we were in the area on a Saturday morning, we next dropped in by the bustling Oranjezicht City Farm Market, but given how busy they were (locals tell me the trick is to arrive super early), the girls and I instead shuffled off to a place of their choosing for lunch – and given that they are 7 and 4, naturally we ended up at Santa Ana Spur in the V&A Waterfront.

Sigh, at least the beer is nice and cold.

Not that I minded all that much I suppose – people watching at the Waterfront almost never gets old…  (Also, we did end up visiting Lagoon Beach in Milnerton for ice cream afterwards. So I can’t really complain.)

In summary, a lovely little playground that is perfect for rewarding the kids with some play time after first forcing them to walk along the promenade with you.

Related Link: Mouille Point | Cape Town

Celebrating Mother’s Day with a Picnic in Green Point Park, Cape Town (2018-05-13) Photo Gallery 15 MAY 2018

Instead of the usual big Sunday lunch at one of our houses with the rest of the family for Mother’s Day, this year Chantelle came up with the idea of getting everyone together for a big celebratory picnic – settling on the gorgeous Green Point Park (in Cape Town) as the perfect venue for the event.

We arrived early on the day, and as luck would have it, we snagged a table and, more importantly, the weather played along brilliantly, dealing us with a sunshine-filled, windless Autumn day – perfect for all the little ones to run around and play.

In terms of family joining in on the fun, it was Chantelle’s mom and dad, my mom and dad, my brother, my sister and her husband, and of course all the kids – our two girls, and Claire’s three boys!

Loads of food, plenty of conversation, and lots of fun. Basically the perfect recipe for spending a full day enjoying both the company and the stunning surrounds!

With my phone’s battery currently playing up (it needs to be replaced ASAP), I didn’t exactly bother to even try and take any photos on our special picnic day – so I guess that you will just have to take my word for it then that the Green Point Urban Park is an absolutely PERFECT spot for these sort of outdoor family gatherings.

Definitely not the worst way to have celebrated this year’s Mother’s Day then.

Related Link: Green Point Urban Park