Going for an afternoon stroll around Sonstraal Dam whilst feeding the ducks is somewhat of an institution for any family with small kids in Durbanville, and seeing as this is something that we did back when we were kids, there is no reason not to continue the tradition with my own brood – even if I don’t exactly live in the area any more.
Although an inviting and scenic space, there is in fact no swimming or boating allowed in this small body of water, and in response to an outbreak of avian botulism in 2005, no fishing allowed either. (Although the bird flu has since been dealt with, the local council opted to maintain the fishing ban in order to protect the local birdlife, many of which use the dam for breeding purposes).
Another thing worth pointing out is that for a long time the dam area went into a real state of disrepair and neglect, thanks in large part to the inconsiderate nature of visitors who littered with abandon and in general just disrespected the facilities. Thankfully though this problem seems to have mostly been dealt with and the dam area certainly appears to be undergoing a productive period of rehabilitation.
Anyway, I’m kind of getting distracted now. Last year August I found myself in the area, and so invited my folks (who live reasonably nearby) to join us for a walk around the dam. It was, as always, a pretty pleasant affair.
Even if we didn’t actually feed any ducks for a change.
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”51682,51683,51684,51685,51686,51687,51688,51689,51690,51691,51692,51693,51694,51695,51696,51697,51698,51699,51700,51701,51702,51703,51704,51705,51706,51707,51708,51709,51710,51711,51712,51713,51714,51715,51716,51717,51718,51719,51720,51721,51722,51723,51724,51725,51726,51727,51728,51729,51730,51731,51732″]
Oh, and after our stroll we grabbed a coffee and some cake from the Deeghuys Taste Kitchen, a neat little eatery/test kitchen for Deeghuys that is tucked away off main road Durbanville. It was rather nice as well.
Related Link: Durbanville
The West Coast National Park is not the best SANParks national park to recommend visiting if you are looking for some big game to spot. However, with the idyllic Langebaan lagoon as its focal point, the 27,500 hectare large West Coast National Park is certainly more public friendly than most, with it being one of the few national parks where you can cycle, jog, braai, suntan, swim in the sea, picnic, swim in a lagoon, or even camp out on houseboat!
(Plus, there are actually antelope and smaller creatures to be spotted, and of course plenty of diverse bird life for the enthusiast).
Spring however is when the park really comes to life, where the annual carpets of colourful wild flowers show their faces and turn the area into an amazing sprawl of delight.
Naturally, SANParks immediately hikes the entry fee to take advantage of this surge of interest in the area, but it is money well spent, believe you me (unless of course you own a Wild Card, because well then entry is free) – if you haven’t yet witnessed the incredible carpeted fields of colour that the private Postberg Flower Reserve unveils come Spring, then you simply have to make a plan for next year.
Capetonians (i.e. people from Cape Town) descend on the park in their hordes, with lengthy queues at the entrance gate quite the norm. (Tip: If you don’t enjoy waiting in queues, you can go the long way around and enter via the Langebaan gate – usually a much less busy gateway into the park!)
Apart from these few weeks in Spring, the Postberg Flower Reserve section of the park is closed to the public, meaning that it remains unspoiled for much of the year. Every year this then pays dividends when the hills literally start exploding with colour as the flower season begins.
Chantelle and I had seen this spectacle for ourselves for the first time last year (we even overnighted in Hopefield of all places!), and this year we were quite eager for the girls to also see this wonderful sight of nature at her best.
Having enjoyed a big family bash in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday the day before, Sunday saw us head out down the N7 and then R27 to Langebaan, where we met up with my Mom and Dad for a day of flower watching.
This turned out to actually be a great plan, because we knew that the girls would probably become bored quite quickly (and thus start annoying each other in the back), so we split them up, with Jessica riding in Mom and Dad’s car while Emily stayed with us (on Chantelle’s lap).
We spent the next couple of hours driving through the park, admiring all the colours and of course getting slightly flustered with all the traffic. As you would imagine, cars were parked everywhere, with pretty much anyone with even the slightest inkling of calling themselves a photographer spilling out to capture as much of the flower covered landscape as possible.
We were treated to some amazing sights, and explored a bit more of the area than what we did last time around (this time I made sure I had enough petrol before going in!), and after our visual senses were properly sated, we headed down back to the lagoon for a bite to eat at the park’s Geelbek Restaurant.
At least, that was the plan until we quickly realized that perhaps they were simply too busy to actually give good service, and so opted to abandon our table and rather exit the park to grab a now very late lunch from the nearby Beulah Farm Deli instead.
So in the end it was a day well spent, and I therefore suspect that next year we will probably be back again. Though perhaps this time even more prepared to make an even fuller day out of it! (In other words, remembering to pack a picnic basket for a change…)
Oh, and once again, taking pictures of fields of flowers doesn’t really work all that well when all you have is your Huawei cellphone for the job. Nevertheless, I tried my best:
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”40881,40882,40883,40884,40885,40886,40887,40888,40889,40890,40891,40892,40893,40894,40895,40896,40897,40898,40899,40900,40901,40902,40903,40904,40905,40906,40907,40908,40909,40910,40911,40912,40913,40914,40915,40916,40917,40918,40919,40920,40921,40922,40923,40924,40925,40926,40927,40928,40929,40930,40931,40932,40933,40934,40935,40936,40937,40938,40939,40940,40941,40949,40942,40943,40944,40945,40946,40947,40948″]
(Oh, and sadly we did see less animals than what we did last time around. Not a big train smash though, so long as you go into the park knowing that animal spotting is not the big drawcard here!)
Having spent a lovely Sunday chasing wild flowers in the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park with Chantelle, the kids, and my folks, we decided to end off a successful day with a bite to eat. Unfortunately, the Geelbek Restaurant inside the park was a little too busy for our liking, and so we exited the park, put in some petrol at Yzerfontein, and then popped into Beulah Farm Deli for a (very) late lunch.
Interestingly enough, this visit to Beulah came almost exactly a year after we had first discovered it, and there have been some subsequent changes to this quaint eatery that Chantelle so immediately had fallen in love with the first time around.
Most noticeable is of course the fact that the pork charcuterie specialists Eighteen94 CureSmiths have moved out, rebranding themselves as The Flying Pig cureSmiths and setting up shop in Darling instead – though their cured meat is still available in the deli section of Beulah. In their place is now a bakery operated by Brett and Anli Nortier of Rosemead Artisan, meaning that all of a sudden Beulah Farm Deli now sports a lot more baked goods on the menu!
Honestly, I’m a little less excited about the place than the first time we experienced them. To me they’ve lost a bit of that sense of being hip, a sort of place that would sit perfectly in somewhere trendy like say Obs (Observatory) in Cape Town, and have instead embraced a more practical, West Coast farm stall eatery approach. Nevertheless, the interior remains ‘interesting’, and the food and coffee were perfectly good.
(Of course, I could be talking rubbish because Chantelle still seems to like it very much. Plus, the place seems to be very popular with both the locals and travelers alike!)
Anyway, after a pleasant sit down bite to eat, refreshed and ready for the road (it had after all been a very long day of driving), we said our goodbyes and headed back down the R27 – because if you live in Gordon’s Bay like we do, then you still have quite a long road ahead of you in order to get back home! :)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”40840,40841,40842,40843,40844,40845,40846,40847,40848,40849,40850,40851,40852,40853,40854,40855,40856″]
The deli itself is essentially right next to the more well known West Coast Farm Stall. I’ve submitted the location to Google Maps, but it might not be showing up for everyone just yet. Nevertheless, here is the map as it currently stands:
This year we had our Easter Egg hunt a little early, setting the girls loose in the garden on Friday the 25th instead of the normal Easter Sunday. This was not intentional mind you – both Chantelle and I had completely forgotten when Easter Egg hunts are actually meant to take place! (No wonder no one else on Facebook were talking about Easter Eggs on the day!)
Nevertheless, the girls thoroughly enjoyed their early morning hunt in the garden, which is just as well as we had gone to great lengths not to actually HIDE the Easter Eggs. Little girls are TERRIBLE at finding things – even if said thing is literally lying out in the open!
(Also, we decided not to go big on the number of Easter Eggs handed out this year. A change of tactic which instantly yielded results as for a change, no one actually suffered a chocolate overdose over the Easter period!)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”37573,37574,37575,37576,37572,37577″]
We followed up the morning’s egg hunt with a trip through to my folks’ place in Oakglen, Bellville, where we joined Mom, Dad and Ryan for a delicious traditional Easter Friday lunch of homemade pickled fish.
And because there was plenty of free time before lunch, Dad and Ryan took Jessica and Emily to the big park for some playtime, whilst I hobbled on behind! (At this point I was still walking with a fair bit of difficulty, so I eventually just parked myself down on a bench and let the rest of them play!)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”37578,37579,37580,37581″]
I’ve already mentioned that back in March, Chantelle, the girls and I enjoyed a brilliant weekend away break with my folks at their holiday place in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay. What I haven’t yet talked about was the great Saturday afternoon outing that saw us enjoy a leisurely, scenic drive out to George, where we paid a visit to the tourist friendly Redberry Farm.
Redberry Farm is both a commercial strawberry growing farm and a popular family entertainment venue and as such makes for a perfect family outing if you’ve got a bunch of little ones running around.
There are loads of activities for the kids to do, including pony rides, bumper and paddle boats, bubble orbs, jungle gyms, and even a mini Redberry Express train, which takes kids for a quick spin around the maze.
Talking about the maze, Redberry Farm is also home to the Hedge Maze, the largest permanent hedge maze in the Southern Hemisphere! Grown from over 30,000 Syzygium Paniculatum plants, the maze consists of seven strawberry stations, a 25m underground tunnel and a look-out point to be found within 10,000m of pathways.
Oh, and don’t forget about the strawberry picking either!
The premises also include a fantastic farm stall and tea garden, as well as the Red Shed Coffee & Berry Bar, which serves a variety of treats.
As you may well by now imagine, Jessica and Emily had an absolute blast of an outing, and I have to say, so did I. A genuinely fantastic family outing spot that I’m sure I’ll be visiting again the next time I find myself up in the area!
Some more photos from the excursion:
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”37191,37192,37193,37194,37195,37196,37197,37198,37199,37200,37201,37202,37203,37204,37205,37206,37207,37208,37209,37210,37211,37212,37213,37214,37215,37216,37217,37218,37219,37220,37221,37222,37223,37224,37225,37226,37227,37228,37229,37230,37231,37232,37233,37234″]
P.S. The food on offer was pretty good as well!
Related Link: Redberry Farm
In February we managed to take a weekend break in Jacobsbaai with Chantelle’s folks, and pleasingly, in March we managed to slip in another weekend away break with my folks, joining them for a stay in the Pinnacle Point house in Mossel Bay.
My leg was already a fair bit stronger than what it was back in February, meaning that this time around I was a little more mobile and could thus enjoy my weekend that little bit more than what I did back at Jacobsbaai.
(That said though, I developed mumps right before we left, meaning that I did spend the weekend looking rather ridiculous with my comically swollen face!)
This particular weekend was characterized by an invasion of giant rain spiders, with the final count of spiders discovered in the house up to something like 12 or so by the end of our stay!
Dad became the de facto spider wrangler, successfully capturing and relocating all but one (Chantelle got this one before it could get her) of the spiders back to the outside world – though one frisky one that dropped down at him did almost give him a heart attack and probably shaved 5 years off of his life expectancy in the process!
The girls had a blast spending some time with granny and grandpa, and of course the occasional easter egg didn’t hurt matters either. Saturday saw us make the most of some great weather and travel out to George to spend some quality family time at the Redberry strawberry farm (I’ll post the pictures later), while Sunday the weather cooled its heels a little, allowing for a more relaxed approach to entertaining ourselves.
Jess enjoyed her trips on the golf cart (which I didn’t even attempt to drive this time around), Chantelle enjoyed the peace of sleeping without snoring (she was downstairs across from the girls, whilst I slept upstairs with 85% of the weekend’s spiders in my room), and Emily loved all the extra attention she was getting all weekend long!
We enjoyed a braai, watched the Stormers lose a narrow game of Super Rugby, and I discovered Canary Melons for the first time – thanks Fruit & Veg for that!
It was a short and sweet weekend away, with us leaving for home on Sunday afternoon already, but it was jam packed with loads of quality family time – so no complaints there! :)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”37153,37154,37155,37156,37157,37158,37159,37160,37161,37162,37163,37164,37165,37166,37167,37168,37169,37170,37171,37172,37173,37174,37175,37176,37177,37178,37179,37180,37181,37182,37183,37184,37185,37186,37187,37188″]
(Oh, and on the way home, we finally stopped and popped in by the fabulous Tredici bakery/coffee shop in Swellendam – well worth the effort mind you!)
Two weekends ago we were out and about on the Saturday furniture shopping (Chantelle was working, so it was during her split), a completely pointless task if you have a toddler and a four year old tagging along, because invariably they quickly get bored and you end up being more busy getting them to stop touching things than actually looking at the furniture and making a decision!
Needless to say, we didn’t buy any furniture. (Though I do think that I may have spotted the lounge table I’m quite interested in buying. Plus, I continue to shudder at the thought of just how much money Poco must be losing in that horribly located new megastore of theirs… yeah, not so sure about that one.)
Anyway, in the end, we settled for a nice coffee break and play time with the kids at Mondeor Restaurant instead:
We don’t get to see my Mom and Dad that often, so it was quite a nice surprise to get a phone call from them asking if they could pop in for a visit on Sunday. Instead, I suggested that they join us earlier for a nice Sunday afternoon braai, which pleasingly they accepted.
Needless to say, Jessica was particularly thrilled to have Grandpa and Granny around for the day in her own backyard! :)
And although we kind of forgot to take some nice pictures on a Sunday well spent, I thought it worth including these couple that I got when we popped in at Mom’s house a week or so earlier when we were in the area (Dad and Ryan were out playing golf):
So yeah, always nice when the family drop by here in our little corner of the woods! :)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”33427,33428,33429,33430,33431,33432,33433,33434,33435,33436,33437,33438,33439″]
Back in April this year, much of the Lotter clan assembled at Mom and Dad’s house in Oakglen to celebrate Dad’s mom, Granny Lotter’s big 80th birthday. We were blessed that the weather was particularly great on the day, thus making for a perfect braai and relax outdoor afternoon (which everyone seemed to enjoy).
Our immediate family clan is actually relatively small. Mom’s parents only had two kids, Mom and her brother Stephen, and Stephen, who has since passed on, never had any children so no cousins there. Dad’s parents had four boys, though one tragically passed away quite early on, leaving us with three Lotter men. From uncle Michael’s side we got Willie (and now his family) as a cousin, and from uncle Eric’s side, we got Andrew and David as cousins.
Sadly though, through some convoluted and ultimately bad decisions, no one sees Eric, Dawn, Andy and David any more (so scratch them from family get togethers), and funnily enough, we seldom see uncle Michael and pretty much never Willie either, meaning that for the most part, the immediate family pool remains pretty tiny!
Nevertheless, as I was saying earlier, Gran’s big 80th birthday (the celebration of which took a bit of convincing from Dad’s side to happen) saw quite a good chunk of this little family pitch up at Mom’s door – Claire, Riley and their two boys, Wille, his wife and two kids, Uncle Mike and his wife, Mom and Dad, Ryan, birthday girl Gran, and of course us four Gordon’s Bay Lotters.
A nice little tally indeed!
Needless to say, there was a lot of catching up to be done and conversation to be had, and with good food and dessert flowing freely, and kids all seemingly happily playing along, it turned out to be quite a good little family get together.
Of course, we couldn’t keep all the little faces rounded up all day (or Claire and Riley’s dogs either for that matter), which inevitably meant a hop across the street at some point in the afternoon – over to the big municipal park that had entertained us for so, so many hours as kids growing up there.
Naturally, Emily was more than just a little thrilled to tackle climbing up this massive slide! (And as you can see, Grandpa seemed to quite enjoy the challenge as well…)
Next up in terms of big birthday milestones?
Well both mom and dad are inching pretty close to that big 6 and 0 number nowadays… :)
I checked – the last time that we’ve had an outing to the world famous Kirstenbosch gardens was back in early 2012 in celebration of Ryan’s birthday. Well, fast forward three years and things have gotten a fair bit busier – after all, Mom and Dad now have four lovely grandchildren to dote on instead of just little Jessica as it was back then! :)
With Chantelle off from work on Sunday, I thought a nice family picnic out to Kirstenbosch would be just the ticket, but as it turned out, neither Claire, Riley, Ryan or Robert could make it, meaning that in the end it was to be a day out for the kids and the grandparents – which is never a bad thing anyway!
Leaving the gale force winds of Gordon’s Bay behind, we made the trek through to Table Mountain, where on arrival we were rather surprised to find that the main parking area at Kirstenbosch was already full – meaning that we were diverted to the overflow parking area.
Eventually we had trudged our way up to the gardens, bought our tickets (Kirstenbosch really is worth the R50 entrance fee), and set about trying to link up with Monty and Cheryl, who had arrived a little earlier than us (we were held up leaving from home thanks to an epic throw up from Emily that pretty much decimated her entire cot!).
The hook up didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned though – Monty and Cheryl had managed to come in via a different gate to us, and in the end, Kirstenbosch is simply too big to rely on luck in terms of randomly spotting another couple that you’re looking for!
After lots of huffing and puffing, marching about, and a lot of frustrated phone calls, we did eventually find one another, and more importantly, found a delightful little picnic spot close to a dam (so, so many overly friendly birds!) and with a LOT of shade to cover us for the day.
Mom and Dad on the other hand managed to miss out on all the shenanigans (they went to church first), by cleverly arriving a lot later and thus simply having us meet and lead them back to the picnic site! No hassle, no fuss! :)
Apart from a minor incident with a park official who wanted to fine Dad for bringing a chair in (honestly, we didn’t know that you are in fact not allowed to do so), what followed was a wonderfully tranquil day of lazing about, grazing on all sorts of picnic food, rolling around on the grass with the kids, and of course catching up on all the news, like Monty and Cheryl’s recent trip to Warmwaterberg Spa and Mom and Dad’s trip to New Zealand.
We did of course HAVE to also check out the recently unveiled Boomslang canopy walk, a park addition which I have to really commend it must be said. A beautiful bridge with fantastic views, and a cleverly implemented idea at that.
I think we were probably in the park for something like five or six hours if not more, and at the end of a long day (we all got rather sun burnt – even Jessica now that I look at it), with the crowds flowing in for the evening’s Goldfish music concert, we packed up from our little spot and bid a fond farewell to everyone – bringing to an end what can only be described as a day of perfect relaxation.
And pictures? Or course I caught more than just a few with my trusty old Huawei phone:
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”30830,30831,30832,30833,30834,30835,30836,30837,30838,30839,30840,30841,30842,30843,30844,30845,30846,30847,30848,30849,30850,30851,30852,30853,30854,30855,30856,30857,30858,30859,30860,30861,30862,30863,30864,30865,30866,30867,30868,30869,30870,30871,30872,30873,30874,30875,30876,30877,30878,30879,30880″]
Related Link: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch