Tag Archives: curios

Donkeys, Canola and a Giant Table with Chairs at Dassiesfontein (2020-08-30) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 31 JAN 2021

Once a year the vast farmed canola fields that cover the farmlands of the Overberg region between Bot River and Caledon reach full bloom, turning the area into an incredible carpet of bright visceral yellow. Of course the usual worries about farm monoculture fields still applies, but ignoring that, this incredibly unusual landscape sight is one to be experienced and well worth the drive out to see.

Last year we nipped out to try and get a better view of the fantastical snowy peaks currently on display (and also get out of the pandemic-induced cabin fever headspace), and decided to sneak in a visit to these gorgeous yellow lands with a drive down the N2 to perennial favourite Dassiesfontein, an unmissable farm stall and restaurant that sits neatly between Bot River and Caledon and which has been trading there since at least the 90’s.

As you might imagine, the drive over was breathtaking, with field upon field stretched out in front of you as you start the descent down the Houw Hoek mountain pass. Pulling in at the solar panel laden Dassiesfontein farm stall building, we were excited to learn that they had since built a giant oversized table and chairs next to their donkey corral to serve both as a fun roadside attraction and also to provide some shade and shelter for their popular furry drawcard.

Avoiding the people, the girls had a blast feeding the donkeys with all the juicy grass growing outside of the enclosure, before giving in to our requests to pose for a million photos in front of the adjacent bright yellow canola field. And while there were too many people sitting in the restaurant for us to feel comfortable enough to join in, we did however make sure to peruse through this mad farm stall, browsing the bevy of antiques, curios, leather, clothing, dairy and pretty much anything and everything else that finds itself stocked in this incredible space of… stuff.

Belgian Chocolate and Curios at Chocolat etc. in Swellendam (2021-01-12) Photo Gallery | Shopping 15 JAN 2021

Our early January school holidays escape to Swellendam was lazing along quite nicely. Comfortably tucked in at the Aan de Heuvel self-catering cottage where the girls were pretty much living in our private splash pool, we didn’t need to mosey out much other than when needing to restock braai supplies or maybe pick up a treat or two while driving (aka sightseeing) around this quaint, historic, and lush green town at the foot of the Langeberg mountains.

One such treat snuffling saw us set foot in Chocolate etc., a small Belgian chocolatier/curios/gift shop that has definitely moved since we last visited Swellendam, but which is still very helpfully right by the Drostdy Museum Complex. Housed in a vintage style building squashed in between two estate agents, Chocolate etc. is primarily a place to grab a quick cup of coffee while perusing a relatively wide selection of fashionable clothing articles, gifts, curios, and of course a selection of nicely made artisan chocolates.

Of course I don’t think that Chantelle or the girls even looked at anything other than the chocolate display, as they eagerly had the lady on duty work her way through describing each and every one as the girls all made their difficult choices as to which flavours to grab. (Well not that difficult because of course all three strolled away with a nicely bulging packets at the end of our visit.)

Coffee and Curios at The Old Jail in Riversdale (2019-07-04) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 27 MAR 2020

Continuing our June school holidays adventure, the girls and I moved on from Barrydale, shooting past Algerynskraal, over the Garcia Pass and on to Riversdale, with the final goal being to make it back onto the N2 in order to end up in Mossel Bay. That said, there was a particular stop that I first wanted to make as we crossed into the small town of Riversdale…

One of the oldest historical buildings still standing in Riversdale, the original structure of the Ou Tronk (Old Jail) was first used as a trading store, before being purchased by the state in 1860 for conversion into a jail. Eventually closed down in 1979 (following the construction of the large prison in Oudtshoorn), the jail moved back into private hands (making it one of the only South African jail properties to actually reside in private ownership).

After inheriting it from her father who had bought it to store farming equipment, Louise Malherbe eventually found a second life for the unusual space by turning one of the courtyards into a coffee shop and renting out the remaining cells (there are 33 of them) as display spaces for various home decor and art creatives. (There are also a fair bit of historic artifacts dotted around, including an imitation of the travelling gallows that were used to hang the jail’s only receiver of the death penalty, one Gilbert Hay of Heidelberg who was found guilty of having murdered his mother.)

(There is apparently also a weekly farmer’s market that happens on a Saturday at the jail, but I’m not 100% sure if this is still the case.)

Despite its initial ghoulish overtures, the Ou Tronk (which actually in some ways looks a lot more like a Spanish hacienda than an actual prison) is quite a welcoming space for a cup of tea and a slice of their famous carrot cake. The courtyard is peppered with shade from planted avocado and banana trees and of course the location itself makes for some interesting conversation points.

All in all the Old Jail certainly makes for an interesting place to make a stop, that’s for sure.