So we had already gone and got the garden on the side of the house sorted out by removing the flower beds, stripping out the weed-infested old lawn and replacing it with some fresh green stuff – ill-timed given the level 3 water restrictions announced shortly after for sure – but it least it was done.
The reason for it? Well, we needed the lawn space to install our very first ever jungle gym for the girls!
Jessica’s occupational therapist Nicola highly recommend that we think about putting one in to try and encourage Jessica in the strengthening her body, and both Chantelle and I had wanted one for the longest of time anyway.
So Chantelle did some phoning about, and eventually contracted in a company by the name of Speelgoedland Klimrame, based out in Durbanville (but who were more than happy to take up a job in Gordon’s Bay).
We obviously don’t have a particularly big garden space, so we had to opt for one of the smaller jungle gyms, with our main requirement being that it must have a set of monkey bars.
After some very helpful consultations with the guys, we settled on the compact Pinnochio design, with the end configuration consisting of one platform, a climbing net, a climbing ladder, monkey bars, fireman pole, rope swing, gymnastic rings, and a trapeze pole.
The price for all this (including installation) came to R6,000.
Installation day rolled in, but with both Chantelle and myself out at work on the day, my mom and dad kindly drove through to come and oversee the project.
Naturally, our neighbour isn’t quite happy with the new addition to our garden (in her defence, it is quite high and is perhaps a bit close to the wall), but more important than that, the girls LOVE it, which then in other words means that it is absolutely perfect!
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(Also, we finally got around to emptying the sandpit and filling it with the proper sand this time around. All in preparation for Jessica’s big sixth birthday party which was bearing down on us at a rapid clip!)
Related Link: Speelgoedland Jungle Gyms
I stumbled across this gem of a kid friendly place in Stellenbosch by the name of Vredenbosch. It is situated along the R304, heading out of Stellenbosch, on what is or was Pete’s Adventure Farm (I’m struggling to ascertain as to whether or not Pete’s is still a thing – certainly the horse rides through the nearby wildlife sanctuary appears to still be alive and well, based on the website some Googling turned up).
According to the waitress that helped the girls and I out with some ice cream and coffee on the day (we were a little hot and bothered following our morning of gallivanting at Klein Joostenberg and its surrounds), Vredenbosch hasn’t been operating for all that long, but has already proven quite popular for the hosting of kids birthday parties, kitchen teas and that sort of gathering – thanks primarily to its remote location and humongous wide open space which is just perfect for letting the kids run wild in.
I didn’t really order food, so I can’t comment on that, but the menu seemed to cover all the bases, and the girls certainly enjoyed both their milkshake and ice-creams. (Apparently though, they are still waiting on their liquor licence – which was a bit of a surprise considering the location).
We sat in the shade of the outside area, but once the group of ladies celebrating a kitchen tea moved on, we did venture inside to get a better look at what turns out to be quite a spacious restaurant interior.
The real stars of the show were however the miniature horses roaming around the enclosed field, which Jessica immediately made a beeline for. There are also these two awesomely chilled alpacas wandering about, Lucio and Frost, who are quite curious about anyone that steps into their domain.
While Jess rather enjoyed having all these animals freely wander about, Emily was of course absolutely terrified – meaning that whenever they would come in close to investigate us, she would tearfully disappear behind my legs faster than what I could blink!
Apart from the animals roaming about, the expansive field also houses a wooden obstacle course as well as a wooden jungle gym. However, the star of the field is without a doubt the foofy slide (or zipline as it is otherwise known), which at the end of the day provided at least an hour’s worth of entertainment (if not more) to the girls! (More pics in a follow up post!)
So yes, as you might imagine, the girls and I ended up spending quite a bit of time at Vredenbosch on the day. In other words, a good find indeed!
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Here it is on the map in case you think your kids might also like to give it a go:
Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant
The days are staying a little lighter for longer now, meaning that once again the girls and I have the opportunity to nip out after school before the whole supper, bath and bed routine starts. Tuesday evening saw us we take the opportunity to spend a little time running around our favourite public park in Gordon’s Bay, Pollock Park.
It was a LOT more muddy than what I would have liked, but seeing as I only saw the mud AFTER we had already all exited the car, it was pretty much a lost cause and I could only hope that the girls remain PARTICULARLY well balanced for this session of play!
(Thankfully, they did!)
Usually the stone canals that run the length of the park sit dry (the pump mechanism was vandalised and stolen years ago), so it was pretty cool to see water flowing through all the channels for a change – giving the girls and myself more than enough reason to track the water all the way back up to the duck pond, which I am happy to report is sitting at a quite nice and healthy level at last.
Mr Teddy also came along for the play session, and even more amazing was the fact that he too somehow remained completely mud free!
Oh, and it was pretty cool to see some kids arrive with a quadcopter/drone, flying it in order to record the long-boarding that happens there on the road next to the park. (Pollock Park is essentially on the lower slopes of the mountain.)
As fun this impromptu outing was, unfortunately the weather didn’t stay great for long, and about 40 minutes in, we were forced to return back to the car, with the light rapidly fading, the cloud cover now heavy, and the temperature more than a little chilly.
Still, the girls had fun and that’s definitely what counts!
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Weltevreden Estate is one of the original Stellenbosch homesteads, having been awarded by Simon van der Stel, governor of the Cape to a German, Hans Henske, back in 1692. These days the beautifully restored Cape Dutch homestead and grounds stand as a National Monument (1975) and are well worth a visit if you are ever in the area. The estate features a beautiful outdoor restaurant in the form of Lekka Neh, but for our purposes we were more interested at stopping in at The Carnival, a kids-centric play and eating area that is designed to be an absolute must for visitors if you have your small kids in tow!
Walking about Weltevreden is a treat for the senses, thanks to the pristine buildings, abundance of art and whimsical sculptures that are tucked away in all corners of the estate.
(Though of course, once the girls spotted the jungle gyms peeking out above the carnival themed buildings, it was over for us, as we were dragged into The Carnival and play time commenced!)
The Carnival is well suited to kids’ needs, with an abundance of big jungle gyms, a trampoline house, push bike tracks, a sand pit, rocking horses, etc.
Lots of kids options like pizza, slushies, ice cream is on offer, and so it is no wonder that you can end up spending a fair bit of time here if you aren’t watching the clock!
For some or other reason on the day though, the service was pretty bad (almost non-existent), so neither Chantelle nor I left particularly happy (also, I don’t expect coffee in a takeaway cup!), but this didn’t faze the girls one bit, as they happily chased up and down pretty much anything and everything that could be clambered about on!
Oh, and Jessica rather enjoyed catching a ladybird – to which she became rather attached!
Bad service aside (which according to my sister, who rather enjoys this venue, isn’t the norm), I loved the setup and can definitely see us making more than a few more turns here in the near future!
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Related Link: Weltevreden Estate
After a lot of driving and many sights seen for the day (Birds of Eden, Plett Puzzle Park, and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary), we finally made it back to George (those Garden Route N2 speed limits and abundance of speed cameras really do make for a drawn out drive!). Having had a poor experience in terms of the food served by Far Hills Country Hotel the previous evening, we were looking for a different, kid-friendly option for supper – which is exactly what presented itself to us in the form of Texas Kids (on recommendation from one of the Far Hills managers just by the way).
Situated in Eden Meander, right across from the Garden Route Mall, Texas Kids is a family restaurant that does its best to cater for the entire family. Their food is surprisingly good (and comes in decent portions), not to mention the fact that they have a fantastic, massive play area for the kids, complete with themed jungle gym, trampolines, a small movie room/cinema, and mini golf of all things!
The restaurant is separated from the play area, but for those of you who would like to be closer to your kids while they play, Texas Kids has some cool eating rooms disguised behind Wild West shop fronts, the perfect place for you to hunker down and enjoy your meal while looking out on your kids at play!
My girls enjoyed the play time, while the rest of us enjoyed the food, drink and rugby on TV. Sounds like a win win situation to me!
By this hour it was already pretty dark, so my phone camera didn’t manage to capture too many usable photos, but I managed to grab a few of the play area at least…
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It’s not a fantastic restaurant per se, but it is super kid friendly and the food and service were both very good – so if you have kids in George, then this is definitely an option.
Related Link: Texas Kids
We used to head out and feed the ducks at Dam Park in Strand (just opposite Strand High School) quite often when Jess was still a baby, but in recent years we’ve kind of slowed down on doing that for some or other reason. (Maybe the fact that it has become socially unacceptable to feed ducks bread has had something to do with it?)
Anyway, Sunday saw Chantelle working, and so not wanting to waste the wonderful sunny Winter weather of the day (and also not really being in the mood for the last day of this year’s Winter Wonderland Festival – which we sadly completely missed out on by the way), I rounded up the girls and headed out towards Strand to the duck pond for a bit of a play and walkabout session.
Obviously, the girls were overjoyed at the prospect, and pretty soon the two of them were darting between all the play equipment, making sure not to miss any in the process!
The old, colourful tractor and train remains the biggest hits of course, a problem because Emily is way too small to clamber all over those by herself yet – which of course she simply HAS to do, seeing as big sister Jess is doing it!
We spent a good amount of time playing on all the equipment, and even Teddy got roped into the fun!
We ended off the session with a leisurely stroll around the dam, watching the ducks and Egyptian geese, and of course taking selfies – because just like any other little girl, Jessica really seems to enjoy having her picture taken!
Visiting the Dam Park here in Strand never really disappoints, and is always great if you are looking for something local to do that doesn’t require you to open your wallet. (Plus, it was really nice to see the dam back to its fuller level – the last time I was here it was halfway empty!)
We had some time to kill in the general area because we were meeting up with Chantelle, Retha and Miguel a little later at the mall in order to say goodbye and wish them well for their upcoming Camino de Santiago (St. James Path) pilgrimage adventure in Spain.
Teddy wanted a milkshake, burger and chips, so we popped into McDonalds Waterstone for that, and after spending some time there, we headed up into the hills of Somerset West in search for more public park spaces.
As luck would have it, we stumbled across this one brilliant wooden jungle gym at the bottom of a sloped grass patch with perhaps the most magnificent view any play park is capable of having.
Talk about a swing with a view! :)
Here are the rest of the photos that I happily snapped on what turned out to be a very pleasant, sunny Winter’s day out with my girls:
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At the start of April I treated Chantelle and the girls to a Saturday afternoon lunch out at Southey’s Family Bistro in Somerset West (formerly known as Manuka).
It’s a great outdoor restaurant/garden setting for families to sit and enjoy a meal together, with a good jungle gym and jumping castle setup to keep the little ones entertained!
Everything is nice and shaded, and more importantly, their food is really good.
Naturally, the camera phone was put to good use!
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Related Link: Southey’s Family Bistro
Autumn weather here in Gordon’s Bay is almost always pleasant, because for the most part the wind actually stays away! Of course, this means plenty of opportunities to get up to something after picking the girls up from school in the evening, like these play trips to one of our favourite parks here in GB – Pollock Park.
There is now a big wooden jungle gym addition to the park – which the girls absolutely love – and the work done by the volunteer Pollock Park Restoration Group is definitely bringing back a lot of shine to this great green space in Gordon’s Bay!
And as always, it annoys the girls to no end when I whip out my phone and start bombarding them with photo requests!
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Related Link: Pollock Park
The seasons are definitely changing for the better at long last – so, so many more hours of sunshine in a day!
Of course, the means that we get to spend much more of our evenings playing on Country Mews’ little communal patch of grass after a long day at playschool – which the kids definitely seem to adore (even more so, if I decide to roll about on the grass with them!).
Cara, one of the girls also living in the complex, invariably joins us on these evenings (in fact, she can pretty much always be found in our house over a weekend), which is loads of fun because a) Jessica gets to play with someone who isn’t a toddler, and b) Emily is massively entertained by this big girl who seems to rather enjoy playing with her.
So yay, more swinging and more sliding is a definite sign that Summer is now well and truly on its way! :)
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