Sunday afternoon drives for the sake of Sunday afternoon drives are often quite enjoyable. This particular Sunday drive saw us head out over Sir Lowry’s Pass, through Grabouw, along the picturesque Viljoen’s Pass, past Theewaterskloof Dam and into Villiersdorp. One u-turn later and we were now on the R43, joining up with the N2 just before Dassiesfontein – the perfect excuse to at last stop and stretch our legs.
I have written about the unique little farm stall/restaurant that is Dassiesfontein before, and just like our last visit, it was a case of petting the donkeys, browsing through the inexhaustible pile of home decor odds and ends, and glancing over all the produce and crafts on display. (Honestly, this could probably take all day if you let it!)
Also, refreshing ginger beer and ice cream was had by all.
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To cap off our more than decent roundabout drive, we next popped into the ever reliable (and popular) Peregrine farm stall to stock up on some delicious supplies.
So all in all, not a bad Sunday drive to say the least.
The whole Rooi-Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond strip that we have access to here from Gordon’s Bay always makes for a delightful day outing. One such outing saw the girls and myself spend some time in Kleinmond, first grabbing a rather cheesy pizza from the local Pizza World, and then taking it with us over to where the Kleinmond Lagoon meets the Kleinmond beach.
If you have kids and haven’t visited this area before, then you are in for a treat.
With a large field of grass (strategically dotted with jungle gyms and swings), the kids who don’t like the beach have more than enough space to run around and play, while one short bridge away is the silky soft sands of the beach, perfect for those of us who would rather have some grains of sand between our toes.
Then there is of course the lagoon, which while not great for swimming (thanks to the polluted water), is perfect for a light spot of fishing and of course canoeing or supping (“Stand-Up Paddle Boarding” in case you aren’t familiar with the acronym), or whatever else it is that people do on lagoons.
Oh, and did I mention the never ending views?
In other words, it really is a perfect spot to spend a day with the family then.
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Also, if you are really lucky, you might even spot the famous wild horses of Kleinmond while you are at it…
Related Link: Kleinmond
In the middle of Houw Hoek Pass, as you travel between Grabouw and Bot River, you will pass by a very hard to miss white and green building, tucked away in a rocky corner with undoubtedly a lot of cars parked outside.
The popular building in question is of course the longstanding Houw Hoek Farm Stall, known for its quality, fresh, homemade breads, pies and bakes – a trait that makes it rather popular little stop among the locals.
Also, in addition to a good selection of local wines on sale, the shop section is stocked with all manner fresh fruits and vegetables from the farms of the surrounding Elgin Valley, all complemented by the normal farm stall home industry staples like biscuits, jams, biltong, and of course – cake.
Seeing as this is a chef-owned-managed business, the food and coffee on offer in the welcoming little coffee shop is particularly decent, and bonus, if sitting at a table and chairs doesn’t quite appeal to you on the day, then you will be pleased to know that picnic baskets can also be prepared on request.
Somewhat surprisingly, Houw Hoek Farm Stall is also home to three dams stocked with Rainbow trout – making it a great spot for some fly fishing then. (Naturally, rods and tackle can be hired from the farm stall itself.)
Oh, and finally they have a nice little space out in front that is open enough for the little ones to run around and give their legs a stretch.
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(Bonus: Just in case you were wondering, this particular stop took place back in March this year, when Jessica and myself drove up for a long weekend away with my folks in their place at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay.)
Penguins and Kleinmond were on my agenda with the girls one Saturday back in May, but following the always delightful drive along Clarence Drive (with all of its 77 bends), I decided to first hang a right and slowly cruise through Rooi Els, a little seaside holiday escape that I haven’t actually properly visited since my twenties.
Rooi-Els is known for its fishing and diving opportunities, not to mention the fact that it is forever being bashed by the wind and raided by the local baboon troop.
It consists for the most part of holiday homes, meaning this small hamlet is often pretty quiet, has only a few tarred roads, and thus little in the form of commercial ventures.
Rooiels is of course a part of the vaunted Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, the 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated area whose landscape is home to perhaps one of the most complex biodiversity regions on our planet – featuring more than 1,880 different plant species, 77 of which occur nowhere else on earth.
This fynbos haven (sometimes referred to locally as the ‘heart of fynbos’) is also home to a wide variety of animal species like leopard, caracal, baboon, antelope and a particularly rich selection of birds.
Biosphere reserves are different from ordinary conservation areas in that these reserves have no fences to keep ‘people’ out and ‘nature’ in – instead it is the commitment of local communities, farmers, conservation agencies and local government to protect and nurture the land and its biodiversity.
(For reference, the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which interestingly enough was South Africa’s first ever registered biosphere reserve, encompasses the entire area from Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River Statuary and inland to Grabouw and the Groenland Mountain.)
Of course, being that close to this particular type of vegetation does comes with a big risk – large mountain/vegetation fires are the norm, and because of this the area (and its towns) often bear the scars associated with these all too frequent blazing infernos.
Anyway, having enjoyed our scenic little jaunt, the girls insisted that I refocus on the mission at hand – visiting the Stony Point penguins of Betty’s Bay!
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Related Link: Rooi-Els
Having thoroughly enjoyed a midweek getaway to Stonehill River Lodge in Buffeljagsrivier (near Swellendam), we were making our way back home on a warm Friday afternoon via the N2 when for the first time ever (note: I’m 36 and we’ve travelled the N2 since I was a baby), curiousity got the better of me and I decided to pull off at the Dassiesfontein farm stall – which stands literally alone in the middle of nowhere between Caledon and Botrivier.
Chantelle and the girls were a bit grumpy at having been woken up by me leaving the highway, but they soon cheered up when a) the girls spotted the lovely donkey encampment next to Dassiesfontein’s parking area and b) Chantelle discovered the incredible treasure trove of antiques, art, fashion and food that this rather incredible place actually houses!
Back to point a) though. Amazingly the girls were far more enamored with the donkeys than I thought they would be. It might be their smaller stature, or perhaps because of the fluffier youngling in the pack, but Jessica and Emily (although the latter from an always safe distance) seemed to both genuinely enjoy interacting with these furry four legged beasts.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the brilliant farm stall itself. Originally the Dassiesfontein farm stall was little more than a couple of homemade goods being sold from two wagons alongside the N2, before the farm stall was eventually built in 1995. The restaurant was added a year later, and believe it or not, Dassiesfontein has been a super success from then onwards.
These days though, the quaint thatched roof that characterised the farm stall is nowhere in sight, having been completely covered with end to end solar panels, a big 60.13 kwp generating project brought to life by the team over at RenEnergy.
Inside however is where the real magic lies. The first thing to note is that Dassiesfontein is much larger inside than what it looks from the outside. Each room kind of spills into the next, and the smorgasboard of items on sale is simply put, jaw dropping.
Antiques, art, clothing, shoes, kids, decor, furniture, food – you name it and they sell it.
Without a doubt, if Chantelle was here by herself (i.e. with her wallet and without her disapproving of clutter husband), I guarantee she would quite easily be lost for a couple of hours, only to then return with a boot full of stuff!
Incredibly enough (despite that fact I suppose that I already mentioned this fact in passing), Dassiesfontein even houses a restaurant in the middle of all the muddle, a restaurant which is known for its proper ‘boerekos’ served in portions that well, ‘skrik vir niks’. (Plus, Chantelle was gushing like a fangirl when she spotted their ‘Dover’ cast iron stoves in action!)
Oh, and then there is the cheese and dairy on sale. So, so much cheese, not to mention the butter which was being sold at such a good price that Chantelle immediately grabbed my wallet and bought a box for her baking.
Right, looks like we’ll be stopping here a little more often now that we’ve finally ‘discovered’ the place!
Also, I have no idea where all these photos come from by the way – because there are very definitely signs up all over the place explicitly reminding you that the taking of photos inside the shopping area is strictly not welcome:
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It’s difficult to miss because it is literally the only thing standing in the middle of nowhere, but just in case you need a map…
Following our refreshing stroll among the boulders and sand of De Kelders in Gansbaai, Chantelle and I made our way back towards Stanford in order to continue our lovely Blue Gum Country Estate weekend away. However, as we entered the outskirts of the small heritage village of Stanford, a bright yellow signboard peaking out from the small industrial area caught our eye – and so we found ourselves pulling over and entering the bright yellow world of the Overberg Honey Co.
Established around 2011 by the young team of Daniel and Nadia Vorster, the thriving commercial honey producing Overberg Honey Co. pretty much maintains a presence only in Stanford, their business bolstered by their Overberg crop pollination service, something I had never actually thought about as being a commercial need before.
The Stanford shop doubles as the honey production house, bee information hub, and honey-related sales organ, and on the day that Chantelle and I visited, we were lead about by the most amazing Stanford local who was minding the shop for the weekend. This charming lady (a former teacher who now works with autistic children during the week) was a bubbly fountain of knowledge, as she proudly had us taste all the exquisite different types of honey they produce (due to the different crops/vegetation they set their hives up around), as well as show us the ins and outs of their honey production business.
Just as the similar Simply Bee product shop that we visited in Hopefield last year, Overberg Honey Co. also has an observation hive setup so that you can get a closer look at the workings of bees in the hive, as well as a wealth of bee information in the form of posters, pamphlets, and books scattered about.
By the end of our extended visit, Chantelle fell in love with Boekenhout (Cape Beech) honey and we walked out with a jar of that, but had we known about their honey on tap service, we may very well have come out with a lot more honey than just that!
A charming little stop in Stanford indeed.
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Related Link: Overberg Honey Co.
As I previously mentioned, Chantelle and I recently enjoyed a relaxing (no kids!) weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate just outside of Stanford, which if you don’t know where it is, lies halfway between Hermanus and Gansbaai.
This heritage village was founded in 1857 and is named after its founder, Sir Robert Stanford who owned the original farmland. Situated in the heart of the Overberg, the tiny, relaxed village of Stanford is known for its beautifully preserved and renovated Cape Victorian and Edwardian styled houses and buildings, making it an absolute treat to walk about and take in all the quaint architecture around you.
And that is exactly what Chantelle and I did, first taking a slow drive around the village, before heading back to take a nice stroll down the main road. Although not particularly plentiful, there are some interesting shops and coffee stops to be seen, with the green Don Gelato ice cream shop/restaurant definitely standing out from the crowd! (Yes, we did stop to have ice cream!)
Also, located on the banks of the Klein River, Stanford boasts over 200 different bird species of which 30 are endemic to South Africa. In other words, the perfect spot if you are interested in your ornithology!
However, I suspect that most people either head out for wine or beer tasting at Birkenhead Brewery and the other surrounding wine estates, picnic at the Klein River Cheese Factory, or enjoy river cruises along the beautiful Klein River instead!
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Related Link: Stanford
Following a brilliant breakfast at the Blue Gum Country Estate (where we were spending a weekend in May), Chantelle discovered that she was unfortunately in need of some headache pills – and seeing as the delightful little village of Stanford doesn’t actually have a pharmacy within its borders, we opted to take the short scenic drive through to its larger neighbour Gansbaai.
The last time I had been to Gansbaai, Chantelle and I ended up watching whales from a boat (still need to get around to go shark cage diving!), but this time around we were looking for a far more relaxed outing, and so after a bit of driving about Gansbaai, we took a detour along the sea, heading off towards Walker Bay, to the nearby suburb of De Kelders (driving in pursuit of a rather fetching old Mustang convertible ahead of us).
De Kelders (“The Cellars” in Dutch) is obviously known for its prime whale watching views and the plentiful underground caves beneath the cliffs (including the historically important Klipgat Cave), but seeing as it was neither whale season nor did we particularly feel like looking for caves, Chantelle and I instead entertained ourselves by taking in as many of the gorgeous sea views as what we possibly could.
And yes, we did take a lot of selfies in the process too.
Needless to say, we returned from this particular sightseeing trip feeling quite refreshed and invigorated. What a glorious winter’s day indeed!
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