Tag Archives: paarl

Kids at Play at BASH in Paarl (2017-10-08) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2018

Kids’ birthday party venues are always an exciting find when you are a parent who a) doesn’t have access to a big house, b) don’t want to spend an entire day cleaning up the mess created by hosting such a party in their own space, or c) don’t feel like the effort of setting one up in the first place!

Based in Rosendal (a suburb of Bellville), and operating since November 2016, BASH had been an exciting addition to the Northern Suburbs’ childrens party scene for a while now, so much so that business boomed and the need for a second venue quickly became a reality – and so in October of last year their new baby BASH Paarl was born.

Situated on the Dvine Events’ grounds and primarily a birthday party venue, BASH hosts all manner of kids birthday parties, with the focus being mainly on activity based parties. Thanks to their signature Master Mini Chef Cooking Kitchen there are the super popular Baking and Cooking party options available, and thanks to the Private Craft Room, Wooden Craft parties, Canvas Painting parties, Flower Arrangement parties, and even Beading Parties are also all on the cards. Oh, and then there are the actual Pamper party sessions – seriously, which little girl is not going to love any one of these ideas!

Plus, BASH has filled their 200m2 hall, with a host of wooden play structures and toys, from a giant jungle gym right through to a pretend party bus. This, combined with the massive lawn and outside play area means that they are just perfectly suited for more action packed activity play parties as well. (Thank goodness, something for the boys!)

In addition to all the birthday party stuff, BASH is also open to the general public (you pay to play), and thanks to their small deli and restaurant option, the adults stay fed and able to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Paarl mountains while the little ones run themselves ragged.

Basically, what’s not to love about that?

Now Chantelle had been following BASH via Facebook for quite some time, eagerly following their setup progress – meaning that by the time they finally launched in October last year, I simply had no other choice but to bundle everyone in the car and make the long drive through to Paarl. Not that I minded though – the girls had an absolute blast and I thought the location was stunning.

In other words, hard not to admit defeat and pat my wife on the back for discovering such a fun venue.

NOTE: Of course, visiting a venue on their day of opening is almost also never a great idea because the chance to first get processes, procedures and numbers in place (and running smoothly) is obviously not yet there, so naturally our visit did come with a few of those very challenges attached (for example, the restaurant was to busy in order to serve us). That said, it has been a good few months since our visit and quite frankly, both Chantelle and the girls are rather itching for a return trip.

I guess we’re heading back to Paarl sooner than later then! ;)

Related Link: BASH | Paarl

Mixing Spices at Brenda’s Deli at the Spice Route in Paarl (2018-05-11) Photo Gallery | Shopping 18 MAY 2018

Located on what was previously known as the Seidelberg wine estate, the Spice Route is a fantastic tourist destination out here in Paarl, speaking loudly to those who truly enjoy their artisan food experiences.

However, with all the action happening around the grounds of the main manor house, it is quite easy to visit Spice Route and come away having completely missed an utter gem that is tucked away in its own little lavender-fronted dwelling at the foot of the estate – Brenda’s deli.

Started by well-travelled Brenda de Jager around 2007, Brenda’s specializes in spices and preserves, with the business going to great lengths to celebrate and respect their ingredients by avoiding artificial preservatives and additives, championing flavour, and producing fresh, natural products using local sources.

As a foodie, Chantelle was instantly mesmerized by the interesting array of spices (of which there are plenty!) and food products on display, while even I walked away impressed with the very clever, very satisfying, simple but elegant shop layout.

The smells, the colours, the textures, the selection – in other words, an absolute treat for anyone who enjoys cooking their own exotic dishes, and a shop that will definitely encourage you to part with at least some money on the day! ;)

(For reference, Brenda’s products are also available at selected stockists nationwide, as well as online via their e-store).

It’s rather a pity then that I almost immediately managed to ruin the granadilla and lemon curd that Chantelle picked up by unwittingly allowing it to curdle. At least her spices are a bit tougher and should be safe from my ham-fisted ways…

Related Link: Brenda’s Deli | Spice Route | Paarl

Pizza and a Horse at JanKan in Paarl (2017-05-27) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 15 MAR 2018

It hard not to like the beauty of Paarl, thanks to all its surrounding mountain views. Last year May saw the four of us spend a bit of time out that way, in the process paying a visit to the rather haphazard/dilapidated JanKan farm stall – which turns out to be an absolutely delightful little gem for those of us with little kids running about!

Situated just off the main road as you enter Paarl (on the grounds of the Picardie Guest House/Farm), JanKan is a little tented farmyard farm stall that has an amazing selection of local produce on offer, produces some delicous pizza combinations, hosts kids parties, maintains a little farm yard animal setup, and has a great outdoor kids play area.

Oh, and they offer pony/horse rides – what more could you ask for?

Given that we were visiting in winter, the skies were a little grey, but that didn’t stop us from tucking into a delicious biltong and avo pizza and (for Chantelle) some warm tea, while the girls managed to evade the clutches of the beautiful free roaming great dane long enough to help feed the lambs, tickle the pig, run around the play area, and of course, beg me for a ride on the horse.

Which naturally I had to give in for.

Talking about the horse ride, the guy giving it was absolutely excellent, teaching the kids how to sit in the saddle, make the horse go forward and stop, steer the horse with both the reins and their knees, and who somehow even managed to coax Jessica to ride without holding on using her hands!

Brilliant stuff.

So, despite its first impressions, JanKan is a delight. Great if you have small kids running around, nice landscape views, and some pretty tasty food.

An all around win-win situation then!

Related Link: JanKan Farm Stall | Paarl | Wikipedia

Concrete Curves of the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 FEB 2018

It is impossible not to take notice of the strange, alien-like fingers jutting out from the side of a mountain as you drive towards Paarl, those concrete curves belonging of course to non other than the famous Afrikaans Taalmonument, or to us English-speaking folks, the Afrikaans Language Monument.

While I have mentioned the monument in these pages before, I hadn’t actually ever stopped to visit it as an adult, something that I finally got around to rectifying on a sunny Saturday morning back in April last year.

Seeing as it is a rather long drive from Gordon’s Bay to Paarl, the girls and I decided to first stop halfway in order to pick up on some snacks for the road – opting to drop in for a bit at the always super popular Stellenbosch Slow Market (held at the Oude Libertas amphitheatre).

As expected, it was bustling, but snacks on hand were aplenty.

Truthfully though, we didn’t hang around the busy market for all that long – I’m not overly fond of having to navigate two little girls through such a throng of people at the best of times!

Anyway, navigating our way to the Afrikaans Language Monument on the outskirts of Paarl didn’t prove to be a particularly tricky or perilous task, and after paying the small entrance fee, we drove into the grounds, found a shady parking space, and headed up the stairs towards the mouth of this very unusual structure.

Opened on 10 October 1975, Jan van Wijk’s monument commemorates the semi-centenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch, in the process also acknowledging the influence of a variety of languages such as Dutch, Malay, Malay-Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, English, and the indigenous Khoi and African languages, on the development of Afrikaans.

Symbolism is built into everything that stands before you, and knowing a little bit about the structure before you actually view it does come in quite handy in this particular case.

The monument itself is visually interesting, but of course doesn’t take particularly long to stroll through (perplexing the girls to no end), which is where the grounds and build location then neatly comes into play.

Apart from the interesting Visitor’s Centre (there is of course the actual Language Museum further down in town), and its restaurant with a view, the Volksmond, to enjoy, The Afrikaans Language Monument also features lovely patches of lawn to enjoy a picnic on, fantastic 360 degree views across the town of Paarl and its stunning surrounds, and a one or two perfect for ambling walkways that snake through its interesting garden.

The girls of course enjoyed clambering over everything and anything that blocked their path, but by far their favourite bit of our visit was of course the ice cream that they made me get them in order to beat the Paarl heat at the end of our walkabout.

Truthfully, I wasn’t really complaining. Ice cream was exactly what was needed for the day!

Also, plenty of photos were of course the order of the morning, much to the annoyance of my girls as per usual:

The Afrikaans Language Monument is an unexpectedly beautiful stop, well worth visiting even if you don’t speak the language at all.

(As for the rest of our afternoon out and about, that was spent visiting a goat tower, petting some alpacas, and eating scones and cream!)

Related Link: Afrikaans Language Monument | Paarl

Alpaca Wool and Petting at The Alpaca Loom in Paarl (2017-05-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 FEB 2018

Having told Chantelle all about our visit with the Alpacas at Dietmar Keil and Kerstin Heisterkamp’s The Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop and Weaving Studio, she was pretty eager that the girls and I take her for a visit too – which is why just over a month after that first visit, we found ourselves once again petting and feeding the adorably fluffy alpacas of Paarl!

Jessica was of course super thrilled to be back (feed bucket firmly in hand), and now with her mommy at her side, Emily too was feeling a whole lot braver than what she did on our solo visit!

Naturally feeding and petting the alpacas down in the kids play area was attraction number one for the day, but the roaming llamas, dromedary camels, and alpaca herd were more than just a little eager in trying to grab our attention whenever they were given a chance.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much in terms of cakes and pies leftover in the little “log cabin coffee shop with a view”, so just juice for the girls and coffee for the adults it was.

As it was last time, watching the ladies weaving the alpaca wool was super interesting, the alpaca wool products intriguing, and the view itself over the Southern Paarl landscape spectacular.

Apart from the coffee shop, kids petting area, jungle gym, and weaving studio, the Alpaca Loom also offers short Alpaca Barn Tours, which take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 15:00.

(Also, the unexpected bonus of having little newborn alpacas running around the fields with their moms was pretty special too!)

Naturally, I grabbed far more pictures than what was necessary of Chantelle and the girls feeding Alpacas:

In summary, it is really hard not to come and visit this place with kids and NOT leave with a broad smile on your face! :)

Bonus: Obviously the coffee shop and weaving studio is just a small part of The Alpaca Loom’s business. Basically, if you are in the market for it, you can purchase pet alpacas, alpaca wool, breeding stock and even guard alpacas from these guys!

Related Link: The Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop and Weaving Studio | Paarl

Wine and Pizza at Simonsvlei in Paarl (2017-10-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 19 OCT 2017

It’s really hard to miss the Simonsvlei as you drive past Paarl on either the N1 or the Old Paarl Road, thanks in part to the gigantic oversized wine bottle statue that towers next to the winery’s main premises.

Effective, right?

Anyway, with its name originating from the founder of the South African wine industry, Simon van der Stel, and the area’s vlei (wetlands) landscape, Simonsvlei was founded shortly after the second World War, its primary goal to give the area’s grape and wine farmers the facilities to produce quality wines on a larger and more sustainable scale.

(Today the winery is probably best known among locals for its penchant to produce decent wine that is sold at an affordable price.)

After spending a Sunday morning in Paarl with the kids (we were trying out the new BASH kids venue that had literally just opened on the nearby Dvine Estate), we were on the lookout for a place to grab a bite to eat and escape the fresh wind that was starting to pick up, when (as I pointed out might happen at the start of this piece) a giant wine bottle caught our eye and we headed off straight in its direction.

And that’s how we ended up at Simonsvlei.

This was the first ever visit to the Simonsvlei winery for me and as it turns out, in addition to its wine tasting room and conference facilities, the winery does in fact have a restaurant on the premises in the form of Eat@Simonsvlei – not to mention a separate beer brewing and machine letting outfit called Karoo Craft Breweries.

However, we were there for some lunch and given that the wind meant that the veranda wasn’t really a viable seating option for the day, we were instead shown to a big old table indoors where we quickly jumped into the job of selecting a wine, food for the kids, and of course something nibbly for ourselves.

In terms of architecture, finishing, decor and menu, it has to be said that the facilities here at Simonsvlei definitely come across as maybe being somewhat stuck in the 80’s (or at least that is how Chantelle and I perceived it), though that said, the atmosphere was nice enough and in the end we enjoyed our lunch visit.

(Of course, that might also have been entirely the fault of the excellent Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that we were enjoying as well!)

There is actually a really nice, fenced off kids play area in the front of the estate, meaning that following the meal (and wine), the kids dragged Chantelle down for a spell of play (the wind was a lot more friendly by now), while I instead snatched up the opportunity to trudge about and take a few photos of the outside area (including of course the titular vlei).

So. I guess while there are a LOT other more pretty and interesting wine estates in the area to be experienced, Simonsvlei does stand out a little as one of those nice, more down to Earth establishments, so maybe worth a stop if you don’t particularly feel like its slightly more haughty Franschhoek and Stellenbosch compatriots on the day.

Bonus: Just in case you have never spotted the giant wine bottle whilst hurtling down the N1 before, here’s a handy map (in the event that you want to check them out for yourself one day):

Related Link: Simonsvlei | Eat@Simonsvlei

Feeding the Animals at The Alpaca Loom in Paarl (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 MAY 2017

After a lovely afternoon milling about and admiring the smooth concrete curves of the famous Afrikaans Taalmonument in Paarl, the girls and I popped into Fairview to have a gander at their equally famous Goat Tower, before heading back towards something that I had spotted on the way in – The Alpaca Loom.

Housed in a beautifully built and furnished wooden studio (all apparently crafted from wood taken off the very farm by the estate owner himself) is the Alpaca Loom, a coffee shop & weaving studio, and perhaps more interestingly, an alpaca stud farm.

(Yup, if you are in the market for it, you can purchase pet alpacas, breeding stock and even guard alpacas from them!)

The small coffee shop isn’t particularly well stocked, but there is enough good coffee and baked goods on offer (the cake was fantastic!) to make it an okay enough spot for a rest break on the deck – which comes with a stunning  view I might add.

What is rather interesting is the actual weaving that happens right next to you – you can stand and watch as the looms and other machinery is used to transform the luxurious alpaca wool into all manner of jerseys, blankets and that sort of thing.

(A lot of what they make is also on display and available for purchase).

Whilst the kids are sure to enjoy the large jungle gym next to the studio, the highlight of a visit is undoubtedly the opportunity to feed and get up close and personal to the surprisingly calm and gentle, and fluffy, alpacas!

Jessica couldn’t wait of course to get in and feed the animals, and surprisingly, after a little bit of nervous hesitation, Emily joined in the fun as well. (The assortment of alpacas, lamas, camels and donkeys didn’t seem to mind – more hands mean more feed buckets!)

We lucked out a bit on this particular trip in that a few baby alpacas had just recently been born, meaning that a trip down to the stables with the farm owner was particularly overloaded with adorable baby cuteness.

Also, I took far more photos of alpacas than I though I would:

If you have small kids and don’t feel like the more upmarket hustle and bustle of the super popular next door neighbours, The Spice Route and Fairview, then the Alpaca Loom is actually quite great alternative!

Related Link: The Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop & Weaving Studio

Things to See in South Africa: The Goat Tower of Fairview in Paarl Travel Attractions 18 AUG 2016

Goats in general like climbing things. So in 1981, inspired by a tower that he had spotted in a garden at Sogrape Vinhos (Portugal), Fairview Wine and Cheese estate owner Charles Back decided to build something intended for the pleasure of his herd of 750 odd Saanen (Swiss mountain) goats.

And so the world’s first ever purpose-built goat tower was born.

fairview wine and cheese estate goat tower 1

Built out of brick and mortar with a steep metal roof and a spiraling wooden staircase (with windows), the Fairview Goat Tower quickly became a symbol of the Paarl winelands, turning these goats into probably some of the most photographed livestock in South Africa!

(Fairview Estate was one of the first estates to open to the public, a leader in the wine tourism economy. In other words, they had tourists, and tourists of course loved the goats!)

fairview wine and cheese estate goat tower 4

With the tower now a symbol of and featuring heavily in the branding of the Fairview Winery, the Fairview team also produced a wine called “Goats do Roam,” a play on the French wine growing region Côtes du Rhône.

fairview wine and cheese estate goat tower 3

In 2007 a replica tower was opened by Charles Back at the Ekeby farm in Norway as part of a collaborative intiative, and in 2011 another replica was built on the Finca el Rocio farm in Argentina.

fairview wine and cheese estate goat tower 2

Of course, there are now other famous goat towers across the world, including the massive six-story, 31-foot-tall Tower of Baaa, constructed by farmer David Johnson, to serve his herd of 34 Saanen milk goats in Findlay, Illinois (USA).

So, if you are ever in Paarl and looking for something different to see, a stop at Fairview to look at their famous goat tower might not be a bad idea at all.

fairview wine and cheese estate goat tower 5

(Though perhaps, just don’t get the goat tower tattoo as Elisabeth Holm, chef at Ekeby apparently did…)

Elisabeth Holm, chef at Ekeby and the girl with the goat tower tattoo

2017-04-22 Update: The girls and I did eventually get to see the goat tower for ourselves!

Related Link: Goat Tower | Atlas Obscura | Modern Farmer | Fairview Wine and Cheese | Wikipedia

Exploring the Spice Route in Paarl (2016-08-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 AUG 2016

Chantelle and I enjoyed a rather good weekend at the start of August, with the two of us enjoying a rare date night that saw us catch a South African production of the musical comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay. Unfortunately, despite being technically good and a well performed routine, neither Chantelle nor I walked out of the theatre having enjoyed the show, and so instead, took a scenic drive around the coast, before ending up back in Bellville where we let nostalgia dictate that we enjoy a midnight milkshake (and pizza) at the almost always dodgy (at night) Bellville institution that is Starlite Diner.

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Having spent the night at Monty and Cheryl’s place (that’s where the girls were sleeping), the next morning saw us pop through to the Willowbridge shopping centre in Durbanville, where we met up with the visiting Terrance over some coffee and tart at Pulp, giving Chantelle at last a chance to catch up with him and his travels.

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The girls enjoyed their time too (the outdoor jungle gym is always a hit!).

From there, leaving Terrance behind, we then next embarked on a drive along the N1 to Paarl, where despite some phone GPS hiccups, we successfully navigated our way to Paarl’s popular tourist attraction, the Spice Route.

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Located on what was previously known as the Seidelberg Wine Estate, the Spice Route is the brainchild of successful and well known South African wine producer Charles Back, who first started work on the project around 1997.

Home to the Spice Route Winery, the unique Spice Route is intended as a tourist and locals friendly hub that curates some of the finest artisans, allowing them to showcase their produce and share their knowledge with both the public and each other.

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Currently the Spice Route is home to thirteen fantastic ventures. In terms of restaurants, you have the Barley & Biltong, La Grapperia, DV Cottage Cafe, and the popular Bertus Basson offerings. There’s also cured meats from Richard Bosman, and treats from Brenda’s Deli. In terms of alcohol, you obviously have Spice Route Winery, Wilderer Distillery as well as one of the granddaddies in the current craft brewery game, Cape Brewery Co., better known as CBC.

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The Trading Company has all manner of interesting items for sale, while artists display their varied work at The Barn Artist’s studio gallery. Beautifully ornate glass creations are created and displayed at the exciting Red Hot Glass studio, while those in search of chocolate decadence definitely need to pop in to DV Artisan Chocolate for a tasting session!

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After strolling around and taking in all the sights and sounds, we settled on enjoying some handmade ice cream, with Jess immediately diving straight into her chocolate cone and Emily devouring whatever ice cream dared come close to her face!

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Although technically kid friendly (there is a kids area, though it caters better to the slightly older children), I think the Spice Route is better explored as an adult, meaning that this is now firmly on our list of places to visit the next time Chantelle and I manage to slip away for some weekend time without the kids!

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The views from the elevated estate are magnificent, the vibe is fantastic, and if you haven’t visited the Spice Route before, then you definitely should make a plan to do so, because it is simply put, fantastic.

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And yes, of course I took pictures!

(I wanted to also pay a visit to the iconic Taalmonument while in the area, making it as far as the gates at the top of the hill, but unfortunately by that stage both girls were tired, grumpy and half asleep – meaning that I will have to tackle that trip another day!)

Related Link: Spice Route | Wikipedia | Spice Route Winery