Tag Archives: picnic

Exploring the Lawns of Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 DEC 2016

Back in September Chantelle and I took the girls out for a visit to Eagle Encounters at the world famous Spier Wine Farm. Of course, any visit to the beautiful grounds of Spier is not complete with an amble down its many scenic walkways, admiring the art installations, the gables of the beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, the lush gardens and picnic areas, and of course breathing in that fresh Stellenbosch air. (Wine Tasting is a must as well, but that is often easier when you don’t have little ones darting all about you, excited at the prospect of touching owls and seeing eagles!)

Spier has for years now been one of the leaders (if not THE leader) in the wine estate as a destination tourism industry, and these days are certainly no different.

There is a literal smorgasbord of things to see/do on the wine farm, like tasting wine at their purpose built tasting room, enjoying a picnic on their endless lawns with a picnic basket stocked by the Eight To Go Deli, heading out on one of the many walking tours around the estate, feasting at either Eight or the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, shopping at the Craft Market and Gift Shop, relaxing at the Spa, learning about birds of prey at Eagle Encounters, exploring the vineyards on Segways, taking in the Spier Art Collection, or resting your head in one of the lovely rooms of the Spier Hotel.

It is impossible not to spend a lot of time then when at Spier, and so if you have never been there before, then you should know that a visit to the Stellenbosch winelands isn’t quite complete without a visit to the iconic Spier wine farm.

As you would expect from any place established way back in 1692, Spier (one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms by the way) has a fascinating history and a legacy for those interested in that sort of thing to discover.

In terms of architecture, naturally Spier has a lot of fine examples of the iconic Cape Dutch styled houses on display, with a staggering 21 historic gables that can be found on the estate.

As I said, our particular outing on the day was very much centered around our visit to the Owls and Eagles at Eagle Encounter, but we did stroll around the grounds as much as the little ones would allow for, with a stop for a quick lunch at the brilliant Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery.

I would love to explore a lot more, so I reckon a return visit for just Chantelle and myself might soon be in order! ;)

In case you want to go and check it out for yourself, here’s a handy map:

Bonus: Spier published this polished video about the current state of their operation to Youtube in May 2015. Great at summing up the vibe of such a great Stellenbosch space:

Related Link: Spier Wine Farm

Horse-drawn Carriage Ride at Klein Joostenberg in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 SEP 2016

I have already mentioned our morning spent frolicking on the lawns and eating from the deli at Klein Joostenberg the other day, but what I haven’t yet mentioned is the actual reason that the girls and I were there in the first place.

A cart horse.

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I remembered that a couple of years back, you used to be able to purchase short little rides on a horse-drawn cart. Whether or not this was still the case, I didn’t know, but nevertheless, I was pretty sure that this would be something of a little adventure that both girls might enjoy.

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As it turns out, the rickety old carriage is still very much there, and for a fee of R15 per passenger, you get a short ride past the pond, into a small glen of trees and then back the way you came.

(Oh, and the guys operating it now also have a standalone horse there, so if your kids prefer riding on an actual horse as opposed to just enjoying a cart ride – well, you’re sorted).

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Emily wasn’t quite convinced that this was totally a fun idea in the beginning, so she remained seated on my lap for the journey (but did eventually get rather into it!). Jessica on the other hand was super excited and loved every minute of it – going even so far to “thank the nice horsie” at the end!)

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So yes, definitely a pleasant morning distraction!

Related Link: Klein Joostenberg

Playing on the Lawns of Klein Joostenberg in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 04 SEP 2016

Joostenberg is a diverse, 5th generation family business situated in the Muldersvlei district of Stellenbosch, known for their organic vineyard farming and boutique wine production, their small herd of grass fed free range cattle reared for beef, their pork specialist butchery, their seasonal cut flowers, herbs and vegetables, their popular deli, their events venue, and last but not least, their world class, family-friendly bistro.

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Most of the actual work happens at the working farm of Joostenberg, but it is Klein Joostenberg, their retail outlet housing the deli, cellar door wine sales, butchery, bistro and a modern events venue that is the real attraction here.

Extremely family friendly with massive lawns and a welcoming atmosphere, we’ve enjoyed quite a number of picnics here in the past when Jessica was a lot younger – as well as one wedding come to think of it!

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As you might imagine, the girls had an absolute ball. We enjoyed a ride on the horse carriage, ate some yummy treats from the deli, ran around on the lawn, explored the grounds, chased chickens, and played on the jungle gym – the only thing we didn’t end up doing was grabbing a table and enjoying a bite to eat at the bistro!

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It is worth noting that there has been one big change to the grounds since we last visited – a lot of the kids’ play equipment have been removed to make space for the Stellenbosch Brewing Company, whose tasting room/restaurant now sits squarely on the picnic lawn space, which is a welcome addition to the experience as a whole.

Sadly, I didn’t get around to trying their beer out either (an oversight on my part), but now that I know that they are there, I’ll definitely be visiting again sooner rather than later!

If you are looking for a polished family friendly space with a good outdoors feel to it, then you definitely can’t go wrong with a visit to the charming experience that is Klein Joostenberg.

Related Link: Joostenberg

Picnic at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (2016-05-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 JUN 2016

We discovered the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay last year, and following our delightful little outing to the Stony Point penguin colony with Retha and Miguel, we decided that the botanical garden would be the perfect spot for some delicious picnic food.

Which it was.

The slightly overcast weather must have driven off all the other visitors for the day, because we pretty much had the entire garden to ourselves. Selecting a beautiful lush section of lawn, we plonked our blanket down and started tucking in to a simple but yummy selection of Chantelle and Retha organized snacks.

The girls then decided that a short nap/chat was in order, while I missioned off with Miguel and the girls, eager to show off the first bridge leading into the Leopard’s Kloof area.

Sadly for me though, it turns out that the reconstruction of the bridges is now in full swing (the park was heavily damaged by flooding in 2013), which meant that we couldn’t really get very far as the first bridge is now inconveniently blocked off in the middle!

(Probably just as well because it turned out that my two little girls were in fact in NO mood to walk anywhere anyway!)

So instead, Miguel and I strolled around the gardens for a bit, played with the girls on the outdoor stage area, and then summoned the ladies to head off for coffee at the onsite Red Disa restaurant – a welcome which was made even more pleasant by the owner setting down some nice Old Brown Sherry in front of us when we got there!

I guess we’ll just have to give it another shot a little later then, once all the bridges are back up and running. As for a picnic venue, it’s quite difficult to beat the beautiful surrounds that make up the Harold Porter Botanical Garden!

Related Link: Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Movie in the Park and Lunch at Wild Clover (2016-03-05) Photo Gallery 20 MAR 2016

I’m not really familiar with the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) at all, though their website pegs their purpose as being: “GTP pursues the goal of an inclusive and economically prosperous greater Tygerberg region. Much of our energy is focused on assisting the area to become a vibrant, thriving and desirable place to live, work and play. To this end the Greater Tygerberg Partnership offers various services for investors, business owners, building owners and developers, students and the community in the area.”

That said, one of their events did however catch our eye on Facebook, namely their Movie in the Park initiative, which saw GTP rope in the excellent (and popular) Galileo Open Air Cinema company to host movie evenings in the beautifully renovated Jack Muller public park in Boston, deep in the heart of Bellville (my old stomping ground).

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All in all, four movie evenings were held in the park, with us catching the last screening in the series – a Saturday evening viewing of firm family favourite, Disney’s Lion King!

Alongside friends Evan, Natasha and Evalynne, Chantelle also roped in Monty and Cheryl, as well as Rob and Tarryn to join us for a movie evening under the stars, which I am happy to report was a huge success! (Apparently, just about 800 people pitched up!)

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Chantelle went all out in terms of the picnic basket, whipping up a delectable selection of gourmet treats, the weather was absolutely perfect (if a bit nippy towards the end of the evening), the entertainment was top notch (a Settlers High flash mob dance performance added to the night), and both our little girls seemed to thoroughly enjoy a grand old evening out (even if said evening out included the surprise pop up of the sprinkler system half way during the movie!).

Also, I have to add, I was suitably impressed with the visual and audio quality on the night, meaning that now that I’ve experienced Galileo’s Open Air Cinema experience for the first time, I’ll definitely be making it my mission to catch more of their showings in the future!

Seeing as it was a pretty late evening out in Bellville, we opted to sleep over the night at Monty and Cheryl’s place, meaning that come Sunday, we needed to come up with a spot of entertainment for us and the girls.

Having seen Internet mentions of the kid friendly Fun House situated in the Durbanville winelands before, I thought it a good idea to try them out for a change, and so put out a pretty late invite to our friends to see if anyone in the area wanted to join us on the day.

Of course, the late notice was pretty much of no use to anyone, but amazingly Michelle answered our call for company and so came out to join us with young Logan in tow!

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Sadly though, on arriving at the Fun House (which is really, really, deep in the Durbanville winelands by the way), it quickly became apparent that they were closed on the day (something regarding an emergency having arisen thanks to a cat and baby bunny incident from what we could glean), meaning a quick change of plan was now in order.

Although looking rather pleasant, we decided that Ntida wasn’t quite what we were looking for either, and so we decided to head all the way back towards Michelle’s stomping grounds, heading up the R304 to Wild Clover, a particular favourite of mine when it comes to kid friendly places on days with good weather!

Finally there, we secured a good table, took in the great music and ambiance, enjoyed some food (my pizza was pretty good), and chatted up a storm, all while the kids happily entertained themselves on what turned out to be a gorgeous summer’s day!

(And pretty exhausting too by the look of it!)

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Related Link: Galileo Open Air Cinema | The Greater Tygerberg Partnership | Wild Clover

Picnic in the Jack’s Back Garden (2015-03-08) Photo Gallery 12 MAR 2015

It’s ridiculous that I’m still busy posting photo sets from this past weekend, but I guess it just goes to show that I really wasn’t lying when I said we had a jam-packed weekend on our hands! In case you haven’t been following, Saturday saw us feeding ducks, eating pancakes at the Root 44 market, playing with animals (and tarantulas!) at Giraffe House, date night supper at Cocoa Wah Wah in Rondebosch, and if that wasn’t enough, capping it all of with Nik Rabinowitz’s What the Eff at the Baxter Theater.

Sunday saw us eat cheesecake at Lourensford Harvest Market, and getting something to drink at Stodels in Bellville. And before we capped off the weekend with supper with the Montgomery Clan, our last big activity for Sunday was a outdoor picnic with the ducks of Sonstraal Damn.

Except, that isn’t quite how it went down…

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You see, it turns out that Sonstraal Dam wasn’t all that inviting on Sunday afternoon, with a miserable wind kicking up sand and dust and in general just making for a rather unpleasant outdoor experience.

So a new plan was hastily hatched, and with the agreement of Damen, Michelle, Evan, Natasha, Dean and Zania, we phoned up Andri and Malcolm (who live down the road) and asked if we could instead set up picnic shop in their backyard garden.

Happily they said yes, and so the next couple of hours was spent on blankets, dipping into picnic baskets and chatting about life, work, and whatever else sprung to mind – surrounded by vibracrete walls and the kids jumping the socks off of the trampoline!

In other words, a great example of making lemonade when life hands you lemons! ;)

Picnic in Kirstenbosch (2015-03-01) Photo Gallery 03 MAR 2015

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! :)

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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!).

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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! :)

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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.

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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.

IMG_20150301_123557 craig lotter with emily selfie in kirstenbosch

And pictures? Or course I caught more than just a few with my trusty old Huawei phone:

Related Link: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch

Baby Steps Picnic at Helderberg Nature Reserve (2015-02-14) Photo Gallery 16 FEB 2015

Valentine’s Day fell on Saturday this year, and as such I treated Chantelle to a lovely candlelit dinner in the braai room* (whilst she bought me a selection of delicious Woolworths choccies) – but that’s completely beside the point, because what I wanted to mention here is the lovely picnic we enjoyed in the morning with the kids at the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

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Baby Steps owner and head honcho Rochelle Kelders had organised the morning picnic as a way for the parents and kids to have a bit of a social get together together, and pleasingly, despite the heavy clouds that looked rather threatening, there was a nice little turn out and everyone was able to enjoy some seriously relaxing time on the grass with the kids. (So, so many tiny cute faces!)

Emily was adorable (as expected), and even managed to stun Chantelle and myself by rooting out a nectarine from our bag and devouring it whole – nothing subtle there. It was basically just nectarine juices on everything!

(The rest of us made do with the blueberry muffins we had picked up from Woolworths on our way – though Emily was quite adept at stealing quite a bit from those as well!)

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We’ve been with Baby Steps for quite some time now – just short of three years with Jessica and now 1 and a little bit years with Emily – and funnily enough, this is the very first time that our schedules actually allowed us to join in on the fun.

And I’m kind of glad that we did.

*small kids are so, so limiting.

Vergeet-My-Nie Year End Picnic (2014-12-10) Photo Gallery 17 JAN 2015

Last year Jessica’s awesome playschool Vergeet-My-Nie ended off their year with a big weekday morning picnic, to which all the parents, grandparents, and whomever else wanted to come along were invited. We were treated to a beautiful Summer’s day with fantastic sunshine, soft grass, and of course large patches of shade provided by the multitude of trees standing tall in the picnic area at Helderberg Nature Reserve.

The kids were out in force, the teachers (complete with Santa hats) had their hands full, and it quickly became apparent that this was to be a day of play and certainly not a day of structured activity!

Songs were sung, prizes handed out (Jessica loved receiving her little ballet certificate), and of course a few Christmas-themed snacks made their way into the crowd. The parents had been instructed to drop off a gift for their child earlier in the week, meaning that there was even a chance for some much enjoyed present handing out – which as you can see, Jess was more than just a little enthralled with! :)

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All in all, it was a awesome morning out with Jessica (we left Emily at Baby Steps creche in order to give Jess our full attention), and Chantelle turned out to be pretty popular whilst manning the climbing wall and fireman’s pole! (I lucked out – my injured knee meant I wasn’t overrun with hyperactive kiddies!)

In fact, Jessica must have had a ball – seeing as she pretty much passed out once we got back into the car!