Tag Archives: snow

Following the Snow to Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek (2020-08-30) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 JAN 2021

Given the previous couple of hot, dry years that Cape Town has plodded and panicked its way through, snow on its relatively low lying mountains has been somewhat… scarce. That all changed with last year’s winter season as we were treated to some spectacular snow hitting the mountain tops of all the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Helderberg ranges, reaching as far down as even Cape Town’s famed Table Mountain itself!

Recalling the days of Chantelle’s winter baked goods deliveries to Sacred Ground in Franschhoek, we decided to head out for an afternoon drive to that side of the world, ostensibly to chase the snow capped peaks, but given the reality of the now long-running Covid pandemic, it was just as much a reason to get out of the house to stave off cabin fever for a little while longer.

We headed up over Sir Lowry’s Pass, swung a left past Grabouw, and then slid along the gorgeously green Viljoen’s Pass until we reached what now at last is a very full Theewaterskloof Dam, which it has to be said is looking a damn sight better than what it did just a year or two ago at the height of Cape Town’s drought crisis.

Pointing our nose up through the Franschhoek Pass, we moved in between the snow capped tops and were then flabbergasted as we hit the heavy mountain pass traffic caused by the long queue of cars all patiently waiting to take their turn at a walk in the snow at the now uber popular Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve.

Eventually though, we dropped down the other side of the Franschhoek Pass into Franschhoek itself, and given the various pandemic induced bans on alcohol, travel, etc, this normally bustling tourist attracting town was quiet and far more leisurely to stroll through than what we were normally used to. We found a parking, ambled down main street, browsed the various shop windows and reasonably empty restaurant fronts, until eventually coming to a stop in front of our almost always when in Franschhoek with the girls haunt, Huguenot Fine Chocolates.

Known as the makers of fine Belgian chocolates, Chantelle, the girls and I eagerly selected a bevy of different flavours and forms, and then proceeded to find a quiet bench in the little park across the road that usually hosts the Franschhoek Market in non Coronavirus lockdown times. Beautiful old buildings, snowy peaks all around us, and delicious chocolates begging to be savoured, this was thus a pretty enjoyable way of escaping the now very familiar four walls of our little home back in Gordon’s Bay – even if for just a couple of hours!

Exploring all the way to Chapter 4 Eatery outside Stellenbosch (2020-08-29) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 13 DEC 2020

The Western Cape experienced some truly cold weather this winter, enough to spark snowfall on most of our higher peaks, which of course then meant lots of chasing about to view this wonderful and relatively rare occurrence for a territory not exactly used to receiving snow. As it stood, even our lowly peaks of the surrounding Helderberg mountains managed to get a bit of icing sugar on the top of their heads and so into the car Chantelle, the girls and I clambered to see if we could get a slightly better Helderberg view.

This particular sightseeing trip saw us first head out to Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and up to Knorhoek Estate, taking the steep road right up to Da Capo Vineyards and the beautiful Idiom Winery and Restaurant on the slopes of the Helderberg range. (The view of course was stunning, and if we didn’t have the girls with us in the car, we probably would have indulged in some wine tasting at their majestic tasting centre.)

Oh well. Down the mountain we came and back in Somerset West, we pulled over on Reservoir Road to take in the stunning view of the white frosted peaks. And also the mom who was diligently taking photos of her daughter doing ballet photos with the mountains as a backdrop. Clearly we are not ‘influencer’ enough!

From there I sought out a new place that I had caught wind of via Google Maps, a small green cluster in the heart of Somerset West referred to as Silver Tree Gorge (or Silwerboomkloof). As it turns out, Silver Tree Gorge is a small protected valley that is home to a forest of rare Silvertree, the silver-coloured tree member of the Protea family that is actually indigenous to the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. This clump, far removed from its normal habitat is somewhat of an anomaly, so it was kind of cool to stumble upon.

By this stage the girls were moaning about being hungry, so after a nice drive around the idyllic Spanish Farm suburb of Somerset West, I set course to the Cape Garden centre outside Stellenbosch, more specifically to a small little eatery called Chapter 4 Eatery – opened by the former owner of our once beloved Mondeor Garden Kitchen.

This little jaunt to the nursery for pizza and milkshakes was actually our very first restaurant visit following the big Covid-19 lockdown, but it was exactly what we needed. Super quiet, lots of space, and a little bit of outdoor fun equipment for Jessica and Emily to stretch their limbs out on. Nice.

Visiting Paardevlei following the Winter Rains in Somerset West (2017-07-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 OCT 2017

Gripped by this unusually long period of drought, I noted that Paardevlei was already bone dry back in April when the girls and I paid a visit to the nearby Cheetah Outreach wildlife sanctuary. (Not that this is all that unusual mind you. The very definition of vlei is that it is a shallow, minor lake, mostly of seasonal or intermittent nature.)

We have of course since then endured a relatively mild and not so wet winter period, and pleasingly the vlei of Paardevlei was back to its wet (and bird inhabited) self by July already.

(And, as you might be able to see if you squint into the background of some of the photos in the gallery below, we even had a couple of days of snow-capped mountains to enjoy!)

Seeing as I needed to stretch my legs for a bit, I bribed the girls to come with me and after stocking up on snacks and a new game for the house, we entered through Paardevlei’s entrance boom, parked by Cheetah Outreach and started our stroll along the nature walk along the vlei.

As always, there was plenty of grumbling from the little one for a lot of the walk, though thankfully the constant sight of the bag of snacks in my hand was more than enough motivation for her to continue walking and for me not to have to carry her on my shoulders!

(That said, pretty much the first bench that we encountered was thus designated snack bench by the two salivating girls at my side…)

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Not that the girls wanted to hang out bird-watching by the vlei for too long mind you – they were way, WAY more excited at the prospect of returning home to try out the new game of Hungry Hippo that we had picked up from Toys R Us a little earlier on our drive!

(Hint: It was a very, very successful buy.)

So, a decent way to spend a Sunday afternoon in July then.

Related Link: Paardevlei | Paardevlei History

Covered: Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1 (Chrissie Zullo) Comic Book Art | Comic Books 18 JUN 2011

Following on from Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, the same team of Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus are back in 2011, sending Cinderella off to a freezing Russia and pitting their bikini-clad spy against the sinister villain Silverslipper this time around in Cinderella: Fables are Forever.

For the cover, young newcomer Chrissie Zullo was approached to provide the pigment to make this title fly off the shelves, and the beautiful pink and white hued result should most certainly do that!

Related Link: http://www.comics.org/issue/806116/