Tag Archives: somerset west

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…)

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

Eisbein and German Cuisine at Im Eimer in Somerset West (2017-06-13) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 23 AUG 2017

There is a very unusual pub/restaurant lurking on the outskirts of Somerset West, close to the border of Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. It’s a German pub (which in itself is not unusual given the high levels of German ancestry throughout Somerset West) called Im Eimer, and what I find strange about the whole setup is despite its rather unwelcoming, rundown exterior (and rust filled interior), the restaurant is MASSIVELY popular  with the locals.

The name “Im Eimer” translates directly into “in the bucket” a saying which refers to items that are ‘kaput’, i.e. have reached the end of their useful life and have been tossed aside.

With that in mind, the restaurant is itself home to many old, broken odds and ends, or as some people put it, antiques. Also, there is the literal bucket hanging on the wall, a 100 year old rusted relic that was used to dig a well on Auas Sued in South West Africa near Bethanien in 1894.

You get the idea then. Im Eimer is a name that suits the look and feel of this place rather well then.

The thing is, the restaurant is known for its excellent German menu, with many people praising its authentic German cuisine (and of course, beer), with the Eisbein in particular always getting a rousing mention.

Of course, with all that praise for their tasty pork knuckle,  it was therefore essential for Chantelle and myself to give it a go – which is then exactly what we did come one lunch time back in June of this year.

Pro tip: It is definitely a good idea to phone ahead if you are going to be ordering the Eisbein – preparing one as you might imagine does take a fair while!

We of course didn’t, giving us a good hour or so to first sit, drink and take in the unique… setting/decorations.

The good news is that, served with sauerkraut, mustard, and mash, the Eisbein is indeed well, WELL worth the wait.

So yeah, that was a surprise. Definitely one of those classic ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ cases!

Bonus: Im Eimer makes a quick little feature towards the end of Cape Town Tourism’s “Love Cape Town Neighbourhoods Series: Somerset West” YouTube video (around the 04:00 mark):

So, worth a visit, even if it is just for the Eisbein!

Related Link: Im Eimer | Somerset West

Chimpanzees at Monkey Town in Somerset West (2016-11-06) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 28 JUL 2017

Sometimes I don’t particularly feel like driving very far when it comes to my weekend outings with the girls, and so invariably we end up at Monkey Town, situated a ridiculously convenient ten minutes down the road from me.

Founded back in 2000 by animal lover and habitual monkey rescuer Roseline Grobler, the Monkey Town Primate Sanctuary is a Somerset West based wildlife center for monkeys and apes with more than 230 animals split among 28 different exotic species, including Tammy, Ruby, and Sunny, Monkey Town’s famous chimpanzee sisters.

The sanctuary has an interesting layout as you essentially walk for large swathes of the park in a fenced tunnel, with monkeys moving about in the open all around (and above) you.

Although you are more than welcome to browse and work your way through the sanctuary on your own and at your own pace (strolls through Monkey Town don’t normally take much longer than an hour), it is recommended to rather join in on the frequent guided tours, primarily because that way you will learn a lot more about the animals running around in front of you.

Feeding time is quite the fun spectacle (for that matter, the chimpanzees never cease to amaze with both their catching and bottle opening skills), and if you want an even closer look/interaction with some of the smaller, fluffier critters, then there are a couple of encounter options eagerly awaiting your purchase.

The girls rather enjoyed this particular outing last year, with Jessica, as she invariably does on these outings of ours, taking quite a shine to our guide and pretty much never leaving his side for the duration of the tour!

These guys do a lot of great work in terms of taking in, rearing and caring for abandoned, captive-bred monkeys and are definitely worth supporting, meaning that if you have kids, then undoubtedly this is one of those visits that you can safely leave on your To Do list.

(Also, if the kids get bored, there is the kids play paradise of Cheeky Monkey right next door. In all honesty, I can’t really recommend them as a restaurant of choice, but they do have all the necessary equipment if you have kids with lots of energy to get rid of!)

Related Link: Monkey Town | Facebook

Breakfast at Benedicts & Bagels in Somerset West (2017-04-21) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 15 MAY 2017

It is extremely hard to miss the vintage, bright yellow painted house on the corner of St. James and Andries Pretorius in Somerset West. (And if the bright yellow hue isn’t enough to pique your interest, then there is the large Charlie Chaplin piece of art hanging in the middle of the stoep that might do the trick).

This is the home of Benedicts and Bagels, a lovely artisan eatery that specializes in, you guessed it, bagels and eggs benedict.

Chantelle visited the chiropracter situated in the same little complex and that is how we came to discover this brilliant little spot. The eatery is a tiny little art covered space with the bulk of its tables and chairs outside in a peaceful little courtyard.

The menu is small, and according to the chef, most of the ingredients are all either made or sourced locally, the end result being some particularly delicious light dishes. The coffee is good, and yes, because this is a artisan eatery, they do have a couple of craft beers available on the menu.

I thoroughly enjoyed eating proper American bagels last year in San Diego, and pleasingly, these bagels taste just as great!

[ P.S. The last two photos of the beetles eating the fruit on my as of yet unidentified tree in the front (and there are loads of them in this tree) are included purely because I now finally know the proper English name for this noisy yellow and black beetles – the common South African garden fruit chafer beetle! ]

Anyway, back to Benedicts & Bagels.

It is a lovely, tucked away spot that serves particularly tasty food in a peaceful setting, away from the bustle of main road Somerset West – in other words, well worth the stop if you’ve never eaten a proper bagel before!

Related Link: Benedicts and Bagels

Cubs at Cheetah Outreach in Paardevlei, Somerset West (2017-04-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 MAY 2017

Twenty years strong now, Cheetah Outreach (now at Paardevlei as opposed to their original Spier stomping grounds) continues their mission to raise awareness around, and campaign for, the survival of the free ranging Southern African cheetah.

They do this through a broad range of projects, like funding and coordinating a South African Cheetah Anatolian Shepherd Guard dog project, delivering natural science and literacy resources embracing environmental education into less advantaged schools, sponsoring teacher training workshops, supporting range research of free-ranging cheetah, and finally financing curriculum-linked school outreach trips and Bus 2 Us on site education visits.

They have a large number of hand-reared, captive born cheetahs which they use as ambassadors – acting essentially as representatives of the endangered free-ranging cheetah, which then provides the public with the opportunity to see, learn about, and then meet this majestic and fascinating species face to face.

The girls and I ambled into Cheetah Outreach one late afternoon last month, and spent some time walking around all the enclosures to take in the collection of bat eared foxes, black backed jackals, servals, caracals, meerkats, and Anatolian shepherd dogs, before heading up the amusingly named Cat Scan viewing deck to watch a couple of tourists being guided through their animal encounter session with the cheetahs.

The girls were of course totally enamoured by the two furry cheetah cubs pacing around (as well as the feeding of the bat eared foxes), though as per usual, annoyingly they found the stuffed toys of the curio shop by far the most interesting bit of all!

I was surprised to encounter Cheetah Outreach’s very unusual stance of essentially allowing you into their grounds for basically free (I paid R15 for all three of us to walk around!), meaning that if you just want to show your kids what a cheetah looks like (and go on a quick guided tour), it’s not going to cost you any real money.

Animal encounters is of course where the the actual money making happens, and there are a number of different encounters, walks and runs available to choose from.

Animal sanctuaries/education centers that offer encounters are as always a contentious issue for a lot of people, but if you have kids like I do then undoubtedly you will appreciate the fact that they exist – teaching a child about something standing right in front of them is always going to be better than trying to explain off a printed page or some animated screen.

P.S. The lovely body of water that is the Paardevlei is currently completely dried up. So much so that there are now buck grazing where once there were flocks of flamingos!

Related Link: Cheetah Outreach

Lunch at the Lake House Restaurant in Somerset Lakes, Somerset West (2017-04-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 30 APR 2017

The other day Chantelle came up with a rather strange suggestion – “Why don’t we go out for lunch at Somerset Lakes?”. Now I know that Somerset Lakes is one of the new fancy Somerset West residential estates that they are building here rather close to us (in fact, it is right next to the brand new, rather posh Reddam School that recently opened its doors), but residential estates aren’t normally open to the public now are they?

Well as it turns out, Somerset Lakes has in fact allowed its clubhouse facility to be converted into a restaurant (aptly called The Lake House), operated by the same team that own the excellent Southey’s Family Bistro (also in Somerset West).

The restaurant itself is situated in this beautiful contemporary designed building that overlooks Somerset Lakes’ titular lake (which is of course nearly empty now thanks to the drought that continues to plague the Western Cape), with its open plan spaces spilling outside in the form of lovely open deck, complete with small swimming pools for both big and small.

Pizzas are currently the hot item on The Lake House’s menu, and it is pretty easy to see why after having tried a few of them for ourselves!

(Unfortunately the restaurant is still waiting to receive their liquor licence, meaning that for now you need to remember to bring your own drink if the non-alcholic stuff doesn’t quite do it for you any more).

The girls were of course completely lost to the pool (which is literally right next to the tables on the deck), meaning that Chantelle and I had even more time to just sit, relax, and enjoy the view.

(Or, if your kids don’t enjoy the pool, they can always go play on the artificial beach in front of the clubhouse as well!)

After lunch, we decided to take a delightful stroll along the lengthy boardwalk that takes you around the central lake. Naturally, the area is usually a lot more pretty (and will be once the rains start coming in again), but nevertheless, it was great way to stretch the legs whilst watching the abundance of bird life that still call this area home.

Along the way we came across a jungle gym for the kids to spend some of their energy at, and a little later, an outdoor gym (complete with concrete weights).

Obviously, without not a single other soul in sight, we had a ball giving everything a quick go ourselves! ;)

Back at the clubhouse, Jessica and I decided to take a quick stroll over to the nearby grove of Pine trees, where we were rather excited to find a full on obstacle course lurking in the small forest. (A pretty handy find considering the fact that Chantelle would be tackling the Muddy Princess obstacle race rather soon!)

Note: I found out later via some Googling once back at home that these are all a leftover from the recent The Grind obstacle race which was held back in February this year.

Also, as you might have suspected, I took loads of pictures with my phone on the day, some of which didn’t come out half bad if I say so myself:

It is kind of strange that a private residential estate has allowed for the establishment of a public restaurant on their grounds, but I for one am rather glad that they did, because the location is rather stunning and thus well worth the visit if you ever find yourself anywhere near the area!

Related Link: The Lake House Restaurant | Somerset Lakes

Vegetarian Burgers at Lourensford Market in Somerset West (2017-04-09) Markets | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2017

Last year we were away from home for at least one weekend every month. This year we’re doing it a little different, and rather going away for one big July holiday instead. However, all that this then means is that we now get to go on a LOT more local adventures every weekend instead!

(Plus, now with Chantelle no longer working at the guest house in favour of doing her own cake-related thing full-time again, there are plenty of great spots that the girls and I need to first show her around anyway!)

Not that the excellent Lourensford Market is one of those mind you. No, as we’ve already previously established, this particular Somerset West market held on the grounds of the venerable Lourensford Wine Estate is definitely one of her firm favourites when it comes to the farmer’s market scene.

On this particular day, the market as always was buzzing and busy, so the Lotter girls and I found a nice space on the soft grass banks around the water fountain, where we then took turns fetch and devouring all sorts of food whilst watching Emily and Jessica have a ball in rolling down the surrounding grass mounds.

For some or other reason, Chantelle chose to tuck in (and enjoy) this monstrosity that is apparently a bunless vegetable burger, while I far more sensibly stuck to some Mediterranean ostrich dish.

I didn’t particularly feel like taking lots of photos on the day, so I didn’t, snapping only a few quick ones so that you can get a feel for what the market was like on this particularly pleasant, sunny and windless Sunday afternoon:

I’ve said it before, and it is worth saying again – the Lourensford Market is definitely one of those markets worth going to, even if you’re only going for the incredible setting!

Also, in case you are keen and in the area, Lourensford Market also hosts twilight market events which are pretty cool and well worth coming out for if the weather holds up. The next two of these night markets are on the 5th and 19th of May respectively, so you may as well start planning already…

Related Links: Lourensford Market | Facebook | Lourensford Wine Estate

Walking along the Lourens River in Radloff Park, Somerset West (2017-04-17) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 23 APR 2017

The Gordon’s Bay Lötters had a pretty relaxed Easter this year. Friday afternoon was spent with my half of the family, enjoying Mom’s homemade pickled fish and dad’s roast leg of lamb for lunch, while the evening was spent with Chantelle’s half of the family, enjoying Robert and Monty’s fine work behind the braai and treating the girls to a glow in the dark easter egg hunt.

Saturday was a rare pyjamas day of being at home and doing pretty much nothing, while Sunday we hosted my folks over for a braai back at our place.

Monday, or Family Day if you look at the calendar, kicked off with a morning out at Mondeor Garden Restaurant in Somerset West, where we partook in their super popular, annual easter egg hunt day. (The girls had loads of fun as you might imagine!)

However, with Chantelle then returning to work once all the fun was done and dusted, it was up to the girls and myself to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day, and we did just that by heading out for an early evening walk along the Lourens River at Radloff Park in Somerset West.

It’s only the second time that I’ve visited this super popular park in Somerset West, and as always it is difficult to come away not loving pretty much everything aspect of it!

The river is flowing well, the shady paths well looked after, the rolling fields of grass all trim and tidy, with the entire area perfectly framed by the beautiful mountainscapes that seem to be visible all around you!

The girls and I strolled along the entire length of the river section available to us, i.e. from the car park at the edge of Radloff Park all the way through past the houses and onto the start of the Morgenster Estate, though naturally by the time we reached the end, both girls were starting to moan about having to walk so far!

As expected, plenty of people were out and about on either their bikes or with their dogs, but pleasingly the experience seemed a lot less traumatic for my two ‘timid around animals’ girls.

Naturally, I did have my phone on hand to pick up a couple of snaps as per usual:

Unless you absolutely hate dogs, it is almost impossible not to like Radloff Park.

Related Link: Facebook

Enjoying the Market at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West (2016-10-09) Markets | Photo Gallery 08 APR 2017

Based out here in the Cape, one certainly has their pick of excellent markets to visit and make merry at. I would however argue that one of the finest markets to be found is most definitely the Lourensford Market, situated out here in Somerset West on the picturesque and art rich Lourensford Wine Estate.

After starting out from a large tent stretched out on a lawn, the market slowly grew and eventually moved into a more permanent space. However, thanks to massive storm damage in 2015, a further rebuild was required, resulting in this beautiful space that Lourensford Market now calls home.

The market is home to a good mix of both food and craft stalls, with both Chantelle and I agreeing that the food choices at this particular market are top notch. The vibe, particularly around the main square (which is surround by all the stalls), is incredible, bolstered by the almost always excellent live music being performed up front.

If you don’t like the crowded hustle of the square, then there are plenty of tables and benches scattered under and among the trees outside the main area, as well as a big lawn out to the back where all the kids rides and entertainment is concentrated.

The Lourensford Wine Estate grounds are however the biggest drawcard here. The estate is beyond picturesque, with beautiful Cape Dutch inspired architecture everywhere you look, a tranquil restaurant and a brilliant wine tasting center, not to mention a coffee shop and various art studios scattered about.

The grounds are immaculately manicured, with flowers, trees, pathways and loads of eye catching sculptures in every direction that you look.

In other words, it really is impossible to come here on a Sunday and not leave feeling impressed by everything on show!

And because pictures are worth far more than just mere words, here are some photos that I snapped on my camera from our visit to the market last October:

So definitely one of those markets well worth a visit, both for the stalls and the location itself!

Related Links: Lourensford Market | Facebook | Lourensford Wine Estate