Tag Archives: somerset west

McDonalds at Poinsettia Park in Somerset West (2020-08-22) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 FEB 2021

I am not fond of McDonalds fast food to say the least. If we absolutely do have to have fast food then the oily (but tasty) mess that is KFC could probably be classified as my favourite fast food option, but unfortunately for me, both my wife and kids seem to like what comes out of the Golden Arches’ kitchen and thus every now and then I need to indulge them. That said, if the chance arises to not have to eat it in the fast food outlet itself, then I always try to grab that opportunity with both hands. Case in point – why eat in the admittedly nicely airconditioned and spacious McDonalds of Waterstone Village Somerset West when it is by far more pleasant to just drive up the road and munch on your cardboard patty around nearby Poinsettia Park dam instead.

Situated to the side of the very nice, up on a hill suburb of Heldervue, Somerset West, sits Poinsettia Park, a small strip of green wedged in between suburbia and the big R44 that serves to shuttle traffic between the Helderberg and Stellenbosch. Built around a small dam, this space of green is a relatively popular spot for fishing and family picnics, and also features a small loop which makes it great for getting dogs (and little girls) to stretch their legs a little. These days there is also a brightly coloured outdoor gym in case you are eager to show off some sweaty muscles to whomever is willing to take the time to look.

As for the three of us (Chantelle was back home hard at work in the kitchen on this particular day of out and about adventure), we found a bench, munched on our food, watched the birdlife and the fishermen at work, and then grumpily took a short stroll before chasing back to the car because the youngest one decided that the need for a toilet was now about to enforce itself. (Kids always make everything so fun.)

Anyway, with the relatively busy R44 lying right next door, Poinsettia Park isn’t a particularly quiet and tranquil space, but it is rather pretty to look at, and it definitely does beat sitting in a boring McDonalds, that’s for sure!

Sudoku and Bistro Fare at Alex on Fire in Somerset West (2021-01-23) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 01 FEB 2021

Tucked away in what is best described as one of the more tired looking parts of where Strand meets Somerset West is a relatively new, sparkly eatery gem named Alex on Fire Moto Bistro. Bearing in mind that subtitle, given the fact that the bistro is situated just behind a popular motorcycle workshop, and taking into account that kick-ass logo, this is of course then another one of those eateries that takes its heart from the biking fraternity – which makes sense considering the fact that co-owner Derek Chester-Browne has for many years been part of the local motorcycle scene. That said though, this is certainly no simple biker’s joint.

Housed in a heritage property and in possession of a beautiful Burmese teak bar that comes from a once popular Somerset West watering hole that has long since burned down, the Alexandria Hotel, Alex on Fire is actually a quite decent eatery that serves some pretty upmarket styled food and just so happens to have a little something for everyone on its impressive (for a bistro) menu. Again, this makes complete sense if you consider that Scott Hendrie is the chef at the wheel, which, if my LinkedIn stalking skills are correct, has him as having previously helmed some of the Cape’s top kitchens, including Le Franschhoek Hotel, Dieu Donne Restaurant, Pepper Club Hotel, and Val de Vie Polo Restaurant.

Given the intention to be a bit of a home to all, Alex on Fire actually does a great job of catering to kids, complete with a fun little adventure styled kids play area that features a magnificent boat stuck in a tree treehouse! Our particular visit fell within the period where Coronavirus Lockdown rules equalled prohibition, so no comment on the drink available but as you can tell from the photos the food came out of the kitchen looking (and tasting) pretty damn good!

An added bonus worth mentioning is that on arrival both the kids and the adults received a neat little entertainment pack – colouring in for the girls and a page of sudoku, wordsearch and crossword puzzles for the adults – a near perfect distraction while you wait for your food and maybe don’t have anything left to say to one another after having spent pretty much the entire year staring into one another’s eyes thanks to the global pandemic the world is currently engulfed in.

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.

A Jump4Joy Emily Birthday Party in Somerset West (2020-02-29) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2020

As a lot of parents with young kids will know, having a child whose birthday falls within the school holidays inevitably means never throwing the big birthday party on their actual birthday – case in point our dear Emily, who turned six on January 13 but who had to wait all the way to the end of February to enjoy her big birthday bash!

To be fair, our reasoning was rock solid with this one. Seeing as Emily was starting out fresh with Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary School this year, Chantelle wanted to give her a little time to first make some friends so that we could invite kids from her class to the party. This approach paid off handsomely, resulting in a very successful llama themed party populated by a host of her new friends!

As for the venue, we picked the Somerset West branch of Jump4Joy, an indoor trampoline park tucked away in Somerset West’s industrial area which, although lacking the polish of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs’ offerings like Rush and be.UP, had everything we needed in terms of space and entertainment for the young ones.

Chantelle donned her Helderberg Cake Company cap and went all out in making a host of llama themed delights (we’re talking a smorgasbord of delightfully decorated cake, cookies, doughnuts and cake pops here), and the kids had an absolute blast bouncing around and getting rid of all their energy. In other words, total success! :)

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2019-12-31) Photo Gallery 25 APR 2020

So with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 image dump posts of all the photos which aren’t linked to a blog post now sitting all safe and sound with my web host, I guess that I need to add the 2019 batch as well, seeing as we are now well and truly into 2020. (Also, sorry for not doing one of my annual Goodbye Hello posts at the start of this year – honestly they’ve become a little too routine to continue for now).

This particular selection features first days, sport, concerts and voting at Gordon’s Bay Primary School, Mark Haze at Die Boer in Durbanville, a turn at Home Affairs in Somerset West, the view from my office in Westlake, Ocean Basket’s Harbour Island View in Gordon’s Bay, the solar panel parking and delicious green curry from Wang Thai at The Sanctuary in Somerset West, wine and cheese tasting at Steenberg Vineyards, planes at the Stellenbosch Flying Club airstrip, views from Somerset Mall and the Helderberg Shopping Centre of all places, a Somerset West night time Christmas market, walks along the Lourens River, strolls along the Strand beach promenade, and of course scenes from our home here in beautiful little Gordon’s Bay.

Plus Belgian waffles – because those things are of course delightful.

Hunting for Proteas at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West (2019-07-27) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 08 APR 2020

Sometimes it just doesn’t work. I can’t convince, bribe or coerce my wife or either of my girls to head out for a walk with me. Mind you, not that it bothers me in the slightest – it is their loss after all and in any event, it just gives me an even greater opportunity to randomly stop and take a picture or three!

Residents of Somerset West are really fortunate to have a very nice, accessible and well run City of Cape Town managed and operated (with support from the local Friends of Helderberg Nature Reserve NPO) nature reserve right on their doorstep in the form of the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

Situated on the southern slopes of the Helderberg mountains (the peaks of which remain under the protection of Cape Nature), the Helderberg Nature Reserve originally came to be as a wildflower garden (and to protect the water resources in Somerset West) in 1960, following a period of lobbying by the local Rotary Club of Somerset West. Since then the area has morphed into a proper nature reserve with the now 402-hectare reserve protecting a swathe of Swartland shale renosterveld, Kogelberg sandstone fynbos, Cape Winelands shale fynbos and Southern afro-temperate forest pockets.

The lower reaches of the park is home to large tree shaded lawns, popular with families and perfect for the hosting of picnics, birthday parties and the occasional music concert, as well a small coffee shop and the Maskew Miller Educational/Visitors Centre. As you would expect, there are walking and hiking paths scattered around the reserve, catering to nature lovers of all fitness levels (and particularly popular with those who like jogging up mountains for exercise).

Surrounded by all manner protea species and birds galore, there is tranquility, majestic mountain landscapes and a sweeping view over False Bay below – what more could one looking for a break from suburban living possibly still need?

Walking the Girls at Radloff Park in Somerset West (2019-07-21) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 31 MAR 2020

Somerset West is scenically a beautiful space. Lying in the Helderberg Basin, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, and squeezed in between the Cape Winelands and False Bay, Somerset West is somewhat our local answer to Cape Town’s leafy suburb of Constantia. A good way to experience a bit of this suburban green space is with a walk out in Radloff Park.

The park, with its wide open space, grass fields, tree-shaded paths, and refreshing river water (it lies on the banks of the Lourens River), is an especially big hit with dog lovers – so much so that locally the site is pretty much known as the Radloff Dog Park. In other words, expect a LOT of dogs on your visit!

A number of sporting codes also call this greenbelt home, including the local cricket, croquet, squash, and baseball clubs, with even a small skateboarding park (for those less interested in playing with balls) tacked on as well.

Dogs and sporting code fields aside though, the area is green, tranquil, full of trees, teeming with bird life, and comes with amazing views and a lazy river walk to boot. The perfect spot for a family picnic outing then, or in my case, something to do with the girls!

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2018-12-31) Photo Gallery 29 MAR 2020

With 2016 and 2017’s photo dumps already up, I now continue making a dent into the large “Unposted Photos” folder on my desktop with 2018’s batch. These are all (well mostly) photos snapped as we go about life in the Helderberg basin (Somerset West, Strand and our home town Gordon’s Bay) which simply didn’t have enough of a set to collect into (or warrant) a blog post of their own.

That said, these random life event photos are all important to me and a keepsake of a life well lived (and enjoyed), and as such posting them here is a way to safeguard their existence – after all, my laptop and its hard drive is now very old, and my ADSL isn’t nearly good enough to upload the full sized files to the cloud.

Anyway, as you can see for yourself, the Helderberg (and for that part the Western Cape itself) really isn’t a bad place to be able to call home:

Jessica Jamming Art for her Birthday in Somerset West (2019-11-16) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 20 DEC 2019

Jessica turned 9 this year and we decided to celebrate this birthday by allowing her to invite some of her school friends over for a bit of a tropical themed birthday cake bash, followed by a paint session at the newly opened Artjamming Somerset West.

As always the incredible Helderberg Cake Company (i.e. Chantelle) went all out with the tropical themed biscuit and cake decadence, and after a flurry of excitement from a gaggle of girls in Lei garlands at Country Mews, we piled everyone into our cars and headed off to Bright Street in order to get all the girls jamming some art.

Chantelle had pre-selected the painting for the day (a tropical themed toucan naturally), and with a bubbly young instructor heading things up, Emily and I then left the group (to go do some LEGO shopping) so that the tweenagers could get their paint on (hopefully mostly on the canvas).

Great, colourful fun was had by everyone, with pretty much all particularly proud of their toucan productions. Definitely a great birthday outing idea!

Following that Saturday of fun, we next hosted a big birthday pizza day at Monty and Cheryl’s house for the family, complete with jumping castle and of course even more cake!