Tag Archives: south africa

Sand and Boulders on Llandudno Beach in Cape Town (2017-06-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 NOV 2017

Just outside of Hout Bay and on the way to Camps Bay lies Llandudno (named after the Welsh town with a very similar look), an extremely upmarket, small and particularly picturesque residential suburb of Cape Town.

Despite their well to do status, Llandudno residents strive to maintain a private, coastal village feel to their suburb, achieving this by banning the operation of any shops or restaurants, disallowing the installation of street lights, and maintaining only the most minuscule amount of public parking spaces in the area.

Despite all of this, their tiny Llandudno beach is a popular beach with many Capetonians, thanks in no small part to its boulder strewn rugged beauty, the magnificent fynbos to each side, the view of the Twelve Apostles, Little Lion’s Head,and the Karbonkelberg Mountain all around, and its surfer exciting waves!

Popular with families for picnics, beach sports and sun worshipping in general, it really is difficult to walk away not appreciating this small beach’s well earned charm.

(Oh, and for nudists, it also marks the start of the 20 minute long, apparently not so gentle, walk to Cape Town’s famous nudist beach, Sandy Bay.)

Back in June, as part of my day out and about with the girls, I took a slight detour on our way to Hout Bay Harbour in order to see what this beach looks like for ourselves – and I’m pleased to report that neither the girls nor I left disappointed! :)

A pretty little beach indeed.

Related Link: Llandudno

Jam and Scones at Hillcrest Berry Orchards in the Banhoek Valley (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 24 NOV 2017

It is nowadays quite impossible for me to travel the road from Stellenbosch, past Pniel and on towards Franschhoek without it being requested that I stop for scones and cream at Hillcrest Berry Orchards by young Jessica.

(Not that I mind though – a visit to Hillcrest Berries, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, is always quite pleasant!)

While you can sit and dine in the remarkably popular restaurant/tea room if the weather doesn’t play along, it is by far the best to grab a spot on their terrace, with its beautiful views over the Banhoek Valley.

You’ll be rewarded with some crisp fresh air and some particularly pretty scenery to look at.

Primarily a producer of a wide selection of fine jams from the assortment of berries grown on the working berry farm, a visit to Hillcrest Berry Orchards is definitely defined by tucking into their scones, first choosing the jams to accompany and then deciding on what to round it off with.

Pro Tip: the Devonshire Clotted Cream is the MUST go to option, no question about it!

The atmosphere is relaxed (though on this particular visit there was a gaggle of girls celebrating someone’s 16th birthday, which on its own made for a very entertaining watch – so much posing and so, so many selfies!), the scones, jam and coffee great, and the view is fantastic.

Hard to argue against visiting this great little business that coincidentally also does so much good in its local community then.

Oh, and they even have a couple of weekend away guest cottages for rent available these days – just in case you’re looking for a bit of a Banhoek Valley/Stellenbosch getaway.

(Bonus: You’ll note the sad face photo of Jessica towards the bottom of the photo gallery. It was just me and the girls on one of our days out and about and unfortunately for Jess, it was a bit of a knee meet cement slab moment.)

Related Link: Hillcrest Berries | Facebook

Burgers and Milkshakes at Diesel & Creme in Barrydale (2017-07-03) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 19 NOV 2017

It seems weird to say, but finding a place to stop for a bite to eat in Barrydale (as you move between the Overberg and Klein Karoo) is actually harder than what it should be – primarily because there are nowadays so many interesting places to choose between!

So after entering Barrydale and driving a bit of this way and then that, and faced with names like A Place in Time, The Country Pumpkin, Mez Karoo Kitchen, Bistro Blues, The Jam Tarts, and the Blue Cow at the Barrydale Waterfront (which we’ve actually been to before), Chantelle and I eventually settled on pulling in at the Karoo Moon Motel and more specifically, its vintage diner (and super popular) sister, Diesel & Creme, for our “halfway to Oudtshoorn” lunch time stop.

Situated on the Route 62 tourist route, Diesel & Creme was established in 2013 and is made up of a vast array of bits and pieces collected from all over the area and more importantly, across the ages.

The result is a weird mishmash of antiques and vintage props that some people find super interesting and charming (note, I am not one of those people), but nevertheless results in some good talking material for around the table.

That said, the corrugated shed is populated by a very charming and friendly group of people that produce some very enjoyable food and by all accounts, some super interesting gourmet milkshakes (one of the reasons Chantelle picked this stop  in the first place!).

The girls wanted waffles and ice cream for lunch (and we didn’t feel like a fight), while I instead tackled one of their delicious gourmet burgers and gave some of their decent craft beer selection a good go.

Seeing as this is a popular stop on the main road through Barrydale, you can almost always expect a lot of people to be sitting down for a visit, and with that comes a very fun vibe which definitely enhances the whole Klein Karoo experience.

Again, I didn’t LOVE the decor, but then as Chantelle always succinctly puts it, I’m very much in the minority when it comes to ‘interesting’ places like this!

In summary: The food is pretty decent, the spot is always bustling, and so if you are looking for a food stop in Barrydale, Diesel & Creme is certainly worth a visit.

Next up for us on our June Holidays 2017 road trip? The ostriches and caves of Oudtshoorn!

Related Link: Diesel & Creme | Facebook

The Lions of Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town (2017-06-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 NOV 2017

I’ve written about the Rhodes Memorial on these pages before,  and earlier in June I took my two girls up the slopes of Devil’s Peak to go and see this unique, classically inspired memorial to the English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes.

Firstly, if you have never seen this national monument in person before, then the Sir Herbert Baker and Francis Macey designed structure sitting on the flank of Table Mountain (above my old alma mater UCT for that matter) is guaranteed to impress.

(Well, that said, the girls didn’t really think it was all that. The liked the stairs and the horse, but as far as what they were concerned, the most exciting bit was  the prospect of being allowed to take a photo or two with my phone camera, a promise that I had to make before we had even exited the car!)

Flanked by eight lions (cast by J.W. Swan and modeled upon those protecting Nelson column in Trafalgar Square), the memorial is fronted by the dynamic ‘Statue of Energy’, an imposing horse with rider sculpture – said to be a tribute to Rhodes’ restless drive and determination.

49 granite steps (one for each year of his life) then lead you to the main viewing platform which is adorned with a classic arrangement of Doric columns, the center at which stands the bronze bust of Cecil John Rhodes himself.

At this point of the photos, you might of course notice something slightly out of place.

Sadly, during the populist anti-colonialism outcry (complete with symbol defacement) that took place throughout South Africa in 2016, a few activists tried to behead the bust, ultimately failing in their attempt but doing enough damage so as to leave Rhodes without his nose.

As you might imagine, this does rather spoil the whole effect.

The site is also home to a popular tea garden and restaurant (makes sense when you consider the gorgeous view over Cape Town to be had from this location), and is also the starting base for a couple of popular Table Mountain hikes.

(The hour long walk to the King’s Blockhouse being one of those).

For the record, we didn’t pop in to the tea garden because we still had quite a few other interesting things to get to on the day (Llandudno Beach, Hout Bay Harbour, and World of Birds to be exact), but the girls were okay with that – after all, I did let them fool around with my phone camera for a bit…

A visit to Rhodes Memorial doesn’t take particularly long, and no matter your view on colonialism or the likes of people like Cecil John Rhodes, it is worth a visit just for the architecture and view alone!

Related Link: Rhodes Memorial | Rhodes Memorial Tea Garden

Joggers and Birthday Parties at the Jack Muller Danie Uys Park in Bellville (2017-10-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 NOV 2017

Around 2013 the City of Cape Town embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade its aging district parks, with the goal of developing world class, public open spaces of which the local communities could be proud of.

One of these spaces that saw (and is seeing) a significant upgrade (to the tune of around R15 million) is my old home town of Bellville’s previously dilapidated 13 hectare large Jack Muller Park.

Earmarked to be developed as a facility capable of hosting major events,  the Jack Muller Park (also known as the Danie Uys Park) saw the installation of a borehole based irrigation system (as a part of the City of Cape Town’s commitment to reducing water demand on potable water resources) as well as the updating and laying down of new footpaths throughout the grounds.

The large picnic area was completely revamped, and loads of fresh instant lawn was laid down. Bathroom facilities were updated, new security structures were built around the park, kids play areas were added (as always, the jungle gyms are a hit with the little ones), a dedicated biodiversity section was established, the amphitheater rehabilitated, and of course (it is currently a very popular thing for public spaces to do), an outdoor gym was installed.

We visited the park recently in order to celebrate Damen and Michelle’s kid’s birthday with our friends and I was pleasantly surprised to see just how popular the park seems to have become.

There were loads of birthday parties, joggers and outdoor enthusiasts to be seen, and the environment appears to now genuinely be a nice one to visit.

We’ve been to the outdoor cinema held here before, and I know that music concerts are sometimes hosted as well, but by far the most popular activity for the park must be the weekly Bellville Parkrun, which sees hordes of joggers and walkers arrive at 08:00 on a Saturday morning to tackle the timed 5km fun run.

One day I suppose we should actually join them.

So, a great free green space option if you are looking to get some fresh air in Bellville then.

(Bonus: You might have noticed that the last picture in the photo gallery looks very different from the rest in terms of landscape scene. This is because that photo was taken on the same day but at a very different location! After our turn at Logan’s birthday party in the park, we raced back to Somerset West to make the pirate-themed spitbraai social get together for Emily’s Vergeet-My-Nie playschool. We arrived a tad late, meaning that the girls and I set out into the backwaters of Lourensford Estate in the hopes of catching up with the treasure hunt party that had already set out. Hence the lush green photo opportunity.)

Related Link: Jack Muller/Danie Uys Park

Donut World Doughnuts at Dolphin Beach in Jeffrey’s Bay (2017-07-10) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 NOV 2017

Having now completed the Oudtshoorn, Addo and Port Elizabeth legs of our June Holidays Road Trip, we were driving through the Eastern Cape down along the coast (via the N2) towards the Garden Route, to spend a couple of nights in Sedgefield as the final stop on our journey.

By this stage, both the kids and Chantelle were all fast asleep in the car next to me, so I decided to make a stop for doughnuts, hanging a sharp left and heading down to South Africa’s de facto surfing capital – Jeffrey’s Bay.

Traditionally the town has always been known as a sleepy little fishing town, transitioning into a fully hippie hangout in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and out of which emerged the now burgeoning surf community.

These days that only holds partly true, as over the last couple of years Jeffrey’s Bay has seen a rapid urban expansion – something very visible when you first enter what used to be quite the small little seaside town!

Having first been given a clue to the existence of a doughnut shop from Natasha, some quick Google work led me to punch in the coordinates for Donut World into the GPS, a small shop that is very close to the Jeffrey’s Bay famous Blue Flag Beach – the aptly named Dolphin Beach.

Perfect. A spot for me to stretch my legs and take some photos then! :)

While the others continued their nap in the car, I parked close to the waterslides of the Dolphin Beach Entertainment Centre and went for a short exploratory stroll. Sadly for me though, not too many people were on the beach on the day, never mind the fact that no one was actually in the water for a change. (For reference, there seems to almost always be someone in the water at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg!)

(Depressingly, I later learned that we had also just, just missed the running of the renowned Corona J-Bay Open, which by all accounts was quite an exciting surfing contest this year – shark attack and all!)

Anyway, I returned to the car (where by now everyone had already woken up), and we then headed out in search of the little Donut World shopfront, finding it easily enough (it’s super close to the Shell Museum – which funnily enough none of us actually thought of entering) and each then grabbing something off their sickly sweet menu.

My choice looked rather funky I thought:

Donuts devoured, we then let the girls stretch their legs a bit on the nearby jungle gym before hopping back into the car, grabbing some road trip refreshments from Mentors Plaza at the edge of the town (where I read up on some very cool information around the big Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm that we where about to drive through), pointing our nose towards the Western Cape border and then hitting the road once more!

Bonus: There is a very cool scale model outside Mentor’s Plaza depicting the 2013 record breaking big wave surf by Garrett McNamara. It’s crazy to think that any sane human would ever attempt to surf a 30+ meter wave!

Related Link: Jeffrey’s Bay

Springbok and a round of Golf at the Mossel Bay Golf Club (2017-03-19) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 NOV 2017

Back in March, Jessica and I spent a long weekend away with my folks up at Pinnacle Point Estate in Mossel Bay. Unbeknownst to me, my dad packed in my golf clubs (and by “my golf clubs” I mean a bag filled with clubs donated to me and periodically upgraded every time my brother or dad buys something new), with the intention of putting in a day of golf over the weekend.

Which is exactly what we then did.

The Mossel Bay Golf Club itself is over a hundred years old, having been first established back in 1905 when the course was still positioned at the old aerodrome. The current golf course location came about in 1924 (after the Mossel Bay Municipality made the land available to the club), with its current form the result of a big 1999/2000 re-development that pumped new life into the golf club through the establishment of the surrounding Mossel Bay Golf Estate.

The rebranding and new, modern club facilities worked, with the club now enjoying a very healthy membership and often cited as a major tourist attraction for the town.

Seeing as I only play a round of golf probably once or twice in a year, I was really appreciative of the fact that by some miracle the weather played its part, leaving us to enjoy a cloudless, and, more importantly, windless day, all of which combined rather nicely with the golf course’s already picturesque nature.

That said, I hadn’t even set foot on the course yet before an official pointed out that without a proper golf shirt I wouldn’t be allowed to play. Cue a hasty jog to the Pro Shop situated in the clubhouse, a quick discussion with the helpful store clerks, a rushed swipe of the credit card, and finally the emergence of myself wearing something that was very definitely NOT my usual black.

As with a lot of coastal golf courses, the Mossel Bay golf course is of course very pretty, but for me the icing on the cake was definitely the herd of springbok that happen to call the course home. These guys are obviously very used to all the golf carts and angry men brandishing metal/carbon clubs, because they just lazily move about the various fairways, chewing grass, going for a gallop, or just wistfully looking out towards the sea.

I didn’t get close enough to exactly touch one, but they were definitely close enough to admire!

As for the golf itself, it was as always a mixed day, with the number of okay shots equalling the number of bad shots, with just the occasional great shot thrown in to ensure that you don’t wrap your clubs around a tree or toss them over the next convenient cliff.

(I’m speaking for myself of course. Dad had a pretty decent round on the day).

Nevertheless, it was loads of fun. The customary lunch break was had, I zoomed about in a golf cart, and I hit a lot of balls as hard as I could – seriously, what’s not to enjoy about spending a day doing this?

Also, because Ryan wasn’t there, I actually got the chance to take a few photos without being shouted at or triggering stares of annoyed contempt the whole time! (To be fair though, he just doesn’t like me wasting time if there are other people on the course. Or at least I think that’s the reason that he gets so annoyed with me every time that I whip out the phone when playing a round of golf with them).

So, the photos then:

In summary, the Mossel Bay golf course is a really pleasant course to play, well suited to casual players like myself and which definitely features some really nice views to take in. That said, from listening to my brother and dad speak about it over time, it certainly sounds like Mossel Bay can get a bit windy out there at times!

(Also, we didn’t just forget about Mom and Jessica for the day – a thank you involving supper at The Sea Gypsey was definitely well received!)

Bonus: In case you are wondering why we didn’t just play at the spectacularly picturesque Pinnacle Point golf course (which by the way, I have played before) seeing as we stay on the estate, the reason is twofold. Firstly, I’m such a casual golfer that the difficulty level of the Pinnacle Point championship golf course makes for an even more frustrating outing that what it should be, and secondly, Pinnacle Point asks a much higher fee to play – as a non club/association member, that visitor fee – around R800 – often feels just a little too steep for my liking.

Related Link: Mossel Bay Golf Club | Mossel Bay

Dassies at the Cape St. Blaize Cave at The Point in Mossel Bay (2017-03-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 NOV 2017

When it is whale watching season in Mossel Bay, a drive to The Point followed by a short stroll up to the Cape St. Blaize Cave viewing platform can quite often result in some good shore-based whale watching moments. (I known, because we’ve seen some great ones from there in the past. That said though, the adjacent parking lot down below is pretty good for lazy whale spotting as well!).

However, if it is not quite whale watching season then what you are left with is an important, and coincidentally one of South Africa’s oldest, archaeological excavations instead. (Well, technically, you also have the cool Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse above your head, so there’s that too).

First excavated in 1888 by George Leith, the Cape St. Blaize Cave has revealed deposits dating back some 200,000 years, giving us a glimpse into the possible life lead by the native San people that inhabited this area at the time.

Excavations over the years have revealed evidence showing the use of dyes in symbolizing, advanced blades, the use of heat treatment in manufacturing tools, and thanks to the unearthed middens, the systemic exploitation of marine resources such as shellfish.

Now home to nesting birds, a large colony of dassies, and the odd wandering tourist, as you might imagine, the cave has quite a strong stench lingering about it – meaning that standing around for too long isn’t really an option, or at least that’s what Jessica indicated to me when we took her there back in March this year!

The cave doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to walk around and take in all the signposted information, though there is now a big board erected in the parking lot that indicates the coming of a future educational Point Discovery Centre.

Worth noting: The cave also serves as the starting point of the Cape St. Blaize hiking trail, which allows you to walk from The Point in Mossel Bay, past Pinnacle Point, and then all the way through to Dana Bay (perhaps better known as Danabaai).

Related Link: Cape St. Blaize Cave | Mossel Bay

Weekend Away at Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay (2017-03-17) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 06 NOV 2017

This year was a lot different than last year for me in that 2016 was dominated by going away at least once a month for some sort of weekend getaway, whilst 2017 saw that flipped on its head and instead everything was concentrated into a single, decent length family holiday back in June (which I still need to put down on paper here).

However, Jessica and myself did manage to slip one weekend getaway in at the start of this year, when the two of us drove up to Mossel Bay to join my parents for a long weekend away at their place in the gorgeous Pinnacle Point Estate.

With Chantelle and Emily enjoying some alone time back home (honestly, the abundance of rain spiders from our 2015 visit was the reason for this particular weekend of single parenting adventures), Jessica and I got down to the serious business of enjoying a very busy/fun packed weekend with Granny and Grandpa.

Pinnacle Point is of course paradise for little girls who are now big enough to steer a golf cart, meaning that plenty of golf cart explorations were the order of the day. Too chilly to swim, we were instead entertained with jungle gyms, visits to Oyster Bay beach, braais, and LOTS of Go Fish! and Monopoly Deal in the evenings.

Mossel Bay on the other hand was perfect for wool shopping, Putt Putt (made more exciting by the multitude of motorbikes that had invaded the town for the annual Buffalo City bike rally), a round of golf with my dad at the Mossel Bay Golf Club, and of course dassie gazing at the St. Blaize Cave.

George on the other hand gave us a stroll about a botanical garden, mini burgers at the comically named Getafix, and loads of vintage trains, planes and cars at the Outeniqua Transport Museum.

(Sadly though, we couldn’t get mom to agree to allowing us to attempt crossing the narrow entrance bridge with dad’s Lexus SUV in order to visit The Island at Great Brak River.)

So, as you can see loads of fun was had, and as an added bonus, this time around we only encountered ONE rain spider – on the very last day of our visit.

Love this place, and can’t wait to get invited back again!

Related Link: Pinnacle Point Estate | Pinnacle Point