Tag Archives: south africa

Weekend Away at the African Tulip Guest House in Tulbagh (2016-12-09) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 26 JUL 2017

If you are interested in the Cape’s architectural heritage, then a visit to Tulbagh should very much be on your agenda.

You see, the damage that the disastrous 1969 Boland Earthquake wreaked upon the town sparked a renewed interest in its heritage, with the result being extensive projects of restoration lead by the National Committee for the Restoration of Historic Buildings in Tulbagh and its Environment and later Tulbagh Valley Heritage Foundation groups.

Because of this work, Tulbagh’s historic Church Street is now home to the largest single grouping of Cape-Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian provincial heritage homes in South Africa.

That said, we were mainly there for the wine.

Towards the end of last year, Chantelle and I left the kids with the grandparents and struck out to enjoy a weekend away on our own, forgoing the allure of staying in an old heritage house and instead opting for the more comfortable amenities that the African Tulip Guest House promised on their website.

Just as well that we did, because our lavender-themed room was spacious, featured a giant en-suite bath, had direct access to a patio with the most gorgeous of views, and not to mention a particularly inviting breakfast nook that came paired with some particularly good breakfast, courtesy of our lovely Dutch hosts.

(Plus, given the heat, the pool was DEFINITELY a very welcome bonus!)

For Friday night’s supper we tucked into the most decadent of burgers at Tulbagh Hotel’s The Olive Terrace, all the while enjoying the live music courtesy of a Valiant Swart concert being held next door at Saronsberg Theatre.

Saturday saw us make an impromptu decision to first head out to nearby Ceres (via Michell’s Pass), followed by a longer drive through to Klondyke Farm for a stab at one of their super popular cherry picking sessions.

Back in Tulbagh, we first explored a bit, tasted chocolate at Moniki Chocolatier, and then while Chantelle enjoyed a late afternoon nap, I set about taking in all the historical architecture with a leisurely stroll down Church Street (photos of which I must still get around to posting!).

Saturday’s supper was taken at Readers Restaurant, a dining establishment that operates out of one of the heritage houses on Church Street and by someone who appears to have very much a thing for cats going on. I don’t know why.

Finally, Sunday saw us take our leave of the wonderful African Tulip as we embarked upon a day of wine tasting, stopping in first at Saronsberg (Tulbagh), then Waverley Hills (Wolseley), and following a jaunt over Bain’s Kloof Pass, ending it all off at Val du Charron (Wellington).

So. Not a bad first ever stay in Tulbagh then.

Related Link: African Tulip Guest House | Tulbagh

Kids at Play at Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw (2017-03-11) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 25 JUL 2017

Situated in the fertile Elgin Valley, just outside of Grabouw, Peregrine began life as a humble little fruit vending stall on the side of the N2 way back in 1964, and in the many years since, has morphed into somewhat of a road trip institution for anyone travelling over Sir Lowry’s Pass.

2014 marked Peregrine Farm Stall’s 50th anniversary, but as circumstance would have it, this was also to be the year of tragedy striking in the form of a destructive kitchen fire that destroyed most of the long-standing restaurant area.

This was however a perfect opportunity for new life to be breathed into Peregrine, and the new Peregrine Cafe that rose up in the old restaurant’s place is light, open, and with a very contemporary feel to it.

While the farm stall and bakery continues its long tradition of providing excellent local produce, artisanal creations and mouthwatering bakes to the public, it is the outdoor express section (complete with takeaways, a kiddies play area, and pop-up shops) that excites my girls the most, the result being that we quite often end up at Peregrine without actually stepping inside the cafe or old farm stall itself!

Not that I mind of course, the pies are particularly excellent no matter which counter you purchase them from – and besides, the fact that they wash down pretty well with some of Everson’s excellent locally produced cider (available right there!) doesn’t hurt either.

Also, how could we NOT stop to see the giant blue bunny, courtesy of the Art@Almenkerk project!? ;)

It’s really, really hard to miss.

Related Link: Peregrine Farm Stall | Facebook

Moer Koffie and Melktert at Die Tolhuis Bistro and Farm Stall in Ceres (2016-12-10) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 24 JUL 2017

Towards the end of last year, over the course of our weekend away in Tulbagh, Chantelle and I decided on the spur of the moment to try our hand at cherry picking on Klondyke Farm (as well as fuel some nostalgia by checking in on Ceres’ Dennebos – aka Pine Forest – holiday resort that both of us frequented as children), which then of course meant an impromptu trip over Michell’s Pass.

If you are not familiar with it, the pass carves a route through the Skurweberg and Witzenberg mountains, in the process connecting Ceres to Tulbagh and Wolseley, and is named after the Cape Colony’s first Surveyor-General, Charles Michell – incidentally the man responsible for planning this very path in the first place.

The original road was constructed by famed road engineer Andrew Geddes Bain and it stood for nearly a century before finally undergoing two major upgrades to form the tarred pass that we are now so familiar with.

Pleasingly, the historic toll house survived all these changes, and now acts as a welcome halfway stop along the pass, with the grounds hosting a small farm stall filled with odds, ends and tasty treats, and a small bistro (aptly called Die Tolhuis) which serves up some good old traditional ‘boerekos’ on its wickedly tongue-in-cheek menu, very much designed to put a smile on South Africans’ faces.

Melktert. Moer koffie. Enamel cups. What more do you need to know about this self-proclaimed Republic of Roosterkoek?

Definitely a fun little stop.

Related Link: Die Tolhuis | Facebook

Lunch at Eaglevlei and Play at Weltevreden in Stellenbosch (2017-03-05) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 30 MAY 2017

One particular Sunday back in March this year, Chantelle and I must REALLY have been in the mood for a proper Sunday afternoon drive, because basically our day ended up looking like this: first food at Eaglevlei and then play at Weltevreden (both in Stellebosch), before moving on to scones at Hillcrest Berry Orchards (just outside Pniel), which in turn was then followed up with a drive through the idyllic Franschhoek and of course a jaunt over the Franschhoek Pass. Next was one quick photo stop at the nearly empty Theewaterskloof Dam, before we rounded off our impromptu trip with a drive through the picturesque Viljoen’s Pass to reach Grabouw – and then straight on to Sir Lowry’s Pass to get back home to our beloved little hometown of Gordon’s Bay!

I started off by mentioning that we first had an early lunch at Eaglevlei Wine Farm, a Stellenbosch situated, wine producing farm that just so happens to also be particularly geared towards tourism – aimed almost specifically, believe it or not, at us locals!

So in addition to their wine tasting facility, Eaglevlei is also home to a large, welcoming restaurant, a pizzeria & beer garden in the form of The Nest, and perhaps most surprising of all, a giant indoor kids play park!

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, they even have their own indoor movie screen, perfect for date nights, or as they call it, Movies in the Vines!

Also, and this is a pro tip mind you – be sure to keep an eye out for a very vicious little step leading down to the kids play park. Nearly did a very impromptu tuck & roll manoeuvre myself in case you’re wondering…

Lunch at Eaglevlei was pretty good, but because we didn’t particularly feel like sitting inside watching the kids play, we decided to head back towards Stellenbosch for a cup of coffee at Weltevreden Estate, another great option for couples with kids thanks to their awesome Kids Carnival (and little more upmarket Lekke Neh) space.

So that is exactly what we did (though, only after first stopping to buy some of Eaglevlei’s rather enjoyable wine).

Naturally, and as always I guess, the kids had a ball.

So, just in case you want to check them out for yourself, first a map of Eaglevlei:

Followed by a map of Weltevreden:

And there you have it – Two rather enjoyable family-friendly outing options in Stellenbosch then!

Related Link: Eaglevlei Wine Farm | Weltevreden Estate

Pit stop at Die Rooi Aalwyn Farm Stall and Coffee Shop in Riversdale (2016-12-30) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 17 MAY 2017

Back in December last year, Jessica, Emily and I hit the road for a bit of quick, end of year holiday, taking the N2 and heading all the way up to Gouritz, where we were to spend the next couple of days with oupa and ouma Monty and Cheryl.

Of course small children and long drives aren’t a fantastic mix, so I did my best to make the trip as enjoyable as possible, with stops every so often for a spot of leg stretching (and yes, sometimes a bite to eat!).

Situated just outside of Riversdale and part of a small outdoor shopping center that is famously home of the original Bali Trading decor and gifts shop, is Die Rooi Aalwyn Padstal (in English, the Red Aloe Farm Stall),  a small coffee, home industry and restaurant  establishment that is super welcoming and seemingly ALWAYS busy!

That said, before we could actually browse through any of their tasty looking stuff, the girls first had to take their time browsing through the local toy shop Caboodels, followed by some play time on the lush green lawn and big jungle gym, before finally wrapping things up with some time clambering about the old tractors out on display.

(In other words, yes, this is a pretty good pit stop option if you have small kids).

Anyway, to cut a short story even shorter, legs stretched, soft serve ice cream in our bellies, and a bag full of tasty treats from the farm stall in our hands, it was back on the road to tackle the last remaining stretch of our little holiday drive!

As always, a map:

Related Link: Die Rooi Aalwyn Farm Stall

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

Feeding the Animals at The Alpaca Loom in Paarl (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 MAY 2017

After a lovely afternoon milling about and admiring the smooth concrete curves of the famous Afrikaans Taalmonument in Paarl, the girls and I popped into Fairview to have a gander at their equally famous Goat Tower, before heading back towards something that I had spotted on the way in – The Alpaca Loom.

Housed in a beautifully built and furnished wooden studio (all apparently crafted from wood taken off the very farm by the estate owner himself) is the Alpaca Loom, a coffee shop & weaving studio, and perhaps more interestingly, an alpaca stud farm.

(Yup, if you are in the market for it, you can purchase pet alpacas, breeding stock and even guard alpacas from them!)

The small coffee shop isn’t particularly well stocked, but there is enough good coffee and baked goods on offer (the cake was fantastic!) to make it an okay enough spot for a rest break on the deck – which comes with a stunning  view I might add.

What is rather interesting is the actual weaving that happens right next to you – you can stand and watch as the looms and other machinery is used to transform the luxurious alpaca wool into all manner of jerseys, blankets and that sort of thing.

(A lot of what they make is also on display and available for purchase).

Whilst the kids are sure to enjoy the large jungle gym next to the studio, the highlight of a visit is undoubtedly the opportunity to feed and get up close and personal to the surprisingly calm and gentle, and fluffy, alpacas!

Jessica couldn’t wait of course to get in and feed the animals, and surprisingly, after a little bit of nervous hesitation, Emily joined in the fun as well. (The assortment of alpacas, lamas, camels and donkeys didn’t seem to mind – more hands mean more feed buckets!)

We lucked out a bit on this particular trip in that a few baby alpacas had just recently been born, meaning that a trip down to the stables with the farm owner was particularly overloaded with adorable baby cuteness.

Also, I took far more photos of alpacas than I though I would:

If you have small kids and don’t feel like the more upmarket hustle and bustle of the super popular next door neighbours, The Spice Route and Fairview, then the Alpaca Loom is actually quite great alternative!

Related Link: The Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop & Weaving Studio

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

Walking along the Beach to Cape Sands in Strand (2017-03-10) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 06 MAY 2017

On a windless Friday evening in the Helderberg Basin, there is no better way to see out a long week of work than with a stroll along the water’s edge of Strand beach, patiently waiting for the shimmering sun to finally dip below the horizon.

The sea wall construction work continues unabated all along Strand’s beachfront (it is all part of the City of Cape Town’s R180 million promenade upgrade), meaning that a fair bit of the beach is technically still out of action, the impact on evening strolls isn’t all that high given the length of Strand’s famous main beach.

Of course, the girls are never keen just to walk for the sake of walking, so to make it a mission I have to create an objective – and for this particular Friday night evening stroll I decided that we should take the long walk over to the always art friendly upmarket Cape Sands apartments (on the very edge of Strand’s beachfront as you come into Strand) in order to see what they currently have on display in front of the building.

For reference (just in case you are curious and because the girls wouldn’t let me get close enough to take a photo with my phone), currently on display is a large green (bronze) face from the internationally acclaimed South African painter/sculptor Lionel Smit, who well known for his larger-than-life portraiture works.

And the reward for such a long trek? Some sit down and play in the sand time of course!

Also, a map (for just in case you’re not entirely sure where I am):

Related Link: Cape Sands Apartments | Strand