Tag Archives: south africa

Ducks, Doughnuts and Croissants at Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Markets | Photo Gallery 05 NOV 2017

On a day that would go on to include falcon and owl watching at Eagle Encounters, admiring art installations at Spier, browsing through antiques at the Stellenbosch Toy Museum, building pizzas at Weltevreden’s The Carnival and lastly a visit with my folks in Bellville, the morning started off in a much more sedate fashion with a session of doughnuts and chocolate croissants while waiting for some rather special ducks to arrive.

I am of course referring to Vergenoegd Wine Estate’s now famous Duck Parade, something that my girls currently find both fascinating and thoroughly entertaining.

The estate actually has quite a nice little Saturday routine set up now, starting off with their early Family Breakfast Run (or Walk) event which then leads into the small but pleasant Saturday Market that seems to always features some great, chilled music and a very relaxed vibe.

(Oh, and being a wine farm there is naturally opportunity for some impromptu wine tasting as well.)

There are a couple of activities for the smaller kids to partake in (my girls in particular were very, very keen for a ride around the vlei on the blue quadbike “train”), and as far as I can tell, it looks like the market is pretty pet friendly.

The highlight for a lot of people is of course the running of the ducks, when Vergenoegd’s 1000+ strong “duck squad” makes its appearance for their morning duties, with the trained Indian Runner ducks marching along past the manor house before heading out into the vineyards to hunt down all those pesky/delicious snails!

For interest sake, the manor house pictured above houses Vergenoegd’s onsite restaurant – but funnily enough we have yet to actually give it a go. All in good time I guess…

Hard not to recommend the Duck Parade as a morning outing if you have little kids. (Or just love quirky looking ducks I suppose).

Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate

Model Trains and Old Dolls at the Toy and Miniature Museum in Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 NOV 2017

Tucked in among all the old period buildings that form the backbone of the Stellenbosch Museum complex is a rather fascinating little find – hidden around a corner and housed in a beautiful classic Cape Dutch style home is the Stellenbosch Toy and Miniature Museum, home to an eclectic mixture of vintage toys from days long past.

Inside the small museum you’ll find a large collection of antique toys and collectibles for both boys and girls, with some of the dolls on show for example being more than a century old!

The first thing that you’ll see on entry is a large doll house that is actually a replica of the neo-classical, double story, flat roofed Georgian style manor house of the Uitkyk Wine Estate on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

The doll house is fully furnished with accurate, to scale dolls, furniture and household wares from the period, similar to the items that you would find in the old house museums that make up the Stellenbosch Village Museum.

Also, as you would expect given the amount of times these things show up in horror movies, a lot of the old dolls are pretty creepy looking – meaning that neither the girls nor I spent too much time looking at any of them!

There are loads of dinky toys, cuddly bears, tea sets, doll houses, room boxes, and model trains to browse through, though of course the most exciting of all is when you spot something that you yourself may have owned or played with when you were young – like this translucent brown United piggy bank that I fondly remember stashing all my coins into back when I was a young boy!

The small toy museum’s biggest attraction is however is its detailed model train build, depicting South Africa’s famous Blue Train and its journey from a miniature Stellenbosch through the Cape Winelands and over the mountains to the Karoo, passing Matjiesfontein before making its return back to the fertile grounds of Stellenbosch again.

(A simple R5 coin is all you need to set the train off, and without a doubt this was by far the best part – and probably only bit they liked – of our visit for the girls!)

The museum isn’t particularly large and you could easily breeze through it in a couple of minutes. However, if you take your time to work through some of the rather interesting exhibits, then you can most definitely while away a bit of time as you dip back into some fond memories of your own youth.

Honestly, the toy museum is not the greatest of activities when it comes to entertaining one’s kids, but as an adult I did rather enjoy the trip down memory lane.

(Oh, and if you are wondering about that last photo which appears to be a shot of a bowl of chocolate pudding with ice cream, well that is exactly what it is. Thanks Mom!)

Related Link: Stellenbosch Toy Museum

Kids at Play at Eaglevlei in Stellenbosch (2017-10-07) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 02 NOV 2017

I’ve mentioned Eaglevlei before, but it is worth iterating again – if you have small kids with a lot of energy and the weather isn’t all that fantastic outside (or you just want to treat them for a bit), then a play session in this Stellenbosch wine farm’s massive, tented kids play area will definitely go down well!

Definitely one of the biggest kids play areas here in the Cape, the equipment is well suited for the smaller kids. Also quite nice, they have a separated play area for the toddlers, which comes in quite handy if you feel that the older kids are playing a bit rough at the moment.

The actual play area takes up about a third of the massive tent, with the other two thirds left open for people to sit and celebrate a kids party (as you might imagine, they host a LOT of these), or maybe watch a kiddy movie on the big screen, or just to sit and drink a cup of coffee while your kids run amok on the jungle gyms.

The only downside of the way Eaglevlei is currently set up is that you can’t really enjoy/make use of the great restaurant setting if your kids are too small to play in the play park without supervision, seeing as the two are very separated from one another (basically, you can’t even see the tent from the restaurant!).

(Translation: Chantelle and I sat down and twiddled our thumbs in the tent while the girls had some fun. Still, it was only fair – we had just made them sit with us while we tucked into some delicious pies at the more or less nearby Potbelly coffee shop).

It’s worth noting that entrance is of course not free – it is about R50 for toddlers aged 0-3 and R80 for kids aged 4-12, and unfortunately, other than an open grass lawn outside of the tent, there are no outside play activities like jungle gyms or something else along those line.

A bit of a shame, but makes sense if you consider that they are trying to run a business here.

On this particular day that we visited, I kind of forgot to take a lot of photos – and the photos that I did grab weren’t all that great. Nevertheless, this post couldn’t exactly be listed in the Photo Gallery category if I didn’t list them here:

So, a good option if you are in the area and completely stumped on how to entertain the kids.

Related Link: Eaglevlei Wine Farm

Celebrating a Birthday at Food Jams in Woodstock (2017-09-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 NOV 2017

We had such a blast celebrating the birthday of Michelle (one of Chantelle’s oldest friends) a couple of weeks ago, with the big birthday bash taking place at the very aptly named, nondescript Food Jams base in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Operating in some form or the other since 2010, Food Jams is the brain child of the fun, energetic and foodtastic Jade De Waal. The concept is simple:  Gather a group of people together for a team build, supper club, party, or social jam, pick a theme and arrive on the day in order to be randomly paired off in groups and receive your specified dish’s recipe, all of which forms part of the special menu that has been cooked up by Jade herself.

With music blaring from the background, and plenty of drinks available from the cash bar, the groups then simultaneously get to work at their already prepped workstations in order to whip up a gargantuan meal that consists of all your just made dishes – all set to be devoured by the group once the small house gets rearranged to accommodate one long dinner table.

As you can imagine, the entire evening is an exercise in controlled, fun chaos! (For the record, I joined Andri and together we made empanadas – which actually turned out quite nice despite the fact we somehow missed a lot of steps from the recipe, not to mention completely changed the suggested cooking style!)

Pro Tip: A good idea, as demonstrated by the main party group, is definitely to rock up to your food jam on a hired party bus. After all, the evening is pretty much guaranteed to be one heck of a good party!

Bonus: To get an even better idea about what Food Jams is all about, One Dog Chicken produced this great little feature hosted on Vimeo:

Also, because I’m not strictly a Capetonian in that I get lost in Cape Town, a map.

Related Link: Food Jams

Coffee at the Deeghuys Taste Kitchen in Durbanville (2017-08-05) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 31 OCT 2017

Back in August the girls and myself found ourselves in the Northern Suburbs, and so decided to check in with my mom and dad and see if they wanted to join us for a stroll around Sonstral Dam. They said yes, we had a lovely walk, and then seeing as there was still plenty of time to be killed in Durbanville, I suggested that we head off and grab something to eat/drink.

So we did.

The Deeghuys group was started in 2012 and they focus on selling high quality, ready-made baked goods, both frozen and fresh – basically, quick to bake goods for those of us to lazy to make/mix from scratch!

From what I can tell, they’ve been quite successful, with stores popping up all over the place (in fact, we even have one out our way, near the Somerset Mall).

What  did however surprise me was to learn of the existence of the Deeghuys Taste Kitchen (in hindsight, makes sense, this is close to where their headquarters is based anyway), essentially a deli/restaurant that pretty much offers a taste of what Deeghuys sells in its stores (along with other more standard deli/restaurant fare of course).

Now my mom and dad have previously been here for a breakfast or two, hence the suggestion, and on the day it was a great choice given that it is relatively spacious, features loads of treats for those of us with an incurable sweet tooth, and is reasonably kid friendly. (They have a little kids play area corner which Jessica seemed to rather enjoy).

Unfortunately for us though, given that they close rather early on a Saturday (14:00), we kind of caught the tail end of service, meaning that we were pretty much restricted to a cup of coffee and whatever was already out on display seeing as the kitchen was now closed.

Luckily, these restrictions didn’t prove to be a complete bust because in the end we all enjoyed some rather nice treats.

Truthfully, service wasn’t fantastic because everyone was kind of bustling about trying to wind down operations for the day, and as a result, poor little Jessica’s order was somehow missed. Though once alerted to the problem, the friendly waitress quickly atoned for her mistake and gave Jessica a whole box of sausage rolls as opposed to just the one she originally wanted!

(Also, she was MIGHTILY pleased with her hot chocolate foam art).

It’s actually a surprisingly nice space tucked in at the back of Durbanville, and well worth a visit if you want to step away from the bustle of main road.

Bonus: It is a little hidden away, so in this case, a map is rather handy for a change:

Related Link: Deeghuys | Deeghuys Taste Kitchen

Pit Stop at Houw Hoek Farm Stall near Grabouw (2017-03-17) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 27 OCT 2017

In the middle of Houw Hoek Pass, as you travel between Grabouw and Bot River, you will pass by a very hard to miss white and green building, tucked away in a rocky corner with undoubtedly a lot of cars parked outside.

The popular building in question is of course the longstanding Houw Hoek Farm Stall, known for its quality, fresh, homemade breads, pies and bakes – a trait that makes it rather popular little stop among the locals.

Also, in addition to a good selection of local wines on sale, the shop section is stocked with all manner fresh fruits and vegetables from the farms of the surrounding Elgin Valley, all complemented by the normal farm stall home industry staples like biscuits, jams, biltong, and of course – cake.

Seeing as this is a chef-owned-managed business, the food and coffee on offer in the welcoming little coffee shop is particularly decent, and bonus, if sitting at a table and chairs doesn’t quite appeal to you on the day, then you will be pleased to know that picnic baskets can also be prepared on request.

Somewhat surprisingly, Houw Hoek Farm Stall is also home to three dams stocked with Rainbow trout – making it a great spot for some fly fishing then. (Naturally, rods and tackle can be hired from the farm stall itself.)

Oh, and finally they have a nice little space out in front that is open enough for the little ones to run around and give their legs a stretch.

So. The Orchard. Peregrine. Houw Hoek. Dassiesfontein. Plenty of good, visitor friendly farm stalls to pick and choose from on this first part of the N2 highway then!

(Bonus: Just in case you were wondering, this particular stop took place back in March this year, when Jessica and myself drove up for a long weekend away with my folks in their place at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay.)

Related Link: Houw Hoek Farm Stall | Facebook

Poinsettia Dam and Park in Somerset West (2017-08-12) My Life | Travel Attractions 25 OCT 2017

There are not a lot of freshwater fishing spots in the strictly Somerset West/Strand area. However, out of those few that do exist, without a doubt Poinsettia Dam is by far the most popular one with the locals.

(Or at least, that’s what it looks like and that’s also what Google searches seem to corroborate).

To be honest, Jessica and I actually stumbled upon it by complete accident the other day. We had just finished buying a new, bright green lunchbox and bottle from Mambos for her, when, after purchasing a couple of snacks for us to enjoy, I punched in a search for the Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary (Strand) into Google Maps and off we went.

As it turns out though, the incorrect search result didn’t exactly take me where I wanted to go, and instead we ended up at Poinsettia park, where after devouring our snacks, we took a stroll, then a drive along the dirt path up the dam, and finally sat and watched the fishermen try their luck.

It seems a good park for stretching legs, walking dogs and catching a fish or two, so all in all, not a terrible little discovery then.

A map – primarily because Poinsettia Dam is easily spotted from the road when travelling between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, but not quite as easily reached. (Hint, access it via Poinsettia Street).

Related Link: Somerset West

Tycho to the Moon at the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome in Cape Town (2017-08-20) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 OCT 2017

The Iziko Museums of Cape Town (Iziko is isiXhosa for “hearth”) is an amalgamation of 12 national museums located near the Cape Town city centre. The Natural History sphere consists of the venerable Iziko South African Museum (founded in 1825) and, most pertinent to this particular blog post, the Iziko Planetarium, a project technically launched in the late 1950s, but which only became relevant to the public after the 1987 installation of the Planetarium’s star machine.

Built as an extension to the aforementioned Iziko South African Museum, the Planetarium is a familiar fixture for any of Cape Town’s former schoolkids – I’m not aware of any scholar that didn’t experience an school outing to the planetarium at least once during their school career!

Of course, as it inevitable does, technical equipment becomes outdated, and as such, after investments totaling R28,5 million were poured into the upgrade project, May 2017 saw the reopening of the new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome (the planetarium’s new, official moniker), now extensively updated and most important of all, featuring cutting edge fulldome digital technology.

The result is beyond spectacular. The new Planetarium is now what is known as a “world-class digital fulldome theatre”, allowing for multimedia image projection and data visualisation on a scale not previously seen in Africa.

Apart from now being able to present interactive teaching and visual learning across multiple disciplines (essentially, there is now no reason that the Planetarium is solely focused on the field of astronomy), the biggest takeaway for this state of art digital dome is the fact that the Planetarium is now also very much an scientific instrument – capable of crunching and displaying complex and important data visualizations, exactly like those produced by the exciting SKA (Square Kilometre Array) project for example!

That said, I have a 3 year old and 6 year old daughter – meaning that our first experience of this glorious new piece of technology was a viewing of Tycho to the Moon – a supposedly educational, Australian produced 21 minute long feature about a dog and his kids that travel to the moon.

Spoiler, while the girls did enjoy the experience as a whole, Tycho to the Moon itself isn’t very good and kids seem to get bored of it VERY quickly.

The adverts for the other science show offerings, not to mention the star/universe gazing segment tacked on by our operator at the end of the show, were on the other hand ENTHRALLING – so definitely a return trip to the Planetarium for both Chantelle and myself is now VERY much in order!

Given the fact that the planetarium stands as part of the museum, with the Company’s Garden right on its doorstep, there is no way that this shouldn’t be on your list of things to do with kids in Cape Town.

Related Link: Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome | Iziko Museums of Cape Town

Lunch at Potbelly Coffee Shop & Bakery in Klapmuts (2017-10-07) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 20 OCT 2017

If you have kids and live out in the Helderberg or Stellenbosch area like we do, then undoubtedly you have at some point made the drive and taken them out for a visit to the always interesting Butterfly World.

If that’s the case, and you travel the route that I would, then you will definitely recognise this particularly eye-catching (and rather cute) logo/name combination:

Funnily enough, I’ve always thought this place was a butchery or bacon/pork-themed restaurant of some sort (kind of like Sweetwell in Stellenbosch), but as it turns out, Potbelly is in fact a coffee shop and bakery of all things!

Tucked into a building which is also home to a fantastic little farm stall/deli called Deli-Co, as well as a bits and bobs home decor store (Bali Trading), Potbelly is a family owned business that specializes in quality wholesome food, homemade pies and bread – baked daily of course.

Given that the R44 is a popular drive with both bikers and classic car clubs alike – not to mention the fact that it is a super popular meeting spot for the locals – this little coffee shop is almost always bustling with activity, and this was certainly the case when Chantelle, the girls and I popped in for a bite to eat a Saturday or two ago.

Luckily for us though, we managed to snag a small table in the corner, and were soon tucking into some delicious, freshly made food.

Although we didn’t get around to trying any of the baked goods on the table, there certainly looked to be some very interesting things on offer, making a sometime in the future coffee stop very much a certainty.

(That said, I was slightly disappointed to discover that they were in fact not a pork-themed butchery/restaurant.)

Given the general look and feel of Klapmuts as a whole, this nice looking building with its very visible business logos is definitely easy to spot! That said, just in case you need some help, here’s a handy map:

Related Link: Potbelly Coffee Shop & Bakery