Tag Archives: stellenbosch

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

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

Kids at Play at The Carnival on Weltevreden Estate in Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 04 NOV 2017

I’ve showcased the fantastic kid friendly The Carnival (at Weltevreden Estate) more than once on my blog before, but seeing as the girls and I visited there recently on one of our weekly weekend adventures again, I thought it worth the while to post this as a reminder:

Lekke Neh and The Carnival are great (especially if you have small kids).

The well manicured grounds, Cape Dutch architecture and dining options available at Lekke Neh means that there is plenty for the adult eye, while on the flip side, the colourful jungle gym, pizza oven and welcoming atmosphere of the Carnival are more than enough to keep the little ones happy.

With the customary stalking of the resident peacock out of the way, the girls and I made our way past Lekke Neh, immediately turned around and marched back to the car in order to fetch their jackets, before heading back in and ambling along through to The Carnival space.

A big glass of beer or two was on my agenda of relaxation for this stop on our day of adventure,  while the girls on the other hand were more than happy with the suggested alternative in the form of juice and the chance to make their own pizzas.

Truthfully, the pizza was okay, the beer pretty good, but most important of all, the running around and getting rid of all that extra energy was best.

Definitely hard to argue against visiting there if you have small kids!

Related Link: Weltevreden 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

Japan Day 2017 at Blaauwklippen Family Market in Stellenbosch (2017-03-12) Markets | Photo Gallery 10 SEP 2017

Back in March of this year, the local Japanese Embassy hosted their fifth annual Japan Day celebrations in the form of a Japanese-themed, entertainment-filled market day in conjunction with the weekly Blaauwklippen Family Market in Stellenbosch (who themselves LOVE hosting themed market days anyway!).

Now we as a family love the Blaauwklippen Market thanks to it being such a great, family friendly affair (besides, Catje’s Pancakes makes hands down, the best pancakes found at any of our local markets!), and so the addition of even more free (and Japanese-themed!) entertainment made it a proper no-brainer to visit on the day.

So that’s exactly what the girls and I then did.

We first kicked things off with a bit of a stroll around the lovely, historic Blaauwklippen Estate, admiring the white Cape Dutch-styled walls (well in truth, only I was admiring, the girls were busy picking up leaves and acorns),  and reveling in the breathtaking mountain views on offer from the estate.

Next we picked our way past the horde of international tourists (there for the wine and not the market), before picking a spot and settling down in front of the main stage.

The event kicked off with some words from the Japanese Ambassador and the KFM DJ hosts, followed by some energetic drumming from the always entertaining Tamashi Daiko taiko drumming troupe.

Following that, we browsed through the entire market, lingering past all the unusual Japanese food and craft exhibition stalls, before stopping for a fair bit in front of the Judo exhibition mat, something Jessica ended up taking quite an interest in!

As expected, we feasted on pancakes, bought some kids story books, and then ended off our market visit with some time spent hanging around the kids play area, with the girls enjoying pony rides and of course a trip on the ever present Blaauwtrein quadbike train ride!

In other words, yet another perfect market day outing.

(Honestly, Blaauwklippen is always nice to visit, regardless of whether you are there for the market or for some wine tasting and fine dining.)

Related Link: Blaauwklippen Family Market | Blaauwklippen Wine Estate | Office of Consul of Japan in Cape Town

Things to See in South Africa: Vergenoegd’s Duck Squad in Stellenbosch Travel Attractions 04 AUG 2017

The Stellenbosch wine estate of Vergenoegd went from being completely unheard of to one of Cape Town’s “must visit” attractions in literally the space of a year and a half, and while a lot of this is of course down to some really good marketing, the lion’s share of kudos has to go to the farm’s unusual, eco-friendly pest control scheme – their duck squad.

Cared for by duck handler Denzel Metthys, around a 1,000 trained Indian Runner ducks are used to control snails and other pests in Vergenoegd’s vineyards.

These ducks, who put on daily parades in front of the manor house, are essentially the wine estate’s superstars, and as such are treated rather well.

As for the wine estate itself, well the team over at Vergenoegd produce some rather nice wines, have a great restaurant operating out of the old manor house, host a couple of events, and nowadays, is home to a popular weekend farmers market.

A team over at Great Big Story put together this great little feature on this feathered story:

Well worth putting on your “things to see” in the Western Cape list.

Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate | YouTube

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

Indian Runner Ducks and a Market at Vergenoegd in Stellenbosch (2016-10-15) Markets | Photo Gallery 22 APR 2017

Following some delightful deli delicacies from the upmarket Asara boutique hotel outside Stellenbosch one early Saturday morning in October last year (the original plan had been to pick strawberries at Polkadraai Farm down the road in case you are wondering), we next popped our heads in at nearby Vredenheim – where we promptly decided to much rather head further down the road to visit the newly revamped Vergenoegd Wine Estate for the first time – and man are we glad that we did!

Despite being the third oldest wine farm in the Cape (having been established way, way back in 1773), Vergenoegd has never really been a part of Stellenbosch’s famed (and super lucrative) wine route tourism market – a fact that has only now recently been rectified, following a change of ownership in 2015.

The new owners have done an amazing job of renovating and breathing new life into this grand old dame of a wine farm, allowing for Vergenoegd to very much become the new Stellenbosch destination darling that everyone seems to currently be talking about!

(Seriously, whomever is handling their marketing needs a massive raise. That team is doing a brilliant job of putting Vergenoegd very firmly on Stellenbosch’s tourism map!)

Front and center in terms of popular attractions is of course their amazingly well trained herd of Indian Runner ducks, tasked with keeping the vineyards snail and bug free.

The famous duck parade (the girls LOVED it!) is of course a massive hit with the kids, and in fact, has done so well for Vergenoegd that they now even host full on, informative duck tours!

In terms of dining offerings, they have a lovely restaurant area in front of the manor house, as well as a range of artisan picnic options to choose from.

Then of course there is the wine tasting covering their various well made wines, and even more interestingly, a range of interactive wine, olive oil, tea and coffee blending experiences that teaches you about the source and technique behind some of the Cape’s best food and drink products.

Naturally, as just about every other place in the winelands is doing these days, Vergenoegd is also home to its very own Saturday farmer’s market, with both adults and kids well catered for.

Given the market’s runaway success, the team has now further expanded on the this experience by hosting live music events, bringing in some surprisingly popular local musicians in the process!

(Oh, and they also have a weekly, family friendly fun run/walk through the vineyards.)

In other words, it is really, really hard not to like this place.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, we kind of just wandered onto the estate without knowing anything about it other than there was a pretty cool duck parade to be seen. The market was certainly a pleasant (and welcome!) surprise, and we ended up having a great afternoon out there on the day, soaking up the vibe and enjoying the live music.

As always, I snapped a few pictures which does nothing to do the place any sort of real justice, but serves well enough to give a decent idea of what you can expect to find any given Saturday afternoon at Vergenoegd:

In summary: The little ones are of course guaranteed to get a kick out of the ducks, but that said, the restaurant location is fantastic, not to mention the new market. Well worth a weekend outing then.

Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate