Tag Archives: west coast

Talking Birds at West Coast Farm Stall outside Yzerfontein (2019-09-01) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 05 JAN 2020

The West Coast Farm Stall has for long been a popular farm stall stop on the R27 (otherwise known as the West Coast highway), conveniently located right on the corner where the R315 bisects this important coastal road network artery – literally at the crossroad to either Yzerfontein, Darling or Langebaan.

Its owners, with their unusual love of animals and more importantly pets, have crafted an eclectic road stop experience that despite having lost the big cats (a good thing mind you), offers a visually interesting experience for any first time visitor.

There is the unusually decorated farm stall itself, selling all sorts of snacks and crafted goods, there is the indoor restaurant with its high thatched ceiling and beautiful mural staring down at you, there is the outdoor eating area with all manner of junkyard/boere-chic art installations, a nursery providing greenery, a small sandy play area for little kids, and to crown it all off, a large aviary filled with all sorts of exotic and colorful birds.

It makes for a pleasant if slightly bewildering, noisy, visually stimulating stop – one particularly worth doing if you are travelling with small kids in the car.

This particular visit came along in September last year, on our way up to the West Coast National Park to see the Spring flowers in the Postberg Flower Reserve. With such a lot to take in, naturally I happily spent the time taking quite a lot of photos while Chantelle grabbed herself a cup of coffee.

Beer Tasting at Darling Brew in Darling (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2019

For nearly 10 years now, Darling Brew has been one of the biggest names on the local craft brew scene, an award winning staple of the Cape Town craft beer scene and surprisingly, holder of the title of being Africa’s first ever carbon neutral brewery. (They’ve been quite fond of the environment right from the start).

In addition to their many animal-inspired brews, Darling Brew also operates two restaurants/tasterooms in the Western Cape, the newest being their taproom in Woodstock, touted as being an effort to bring the Darling Brew experience from their home on the West Coast to the Mother City.

Talking about that Darling Brew experience, the home tasteroom really has become a major tourist attraction in the small West Coast town of Darling, bringing in a wealth of new younger tourists to what is already quite the charming place.

So naturally, this beer-soaked attraction overlooking the slick brewing operation was too strong a siren call to ignore forever, which then is exactly why I made point of paying a visit when Chantelle and I spent a night in Darling in celebration of my 39th birthday.

Nachos and a double tasting flight of all manner and style of beer? Perfect!

Staying at the Darling Lodge Guest House in Darling (2019-05-11) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 22 OCT 2019

I celebrated my 39th birthday with a stay in the delightful little West Coast town of Darling, known for its craft beer, toffees, wild flowers, and of course Evita Bezuidenhout. As for our accommodation for the night, we ended up booking with the charming Darling Lodge Guest House.

Situated in the heart of Darling, right across from the quaint Darling Museum, the beautifully restored Victorian country home features a wonderfully tranquil, leafy garden (an absolute bird’s paradise), a swimming pool for guests to enjoy, and a bright and cheery breakfast room, ready to delight come morning.

Although there are rooms in the old Victorian house itself, we instead stayed in the slightly more modern garden annex (next to the pool), with our bedroom so nice and big and comfortable that Chantelle opted to rather stay for a nice long nap than join me for an evening stroll about the dusty streets of Darling! (It was a great walk, she missed out.)

As for the town itself, well we tasted wine at Ormonde, sampled toffees at Darling Sweet, ate nachos and imbibed beer at Darling Brew, drove around, strolled around, took photos of churches, and dined on Eisbein at Bistro Seven. (The latter was particularly good).

In fact, the only thing that we didn’t get around to was a visit to Evita se Perron. Guess that will just have to move to the top of the list for next time then! ;)

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Coastal Walks and White Houses in Jacobsbaai (2018-03-30) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 JAN 2019

We have been visiting Jacobsbaai for a good couple of years now, and 2018 was no different, with us spending a short but sweet weekend with Chantelle’s folks at the always comfortable Artist’s Retreat guest house.

The weekend itself was punctuated with plenty of strolls around the lovely little village, a trip through to Velddrif and Laaiplek, a visit to the surprise church bazaar that popped up, plenty of socializing, and of course LOTS of rest and relaxation.

Oh, and there was even a little fun run (of all things) that took place on the Saturday morning. I don’t know why I mention it. None of us were there to jog.

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Perfect.

Related Link: Artist’s Retreat Guest House | Jacobsbaai

Spring Flower Season in the West Coast National Park (2016-09-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 OCT 2016

The West Coast National Park is not the best SANParks national park to recommend visiting if you are looking for some big game to spot. However, with the idyllic Langebaan lagoon as its focal point, the 27,500 hectare large West Coast National Park is certainly more public friendly than most, with it being one of the few national parks where you can cycle, jog, braai, suntan, swim in the sea, picnic, swim in a lagoon, or even camp out on houseboat!

(Plus, there are actually antelope and smaller creatures to be spotted, and of course plenty of diverse bird life for the enthusiast).

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Spring however is when the park really comes to life, where the annual carpets of colourful wild flowers show their faces and turn the area into an amazing sprawl of delight.

Naturally, SANParks immediately hikes the entry fee to take advantage of this surge of interest in the area, but it is money well spent, believe you me (unless of course you own a Wild Card, because well then entry is free) – if you haven’t yet witnessed the incredible carpeted fields of colour that the private Postberg Flower Reserve unveils come Spring, then you simply have to make a plan for next year.

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Capetonians (i.e. people from Cape Town) descend on the park in their hordes, with lengthy queues at the entrance gate quite the norm. (Tip: If you don’t enjoy waiting in queues, you can go the long way around and enter via the Langebaan gate – usually a much less busy gateway into the park!)

Apart from these few weeks in Spring, the Postberg Flower Reserve section of the park is closed to the public, meaning that it remains unspoiled for much of the year. Every year this then pays dividends when the hills literally start exploding with colour as the flower season begins.

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Chantelle and I had seen this spectacle for ourselves for the first time last year (we even overnighted in Hopefield of all places!), and this year we were quite eager for the girls to also see this wonderful sight of nature at her best.

Having enjoyed a big family bash in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday the day before, Sunday saw us head out down the N7 and then R27 to Langebaan, where we met up with my Mom and Dad for a day of flower watching.

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This turned out to actually be a great plan, because we knew that the girls would probably become bored quite quickly (and thus start annoying each other in the back), so we split them up, with Jessica riding in Mom and Dad’s car while Emily stayed with us (on Chantelle’s lap).

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We spent the next couple of hours driving through the park, admiring all the colours and of course getting slightly flustered with all the traffic. As you would imagine, cars were parked everywhere, with pretty much anyone with even the slightest inkling of calling themselves a photographer spilling out to capture as much of the flower covered landscape as possible.

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We were treated to some amazing sights, and explored a bit more of the area than what we did last time around (this time I made sure I had enough petrol before going in!), and after our visual senses were properly sated, we headed down back to the lagoon for a bite to eat at the park’s Geelbek Restaurant.

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At least, that was the plan until we quickly realized that perhaps they were simply too busy to actually give good service, and so opted to abandon our table and rather exit the park to grab a now very late lunch from the nearby Beulah Farm Deli instead.

So in the end it was a day well spent, and I therefore suspect that next year we will probably be back again. Though perhaps this time even more prepared to make an even fuller day out of it! (In other words, remembering to pack a picnic basket for a change…)

Oh, and once again, taking pictures of fields of flowers doesn’t really work all that well when all you have is your Huawei cellphone for the job. Nevertheless, I tried my best:

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(Oh, and sadly we did see less animals than what we did last time around. Not a big train smash though, so long as you go into the park knowing that animal spotting is not the big drawcard here!)

Related Link: West Coast National Park | Wikipedia | Postberg Flower Reserve

Lunch at Beulah Farm Deli outside Yzerfontein (2016-09-04) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 29 SEP 2016

Having spent a lovely Sunday chasing wild flowers in the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park with Chantelle, the kids, and my folks, we decided to end off a successful day with a bite to eat. Unfortunately, the Geelbek Restaurant inside the park was a little too busy for our liking, and so we exited the park, put in some petrol at Yzerfontein, and then popped into Beulah Farm Deli for a (very) late lunch.

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Interestingly enough, this visit to Beulah came almost exactly a year after we had first discovered it, and there have been some subsequent changes to this quaint eatery that Chantelle so immediately had fallen in love with the first time around.

Most noticeable is of course the fact that the pork charcuterie specialists Eighteen94 CureSmiths have moved out, rebranding themselves as The Flying Pig cureSmiths and setting up shop in Darling instead – though their cured meat is still available in the deli section of Beulah. In their place is now a bakery operated by Brett and Anli Nortier of Rosemead Artisan, meaning that all of a sudden Beulah Farm Deli now sports a lot more baked goods on the menu!

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Honestly, I’m a little less excited about the place than the first time we experienced them. To me they’ve lost a bit of that sense of being hip, a sort of place that would sit perfectly in somewhere trendy like say Obs (Observatory) in Cape Town, and have instead embraced a more practical, West Coast farm stall eatery approach. Nevertheless, the interior remains ‘interesting’, and the food and coffee were perfectly good.

(Of course, I could be talking rubbish because Chantelle still seems to like it very much. Plus, the place seems to be very popular with both the locals and travelers alike!)

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Anyway, after a pleasant sit down bite to eat, refreshed and ready for the road (it had after all been a very long day of driving), we said our goodbyes and headed back down the R27 – because if you live in Gordon’s Bay like we do, then you still have quite a long road ahead of you in order to get back home! :)

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The deli itself is essentially right next to the more well known West Coast Farm Stall. I’ve submitted the location to Google Maps, but it might not be showing up for everyone just yet. Nevertheless, here is the map as it currently stands:

Related Link: Beulah Farm Deli | Rosemead Artisan

Things to See in South Africa: The Cape Columbine Lighthouse (near Paternoster) Travel Attractions 14 FEB 2016

In the middle of the small Columbine Nature Reserve along the West Coast of South Africa, stands the strikingly rugged Cape Columbine Lighthouse.

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 1

The stretch of coastline which the lighthouse, usually the first lighthouse sighted by shipping coming from South America and Europe, now protects claimed a number of victims over the years, including the Columbine (1829), the Heleric (1932), the Haddon Hall (1913), the Lisboa (1910), the SS Saint Lawrence (1876) and the SS Columbine (1944 – death by torpedo in this instance though) – however, the lighthouse only saw the light of day in 1936, when it was finally commissioned and given to the famed, Scottish-trained, lighthouse architect Harry Claude Cooper as one of his last projects (in total, Cooper was involved in the building of more than 30 South African lighthouses).

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 4

To reach the lighthouse, you need to head out to the small fishing hamlet of Paternoster, and once there, drive out a further 5 km along a dirt road to reach the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve (which also houses Tietiesbaai, a popular fishing spot for the locals).

In the middle of the nature reserve stands the lighthouse, perched on top of a boulder-strewn outcrop called Castle Rock.

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 2

The lighthouse towers above a small complex of houses, some of which are now available for rent by the public as overnight accommodation. The Cape Columbine Lighthouse holds the honour of being the last manned lighthouse built on the South African coast (hence the houses).

Note, all lighthouses are automated. “Manned” implies that the ports authority have a presence at the lighthouse, either to accommodate visitors or to optimise maintenance and travelling.

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 5

The lighthouse was the first South African lighthouse to be installed with three simultaneous navigational aids, namely optics (light), a fog signal, as well as a radio beacon.

It was also the first South African lighthouse lens system designed for use with a 4 kW incandescent electric lamp.

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 3

The lighthouse is open to the public from Monday to Friday, and tours of the facility are on offer. The large grounds and picturesque surrounding also make it a popular picnic spot and wedding photo backdrop.

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 6

cape columbine lighthouse on the west coast near paternoster, south africa 7

Related Link: Cape Columbine | Cape Columbine Lighthouse

Wild Flowers in the West Coast National Park (2015-09-13) Photo Gallery 04 OCT 2015

Sunday (a few weeks ago mind you) was the culmination of our little jaunt to Hopefield – a viewing of the magnificent Spring wild flowers at the Postberg Flower Reserve within the West Coast National Park.

IMG_20150913_125650 wild flowers in the postberg nature reserve at the west coast national park

Having spared the kids the torture of sitting in a car the whole day by leaving them back in Bellville with the grandparents, we followed up our evening of good rest in Hopefield with a pleasant breakfast at the Merry Widow, and then packed our bags and made our way to the Langebaan gate of the West Coast National Park.

It was still pretty early, so getting in wasn’t an issue in terms of what we hear can be quite lengthy queues at this time of the year, and pretty soon we were cruising along the tarred road, admiring the view of the vegetation, sea and of course, azure blue Langebaan lagoon!

Truthfully, the West Coast National Park on the whole isn’t the best of parks for viewing animals given the combination of thick, shrub-like vegetation and tarred roads, but nevertheless, we spotted a fair number of snakes, tortoises and even some Eland on our way towards the Postberg Flower Reserve entrance.

IMG_20150913_125108 wild flowers in the postberg nature reserve at the west coast national park

The privately owned (but managed by SANParks) Postberg Flower Reserve is closed to the public except for a short period during Spring (i.e. flower viewing season), meaning that this secluded piece of land is literally covered from head to toe in a brilliant explosion of pink, orange, purple, yellow and white wild flowers – making for an absolutely jaw-dropping beautiful spectacle to behold.

(Also, its secluded nature means that the antelope haven’t yet learned to shy away from the roads, making sighting of gemsbok, eland, steenbok, bontebok, kudu and red hartebeest an almost surety – and indeed, we were thoroughly rewarded in terms of herd sightings!)

Also – I thought it a particularly special sighting – we stumbled across an owl sitting out in the open, just happily perched there on a branch, allowing the cars to pass by without a seeming care in the world!

IMG_20150913_125702 wild flowers in the postberg nature reserve at the west coast national park

As expected, the Postberg was literally crawling with people out to see the flowers, and despite the multitude of signs posted all around, as is human nature I guess, these were completely ignored and people were stopped all over the place, out of their vehicles, trampling flowers, and stomping about- all to get the best shot possible of course.

Sigh.

Despite this though, the flowers really were something amazing to behold and I’m very pleased that Chantelle and I made the trip through to see this – highly recommended indeed!

IMG_20150913_125238 chantelle and craig lotter selfie in the west coast national park

Sadly though, a lack of petrol and a need to save both set of grandparents from our kids meant that we couldn’t exactly spend the whole day wandering about the park (which by the way boasts some fantastic facilities and is one of the few parks that encourages you to ride bike, braai, etc.), meaning back home we had to turn.

Which was a nervous drive out the park mind you – that petrol gauge was looking suspiciously low!

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(We did stop on the way back at the colourful West Coast Farm Stall for a quick coffee and bite to eat – which in hindsight was a bad move because without the kids to enjoy its silly ‘artistic’ eccentricities, the place comes across as more than just a little rundown/tacky.)

IMG_20150913_151645 chantelle lotter in the weskus padstal

Anyway, we arrived back in Bellville safely, picked up Jessica and Emily (who were over the moon to see Mommy and Daddy again), and headed back home to Gordon’s Bay, having enjoyed a thoroughly good whirlwind weekend of out and about! :)

Related Link: West Coast National Park | Postberg Flower Reserve

Simply Bee and a Church in Hopefield (2015-09-12) Photo Gallery 03 OCT 2015

A couple of weeks ago we found ourselves overnighting at the Merry Widow in Hopefield as part of our whirlwind flowers in the West Coast National Park adventure.

Needless to say, these days Hopefield is but a fraction of its former size (and glory), and in terms of things to see – well there isn’t all that much.

However, two sights do stand out. The one being the very informative Simply Bee bee farming/product business and the old Dutch Reformed church that dominates the town (it is after all, the very reason that the town originally exists in the first place!).

IMG_20150912_150648 at Simply Bee in Hopefield - West Coast

Simply Bee is in the beeswax products business, specializing in all manner of natural skin and fragrance products, actively managing thousands of bee hives.

Their base of operations happens to be in Hopefield and their public premises are split into two parts, namely the shopfront which caters to all manner of bee-related products (Chantelle was in heaven), and the bee observation centre which hosts a gigantic amount of bee information, features a glass observation bee hive that allows you to view the bees going about their normal everyday business, and also a small museum room that features all manner of historic items from the surrounding farms on a display.

Informative, interesting and well worth a visit!

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The Hopefield Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk) was built in 1879, and is home to one of only 10 Forster and Andrews Organs imported into South Africa. The organ, which was installed in 1911, is still used every Sunday, and can be viewed by appointment.

Because I was wandering about Hopefield on a Saturday, I couldn’t exactly stroll inside, but as expected from these farmland towns, the church is a beautiful and imposing structure, surrounded by a beautiful garden and featuring some gorgeous stained glass artwork.

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Related Link: Simply Bee | NG Kerk Hopefield