Category Archives: My Life

A Fort of History at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town (2020-02-15) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 JUL 2020

Back when the world was still mostly blue skies and smiles, with not a single Covid-19 mask in sight, I took the girls out for an exploratory jaunt around the Castle of Good Hope, otherwise known at the Cape Town Castle, a 17th century pentagonal shaped bastion fort standing in the heart Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city.

Built by the Dutch East India Company around 1666, the stone fortress that is the Castle of Good Hope served to replace Jan van Riebeek’s older wood and clay fort (Fort de Goede Hoop), and is currently the oldest existing building in South Africa. Built primarily in response to rising tensions between Great Britain and the Netherlands, the fort was seen as a way of safeguarding the Dutch Cape settlement which was responsible for replenishing ship supplies on the lucrative but long trade route between the Netherlands and the Dutch East indies, now known as Indonesia.

Although it seems out of place, originally the Castle of Good Hope actually sat on the coastline of Table Bay, but following extensive land reclamations that took place around the city, the fort, an historical monument (now a provincial heritage site) since 1936, now sits completely inland, with its five bastions (named after the main titles of William III: Leerdam, Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje) surround by the city it was once tasked with protecting.

In the past the Castle acted as local headquarters for the South African Army in the Western Cape, and today houses the Castle Military Museum and ceremonial facilities for the traditional Cape Regiments. The Castle is also the home of the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment, a mechanised infantry unit. Extensive restorations were completed in the 1980s, resulting in the Castle of Good Hope being one of the best preserved examples of a Dutch East India Company fort still left standing.

In its heyday the yellow painted fortress, that colour chosen because it lessened the effect of heat and the sun, housed a church, bakery, various workshops, living quarters, shops, and cells, among other military-themed facilities. A dividing wall was eventually added around 1695 to protect citizens in case of an attack, serving to split the courtyard and also to house the De Kat Balcony (now fronted by four legendary bronze South African warrior kings).

These days the Castle serves as a museum, with the public invited to stroll around the grounds, watch the ceremonial guards of the castle undertake the daily Key Ceremony, observe a signal canon being fired, browse around the top of the bastions, visit the military museum, take in the William Fehr art collection, peek into the torture rooms, or simply join one of the many guided tours to learn more about this bit of our shared City of Cape Town history.

Warm Water and Mini Doughnuts in Hartenbos (2020-01-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 JUN 2020

I don’t think that we’ll get the chance to head up to the Garden Route this year again, but at least we did enjoy a good week long break up that side of the world back at the start of this year, just before Covid-19 started to make its global presence felt.

With us usually based in Mossel Bay, the siren’s call of Hartenbos is too strong to ignore and so, as has now quickly become a tradition, we make sure to haul our butts over to the ATKV Seefront to take at least one dip in the warm water swimming pool, people watch the predominantly Afrikaans holiday-goers, take a stroll along the boardwalk, watch the sea, and of course have multiple goes at the delicious little fun mini donuts of the Pizza and Donut Den.

And if the timing is right, we’ll even pop over to the little informal market that hovers around just outside the Seefront complex to see if we can rustle up some pancakes. (We did. So now I’m just patiently waiting for Emily to get a little older so that we can tackle the more serious business of a proper family Putt Putt challenge!)

A Holiday Week at Pinnacle Point Estate in Mossel Bay (2020-01-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 MAY 2020

Yeah, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and this lockdown accompanying it, I am pretty sure that we are all longingly staring out of the window and dreaming of taking a holiday that is anywhere so long as it is as far from home as possible. For us the last holiday was our December school holidays break which saw us head down to the usual family haunt of Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay for a few days of well deserved rest.

Having only headed down following the New Year’s celebrations, the estate wasn’t quite its usually bustling December holiday self, meaning that we had much more freedom in crafting a break that we really wanted to – when the weather played along of course. We did a fair bit of swimming in the warm waters of the heated pool at ATKV Hartenbos, browsed the various Saturday markets of Sedgefield and George, went for a boat ride to the Heads on Knysna Lagoon with the Featherbed Co., and of course spent a lot of time in Mossel Bay itself – from drinking coffee at The Coffee Club, tucking into fish and chips at the Sea Gypsy Cafe, watching the surfers have fun from the deck of Delfino’s, to slurping up soft serve ice-cream whilst watching the waves crash down at The Point.

Back in the estate we went for long walks up and down all the hills, played lots of games with my Mom and Dad (who were there with us), built a ton of Lego houses with the girls, did a lot of colouring in (well that was me mainly), braaied of course, and had the most unbelievable amount of fun armed with an ultraviolet torch to hunt for golf balls and scorpions in the middle of the night. (Oh, and we even popped into the clubhouse for some cake that Chantelle simply swore we absolutely had to do given how good it is meant to be.)

And yes, of course the girls and I did a lot of driving around the estate on the golf cart whilst taking photos of anything and everything that moved! :D

Fruit and Food at the Outeniqua Family Market in George (2020-01-04) Markets | Photo Gallery 20 MAY 2020

Out and about on the Garden Route, and not to be outdone by Sedgefield’s hugely popular Wild Oats, Mosaic, and Scarab Saturday morning markets, George too is home to a pretty impressive and rather enjoyable family market experience in the form of the excellently kitted out Outeniqua Family Market.

Rated as one of the top 5 things to do in George on Tripadvisor, the Outeniqua Family Market is open every Saturday from 08:00 to 14:00. Featuring more than 150 food and craft stalls, the market actually takes a fair time to wander through and peruse all the admittedly quite interesting stalls. From food to fresh produce to plants (there is in fact a full nursery hiding in there) to arts and crafts, there is literally something here for everyone.

The big trees provide plenty of shaded seating areas, there is always some live music to entertain (on this particular visit we watched a local Country music act perform), and pleasingly parking is abundant and not a headache at all. For the kids there is a massive play park, a Boere train ride, pedal cars, ponycycle rides, face painting, sand are and bunnies, or just let them walk your own dog seeing as the whole market is actually pet friendly!

This particular outing (part of our last December holiday in Mossel Bay) was the first time that any of us had visited the Outeniqua Family Market before, and I have to say that we left quite impressed (plus with juicy watermelon in hand). So much so in fact that Chantelle has gone on record as saying that the next time we are holidaying along the Garden Route she may just forgo the “usual must go to Wild Oats” trip through to Sedgefield in favour of this slightly shorter hop to George! :)

A Year of Beach Walks in Gordon’s Bay (2019-12-31) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 MAY 2020

So clearly thanks to the current COVID-19 global pandemic and South Africa’s quickly (and rightfully) imposed lockdown, there hasn’t been much traipsing outside at all, never mind actually getting to properly celebrate the big 40 that rolled in for me on the 11th of May. A few morning strolls during our mandated exercise hours here and there, but for the most part it has just been us and the walls of our tiny (but thankfully larger than an apartment) house.

So in looking forward to the day when things somewhat return to normal (which is probably a very, very long way off), cue a bunch of photos that I snapped while ambling about the beaches of Gordon’s Bay in 2019. (Yes, this is another one of those “attempt to clear out my far too large Unposted Photos desktop folder” entries. Sorry.)

As you might recall, our diminutive little home town named after the Dutch explorer (of Scottish descent) Robert Jacob Gordon with its emblem of a giant anchor and the letters “GB” emblazoned on the side of the mountain (which coincidentally stands for General Botha, the earlier name of the small naval training base that resides in the town) is the proud owner of two small harbours, two small beaches, and thus more than one or two pretty views.

Paragliders and Softserve along the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town (2020-02-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 MAY 2020

The Covid-19 coronavirus is currently happily running amok and we’re rightfully locked down in the hopes of slowing down the spread of the virus. Of course, before it reached our shores we were still okay with walking about among crowds of other people, which is exactly what the girls and I did following one Saturday morning visit to Cape Town’s historic Castle of Good Hope – with a meander down Sea Point’s famous promenade.

Stretching for ±7km along the Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Town’s most popular (and Instagrammable) promenade takes you all the way from Mouille Point to Sea Point, hugging the coastline with its broad walkway and panoramic views of the ocean and your Cape Town surroundings (complete with big ships lazily floating by). The iconic views of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain all slowly shift into focus as you stroll by the tiny beaches of Rocklands, Graaf’s Pool, Milton and Brokenbath along the way.

Populated with all manner of Capetonians keeping fit with runs, cycles and walks, the promenade is always busy, with swathes of open space filled with gym equipment, art installations and children’s jungle gyms, enough to entertain even the littlest among us. At the far end is the Sea Point public swimming pool, always a smash hit on a hot Summer’s day, as well as a small collection of food, ice cream and beverage vendors – plus an option or two to rent a drop and go bicycle if you are tired of tackling the walk on foot!

Dodging all the descending paragliders, the girls and I joined the promenade at Three Anchor Bay for this particular outing, soaking up the sun as we strolled up to the swimming pools, stopping every couple of minutes to play on a jungle gym or art installation (or in my case to take a photo or three). At the turn around point we stopped for a delicious softserve ice cream and something to drink, before heading back for one last jungle gym bit of play where we parked. It was hot, it was sweaty, Emily was moaning, but I had a ball.

Always such a great spot to grab some lekker Cape Town photos:

USA 2019 – 02 Strolling around Downtown and Chinatown in Washington DC (2019-10-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 MAY 2020

To be clear, most people probably wouldn’t enjoy going on holiday with me. I don’t want to go somewhere to relax – my life is relaxed enough – so instead I go somewhere to see as many new things as what I possibly can. Case in point, after arriving at the Hampton Inn and stowing my bags, I immediately changed into my comfortable walking shoes and headed straight out the door onto the streets of Washington D.C. (Jet Lag? To be honest, to this day I still don’t actually know what that is.)

Now I don’t have any real experience with cities. I have never lived nor worked in a city, so a visit to a proper city is always a big visual treat for me. (For reference, my nearest city is Cape Town, which beauty aside, is not a particularly big one – i.e. it counts, but it also doesn’t really count). Of course, I also don’t plan anything ever anyway, so my first Washington D.C. mission was a simple one. Get a visual idea of where I am, take a photo of the street name so I should be able to make my way back to it, and then just head off in a general direction until I get tired.

The general style of downtown Washington D.C. is in a word stately – so many amazing, massive government linked buildings clad in this amazingly solemn stone, standing upright and staring down upon you. The city is seemingly lined with trees and littered with small parks, almost all of which feature at least one stone or bronze statue celebrating some historically once relevant citizen like Edmond Burke or Samuel Gompers for example.

My initial foray into Washington D.C. started in the Chinatown district with its decidedly Asian-influenced twist on primarily Western architecture, before opening up into the more classical buildings of the Mt. Vernon Square area, as I slowly picked my way down the big avenues towards Lafayette Square, The White House and the National Mall area in general.

Honestly, I was a little in heaven. The scale of the buildings, the historical nature of most of the things around me, and the fact that on weekends the city itself grows quiet – literally the perfect place for me to be meandering through on foot. So, so many interesting buildings and statues to stop and take photos of, so so many things to go back and look up on the Internet once I eventually made it back to my hotel room following the setting of the sun and thus end of my walking adventure.

These are the photos grabbed at the start and the end of this great big circular walk that took me all the way to the White House, Albert Einstein, the Washington Monument and back again! (The rest are still to follow in blog posts all of their own…)

The Lowering Bridge at the Waterfront at Knysna Quays (2020-01-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAY 2020

Chantelle and I decided to take the girls out on the Knysna Lagoon as part of our late December School Holidays getaway down in the Garden Route, and so following a delightful morning of meandering through Sedgefield’s vast Saturday morning market scene of Wild Oats, Mosaic, and Scarab Village, we continued the scenic drive that had taken us all the way from Mossel Bay to George to Sedgefield to Wilderness and finally to Knysna, ending up right in front of the Featherbed Co.’s ticket office at the Knysna Waterfront.

Part of the idyllic Knysna Quays, a recreational harbour complex complete with waterfront and accommodation offerings, the Knysna Waterfront is yet another fantastic Knysna destination with its picturesque views over the lagoon, its pretty design aesthetic, its colourful selection of eateries, and of course its rich selection of boutique shopping. Perfect tourist fodder really.

Given that we don’t really ever plan these outings very well, we had some time to kill before our Featherbed ferry was to depart, and so we meandered through the Waterfront area, peeking into the shops, taking LOTS of photos, and then finally grabbing a seat at the seemingly popular Italian-themed Caffe Mario for some refreshments and a light bite to eat – all the while watching the lowering bridge theatrically rise up and down to allow yachts and other little boats entry into the canals every now and then.

So definitely no complaints from and me certainly one of those perfect inhabited spots to soak up some vibe and while away a little time on such a strikingly beautiful Summer’s day.

A Jump4Joy Emily Birthday Party in Somerset West (2020-02-29) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2020

As a lot of parents with young kids will know, having a child whose birthday falls within the school holidays inevitably means never throwing the big birthday party on their actual birthday – case in point our dear Emily, who turned six on January 13 but who had to wait all the way to the end of February to enjoy her big birthday bash!

To be fair, our reasoning was rock solid with this one. Seeing as Emily was starting out fresh with Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary School this year, Chantelle wanted to give her a little time to first make some friends so that we could invite kids from her class to the party. This approach paid off handsomely, resulting in a very successful llama themed party populated by a host of her new friends!

As for the venue, we picked the Somerset West branch of Jump4Joy, an indoor trampoline park tucked away in Somerset West’s industrial area which, although lacking the polish of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs’ offerings like Rush and be.UP, had everything we needed in terms of space and entertainment for the young ones.

Chantelle donned her Helderberg Cake Company cap and went all out in making a host of llama themed delights (we’re talking a smorgasbord of delightfully decorated cake, cookies, doughnuts and cake pops here), and the kids had an absolute blast bouncing around and getting rid of all their energy. In other words, total success! :)