Tag Archives: south africa

Soft Serve Ice Cream at Sunset Harbour Cafe in Kleinmond (2021-01-09) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 17 MAR 2021

The Harbour Road waterfront development in Kleinmond is really a nice little lifestyle and food tourist hub for this small coastal Overstrand town. A couple of nice restaurants, a couple of interesting shops, pretty to look at architecture, and all of it overlooking Kleinmond’s tiny harbour and the big blue sea – it really is a nice spot that almost always has quite a good vibe thanks to the evergreen number of people popping in for a kuier.

Underneath all of that bustle, literally, you need to walk down below the parking towards the harbour to find it, is a little, lot less sophisticated, cafe that also just so happens to double as the local ice cream parlour. In addition to all the other cooldrink, sweets and chocolates, chips, gifts, and toys of questionable quality, Sunset Harbour Cafe and its soft serve machines also happily pumps out ice cream after ice cream to the seemingly never ending stream of people eager to cool off on a hot day.

Given that we had just spend the whole day traipsing about Hermanus, followed by a round of putt putt at Benguela Cove, the girls and I too joined the soft serve seeking throng, the last little treat before finally tackling that incredibly scenic Clarence Drive road back home.

Lemon Meringue at Die Kloof Padstal in Montagu (2020-10-26) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 16 MAR 2021

Also known as Route 62 Restaurant and Farm Stall, Die Kloof Padstal is probably one of the more famous farm stall stops in the Langeberg area. Literally the first building that you encounter on the left as you enter Montagu via the Cogmanskloof tunnel side, this is a proper never-say-die institution, having survived countless floods, veld fires, the seemingly never-ending roadworks that have defined the area for so many years now, and now of course the recent decimation of the tourist industry that Covid-19 and all its accompanying lockdowns have wrought.

Die Kloof Padstal is situated on the banks of the Keisie River, and its large, tree shaded outdoor area features picturesque views of Bloupunt and the Langeberg mountains. This spacious garden area is filled with stuff for the kids to play on, making it a very family friendly space, and if the weather is say not so great on the day of your visit, they also have a very comfortable, cozy interior section under their quaint thatched roof. Free wi-fi happily keeps you connected while you wait on your food and drinks to arrive, and given their rather extensive menu, you are pretty much guaranteed to find something to your liking.

The farm stall itself is packed with all manner gifts, crafts, handbags, hats, and books to browse through, as well as a plethora of locally produced dried fruit, nuts, jams, biltong and preserves to indulge in. We tend to try and pay at least one visit to Die Kloof Padstal whenever we find ourselves staying in the Montagu area, and last year’s lovely little between lockdowns stay at Badensfontein was certainly no exception.

The kids stretched their legs, we ate our lemon meringue and they their waffles and ice cream, and then we all went down the road to spend some time watching the mass of sacred ibis birds that roost at the Leidam, Montagu’s old leiwater dam. Tranquil.

Watching the Fishermen on the Wall at Hermanus New Harbour (2021-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 MAR 2021

As it turns out, Gordon’s Bay isn’t the only small town in the Western Cape blessed with two harbours. If you have ever been to Hermanus then you’ll obviously be well aware of the Old Harbour next to Gearing’s Point, right in the heart of the town’s tourist center and which nowadays is preserved as a small museum. If you visit during whale watching season, then the New Harbour, situated to the west of the town alongside the Zwelihle township, is where you would go to hop on one of the many whale watching boats that ply their trade from that quay come season.

In the past, a lot of fishing was conducted from Hermanus, and by the 1930s the Old Harbour had become too small for the amount of fishing boats stationed there. The location for a new harbour was identified (a semi-protected strip of coast known as Still Bay), and construction of the southern breakwater was started – and then almost immediately put on hold as the Great Depression followed by the Second World War sunk its teeth into pretty much all economic activity. In 1951 the New Harbour did eventually become operational, but without a second (and recommended) east breakwater, meaning that this particular harbour occasionally suffers from rough waters – something one definitely does not want from a harbour! Unfortunately this state of affairs has led to a number of drownings and wrecks over the years, making the New Harbour one of the least safest safe harbours in the country.

Moving on. Unfortunately over-fishing from outside the Walker Bay area eventually led to the collapse of the fish stocks in Walker Bay, and so commercial fishing out of New Harbour essentially vanished – it was only once an alternative catch in the form of abalone was discovered that the harbour roared back into life again. These days, as a place of interest to visit, the New Harbour is probably most famous for the lovely Harbour Rock (and its Gecko Lounge bar), an elevated restaurant that sits perched above the harbour, affording one a lovely view over all the watery activity down below. Additionally there is Heart of Abalone, an established abalone farm that offers visitor tours, and of course you can always just stroll out along the breakwater to look at the boats and watching the local fishermen trying to catch fish from the seawall and occasionally do battle with the always competing Cape Fur seals.

So of course, after a morning of climbing up Hoy’s Koppie, staring down over the village from up on Rotary Way, walking along the Cliff Path, and before letting the girls eat their lunch on Voelklip beach, I made them accompany me for a stroll around the harbour. They did not appreciate the smell.

Breakfast with a View at Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch (2020-12-06) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 14 MAR 2021

Geologist Gary Jordan and economist Kathy Jordan have as a husband and wife team been making world-class wines since 1993, on a 300 year old farm which their parents purchased back in 1982. Now standing at 104 hectares in size, the Jordan Wine Estate produces a bevy of award winning wines from the range of grape varietals that it has planted in its vineyards, and like any good wine estate in the Cape Winelands today, Jordan offers a full visitor experience with its award winning signature restaurant, more relaxed bistro, luxury accommodation options, picnics on the lawn, and of course the all important tasting and tours.

At this point in the game, despite the global Covid-19 pandemic swirling all around us, Chantelle was certainly enjoying quite the nice 40th birthday (which was definitely going much better than what mine did due to the stricter lockdowns of earlier in the year). Having treated her to a spectacular evening of fine dining at Bertus Basson’s immaculate Overture restaurant at Hidden Valley, the morning of her birthday saw us shuttle through in search of the rather hidden Jordan wine estate, where we were booked in for a sumptuous morning of breakfast with a view.

Opting to dine ‘al fresco’ on The Bakery@Jordan’s recently completed wooden deck, we sat in the shade of its huge overhanging trees, looking out over lush green lawns, pretty shrubs and a very tranquil dam, with the rolling hills and distant mountain vista of Stellenbosch laid out before us. Eggs benedict with a thick Hollandaise sauce and good coffee completed the scene, as we eagerly got down to the serious work of relaxing a little before the next celebration event kicked off.

Scones, Tea and Jam at Hillcrest Berry Orchards outside Stellenbosch (2020-08-30) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 13 MAR 2021

Without a doubt, Hilllcrest Berry Orchards has now for years been our family’s most favourite spot to tuck into scones with jam and cream. Perched up high on one of the slopes of the gorgeous Banhoek Valley, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch just before you reach Pniel, its welcoming terrace offers spectacular views over the surrounding mountains and is perfectly positioned to catch all those warming rays of sunlight. In other words, the perfect spot for a cup of tea or a plunger of coffee!

Hillcrest Berry Orchards is of course primarily a berry producing farm, though they are far more famous for their huge array of delectable jams produced from those aforementioned berries, packaged in their very recognizable, cutest of little glass jars. The farm shop is where you’ll find a full assortment of frozen berries, jams, dessert toppings, relishes, jellies, berry vinegars, liqueured berries and gifts, as well as freshly picked berries when they are in season during the summer months. In addition to the farming and jam producing activities, the farm also offers accommodation options in the form of two comfortable self catering cottages.

Then of course there is the eatery section of the business. Armed with a cosy fireplace warmed interior section and the gorgeous outdoor terrace, Hillcrest Berry Orchards is open for the always important business of eating throughout the year, offering a good choice of meal options that cover both breakfast and lunch, as well as a very enjoyable high tea experience. That said, we pretty much only ever visit there for their delicious scones, topped with a selection of interesting jams and of course that divine Devonshire clotted cream of theirs!

Obviously, with the various Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns that kept us indoors pretty much the whole of last year, getting out and about really wasn’t a thing (for anyone), but we did at least manage to squeeze one very unplanned visit to a quiet Hillcrest Berry Orchards in, following a day of escape to see the fields of yellow canola at Dassiesfontein and gather chocolate supplies from Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek.

Lunch on the Lawn of Voëlklip Beach in Hermanus (2021-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 MAR 2021

Having successfully dragged my girls and Cara all around Hermanus with me, strolling up Hoy’s Koppie, looking down over the town from Rotary Way, walking along the Cliff Path, and admiring the outdoor FynArts sculpture exhibition, naturally they were now at the point of rebellion, openly advocating a crippling strike if they didn’t get to have lunch right now, and most important of all, that they also get to choose what’s for lunch. I tried guiding them to selecting any one of the multitude of eatery options that call Hermanus home, but no, they wanted KFC. So that’s then what we got.

Of course, having let them choose the food, there was no way that I was leaving the choice of scenery in their hands, and so I drove them and their precious brown paper bag of fried chicken goodness over to the lawn above Voëlklip Beach, where we happily hunkered down into picnic mode in order to snack on our treats while watching the waves splash down below. (This was during the closed beaches stage of this year’s Covid-19 lockdown, so there were no people playing in the sand, no people tanning on the grass, and just a handful of incredibly bored lifeguards wasting their day away).

As for the beach itself, well the whole rugged coast of Walker Bay is littered with beautiful little coves and sandy beaches, and thus includes a number of Blue Flag status beaches, like Onrus, Kammabaai, Langbaai, Hawston, and of course Hermanus’ signature biggest and best beach, Grotto Beach. Tiny little Voelklip beach also counts itself among these Blug Flag pearls, and this little sandy bay is surrounded by rocks, generally sheltered from the wind, features a lush green lawn above the soft inviting sand, has ablution facilities and a little tuckshop selling all manner of snacks, and of course the aforementioned lifeguards during peak season. It is also by far the most popular spot for both the local surfer and bodyboard brigades.

Watching Table Mountain from up on Signal Hill in Cape Town (2021-01-24) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 MAR 2021

Want a view over Cape Town but don’t actually want to walk to get it? Then Signal Hill has everything you need! For non locals, to reach this landmark flat-topped hill next to Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, take the fun little drive up Kloof Nek Road, swing to the right when you get to the top of the road (do not go left unless you actually wanted to reach the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway station), follow the road past all the eager hikers going up and coming down Lion’s Head, shoot past the eye-catching white and green-domed Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie kramat, and then take the final bend, coming to rest in the handy (but tiny) parking lot right on top of the hill.

In the days before radio signals (i.e. this no longer applies), Signal Hill served as the vantage point from which signal flags were used to communicate weather warnings and anchoring instructions down to visiting ships in order to ensure that they were adequately prepared for the typical stormy weather that accompanies mooring in Table Bay. Similarly, ships could communicate back if in need of assistance or other instructions. Moving on, as the local time signal system, Signal Hill is also known for its very special Noon Gun (jointly operated by the South African Navy and South African Astronomical Observatory) which, although now very unnecessary, to this day still happily gives all local pigeons a hearty fright with its booming midday announcement.

As mentioned earlier, the winding road up to the summit runs past a couple of features, like the Appleton Scout Campsite (operatd by Scouts South Africa), several tombs (or kramats) of Muslim missionaries and religious leaders, and of course the entrance to the super popular hike up Lion’s Head. The flat topped Signal Hill itself comes with magnificent views over Cape Town city centre and the Atlantic Seaboard, and also serves as a jump off point for local paragliders, including that of the famous Tandem Paragliding experience which has since become a popular event for both locals and tourists alike. In terms of ecology, Signal Hill also just so happens to be one of the only places in the world where the critically endangered Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation can be found. Endemic to Cape Town, the Peninsula Shale Renosterveld used to be the dominant ecosystem of the Cape Town City Bowl, but thanks to urban development, only a tiny patch on Devil’s Peak and Signal Hill itself remain as the surviving sample of this type of vegetation.

This particularly little visit to the top with Chantelle and the girls came after first a lovely walk along the Sea Point promenade, followed by some picture snapping in the colourful Bo-Kaap. In other words proper Cape Town tourist stuff, which is exactly then why directly following our waltz about in the wind above Cape Town, we shot down to the V&A Waterfront and made it our mission to make it through to the Lindt Studio before it closed for the day. (We succeeded, but only just!)

A Stroll around Door de Kraal Dam in Bellville (2021-01-30) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 09 MAR 2021

The family and I felt like a bit of a walk about Majik Forest in the Door de Kraal suburb of Bellville the other day, so we hopped into the car and headed out to the Northern Suburbs via the R300, making our way up the gates only to realize that under current Covid-19 lockdown levels, the fenced in Majik Forest park was still very much tightly locked up. Disappointed, we quickly moved on to a different option in the same area, the remarkably nearby Door de Kraal Dam.

Situated in the heart of the suburbs, tucked in between Door de Kraal, Kenridge, and Tyger Valley (and just across from the sprawling Willowbridge Mall village), the Door de Kraal Dam is a fair sized man made dam that offers a neat little green space that comes with picnic lawns, a circular walking path, fishing opportunities (this is the only local dam in the area that catch and release fishing is allowed at), and a great variety of birdlife, thanks in part to the many reeds growing around the banks of the dam.

It’s not a particularly long walk, between 1 and 2 km to go around via the path, but it is wide open green space with clear blue skies above and happy dogs being walked all around you.

Lemon Meringue at the Rambling Rose in Montagu (2020-10-28) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 08 MAR 2021

It is funny, but when we did finally manage a Covid-19 escape to Badensfontein in Montagu, I was so in need of a break that we didn’t actually do a heck of a lot while away on holiday – which as anyone who reads this blog would know, is a rather strange thing for us indeed. So although we did drive around the town for a bit of sightseeing, fulfilled an order for Monty at Drie Berge Winery, poked our noses in at Capedry home of the Cape Dried Fruit Packers, petted the bunnies at Guano Cave Resort, and watched the nesting sacred ibises from the Leidam bird hide, most of our holiday time was spent back in the cottage, sitting on the stoep and admiring the view.

That’s not to say though that we didn’t nip out for a treat to eat every now and then, and on the day that Chantelle left us to go back home and bake, we finished off her stay with a little sightseeing jaunt around the town, followed by some coffee and lemon meringue at Tripadvisor darling, the Rambling Rose. Situated in an old building along the main road (technically part of the R62 route) that runs through the small town of Montagu, the Rambling Rose describes itself as a country kitchen – a mix of a coffee shop, a farm shop, a bakery, and given the amount of curios and gifts on offer, a little dose of treasure shop as well.

We sat down to tuck into our lemon meringue, chocolate brownies, coffee, and waffles with ice cream treats in the comfortable courtyard, where the girls immediately busied themselves playing with the various cats walking between the tables. While we were suitably impressed with Rambling Rose’s Covid-19 protocols, we did unfortunately hit them on a day when the baked goods were unfortunately a little on the old/dry side of the scale, which was a pity because overall the setting was cozy and very welcoming.

In any event, it did get us out of the house and allow us to bid a fond farewell to Chantelle as she hit the long road back home to Gordon’s Bay, leaving the girls and I to pick up supplies and head back out into the hills to Badensfontein, so that I could set up yet another evening braai while the girls entertained themselves with a refreshing splash in the splash pool.