Tag Archives: south africa

Art and Architecture in Stellenbosch (2020-08-16) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 APR 2021

Last year was of course filled with many quiet moments and even more quiet spaces. It doesn’t happen very often, but every now and then I get the opportunity to leave the girls behind with Chantelle and venture out on my own little photo walkabout – which is exactly what happened on one pleasant Sunday afternoon back in August of last year. So hello to the naked oak trees, classic architecture, and the oh so many pieces of art on public display of Stellenbosch and its university campus grounds!

Established along the banks of the Eerste River in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, the then Governor of the Cape Colony, the achingly beautiful Stellenbosch is recognized as the second oldest town in South Africa. Surrounded by mountains, filled with ancient oak trees, and home to much of South Africa’s historic wine industry, the relatively wealthy Stellenbosch is a town well worth visiting.

It is also worth mentioning that although technically Stellenbosch isn’t a university town as such, the reality is that it very much is, with the Stellenbosch University campus, faculty buildings, and student residences occupying much of the heart of this old town. What this then translates to is that when the students aren’t on campus then the town becomes a LOT quieter – and because the university is integrated into the town, you are able to casually stroll around these magnificent examples of old architecture whenever you like. In other words, there are a lot of pretty buildings waiting to be seen!

My casual stroll with camera phone in hand took me past the grandiose Dutch Reformed (NG Moederkerk) church, the eye catching red of the Stellenbosch University Museum, through the Jan Marais Square (Red Square) and over the underground Stellenbosch University Library, and past the majestic faculty buildings and large residences that so many students call home during the academic year. I walked alongside the surging Eerste River, down the historic Dorp street, and past so, so many art galleries just stuffed with the treasure of artistic endeavour. Seventh heaven for someone like me then!

Lunch from Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery at Spier in Stellenbosch (2021-03-20) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 05 APR 2021

Having now spent a good long time exploring the grounds of the excellent Spier wine estate, taken in all the art installations of the Spier Light Art festival, and watched the birds of prey soar at Eagle Encounters, the girls decided that it was time for something to eat. So we sauntered back along the main path towards the beautifully restored Werf area, strolling across its rolling green lawns, clambering over the big granite boulders, and passing underneath the ancient oak trees, before coming to a stop in front of a patchwork of red and black table umbrellas standing out in front of a classic Cape Dutch style building with Vadas emblazoned on its side in unmissable bright red.

Both smokehouse and bakery, Vadas sources most of its ingredients from local producers (with the chicken, eggs and meats supplied by Spier’s Farmer Angus), making it a proper farm-to-plate business. Armed with the spectacular backdrop that is the manicured lawns, trees, architecture, and landscape that is Spier, Vadas pumps out all manner of elevated dishes that you would expect from a smokehouse, such as smoked beef brisket, juicy smoked pork with a bourbon BBQ sauce, and even smoked pork belly with apple ketchup. (And yes, there are plenty of other options available for all the kids and vegetarians out there).

Of course, the bakery component isn’t to be left out either, producing some incredible slow-fermented, fresh sourdough breads plus a treasure trove of sweet pies such as blueberry & nectarine pie, chocolate cream pie, pecan pie and lemon meringue pie. If none of that tickles your fancy though, Vadas is also pretty famous for their most excellent Pasteis de Nata – the increasingly popular Portuguese custard tart that seems to be popping up all around Cape Town at the moment!

Pizza, Dogs, and a Goat at JANKAN in Paarl (2021-03-13) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 01 APR 2021

After a day of clambering about the mountain and stroking the alpacas in Paarl, the girls were now rightfully a little more than just peckish, and so off I set in search of something nice and family friendly in order to satisfy their combined mewling. As it just so happens, the Picardie Guest Farm, situated right near the start of the old town, has the most wonderful of farm stall coffee shops inhabiting their grounds – the über family friendly JANKAN experience.

It’s not a lot to look at, sure, but the metal sheet building houses an incredible array of fresh produce and other knickknacks ready for purchase, as well as the all important bits of a small kitchen and of course pizza oven! Stepping through the tin shack, you enter a paved courtyard area that has a number of tables shaded by a large stretch tent, and sprawling beyond that, a grassy play area that is filled with jumping castles, jungle gyms, and just a ton of other things for small children to clamber about on. Even further to the back is a small paddock where kids can enjoy a horse ride or two (in fact, this is something that Jessica did many moons ago when we first visited this space), and of course, littered throughout is a huge assortment of small farm animals, from bunny rabbits to pigs, and even a free roaming goat.

And then of course there are the farm dogs walking around, Great Danes included! In other words, it is no wonder then that JANKAN is a firm favourite for local kids birthday party celebrations. As for our little visit, we found a small table, I ordered a beer and some pizza plus roosterkoek to share, and off the girls scuttled for some play time, appearing only now and then whenever food or drink arrived at our table!

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.