The Forgotten Route

Last weekend I went on The Forgotten Route tour, which is a 2 day excursion in to the Karoo. The itinerary look something like this:

Starting point: Cape Town Tourism Office in Cape Town CBD. You arrive and quickly put your luggage into the tour bus’ vehicle. I don’t want to give too much away as there are some really great little surprises, but the group goes on a short city walk with some fascinating stops and mini history lessons. There is so much that we don’t know about this city! After a few stops (and great photo opps) we head to The Kimberly Hotel for a quick coffee and to receive our passports. The guide (in our case – Riaan) took photos of everyone with a polaroid camera, and these got placed into our passport for the weekend’s stamping!

Processed with VSCO with q3 preset

Processed with VSCO with g2 preset

Processed with VSCO with q2 preset

Processed with VSCO with g2 preset

We took the tour bus from Cape Town to Karibo Wine Farm in Rawsonville. Our host (and winemaker) Karen le Roux was incredibly charming and we got to experience a private wine and biltong pairing as well as a wine and cupcake pairing. We also sampled some of Karen’s homemade Shiraz ice cream / sorbet that was super delicious.

1551462_226971830820566_540165753_n_0

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

After Karibo, we headed to the Worcester station and boarded our train to Matjiesfontein. The train ride was beautiful and scenic. We all had a quick lunch and enjoyed relaxing and soaking up the view. The Karoo landscape is breathtaking and it was such a great feeling to be out of the city and amongst nature.

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

IMG_9830

We got to Matjiesfontein and were greeted by our guide, Riaan who had driven our bus there while we were on the train. We were welcomed at the station platform with cocktails and music before heading to our accommodation at the Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve. After dropping our bags, we headed to the famous Lorde’s Arms pub (the only pub) in Matjiesfontein and then boarded our bus – the shortest bus tour in the world, I’m sure. Our host, John was incredibly fun and hilarious. If you’ve ever been on his famous village tour then you’ll have a smile on your face just thinking about it. We were in stitches. After the (literally) five minute tour, we headed back to the pub for some honkey-tonk entertainment and singing from John.

IMG_9678

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

Processed with VSCO with q3 preset

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

We had dinner at our accommodation – a beautiful Karoo braai, potatoes, braai broodjies, wors and salad coupled with loads of wine and more music. We huddled next to the fireplace while our guide braaied for us and their team prepared the other dishes and set our table for us. After dinner, Riaan took us to the Matjiesfontein Museum which is scary, creepy and fascinating. Their museum houses the largest private collection in the country.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the beautiful Lord Milner Hotel. Here you can choose between a cold breakfast (cheeses, meats, cereals, pastries etc) or the hot a la carte menu. After breakfast and loads of coffee, we boarded our bus and went to the famous graveyard in Matjiesfontein. Here our guide gave us more information on James Logan and his family. We then headed back toward Cape Town via Montagu. We stopped at their local market and shopped for homemade jams, soaps, art, crafts and treats before boarding our bus again and heading for Platform 62 in Asthon. If you haven’t been – this is a great find for a day trip! It’s basically an enormous farm stall with a huge wine, brandy, gin and liquer selection. They offer various tastings and pairings, and have a large restaurant outside with a kids play area, pet chickens and even a pet pig. The food is also really, really good – huge portions at such a good price. After tasting various spirits and wines, we headed outside for lunch before going back in to the tasting room for a really interesting and fun brandy tasting / pairing. We tried various (I honestly lost count) brandies with chocolates, honey, ginger, tonics and even orange juice. I highly recommend this pairing experience if you ever find yourself in Ashton.

Processed with VSCO with q3 preset

Processed with VSCO with q4 preset

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

We boarded our bus again and headed for Marbrin Olive Farm in Robertson. Here we got to sample their various (delicious) olive oils and homemade bread. The truffle was definitely my favourite, with the sundried tomato variant coming in at second. We also tried their balsamic vinegars and then a good helping of their famous limoncello – which was a huge hit. The setting is so beautiful and they have plans to expand the property and introduce a restaurant offering. We’ll definitely be back for that.

Processed with VSCO with q3 preset

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

After that, we boarded our bus back to Cape Town, merry from the day’s festivities. We’d all bought wine (and limoncello) during the day and at this point we were all sharing and having a little party on the bus – coupled with The Forgotten Route’s very cool playlist. We arrived back in Cape Town at about 7pm filled with great stories, memories and new friendships from our trip. I’d highly recommend this tour amongst friends as everyone had a super great time.

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

The tour costs R1850.00 per person and includes everything except your lunch on the train (average R100) and your lunch at Platform 62 (average R150 with your beverage/coffee) so you’re looking at about R2100 all inclusive for a full two-day adventure in the Karoo. This includes your tour, the guide, the bus, your train ticket, wine tasting, cupcake and biltong pairing, Matjies bus tour, Karoo lamb braai, accommodation, breakfast, brandy pairing and olive tasting. For more info > check out their website.

0
0
IMG_9496

New Winter Menu at Reuben’s One&Only

Over the past few months, Francois and I have traveled to so many beautiful little towns and stayed at some really great places. We both work in tourism and have a passion for exploring. We’ll often take a day trip somewhere and stay over spontaneously. We always try out new restaurants along the way and I’ve discovered so many great, new places this year. I keep promising to share details with friends, so it’s time to revive the blog on all things (affordable) food and travel!

Yesterday I tried out the new Winter Set Menu at Reuben’s, situated in the gorgeous One&Only hotel in Cape Town. The set menu is R295 per person and has two options per dish on starters, mains, and dessert. View the full menu here > Reuben’s Winter Menu

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.53.24 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 3.33.11 PM

Starters: Pulled Lamb Soup with Potato, Pea and Barley Broth OR Bouillabaisse Soup with fresh Mussels, Calamari, Prawns and Clams.

Mains: Beef Wellington with Shallot Puree, Braised Shallots, tender stem Brocolli, Vanilla Carrots and Madeira Jus OR Pan Seared Kingklip with Mussels en Persillade, Squid Ink, Bouillabaisse Froth, Chilli and Parmesan Linguine

Dessert: Steamed Madagascan Vanilla Pudding, Butterscotch, Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream and Walnut Crumb OR Stone Fruit Cobbler, Clotted Cream Gelato, Blueberry Jam and Brandy Snap.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.50.21 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.50.58 PM

I dined with my friend and professional foodie, Sam Linsell and we both thoroughly enjoyed the food. My favourite dish was definitely the Bouillabaisse Soup and I especially loved the Stone Fruit Cobbler. It tasted like something that your granny made special for Sunday pudding. The Seared Kingklip was cooked perfectly. I was a pescatarian for a few years, and I am a huge fan of seafood. I would choose a piece of good fish over a steak any day. The Kingklip was extremely fresh, flaky and succulent. The chili and parmesan linguine base was so creamy and really worked with the garlicky mussels plated on the side.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.50.31 PM

The new menu is great value for money and the setting is beautiful. Situated at the V&A Waterfront, inside the opulent and glamorous One&Only hotel – you’ll be impressed as soon as you arrive. This is a great idea for date night, especially if you have a sundowner in the Vista Lounge before walking a few steps to Reuben’s for dinner. The view is incredible from the bar – with a panoramic view of Table Mountain. We’ve been there a few times for a glass of bubbly because it’s the one place where you can experience great views while sheltered from the cold. It’s a great atmosphere.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.48.42 PM

If you want to try out their menu, you can call Restaurant Reservations +27 21 431 4511 or +27 21 431 5888 or email: restaurant.reservations@oneandonlycapetown.com. Let me know which dish you enjoyed the most!

0
0
Knysna Hollow Manor House

Knysna Oyster Festival 2016

I’ve been to the Knysna Oyster Festival a few times and it never disappoints. I’ve been for leisure, pleasure, work and fitness. From exploring the nightlife and jumping off bridges to running a half marathon, it’s always been some kind of adventure.

BUT, I’ve never gone as a family. For years I walked past the numerous (many) kids play parks, activities and areas with regret and always promised that I’d return with my baby bunnies in tow. Whenever I attended the Oyster Fest, I always stayed at Knysna Hollow Country Estate. It feels like going ‘home’ walking through their doors because the lodge / resort is so homey, welcoming and unpretentious in it’s beauty and surroundings.

Knysna Hollow Manor House

Knysna Hollow Country Estate Pool

Aerial of Knysna Hollow Country Estate - highlighted

We’re heading off to Knysna Hollow from 1 July for a long, long weekend of activities, adventure and quality time. I already have bungee jumping, paragliding, a forest walk, educational elephant encounter and whale watching in our itinerary. Their spacious family chalets are between R750.00 and R1000 per person on a Bed & Breakfast basis, and kids under 12 years sharing with parents stay free!

Family chalet at Knysna Hollow Country Estate

Accommodation - Knysna Hollow Country Estate Garden Suites

Knysna Hollow Country Estate Garden Suites

The chalets open up to gorgeous lawns with various pools, play areas and a man-sized chess board on the estate. Don’t forget about Charlie, the resident cat. He is definitely my favourite and quite a legend at Knysna Hollow. I have such happy memories edging up to the fireplace and catching up with Keri for hours over bottles of wine and having sundowners at the poolside. If you’re looking for a family-friendly, jovial and festive but relaxed place to stay over the Oyster Fest or any other time on the Garden Route, then this is my highest recommendation. They’ve also launched Superior Eco Estate Rooms that overlook a perennial dam with prolific birdlife. The spacious rooms are decorated in a fresh Scandinavian-style which combines natural wooden finishes with a refined palette of blues and greys creating a calm and inviting space. View all their accommodation options here.

View of the newly built Knyna Hollow Eco Estate block.

Eco Estate Rooms at Knysna Hollow Lounge area with Flat Screen TV.

Knysna Hollow Eco Estate Rooms all have superior bathroom facilities.

See you soon, Knysna. The boys can’t wait! Looking for accommodation in Knysna? Check AccommoDirect for more <a href=”https://www.accommodirect.com/destinations/knysna/“>accommodation in Knysna</a>.

0
0
2016-01-02 17.56.56

Sydney and Melbourne highlights.

On 1 January this year, I got on a plane and flew from Cape Town > Johannesburg > Sydney and then Sydney > Melbourne. I’m so glad that I got to spend just over 24 hours in Sydney because it is breathtakingly beautiful. Really, I had no idea. I spent 6 days in Melbourne and didn’t see nearly enough, so I’ll need to go back real soon. It’s hard to decide between the two cities as a favourite, so I’ll let you make up your own mind. I have never really considered myself to be a foodie, but Melbourne has changed my mind on that. I ate some of the best meals of my life in Australia. Eeek, even (much) better than the food in Paris. I was really lucky that my host, friends and relatives in the area directed and treated me to all the right places. If you ever find yourself (or currently live in) Australia, then consider these my recommendations.

In Sydney, we dined at Darling Harbour at a place called Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. It’s right on the water, and has such a great atmosphere. Here I feasted on delicious oysters, seared salmon and wine. Even though it was after New Year’s Eve, there were still firework displays on that evening. Throughout my life, I will never forget standing in the doorway of that restaurant, gripping a glass of good wine and watching the colourful explosions over the harbour. I’ll never forget that evening. I sipped Moet at a trendy harbour club and danced until my feet hurt, finally collapsing in to a Novotel bed at around 4am, happy, content and exhausted.

2016-01-02 19.49.25-1

2016-01-02 18.50.28

2016-01-02 18.55.032016-01-02 18.58.45-1

2016-01-02 20.30.26

In Sydney I also really loved Opera Bar which is adjacent to the Sydney Opera House. I loved the Ice Bar? at Bondi Beach and I really, really love an area called Manly which has a gorgeous little bay with warm water and lots of little sail boats and yachts. I missed the boys so much here, because Sydney is built for kids and families. I imagined my boys playing in the (almost) deserted bays and taking them sailing in the afternoons, letting them jump in to the water from the boat and staying outdoors until 9pm every day, when the sun sets there. Honestly, I left my heart in Sydney. I’ll definitely be back.

2016-01-02 17.56.562016-01-02 18.05.482016-01-03 11.28.452016-01-03 15.02.09-1

For Melbourne, I’m going to give you just one favourite restaurant, where I had the best meal of my life to date. If you’re ever in the area, then you absolutely should visit…

Mamasita: For the best and most delicious mexican food of your existence. Mexican and Italian are my two favourite cuisines, and dammit this place was good. You can’t book a table at Mamasita, so expect a queue (all the way down the stairs, out the doorway and sometimes down the street) to get a table. And people do queue. Even in heels, like I did. The vibe is just so incredible, and you can tell that everyone is having a super good time and are seriously in to their food. The portions are small, served in a tapas style which is tradition in Mexican households. You get to order loads of different dishes and share them amongst your friends – and remember to wash it all down with a jug of their deliciously sweet Sangria. The highlight for me here were the Plantains which consists of long, baked, crispy banana fingers lathered with their signature salsas, sauces, relishes and guacamole. That would hands down be my “death row” meal if I ever had to make such a decision. Everything here was incredible and I ate until I really just couldn’t anymore.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 8.30.53 PM530325_612858575420116_11375814_n

It was really nice to get a 9 day break from well, everything. I’m planning another trip for July and I can’t decide between Italy and America. July is ideal because of school holidays and also because I HATE WINTER TO DEATH. The first time I went overseas, the boys really missed me. But now, with the new school schedule, routine and dynamics – they are super in to seeing dad 24/7. So when I went to Australia they *really* treasured the time with him and I swear they hardly noticed I was gone :((( or :))))? So now I’m dead set on traveling a tiny bit more this year.

I’ve grown very fond of traveling alone. I don’t think that I would ever want someone by my side through any of it. I get to read and write and think and spend some good quality time inside my head. I get to internalise what I’m feeling instead of shouting “LOOK AT THAT BUILDING” to someone else every five minutes, you know? I always get home feeling a bit more adventurous, stronger and that tiny bit braver. And like I know this big, wonderful secret that nobody else does… you know? I hope you do.

2016-01-04 14.39.12-22016-01-04 14.43.14-12016-01-04 20.35.12

I wanted to mention that I didn’t take my ‘big’ camera on this trip, because I found it too stressful in Paris – constantly worrying about it, lugging it around, being physically weighed down. So I relied on my iPhone for all of this because memories don’t need to be perfect, right?

0
0
Vine_Gallery-15

Guest House in Stellenbosch, Cape Town

I recently stayed at the very charming Vine Guest House in Stellenbosch. Actually, it was my second visit. It’s a gorgeous little gem nestled in the heart of the winelands with pretty views, lush gardens and luxurious finishes. The first thing you’ll notice is how neat, clean and tidy it is. Second you’ll spot the modern, sophisticated yet comfortable decor style. The palette is soft and neutral – think warm greys, natural wood, and crisp white with pops of colour and some greenery. A lot of love, passion and consideration has gone in to the recent re-vamp.

Vine_Gallery-15Vine_Gallery-2Vine_Gallery-3

At the entrance you’ll find a little fountain, a dam with an abandoned rowing boat, tall trees, flowers and an uninterrupted view of the mountains. Vine has 9 guest rooms ranging from Superior to Executive. All rooms have a patio canopied by lush vines and some rooms offer a private terrace. They’re all fitted with air conditioning, flat-screen TV, a safe, hairdryer, bathrobe, Charlotte Rhys toiletries, snacks, wine, pool towels and a fully stocked minibar (even a Nespresso machine!) Check out their rooms here.

Vine_Gallery-11Vine_Gallery-10Vine_Gallery-8Vine_Gallery-6

Vine_Gallery-4Vine_Gallery-13

I love this little guesthouse, which is situated on Bottelary Rd, just a stone-throw from Stellenbosch, and close to Paarl and Franschhoek too. This is the perfect spot to stay at if you want a tranquil environment that’s close to all the tourist attractions, cycle routes, monuments and wine farms in the area. Stunning for a stop-over if you’re exploring the winelands and don’t want to drive too far to get back to Cape Town. They serve a mean breakfast, and they’re opening their restaurant in just a few months! I had a sneak peek, and it’s going to be gorgeous. More on that soon!

Vine_Gallery-12You can find more information on their rates and book online on their website. Also check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’m going back there again on Wednesday! I might try my hand at some tennis this time! Website here. **All pictures by Vine Guesthouse.**

1
0
Coco-Berry

Carb free options at Col’Cacchio this Summer

I haven’t done a food post in such a long time, so I thought I’d share this with you guys. I’ve been doing a lot of eating at Col’Cacchio lately. We ate at the Cavendish branch the week before last and last week we went back to take aways. I’m trying to cut back on my sugar and refined carb intake because those food items make me feel pretty gross. Although I’m not a banter, I am always keen to try a carb substitute and kill some calories. Their new summer menu is simple, fresh, healthy and colourful. They’ve added banting ‘pasta’ dishes, and the vegetarian option I had was hands down the best meal I’ve had this year. I am not kidding. It was the Zucchetti pesto, made with zucchetti (julienned zucchini) basil pesto, Italian parmesan and toasted pumpkin seeds. I ate a huge portion and still finished off a caprese salad on my own (oink oink)

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 9.56.19 AM

Their new banting ‘pasta’ dishes use zucchetti as a replacement to pasta. Pastas include the Piccante made with zucchetti, pomodoro, chorizo, peppadew piquante peppers, mascarpone, chilli flakes and the Verde Rosso, a combination of zucchetti with chicken parmigiana. They still have their original menu if you’re keen on carbs, but have only added a handful of healthy, carb and sugar free options which they call their ‘banting’ section but should just call the ‘carb free’ option. Check out the Orientale dish below.

Orientale-1024x683

I also tried the vegetarian banting pizza, which comes with a medium side salad and delicious dressing. You can eat a whole cheesy pizza covered in veg and not feel like a fatty-fat face afterwards. A cauliflower pizza base does not taste like a flour based one, but it’s kind of like white bread vs wholewheat bread – tastes good, but not exactly the same. My kids didn’t know the difference and ate the whole thing. I tricked them (and myself) right in to those vegetables.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 9.28.58 AM

They also have banting desserts which I understand as (refined) sugar free? I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try one, but the cheesecake (with macadamia cacoa base) looked so good. If anyone wants to take me to lunch this summer, it will be here. As a side note, they are kid friendly. The kids get crayons to draw on the table cover, and some dough and cookie cutters to ‘bake’ with.

Coco-Berry

Price wise, I didn’t write down numbers but when I took the boys: We all had mains, I had a coffee and the kids had a milkshake each. Our bill was R250 so it’s really good. Check out their new menu here > www.colcacchio.co.za for more details.

0
0
Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.50.21 PM

My top beach prep & packing tips for families

We’re planning our December holiday and I’m sure that you are too. Over the years I’ve become quite the bag-packing expert. I wanted to share some of my essential (and also favourite) items that need to be in your family beach bag this festive season, as well as some beach safety and convenience tips.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.18.51 PM

1. Freeze bottled water the night before your day on the beach. This way, you can use the frozen bottles instead of ice to keep your other refreshments and snacks cool.

2. My favourite beach foods to pack that keep well in a cooler bag (and are easy to eat) are grapes, berries, naartjies, sandwich rolls, drinking yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts.

3. Always take wet wipes for sticky fingers (and bathroom emergencies) and a plastic packet for rubbish in case there isn’t a bin around when you leave.

4. Baby powder works a charm to soak up moisture and easily removes sticky sand off of legs and feet before getting in the car! The beach sand in some parts of KZN is the worst, but baby powder will remove every last grain of sticky black sand. Try it!

5. For safety at crowded beaches, I like to draw a big circle around our spot and tell the boys to stay in the circle unless given permission, eg to fill a beach bucket with water. It’s good to have a general ‘reminder’ chat with your kids in the car about petting dogs they don’t know, blue bottles and water safety on the way.

6. Remember to have some money on you to treat the kids to an ice cream. Sometimes you really just want a lolly to make you jolly on the beach. I mean, it’s the holidays, after all. Take cash!

7. Let the kids pack their own bag of beach toys, and don’t think conventional. Items like tupperware, plastic spoons, ice trays or plastic cups will entertain them for hours.

8. Apply sunblock to yourself and your kids before you leave the house or hotel. This saves you from spending your first 20 minutes on the beach struggling with wiggling kids and rubbing suncream on your husband’s back. Use a 50spf with kids – it just lasts longer.

Other than that, you’ll definitely need your essentials like towels, cozzies, spare clothes, music, goggles, a book, floaty toys, a camera and some sun hats. Moms might want to pack a nifty travel razor like the Venus Snap, as well as your tweezers for some last minute and on the go grooming emergencies. Here are some fun pictures that Graeme took of Noah and I at the beach this weekend.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.36.16 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.20.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.20.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.42.05 PMIMG_7321Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.30.06 PM

Keen to WIN a really cool prize? Venus is giving away a shopping spree worth R20,000 at Topshop to a very lucky girl! All you have to do to stand a chance to win is:

  • Buy one of their Venus Snap razors
  • Snap a flat lay image including your Venus Snap
  • Upload it to Instagram using #VenusOnTheGo. I made you a little example below. How easy?

I’ve got some more holiday vibes and ideas to talk about and share with you, but please go enter this competition in the meantime and tag me in your pictures. I want to see what’s in your beach bag this Summer!

IMG_7383

 

IMG_7400

8
0
IMG_20151104_091425

Win a 20k shopping spree with #VenusOnTheGo

Gillette Venus has launched their new razor, the Venus Snap. It’s aimed at women-on-the-go, nestled in a cute little case that makes it safe to store in beach bags, your gym kit or handbag. In all honesty, there have been moments at the beach or at gym when I’ve needed a razor. I mean, who wants to do pilates or yoga donning a 3 day underarm shadow? I have! As a brunette, all my hair is on display. No tiny little white hairs for me! I have to shave everything, every day. I could write sonnets about my personal struggle with unwanted hair.

giphy

I’ve added the razor to my car’s emergency vanity kit along with my wet wipes, tissues, sunblock, cover stick and lipstick. As a (mostly) (okay fine always) frazzled mom, I don’t rely on myself to be organised at all times, let alone groomed. Most moms reading this are like “lol what even is grooming.”

not-shaving-legs-thats-prickly-gif

The Venus Snap razor is the coolest grooming accessory for your summer holidays, handy for those “just quickly shaving my legs at this basin” moments. I’m excited about packing for our beach holidays and trips this summer, and I’ll be sharing some tips on packing for families really soon. Here’s a snippet below. Can you even see the little baby razor?

IMG_20151104_091425

To celebrate the launch, Gillette #VenusOnTheGo is launching a competition where Venus fans can win a shopping spree worth R20 000 at Topshop. Too cool. To enter:

  1. Buy the NEW Venus Snap Razor** (R74.99 including VAT)
  2. Snap a picture of the contents of your personal bag including your NEW Venus Snap Razor
  3. Upload it to your Instagram using #VenusOnTheGo between now and 15 January 2016
  4. Visit GilletteSA on Facebook for terms & conditions

**View pack for competition details

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 8.18.55 AM

0
0
Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.26.38 AM

Stellenbosch is perfect for families this Spring!

We did some exploring in the Stellenbosch Wine Route last weekend! My mom moved closer to the area this week, which means that we’ll be spending so much more time in Stellies now. Obviously I’ve already started booking a few things for us to do. I wanted to tell you about a few favourite places that we discovered recently, in case you like them too. Or maybe you’re stuck on something fun to do with the kids these school holidays. So in no real order, we really loved:

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.26.38 AM

We did a walking tour of a vibrant township, called Kayamandi. Anyone can go, just take your kids or your family and book with Thembi, a registered tour guide. Thembi has lived in Kayamandi for most of her life, and even went to high school there. It seems she’s a bit of a celeb in the town, because so many people stopped to greet her and chat. She’s a most excellent guide and had all the inside stories on the development projects, and obviously all the good local skinner too.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.10.06 AM

I really want the boys to learn about the Xhosa culture and way of life, so this was a really great experience for them. We weren’t perceived as tourists or outsiders at all. The kids meshed straight in to the community; challenging every kid with a ball to a soccer game, demanding treats at the spaza shop and wandering in to people’s houses to chat.

IMG_20150926_122830

I’m really jealous of the sense of community in Kayamandi. Here in the Suburbs, you would never dream of just walking in to your neighbors house and making yourself at home, or hanging up someone else’s washing just because there’s space on the line. Even in my ‘nice’ area and neighborhood, I wouldn’t let the kids run around the block to meet friends at the park, ride their bikes or play soccer without me. In Kayamandi, your child is everyone’s child. Even mine. Everyone’s doors are open as they cook, wash dishes or watch television. Even when they leave their homes, they don’t even close the front door. The area that we were in (close to the school) is the good or safe neighborhood. Thembi explained that the closer you get to the outskirts – near the shebeens, things start to change… but only late at night.

It’s frowned upon for young women to hang out in Shebeens so girls in their 20s and so on have get-togethers at each other’s houses, which is viewed as more appropriate. Another normality at Kayamandi is that the older children are expected to help take care of their younger siblings once they start walking. There were loads of toddlers being dragged around by their annoyed older brothers who really only wanted to play soccer. Education is very important to the community, and schooling is free. The students get 2 ‘free’ meals at school every day. One of their greatest community development achievements is a colourful day care and creche that has been built opposite the local high school. Girls who fall pregnant in their teens now complete their schooling and get their matric, which Thembi says has changed the lives of hundreds of young girls over the years.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.07.19 AM

It’s not really in the Xhosa culture to keep pets for companionship. Animals are kept for food or wealth or work. Kayamandi, like most informal communities (hell even here in Claremont) has a serious rat problem. The infrastructure of their homes makes them quite vulnerable to pests, so lately they’ve started keeping cats in an effort to keep the rat population in order. They don’t show any kind of ‘human’ affection toward their pets and don’t kiss and cuddle them, but they respect their position and purpose in the household. There aren’t that many dogs roaming about, but I did giggle at one young lady who was super keen to get in a taxi to go shopping, but her dog had followed her all the way from home and she had to turn around and take him back. She was trying really hard to be mad, but the dog was so freakin happy and victorious that he’d stopped her from leaving.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.08.02 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.25.52 AM

I really enjoyed walking around the neighborhood and chatting to everyone. I especially loved talking to the mamas, and getting their take on parenting. Every mama I spoke to was super shocked that Benjamin is only 4 years old; and such a big little guy. They all offered advice on how to raise such a strong boy and could not emotionally deal with the fact that Noah doesn’t like to eat meat. I also enjoyed how proud the mamas are of their homes, and how all the women work together and have wonderful friendships with their neighbors. I couldn’t believe that they hang their laundry outside their homes or on a hill for the day and nobody ever takes or touches their things. I mean, I’m a stone-throw from Bishops Court and if I hung our clothes outside, you must know that someone on our street will make off with my Country Road coat, you know? If you’re keen to go on a Stellies tour, whether it be a wine, town or cultural tour, then check out all the options here > Stellenbosch Tours

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.07.19 AM

Another really fun thing to do for the whole family is Middelvlei Wine Estate‘s Boerebraai. I am gutted that we only discovered this place now, and I’m so excited to go back. They have such an unusual offering in a beautiful, picturesque setting. Middelvlei is exceptionally family friendly with kiddies juice pairings, food boxes, colouring in, farm animals and loads of space to run around and play.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.32.37 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.04.59 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.04.27 AM

They have toys for the kids to play with on the grass and a big old sandpit on the edge of the lawn. Families can have a long, leisurely lunch without worrying about the kids getting bored or fidgeting at the table. The food is incredible, all prepared on a big braai out at the back. You’ll especially love the homemade Potbrood and Pampoenkoekies. The Snoek Pate is a game changer, and the Malva Pudding is exactly like your Ouma would have made it. Also, go here for literally the best braaibroodjies in Cape Town. You’ll pay R165 a person for a traditional, gourmet braai that includes literally everything. Take a look > here’s the Middelvlei Boerebraai full menu.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.30.25 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.28.14 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.28.58 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.30.44 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.34.34 AM

A word of warning, they’re pretty much always full and fully booked, so call +27.218832565 or email info@middelvlei.co.za to make arrangements. The kids can also braai their own marshmallows, feed the farm animals or go on a tractor ride.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.33.49 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.34.17 AM

If you’re having a super good time and want to stay over or even do a midweek break with the family, then head over to Spier for a drive-in movie. We went last Saturday, and it was the boys’ FIRST ever drive-in experience. I know that there are loads of outdoor cinemas around, but Spier has the original offering. We reversed my car, put the seats down and made a little family bed from the back. They also have a little tuck shop going where you can buy wine, MCC and snacks. Even popcorn. It’s such a great atmosphere, with the kids running around or sitting on blankets in front of the cars. Again, they book up really fast, so get in touch here > Spier Events.

20150926_185747

We stayed at Wedgeview Country House and Spa, which was really central and super affordable, starting at R695 per night. Again, very family friendly. There are solar heated pools, loads of space and a lapa with a pool table. It’s beautifully decorated and the staff are super friendly too. The estate is surrounded by vineyards for as far as the eye can see, so expect spectacular views from every angle. Graeme had a quick nap before the movie because shame he can’t handle all this fun. Wedgeview is so beautiful that I went full-on ‘The Sound of Music’ all over the place.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.12 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.22 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.31 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.10.48 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.34.47 AM

IMG_20150926_181301

Another great family outing idea is Delvera, a little village created with adventurers and little ones in mind. Aside from the gorgeous restaurant, peddle-cart track, trampolines, the dam and lots of open space, I especially loved the Sustainable Living Centre. This is where they encourage and inform the public, especially the youth, how to live and work in a sustainable manner. This is probably the most important place to take your kids these school holidays, or over a weekend. Their ‘training’ takes 2-4 hours in the gardens, during which time you can have a stunning lunch at the restaurant next door. However, I think you’ll want to join in on the training – especially if you’re keen to have a food garden at home! This is what your kids will learn about >

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.38.56 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.06 AM

Soil care, composting, worm farming, creating seed banks, mushroom farming, how to create a hanging, raised or vertical garden. Aquacultures. Hydroponics. Organic pest control and how to successfully create, harvest and maintain a food garden at home. They’ll also learn about the environment, recycling and upcycling with Mark Heinstein, who runs the entire center. He is incredibly nice and packed with knowledge.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.15 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.42 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.38.41 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.39.58 AM

I think I asked at least three dozen questions and we left with a handful of giant pumpkin seeds and a few worms for our compost maker. Graeme was so inspired that he made a raised garden as soon as we got home. Once the kids are done with the business of learning about biodiversity and sustainable farming, they’ll love burning off some energy at the peddle carts. Delvera is gorgeous and has something for everyone – even full moon hikes. Get in touch with them to book your kids at the Biodiversity Center > info@delvera.co.za or +27 21 884 4352.

IMG_20150927_115754

If you’re still looking for something fun to do out of town on a weekend, then definitely check out the Lourensford Harvest Market. Great vibe, live music, kids activities, delicious food and lots of jumping castles and sports games for the kids. Open every Saturday and Sunday! You’re even allowed to take your dog. Also check out Millhouse Kitchen and most definitely go for wine tasting around the corner (I recommend the Turkish Delight pairing!) Get all those details here > http://lourensford.co.za/ Or mail info@lourensford.co.za or call 021 847 2333

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.03.08 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.40.28 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.02.53 AM

I hope that you’ve found something fun to do in this post, and that you’ll get exploring with the family this Spring. If, like me, you’ve been keeping a beady eye on the weather for next week – we’re in for warm and sunny days every day except Thursday. A major shout-out to all the other parents whose kids are on school holidays next week and have busy bodies to entertain. Have fun! (and good luck)

2
0
Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.48 PM

That time I went to Paris – September 2015

Paris was an important milestone for me. At school, Art History was the only subject that really resonated with me. I loved the Impressionists; especially Degas. I developed callouses on my right hand from writing so many essays about their paintings and different movements and periods. Art history became my sanctuary. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to see the paintings that became so important to me, and I wanted to see them in real life. I held on to that dream for 14 years.

I went to Paris for the art, and the rest was just noise. The Eiffel Tower meant nothing to me. The vintage dress I bought? Just fabric. The bookshop that everyone raved about was quite… average. The Sacre Coeur? I didn’t bother. On the day I went to the Musee d’Orsay I was shaking while getting ready. I trembled on the train. In the queue. My legs wobbled through the corridors and galleries, like I’d just jumped on a trampoline for 20 minutes and suddenly got off. I walked in to the van Gogh room first and I’ll never forget what it felt like. How overwhelmed I felt. I mean, I don’t even like his work, but to see his paintings in real life made me feel heavy. It made me feel insignificant and important at the same time. I felt… heartbroken. Emotional. Like being in shock when something really terrible has happened and you don’t believe it just yet. I felt like that the entire time that I was in there. After I saw the first Degas I cried like a 4 year old girl that had lost her mother in a crowd. I couldn’t understand why people were just walking past the painting, as if it didn’t matter. It all meant so much to me.

I got to see the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. I got to live in, and inhale Montmartre for 5 nights and 6 days. I got lost. I got emotional. I got scared and excited and overwhelmed and I got drunk. I felt more of myself than I have in years.

I had a really good time, and I would go back again right now if I could. I had so much fun. You can’t help but be floored by emotion when you’re in Paris, and I suspect that’s part of her appeal. Paris is disarmingly charming and you’d love it if you went – whatever your reasons for going. Wherever I travel to from here, I’ll seek out more art galleries and impressionist paintings. Maybe by the end of my life, I’d have seen them all. This was my personal impression of Paris.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 8.01.05 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 8.00.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.59.24 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.59.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.59.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 8.01.17 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.00 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.51.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.52.53 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.22 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.53.52 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.02 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.33 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.54.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.55.31 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.55.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.56.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.58.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.56.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.56.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.16 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.48 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.57.30 PM

I bought quite a few posters and art prints for the house and my office. I bought a Renoir print that I’m especially pleased with. A smaller Degas and a Monet. I sat for a portrait at Place du Terte and I have a hard crush on Neoclassicism now. I’ll see you again real soon, Parieee x

6
0