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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A word of warning, they’re pretty much always full and fully booked, so call +27.218832565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements. The kids can also braai their own marshmallows, feed the farm animals or go on a tractor ride.
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.
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.
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 >
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.
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 > email@example.com or +27 21 884 4352.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 021 847 2333
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)