Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekend time is braai time

We are so fortunate in South Africa that we can braai with coals created from burning wood.  In so many countries you aren't allowed to braai on an open fire and if you are a real braaier then you would agree that a braai on gas just isn't a braai.  It's also so much more than just a braai.  It's about the socializing around the fire.  Enjoying a drink and a chat with friends and family while the fire is crackling away.  Getting the fire going again afterwards for a lekker kuier fire or to just sit and stare into.  Plus a wood fire makes the best braai because it gives the meat that extra bit of flavor.  It is weekend time... Braai time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Madiba's glasses

On my last visit to Cape Town I wanted to make sure I got to see the Madiba inspired "sunglasses" placed next to the promenade at Sea Point.  The art piece was created by artist Michael Elion, in conjunction with the City of Cape Town as part of World Design Capital 2014 and was in the news recently when it was defaced. 

I popped by early morning before heading off to World Travel Market Africa which I was attending...

... and came back the evening to get some photos of the sunset after the show

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cruising Cape Town's Waterfront canals with City Sightseeing

Just over a month ago I attended World Travel Market Africa at the CTICC in Cape Town.  One of the exhibitors was City Sightseeing Tours and they offered all delegates a free canal cruise on presentation of our delegate badges.  There are canals linking the V&A Waterfront with the Cape Town International Convention Centre and it is on these that City Sightseeing has started regular cruises to link the two areas as well as hotels like the One and Only, City Lodge and the Westin in front of the CTICC.

I decided to slip out for lunch on the first day of the exhibition and head down to the V&A Waterfront making use of the boat.  The boats depart from both the CTICC and the Waterfront sides every 20 minutes so I didn't have to wait long.  Both spots are also stops on the Hop on - Hop off bus tours so could be combined with their tours of Cape Town.  The cruise gives one a very different view of the Waterfront and it's surroundings than what you get from the road.  Luxury apartments flanked the canals just about all the way and I kept wondering what it must be like living here... or what you have to earn to afford it.  There is commentary available but as I wasn't on the bus tour I didn't have ear phones.  Not that it was an issue.  I made sure I sat right in front and was chatting with the skippers all the way and they answered all the questions I had.  As I mentioned the drop-off spot is at the One and Only Hotel and from there its a quick walk to the craft market and the rest of what the V&A Waterfront has to offer.  Wish I had time to do the Hop on - Hop off tour while in town as well, but that will have to wait till another time. 
Disclosure: I went on the canal cruise as a delegate attending the World Travel Market Africa exhibition and received no remuneration, wasn't asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Camping and canoeing at sunset

You know your kids are enjoying a camping trip and perfect weather when they're still out on the water after sunset.  The picture is from a recent camping trip to Sitrusoewer on the banks of the Sundays River outside Kirkwood. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Moonrise on the Wild Coast

I spent the most amazing three days exploring the Wild Coast recently and will still post all about it in the coming weeks.  Obviously there are lots of photos to share as well.  In the mean time here is one I took at Wavecrest on my first night of the moon rising over the river mouth at about 7pm.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dune Ridge - a country jewel in the St Francis Bay crown

When you think St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape you tend to think beautiful coastline and black and white houses on the canals.  If you had to spend a weekend in St Francis you would probably expect your guesthouse to have stunning sea views or be situated right on the canals.  Yes, but not always.  We spend a fabulous weekend at Dune Ridge Country House just outside (and with this I mean literally only a stone's throw away) St Francis Bay and found anything but.
As we arrived at Dune Ridge we knew we were in for a treat.  This award winning - it was the national winner in the four star country house category at the 2013 Lilizela Awards -  accommodation establishments are nestled away between thick coastal fynbos teeming with a multitude of bird species and the large dune fields to the rear of the property.  You are literally removed from the rest of St Francis Bay so it gives you a great country feeling while still only 5 minutes away from the beaches and canals.  We were welcomed by owner Sarah Swanepoel who showed to our rooms consisting of two of the 6 double rooms in the main house.  Unfortunately the family cottage outside was booked but there was an inter leading passage joining the rooms giving us our privacy yet still being close to the KidZ. 
The guesthouse is surrounded by lush gardens and once the KidZ started exploring they quickly came back to fetch us and point out the paths to the swimming pool and well hidden spa area.  The pool looks like the ideal spot to sit with a book and cool down between chapters.  Unfortunately for us it was a cool autumn weekend which meant that we skipped the pool and rather went for a couple of short hikes along the Cape St Francis coastline nearby.  The one thing we didn't get a chance to do was Dune Ridge's Frog Safari.  Not for the squeamish I presume but I'm sure the adventurous would get to see a couple of potential princes (and princesses?) hopping around in their torch lights.

Although Dune Ridge serves dinner we tried out a couple of places in the village.  Breakfast was a feast though, served out on the stoep the first day and inside the dining room the second.  Talk about spoiling us rotten.  The KidZ especially loved the waitress who brought them hot chocolates with probably more marshmallows in it than actual hot chocolate.  The same stoep was also the perfect spot for afternoon coffee and listening to the birds (when we could get to KidZ to be quite for 5 minutes) with a glass of wine around sunset.  Was it sunset or wine 'o clock? I can't remember.  But is there a difference?
Dune Ridge really is something a little bit different from what you expect out in that area.  The guesthouse is a mixture of colonial nostalgia and modern sophistication yet it isn't stuffy and pretentious.  It's family friendly, very homely, a beautiful setting, offers great service and dishes up good food.  Yes I know that line sounded just a bit too cliché but believe me, you get everything but cliché.  The only problem?  Our stay being just too short. 
Disclosure: We enjoyed the visit as guests of  Dune Ridge Country House.  I received no further remuneration, wasn't asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.