Kid friendly Stanford school holiday fun

With the school calendar turned topsy-turvey this year, holiday plans with the kids must have gone a-muddle. Never fear, Stanford is near. A gem of a village tucked between mountains and ocean, with a river running through it, this wonderful family destination (only two hours’ drive from Cape Town) has it all and more!

Full of good clean fresh air, clouds draping over the Klein River Mountains promising a beautiful warm day for morning strolls along the rivers’ edge, quiet streets for cycling and skateboards, and a leiwater system filled with evening platannas and the promise of wild, free and innocent old-fashioned childhoods that make country life for children sublime. This is what Stanford promises for family time:

  1. Cycle down a lane

Bring your bikes because there are many flat roads and gentle slopes to explore in Stanford. Cycling down to the King Street slipway is a favourite, and usually ends in an unplanned dip in the Klein River. Meander along the Wandelpad – a well maintained walk along the rivers edge under ancient milkwoods and towering blue gums where there are artistic treasures to be discovered. Or how about a leaf boat race down the village’s ancient leiwater system. At the top end of Queen Victoria you’ll find a secret BMX ramp track in amongst the blue towering gums. This is an excellent spot to while away an afternoon and from which to see and hear our local fish eagles.

  1. Go on a river cruise

There are a few boats from which to choose, depending on the size of your group. For smaller families the River Rat can handle two families for an afternoon braai and also hire out canoes for a bit of paddling fun in the sun. For multiple family get-togethers, the African Queen offers a gentle trundle down the river with a braai and inflatables for energetic kids and enthusiastic adults. And for the more sedate, the Lady Stanford. All possible to be booked at the Stanford Tourism Office.

  1. Have a low-key lunch just outside town

There are a few family-friendly places to eat in and around the village. The Tasting Room at Stanford Hills includes a play area, tame animals, kiddie’s menus and meals for adults. The Harvest Basket has picnic baskets which can accommodate children and has a farm atmosphere with sheep, while the Lagoon Cafe at Mosaic also has a light lunch menu and sprawling outdoor spaces shaded by ancient milkwoods which children love to climb. The Birkenhead Brewery on Walker Bay Wine Estate serves cheese and meat boards together with their beer and wine tasting offerings (while their restaurant is currently being renovated so what this space). They boast one of the best views of the Klein Rivier Mountains with loads of romping space for children. Mosaic Lagoon Lodge are running a ‘Mommy and Me’ Spa package for R750, and a ‘Daddy and Me’ Quad Biking package for R600. Book a lunch at this beautiful venue too and make a whole day of it! And lets not forget The Zesty Lemon which serves breakfast and lunch all weekend with a play area for kids ideally located on the other side of a beautiful lily pond.

  1. Picnic under a tree

If building your own picnic and finding a secret place is up your street, make sure you catch the Morning Market on the hotel stoep or the Stanford Junktique Market outside of the Stanford Tourism Office every Saturday morning for local produce and baked goods, hire a bike from the Stanford Tourism Office and tootle off down to the river banks of the Klein River on the north side of the village.

  1. Explore the heart of the village

Families love walking Queen Victoria Street on Saturday mornings. Many stoeps offer pop-up tables of fundraising food, like pannekoek for the NG Kerk, or boerewors rolls for the Junior School koshuis and of course, the much-loved rooster koek from Maryke at the Stanford Junktique Market.

  1. Play on the Market Square

This is the last untouched market square in South Africa and its geography in the centre of the village makes it perfect for bringing people together. Bring your own soccer ball or frisbee to make use of the space or come to one of the Sunset Evening Markets (last Friday of every month and if raining, at the Birkenhead Brewery). A small municipal children’s play park is also available on northern corner of the village green for younger children to enjoy.

  1. Birdwatching at Willem Appel Bird Hide

Pop into the Stanford Tourism Office and put down a deposit on the key to the bird hide. A short stroll to the hide in the morning or evening always grabs the attention of children who sit quietly for a few moments, watching moor hens, ducks and dragon flies darting over the water lilies.

  1. Visit the big cats at Panthera Africa

Families must book in advance but a visit to Panthera Africa just outside of town always moves visitors. The beauty and majesty of the rescued and retired big cats is a conservation lesson in itself. Kids are always excited to see lions, leopards, tigers and caracals up close.

  1. Take a flip with African Wings

A flight over Walker Bay in a small 4-seater aeroplane is a nerve-rattling experience for some but for others a splendid adventure. During whale season (July-Dec), African Wings guarantees sightings of whale pods, and sometimes even albino calf, shark and dolphin sightings are thrown in as added extras.

  1. Hike along Die Plaat

For those who like to keep their feet firmly on the ground, the Wortelgat road out to Die Plaat, part of the Walker Bay Conservancy, is a 15km drive to a beautiful untouched piece of wild coastline. You can slide down the dunes or watch the sun set over the backs of Southern Right whales. A 4×4 is necessary unless your family is happy to walk the last 2 kilometres.

Of course, there is lots more to do. There are friendly restaurants in town, and a couple of very fancy restaurants too, for which you may prefer to hire a babysitter to watch the kids. The Stanford Wine Route includes 9 fabulous estates surrounding Stanford. Our neighbouring villages also boast beautiful beaches, caves, hikes and restaurants. The whole Cape Whale Coast experience bursts with moments to treasure this time of year.

A little birdie once told me …

A little birdie once told me …

A walking tour around Stanford Village will reveal a wide variety of bird habitats right on its doorstep, offering those with a sense of curiosity in nature, a diverse and rewarding birding experience. Prime areas within the village confines are the Willem Appel Dam and the Wandelpad meandering along Stanford’s water courses.

Outlying areas include the Wortelgat Road, the Klein River Bird Sanctuary and the Akkedisberg Pass. The Willem Appel Dam Hide, right in the village centre, is best visited just after sunrise. Sighting specialities include Little Bittern, African Purple Swamphen, Black Crake, Malachite Kingfisher, Levaillant’s Cisticola and White-backed, African Black and White-faced ducks. The reed beds are a good place to look for Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warbler, whilst Reed Cormorant roost in the dead trees. The picnic site under the Milkwoods on the opposite bank of the dam is a good spot to find forest species such as the elusive Knysna Woodpecker, Cape Batis, Southern Boubou, Fiscal and Paradise Flycatcher and Bar-throated Apalis. The area along the Mill Stream and Vlei Rd can reward the patient birder with Buffspotted Flufftail, its distinctive call drawing attention to its presence. The Willem Appel Dam has a floating island loved by birds. There are many opportunities for taking excellent photographs from the cover of the Bird Hide (keys available from the Stanford Tourism Office).

A further stroll along the Wandelpad provides excellent birding through a small Milkwood forest to the Klein River and along the river path. A variety of Weavers can be found in the reed beds. Sombre Greenbul is heard in the Milkwoods, along with Olive Woodpecker. Grey and Black-headed Herons roost in the blue gums and in summer the Paradise Flycatchers nest in the poplars.

Overhead, a wonderful variety of Swallows, Swifts and Martins hawk for food and raptors are numerous. These include African Harrier-hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Jackal and Common Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite and the ubiquitous African Fish Eagle — all can be found along the open stretch on the Wandelpad. A boat trip down the Klein River is a typical must for spotting a host of riverine species and the occasional special such as Honey Buzzard. Cape Siskin, a shy and elusive fynbos endemic, can usually be found in the Casuarina (Beefwood) avenue along the old Akkedisberg Road up to Stanford Hills Estate. If one continues along this road (in a high clearance vehicle) there are a number of fynbos species to be found; Orange-breasted Sunbird, Protea Seed-eater, Cape Sugarbird, Karoo Prinia and Cape Bunting are but a few. Wood Owl have been known to breed in the poplar thickets near the Klein River Cheese Factory. The surrounding farmlands are well stocked with Blue Crane and Denham’s Bustard and the endangered Black Harrier can usually be found quartering low-lying fynbos.

There are also a wide variety of day walking hikes available just outside the village from Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, Stanford Hills Estate and also from Vaalvlei Farm Estate which make for excellent bird watching. The Klein River Mountains and Akkedisberg Pass (on the R326) which follow the route of the river are home to many birds, and the farms along the Papiesvlei Road embrace outdoor life and nature. When the pristine fynbos is in flower late winter, the birdlife and insects, along with other natural wild inhabitants such as caracul, riverine hare, klipspringer, common duiker, cape bushbuck, honey badger, porcupine, wild cat, bat eared fox, cape fur fox and even the elusive leopard (if you’re one of the lucky ones) is a sight to behold.

For guided tours, access to the Willem Appel Hide and Klein River boat trips for you future visits, contact the Stanford Tourism Office Tel: 028 341 0340, email: ask@stanfordinfo.co.za, website: www.stanfordtourism.co.za.

Majestic Mountains and where to find them

Majestic Mountains –
to be explored by foot, bike, horse or boat!

#visitstanford

Mountains have always captivated and inspired the human spirits. There seems to be a powerful attraction, which stirs a desire to either explore and conquer its peaks, or merely rest and relax in its valleys and rivers.

Whichever appeals to you, there is a landscape of diverse flora and fauna waiting to be explored by foot, horseback, bike or 4×4. Stanford is the perfect base from which to explore these majestic structures and if you give us enough notice , we will gather the local food artisans and put together the most delicious and nutritious picnics and snack packs for you to take with,  we may even suggest some of our local wines for you to enjoy in the shade of the Kleinrivier mountains.

Hiking Trails
Hikers are spoilt for choice in this region, not only with the spectacular views and abundance of varying biomes, but you have your choice of anything from a gentle walk and picnic to a multi-day hike. Phillipskop Mountain Reserve offers a unique opportunity to access part of the Klein River Mountains. Visitors are welcome to hike anywhere on the reserve but they have established a number of hiking trails to help you in your exploration. You may also wish to explore Walker Bay Nature Reserve 17 km of rocky and sandy coastline which include the incredible cliff paths at De Kelders. See more on walks and hiking trails in our region.

Mountain Biking
As home to the Stanford MTB Classic stage event  we have so much to offer the avid Mountain Biker and the whole family! Start in Stanford and explore the many tracks through the fynbos and nature reserves.

Horse Trails
Explore our wonderful region on horseback, as many of the early explorers must have. African Horse Company offers 1-3 hours or multi–day horse trails and outrides. You will ride along kilometers of unspoiled beach, climb rugged mountain terrain, and ride through indigenous forest, cross private farms and vineyards and swim with your horse in dams filled with the purest mountain water. What a wonderful way to discover our region.

River Adventures
For some the mere luxury of gazing up from the valleys and rivers to take in the numerous rock formations is enough food for the soul. In Stanford we take full advantage of our Kleinivier and you can hire a Kayak from River Rat Boat Cruise & Kayak Hire and do some self-exploration.
The river is famous for its big variety of birdlife, breeding and nesting in the reeds on the banks of the river. Other wild life include some buck in a small reserve, otters feeding on crabs, terrapins and the odd puff adder swimming across the river.
Or simply pack a picnic ( you can stock up from our many food and wine artisans) and enjoy a leisurely cruise with Lady Stanford, or African Queen Cruises.

Read all about our Stanford River Festival here. A lovely account from Roger Duffet.

Spotted on Instagram.

Did you #VisitStanford recently and bragged a little on Instagram? Well we may just have spotted you!

To discover more of Stanford’s Secrets, pop into the Tourism Office in Queen Victoria Street, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

For weekly updates, make sure you sign up for the free What’s on compiled by Stanford Tourism every Thursday right here. That’s all for now, folks. And remember, if anyone asks where you got your news, tell them you heard it through the Grapevine!

Stanford River Festival 2019

One-hundred-and-six boats, one-hundred-and-thirty-something paddlers,
eight sitters, two standers, one swimmer and a dog!

The annual Stanford River Festival took place in ideal conditions on
Saturday 2nd March on the beautiful Klein Rivier. The event is a mix of
serious racing and not-so-serious fun! It offers something exciting for
all levels of paddlers including those who just love plonking along in a
boat with friends and family!

Line up at King Street for the start! A colourful spectacle of boats,
jokes, laughing insults and a small measure of anxiety. The serious
racers are at the front, strategically looking for the best way off the
line. Just behind a jostle of anxious youngsters looking to be in on the
action and at the back the fancy dress party! The starter calls and the
race is off – churning the still water into a tumble of waves out to
topple the unwary.

From Stanford the river carries the paddlers out toward the lagoon. The
turn for the 15km route is just on the edge of the lagoon where the
sleepy water loses itself in the shallows and the flamingos, in unison,
ignore the passing race. It takes about 36 minutes for the first
paddlers to reach the turn. At this point just over half of the 5km race
has finished. Joshua Loubser [U14] came storming through in 23 minutes
and 1 second on a Ski chased home by Emma Privett [U12] in a Guppy.
Third across the line was Daniel Burls [U16] in a K1. First dog across
the line, stylish bandanna ad all, was Gemma [U6] in a fine hand made
wooden kayak! Joshua, Emma, Daniel and Gemma are all from Stanford Canoe
Club.

The Wooden Boat Regatta at the The Stanford River Festival was a new
thing this year. Graceful, shining wooden hulls mingled with the dowdier
K1s and K2s bringing a touch of class to the river. Let’s hope we see
more of them next year! Local builder Neil Eberhard took the prize for
best presented wooden boat on display at the festival.

Meanwhile, with the 15km racers now racing back for the finish line the
first 10km paddlers were coming home. Rodger Duffett [M] was first back
in 54 minutes and 57 seconds. Racing to the finish, up-and-coming
paddlers Khanyisa Ngaxa [U14] and Sibongeleni Mzimba were second and
third. The first five places in the 10km were all Stanford paddlers with
fourth and fifth going to Nonelela Mqalekane [U14] and Samkele Mgengo
[U14] respectively! Go Team!

One hour, seven minutes and thirty five seconds after starting out Lance
King [S] from Milnerton Canoe club crossed the line to take first place
and the points for the Western Cape Canoe Union Presidents Trophy.
Second place went to Luke Stowman [S] from Paarl and third to Ernest van
Riet [V] from University of Stellenbosch. The first lady home was
Christina Geromont from Milnerton Canoe Club [U23] in 1h23m46s closely
followed by Amy Duffett [U14] from Stanford. Third lady in the open
category was Lindi-May Harmsen [V] from Milnerton.

Of the one-hundred-and-thrity-something paddlers about 35 paddled in the
under 18 category! Our friendly rivals from the Paarl Developmont club
made the journey from their home river – the Berg River – to join us on
the Klein Rivier. In the Boys Junior class Matthew Privett [U16],
Stanford, took line honours in 1h12m53s. Bevan Duffett [U18], Stanford,
was second across the line and Eugon Williams [U16] from Paarl was
third. The Girls race was a Stanford clean sweep with Amy Duffett [U14]
first and Neriyah Dill [U14] second.

Let’s not forget to count the Guppies! A special sprint race over 2km
was held for the Guppies aged 8 to 12. Tia Hector from Paarl took this
one from Emma Privett [Stanford]. The girls led the way in this one with
Lucian from Paarl coming third! Well done to Jahkahyda [Paarl], Sibusiso
[Stanford], Whitney and AJ [Paarl] and Joshua, Boaz and Tristan from
Stanford!

And so, another river festival came and went! It was such a pleasure to
enjoy this very special place with all who came! A big thank-you to all
who worked to make it happen especially for the support of the Grootbos
Foundation and Stanford Tourism! Funds raised at the event go toward
supporting the Stanford Canoe Club Development Academy.

 

Author: Rodger Duffett

Images: Wilien van Zyl

 

 

 

Secret swimming pools of Stanford

Cool, liquid, floating relief from the heat of summer comes in many forms in Stanford. These glorious pools are tucked away at guest houses, self-catering cottages, and on farms. Don’t forget Stanford’s very own Klein River, perfect for cooling off. Go on, take the plunge!

Jump in at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

White Water Farm has a magnificent pool that brings the Indian Ocean islands to Stanford, and it also has a great dam, perfect for bomb drops! http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/white-water-farm/

Aquamarine pool at White Water Farm

Top dam at White Water Farm

Stanford River Lodge has a pool with a view, and private access to the Klein River. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/stanford-river-lodge-bb/

Stanford River Lodge

Private access to the beautiful Klein River from Stanford River Lodge

Phillipskop Mountain Reserve is open to day visitors and overnighters. Fancy a dip in a natural lily pond or at the bottom of a waterfall? https://www.phillipskop.co.za/activities/swimming/

Phillipskop:  Nerine Pool

 

Swimming in the Lily Pond, Phillipskop

For a top-notch farm dam, Stanford Valley Guest Farm boasts one of the best. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/stanford-valley-guest-farm/

Perfect farm life at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Let your troubles float away at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

And within the village, many holiday cottages will delight you beautiful swimming pools like this one at The Country Cottage. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/the-country-cottage/

8 metre pool at The Country Cottage

The Little Farm House has a dam perfect for a dip. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/a-little-farmhouse/

Children playing at the Little Farm House

And Stanford boasts the Klein River, a cool, winding ribbon of water that flows from its source in the mountains outside Caledon, just 5km as the crow flies to its mouth on the outskirts of Hermanus. The Klein River is fun for swimmers and paddlers who need to cool off on lazy, late summer afternoons.

Klein River at the bottom of King Street

 

By Phil Murray

 

Rev up your engines: discover the R326 and the Akkedisberg Pass.

For those of us addicted to roads, roadtripping and stupendous scenery, we’re privileged to be able to enjoy various mountain passes in the Western Cape. It’s total roadcandy.

Driving through a mountain pass carries with it a certain symbolism. More than just the exhilarating sense of freedom that being on the open road evokes, it’s the physical act of passing from one place into another. It’s almost as if the lie of the land echoes the state of your mind… heading towards something new and leaving something else behind…

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Interestingly enough, there’s the southernmost mountain pass – Akkedisberg – right on our doorstep (R326). The pass is one of the oldest in South Africa, dating back to 1776. Detouring on the R326 to Napier/Bredasdorp/Arniston, the raw features and breath-taking views of the Akkedisberg are simply jaw-dropping!

This small, scenic pass is almost worth planning your entire holiday around, that’s how stunning it is. There is so much to see and do on the R326 and the Akkedisberg Pass. Here are some top tips (just too mention a few. Wording abridged from their websites)…

Picture: Boschrivier Wines

Picture: Boschrivier Wines

Boschrivier Wines
Boschrivier Wines is located on two farms that lie at the foot of the Klein River Mountain range on the R326 near Stanford. The first farm, Remhoogte, hosts the vineyards from which Boschrivier wines are produced and a manor house turned into a wine house/coffee shop that is open to the public for wine tasting.
The manor house on the second farm, Boschkloof, is available for guests to rent. Home to blue cranes, takbokke, fynbos and other wildlife, the Boschkloof manor house makes for a true farm getaway.

Picture: Raka Wines

Picture: Raka Wines

Raka Wines
The Raka brand was named after Piet Dreyer’s black fishing vessel. Piet’s first love has always been the sea. For some 36 years he braved the storms and challenges of the coast, ever in search of the best catch. It is with this same passion that the Dreyer family now pursue the art of winemaking. With the rich blessing of earth and elements, the help of a dedicated workforce, the enthusiasm of winemaker Josef Dreyer and the advantages of a modern gravity flow cellar, Piet Dreyer produces his award-winning Raka wines.

Picture: Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Picture: Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Stanford Valley Guest Farm
Stanford Valley Guest Farm nestles in the valley of the Klein Rivier, 10km outside Stanford village. They offer comfortable accommodation as well as conference facilities. Enjoy upmarket country cuisine, prepared by renowned chef Madre Malan and her team at the Manor House Restaurant whilst soaking in the glorious scenic landscapes.

Picture: Klein River Cheese

Picture: Klein River Cheese

Klein River Cheese
Klein River Farmstead offers an array of exceptional, high-quality and award-winning South African cheeses. The farm is open to the public and you can taste and purchase cheese as well as a variety of gourmet products in The Cheese Shop; enjoy a delicious picnic on the banks of the river; all while the children enjoy the extensive playground or pet and feed the many farm animals.

Picture: White Water Farm

Picture: White Water Farm

White Water Farm
Historic White Water Farm is a welcoming rural haven with magnificent mountain scenery in the Klein River valley. This historical venue is the ideal place to escape – whether it is for a much needed rest, an adventure, a business conference, a wedding or a private retreat. White Water has its own “chapel” as well as restaurant on the premises.

Picture: Blue Gum Country Estate

Picture: Blue Gum Country Estate

Blue Gum Country Estate
Named after the 140-year old Blue Gum tree that grows on our front lawn, the estate is both a working farm dating back to 1839 and a private, family-run guest house. Whether you stay in the old Manor House suites, the more private Mountain View Cottages or our Blue Gum Family Rooms, you’ll discover a tranquil retreat that offers something for everyone from honeymoon couples to solo travellers and large family groups. With this in mind there is also two restaurants on the estate.

Picture: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

Picture: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

Phillipskop Mountain Reserve
Unwind, explore and discover at this mountain reserve that occupies the southerly slopes of the Klein River Mountains just to the east of Stanford. They offer spacious chalet-style self-catering cottages, perched on the slopes of the Klein River Mountains with sweeping views across the Overberg, as well as opportunities for guests and day visitors to explore the reserve and discover more as they do… Various hiking trails on offer as well as guided botanical walks.

Picture: Boeredans Cottage

Picture: Boeredans Cottage

Boeredans Cottage
The “Boeredans Cottage” is 2.5 km from the village and is an easy drive for city vehicles. It is also only 30 meters from the Klein River and sleeps 5. The cottage is located on a working farm; sheep, Nguni cattle and Emu’s roam freely and which adds to the farm style atmosphere.

Picture: Walkerbay Estate

Picture: Walkerbay Estate

Walkerbay Estate includes Birkenhead Brewery
This is the first wine and brewing estate in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit their vineyard and winery where they produce Walker Bay Vineyards wines, and enjoy their delicious food and freshly home-brewed beer.

And then it’s so true: here in Stanford, we’re really quite proud of all the cool stuff our village and surrounds has to offer. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about our river, mountains, our wine, our wildlife, our heritage, our cape floral kingdom and just gush in general about Stanford’s natural beauty (not to mention its world-class accommodation, restaurants…)

Just remember the following tip when revving up your engines for a scenic trip:

“Here’s the secret to a good mountain view: leave your camera behind. You’ll never see all the beauty of the landscape through your lens, and when you upload your photos at home you’ll be disappointed in the pale colours which only hint at the gorgeous rock hues you’ve witnessed. Drink the view with your eyes and remember that when you need another look you’ll be better off taking another drive than paging through an album. The lofty mountain heights will be there to enjoy long after your photos fade.”
-Jen Hoyer, Getaway Magazine: October 17, 2012

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Toodles

Stanford Retail Therapy – with a Difference!

Choosing a favourite pass-time in Stanford is surely impossible because you are spoiled for choice with all the world-class attractions right on our doorstep.

However, one of my favourites is to indulge in retail therapy – with a difference!  Simply taking a walk through Stanford village in search of delightful and interesting antique shops, galleries and gift stores where you can browse and buy.  And then it’s so true…

“We don’t mind if antiques is old and chippy, we don’t care if it is faded, rusty or worn, we simply love the story behind it, the history within it and the patina on it!”

-Anon

Photo: #stanfordcountrycottages

And whilst browsing, I always ask myself…is it Vintage, Antique, Retro…or is it just out of style? When you buy something how do you know if it’s vintage? Or just someone’s old clothes that went out of style, like the chunky square toed heels your mom used to wear in the 90’s? What is the difference?

Some shop-owner even told me once that cars only need to be 25 years old to be considered antiques – I was stunned because according to that definition I am already an antique!

The words antique, retro, and vintage still leave collectors in open combat as their meanings and their proper use. Our language is ever changing, and we continue to redefine words and use them in different ways.

Photo: #stanfordcountrycottages

As per a resident Stanfordian, modern conversation has attributed these definitions to the following words:
Antique. Something that is really old, dusty, possibly made of carved wood… maybe it came from your grandma’s parents attic or basement.  My niece equates antique with old and ugly, i.e. “That dress is practically an antique!”…but vintage is old and totally adorable…or “totes amazeballs.”
Vintage. Old but cute enough to charge double the price for it. Usually nostalgic in some way or could be useful as a movie prop.
Retro. Either something that is in the style of something from the past and its brand new or it’s something that is outdated and coming back into style.

As you can see the above definitions is totally inconclusive.  Easily interchangeable in common conversation their true meanings have been lost except when we look in the dictionary.

But although antique or vintage or retro…if you love it and you like the excitement of taking something old and giving it a new life – then look forward to happy hunting days in Stanford village.

Photo: #stanfordcountrycottages

A few useful tips for Antique & Collectibles Hunting

Trust your gut

If something calls out to you, don’t ignore it. Often if you decide to wait on purchasing an item, someone will beat you to it. Don’t risk the chance of letting something you really love slip away from you. If you’re not entirely sure, write down the booth number and come back to it later.

Value the structure over the colour

When looking at things like chairs or tables, remember that they can be reupholstered or repainted. The shape, engravings, and style are more important than the colour. Try to imagine the chair you’re looking at with a fresh coat of paint and new fabric. Sometimes an ugly chair just needs a little work to be perfect.

Picture the piece in your home

Sometimes it’s hard to visualize what a furniture item will look like when it’s not surrounded by an odd assortment of flea market goods. When looking at your potential new chair or armoire, try to imagine it sitting in your living room. The piece of furniture’s potential might be hidden when it’s surrounded by rusty buttons and old baseball cards.

Browsing or buying in Stanford – you will love all the vintage and antique things that spark nostalgia.  Several collectors of decades and promoters of antiques is on offer in Stanford village.  They are time travellers, hunters of history and builders of memories.  Come see for yourself and happy hunting folks!

Toodles

Shops to visit in Stanford: *Stanford Trading Store *Stanford Upcycle *TAT Antiques & Vintage Décor*De Kleine Rivers Valey House *The New Junk Shop

Photos: #stanfordcountrycottages

 

Photo:  #stanfordcountrycottages

 

Fantabulous Fynbos Flair

Here in Stanford, we’re really quite proud of all the cool stuff our village and surrounds has to offer. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about our river, mountains, our wine, our wildlife, our heritage and just gush in general about Stanford’s natural beauty (not to mention its world-class accommodation, restaurants…).

So small wonder that here’s yet another part of Stanford I want to tell you about: The Cape Floral Kingdom.

Of the six floral kingdoms in the world, South Africa’s might be the smallest, but, as the old adage goes, it’s not the size that matters. You see … it’s also the only floral kingdom occurring entirely within one country.

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

The Cape Floral Kingdom is composed mostly of fynbos, a biome (that’s basically science talk for a really big family) that is endemic to the region. It is these particular plants that give the region its impressive biodiversity bragging rights, as well being interesting in their own right.
Fynbos species are pretty unique in their reproductive and fire-adaptive strategies, making the Cape Floral Kingdom incredibly valuable to science. Many fynbos plants contain oils and resins that make them extremely flammable, and fires are undoubtedly important natural factors in the evolution and maintenance of fynbos vegetation. Many fynbos species can resprout after a fire, while others depend on fire for a chance to flower and set seed.

Photo Copyright: stanfordvillage.co.za

Photo Copyright: stanfordvillage.co.za

I came across an article in the Splash Magazine highlighting facts about different types of fynbos. Strictly speaking not all the plants mentioned are fynbos, but you will find them growing in the fynbos region of the Western Cape. They were included in the broader appreciation of fynbos. Just too highlight a few…

*The term fynbos (or fynbosch), recorded in the Tsitsikamma area by John Noble in 1868, was first formally used only in the early 20th century, when ecologist John Bews cited it as “applied by the inhabitants of the Cape to any sort of small woodland growth that does not include timber trees.”

*The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay is unique – in that it encompasses a complete river system, from its start in the mountains to its mouth at sea level.

*Artemisia afra (Wilde-als) is one of the most well-known indigenous medicinal plants used in South Africa. It is primarily the leaves that are used as a treatment for fevers, colds and chest problems. Nasal congestion and headaches is said to be alleviated successfully by placing rolled-up leaves into the nostrils or by inhaling the dried powdered form of the leaves.

*Buchu is great for hangovers. Although challenging to grow (plant it after first rains and you will have more luck) buchu attracts bees and butterflies to the garden, and is a natural insect repellent if rubbed on your skin or bedding. To deal with hangovers simply add a handful of the leaves to boiling water and drink as a tea.

*Eat the sour fig raw. The dried fruit often sold on the side of the road in Cape Town is great for sprawling quickly over undesirable banks and areas of the garden you want to cover. But you might not know that you can eat the fruit raw (bite off the bottom and suck out the syrup) and that drinking the leaf juice will help with indigestion, toothache, vaginal thrush and earache (although not necessarily in that order). It also helps subdue insect bites and bluebottle (man-of-war) stings.

*There are 23 different species of honeybush, only 9 of which are used for tea. Honeybush produces an exciting pea-shaped yellow flower in spring that is a feature for any garden. The plant grows quickly, needs pruning, and looks best when planted in groups at least one metre apart. To make a tea simmer the dried leaves and shoots for 20 minutes.

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Incidentally, the Cape Floral Kingdom also happens to be strikingly beautiful. So even if all this information means nothing to you, you really need to get yourself out and into the fynbos to see what we mean. Conveniently (isn’t nature ever so accommodating?) you can see and walk in the Cape Floral Kingdom in Stanford and its surrounds.

Comes to no surprise that even early visitors to the Cape was also overwhelmed by the diversity and beauty of our local flora. Lady Ann Barnard, wife of the Secretary to the First British Administration, notes in her diary entry for 10 October 1799

“…I was more than ever confirmed in the opinion that a botanist here must live a
year or two in the country…for he must be in many places at once as the plains, the
marshy or dry soils, the tops of the mountains or the gullies all produce very
different flowers from each other in the same season”.

Toodles

#visitstanford #thinkstanford #tourismforall #fynbos #capefloralkingdom #capewhalecoast

Winter Wonder Winelands in Stanford

The Stanford Wine Route was recently launched, and there is no shortage of wines and entertainment on this fantastic little route. There are 8 wine farms on this route, and while they are close enough together to complete in one go, I would really recommend taking more time! I recently took the opportunity to explore the different wine farms on this route to see how they are in winter. Many of the wine farms have wonderful welcoming log fires, pleasant restaurants and spectacular views, and there are lots to do for kids on some of these wonderful farms. I’m certainly not a wine connoisseur, but it was definitely an experience to taste some of the outstanding wines that are made in this region! Here I discuss the estates and what they have to offer in the order in which I visited them over a period of two days.

Boschrivier Wine EstateBoschrivier compile

Set at the foot of the Klein River Mountain range and about 17 km from Stanford on the R326, this picturesque wine estate belongs to Dr NJT De Villiers and his family. The estate bottles between 5 000 and 6 000 bottles per season. 6 Hectares are used for Cabernet, and 3 hectares of Shiraz is grown on some of the finest terroirs in the area. Wine consultant Mike Dobrovic and his able support team ensure that the grapes are always of the highest quality and that Boschrivier is a true competitor in the Overberg wine industry. This relaxing wine farm also provides a restored charming, luxurious 4-bedroom farmhouse with a spacious stoep from where the surrounding vistas can be taken in with a glass of Boschrivier Shiraz, while soaking up the stunning Overberg winter sunset.

What we loved: The small home kitchen provides outstanding toasted sandwiches and is the perfect place to stop for a rest. The shop sells crafts, jams and other produce home made by the local residents, and these are all top notch! The spacious yet cosy farmhouse is the perfect place for a luxurious country winter break with the family.

Raka WinesRaka Wine Farm

About 14 kilometres outside Stanford you will find the statuesque Raka wine estate.  Here, 16 different wines are created from 70 hectares of vines. The farm is a huge 600 hectares but they also plant wheat and other produce here. Piet Dreyer’s first love is the sea, and when he bought this farm he named it after his black fishing vessel. Now, his son, Josef Dreyer, is the winemaker, and he has made some serious inroads in the wine making industry over the last few years. I tasted five of the wines which included the 2 flagship wines – the Bordeaux and the Shiraz. With prizes being awarded and a mention in the Platters 2016 wine guide, these are some of the best wines on the route. The estate itself is picturesque and welcoming, and even though there is no restaurant here, it is possible to purchase a range of snacks and nuts to go with the wine tasting.

What we loved:  The place is beautiful and views of the vineyards nestled in the value are charming. Melanie, the hostess, is super friendly and knowledgeable about the wine and the estate, and her wine tasting was enjoyable and interesting. The wines are also superb!

Walker Bay WineWalker Bay

Walker Bay Wine Estate is situated at the beautiful Birkenhead Brewery, and here I was lucky enough to be given a personal wine tour and tasting by Reinhard Odendaal, the winemaker. In addition to the tasty beer created here at the brewery, they also produce 5 outstanding reds and 3 white wines, and I believe they now have a bubbly in the pipeline, which I’m looking forward to! I found it very interesting to learn how the different wine making methods and the different yeasts they use create exceptional flavours and textures in the wine, and I had a chance to taste wine from the tanks in various stages of maturation. I was fascinated to learn that a Merlot could be stressed or relaxed! Reinhard believes in drinking his Cabernet only after 5 – 6 years, whereas other winemakers tend to sip and sell them earlier. I tend to agree with Reinhard.

What we loved: While the wine is great, you should also do a beer tasting for some exceptional artisanal tastes. Birkenhead has a lovely bar with a huge fireplace – perfect for winter! They also serve a basic bar menu with delicious food which is reasonably priced, and if it is sunny enough it is a pleasure to dine outside to admire the magnificent views while the kids run about.

Springfontein Wine EstateSpringfontein Wine Estate

A wine tasting in Stanford is simply not complete without a visit to Springfontein! Dr Johst Weber started out here with virgin soil in 1994, and realised his dream of creating a wine estate that involved, in his own words, “a combination of nature and human craftsmanship”.  Here, the wine is matured in Hungarian, French or American wood barrels, and the elegant flavours developed here are something to behold. Only 28 hectares of vines are planted, and these grapes are minded and pressed with all the love in the world to create wines that are truly exceptional. Winemaker Tariro Masayiti hails from Zimbabwe and is one of the jewels in Springfontein’s crown – his passion for winemaking is intoxicating and evident in everything he does – and it shows in the bottles produced at this wine estate! Many of the wines are imaginatively titled by Jennifer Weber, the marketing Director and co-owner, and the names echo her and Johst’s love for rock music. Here you can find the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ in a bottle!

But Springfontein is not just known for fascinating wines. Springfontein Eats is a gastronomic experience on a grand scale, and if you are a fan of locavore food, with a hint of molecular gastronomy and fascinating imported wines, this is the place to eat! Then there is also the informal Springfontein Barn where they host wine tastings and serve hearty German fare or cheese platters in front of a crackling fire in the cosy, rustic barn. Simply divine for winter!

What we loved: The fine food and wonderful country atmosphere of the Barn is hard to beat on a cold winter’s day. They also have stunning cottages that have been lovingly renovated with all the mod-cons and romantic fireplaces for the perfect winter country break. And the food rocks!

Sir Robert StanfordRobert Stanford

With about 120 hectares of vines, this is one of the biggest wine estates in the Overberg, and is also a biodiversity site. Here you will find 4 Cutters Cove and 2 Sir Robert Stanford wines, and these are created off-site by the expert winemakers at Kleine Zalze Wine Estate. Their market is mainly local, and is a firm favourite amongst visitors and locals alike. Named after Sir Robert Stanford who founded the village of Stanford, this estate has a long history and manages to produce inviting flavours from their excellent terroir. For those who are hungry, their Royal Oke restaurant next to the tasting room is the perfect place to enjoy fabulous family country fare in a stunning setting. There is also plenty of space and a playpark for the kids. The Grappa distillery stokes an interesting range of Grappa and Witblits, and a visit to this wine estate would not be completed without a Stokehouse tasting. At the large gated entrance of the estate you can also find the brightly coloured candy-striped Padstal, a farm stall that stocks everything from biltong to home-made produce, as well as organic vegetables from the estate and locally-grown fruit.

What we loved: This is a great place for kids! Lots of space to run around, a pond, ducks, fish, trampoline, and wonderful food for old and young. Kids can learn to squeeze their own orange juice up the road at Die Padstal. For adults there is a roaring outside fire, a cosy seating area and the Grappa is the Greatest!

Vaalvlei Vaalvlei compile

When the Terblanche family moved here to purchase this small estate in 2005, they quickly realised how special the varied soils on the farm were. As a result they were able to produce some outstanding white and red varietals that are more classic than modern. Vaalvlei, the smallest wine estate on the route, it consists of only 3 hectares, which gives the wine made here a real boutique feel. Only 2000 bottles of white and 3000 bottles of Shiraz are produced by Naas Terblanche, and they are the only wine farm on the route that produces their own version of Port – which is special indeed! The rest of the farm is dedicated to the two cottages and numerous fly fishing dams where guests can angle for bass and trout. Naas is an avid student of frogs and is the resident expert on all the species of frogs that can be found in the area. He also knows practically everything about the endangered Western Leopard Toad and other rare species of Western Cape.

What we loved: The port is exceptional in winter! And do take the time to go through the fascinating presentation about the frogs in the area – it includes clear photos, frog call sounds and lots of interesting information. Kids love it. Vaalvlei has two rustic farm cottages for guests and their pets, and if you are looking for a rural country getaway with some fishing, country vibes and good wine, this is the place to be. In addition to this there is also a wonderful variety of Bonsai trees that are for sale.

Misty Mountainsmisty mountains compile

Set on the R43 between Hermanus and Stanford, Misty Mountains is 46 hectare estate produces about 5 hectares of grapes, and most of the rest is dedicated to olives and also honey. All the reds are created in French Oak barrels, and the rich, mature taste appeals to the huge Chinese market to which most of these are exported. Other wines like the Sauvignon Blanc are very popular with the UK market. Tastings are free and done in a spacious and stylish tasting room/ladies bar by the estate manager Robert Davis, and delicious cheese platters are for sale to go along with the tasting. Winemaker Neil Patterson ensures that all the wines coming from this estate are well balanced and creates a delicious French style Rosé – it is light in colour with a fruity nose, yet divinely dry. They are currently working on producing their first MCC which is very exciting.  You will also find a variety of olives for sale here, and the honey from this estate is out of this world!

What we loved: They create a very unique product called Vino Cotto, which is basically a concentrated grape reduction with the most distinctive flavour! It can be used in savoury or sweet dishes, as a cordial, in cocktails, for marinades and salad dressings, and it is so popular that they simply cannot keep up with demand. Get your hands on a bottle if you can!

Stanford Hills Wine FarmStanford hills compile

Stanford Hills was well known for excellent Jacksons Pinotage which was initially made in small quantities, but since Peter and Jami Kastner bought it, this estate has grown exponentially to produce more award winning stuff. They now make an additional two whites, an excellent rosé, a saucy Shiraz and a firm local favourite – the Veldfire range under the Stanford Hills label. They have also recently come up with the most fabulous MCC, which my friends fondly describe as ‘biscuity’. A tasting here takes place in the Tasting Room, which was initially just a small little tasting area but has exploded over the last 3 years to become one of the most popular eating spots around. It is immensely family friendly, and on cold winter days warm fires provide a cosy atmosphere in the basic but very comfortable restaurant. The magnificent views are very hard to beat, and during the autumn and early winter there are often one or two hand-fed orphan lambs running around, and bottle feeding them brings great joy to any city kid. The outstanding wine, together with great food, happy kids and a warm and welcoming atmosphere makes this one of the best seasonal wine locations. There are also several rustic cottages and a magnificent manor house to choose from for the perfect, romantic midwinter break. And they grow the most awesome Proteas for export and the local market.

What we love: One of the best wine farms around for children during the winter. A well-equipped play park, super hiking trails, horse riding, rowing on the dam, lots of space, great views, kid-friendly menu, good food, roaring fires and great wine all help to keep everyone superbly satisfied. And the very friendly, hands-on hosts and staff are delightful!

The Stanford wine Route is popular all year round, and it is really worth a visit any time you are in the Overberg!

 

 

Going Green with Greenpop Family Fest Weekend

HeaderI have always wanted to attend the Greenpop Family Festival at Platbos Forest Reserve, and finally this year I got around to it. It was wonderful! This festival is all about bringing kids and adults closer to nature and to foster a better relationship with the natural world around us. There is also a Greenpop Friends Festival that takes place at Platbos a couple of weeks later, and this weekend draws more adults, even though children are allowed.  Greenpop is an organisation that plants trees and educates people about best practice tree care in many different areas in South Africa and Zambia, and in March they were reforesting at Platbos Forest Reserve.  This ancient, wizened forest still exists for the enjoyment of all because of the green fingers and passion of special people.  You can visit Platbos all year round, or even better; book your extra special GreenPop experience for next year!

Volunteers who attend the festivals spend a day planting trees, and during the weekend there are a lot of interesting talks, workshops and other fun activities to participate in.  Unfortunately I could only attend on the Sunday, but we had so much fun that I would definitely recommend spending the whole weekend! This year, 437 happy campers descended on Platbos to take part in planting and festivities.

Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)

Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)

Festival goers usually bring their own tents and camp in demarcated areas, but it is also possible to rent a tent at the festival.  Those who prefer not to camp may choose from a variety of self-catering options at Platbos and a variety of establishments nearby.

Friday evening is all about setting up camp and settling in.  There is a food court with a selection of food trucks and vegan vendors that provide fresh, delicious meals.  The Family Weekend provides the option of a catered Meal Plan ticket that provides 6 vegetarian meals throughout the weekend (Friday dinner through to Sunday lunch), but this option has to be purchased in addition to the festival ticket. Meals are prepared in the common kitchen for those on the Meal Plan and the meals looked utterly delectable!  No self-made fires are allowed in the camp, so there are no cooking facilities, and campers can choose between the food plan and purchasing food from the vendors.  Boiling water is provided free of charge.Food stalls combined

Friday evening is very relaxed – think crackling campfires and gentle tunes, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  People with musical instruments are highly encouraged around the campfires, and other fun stuff such as hula-hoops, drums, mad hats, crazy outfits and face paint help to create a really fun atmosphere.  Mornings start with a yoga session open to all.Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)

Saturday is action packed and thousands of trees are planted by teams in different areas around the forest to help restore the very rare and delicate ecosystem. This year they planted a total of 2,420! At around 16:00 the planting is done, and teams head back to camp for a shower, tasty food and a forest party to celebrate! Great musical acts are lined to perform on the intimate main stage and a talent show provides many awesome moments.  Everybody loves this celebration and there is plenty of entertainment for old and young. We arrived early on Sunday morning when the camp just started to wake up and started the day with delicious freshly pressed fruit juice and a vegan burger from the food trucks.  At the common area a delicious looking breakfast was being served to those who booked the meal option activities combinedand we were more than a little jealous!

During the morning we were entertained by a variety of interesting talks – I attended one on bees which I found particularly fascinating.  There is a range of workshops for old and young – my 11 year old did the Improvisation workshop and loved it.  There were also guided forest walks and yoga classes, and the meditation session under the 1000-year old Milkwood tree was the best!  Kids are also kept busy with a variety of activities ranging from woodcarving to beading.  Wonderful stalls provided a variety of colourful items for sale.stalls

The program for the weekend comes to an end at 14:00 on Sunday after lunch has been served, although some people choose to pack up and start the journey home during the course of the morning to avoid the Sunday afternoon traffic.  We had a lot of fun and decided that next year we will certainly camp and use the meal plan.  Can’t wait!

Points to note:

  • Take warm clothing and extra blankets – it gets chilly at night!
  • There are no shops or ATM’s nearby, so bring all the food and cash you need.
  • No self-catering facilities – the Meal Plan option works very well, especially if you bring children
  • There is no drinking water, so bring around 2litre per person per day – rather bring tap water from home than buy bottled water.
  • Cellphone signal is not very reliable and there are no charging facilities, so bring a car charger if you need to charge your phone.