A weekend in marvelous Montagu

We recently enjoyed a fantastic weekend in Montagu. Located in the Klein Karoo, the town is about 187km from Cape Town and is a great option for a family getaway. I’ve driven through Montagu a few times, but had never spent a weekend there, so was really looking forward to something different.

We were not disappointed. Montagu is a charming little town. Although we found there weren’t as many things to do as our last weekend away in Stanford, this suited us just fine as we were super keen to just relax as much as possible.

We stayed at the Bon Accord Farm Cottages, located on a beautiful fruit farm in the Keisie Valley. This was honestly one of the most stunning places we have stayed at in the MontaguWestern Cape. The cottage was really lovely, spacious, clean and well-stocked. There was a big patio and braai in the front of the cottage overlooking the valley, and we just couldn’t get enough of the spectacular views, especially at sunrise and sunset. It was so peaceful and relaxing and we spent most of our time chilling on the stoep. Fortunately there was also a TV and WiFi for when the kiddies get a bit too tired of the farm life.

The farm itself also looked neat and well run. There were three cottages in a row, but they were far enough away from each other that you could enjoy complete privacy. I can highly recommend a weekend here, and we’d be happy to return any day.

Here are a few things we enjoyed in and around Montagu:

Die Kloof Padstal
Montagu3This was a lovely restaurant and farm stall just as you enter Montagu from the Cape Town side. It had a fantastic outdoor play area with lots of swings, jungle gyms and tree houses for the kids to enjoy. The food was pretty average but the girls had a blast playing there and we enjoyed a nice cold craft beer in the beautiful and relaxed surroundings. Definitely a great place for a family lunch out in Montagu.

Montagu Dried Fruit Factory Shop
Arguably Montagu’s biggest selling point is its vast fruit orchards which yield wonderful produce and, of course, which are used to make the dried fruit the town is known for. The Montagu factory shop is located by Die Kloof Padstal, so really convenient when stopping there for lunch, as you can stock up on some great dried fruit and nut specials. My girls’ favourite is the crunchy corn, while I was very happy to get a huge bag of Turkish apricots for a third of what I would have paid at Woolies.

Saturday Village Market
Montagu6The Montagu Village Market is held every Saturday in Euvrard Park, Bath Street. It’s not a big market, but we found some great local produce and home-made goodies. We enjoyed a relaxed stroll through the market to get a taste of Montagu village life.

Guano Cave
The Guano Cave Resort is located about 6km out of Montagu on the R62 road to Barrydale and offers a fun day out for the family. For a fee you can enter the resort as a day visitor and have access to the hot springs and animal farm. We enjoyed a morning there – didn’t bother with the springs, but the girls enjoyed a horse ride and looking at all the farm animals. The restaurant didn’t look too great, so we rather headed back to our accommodation for lunch.

We were also really keen to do the tractor ride and potjie kos outing at Protea Farm, but unfortunately the road was closed for maintenance so they weren’t operating, but we’ve heard it’s a great outing, so we’ll have to save this for next time.

If you’re looking for a no-frills, relaxed weekend away, I can highly recommend Montagu. Learn more about the town and what to see and do in the Keisie Valley on the Montagu Tourism website.

 

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Appreciating the beautiful nature around me

I’ve become quite snap happy lately as I’ve become more observant about the beauty that surrounds me. Living in Stellenbosch, we are truly blessed with beautiful surroundings and it’s easy to become so used to the views that we stop noticing. I’ve been enjoying taking pics lately, and instagram has also been quite fun to play around with the images. Here are a few of my recent works of art.

Hope you enjoy!

 

If you’d like to see more of my images, check out Some Beauty and Inspiration and Some More Beauty and Inspiration.

Weekend escape to Stanford

We recently enjoyed a wonderful long weekend in Standford. We’ve stayed in the area a few times, but it’s always been in a cottage or guest house outside of town or in the surrounding area, so this was the first time that we stayed right in the town itself.

Standford, located about 140km from Cape Town, and just 20 minutes away from Hermanus, is the perfect spot for a family weekend escape. There really is so much to explore and something for everyone to enjoy.

Stanford4We stayed at Osborne Cottages, a lovely little establishment right in town. There are two cottages on the same plot, but they’re separated by a fence and situated far enough away from each other that you’re not on top of your neighbours and have complete privacy. The cottage was clean and beautifully decorated, and there was a braai and a nice deck, which we really enjoyed relaxing on. The location was perfect as it was within walking distance to the shops and restaurants. There’s a lovely play park across the road, which the kids really enjoyed, and the river is just around the corner for some lovely walks and exploration.

Here are a few of the places and activities we enjoyed in and around Stanford:

Klein River Cheese Factory
Stanford2This is a great place for the whole family, especially the kiddies. There is an awesome kids’ play area with big jungle gyms, tree houses and bike tracks and the girls had an absolute blast. They also enjoyed feeding all the local farm animals. You can buy some yummy cheese and other picnic goodies from the cheese shop and they have decent picnic tables to sit at. You can also borrow a picnic blanket from the shop if you forgot your own.

Saturday Morning Market
The word market is perhaps not quite the right word to describe this – there were literally only about four basic tables set out on the stoep of the hotel, with some local suppliers selling their home made and baked goods such as cheese, sausages and cakes. The food was lovely, but it would have been so nice if there were some more products on offer. We were looking forward to a proper market, but we did enjoy taking a walk to explore the local shops after sampling the food. There are some great little gift shops in Stanford and they really weren’t expensive at all.

Zesty Lemon at Sir Robert Stanford Estate
This was such a peaceful and relaxing spot for lunch. The restaurant is set next to a little dam with big trees providing lots of shade. There is also a kids’ play area with jungle gym and the girls enjoyed wandering around the dam. The food was average and the drinks super expensive, but overall, it was a lovely spot to chill on a Saturday afternoon.

RePUBlic
We had supper here one evening and it was quite fun. It was very much the local hang out where everyone seemed to know each other and the kids had fun playing with some of the other kids. The place is pretty rustic and the menu was a bit limited, but we enjoyed the atmosphere and live music.

Misty MountainsStanford3
Home to one of our favourite local gins, we always enjoy a visit to Misty Mountains. They make delicious pizzas and offer craft beer and gin tasting, which is a very enjoyable experience. It’s not the cheapest of places, especially if you end up buying a bottle of gin, which will set you back almost R500, but it’s a great place for a lazy lunch, and conveniently located between Stanford and Hermanus.

There is so much more to enjoy in the town and surrounding area, and we’ll definitely be back. For more info and ideas of what all you can do there, check out the Stanford Tourism website.

Some more beauty and inspiration

I’ve been playing around with some more of our beautiful images and adding some of my favourite quotes or verses. I know it may seem a bit corny, but I have had fun doing this and I think I’ve mostly done this for myself as I’ve really needed some encouragement and inspiration through a tough few weeks and months, and I’ve just loved going through our old photos and enjoying all the memories they’ve brought back.

Hope you enjoy…

Matthew 6.34
Looking out over the Constantia Valley, Cape Town, South Africa
Romans 12 12
The Zen Pool at La Plantation d’Albion, Mauritius
Roosevelt quote
The beach at La Plantation d’Albion, Mauritius
Lifebeginsquote
Looking down over Camps Bay from Lion’s Head, Cape Town, South Africa

Surviving an international flight with twin toddlers

IMG-20160727-WA0018So we did it – we survived our first overseas holiday with the twins. I’ll admit, I was terrified before we left, but the girls were amazing. They surprised me at every turn, and despite some rough nights of very little sleep we had a fantastic family holiday. The girls, especially, had a blast.

My brother and sister both live in Perth, so we decided that before the twins turned two we would take advantage of the reduced airfare and hop on a plane to Australia. I’ve come to realise that many people thought we were nuts! But there is one thing that IP and I have not done since we had our twins, and that’s let having kids stop us from living life. Ever since they were very little we’ve always gotten out and about on weekends, gone shopping, eaten out at restaurants and had lots of other random adventures along the way. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve still always been very strict with our routine with them – we’d have gone mad if we weren’t – but we try have as much fun as we can as a family, and expose them to as many new and exciting experiences as we can.

The thing that terrified me the most before we left was the prospect of having to sit on an airplane for up to 12 hours with two very active toddlers. But, mercifully, it was a night time flight, so promptly on take-off we gave them a bottle and they both fell asleep straight away – giving mommy and daddy a few hours of peace – or at least as much peace as one can have with a toddler sleeping on your lap. We were also very fortunate to travel in a little bit of style – thanks to IP’s frequent flyer miles, we were able to sit in the slow lounge before take-off, so no running around a busy airport after two little monkeys – we could sit back a little in the confines of the lounge and enjoy our free snacks and drinks on comfy couches.

I imagine everyone’s experiences of international travel are different, ranging from fantastic to disastrous, but I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learnt about flying with toddlers:

If you can, try get the bulkhead seats as this gives you loads of leg room, and when the kids are awake, and provided the seat belt sign is off, they’re able to sit on the floor at your feet and play or read a book, so they’re not confined to sitting on your lap the whole time. BUT – as we soon learnt – the bulkhead is not always ideal because if there is an empty seat next to you in the bulkhead area it’s kind of wasted as you can’t lift the arm rests to let your baby sleep across two chairs because the tray table and in-flight entertainment screen is stored in the arm rest – as opposed to other chairs where these would be attached to the seat in front of you. So even though we had lots of room, we were a bit frustrated by not being able to lift the arm rests.

Don’t drug your kids if you don’t have to. I was not keen to give the girls any medicines to make them drowsy for the flight. We had a two-hour flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg before the main flight from Joburg to Perth, so we decided to test it out first and see how the girls responded to the flight, and especially the take-off and landing. They were absolutely fine – no screaming or obvious pain from the pressure – so we decided not to medicate them for the next flight, and I’m pretty glad we didn’t have to do that, as they were fine. The only real screaming we had was in the last minutes of the flight when HJ got very restless as she had to sit on my lap for landing and she wanted to run around so she was very frustrated.

People will be kinder and more accommodating than you expect. And if your kids need to run around a bit – let them! Toddlers were not made to sit still for so many hours, so they need to get moving every now and then. HJ loved walking up and down the aisle, and it was so sweet to watch her come out her shell and stop to talk to other passengers along the way. The other travellers also seemed to enjoy chatting to the girls and even indulged them with a few games of peek-a-boo.

Pack lots of snacks. We all know that aeroplane food is not the best, but SAA totally outdid themselves in the ridiculous and revolting food department. I pre-booked a kiddies meal for each of my girls. Well, when the food arrived I was horrified to discover it was two jars of purity baby puree! I promptly sent it right back. My girls are almost two and eat what we eat, they’re too old for puree. I was even more horrified on the flight home when the steward presented us with two pouches of FROZEN baby purees. Seriously? Fortunately I had packed lots of snacks for them, and they shared our meal, so we were all well fed.

Before you go, make up a little goodie bag with some new toys and activities for your kids. My girls enjoyed opening the little pouches I put together and exploring what was inside. Include simple things like little cars and miniature books. A magnetic sketch pad was also a great source of entertainment for them. But it was also the simple things, like paging through the inflight magazine, that they really enjoyed doing. Even the emergency information pamphlet was a hit.

Don’t forget to bring along your kids blankie, or binkie, or whatever it is that gives them comfort at home and keeps them calm. In our case, it’s our girls’ taglets, or taggies as they call them. They have these with them every time they go to sleep, and it was important that they had them with them at all times in such an unfamiliar environment.

Be flexible. It can all be very daunting travelling overseas with toddlers, but the most important thing is to be flexible, and you have to develop a thick skin, and not worry about what other people think. Like when your kid is having a whopping tantrum, as AJ did when she wasn’t able to push her own pram through the airport. It’s so hard when you can feel every eye in the airport on you, but you just have to carry on – you just have to smile and wave people, smile and wave!

You have to have patience with your kids, even though it’s so difficult sometimes. You have to realise that they are in a totally new environment. An airport and a plane can be a strange and scary space for a little one, with all the new sights and sounds. So be calm with them, be patient, be kind, and expect the unexpected.

If you’re thinking about an overseas adventure with your kids, just do it! Don’t let fear stop you. We had such a wonderful holiday, and we’re so glad that we took the plunge and just did it!

I’m looking forward to sharing more of our adventures in Perth with you soon, so watch this space!