22 Aug

Free Entry to National Parks to celebrate Spring

September in Cape Town is a special, celebrated time which heralds the start of the Spring season. With it comes not only the warmer weather but a great time for viewing the annual migration of whales to our shores and the dazzling kaleidoscope of colourful wildflowers on show in the veld, alongside the roads and at formal flower shows.  Having endured a cold wet winter, the people of Cape Town love to get out and about during this time but the best news of all for visitors to Cape Town is that it is still regarded as part of the low season when accommodation rates are at their most affordable and many restaurants continue to promote special offers and discounts of up to 50%. Is it any wonder then that we call this the secret season of Cape Town?

South African national parks (SAN Parks) comes to the party by offering free entrance to SA residents at most of South Africa’s 19 national parks between 9 and 13 September. The only exceptions are the Namaqua national Park and the Boulders beach Penguin colony which is part of the Table Mountain national Park (TMNP)where normal entrance fees apply. You should, however, remember to take a long your green bar coded ID document.

The closest of our national parks, the TMNP Park includes the Cape Point nature reserve offering spectacular views from the lighthouse of the meeting of the two oceans, game viewing and one of Cape Town’s best but least utilised beaches which is at Buffels bay in the reserve. With a normal entrance cost of R250 for a family of four local people seldom can afford to enjoy this beach. Buffels Bay has an enormous and safe tidal swimming pool, a lovely white sand beach, expansive lawns and many braai or bbq pits, and clean changing rooms and latrines.  Pack a picnic, or take along meat for a braai and take advantage of the free access to get out and enjoy this lovely family attraction. Buffels bay pool

Also in the TMNP is the Silvermine Reserve; situated at the top of Ou Kaapse Weg, which offers an ideal outing for the family. From the entrance and easy walk takes you through wooded glades and fynbos alongside a bubbling stream to the reservoir dam. The dam affords the opportunity for a cooling swim and on the shores are many picnic and braai (bbq) spots with stone benches and tables.

Another local attraction that romantic couples as well as families can enjoy free of charge during this time is Oudekraal, a small Sandy beach situated under the slopes of the 12 Apostles. The parking area is situated above the beach and is well signposted. The beach itself is surrounded by massive boulders that create a sheltered cove and many milkwood trees that create secluded nooks. Just above the beach to the left is a grassy area with braai places for afternoon picnics. This beautiful spot with its clear turquoise waters lovely white sand, milkwood trees and boulders is a peaceful haven as well as a popular location for wedding photographs.

Within less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town is also the West Coast national Park, near Langebaan, where the Postberg section of the Park offers stunning natural displays of wildflowers as well as some game and a myriad of birds and is only open to the public during August and September of each year in order to preserve the wildflowers.       West cost national park

For more information please visit www.sanparks.org or call the SANParks on Tel: 021 689 4441

By  Horizon Cottages


5 Aug

Eastern Food Bazaar- a hidden Cape Town Gem

The Eastern food Bazaar, located in the centre of the city with entrances on both Darling and Long market Streets, is neither the best or the best-known restaurant in the city, but you will regard it as an exciting find if you have not been there.  I had heard of it a couple of years ago from one of the guests who stayed in our Cape Town self-catering accommodation. It is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fragrant, really affordable, primarily Indian, food in a buzzing atmosphere with people from all walks of life and, judging from the different languages of the diners from all corners of the globe.Eastern Food Bazaar

Although their website address is given as 96 Longmarket Street, where there is indeed an entrance, the main entrance is on Darling Street just opposite the old Post office building. The restaurant is a long and quite narrow passage situated in a Victorian building that used to be that of Wellington fruit growers. In busy Darling Street you could quite possibly walk past the entrance without even noticing what it offers, except for the Bollywood music and the enticing smell of myriad spices wafting out into the street . One enters into a dark canteen sort of eatery, but one decorated with ornate pillars, mirrors, wooden screens and carved doors from India and lots of gold glow adding to the Indian character. The food is offered at a range of serving stations all down the right-hand side that includes a selection of Eastern food so large that you may have difficulty making a choice. The food ranges from regional Indian curries; biryanis, Indian dosas and naan breads, Durban Bunny Chows, Tandoor dishes, Turkish kebabs and even Falafel and Schwarma; just to ensure that all tastes are catered for there is even the choice of Chinese dishes and a range of pizzas. Vegetarians will be happy to find plenty of choice to satisfy them. There are large illuminated and priced menus at each of the serving stations where you can browse until you find what you are looking for to satisfy that craving, but you will need to look for the pay stations located somewhere in the middle of all of this frenetic food activity where you pay for your choice, receive a receipt  and then join the line at the appropriate serving station to collect your food against production of the chit.

Now, there cannot be better value for money food on offer anywhere in Cape Town. Although they have recently increased their prices by about 25%, the food is still amazing value for money. Lamb or Chicken Curries served with a generous portion of Basmati rice cost only R40; vegetarian dishes just R30. You will not only be amazed at the price but also the generous portions of food that you will be dished. You have to be seriously hungry to finish any of the meals. We ate there recently with some overseas visitors who could not believe that R40 could get you a fragrant and spicy Lamb Curry, with rice and a side dish of nourishing dhal. Equally exciting for them was the Bunny Chow- a half loaf of bread filled with your choice of Chicken or Lamb curry. The curries are spiced for Western palates, and will not blow your head off.   Indian food delights

Be warned that there are enough people who know about this place to make it seriously bustling and noisy at lunch and dinner times. You will need to be patient as you stand in line to pay and then again to collect your food, but it is all efficiently organised and worth the wait.  The tables and chairs are better quality than one may expect to find in such apace although the utensils with which to eat are plastic but remember that traditionally Muslims eat with the right hand, so get down and dirty your hands if you like. At busy times you may struggle to find a table unless you are made aware that there is also an elegantly decorated dining area up the polished wooden stairs that are found next to the entrance on Darling street. There are also clean neat and clean bathrooms to wash after your meal.

No alcohol is served or allowed as the restaurant is strictly Halaal, but you can order soft drinks and freshly made Lassis . You might want to cool the palate off with your choice of a range of enticing, cool, ice creams including Halwa and spiced flavours.

Eastern Food Bazaar

The Wellington, 96 Long Market St.

By :Horizon Cottages

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20 Jun

Cape Classic car Show 2013

Some things are worth waiting for, especially if you are a petrolhead; the Cape Classic Car Show organised by the Cape Multi- Motor Club is one of these, as it comes around only every 2 years. This year’s show will take place on Sunday 3 November 2013 at the Jan Burger sports complex, de Grendel Rd in Parow on Sunday. Whilst there is no shortage of annual car shows in Cape Town, nothing compares to this massive bi-annual showing of cars for every interest; ranging from the vintage and veterans of the Crankhandle Club, through rare British and European motoring thoroughbreds, classic sports cars and saloons, big finned American classics to modifieds, modern supercars and even historic racing cars. At the previous show some 45 clubs participated with more than 1600 cars on display on several of the club fields. Although many of these cars may be seen regularly at various shows, each year sees a few rare and seldom exhibited cars on display. Exhibitors will leave their cars on display the whole day until 4 pm in order to allow plenty of time to admire the wonderful motoring heritage.Cape Classic car  show

The Cape classic car show is open to the public from 09:00 and the nominal entrance fee of R30,00 will be put to good use with a charitable institution. Although the show attracts thousands of visitors, there is ample parking near and around the sports grounds, and there will be Club marshals to assist . Do expect a colourful and buzzing throng, with lots of activities for the whole family. Expect to see and hear a pipe band marching, and several other musical attractions. There will be stalls selling motoring related products, as well as other interesting goods, together with an amazing choice of food stalls to suit every possible taste. You may be sure that there will be plenty to eat and drink. The boy in every enthusiast is bound to want to spend some time (and money) at the indoor display of scale model cars where many are available to purchase. Here is one of the best opportunities to find that model that your collection is missing or just to buy a prized toy for the son.

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to see the best of collectible Cape Town cars, or you will have to wait until 2015!

Triumph Sports cars cape townPipe band display


30 May

Winter 2013 Restaurant Special offers in the deep South

Although many choose our Cape Town self-catering accommodation for reasons of economy and independence, most of our guests eat out during their stay at one of the many restaurants in our the Noordhoek valley and surrounding False bay.  Whilst locals know that many restaurants entice diners with special offers during the quiet winter months, we believe in sharing this information with our visitors. All of these restaurants are a short drive from our Noordhoek holiday cottages and Cabanas.  Many of these will have roaring log fires to ensure that your dining out experience is an enjoyable one, no matter the weather.

The Food Barn, Noordhoek, is famous for fine dining at affordable prices, in an informal country barn atmosphere. Diners come from far and wide to enjoy the amazing cuisine of Chef Frank Dangereux and his team; made even more affordable in winter. Firstly 50% is offered off the a la carte, Mondays to Fridays for lunches only- excluding public holidays. An equally great experience is the food and wine pairings on offer at nights, which showcase the cuisine as well as the fine wines of a partner estate. Treat your loved one to a memorable meal at only 3 courses for R185, 4 courses R205, 5 courses R225. Reservations : Tel (021) 789-1390

Thorfynns restaurant at Noordhoek’s Monkey valley right on the beach has the following on offer :

Tuesdays; Steak Special Night, 300g Sirloin and a choice of sauces for R85 and Sunday Roast with 3 meats and a glass of wine for R95, with live music from 3pm

Neighbouring Fish Hoek has more to offer. Choose from :

The Galley situated right on the sands of Fish Hoek Beach, where the current special winter offer is a grilled fillet of Yellowtail with 6 grilled prawns, savoury rice and fries, accompanied by a trio of sauces.

Indian Restaurant Bhandaris, situated on the Fish Hoek Main Road, as you enter the village,  has 2 special offers: On Mondays there  “You and Me Special” which allows one to choose any two chicken, fish or veg curries  for only R99.00. Great value is the Sunday lunch or dinner buffet which has a selection of chicken, beef and seafood curries, with at least one Dhal dish. The buffet includes a starter served at your table, Naan bread and an interesting selection of sambals. Enjoy delicious North Indian cuisine at only R99 per head

The yesteryear fishing village of Kalk Bay seems intent to coax visitors out on cold evenings this winter.Harbour House

The famous Harbour House restaurant and its associated dining outlets make for enjoyable fine dining. The Harbour House Restaurant occupies an enviable position; built high up on the harbour breakwater, with large picture windows offering stunning views of False Bay on one side, and the colourful fishing harbour on the other. During the winter and spring, whales may be seen close up while playful seals frolic in the kelp off the rocks all year round. In winter a roaring fire warms those who choose their special fine dining menus that offer delicious, designer food with starter and main course priced at R150 or inclusive of dessert at R170

Situated under the Harbour House is the Polana restaurant ; more oriented to the carnivores, and offers free range and pasture fed cuts of prime beef fillet, rump, sirloin and rib eye, beautifully and simply presented, although fresh line fish, delicious Mozambican style prawns and oysters are also available. Current winter special offer is grilled Mozambique styled chicken for only R75. The specials do change each month. Reservations :  021 788 7162. Please be aware that smoking is allowed in the Polana restaurant.

Lucky Fish is adjacent to the Polana on the harbour breakwater and offers affordably priced fish and seafood. The current winter special offer is fresh west coast hake served with prawns, tender baby peas & cauliflower & a citrus beurre bianco sauce for only R70.00

Newcomer Kalk Bay Café offers a Curry Feast on Thursday nights- eat as much as you like with 5 curries offer at R85, Reservations :  Tel (021) 788-7760.

The historic naval village of Simonstown will reward you for a short drive to admire the Victorian architecture and the winter special offers, including

Bertha’s in the waterfront in Simonstown offer : 1 kg Queen prawns at R 109, Kingklip R135; and a splendid seafood platter at R119. Reservations:  (021) 786-2138

Harbour View restaurant in the upper level of the Simonstown waterfront is offering one meal free for every one purchased; a discount of 50%.

Finally just over the mountain from our Noordhoek accommodation, in Tokai is the Cape Town Fish Market, which has a number of ongoing attractive special offers, including “ Buy one, get one free”  Hake on Mondays and  half price Sushi on Tuesdays. Most popular are the “all you can eat Breakfast Buffet” on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays for just R60 and the extensive Seafood buffet lunch on, Sundays and public holidays for R149.

No matter what the weather you are bound to enjoy eating out in the Winter- otherwise know as Cape Town’s Secret Season.

By : Horizon Holiday Cottages.


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1 Apr

Imhoff’s Farm- Great family attraction

Visitors to Cape Town will be aware that the first European settlers in South Africa came from the Dutch East India company who established a victualing station in Cape Town to provide their sailing ships with fresh produce and water. Known also as the Cape of storms, Table Bay was not a hospitable anchorage during the winter and many of the sailing ships were wrecked in the Bay. Simon’stown, nestling on the shores of sheltered False Bay offered a much more hospitable refuge but the task of getting supplies from Cape Town was arduous. It was therefore decided to establish farms at Noordhoek and Fish Hoek . The Commissioner of the Cape, impressed with the farming of the widow Christina Rossouw, gave her a gift of land in 1743 near the Slangkop Ridge, Kommetjie,  and which subsequently became known as Imhoff’s gift.

This historic farmstead is located on the road to Cape point and offers an interesting and enjoyable family destination, either as a stop during a tour of the Peninsula or as a day outing and is open 7 days a week. Located opposite the township of Ocean View, you will be unlikely to miss Imhoff’s farm as the name is painted in large white letters on the green tin roof of what was once a barn. The converted farm buildings now make an interesting browsing or shopping experience and one will find a first rate free range Farm Shop in the barn, as well as a bakery and tea garden. In addition the erstwhile stables, silo, smithy, slave quarters and milking sheds are now occupied by local artists and interesting craft, furniture, clothing and food shops including a cheese factory, chocolate factory, a well-stocked wine shop and local crafts, antiques and collectables. Views to Noordhoek

The farm stall offers their own including our own organically grown fruits and vegetables,  homemade pies, quiches,   specialist breads, olives, homemade jams & preserves, chutneys, salad dressing & pestos, and a range of cheeses produced on the farm . Goat’s milk cheeses are now made from their own herd of milking goats. The goats are milked in the parlour next to the dairy at 4pm daily, and visitors are welcome to view the milking; this will be a great experience for children. A range of cow’s milk cheeses is also produced, including the popular fynbos cheese, various other fresh cheeses infused with herbs and spices, Goudas, mature cheddar, and a blue and white mould cheese with milk coming from a neighbouring farm.

Exciting attractions for children are the Snake and Reptile park as well as the Higgeldy Piggeldy Farmyard which has some very friendly farm animals – including goats, pigs, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and a pony. The more adventurous will want to try the Camel rides.  Camel riding is different and just getting off the ground is an experience; first you are tipped forward by the rear ascending and then the front legs finally rise when you will find yourself two meters up as you embark on a jerky saunter around the farm.

The farm has 2 great restaurants. The Blue Water Café is located in the original old Cape Dutch farmstead dating back to 1743, with several dining rooms which offer cosy fires during the winter months. In the better weather diners choose to sit outside on the stoep or the expensive lawns where tables shaded by umbrellas offer truly spectacular views across the wetlands to the Atlantic and the slopes of Chapmans peak at Noordhoek.   The Bluewater cafe offers breakfast lunch and dinner but is closed on Monday.  Although the menu caters for most tastes and includes fresh fish and steaks, their speciality is a range of home-made pastas and thin crust pizzas.  Look out for the daily specials on the blackboard as you enter the restaurant.  When dining there recently with friends they raved over the seafood Tagliatelle, Calamari with wasabi mayonnaise and French fries and seafood pizza while my own perennial favourite on the menu is the Blue Water Carbonara, a huge bowl of homemade pasta served with wild mushrooms and  creamy mascarpone and crispy fried pancetta, topped with rocket and herbs. Perhaps due to its on-going popularity we have never found the service at the Blue Water cafe either particularly friendly or efficient.

The Pickled Fish has become well known for its offering of fresh fish and seafood at affordable prices.  Their signature dish is the mild spiced Cape Malay Pickled Fish, served with farm seed bread). The ambiance is casually evocative of the farm, with terracotta floor tiles, rustic furniture, uneven walls and reed ceilings but the white and aquamarine interior is clean. Service is professional and attentive and dining here is altogether a pleasant experience.

Imhoff’s farm will delight the whole family   and is just a few minutes’ drive from our  self-catering Noordhoek cottages



21 Feb

Kalk Bay Fish Fare 2013

Saturday 2 March 2013 will see the annual Fish Fare being held in the charming fishing village of Kalk Bay, one of the most popular visitor attractions of Cape Town. The Kalk Bay Fish Fare, which starts at 10:30 and ends at 18:00 is held annually in the grounds of the Holy Trinity church, on the main road facing False Bay, with a small entrance fee charged at the entrance to raise funds for the church. The Holy Trinity Church itself is worth a visit as it is a lovely old stone building with a thatched roof that was built in 1874, and still features its original windows, regarded as some of the finest examples in the Cape.

Kalk bay is one of the little villages of False Bay that has been able to transform itself positively from a dowdy fishing town to one of the most popular tourist attractions of Cape Town. Its short Main Street is lined with picturesque Victorian shop fronts containing art galleries, antique and collectable shops and boutiques and is a veritable browsers paradise. On Sundays a collectables market is held near the entrance to the station. In the harbour one can enjoy the sight of colourful and very photogenic fishing boats bobbing at their moorings, local people fishing from the quays, and a number of restaurants ranging from the upmarket Harbour House restaurant to what is reputed to be one of the best fish and chips outlets at Kalky’s situated on the beachfront. In the town you will find a wide and eclectic variety of restaurants and dining spots that cater for the many visitors to the town throughout the year. Popular with tourists, Kalk Bay is an equally popular with Cape Town people throughout the year and it street filled to capacity most Saturdays and Sundays.   Fish Fare Kalk Bay

The Fish fare is not just about raising some money for the church;  it is a cheerful celebration of the wonderful bounty of the Cape seas; an opportunity for many of the locals together with their families enjoying the sunshine, the beautiful views and  great food on offer at affordable prices. Expect to see stalls selling something seafood to suit every taste including delicious Indian crayfish curry (soon sold out), wonderful yellowtail grilled on the fire, fish curry, fish kebabs, mussel chowder, fish cakes, fish & chips, fried calamari, seafood potjie, prawns and Cape Malay style pickled fish. Scattered throughout the garden will be a number of tented stalls selling handicrafts, home bakes and bric-a-brac. The organisers always attempt to provide as much sheltered seating as possible although there is seldom sufficient to cope with the numbers that come to enjoy the festival unless you arrive early. Many will relax on the lawns, sharing the space with the tombstones of people who have left their mark upon the church and upon Kalk Bay. There are usually also activities for kids including a jumping Castle, and local band to entrains the crowds.

Thirsts will be efficiently quenched by a number of stalls offering cold drinks and the ever popular beer tent situated at the top of the grounds opposite the church.

If you want to see a good cross-section of the people of Cape Town at play and enjoying their unique part of the world, join the Fish Fare on 2 March; but come early as it is very popular.

This is just one of the many nearby attractions when staying at our affordable Cape Town holiday accommodation.

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9 Feb

The environmentally friendly Green Bus to Cape Point

Care for the environment is at the forefront of most people’s minds these days. A group of local entrepreneurs known as the “Green Ladies” are providing an innovative and environmentally friendly transport service between Cape Town, Hout Bay, Noordhoek and Cape point with a stopover at Noordhoek farm village. The company’s fleet has been modified to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and a biodiesel blend utilising vegetable oil or animal fat and used cooking oil, which results in significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions. LPG used in taxi, limousine or shuttle services can achieve carbon dioxide savings of up to 12%, compared to nomal petrol-driven vehicles. Vehicles running on biodiesel fuel can achieve carbon dioxide savings of between 15% and 90%, compared to standard diesel vehicles.            Cape good hope

The Green bus offers a shuttle service from the offices of Cape Town tourism in Burg Street, and travels along the beautiful Atlantic seaboard to Hout Bay, over spectacular Chapman’s peak drive; one of the world’s most breath-taking coastal scenic drives to Noordhoek farm village where there is a 30 min stopover and where those staying in Noordhoek holiday accommodation can board the bus to continue along the scenic Atlantic Ocean coast through quaint coastal villages such as Misty cliffs and Scarborough to the Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point.

The company offers two options :

The Green Drive at a cost of R 460 return which will take you the full route from Cape Town to Cape Point where there is a 90 min stopover for sightseeing photography and refreshments. The shuttle departs Cape Town at 09:30 and returns to drop off passengers in Cape Town at approximately 15:30.

The Green Pass is an option for those living out of the city to board the bus at the Hout Bay offices of Cape Town tourism in Andrews Road for pickup at 10:10 at a return cost of R430 or to board the bus at Noordhoek farm village at 11:00 at a return cost of R 390.

Pre-booking is essential and tickets are available online exclusively through  Web Tickets: http://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=2920481

The Green bus offers a wonderful opportunity for visitors to relax and see the most beautiful parts of the coast of Cape Town while contributing to the support of an award-winning small business as well as contributing to a reduction in the carbon footprint.

By : Noordhoek self-catering accommodation

17 Jan

Annual Classic Car and Bike show at Timour Hall

The Classic Car and Bike Show has been hosted annually by the International Police Association for 10 successful years, as a means of fundraising for their various charitable programs and is held at beautiful 19th century Mansion, Timour Hall Villa.  Although the first show featured only a handful of clubs, the event has grown steadily in popularity with exhibitors and members of the public.  In 2006, it was decided to expand the event from a single day into a two day event to include modern and future Classics on the Saturday with Vintage and Classics remaining on the Sunday. This decision allowed the inclusion of more clubs and increased the field of interest to attract the younger generation.  Since the purpose of this Classic car show is to raise funds, the ability to help others grows with the show, with funds being donated annually to a deserving charity cause.Triumphs at Classic car show

The public pays a very affordable R20 admission with children under 12 free and tickets are available at the gate both days or from Computicket!  The show is open to the public from 10am – 4pm.  Note that none of the vehicles from the Saturday display will appear on the Sunday display, so do come both days.   Bring the Family!  The organisers strive to make this a day that can be enjoyed by the whole family and there here will be plenty of refreshments available, with a number of food stalls to tickle the taste buds, cool drinks to banish thirst and the popular, shaded beer garden.

Saturday 19 January will features Modern Classics

On day one of the Show, the exhibition will consist of vehicles which can be defined as ‘Modern Classics”. These include Hot Rods, Street Rods, souped up vehicles, racing cars and bikes, custom vehicles and motorcycles and this year a selection of cute and loveable old school Minis! This is a day that will appeal to many motoring enthusiasts.

Sunday 20 January features Vintage, Veteran and Classics.

On day two of the Show, the exhibition will consist of vehicles dating back to the late 1890’s, to classics that were loved in our youth. These are the classics that invoke an era of elegance, a more relaxed way of life and a time when craftsmanship was an important element of vehicle design and manufacture. This is always a popular display and will appeal to anyone with a love of restored and maintained classic vehicles.

The venue is at the bottom of Timour Hall Rd, off Gabriel Rd in Plumstead.  For maps, please see the venue website at www.timourhall.com . Check out info on the charity aims for 2013 on their website www.classiccarandbikeshow.co.za

PUBLIC PARKING is available only at Timour Hall Primary School on Gabriel Rd, Plumstead and visitors are encouraged to park their vehicles there and walk down Timour Hall Rd to the venue as public parking at the venue this year is limited to the DISABLED only, but there are no disabled facilities on-site.

By Horizon Cottages, Noordhoek

Tim 2 Timour hall villa

3 Jan

Kaapse Klopse – Cape Town’s Minstrel Carnival

The Kaapse Klopse is a music and costume carnival celebrated on 2nd January each year in the streets of Cape Town. This festival originates from the days of slavery under the Dutch when the slaves were given a day off at the start of the New Year. For centuries 2 January was a public holiday in Cape Town as a result of this celebration.  The Carnival has been held since the mid 1800’s and is believed to have been influenced by American minstrels from visiting ships, notably the US Southern Confederate raider the “Alabama” which underwent refit in Cape Town in 1863 and whose visit is still celebrated in one of the traditional folk songs. The festival evolved into one of groups of singers, dancers and bands dressed in colourful silk outfits competing with each other in song, dance and parades through the streets of Cape Town.

Preparations for the  Cape Minstrel Carnival, as it is now officially designated, starts months in advance with troupes rehearsing their songs, dance routines and parades for months. Costumes typically feature bold, multihued colourful satin fabric, bow ties, umbrellas and hats. Over the years, these minstrels, with their rich blend of music and spectacle, grouped into ‘klopse’, or clubs  to compete, which is how the Afrikaans name for the festival stuck.  The Minstrel Carnival of today features more than 65 troupes, tens of thousands of minstrels, strumming banjos, blowing trumpets, trombones and generally making merry. The majority of the minstrels come from the Islamic community; ancestors of the slaves brought by the Dutch from the East Indies, and other “coloured” or mixed race communities; who are mainly Afrikaans speaking.

The Carnival parade held on 2 January 2013 kicked off in District Six, previously home of the “coloured” community which was notoriously razed by the Apartheid regime in the 1960’s. The Grand Parade in front of the Cape Town city hall was the scene of musical entertainment and many food tents to keep the crowds entertained while waiting. Most people however, preferred to lay claim to a shaded spot on the route despite the relatively late starting time of noon and the finish time of 8 pm. Locals and visitors descended on the city in their tens of thousands, and by early afternoon the crowded streets were oppressive in the heat. Refreshments are plentifully available, although the portable toilets provided are only for the very brave, or very desperate.  Many families arrive as early as 7 am pitching a shade tent, setting out chairs and bringing a picnic for the day. Cape Metro police were on hand in great numbers to ensure that all went peacefully.

It required fortitude and determination to be able to see much of the 2013 Festival parade. After the official opening at 12, following the firing of the famous “noon gun”, a single troupe paraded along the route to the end point of the “Bo Kaap” or Cape Malay quarter, after which everything shut down for the Muslim mid-day prayer time. At around 2:30pm another troupe followed the routes when all was shut down again for afternoon prayers. By 5 pm only 6 of the reputed 65 troupes had strutted their stuff. Even some of the dedicated locals were taking down their shades and heading for home by then. We, too, had had enough after seeing so little to reward us for having to stand in the streets for more than 6 hours. Some of our guests at our Cape Town self-catering cottages stayed the course and reported that by 6pm the remaining crowds were rewarded by one troupe after another parading in quick succession and that the parade finished just before 8pm. I think that the city officials should communicate this information in their press releases and that the organisers should consider scheduling their parade to be more convenient for the spectators and supporters. Perhaps this is why the Kaapse Klopse does not feature highly on the list of things for visitors to Cape Town to see during their visit.





23 Dec

Fish Hoek Galley -restaurant on the beach

The Fish Hoek Galley occupies an enviable position right on one of the most popular family beaches of Cape Town, and has been around for decades. It is popular both with locals and visitors as it offers an excellent choice of fish and seafood at good value for money. Although we have eaten there many times over the years it had been some time before we visited them recently, attracted by an advertised  special offer which included grilled yellow tail, favourite of both my wife and myself.

The summers in Cape Town are made even more enjoyable by the fact that the sun only sets at around 8 pm. When we arrived at the restaurant at 7 pm there were many children playing happily with their parents in the gently sloping waters and on the clean white sand that characterises the sheltered beach of Fish Hoek; one of False Bay’s most popular beaches.  Tables in the restaurant are thoughtfully placed so that the majority of diners are able to enjoy, through the large glass windows of the restaurant, a magnificent view of the Bay, the Jaeger walk along the shore, the mountain at Kalk Bay and the bathers enjoying the beach.

We had made an early reservation in order to be able to enjoy the view as much as the meal. When we arrived however we stood waiting for quite some time for anyone to attend to us and lead us to a table. Waitrons buzzed by, ignoring us as we stood waiting, which did not start our evening well. As my irritation level raised, the lady who appeared to be in charge arrived to greet us but then the reservation book could not be found which resulted in further delay while it was sought to see our table number. We were then seated at a very nice table right in front of the windows and promptly served with a drink, while we browsed through the menu. Unfortunately the first waitron that we asked about the special was not aware of it and thought that the special included grilled sole. Having called the supervisor, who clarified the matter, we placed our orders, relaxed and enjoyed the drink. The platters of grilled yellow tail fish, 3 small grilled prawns and some strips of breaded cuttlefish steaks arrived -not calamari as advertised. The fish was served both with fries and savoury rice, garnished with a little salad. It was certainly attractively presented; accompanied by some five different sauces, and a thoughtfully provided finger bowl.

The fillet of Yellow tail was superb; a generous portion lightly topped with a spice mixture and nicely grilled so that it was just done; being a game fish it is easy to dry out this fish by overcooking. The “calamari” was also perfectly done and very enjoyable. The prawns, however, were mealy and it was a battle to persuade the shells to release the meat. Aside from this little complaint, the whole dish was very satisfying, and, we thought,  great value for money at R99.00.  On previous occasions I have enjoyed their Fisherman’s platter : “a choice of prawns, calamari, mussels, seafood kebab and line fish caringly prepared and served with rice, French fries and a selection of sauces” which is also great value at R129, as well as the line fish of the day, which has never failed to please.  Having had an ample meal, we declined the desserts to enjoy a walk on the beach.

The Fish Hoek Galley is unpretentious, serves really good fish and seafood at prices that don’t break the bank, even in peak season, but a little more supervision of the restaurant or training of the staff could improve the  dining experience.

The Bayside also includes a “Bistro” with table both inside and out , offering a wide selection of affordable dishes,  making this ideal for informal family beach meals. Bathers in baggies, or those in shorts and T shirts are welcome. Parents can enjoy a sundowner drink at an outside table while the kids play on the beach or in the playground and we usually recommend this option to guests with families staying at our affordable self-catering accommodation in Cape Town.



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