5 of the best markets in Cape Town

The slowfood movement and the revival of crafted goods has resulted in a plethora of markets in Cape Town. These are a couple of my favourites.

1. The Neighbourhood Goods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.  This award-winning market stands head and shoulders above the rest. It has over 100 specialty traders every Saturday, including local farmers, fine-food purveyors, organic merchants, bakers, butchers, artisan producers and designers. Wander through the old  warehouse and courtyard at the Old Biscuit Mill or chill on hay bales outside.

2. The Porters Market,  in Tokai. Probably my most visited market, because I love the MoerKoffie, the amazing bacon and egg rolls, and the Marimba’s. The market is the perfect place to stop off after a bike ride, or walk in Tokai forest. Look out for the handmade breadboards, Karoo lamb, chocolate brownies, raw honey and heritage seedlings.

3. The Slowmarket and Treasury Market, in Stellenbosch. If you’re willing to trek out to the Winelands, this market is worth the trip. Well organised and laid out around the Oaks and Cape Dutch buildings of Oude Libertas, the Slowmarket offers quality, gourmet treats, quirky crafts and some great finds. After quaffing champagne over breakfast, I came home laden with marinated olives, cheese, a Havanna hat, a real Indian embroidered throw, a bird brooch and the intention to return. The Treasury craft market, within the larger market, is only there on the first Saturday of the month.

4. The Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay. This market has grown into a sprawling mix of great food and crafts. Its popular – especially on the weekends when there’s live music –  so expect a busy, vibey atmosphere.

5. The Earthfair Market, in Tokai. This small market has some gems – curries, cheesecakes and fresh organic juices. Try By Nature for organic nuts and dried fruit, Constantia Cheesery for delicious cheeses without colourants additives or preservatives, and SaladLover for the best vegetarian, gourmet selection of salads you could wish for.

Waterfall Farm – paradise found in the Cederberg

  Road-tripping is hungry work, and after an early start of out Cape Town, northwards up the N7 to the Cederberg, we were ready to plunder roadside farmstalls. Citrusdal was our last stop before hitting the dirt roads. But, everyone … Continue reading

In Search of the Fish

800km from Cape Town there is a campsite with hot springs, wild horses, and a river running through it. There is also a canyon carving through arid rock, and that is what we went in search of.

The Fish River Canyon, Namibia, is over 300km long, but hikes are mostly done between the campsites Hobas and Ai-Ais for 70 – 95km, depending on how many shortcuts you take.

We climbed down stumbling shale and rock
We saw scorpion trails everywhere
We slept under a blanket of stars
We cooked on open fires made from gathered driftwood
We drank the river
We got cold in the predawn and dived deeper into our sleeping bags
We got powder soft sand in our shoes
We saw kudu
We heard kudu whistling and drinking water next to us at midnight
We saw a German grave and wild horses
We followed Ryan Sandes
We made friends
We were small and wrapped in the mountains
We held the world away
We dozed in the midday heat
We scalded and soothed our bodies in hot springwater bubbling into rock pools
We saw saturated blue sky and unflinching resilience in plants and animals
We loved the simple life
We finished.

Uncovering the secret season in Plett

Overlooking pristine beaches and nature reserves, Plettenberg Bay is the playground of South Africa’s wealthy. It’s also a town of contrasts that has somehow retained a village feel in the face of burgeoning informal settlements and luxury property developments.

Come winter, the town hibernates – boarded up, awaiting the summer migration of upcountry lemmings and international swallows.

It’s the secret green season in the Cape – moody and wet, but with mild weather between the cold fronts. Drive the N2 between Cape Town and Plett and you’ll see a spectacle of wheat and Canola fields, blue cranes, herds and aloes against misty mountains.

But the beaches are deserted, bar intrepid retirees who walk their dogs every day … long invigorating walks.  And the nearby forests are magical –  dripping green and mossy, brackish water rushing over dank earth.

We stayed at Gemini in Plett – a turquoise shuttered, Cape Cod style house right on Robberg Beach, booked through Perfect Hideaways.

Gemini is the perfect holiday house – beautifully designed and decorated, with great entertainment areas, stylish bedrooms and lots of little luxuries – relaxed and welcoming.

The house is well thought through, from the landscaped indigenous garden with its wooden walkways and hidden boma, to the open plan living area and kitchen with its top of the range appliances, it oozes comfort.

We loved the detail, Philippe Starck taps, the enormous Gaggenau stove,  an espresso machine and juicer, a great selection of books, deep comfy sofas and Lloyd Loom chairs.  The owners are clearly travellers and avid collectors, and they’ve shared their collection of beautiful artifacts around the house.

If you can raise yourself off the lounger, the beach is a close walk across the road and down a boardwalk through the beach vegetation, and you’ll have miles of sea and sand to explore. For the more adventurous, there’s a hike on the Robberg Peninsula – the views are worth the effort.

The Plett area has endless entertainment, exercise and foodie options. Try walking or biking Harkerville forest, visiting Natures Valley, taking a boat or canoe up the Keurbooms River, or just relaxing over a long lunch at Bramon wine estate or at the Lookout Deck.

For more info about Gemini contact www.perfecthideaways.co.za. Tel: 021 790 0972, or email: stay@perfecthideaways.co.za

Two Angels in Knysna

The Knysna Festival is around the corner, and for anyone entered into the fun, there is always a mad scramble for accommodation. Last year, as a festival virgin, I entered the 21km run, gathered a motley crew of faithful supporters and planned the pilgrimage.

By a stroke of luck, we found accommodation at the Two Angels (previously Rockery Nook) on Leisure Isle, in full view of the Knysna Heads.

We rented ‘Lovers’ Nook’ cottage,  the ‘Oyster Nook’ studio, and a small loft room upstairs.  The ‘Nooks’ were both stunning – stylishly decorated and very comfortable with en-suites, kitchenettes and incredible views, but the loft room was a tad basic – no frills but fine for overflow accommodation that you could put your kids into.

Best part of our stay? Hard to choose between the incredible sunsets on the lagoon, waking up to the lapping, rushing sounds of the incoming tide, or early swims and lazy bike rides around Leisure Isle.

Best places to eat? If you’ve had enough of relaxed mojito’s and braai’s at the house,  venture out and try champagne and oysters at Sirocco on Thesen Island or breakfast at East Head Café http://www.eastheadcafe.co.za/

And yes, we also ran a race that required us to get up in the middle of the night, queue to catch a thumping taxi into a dark, muddy, freezing forest, just to run all the way back – and it was fabulous fun.

Book accommodation at Two Angels through www.perfecthideaways.co.za. Tel: 021 790 0972, or email: stay@perfecthideaways.co.za

Karoo Roadtripping – Heading out east

From Cape Town, the N1 stretches out after Touws River into dry scrub. Trucks ply the routes and the small towns are not quaint – Merweville features little more than a bottle store and a railway siding.

The land is harsh, sheep dot the veld and houses stand resolutely alone among windmills and gum trees. But as we near the Eastern Cape the landscape subtly shifts, and low-lying hills rise out of the arid flatness.

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Arundel, St James – A colonial Cape Town gem

The Cape Town seaside suburb of St James is an anachronism, left over from Cape Town’s colonial past. It reposes elegantly on the False Bay coast, like high tea on a silver service, between the arty, fishing-based community of Kalk Bay and Muizenberg’s cosmopolitan mix of pensioners, surfers and Nigerians.

Arundel, a classic St James holiday house tucked away on the mountainside, offers travellers a gracious refuge from the bustle of holidaying in Cape Town.

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