Tag Archives: stellenbosch

The irony of drinks at Java Cafe

The irony of drinks at Java Cafe
These drinks, our lunch, and the service at Stellenbosch's Java Cafe was pretty good; but I found it sadly ironic (given their name) that their coffee was extraordinarily pitiful. If you appreciate fine coffee, rather skip their brew and order a beer or anything else instead.

Mary Sibande, poking fun at power relations

Mary Sibande, poking fun at power relations
It's an awful quality photo, I know, but the subject is so brilliant that I have to share it. I spotted this work by Mary Sibande on the wall of a building in Stellenbosch. Read more, and see more of her works, in The Guardian's article over here.

Stellenbosch content conference

Stellenbosch Streets
Kerry-Anne will be hosting CS Forum 2012 later this month in the lovely town of Stellenbosch. Well, not in the town, rather at well-known Spier Estate, which is about 5 minutes' drive out into wine country.

If your line of work involves content governance, management, or production, or if you're interested in what industry leaders have to say about user experience and design, then make use of the 10% discount code for CTDP readers (see below for details). Come along and listen to talks presented by Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Opera, and even the Western Cape government! :)

CS Forum 2012 takes place at Spier Estate in Stellenbosch, from 24 to 26 October, so there's still time to get your tickets. Find out all about the speakers, the talks, the workshops, the sponsorship opportunities, and the parties at csforum2012.com. Cape Town Daily Photo readers can get a 10% discount on their conference tickets, by using the discount code CTDP10 when registering.

An unusual spot for a garden chair

An unusual spot for a garden chair
I found this chair carefully positioned among these Agapanthus plants at one of the Stellenbosch University student residences. Perhaps this residence is where all the art and sculpture students live. :)

Lady Peculiar

Lady Peculiar
Lady Peculiar was closed when I walked past, so I wasn't able to inspect their wares, but, a quick browse of their site suggests that it's a place that I should rather not take Kerry-Anne to visit. :)

They seem to have quite a variety of beautiful accessories. While they don't appear to list prices on their website, I'm going to hazard a guess that they're not particularly cheap, though probably not unaffordable. Perhaps pay them a visit next time you're in Stellenbosch.

The leafy Andringa Road in Stellenbosch

The leafy Andringa Road in Stellenbosch
The old buildings, tree-lined streets, and plethora of restaurants and coffee shops make Andringa Road (map), and its surrounding areas, a great place to have an early morning photo walk. Grab a friend and try it some time. :)

Harmonie – a student residence in Stellenbosch

Harmonie - a student residence in Stellenbosch
The student's of Stellenbosch University are privileged to have what may be the most beautiful surroundings in which to live and study. Besides for the town being lovely, the university complex and student residences have large manicured lawns, huge trees, plenty of flowers, and old buildings filled with decades of history.

This particular building, named Harmonie (an Afrikaans word meaning "Harmony"), is a woman's residence filled with about 160 young students. The building was built in 1905 - which (if I recall correctly from a brief history lesson given by one of its beautiful occupants) is the oldest in Stellenbosch.

A friend and I spent some time taking photos here - it was quite beautiful and peaceful - a place that lends itself to a relaxing atmosphere, perfect for studying and daydreaming about the future.

If you're into Content Strategy, UX, or even strategic marketing, then be sure not to miss Content Strategy Forum 2012 that Kerry-Anne will be hosting at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch from 24 to 26 October 2012.

A cooper, a barrel, and lot of brandy

A cooper, a barrel, and a lot of brandy
We arrived at Van Ryn's brandy distillery at 11h30, just in time to join the second group of the day for a short tour before our eagerly-anticipated tasting.

Jean, our guide, took our little group through to the distillation room where she explained the process by which wine is turned to brandy. We then moved though to the room shown in this photo where Neville Ebrahim, a seasoned cooper, demonstrated the process by which barrels used to be made.

In this photo Oom (Uncle) Ebrahim was showing us how coopers used to shape staves that form the brandy barrels. His demonstration was certainly a highlight of our visit to Van Ryn's - I'd encourage you to take a tour if only to see Oom Ebrahim in action. :)

Tours start at 10h00, 11h30 and 15h00 on week days except for Sundays and public holidays when the last tour is given at 13h00. Visit Van Ryn's website for more information about the tastings and tours.

Van Ryn’s, one of Cape Town’s finest brandy distilleries

Van Ryn's, one of Cape Town's finest brandy distilleries
Every time that I visit the well-known Spier Estate in Stellenbosch I drive past the huge Van Ryn's sign inviting passers-by to a brandy tasting experience at the distillery (map).

After years of rushing past the sign and making mental notes to pay them a visit, we finally managed to get it together and organised a brandy-tasting outing. I'm normally more inclined to drink whiskey rather than brandy, but I have to admit that our visit to Van Ryn's and to pleasure of an ultra-smooth 20-year-old gliding over my tongue may just have swayed me! :)

Jan Cats restaurant at the Stellenbosch Hotel

Jan Cats restaurant in Stellenbosch
Jan Cats is the bistro and bar at the old Stellenbosch Hotel, on the corner of Dorp Street and Andringa Road in Stellenbosch (map).

The restaurant was fairly quiet - I suspect because most of the the university students are away on holiday. They had a fairly large selection of meals to choose from and a number of special offers, including 40% off chicken and beef burgers. The food wasn't anything extraordinary, but perfectly acceptable (although, we'd recommend chicken over the beef patties). The day had been pretty warm, so what was great about the restaurant was that we were able to sit outside on the cool patio amidst huge oak trees, enjoying the peaceful evening atmosphere.

If it's a warm evening, and you're in the mood for pub/bistro-type food, and if there's place out on the patio - I'd recommend visiting Jan Cats. If you can't sit on the patio - I'd probably select another restaurant in Andringa Road.

Art on 5

Art on 5

I found Art on 5 while with Kerry-Anne on an impromptu photo walk in Stellenbosch. My previous photo was taken though the hole in the blurry artist's palette at the back of this photo.

Stellenbosch is filled with creative people that love painting, photography, pottery, and many other forms of art. Shops like Art on 5 certainly aren't scarce, but if you'd like to browse an art shop, and would like to do so in a nice part of town, this would be the spot. Besides for the many little shops, there are also several small restaurants that, perhaps in typical French style, spill out onto the pavement creating a vibe that makes Stellenbosch just perfect for a Saturday or Sunday morning brunch.

I tried finding more information about this art shop on the web, but sadly it seems as though they're not keen on being e-found. :(

MXit, taking instant messaging into deepest Africa

MXit Evolution

MXit ("mix-it"), a mobile-phone-based instant-messaging company born in Stellenbosch, could be one of the most successful South African technology startups in our history. Over 18 million registered users around the world, and over 20 million log-ons per day, make them a significant player in the instant-messaging world.

I mentioned in my previous post that we had the opportunity to visit two technology startup companies in Stellenbosch - the first being FireID, and the second being the larger MXit. I'm not sure if you can see it clearly from this photo, but the view from their offices is spectacular, seemingly the perfect view to stimulate creativity.

The exciting thing about MXit is their vision of expanding their operations in Africa. South Africa and Africa in general have a huge number of mobile phone users. It's perfectly normal for people in even the poorest townships to have mobile phones, as they are generally the only way for folk in these communities to keep in touch. MXit offers a *very* cheap alternative to SMS text messaging, as well as a host of other features and services.

Across the world, the internet has become a tool of learning, a way to make money, and a means of cheap communication. While many initiatives exist to use computers to expand internet access into deepest Africa, the reality is that due to infrastructure costs it's going to be many years before computers (and stable internet connections) become as ubiquitous as mobile phones. The introduction of MXit into countries such as Zambia, Rwanda and Ghana creates a dirt-cheap means of communication and access to education and information.

Find out how to get MXit on your phone or computer here, and if you'd like to learn a little more about it, click here to read the Wikipedia page about their history and services.

FireID, the first of two successful Internet startups


Thanks to Dave Duarte from Huddlemind we had the opportunity to visit the Stellenbosch offices of two Cape Town-based technology startup companies, FireID and MXit. In this post I'll tell you just a little about FireID; if you find tech stuff kinda interesting, then check out their website for more detailed information.

In short, if you've used internet banking before you may be familiar with the little security token that some banks give you. When a button on the token is pressed, it generates a brand new password that you can use to sign on to your internet banking site. The idea is that the password is a random set of letters and numbers that nobody (human or computer) can predict; and once you've used the password it becomes obsolete and useless to anyone who might have seen you type it in (or who may have gained access to it in some other way - through key-logging, for instance).

These devices are expensive and are yet another thing that you have to carry with you. FireID have written a clever application that works in a similar way, but on your mobile phone. The cool thing is that the FireID application can be used to generate one-time passwords on your phone for many different websites, reducing the need for you to remember a long list of passwords or carry a dozen security tokens.

FireID have the most awesome offices and working atmosphere. The offices are modern and bright, and the vibe is relaxed. Their core working hours are from 10h00 to 15h00, but apart from that their employees are encouraged to work whenever and wherever they feel they'd be the most productive. Isn't that awesome?

I've uploaded a few more photos to an album - click here to check them out.

The Giraffe House – a real giraffe in Cape Town!

The Giraffe House

Not only does The Giraffe House have this bouncy plastic giraffe (don't you love his smile? :) ), but they have a real one too! Right here in Cape Town, just down the road from Stellenbosch! I did catch a few (well, actually plenty of) shots of the tall and timid animal, but that I'll show you in Monday's post.

We've been meaning to visit The Giraffe House for some time now, so when we were given the choice of going to our godchild's 6th birthday party HERE or a "boring adult cake-and-tea"... erm... there was no contest. Definitely, The Giraffe House! The cool thing about the place was that they don't only have a giraffe, but also an assortment of other animals, some of which I'll show you on Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday.

Thanks, Ethan, for having a birthday and convincing your mom to take us all to The Giraffe House!

Dirtopia – hiking and biking

Dirtopia Trail Centre
Since our last two posts were about the Argus Cycle Tour I hope that you're just itching to get out into nature, away from all the traditional tourist spots. If you're keen, then read on.

Dirtopia is a mountain bike event and hiking trail construction company. While we haven't yet attended one of their hiking or biking events, I've known about them for ages. I happened to notice that they've organised a full-moon hike from DelVera (near Stellenbosch) for tomorrow night, 11 March! We'd love to go, but unfortunately won't be able to make it tomorrow - but if you're free and want to get out, meet people, and experience hiking at night, I'm certain that you'll have a truck-load of fun.

The cost is R40 per person, they leave the Delvera Trail Centre at 18h00, and you can call 021 884 4752 to make a booking.

We haven't been in contact with the Dirtopia guys yet, so if you do go, please be sure to report back on the experience. Kerry-Anne and I will tag along on a hike some time and let you know what it's like. Heading in the direction of Stellenbosch, DelVera is located about 10KM from the N1 highway, along the R44 towards Stellenbosch.

A koi pond

A Koi pond

I've never been much into fish (as pets, I mean - I'm quite fond of a nice piece of seared tuna :P ). I prefer my pets to have fur, generally. But koi fish seem to have become very popular in South Africa - according to the people at Happy Koi, we have the ideal climate for keeping them.

Probably because I've never been much into fish, I didn't actually know that koi are simply a domesticated version of the common carp. I also didn't know that goldfish are a domesticated version of the Prussian carp. I suppose everyone else knew this, though, right?

This particular koi pond is located at Lovane Boutique Wine Estate, which was the subject of yesterday's post.

Mama Joan’s Farm Kitchen at DelVera

Mama Jones at DelVera

While visiting DelVera we discovered a gem of the Stellenbosch winelands, Mama Joan's Farm Kitchen. When one is away on business or vacation, the novelty of eating out at restaurants wears off pretty quickly. For me this is roughly after the second day. :) Kerry-Anne and I were delighted to happen upon Mama Joan's at DelVera - a restaurant where you can still buy "homemade" meals.

Although we only stopped in for a cup or two of vanilla tea, we couldn't help but notice how good and wholesome the meals passing by our table looked. I also noticed that the menu indicated that some of the dishes on offer were made from organically-grown produce only... a sure plus in today's GM-driven world!

We'll certainly go back for a meal some time, and we'll be sure to report back.

Heading in the direction of Stellenbosch, DelVera is located about 10KM from the N1 highway, along the R44 towards Stellenbosch.

From one tree to ten tons – Chrisna’s Olives

Chrisna's Olives at DelVera

We happened upon Chrisna's new farm-style shop at the DelVera estate (just outside of Stellenbosch) today. While Kerry-Anne was tasting all the pastes, olives and flavoured vinegars I got chatting to one of Chrisna's assistants who was busy with the laborious task of removing all the pips from a HUGE bucket of olives. As we chatted, this is what I learned:

Chrisna started her olive business more than ten years ago as a home "project" while tending an old lady's olive tree. Soon word about her amazing olives spread and Chrisna started selling olives, olive oil and olive paste to friends. Things started to snowball from that point leading to her moving her business into her garage at home and by the end of last year Chrisna and her small team were processing about 10 tons of organically grown olives each year! Chrisna and her staff make the pastes and pickled olives, while they outsource the pressing of the oil from the fruit to local... well... olive-pressing-people. (Say, what would you call people who press olives?)

It seems as though Chrisna's made a roaring success from her one-tree beginning. If you love olives and feel like chatting to friendly locals, make a point of taking a drive along the R44 to DelVera - you won't regret the trip.

Did rain put the fires out?

Woman in smoke
The Stellenbosch Fire Department received reports of 100 fires in only 72 hours, and Cape Town's fire department received 83 reports of fires during office hours on Friday alone! It seems as though the whole of Cape Town is on fire.

The Stellenbosch Fire Chief was quoted as saying "Everywhere. Every area." in response to being asked where fires had been reported. Apart from the Stellenbosch fires and the 83 other reports within the Cape Town city limits, fires have been reported in Somerset West, Clanwilliam, Gansbaai, Hermanus, Plettenberg Bay, Algeria, Moutonshoek, Philadelphia, Bellville, Tygerberg, Strand, Monwabisi and Blikkiesdorp.

Today the temperature hit 40°C, although fortunately the wind remained at bay until late this evening. In retrospect it seems as though the hot weather today was a blessing in disguise. Earlier this evening we had a few rain showers (caused by the warm air rising) that will certainly help dampen the dry veld, and at least slow down the fire's progression. So far it looks as though Stellenbosch has had just over 5mm of rain this evening. With weather reports predicting more rain, we can only hope that they're accurate and that tomorrow holds in store many more showers.

If you missed yesterday's post, take a moment to look through the photo album that I put together with photos taken just outside of Stellenbosch yesterday evening.

As I'm typing this post I can hear large drops of rain falling again. Awesome.

Relevant News Articles:
Cape Argus

The Stellenbosch fires

Burning tree stumps
I was just complaining to friends that this summer has been fairly cool in comparison to previous years... and then today happened. It's really really hot in Cape Town.

The fires that started in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve have spread, threatening the town of Stellenbosch. They have in fact approached the edge of town, university property and even homes. Kerry-Anne and I took a drive out to Stellenbosch this evening to see what was happening with our own eyes. Click here to see the photos that I've uploaded to our photo album.

I had a brief opportunity to speak with one of the firefighters who came down from the bush in his vehicle to help lead a fire engine up to where the fire was raging. His blackened hands, the perspiration on his brow, and the way he said "It's not good" in answer to my question about how it was going, gave away how serious this fire could be.

An interesting thing that I noticed was that even though he'd been battling the fire for what must have been more than 12 hours already, he was still friendly and ready to kick some fire ass. A fireman is truly a different breed of person - and perhaps one who's sadly only really appreciated when fire threatens what we hold dear.