Sometimes I think that Swellendam has changed a lot over the last 8 years. But then I realize that a big part of this is because I look at things differently than I did 8 years ago. This past weekend good friends came to visit us from Port Elizabeth. About 8 years ago (before they moved to PE) they were the locals with whom we spent most of our social time. At first we wanted to show them everything that has changed since they left. But then we realized that what we want to do is no longer determined by Swellendam but more by how we ourselves have changed. The big change I am referring to - we all became parents. Big change :)
Our friends have two lovely girls and we have two lively boys - all under the age of 6 but none of them "babies" anymore. They do however need to be carried sometimes and it takes screaming and time to get them into a car.
So here is the criteria for our morning's planning:
1) The parents want some coffee. 2) Places where the children would not complain about boredom, hurt themselves, or cause expensive damage to the place we are visiting.
3) Something interesting for the parents - taking number 2) into account.
4) Lunch - taking number 2) into account.
5) Doing all of this without having to get everyone back in the car to drive to the next activity, because this could potentially take up most of the morning.
What location did we decide on:
We decided on what I like to call the Old Quarter of Swellendam - the area between Old Gaol Restaurant/Dutch Reformed Church and the Drostdy. I know that technically this is not correct and that the Old Quarter is much bigger, but for some reason I consider the Old Quarter to be within walking distance of the Drostdy.
Why? Children and parents love this place. They have live bees that you can view through a glass panel. This is interesting for all ages. The shop has a wide variety of gifts & souvenirs to browse through with honey and bees being the main theme. You can also buy honey by the bucket. Bring your own container and pay per weight or buy the honey in a provided container.
Why? Bukkenburg Pottery is a place that the parents might enjoy more than the children since adults are generaly more appreciative of artwork. I still consider this activity as super child friendly, because of the owner's gentle nature and love for children. The pottery studio is located in a big garden . It's about 100m walk from Bee Things to Bukkenburg Pottery.
Why? Coffee Culture has some of the best coffee that you will find anywhere - and this is something that any good parent would need by then. It's about 70m walk from Bukkenburg Pottery to Coffee Culture. The inside seating of Coffee Culture is not that child friendly but this coffee shop is located in the Drostdy Museum Complex and right next to the Gaol Court Yard. That's what I consider "3 vlieë met een klap". 1) unbelievable coffee, 2) the children love running around in the Gaol Court Yard or the Ambagswerf, 3) I can tell myself that my children are getting a history lesson by running around some of the oldest buildings in South Africa. Everybody wins.
Coincidentally Sijnn winery was having a wine tasting in the same Gaol yard at that very moment. I love coincidences.
Why? This eatery is easily missed because it looks like a nursery. Which it is. The food is plain and simple (in a good way) with nothing fancy for the children to knock over. Shade covers this whole area. There is lots of space for the children to run around and play between the plants. You can get seating where it is easy to keep an eye on your children and keep them from running into the streets. Bella Donna is about 50m walk from Coffee Culture.