A wise man once said wherever you go, there you are — meaning, you can’t outrun your problems.
Well, whoever said that didn’t have children.
Yes, when you head out on the traditional Sunday drive, your kids do tag along in the backseat, but for a blissful two hours or so you can leave the “he stole my Barbie” and “she deleted my Minecraft world” squabbles behind.
Thus far I haven’t met a kid who doesn’t absolutely love to travel.
As we grow older, most of us dream of a quiet afternoon in bed, catching up on the sixth season of Game of Thrones.
But not your average five to 10-year-old. Oh no, the “where are we going?” question is probably the first full sentence every child learns to speak. And as loving and often desperate parents, we grab the car keys and head out.
But where to go? Having spent countless sunny afternoons at our local Stodels branch in Bellville, feeding the indifferent lamas and greedy goats (R10 feed packets available), that particular destination just doesn’t hold the same allure it once did.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the place – where else will you find a whole day’s entertainment, with jungle gyms and even a few tortoises thrown in for free at the low price of R13 for a soft-serve ice cream cone? Because, let’s be honest, that’s all the kids really want for lunch – dessert.
There is a Dulce Cafe at the nursery if you are feeling hungry, and lots of pots and plants too. Definitely a must-visit for beginner parents.
Continuing on the N1 towards Paarl, take Exit 34. Here you will find Bugz Family Playpark.
Rides are open on weekends and on holidays, but be warned, at R120 a child for a VIP pass and R50 for adults, this place is not cheap.
And once inside you better have money to burn on the pancakes, cupcakes, boerewors rolls and whatever other calorie-loaded snack you can imagine.
But if you do have cash to throw around or have bought a Groupon deal, which is almost always available, you are guaranteed a few hours of not even knowing you have kids.
On arrival your child will disappear into a sea of their screaming peers — all gliding down water slides, hopping on jumping castles, and riding ponies – only to reappear once the craving for above-mentioned snacks set in. Not for the faint-hearted parent.
Another one of our regular haunts is Klein Joostenberg.
Take exit 39 on the N1 towards Paarl, turn right onto R304 and left again. On your left you will find the nursery, bistro and deli.
At the bistro you can order arguably the best pork dishes in the Western Cape.
One of our kids’ favourites is the French toast served with honey and bacon for R48.
The portion is so generous that we often share it between two of our children.
There are vast green lawns in front of the bistro where kids can run wild, with one lonely looking jungle gym standing to the left.
On most Sundays there is also a horse and cart which, for the grand prize of R15 a person, will transport you the distance it usually takes to
circumvent one rugby field.
A few months back The Taproom, a collaboration between Joostenberg Picnics and The Stellenbosch Brewing Co also opened on the premises and although it is quite smart, with beer tastings and picnics on offer, ranging from R35 to R140 for picnic plates, the jury is still out on whether it adds or detracts from the destination’s charm.
On the one hand it is cool to sip craft beer in the shade of Karee trees, but on the other, there used to be a see-saw just on the spot where the brewery now stands.
My children miss it dearly.