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Posted on: Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Why Blouberg Village Is Where You Want To Be (On A Balmy Eve)

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Beautiful Blaauwberg

Beautiful Blaauwberg

Pettit Fours Deli, Onse Huisie, beach, beach, beach and postcard images of Table Mountain

Some call it Blaauwberg, others Blouberg, and the British cannot say it at all. On a temperate summer’s evening everyone who’s anyone heads out there. It’s kind of the Afrikaans equivalent to Camps Bay, with arguably better views, depending on whether you like your mountains behind or in front of you.

Whatever your allegiance, you cannot argue that from the beaches in Bloubergstrand are not only the most wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean and Robben Island, but probably the best sightings of Table Mountain in the city – the typical postcard flat-topped image that draws countless photographers, whatever the weather.

Bistro at Blue Peter

Bistro at Blue Peter

Blouberg lies roughly 25 km north of the city bowl, its name translating literally as ‘blue mountain beach’, named after a mountain near here called Blaauwberg, but also after the Battle of Blaauwberg fought here in the bay (I won’t bore you with the details but if you are interested, Wiki gives an account).

To prevent confusion the Blouberg I refer to is also known as Blouberg Village – the beach where Small Bay and Big Bay meet, where Onse Huisie and the Blue Peter Hotel dominate the restaurant scene; specifically, I mean, where you dip off onto Otto Du Plessis Drive into Sir David Braid Drive and then again onto Stadler Road, past the oh-but-you-simply-have-to-stop Pettit Fours Deli.

Admittedly Blouberg is where the wind blows more often than not. Hence the popularity for kite surfing. But if it isn’t blowing, and it’s hot, then there is no better space in which to be if it’s sea, skies and mountain you are after.

Kite Surfing

Kite Surfing

The evening we head there is hotter than hot, despite being after six o’clock already. Pettit Fours is closed, much to my chagrin.

Pettit Fours lies on that side of the city. Not the side of town where one expects to find a typical little southern suburbs or Kloof Street style Deli. In the midst of all things modern (for Blouberg is chockers full of contemporary style homes and townhouses with a predilection for concrete; no French bistros, exposed walls, winding alley ways or climbing wisterias here) lies this really old-world deli.

Or at least from the inside. If it hadn’t been for a friend of mine who swears that for tea there is no better spot and that the drive is worth it, I wouldn’t have known that this space was occupied by a deli, just across the road from the sea.

Blaauwberg From Above

Blaauwberg From Above

Put it in Kloof Street and Pettit Fours will not only fit right in, it would also have a harder time proving its worth. Out here in Blouberg on Stadler Road, it’s fast earning itself a dedicated following (it also has branches in Durban North and Jo’burg) by those who are only too happy to have a wanna-be French café style bistro out in Blouberg. Head there for cappuccino, quiche and carrot cake, but don’t scrimp on the chocolate cheese cake or you’ll regret it.

In the village proper, alongside the car park in which you will find a mixture of surfers either half in or out of their wet suits, a collection of non-South Africans peddling anything from wire art to pottery, and barely enough parking to service the neighbourhood, you will find Onse Huisie.

The seafood restaurant is on the premises of one of the oldest houses in the area that dates back to the 1800s. It’s been completely restored into the fisherman’s dwelling that it was and serves largely seafood and West Coast style food from its prime spot right on the beach.

Lovely Table Mountain

Lovely Table Mountain

For this reason I was a little sceptical about the food. In my experience when a restaurant occupies such a prime spot, where it will doubtless attract visitors no matter its service, the food tends to be mediocre purely because it does not have to work terribly hard. But I was wrong.

We were one of the few that made it there before the queues began. Out under brollies alongside the thatched roof of the fisherman’s house, we dined on snoek, hake and fish cakes, chips and rice with a bit of salad thrown in, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Children are welcome, as are dogs, and the queues move quickly if you get there after seven. The food is good, not exceptional, but perfectly acceptable if you throw in the views and the joy of eating on the edge of the water.

Big Bay

Big Bay

As we head down to the water after our dinner, I become aware that there are people seemingly walking on water in the midst of the sea. From where I’m standing, off on one side, it looks as though there is something of a channel that leads out to a series of rocks. This is where Big Bay meets Little Bay (or Small Bay, depending on whom you’re talking to).

Whilst I’d heard about the two bays that dominate the Blouberg beach scene, I had no idea that you could walk right out between the waves that roll in on either side of an unspoken line (assuming that it was low tide when I joined the throng of dog lovers and totally mad youth who were swimming at that time of evening) to a rocky point, which is said to divide the two beaches.

Just further along and off the beach (but still with the gorgeous views) is a grassed area that looks as though it is in front of someone’s house that has an awesome  children’s play area and strong, wooden jungle gym. The lawn was filled with picnic groups enjoying sundowners whilst their children played.

Blue Peter Pizza

Blue Peter Pizza

The Blue Peter Hotel was already humming with those without children in search of a festive time and live music, its grassy area already filled with jostling twenty and thirty somethings, their eyes glued on the ensuing sunset. The food might be a little iffy (overpriced and largely average pizzas) but the venue on a balmy evening cannot be beaten and the grassy area on the edge of the beach fills to its max.

I have to confess to wondering out loud whether the southern suburbs are really all they are cut out to be, whilst taking in the sunset, vibey atmosphere and gentle waves. But then anywhere, with the right light and atmosphere looks good in the early evening, doesn’t it?

On a bench nearby I read the words: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain. Hope your day is filled with God’s music!”

Useful Blaauwberg Links:

Wanda Coustas

About 

Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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