Johannesburg Zoo, Parkview (JHB)

For as long as I can remember, the JHB Zoo has been a fascinating and wonderful place to visit, both for kids and adults.
It provides a beautiful green belt where you can see a wide variety of animals, right in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Johannesburg (ok not quite the middle, but pretty close...:))

Date last visited

July 2013

Location and Setting

The Johannesburg Zoo is located at the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Upper Park Drive in Parkview, JHB, overlooked by the Westcliff Hotel.

It is a well-known and well-loved destination for many families and their little ones.

For the kids...

First and foremost, the JHB Zoo provides an opportunity for kids to see all of their favourite animals up close - lions, tigers, bears, birds, giraffes, elephants, polar bears... to name only a few of the amazing species that call the zoo their home.

The animals are always a hit and are guaranteed to plaster smiles all over those inquisitive little faces (alongside the bits of food also plastered there...:)).
In particular, the lion and tiger enclosures are very impressive, having been upgraded in recent years to allow the animals much more space to roam.


The zoo also offers a lot of green space for the kids to run around in - always a biggie for city dwellers who are confined to apartment living, with minimal or no gardens.

There are also several theme-park styled rides near the main entrance, in case you need a few moments of adult-quiet time while the little ones run off to make themselves dizzy...
On our most recent visit last week, we also discovered that a really nice new kids play area is being built just near the lion enclosure - we were told that it would be ready during the next few days (so expect it sometime this month - July 2013):




There are many other activities that the JHB Zoo offers for kids, but I can only really scratch the surface here - for a complete guide to what's happening at the Zoo, you really need to check out their website at http://www.jhbzoo.org.za/.

For the adults...

I cannot speak for all adults, let alone even a few of them, but I for one never tire of the JHB Zoo.
As far back as I can remember, it was always a thrill to go on a zoo outing - as a kid I would sometimes request a zoo visit on a weekly basis...!
For adults who work and operate in a stressful and busy environment every other day of the week, the JHB Zoo offers a welcome slice of nature where time slows down ever so slightly... :)

The Cafe Fino that runs at the JHB Zoo certainly know how to make a nice meal as well - they offer a varied menu, offering breakfasts, pizza, pasta, trammezzini, wraps, salads and of course the usual array of coffees, milkshakes and beverages, without which any menu would be incomplete.
Recently we decided to try the Vegetarian Tostado - a type of wrap prepared with a filling of avo, halloumi cheese, mushrooms, peppadews and topped with a mix of melted cheese... 5 stars of deliciousness awarded for this one guys!
Round that off with a memorable Danesi Cappuccino, and the day is complete :)

My only con here would be the slightly long waiting times for service and for food... but then again it was pretty busy, and I suppose the wait was well worth it in the end :)

Anything else?

The JHB Zoo also operates a tractor ferry that you can hop onto, which caters for visitors who prefer to do a little less walking - it stops at various points for viewing opportunities and does a loop of the zoo grounds, more or less.
The toilet facilities are also generally clean and well-maintained.

Final words

Whether you bring a picnic basket, or pick up a hotdog at one of the many stands at the zoo, or even just kick back at Cafe Fino, the JHB Zoo always seems to be a safe bet if you just want to get out for a pleasant day away from home, in the company of your family, friends and a little bit of "controlled" wildlife :)

Getting in touch, Facts and Figures etc...

For entrance fees, click here.

Operating hours are from 08:30 - 17:30 with last entry at 16:00.


Telephone:
011 646 2000

Email:
info@jhbzoo.org.za

Fax:
011 486 2866

Website: 
http://www.jhbzoo.org.za

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Flora Farm, Boksburg (JHB)

If you are ever out on the JHB East Rand (passport in hand :), looking for a place to chill for a bit in pleasant surroundings, don't overlook Flora Farm.
From the outside it basically looks like a nursery. Step inside though and it becomes a nice little haven from the bustling main road just next door.

Date last visited

August 2010

Location and Setting

Flora Farm is situated at 11 North Rand Road, Bartlett, Boksburg 
(Cnr North Rand & Trichardt Road).
It is a short drive away from the East Rand Mall, and only a short distance away from the end of one of the runways at JHB International Airport - so expect the occasional low-flying aircraft overhead as they land or take off.
The place is basically a decent-sized nursery - a garden centre where you can get pretty much anything that you would expect to find in a garden :) There are also a host of shops in the centre dealing with other elements such as wedding decor, unique gifts, outdoor statues and the like.

Most importantly (that's my appetite talking now), there are 2 branches of Nino's onsite - a small cafe type branch as you enter, and a larger one situated at the back of the nursery.

For the kids...

Apart from being an outdoors venue which is always great with kids, Flora Farm offers a really nice (secure) kids play area, right next to the Nino's at the back of the nursery.
There are several jungle gyms and obstacles to climb on and get lost in, as well as a stack of giant toys and building blocks to keep the ankle-biters from biting your ankles for a little while :)

We noted that the kiddies changing facilities were situated within the ladies restrooms - I think this is more or less becoming a norm at venues for safety reasons.
Even so, what if you are a single dad taking your tot out for the day? Where do you change them if they decide to make use of their nappy...? :)

For the adults...

The main attraction for adults is definitely the huge selection of plants, shrubs, garden / nursery stock and equipment that Flora Farm offers, if you are into that kind of thing :)

There is even a wellness centre on the premises, although I know absolutely zero about wellness centres and you would need to visit their website to find out more about what they offer.
In fact, best you head on over to http://www.florafarm.co.za/ because there really is a lot going on there!

Nino's offer their standard (awesome) menu, which you can download here. There is lots of great stuff in there to choose from, and some decent options for the kiddies as well.
If you frequent Nino's, you will know that their standard of food is pretty high and that they tend to be consistent between branches. That's always a good thing :)
I am not entirely certain though, if the smaller Nino's at the front of Flora Farm offers the full menu - that's a to-find-out on our next visit there.

Anything else?

In the name of "going green", you can also drop off all your tin, paper and glass waste at Flora Farm.
Their recycling centre is located on the left as you enter the main gates.

Free admission.

Final words

If you want to just kick back a bit on a Sunday afternoon while the kids use up all their energy reserves, while stocking up on your garden needs at the same time, then you could do a lot worse than Flora Farm - pleasant surroundings, great food and lots of stuff for the little ones to do.

Many happy returns guaranteed.

Getting in touch

Telephone:
011 894 2377

Email:
info@florafarm.co.za

Fax:
011 918 5852

Website:
http://www.florafarm.co.za/

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The Waterberry, Ballito (KZN North Coast)



a sight for sore eyes...
Update - 15 May 2015:

After some necessary downtime involving a complete rebuild, the Waterberry is now fully functional again, and much improved!
When next you find yourself in Ballito, this place is a must.

When we first drove past this little gem, I told myself I would be back there very soon, and as the review below will testify, it was a great decision :)

Date last visited

April 2015

Location and Setting

The Waterberry is located at the bottom of Leonora Drive, Ballito, KwaZulu Natal, right on the edge of a green belt consisting of indigenous trees and plants. There is a lovely walk through this "mini forest" which I would recommend you take, prior to engaging in the many culinary delights.
It will help work up your appetite :)
It is also truly a beautiful setting - a little slice of peace and quiet right in the middle of a rapidly expanding Ballito.

For the kids...


The Waterberry caters nicely for the kids, with several jungle gyms on the premises, positioned slightly away from the eating area, while still being close enough for you to keep an eye on those future Olympic gymnasts in training...
There is also a sandpit where they can dig around and get filthy, as well as some zozo-style huts with mini tables and chairs inside, where the ankle-biters can get some serious kiddie-conferencing / networking done... :)

The Forest Walk is a nice touch if you want to take a relaxing stroll before or after your meal, and also a good way to use up all of the excess energy that children are so good at stockpiling!

As for the menu, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of effort that was put into the Kiddies section, offering a wide variety of meals for the little ones.
The menu boldly states: "Let us make you some fresh, healthy, slow food. It takes a little longer, but it's worth it.", so I guess this would be an indication that you are putting healthy stuff into those ravenous little tummies.
That little one-liner on the menu also hints at the general vibe of the place - one of chilling out, country living, peace and tranquility.

We found the kiddies nappy changing facilities clean and pleasant to use, as were the adult toilets. Always an important one to think about...!


For the adults...


For a relaxing break in a crazy day of sightseeing / business / exploring, The Waterberry takes good care of its adult patrons with an enticing menu and a wide variety of cuisine to choose from.

The Panini was really good, in particular I must say that the pesto, prosciutto and mozzarella combo worked really well.
To top it all off, who could possibly say no to a slice of decadent Bar One Cheese Cake and a cappuccino?
Me neither... and boy was it so worth it! While I expected a slice of chocolate death, in truth it was not overbearingly sweet, rather it was the perfect ending to an already lovely outing.

Another "adult" consideration would be pricing, which was about average and in-line with other establishments we have been to.

Anything else?


The Waterberry also offers a quaint little home-industry style shop and bakery, where you can stock up on jams, bread, cakes and an array of other yummy stuff that is sure to make you go back for more.

Free admission.

Final words

On every level, The Waterberry impressed us, from the food to the facilities, to the beautiful and relaxing setting.

Getting in touch

Call The Waterberry on +27 (0)32 946-2797.

Highly recommended.

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Irene Dairy Farm, Irene (Pretoria)

Call me biased, but I am already smiling as I type this intro...
Irene Dairy Farm just has a way of doing that - bringing a broad grin to faces young and old.

Date last visited

July 2013

Location and Setting

Getting out of the concrete jungle always scores high up on my list - after a week of traffic, stress and general JHB-craziness, a spot of trekking out of town really works wonders for the soul.
Irene is not that far off - about 25 minutes on the R21 gets you there.
From JHB - hop off at Nellmapius Drive, hang a left and continue for a few km's. Go under the railway bridge, continue through the 4-way stop street, take a left at the 2nd traffic circle and you are there.
The nice thing about Irene is that it still has that small country town feel to it - the first time I visited, it reminded me a bit of Pilgrim's Rest - it feels like it is stuck in a time warp of some sort, which is a good thing :)

For the kids...

The farmyard environment is a winner with the kids - all the sights, smells and sounds of a working dairy farm surround you as you make your way through Irene Dairy Farm.
There are cows all over the place, some grazing, some being milked and some just meandering about mooing occasionally... as cows are expected to do :)
The calves are also a hit with the kids, who just love to pat them and generally fuss over them like their very own teddies back at home.

Cows not their thing? Then pop the kids onto the old tractor that now fills its days watching over the restaurant, or if you prefer, the wooden jungle gym is another option to help spend all that youthful energy :)

Speaking of kids - changing nappies and such is always a biggie when taking the little ones anywhere.
On our first visit to Irene Dairy Farm, the restrooms did not specifically cater for tiny tots in terms of changing tables etc.
Most recently, however, we were pleased to notice that there is now a dedicated changing facility within the ladies restrooms. Clearly the management here like to keep up with the needs of their customers.
Good job guys!

For the adults...

Breaking away (albeit briefly)  from the grind of city living is one of the main attractions here.
Even though the Irene Dairy Farm is tucked between more modern establishments such as the Irene Country Lodge etc., it retains the country feel of a dairy farm somewhere far out of town.

The establishment includes 2 restaurants - one up on the Deck, and one in the Barn (which was one of the original barns).
Both serve scrumptious breakfasts and lunches, while the barn also serves breakfast and lunch buffets every weekend.
Tucked away behind the deck restaurant you will also find a well-stocked farm store, complete with the freshest milk that money can buy - ready to be bottled as you wait. They also stock a wide variety of other dairy products, savoury treats, desserts, chocolates, cakes, coffees and all kinds of confectionery.
Upstairs you will find Nest Home Decor and Gifts - you can read more about this here.

Anything else?

NB NB - For security reasons, Irene Dairy Farm is a cashless establishment, so bring those credit and debit cards with you!

Final words

Irene Dairy Farm is one of those places that is just a safe bet, anytime.
You can be sure that you will come back time and time again - it's that good.

Free admission.
Getting in touch

They sport a decent website at http://www.irenefarm.co.za - head on over there RIGHT now! :)
Alternatively, you can use these contact details to get in touch:

Telephone:
Shop: 012 667 2326
Barn: 012 667 4822

E-mail:

Fax:
Barn: 012 667 5485
Dairy: 012 667 2634
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Bambanani, Melville (JHB)

We were invited out for breakfast one Sunday morning to a little place in Melville called Bambanani.
Not expecting much, we set off hungrily, and were most pleasantly surprised by what we found.
Having subsequently returned to Bambanani (a xhosa word meaning stand together/unite) on 2 further occasions, I feel adequately qualified to give a fairly accurate review :)
So without further ado, read on...

Date last visited

August 2010

Location and Setting

Bambanani is situated at 85 4th Avenue, in Melville, JHB.
It is fairly central, if a little closer to those in the West / Central areas of JHB. The exterior of the establishment belies what you will find inside...
It was a chilly autumn morning when we visited, and the first thing to greet us upon arrival were several cosy fireplaces churning out a good amount of warmth. 
Now I am totally clueless when it comes to fancy interior design terms, but I loved the look and feel of the place - very warm and welcoming.

For the kids...

Bambanani prides itself on a large kiddies play area, situated outside and behind the main restaurant.
There is an astro-turf area where the little ones can scoot about on kiddies motorcycles and clamber up on jungle-jims, and for the more adventurous little tikes out there, there is one of those huge multi-storey scaffolding type maze constructions.
Send your kid in there and you may not get them back for several hours...!
To add to this, dedicated child minders make their presence felt, so you can comfortably leave your precious little ones in their care. Tipping is of course always welcome.
The restrooms were clean and well presented, with very decently equipped changing rooms for those stink bombs that the little ones sometimes produce... :)

For the adults...


The warm, welcoming atmosphere is just awesome at Bambanani. It sure helps that all the staff we dealt with were relaxed and friendly, and fairly prompt to boot.
Food-wise, this being a breakfast, I can testify that several members in our party laid great praises upon the Eggs Benedict... :) 
Over and above this, the menu is varied and caters nicely for the kids as well.
All of those in our party loved their meals - a variety of different breakfasts were enjoyed at our table :)
Several cappuccino's and an awesome slice of lemon meringue later, it was unfortunately almost time to go... :)

Anything else?

Not much else to add - an excellent time was had by the adults, the kids had a great time and we will most definitely be back in the near future.
The staff here are superb - you get the feeling that they are really happy to have you in their establishment.

Oh and there is the option to dine inside or outside - the upper outside dining area overlooks the play area, so you can keep one eye on your food, and the other on your offspring playing below :)
The lower outside dining area is neatly spread around the play area, so if you want to avoid the stairs, then this is for you.

Free admission.



Final words


Bambanani turned out to be a superb hit - great food, great vibe and kid-friendly as well.
Truly a place of many happy returns!

Getting in touch


Call Bambanani on 
011 482 2900.
Their website is currently under construction at http://www.bambanani.biz/

Highly recommended.


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Plebs with Kids visits mainly JHB-based venues, coffee shops, restaurants, play areas and other such establishments.

We rate their kid-friendliness (among other things :) for your convenience, and for the next time you need a place to go, while knowing that your little ones are well catered for.

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