Irene Village Mall review, Irene (Pretoria)

Credit: Luschka van Onselen
Credit once again goes to Luschka van Onselen for this review :)

While it might seem strange to review a whole mall, Irene Village Mall is no ordinary mall. 
Apart from its European 'feel' and the pancake stand at the entrance, there's also so much to do, and it is extremely child friendly.

Date last visited


March 2011

Location and Setting

On the corner of Nellmapius Drive & Van Ryneveld Avenue, Irene, Irene Village Mall is another of Pretoria's shopping malls, but it is a mall with a difference. It is one of the few that is truly child friendly and can actually be a fun day out for everyone.

For the kids...

Upon entering the mall through the main entrance, there's a fountain, behind which is a mini maze (about knee high) complete with scarecrows and an upside down cow statue – or rather the udders and legs of the cow. I'm not sure where the rest of it got to!

Credit: Luschka van Onselen
Behind the cow which always has children clambering all around it, is a square surrounded by restaurants and a few benches. In the centre of the square is a very large (54m²) water feature with arches and spouts.
This is the main attraction of Irene Mall. There are always children running around in and out of the water. Some parents actually come there with their children already in costumes or wet suits and the inexperienced just let their children run around in full dress or nappies.

Around the water feature are four restaurants and coffee shops where you can have breakfast, coffee or lunch while the kids play to their heart's content.

Behind the fountains is a display area – last time I went there were vehicles on display, but the time before that there was a whole children's play area complete with trampolines.
On Saturdays there is a train that drives up and down the strip-mall layout of the rest of the mall.
R15 per person per ride - it's great fun for the children.

There's also a toyshop which sells both Lego and Duplo, and there are three 'scratch-patch' tables where children can play and build and have fun.
If all of that is not enough, there are also ride-on toys dotted around the centre.

For the adults...

Credit: Luschka van Onselen
Well, it is a mall. It has general shopping such as Woolworths and Pick 'n Pay, and it has boutique shops, a baby boutique and so on.
There are plenty restaurants and a Ster Kinekor movie theatre.

What makes Irene Village Mall feel so European is the hand-cut mosaic artwork that decorates the entrances, drinking fountains and water features.
There's a bell tower too, and the statues you'll find on your wanderings definitely add to the ambiance.
Two men staring at each other in the style of “The Thinker”, and large deformed horses (which also have a seat area which little ones can 'ride' on – with supervision though – the tall one is very high!)

Anything else?

Parking is reasonable – your first hour is free, second hour is R5.

If you go on a Saturday, Karoo (first on the left of the fountains) has a fantastic breakfast buffet for R69.00 including such items as biltong and beer bread, more than 10 meat dishes, vetkoek, pumpkin fritters and loads more. It's a highly recommended breakfast, and they serve from 9am.
The toilets are very nicely done up, and clean, but I didn't see a baby change – although there's ample room in the bathroom.

There might not be much for parents to do in the Lego shop, but watching the little ones entertain themselves is good enough for me.

Getting in touch

Detailed directions can be found here.

GPS:
S 25 ° 51 . 683 '
E 28 ° 15 . 044 '

Tel:
(012) 662 4446

Fax:
(012) 662 0719

Email:
Martilize Ochse - martilize@mseed.co.za

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

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Kids Castle Animal Farm and Playground review, Die Wilgers (Pretoria)

Credit: Luschka van Onselen
Luschka van Onselen has been very busy in and around Pretoria - here is her next contribution - thanks Luschka!

The urban farm is definitely the 'thing to do' in Pretoria, and Kids Castle Animal Farm and Playground is another option if you're looking for somewhere to go. 
Kids castle has a playground and farm, and is a party venue for children.

Date Last Visited

March 2011

Location and Setting

Located behind the Grove Mall just off Lynwood Road or off Simon Vermooten if you're coming on the N4, Kids Castle Animal Farm and Playground is at 21 Farm Road. 
It was actually remarkably easy to find, armed with just those two street names.

You arrive in a sand car park, and being the only people there, we found ample parking (plenty of which is in the shade). 
There's a restaurant to your right (which wasn't open during the day) and a nursery school, which also didn't seem to be open. Ahead is the 'farm' part and to the left is the reception for the large play park and entrance to the farm.

A map is available here.

For the kids...

Honestly, it's all about the kids. The playground has three large climb frames, a 'tractor', sand pit, various swings and slides, a roundabout swing thing and a trampoline. 
The biggest problem we found was that everything was in the sun and scorchingly hot. We were able to play on some of the equipment, but a few trees around the play area would not hurt.
There are separate party areas so that two parties can be held at the same time.
Credit: Luschka van Onselen

Upon arrival we were given animal food – cabbage for the goats, sheep and rabbits and corn for the chickens, geese, ducks and random other fowl. As we approached they rushed to the fence, and my daughter loved it. 
The goats were the keenest for food and were remarkably gentle in taking it from my 17 month old.

For parties there is also a jumping castle, tractor rides and donkey rides, and the package (R700 for three hours venue hire, R50 per child and R25 per adult) includes party packs and entertainment.






For the adults...

There's not a huge amount for adults, other than playing with your little ones, which is probably the point. There's not a lot of shade, but saying that, as the only people there on the day, we were fine. 
You can buy a small selection of soft-drinks from their shop. I paid R10 for a Fanta Grape.

Anything else?

Dawie, one of the owners was very friendly and informative. He told us details about the animals and wasn't shy of spending a bit of time making sure we were looked after.

The only real downside of Kids Castle is the toilets. There's no baby change facility, which in a place catering for children is a little strange, and there were hundreds of mosquitoes. 
Hopefully management have taken note of this and will improve the facilities in the near future.

I think it would be a great place for a birthday party or to go with friends. Mums and Dads can sit and chat while the kids run themselves ragged and entertain themselves with the animals.
Day visitors are welcome – i.e. you don't have to be part of a party, and adults will pay R15, while children are R25.

With a toddler on my own it was good for about two hours, but with older children or a group, and a few snacks, it could easily be a whole day out.
Credit: Luschka van Onselen

Getting in touch 

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

Telephone
Dawie 0828046979
Marika 0837701786
Tel: (012) 8070688

Address
Plot 21
Farm Road Off Simon Vermooten
Die Wilgers
Pretoria

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Safari Garden Centre review, The Willows (Pretoria East)


Credit: Luschka van Onselen
Thank you again to Luschka van Onselen for this, her latest contribution to Plebs with Kids - keep 'em coming!

I'm not sure if it's all over South Africa, or just in Pretoria, but Garden Centres are glorified playgrounds that sell a few garden essentials on the side. 
Honestly, I've seen garden centres all over the world, and none of them hold a candle to the ones here, and in the garden centre league, Safari is my personal first place title holder.

Location and Setting

On Lynwood Road, Pretoria, Safari Garden Centre lies on the T-Junction of Lynnwood and Rubida Street, The Willows (Pretoria East) and it is pretty impossible to miss.

From the road it looks like your average garden centre. 
Parking is plentiful, free, and there's a car guard on duty.

You can find directions here.

For the kids....

Credit: Luschka van Onselen
Walk through the garden centre and you're faced with a world you didn't know was there from the road. Passing by all the plant centre things, you find a wonderland for children.
There are pony rides and a train ride on weekends and public holidays.
There's a jumping castle, and a walk in aviary / animal farm, which houses bot belly pigs, chickens, rabbits, a few goats and more varieties of farm birds.
There are also marmoset monkeys, dwarf mountain goats and rabbits.

In the centre of all this is a playground with slides and climb frames. Really, its a child's paradise.
There are also many water features, water falls, fish and a rickety looking bridge over the water, something my daughter was fascinated by.

There are ride-on machines and a large elephant for looking at, and there's plenty of opportunity for walking around, exploring and playing imaginative games.

Credit: www.safarigardencentre.com
For the adults...

There are different 'plant' sections – rose, cacti, herbs, herbaceous and indoor are only a few- and a water feature area with everything from little fountains to a roaring waterfall. 
There are also plenty of opportunities to walk around daydreaming about your ideal garden.

The key to any good child's place for me, is a decent cup of coffee, and the restaurant here serves that, no doubt. There's a full restaurant, a bar, a chapel and various function rooms.  
Outdoors there's a function area with a huge bonfire. The restaurant also stretches all the way to the play area, so you can keep an eye on the children while enjoying lunch or a drink.






Anything else?

Although the Safari Garden Centre is open till 17.30, the aviary is locked around 16.30, and the restaurant stops serving around the same time.

There is no entrance fee for any part of Safari, and only the rides and ride-on toys will cost you any money – and of course anything you purchase from the restaurant.

Credit: www.safarigardencentre.com
Final thoughts

The Safari Garden Centre is a free, fun-filled afternoon. There is so much to see that it caters for all ages, and it's hard to believe that beyond the King Kong - like walls, there's a whole bustling city.  
It's one of my favourite places in Pretoria, and I strongly recommend it for a visit.

Contact information

Telephone:
012 807-0009

Fax:
0866 800 772

Physical Address:
Credit: www.safarigardencentre.com
C/o Lynnwood Road and Rubida Street
The Willows
Pretoria East

Business Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 08:00 - 17:30
Sunday and Public Holidays: 09:00 - 17:30

Email:




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Papachinos, Silverlakes (Pretoria)


First off, thanks to Luschka van Onselen for contributing this article to Plebs with Kids :)
...and now, onto the review!

Papachinos is a restaurant, but it is one of the most child-friendly places I've come across.
Need to sit and work, but have your child with you? Try Papachinos. 
Need to have lunch with a friend? Try Papachinos.
Need some time out and want someone else to take care of the little one for you? Papachinos.

Date Last Visited

March 2011

Location and Setting

Near Lynnwood Road or Hans Strydom Road, in the Silverlakes area, Papachinos is attached to the big 'Seven' building, nestled nicely on the cool side of the building.

The physical address is: Cnr Silverlakes and Graham Rd, Silver Lakes, Gauteng 0054, South Africa
There's a map here.

For the kids...
 
There's a good sized, covered outdoor area, with a large-ish play area/climb frame with six slides of different sizes, heights and configurations, steps, a tunnel and a turret. It's partially shaded too – a big plus for me in the scorching summer sun.

What differentiates this from your standard Wimpy is that there are staff on duty specially there to entertain and play with the children while you can still keep a watchful eye, your kids can see you and yet you can get on with what you're there to do.

There's also a gorgeous stone-baked pizza oven, and a child-height counter where little ones can create their own pizza with help from the staff on duty. A dash of flour on the table, a pre-rolled circle of pizza dough and children can 'roll out' their pizza crust, and add the topping of their choice. 
In the oven and a few minutes later, lunch is served – food and activity for just R28. A bargain in my mind.

For the adults...

Ah! For me, it's all about the coffee. 
South Africa is the only place I've been where you can ask for a cappuccino with cream, so that's what I indulge in when I'm here, and Papachino's do a good one. 

Lunch in a shaded area with a cool breeze, lovely music and a relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere, and someone to look after my child under my supervision – well, let's just say you wouldn't be reading this if it weren't for Papachinos.

That's right – I'm sitting here right now, sipping on my creamy coffee and watching a member of staff slide down the slides with my little girl, who is loving it.

Anything else?

Yes! The bathrooms! They are beautiful, and there's a baby change (and a very cute toddler potty) and plenty of room. The internal d├ęcor is very Mediterranean, with (admittedly fake) grapes hanging from the trellises.  

The food is great, and well priced, considering your location and everything you're getting for it. 
My cappuccino was R14.95, my calamari starter – I didn't need a main after it,  was a very generous portion for R48.95.

Final words
 
Well, I think my thoughts on Papachinos are pretty self-evident. I think it's great and I wish there were more dotted around Pretoria.  In fact, if they moved one into my garden that would be fine with me too. 

Getting in touch

Telephone:
012 809 3539

Read more...

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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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