Last week turned out to be one of the strangest, craziest weeks of the year. And the year has barely begun. If this sets the tone for the rest of the year then I’m going back to bed and dialing it back to 2016.
So we were on a small break out in Plettenberg bay. And early in the week I received some disturbing news relating to work which I won’t get into just yet. But it left me with that weird feeling in your stomach which is not great when you’re holiday – damper number 1. Next day we decide to go zip-lining. I was ready and eager but did not realise how frightening the experience could be. Don’t get me wrong. It was exhilarating but you have to keep your wits about you. And when I wasn’t paying attention, I slammed into the zip-line and cut my lip when I should have been braking to stop – damper number 2. Then, Thursday was supposed to be our chill day for the warm eastern cape beaches but when the cellphone rang at 9am that morning I knew this could not be good. It was ADT, our security company. There had been an attempted burglary at our house! And that was it for our holiday. We packed up a day early and drove 7 hours straight back to Cape Town.
We were lucky. The would be thieves had broken a door but had not managed to get into the house before the armed response showed up. And most importantly no one had gotten hurt. We can only thank Allah, that we were spared something worse.
At times of stress I find real comfort in a change of scenery. I like to take a walk out in the fresh air and to surround myself with all things green. For years if we wanted to take long walks we’d head out to the Sea Point Promenade and take walks in the sea air or more recently Green Point Park. But being from the Northern Suburbs these are quite a trek out. When you want to take regular walks for the sake of keeping fit for instance, this is not practical.
In the last few years I’ve discovered a few tranquil parks in the Northern Suburbs, some that easily equate with the likes of Green Point Park. Large and small with facilities and even regular activities. They have been a lifesaver when you just have to get out of the house and even though they are in the city you can feel removed enough from your troubles to come back refreshed and revived. Therein lies the beauty of nature – with the ability to absorb our troubles in her green mantle and breathe fresh energy into our cells. You can find a spot to revive your soul at one of these beautiful parks in the Northern Suburbs:
Jack Muller Park, Bellville
This is my favourite park in the North. It’s big enough so you don’t feel crowded even when there’s lot’s of people around. There’s plenty of trees for nice shady picnic spots. The lawns are well kept and the park is clean.
You’re allowed to picnic and have parties but not to braai. There’s a jungle gym for the kids in one section of the park and an urban gym in the other section. The park is big enough for a 3-5km walk or run with different paths so you can change up your route. You’re also allowed to cycle here. Dogs are allowed on leashes. There is also a toilet available which is kept clean.
Every Saturday there is a Parkrun hosted in the park. And occasionally they even screen movies. You can find these details on the Greater Tygerberg Partnership Facebook page.
Entry times: Usually 7am to 7pm
Where: Corner of Frans Conradie Drive and Carl Cronje Street, Bellville
Olienhout Street Park, Plattekloof
This park is situated at the bottom of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Plattekloof. It is right in the residential area so you would not even know about it unless you stumble across it. On one side if the street is an open park with a large lawn and a pond frequented by ducks and geese. People often come to sit here and feed the birds. On the other side right across the road and often completely missed is a gated park stretching from one side of the block to the other, at which there is another gate. Its not a very big park but can make for a decent walk and it’s really pretty in the late afternoon sun. It’s a little quiet so I would not advise the ladies to go alone.
Entry times: Usually 7am to 7pm
Where: At the end of Olienhout Street, Plattekloof
The Majik Forest, Welgemoed
What an awesome discovery this park was. We had been told about it by a cousin a while back but only made our way there 2 weeks ago. It’s in the suburb of Welgemoed, at the end of Jip de Jager Drive, and off Van Riebeeckshof Road. It’s easy to miss, so just take the turn towards the Spar from Van Riebeeckshof Road and it’s right there at the corner. The park has a dam flanked on one side by well kept lawns and the back of a row of houses and the other side by a shady forest with trails for hiking or a more gentle walk close to the water. There are nice spots to have picnics or to just park off with a good book. There are gates on 2 sides of the park. We entered at the main gate on Van Riebeeckshof Road and the other gate often seems to be closed.
Entry times: 7am to 7pm
Where: Van Riebeeckshof Road, Welgemoed (Google Maps link)
Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Plattekloof / Welgemoed
For the best view over the Northern Suburbs head to the Tygerberg Hills Nature Reserve. There are two entrances. One on the Plattekloof side of the hill which is quite a steep hike up to the top. We found it too taxing especially with our little one. But it’s not too bad if you’re reasonably fit. The other entrance on the Welgemoed side is accessed from within the suburb of Welgemoed. There is a bit of a windy road to get to the top, but the bonus is that you are entering close to the top of the hill and there is a small entrance fee to get in. A short walk up from the entrance you can get to the top of the hill under the trees where there are some tables and benches. The view from here is breathtaking and on a clear day you can see right through to Bloubergstrand. There are several trails for hiking, both mild and a bit longer. There is even a trail suitable for wheelchairs at the top as it’s lined with rubber and specifically meant for this. It’s great for an early morning walk. Take a flask of coffee with you and enjoy the view from under the trees when you’re done.
Cost: R15 or buy a season ticket at R135 per adult or R210 for a family with 2 adults and 3 children
Entry times: 7.30am to 6pm weekdays, 7.30am to 7pm weekends. Times are applicable to the Welgemoed gate only. The Plattekloof gate is only open on week days from 07.30am to 4pm.
Where: Turn left into Kommisaris Road from from Jip de Jager road and follow the signs to the top. Here is a link to a map that I found from Capetowndailyphoto.com