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Clay Café in Hout Bay
This creative coffee spot in Hout Bay gets your little one to unleash their inner Picasso on pottery
The road to the Clay Café, which is tucked away on one of the green, shrubby knolls of Hout Bay, looks more like a winding lane to Old McDonald’s farm than a path to a quaint coffee shop. And, when you reach the old white building at the top, it’s clear that in its former life, the property was likely prone to a moo moo here and a quack quack there, though today it’s a place where folks and their kids come to delight in a different sort of simple pleasure.
A local institution that’s been running since 1998, the Clay Café is an inviting spot for young ones (and older folk) to channel their inner artists and indulge in a couple of serene hours painting their own piece of personalised pottery. Visitors get to choose one of the many ceramics available – first-timers and littler tots can start with something small, like a little duckie or fishie, while older kids can showcase their skills painting bigger items, like plates, salad bowls and mugs – and three different colours of paints with which to decorate the masterpieces.
The pottery painting makes for an ideal activity for those restless Saturdays, cabin-fever school-holiday Wednesdays and blue, rainy Sundays, especially since moms and dads can decide how much they want to spend in a session (there’s a R30 studio fee and the ceramics are priced according to size). The tiny tots, teenyboppers and everyone in between will certainly appreciate the opportunity to get a little messy while expressing themselves creatively, and they get to take home their finished piece of art once it’s been baked in the kiln.
“It’s all about having fun, meeting friends for coffee and enjoying a great view,” says the owner Chris Bradburn, who also confirms that the café is indeed situated on an old dairy farm that was built in 1939. The derelict property was restored to house the indoor and outdoor painting areas, the firing and glazing studio and the second-hand goods store that are all on site, although all the farm charm and picture-perfect pastoral feelings certainly still remain.
The view Chris speaks of is rather spectacular – those sitting on the front terrace that juts out from the front of the café are treated to the sight of rolling mountains heavy with lush greenery and the tiny roofs of houses in the Hout Bay Valley shimmering beneath them. In winter time, the outdoor area offers protection from the wind and rain without hindering the scenery, so, as Chris says, “you can still be ‘outside’”, and in summer, well, there couldn’t be anything more tranquil than an art session out in nature.
The Clay Café also boasts a lovely children’s playground complete with a jungle gym, giant tyre swing and a red-and-yellow mini climbing wall that all overlook the picturesque scene. Sometimes, there’s a giant dragon tower jumping castle inflated in all its bouncy purple glory, which provides hours of fun for energetic kids, meaning that even after the painting’s done there’s still reason enough to hang around.
Of course, another reason to stick around is to enjoy a scrumptious snack or an excellent cuppa Joe. After a session of painting, parents and kids can (and should) treat themselves to a crunchie, decorated gingerbread man or the famous Clay Café chocolate cake, which looks as big and as tasty as the one that Bruce Bogtrotter had to eat in Roald Dahl’s Matilda, from the shop’s selection of eats. The parentals will also love the in-house blended coffee made from beans from local artisan roasters Origin and Tribe.
Though folks can bring their kids in for a bit of art therapy on random cloudy days and sunny afternoons, many choose to host birthday parties at the farm as well, and the Clay Café proves to be more than accommodating by including party packs, snacks and ceramics in one great package (from just R75 per child). Chris also offers awesome school holiday specials (they usually include two or three different items to paint and a snack), so those at a loss for what to do with restless offspring can beat the boredom blues, unleash a child’s creative side and get rid of some stored up energy all in one go.
So, though you might not find an idyllic farm at the end of the lane just off Hout Bay’s Main Road, you’ll definitely find a little piece of tranquillity and a haven for children to let loose with some wholesome fun. What more could a parent ask for?
Tip: Keep an eye out for different specials throughout the year, and if you’re looking to take a night off from parental duties, Clay Café also has fun night classes that involve wine and pizza!
The bill: Everyone who wishes to paint pays a R30p/p studio fee, which includes three colours of paint and the firing and glazing, and items from the shelf range between R15 and R220. Food and drinks prices range from R6 for a meringue to R35 for a cheese and tomato sandwich.
Opening hours: The café is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Though folks are welcome to just pop in, it’s worth calling ahead to find out if there is room available.
Oakhurst Farm | Main Road | Hout Bay | +27 (0) 21 790 3318
Does your tiny tot have a birthday coming up? Take a look at more excellent kids’ party ideas in Cape Town and surrounds.
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