Solved: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – Freezing on New Game Start Games Notes 25 NOV 2015

2012 saw the release of the troubled Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning RPG game from Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, which despite some big names attached to it (R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane, Grant Kirkhope, Ken Rolston), and more than just a few high ranking review scores achieved on release, didn’t seem to get much traction with gamers.

kingdoms of amalur reckoning rpg - finesse assassins art

It’s currently on sale from the XBOX store as a digital download for a mere R89, and as a lover of bargains I immediately grabbed it, seeing as it’s always been somewhat lurking on my list of games that I eventually need to get around to experience one day.

Problem though.

After downloading the game and booting it up, every time I tried to start a new game the XBOX would just hang and then completely freeze on the loading screen.

Annoying, but thankfully something that Google quickly turned up a cause for.

kingdoms of amalur reckoning rpg - might armour and sword art

It turns out that if you buy the digital download version like I did, then you most definitely must NOT download the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Online Pass as well (it’s listed as being free on the main Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning page).

The digital download version already has this bundled in, and so if you install the standalone online pass – well let’s just say the system doesn’t really handle that at all very well!

To fix the issue is relatively simple – just delete the downloaded Online Pass.

To do this, from the main XBOX 360 dashboard, head to the Settings menu, select System, select Storage, and then pick Games and Apps. Scroll down to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and press A to enter the menu. Select the item marked House of Valor and delete it.

Fire up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and voilà, you can happily start a new game, craft your hero, and proceed to slaughter monsters left, right and center!

Related Link: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning | Xbox 360

Jessica’s Mondeor Restaurant Birthday Party (2015-11-13) Photo Gallery 22 NOV 2015

For some or other reason, Chantelle decided to challenge herself by having not one, but two birthday parties for Jessica (turning five) this year.

IMG_20151113_133720 getting ready for jessica's party at mondeor garden restaurant in somerset west

The first one would be for all the local Gordon’s Bay friends (i.e. from Vergeet-My-Nie playschool and our Country Mews complex), and the second one for our family and other friends out in Bellville.

IMG_20151113_130651 elsa and olaf frozen cake for jessica's party at mondeor garden restaurant in somerset west

To be fair, Chantelle didn’t want to do setup twice, so the first birthday party was organised to be held at Mondeor Garden Restaurant, the same place we had Jessica’s fourth birthday party last year.

Jessica had decided on a Frozen themed party in the end (originally she was leaning towards a super hero Barbie party, but changed her mind at the last moment, much to Chantelle’s relief), and as such dictated that no boys were allowed at her princess party, the girls had to all wear dresses and have plaits in their hair (not that she wore one on the day mind you!), and of course, that she needed a Elsa cake for her birthday.

IMG_20151113_140133 complex friends arriving for jessica's party at mondeor garden restaurant in somerset west

Mondeor is actually very nice for hosting kiddie birthday parties, as they do a pretty cool little setup for the kids, have a great outdoor play area for the little guys to run riot (sucks if it’s raining though – which is actually what happened a few weekends before on Lisa’s – one of Jessica’s friends – birthday party), and have more than enough space, seating and menu options to keep the adults pretty happy for the duration of the chaos too.

IMG_20151113_144140 school friends at jessica's party at mondeor garden restaurant in somerset west

In the end I think that we had about 10 or 12 little girls having a thoroughly fun time on a Friday afternoon which brought pretty okay weather along with it, whilst all us big people happily chilled at a long table with wine and pizza pretty much flowing all session long.

So, Jess loved her cake, had a great time with her friends, and also got loads of cool gifts from everyone – sounds like a successful fifth birthday party to me! :)

Related Link: Mondeor Garden Restaurant

Frollicking at Funky Frogs (2015-11-14) Photo Gallery 21 NOV 2015

Jessica, Emily and I found ourselves having to kill some time before we were allowed into Jessica’s birthday party venue (Ouma’s house!) last Saturday, so other than the nice nature stroll in Vink’s Arboretum that we took, I also let the girls run wild in the fun Funky Frogs indoor play centre at Tygervalley.

IMG_20151114_115919 jessica lotter playing in funky frogs at tygervalley

Funky Frogs indoor play centres is actually a pretty decent franchise now, with seven play centres open in places that include Jeffreys Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Swaziland!

IMG_20151114_115308 playing in funky frogs at tygervalley

The Cape Town branch which is actually nowhere near Cape Town – i.e. it’s in Bellville – first opened its doors in December 2012 at Cobble Walk Centre in Durbanville, before moving to its current location in Tygervalley Centre, Bellvile in 2013.

As you might have guessed via the photos, it’s packed with colourful things for the kids to play on – and with – and is a genuinely enjoyable experience for the smaller ones.

IMG_20151114_115707 playing in funky frogs at tygervalley

Oh, and they also host birthday parties as well.

Needless to say, the kids had a blast, and pleasingly, didn’t completely tire themselves out before the big birthday celebrations officially started! :)

(P.S. My phone camera seriously struggles to capture decent photos in Funky Frogs. Too much movement, too little light. Sigh.)

Related Link: Funky Frogs | Tygervalley

Trees in Vink’s Arboretum in Durbanville (2015-11-14) Photo Gallery 21 NOV 2015

Jessica, Emily and I stumbled across Vink’s Arboretum last weekend, which is a lush green belt that runs parallel to Majik Forest on the border between Bellville and Durbanville.

IMG_20151114_125935 jessica lotter with a sausage tree at vink's arboretum in durbanville

Managed by a partnership between Cape Town City Parks and the volunteer group Vink’s Greenbelt Association, the popular walking and picnic spot is home to more than 500 indigenous trees – most of which were planted by the eponymous Mr. Vink van Zyl (who passed away in 2005) himself.

IMG_20151114_125118 vink's rock at vink's arboretum in durbanville

A local Geocaching enthusiast (Gr8Scot) posted a rather nice piece on the arboretum which is worth repeating here:

During 2001 Vink van Zyl – a retired engineer known for his work on the ABSA building in central Cape Town and the (then) new Groote Schuur Hospital, approached the Parks department with a request for an area where he could plant a large number of indigenous trees. It was agreed that the most suitable area for such a project would be the corner of Jip De Jager and Van Riebeeckshof road, an undeveloped park area, where road-building material was stored and levelled.

Vink approached contractors carrying excavated material from local developments, and negotiated with them that if they were permitted to dump fill in the area, they should in return loan machinery for levelling and shaping the area and for digging holes. He then surveyed the area and set levels for filling, the first phase of which began in about November 2001 and was completed by autumn 2002.

He then began planting trees, most of which were obtained from the Bellville municipal nursery, where he spent many hours choosing them. A gravity feed water line made from irrigation piping supplied by the municipality was laid from the dam to the park. From connections in the line, hose pipes could be used to water the trees.

While Vink was planting the first stage, filling continued in the second stage. After planting in the second stage was completed, he then began filling the final stage, which was the northern corner next to the river. By now more then 20 000 cubic metres of soil had been dumped.

Vink also collected indigenous shrubs and plants from various nurseries, and planted them around the arboretum. Together with the help of Dr. Christi Kloppers, a vet with a keen interest in nature, he also collected Renosterveld seed from the area where the Vineyard Office Estate is now, and planted it to add some colour.

He was working on beautifying the lower entrance between the river and pathway when he passed away.

IMG_20151114_125345 jessica and emily marching along at vink's arboretum in durbanville

As you can well imagine, the range of trees to be found is absolutely amazing, and the place itself is well worth a stroll.

Of course, my girls got rather bored, rather fast, which is a pity because I was kind of enjoying working through all the tree name boards…

(Note: We accessed Vink’s Arboretum by going through the entrance situated on the corner of Jip De Jager Drive and Van Riebeeckshof Road in case you’re keen on finding it yourself. 33°51’35.2″S 18°37’36.3″E)

Related Link: Vink’s Arboretum | City Park’s Partnership | Geocaching

Goodbye Rdio Software & Sites 20 NOV 2015

I really, really like Rdio. So much so that I’m a paid user of their streaming music service. They have a fantastic user interfaces, their related music algorithms are fantastic, their audio quality is great, their music selection phenomenal, and best of all – they are available in South Africa and list South African music and artists!

rdio kaleidoscope

But sadly, they are no more. Damn Pandora has gone and swallowed them up, meaning that Rdio is now displaying this message for all it’s paid users:

“Thank you for your support of Rdio over the years. You helped make Rdio not only a place to listen and discover, but also a community of dedicated music lovers. We’ve enjoyed working on Rdio as much as you’ve enjoyed using it. It’s been an honor serving you.

As a result of Pandora’s planned acquisition of Rdio, the Rdio service will be winding down in the coming weeks.

Effective Monday, November 23, if you currently have an Rdio subscription, it will be canceled on your next billing date, and you will no longer be automatically charged. Rest assured that your subscription will remain active for any period of time you’ve already been billed. Also starting November 23, Rdio will no longer take new subscriptions.

After your subscription ends, you can continue listening to Rdio Free (ad-supported stations on mobile or ad-supported, on-demand songs, albums, and playlists on the web) until the service goes offline.

We’ll be in touch via email in the near future with more specifics, including the exact timing of Rdio’s end of service, as well as information on exporting your Rdio data, including your playlists and favorites.

We’re honored to have connected so many listeners around the world with the music they love. Our goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, go to”

What makes me the most angry though is that Pandora IS NOT FUCKING AVAILABLE IN SOUTH AFRICA.

Oh, I know. I’ll just try the other big music streaming service of the world, Spotify.


We are in 2015. Geo-blocking is idiotic.

End rant.

Kodi: Eminence Skin: How to Clean the Movie Library Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 20 NOV 2015

The excellent Kodi (formerly known as XBMC) is my preferred media server at home, on top of which I run the gorgeous Eminence skin.

kodi eminence skin screenshot

At first it is not very apparent how to clean up your video library (i.e. remove duplicates are deleted items), despite the Update Library button being so visible. (Hint, standard settings mean that the Update Library action doesn’t actually clean the library).

No, to clean your library you will need to go to Settings via the main menu options, and from there head over to the Videos section, and finally the Library option.

The trick here is to then spot the label reading either Basic Settings or Standard Settings, and click on it until it reads either Advanced Settings or Expert Settings.

Once this is done, you can now scroll down the main menu item list and you should spot a item marked Clean library… which wasn’t there before.

Needless to say, clicking it will result in a shiny clean library, free of duplicates and missing items!

Related Links: Kodi | Eminence

Playball Certificate Evening (2015-11-19) Photo Gallery 19 NOV 2015

One of the best extramural activities that we ever enrolled Jessica into at Vergeet-My-Nie playschool has to be without a shadow of a doubt Playball.

IMG_20151119_173141 playball signage

Established in 1986 (and offered in numerous countries), Playball is essentially a sports coaching system for children between the ages of 2-8.

The primary objectives are to improve basic movement and sports-related skills, but at the same time to also develop kids’ cognitive abilities and group social skills.

Each age group has a specific programme which is adhered to, and with this evening’s certificate ceremony done and dusted, Jessica has now progressed through two of these levels during her time at Vergeet-My-Nie.

(Next year she is off to Gordon’s Bay Primary, which is of course a whole new kettle of fish!)

IMG_20151119_173805 jessica balancing on playball kids obstacle course

In terms of the programmes that she’s now done:

Ages 3+ Programme: This program covers the following basic areas and provides a sound foundation for the next age group.

1. Introduction to basic ball skills.
2. Development of student’s enjoyment for sport.
3. Confidence to participate in sporting activities.
4. Social integration with other students.
5. Development of concentration.

The emphasis is on having fun and playing games with a ball so that the child’s first introduction to sport is a happy and positive one.

Ages 4+ Programme: This program covers the sections listed below and provides students with a solid grounding and a basic competence in ball skills. The children are exposed to a wide variety of different skills in each lesson. It is in this stage that they have the opportunity to practice the skills more rigorously developing competence.

1. Development of a wide variety of ball skills.
2. Emphasis on individual participation.
3. Overcoming the fears that dis-encourage sports participation.
4. Introduction to organized ball skill activities.

IMG_20151119_182640 chantelle and jessica lotter

Already behind in terms of physical prowess thanks to her prematurity, Jessica has benefitted immensely from this very structured programme of play, and I am thoroughly impressed at just how much her motor skills have improved thanks to all the hard work from the great Playball team.

In other words, if you have the opportunity then I would definitely recommend enrolling your kids into something like this! :)

Related Link: Playball

Japan 2014 – 16 Kitanomaru Park and the Nippon Budokan in Chiyoda, Tokyo (2014-10-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 19 NOV 2015

My brother Ryan and I were certainly on the move on our first unaccompanied day in Japan. Having already seen the Big Egg stadium at Tokyo Dome City, relaxed at LaQua, reflected at the Yasukuni Shrine complex, and viewed a Mitsubishi Zero at the Yushukan war museum, we now found ourselves making our way through towards the Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds.

DSC07398 Tayasu-mon gate entrance at kitanomaru park, chiyoda, tokyo

However, standing in our way first was the peaceful Kitanomaru Park – which as we were about to discover, also plays host to the famous Nippon Budokan martial arts hall!

DSC07410 nippon budokan martial arts hall at kitanomaru park, chiyoda, tokyo

Originally built for the judo competition in the 1964 Summer Olympics, the 14,471-seater indoor arena Nippon Budokan (often shortened to just Budokan) is famous for both the varied martial art tournaments it has hosted over the years (including the infamous Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight, precursor to the modern mixed martial arts discipline), as well as the many international music concerts it has played home to over the decades!

(In case you were wondering, all the “Live at the Budokan” albums – like the Bryan Adams one on my shelf back home – are recorded here!)

DSC07402 russian martial arts exhibition outside nippon budokan at kitanomaru park, tokyo

As it so happened, this imposing octagonal structure was playing host to a Russian martial arts delegation on the day we were passing through, meaning that we were treated to a number of Russian martial art demonstrations and exhibitions – including Cossack fighting of all things!

DSC07400 Tayasu-mon gate entrance at kitanomaru park, chiyoda, tokyo

But enough about a sports hall.

Kitanomaru Park, originally the location of the northernmost section of Edo Castle, is a public park in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan located North of the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

As already mentioned, the park is the location of the Nippon Budokan, but it also plays home to the Science Museum as well as the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

IMG_20141004_135342 lawns at kitanomaru park, chiyoda, tokyo

After crossing a beautiful pedestrian bridge, walking over a rather green moat, and then finally entering the park through the ancient Tayasu-mom gate (built in 1685), you enter a tranquil, lush green park with rolling lawns, established trees, and even a lake!

DSC07414 lush lawns at kitanomaru park, chiyoda, tokyo

Relaxed, peaceful, green – you almost completely forget that you are in the middle of one of the world’s biggest cities!

IMG_20141004_135603 ryan lotter in phone booth at kitanomaru park, chiyoda, tokyo

Truth be told though, Ryan and I didn’t stop here for very long – after all, we were still on our mission to visit the Imperial Palace gardens!

Related Links: Kitanomaru Park | Nippon Budokan

Japan 2014 – 15 Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo (2014-10-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 18 NOV 2015

Having now wandered around the grounds of the solemn Yasukuni Shrine complex in Chiyoda, Tokyo, we turned our attention to the actual reason we had headed out this way in the first place – my hunt to see a Mitsubishi A6M Zero WWII fighter plane.

DSC07341 kamikaze pilot statue at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Situated inside the Yasukuni Shrine complex is the 1882-established Yushukan War Memorial Museum which is self-declared as Japan’s oldest and first military and war museum. 

As a museum maintained by a shrine which is dedicated to the souls of soldiers who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan, it contains various artifacts and documents concerning Japanese war casualties and military activity from the start of the Meiji Restoration to the end of the Pacific War.

DSC07350 world war memorial at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Accused of containing revisionism in its accounts of Japan’s actions in World War II, as well as glorifying Japan’s aggressive militaristic past, the museum obviously courts a lot of controversy, but nevertheless remains an extremely interesting place to visit for war buffs.

DSC07345 war dog at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Outside of the museum is a number of statues dedicated to among others, horses,  dogs, carrier pigeons killed in war service, war widows with children, and even kamikaze pilots!

IMG_20141004_123745 craig lotter next to mitsubishi a6m zero figher plane at Yushukan War Memorial Museum

I was of course there for one thing and one thing only – to see a full scale Mitsubishi A6M Zero, one of my most favourite warbirds as a child – and as a luck would have it, the museum has one standing right there slap bang in the middle of the free to enter entrance hall!

Needless to say, I took a lot (and I mean a lot) of photos of it. Absolute 7th heaven for me I tell you!

DSC07359 mitsubishi a6m zero figher plane at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

As I mentioned, the first floor entrance hall is free of admission, and contains the Zero fighter plane, a Class C56 steam locomotive, a Type 89 15 cm Cannon, and a Type 96 15 cm Howitzer (with shells) as well.

DSC07360 artillery gun at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Floors one and two is then obviously where all the real exhibits are to be found, but having seen the Zero, and to be honest, running a little out of time, Ryan and I decided that we didn’t really need to pay in order see any more war relics (or try to decipher any more Japanese information boards), meaning that we bid the war museum farewell and headed off in the direction of Kitanomaru Park, with our sights now firmly set on the Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds as our next Tokyo point of interest!

(Extra Note 1: Even the police aren’t immune to using cute mascot characters – as indicated by this lost and found sign outside a police station).

IMG_20141004_114303 ryan lotter in chiyoda, tokyo

(Extra Note 2: In South Africa we’ve gotten accustomed to the decline in terms of smoking in public thanks to all the anti-smoking laws that have been passed over the years. Japan used to be a heavy smoking nation themselves, but these days more effort has been made to calm things down a little – like forcing smokers to congregate in very small, marked public smoking areas!)

DSC07347 smokers trailer at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Related Links: Yushukan Military Museum | Yasukuni Shrine | Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Swimming at Mondeor Garden Restaurant (2014-11-30) Photo Gallery 17 NOV 2015

Oops. Found this folder of photos I completely forgot to post to the blog last year November, taken on one of our outings post Jess’ birthday party to Mondeor Garden Restaurant.

How do I know it was post-birthday? Well mainly because Jessica was totally rocking out in her brand new (and thoroughly awesome) Rainbow Dash swimming costume! :)

IMG_20141130_155450 jessica lotter in her rainbow dash my little pony swimsuit at mondeor garden restaurant

Oh, and we spotted our first Father Christmas statue in November as well (at Willowbridge Mall).

IMG_20141130_124716 jessica lotter with father christmas statue at willowbridge mall

Can’t say I quite remember as to why we were both at Willowbridge in Durbanville and then Mondeor in Somerset West on the same day though!

Dough-it-Yourself: Kids build your Own Panarottis Pizza My Life 17 NOV 2015

Not that we go there often mind you, but if we do, we don’t usually take the girls with us to Panarottis in Somerset Mall. However, one time we did actually treat Jessica to some pizza at Panarottis, and it was rather nice to discover their ‘Dough-it-Yourself’ gimmick which gives the kids an opportunity to make their very own Panarottis pizza.

IMG_20150518_185212 jessica making pizza with panarottis dough-it-yourself tray

Basically, a specially shaped plastic tray is brought to the table, with dough, cheese, sauce, ham, etc., from which the kid then literally builds their own pizza. When their masterpiece is ready, it gets whipped off to the oven and baked, resulting in quite a lot of satisfaction in the little one on its return to the table!

So a pretty cool idea all in all then.

(Oh, and a completely separate note, it turns out that the girls are rather fond of spaghetti as well. Not that I’m going to be letting them make their own anytime soon – just them eating it is messy enough!)

IMG_20150729_181055 jessica and emily baby eating spaghetti

Play, Markets, and Buying Plants! (2015-06-14) Photo Gallery 16 NOV 2015

If I look back to winter, then quite a lot of my weekends with the girls looked like this – after all, we had a pretty pleasant winter in terms of weather this year:

1) Spend a little time playing at home while I do a couple of household chores. (Mind you, quite often joined by the other little girls in the complex!)

IMG_20150613_105217 jessica playing adventure island 8-bit family game

2) Spend some time eating pancakes and playing in the sand pit at Root 44 Market.

IMG_20150614_131201 girls playing in the sand at root 44 market

3) Enjoy a drink and play on the jungle gyms at Mondeor Garden Restaurant (with Chantelle during her split).

IMG_20150613_143204 savanna at mondeor garden restaurant

4) Sundays almost always involved pony rides and pancakes at Blaauwklippen Family Market.

IMG_20150607_142148 jessica riding a pony

5) And yes, every now and then the girls would help me do a little shopping. They rather enjoy the trips through to Cape Garden Centre mind you. I wonder why…

IMG_20150614_143308 chantelle and emily helping craig buy flowers at cape garden centre

And these photos? They’re all taken on just one pleasant weekend back in June!

In hindsight, seems a pretty decent way of spending one’s weekends then, don’t you think? :)

A Most Unromantic Wedding Anniversary (2015-11-08) Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2015

So this year marked the sixth year that I’ve been married to Chantelle. This year around though, our anniversary day fell on a Saturday, and this being a weekend where Chantelle was working (and stressed in trying to get things organized for Jessica’s big birthday parties – yes, “parties” and not “party”), there was to be no chance for a proper wedding anniversary celebration this time around.

(Last year we did a lot better mind you).

IMG_20151107_110755 Shopping with Jess and Emily in Somerset Mall

So last weekend was spent shopping with Jessica and Emily at Somerset Mall (we did buy some roses for Chantelle), stopping at McDonalds (because this is something that Jessica now asks for. We didn’t buy Chantelle a McFlurry though), and joining up with Chantelle for a celebratory (but kid-interrupted) drink at a bustling Bossa Social Cafe and Bar in Somerset West.

IMG_20151107_121341 Craig, Jessica and Emily Lotter selfie at Waterstone McDonalds

Not particularly romantic.

IMG_20151107_134352 Chantelle with Emily lotter at Bossa Social Cafe and Bar in Somerset West

We tried again on Sunday, but again, small kids don’t really make for romantic wedding anniversary celebration locale selection!

So pink milkshake at Mondeor Garden Restaurant it was.

IMG_20151108_123538 pink milkshake at mondeor garden restaurant in somerset west

Maybe next year we’ll plan ahead and do it properly! ;)

(Which reminds me. It’s six years later and I just realized that I still haven’t gotten around to posting our wedding photos on my blog. I guess I really ought to get around to doing that sometime. That said, it’s been a year and I still haven’t fixed our front door glass – so I wouldn’t exactly hold my breathe on the photos front then if I were you!)

Real Deal Warm Water at The Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa (2015-11-05) Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2015

So finally, Chantelle and I took advantage of Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa’s long running promotion, The Real Deal (previously known as The Reel Deal, changed I suspect because most people – including us – failed to spot the pun first time around).


We headed out early Thursday morning (having left the kids to sleep over with Chantelle’s parents the previous evening), stopping for breakfast first at Fred & Max in Elgin (a failure, as it turns out that they do in fact NOT actually serve breakfast), followed by a fantastic breakfast at The Pool Room at Oak Valley (a success, because it turns out that they do in fact serve breakfast).


For R125 each, we received R100’s worth of casino credits for some slot machine play, a choice of selected meals from the daVinci restaurant, and free access to the Spa’s natural warm mineral pools – in other words quite a decent deal if you ask me!


Having stayed at the Caledon Hotel once or twice before (many years ago at the infancy of our relationship), we were looking quite forward to spending some time in the warm water pools again, but in the end we decided to first get the gambling out of the way – neither of us being particularly fond of casinos just by the way.

As per usual, the slot machines didn’t work out very well for me, but Chantelle had a great time, making a tidy little profit on The Queen of the Nile game – meaning that she walked out there with jangling pockets and a huge smile on her face. (But no photos, as those are strictly forbidden in the casino. They are literally on you as quick as a flash, as Chantelle discovered much to her surprise!)

I on the other hand had by then long since wandered out of the casino area and had ended up in the incredibly poorly stocked kids game arcade, happily playing some ancient Lethal Weapon pinball for entertainment!


The natural warm water pools were an absolute treat as expected, with us making sure to take a dip in pretty much all the pools on offer, including the Victorian Bath, the floatation pool, and the small, elevated, but unbearably hot Khoi San pools!


In the end, we spent the majority of our day in the pools, our muscles soaking in the warm, mineral enriched goodness and leaving us relaxed, light-headed, and content with the world!


(Also, it’s well worth after you are all dried off and dressed, just to sit for a few minutes in the tranquil Zen Garden space. Perfect spot for some reflection and quiet time!)


We finished up the day by taking advantage of our free food offer, and as for the meal at daVinci, well, it’s not fantastic of course, but that said, it’s not bad either – and when you think how much you have paid for it, you simply can’t help finishing up the day feeling rather chuffed with what really is a decent deal.


So yeah, I enjoyed my day and Chantelle certainly seemed to as well – after all, she posed for these silly photos at the end of our adventure, meaning that she must have been in a good/silly mood!


So a day well spent, and with our definitely worth it little break from life now over and done with, it was the long trip back to Bellville to pick up the kids (thanks Oupa and Ouma) and then head straight back home.

Related Link: Caledon Casino, Hotel & Spa | The Real Deal Promotion

Breakfast at The Pool Room, Oak Valley in Elgin (2015-11-05) Photo Gallery 14 NOV 2015

So having enjoyed an unintended (but delicious) cup of Hot Chocolate at Fred & Max in Elgin, I suggested to a dejected Chantelle that perhaps we should wander over to the nearby Oak Valley Estate to see if their beautiful The Pool Room restaurant could maybe help us out in terms of a nice breakfast.

(We were on our way to Caledon for a bit of a mid-week break from work in case you are wondering.)

IMG_20151105_095414 the pool at the pool room, oak valley, elgin

Situated in the picturesque and fertile Elgin, Oak Valley Estate is an old estate (established 1898), known these days for its multi-purpose functionality, namely its wines, flowers, meats, mountain bike trails, and now of course, restaurant.

IMG_20151105_094846 at the pool room, oak valley, elgin

The first thing that strikes you when you stop in the gravel parking lot in front of The Pool Room’s entrance is the sheer beauty of all the greenery around you. Lush lawns, plentiful trees… well, you get the picture.

The clean, spacious restaurant overlooks an elegantly shaped pool, with the water continuing that theme of tranquility which makes this such a special little dining spot.

IMG_20151105_095420 inside at the pool room, oak valley, elgin

Thankfully for Chantelle’s sake, The Pool Room does in fact have some delicious breakfast options available on their menu, and we enjoyed a thoroughly relaxed meal in an absolute perfect setting.

IMG_20151105_095436 chantelle at the pool room, oak valley, elgin

In other words, highly recommended as a fantastic breakfast stop! :)

Related Link: The Pool Room | Oak Valley Estate