Play at Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 25 SEP 2016

Having been tasked with entertaining ourselves for the day while Chantelle treated her mother with a birthday high tea at the Mount Nelson, the girls and I stumbled across a great little find in the Somerset West area – Vredenhof Organic Estate.

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Billing itself as an organic, eco friendly estate of the Cape Winelands, the estate is run by a Swiss family that immigrated to South Africa from Geneva, Switzerland, settling at Vredenhof in 2002.

Following their belief that processed foods are inherently nutrient poor and that poor food quality is a leading cause of many health problems, they established Vredenhof as an organic farm with a farm store in order to supply locals concerned with their health with good quality, fresh organic produce all year round.

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Vredenhof itself is a farm of 27 hectares situated on Bredell Road between Stellenbosch and Somerset West which has been certified organic (complying with European organic standards) every year without interruption since 2004, either by AFRISCO or SGS.

Around 50 different herbs, fruits and vegetables are grown, and you are guaranteed to almost always find something rather unusual being grown out in their fields. Organic seeds are both produced and bought, with sowing and harvesting happening all year around.

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Of course, absolutely nothing of the above are things that interest the girls or myself – what we were however interested in seeing was Vredenhof Organic Estate’s absolutely fabulous play area, which simply put, one of the better ones that I’ve seen in a long time. Covered in wall to wall Disney story murals, the play area features wooden castles, walkways, a pirate ship, and even a gypsy caravan.

(In other words, expect to lose your child to their play area for more than just a little while!)

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On arrival, the girls and I first explored the lower ends of the premises, playing with the giant chess set, examining the mini golf course, and of course interacting with the pigs, goats, and yes chickens that roam about in the pens.

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From there we had a stroll through the rose garden, wandered about the gazeebo, examined the giant stone harp and bucket well water features, looked at the seedlings in the nursery section, splashed in the fountain, admired the art in the art studio, studied the carrots and other vegetables in the farm shop – and then sat down for some coffee, milkshake – and delicious carrot cake.

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It was at this point that my kids ran off to play, leaving me to enjoy a peaceful morning of contemplation over a nice cup of coffee.

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Also, I took a LOT of photos on the morning – much to the annoyance of my kids of course!

Here’s a handy map if you want your kids to experience this brilliant playground for themselves:

Related Link: Vredenhof Organic Estate | Facebook

Play-Doh Celebrates 60 Years of Entertaining Kids
[Partner Content] 24 SEP 2016

The 16th of September’s World Play-Doh Day marked the 60th anniversary of Hasbro’s ever popular Play-Doh, the modeling clay (which the company prefers referring to as ‘compound’ for some or other reason) that most kids simply can’t get enough of.

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Inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998, did you know that Play-Doh modeling compound started out as wallpaper cleaner?

Taken from the Toy Hall of Fame induction page: “Joe McVicker learned from a teacher that kids usually found modeling clay too hard to manipulate. Discovering that the squishy cleaning product he manufactured could substitute, McVicker shipped some to the school. After teachers and kids raved, he offered to supply the product to all Cincinnati schools. More rave reviews followed. McVicker showcased the modeling clay at a national education convention in 1955, and word spread to Macy’s and Marshall Field’s. By 1956, the wallpaper cleaner had become Play-Doh and a year later, the manufacturer offered a softer Play-Doh in primary colors.”

Of course, these four original colours eventually morphed into the 50 or so colours currently available, and this iconic children’s toy is estimated to have sold more than 3 billion cans of compound since 1956!

In 2006, to commemorate 50 years of Play-Doh fun, September the 16th was deemed National Play-Doh Day, and fast forward to 2015, the popularity of Play-Doh expanded this to World Play-Doh Day. (It’s sold in more than 80 countries around the world!)

Oh, and in 2011 it was added to TIME Magazine’s list of “All Time 100 Greatest Toys.”

So yes, there is a lot to be proud of if you are into these yellow tubs of squishy playfulness!  #Playdoh60 #Worldplaydohday

Related Link: Play-Doh SA | Wikipedia

Book Your Spot for Oom Piet’s Christmas Party 2016 Event News 23 SEP 2016

Last year Chantelle and I took the girls to our very first Oom Piet’s Christmas Party, which is in annual fundraising project brought to life by the Durbanville Rotary Club. It was an absolute treat and certainly one of the best ways to kick off the festive season if you have young ones like we do!

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The Rotary Club itself has been serving the local under-privileged communities for more than four decades, and all funds raised from these Christmas parties are used for community service projects in and around Durbanville.

If you are not familiar with Oom’s Piets Christmas parties, essentially a section of the Durbanville Race Course gets transformed into a magical castle where a host of storybook characters entertain children between the ages of 3 to 8 with pantomime, carol singing and of course, a visit from the all important Father Christmas himself!

It’s an absolute feel good evening event which is guaranteed to leave you and your youngs ones with a big grin on the face.

Applications are now open, so it is probably a good idea to book your place with an e-mail to oompietsparty@gmail.com, as this popular event sells out pretty fast!

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Related Link: Oom Piet’s Christmas Party | Facebook

Have you got what it takes to become a Nerf Blaster Master?
[Partner Content] 23 SEP 2016

South Africa’s coolest obstacle course challenge is on. The Nerf Blaster Masters Bootcamp, taking place on the 24 & 25 September at Jozi X in Bryanston, Johannesburg, promises to be an epic experience for all Nerf fans.

For anyone not in the know, it’s Nerf of Nothin! With an impressive range of toy blasters, which fire soft foam darts, Nerf encourages active play providing a safe and fun, action-packed adventure both indoors and outdoors.

Nerf Blaster Masters is the ultimate test of your Nerf Blaster skills. Participants will be required to make their way around the course, overcoming challenges, testing their balance, aim and agility while nailing targets on the go with only their Nerf Blaster of choice to support them.

Spaces are limited but everyone who pre-registers on www.nerfblastermasters.co.za will be given the chance to conquer the obstacle course, which is designed to be completed by teams of three. The team with the fastest time will be crowned the Nerf Blaster Masters of the tournament on both Saturday and Sunday. Participants can enter as a team or as an individual but will then be placed in a team on the day.

Ensure you have prepped for this exciting Nerf adventure by following Nerf South Africa on Facebook or visiting www.nerfblastermasters.co.za. Watch pro skater Jean-marc Johannes and GoPro Ambassador Chris Rogers put their Nerf skills to the test. Pick up some Nerf tricks and tips and create your own Nerf Blaster Master trick shot video; upload your videos and you could be chosen as the Blaster Master of the week. Check out Nerf on YouTube for more great videos and details on the Nerf range to find a blaster that suits your style and personality.

The Nerf Blaster Masters Bootcamp is a free event however pre-registration via the website is essential to participate. The Blaster Masters Bootcamp is open to anyone aged 8 + (however parental consent is required to enter).

You can expect a weekend of fun for the whole family at the Nerf Blaster Masters Bootcamp. With food trucks, refreshments and grand stand seating for all spectators. There will also be activities to keep kids of all ages entertained and most importantly a Nerf pop up shop with the latest Nerf blasters and gear.

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Nerf Blaster Master training tips:

Mastering the ‘art of Nerf’ isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some practice to become the next Nerf Blaster Master Champion:

  1. Train in your aim: Get to know your Nerf blaster. Understanding the direction it pulls to and whether it arches higher up or down will fine tune your aiming skills, enabling you to unleash a storm of darts at your target.
  2. Challenge yourself: It’s all about quick-draw fast firing! Time trials are a great way to determine how quickly you can load, fire and reload your Nerf blaster.
  3. Train: Create your own (non-human) targets and practice aiming and firing every day.
  4. Get moving: Practice your aim, stealth, sniping and shooting while running and try to hit the Nerf targets on the move. It’s all about speed, accuracy and power.
  5. Be fit: Start by eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and fruits to ensure you have strength and energy to take on the demands of Bootcamp. Sugar can make you crash and burn within 15 minutes and you’re likely to get a headache – best to avoid eating too much of them. During Blaster Masters Bootcamp, you need to be quick on your feet to outwit the competition so make time to exercise beforehand to get you fit and ready. Running, push-ups, sit-ups and jumping-jacks are ideal exercises to sharpen your senses and loosen up those muscles.

Get to know the key Nerf Blaster ranges:

  • N-Strike Elite Range – can be considered as the ‘performance’ range from Nerf. Almost all of the Blasters have a firing range of up to 75 feet and offer awesome accuracy. The N-Strike Elite range comes in a colour scheme that is predominantly blue, white and orange, so you can easily recognise them amongst the greater Nerf range.
  • Nerf Modulus Range – is all about customisation. Almost every Blaster has removable Modulus upgrade kits that allow you to build your Blaster to suit your shooting style or mission. So if your targets are far away, you can add a targeting scope and a long-range barrel. There are over 1000 different combinations that you can come up with.
  • Zombie Strike Range – was developed due to the rise in popularity of zombie films, series and fanfare. These Blasters have been designed to be perfect for eliminating any unannounced Zombie intruders, and they are easily recognisable by their bright green and orange paintjobs. They even have their own specific Zombie Strike darts.

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Some promo videos to get you in the mood:

And this one, if that didn’t do it for you:

Related Link: Nerf South Africa | Nerf Master Blaster | Wikipedia

Cityscapes: The Bjørvika neighborhood of Oslo, Norway Travel Attractions 22 SEP 2016

Once home of the legendary Viking seafarers and now with a population of roughly 5,084 million people, Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. Known as a country for fishing, hiking and skiing, Norway’s capital and most populous city is Oslo, which sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord.

Oslo has a population of roughly 620,000 people and is itself known for its green spaces and museums – including of course its famous Viking Ship Museum whose collection includes Viking ships from the 9th century!

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The industrial and container port area of Bjørvika is a neighborhood in the Sentrum borough of Oslo, serving as both an outlet for the river Akerselva, as well as an inlet in the inner Oslofjord. It has been undergoing extensive urban redevelopment since the 2000s, with the plan for it to be transformed into Oslo’s new urban and more importantly, cultural  hub.

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The Barcode Project is a particularly controversial part of these redevelopments, but there is no denying that this collection of new multi-purpose high-rise buildings doesn’t show off Norway’s strong modern architectural and industrial design ethos!

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On the map:

Related Link: Barcode Project | Bjørvika | Oslo | Norway

Flower and Plane Watching at the Stellenbosch Flying Club (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 SEP 2016

With Chantelle and Tarryn treating her mom to a surprise high tea at the Mount Nelson (in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday), the girls and I were left to our own devices – and ordered to kill time until a big family birthday braai get together come that evening.

So the kids and I did what I currently enjoy doing the most – we hit the road and went exploring.

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Apart from the two interesting finds that we did make on the day, the first being Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West, and the second being the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch, the most colourful of the lot was our small detour to the Stellenbosch Flying Club to do a bit of plane watching.

You see, an unexpected bonus lay in wait for us: the airstrip had been transformed into a colourful wild flower display, thanks to Spring being currently in the air!

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Jessica decided that she was quite content to rest and watch planes from the comfort of the car (parked under a nice and shady tree), so it was just Emily and myself then that happily wandered about the grounds, admiring the blooming flowers and excitedly watching the odd plane take off and come back in again for landing.

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It was an absolutely gorgeous day out, and we spotted quite a few people relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant. (Interesting fact: with over 600 members and 160 aircraft based on the airfield, Stellenbosch is now considered one of the biggest Flying Clubs in South Africa).

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Much to Emily’s annoyance, I paid far too much attention to the historic De Havilland Vampire on display, but it couldn’t really be helped – this is after all the plane that for all intent and purpose ushered in the jet age for the South African Air Force (SAAF) back in the day.

Anyway, the point is that this was a rather nice, quick and rewarding stop on a day which in the end was going to turn out to be quite a long one indeed!

Oh, seeing as access to the flying club is open to the general public, I’ve gone and added this map in case you also want to head out that way and watch some planes – or grab an introductory flight lesson like I did last year! ;)

Related Link: Stellenbosch Flying Club | Facebook

Exploring the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 SEP 2016

The impact that the wealthy farmer, politician and later philanthropist, Jan Marais had on Stellenbosch cannot be overstated. Having made his fortune first in the diamond fields at the confluence the Vaal and Orange Rivers, he then turned his hand to farming and moved to Stellenbosch, where he quickly established himself as a leading figure of the town and in fact, became the first representative of Stellenbosch to serve in the House of Assembly when South Africa became a Union in 1910.

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In addition to being instrumental in the founding of Naspers and Die Burger (he provided a lot of the financing), Jan Marais also left a large amount of money in his will towards the establishment of the Stellenbosch University, establishing it out of the existing Victoria College. His testament also provided for the establishment of HJMNF (Het Jan Marais Nationale Fonds), which currently awards some R20 million annually to a number of developmental projects in Stellenbosch and elsewhere in support of the Afrikaans language.

Oh, and just because he could, he also donated a massive 23 ha piece of land for use as a nature reserve – and in so doing, the Jan Marais Nature Reserve public park was born.

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This sprawling, municipal run park serves two main purposes, one of which is providing a safe haven for the region’s naturally occurring vegetation, with the park comprising of two primary vegetation types: Swartland Renosterveld to the north and Swartland Alluvium Fynbos towards the southern edge.

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The other purpose is of course is to be a freely available green space for the residents of Stellenbosch to make use of – thus the many picnic lawns and even small playground area to be enjoyed!

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There are a lot of rambling dirt paths to follow through a big variety of various types of vegetation, and with Spring in the air, the fynbos was certainly putting on a show for the girls and myself on our day of exploration!

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Apart from the local inhabitants that include all manner of birds, rabbits and of course tortoises, Jan Marais Nature Reserve is also dotted with public art all over the place – in fact, you can make a whole morning out of just tracking these often quite whimsical (in fairness, that’s being a kind to a lot of the displays) sculpture pieces down!

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There is also a labyrinth on show (as well as an eco-centre and outdoor gym mind you), but apart from the spectacular landscape views afforded from within the park, for me the surprise star of the show was finding renowned sculptor Dylan Lewis’ Elevated Leopard sculpture standing on display.

(It can be spotted in front of the thatch roofed restrooms, which themselves can be found towards the front, central area of the park.)

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As you might imagine, the girls and I spent a good couple of hours wandering around the park, tracking tortoises, flowers, sculptures and termite mounds, but given the size of the park (not to mention the girls’ short legs), there is still plenty of it left to be seen.

So I guess a return trip is inevitable then?

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I went a bit overboard in terms of taking photos on the day, but I have now trimmed the masses – even so, the gallery on today’s post is a bit on the large side.

Sorry, not sorry, about that.

Note: By this stage, the girls were hot, tired and hungry (we had already spent the morning exploring Somerset West’s Vredenhof Organic Estate, as well as pop in to view some planes and flowers at the Stellenbosch Flying Club mind you), and after much pleading and wailing, I relented and took them for some Chicken McNugget Happy Meals at the local Stellenbosch McDonald’s – a place I haven’t frequented in literally years!

This they liked.

(And then it was off to Monty and Cheryl’s place in Bellville, seeing as we had a massive surprise birthday party for Cheryl lined up for the evening.)

Anyway, here is a map if you too want to go and wander about or enjoy a picnic in the very accessible Jan Marais Nature Reserve – bonus, entry is free:

Related Link: Jan Marais Nature Reserve | Stellenbosch

Fun on the Foofy Slide at Vredenbosch in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 19 SEP 2016

I’ve already posted about Vredenbosch, this gem of a kid friendly find that I made with the girls the other day, but what I didn’t get around to was posting any photos of the very fun “flying fox” style foofy (foefie) slide (also known as a zip-line for any non South Africans reading this) that you can find on the obstacle course/animal grazing grounds in front of the restaurant.

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Obviously Jessica wanted a ride on it at first sight (which surprisingly went very well), and after seeing her sister having all the fun, obviously Emily also wanted in on the action too.

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Amazingly, this also went rather well (though with her I stuck close by!).

The girls probably had me pulling and pushing them along the line for at least an hour, and had an absolute blast of a time in the process.

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Even the free roaming alpacas came in for a closer look! (Much to little Emily’s horror of course!)

A highly recommended outing if you have kids with a lot of energy and in need of a LOT of space to run around and play in!

Here’s a handy map in case your kids bug you to take them there for some fun:

Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant

Miniature Horses and Alpacas at Vredenbosch in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 17 SEP 2016

I stumbled across this gem of a kid friendly place in Stellenbosch by the name of Vredenbosch. It is situated along the R304, heading out of Stellenbosch, on what is or was Pete’s Adventure Farm (I’m struggling to ascertain as to whether or not Pete’s is still a thing – certainly the horse rides through the nearby wildlife sanctuary appears to still be alive and well, based on the website some Googling turned up).

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According to the waitress that helped the girls and I out with some ice cream and coffee on the day (we were a little hot and bothered following our morning of gallivanting at Klein Joostenberg and its surrounds), Vredenbosch hasn’t been operating for all that long, but has already proven quite popular for the hosting of kids birthday parties, kitchen teas and that sort of gathering – thanks primarily to its remote location and humongous wide open space which is just perfect for letting the kids run wild in.

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I didn’t really order food, so I can’t comment on that, but the menu seemed to cover all the bases, and the girls certainly enjoyed both their milkshake and ice-creams. (Apparently though, they are still waiting on their liquor licence – which was a bit of a surprise considering the location). 

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We sat in the shade of the outside area, but once the group of ladies celebrating a kitchen tea moved on, we did venture inside to get a better look at what turns out to be quite a spacious restaurant interior.

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The real stars of the show were however the miniature horses roaming around the enclosed field, which Jessica immediately made a beeline for. There are also these two awesomely chilled alpacas wandering about, Lucio and Frost, who are quite curious about anyone that steps into their domain.

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While Jess rather enjoyed having all these animals freely wander about, Emily was of course absolutely terrified – meaning that whenever they would come in close to investigate us, she would tearfully disappear behind my legs faster than what I could blink!

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Apart from the animals roaming about, the expansive field also houses a wooden obstacle course as well as a wooden jungle gym. However, the star of the field is without a doubt the foofy slide (or zipline as it is otherwise known), which at the end of the day provided at least an hour’s worth of entertainment (if not more) to the girls! (More pics in a follow up post!)

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So yes, as you might imagine, the girls and I ended up spending quite a bit of time at Vredenbosch on the day. In other words, a good find indeed!

Here it is on the map in case you think your kids might also like to give it a go:

Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant

Watching Gordon’s Bay from the Steenbras Lookout Point (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 SEP 2016

I’ve mentioned Steenbras Dam on these pages before, formerly the main reservoir for Cape Town and also current source for the Steenbras Power Station (a pumped storage system).

I know that it used to be open to the public back in the day, making for a fantastic fishing and picnic spot for the local Helderberg residents, but has sadly for security reasons and due to vandalism and neglect, it has been closed to public access for a couple of years now.

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Thankfully though, the Steenbras Lookout Point has remained open to the public, situated literally in front of the gates of the Steenbras Water Treatment Plant (constructed in 1946).

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Once you reach the top of the steep, winding road leading up to the water treatment plant, you park in the parking area in front of the treatment facility’s gate and are immediately rewarded with a great view of False Bay.

However, for the full effect, you need to walk on the narrow path along the fence of the water treatment plant to reach an open lawn that then affords spectacular views of Gordon’s Bay, Strand, and in fact the whole Helderberg region!

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Amazingly, neither of my girls appeared worried by the seemingly treacherous path to reach the lookout point, though I must say for the most part I was sticking VERY closely behind!

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The reward was however worth it.

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Despite the slight haze on the day, the views were amazing, and the girls and I rather enjoyed watching the cars and boats seemingly at play down below. Mountain flowers were starting to bloom and of course, the girls were rather pleased by the fact that every now and then we could see clouds floating by underneath us!

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If you find yourself in the area, do yourself  a favour and take the quick trip to the top. It is definitely a nice and short, but rather rewarding, little tourist attraction here in Gordon’s Bay.

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Oh, and apparently this lookout point gives quite the view come night time – though I suspect I might do that without the little ones also clomping about!

(Also, as you might have surmised, Chantelle nearly fainted when I eventually showed her the pictures of what the girls and I had gotten up to while she was away at work!)

Here’s a map in case you also want to take in the view:

Related Link: Steenbras Dam

A note on Apple’s Timing
[Unclassified] 14 SEP 2016

Amazing timing for Apple, am I right? As we are approaching the 16th of September, I just had to mention what’s going on in the news. Apple certainly struck it lucky in terms of the timing of their iPhone 7 and 7 plus devices hitting the shelves!

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After all, it’s only been a short while since they revealed their wireless Airpods which got absolutely ridiculed. OK, fair enough, absolutely ridiculed might be exaggerating a little too much, but having gone on for about 5 months talking about how brave it is to go wireless across the board with their new phones, the very first, perfect, accessory that Apple offers for these wireless headphones are… wires! You really can’t make this stuff up.

Nevertheless, you have to give it to them. They have great timing.

Around the same time as when the first Airpod news starts spreading, Samsung had a serious exploding battery issue and needed to recall about 2.5 million waterproof high-end Galaxy Note 7 devices from about 10 countries – and are now dealing with the fallout of this across the board.

Seriously though, the iPhone 7 really does look to provide some serious upgrades on the already well performing iPhone 6/6s. If you are a fan of the 6s, moving up to the 7 is going to be a smooth transition as it basically is the “case of ‘fast’ versus ‘stupidly fast’” marking the difference between them. The Apple A10 Fusion chipset really is taking it to the next level in terms of performance and usability.

True, speed isn’t everything, but the side-effects of the increased speed are actually increased longevity and an overall positive shift in user interface with the device. You don’t have to go far back in time to find smartphones that had really clunky interfaces and performance so bad that one could barely play… Angry Birds, for example. These upgrades should really allow for the gamers out there to hit the sweet spot!

So yes, thanks to Samsung’s blunder, Apple’s timing worked out just right!

The Pros and Cons of Police Sketches Science, Technology & Curiosity 13 SEP 2016

We tend to see facial composite or police sketch images in the news a lot. They’ve been around forever, and are essentially a graphical representation of an eyewitness’ memory of a face, as recorded by a composite (police sketch) artist. These are used pretty much exclusively by police as an aid in the investigation of serious crimes, though they are also sometimes used to reconstruct a victim’s face in hope of identifying them.

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Therein lies the inherent problem however. Although there is a small success rate linked to the used of these identikits, this usually relies on the perpetrator having a really distinctive facial appearance. Human brains tend to process faces holistically, meaning that our ability to actually see (and remember) parts of the face when looking at a person and then recalling those pieces is not particularly great (never mind the fact that our recall of detail from memory is fallible to say the least!).

Vox had a look at this issue can produced a pretty good video around the topic:

As highlighted towards the end of the view, newer evolutionary systems based on full face recognition (like EvoFIT from the UK and ID from the University of Cape Town, South Africa) appear to hold a lot of promise going forward. Give it a couple of years and perhaps we may finally find it time to retire the venerable position of the police sketch artist?

Related Link: Vox | YouTube

Chasing Chickens through Van Den Berg Garden Village in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 SEP 2016

The area around Klein Joostenberg has a lot to offer, and one of the more visually interesting ones is the slightly ramshackle Van den Berg Garden Village, the unusual plant nursery that greets you when you get out of your car in the car park at the Klein Joostenberg complex.

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Just across the street from Ludwig’s Roses Winelands, and adjacent to the Joostenberg Deli and Butchery,  Van den Berg Garden Village is the work of Dutch-born Toos van den Berg, who studied horticulture before travelling around Europe, arriving in Africa and marrying a man from the Cape.

After developing nurseries in Dieprivier, Durbanville and Kirstenbosch, she eventually moved to this spot, and the result is one of the most interesting nurseries that marries horticulture and art in sometimes quite the eccentric way.

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It was the sound of free ranging chickens that pulled us in, and we spent a fair bit of time ducking and diving among all the shaded little pathways, discovering overrun pieces of art, beautiful flowering plants, and of course, chickens.

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Around 80% of the plants in the nursery are indigenous, supplemented with some intriguing exotic plants from all over the planet. As Toos has remarked before, “The birds don’t know the difference”! ;)

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An interesting little find for all the gardeners out there, that’s for sure.

Related Link: Van den Berg Garden Village Nursery

Horse-drawn Carriage Ride at Klein Joostenberg in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 SEP 2016

I have already mentioned our morning spent frolicking on the lawns and eating from the deli at Klein Joostenberg the other day, but what I haven’t yet mentioned is the actual reason that the girls and I were there in the first place.

A cart horse.

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I remembered that a couple of years back, you used to be able to purchase short little rides on a horse-drawn cart. Whether or not this was still the case, I didn’t know, but nevertheless, I was pretty sure that this would be something of a little adventure that both girls might enjoy.

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As it turns out, the rickety old carriage is still very much there, and for a fee of R15 per passenger, you get a short ride past the pond, into a small glen of trees and then back the way you came.

(Oh, and the guys operating it now also have a standalone horse there, so if your kids prefer riding on an actual horse as opposed to just enjoying a cart ride – well, you’re sorted).

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Emily wasn’t quite convinced that this was totally a fun idea in the beginning, so she remained seated on my lap for the journey (but did eventually get rather into it!). Jessica on the other hand was super excited and loved every minute of it – going even so far to “thank the nice horsie” at the end!)

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So yes, definitely a pleasant morning distraction!

Related Link: Klein Joostenberg

No Weekends Away for the Next While My Life 09 SEP 2016

Ah yes, I very naively stated at the start of this year that my plan for 2016 was to go for at least one weekend away trip each and every month, to make up for being housebound / crippled for so long following my ruptured quadriceps tendon injury in December last year.

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Looking back I really did get off to a good start (considering I could only really half walk again by May), with a trip to Jacobsbaai in February, a trip to Mossel Bay in March, a weekend at Warmwaterberg Spa outside Barrydale in April, a stay in Stanford in May, a Garden Route break via George in June, and then the massive one, just short of two weeks away in the United State of America – Anaheim and San Diego to be precise – in July. (Which I still need to blog about, I know!)

However, my year long goal has come to a crushing halt thanks to the realities of life – in other words, my disposable income is currently under strain! :D

When we learned that Jessica was struggling a bit with Grade R (and looking unlikely to progress to Grade 1 next year), we immediately leaped into action by signing her up for some intensive occupational therapy with the brilliant Nicola van Zyl at the Et Al Therapy and Learning Centre. The results have been brilliant, but it does cost me over R2,000 a month, so there’s that.

However, now we are in a predicament where the teacher is no longer sure as to whether or not Jessica should progress or stay behind next year, and with Chantelle and I sitting on different sides of the fence (I want Jessica to progress, while Chantelle wants her to hang back), we’ve decided to get a professional opinion via a thorough school readiness assessment from the very capable educational psychologist Mia Schoeman, again at Et Al. This will help us make the proper decision, but of course it comes at a price of just over R3,000.

Then there was the unplanned trip to the dentist which set me back a surprise R4,135, not to mention the scheduled 150,000 km car service on our 2007 Hyundai Accent (which we only bought at the end of 2013 following the wrecking of Chantelle’s Getz) which cost R2,945 and came back with a quote of R10,000 for work which still needs to be done!

So yes, there is a need for a slight break in my “going away each and every month in 2016” plan!

Not all is lost though. I’ve got a trip with the girls to Gouritsmond (Gouritz) already booked for late December, and I’m reasonably sure that by October the need to get away will kick in once again, overriding any silly monetary concerns that I might have…

IMG_20160206_075812 girls and craig lotter at artists retreat on a misty jacobsbaai morning

(Mind you, if you follow my Instagram feed or Facebook page it certainly wouldn’t look like I’ve let up. Spring is here and the girls and I are making the MOST of the good weather in order to explore our surrounds come each and every weekend!) 

First world problems, I know! ;)