FlightHub Helps You Occupy Yourself On Long Layovers And Delays
[Partner Content] 09 FEB 2016

It can happen to anyone. A flight delay, a missed connection, or simply a long layover is a part of modern air travel. While the lucky ones will receive accommodations or lodging during this sometimes tumultuous time, most will have to figure out how to occupy their time. I spoke with FlightHub, an online travel agency based in North America, about what you should do if you need to fill your time at the airport. FlightHub reviews not only the best destinations to visit, but also great travel hacks and tips to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Workout

The first thing FlightHub recommends is trying to be active. Depending on equipment on hand and fitness level this can range greatly from person to person. From taking periodic walks, to finding a place to do some yoga or other quiet physical activity, keeping yourself active can both help you feel better, but also prep your body for long flights as workouts help your muscles stay loose before you subject yourself to several houses of sedentary sitting at high altitude.

Explore

This depends entirely on your time on the ground. Many airports are located near public transit infrastructure, making it possible for you to head out and explore. You will need to have confidence in your ability to be on time and gauge your timing to make sure you maximize both your fun outside the airport, and your timeliness at it.

Sleep

Many associate sleeping at the airport to sleeping on the street. Well, guess what. It’s totally acceptable to catch some zzz’s at the airport according to FlightHub. Stretch out on some benches, prop your carry-on behind your head, and go to dreamland before you hop back on your next flight. Of course, you will need to set as many alarms as possible because the last thing you need to deal with is sleeping through your connecting flight.

airport sleep

Related Link: FlightHub

Things to See in South Africa: Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit Travel Attractions 09 FEB 2016

50 kilometers east of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa, you will find the small town of Bronkhorstspruit. Surprisingly, you will also find the largest Buddhist temple and seminary in Africa – the Nan Hua Temple.

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 1

Covering over 2.4 square kilometers, the Nan Hua Buddhist temple serves as the African headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Order.

(Established in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Fo Guang Shan is a Mahayana Chinese Buddhism monastic order. The Temple, like its mother order in Taiwan, follows the Linji Chan school of Buddhism as well as the Pure Land School.)

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 2

In 1992, the Bronkhorstspruit City Council, in an effort to promote investment opportunities, donated six hectares of land to the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order for a Chinese Buddhist cultural and educational complex. Construction began in October of that year, and Venerable Hui Li  was tasked to be the founding abbot of the temple – whose main aim is to promote Buddhism on the African continent.

Since then the Temple itself, as well as the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple Guesthouse, African Buddhist Seminary (ABS), Nan Hua Village, Assembly Hall, and a Pureland Ch’an retreat centre have been built. The main temple was officially opened in 2005 by the seventh and current worldwide head abbot, Most Venerable Hsin Pei.

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 3

As you might suspect, the ornate Chinese styled buildings and grounds make the Nan Hua Temple complex very much stand out from the rest of the far more conservative Bronkhorstspruit – which is probably why back in 2002 the Boeremag, a militant Afrikaner right-wing organisation, planted a bomb in the basement of the temple.

Luckily, they didn’t know what they were doing, because the detonator went off prematurely.

(Seriously, what idiots would want to destroy something as beautiful and tranquil as a Buddhist temple?)

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 4

Anyway, spiritual or not, if you are in the area then the largest Buddhist temple on the African continent is definitely worth making a trip to.

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 5

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 6

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 7

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 8

ornate nan hua buddhist temple in bronkhorstspruit, gauteng, south africa 9

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Related Link: Nan Hua Temple

Oppiwa 2016 is just about here! Events 02 FEB 2016

This weekend (5-7 February 2016) sees the annual Oppiwa music and wine festival hit the tranquil streets of Jacobsbaai once more.

If you have never heard of Oppiwa before, it’s actually pretty cool. It is an entire weekend of wine and Afrikaans music, all held in the tiny getaway village of Jacobsbaai, which sits off the road kind of halfway between Vredenburg and Saldanha up along the West Coast.

oppiwa tractors

At the heart of Oppiwa is the tractor pulled trailers – in other words, literally ‘Op die wa’, for which you buy a ticket and then get to enjoy the company of your selected Afrikaans musician as you guzzle sponsored wine with like minded fans while driving through the dusty streets of Jacobsbaai.

At some point in your trailer trip, you’ll stop at a local’s house, where you’ll dig into some finger food, have more wine, and then get treated to a personal little music session with your chosen artist.

It’s a seriously great way to get up really close and personal with your favourite Afrikaans music idols, and needless to say, a heck of a fun day out.

IMG_20150207_103451 footpath in jacobsbaai

This year there are quite a few Afrikaans heavy hitters on the playlist, including the likes of Valiant Swart, Gian Groen, Jak de Priester, Anna Davel, Mathys Roets, Koos Kombuis, and Danie Niehaus.

So yes, I suspect Jacobsbaai will be bursting at the seams this weekend then.

IMG_20150206_182109 first jacobs bay oppiewa tractor sighting

Obviously, seeing as we have pretty much become regulars in Jacobsbaai these last few years, the Lotter clan will be there too!

(Though I’m giving the trailer a skip with this buggered knee thank you very much. Chantelle will just have to drink on my behalf as I stay behind and entertain the kids…)

IMG_20150208_121539 craig lotter sitting with daughter jessica on the deck

Related Link: Oppiwa Music and Wine Festival

Nerf, McDonalds, and a Potjiekos Pot Delivery (2015-12-22) Photo Gallery 01 FEB 2016

The girls and I found ourselves with a LOT of time to kill the first couple of weeks following my knee operation – stuck at home and with no Chantelle in sight! (December is super busy for the guest house as you might imagine!)

I am therefore not entirely surprised that we invented a lot of silly games during this period – with more than just a few involving blasting things with the Nerf Strongarm dart gun that I had received as part of a Hasbro blogger drop a month or so earlier!

IMG_20151222_095753 jessica lotter with her nerf strongarm gun

(Note the defeated ponies in the background – Jess had to go in pretty close to pull off those shots!)

Anyway, it was ten days in following the operation and I needed to see Dr. Hardcastle for a wound checkup, my first outing away from the house since the start of December!

Pleasingly, the visit to the doctor’s offices went swimmingly well, though the doctor did plant the idea of ice cream into Jessica’s head on the way out – meaning that a trip through to the cool air-conditioned Waterstone McDonalds was now on the cards, much to Chantelle’s dismay!

IMG_20151222_121500 chantelle lotter with the girls in mcdonalds

A little while later, with Chantelle now back at work and the three of us chilling at home once more, I was surprised to get a shout from a courier guy, telling me that he was on his way in order to drop off a package for me.

Ooh, very exciting indeed!

IMG_20151222_160035 mystery wrapped present from gumtree and oglivy

The mystery box that arrived with the van was pretty large (and heavy!), and seeing as I couldn’t yet walk, the Oglivy delivery guy very helpfully brought the package inside and set it down on the kitchen counter for me.

Needless to say, at this point both Jessica and Emily were literally bursting with curiosity!

IMG_20151222_160656 emily and jessica lotter opening mystery present box from gumtree

I let the girls get to work, and pretty soon they had shredded away enough of the packaging to reveal the box’s content – a solid cast iron, already oiled, potjiekos pot!

IMG_20151222_160950 emily and jessica lotter opening mystery present box from gumtree

What an awesome and unexpected surprise gift from Gumtree and Oglivy! (Though that said, I’m not sure I actually did any work for either during 2015?).

IMG_20151222_161317 gumtree gift of a cast iron potjiekos pot

Of course, Jessica and Emily were not impressed with this at all. They had been hoping for something a little bit more plastic and a whole lot more interesting to play with – so they busied themselves with laying out the long strips of bubble wrap and running backwards and forwards over it for entertainment instead!

IMG_20151222_162248 emily and jessica girls running on bubblewrap

But of course, my good mood couldn’t last forever you know.

A little while later, the house became a little too quiet for my liking, and so hobbling around on investigation, I came across this bemused little face in the braai room!

IMG_20151222_165012 naughty emily caught in the act of making a floury mess

Sigh. Dusting flour and toddlers don’t mix.

Anyway, the point is that I now own a big black potjiekos pot – the first one that I’ve ever owned in my life. Which means that now I guess I had better try my hand at cooking up some proper potjiekos in the near future! :)

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 My Life 31 JAN 2016

Last year I only got around to posting this annual year in review post in March. This time around I’ve done a little bit better – we are after all only at the end of January now!

IMG_20150927_130044 craig lotter with kids in the lavender patch at canettevallei lavender farm

Discounting the horrible December that we had thanks to my severed quadriceps tendon and Chantelle’s dislocated toes incident, 2015 on the whole was a pretty decent year for the Gordon’s Bay  Lötter clan.

IMG_20151006_181258 emily lotter in front of the country mews jungle gym

Emily turned 1 in January of 2015, and then very happily continued growing into an absolutely adorable little toddler who, while being incredibly shy around strangers, is a particularly clever, cute and terrorizing copycat sister to Jessica!

Strong-willed, slightly adventurous, and far ahead of Jess in terms of where our prem baby was at the same age, Emily continues to flourish at Baby Steps and I guess that is what we get to look forward to more of in 2016.

(Also, she has the most amazing bed head hair – it literally stands up at all angles each and every morning when she stands up in her cot, with only the prodigious application of no tangle spray able to tame it even in the slightest!)

IMG_20150810_114612 jessica lotter on a tractor at the kids play area at helderberg farm on the R44

Jessica had a good 2015 as well. She progressed well at the excellent Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, also enjoying her extramural activities of ballet, playball and computer classes.

She formed some close friendships with the girls in the complex, and is quickly finding her own voice and becoming a little lady – which naturally isn’t always the easiest thing to have to deal with first thing in the morning while trying to get everyone ready for school!

2016 sees her join the big school, starting Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary (conveniently, just down the road from us). Now in an English-only class, Jess is going to have to make new friends and tackle a trickier workload (something we’ll have to do our best as parents to help her with in preparation for the daunting Grade 1 to come in 2017!).

IMG_20151114_135828 chantelle, jessica, emily at the frozen photo booth at jessica's fifth birthday party at Montgomery Stronghold in Bellville

I think Chantelle had a pretty good 2015 too (discounting the horrible December of course!). Working at Gordon’s Beach Lodge again meant a stable salary and thus more money in the kitty, which translated into a lot less stress and worrying about what we can and cannot afford – plus it gave her a lot more of the social interaction that she had found herself craving in 2014 when she still worked full-time from home.

Emily, while still lots of work, was less so than when she was a newborn, and although not doing Chantelle’s Cupcakery baking full time any more, she did manage to get more than enough baking for orders in during the year to satisfy the creative craving that comes with the feature cake baking industry.

Oh, and then there was the year long looking forward to being bridesmaid and assistant organizer at best friend Retha’s Stellenbosch wedding in December!

IMG_20150715_105748 craig lotter Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

As for me, well I had an excellent year thank you very much (again, discounting the horrible December of course!).

With Chantelle back working at the guest house, I had the girls to myself every second weekend, and as such made sure to fill the year chock-a-block with outings of all shapes and sizes. Looking back through the archive, we definitely fed geese, saw crocodiles, spotted planesviewed lions, watched birds, petted penguins, fed farmyard animals, went to markets, enjoyed picnics, scratched for stones, looked for butterflies,  went for a boat ride,  spotted fishies,  and of course ate loads of pancakes and drank copious amounts of strawberry milkshake along the way!

IMG_20151011_181148 jessica in the air at gordon's bay main beach

Chantelle and I found ourselves enjoying more than a couple of weekends away as well, trips that included a weekend away in Jacobsbaai for the annual Oppiwa music and wine festival, a romantic stay in Franschhoek in celebration of my 35th birthday,  a family stay in the picturesque Montagu, and a getaway to Hopefield to view the West Coast wild flowers!

(We even sneaked away for some warm water soaking time at the Caledon Hotel, Casino and Spa – though that was just for the day so it doesn’t count!)

IMG_20150708_153824 chantelle lotter with jess and emily at die kloof padstal farm stall in montagu

I also enjoyed a couple of amazing first time experiences, the top of which definitely included whale watching in Gansbaai aboard the Ivanhoe, not to mention my first ever jaunt behind the controls of a small aircraft above the Helderberg Basin!

IMG_20150606_124240 craig lotter standing next to the stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM he just flew in 1

Being a dad to small kids remains a full time job, so I again didn’t find myself picking up on any hobbies in 2015, though I did do a bit of the weight loss thing, and found myself back at gym – though according to Chantelle it’s the most demoralizing thing that she’s ever seen!

Also, I (surprisingly) ended up playing a fair bit of console games during the year – enjoying a particularly successful run in our every month or so men’s FIFA battle royale I might add!

(Plus, my blog did win an African Blogger award – which kind of felt pretty nice at the time).

IMG_20150510_115411 craig lotter tasting wine at la provence wine estate

On the career front, I found myself man alone as Touchwork’s only developer for the year, taking my role back down to that of programmer and systems architect – but it did come with a pay rise and the perk of being able to work from home for four days of the week, something that I really appreciate because it makes looking after the girls a lot easier given Chantelle’s shift work.

I got a lot of work achieved in this more focused mode though, meaning that Kinetica got a whole lot more modules bolted on to it by the end of the year. We have since successfully started using it in the States, phasing out our legacy product in the process, and also launched it as an Exhibition visitor, exhibitor and delegate registrations system – a use case that saw me spend my 35th birthday in Sandton at the convention centre with the rest of the Hypenica team for their big African Construction Week expos!

craig lotter, chantelle lotter, jessica lotter, and emily lotter - family photo at Mountain Streams Nursery

So yeah, 2015 was a good year by all accounts and on all fronts (not counting December of course!).

Looking ahead, 2016 should probably be very much the same then – which is a good thing if you ask me. That said, for it to properly kick off I probably first need to learn to walk without a crutch and brace again…

Knot in the Knee means no Driving for Me My Life 27 JAN 2016

So that’s bitterly disappointing. Since Sunday evening I’ve been struggling with a painful ‘knot’ in my left calf muscle, putting me in a lot of discomfort and making moving about even more difficult than what it already is.

I had a session with my physio (Carolise Botha) on Monday afternoon, and before we could get started on the knee stuff, she had a go at working out the knot (which was of course, super, super painful!! Chantelle had to bite her lip to stop laughing at my gritted teeth antics!), but sadly this proved a temporary measure because by the evening it was back again.

Chantelle’s organised medicine from the pharmacy, I’ve rested it on warm water bottles, I’ve stretched it out, I’ve slathered it with Deep Heat – no luck, it just doesn’t want to go away which means then I guess I need to wait it out.

I’m disappointed because chances were pretty high that I was going to start driving again this week – something I was so confident in that I even went ahead and made plans to go into work of all things! However, a drive around the complex last night with Chantelle quickly told me that with my current calf in spasms, driving a manual gear car is not going to happen any time soon.

It’s depressing.

Sigh, you have no idea of just how tired I am of this view, day in and day out…

IMG_20160127_091404 view from my chair

The Slow Recovery from a Complete Quadriceps Tendon Rupture My Life 26 JAN 2016

On the 22 January I did something pretty rare – I swore on my Facebook feed:

Fuck yeah!!!! Just managed to lift my left heel off the ground under my own strength. Haven’t been able to do that since the start of december last year! ‪#‎RoadToRecovery‬ ‪#‎SmallSteps‬

I had good reason to of course. I’ve spent almost two months since the start of December last year, sitting in my chair in the lounge because I’ve been unable to walk thanks to a complete rupture of the quadriceps tendon in my left leg.

emergency centre at vergelegen mediclinic in somerset west

Literally three days after rushing Chantelle to the Emergency Centre at Vergelegen Mediclinic Hospital for her dislocated toes, I found myself being rushed to the Emergency Centre after slipping down a single step outside my front door whilst taking the kids out for a bike ride around the complex.

A simple slip of the foot down a single step led to an agonizing scream of pain from me, forcing me to go down to my knees and then to lie flat on the ground. The girls were hysterical, and after gritting my teeth and pulling myself together, eventually I managed to pull myself upright and calm the situation.

Thankfully, my cellphone was in my pocket, meaning that I could phone Chantelle for help, send Jess on her way with her friends, calm Emily down, and then just sit there, snapping photos and contemplating life whilst waiting for backup to arrive.

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As luck would have it, Retha was in the area and was available to come look after the kids, meaning that after the particularly difficult exercise of getting me into the car, Chantelle was able to drive me to the Emergency Centre where I then got to experience a ride in a wheelchair, endure a lengthy wait, and of course get some x-rays for check up purposes.

The swelling was already pretty severe, and with nothing conclusive showing up on the x-rays, orthopedic specialist Dr. Peter Hardcastle gave me some painkillers and crutches, and instructed me to return to him in a couple of days time so that he could have a better look into what exactly the problem might be.

IMG_20151209_160016 emily lotter in dr peter hardcastle waiting area at vergelegen

This all happened on Monday the 30th of November, and nine days later (in which, despite my non functioning leg, I managed to attend Zandea’s birthday party and make the long drive in to work), I found myself in Dr Hardcastle’s offices for with a more normal sized knee ready for examination.

His initial look pointed to a troubling patellar rupture below the knee, but not a 100% sure, he sent me off for an ultrasound, which after two tries and a lot of head scratching, lead to a new diagnosis of a complete quadriceps tendon rupture – less troubling than a patellar tendon rupture but still serious enough to make it a big problem.

Essentially, I no longer had a connection to my lower leg, meaning that an immediate operation was pretty much my only option.

(To be 100% sure of the diagnosis, I opted to undergo a private MRI session in Stellenbosch, where after quite a strange and tingly experience, the trained assistant confirmed that there was nothing but a big black hole where the tendon connection above my knee should be!)

IMG_20151210_174942

Dr Hardcastle organized the medical aid authorization and booked me in for surgery the next day, and so early morning on the 10th of December I found myself delivered to Vergelegen Mediclinic, prepped and then knocked out, only to wake up again with a heavily bandaged knee, a long scar, and an unsightly drip draining fluid out of my leg.

I saw the surgeon, who confirmed that everything had gone swimmingly well (though to use Dr Hardcastle’s words, once he had opened me up, it “looked like a bomb had gone off in my knee” – which if I think about it makes sense, considering the difficulties and pain that I’ve had with the knee over the last couple of years), and then shortly after was visited by a rep from Orthocare who fitted me with a leg brace that was to become my constant companion for these last two months.

In short, the fix done was to open the knee via a long cut, trim and clean the edge of the torn tendon, drill three holes into the patella, and finally thread microfibre through the holes in the patella and then suture it to the tendon.

Then it’s a case of simply sitting back for 8+ weeks and hope that everything grows back nice and strong.

IMG_20151214_191909 craig lotter in a leg brace holding jessica and emily on his lap

I spent a reasonably uneventful evening at hospital (peeing into carboard funnel bedpans is weird), was discharged the next morning, and then was whisked away back home, where I made myself comfortable in my tub chair, took my medicine and pretty much sat there for the next two months.

As you might expect, December and January were not great for me. Restricted in movement, helpless for the first part (Chantelle had to wash me!), melting in the extreme heat, my mood was sullen and my temper short.

Chantelle of course was super busy with work, so the kids spent a lot of time staying over with both sets of the grandparents, or alternatively the folks would come over and help me look after the kids here. (Shame, the kids missed out on having a fun holiday this time around – Jess in particular because I was meant to have been camping with her at the start of the holiday!).

I missed out on Retha’s big wedding, missed Jessica’s ‘graduation’ from Vergeet-My-Nie, her first day attending Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary, as well as her first ever run at the school’s athletics day.

So yeah, worst year end holiday ever!

That said, things are finally starting to look up now six weeks into this horrible ordeal. The pain is gone, meaning that activating all the muscles is now the name of the game, and together with the excellent physiotherapist Carolise Botha, progress is being made at a rapid pace.

My brace has now been set that I can bend my leg to 90 degrees, and the current primary goal is to start getting my knee functionally strong again. I’ve been told that I can attempt to start driving again (which is of course a big one), and so if all goes well it shouldn’t be too long until I can feel that 2016 has now at last properly kicked off for me.

So, let’s hold thumbs then, shall we?

Chantelle and her Dislocated Toe My Life 25 JAN 2016

Chantelle and I didn’t have a particularly good end to 2015. I haven’t gotten around to detailing it all in the blog yet, so I guess this is then officially the start.

Thursday 26 November 2015 marked the evening that we had invited my Mom and Dad over to have supper with us at our home. Of course, this then meant that on arrival back from work, Chantelle immediately set about cleaning the house, which translates to a lot of wiping down of surfaces and some furious mopping. (Standard procedure for whenever we’re expecting visitors mind you!)

Sadly for her sake though, she must have applied just a little too much soap to her mop water or sprayed a little too much floor cleaner beforehand, because on stepping down into the braai room to mop there, her feet slipped and she went down like a ton of bricks, landing on her back and somehow (miraculously!) not hitting the back of her head on the step in the process!

Lots of screaming, swearing and gnashing of teeth immediately let me know that something was wrong – which made sense considering that the toes on her left foot were now staring back at me whilst in the shape of a V!

close up of chantelle lotter's dislocated toe

The kids were beside themselves, so after calming them down, I organised with Jessica that we drop them over there for a bit until my folks (already on their way) could arrive to pick them up (shame, interrupting a date night with Mark in the progress), whilst Chantelle swore and managed to get hold of someone at our local pharmacy on the other line.

After a quick painful drive there, the doctor and pharmacist both took a look and concurred that it looked broken, meaning that our immediate next step was a race through to the Emergency Centre at Vergelegen Mediclinic Hospital (because of course, as with all accidents in the Lotter household, it was already after hours).

emergency centre at vergelegen mediclinic in somerset west

Naturally, Chantelle was in a heck of a lot of pain, and unfortunately it was quite the extended wait at the Emergency Centre to get her seen to.

(I twiddled my thumbs for a very, very long time, while back home, my folks ended up getting pizza for supper! This means that technically we still owe them supper one of these days…)

chantelle lotter with her bandaged foot

Anyway, luckily for Chantelle the twin x-rays showed that the toes were just dislocated as opposed to broken, and so after a super painful injection into her toes (she had insisted on the anesthetic without realizing how sore receiving it would be!), the doctor popped everything back into place and bandaged her up.

With that, our expensive and painful evening was now finally over.

chantelle lotter and her dislocated toe

Recovery was slow and sore, but thankfully the toes managed to heal up just in time such that she could still make the big, big December event – which was of course her being bridesmaid to best friend Retha’s big Stellenbosch wedding!

chantelle lotter at retha and miguel's wedding

(Which sadly I didn’t get to attend, the sorry story around that still to follow…)

Related Link: Vergelegen Mediclinic

ABSA Credit Card Cancelled and Replaced… but Not by Me My Life 21 JAN 2016

Two or three weeks ago, I got a cryptic SMS from ABSA essentially saying, “Oh it looks like you have a problem with your credit card. Ignore if you’ve already reactivated or else go into a branch for assistance”.

Okay. The fact that my credit card was then declined whilst trying to pay for Emily’s birthday supper at Spur confirmed the fact that ABSA had indeed seen it fit to cancel my card on my behalf.

Not that I was informed of course. Maybe their fraud algorithm picked something up? Maybe pirates were seen close to Gordon’s Bay? Who knows – I certainly don’t!

Look, there probably was a good reason for the cancel, and one day when I’m privy to it I’m sure I’ll be pleased – after all, when it comes to my money, “rather safe than sorry” is the go to policy! (Still, an informative e-mail, SMS or phone call would have been rather nice!)

A couple of days later (not debilitating because I still have my debit card – it just costs me money every time I swipe it!), I received a phone call from UTI couriers asking me to verify some personal information and who then informed me that they would be delivering my card in a couple of working days’ time.

I got to choose between having it dropped off at home or work – to which I responded home, seeing as thanks to my knee I am here pretty much 24/7 at the moment.

(Also, luckily for me, an SMS from ABSA arrived shortly after, just to let me know that UTI would be contacting me – meaning that I didn’t necessarily just fall prey to a scam. Oops.)

Anyway, a lot more business days than promised passed, and so eventually I looked up the ABSA Credit Card division number to find out what is up with my delivery. After holding the line for a bit, the helpful operator informed me that UTI had in fact dropped off my credit card in the complex’s single, communal post drop off point – yesterday.

Say what?!?

I know that technically the card can’t be used until activated, but I can’t say that it makes me feel particularly comfortable that a card together with my details were happily lying there for anyone with an smidgen of bad intentions (hello Internet) to take advantage of.

ABSA’s twitter account was quick to respond to my query, asking if I had opted for the “knock and drop” option, and after a brief exchange I gave them my details and escalated my concerns. (The fact that the “knock and drop” option even exists worries me slightly, mind you!)

Anyway, so now I have a new and shiny credit card after two or so weeks of not having one – without even asking for it.

uti courier van in south africa

Daycare Toddler Down Emily 20 JAN 2016

One of the inevitable truths of having a baby or toddler that attends daycare is that they are pretty much guaranteed to get sick. A lot.

With so many small, unhygienic little tykes running around, sneezing, and well… touching things, daycare rooms are pretty much covered in little germ surface-to-air missiles (no matter how much the staff wipe and disinfect), meaning that escaping it is nigh impossible!

Unless of course your kid has an impressive immune system at this super young age, or the mix of vitamins and syrups you force feed them before school each day actually does what they promise to do on the box.

sick toddler emily sleeping on the couch with big monkey

Sadly, neither of these two apply to us, and so, after a long, healthy Summer holiday, just a week back at Baby Steps has been enough to leave us with a feverish toddler who keeps throwing up everything we feed her.

Sigh, at least the doctor says it doesn’t look particularly serious, though she did point out a particularly nasty ulcer that seems to have appeared out of nowhere on the side of Emily’s tongue. Ouch!

craig lotter with emily sleeping on his chest

So yeah, I’m not getting a super lot of work done from home at the moment – and for a change it’s not my buggered knee tendon holding me up…

[UPDATE: Oh. It looks like Emily has contracted hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Wonderful.]

Is that a Xbox One next to my TV? Games Notes | My Life 14 JAN 2016

I upgraded relatively late from my PS2 to a Xbox 360, only picking one up in December 2009 – which coincidentally is still running strong. Similarly, it was only in 2012 (again December) that I finally signed up to Xbox Live Gold properly.

So with that sort of late adopter history to bear in mind, it made sense for me to hang back a bit for the Xbox One upgrade – and now a full year after it’s South African release, I found myself crippled with an severed tendon above the knee and at the beginning of December month – so naturally I ordered a Xbox One to keep me company!

xbox one bought by craig lotter from takealot

Given the way that I play games, i.e. I buy, install, play, delete, I worked out that the 500GB version of the console will work just fine for me, and as such, spotted that Takealot were selling the FIFA 16 bundle console for R5,499.

Pleasingly, the delivery was pretty swift, and luckily for me, Ryan was on hand for a visit, meaning that he could set the thing up in the lounge while I dutifully watched from the chair that has been my prison for over a month now.

xbox one fifa 16 women soccer

In all honestly, I’m kind of underwhelmed with the Xbox One experience – I guess I was just expected a much bigger jump in terms of speed, graphics and snappiness, but to be fair, the Xbox 360 had gotten pretty awesome towards the end of its duty, and so maybe I’m still a little blinded and can’t see just how awesome the new generation actually is.

That said, other than the exceedingly slow download/install speeds (a recognised problem for the console), it does everything that I want (even if it is not the prettiest of boxes to look at), and now thanks to the brilliant Xbox 360 backwards compatibility mode, I have a pretty decent library of games to tackle.

xbox one valiant hearts

Oh, and the four free games a month courtesy of my Xbox Live Gold subscription helps as well.

Cool. As always, my username is CraigLotter, if you’re keen for a bit of FIFA 16 battling…

(I’m far too bad at shooters and fighting games to put out any sort of challenge on those fronts!)

xbox one killer instinct tomahawks

Jessica Goes To Big School Jessica 14 JAN 2016

Yesterday was Jessica’s first day of going to the big school. True, it is only Grade R so it’s not like it’s uniform time just yet, but class is now at Gordon’s Bay Primary School (conveniently down the road from us), meaning that it counts! ;)

12553032_10153194211542553_8863286706554676175_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

With me continuing to be out of action thanks to my knee, I missed out on taking Jessica to her first day at primary school, but nevertheless, she was super excited enough to pose for photos to show off her new bag, water bottle and lunch box while we waited for Mommy to finish getting ready.

12540997_10153204076430493_2545026870900037953_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

English Grade R teacher Diane Matthews appears to be a bit of a legend when it comes to teaching the kids, and Jessica was over the moon with her first day in the Fishy Class, followed by the unrestricted play time that came with the afternoon’s aftercare spell.

Although all her friends from Vergeet-My-Nie are unfortunately in the Afrikaans classes, she does get to play with them at aftercare, and besides, I’m pretty sure that with her bubbly little personality, making new school friends is going to be a snap!

994721_10153204076490493_6062951573746846816_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

Seriously, where is the time flying? :)

12507456_10153204076610493_750783920194596057_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

Emily Turns Two! Emily 14 JAN 2016

So Emily turned two yesterday. With life being as disrupted as what it currently is, she didn’t wake up to any presents or a cupcake with a candle in it (as is our tradition), but we did at least wake her by singing “Happy Birthday” and “Veels Geluk Liewe Maatjie” – which has to count for something!

156182_10153194210012553_3013057324605161474_n Emily Lotter turns 2

Our little girl is growing up super fast, so much so that after another successful day of playing at Baby Steps, we were told that we need to now start packing panties in her bag because she’s not too worried about really wearing nappies during the day any more!

Geez, where has the time gone!? :)

21618_10153204075100493_6358790796852411577_n Emily Lotter turns 2 at Baby Steps

We did at least treat our little star to some fun play time and food at Strand’s San Francisco Spur in the evening (Jess also, seeing as it was her first day at Gordon’s Bay Primary as well!), and back home before bedtime, Emily was allowed to get stuck into opening her birthday presents that my Mom had dropped off for her last week already.

Next year we’ll be more prepared Emily, promise!

12509504_10153194900052553_3045900418111574015_n Emily Lotter at San Francisco Spur, Strand 12510414_10153194899922553_3269980321264922320_n Emily Lotter at San Francisco Spur, Strand

 

The X-Men that You Don’t Know
[Contributed Content] 03 JAN 2016

The X-Men continue to be a major pop culture force.

With a ninth movie coming out later this year (that Comicbook.com reports will be different than the others), the X-Men remain a major draw at the box office. They also continue to be huge in the gaming industry. The X-Men have appeared in more than 20 different video games to date and have a number of highly popular online games, as Gambling.com explains. And they include everything from card collecting-esque mobile titles to simpler experiences like slot machines that make use of imagery and sounds from the X-Men franchise.

But the popularity of the X-Men really comes down to a few characters, like Wolverine, Cyclops and Professor X. More serious fans, of course, know the backstories of Storm, Rogue and Mystique. That, though, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these mutants.

Casual fans of the series—those who watch the movies and play the games, but might not have dived into the comics—probably don’t realize that 95 heroes at one point or another have been classified as a member of the X-Men. A number of them you already know, but there are a bunch that have been forgotten to time for the simple fact they were not memorable or remarkable. (For a full list, check out this ranking from BuzzFeed).

Some of the more fun ones:

Hepzibah: She’s an alien skunk that briefly joins the X-Men in the mid-2000s while stranded on Earth. She’s incredibly agile and a good athlete with her most notable power being the ability to emit “mood-altering pheromones” at will. Basically, she skunk sprays her enemies. No idea if tomato juice zapped them out of her spell.

Hepzibah and the Starjammers

Stacy X: She was a mutant prostitute that first appeared in the comics in 2001 and briefly joined the X-Men before going on to other, ahem, adventures. She was part of an effort to appeal the comic more to adults, but just left everyone feeling kind of weird. She would later go on to join the New Warriors at Ripcord. No one seemed to miss her.

Goldballs: Yes, that’s the guy’s name. As you can guess, his gimmick has something to do with balls of gold. When he gets in a fight, he can shoot the gold balls from any part of his body, making him a human tennis ball cannon.

Husk: She first appeared in 1984 and her power is the ability to shed her skin and turn into different things underneath, usually metal or stone (or corn, if she really wanted to). She first joined the X-Men junior team in the Generation X storyline and then joined the regular X-Men later on.

Doop: He looks like a floating booger—or Slimer from the “Ghostbusters” movies. He is hard to understand and has a complicated history. The character is there for comic relief, something fans actually tend to enjoy during his appearances.

The Stepford Cuckoos: It counts as one member, but the Stepford Cuckoos are a trio of identical girls who are part of a psychic hive mind. Think the pretty mean girls in high school. Their psychic powers make them incredibly dangerous as they’ve used them to start school riots and other chaos.

These are just a few of the X-Men members who you likely, probably didn’t know about. Sometimes the X-Men are reminiscent of professional wrestlers as each seem to has a gimmick, varying from awesome to cringe-inducing terrible. No matter what, though, they are always interesting.

Japan 2014 – 47 A Bus Trip back to Tokyo Narita Airport (2014-10-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 DEC 2015

So, with a ride up a mountain and a wedding done right, our two week holiday in the magnificent country that is Japan had finally come to an end.

All that was left were a few last visits with the newly extended Brown family, before Ryan and I packed our bags and joined Hester and Terry on the highway bus back to Toyko (a particularly long trip!), where our flight out of Narita Airport would happily be waiting for us.

(Unselfishly, Terrance and Yuko also made the long drive to Tokyo with us – eager to say good bye to the tiny South African contingent that had come up for their big day, and at the same time probably to ensure that nothing went wrong our final adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun!)

IMG_20141013_125632 terrance and yuko brown on a highway bus trip back to narita airport

The trip back to Cape Town was long but uneventful. We flew once again with Emirates, stopping over at Dubai International Airport as they do, before winging our way back to sunny South Africa.

Ryan of course struggled, which makes sense considering how squashed he is sitting next to me, but I enjoyed a good flight home, taking in plenty of movies and thinking back rather fondly on what had been a truly awesome trip.

10371988_707022269380931_3723184591114517497_n at narita airport - brothers lotter

My first ever overseas trip had gone smoothly in every aspect, with no hiccups and no bad experiences to tarnish the memory whatsoever.  The country is a perfect blend of modern and ancient, has all the technology someone like me marvels at, is clean, safe and easy to get around in, and the people courteous and almost never in your way – and these observations still hold true for me more than a year on (i.e. when I at last got around to writing all these posts!).

Of course, I owe big thanks to Terrance for his friendship and his time taken out to show us the ropes, Yuko for all her effort in making sure that we had accommodation and the the routes all worked out, and an even more massive thanks to my brother Ryan, without whom this trip simply wouldn’t have happened.

So on that note, thank you to each and every one of you! :)

craig lotter, ryan lotter, yuko omiya, terrance brown in komagane japan 2014

Japan has always been a place that I wanted to visit ever since I was a child, and now that I’ve been there, it is definitely a place that I want to return to – and next time definitely with Chantelle in tow!