All posts by Craig Lotter

About Craig Lotter

Software developer, husband and dad to two little girls. Writer behind An Exploring South African. I don't have time for myself any more.

A Year of life in the Helderberg (2016-12-31) Photo Gallery 10 DEC 2019

I generate a lot of photos. Pretty much entirely because of this blog. As such, I have a massive trove of unposted photos which are all important reminders of my very happy life and as such are memories that I very much want to safeguard (and share). Posting it to my site is one way of doing this.

Unfortunately, not every outing and every little life event generates enough photos to make it worth posting as its own blog entry and so these little lost picture souls generally just languish for years and years in my unposted photo folder.

As you might imagine then, this folder has gotten a bit too large, and as such I’ve decided to sort through the images, split everything up into years, and do a big batch post for each one just to get the files up on the web.

So first up then, a set of random photos from my life in the Helderberg in 2016:

The Getz gets Smashed in Gordon’s Bay (2019-06-03) Photo Gallery 05 DEC 2019

I had a bit of an unexpected expense happen this year which wasn’t the most lekker of things. Back in June, after a good day behind the keyboard for Touchwork, I wrapped things up and headed off to pick the girls up from school aftercare – only to have a certain Umar Thomas in his big heavy Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV stupidly pull an illegal u-turn in front of me, floor the accelerator to get out of the way of the peak hour traffic turning our way, and then wildly careen into me, pushing me up against the sidewalk.

Seriously, he basically did a horseshoe and just took me out with him. His large Trailblazer struck me on the driver’s side, just behind the wheel arch, and shoved me up against the sidewalk wall. Luckily the accident didn’t happen at a higher speed, and luckily he didn’t hit me a few inches further past the wheel – had either of those been the case then I probably wouldn’t have walked out the car with nary a scratch like I did!

The traffic department (which is just down the road) didn’t show up, nor did the local police (they were short-staffed, I know because I phoned), but as always the amazing network of local security and emergency service companies stepped in and did their job for them.

I got Chantelle on the line (because although not hurt, the adrenaline/shock really wasn’t making me think 100% straight), asked her to phone the insurance and organize a tow truck to come out (and obviously race off to fetch the girls), swapped details with the now very remorseful Umar, and after a bit of a wait and then going through the process of actually having the car driven away by En Route Towing, drove to the police station (well obviously Chantelle did the actual driving) to fill out the necessary forms.

Sigh.

This was a little 2010 Hyundai Getz that I had the pleasure of driving new off the showroom floor, and so given its age, value, and extent of damage, it didn’t exactly come as a surprise when the insurance (DialDirect) came back with the decision to scrap.

Luckily it wasn’t all bad news though. With some unexpected monetary assistance from my boss added to the insultingly small insurance payout, I was able to replace the Getz with a very nice 2012 Hyundai i20 (sourced from Somerset Car Sales for R109,900) and so this entire misadventure ended up not putting us out of pocket (except for the natural jump in insurance premium) plus a slightly newer car out in front of the house.

That said, of the six cars that I have now owned, this is the fourth car that I’ve written off – not really a record that I’m particularly proud of!

Smash Hit Radio at the Barnyard Theatre Tygervalley in Durbanville (2019-10-05) Events & Entertainment | Photo Gallery 01 DEC 2019

So the long running, thoroughly entertaining outfit that was the Barnyard Theatre at Willowbridge is now no longer in the Willowbridge shopping mall. Instead, they have shut up shop at the old venue, gathered up their musical props, and crossed over the road to set it all up again in the venerable Tyger Valley Shopping Centre.

Situated in the big space at the top of the roof parking that used to be home to the Cape Town Fish Market for all these years, the Barnyard Theatre team have done an excellent job of crafting a very warm, industrial themed space that feels like a bit of an update in quality over their old digs – something that I can now confidently say having been to one of the opening shows in October when they at last threw open their new doors.

As for the show we went to watch, it was the standard Barnyard Theatre musical affair, with a talented group of singers doing lots and lots of costume changes whilst belting out radio hit after hit – all themed around a fictional radio station called “Smash Hit Radio”.

Putt Putt Putting at Water World Strand (2019-08-10) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 30 NOV 2019

One of the things that I am immensely enjoying about my girls getting older is the ability to entertain slightly more complex outings with them – like playing a round putt putt for example. Pretty handy then that we just so happen to have one of those not too far from us, eh?

Situated on Beach Road alongside the beach and right next to Son Surf School and the thoroughly enjoyable Waterworld Strand, I am not entirely sure who actually owns/runs Strand’s mini golf course – the signage is strongly branded with the Waterworld Strand logo, but I’m not convinced that they actually operate it as no mention is made on their website – I’m inclined to think it more of a branding/marketing exercise, similar to what say Coca Cola does with all their shop name signage that you see on all the small spaza shops around you.

Anyway, not that it matters in the slightest. There are two colour-coded putt putt courses to attack, and on this particular day, at the halfway point of one of my daily “healthy walks” that I magically managed to get Jessica and her friend Shaelyn to join in on, I decided that we should break for a round of mini golf.

The girls very excitedly agreed to this course of action.

As it turns out, some kids are way more competitive than others when it comes to silly little games like this, but regardless of that, fun was had by all on what it a pretty nice and reasonably neatly maintained mini golf outing.

Lunch and a Stroll at The Lake House Restaurant in Somerset West (2019-06-02 ) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 25 NOV 2019

There is quite a number of housing estates rising up in and around the Helderberg area, with a lot them sitting quite squarely on the VERY nice side of things. One of our favourites is Somerset Lakes, built on a beautiful piece of elevated land that gives a great view of both the Hottentots Holland mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, with a birdlife-rich lake serving as the estate’s sparkling centrepiece.

As luck would have it, the estate happens to contain a wonderful restaurant known simply as the Lake House Restaurant which is housed in Somerset Lakes’ club house area. The restaurant feels light and airy, offers a fantastic view over the lake, and is home to some particularly delicious dishes – from divine thin based pizzas to freshly prepared steaks and even a lamb bunny chow.

Although no longer really encouraged, the estate does make for a great place to wander about, and if after a stroll around the lake you duck into the grove of pine trees just across the road from the restaurant, you will be delighted to find some rather unexpected child friendly entertainment.

The restaurant is certainly one of those hidden delights and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself looking for somewhere spacious to spend a relaxed afternoon with glass in the hand and without having to first drive out all the way to the winelands.

Lizards and Baboons in Rooi Els (2019-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 NOV 2019

Having just taken possession of my new car, I immediately took it out for a run along the achingly scenic Clarence Drive (as one should), in the process dragging Jessica along to join me for the drive and a bit of a stroll around Rooi Els and Pringle Bay – in return for something sweet of course!

As I mentioned, our first stop was the charmingly rustic Rooi Els with its single shop, pub and restaurant, where we enjoyed a gentle stroll along its dirt roads, taking in the sights, breathing in the fresh air, chasing butterflies, admiring the fynbos, and of course dodging the local troop of baboons.

Highly entertaining (though to be fair, a little terrifying for Jessica), if of course you aren’t actually carrying any food on you. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be so cavalier about getting this close to these furry more often than not pests.

(The babies riding on their mom were admittedly very cute though!)

Beer Tasting at Darling Brew in Darling (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2019

For nearly 10 years now, Darling Brew has been one of the biggest names on the local craft brew scene, an award winning staple of the Cape Town craft beer scene and surprisingly, holder of the title of being Africa’s first ever carbon neutral brewery. (They’ve been quite fond of the environment right from the start).

In addition to their many animal-inspired brews, Darling Brew also operates two restaurants/tasterooms in the Western Cape, the newest being their taproom in Woodstock, touted as being an effort to bring the Darling Brew experience from their home on the West Coast to the Mother City.

Talking about that Darling Brew experience, the home tasteroom really has become a major tourist attraction in the small West Coast town of Darling, bringing in a wealth of new younger tourists to what is already quite the charming place.

So naturally, this beer-soaked attraction overlooking the slick brewing operation was too strong a siren call to ignore forever, which then is exactly why I made point of paying a visit when Chantelle and I spent a night in Darling in celebration of my 39th birthday.

Nachos and a double tasting flight of all manner and style of beer? Perfect!

Lunch at the Country Pumpkin in Barrydale (2019-07-01) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 10 NOV 2019

This year’s June Holiday adventure took place at Warmwaterberg Spa, a spot just outside Barrydale in the Klein Karoo. We were spending the time away with Chantelle’s folks, and as such decided to meet up for an opening lunch at The Country Pumpkin on the way out to Warmwaterberg.

Mind you, selecting a spot for lunch in Barrydale is not the easiest of tasks, seeing as you are literally spoiled for choice given how many interesting little eateries have popped up alongside the R62 (otherwise known as Route 62) as it slides its way through the town. That said, the Country Pumpkin has been around for years now and this popular, brightly hued little restaurant is one of Cheryl and Monty’s Barrydale staples – meaning that I was quite keen to give it a shot.

Given that the weather was looking a little grey and cold outside, we opted to grab a table inside, and pleasingly the Country Pumpkin is quite a homely affair. The warm inviting atmosphere was pleasant, the food comforting, and as an added bonus, there is even a farm shop attached to the eatery, ready to further empty your pockets on all manner of delicious things as you leave the premises.

A good refuelling stop then (though it would have been nice not to walk out to a sky that had now given way to a couple of rainclouds!)

Wine Tasting at Ormonde in Darling (2019-05-11) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 05 NOV 2019

After a morning session of cake in Durbanville and then dropping the girls off with their grandparents, Chantelle and I enjoyed the scenic drive out towards Darling, pulling into the charming little town well before we could actually check into the guest house we were staying at for the evening. Only one solution for that really – a spontaneous spot of wine tasting!

Situated on the edge of the residential part of Darling, Ormonde fell into the hands of the Basson family in 1970 when they bought the farm to start a dairy stud but in the process decided to plant some vineyards as well – in a time long before the area became the wine producing region that it is today.

The closeness to the cold Atlantic Ocean, the altitudes afforded by the Darling hills, and the eroded granite type homogenous soils of the plantation all mix to produce a terroir that has helped Ormonde produce numerous top award winning wines. (Though the 2006 investment into an ultra modern, international standard cellar didn’t hurt either!)

With a welcoming lawn area overlooking a duck-filled pond, a small outside eatery and lots of shaded nooks and crannies to enjoy, the Ormonde wine estate makes for a pleasant family outing space, though as Chantelle and I can now attest to, their excellent quality wines are more than reason enough to pay Ormonde a visit of your own!