Category Archives: My Life

In Need of Some Balance My Life 22 MAY 2015

The nice thing about living in Gordon’s Bay is that when you need to take a bit of a break and get some fresh air… well then this is pretty much on your doorstep:

a walk along gordon's bay main beach in May 1

I needed that little lunch time stroll along Gordon’s Bay’s main beach mind you – the last three weeks or so have been completely unbalanced in terms of work and life in general.

I’ve pretty much worked each and every evening for the past three weeks, the first week trying to wrap up everything required from my system for the then upcoming African Construction Week shows, followed by work from my hotel room in Sandton in support for the actual duration of the expos, and then this week working in the evenings to make up for time lost while babysitting a sick Emily at home.

And the days haven’t been much better.

That first week it was foot on the coding pedal (which as I just mentioned, continued well into the evenings), the second week was spent flying up to Johannesburg (on my birthday!) to work at the convention center as an IT support, badge printing, customer service guy behind the badge pickup counter (followed by evening coding work to tweak the system to better work the next day), and now this week much of the daylight has been spent helping look after a sick Emily (Rotavirus, no fun) who obviously couldn’t be sent to playschool.

The weekends in between have of course been a mixed bag, the first being a splendid birthday weekend away for Chantelle and myself in Franschhoek (with the kids staying over at Oupa and Ouma – where naturally, Emily decided to start officially walking whilst we weren’t looking!), while the next was spent looking after Jessica and shuttling to and from the hospital to visit Chantelle and Emily during Emily’s stay there.

a walk along gordon's bay main beach in May 3

So needless to say, my life is more than just a little out of balance at the moment. My eating is not great, my getting fresh air and doing some exercise non existent, and I’ve been working far too long hours and spending less time with my wife and kids than what I should be doing.

So yeah, you could say I’m kind of feeling the need for a little balance and sunlight right about now.

Luckily all the urgent work things appear to be handled for now, Emily and Jessica are both healthy (for now), and I have a private flight over Strand/Gordon’s Bay (weather permitting) to look forward (make that VERY forward) to tomorrow.

So maybe, just maybe, next week is going to be the start of life at a little slower pace…

The Lotter Clan and Gran’s 80th Birthday My Life 19 MAY 2015

Back in April this year, much of the Lotter clan assembled at Mom and Dad’s house in Oakglen to celebrate Dad’s mom, Granny Lotter’s big 80th birthday. We were blessed that the weather was particularly great on the day, thus making for a perfect braai and relax outdoor afternoon (which everyone seemed to enjoy).

granny beatrice lotter at her 80th birthday celebration

Our immediate family clan is actually relatively small. Mom’s parents only had two kids, Mom and her brother Stephen, and Stephen, who has since passed on, never had any children so no cousins there. Dad’s parents had four boys, though one tragically passed away quite early on, leaving us with three Lotter men. From uncle Michael’s side we got Willie (and now his family) as a cousin, and from uncle Eric’s side, we got Andrew and David as cousins.

Sadly though, through some convoluted and ultimately bad decisions, no one sees Eric, Dawn, Andy and David any more (so scratch them from family get togethers), and funnily enough, we seldom see uncle Michael and pretty much never Willie either, meaning that for the most part, the immediate family pool remains pretty tiny!

Nevertheless, as I was saying earlier, Gran’s big 80th birthday (the celebration of which took a bit of convincing from Dad’s side to happen) saw quite a good chunk of this little family pitch up at Mom’s door – Claire, Riley and their two boys, Wille, his wife and two kids, Uncle Mike and his wife, Mom and Dad, Ryan, birthday girl Gran, and of course us four Gordon’s Bay Lotters.

A nice little tally indeed!

Needless to say, there was a lot of catching up to be done and conversation to be had, and with good food and dessert flowing freely, and kids all seemingly happily playing along, it turned out to be quite a good little family get together.

the lotter clan celebrating granny lotter's 80th birthday

Of course, we couldn’t keep all the little faces rounded up all day (or Claire and Riley’s dogs either for that matter), which inevitably meant a hop across the street at some point in the afternoon – over to the big municipal park that had entertained us for so, so many hours as kids growing up there.

Naturally, Emily was more than just a little thrilled to tackle climbing up this massive slide! (And as you can see, Grandpa seemed to quite enjoy the challenge as well…)

baby emily lotter tackling the big slide in oakglen's park

Next up in terms of big birthday milestones?

Well both mom and dad are inching pretty close to that big 6 and 0 number nowadays… :)

IMG_20150301_150756 cheryl and ronnie lotter in kirstenbosch

Oupa and Jessica planted Beans! Jessica 18 MAY 2015

I forgot to mention that a fair couple of weeks ago, Jessica was in for a right treat when Monty prepared a bed of soil for her and tasked her with planting her very own green bean garden patch.

Of course, the actual planting was quite stressful for oupa Monty as he continuously reminded Jessica not to push the seeds down too deep, not to cover them with so much soil, not to press on them so much, not to give them so much water, etc.

jessica lotter planting her bean seeds with oupa in the garden

Nevertheless, each and every little bean was planted, patted and watered, and two weeks later I brought the girls back so that Jessica could inspect her gardening project.

Thankfully, the beans had all sprouted and were standing quite proud and tall – exactly what a little blonde princess might have been expecting!

jessica lotter proudly standing next to her bean garden

grandpa monty montgomery standing with jessica lotter next to her bean garden

Emily on the other hand couldn’t be bothered with the whole bean planting exercise. She was more than happy to continue being swung in Monty’s fun makeshift milk crate swing!

emily lotter swinging in a makeshift crate swing

So with beans now mastered, I wonder what gardening project is up next from Oupa and Ouma Montgomery? ;)

granny cheryl mongomery and grandpa monty montgomery sitting next to jessica lotter at stodels in bellville

Things to See in South Africa: Stony Point Penguin Colony in Betty’s Bay (2015-05-03) Photo Gallery | World Wonders 10 MAY 2015

The African penguin is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters. It is also widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray, although several related species of South American penguins produce the same sound.

There are three known mainland breeding colonies in southern Africa, one in Namibia and two in South Africa – both of which are located in the Western Cape. The one is of course found at the famous Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town (or Simonstown as some like to call it), while the second is the lesser known Stony Point colony in Betty’s Bay.

IMG_20150503_124901 african penguin at the stony point penguin colony in betty's bay south africa

Betty’s Bay (named after Betty Youlden, daughter of the first developer of the area), if you aren’t familiar with it, is a small holiday town situated on the Overberg coast, located 96 km from Cape Town and nestled beneath the rugged Kogelberg Mountains. It can be reached via the scenic R44 (Clarence Drive) ocean drive between Pringle Bay and Kleinmond and is one of the longest villages in South Africa, measuring in at over 13 km. (Seriously, drive through it and see for yourself!)

Betty’s Bay played host to a large whaling operation during the early 1900s, with a whaling station being built in 1915 and which in its heyday was said to be slaughtering around 300 whales per year for their oil. The whaling station closed in 1930, and some years later a breeding pair of penguins (possibly from nearby Dyer Island) arrived and set up shop in the long since abandoned whaling station site.

And thus the Stony Point penguin colony was born!

IMG_20150503_123132 whaling station remains at stony point in betty's bay

The colony grew, and was initially unfenced and unmanaged, allowing visitors to view the penguins in close proximity. However, this changed in the late 1980s due to an incident where a leopard attacked the nests and killed over 60 of the penguins, and combined with other factors like dog attacks and frequent egg thefts, the area was declared a protected zone and moves were made to ensure its viability.

Today it is a particularly well managed site controlled by CapeNature and is without a doubt one of their cutest attractions!

(And at only R10 entrance fee to see threatened penguins, endangered Whitebreasted and Cape Cormorants and the vulnerable Bank Cormorant, probably their cheapest as well!)

IMG_20150503_123850 jessica, emily and chantelle lotter pose at stony point penguin colony in betty's bay

We probably make the trip through to the Stony Point penguin colony at least once a year, and in fact, this little expedition undertaken on the 3rd of May 2015 was Emily’s second time here – though this time she was actually old enough to take in and enjoy all the sights and sounds!

No wind, a perfect sunny Autumns day, we were in for a real treat in terms of watching penguins cuddle, swim, eat and frolic around. In fact, we were so lucky on the day that Chantelle and I even spotted two large (probably whales) racing away from the area just as we arrived!

Needless to say, cellphone camera in hand, lots of pictures were the order of the day!

Related Link: CapeNature | Wikipedia

African Blogger Awards 2015 Winner: Dad and the Code Blogging 09 MAY 2015

I’m not particularly active on Twitter to be quite honest – the appeal of the whole thing doesn’t quite make sense to me, but nevertheless, I have an account and as such I do receive e-mail notices whenever someone directs a tweet my way – which is exactly what happened on the 5th of May when I spotted this glorious tweet in my inbox:

african blogger awards 2015 winner announcement tweet

That’s right, my little corner on the web just got recognised as the winner of the Personal blog category of this year’s edition of the African Blogger Awards (2015. The second year that this competition has ran).

Yay me!

Of course, as always, this doesn’t really mean all that much when you consider that they had a fairly low number of entrants overall (just over a 1 000, about double last year’s total), but what is pretty cool is that I won the award in this particular category based entirely on measured metrics – in other words, this was no “popular kid” vote system here in play here, oh no, this was cold hard click counts.

(Which then automatically makes it a lot better and massively more fair than what has since gone on to become a bit of a blogger joke these days, i.e. the SA Blogger Awards.)

Webfluential is an advertising platform which allows marketing teams to place adverts across Blog, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram networks, and is quite obviously positioned hard the real benefactor to these awards, what with all the exposure that it is getting (it was the official analytics collector, with the added bonus of getting a whole slew of new content producers onboard seeing as they needed to sign up in order to take part).

Not that I actually mind, mind you – Webfluential is actually already a pretty slick platform (I was on it before I had even heard of these awards), and again, I kind of like this thing that runs on metrics and algorithms!

Anyway, taken from the Awards about page (if you’re still not following as to what exactly is going on):

“The African Blogger Awards aims to acknowledge the top African talent in the world of Bloggers, YouTubers, Facebookers, Tweeters, and Instagrammers. These awards provide an opportunity to the most successful online influencers in Africa to be recognised for their hard work in growing and keeping their communities active and engaged.

Our aim is to broaden the industry for bloggers in Africa and allow brands to see the value in blogging as a marketing platform.”

(For interest’s sake, the African Blogger Awards appear to have been the creation of the viral social media gurus behind both the Retroviral media agency and Webfluential, Murray Legg and Mike Sharman.)

…Okay, wait. This is all getting a bit convoluted and silly now.

All I initially wanted to achieve with this post was to recognise the fact that I DID in fact win a blogging award because my stats aren’t particularly half bad for a personal blog run by a singular person, with a post pushed out every now and then instead of in constant flood mode! (i.e. it isn’t a corporate construct or anything like that.)

That makes me smile a little.

african blogger awards 2015 personal category winner - dad and the code by craig lotter

(Now I wonder if I should be expecting a little something arriving for me through the post…)

Related Link: African Blogger Awards

Japan 2014: An Adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun My Life 07 MAY 2015

In October 2014 I embarked on my very first overseas trip ever – to the one destination that I’ve always wanted to see above all others: Japan.

Terrance, a friend I have known since primary school, has been living in the land of the Rising Sun since 2011, teaching English as part of their JET programme. In that time, he also found a fiancé in the form of Yuko Omiya, and thoroughly besotted with this wonderful woman, the date for their wedding was set: 12 October 2014.

Of course, he was very keen to have any of his South African friends come up and join him and Yuko on their big day, and although it was certainly something that I wanted to do, it wasn’t something that I could actually afford to at the time (you know, all the usual expenses that comes with being a married adult with children and bonds to pay).

However, my brother Ryan certainly could, and as such, he implored and convinced me to join him on the trip – and thus our Japan 2014 adventure was forged!

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

Surprisingly, we didn’t actually put loads of research into the trip, in fact, it boiled down to less than a handful of Skype and e-mail chats with Terrance, and one or two real life meetups for Ryan and myself. However, it took almost no time at all to come up with a plan that would see us in Japan for a period of two weeks, travelling to the metropolitan marvel that is Tokyo, then to the rich spiritual, historic and cultural hub that is Kyoto, and finally enjoying the fresh, more rural air and pace of Ina and Komagane, situated within the Nagano prefecture.

With our destinations and our period of stay in each decided, Yuko handled the task of tracking down affordable accommodation for the two of us (it was much easier to organise that on their side than for us to try and do it from here), while Ryan handled the nitty gritty of all the flight tickets, insurance, etc. – and once the final hurdle of getting our Japanese visas via the embassy in Cape Town was cleared, all that was left was a little bit of wait time until we finally took to the skies.

Needless to say, I was excited as a puppy dog who has just discovered he can actually chase cats and they WILL run away!

terrance brown and yuko omiya wedding - craig and ryan lotter pose with the main attraction

The trip itself was everything I could ever have wished for (I’ll sum it up as amazing, and not at all what I might have imagined), and despite the fact that we actually spent very little time with Terrance and Yuko as a whole, Ryan and I were more than capable of getting around by ourselves in a land where very little English is spoken – and get around we most certainly did!

(Though to be fair, a big thank you to the wonder that is mobile data and Google Maps is in order.)

I’ve got 47 photo albums taken over the course of those 14 incredible days, all neatly sitting on my hard drive, patiently waiting to be uploaded and thus see the light of day – and although it is now nearly a year later (life as a dad to two small kids is so incredibly busy), I think that you’re finally in for a treat.

In other words, prepare for an upcoming deluge of amazing sights courtesy of probably one of my most favourite countries in the whole wide world – this is Japan 2014! :)

I Should Probably Get That Fixed… My Life 03 MAY 2015

You know that old saying “Stop bugging me woman, I said I’ll do it. You don’t have to keep asking every six months about it you know!” – well, totally applicable when it comes to me and DIY/upkeep here at my house in Country Mews.

I probably only bother mowing the lawn every month and a half or so, my car only gets washed like twice or maybe three times a year, blown lightbulbs have been known to take weeks (if not months) to be replaced [hey, I have nine ceiling downlights in the lounge. I can afford to lose two or three of them you know!], the perished light fitting in our en-suite bathroom is still perilously hanging from its cord (for longer than what I can actually remember), and then finally there is this:

Late last year, one of Gordon’s Bay’s infamous winds gusted through the house and slammed shut the front door that had been standing open, properly cracking the beautiful sandblast design glass pane and rendering the door a pretty ugly sight indeed.

cracked stained glass pane front door in gordons bay

We’re pretty much halfway into the new year now.

I should probably get that fixed at some point…

Easter Egg Hunt (2015-04-05) Photo Gallery 26 APR 2015

I don’t think I ever got around to mentioning it here on these pages, but Easter Weekend 2015 was a pretty nice little break from work.

Although we didn’t go away for the long weekend (Chantelle was working on the Friday and Monday if I remember correctly), we got up to quite a bit, including visits to the markets, play time at Bossa, visits with the folks and friends, and even a stint in the Waterfront at the Scratch Patch as one of the highlights.

But undoubtedly my favourite moment of the whole Easter weekend was Sunday morning when we organised a little surprise backyard Easter Egg Hunt for Jessica. Needless to say, this was one of the rare occasions that she didn’t actually mind being rudely awoken by her parents!

In the blink of an eye, pajamas and all, she was armed with her blue handbag and out the door, searching for the eggs that the Easter bunny had left for her! :)

IMG_20150405_090628

Of course, given Jessica’s complete inability to actually look for things, the Easter Bunny had to be very selective in placing his eggs – in other words, they pretty much all had to be lying out in the open (and even then Jessica still managed to overlook some of them!).

Jessica literally lit up with each and every find, and it was an absolute blast to hear her excited (read shrill) shrieks of delight – though I suspect our neighbours might have thought otherwise!

Seriously though, I can’t wait for next year’s big Easter Egg treasure hunt! :)

Play Time at Pollock Park (2015-04-22) Photo Gallery 25 APR 2015

I have lived in Gordon’s Bay for quite a few years now, and to date, I had still never visited Pollock Park, a little strip of interesting green literally a stone’s throw away from Vergeet-My-Nie, Jessica’s current play school.

Well, I am happy to report that the status has now changed, because in the space of five days I have now taken the girls there twice – and both times Jessica and Emily have had an absolute ball!

IMG_20150422_175241

It’s actually quite a pretty little park, if a little run down, with its area divided in two distinct spaces, one for natural fynbos flora, the other a more open, grassy area for kids to play on. It has a little walkway stretching around and through it, a small pond at the top with geese and ducks (which mightily entertained Emily), some standard playground equipment in pretty decent nick, and the remains of what must once have been a really nice waterway feature.

IMG_20150422_174641

Although a little windy, the girls and I made the most of the area, with Jessica taking quite a strong liking to the see-saw. Emily had a go at it as well, but as per usual, the gigantic slide remains her personal favourite!

IMG_20150422_172729

As always, when the moment allowed I grabbed a couple of snaps with my mobile phone:

As it turns out, a friend of mine from my Gordon’s Bay karate days (Ian Pollock) has quite a strong link to the park – after all, it was built by his dad! I grabbed this off the Gordon’s Bay History Facebook group (written by Ian):

“Some more info regarding the Pollock Park.

My father, Theo Pollock came to GB +/- 50 years ago as appointed electrical engineer to Gordon’s Bay Municipality.

Those years he embarked on an ambitious project to change the mostly overhead electrical network to an underground electrical distribution system. The primary reason was the super strong South-East winds in GB causing long periods without electricity, also due to geographical layout of GB having an overhead system would spoil views especially on the slopes of the mountain and increase maintenance on the network. Understand Municipalities worked very different those days than today.

All work was done in-house by labourers and electricians. A sizable labourer complement was needed to maintain the then fragile electrical network and the change to underground network, of 2 electricians and 8 – 10 labourers. During times when planned budget was spent, or maintenance and planned work was completed the staff was kept productive on the public open space.

Theo Pollock, electricians and labours claimed ownership of the space due to a lack of maintenance from the Parks section at the time. The design, layout and construction took many years. Apart from cement, very little capital funds were spent, mostly time and effort. The space was divided into 2, one section was left natural with fynbos and proteas, the other section was developed, with dam and water fetcher. The developed area had pumps and an irrigation system to maintain the flow of water during the dry summer months. Gordon’s Bay Municipality named the Park after Theo Pollock as acknowledgement for the initiative and effort of him and his staff.

Unfortunately after Theo Pollock retired in 1991 the Park was neglected, several residents in the area tried to maintain it. Until a few years back when the Parks Dept of the City of Cape Town started maintaining it again. Unfortunately all irrigation, pumps and cabling has been vandalised and stolen by that time.

Theo Pollock lost a battle with cancer in 1994. He however left Gordon’s Bay with two accolades (among others): Pollock Park and the fact that Gordon’s Bay is the only Western Cape town with an entire underground electrical network.”

gordons bay pollock park overhead photo

So well worth popping in to see if you’ve as a local never actually been there before! :)

Waterfront Scratch Patch Easter Fun (2015-04-05) Photo Gallery 16 APR 2015

Although we didn’t go away for this Easter Weekend (plus, Chantelle worked on the two public holidays), the girls and I certainly did get up to a lot of fun activities, one of which was a family outing to the V&A Waterfront in order to go gemstone mining at the legendary Scratch Patch!

Both Chantelle and I remember going there at least once as a child, and so it was with great excitement that we took Jessica and Emily there, confident that Jess would love digging around in all the colourful stones!

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, but after you enter the small Mineral World shop (accessed through the parking garage, no entrance fee), pick your container size that you want to take in with you (a good selection of sizes, ranging from cheap to pricey), you enter a tiny wonderland that is the perfect little place for kids to start hunting in.

IMG_20150405_131842 emily lotter at scratch patch in waterfront

Shaped like a little cavern with natural light streaming in above you, both girls immediately got stuck into the task of hunting out the best, most colourful gemstones, and before long both mommy and daddy were sitting sprawled on the floor, picking out the shiniest of the lot with them!

Although we didn’t get to it (because Jess and Emily are still to young), there is even an artificial cave mini-golf experience tacked on – which looks like it could be a good treat for the kids as well.

Anyway, after much time was spent scratching around like chickens, we emerged, Jessica triumphantly clutching her bag full of beautiful gemstones!

Of course, you can’t just go to the V&A Waterfront and not stroll around the Waterfront, so that is exactly what we did. It’s the first time we’ve walked through the new Watershed shopping area and I have to say, I was suitably impressed. So fresh and modern, definitely the upgrade that particular area needed!

For lunch we swung into the Shoreline Cafe in the Two Oceans Aquarium, where some delicious fish and chips were had whilst Jessica ran wild in the kid’s play area, while dessert for the day was of course the ever so expensive but always delicious ice cream from Haagen-Dasz (Chantelle insisted!).

With one last play at the slides around the amphitheater done and dusted, it was time to pack up and head back home to Gordon’s Bay, satisfied with an awesome day out!

Related Link: http://www.scratchpatch.co.za/

The Race to Mondeor (or… Damn It, I was Wrong!) My Life 14 APR 2015

There’s been an argument brewing here in the Country Mews Lotter Stronghold for a while now – is it faster to get onto the N2 proper by going right into Dennhof, onto Sir Lowry’s road and then on to the N2, or is it quickest if you go left into Dennehof, travel along the newly completed road that takes you into Broadlands, and then up onto the N2?

I’ve steadfastly sided with the former from the beginning, as I am convinced that the faster speed limit cancels out the slight distance advantage of the latter, and besides, I’m pretty sure that my route has less stopping points than the new one.

Chantelle on the other hand insists that the new route is quicker, and with neither one of us wanting to budge from our position, there was only going to be one way to properly prove which route is fastest – a race!

As luck would have it, there is actually a very easy and accurate way for us to determine the victor in this challenge, because both routes meet up at one defined point on the N2 – at the robots leading on to our perennial favourite, Mondeor Restaurant (and Monkey Town of course).

The rules were set out – there was to be strict adherence to the speed limit and other rules of the road. Full stops at all stop streets and robots was required. No cheating whatsoever, and with a gentleman’s handshake shook, we fired up the stopwatches on our phones (both Huawei Ascend P6s, so no discrepancy there), and set out to the starting point – the stop sign leading into Dennehof itself!

With a timid roar (remember, speed limit), Chantelle sped off left and I sped off right, me confident in easily winning this particular challenge.

In fact, in almost no time at all, I was on the N2 and racing towards the Mondeor robots, pleased as punch at the thought of my imminent victory, when suddenly my stomach turned and my heart sank… at the sight of Chantelle happily waving to me as she drove past in her Hyundai Accent, already on the return leg of the journey.

Disgusted, I reached the robot, stopped the stopwatch at around seven minutes twenty, and did a u-turn in my Getz to head off and join her at the Garden Kitchen over at Mountain Streams Nursery, our designated debriefing spot.

Needless to say, when I finally arrived at the destination, I sat down to a gloating, smirking face, as Chantelle proceeded to question my time over her steaming cup of coffee. I mumbled my number and showed her the clock – to which she gleefully laughed out loud and turned over hers – her route had beaten mine by almost a minute and a half!

Damn it.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is complete and utterly soul crushing. I was wrong.

Sigh. I hate being wrong.

Well done Chantelle, it looks like you remain the champ at picking out routes… for now!

IMG_20150217_143032 a beer and a smug smiling chantelle lotter at Bossa

(I’m hoping for a rematch where we drive at more realistic, real world speeds. That said, I’m not sure that even that will save my bacon – I’m pretty sure that she’s got me by the short and curlies this time!)

Selecting Your Own Contact Lenses My Life 13 APR 2015

As per the norm, I had stretched my last six month contact lenses supply well past its intended duration – in fact, records pointed out that I had last been to the optometrist in something like 18 months or so! So of course, when my current supply of lenses did finally dry up, I had little choice but to call up the optometrist for an obligatory eye test in order to get some new lenses.

Seeing as I’m particularly fond of the Aquity SI contact lenses that Spec-Savers stocks, I made an appointment with Spec-Savers in Somerset Mall, the same optometrist that I used (and was suitably impressed with) the last time I needed some new lenses.

That said, I’m pretty sure that the optometrist now staffing the branch is not the same optometrist that helped me out last time, but regardless, I really do have to highly recommend her. Wonderfully warm, friendly and professional, I was more than pleased with my interaction with her.

(Even more exciting though was the fact that it was a slew of new equipment and tests that awaited me since the last time I had been – always super interesting for someone as curious as what I am!)

Anyway, our first stab at the eye test was interesting enough. For around R450 I was told that for some inexplicable reason my prescription strength appears to have dropped, meaning that my left eye had improved from -5.00 to -4.75, and my right eye improved by a massive jump of -4.75 up to -4.00!

That seemed a bit weird, but the optometrist balanced everything nicely out and gave me a trial pair of lenses to test out this new, weaker prescription. (Also, she couldn’t quite believe the good condition of my eyeballs, considering the length of time that I wear contact lenses – a lot – and the fact that I don’t ever rub clean my lenses!)

Alas, the weaker prescription was quickly revealed to be a lie, because over the next few days of testing them out, I quickly spotted a flaw in our diagnosis – driving was proving a bit tricky now that all the signs were kind of blurry!

So back I went for another test, and this time I sensed that the optometrist was getting a little impatient and confused with all of my ‘uhms’ and ‘ahs’ when it came to deciding between lenses whilst reading the tiny letters (seriously, it is so difficult to decide!), so much so that she eventually gave up and instructed me to twiddle between the various strengths until I arrived at a point where I was happy.

And so I worked out my own prescription (technically).

The new readings: well sadly my left eye is in fact a lot weaker, it is now -5.50 (originally -5.00) whilst my right eye did in fact improve to -4.50 (originally -4.75) .

The good news of course is that there is now no longer any magical, unexplained giant jump in my eyesight, plus of course, after handing over a further R800, I now have new contact lenses for the next sixth months (read: one year).

spec-savers optometrist logo

Bonus: Turns out the optometrist recognises me from walking around Country Mews with Jessica and Emily – as it turns out, her little one year old daughter stays during the day with her mom who also has a place in Country Mews!

Related Link: http://www.specsavers.co.za/store/somerset-mall

Jessica and her new Bicycle Jessica 10 APR 2015

A couple of weeks ago Chantelle and I surprised Jessica by taking her to Game and letting her choose a new bicycle.

She had outgrown her first bicycle and to be honest, being a second hand buy, it was a bit tired by now – in fact, one of the pedals had even come off the other day! (Not to mention the hard plastic wheels that were now completely devoid of all grip!)

So with the old one out it made sense to get her something a bit bigger and better – which is exactly why I was more than happy to part with my R1,100 and return home with a beautiful purple and white, 16 inch Raleigh kids’ bicycle – accompanied with a bright pink cycle helmet to finish off the ensemble.

IMG_20150325_180226 - jessica lotter on her new purple raleigh bicycle

Well, when I say returned home with, I do of course mean I arrived home with a big cardboard box, which stayed on the dining room table for a day or two before I finally gathered enough strength to open the box, spill out is contents, and attempt to assemble a bicycle.

(Surprisingly, this took me longer than expected – I had some trouble lining up the brakes).

Of course, we immediately needed to take it out for a test drive, and pleasingly a beaming, unable-to-contain-her-excitement, Jessica was more than happy to oblige.

In fact, all the friends around the complex quickly got wind of what we were up to thanks to us tearing about the complex at high speed (seriously, all of a sudden Jessica is rather quick on her two wheels), and soon everyone  was in on the fun!

IMG_20150325_181924 - the girls of country mews on their bicycles

So yeah, I’d definitely say that this was a successful purchase for the Lotter clan! Now I guess the next step is for her to become confident enough that we can start thinking about ditching those side wheels of hers…

How to Lose Weight if you are Obese? My Life 05 APR 2015

“How to Lose Weight if you are Obese?” – or rather, “Hey, this seems to be working well for me!”.

In my late teens and early twenties I was slim, fit, and had energy for days. However, at around 25 my disposable income had increased significantly enough that I didn’t mind spending money on junk food (hello Coke, Danish, Muffin and Chocolate Croissant, won’t you please all join me for lunch today?), had a job that saw me bound to my desk and slouched over a computer for the entire work day (that hasn’t changed mind you), and I got comfortable in serious relationships which subsequently meant even more food without any regard for its effect on my waistline (apparently this is pretty normal when it comes to young love).

Anyway, at this stage I was still super active on the extramural front though (lots of sports and activities), but as we all know, exercise is not going to entirely compensate for all the sugar and junk you stuff into your face. However, the final nail in my coffin was suffering a relatively serious knee injury back in 2007 that saw me pretty much stop all forms of exercise for more than just a year or two – in fact, that very knee injury still seriously limits me to this very day!

In other words, that moment marks exactly when the downward slope became a proper downward slide into obesity.

overweight craig lotter holding jessica's hand at rico suter country lodge in worcester

Jessica and I, circa 2013 in Worcester.

Although I didn’t weigh myself back then, I do remember weighing in at around 85 kg (187 lb) at a karate tournament, which must have been around 2006/2007. Fast forward seven years or so to 2015 (featuring a job change, more stress, marriage, and two children), and all of a sudden I find myself clocking in at a whopping 150 kg (330 lb) – which given my relatively average/short height translates to properly obese.

Needless to say, this isn’t a good thing in terms of health, practical aspects like clothes, furniture and more importantly, office chair selection, and of course more internal things like self-image. (Not that the last one bothers me that much mind you. I’m not a particularly vain man, nor do I care much for the opinion of others – so I think helps a lot on the self image front! :P)

Anyway, there have been a few short-lived attempts at weight loss over the past couple of years, but nothing that ever stuck, and come to think of it, with the clarity of hindsight, I think I know exactly why this is.

Up until now I had NEVER really wholeheartedly made my own personal decision to lose weight. Up until now, it was almost always someone else’s idea or at someone else’s behest, which almost always then translates into me not being 100% committed to the plan.

But that all changed on the 5 January 2015.

I woke up and it was as if a switch had just been flicked on in my head. My knee was sore and so I simply thought to myself, “I’ve had enough – let’s lose some weight”.

And that is all that it was.

A wholehearted, personal decision that I had made to lose weight.

So practically then, how do you go about losing weight if you are already obese?

Actually, that’s really, really simple. To maintain or increase your current weight the body needs food. Eat less food than this amount and your body will use what it has to try and keep up – in other words, making you smaller.

It really is that easy.

craig lotter in front of mermaid statue in langebaan

I found a mermaid in Langebaan. Circa 2014

Of course, there are a few caveats to this.

One, you really, really should stop taking in all that unnecessary sugar and so to that affect I’ve switched to almost exclusively drinking water, stopped adding sugar to my coffee (of which I still drink a little too much, though it is only Ricoffy so I don’t think it’s too bad), and of course, have pretty much completely given up on sweets and chocolate.

(Not really no, I do still enjoy a good piece of chocolate whenever I can lay my hands on it. But it’s not that often any more, promise.)

Also, it helps that Chantelle no longer bakes cakes to the degree that she used to – in fact, when she does, I make sure to quickly toss all the cut-offs in the bin lest I be tempted to smear on some icing sugar and wolf down everything like I so readily used to in the past!

Secondly, I’ve inadvertently pretty much stopped eating things like bread, rolls, cornflakes and potatoes. This isn’t on purpose or in accordance with some or other plan, but rather simply because eating it makes me uncomfortable and full, and not eating it doesn’t – and seeing as the later is what I’m after, dropping it makes a lot of sense.

So instead, I eat a lot of fruit, yoghurt, and suppers generally consist either of fish or chicken breasts (or the occasional slab of pork) accompanied with a simple, unadorned green salad. Also, we try to eat earlier in the evening whenever we get a chance, as opposed to what was becoming the norm of only having supper around 20:30 once the girls were both in bed!

Boring, yes, but effective nonetheless.

Oh, and portion control is without a doubt another one of the big things here.

If I’m going to have a hamburger (which I still occasionally do), instead of eating two, I’ll only eat one. Instead of eating two chicken breasts like I always did, I only eat one. Instead of devouring a large pizza by myself, I only eat half.

You get the picture.

I do also have one final trick up my sleeve which I haven’t mentioned yet – I religiously weigh myself each and every morning.

Every morning I get up, potter around, and then grab my digital scale and place it down on exactly the same tile on the floor (to try and ensure consistent readings), weigh myself three times to ensure an accepted average reading (they should ideally all be the same of course), and then record it in a weight tracking app on my phone (Libra in this case).

This allows me to keep a thumb on my progress and to make any corrections if necessary – i.e. you had a massive weekend where you threw all of your new eating norms out of the window, meaning that for the next couple days it’s carrot sticks for you! :)

The result?

All of the above has resulted in my thus far losing  15 kg in 3 months – and that is without starving myself, punishing myself, or resorting to any physical fitness regimes whatsoever!

Sure, it’s a drop in the ocean when I look at how far I still have to go, but I’m definitely on the right path, and when enough weight has dropped I should be able to start throwing in some fitness routines as well – meaning that if all goes to plan, next year I should be waking up pretty close to my previous fighting fit weight! :)

What is the Difference between an Abridged and Unabridged Birth Certificate? My Life 31 MAR 2015

It’s reached that point in time where we have to start applying to get Jessica into school, and one of the things on the required list in terms of support documentation is of course a valid birth certificate. However, when I rummage through my files and pull out the birth certificates I get a yellow abridged birth certificate for Jessica (2010), and a white/green unabridged birth certificate for Emily (2014).

Schools require an unabridged birth certificate which then raises the question: What is the difference between an abridged and unabridged birth certificate?

baby-on-white-background-with-republic-of-south-africa-coat-of-arms

In South Africa historically there were two types of official birth certificates, namely the abridged and unabridged versions. Although distinct documents, both are considered authentic and thus you could previously make do with just an abridged version as long as you are a natural citizen and live in South Africa itself.

Issued by the Department of Home Affairs, an abridged birth certificate is a document that contains details about the birth of a person such as his or her identity number, full name and country of origin. An abridged birth certificate is issued within minutes or hours (i.e. you can pretty much get it straight after the birth, useful for signing up for medical aid and so forth), whereas it takes between 6 weeks to 6 months to issue an unabridged birth certificate.

The difference? An unabridged birth certificate contains everything that the abridged birth certificate does, but adds to that content the identity information of both registered parents.

Up until 2013, you would get an abridged birth certificate following the birth of your child, and then later go and apply for the unabridged version, but since then, the Department of Home Affairs have streamlined the process and now unabridged certificates are issued on the spot, thereby reducing the turn-around time being experienced when applying for the abridged birth certificate at that time.

In other words, the difference is the added parents’ details on the unabridged version, and more importantly, it would seem that I now need to make a trip to Home Affairs in order to organise an unabridged birth certificate for Jessica because in the end, that is now the only one that matters!

Oops…