Category Archives: My Life

Picnic in Kirstenbosch (2015-03-01)

I checked – the last time that we’ve had an outing to the world famous Kirstenbosch gardens was back in early 2012 in celebration of Ryan’s birthday. Well, fast forward three years and things have gotten a fair bit busier – after all, Mom and Dad now have four lovely grandchildren to dote on instead of just little Jessica as it was back then! :)

IMG_20150301_110657 - chantelle lotter with jessica and emily at kirstenbosch

With Chantelle off from work on Sunday, I thought a nice family picnic out to Kirstenbosch would be just the ticket, but as it turned out, neither Claire, Riley, Ryan or Robert could make it, meaning that in the end it was to be a day out for the kids and the grandparents – which is never a bad thing anyway!

Leaving the gale force winds of Gordon’s Bay behind, we made the trek through to Table Mountain, where on arrival we were rather surprised to find that the main parking area at Kirstenbosch was already full – meaning that we were diverted to the overflow parking area.

Eventually we had trudged our way up to the gardens, bought our tickets (Kirstenbosch really is worth the R50 entrance fee), and set about trying to link up with Monty and Cheryl, who had arrived a little earlier than us (we were held up leaving from home thanks to an epic throw up from Emily that pretty much decimated her entire cot!).

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The hook up didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned though – Monty and Cheryl had managed to come in via a different gate to us, and in the end, Kirstenbosch is simply too big to rely on luck in terms of randomly spotting another couple that you’re looking for!

After lots of huffing and puffing, marching about, and a lot of frustrated phone calls, we did eventually find one another, and more importantly, found a delightful little picnic spot close to a dam (so, so many overly friendly birds!) and with a LOT of shade to cover us for the day.

Mom and Dad on the other hand managed to miss out on all the shenanigans (they went to church first), by cleverly arriving a lot later and thus simply having us meet and lead them back to the picnic site! No hassle, no fuss! :)

IMG_20150301_150756 cheryl and ronnie lotter in kirstenbosch

Apart from a minor incident with a park official who wanted to fine Dad for bringing a chair in (honestly, we didn’t know that you are in fact not allowed to do so), what followed was a wonderfully tranquil day of lazing about, grazing on all sorts of picnic food, rolling around on the grass with the kids, and of course catching up on all the news, like Monty and Cheryl’s recent trip to Warmwaterberg Spa and Mom and Dad’s trip to New Zealand.

We did of course HAVE to also check out the recently unveiled Boomslang canopy walk, a park addition which I have to really commend it must be said. A beautiful bridge with fantastic views, and a cleverly implemented idea at that.

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I think we were probably in the park for something like five or six hours if not more, and at the end of a long day (we all got rather sun burnt – even Jessica now that I look at it), with the crowds flowing in for the evening’s Goldfish music concert, we packed up from our little spot and bid a fond farewell to everyone – bringing to an end what can only be described as a day of perfect relaxation.

IMG_20150301_123557 craig lotter with emily selfie in kirstenbosch

And pictures? Or course I caught more than just a few with my trusty old Huawei phone:

Related Link: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch

At Root 44 on Japan Day 2015 (2015-02-28)

Well that’s a bit embarrassing isn’t it? You see, I was on daddy duty with the girls on Saturday thanks to Chantelle working, and so I thought it would be nice to get out for a bit with a trip first to Root 44 Market, followed by some time in Stellenbosch.

The embarrassing bit is that it turns out that Saturday 28 February was The Office of the Consul of Japan in Cape Town’s Japan Day at the Root 44 market on the Audacia wine estate – and I pretty much took absolutely NO photos at all.

Zip, zero, zilch.

In other words, you’ll just have to take my work for it then! (Below? Not my photo.)

kendo at japan day 2015 at root 44 market

With our shopping at Somerset Mall done and dusted, Jessica, Emily and I then headed down the R44 until we reached the Audacia wine estate, ready for some Root 44 market action. As we climbed out of the car, the distinctive sound of taiko drums being beaten could be heard – in fact, it was our usual Helderberg culprits in the form of the Tamashii Daiko drumming troupe!

We had in fact just arrived for the start of Japan Day 2015, and dotted around the market were all sorts of Japanese related tables and exhibitions, from Bonzai to Calligraphy to Sumi-e art, and Origami to koi fish to Ikebana flower arrangement – and even a display of traditional Japanese children’s toys!

The main stage featured a continuous rotation of displays that included things like the taiko drumming, aikido, Japanese flute playing, kenjutso, kendo, karate, Japanese food preparation – and of course cosplay. (It goes without saying that the Cape Town Cosplay crew pretty much always show their faces if an event even mentions the words Japan or comic book!)

Anyway, perhaps the reason for me not taking any photos was the fact that the girls weren’t too interested in all of this going on around them – as far as they were concerned (well by ‘they’ I mean Jessica), we were there for one thing and one thing only – pancakes!

IMG_20150228_113532 jessica lotter waiting for pancakes at root 44 market

Of course, this DID mean that after much ambling about, we settled down with some pancakes, playfully devoured them, and then spent much time playing in the kids’ area on all the slides and swings – which needless to say both Jessica and Emily rather enjoyed.

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With the market (and thus Japan Day 2015) done and dusted, my next leg of the day out with the girls was a scenic drive down Adam Tas to meet up with Baden Powell, travelling past Spier and then into Stellenbosch, all with the plan to hit the market up at the Oude Libertas amphitheater.

However, on arrival there, my plans were somewhat dashed when I found both Jessica and Emily to be fast, fast asleep, and so in an effort not to disturb my two little sleeping beauties, I instead drove through Stellenbosch in the direction of home, stopping only once we were back in Somerset West in order to surprise Jessica with an McDonalds ice cream.

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Of course she decided to then pick a burger and chips instead. Sigh.

IMG_20150228_132453 jessica lotter at mcdonalds

Still, it was a great day out with my two little girls – as always! :)

 

The Bambino Roadster Car Seat is Back Again!

It’s hard to think that back in 2011, around Jessica’s first birthday we splashed out and bought a pretty fancy car seat in the form of the Bambino Roadster. Four years later, and just after Emily’s first birthday, we’ve retrieved the Bambino Roadster from storage (thanks Monty and Cheryl for finding the cupboard space for it!), dusted it off, and set it up for round 2 of serving the Lötter family!

emily lotter sitting in the bambino roadster car seat

Although, when I say dusted it off, and set it up for round 2, it turns out that the process wasn’t quite as simple as what I make it out to be. You see, as with most baby/toddler used equipment, the Roadster was pretty damn dirty – full of unidentified smears and stains, and more importantly, full of lengthy cat hair. This of course meant that Chantelle deemed it due a wash in the washing machine.

So she dutifully took everything apart, washed it, and then over the course of the next MONTH, tried to reassemble the thing! (Basically, the Roadster is a pretty damn complex chair to try and figure out!)

In the end, Chantelle resorted to calling up Michelle Oosthuizen, the encylopedia of all child-related things, and when verbal instructions failed, Michelle recorded a full on tutorial video, which became then the key to Chantelle finally finishing (with a lot of swearing) the puzzle that is the disassembled Bambino Roadster car seat!

Of course, I just stood by and smirked, chuckled and in general found the whole ordeal particularly funny from start to finish. After all, I told Chantelle not to mess with the damn thing in the first place!

However, that said, my heart did break for my poor wife, because the very next morning after finishing putting the chair back together, she handed Emily a banana for breakfast. Sadly for Chantelle, Emily was all over the Bambino Roadster like an ant in a sugar bowl, resulting in the Roadster completely covered in smeared banana – stains which don’t just wipe off thanks to the Bambino’s type of material covering.

Sigh, looks like someone will have to disassemble again! :)

Spur, Root 44, and Boerewors Rolls

As per usual, we had a nice and busy weekend, with things kicking off on Friday when Chantelle abandoned us for Bellville in order to go and watch the much hyped 50 Shades of Grey movie with Natasha and Michelle Garrett. She opted to take Emily with in order to leave her with Ouma and free up some Daddy/Daughter time for me with Jessica, and taking full advantage of this generous offer, I picked up Jessica from Vergeet-My-Nie at the end of the work day and headed off to the Gordon’s Bay Spur!

jessica lotter with face painted like a buttefly, courtesy of spur

Needless to say, Jessica was particularly excited, even more so when we were handed a table literally next to the play area! For the next hour and a half she was bobbing between playing in the kids area (our Spur has really jacked this part of their operation up!), eating food and drinking pink milkshake with her dad, and running around with two other random little girls who seemed to be having just as much fun over at the Spur as what she was!

jessica lotter drinking a spur pink milkshake

(Footnote: I didn’t stay up to find out how much Chantelle enjoyed the BDSM-tinged 50 Shades of Grey movie – which as it turns out was quite a lot – but I am rather pleased to report that I didn’t wake up chained to the bed or something like that the next morning).

With Chantelle working and an Eskom loadshed looming, Saturday morning saw me escape to Somerset West with the girls for some retail therapy (no, actually just household and DIY shopping – lightbulbs seem to be really, really expensive these days, not to mention the price of garden tools!), followed by a visit to the always busy, always pleasant Root 44 market at Audacia.

There it was to be pancakes, playing in the sand pit and of course going down the slides (yes, even Emily joined in) that was the order of the day!

jessica lotter at the sandpit at root 44 market

The rest of the afternoon/evening was pretty uneventful now that I think about it – Chantelle and I attempted to watch Liam Neeson getting rather confused in the movie Unknown, but sadly as we got just over half way, Chantelle’s gentle snoring and permanently shut eyes became a subtle enough hint, and so we abandoned the film for some much enjoyed bed time.

emily lotter at the sandpit at root 44 market

Sunday was work day for Chantelle once more, but I had more than enough on my own plate to keep me busy. I had invited all the friends around for a Boerewors braai at our place – the first informal get together at Country Mews of the friends in I don’t know how long!

Anyway, all the rushing around paid off, because by the time our guests in Michelle, Damen and Logan, and Evan, Natasha and Evalynne arrived, everything was set up and ready, meaning that chilling in the driveway around our newly bought outside table could commence in ernest!

What followed was an enjoyable afternoon of chatter, boerewors and spanspek, and even a short trip to the park here in Country Mews. Of course, boys will be boys and FIFA did at one point get hauled out and played – and to make things even better, Ryan eventually showed up in Gordon’s Bay, coming through for a visit and some FIFA following his outing to the Art of Brick exhibition in Waterfront earlier in the day.

Eventually though, the day and early evening were done, and with the kids in bed and the last of our guests gone back across the Boerewors curtain, Chantelle and I settled down to finish off the enjoyable Unknown (for the record, Chantelle didn’t quite make it – she’d have to catch the ending again the next morning), rounding off what was a great little weekend.

World of Birds in Hout Bay (2015-02-15)

Last Sunday (following our relaxing picnic on Saturday), Chantelle and I rounded up the girls and headed off nice and early across the Boerewors Curtain to Hout Bay, where the plan was to meet up with Monty and Cheryl at the world renowned World of Birds sanctuary. As it turned out, neither of us quite made the 10:00 meeting time – we got stuck behind a sightseeing bus whilst they got stuck behind cyclists! (Not that one complains though – driving past Kirstenbosch and then on to Hout Bay is always a fantastic treat in terms of the scenery).

Anyway, in the end we arrived at the World of Birds at pretty much the same time, and first stop for the in-laws was a cup of coffee at the little Robin’s Nest restaurant. There it was a rather nice surprise to have Robert and new squeeze Tarryn join us for the day, and with everyone now awake, and Jess pretty restless, it was off to view the feathered fowls!

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World of Birds bills itself as such:

“World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa and one of the few large bird parks in the World. Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in more than 100 spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature.

A tropical garden setting in the Hout Bay Valley is the environment in which the aviaries are spaced over 4 ha of land, framed by the back of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Constantiaberg, Chapman’s Peak and Little Lion’s Head. A paradise for nature lovers and photographers, the World of Birds is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist attractions which no visitor should miss.”

IMG_20150215_120426 chantelle lotter and jessica ride a gorilla

Yup, that’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of birds to see, so it’s no wonder that we ended up wandering around the sanctuary for 3 hours or so! The variety of bird life (from literally right across the world!) is always astonishing, not to mention the fact that you literally walk alongside them in the enclosures it an absolute delight. In fact, it is best summed up as a proper treat of an outing!

(If I was a photographer with a proper camera I would be in seventh heaven thanks to all the feathered models I would have access to… but I’m not, which explains all the tiny, tiny birds on the photos taken with my phone!)

IMG_20150215_120325 monty and cheryl montgomery with jessica lotter

The weather was perfect, and apart from a little slip and slide that saw Jess soaked to the bone, boots and all, everything ran pretty smoothly, with the kids (and adults) thoroughly enjoying themselves.

As you can see, I was pretty busy with my camera phone as well:

Having seen our fill of eagles, owls, storks and chickens, we ended our adventure in Hout Bay by joining the heavy traffic to the harbour, where our initial plan of enjoying some takeaway fish and chips fell through based entirely on just how busy the harbour was – i.e. it was packed!

IMG_20150215_141416 hout bay harbour

In the end, we headed up the ramp to the nautically themed Mariner’s Wharf, where after a bit of a wait in the bar for a table, we sat down and enjoyed some particularly tasty (but expensive!) fish and chips.

All in all, a fantastic day out for the family, and as always, a trip that I can highly recommend! :)

Related Link: http://www.worldofbirds.org.za/

Weekend Away in Jacobsbaai (2015-02-07)

The Oppiwa Festival held annually in Jacobsbaai is a brilliant little Afrikaans music festival with an interesting twist. Each musician get assigned a tractor-pulled wagon for which you then buy a ticket for, the end result being a two hour excursion that includes a ride around the dusty town with the artist, getting up nice and close and personal, with the whole thing then culminating with a stop at a random guest house for a spread of delicious eats and of course an impromptu private session with the musician.

Oh, and at the start of it all you get given a tin mug which is kept filled with wine from start to finish. In other words, a recipe for a guaranteed fun afternoon out!

IMG_20150206_182109 first jacobs bay oppiewa tractor sighting

Monty and Cheryl had invited Chantelle and myself to join them for the festival this year, and after an eventful journey from Gordon’s Bay to Jacobsbaai, we found ourselves in the calming and tranquil little West Coast village of Jacobsbaai late Friday afternoon, meeting up with everyone at Priscilla’s The Artists’ Retreat Guest House – our usual go to destination for whenever we’re on that side of the world! :)

Joining us for the weekend was Robert and his new girlfriend Tarryn Botha, and with all the sleeping arrangements organised and bags unpacked, it was decided to keep out of Priscilla’s hair (who was scrambling about, trying to get all the food preparations done for her hosting of a wagon on Saturday) by going out for supper to the Weskus Mall (in Vredenburg).

We knew that Panarottis in the mall has a play area, but our plans were scuppered when on entering the mall, Jessica spotted Yukon Spur’s huge outdoor play area – which of course meant Spur it was! With Jess immediately off to play, the rest of us settled down to enjoy some family food (I can never really bring myself to call Spur’s food good) and plenty of excited chatter.

IMG_20150206_211753 chantelle, emily and cheryl outside of spur

Happily, despite all the tummy bugs that seemed to be in the air (Emily, Chantelle and I were struggling a little), and despite Emily’s horrendous head butt of the wall a little earlier when we were first setting up the room (the bump on her forehead pretty much remained there for the rest of the weekend!), the kids and Chantelle and myself enjoyed a good night’s sleep, only waking up on Saturday at a much later time than normal! (Sleep, beautiful sleep!)

The morning was spent walking, eating a delicious guest house breakfast, playing pool, and of course a trip through to Paternoster for a beer (with the lovebirds) at the Paternoster Hotel.

IMG_20150207_115632 having a drink in paternoster with robert montgomery and tarryn botha

Back in Jacobsbaai, everyone got ready for their Oppiwa experience – well everyone but me.

As things turned out, when we’d originally bought tickets for the sold out festival, we managed to get just enough for the five of us (Anna Davel, formerly of Cut Glass, being the only wagon we could still book). However, with Robert now bagging a girlfriend at the last minute (and the first one in a very, VERY long time), I refused to stand in the way of young love and gave my ticket up to Tarryn, meaning that for the afternoon whilst everyone was drinking wine and making merry, I would be spending some time with Emily and Jessica, treating them to clothes and ice cream at the mall. (Which I always enjoy doing anyway!)

IMG_20150207_154806 jessica lotter and a wooden fish statue in the weskus mall

From all reports the Oppiwa experience was loads of fun, Anna Davel was mesmerizing, and we’ve pretty much already decided that we’ll just have to be back next year again! The evening was then spent around a blazing fire on the roof deck, dancing to some Afrikaanse treffers and chowing on all the Oppiwa stopover leftovers – the perfect way to round off what had been an excellent day.

As for Sunday, well that was spent mostly around the pool table and big, big braai on the deck – yet again the perfect was to spend a Sunday at the close of a good weekend away. Oh, and of course, I managed to grab some photos on my phone whilst we were there:

(Oh, and unlike our trip there, we didn’t get lost on the way back).

IMG_20150207_115655 chantelle and craig lotter drinking in paternoster

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

Baby Steps Picnic at Helderberg Nature Reserve (2015-02-14)

Valentine’s Day fell on Saturday this year, and as such I treated Chantelle to a lovely candlelit dinner in the braai room* (whilst she bought me a selection of delicious Woolworths choccies) – but that’s completely beside the point, because what I wanted to mention here is the lovely picnic we enjoyed in the morning with the kids at the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

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Baby Steps owner and head honcho Rochelle Kelders had organised the morning picnic as a way for the parents and kids to have a bit of a social get together together, and pleasingly, despite the heavy clouds that looked rather threatening, there was a nice little turn out and everyone was able to enjoy some seriously relaxing time on the grass with the kids. (So, so many tiny cute faces!)

Emily was adorable (as expected), and even managed to stun Chantelle and myself by rooting out a nectarine from our bag and devouring it whole – nothing subtle there. It was basically just nectarine juices on everything!

(The rest of us made do with the blueberry muffins we had picked up from Woolworths on our way – though Emily was quite adept at stealing quite a bit from those as well!)

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We’ve been with Baby Steps for quite some time now – just short of three years with Jessica and now 1 and a little bit years with Emily – and funnily enough, this is the very first time that our schedules actually allowed us to join in on the fun.

And I’m kind of glad that we did.

*small kids are so, so limiting.

A Break in My Internet

This week has been a little frustrating in terms of working from home (and putting up blog posts on time) – thanks to a fault on Telkom’s side, my home ADSL suddenly wasn’t working any more (my modem was reporting a DSL connection failure, or rather, no DSL connection at all), starting Monday evening and finally being resolved late morning Thursday!

Sigh.

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This isn’t a particularly great thing if you have fashioned a little work office in your braai room like I have, and because I haven’t really planned for this contingency, other than my Vodacom mobile data on my phone contract, I didn’t exactly have a backup Internet connection to fall back on.

(Luckily Wednesday I needed to be in office for my weekly meeting – hello Frogfoot fibre network in the Westlake Business Park. So, so fast…)

Of course, being a software developer means that I can do the majority of my development work offline anyway, so it’s not like my work world paused or anything like that for the duration of this week –  though I have to say it was rather nice to not be able to respond for a bit to all the support queries and calls for changes that come into my inbox on a daily basis. (I’m currently the only development resource in the company. In other words, I have to do pretty much everything.)

Calls to Telkom’s call centre for support didn’t get me anywhere (due to the loadshedding there are a lot of confused old people and broken modems flooding into the support system at the moment), so in the end I grabbed the Telkom Android app off the Google Play platform and used that to log a fault.

A day and a half later, I got a phone call to get more details about the issue, and the next day I got a phone call from a technician asking me if everything was working now. I glanced over at the modem, and true as Bob, both the DSL and Internet lights on my old Mega 105WR router were now happily flashing along.

Problem solved.

(Though if this was a simple line re-synch or whatever they did remotely, it bothers me a little that they haven’t automated this process yet. Surely it can’t be hard to get people to log a fault in a particular way, those instances then being picked up by a monitoring system and automatically sorted out? Or at least, if it is already an automated system, then why does it take so long? Or am I just being silly at this point?)

Anyway, although not fast, the service was good, so I have to commend Telkom on that.

But just to be safe, I’ve gone and ordered a mobile data monthly package from Afrihost, to use with the existing modem I have from them.

Thanks to the whole RICA process, it should finally be arriving on Tuesday. A little too late to be of actual use, but at least now I’ll be ready for next time! :)

Related Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=za.co.telkom.android.residential&hl=en

Pitstop at the Weskus Padstal (2015-02-06)

Friday saw our weekend away down the West Coast kick off, and with the kids collected early, it was off in the Accent (which embarrassingly turned out to need two full cans of oil added before our departure – been a while since we last checked it would seem!).

Even more embarrassingly though, our trip to Jacobsbaai took an eventful turn when, as we were hurtling down the N7, it dawned on us that we had completely missed the Melkbosstrand turn-off to join the R27, meaning a sudden and slightly confused stop was in order.

With the radio immediately silenced because I couldn’t think (beautifully detailed in Defending the Caveman, well worth checking out if you ever get the chance), it was a quick husband/wife argument, then some fumbling with Google Maps on Chantelle’s phone (the GPS on my phone remains broken), followed by some jerky wandering around through the Atlantis area.

Sadly, our (unnecessarily) chosen route to join up with the R27 turned out to be a long, dusty, gravel road affair, which needless to say didn’t please me very much. However, as luck would have it, we did stumble upon a pretty cool sight: a light aircraft coming in for a landing right across the road in front of us – turns out we had happened upon Skydive Cape Town’s home base!

IMG_20150206_141108 sky dive cape town airstrip

Anyway, we did eventually join up with the R27 and were soon happily hurtling along again (or at least, driving as fast as the average speed camera system would allow us), and before long we happened across the eccentric West Coast Farmstall, that farm stall/diner/aviary/lion park/nursery that we’ve stopped at before.

Perfect… time for lunch (and a well deserved lunch if I say so myself)!

IMG_20150206_144515 jessica lotter smiling with sunglasses

As per usual, the Weskus Padstal is an absolute assault on the visual senses, the artistically inclined owners literally throwing anything and everything on the walls, creating an absolute visual treat that keeps you interested despite the fact that you just know that you’re actually sitting amongst a giant junk site.

I love it. It’s like being in a typical, junk-laden Afrikaans bar that just happens to have spilled outside.

Anyway, with Jessica and Emily happily entertained, Chantelle and I both ordered some wildsvleis (venison) pie, which I am happy to report was quite delicious.

IMG_20150206_150605 chantelle lotter eating venison pie

A relaxing, tranquil and enjoyable stop, it’s no wonder that I now seem to always include the West Coast Farmstall on the itinerary whenever we head down the West Coast! :)

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

Hyundai Getz: 120,000 km Badge Unlocked!

Just the other day I was saying how pleased I was to have finally paid off the Hyundai Getz I bought from Hyundai Helderberg way back in 2010 – and Monday, whilst driving into work (in fact, just before the Westlake Business park), I spotted my odometer hitting the dreaded reading: the 120,000 km badge is now unlocked!

charcoal 2010 hyundai getz

I have to say, for the five years that I’ve now owned her, she has done remarkably well, not letting me down once. In face, the only two niggles I’ve had in the time was the central locking not working for a while (fixed) and a front sun visor which is now a little droopy.

That’s it (other than one or two self-inflicted scrapes).

So yup, mightily impressed with my little Getz and all the more reason for me to stay happily in the Hyundai family for the next couple of years to come.

charcoal 2010 hyundai getz - with Chantelle Lotter

Of course, my Hyundai 5 year/120,000 km warranty/service plan has now come to an end, meaning that after this week’s big, big service, it’s back to paying for my future car services out of pocket.

Sigh, guess I best start putting a little aside each month already.

charcoal 2010 hyundai getz - with Craig Lotter

Still, she has made – and kept – me happy… so then I guess she’s pretty damn worth it! :)

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

Organising Photos takes forever! (Or rather, tales of Japan 2014 is on its way!)

I know, I know, I promised some feedback from the awesome two week long jaunt in Japan I experienced back in October 2014, and yes, that was quite some time ago. The thing is though, there are so, SO many photos to organise – never mind the part of actually getting around to writing everything up!

Nevertheless, you’ll be rather pleased to know that at long last I’ve sat down and sorted through all the photos – that’s two Memory Stick PRO Duo memory cards plus my Huawei P6’s memory card worth of pictures – in other words a decent amount of sorting that was done.

Of course, it could be worse – I could have been armed with a proper camera and not just my little point-and-click Sony Cybershot – which if that was the case and I was all professional like, I’d be wading through thousands and thousands of the damn things!

So small blessings then, even if the trade-off is at times some pretty shoddy (and blurry) shots! (I shudder to think just how many photos and how much organising my friends who actually are proper into photography have to go through after a trip like this!)

Tokyo Tower mascots

Anyway, I have to say, the last couple of evenings going through all these photos has brought back some wonderful memories of my short visit alongside Ryan to the Land of the Rising Sun, and so pleasingly I’m looking quite, quite forward to writing up all the text to go along with the pictures.

In short, I hope you’re ready for some tales from Japan – because looking at all these folders sitting in front of me – you’re in for a lot!

LaQua greeting robot in Tokyo Dome City

Now, where did I put that file with all the attraction ticket stubs and travel guides in it…

The Reason I don’t buy or organise my DVDs any more!

Don’t let these adorable little faces fool you.

No, beneath the thick veneer of absolute cuteness lies determined spirits of chaos and destruction – a torch once carried by Jessica in her toddler years, and one now fully embodied, and embraced, by Emily.

You wouldn’t say it just by looking at these pictures, now would you?

emily lotter in front of craig lotter

jessica lotter with her ponies and a mcdonald chocolate sundae

Cute. Innocent. Adorable. Cheerful. Loveable. All of these adjectives, and more, apply. In fact, they can even double their cuteness by playing together with one another. See, see?

emily and jessica lotter playing together

But give Emily a handful of minutes when your back is turned and you’re at home…

BAMM!

This is now how your painstakingly put together collection of DVDs now looks.

the poor dvd shelf of craig lotter

Sigh.

Spirit of chaos I tell you, spirit of chaos!

emily lotter in orange

The Morning of Jessica’s Birthday (2014-11-14)

Last year Jessica’s actual birthday fell on a Friday, which is of course a normal Vergeet-My-Nie playschool day, which in turn then meant that it was “wake the kids up super early” day!

Sticking to tradition, we spruced up some cupcakes, placed some presents on the floor, and then filed into Jessica’s room singing “Happy Birthday to you!”, which needless to say woke her up with an enormous smile on her face! :)

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Then we encountered a bit of a flaw in our plan.

We lit the candles on the cupcakes, placed the tray on the floor, and asked Jessica to blow them out – only to quickly react after she had bent over to blow out the candles and her loose hair dangled in the flame.

Instant smell of burning hair in the morning. Yummy.

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Nothing serious though, the cupcakes were devoured, and the presents ripped into – all of which brought tremendous joy to our little girl who had just turned four!

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How to Mess Less when Drilling Holes

Over the last couple of years I’ve put up a lot – seriously a lot – of shelving around and about our house. Of course, every shelf requires a multitude of holes to be drilled through the plaster and into the concrete/brick walls, which translates into a lot of fun time spent with my old, inherited Black and Decker electric drill.

Now I’ve come across this tip numerous times in the past, but the point is that it does actually work and thus is always worth mentioning again: How to you create less mess when drilling?

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Well, one of the simplest ways to mess less when drilling a hole is to simply grab a plastic shopping bag and some masking tape and then stick one end of the open bag directly under the spot where you are about to drill.

As simple as that.

The bag acts as  a dust catcher which in turn means more time putting up shelves and less time becoming acquainted with your vacuum cleaner.

(Unless of course you don’t really like putting up shelving and would rather spend some more time with your vacuum cleaner in the first place. I’m not going to judge if that is the case, promise.)

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Anyway, if you want to see how this DIY tip delivered in a funnier, more animated way, check out the always amusing Suzelle DIY and her video demonstration that came out last year:

Related Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/SuzelleDIY

Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm (2015-01-17)

The Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm is a CITES registered breeder and tanner of the African Nile crocodile, a crocodile that is a resident reptile in many of South Africa’s game reserves but which no longer roams free in the country – meaning that this is a great spot to see them in real life if you haven’t done so before!

In addition to its primary crocodile farming activities, Le Bonheur (which means “happiness”) also just happens to be a beautiful estate in Simondium, offers catch-and-release fishing, has wedding and conference facilities, and also caters as a children’s party venue.

Oh, and it is one of the few places in Cape Town that you can of course get a delicious crocodile pie.

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Always on the lookout for things to go see with the girls, Chantelle and I decided to head out towards Simondium/Paarl one recent gorgeous Saturday afternoon after hearing about this Le Bonheur crocodile farm. It’s a great drive out there if you’re coming from our Gordon’s Bay side of the world, though the last stretch to actually reach the estate itself is a quite a bit of a bumpy gravel experience!

The Le Bonheur setup is such that you can spend the day at the estate without ever visiting the crocodile dams (which is a paid for experience), though if you haven’t yet seen the crocodiles before then of course this would be a rather silly thing to do.

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The crocodile ‘tour’ happens every 45 minutes throughout the day, and after paying your money, things are kicked off with a short introductory information session before everyone heads out to the walled crocodile pens.

There you’ll have a bit of an interactive session with some baby crocodiles (we handled six month old crocs, and I have to say, it’s certainly the first time I’ve ever held a crocodile!), before being set free to stroll along the walkway that stretches between the various dams, all containing a multitude of different aged crocodiles.

(Though you won’t find anything much older than three years in there – that’s pretty much the best age for harvesting the leather off the crocodile in terms of it still being relatively easy to do. Anything older and it becomes a major mission because of the thickness of the hide!)

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Because this is a working farm, there are a lot of crocodile leather items on display and for sale – but be warned though – a full crocodile hide will set you back R20,000! (After all, this is a luxury leather in great demand over in Italy and some other parts of Europe.)

The crocodile pens aren’t particular large and you’ll breeze through it pretty quickly, but again, if you haven’t seen crocodiles in real life before then this is certainly a good way to go about it.

Needless to say, apart from the nosebleed that kind of spoiled this part of the outing somewhat, Jess did enjoy seeing all these beasts up fairly close – though not enough that she’d actually touch one of course! :)

Outside of the crocodile pens is then the estate itself, and it has a cozy dining area with a kitchen that serves all manner of foods – though if you are first timers like we were then the crocodile pie is definitely recommended.

Chantelle turned out to be not so much of a fan of the crocodile meat, but I have to say that I did actually enjoy it. Very much like chicken in terms of texture and taste, but with a definite, strong venison flavour teasing your palate throughout.

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On the bottom level, next to the fishing dam, is a kids’ play area, plus a few scattered eating/picnic spots under the abundant trees, all of which opens up to a lovely grass bank which is perfect to laze about on whilst you watch the eager beavers hire some rods and attempt to catch some fish.

A really relaxing and beautiful venue then in other words.

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Jess, Emily, Chantelle and I had a thoroughly marvelous day at Le Bonheur in the end, and if you haven’t been there before then it is definitely worth the recommend – again, especially if you haven’t seen crocodiles in real life before!

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