Category Archives: Photo Gallery

Travelling through Tradouw Pass to Barrydale (2016-04-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 APR 2016

Continuing the trend of this being the year of weekends away as a result of my lack of mobility throughout December and January (February was Jacobsbaai, and March was Mossel Bay), April saw us head out to Warmwaterberg Spa near Barrydale – one of the oldest hot spring resorts in South Africa!

IMG_20160415_171030 hyundai accent in front of the beautiful scenery of tradouw pass in south africa

For us, the best route to get there is the N2 and then cut across the R324 to hit the R62 – in other words, we get to cross the magnificent Tradouw’s Pass in the process!

IMG_20160415_170123 beautiful scenery of tradouw pass in south africa

Originally opened in 1873 and built by the famous South African road and pass builder Thomas Bain, the Tradouw Pass (which more or less means Women’s Path in Khoi) is a 17 kilometer mountain drive through the rugged Langeberg region. It connects Swellendam with Suurbraak and Barrydale, and is by far one of the top tarred passes in the Western Cape in terms of beauty and engineering.

The road offers spectacular views of the surrounding areas, and numerous lookout points have been added over the years to make the most of this.

That said, this route has suffered severe flood damage in its 130+ years of existence, with several rebuilds occurring during its lifetime. 1974 was one of the big ones, with the pass being almost completely rebuilt, widened in places and a couple of hairpin bends removed for good measure. It was also completely tarred in the process, and to add an element of landscaping to the project, 4000 aloes and 2500 indigenous trees and shrubs were also planted!

Mountain Passes South Africa has a great informational video showing off the pass and its story up on their website:

Naturally, we stopped at more than just one lookout point to admire the view (and take a few phone camera snaps!) – after all, the last time that we tackled this pass was literally at the dead of night!

Related Link: Tradouw’s Pass

Lunch at Southey’s Family Bistro in Somerset West (2016-04-09) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 27 APR 2016

At the start of April I treated Chantelle and the girls to a Saturday afternoon lunch out at Southey’s Family Bistro in Somerset West (formerly known as Manuka).

It’s a great outdoor restaurant/garden setting for families to sit and enjoy a meal together, with a good jungle gym and jumping castle setup to keep the little ones entertained!

IMG_20160409_124901 chantelle lotter at southey's family bistro in somerset west

Everything is nice and shaded, and more importantly, their food is really good.

IMG_20160409_124911 jessica and craig lotter at southey's family bistro in somerset west

Naturally, the camera phone was put to good use!

Related Link: Southey’s Family Bistro

Kids at Play in Pollock Park, Gordon’s Bay (2016-04-08) Photo Gallery 21 APR 2016

Autumn weather here in Gordon’s Bay is almost always pleasant, because for the most part the wind actually stays away! Of course, this means plenty of opportunities to get up to something after picking the girls up from school in the evening, like these play trips to one of our favourite parks here in GB – Pollock Park.

IMG_20160408_172650 jessica and emily at pollock park in gordon's bay

There is now a big wooden jungle gym addition to the park – which the girls absolutely love – and the work done by the volunteer Pollock Park Restoration Group is definitely bringing back a lot of shine to this great green space in Gordon’s Bay!

IMG_20160408_174138 emily in a car tyre at pollock park in gordon's bay

And as always, it annoys the girls to no end when I whip out my phone and start bombarding them with photo requests!

Related Link: Pollock Park

An Easter Egg Hunt and an Easter Friday Lunch (2016-03-25) Photo Gallery 20 APR 2016

This year we had our Easter Egg hunt a little early, setting the girls loose in the garden on Friday the 25th instead of the normal Easter Sunday. This was not intentional mind you – both Chantelle and I had completely forgotten when Easter Egg hunts are actually meant to take place! (No wonder no one else on Facebook were talking about Easter Eggs on the day!)

IMG_20160325_083934 emily and jessica hunting for easter eggs in gordon's bay

Nevertheless, the girls thoroughly enjoyed their early morning hunt in the garden, which is just as well as we had gone to great lengths not to actually HIDE the Easter Eggs. Little girls are TERRIBLE at finding things – even if said thing is literally lying out in the open!

(Also, we decided not to go big on the number of Easter Eggs handed out this year. A change of tactic which instantly yielded results as for a change, no one actually suffered a chocolate overdose over the Easter period!)

We followed up the morning’s egg hunt with a trip through to my folks’ place in Oakglen, Bellville, where we joined Mom, Dad and Ryan for a delicious traditional Easter Friday lunch of homemade pickled fish.

IMG_20160325_114839 ronnie and ryan lotter on the roundabout with emily and jessica at the park in Oakglen, Bellville

And because there was plenty of free time before lunch, Dad and Ryan took Jessica and Emily to the big park for some playtime, whilst I hobbled on behind! (At this point I was still walking with a fair bit of difficulty, so I eventually just parked myself down on a bench and let the rest of them play!)

Coffee at Lorenzo Marx in Paardevlei (2016-04-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 20 APR 2016

If you are looking for a nice quiet spot to enjoy some good coffee and simple food close to the hustle and bustle of the Somerset Mall area, then Lorenzo Marx coffee bar in Paardevlei (right next to the Cheetah Outreach project) certainly hits the spot.

IMG_20160408_142659 craig lotter at lorenzo marx coffee shop in paardevlei, somerset west

Paardevlei at the moment is a bit of a hidden gem, which means that you get beautiful surroundings and not much hustle and bustle to go alongside it – thus allowing you to truly take your time and soak in the dappled sunlight whilst enjoying an excellent cup of coffee at one of Lorenzo Marx’s comfortable outdoor tables.

IMG_20160408_150440 lorenzo marx coffee shop building in paardevlei, somerset west

The coffee shop/restaurant is relatively small and intimate, but comes with excellent service and great food. Certainly a stop that both Chantelle and I enjoyed!

Related Link: Lorenzo Marx

Kidz Corner Indoor Play Center in Strand (2016-04-02) Photo Gallery 19 APR 2016

A nice surprise was the relatively recent opening of Kidz Corner in Strand (near the Gantz Center), an indoor play and party center for children – in other words, a great option for when the weather is perhaps not so great and you need your kids to burn off some of that excess energy!

IMG_20160402_125237 emily lotter on slide and ball pit at kidz corner indoor play center in strand

The small factory space is dominated by a giant, three story, mesh protected jungle gym, fitted out with a variety of obstacles and ended off with some fun slides that deliver the kids into a big ball pit.

There’s also a jumping castle and trampoline, and loads of freestanding toys like hula hoops and balls.

IMG_20160402_125253 play area at kidz corner indoor play center in strand

There is always someone keeping an eye on the kids, and all in all, the brightly coloured Kidz Corner is perfect for the little ones.

IMG_20160402_131240 emily and jessica hula hooping at kidz corner indoor play center in strand

There are a few tables set out for the parents, and you can order some coffee, cake and snacks for you and the kids – most likely sourced from the nearby Smiling Oven. Kidz Corner also hosts kids birthday parties, but seeing as we only visited them for a play session, I can’t quite comment on that.

The girls had an absolute blast and were completely knackered that evening, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be paying Kidz Corner plenty of visits this upcoming winter!

IMG_20160402_200757 chantelle reading to a tired out jessica and emily

Related Link: Kidz Corner

The Paardevlei Farmers Market Relaunched (2016-04-02) Photo Gallery 19 APR 2016

After being closed for a bit thanks to problems with leases, liquor licences and who knows what else, I’m very pleased to see that our local Paardevlei Farmers Market has recently (and super successfully) relaunched – and I am happy to report that it is great to have them back in action!

IMG_20160402_113947 the new paardevlei farmers market shed

I had paid a visit to the Paardevlei Farmers Market at its old location once or twice before, and ultimately despite the great buzz and atmosphere that it brought to the table, I came away disappointed with the cramped and dark nature of the Triggerfish building it was housing itself in.

But all that has now changed with the new location, a massive, easy to find shed that retains that vintage, industrial feel of the first incarnation, but this time with more than enough space and light to actually make this Saturday morning market feel more welcoming and definitely prime it for some excellent future growth!

IMG_20160402_114557 vegetables for sale at the paardevlei farmers market

There’s not a massive amount of traders on the floor just yet, but I’m sure that will change pretty quickly, and besides, they pretty much have all your needs covered – fresh produce, warm and cold drinks, decadent delights, and of course pancakes.

(Sadly though, the pancakes on offer are from Pure Pancakes – who still haven’t got their recipe right, meaning pancakes with too much bicarb and thus a horrible aftertaste/texture on the tongue!)

IMG_20160402_114147 entering the paardevlei farmers market shed

Nevertheless, we loved the vibe, the music, the atmosphere, and am definitely excited to watch this farmers market grow!

Related Link: Paardevlei Farmers Market

The KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden (2016-04-12) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 18 APR 2016

Surprisingly, Pietermaritzburg, capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa doesn’t feature a huge amount of tourist attractions. However, it is home to one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden.

IMG_20160412_144720 magnificent trees making up the plane avenue in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

Situated along Mayor’s Walk, in the western suburbs of Pietermaritzburg, the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden was first established back in 1874, with the garden being home to cultivated plants from both eastern South Africa and the Northern Hemisphere.

A member of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the garden features a century old lane of plane trees, leading northwards from the entrance, and a forested hillside with a number of footpaths. The Dorpspruit, a tributary of the Msunduze River, flows at the base of the hillside.

IMG_20160412_145618 water filled vlei in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

Other attractions include the Insect Hotel, Clivia Dam and theme gardens including the popular Zulu Demonstration Garden, Cycad Garden and a Permaculture Garden. It also boasts a Children’s Play Area, is one of only a few SANBI National Botanical Gardens that has braai facilities. (There is also a small restaurant on the premises, as well as a weekly Farmers Market that occurs on the grounds.)

IMG_20160412_151208 tree-lined walkway in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

As you might imagine, the is a lot of bird life to be spotted in the garden, with something like 180 species already noted as being present!

(One of the most interesting things that I saw in the garden was the so-called paper tree, with bark literally the texture and softness of damp paper!)

IMG_20160412_145742 signage in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the garden as what I might have liked to (I was after all, only in the area due to a business meeting earlier that morning ), but this lush, green and shade soaked botanical garden is most definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area and crave a moment of peace and tranquility!

Related Link: KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden

Visiting Redberry Farm in George (2016-03-12) Photo Gallery 10 APR 2016

I’ve already mentioned that back in March, Chantelle, the girls and I enjoyed a brilliant weekend away break with my folks at their holiday place in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay. What I haven’t yet talked about was the great Saturday afternoon outing that saw us enjoy a leisurely, scenic drive out to George, where we paid a visit to the tourist friendly Redberry Farm.

IMG_20160312_124203 chantelle lotter with teddy at redberry farm in george

Redberry Farm is both a commercial strawberry growing farm and a popular family entertainment venue and as such makes for a perfect family outing if you’ve got a bunch of little ones running around.

There are loads of activities for the kids to do, including pony rides, bumper and paddle boats, bubble orbs, jungle gyms, and even a mini Redberry Express train, which takes kids for a quick spin around the maze.

IMG_20160312_124149 kids play area at redberry farm in george

Talking about the maze, Redberry Farm is also home to the Hedge Maze, the largest permanent hedge maze in the Southern Hemisphere! Grown from over 30,000 Syzygium Paniculatum plants, the maze consists of seven strawberry stations, a 25m underground tunnel and a look-out point to be found within 10,000m of pathways.

Oh, and don’t forget about the strawberry picking either!

IMG_20160312_125119 inside the farm stall at redberry farm in george

The premises also include a fantastic farm stall and tea garden, as well as the Red Shed Coffee & Berry Bar, which serves a variety of treats.

As you may well by now imagine, Jessica and Emily had an absolute blast of an outing, and I have to say, so did I. A genuinely fantastic family outing spot that I’m sure I’ll be visiting again the next time I find myself up in the area!

IMG_20160312_144551 onboard the strawberry express mini train at redberry farm in george

Some more photos from the excursion:

P.S. The food on offer was pretty good as well!

IMG_20160312_132938 jessica making her own ice cream sweets treat at redberry farm in george

Related Link: Redberry Farm

Weekend Away in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay (2016-03-11) Photo Gallery 06 APR 2016

In February we managed to take a weekend break in Jacobsbaai with Chantelle’s folks, and pleasingly, in March we managed to slip in another weekend away break with my folks, joining them for a stay in the Pinnacle Point house in Mossel Bay.

IMG_20160312_164106 chantelle, jessica and emily lotter at pinnacle point, mossel bay

My leg was already a fair bit stronger than what it was back in February, meaning that this time around I was a little more mobile and could thus enjoy my weekend that little bit more than what I did back at Jacobsbaai.

(That said though, I developed mumps right before we left, meaning that I did spend the weekend looking rather ridiculous with my comically swollen face!)

IMG_20160312_170154 ronald and craig lotter on the golf cart in pinnacle point, mossel bay

This particular weekend was characterized by an invasion of giant rain spiders, with the final count of spiders discovered in the house up to something like 12 or so by the end of our stay!

Dad became the de facto spider wrangler, successfully capturing and relocating all but one (Chantelle got this one before it could get her) of the spiders back to the outside world – though one frisky one that dropped down at him did almost give him a heart attack and probably shaved 5 years off of his life expectancy in the process!

IMG_20160313_093839 grandpa ronnie lotter colouring in with jessica

The girls had a blast spending some time with granny and grandpa, and of course the occasional easter egg didn’t hurt matters either. Saturday saw us make the most of some great weather and travel out to George to spend some quality family time at the Redberry strawberry farm (I’ll post the pictures later), while Sunday the weather cooled its heels a little, allowing for a more relaxed approach to entertaining ourselves.

Jess enjoyed her trips on the golf cart (which I didn’t even attempt to drive this time around), Chantelle enjoyed the peace of sleeping without snoring (she was downstairs across from the girls, whilst I slept upstairs with 85% of the weekend’s spiders in my room), and Emily loved all the extra attention she was getting all weekend long!

IMG_20160313_094206 granny cheryl lotter reading story to toddler emily lotter

We enjoyed a braai, watched the Stormers lose a narrow game of Super Rugby, and I discovered Canary Melons for the first time – thanks Fruit & Veg for that!

It was a short and sweet weekend away, with us leaving for home on Sunday afternoon already, but it was jam packed with loads of quality family time – so no complaints there! :)

(Oh, and on the way home, we finally stopped and popped in by the fabulous Tredici bakery/coffee shop in Swellendam – well worth the effort mind you!)

Coffee Stop at Tredici Restaurant and Bakery in Swellendam (2016-03-13) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 28 MAR 2016

It is completely impossible to miss spotting Tredici if you travel along the N2 through Swellendam, simply because its unique European style makes it stand completely out from the rest of the buildings in the area!

IMG_20160313_164250 at tredici restaurant, bakery, coffee shop in swellendam

We were returning from a very enjoyable weekend away with my folks at their place in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay, when I decided that we needed a coffee stop, primarily because I was starting to feel a bit tired, but also because Chantelle literally always says that we must stop and check that interesting place out, but we never ever actually do!

IMG_20160313_164646 chantelle lotter with jessica at tredici restaurant, bakery, coffee shop in swellendam

Well I have to say that I’m very glad that we finally did. Tredici, Italian for Bakers Dozen, is a bakery, restaurant, and functions venue situated in Swellendam. It is styled in a mix of local Cape Dutch elements, combined with the best of chic French and warm Italian styles.

The interior is as beautiful and the exterior is striking, and the artisinal bakes on display are certainly very inviting (and as it turns out, the coffee is pretty good too)!

IMG_20160313_165648 coffee and cake at tredici restaurant, bakery, coffee shop in swellendam

Chantelle was so taken with the place that she definitely wants to come here for a little more of a substantial stop, so I guess then that I had better get to work on planning a bit of a Swellendam weekend away for the two of us sometime in the near future! ;)

Related Link: Tredici

Coffee at The Green Fountain Restaurant in Strand (2016-03-22) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 27 MAR 2016

One of the perks that comes from my working mostly from home and Chantelle’s shift work is that we can often slip out for a lunch or coffee date whenever it suits us (and more importantly whilst the girls are both still at school!).

IMG_20160322_102614 chantelle lotter drinking coffee at the green fountain restaurant in strand

Chantelle had spotted that a new place had opened up next to the McDonalds in Strand (not the prettiest of areas mind you), and eager to see what it is all about, we decided to head over for a quick coffee and scone date – going in not expecting much and coming out quite pleased with what we had found!

IMG_20160322_102650 white and red theme at the green fountain restaurant in strand

The Green Fountain is a brand new licensed restaurant and boutique function venue, which offers well priced food in a pleasingly decorated shell. The real magic of the place lies however in the beautiful garden which it opens out on. Centered around a beautiful steel gazeebo housing a big fountain, the garden is tranquil and makes you completely forget that you are right next to the busy Faure Marine drive.

IMG_20160322_102642 back garden at the green fountain restaurant in strand

There are private seated areas in the garden itself, tables on the patio (which we quite like), and then tables inside for when the weather is perhaps not that great. Being technically a budget restaurant, the food is exactly what you would expect from an establishment like this, but that said, on our second visit when we actually stopped for lunch, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the excellent burger and chips which I thoroughly enjoyed.

So yeah, I’m rather pleased that another nice option has opened up in the area!

And yes, there is in fact a small green fountain in front of the restaurant:

IMG_20160322_105837 green fountain outside the green fountain restaurant in strand

Related Link: The Green Fountain

Trip to See The Cape Columbine Lighthouse (2016-02-06) Photo Gallery 27 MAR 2016

During our February weekend away in Jacobsbaai, while the rest of the crowd were enjoying their trips on the festival wagons, I thought it a good idea to drive out with the girls to go and have a look at the Cape Columbine Lighthouse in the Cape Columbine nature reserve next to Paternoster.

IMG_20160206_130117 driving towards the lighthouse in the cape columbine nature reserve

The drive to Paternoster through Vredenburg went smoothly enough, and amazingly I found the road to the Cape Columbine nature reserve easily enough – unfortunately for me and the Hyundai Accent though, no one had bothered to mention that it was a rutted sand road to get there!

The road was bumpy as heck, so much so that Emily was crying pretty much the whole way, and more than a few times I considered stopping to turn around and head back, but with the lighthouse teasing us on in the distance, Jessica and I opted to push on and endure both the bumpy dusty ride and Emily’s incessant crying.

After a slow and lengthy drive, we made it to the entrance of the nature reserve, where it was pointed out that one needed to pay a small entrance fee to go inside (for interest sake, Tietiesbaai, a popular fishing spot, also lies inside the park).

Problem. It turned out that my wallet was completely devoid of cash! The ranger at the gate laughed when I asked if they accept credit cards, but agreed to let me slip in after I explained to him that I just wanted to show off the lighthouse to the girls. (The crutches next to me and lack of fishing gear helped I think!)

IMG_20160206_125403 outside the gates of the cape columbine lighthouse complex

A lot more gravel and sand road travelled, we eventually reached our destination and turned into the lighthouse complex, only to be stopped by a closed gate – and a sign that very clearly pointed out that the lighthouse was only open to visitors during the week!

Oops.

Needless to say, Jessica was not impressed!

IMG_20160206_130447 no lighthouse for disappointed little girl jessica

We drove around the nature reserve a little more, I took some photos, and Emily stopped caring and started snoring instead.

IMG_20160206_130503 craig lotter driving in cape columbine with a sleeping toddler emily

So we made the long sand road trek back to Paternoster, drove around a bit, and then headed back to Vredenburg where I treated the girls to some play time and pizza at the great Panarottis restaurant in the West Coast Mall.

IMG_20160206_144158 pizza and play for jessica at panarottis

They seemed to enjoy that much more than our lighthouse expedition anyway.

Related Link: Cape Columbine Lighthouse

Oppiwa Weekend in Jacobsbaai (2016-02-05) Photo Gallery 21 MAR 2016

Back in February we found ourselves enjoying quite a good weekend away in Jacobsbaai, having travelled there to attend the fun Oppiwa Festival.

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

All in all we were quite a big Montgomery-related family group that booked out Priscilla’s Artist’s Retreat guest house, with the end result being a thoroughly enjoyable, sociable and entertaining weekend.

With my leg still being reasonably weak though, I skipped out on joining the others on their musician/wagon/wine trips, tasked instead with looking after the girls for the weekend – which translated to a trip to the Cape Columbine light house (more on that later), multiple play dates at both Panarottis and Spur in the West Coast Mall – but sadly, no strolls around Jacobsbaai itself!

IMG_20160207_133439 cuddle cub, jessica and craig at the spur in west coast mall

By all accounts, the Oppiwa festival itself was loads of fun – Chantelle and the others had an absolute blast. On the whole, the weather was good, the company great, and the food delicious!

IMG_20160207_145501 boat parked at the artists retreat guest house in jacobsbaai

(Still, it would have been a lot nicer had I been a bit more mobile! Not a lot of photos this time around I’m afraid…)

Breakfast at Vergelegen Stables with Chantelle (2016-02-25) Photo Gallery 20 MAR 2016

So as I just mentioned, Terrance, Ryan and myself got together for a particularly enjoyable breakfast outing to the historic Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, the food was fantastic, and the views spectacular.

So needless to say, Chantelle was super jealous and thus literally a week later, I found myself enjoying breakfast there once more.

IMG_20160225_102027 chantelle lotter at the stables restaurant at vergelegen wine estate in somerset west

Which really isn’t a bad thing at all!

Related Link: Vergelegen Wine Estate