Category Archives: Photo Gallery

Coffee at Mondeor and a Stroll around Cape Garden Centre (2016-06-16) Photo Gallery 18 JUN 2016

Of all the things to catch, I was stuck at home in quarantine with German Measles for a week. My period of quarantine ended the day before Thursday’s Youth Day public holiday, so I promptly escaped my cabin by taking the kids out for supper at the Sunset Bay Spur here in Gordon’s Bay. (Which naturally they rather enjoyed.)

The next day was of course the public holiday, and so after making pancakes for the girls and myself for breakfast, doing a bit of gardening and DIY, and chilling for a teeny tiny bit, I took the girls out with me for a walk around Paardevlei in Somerset West. (Which they kind of enjoyed, but less so than the previous evening’s trip to the Spur!)

Anyway, by the end of our stroll Chantelle’s shift at work had finished, so we rung her up and organised a coffee date at Mondeor Garden Restaurant – always a hit with the girls thanks to their great outdoor play area.

Despite the chilly weather, the girls ran around and entertained themselves, leaving Chantelle and myself to enjoy some nice coffee and every now and then, steal a sip from the girls’ milkshakes.

Oh, and because we were in no rush to get back home, we then strolled around for a bit in the adjacent Cape Garden Center, marveling at all the pretty flowers and wishing that they would somehow just transplant themselves straight into our garden without any intervention from us at all!

Oh, and an embedded map, because I think that this might become a sort of regular thing for the blog…

Related Link: Mondeor Garden Restaurant | Cape Garden Centre

Doing the Paardevlei Nature Walk around the Vlei (2016-06-16) Photo Gallery 17 JUN 2016

With the breakfast pancakes made, a little bit of gardening done and dusted, a small bit of DIY under the belt, and the shopping mission now complete, I decided to continue our Youth Day 2016 public holiday by taking Jessica and Emily out for a walk about Paardevlei in Somerset West/Strand – something I myself was quite eager to do seeing as I haven’t yet strolled around the vlei either!

The historic Paardevlei site is in an interesting transition phase at the moment, slowly transforming itself from its industrial roots (a long time AECI dynamite factory complex) into a modern mix of small business and residential units (and an ultra modern hospital for good measure!), using its beautiful Herbert Baker and Francis Massey buildings (which date back to the late 1890s) and consequential design guides, as well as the natural beauty that comes from the relatively recently rehabilitated vlei (Paardevlei, from where the precinct takes it name), to potentially become a much sought after destination in the area.

With beautiful walkways lined with all manner of sculpture art, Paardevlei has a little Nature Walk section, the entrance to which can be found right next to the Cheetah Outreach Center. There are a lot of future plans for this nature walk of course, but for now, you have a small trail that runs around the vlei, dotted with seating areas and great views of the diverse bird life that populates the area.

A nice surprise is the large flock of flamingos that call the vlei home, and the girls and I rather enjoyed spending some time just sitting and watching these big birds go about their business in the water. Naturally, Jessica and Emily were very firm in the fact that there was no way we were going to walk the whole way around the vlei, so I had to make do with just part of the trail done!

Oh, and the art sculptures are for the most part pretty interesting too!

Related Link: Paardevlei | Paardevlei History

Baking Peanut Butter Cookies with the Girls (2016-06-11) Photo Gallery 15 JUN 2016

With me still waylaid due to my battle with German Measles, we didn’t exactly go out this weekend (I was still rather contagious, so better safe than sorry). As such, Chantelle made some time in the afternoon to treat the girls (and Cara who had been spending the day with us) to some peanut butter cookie baking – which needless to say went down quite the treat!

All three girls eagerly perched up high on the bar stools, taking in all the instructions that Chantelle was feeding them bit by bit. Getting involved is of course the super fun bit, and before long the girls were rolling their dough balls, patting them down on the baking tray, and sprinkling them with sugar.

Isabella dropped by to show us her gymnastics medals that she had just won, and she ended up joining in on the cookie bake as well!

The end result? Some delicious cookies for the rest of the weekend, and a well deserved Zootopia movie break for mommy and the girls!

Montgomery Pizza Party (2016-06-04) Photo Gallery 13 JUN 2016

Father-in-law Monty has for a long time wanted to have his very own pizza oven, and at long last, following quite a lengthy wait, the pizza oven is in, the preparation work done, leaving only one more thing to do – organize a pizza party!

Although Rob and Tarryn couldn’t join in on the sunny Saturday afternoon, Peter, Gail and Chantelle, myself and the kids joined Monty and Cheryl for the big pizza day, quickly setting to work in creating our very own pizza masterpieces from the smorgasbord of toppings assembled by the ladies.

Monty got the pizza oven burning nice and hot, with the initial attempts at a couple of garlic pizza for starters coming out perfect!

We were working with raw dough, so there were a few kinks to work out in terms of successfully transferring pizzas to the oven and back again, and outside of poor Peter’s overloaded pizza which didn’t quite make it back in one piece, Monty was soon churning out delicious pizza after pizza.

Everyone was enjoying the food and weather, and I was getting quite a kick of rolling around on the lawn with the girls. However, as our run of back luck this year would have it, it wasn’t soon before Emily wrapped her arms around my neck whilst I was sitting on the stairs, I got up, lowered to her the ground, heard a small click, and then watched in despair as Emily wailed in absolute agony, arm hanging limply at her side.

Sigh, there goes her arm again.

So off to Louis Leipoldt Hospital’s emergency center Chantelle and I rushed, leaving Jessica and the rest of the pizza party behind. Although not busy, it took a while to have everything checked out (x-rays included), the end result being thankfully no breaks or dislocations, but rather a painful elbow sprain instead.

So it was a bit of a disappointing end to what had been shaping up to be a brilliant day, but pleasingly Emily’s arm did at least recover during the course of Sunday, so I guess there’s that at least.

(This does of course mean then that I’m rather looking forward to the next shot at the pizza party. Very little beats the taste of proper home made pizza!)

Picnic at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (2016-05-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 JUN 2016

We discovered the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay last year, and following our delightful little outing to the Stony Point penguin colony with Retha and Miguel, we decided that the botanical garden would be the perfect spot for some delicious picnic food.

Which it was.

The slightly overcast weather must have driven off all the other visitors for the day, because we pretty much had the entire garden to ourselves. Selecting a beautiful lush section of lawn, we plonked our blanket down and started tucking in to a simple but yummy selection of Chantelle and Retha organized snacks.

The girls then decided that a short nap/chat was in order, while I missioned off with Miguel and the girls, eager to show off the first bridge leading into the Leopard’s Kloof area.

Sadly for me though, it turns out that the reconstruction of the bridges is now in full swing (the park was heavily damaged by flooding in 2013), which meant that we couldn’t really get very far as the first bridge is now inconveniently blocked off in the middle!

(Probably just as well because it turned out that my two little girls were in fact in NO mood to walk anywhere anyway!)

So instead, Miguel and I strolled around the gardens for a bit, played with the girls on the outdoor stage area, and then summoned the ladies to head off for coffee at the onsite Red Disa restaurant – a welcome which was made even more pleasant by the owner setting down some nice Old Brown Sherry in front of us when we got there!

I guess we’ll just have to give it another shot a little later then, once all the bridges are back up and running. As for a picnic venue, it’s quite difficult to beat the beautiful surrounds that make up the Harold Porter Botanical Garden!

Related Link: Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Visiting the Stony Point Penguin and Seabird Breeding Colony in Betty’s Bay (2016-05-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 JUN 2016

Since the kids, Chantelle and I have probably visited the world class African Penguin breeding colony at the Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay on average at least once a year, purely because it’s a works so well as a tourist attraction and is always an exciting outing for the little ones.

This time around we were playing host to good friends Retha and Miguel Sanchez (who’ve just launched a very exciting, South African-themed travel series called East West) and following a relaxing evening of sipping Jack Daniels together, we were excited to show off this site which neither of them had yet been to.

By this stage, most of the penguin chicks have already hatched, meaning that you are guaranteed in spotting many a juvenile penguin being fussed over by either their mom or dad penguin, making for some very cute sights indeed. As it was, we lucked out when on arrival, we came across a big group of penguins heading down the slipway for a quick dip!

As I’ve mentioned before, the beautifully constructed walkway is a real gem, allowing you to easily saunter through the breeding grounds and get some great views of both penguins and dassies alike. The weather was playing along perfectly, and the girls in particular were quite excited to have aunty Retha and uncle Miguel tagging along as a distraction!

In addition to all the cute and cuddly on display, all three species of cormorant, the Crowned, Cape and Bank cormorant, were out in full force over by the watch tower area, leading to thus a rather pleasant afternoon filled with sightings!

(In other words, a very successful outing indeed…)

Related Link: Stony Point Nature Reserve

Visiting the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden (2016-05-31) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 JUN 2016

I’ve mentioned in passing that I might be heading over to the US in July to attend an expo for business purposes, and as such I obviously needed to pick up a US visa – a story I still need to get around to telling in these pages. Anyway, I went through the process and instead of having it delivered to my door, I opted to pick it up directly from DHL, ostensibly because I wanted a reason to make a weekday trip through to Stellenbosch so that I could wander about the beautiful University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden without having the girls running around under my feet!

Located in the historical center of Stellenbosch and open to the public, the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden is in fact the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa, having been first established at its current site in 1922, but with a history that dates back to 1902!

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The botanical garden is extremely compact, yet it is packed with a massive variety of thriving plant life, with plant species that are both indigenous or introduced. There are a number of theme gardens on the site, including a bonsai-en, bulb beds, waterliliy ponds, rockeries, fern house, tropical glasshouse and arid glasshouses. Many of these theme gardens date back to the founding of the Botanical Garden and some are still used by university students for practicals while others fulfill a purely aesthetic purpose.

There is a small restaurant situated in the middle of the lush trees (the Katjiepiering Restaurant), as well as a visitor center/shop and a plant sales section.

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The garden is extremely lush, superbly maintained, and the plants are well signposted, making exploring the garden a delight. If you are a more serious plant explorer, the University of Stellenbosch has invested in and released a Garden Explorer tool, which essentially provides a digital plant map for you to work with.

There are some spectacular and massive trees in the garden, including a huge California redwood that I took quite a liking to. The garden also hosts a lot of sculpture and art, so there is quite often some interesting pieces to stumble across as you work you way through the site. As you might expect then, the garden is a fantastic little spot to escape to in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy Stellenbosch, literally a small piece of green paradise in the middle of a very beautiful town!

There is no entrance fee, so if you love gardens, then I can highly recommend taking the time to pop in when you get a chance.

Related Link: University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden | Wikipedia

Celebrating Dad’s 60th with Cake and Table Tennis (2016-05-29) Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2016

My dad, Ronnie Lötter, hit the big 60 eight days after I hit 36, but seeing as he was first off for a fabulous weekend of golf in George with his social golfing club, we had to wait a good couple of days more until we could enjoy a small family get together in order to celebrate this big milestone with the man himself!

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That said, turning 60 wasn’t the only milestone being celebrated – the end of May marked dad’s official retirement, meaning that at long last he could achieve his dream of retiring early, a very exciting prospect for mom and dad both!

To celebrate, Mom organized a braai at their place, with Ryan, Claire, myself and our respective families all present, and with a beautiful warm winter’s day in place, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of good food, chatter, and of course cake.

To mark the occasion, Chantelle came up with this fantastic safari-themed two tier cake that pulled in all the important loves in dad’s life, namely the great outdoors, squash and badminton, family, and of course golf.

(I in particular loved the reference to dad’s dead goose – an Egyptian geese that he once accidentally felled on the golf driving range back in the day!)

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Obviously everyone had quite a lot of food on the day, which is probably why it was best that we then spent the rest of the afternoon playing it off with some competitive attempts at table tennis. (The games weren’t particularly great, but boy were they fun!)

Happy birthday Dad. Thanks for everything that you did for us as kids, and enjoy your retirement – you certainly deserve it!

Visiting the Overberg Honey Co. in Stanford (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 06 JUN 2016

Following our refreshing stroll among the boulders and sand of De Kelders in Gansbaai, Chantelle and I made our way back towards Stanford in order to continue our lovely Blue Gum Country Estate weekend away. However, as we entered the outskirts of the small heritage village of Stanford, a bright yellow signboard peaking out from the small industrial area caught our eye – and so we found ourselves pulling over and entering the bright yellow world of the Overberg Honey Co.

Established around 2011 by the young team of Daniel and Nadia Vorster, the thriving commercial honey producing Overberg Honey Co. pretty much maintains a presence only in Stanford, their business bolstered by their Overberg crop pollination service, something I had never actually thought about as being a commercial need before.

The Stanford shop doubles as the honey production house, bee information hub, and honey-related sales organ, and on the day that Chantelle and I visited, we were lead about by the most amazing Stanford local who was minding the shop for the weekend. This charming lady (a former teacher who now works with autistic children during the week) was a bubbly fountain of knowledge, as she proudly had us taste all the exquisite different types of honey they produce (due to the different crops/vegetation they set their hives up around), as well as show us the ins and outs of their honey production business.

Just as the similar Simply Bee product shop that we visited in Hopefield last year, Overberg Honey Co. also has an observation hive setup so that you can get a closer look at the workings of bees in the hive, as well as a wealth of bee information in the form of posters, pamphlets, and books scattered about.

By the end of our extended visit, Chantelle fell in love with Boekenhout (Cape Beech) honey and we walked out with a jar of that, but had we known about their honey on tap service, we may very well have come out with a lot more honey than just that!

A charming little stop in Stanford indeed.

Related Link: Overberg Honey Co.

Refreshing Ice Cream from Don Gelato in Stanford (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 JUN 2016

One of the best Stanford treats that we came across while walking around Stanford during our weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate, was without a doubt the quirky green ice cream shop that is Don Gelato!

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That said though, I suspect that the wonderfully over-the-top Italian owner would not be pleased with me referring to his gelato as lowly ice cream!

Situated at 23 Queen Victoria Street, Don Gelato prides itself on making authentic homemade Italian gelato, using the best in organic ingredients. In fact, Don Gelato has become pretty well known for its incredible quality, with the result being that now in addition to the Stanford headquarters, one can now find a branch in both Hermanus and the Waterfront!

Chantelle and I were eager to taste what all the fuss was about, and after agonizing over which flavours to pick, we made our choices and strolled over to the back courtyard to enjoy the most delicious of treats!

Well, well worth it.

Related Link: Don Gelato | Stanford

Strolling through the Village of Stanford (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 JUN 2016

As I previously mentioned, Chantelle and I recently enjoyed a relaxing (no kids!) weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate just outside of Stanford, which if you don’t know where it is, lies halfway between Hermanus and Gansbaai.

This heritage village was founded in 1857 and is named after its founder, Sir Robert Stanford who owned the original farmland. Situated in the heart of the Overberg, the tiny, relaxed village of Stanford is known for its beautifully preserved and renovated Cape Victorian and Edwardian styled houses and buildings, making it an absolute treat to walk about and take in all the quaint architecture around you.

And that is exactly what Chantelle and I did, first taking a slow drive around the village, before heading back to take a nice stroll down the main road. Although not particularly plentiful, there are some interesting shops and coffee stops to be seen, with the green Don Gelato ice cream shop/restaurant definitely standing out from the crowd! (Yes, we did stop to have ice cream!)

Also, located on the banks of the Klein River, Stanford boasts over 200 different bird species of which 30 are endemic to South Africa. In other words, the perfect spot if you are interested in your ornithology!

However, I suspect that most people either head out for wine or beer tasting at Birkenhead Brewery and the other surrounding wine estates, picnic at the Klein River Cheese Factory, or enjoy river cruises along the beautiful Klein River instead!

Related Link: Stanford

Sea Views from De Kelders in Gansbaai (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 JUN 2016

Following a brilliant breakfast at the Blue Gum Country Estate (where we were spending a weekend in May), Chantelle discovered that she was unfortunately in need of some headache pills – and seeing as the delightful little village of Stanford doesn’t actually have a pharmacy within its borders, we opted to take the short scenic drive through to its larger neighbour Gansbaai.

The last time I had been to Gansbaai, Chantelle and I ended up watching whales from a boat (still need to get around to go shark cage diving!), but this time around we were looking for a far more relaxed outing, and so after a bit of driving about Gansbaai, we took a detour along the sea, heading off towards Walker Bay, to the nearby suburb of De Kelders (driving in pursuit of a rather fetching old Mustang convertible ahead of us).

De Kelders (“The Cellars” in Dutch) is obviously known for its prime whale watching views and the plentiful underground caves beneath the cliffs (including the historically important Klipgat Cave), but seeing as it was neither whale season nor did we particularly feel like looking for caves, Chantelle and I instead entertained ourselves by taking in as many of the gorgeous sea views as what we possibly could.

And yes, we did take a lot of selfies in the process too.

Needless to say, we returned from this particular sightseeing trip feeling quite refreshed and invigorated. What a glorious winter’s day indeed!

Related Link: Gansbaai | De Kelders

Weekend Away at Blue Gum Country Estate in Stanford (2016-05-20) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 JUN 2016

In keeping with my mission to go away at least once a month this year (Jacobsbaai in February, Mossel Bay in March, and Barrydale in April), May proved to be no exception, with Chantelle spotting a great deal on Daddy’s Deals that gave us access to the exclusive boutique hotel-like Blue Gum Country Estate (just outside Stanford in the beautiful Overberg) for just less than half of the usual going rate!

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Named after the 140-year old Blue Gum tree that grows on the front lawn, the estate is both a working farm (olives and grapes) dating back to 1839 and a private, family-run guest house, managed by owners Anton and Tarryn de Kock (Anton, who as it turns out, studied a year behind me at UCT in the Computer Science department!).

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With the kids safely dropped off with Oupa and Ouma, Chantelle and I set out over Sir Lowry’s Pass, taking the coastal route to Stanford, i.e. passing through Hawston, Onrus and Hermanus before hitting that beautiful stretch of the R43 that will eventually take you all the way through to Gansbaai.

Given that we only managed to leave at around 16:00, it was already getting dark by the time we reached Stanford (thanks Winter sun!), making the navigation of the rather long dirt road up to the estate rather tricky – thankfully, Google Maps didn’t lead us astray!

On arrival, we checked in and immediately agreed to have supper at the onsite Blue Gum Restaurant, though not before first marveling at the exquisite, massive room that greeted us – complete with king size bed, free-standing bath, indoor fireplace, and even a private garden for our exclusive use!

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Supper was just as exquisite mind you (note: with prices to match), with a beautifully presented main course and dessert delighting our taste buds from start to finish!

After a good night’s rest, we woke, enjoyed a quiet coffee on our tranquil, private patio, and then headed to the  breakfast room, enjoying our first proper glimpse of the scenic beauty of this lush and well maintained estate  in the process.

As expected, the breakfast was an absolute treat, the staff a delight, and more importantly, one of the best eggs benedict that I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating!

After exploring the grounds for a bit, we then headed out for the day, spending a bit of time in both Gansbaai and the delightful little village of Stanford, more of which I’ll still get into when I finally get around to posting those photos as well!

(Sadly, time didn’t allow for us to make a stop at the Birkenhead Brewery, nor the Klein Rivier Cheese Factory,  but we did however get to stroll at De Kelders, wander about Stanford, visit the Overberg Honey Co., and indulge in authentic Italian gelato!).

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Following our long day of excursions, we returned to Blue Gum Country Estate and joined in for the complementary High Tea – and seeing as no one else had bothered to show, Chantelle and I got to enjoy the relaxing tea room and delicious snacks all to ourselves!

After a bit of relaxation and more exploration of the grounds, we headed back down the horrible gravel road and made our way to Stanford, where we both settled on KC’s Restaurant for supper – with the end result being the enjoyment of some particularly delicious pizza!

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After yet another brilliant night’s rest, Sunday started off much the same as Saturday, with a fantastic breakfast, a tranquil walkabout, and then finally the dreaded checkout and goodbye.

What an unbelievably magnificent place to visit, and in the same breath, highly recommendable. There is no way that you won’t come back from a weekend at Blue Gum Country Estate not relaxed and at peace with the world!

What a beautiful birthday treat from Chantelle this was…

Related Link: Blue Gum Country Estate | FaceBook | Stanford

Ambling along Gordon’s Bay Beach (2016-05-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 26 MAY 2016

I’ll let you in on a little secret of Gordon’s Bay – Winter is one of the best times of the year in our village. The reason being that the wind pretty much goes away, leaving you with beautiful winter sun soaked days that are absolutely perfect for taking long lunch break walks along the beach.

Which is exactly what I’m trying to do on a daily basis now, working at strengthening my knee by trudging through soft sand and water. Could be worse ways to go about it!

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Wednesday I ended up taking my phone along, hence all these lovely sandy pictures…

Aah, now I remember why I love living in Gordon’s Bay!

Jessica and Emily get a Double Bunk Bed to Share (2016-05-24) Photo Gallery 25 MAY 2016

Jessica was 3 when she got to sleep in her own big bed for the first time. Emily beats that by about six or so months because as of right now, the two girls are roommates and sleep on their very own, brand new double bunk bed!

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With the walls now freshly painted by Creative Designs All Sorts, the sagging cupboard repaired with a screw into the wall, Jessica’s old single bed sold via Facebook, and the carpets nice and clean thanks to the work of AJ’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, Chantelle was ready to put her Girls’ Room Transformation plan into action.

First things first, we needed to buy a double bunk bed, and after a little time spent bed window shopping one Saturday (a while back), Chantelle and I both agreed on a beautiful, kid friendly (i.e. low) double bunk bed sourced from Bed Zone at the Somerset Decor Centre. (The same place that we bought our queen sized bed a couple of years ago, albeit now with a new name). All in all, the purchase set us back R4,300, which is broken down into R2,800 for the actual bunk bed, R1,400 for the two foam mattresses, and a paltry R100 for delivery and setup.

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Chantelle donated the cot (and a lot of baby toys, plushies and loads of kids clothing as well!), meaning that Emily’s old room (aka my old office) is now the dedicated toy/play room.

A trip to Mr Price Home ensured that we now had new matching bedding and a couple of cute decor finishes, with the end result making for two VERY excited little girls – both of whom are convinced that being on top is by far the most fun!

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The girls are loving the new setup and so far have taken to the new sleeping arrangement like ducks to water.

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Which is good, because we love the new look girls room too!