Breakfast at Tredici (The Bakers Dozen) in Swellendam (2018-01-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 27 JAN 2018

So I mentioned earlier that Chantelle and I needed to drive up to George in order to pick up our Accent that was sitting there for repairs a couple of weeks ago. This of course thus meant a road trip along the N2, which, given how early we ended up leaving Gordon’s Bay, also then meant the need for a decent breakfast stop too.

Enter one of Chantelle’s favourite stops along that route – the Tredici (or Bakers Dozen) bakery, restaurant, and coffee shop in Swellendam.

Driving along the N2, Tredici is nearly impossible to miss when you enter the Swellendam area, thanks to the building’s very European styling, its bold black accents, and its imposing four meter high doorways.

Inside you are greeting by the sights and smells of all the delicious pastries and baked goods being brought to life and put on display, before heading through to select a table either downstairs, upstairs, or these days, outside.

Obviously, a good cup of coffee was the order of the day, but as I mentioned at the start, we were there for breakfast as well – and pretty soon we were tucking into some good tasting ‘brekkie’ combinations from their reasonably comprehensive menu.

Chatting to the waiters, business over the course of the December holiday season had been particularly brisk, so much so that Tredici had to even go ahead and set up a little outside ‘On the Go’ container pop up shop to service all the people knocking at its doors!

Tredici is a genuinely nice place to stop, and seeing as the kids weren’t with us for this particular trip, we could actually sit down, relax and enjoy the tranquil pace of life that stems from living in a place like Swellendam for a change.

Always recommended.

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Bonus: In case you are not familiar with the term Baker’s Dozen, it stems from an old European custom whereby bakers would illustrate their honesty by offering their customers more than what the law required – so instead of 12 loaves or 12 measures of something, the customers would always receive 1 extra – hence the baker’s dozen.

Bonus 2: The evening before we left for George, Chantelle and I decided to have Chinese food for supper. Pro tip: The giggle worthily named ‘Wok This Way‘ in Somerset West delivers big time in terms of food, flavour and atmosphere!

Definitely highly recommended!

Related Link: Tredici | Swellendam

Ice Cream at Don Gelato in Stanford (2017-12-16) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 26 JAN 2018

Last year December I woke up one morning and suggested to Chantelle that we take a drive out towards Stanford for a picnic at Klein River Cheese farmstead, to which she readily agreed – basically because she is head over heels in love with this quaint, oft-overlooked little riverside Overberg town, and will pretty much use any excuse to pay it a visit!

Anyway, a visit to Stanford is not complete without a visit to Don Gelato, makers of fine Italian ice cream, so that’s exactly what we did as we wrapped up our day of dining on little pieces of cheese and bread in the countryside.

Only, we were in for a little surprise when we did reach the distinctively green building towards the bottom of Queen Victoria Street – Don Gelato has more or less been demoted to a tiny “ice cream served from a counter” experience!

Well, that’s only technically true.

The Giovanetti family that launched Don Gelato in 2013 always used to offer authentic Italian meals every now and then from the Don Gelato building/restaurant, but obviously that business was good enough to now give it a proper go, meaning that the Don Gelato and its ice cream operation has been shifted to the side, while the main restaurant has been rebranded into La Trattoria – which very obviously is now Stanford’s premier Italian restaurant experience.

Sadly, this then means no more nice back courtyard to sit and enjoy your ice cream in, meaning that instead we trundled down towards some steps across from the beautiful Dutch Reformed church in order to chow down our expensive (I guess because of all the good, organic ingredients that go into making these chilled delights) gelato treats there.

Pleasingly though, the flavour selection of ice creams on offer is still as it was – i.e. great – and the gelato itself delicious, so still well worth popping into if you feel like a treat on a hot Summer’s day.

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Ice creams devoured, it was then back home, though we made sure to take the scenic drive through Hermanus this time round!

Related Link: Don Gelato | Facebook | Stanford

Fish and Chips from the Sea Gypsy Cafe in Mossel Bay Harbour (2018-01-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 25 JAN 2018

I think that it was my folks who originally introduced us to the Sea Gypsy Cafe, one of their favourite spots to tuck into some fish and chips whenever they are down in Mossel Bay (which, given their Pinnacle Point holiday home, is relatively often).

For some or other unknown reason it has now managed to also wiggle its way into being a bit of an institution for both Chantelle and myself, so much so that we now tend to pop in for a bite to eat almost each and every time that we too find ourselves in the general area!

So anyway, two weeks ago Chantelle and I left the kids behind with her folks in Bellville in order to spend the last bit of our holiday driving up to George, where we would then fork over R7,500 to collect our car that had been forced to stay behind for a week at the Kia/Hyundai Service Center for repairs. (More on that story later, I promise. In essence though, it revolves around old spark plugs and coils, just in case you were wondering.)

With the fixed Accent now back in our possession, Chantelle and I opted to not sleep over in George again, but rather drove our two cars down to Mossel Bay for a change of scenery. After spending a lazy day around the Diaz beach area, we did a bit of a ‘taking in the sights of Mossel Bay’ drive out and about, before heading down towards the harbour for a spot of supper – selecting the aforementioned Sea Gypsy as our restaurant of choice for the evening of course!

Situated on Quay 4 along the harbour wall, the bright blue Sea Gypsy and its gorgeous views of Mossel Bay’s beaches and surrounds is admittedly looking rather tattered these days. (Though to be honest it’s probably always been a little… weathered. It just seems to be getting more and more noticeably so with each and every subsequent visit!)

Anyway, looks/first impressions aside, we grabbed an outdoor seat next to the wall, ordered our food, watched some seagulls, engaged in small talk, witnessed a woman awkwardly trip over the foot of one of the benches, and then finally tucked into some pretty good hake and chips. (The calamari was okay at best).

Still, the views were pretty amazing.

(Also, being in the South Cape I very obviously had a Glenhoff Draught to accompany my meal, because as I’ve now very firmly established for myself, I REALLY do enjoy their brew.)

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Seeing as sunset was now upon us, we hopped down the road to The Point, now thankfully devoid of most of the crazy holiday caravan crowd that descends upon Mossel Bay each and every December holiday season.

Thanks to the smokey haze stretched across the sky (from a massive fire in the Albertinia area), the sun looked particularly fiery as it worked its way ever lower, with me managing to capture this particularly cool photo featuring the iconic St. Blaize Lighthouse in the background:

I’m pretty chuffed with it actually.

As for the rest of the evening – we spent that wandering about Hartenbos while listening to a Native American busker doing his thing.

Related Link: Sea Gypsy Cafe

USA 2016 – 14 The Queen Mary Ocean Liner Museum Ship in Long Beach (2016-07-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 JAN 2018

Day 3 of the NACUFS IDEA ’16 conference, and the morning after our evening of Angels baseball watching, Johann and Carl decided to skip the early sessions to instead act as tour guides and take me for some sightseeing of the area. Our first stop for the day: The Queen Mary ocean liner museum ship, moored in Long Beach, California!

Now a floating hotel and museum ship, The majestic RMS Queen Mary is a retired luxury ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967, bowing out of service following the dawning of the jet age (which marked the beginning of the end for transatlantic passenger services on the whole).

Build for the Cunard Line in Clydebank, Scotland, the luxurious (and gigantic) Queen Mary was fast enough to hold the Blue Riband accolade a handful of times, earning the award as it shuttled its 2139 passengers and 1101 crew members on its standard route between Southampton and New York.

During the Second World War, the Queen Mary was painted navy grey, fitted with a degaussing coil (to protect against magnetic mines), and enlisted as a troop carrier, a job which she performed rather well – apart from that time where she accidentally killed 239 people by slicing through one of her escort ships, the light cruiser HMS Curacoa, of course.

(She is also known as having  ferried Winston Churchill for his strategic meetings across the Atlantic a couple of times.)

As I mentioned earlier, nowadays the grand old lady operates as a floating hotel, with guests enjoying a pretty unique accommodation experience that does much to simulate what travelling across the Atlantic in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s must have felt like.

The other side of the business is acting as a museum ship, with plenty of different tour options and packages available. The historic tour is the one we opted for, and after being greeted by our fabulously entertaining tour guide (seriously, this man was brilliant!), our group was guided through part of the ship while being fed a steady stream of interesting information and stories regarding this beautiful ocean liner and some of the famous passengers she ferried across the Atlantic.

The ship is known for its extensive use of wood from all over the then British colonies, and its magnificent murals, art deco styling, grand bars and luxurious ballrooms also make for a particularly visually stunning tour.

There is a big collection of model boats/ships on board (a gem for model building fanatics), not to mention a room (The Shipyard) dedicated entirely to LEGO creations – the centerpiece being of course the giant 250,000 brick big LEGO Queen Mary model ship!

The Queen Mary has also garnered a bit of a reputation for being a ghost ship over the years (thanks to all that creaking wood), meaning that (what else did you expect from Americans?) Haunted Tour packages are also quite the big thing for the operators.

Now I’ve never been on an ocean liner (or any other cruise ship for that matter) before, so for me this was by far the biggest ship that I had ever set foot on, and admittedly, thanks the historic grandeur of the vessel, I absolutely LOVED the experience as a whole.

(In other words, highly recommended if you ever find yourself out in the Long Beach area as a tourist!)

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Bonus: Directly in front of the moored Queen Mary lies the B-427 Scorpion, an interesting Soviet era attack submarine that has been operating as a museum vessel since 1995, going on show first in Australia at their maritime museum, before moving to Long Beach, California in 1998.

Sadly, the display is currently closed to the public, following the discovery of irreversible flooding in parts of the sub a couple of years back.

Bonus 2: I can’t remember exactly what movie I was watching the other day, but I spotted a golden mural, paused, and shouted to Chantelle, “Hey, I’ve seen that before!”. Turns out I was correct – given her grandeur, The Queen Mary shows up in a LOT of movies, commercials and television shows!

Bonus 3: That funny big dome out next to the Queen Mary is currently a cruise ship terminal (used by Carnival Cruise Lines), but before that it actually housed the magnificent Spruce Goose (the largest flying boat ever built, not to mention having had the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever flown) for a while!

Anyway, here’s the map if you want to go find all these things out for yourself!

Related Link: The Queen Mary | Wikipedia | #USA2016

Emily Turns 3 Birthday Party at Kidz Corner Indoor Playpark in Strand (2017-01-21) My Life | Photo Gallery 23 JAN 2018

Continuing the theme I started yesterday of “I completely forgot to take photos of Emily’s 4th birthday party last weekend, so I best upload all the other birthdays before I lose everything to a hard drive failure”, here are some photos I grabbed from Emily’s 3rd birthday party, which we held last year January for all her friends at the Kidz Corner Indoor Playpark in Strand.

Emily was, or rather is, besotted with Peppa Pig, so of course she demanded a Peppa Pig cake for her birthday. Naturally Chantelle obliged (not to mention went to a lot of trouble in terms of the rest of the catering), and from all accounts the party was a nice success – i.e. the kids all seemed to have a lot of fun!

For the family part of the celebrations, we organised a get together around the cake at my folks’ place in Bellville, which ended up being pretty enjoyable too.

There, mission accomplished, these photos are now all nicely safe and sound up in the cloud.

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(Oh, and if you want to know more about Kidz Corner, turns out I’ve written about them before.)

Jessica Turns 6 Birthday Party at Country Mews (2016-11-12) My Life | Photo Gallery 22 JAN 2018

This weekend we celebrated Emily’s fourth birthday with a party here at our house in Country Mews, Gordon’s Bay. For some reason I completely forgot to take any photos on the day – very strange for me, I know!

That got me thinking though. I’m reasonably sure that I haven’t posted any photos of the girls’ recent birthdays to the blog – something I reckon I had better rectify sooner than later before I lose everything due to an untimely hard drive crash!

So anyway, at the end of 2016 we celebrated Jessica’s sixth birthday with a full on party day at our house, the first session of the day belonging to Jessica and her school/complex friends and their folks, and the second celebrated with our family and friends with their kids.

So two parties in one day – turns out it is possible, but man is it exhausting! :)

(For reference, there was a mermaid cake, cupcake decorating, snow globe making, jungle gym tumbling, present unwrapping, happy birthday singing, and of course lots and lots of party packs! Oh, and put-it-together-yourself hamburgers too.)

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They’re growing up so fast these days! :)

Grandma Lotter Eulogy (2018) My Life 21 JAN 2018

My dad’s mom, my last remaining grandparent, passed away at the start of this year. She was 82. As is now the tradition, I was asked to deliver the eulogy at the memorial service, and in an effort to preserve it online for myself, this is what I said…

Beatrice Elaine Lötter (20/04/1935 – 04/01/2018) – Memorial 10 January 2018

Thank you for all being here today. We are gathered here in remembrance and to pay our respects to Beatrice Elaine Lötter, who most of you would have known as Bea, to some of us as Granny Lotter, and to even fewer still, as Mom.

For those of you who don’t know, Gran hails from the Eastern Cape, having grown up in Bathurst before moving on to Grahamstown where she pursued a career as a theater nurse. It was there where she met and started seriously courting my grandfather (and his motorbike), himself a nurse who specialised in working at psychiatric wards.

Following Grandpa’s various postings, the two of them jumped around between Grahamstown, Queenstown and our very own Bellville, with a small family jump-started somewhere in between. Having come from a big family, and now with four boisterous boys to take care of herself, Gran would eventually step back from the nursing profession and move on to being a full time home-maker, as she and Grandpa dove headfirst into quiet suburban life.

Jumping forward in time to 1983, Granny and Grandpa finally settled back in Bellville (shortly after my birth), thereby becoming permanent fixtures in our upbringing – so much so that I still have very fond memories of them playing games with us kids and cards with my folks twice a week, every week, for pretty much forever – first Wednesday evening at our house and then Friday evening at theirs!

Gran and Grandpa had an immense love for the outdoors, and they were almost constantly away for weekends in either their trusty Autovilla or caravan (of which they had many!), spending many of those weekends away in the company of their beloved Tygerberg Caravan Club compatriots. My siblings and I often got a chance to join them on these adventures, which if I remember right were always an absolute blast – probably because gran was known for always making sure that there was always some sort of sweet treat on hand!

In terms of loves, Gran absolutely adored playing games (cards, jukskei and bowls I can definitely remember as favourites) and watching sports – particularly if a national team was involved. She loved watching the cricket in particular – basically, if the Proteas were playing a game then you could always ring her up and be of getting an accurate match update!

Gran was perhaps a natural worrier, but more importantly, she was always willing to lend a hand and step in to serve wherever, and whenever, she was needed. She was always involved, always on some or other committee. She loved her garden, she loved her sports, she loved her kids, she loved her grandkids, and she loved her great grandkids.

And as such, we’ll miss her. Her friends at Eden Park will miss her. Her friends in the Presbyterian church will miss her. We family will miss her.

Hopefully, with the pain finally gone and perhaps now in the company of her loved ones gone before her, Bea can well and truly be in peace.

Rest well Granny Lotter.

USA 2016 – 13 Los Angeles Angels vs Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim (2016-07-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 18 JAN 2018

The evening of the first day of expo was spent eating exquisite American steak. The evening of the second day of expo saw my colleagues Johann and Carl eager show off something even more American to me. In other words, off to a baseball game we went!

Truth be told, I was pretty excited about this. The fact is that I do actually rather like baseball. I played it as a kid for a good number of years (go Bellville Tygers!), and even coached a girl’s softball team late in high school for fun.

(Also, there was precedent to this. I caught a profession baseball game the very first time I ever left South Africa’s shores, meaning that there was no way that I could not make the same effort given the fact that we were now in the very home of this sport!)

Our hotel turned out to be within walking distance of the Angel Stadium of Anaheim (also known as The Big A), and as luck would have it, there was indeed a game on that very evening – the Chicago White Sox were in town to take on the local boys from the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim).

So we bought the tickets (reasonably pricey of course), walked down to the stadium (on the way discovering that this part of the States actually import a lot of flowering plants from South Africa – so, so weird seeing strelitzias along the side of the road!), took some photos, and grabbed some stadium beer, before heading in to find our seats – just in time to watch the t-shirt cannon girls begin entertaining the crowd.

As for the baseball itself, the game ended up being pretty good to watch. Despite no exciting home runs being hit, the Angels managed to run in a well deserved 7-0 victory, leaving the home crowd in quite the good mood.

(Also, I have to thank the super helpful/patient local who was sitting in the seat behind me – I kept pestering him with 101 questions when it came to the stats and abbreviations on the giant scoreboard, for pretty much the duration of the game!) 

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A classic Americana experience at its best then. #USA2016

Related Link: Los Angeles Angels | Wikipedia | Angel Stadium of Anaheim#USA2016

USA 2016 – 12 Touchwork at NACUFS 2016 in the Anaheim Convention Center (2016-07-14) My Life | Photo Gallery 15 JAN 2018

Despite having started off my first ever trip to the USA with some serious Disneyland tourist action, I was of course in Anaheim, California for work purposes – specifically to help man the Touchwork booth at NACUFS IDEA ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS, otherwise known as the National Association of College & University Food Services.

In case you are wondering the connection, Touchwork’s main business focus is providing a platform and solutions in the CX (Customer Experience) space, something we’ve historically enjoyed great success in implementing in the USA university dining services sector. (Our biggest market by far).

Our USA office, led up by Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, routinely hits the dining services conference circuit in order to cement existing relationships and turn up a few more opportunities in the university space, with Touchwork SA occasionally sending someone (i.e. me this time around) up for the experience.

Of course, this then meant finding a shirt and ironing it first (as a mostly work from home software developer, shirts aren’t something I actually own), before making my way to the Anaheim Convention Center in order to help set up our booth, grab a coffee, and then spend the rest of the day standing around and speaking to anyone who shows even the slightest glimmer of interest in what we have to offer.

Surprisingly, it went pretty well, and I pulled in some nice leads for the team, so come close of day I ended up being rather chuffed with myself (I’m not known for being a people person).

This went on for two days, the length of the showcase/exhibition part of the NACUFS IDEA ’16 conference (which itself ran for about four days).

It wasn’t all work though. The first evening we attended the NACUFS event party, catching the finals of the NACUFS Culinary Challenge, essentially a live Chef food preparation battle as what you would see on DSTV’s Food Network channel or something like that.

Asking the question, it turns out that dining services are in fact big business for American universities. A lot of prestige can be found in this function, hence the focus on profession chefs, and quite often this service is used as a class differentiation between institutions!

(Who knew that someone might actually pick a university based entirely on what food it has on offer!)

We also ended up bumping into one of our very good clients at that same party, and as such decided to leave the bustle behind and head out for a quiet supper with them instead – ending up at a particularly brilliant/upmarket steak place (Ruth’s Chris Steak House) where I ate what was probably the best steak of my life. (Mind you, the wine and conversation were just as good!)

On that note, the second evening after work wasn’t bad either – Carl and Johann decided that catching a baseball game was very much something that I as a first time USA visitor needed to do, a sentiment which I (who played baseball as a kid) most heartily agreed with!

Pictures of that particular outing a little later, I assure you.

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So. NACUFS IDEA ’16 appears to have been a decent success, but more specifically for me, was a great opportunity to see how Touchwork utilizes and sells my software on that side of the world, the end result being me given a much clearer idea of what software development our US office needs going forward.

Still, given the amount of tourist things I did along the way sure makes it difficult to think of #USA2016 as a pure business trip! ;)

Related Link: NACUFS IDEA ’16 | NACUFS | Touchwork | #USA2016