Pancakes at Paardevlei, Milkshake at Mondeor (2015-10-03) Photo Gallery 31 OCT 2015

At the beginning of the month, whilst Chantelle was working her weekend shift, Jessica, Emily and I nipped out to surprise her by buying some flowers from the Paardevlei Farmers Market.

IMG_20151003_122036 jessica eating pancake at paardevlei farmers market

The market was a lot, lot quieter than last time, so it was a more relaxed visit for the girls and me, with us picking up a fun toddler story book for Emily and some pancakes for Jessica.

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Speaking of the Paardevlei Farmers Market, I actually received a mail from the organiser Elsje Schoeman regarding my post about our visit to her market on opening day, and whilst annoyed at some of my commentary, she was quite upbeat about the fact that they had secured an official Parkrun association for next year and that they were in the process of looking for a better premises to run the market out of (one of my gripes had been the unsuitable building that the market currently operates out of).

However, things appear to have gone downhill since then – on October 23 Paardevlei Farmers Market released the following to their Facebook page:

“PAARDEVLEI FARMERS MARKET STATUS: Due to the non-compliance of Trigger Fish for illegally selling beer without an on consumption licence, we have decided to retract from operating our market on their premises. We have been victimised, our marketing signs for directions have been removed with intent, we as the market owners were dictated to what and how we can sell. We were promised a building size of 300 square metres and ended up trading mostly outside the Trigger Fish Building. Due to the ongoing bullying by the owner and the enforcement of signing a very one sided contract [which will be also published], we will endeavour to continue with our market in another building. For now, the market will be closed until further notice. Extensive alterations to this heritage building has been done prior to the opening of the market without any approval from the City of Cape Town.”

And given the “strong” character of Elsje (who we had worked under a few times during her involvement in managing the Slow Food Markets – Stellenbosch and Willowbridge), it was no surprise to see this even more angry post come in two days later:

“Luckily social media is a platform to open discussion, and yes, the market is very prepared to face the music for any negative feedback, the sequence of events: 1. we applied for an event at The Foundry Building and was granted a permit; 2. we were bulldozed to trade at Trigger Fish with a contract that was limiting us to grow organically and dictated by someone who wanted to open a market on his premises 2 years ago; 3. on the launch date of the market, Saturday 29 August, someone reported the non compliance of Trigger Fish to the police, a huge reputational risk for us 4. the market was not allowed to sell any coffee, wine or mcc to pair with food dictated again by the current tenant, 5. we sourced our own vegetables and we take the risk at the end of the day, 6. the original 300 square building was promised to us, we could only use less than a 1/3, 7. the times of the market was dictated to by the owner of Trigger Fish, it changed 3 times, 8. we were bullied many times, threatened that they can close the market anytime, 9. they tried to find a reason to work us out when they realised we are sourcing a new building 10. our signs were damaged and removed, the security went into our store room without our consent, 11. R5000 fines were introduced if we exceed our market times, but we were the only ones bringing feet to Trigger Fish 12. this is our story and we do not have anything to hide and carry a very transparent authentic business ethic. Bullied, victimised and discredited is an understatement in the manner in which we were allowed to trade.”

Pity. So for now Paardevlei Farmers Market remains closed, which is sad because I rather enjoyed the closeness of the location. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing what they have up their sleeve when they make their big return!

IMG_20151003_144320 craig lotter with emily at mondeor restaurant

Seeing as Chantelle was feeling a little left out on the day though, I organised for the girls and I to meet her for a milkshake at Mondeor Garden Restaurant during her split, which of course was a hit with the girls.

Milkshake, jungle gyms and sand art – what more could a girl possibly ask for? ;)

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Related Link: Paardevlei Farmers Market | Mondeor Garden Restaurant

Paardevlei and Lourensford Markets (2015-08-29) Photo Gallery 09 SEP 2015

Two weekends ago, Jessica, Emily and I headed out bright and early to catch the opening weekend for two Somerset West markets, namely the brand new Paardevlei Farmers Market and the reopening (following the disastrous storm damage earlier in the year) of the enjoyable Lourensford Harvest Market.

IMG_20150829_101759 at paardevlei farmers market

Paardevlei is a massive 700 ha area of land that used to belong to explosives manufacturer AECI, and which has since been bought and rezoned by the City of Cape Town. The property is home to three heritage buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker, and is currently a mixture of things, including high-end residential units, business units, a Cheetah Outreach programme, a brand new hospital, a brewery (Triggerfish), and a host of very rundown industrial-looking sites – and then there is of course the revitalized vlei itself.

Anyway, Paardevlei Farmers Market, run by Elsje Schoeman, is certainly brand new – and unfortunately it shows.

First problem – it’s quite tricky to find it, given Paardevlei’s size, and rundown, work-site nature (further in). Whilst I love the outdoor art installations that line the newer, developed roads, this didn’t help one bit in finding the actual market, meaning that in the end I gave up and followed everyone else, eventually arriving at the place we needed to be.

In other words, signage. They’re going to need a lot of it. (On that note, they should actually take a leaf out of the excellent Century City Natural Goods Market’s signage approach, who share a similar problem of being tricky to find! I remember this well, seeing as we used to trade there quite often back in the day…)

The market itself is housed inside what appears to be a disused factory building, meaning tights spaces, dark spots, and when there are lots of people milling about inside, a hint of claustrophobia. That said, the live music created a lively atmosphere and you certainly could’t fault the vibe one bit.

All the usual food-based and fresh produce type stalls were present and accounted for, and I’m sure over the next couple of weeks some more craft stalls will throw their lot in as well.

IMG_20150829_101810 at paardevlei farmers market

There isn’t much public seating available yet, and things do feel a little primitive at the moment (though perhaps that is part of the charm), but there is plenty of parking in what at the end of the day is quite an interesting area and not one that locals find themselves ever visiting.

However, the tight, noisy, busy spaces wasn’t ideal for me, my toddler or my four year old little girl, and so we didn’t hang around for very long at all!

IMG_20150829_112053 jessica lotter at the lourensford harvest market

Already a favourite of ours, Lourensford Harvest Market is a much more kid friendly market, and I’m happy to report, the structural changes made following the storm damage is definitely all on the positive side (though I am a little sad to lose the grass area).

The first big change is how you access the market – essentially they’ve now rerouted the parking to a field behind the market, where you can take either a convenient tractor ride or short stroll along the ground road, past the vineyards (in bloom!) to the new main entrance for the market (although it doesn’t look like the main entrance at all – signage, signage, signage!).

Lots of new seating options have been added, the grass area swapped out for a gravel covered one (allows for more tables to be put down), and of course, sturdier roof structures covering the main stall layout (which hasn’t changed at all in case you were wondering).

No fresh produce, but loads of food and craft stalls, and of course, the live music was an absolute treat. There is space, a giant jumping castle field for the kids, and a good vibe – meaning that this was a much better market for the girls and me!

IMG_20150829_120757 jessica lotter enjoying her tractor ride at the lourensford harvest market

We bought a new bedtime story book, ate pancakes (damn it Pure Pancakes, fix your recipe already so that my mouth doesn’t dry out and taste of baking powder at the end of each pancake devouring session), and indulged in some delicious chocolate fudge (which the girls couldn’t get enough of!)

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Oh, and Jessica’s favourite part without a doubt was the tractor ride back up to the car at the end of a ‘lekker’ morning out with my girls! :)

Related Link: Paardevlei Farmers Market | Lourensford Harvest Market

Feathers from the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch in Philadelphia (2017-01-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 OCT 2017

In case you were wondering who holds the current Guinness World Record for being the smallest ostrich in the world, the answer is Tom Thumb, the 127 cm tall, fully grown, adult male African ostrich that finds itself living in Philadelphia, or more accurately on the premises of the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch in Philadelphia (the Western Cape one, not the Rocky Balboa USA one).

As for the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch (which truthfully is in fact around 20 minutes from Cape Town), it has been on the Cape Town tourist map for many years now, with this show ranch offering a great ostrich-centered experience that includes guided tours, a simple ostrich museum/information center, ostrich item shop, and of course a restaurant with a menu that naturally includes ostrich on it.

In addition to the expected information overload, the tour has all the ostrich essentials packed in, like hand feeding, baby watching, ostrich egg standing, Tom Thumb petting, feather scouting, and for the smaller ones among us, ostrich sitting.

I took the girls for their first ever visit to the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch in January, and pleasingly they rather enjoyed themselves (though that could have just been because of ostrich feathers our guide insisted on giving to the girls).

Actually, I rather enjoyed myself too. There was a lot of space, the restaurant food was pretty good, and more importantly, the onsite craft beer producer Gijima Brewery has some rather fine brews.

(Oh, and it was a surprise to spot a couple of cheetahs from our own local Cheetah Outreach Somerset West sanctuary chilling on the grounds as well.)

Also, the ostriches seemed to take quite a liking to Jessica for some or other reason. Lots of feather flashing, courting dances were performed!

As a family outing option, this is a bit on the expensive side, but it does make for a good day out, so no complaints from me there.

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So, if for some or other reason you haven’t come across an ostrich before, this tourist friendly spot definitely won’t let you down.

Related Link: Cape Town Ostrich Ranch

Enjoying the Market at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West (2016-10-09) Markets | Photo Gallery 08 APR 2017

Based out here in the Cape, one certainly has their pick of excellent markets to visit and make merry at. I would however argue that one of the finest markets to be found is most definitely the Lourensford Market, situated out here in Somerset West on the picturesque and art rich Lourensford Wine Estate.

After starting out from a large tent stretched out on a lawn, the market slowly grew and eventually moved into a more permanent space. However, thanks to massive storm damage in 2015, a further rebuild was required, resulting in this beautiful space that Lourensford Market now calls home.

The market is home to a good mix of both food and craft stalls, with both Chantelle and I agreeing that the food choices at this particular market are top notch. The vibe, particularly around the main square (which is surround by all the stalls), is incredible, bolstered by the almost always excellent live music being performed up front.

If you don’t like the crowded hustle of the square, then there are plenty of tables and benches scattered under and among the trees outside the main area, as well as a big lawn out to the back where all the kids rides and entertainment is concentrated.

The Lourensford Wine Estate grounds are however the biggest drawcard here. The estate is beyond picturesque, with beautiful Cape Dutch inspired architecture everywhere you look, a tranquil restaurant and a brilliant wine tasting center, not to mention a coffee shop and various art studios scattered about.

The grounds are immaculately manicured, with flowers, trees, pathways and loads of eye catching sculptures in every direction that you look.

In other words, it really is impossible to come here on a Sunday and not leave feeling impressed by everything on show!

And because pictures are worth far more than just mere words, here are some photos that I snapped on my camera from our visit to the market last October:

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So definitely one of those markets well worth a visit, both for the stalls and the location itself!

Related Links: Lourensford Market | Facebook | Lourensford Wine Estate

Feeling the Vibe at the Root 44 Market in Stellenbosch (2016-11-20) Markets | Photo Gallery 26 FEB 2017

The Root44 (or Root 44 depending on what marketing material you look at) market is one of those unusually nice markets precisely because so much money has been thrown in behind it. (Also, the fact that its surrounds are so damn pretty doesn’t hurt either!)

There is literally loads of seating and chill areas (more than enough to cater for the massive crowds that seem to visit the market each and every weekend), plenty of different stall vendors, evenly split between crafts and foods, constant live entertainment, and even better still, actually roofing which make this one of the more weather resistant markets in the area.

(One of the only minor complaints that I have is that they stole away most of what was an okay kids play area and commercialized it into an offering that is okay if you plan on hanging out at the market for most of the day, but completely overboard in price if you are just popping in for a half hour long visit.)

Whilst both Chantelle and I actually prefer Somerset West’s Lourensford market in terms of the actual food stalls, there is no denying the absolutely pleasurable vibe that you get from visiting Root 44 – thus effortlessly retaining its spot as one of the most popular Saturday morning hangouts in the Stellenbosch surrounds.

(Oh, and have I mentioned that its weekly Parkrun is apparently one of the prettiest in Cape Town?)

We took a bit of a break from visiting markets last year, with these photos from November 2016 being one of the few occasions that we did actually venture down to Audacia’s grounds for a Root 44 market excursion… meaning that we are probably now somewhat overdue another Saturday morning pancakes fix! :)

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Bonus: As always, here is a handy map, just in case you want to figure out for yourself where in the world this place I’m talking about actually is:

Related Link: Root44 Market | Facebook

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!

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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

Walking again thanks to Physiotherapy and Biokinetics My Life 16 MAY 2016

It has taken a long time to reach this point, but finally I’m walking about properly again, and it is all thanks to the combination of a brilliant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Physiotherapy, and last but not least, Biokinetics!

IMG_20160331_125947 22 st. james street somerset west marinda bruwer biokinetics

As I previously mentioned, the brilliant Dr. Peter Hardcastle was the surgeon that repaired the ruptured tendon, and then had me confined to a fixed leg brace for the longest of times.

Once he was happy that we had reached a particular point, he introduced me to physiotherapist Carolise Botha, who got me to slowly but surely regain movement in my leg.

That process lasted quite a while, and once Carolise was happy that the first stages of rehabilitation were complete, she then set me up with biokinetics specialist Marinda Bruwer – also based at the 22 St. James Street in Somerset West address.

Together with Sarah Arnold (Marinda’s intern who I worked with most), the two of them slowly got me back to a functional walking state – which essentially translates into lots and lots of carefully thought out, targeted muscle strengthening exercise.

The results have paid off, and six months after the injury, I’m up and walking again, taking on stairs and even milling about a mountain or two when the opportunity arises.

Which is just as well. I’ll need my full mobility for July’s upcoming business trip to Anaheim, USA!

craig lotter selfie at paardevlei farmers market

(And yes. I now evangelize Biokinetics in case you are wondering – it’s brilliant!)

Related Link: Peter Hardcastle | Carolise Botha | Marinda Bruwer

Chantelle’s Norwegian Salmon Mother’s Day Lunch (2016-05-08) Photo Gallery 13 MAY 2016

On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I took the girls out to go and buy something nice for Chantelle. We did however start our trip by dropping in at our local Gordon’s Bay public library first – the first time any one of us had actually been there!

The girls were quite impressed by all the books, and after a quick story or two (and the promise to sign up for our very own library cards), we left again, battling the strong wind and heading off through Strand to the Paardevlei Farmers Market.

IMG_20160507_114519 Jessica and Emily with the Proteas bought for Mothers Day

After years of not being particularly impressed by proteas and the rest of the fynbos family, Chantelle has since done a u-turn and as such, the girls helped me pick out two beautiful bunches of proteas which would serve as Chantelle’s Mother’s Day gift. (We also stopped at the shops to pick up Lindt Chocolates too, just to be safe.)

IMG_20160508_130514 Chantelle Lotter with her Mother's Day Norwegian Salmon Spread

Come Sunday, despite the fact that she was working a split shift, it was in fact the rest of us who were in for a treat. Chantelle had invited the folks over for Mother’s Day lunch, and with Monty and Cheryl joining us for the day, Chantelle arrived back from her first shift at work and set about whipping up an absolutely fabulous chef-level lunch with the brilliant Norwegian Salmon  (sourced from Gordon’s Bay Fisheries) as the hero of her dish!

(Not to mention the delicious home-made seed bread that she too somehow found the time to bake!)

IMG_20160508_130502 Norwegian Salmon Mothers Day Lunch

And if the main course wasn’t enough to leave our mouths watering, she also delivered a delicious Banoffee Pie for dessert.

IMG_20160508_143434 Chantelle Lotter and her Banoffee Pie dessert

Sadly of course, after finishing our meal and enjoying the dessert, it was back to work for Chantelle, meaning that at the end of the day, it was actually the rest of us who were more spoiled for Mother’s Day than what she was!

(But at least she had her Lindt chocolates to return to that evening…)

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Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 My Life 31 JAN 2016

Last year I only got around to posting this annual year in review post in March. This time around I’ve done a little bit better – we are after all only at the end of January now!

IMG_20150927_130044 craig lotter with kids in the lavender patch at canettevallei lavender farm

Discounting the horrible December that we had thanks to my severed quadriceps tendon and Chantelle’s dislocated toes incident, 2015 on the whole was a pretty decent year for the Gordon’s Bay  Lötter clan.

IMG_20151006_181258 emily lotter in front of the country mews jungle gym

Emily turned 1 in January of 2015, and then very happily continued growing into an absolutely adorable little toddler who, while being incredibly shy around strangers, is a particularly clever, cute and terrorizing copycat sister to Jessica!

Strong-willed, slightly adventurous, and far ahead of Jess in terms of where our prem baby was at the same age, Emily continues to flourish at Baby Steps and I guess that is what we get to look forward to more of in 2016.

(Also, she has the most amazing bed head hair – it literally stands up at all angles each and every morning when she stands up in her cot, with only the prodigious application of no tangle spray able to tame it even in the slightest!)

IMG_20150810_114612 jessica lotter on a tractor at the kids play area at helderberg farm on the R44

Jessica had a good 2015 as well. She progressed well at the excellent Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, also enjoying her extramural activities of ballet, playball and computer classes.

She formed some close friendships with the girls in the complex, and is quickly finding her own voice and becoming a little lady – which naturally isn’t always the easiest thing to have to deal with first thing in the morning while trying to get everyone ready for school!

2016 sees her join the big school, starting Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary (conveniently, just down the road from us). Now in an English-only class, Jess is going to have to make new friends and tackle a trickier workload (something we’ll have to do our best as parents to help her with in preparation for the daunting Grade 1 to come in 2017!).

IMG_20151114_135828 chantelle, jessica, emily at the frozen photo booth at jessica's fifth birthday party at Montgomery Stronghold in Bellville

I think Chantelle had a pretty good 2015 too (discounting the horrible December of course!). Working at Gordon’s Beach Lodge again meant a stable salary and thus more money in the kitty, which translated into a lot less stress and worrying about what we can and cannot afford – plus it gave her a lot more of the social interaction that she had found herself craving in 2014 when she still worked full-time from home.

Emily, while still lots of work, was less so than when she was a newborn, and although not doing Chantelle’s Cupcakery baking full time any more, she did manage to get more than enough baking for orders in during the year to satisfy the creative craving that comes with the feature cake baking industry.

Oh, and then there was the year long looking forward to being bridesmaid and assistant organizer at best friend Retha’s Stellenbosch wedding in December!

IMG_20150715_105748 craig lotter Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

As for me, well I had an excellent year thank you very much (again, discounting the horrible December of course!).

With Chantelle back working at the guest house, I had the girls to myself every second weekend, and as such made sure to fill the year chock-a-block with outings of all shapes and sizes. Looking back through the archive, we definitely fed geese, saw crocodiles, spotted planesviewed lions, watched birds, petted penguins, fed farmyard animals, went to markets, enjoyed picnics, scratched for stones, looked for butterflies,  went for a boat ride,  spotted fishies,  and of course ate loads of pancakes and drank copious amounts of strawberry milkshake along the way!

IMG_20151011_181148 jessica in the air at gordon's bay main beach

Chantelle and I found ourselves enjoying more than a couple of weekends away as well, trips that included a weekend away in Jacobsbaai for the annual Oppiwa music and wine festival, a romantic stay in Franschhoek in celebration of my 35th birthday,  a family stay in the picturesque Montagu, and a getaway to Hopefield to view the West Coast wild flowers!

(We even sneaked away for some warm water soaking time at the Caledon Hotel, Casino and Spa – though that was just for the day so it doesn’t count!)

IMG_20150708_153824 chantelle lotter with jess and emily at die kloof padstal farm stall in montagu

I also enjoyed a couple of amazing first time experiences, the top of which definitely included whale watching in Gansbaai aboard the Ivanhoe, not to mention my first ever jaunt behind the controls of a small aircraft above the Helderberg Basin!

IMG_20150606_124240 craig lotter standing next to the stellenbosch flying club cessna 172 - ZS-SLM he just flew in 1

Being a dad to small kids remains a full time job, so I again didn’t find myself picking up on any hobbies in 2015, though I did do a bit of the weight loss thing, and found myself back at gym – though according to Chantelle it’s the most demoralizing thing that she’s ever seen!

Also, I (surprisingly) ended up playing a fair bit of console games during the year – enjoying a particularly successful run in our every month or so men’s FIFA battle royale I might add!

(Plus, my blog did win an African Blogger award – which kind of felt pretty nice at the time).

IMG_20150510_115411 craig lotter tasting wine at la provence wine estate

On the career front, I found myself man alone as Touchwork’s only developer for the year, taking my role back down to that of programmer and systems architect – but it did come with a pay rise and the perk of being able to work from home for four days of the week, something that I really appreciate because it makes looking after the girls a lot easier given Chantelle’s shift work.

I got a lot of work achieved in this more focused mode though, meaning that Kinetica got a whole lot more modules bolted on to it by the end of the year. We have since successfully started using it in the States, phasing out our legacy product in the process, and also launched it as an Exhibition visitor, exhibitor and delegate registrations system – a use case that saw me spend my 35th birthday in Sandton at the convention centre with the rest of the Hypenica team for their big African Construction Week expos!

craig lotter, chantelle lotter, jessica lotter, and emily lotter - family photo at Mountain Streams Nursery

So yeah, 2015 was a good year by all accounts and on all fronts (not counting December of course!).

Looking ahead, 2016 should probably be very much the same then – which is a good thing if you ask me. That said, for it to properly kick off I probably first need to learn to walk without a crutch and brace again…