On Sunday the 18th of November we found ourselves free of a market commitment and so organised a birthday boerewors braai in celebration of Jessica’s second birthday. And blessed as we are, pretty much all our friends could make it through on the day, not to mention the wind free, bright sunny afternoon we got to play in!
Chantelle worked hard to get the place spick-and-span, with me keeping Jessica out of her hair long enough to actually get most of the stuff set up and prepared. As for the outdoors, I got the outside braai cleaned up and ready to use, stuffed pretty much all our chairs around the braai, flicked on the front door fountain that only really runs when we’re expecting guests, and set up our solitary beach umbrella for some much needed shade.
It wasn’t too long before the rest of our guests started rolling in, and pretty soon we were playing host to the Stapelbergs, the Montgomerys, the Storbecks, the Grangers, the Oosthuizens and of course Ryan, who brought along the old Lotter Gazeebo which we promptly set up to cover the rather exposed side of the house where we were all gathered around the fire and enjoying the rather soft grass underfoot (which Chantelle had sneakily watered just a while earlier in the hope of making it a little softer).
Zandea, Evalynne, Logan and Jessie seemed to enjoy themselves on the day, Logan in particular loving splashing in the water fountain, and Jessica who seemed to find a new mom in the form of Zania, much to the consternation of poor little Zandea! And of course there was the usual playful squabbling between our little Jess and the even littler Evalynne, neither of which seem all that comfortable with the notion of sharing just yet!
My boerewors (enough to feed and army) came off the coals perfectly, and was complemented by a delicious potato salad and carrot salad to go with the rolls, followed of course by a decadent dessert of freshly cut bar-one chocolate cake!
Ryan had also brought along his Kinect for the XBOX, which was dutifully set up in the lounge for anyone to play – which of course was all that was needed to coax out the competitive side of Karl as he battled hard against anyone man enough to challenge him at Kinect Tennis.
All in all it was a gloriously awesome, long day of fun, sun and friends, and we are seriously blessed to have each and everyone that was there in our lives.
So happy birthday to you young Jess, I hope you enjoyed your special day (even if Mommy didn’t bake you a cool, customized cake)!
(Oh, and if you are worried that this post seems a little light on the photos, never fear, I posted all the snapshots taken on the day over here, just in case you’re wondering of course!)
Boerwors rolls, outdoor braai, balloons, umbrellas, gazeebo and sun was the order of the day, as all our friends joined us in celebrating Jessica’s 2nd birthday.
And as you can see from the footage below, a great day was had by all! :)
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Chantelle and Jessica left with Retha to visit the Vorster folks and family of Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein, meaning that from Thursday afternoon to Monday evening, I was pretty much a bachelor again. Woo-hoo, untold freedom awaited!
Which is of course exactly why on Thursday evening, instead of putting my feet up and relaxing in front of the television, I found myself spending the whole evening completely rearranging the study. Right. Obviously I’ve been married for far too long now. In-between all of the taking apart and putting back together again of my PC setups, I did however manage to conduct a braai for myself, a little weird the act of braaing for one person I must add, but the results of which were pretty damn tasty!
Friday’s work day was split nicely in the middle by a company lunch, organised by Rudi to introduce the new new company organogram to Touchwork as well as bring everyone onboard with regards to all of the latest developments. The venue was once again the delightful Jake’s in Steenberg, and I have to say, as per usual their food was top notch!
At the end of the work day I decided to stop and take a short stroll along Muizenberg beach, for no other reason that for a change I had the time, and because I’ve never actually walked alone Muizenberg beach before. It was all right I guess, but the weather was a little grey and the chill factor a little to high to really say that I enjoyed it. But at least now I know what’s on the other side of the pavement I normally just drive along on my way to and from work!
Next stop for the evening was Somerset Mall, where I did a little bit of browsing through the book and DVD shops that were still open, before sauntering over to Panarottis and indulge in a sit down meal for one. Comixology on my phone provided the entertainment while I waited, and again I must say, the pizza was excellent and certainly a great way to kick off the night.
Having now successfully killed enough time, I was now able to stroll over to Ster Kinekor, where I easily grabbed an empty seat in the pretty packed cinema showing Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman outing, The Dark Knight Rises. I must say that it was pretty pleasant for a change to arrive for a movie early, go directly to my seat without first waiting outside the toilets or outside the snack lines which is standard operation for whenever I’m there with Chantelle.
As it turned out, I ended up a little too early in my seat for the movie, as a scheduling mistake between the website and the cinema meant that the start of the film was delayed by a good twenty minutes or so. Nevertheless, the movie did eventually start and I was pleased to receive a competent, well made Batman movie, certainly a great end piece to Nolan’s Batman trilogy. However, in the same breath I could also say ‘meh’ about the movie, as I didn’t exactly love it. The “voice-over” effect used to make Bane audible is a big gripe, as is the distinct lack of Batman for a large section of the movie, never mind the just overbearing darkness of the whole affair.
So to be honest, now I’m not completely sure that I should have allowed Tristan to convince me to see Dark Knight Rises instead of the Amazing Spider-man which I had originally been leaning towards.
Anyway, the movie was a good 2 hours and 45 minutes in length, meaning a late exit from the cinema, followed by a drive back home, only to be welcomed by a rather quiet house and a very hungry cat.
So yeah, a pretty decent way to start my home alone weekend then! :)
My good friend Terrance Brown made a surprise visit back to South Africa for his vacation from his JET English teaching job back in Japan, joining in quite unexpectedly our boerewors braai and Stormers Super 15 Rugby semi-finals get together on Saturday.
Needless to say, his completely unexpected appearance utterly stole the show! :)
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It was a fairly busy weekend as always for the Lotter family, though shame, after two nights of only going to bed in the early hours of the morning thanks to baking for orders and the market, Chantelle certainly could have done with some more rest! (Not that she got it of course).
With Saturday being a market day meant that Friday evening was pretty much a write-off, as Chantelle and I spent the night getting everything ready for the next day’s market. What was cool however is that Friday marked Chantelle’s first day of leave (she’s off for about ten days in total), which needless to say is a nice change of pace then.
Saturday morning saw an early departure of the two Getz’s as Chantelle and I made our way through Bellville, Chantelle carrying the all important baked market produce and I the equally important package of Jessica and her associated luggage. Dropping Jessica and her toys off in exchange for Cheryl’s crates of fudge at the Montgomery Clan Stronghold, Chantelle and I made it to Willowbridge more or less on time, set up and began to trade. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too great and being the end of the month combined with some big rugby on in the morning didn’t help our cause, but somehow against all expectations, we ended up not having too bad a market, turning a nice little profit which meant a smile on our faces and happiness at the fact that we hadn’t just wasted 5 hours of our lives!
After the market we split up again, with Jessica and myself heading back home in order to neaten up the place a little as well as get the braai sorted and all ready, while Chantelle shot through to the airport where she excitedly proceeded to pick up the returning Retha, who has come home on a whirlwind two week long break from her English-teaching job back in South Korea!
Back in Gordon’s Bay and reunited once more, Retha was essentially re-introduced to Jessica, I got the fire on the go, and after that the wine flowed freely and we enjoyed a great evening of playing catch up, discussing all manner of topics, and enjoying a fairly tasty, genuine South African traditional meal.
Sunday wasn’t much of a change of pace, as Chantelle spent the morning rushing around to complete Claire’s order, before we could finally break free from the house and take a drive through to leafy old Constantia, where we joined up with Claire and Riley who were hosting a big family and friends picnic at their house in honour of Riley’s recent birthday. For the most part the weather played along, and it turned out to be a thoroughly relaxing afternoon of eating snacks, playing with the kids, and catching up on all the family gossip. As it turned out, Derrick and Lana had made a surprise stop in at Bellville via their extended holiday trip, and thus ended up at Claire’s place as well – certainly an unexpected but pleasant bonus in other words then!
(Unfortunately Pops couldn’t make it to the big shindig as he was tied down at work, but I assume that the necessary steps were taken to ensure some snacks filtered off home to him…)
Anyway, the evening was spent back at home, tidying up the house, relaxing on the couch, and then finally ending with Chantelle and I snuggling together to watch the thoroughly engaging and entertaining, feel good movie that is “We Bought a Zoo”. (Which is now highly recommended if you’re looking for a nice family friendly DVD to rent by the way!).
And that in a nutshell (well not really in a nutshell mind you), was my weekend.
And now you know.
What a pleasant weekend this past weekend was, what with it being our first “normal” weekend in literally months! Our new schedule of doing three markets in a month, two of those being handled by Cheryl and myself on Chantelle’s work weekends, meant that this weekend was a proper weekend off for the Gordon’s Bay Lotter clan, and so we tried to make the most of it by spending time together as a family.
Friday evening kicked off with Chantelle’s folks making the trip through to our house in order to spend some quality time with Jessica, followed by a delectable pork chop meal that Chantelle whipped up using her shiny new Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals recipe book! It was a laid back, enjoyable visit, Jessica was as cute as a button, and at the end of it all (i.e. after Monty and Cheryl’s departure), Chantelle and I rewarded ourselves with a good night’s sleep! :)
Saturday morning I darted out to get the preliminary tools needed in order to break out and replace the expired lock mechanism on our front door security gate, though I opted to hold back on buying an actual replacement lock on this initial trip, just so that I could make sure of the exact dimensions of the old lock after successfully removing it first.
After a lengthy (but successful – yay, for birthday money, so many shiny new things for my toolbox!) trip to Builders’ Warehouse, I arrived back home to tag with Chantelle as she hit Pick ‘n Pay and Spar in order to secure the ingredients necessary for making our afternoon bring and braai with the friends a success, while I stayed at home to look after Jessie (who decided that this was the perfect time for a nap anyway).
Of course, when I say friends, I mean only Trish and Karl, as it turned out that this was a particularly bad weekend to invite the buddies over – Damen, Michelle and Logan were sick and in hospital, Evan, Natasha and Evalynne were sick (plus one trip to the hospital), Ryan was away in Mossel Bay on a golf tour with Dad, and Dean was at work, while Zania was back home with a sick Zandea! (And of course, Terrance remains firmly planted in Japan).
Regardless of this though, we went ahead with the braai, which turned out to be a really enjoyable afternoon visit, with Jessica being on her cutest behaviour, Karl and Trish happily entertaining her while the indoor braai kept everything nice and toasty, and for a change, all of the food turning out pretty damn delicious – i.e. Karl took over the braai from me!
We finished up the visit with some heated four-man Blur racing battles (thanks for the loan of the extra controllers Ryan), the result of which was Trish wanting to murder me more than once, Jessica doing her best to distract Karl at every twist and turn, and Chantelle biting back her lip in order to keep her ultra competitive nature in check! :)
(And yes, I made sure that I stayed up the whole night to watch the Champions League finally run its course, thought truthfully I was a bit disappointed at Chelsea stealing the title on the night).
Sunday was just the three of us, and with the weather being as gloomy as it was, we headed out to Builders’ Warehouse to get the replacement lock (drilled out the broken one just fine, but damn it, now I need to lay my hands on a metal file in order to widen the slot by a millimetre or so for the new one!), followed by some winter clothes shopping at the Mall for young Jessica. We looked around for a new DVD rack (our old one is filled to the brim), and eventually decided to pop in for an early lunch at the always kid-friendly Spur – though I don’t think Jessie could quite make out what to do with the big bunch of crayons our waitress handed over to her!
Afternoon was filled with chores and a well-timed nap for the three of us, before we made another mini-excursion out to Strand, to point and babble at each passing seagull unlucky enough to find itself in Jessica’s visual range, and also to partake in the Belgium Waffle House’s menu that Chantelle had been so keen to give a spin.
The evening was finally capped off with Jessica and I watching the Madagascar DVD that I had just received from Claire and Ryan (one of the six DVDs in my birthday pack from the two of them!), while Chantelle slaved away in the kitchen, cleaning up and baking shortbread and Turkish Delight for the orders going out this week.
Soup for supper, more baking while watching first Idols and then X-Factor for Chantelle, while I set about tidying up after the weekend, and knocking a couple of blog posts out before the sultry, seductive song of Club Pillow struck again…
Having not seen Jessica for a whole week now was simply far too much, so for this weekend past I hatched a plan which saw me spend time with her both Saturday and Sunday, thereby scratching the itch and making it a little easier to make it through the next week that she continues her stay with Oupa and Ouma out in Bellville, whilst the creché remains closed for their year-end break.10
Whilst Friday night was pretty much dominated by the awesome XBOX 360 game that is Vanquish (Chantelle is working bloody late at the guest house at the moment, stupid In Season period!), Saturday was a different story, when after a decent sleep I arose and gathered everything I needed for my morning outing.
My plans did receive a little bit of a setback when I realised that I had allowed Chantelle to go into work with her car instead of mine, a problem because my baby car seat is currently inhabiting Monty’s Tucson, thus of no use to me. Luckily this was easily resolved by a quick trip through to the guest house where I switched keys with Chantelle, jumping into her little green Getz and shooting through to Bellville where I met up with Pops and Ryan at the Bellville Lotter Stronghold.
A quick check and pack of the boot, and we were off in Dad’s Lexus SUV, heading straight to Wagner’s Golf Academy in Durbanville, where our mission for the afternoon would be a full 18 holes of their not quite so easy and fairly technical little mashie course.
Seeing as neither Ryan nor Dad have ever played at Wagner’s before, I was at a slight advantage having played there once before (in my previous disastrous outing with Robert where he wiped the floor with me as I continued to whack, and lose, balls left, right and centre!), a fact that I seemingly made use of as I managed to win the first nine holes by a shot and tie for first on the back nine, making me overall winner of the day (with dispute coming from Ryan’s corner. In case you’re wondering, the score was a not so stellar 39 on the front and 40 on the back. Luckily for me, neither Ryan nor Dad fired on all cylinders from the get go!).
Last time I tried to play everything with my pitching wedge, a problem because I wasn’t able to extract much lift out of it. This time however it was sand wedge pretty much all of the way, generating enough loft for me and leading to some pretty nice shots, backed up with putting which for a change wasn’t too horrible at all! For the three hours that we were there in the light breeze and blistering sun, I only managed to lose a single ball, something I’m quite chuffed when taking my last visit to Wagners in consideration!
Anyway, following our successful late morning/afternoon out, next stop for me was a pick up of Jessica from Oupa and Ouma’s house, where I was quite pleased to find that Jess still remembered her old man, breaking into a huge smile when I walked in by the door. (Apparently, she didn’t do this when Chantelle went to visit her during the week, going even so far to get a little upset when Mommy wanted to hold her! Shame, Chantelle was pretty devastated about that!)
Back at my folks’ place, it was a quick bite to eat, before a change into swimming costumes for the whole family, and into the pool where Mom, Pops, Ryan, Jessie and I had a complete ball, frolicking around in the water for well over an hour!
A yoghurt later and it was out for the count for a now dry but exhausted Jessica, while the folks and I wiled away the afternoon by watching golf and tennis, waiting for the little one to wake up so that we could get free (and cute) entertainment once more!
As all good things tend to do, the day did eventually come to an end, and so I dutifully deposited young Jess Jess back with Oupa and Ouma, before hitting the road back to Gordon’s Bay, where I patiently waited the late return of Chantelle from work (with more Vanquish).
Sunday was braai day, as Monty, Cheryl and Rob brought Jessica through to come and braai with us in the early afternoon during Chantelle’s split. Once again it was a scorcher of a day, and for some or other reason I made the silly mistake of braaing using the inside braai. Not my brightest of moments and needless to say, I suffered for it! :)
Anyway, regardless of that, the meat came out delicious as we crowded around the little air conditioner in the lounge, enjoying a great meal and great company, as well as exceptional entertainment courtesy of the always cute as a button Jess!
Eventually it all had to come to an end though, as Chantelle returned to work for her late shift, sparking the return of the Montgomery Clan with Jessica to Bellville, leaving me on mop up duty and then with just enough time to blast away plenty more Russian RIs in the excellent Vanquish on the XBOX 360! (Oh, and maybe I squeezed in a bit of blogging here and there as well.)
So yeah, after reading all of the above, definitely a good weekend that was had, even if wifey was on duty for most of it! :)
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Ugh, it had to eventually come to an end, but of Tuesday 3rd of January 2012, I find myself firmly back behind the keyboard, banging out fresh new SurveyThumb code for my wage masters over at Touchwork. In truth, I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks or so off, having spent a lot of time with family and friends, and just generally unwinding as I recharged my batteries in full preparation for 2012!
New Year’s Weekend was very much a Northern Suburbs affair, with Jessie and I traveling through on the Friday to my mom’s place in Bellville, where the three of us spent a lovely day in and out of the pool, despite the nasty little wind that kept popping up and threatening to drive us away. The evening on the other hand was spent back home in the company of wifey, where we got together to enjoy a delicious homemade pizza over a Eagles DVD after a successful putting Jessica to bed routine!
Saturday was literally Braai Day, and after packing both of our little cars to the brim with all of Jessica’s hardware and software, we sped off back to Bellville in order to offload the little one with all her belongings at the Montgomery Clan stronghold, where she’ll be spending the next two weeks with Ouma and Oupa until the Baby Steps daycare reopens mid January. After settling her in with Cheryl, and then promptly grabbing her away again, it was a quick stop off at the local Spar for supplies, before hitting the N1 to Kraaifontein, where Jessie, Chantelle and I joined up with Damen and Michelle, as well as the rest of our friends who had made the trip through for an afternoon New Year’s braai.
With Damen elected tongmaster and stuck behind the raging fire, the rest of the boys dug out a tennis ball and plank, and proceeded to carefully destroy Damen’s backyard with a hearty round of cricket (in a very confined space). Food was eventually served, before the boys once again peeled off from the womenfolk, picked up the XBOX controllers and proceeded to smash each other with a few rounds of FIFA 11.
From there it was back to Bellville as this time we properly managed to leave Jessie behind with Ouma and Oupa, as Chantelle and I headed out back into the breach, this time to Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Kuilsriver, where we joined up with Malcolm, Andri, Michelle, braai master Gary and all of their collective kids at the Ollewage’s swanky pad. There we enjoyed a fantastic evening of good company, good stories and even better food, making it all the way through to midnight for that all important countdown and many ‘happy happy’ wishes!
Finally, it was back to the Montgomery Stronghold in Bellville, where a tired but happy Craig and Chantelle hit the sack for some well-deserved shuteye, the first of 2012!
Sunday was a delayed start for Chantelle who slept in thanks to a massive headache, but when Jessica and I did eventually manage to get mommy out of bed, we persuaded her plus Ouma to join us for a walk around Sonstraal Dam in Eversdal in order to feed the multitude of Egyptian Geese and ducks that call that spot home. After a successful stroll and having depleted our loaf of fresh white bread, we beat a hasty retreat from the busy feathered fiends, heading off to Tyger Manor McDonalds, where Robert joined us so that I could treat everyone to some McDonalds as a late lunch.
From there Jessica, Chantelle and myself shot off to my folks, dropping in at the perfect time to catch both Great Grans (plus Ryan) at Mom and Dad’s pad. More visiting was had, a watermelon devoured, and then it was finally back to the Montgomery Clan where we handed over Jessica to an excited Cheryl and Monty, before hitting the long road back to Gordon’s Bay, and more importantly, our awesome bed!
So yeah, a pretty good New Year’s Weekend after all then I reckon! ;)
So my year-end leave officially kicked in last Friday (thank you Mr. Public Holiday), and although we can’t go away for a proper year-end vacation (as per usual, it is full steam ahead for Chantelle at the guest house), I am determined to get out and about as much as possible so that it at least feels like I’ve made a proper break from work.
So far we’re off to a good start (well apart from the fact that both Chantelle and I are struggling with a bit of sickness at the moment, Chantelle bearing the brunt of it), with Friday being a proper Gordon’s Bay beach and harbour walkabout afternoon, with Jessie and me happily ambling along under the blazing midday sun – though perhaps for a little too long as both Jess and myself ended up with a bit of a sunburn on our exposed arms! (Needless to say, a) the pram didn’t provide enough shade as I thought it would, and b) Mommy was quite, quite cross with Daddy! Next time, instead of packing the suntan lotion in the pink bag and just leaving it there, I guess I’d better make use of it!).
Both Bikini Beach and the main beach are doing well (though the crowds are definitely reduced this year), with people rather enjoying the sun and unusual absence of any wind – with some entrepreneur even going so far as to bring in a number of fun kids’ rides and setting up shop right next to the Spur!
Saturday was an off day for Chantelle and in an attempt to squeeze even more birthday gifts out of her 31st birthday this year, she invited all our friends out to join us for an afternoon braai, followed by some Uncle Barry’s soft-serves on the beach afterwards. For a change we had a full house (well, apart from Evan who was called in to work), and in the end we enjoyed a great get together in some glorious Summer weather, which was doubly as sweltering for me out in front of that super hot braai fire! (You know it’s a good day when I turn the front outdoor fountain on.)
(Just a note though, while the braai was pretty awesome, the prior trip to the mall for supplies wasn’t so much – I hate shopping centres at this time of the year!)
Sunday was a proper outing as Chantelle, Jess and myself headed out towards Blouberg to join up with Monty, Cheryl and Rob at the famous Blue Peter Hotel, where we enjoyed a rather scrumptious lunch at a spacious table on what turned out to be a glorious Summer afternoon! This was followed by a quick stop in at the brand new super large Makro store, before heading to Bellville for a final round of coffee with the folks before the trek back home.
Monday was spend in large out at Somerset Mall, where we were in particular looking for a walking ring for Jessica, now that she has proved to us that she’s quite adept at standing for long periods of time on her flat feet. We eventually found one we liked (and enjoyed a round of Subway). Unfortunately for me though, on returning home and breaking it out of its box, I discovered that the ring was broken, meaning a frustrating return trip to the mall. Wonderful, just wonderful.
Tuesday was brunch at Hagglunds day, and with Chantelle heading off to work, it was a stroll along the beach for Jessie and Daddy, though this time I played it a lot safer and only ventured out once the sun had finished doing most of its damage for the day.
Right, and now you are pretty much up to date with my outings, and outside of watching lots of animated television and movies whilst looking after Jessica on a full time basis, that’s pretty much what the rest of my leave period is going to look like.
So perhaps not so much a vacation for me after all? O.o