Chantelle spotted something very cool on Facebook a little while ago – a wine and lavender farm in Stellenbosch had put out the invite that if anyone wanted to, they were more than welcome to come through and take some photos in the farm’s lavender fields before they were to be harvested.
So, at the end of September, we rounded up the kids and convinced Damen and Michelle, and Evan and Natasha joined us on our little photographic adventure (with the promise of a braai to follow).
Canettevallei is a wine and lavender farm that lies tucked away in Stellenboschkloof, a quiet valley situated about 10 kilometers outside Stellenbosch.
In 2005 the owners decided to plant lavender in front of their house on the farm, which then led to a lavender business, which in turn influenced the decision to plant a further three hectares of lavender.
Today Canettevallei grows lavender using organic practices to develop unique, farm fresh lavender products for body, gifts and weddings, with their main product lines being lavender essential oil and lavender ‘rice’, the sweet-smelling dried flowers of the lavender plant.
Despite the weather predictions for bad weather on the day, the morning weather was actually very great, and so we enjoyed an idyllic drive out to this very scenic area, meeting up with the Oosthuizens and Grangers there.
The kids enjoyed a stroll around some of the fields, and we even had two of the local farm dogs join us for the walk (though technically, I’m not entirely sure we were meant to be there – it was after all a Sunday, the lavender shop was closed, and the place seemed pretty deserted… other than the people sitting on their porch in the distance, enjoying a Sunday brunch and warily watching these strangers traipse all over their land!).
Oh, and I spotted a lone cow, chilling by itself under a tree by the small stream.
But that’s not important.
The lavender field was as most things are in real life, smaller than what it appears in photos, but it was more than sufficient for us to take a multitude of cute pictures of all the kids in this beautiful swathe of purple.
(Also, amazingly, no bee stings were recorded, despite all the naturally attracted bees!)
After lots and lots (and lots) of photos were taken, and everyone was a bit grumpy of having to pose for far too many shots, we exited the field, made our way back to the cars and headed home towards Gordon’s Bay – just in time as it turned out – because as we finished up, the clouds raced in and the rain started pouring.
Talk about perfect timing!
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The braai was good, the kids played together well, and lots of FIFA was played. Oh, and a decent amount of Southern Comfort (with Lime) and Jack Daniels disappeared in the process!
Related Link: Canettevallei Lavender
This post is going up for the express purpose of appearing on my Facebook feed and thus appearing in the timelines of the people that I play FIFA with, in an effort to goad them just a little and in so doing, action our next FIFA with the Boys night.
This picture in particular will help with that goading goal:
In reality, we have played very little FIFA this year, and had even fewer FIFA evenings to boot, though in retrospect I have had a particularly good year in terms of palming in at least one trophy per get together. Not bad at all, and annoying enough to the others to legitimately paint a large target on my back. (Activity like this blog post, doesn’t help either :P)
While we are still playing FIFA 15 on the XBOX 360 for our evenings, there has been a shift in our play location, eschewing Ryan Lotter’s bachelor pad in favour of newcomer Michael Garret’s comfortable setup. Ryan is also playing less with us than before, with the slack being picked up by a capable Kurt Lehner – who is more than able to bag a trophy on the night if needs be:
(Note my inclusion in this winner’s photo once again).
Damen Oosthuizen still joins us whenever he can, Dean Stapelberg is a rarity (Karl-Heinz Storbeck even more so), and Evan Granger and Michael Garret continue their quest to actually win a trophy and not lose out by a single point or technicality as the case has been the last couple of evenings. (Terrance Brown for some inexplicable reason still refuses to fly down from Japan and join us for a game night)
The FIFA evening themselves continue their epic form in terms of length – we usually start around 19:00 and play straight through to 00:00 – ridiculous if you consider that I then still have to drive back to Gordon’s Bay and work the next day. Still, I am rather enjoying my victorious streak at the moment…
(There, job done. I now eagerly look forward to checking my inbox come Monday morning!)
It’s ridiculous that I’m still busy posting photo sets from this past weekend, but I guess it just goes to show that I really wasn’t lying when I said we had a jam-packed weekend on our hands! In case you haven’t been following, Saturday saw us feeding ducks, eating pancakes at the Root 44 market, playing with animals (and tarantulas!) at Giraffe House, date night supper at Cocoa Wah Wah in Rondebosch, and if that wasn’t enough, capping it all of with Nik Rabinowitz’s What the Eff at the Baxter Theater.
Sunday saw us eat cheesecake at Lourensford Harvest Market, and getting something to drink at Stodels in Bellville. And before we capped off the weekend with supper with the Montgomery Clan, our last big activity for Sunday was a outdoor picnic with the ducks of Sonstraal Damn.
Except, that isn’t quite how it went down…
You see, it turns out that Sonstraal Dam wasn’t all that inviting on Sunday afternoon, with a miserable wind kicking up sand and dust and in general just making for a rather unpleasant outdoor experience.
So a new plan was hastily hatched, and with the agreement of Damen, Michelle, Evan, Natasha, Dean and Zania, we phoned up Andri and Malcolm (who live down the road) and asked if we could instead set up picnic shop in their backyard garden.
Happily they said yes, and so the next couple of hours was spent on blankets, dipping into picnic baskets and chatting about life, work, and whatever else sprung to mind – surrounded by vibracrete walls and the kids jumping the socks off of the trampoline!
In other words, a great example of making lemonade when life hands you lemons! ;)
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Having won both our FIFA trophies (for best player and best goalscorer) in the last FIFA with the Boys get together at the end of last year, and then sadly relinquishing the best player trophy in our last meeting (and first of 2015), I was needless to say looking quite forward to our second encounter for this year, eager to regain the glory that is owning both trophies.
As per usual, the meeting point on Monday afer work was Ryan’s bachelor’s pad, and with two brand new competitors entering the fray (Michael Garrett and his brother Jeff) – making for six trophy challengers on the night – competition was guaranteed to be fierce.
(However, what wasn’t fierce was the amount of snacks available on the night. It starts getting weird when the guys all start talking diets and losing weight…)
Anyway, we got down to action pretty much as soon as there were enough people to fill the slots, and with my calculated scoring and matchmaking patterns guiding the plays, what followed was an intense evening of kicking about a virtual ball, scoring some brilliant goals, and even more importantly, chuckling at the insane amount of bad luck that newcomer Michael was experiencing (so, so many unlucky red cards and goal post misses!).
With the skill levels in the room all pretty much on par, the games were particularly tight and there were no big scores and no big win margins. It was tight, sweaty stuff, and at midnight when the final whistle blew, the tally up kicked off in earnest.
15 games were played on the evening, with each player (Damen Oosthuizen, Evan Granger, Ryan Lotter, Jeff Garrett, Michael Garrett and myself) having played 10 games each, and quite fairly, every single player played with every single other player two times as a team, meaning the stats were all fair and above board.
Make no mistake, the winning margins for both best player and best goal scorer were tight, well less than a handful of points/goals in it!
Which of course then makes it PARTICULARLY sweet that I walked away with BOTH trophies on the night. (Insert smug, grinning face here!)
It’s a pity about the poor light in Ryan’s kitchen at midnight. Even my selfie didn’t come out too great – too many shiny structures kept photo bombing me… ;)
So a couple of days ago I bragged about how I had snagged both trophies in our final FIFA boys night of 2014, going even so far as to let the competition know that I was now in serious practice mode – not to mention the fact that I then went right ahead and called them out for yet another session.
As it turned out, I didn’t have long to wait…
One of the very first things to happen at Emily’s awesome birthday pool party on Sunday was the boys getting together and deciding that a FIFA night was to be held the very next evening, at Ryan’s pad, usual scoring rules apply. Heck, even Dean was on the cards for the night, and so come Monday evening I found myself driving straight through to Bellville following a stint in the Westlake office for the day.
Ryan whipped up some Sloppy Joes for supper, and then it was on to FIFA, with just enough time for the two of us to get in a moment’s practice before the rest of the horde started falling in. Dean, Damen, Evan, Ryan and myself made five, and so after some complicated tables and match-ups were planned and jotted down, it was down to the business of kicking a virtual ball around and scoring as many points as possible! (Without appearing overly selfish of course).
Amazingly, despite not having played FIFA in absolute years, Dean held his own, and was certainly not the dead weight that we all had imagined he would be – in fact, pretty much all but two games were particularly tight on the evening, and rivalries were pretty fierce right from the get go!
We finished up just after 23:00, well before we usually call things quits on nights like these (but hey, Sunday had been a long day and the wives were naturally a bit antsy of the short notice), and after a quick tally (no really, it was pretty quick thanks to my awesome tables), I revealed that I had in fact NOT retained both trophies despite all my prior bragging – in the end, Ryan once again scooping up the award for the player with the most win points (but by a really narrow margin), meaning no more glorious trophy for me.
However, not all was lost for me, as in the end I did walk away with the trophy for scoring the most goals on the night – only made possible by the final (and very one-sided) match where Evan and I defeated Damen and Dean by five goals to zero, four of which were scored by me. Those four were all that I needed to take the lead and thus walk away with the night’s Golden Boot! (Ryan was shattered – up until that point he had looked a sure bet to take home both trophies on the night!)
There was some controversy (we didn’t score one of Ryan’s goals on the basis of too much of a deflection – change of direction – that caused the keeper to miss the ball), many tight, tight matches (i.e. lots of edge of couch, dripping in sweat, tension), and of course, some fantastically worked goals – all in all making for yet another excellent night of FIFA on the Xbox!
My only regret? That none of my training seemed to make one damn ounce of a difference on the night! Sigh, back to the drawing board then…
I have to say, I’m thoroughly loved the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Whilst I certainly enjoyed the 2010 edition back in our own backyard, last year’s edition in Brazil seemed to be nothing but continued improvement upon improvement over the 2010 version. Exciting goal line technology, cool little innovations like the referee’s temporary line spray, and of course the SUPER exciting football itself!
So many big upsets, so many goals, and so, so many spectacular pieces of football mastery on display – plus, a very deserved Germany walking away as the ultimate champs!
Of course, watching the football over this period came with its own unique challenges: If I wasn’t away on a weekend out in Piekenierskloof, then this would happen whilst trying to watch the footie in my lounge…
Needless to say, Chantelle was rather pleased when the month of soccer was FINALLY over!
Somewhat related, 2014 also saw a lot of FIFA on the XBOX 360 take place, with a more or less formalized competition now in place for the likes of Evan, Damen, Ryan and myself. I’ve masterfully converted some old karate trophies into stunning football trophies, and every so often the guys will get together at Ryan’s place (being a bachelor has its perks), throw in some snacks, and battle it out in a two-on-two rotational basis which sees us recording points for every win and every goal scored.
Although I showed some early promise in the year, the damn trophies remained completely out of my grasp for absolute ages, with Ryan, Evan and Damen all taking turns in holding the trophies aloft and basking in the glory and bragging rights that comes with coming out on top after a long evening of digital ball kicking.
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However, my luck did eventually turn on the very last FIFA gathering for 2014 before everyone split off on their holidays, when I managed to capture not one, but BOTH trophies on the night! (Moment immortalized below – you can see that I take better photos with my camera than what Evan does…)
Anyway, for the longest time we’ve been sticking it out with FIFA 13 on the XBOX 360, but towards the end of last year Ryan picked up the new FIFA 15, prompting me to also pick it up a little while later (on a nice half price Christmas deal that XBOX Live was having). I know the new version of EA’s venerable football franchise totally kicks ass on the new generation XBOX One consoles, but seeing as that isn’t going to happen for quite a while in my household (not unless some money falls out the sky anyway), the updated team rosters, tweaked game play, AI, and animations will suffice on the 360 for now.
Some aspects of the new version do annoy me though – like the all too often messy scrambles initiated by silly ball physics – but overall FIFA 15 is a solid play and I have to say, I’m enjoying my season managing Norwich City in the Championship (top of the table baby!).
Of course, Ryan, Evan and Damen could construe this as practicing and thus call me out for cheating, but hey, I have to do what I have to do in order to retain those trophies! ;)
Now the challenge for this year I guess is to expand our group and get a few more faces involved.
Karl-Heinz, Dean, I’m looking at you…
For the first time in a very, very long time, I actually had something planned for New Year’s Eve. Yes, it was still a ‘parent with small kids’ plan, but nevertheless, it was a plan. After an afternoon visit to Mom’s place for a quick dip in the pool in order to cool down a little, it was off to Michelle and Damen’s pad for Jessica, Emily and myself (shame, Chantelle was working a late, so no fun times for her I’m afraid).
Of course, I managed to get lost trying to get there, ending up at completely the wrong complex, though luckily nothing so bad that a quick call to Michelle couldn’t fix!
Ryan joined us after he finished up work, and what followed was a lot of kids’ play time (Jessica and Logan enjoyed the park, even if sharing the ball wasn’t at the top of their list), beer and brandy, and of course Damen and Michelle’s famous home made braai pizzas.
Even the little splash pool came out to play (expertly patched by Damen first though!).
After a lot of play time, eventually we got all the kids into bed, and the adults continued the evening discussing all manner of grown-up topics (like electricity usage and solar geysers), eating ice cream, and of course waiting for the clock to strike twelve, ring in the new year, and unleash the neighbourhood fireworks!
(The fireworks were of course pretty sporadic. They’re expensive plus almost illegal to set off, meaning that I have to assume that one drives to a spot, fires a rocket, and then jumps into the car to hit another spot, before the police can catch on to what you are doing. Sounds like a reasonable theory to me.)
So all in all, a good (and very, very late) night out for me and my girls, even if wifey couldn’t join in the fun. Happy New Year to everyone, may 2015 be a good one! :)
A little more than a month ago, Damen, Evan, Ryan and I got together for our first proper FIFA 13 Foursome, which saw us playing FIFA on the XBOX from early evening straight through to early the next morning, punctuated only by a quick pizza run.
This weekend we attempted to recreate that epic evening of FIFA – and pleasingly we did!
We all arrived at Ryan’s pad at about 16:30 and by 17:00 the pleasantries were over and we gathered around the television, XBOX controllers in hand. We’ve got a pretty fair system of play which sees us rotate partners every second game, with each two game rotation featuring the same two teams – essentially we pick two teams, play a game, then rematch with changed sides, meaning that you are forced to play on both sides of the coin – important if one team turns out to have a rather easy to exploit Achille’s Heel. On that note, we also pick the teams very carefully, basically allowing the first team to be semi-randomly chosen and then manually find a matching team in terms of stats and stars to take them on.
As it turned out, the first game of the evening funnily enough provided the best goal of the night, with Ryan scoring a cheeky 90th minute winner by slotting a goal in via the near post from what should have been a completely impossible angle to score from! And talking about cheeky goals, Evan’s back heel tap-in probably took the cake on that front!
The games were fiercely contested (well, except for when Ryan and I played together on a team – goal scoring came a little too easily to us in the first couple of rounds, though eventually Evan and Damen wised up and started shutting us down), and in some cases the tension was so intense (the Manchester United versus Manchester City game was particularly guilty of this) that by the time the final whistle went we would have to wipe dry our sweaty hands and grab a drink to calm our nerves!
For the first time we implemented a scoring system which basically saw us track points for games played (3 for a win, 1 for a draw) as well as a goals scored tally, and after a full 8 hour stretch of FIFA (we played until after 01:00 am), Ryan emerged as the clear winner in the most valuable player (MVP) category with an incredible 49 points accrued – basically he only lost three times during the entire evening! I snagged the Golden Boot with my 29 goals scored, while sadly Evan brought up the rear, proving beyond any doubt that on the night he was the true wearer of the boot of clay.
Oh, and we did break for some delicious St. Elmos pizza – just to keep the tradition intact.
Overall this was a pretty awesome FIFA 13 Foursome get together and I have to say, I’m already looking forward to the next one! :)
(And just for the record, with it being so late I opted to spend the evening at Ryan’s place – which meant that after Damen and Evan left, Ryan and I still sat down for an hour of Topspin 4 tennis before hitting the sack!)
Thanks to the wet and miserable cold front that hit Cape Town on the weekend, the planned hike up Table Mountain in celebration of Karl’s birthday had to be called off. However, this did give us an opportunity to launch into our backup plan, which was to take little Jessica out for the day to the Two Oceans Aquarium in the Waterfront, and so after driving through in the pouring rain, we met up with Michelle, Damen and little Logan for what would turn out to be a thoroughly enjoyable 3 hour long visit with the fishies.
Jessica is at the perfect age to marvel at all the sights on display, and the addition of an impromptu penguin walk as well as a fishy puppet show, the two little ones appeared to have an absolute blast!
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