Tag Archives: ducks

Indian Runner Ducks and a Market at Vergenoegd in Stellenbosch (2016-10-15) Markets | Photo Gallery 22 APR 2017

Following some delightful deli delicacies from the upmarket Asara boutique hotel outside Stellenbosch one early Saturday morning in October last year (the original plan had been to pick strawberries at Polkadraai Farm down the road in case you are wondering), we next popped our heads in at nearby Vredenheim – where we promptly decided to much rather head further down the road to visit the newly revamped Vergenoegd Wine Estate for the first time – and man are we glad that we did!

Despite being the third oldest wine farm in the Cape (having been established way, way back in 1773), Vergenoegd has never really been a part of Stellenbosch’s famed (and super lucrative) wine route tourism market – a fact that has only now recently been rectified, following a change of ownership in 2015.

The new owners have done an amazing job of renovating and breathing new life into this grand old dame of a wine farm, allowing for Vergenoegd to very much become the new Stellenbosch destination darling that everyone seems to currently be talking about!

(Seriously, whomever is handling their marketing needs a massive raise. That team is doing a brilliant job of putting Vergenoegd very firmly on Stellenbosch’s tourism map!)

Front and center in terms of popular attractions is of course their amazingly well trained herd of Indian Runner ducks, tasked with keeping the vineyards snail and bug free.

The famous duck parade (the girls LOVED it!) is of course a massive hit with the kids, and in fact, has done so well for Vergenoegd that they now even host full on, informative duck tours!

In terms of dining offerings, they have a lovely restaurant area in front of the manor house, as well as a range of artisan picnic options to choose from.

Then of course there is the wine tasting covering their various well made wines, and even more interestingly, a range of interactive wine, olive oil, tea and coffee blending experiences that teaches you about the source and technique behind some of the Cape’s best food and drink products.

Naturally, as just about every other place in the winelands is doing these days, Vergenoegd is also home to its very own Saturday farmer’s market, with both adults and kids well catered for.

Given the market’s runaway success, the team has now further expanded on the this experience by hosting live music events, bringing in some surprisingly popular local musicians in the process!

(Oh, and they also have a weekly, family friendly fun run/walk through the vineyards.)

In other words, it is really, really hard not to like this place.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, we kind of just wandered onto the estate without knowing anything about it other than there was a pretty cool duck parade to be seen. The market was certainly a pleasant (and welcome!) surprise, and we ended up having a great afternoon out there on the day, soaking up the vibe and enjoying the live music.

As always, I snapped a few pictures which does nothing to do the place any sort of real justice, but serves well enough to give a decent idea of what you can expect to find any given Saturday afternoon at Vergenoegd:

In summary: The little ones are of course guaranteed to get a kick out of the ducks, but that said, the restaurant location is fantastic, not to mention the new market. Well worth a weekend outing then.

Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate

Ducks and Jungle Gyms at the Dam Park in Strand (2017-01-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 FEB 2017

I love the fact that we have a proper duck pond as a municipal park here in Strand. The appropriately named Dam Park is situated right across from the Strand High School and offers a nice green space in the middle of Strand suburbia.

There is a playground to the side of the dam with an array of colourfully painted swings, a climbing frame, a roundabout, and a slide – you know, all the basics – as well as an old tractor and plinth mounted steam train.  (Which stinks at the moment thanks to some homeless person deciding that it would be great to use as a bathroom. Disgusting!)

We used to in the past visit the dam fairly often in order to feed the ducks (like literally everyone else in the area) and watch the locals occasionally try their hand at catching a dam fish or two, but seeing feeding ducks is now seen as not quite the correct thing to be doing (population and invasive species control reasons mainly), we drop by there far less than what we used to in the beginning.

The water levels of the dam itself on the day that we visited was surprisingly high – much higher than what I had anticipated (considering the drought conditions we are currently experiencing), but quite probably because of the one or two surprise days of rain we had experienced earlier in January.

With Chantelle stuck at work, the girls and I spent some time playing around (they even got me to climb to the top of the climbing frame with them), before we eventually got bored and convinced Chantelle to join us for some lunch at play time at the Gordon’s Bay Spur during her break.

It was a good plan.

Also, a map in case your kids bug you to go and look at some ducks.

Related Link: Facebook Page

Ducks and Play Time at the Dam Park in Strand (2016-07-03) Photo Gallery 06 JUL 2016

We used to head out and feed the ducks at Dam Park in Strand (just opposite Strand High School) quite often when Jess was still a baby, but in recent years we’ve kind of slowed down on doing that for some or other reason. (Maybe the fact that it has become socially unacceptable to feed ducks bread has had something to do with it?)

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Anyway, Sunday saw Chantelle working, and so not wanting to waste the wonderful sunny Winter weather of the day (and also not really being in the mood for the last day of this year’s Winter Wonderland Festival – which we sadly completely missed out on by the way), I rounded up the girls and headed out towards Strand to the duck pond for a bit of a play and walkabout session.

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Obviously, the girls were overjoyed at the prospect, and pretty soon the two of them were darting between all the play equipment, making sure not to miss any in the process!

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The old, colourful tractor and train remains the biggest hits of course, a problem because Emily is way too small to clamber all over those by herself yet – which of course she simply HAS to do, seeing as big sister Jess is doing it!

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We spent a good amount of time playing on all the equipment, and even Teddy got roped into the fun!

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We ended off the session with a leisurely stroll around the dam, watching the ducks and Egyptian geese, and of course taking selfies – because just like any other little girl, Jessica really seems to enjoy having her picture taken!

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Visiting the Dam Park here in Strand never really disappoints, and is always great if you are looking for something local to do that doesn’t require you to open your wallet. (Plus, it was really nice to see the dam back to its fuller level – the last time I was here it was halfway empty!)

We had some time to kill in the general area because we were meeting up with Chantelle, Retha and Miguel a little later at the mall in order to say goodbye and wish them well for their upcoming Camino de Santiago (St. James Path) pilgrimage adventure in Spain.

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Teddy wanted a milkshake, burger and chips, so we popped into McDonalds Waterstone for that, and after spending some time there, we headed up into the hills of Somerset West in search for more public park spaces.

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As luck would have it, we stumbled across this one brilliant wooden jungle gym at the bottom of a sloped grass patch with perhaps the most magnificent view any play park is capable of having.

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Talk about a swing with a view! :)

Here are the rest of the photos that I happily snapped on what turned out to be a very pleasant, sunny Winter’s day out with my girls:

Play Time at Pollock Park (2015-04-22) Photo Gallery 25 APR 2015

I have lived in Gordon’s Bay for quite a few years now, and to date, I had still never visited Pollock Park, a little strip of interesting green literally a stone’s throw away from Vergeet-My-Nie, Jessica’s current play school.

Well, I am happy to report that the status has now changed, because in the space of five days I have now taken the girls there twice – and both times Jessica and Emily have had an absolute ball!

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It’s actually quite a pretty little park, if a little run down, with its area divided in two distinct spaces, one for natural fynbos flora, the other a more open, grassy area for kids to play on. It has a little walkway stretching around and through it, a small pond at the top with geese and ducks (which mightily entertained Emily), some standard playground equipment in pretty decent nick, and the remains of what must once have been a really nice waterway feature.

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Although a little windy, the girls and I made the most of the area, with Jessica taking quite a strong liking to the see-saw. Emily had a go at it as well, but as per usual, the gigantic slide remains her personal favourite!

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As always, when the moment allowed I grabbed a couple of snaps with my mobile phone:

As it turns out, a friend of mine from my Gordon’s Bay karate days (Ian Pollock) has quite a strong link to the park – after all, it was built by his dad! I grabbed this off the Gordon’s Bay History Facebook group (written by Ian):

“Some more info regarding the Pollock Park.

My father, Theo Pollock came to GB +/- 50 years ago as appointed electrical engineer to Gordon’s Bay Municipality.

Those years he embarked on an ambitious project to change the mostly overhead electrical network to an underground electrical distribution system. The primary reason was the super strong South-East winds in GB causing long periods without electricity, also due to geographical layout of GB having an overhead system would spoil views especially on the slopes of the mountain and increase maintenance on the network. Understand Municipalities worked very different those days than today.

All work was done in-house by labourers and electricians. A sizable labourer complement was needed to maintain the then fragile electrical network and the change to underground network, of 2 electricians and 8 – 10 labourers. During times when planned budget was spent, or maintenance and planned work was completed the staff was kept productive on the public open space.

Theo Pollock, electricians and labours claimed ownership of the space due to a lack of maintenance from the Parks section at the time. The design, layout and construction took many years. Apart from cement, very little capital funds were spent, mostly time and effort. The space was divided into 2, one section was left natural with fynbos and proteas, the other section was developed, with dam and water fetcher. The developed area had pumps and an irrigation system to maintain the flow of water during the dry summer months. Gordon’s Bay Municipality named the Park after Theo Pollock as acknowledgement for the initiative and effort of him and his staff.

Unfortunately after Theo Pollock retired in 1991 the Park was neglected, several residents in the area tried to maintain it. Until a few years back when the Parks Dept of the City of Cape Town started maintaining it again. Unfortunately all irrigation, pumps and cabling has been vandalised and stolen by that time.

Theo Pollock lost a battle with cancer in 1994. He however left Gordon’s Bay with two accolades (among others): Pollock Park and the fact that Gordon’s Bay is the only Western Cape town with an entire underground electrical network.”

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So well worth popping in to see if you’ve as a local never actually been there before! :)

Update: It was such a good little outing that the girls and I ended up going there quite a few more times before Winter started setting in!

IMG_20150505_171432 jessica and emily lotter - girls playing on merry-go-round 1

IMG_20150505_171515 jessica and emily lotter - girls playing on merry-go-round 2

IMG_20150505_171533 little girl emily lotter on the merry-go-round

IMG_20150505_172137 jessica lotter girl sitting at the top of a slide

Feeding the Strand Duck Pond Geese (2015-03-07) Photo Gallery 09 MAR 2015

We kicked off an incredibly busy weekend (more on this at a later stage) by heading to the family favourite Strand duck pond (just across Strand High School) in order to feed all the hungry quackers. Armed with a loaf of fresh white bread purchased on the way at Cinnamon Square Spar, we arrived at the duck pond only to discover Emily fast asleep in her Bambino car seat.

Not wanting to wake her seeing as she needed the sleep having woken up particularly early on this Saturday morning, we left the windows wound down and stepped out onto the grass embankments – and were immediately flocked by dozens of geese and rather cute white ducks.

(For a change, Egyptian Geese didn’t dominate the scene. Also, the duck pond was at a mysteriously low level, certainly much lower than what I’ve seen it before. Not sure whether maintenance, leak, or just old fashioned Summer evaporation.)

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Jessica quickly clambered up onto a park bench and started dishing out white bread slices left, right and center, and it wasn’t long before Chantelle and I found ourselves also joining in on the fun!

Lots of quacking, flapping and bread devouring was to be had, and no time at all the bread was done and we could make a run for it, back to the safety of the car and ready to head on to the next stop of our jam-packed family activities weekend!

Photo Gallery: Jessica and Emily feeding Ducks (2014-12-20 ) Photo Gallery 21 DEC 2014

First day of my holiday and I’m already out and about with my girls (Chantelle is pretty much working 90% of the time whilst I’m on leave this year, so for the most part December 2014 will be the “Adventures of Daddy, Jessie and Embels” period), kicking things off with a trip to the always a hit, Strand picnic park duck pond.

Two half loaves were on hand, which Jessica proceeded to get rid of in no time at all (from the safety of a park bench of course!) whilst Emily just chewed on her chunks of bread as a hopeful crowd of geese could just look on in dismay.

With the bread gone, and the hordes of ducks and geese eventually turned away, we then continued with a stroll around the pond, before heading for the adjacent playground, where Jessica had a ball, made a new friend, and even pretend drove a tractor.

Emily and I on the other hand stuck to the roundabout, followed by clambering all over the park benches whilst waiting for Jess to tire herself out! :)

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Photo Gallery: Duck Attack at the Strand Duck Pond (2013-12-28) Photo Gallery 28 DEC 2013

It would seem that the duck population in the Strand duck pond across the road from the high school enjoyed a rather good breeding season.

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Needless to say, this very hungry pack of ducks and geese terrified Jessica more than just a little – Luckily for us, a nearby park bench was on hand, and this combined with the newly learned ‘karate kick’ trick from Daddy, meant that Jess could (kind of) enjoy the duck feeding outing to the fullest!

Kiddie Reads: Quacky Quack-Quack! by Ian Whybrow Books 10 OCT 2013

quacky quack-quack children's book by ian whybrow and russell aytoThe book I’m currently tasked with reading to Jessica each and every night before bed is a cute kiddie’s tale entitled Quacky Quack-Quack! by children’s writer Ian Whybrow, the same guy who brought us all those Harry and the Dinosaurs titles.

Originally released back in 1991, Quacky Quack-Quack! tells the rhyming tale of a little baby whose mommy had given him some bread to feed to the ducks. However, he opted to eat the bread instead, thereby causing a right proper rumpus to ensue!

It’s a silly little story that encourages the kids to make all kinds of animal noises, like the quacks of ducks, the honks of geese, the eeauw of donkeys, and of course, the roar of lions in the zoo!

Artist Russell Ayto provides the visuals for this rhyming tale, and unfortunately I have to say, I’m not particularly keen on the visuals. The art is slightly too abstract for my liking and not polished enough, though that said Jess doesn’t appear to have too much difficulty in identifying her favourite animals!

Jess loves it enough to make me read it to her every night, meaning that it must be good enough then to recommend to you! :)

Related Link: http://www.goodreads.com

Weekend Updates My Life 12 AUG 2013

I’ve been a bit slack on the weekend updates again I see, so just in case you were wondering what the Lotter Clan has been up to over the past two weekends, never fear, for the info is here!

jessica lotter on climbing frame at stodels somerset west

Two weeks ago I capped off a busy work week with my bi-monthly release notes send out and then headed off back home only to find Chantelle and Cheryl still furiously busy in the kitchen, pumping out baked produce in readiness for the Saturday market stall at Willowbridge. Monty was happily entertaining Jessica, and after a delicious curry for supper, we let the ladies get back to their work while we continued to entertain and eventually tire out Miss Jessica.

Eventually the market work was done and Cheryl and Monty returned home to Bellville, leaving a pretty tired Chantelle ready to tackle the next project, a beautiful pink baby shower cake while I set about teaming up with Ryan over XBOX Live to take another stab at the explosive and enjoyable Crackdown co-op campaign.

Saturday saw Chantelle out early as she headed over to Willowbridge to run (with Cheryl) our very first stall at Willowbridge (we’re now back permanently, meaning you can catch us each and every Saturday at the Willowbridge Slow Market from 09:30 to 14:00), leaving Jessica and me to mind the house, get up to all sorts of mischief and await the arrival of the lady to pick up her Baby Shower Cake.

jessica lotter on slide at stodels somerset west

After the pickup Jess and I headed out to the Somerset Mall to take care of a few shopping errands, ending off with a stroll around Stodels, making sure that after the business end of our visit had concluded, we still had enough time to stay and play a bit on their slides and wooden climbing frame. For lunch I treated little Jess to some McDonalds (the Happy Meal Purple Minion toy was the target), and after a quick detour to Benbel on Monty’s behalf, she and I packed our bags and headed off to Bellville, first meeting up with Chantelle at Dean’s place for a visit with Zania, little Zandea, Damen, Michelle and little Logan, followed by some time with the Montgomery Clan (we were sleeping over for the night), from which Chantelle and I eventually snuck away to Tygervalley for a date night, first taking in the very amusing Despicable Me 2 at Ster-Kinekor, followed by a mouthwatering delicious supper of pizza at Panarottis.

We didn’t stick around in Bellville on Sunday morning, instead returning to Gordon’s Bay fairly early on, allowing me to get cracking with some DIY (taking down the punching bag, filling holes in the lawn and painting the exterior wall) while Chantelle got her hands dirty in the kitchen for the Monday Sacred Ground Deli order.

Not that it was all work mind you – I did make some time for Assassin’s Creed and Crackdown in terms of gaming, as well as taking in a couple of episodes of the thoroughly enjoyable Community (I’m currently on Season 1), as well as an impromptu trip to the beach with Jess, where we enjoyed an hour of so of filling up buckets and tossing sand on one another!

So yeah, a pretty enjoyable weekend with pretty decent weather in other words!

jessica lotter and zandea stapelberg watching aristocats

Last weekend obviously had the extra bonus of Friday being a public holiday (Women’s Day), meaning that once again Jessica and I found ourselves making the most of our day off together. While Chantelle and Olga happily baked cupcakes and what not in the kitchen, Jess and I undertook the mission of Theo’s Mall Coffee Shop cupcake delivery, after which we took the time to waddle around the mall, the end result being a brand new book for Jess and a nice bag of salted peanuts and raisins for me. (I suspect Jess loved her book more than I loved my peanuts!)

Unfortunately Chantelle had to leave for her delivery in Franschhoek, meaning that after Jess and I had dropped off Olga after her half day of work, we were free to play, part of which included a fun visit to the duck pond in Strand, where Jessica very happily started the session off by giving strict eating instructions to the first group of ducks that she encountered, before eventually running for her life as some of the bigger geese started to get a little too friendly with the chunks of bread in her hand!

The evening was made up of fingerpainting for Jess, blogging and Crackdown with Ryan for me, and after our impromptu KFC supper, poor Chantelle was back in the kitchen, this time finishing up all the cupcakes and cake required for Saturday’s market stall.

jessica lotter ordering ducks around

Saturday was an early start for us, as Chantelle, Jess and I departed for Bellville, first stopping off at the Montgomery Clan stronghold to drop off Jess and pick up the packaging and stall display materials, before heading over to Willowbridge in order to set up our stall and start trading! Pleasingly, despite the reduced foot traffic thanks to the long weekend and various other distractions that the weekend was offering, we still made well over a R1,000 worth of sales over the course of the day, meaning that I’m pretty pleased how my first day back at the markets had gone. (Plus, it was pretty nice to catch up with all the old trader faces which I haven’t seen for about year or so!)

Chantelle had Jess for the afternoon following the market, and so she and the little one headed off to Kid Station, the kid’s hair salon situated in Tyger Manor, for Jessica’s very first ever hair cut, the end result being a very cute little blonde bob, without any of those eina curls to bother her any more! (Apparently Jessica was really well behaved and sat perfectly still for the haircut, making her even more so super deserving of the fun little “Certificate of Bravery” she received at the end of the ordeal!).

I on the other hand had organised a proper FIFA Foursome guy’s evening for the remainder of Saturday and as such, found myself playing FIFA 13 on the XBOX with Damen, Evan and Ryan for just short of nine straight hours, only taking a few short breaks here and there, including a quick stop for some St. Elmo’s Pizza. Seriously, nine hours of intense and VERY competitive virtual soccer (it probably was a little overboard, but hey, we haven’t done it in such a long time that it was worth it!). Anyway, I eventually called it a night just before 01:00, making the long drive back home to Gordon’s Bay where I very quickly slumped into bed for some well deserved rest time!

Up until now, despite the heavy snow on the mountain tops around us, weather had been pretty good for our weekend escapades, but that had to eventually give way, and it did for Sunday, meaning that the day was pretty much spent indoors, Chantelle sleeping most of it away on the couch while Jessica assisted me in some sorting and tossing out of stuff around the house. The day at home was only punctuated by a quick trip out to Pick ‘n Pay for Jess and me to pick up some braai stuff, which of course translates directly into the fact that I spent the afternoon behind the coals preparing a rather delicious braai of chicken, pork and venison sausage!

Lots of television, lots of play time, and then a little icky clean up, some blogging and a little Community Season 1, was pretty much my Sunday in a nutshell.

Still, it was a long weekend so I can’t exactly complain! :)