Last weekend was the final weekend of Jessica’s holiday – she started creche at Baby Steps on Monday! Of course this meant that we needed to get her back, and so on Friday evening after work, Mom and Dad came over to enjoy some supper and catching up with us, as well as of course bringing with them young Jessica, who had been staying with them for the last little while (both Chantelle and I are already back at work, in the thick of things!).
Saturday morning/afternoon was dominated by Chantelle’s usual deli delivery in Franschhoek, though this time around Jessica and I thought it might be nice to join her for the trip, the end result being a lovely day out and about in the sun, enjoying good deli food and of course learning all about Sacred Ground, the place which is currently generating most of Chantelle’s income! :)
Back home the three of us went on a plastics buying splurge, and after a successful trip to first Mambos and then Plastics Warehouse, Chantelle was now fully kitted out for storing cakes in the freezer and likewise armed with her new mini-broom, Jess was ready to clean up after her!
As for Saturday evening, while Chantelle baked and Jessie slept, I amused myself by finally getting around to renewing some work on Chantelle’s Cookies and Cakes website.
Sunday marked our first market for the year, with Chantelle and I splitting the manning the stall duty at Hathersage, Chantelle handling the morning session and I taking over the afternoon session. Once again Hathersage proved to be a fantastic family driven, Sunday afternoon outing type of vibe, and a nice added touch was the arrival of the Montgomery clan to come and enjoy the sun, marimba, and of course estate wine under the big shady tree with us. (And in the end, it wasn’t a horrible market in terms of takings for us either).
This year is going to be a lot different from last, in that thanks to the deli Chantelle doesn’t have to do markets any more, meaning that at last I have my weekends back. That said, we’ve both agreed to keep running with the Hathersage market, mainly because it is so geographically close to us, completely skips winter, is only every second Sunday, and carries such a nice family-friendly vibe (and the fact that the extra little income it generates pays for Chantelle’s new assistant, Olga, who started working for Chantelle on Monday, doesn’t hurt either!).
With the successful market done and dusted, I convinced Jessie and Chantelle to join me for a trip down to the beach, which turned out to be loads of fun, with Jessica really taking to the sand and water as per usual.
And that was really that. With Jessica asleep on her last night of freedom, Chantelle and I started the arduous task of tidying up the house somewhat, just so that when new girl Olga started on Monday, she wouldn’t turn around and run away screaming if she saw the state of our house!
Truly. If you are parents to a toddler then your house is never clean, neat or tidy! :)
So I’m hurtling towards the end of my year-end vacation time (ugh, work starts on Monday again), and overall December and Christmas holiday 2012 has been quite the relaxing and enjoyable time, so I thought I’d better highlight some of it just for reference’s sake.
Other than the passing of Chantelle’s grandfather early December, the period has been an entirely positive one, and it all kicked off with the awesome birthday party celebrating Zandea’s 3rd birthday. Dean and Zania went all out, and I must admit to feeling a tinge of pride when Jessica was the only little one not to run away crying at the appearance of Dean in his traditional Father Christmas suit!
With most of Chantelle’s time being taken up by all the baking for her Sacred Ground Franschhoek deli contract, Jessica and I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time together, spending plenty of time at the beach and in the sea, wandering about the mall or any plastics shop that I could find, or visiting with the grandparents in Bellville, always packing in the swimsuits for just in case! (I even bought an electric pump and gazeebo to make the outside swims for little Jess in her inflatable pool more fun).
We pulled off a brilliant night market at Hathersage Farm to end off the market season, where we were lucky enough to be joined by both sets of parents, making it a proper family night out on what turned out to be a glorious summer’s evening with the most incredible vibe.
We had a stunning picnic at the Helderberg nature reserve with Ryan, Evan, Natasha and little Evalynne (plenty of frisbee was thrown that day), and we entertained Wayne and Candice, first at our place (or more specifically, breakfast at Sunset Spur in Gordon’s Bay), followed by a return visit to Hermanus. (This was particularly awesome because we hadn’t seen Wayne in two years, basically since they moved up to Potchefstroom!). We played host to Retha, enjoyed a rare date night which saw Chantelle and I dine at the fabulous Casa in Willowbridge, followed up by the excellent Skyfall James Bond movie.
In addition to all of that, I played a disastrous, but hugely entertaining, round of golf with Dad, Ryan and Jaco at Bellville Golf Course (thanks lastminutegolf.co.za), and although our New Year’s celebrations fell a little flat (fallen through plans and a frozen bottle of champagne), our Christmas 2012 was pretty damn awesome that to the brilliant Christmas day family get together that Claire and Riley organised.
I’ve been playing Gears of War 2 and FIFA 13 with Ryan at night, and even found myself helping out on a cake one evening, though the only true constant that played itself out each and every night was of course the big clean-up after a day of Jess running around the house! :)
So yeah, despite not going away or being particularly productive in my two and half week long, well deserved break from work, I still managed to make a good thing out of Christmas Vacation 2012 I reckon.
I first came into contact with the wonderful and thoroughly entertaining Tamashii Daiko group through a mutual link via our karate dojo, and thought it worthwhile to promote if you’re looking to pick up on something new in the Helderberg region. Taiko is the Art of Japanese drumming and not very well known in South Africa. It is one of the Martial Arts and has its roots in the ancient arts of Japan, with more than 2000 years of history.
Taiko has been used for many reasons and for many occasions, notably in Temples to honour the gods, during wartime to motivate the troops, to put up the boundaries of a village with the sounds of the drum and, of course, to highlight the many Japanese celebrations and festivals. And while the original traditions remain, like other Japanese arts Taiko has also evolved into more modern forms.
Modern Taiko finds a place in both formal and informal entertainment. It is popular both for players as well as audiences. In practising the way of Taiko, one learns to combine concentration, focus, discipline, teamwork and self-control with the ability to learn methodically. As a bonus, it is a great physical workout and is also loads of fun.
Practising Taiko is not just playing a drum. As with all Japanese art forms, it is also a spiritual Way that is reached through continual practice. Indeed, you only discover the most amazing part of Taiko when you reach your limits and pass beyond them.
Since 2009 Taiko has found fertile grounds here in South Africa. Especially in the Western Cape, in Somerset West, Tamashii Daiko is enjoying increasing interest.
Ursula Coenen, the leader of Tamashii Daiko studied Taiko in Germany and Japan. When she retired to South Africa in 2008, she wanted to join a Taiko group, but because there were no Taiko Groups in SA, she went ahead and founded the Taiko Group Tamashii Daiko.
The name Tamashii means Soul, and so far, Tamashii Daiko appears to be the first and only Taiko Group in South Africa.
For more information or simply to get in touch, visit their website at http://www.tamashii.co.za/
Chantelle and I manned the Chantelle’s Cookies & Cakes stall for our very first night market, held at the always beautiful Hathersage Farm venue. As it turned out, this last Christmas market was a huge hit, with huge amounts of people swarming in and enjoying the fantastic weather and vibe. The marimba players made sure we never ran out of music, we enjoyed a successful market in terms of takings, and as an unexpected bonus, we were joined by both Chantelle’s parents as well as my parents – not to mention our little Jessie as well!
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So Chantelle has now officially stopped working at Gordon’s Beach Lodge (thanks Whammy and Louise for treating us to a fantastic farewell lunch out at 96 Winery Road on her last day!), and quite frankly has yet to have had a chance to sit down and take it all in. She has a massive amount of orders to take care of at the moment, all of which will probably take her well into January just to wade through. (In fact, it feels a little like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire at the moment). Of course our triple market weekend this weekend didn’t help her baking schedule in the slightest, and while I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten what colour my kitchen counters are, I’m pretty sure she’s forgotten what her bed looks like!
Anyway, the point I want to make is that we just came off a weekend of three market appearances, meaning that I’ve started off this week needing a weekend to recover from this weekend – something which makes me long for the upcoming year end break even harder now!
Saturday was Willowbridge Slow Food Market as per usual, and unfortunately for us, again a real lack of foot traffic meant a relatively poor day in terms of takings, though it certainly was a slight improvement on the previous weekend, where we had seen our lowest overall takings to date!
(It was quite cute though when on Friday night, after arriving home after a long day behind the keyboard, I was pretty much in by the front gate and then straight back out with Jessie tucked under my arm, heading out first for a hour long beach playing in the sand session, followed by an impromptu shopping and electricity-buying trip, all in the name of getting the rather niggly Jess Jess out from under wifey’s feet in the hope that Chantelle could get a little bit of baking done before the drawn out bed time routine kicked in.)
Anyway, with Chantelle still desperately baking and Cheryl having to look after Jessica because my folks still being on holiday in the Kruger National Park, I tackled Saturday’s market single-handedly, and despite REALLY not wanting to do it come the morning (plus the broken lift in Willowbridge which meant trekking along the underground parking to reach the alternative), the dynamic duo of Mario and Marcel in the pie stand next to us did an excellent job of cheering me up, which means that in the end, despite not having a financially rewarding market like I mentioned before, I did rather enjoy the day.
So that wasn’t too horrible then.
Because of the dual markets pencilled in for Sunday, it had been previously decided that Jessica would sleep over in Bellville with Oupa and Ouma, which then meant that Sunday’s morning packing for market departure was a lot more smoother than Saturday morning’s operation, where we obviously still had our little tantrum thrower under foot.
Despite the heavy rain in the morning, the sun did eventually take over proceedings and from all accounts the Hathersage market in Somerset West was a wonderful experience on the day, with Chantelle even coaxing her parents to make the trip through to come and join her and soak up a little of the Marimba-infused atmosphere with Little Miss Jess.
As for myself, I made the trip through to Century City, where despite the slightly overcast weather, the people arrived in droves for a fun day of train rides, dog shows, live music and of course market goods. I had a particularly good day behind the stall, walking away with the most takings out of the three stalls that we had run over the course of the weekend, meaning that I ended up being pretty chuffed with myself.
Though still dead tired.
Sigh, at least all of Chantelle’s deli and wedding baking this week means I’m getting a weekend free of markets this coming weekend – which is something to celebrate it these days in my opinion! :)
[P.S. Should be fun. Hear that our dear friend Retha has flown in from Spain and will be staying over at us for a couple of days. Needless to say, I don’t think she realise just how much work Chantelle has planned out for her!]
Chantelle was on duty this weekend (seriously, I can’t wait for the end of the month to arrive so that she’s finally finished with all this shift work of hers), leaving Jessica to spend a lot of time with Oupa and Ouma while I handled the double barrel market events of Saturday and Sunday.
Shame, it was aweomse of Cheryl, Monty and Rob to help look after Jess this weekend, because outside of some cool beach time with softserve goodness and a late afternoon trip to the guest house for a visit for Jess and myself, it was Cheryl and Monty looking after Jessica for the whole of Saturday in Bellville, Rob looking after Jess on Sunday morning in Gordon’s Bay, and Monty and Cheryl looking after Jess for the rest of Sunday afternoon, also in Gordon’s Bay.
As for myself, apart from the few episodes I managed to take in of The Big Bang Theory over the weekend (I’m finally getting around to seeing this hit series – and so far so good!), it was a solo-run Chantelle’s Cookies and Cakes stall at Willowbridge for the whole of Saturday, followed by another solo-run Chantelle’s Cookies and Cakes stall at Hathersage on Sunday.
Unfortunately Willowbridge continued to be a big letdown for us in terms of sales, despite the beautiful weather and prime time of month, the collective effect of there just being too many craft and christmas markets currently on the go in the Northern Suburbs impacting foot traffic heavily. Nevertheless, it still continues to be one of our primary marketing channels in terms of Chantelle’s cake orders – in fact she had a brilliant week of orders, bringing in more that just pocket change with it, and pretty much resigning the disappointing Willowbridge market to the back of our minds.
Sunday’s Hathersage turned out to be not that much better though, a surprise considering just how well we had done two weeks ago. However, I suspect that similar logic to that affecting Willowbridge applies, and the fact that the morning started off overcast most certainly didn’t help!
Nevertheless, I did enjoy the markets, always lots of fun to be out and about and interacting with people, I did enjoying playing with all our new, colorful “monopoly” money which I saw a fair bit of over the weekend, I did seriously enjoy all the Big Bang Theory I absorbed in the evenings, and of course, the Springboks managed to do enough to beat the Irish.
So a busy weekend then in other words, but not a particularly horrible one! :)
Last weekend didn’t start off on the greatest of notes, what with the final departure of my development team member Tristan to greener pastures (leaving me to now manage a team of two – and I’m one of those two – split amongst four or so projects), followed by the obligatory market preparation on Friday night, and then a once again more than disappointing Willowbridge Slow Market experience, where we brought in our lowest Chantelle’s Cookies and Cakes sales total at the market to date.
Still, it was pretty cool to see Terrance’s folks Terry and Hester pop in for a visit at the stall, so there was that, and then of course it had been a good week for cake orders for Chantelle, so at least that tempered the disappointing Willowbridge just a little.
However, things were just about to look up, as I proceeded to collect Jessie from my folks after finishing up the market, and then hunkering down with Monty and Rob to catch the big Currie Cup rugby final in the evening, Sharks versus Western Province in Durban.
And what a game it turned out to be!
Going into the game as serious underdogs based solely on the phenomenal season the Sharks had been enjoying, as well as their semi-final wallop of the Bulls, you could forgive our astonishment as Province played full throttle from the get go, holding the sharks back right until the final whistle to take an unforgettable victory, and in the process claim the coveted Currie Cup for the first time in eleven years!
What a game, what a game.
Making the late night trip back to Gordon’s Bay with a sleeping Jessica in the car, I managed to successfully transfer her to her cot before springing in to help Chantelle a bit with her preparations for Sunday’s market, before hitting the sack and trying to catch as much sleep as I could possibly squeeze in.
Sunday morning arrived and I loaded up the car and headed off to Hathersage farm in Somerset West, where I proceeded to set up the stall in the food section of The Market Place, this being the first weekend marking the return of the usually popular Hathersage natural goods market.
Pleasingly the day went well, thanks to the weather playing along and the locals coming out in droves to enjoy the sun and picnic under the big shady tree with their family. The atmosphere was great, and the music added to the whole vibe. Truthfully I was a little sad to be skipping out on the Century City market which I had so enjoyed four weeks ago, but I must say that it was rather pleasant doing a market so close to home for a change!
Chantelle joined me a little later in the afternoon, and at the close of day, we had done pretty well for our first outing at a new market – so definitely the morale booster that we had needed.
Other than that, there wasn’t all that much left in the weekend, as Chantelle returned to work to complete her evening shift, while I headed home to take over from Cheryl and Monty who had looked after Jessica at our place during the afternoon.
So yeah, not a lot of rest and relaxation for me this weekend then.
Though now that I think about it, it probably remains worth mentioning the rather strange pizza that I had tried out on Friday at Tristan’s departure lunch event – a Col’cacchio creation featuring chorizo, egg and peas on a pizza.
It was okay I guess, but certainly doesn’t beat the awesome stuff we churn out here at home ourselves! :)
Outside of our Kirstenbosch family picnic, visits with both Ouma and Oupa, and then Evan, Natasha and Evalynne, the other thing we slotted in two weekends ago was a trip through to Hathersage Farm, situated in Somerset West and host to “The Marketplace“, a local goods market that is held every second Sunday on the farm grounds.
Currently looking into possible places to try and market Chantelle’s Cookies & Cakes, local goods, or food markets if you will, is actually a pretty smart choice for something like our treats, because people are more likely to pick up on something that they can see and taste in front of them, and then hopefully make the purchase which in turn will set the juggernaut that is word of mouth rolling.
Hathersage has a fantastic vibe to it as people picnic outside under the shade of this huge tree behind the farm house, with a good selection of local goods stalls dotted around the grounds. Music flows freely into the air, and often you’ll get an impromptu performance from a marimba band or even the local Taiko drumming group as extra entertainment.
Now for the section most interesting to us – the food segment! All of the food stalls at Hathersage are hosted in the farm house itself, creating a bustling hub of activity as people cram in around all the little stalls while the salespeople do their best to get their product noticed. Everything from pies to waffles, sandwiches to homemade sorbet are available for purchase, and as a whole it is a pretty exciting little spot.
However, and it is a big however, the fact that all the food stalls are indoor presents a considerable problem for me as the heat generated inside is pretty high, meaning chocolate covered goods like my truffles and Turkish delight would simply not hold – and getting a stall outside would be pointless because a) the foot traffic outside is a lot less and b) the people know to go inside to buy food goods.
So despite the delicious food we ate and the time we spent lazing in the shade and soaking in the vibe, it looks like Hathersage Farm won’t be right for Chantelle’s Cookies and Cakes after all.
One of the first local goods markets that we visited, Lourensford Farm Market (which is also in Somerset West) is still in the running, but their rather slow and lackluster response to our various queries and slightly stringent appearance agreement means they certainly aren’t at the top of the pile. On the other hand, Willowbridge Market at the Willowbridge Shopping Mall in Durbanville is not looking too bad at the moment – despite the fact that they are the most expensive to exhibit at and are situated 50 km away from our center of operations!
Hey, what we need now is foot traffic, and after all, they seem to have that in droves…
(Anyway, for more photos of our little excursion to Hathersage, click here.)
Busy scoping out possible markets for Chantelle to market her Cookies & Cakes venture at, we headed out to Hathersage Farm Market on what turned out to be the most perfect of days in terms of weather.
And of course on sunny days like these, what’s better than a grassy spot under a big shady tree!
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