Tag Archives: jessica lotter

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017 My Life 30 DEC 2016

Believe it or not, it is somehow that time where I once again round up the year that was and then turn the spotlight onto the year to come. Mind you, I’ve done a fair bit of these over the last couple of years (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 20102009 to be exact), but looking back, I seldom get the looking forward part quite spot on.

Nevertheless, as always I’m game to give it a go.

I’ll start off by saying that for the Lötter family as a whole, 2016 wasn’t a particularly exciting year per say.

Chantelle continued her work pulling in a paycheck as one of the managers at Gordon’s Beach Lodge here in Gordon’s Bay, while still baking cakes on the side and as always, dreaming about her own full-time venture still to come.

2016 saw Emily continue her march into ‘toddlerhood’, thriving in the loving care of the Baby Steps team, an environment in which she also managed to forge her first great friendship in the form of another little girl named Marli. Emily is extremely bright, extremely stubborn, and extremely adorable to boot!

It would seem that she’s certainly inherited Jessica’s terrors (i.e. terrified of big animals and the sea), but outside of those, she is an independent, forward thinking little toddler who I am positive is going to do super well at her new playschool Vergeet-My-Nie come 2017.

Jessica had a lovely first year as a Grade R learner in teacher Matthews’ class at Gordon’s Bay Primary, remaining as always the lovely social butterfly that we all know she is. She managed to make a ton of friends across a variety of different age groups at the school and continues to be one of the most open and outgoing little girls that you’ll ever stumble across.

Unfortunately though, a few of the development issues that we were warned about due to her premature birth have now surfaced, and so she spent much of the year undergoing occupational therapy with the wonderful therapist Nicola van Zyl. However, following a professional school readiness assessment with educational psychologist Mia Schoeman, it has been decided to hold her back in Grade R for another year, to give her more chance to gain a better level of ’emotional maturity’ needed for the years still lying in wait.

So plenty of work ahead for my beautiful little blonde princess come 2017, but luckily work that at this point she still sees as being little more than extra fun playtime!

So, as I now sit down and reflect on it, on the whole there really was then very little disruption to the normal Lötter life – no job changes, no house changes, no car changes, no real major… situational changes.

Good, that suits me as a Taurus quite nicely then.

Of course 2016 didn’t start all that well for me personally mind you – I did after all only really start walking about properly again come May of this year!

However, this depressing setback did come with the plus that it made me strongly want to make it up to myself this year, and so I promised myself that I would get out as much as possible and see as many new places as what I possibly could before the end of 2016. Well, glancing over the 160 odd photo gallery folders on my hard drive, it is more than safe enough to say that I certainly achieved my goal!

(Note about the 160 odd folders of photos: to date, only about 106 have so far made it onto this blog – meaning a lot of stuff is going to incorrectly appear in 2017! So yes, I’m more than just a little behind on the photo posting front, and sadly, the excuse is slightly poor: I fell victim to the terrible addiction that stems from playing the awesome Dragon Age: Inquisition on the Xbox One that I too treated myself with at the beginning of this year. Who knew – just a year or two ago I was convinced that I’d kind of outgrown playing video games!)

Anyway, so my weekends were quite jam packed pretty much the entire year – so much so that Chantelle is rather understandably annoyed at the almost complete lack of maintenance on the house done in 2016!

I saw loads of local (Helderberg, Overberg, Stellenbosch, Cape Town) sights – far too many to list here, but pleasingly a list which includes numerous adult experiences like wineries and restaurants for a change – and out of the 12 months of the year, I was sleeping in another bed for at least one weekend in 9 of those!

For those of you keeping track (again, not that I’m sure anyone actually reads the stuff that I write), those 9 stays away from home included Jacobsbaai, Pinnacle Point (Mossel Bay), Warmwaterberg Spa (Barrydale), Stanford, George, USA (Anaheim and San Diego)*, Buffeljagsrivier, Tulbagh, and now Gouritz.

(*Yes, this means I visited the United States of America for the very first time in my life!)

Thanks to all this out and about then, 2016 therefore also saw me change the focus of this blog, adopting a new moniker in the form of “An Exploring South African” (note: I really am not overly fond of the names I choose) and consequently a shift in content to more local sights and sounds and travel type stuff.

(Oh, and for a change I even made a little money off the site. Now there is something that doesn’t often happen!)

As always, with Chantelle working every second weekend, my full time commitment to my girls meant that no hobbies or extracurricular stuff could be picked up in 2016 – which is still okay with me. (Now all it means is that the girls are forced to drive out with their dad to new places pretty much every other weekend!)

Work is still boringly stable for me – the good paycheck, complete oversight, and the perk of working from home is still more than strong enough incentives for me to keep chipping away at my Kinetica feedback platform, which has continued to surge ahead this year in terms of new functionality and expanded use cases.

Right, so with all that now said and done, I can safely reckon then that 2016 certainly wasn’t a bad year – even in the slightest – for the Gordon’s Bay Lötter clan. Good.

As for 2017? Well, my predictions are never really all that spot on, but I suspect that it will be very much more of the same. I want to travel loads and see a lot of new places/things (and we do now have the disposable income to do this), and I think following the physical difficulties that plagued me throughout 2016, maybe 2017 will finally be the year where I start to once again properly take care of my body – you know, finally get around to losing all that weight that continues to make Summer such an unpleasantly sweaty affair!

Which is probably not such a bad idea mind you. These gray strands threaded in my hair are seemingly growing bolder with each passing day! ;)

Kids and Mud at Pollock Park in Gordon’s Bay (2016-08-02) Photo Gallery 05 AUG 2016

The days are staying a little lighter for longer now, meaning that once again the girls and I have the opportunity to nip out after school before the whole supper, bath and bed routine starts. Tuesday evening saw us we take the opportunity to spend a little time running around our favourite public park in Gordon’s Bay, Pollock Park.

sdr

It was a LOT more muddy than what I would have liked, but seeing as I only saw the mud AFTER we had already all exited the car, it was pretty much a lost cause and I could only hope that the girls remain PARTICULARLY well balanced for this session of play!

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(Thankfully, they did!)

Usually the stone canals that run the length of the park sit dry (the pump mechanism was vandalised and stolen years ago), so it was pretty cool to see water flowing through all the channels for a change – giving the girls and myself more than enough reason to track the water all the way back up to the duck pond, which I am happy to report is sitting at a quite nice and healthy level at last.

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Mr Teddy also came along for the play session, and even more amazing was the fact that he too somehow remained completely mud free!

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Oh, and it was pretty cool to see some kids arrive with a quadcopter/drone, flying it in order to record the long-boarding that happens there on the road next to the park. (Pollock Park is essentially on the lower slopes of the mountain.)

sdr

As fun this impromptu outing was, unfortunately the weather didn’t stay great for long, and about 40 minutes in, we were forced to return back to the car, with the light rapidly fading, the cloud cover now heavy, and the temperature more than a little chilly.

Still, the girls had fun and that’s definitely what counts!

German Measles and a Walk along the Strand Beachfront (2016-07-06) Photo Gallery 07 JUL 2016

Believe it or not, a little while ago I came down with German Measles of all things. Sadly for Jessica’s sake though, the Gordon’s Bay Lötters weren’t quite done with German Measles after all – second week into her holiday and bang, a big red rash spreads across her entire body, and with that, my little girl is down and out for the count.

dav

Luckily it didn’t affect her nearly as long as what it did me but Monday, the first day of her illness, was tricky with both Chantelle and I needing to physically be at work on the day.

Thankfully Dad (who appears to be loving his new pensioner status by the way) was able to make the early morning trip through to Gordon’s Bay and look after her for us – which she rather enjoyed mind you!

Obviously holiday care at school was out thanks to the infectious nature of German Measles, so from Tuesday onward she stayed at home with me watching movies while I worked. An arrangement that also didn’t seem to bother her much!

sdr

Halfway through Tuesday she was already starting to feel much better, and so when Wednesday rolled by, I decided to treat my now very bored little girl to a lunch time break that saw us drive out and pick up some KFC pops for lunch, sit in our car at the beach with a view of the sea and devour them, and then finally enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Strand beachfront to stretch our legs for a bit!

dav

Strand always feels a bit weirdly run down to me, what with its mixture of expensive high rise apartments right next to old, tired looking shopfronts. Nevertheless, that beachfront of theirs is great for a stroll, and Jessica was loving getting a bit of sunlight and fresh air after being cooped up in the house for so long!

sdr

I see the construction phase of the City of Cape Town’s R180 million project to refurbish the Strand sea wall and in doing so, update the promenade and attempt to breathe some new life into the tired Strand beachfront is already well underway.

I can only imagine the headaches this work will bring in the future (basically the same issue that has plagued Kalk Bay and Fishhoek for years now), but the long-term benefits should more than outweigh the short-term inconvenience I’m sure!

dav

Despite being out for far longer than what I had originally planned, it was great to get out and enjoy the fresh sea air on such a beautiful, windless Winter sunny day, so definitely a lunch break well spent.

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Plus, it was rather nice to have a healthy, albeit it quarantined, Jessica back again!

(In case you are wondering, we think that Emily already had her German Measles first, so she should be okay. Hopefully.)

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?)

dav

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:

Occupational Therapy for Jessica at Et Al in Somerset West Jessica 04 MAY 2016

Shortly after the start of Jessica’s Grade R year, her teacher Diane Matthews raised some concerns regarding Jess’ progress at school. Chantelle and I gave it a term and a bit to see if things would approve, but as it turned out, the concerns remained and in the end we decided to take Jessica for an occupational therapy evaluation on recommendation from Diane.

IMG_20160503_132952 et al therapy and learning centre in somerset west

We made contact with the Et Al Therapy and Learning Centre in Somerset West, the same place where Jess went for physiotherapy with Stephanie Halford back when she was still a toddler.

There we got in touch with Nicola van Zyl, a young occupational therapist who then took Jessica through a lengthy (but fun) evaluation, the report of which we’ve now just sat down and discussed with Nicola.

As suspected, quite a couple of weak points were identified (i.e. in terms of being on the level considered normal for other five year old children), things that include the likes of weak postural and core muscles, bilateral integration issues, and motor planning difficulties.

Of greater concern (in terms of school progression) though is the many visual perception difficulties that Jessica also seems to have (she scored quite low in the fields of visual discrimination, memory, form-constancy, sequential memory, figure-ground and closure), which will need to be rectified sooner than later if she wants to keep up with her friends at school.

So, starting Thursday, Jessica will now be doing an occupational therapy session twice a week. (Sigh, my budget just can’t get a break this year. Goodbye Biokineticist, hello Occupational Therapist!)

Luckily though, Jess seems to like Nicola (not to mention all the cool swings and equipment in the class), so I don’t think she’ll mind all these fun new outings after school!

Related Link: Et Al Therapy and Learning Centre

Jessica and The Little Cooks Club in Somerset West Jessica 10 FEB 2016

Last week I put my newly unlocked ability to drive  to the test, by taking Jessica through to Somerset West for her weekly Little Cooks Club cooking session (normally this is some special bonding time for Chantelle and Jess, but seeing as she was super busy with orders before our weekend away in Jacobsbaai, I took a stab at it instead!).

IMG_20160204_152619 jessica lotter making couscous salad in little cooks club somerset west (with Kim Meierhans)

Started in 2006 by chef Christine Phillips, Little Cooks Club is all about teaching families about healthy food choices and providing them with an appreciation of good food through a range of relevant cooking programmes for Little Cooks and aspiring Junior Chefs, as well as helpful Adult Courses for school leavers and domestic helpers.

Chef Kim Meierhans recently opened the Helderberg franchise, basing it in Somerset West and in the process getting Chantelle quite excited because I’m pretty sure that she is just as keen to do it as what Jessica is!

At age 5, Jess falls into the Little Cooks programme, which means hands on preparation of simple but delicious meals that can then be replicated back home with the help of mom and dad.

IMG_20160204_142132 jessica lotter making couscous salad in little cooks club somerset west (with Kim Meierhans)

In the class, the kids get to taste and use their hands preparing the dish of the day, with the tricky bits like putting it in the oven being handled by the teacher. Naturally, the whole process is loads of fun for the kids, with the added bonus of the food prepared being actually quite delicious – the other day Jessica and Chantelle returned with Banoffee  Pie pudding of all things!

This time around it was couscous salad with baked vegetables.

Which came out pretty nice – thus leaving us with one pretty chuffed Jess!

IMG_20160204_152604 jessica lotter making couscous salad in little cooks club somerset west (with Kim Meierhans)

IMG_20160204_152614 jessica lotter making couscous salad in little cooks club somerset west (with Kim Meierhans)

IMG_20160204_152625 jessica lotter making couscous salad in little cooks club somerset west (with Kim Meierhans)

Related Link: Little Cooks Club | Little Cooks Club Helderberg

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 My Life 31 JAN 2016

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

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

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

IMG_20151006_181258 emily lotter in front of the country mews jungle gym

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20150715_105748 craig lotter Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20150510_115411 craig lotter tasting wine at la provence wine estate

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

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

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

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

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

Jessica Goes To Big School Jessica 14 JAN 2016

Yesterday was Jessica’s first day of going to the big school. True, it is only Grade R so it’s not like it’s uniform time just yet, but class is now at Gordon’s Bay Primary School (conveniently down the road from us), meaning that it counts! ;)

12553032_10153194211542553_8863286706554676175_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

With me continuing to be out of action thanks to my knee, I missed out on taking Jessica to her first day at primary school, but nevertheless, she was super excited enough to pose for photos to show off her new bag, water bottle and lunch box while we waited for Mommy to finish getting ready.

12540997_10153204076430493_2545026870900037953_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

English Grade R teacher Diane Matthews appears to be a bit of a legend when it comes to teaching the kids, and Jessica was over the moon with her first day in the Fishy Class, followed by the unrestricted play time that came with the afternoon’s aftercare spell.

Although all her friends from Vergeet-My-Nie are unfortunately in the Afrikaans classes, she does get to play with them at aftercare, and besides, I’m pretty sure that with her bubbly little personality, making new school friends is going to be a snap!

994721_10153204076490493_6062951573746846816_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

Seriously, where is the time flying? :)

12507456_10153204076610493_750783920194596057_n Jessica Lotter at Gordon's Bay Primary School

Butterflies on Helderberg Farm (2015-11-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 NOV 2015

The girls and I quite enjoy taking an outing to Helderberg Farm every now and then, and so the other day, when we found ourselves once again left to our own devices, we immediately decided to make the most of the great weather and head over there for some much needed picnic and play time!

IMG_20151122_134841 jessica and emily snacking at helderberg farm in stellenbosch

The farm, which lies at the food of the Helderberg Mountain on your way to Stellenbosch, is (as most of the farms in the area) old – with some of the buildings marked as being built in way back 1692!

The farm primarily produces wine grapes, but also produces a host of other produce including the ever popular strawberry. They offer a multitude of activities, including excellent picnic and braai spots, fantastic hiking trails, 4×4 trails, a tea garden, a kids playpark (with farmyard), mountain bike and trail running tracks, bird watching, clay pigeon shooting, paintball games, gravel karts, and even African drumming (if you are so inclined).

IMG_20151122_144048 jessica crossing bridge into woods at helderberg farm in stellenbosch

After playing a bit in our normal spot, I decided to take the girls for a little stroll in Granny’s Forest (the farm has some fantastic woodlands, which apparently is home to quite a fair bit of wildlife – not to mention a massive Mountain Candlewood tree).

IMG_20151122_144322 jessica walking trail at helderberg farm in stellenbosch

Sadly, despite the fact that I was rather enjoying our shady stroll on what was a rather warm afternoon, the girls decided that this was definitely no fun – even if there were butterflies fluttering around wherever you looked!

IMG_20151122_145440 translucent orange butterfly at helderberg farm

So I left it at that and we worked our way back, meaning that I’ll either have to a) wait for them to get older, or b) sneak back myself! :)

Related Link: Helderberg Plaas