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?)
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.
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!
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!
We spent a good amount of time playing on all the equipment, and even Teddy got roped into the fun!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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The girls and I found ourselves with a LOT of time to kill the first couple of weeks following my knee operation – stuck at home and with no Chantelle in sight! (December is super busy for the guest house as you might imagine!)
I am therefore not entirely surprised that we invented a lot of silly games during this period – with more than just a few involving blasting things with the Nerf Strongarm dart gun that I had received as part of a Hasbro blogger drop a month or so earlier!
(Note the defeated ponies in the background – Jess had to go in pretty close to pull off those shots!)
Anyway, it was ten days in following the operation and I needed to see Dr. Hardcastle for a wound checkup, my first outing away from the house since the start of December!
Pleasingly, the visit to the doctor’s offices went swimmingly well, though the doctor did plant the idea of ice cream into Jessica’s head on the way out – meaning that a trip through to the cool air-conditioned Waterstone McDonalds was now on the cards, much to Chantelle’s dismay!
A little while later, with Chantelle now back at work and the three of us chilling at home once more, I was surprised to get a shout from a courier guy, telling me that he was on his way in order to drop off a package for me.
Ooh, very exciting indeed!
The mystery box that arrived with the van was pretty large (and heavy!), and seeing as I couldn’t yet walk, the Oglivy delivery guy very helpfully brought the package inside and set it down on the kitchen counter for me.
Needless to say, at this point both Jessica and Emily were literally bursting with curiosity!
I let the girls get to work, and pretty soon they had shredded away enough of the packaging to reveal the box’s content – a solid cast iron, already oiled, potjiekos pot!
Of course, Jessica and Emily were not impressed with this at all. They had been hoping for something a little bit more plastic and a whole lot more interesting to play with – so they busied themselves with laying out the long strips of bubble wrap and running backwards and forwards over it for entertainment instead!
But of course, my good mood couldn’t last forever you know.
A little while later, the house became a little too quiet for my liking, and so hobbling around on investigation, I came across this bemused little face in the braai room!
Sigh. Dusting flour and toddlers don’t mix.
Anyway, the point is that I now own a big black potjiekos pot – the first one that I’ve ever owned in my life. Which means that now I guess I had better try my hand at cooking up some proper potjiekos in the near future! :)
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Finally, after nearly two weeks of sightseeing in Japan, the real reason for Ryan and I being in the country was at last upon us.
Amazingly, our smart clothes that had journeyed with us still looked reasonably smart, which was a good thing considering the fact that in Japan, weddings are usually quite a smart affair.
The day had arrived. Longtime friend Terrance was to marry the girl of his dreams, Yuko.
We were ferried to Komagane from Ina by Yuko’s father, who we had now met a handful of times over the course of the last couple of days – a tricky venture considering the fact that he doesn’t have any English and we have no Japanese.
However, we made it to the hotel together with Hester and Terry (Terrance’s parents) with plenty of time to spare, and we were ushered to a room where we were to wait with any other arriving family before being allowed into another room where the two families would get to see Yuko and Terrance in their traditional wedding outfits and be introduced to one another.
The wedding ceremony itself was short and sweet, and hilariously, the first thing to go wrong on our entire Japanese trip went and happened at the ceremony itself – the lady priest forgot an important symbolic step of the ceremony!
Luckily she remembered it on the way out, and so the entire guest contingent was ushered to the outside courtyard where Yuko and Terrance once again made a grand appearance and completed their ceremony to the cheers of everyone there!
(And by cheers, I do of course mean strict silence, with jubilation strictly happening once the go ahead was given. Very, very disciplined the Japanese.)
Naturally, it was an absolutely awesome experience and such a privilege that Ryan and I could be there to witness Terrance and Yuko’s big day!
Of course, no wedding can be complete without a big reception (even if there isn’t really any dancing at a Japanese wedding), and we were seated down in a beautifully decorated room for a series of speeches and of course food.
Lots and lots of food – seven courses if I remember correctly!
(NOTE: Chantelle is absolutely furious that I took one single photo of all that interesting Japanese cuisine!)
(Also, Terrance had kindly seated Ryan and myself with some of his colleagues from one of the schools that he had previously taught at, meaning that two or three of the ladies had some English at their disposal, which in turn meant that some decent conversations were actually possible for a change!)
We had a lovely time at a lovely wedding for a lovely couple.
In other words, a better end to our two week long holiday in Japan we could not have asked for! :)
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Weekend days with no birthday party celebrations pencilled in for October/November are pretty rare, but we did get one of these beauties towards the end of last month. Sadly though, Chantelle was working, which meant that it was up to the girls and I to entertain ourselves over the course of the morning with some much needed clothing (and extra LEGO bricks) shopping.
(Oh, and a stop for a cheeseburger, milkshake and play time at Waterstone Village’s McDonalds, because all of a sudden Jess is rather a big fan of doing this!)
As it turned out, Chantelle was working a split shift on the day, so I gave her a call and told her to come join us for some pancakes and ponies at the Blaauwklippen Family Market, a place we haven’t visited for a couple of weeks now.
Naturally, she jumped at the opportunity to escape Gordon’s Bay, and pretty soon the four of us were in Stellenbosch, lounging on the lawns of Blaauwklippen Wine Estate with pancake in hand, snapping selfies left, right and center! :)
As always the market was buzzing with excited people (though thanks to the Oktoberfest celebrations on the go, perhaps it was buzzing a little more than the norm), and despite the slightly overcast weather, everyone seemed to be having a ball of a time.
The girls ran around and played, I bought the kids some story books, and of course, we capped things off with a pony ride for Jess – who certainly hasn’t forgotten just how much she enjoys the experience!
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Related Link: Blaauwklippen Family Market
A couple of weekends ago, at the end of one of my frequent “Dad and the girls” adventures, I treated Jessica and Emily for a ice cream and play stop at Waterstone Village McDonalds (the only one I ever take the girls to because of its size, quietness, and small play area).
Everything was nice and civillized at the beginning of our little food stop, but after a while, the girls asked to go play in the play area and so off they went. I went to grab a newspaper and returned to my seat overlooking the play area – only to find this:
Somehow Jessica and Emily together had managed to get Emily up into a feeding chair, after which Jessica proceeded to feed Emily ice cream by the spoonful…
… who it must be said, really seemed to be enjoying it! :)
(As any parent of two children, the one being a fair bit older than the other, can attest to – finding your kids actually playing together and sharing a laugh is a pretty rare occurrence – hence the post!)
Side note: Emily returned from the ice cream outing pretty much dripping in ice cream that she had managed to smear literally everywhere. So, so sticky – and I suspect that the lady cleaning up was not particularly impressed either!
Found another folder of weekend photos that I forgot to post, dating back to the end of March this year. Another dad alone weekend, but man, looks like I once again found myself with the pony at Blaauwklippen Family Market on the Sunday.
I’m beginning to wonder just how many times Jess has ridden that little pony this year… (I suspect more than what I can count might be the answer!)
From the look of it, this was a pretty good weekend. Planted beans and swung in the crate swing with Oupa Monty, spent some time with the friends at Stodels (Logan, Evalynne and Jessica had a ball), pony rides, ice cream and pancakes at Blaauwklippen, and some burgers and play time at Waterstone McDonalds.
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Seeing these kind of makes me eager for Spring and then Summer to roll back into our lives! (After all, looks like possible snow hitting the Cape this week…)
As always, last weekend was plenty entertaining for Craig and his little girls. With Chantelle working, it was up to us to go exploring, and as such, Emily, Jessica and I found ourselves making the trip through to Bellville to spend a large chunk of Saturday morning browsing around the Tygervalley Shopping Centre, darting in and out of toy, book and clothing stores – much to the delight of young Jessica it must be said.
After a refueling stop at the Tygervalley McDonalds (Jessica had pleaded for a hamburger), we travelled through to Mom and Dad’s pad where Jessica and Emily were to spend the next couple of hours alone with mom, seeing as I was joining Ryan and Dad for the big Super Rugby game at Newlands between home team Stormers and the visiting Chiefs. Traffic was heavier than usual (or as Ryan would put it, we left later than what Dad wanted to because I made myself a cup of coffee first), the result of which was that the stadium was already making a lot of noise by the time we finally parked our car!
That said, I don’t think arriving a little earlier would have made any difference anyway – lines to get in through the various stadium gates were crazy – it would look like the new ticket scan system is slowing down access into the stadium badly, resulting in a lot of angry people in the process!
Anyway, it took a little longer than expected to find our seats, but once we were sitting and settled in, we were treated to an awesome first half spectacle of the Stormers dominating the Chiefs in the scrums and just a tight, exciting game in general. Newlands had a little earlier paid tribute to the heroic firefighters who had been involved in those massive fires just a few weeks earlier, and so there were quite a lot of men in uniform dotted around the stadium. In addition, high school Stellenberg had a contingent of students doing high school track meeting flashes/cheers, which was a bit weird to see at a rugby game, but good for the atmosphere anyway!
Sadly, come second half and things changed badly for the Stormers – despite the lovely cheerleader girls doing their best to motivate the boys on, the Chiefs turned up the gears and with their superior handling and running down the wings, gave us a proper hiding and lesson in how good rugby should be played.
So that was saddening and disappointing to say the least. After all, I only go to the rugby stadium like once every 1.5 years or so, and so to finally go and then lose is quite depressing as you can imagine.
Anyway, the ride home was a lot smoother and quicker than the ride to the stadium, and after some visit time back at Spolander street with Mom, Dad and my little girls, it was in the car and back to Gordon’s Bay to close off what had been a pleasant Saturday after all.
Sunday was another glorious day in terms of weather, and so I took Emily and Jessica through to Lourensford Market for some pancake time. However, the closer I got, the more and more signboards signboards appeared that pointed out that today was the day of the big Getaway Expo held at the Lourensford grounds, meaning a snap decision was made to avoid the massive crowds, parking headaches, and bumper to bumper traffic, and instead make a sharp turn, amble leisurely through the leafy glades of Somerset West, before hitting the R44 and driving down to the always enjoyable Blaauwklippen market instead.
Interestingly enough though, it turned out that Blaauwklippen had decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s day a little earlier than the official date (Tuesday 17 March), and as such everything was decked out in green and a lot of Irish music and culture was on display – which doesn’t really make much sense considering the fact that I don’t think Ireland has that much representation down here in South Africa?
Not that it matters though, the girls and I enjoyed the vibe, and Jessica was particularly enthralled with the duo of Irish dancing girls that entertained the crowd with all their kicking and flailing about.
The pancakes were good, the girls had fun, and Jessica has already booked a horse ride for the next time that we return – which in itself is something rather amazing given her general fearful nature!
From there we were summoned to come through to the Mondeor Garden Restaurant to meet up with Monty and Cheryl who were driving through from Bellville in order to meet us for a cup of coffee (Chantelle was busy finishing up her shift for the day – i.e. this was all her sneaky plan for some coffee and cake time), which is then exactly how the rest of Sunday afternoon was spent.
The carrot cake was particularly delicious.
In other words, yet another activity packed weekend for Craig and his girls done and dusted! :)
I was blessed this weekend by Cheryl and Rob offering to run the Willowbridge Market stall on Saturday, giving me what felt like the first market-free weekend in absolute ages! (Unfortunately as it turned out, foot traffic was again at super low levels, meaning that the day ended up being one of our worst market experiences to date! Oh well, hopefully next weekend’s triple market showing will do better at bringing some money in.)
Anyway, while I was off market duty for the weekend, Chantelle was not, and thanks to two awesome custom birthday cakes (A Buzzbee and a skateboard cake) for collection on Saturday, she worked completely through the night on Friday, though to be fair, I also only ended up hitting the sack at 01:00 – but not because I was baking cake obviously. What the two of us did however manage to squeeze in on Friday night was to grab a couple of minutes here and there, sit down to two delicious Scooters pizzas, and catch a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory season 2 – before splitting up to go our separate ways again, mine which ended up including quite a bit of late night blogging for a change!
Early Saturday morning Jessica and I woke up, packed the car and hit the road, transporting all the goodies through to Cheryl and Rob who were waiting to set up the Willowbridge stall. Chantelle had asked me to stay in Bellville for the next couple of hours in order to give her time to clean up in preparation for Sunday’s informal birthday bash, so Jess and I spent some time Pick ‘n Pay (both Willowbridge and Tygervalley), Toy Land, Toys R Us, eventually walking free with nothing else but two cute stuffed toys and some plain t-shirts for me.
From there we popped over to Ryan’s pad for a nappy change and some catch up time with my boet, before heading over to McDonalds where Jess and I neatly sat down and shared a medium two cheeseburger meal. This was noteworthy because I taught Jessica how to dip her fries in tomato sauce, which needless to say proved quite entertaining. Now on the last leg of our morning away from home, Jess and I drove through to Stodels, where on arrival I first needed to clutch a sleeping toddler whilst swinging on a handy garden bench, before she was back in the game and we spent a decent bit of time wandering about and taking in all the cool animals and fish that they have there.
Having given Chantelle enough time at home now, we finally headed back, where after a little bit of family time spent together, Chantelle and Jessica headed off for a long afternoon nap on the bed, whilst I pulled out an old copy of Spriggan and re-acquainted myself with this fast paced action anime 90’s classic.
With the house and garden now all spotless thanks to Chantelle and Isaak’s efforts, the evening saw the three of us hit Pick ‘n Pay for supper supplies, as well as deal with a nasty teeth biting into lip incident when Jessica toppled over hard whilst trying out a plastic bike we were thinking of buying her. Guess we’ll wait for another few centimetres before pursing that one again!
Jessica in bed, it was then time for Chantelle and I to enjoy some homemade burgers in front of the television with some more Big Bang Theory episodes to entertain us, before an exhausted wifey decided to retire for the night, leaving me to play around on the PC a bit before too succumbing to the siren of sleep.
And then Sunday was the big friends and family get together for the informal celebration of Jessica’s birthday (which had taken place on the previous Wednesday in case you were wondering). But more about the gathering in another blog post methinks.
So yeah, it ended up being a pretty decent weekend, particularly because there was no market time for me! That said, I’m already pencilled in to handle a market on both Saturday and Sunday next week. Yay me…
Ugh, it had to eventually come to an end, but of Tuesday 3rd of January 2012, I find myself firmly back behind the keyboard, banging out fresh new SurveyThumb code for my wage masters over at Touchwork. In truth, I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks or so off, having spent a lot of time with family and friends, and just generally unwinding as I recharged my batteries in full preparation for 2012!
New Year’s Weekend was very much a Northern Suburbs affair, with Jessie and I traveling through on the Friday to my mom’s place in Bellville, where the three of us spent a lovely day in and out of the pool, despite the nasty little wind that kept popping up and threatening to drive us away. The evening on the other hand was spent back home in the company of wifey, where we got together to enjoy a delicious homemade pizza over a Eagles DVD after a successful putting Jessica to bed routine!
Saturday was literally Braai Day, and after packing both of our little cars to the brim with all of Jessica’s hardware and software, we sped off back to Bellville in order to offload the little one with all her belongings at the Montgomery Clan stronghold, where she’ll be spending the next two weeks with Ouma and Oupa until the Baby Steps daycare reopens mid January. After settling her in with Cheryl, and then promptly grabbing her away again, it was a quick stop off at the local Spar for supplies, before hitting the N1 to Kraaifontein, where Jessie, Chantelle and I joined up with Damen and Michelle, as well as the rest of our friends who had made the trip through for an afternoon New Year’s braai.
With Damen elected tongmaster and stuck behind the raging fire, the rest of the boys dug out a tennis ball and plank, and proceeded to carefully destroy Damen’s backyard with a hearty round of cricket (in a very confined space). Food was eventually served, before the boys once again peeled off from the womenfolk, picked up the XBOX controllers and proceeded to smash each other with a few rounds of FIFA 11.
From there it was back to Bellville as this time we properly managed to leave Jessie behind with Ouma and Oupa, as Chantelle and I headed out back into the breach, this time to Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Kuilsriver, where we joined up with Malcolm, Andri, Michelle, braai master Gary and all of their collective kids at the Ollewage’s swanky pad. There we enjoyed a fantastic evening of good company, good stories and even better food, making it all the way through to midnight for that all important countdown and many ‘happy happy’ wishes!
Finally, it was back to the Montgomery Stronghold in Bellville, where a tired but happy Craig and Chantelle hit the sack for some well-deserved shuteye, the first of 2012!
Sunday was a delayed start for Chantelle who slept in thanks to a massive headache, but when Jessica and I did eventually manage to get mommy out of bed, we persuaded her plus Ouma to join us for a walk around Sonstraal Dam in Eversdal in order to feed the multitude of Egyptian Geese and ducks that call that spot home. After a successful stroll and having depleted our loaf of fresh white bread, we beat a hasty retreat from the busy feathered fiends, heading off to Tyger Manor McDonalds, where Robert joined us so that I could treat everyone to some McDonalds as a late lunch.
From there Jessica, Chantelle and myself shot off to my folks, dropping in at the perfect time to catch both Great Grans (plus Ryan) at Mom and Dad’s pad. More visiting was had, a watermelon devoured, and then it was finally back to the Montgomery Clan where we handed over Jessica to an excited Cheryl and Monty, before hitting the long road back to Gordon’s Bay, and more importantly, our awesome bed!
So yeah, a pretty good New Year’s Weekend after all then I reckon! ;)