Tag Archives: natasha granger

The Boardwalk of the Pied Kingfisher Trail in Wilderness (2016-06-26) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 JUL 2016

The Pied Kingfisher Trail is situated in Wilderness in the Western Cape, South Africa. The 11 km long trail is popular with birdwatchers and makes for an ideal morning hike that should take about 3-4 hours to complete. It is an easy going flat circular trail that begins at the Ebb and Flow South Rest Camp in the Wilderness National Park.

However, with two little girls, one toddler and a baby, we weren’t really interested in all that, now were we?

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Instead, with our hunger and thirst now satisfied, we next struck out for the popular boardwalk section of the greater Pied Kingfisher Trail, a pleasant walk all along the edge of the Touwsrivier.

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Access is easy enough (you can jump on the boardwalk directly from Waterside road), and the result is an easy, pleasant stroll along the water’s edge and through the reeds – affording you some great bird-watching opportunities in the process!

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The views are great and for the kids it is a big adventure, meaning that this little stroll definitely has something for everyone!

(And from there, it was back to Far Hills Country Hotel for a bit of a rest break following the day’s activities, before we once again headed out for some well deserved supper and play time at the classic George Geronimo Spur!)

Related Link: Pied Kingfisher Trail

Beer at Cocomo Restaurant in Wilderness (2016-06-26) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 19 JUL 2016

Having enjoyed all the stunning coastal scenery afforded to us by first Victoria Bay and then Herolds Bay, we next headed into Wilderness, with the intent to go for a stroll along the Touwsrivier boardwalk with Evan and Natasha. However, it quickly became apparent that by this stage the kids were more than a tad hungry, forcing us to redirect and find a place to grab a bite.

Luckily for us, Monty came up with a brilliant suggestion in the form of Cocomo Restaurant, situated literally right in the heart of the Wilderness Village!

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If you love music then you’ve definitely come to the right place, as this laid-back restaurant goes all out with the musical theme, with old vinyl records as placemats and featuring live music sessions 7 days a week!

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They are known for their great pizza (which the girls thoroughly enjoyed), but like any South African restaurant, their food selection covers pretty much everything that you might want.

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Also, I enjoyed one of the best tasting craft beers that I’ve ever drunk in South Africa, the Mossel Bay produced Glenhoff Lager (from South Cape Breweries)!

Related Link: Cocomo Restaurant

Watching Surfers at Victoria Bay (2016-06-26) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 JUL 2016

Having enjoyed a brilliant first day out that saw us do a lot of driving and sightseeing, the second day of our Far Hills Country Hotel long weekend getaway got off to a much more relaxed start, with us enjoying some coffee on our private balcony while watching thousands of white egrets fly through the valley down below.

After an okay breakfast (the hotel was rather understaffed for the amount of people currently visiting), the whole lot of us (Monty, Cheryl, Evan, Natasha, Chantelle and all the kids) headed out towards to the nearby surfers’ paradise, Victoria Bay – perhaps better known by its other more colloquial name, Vic Bay.

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This beautiful small cove is situated on the Garden Route between George and Wilderness, and is a particularly popular beach for surfers, consisting of a right hand reef-like wave which rolls over small boulder-like rocks for about 200m. Both district and national surf competitions are held here, so you are pretty much guaranteed to always find someone in the water – no matter what time of year you get there!

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It is an absolutely stunning piece of Garden Route scenery and well worth the stop, even if it is just to go for an amble past all the quaint houses lining the one side of the cove, wander down the pier, or just hunker down and enjoy watching the surfers and bodyboarders at play.

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We took our time strolling around, and yes, lots of photos were taken.

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After spending a decent amount of time taking in all the sights and scenery, we decided to take our leave of Victoria Bay, splitting off from Evan and Natasha who opted to spend the rest of the day there instead. (There is a small restaurant next to the beach in case you didn’t think of packing in a picnic or braai supplies!)

We did have a good reason though – ice cream at Herolds Bay was beckoning!

Related Link: Victoria Bay

Staying at Far Hills Country Hotel in George (2016-06-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 JUL 2016

June saw Chantelle, the girls and I enjoy a bit of a long weekend away break, booking in at the Far Hills Country Hotel just outside of George, on your way to Wilderness. Once again, Chantelle had spotted a fantastic Daddy’s Deals promo that give us a big discount on the normal going rate (similar to how we scored for our earlier weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate),  with a deal that was literally too good to pass up on.

As it turned out, this deal was so good that in the end we were joined by both Monty and Cheryl, as well as (completely coincidental mind you) Evan, Natasha and their little ones for this particular weekend away!

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After a pleasant drive up on Friday, we arrived at the Far Hills Country Hotel, just in time to get settled in and bask in the magnificent views afforded from the hotel’s deck before the sun set for the night.

The hotel has been around for years now (in fact, Chantelle and her family were actually put up in the very same hotel years ago when her father was first relocated to George whilst working for Eskom), and although some of this age does creep through in terms of some of the its looks and fittings, this is more than balanced out by the splendid Garden Route setting the hotel finds itself in the middle of.

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True, there were some complaints from everyone else over the course of our stay there, for instance, grumbles over the old and tired mattresses on the beds, some desperately in need of maintenance room fittings, a not particularly great breakfast spread (or supper for that matter) on offer, not to mention the serious lack of kitchen staff seemingly on duty in the busy/chaotic mornings.

However, despite these few mutterings, I thought that the staff with which I did have contact with were all wonderful, and most important of all, I found our room relatively comfortable. True, the TV didn’t work at all (a loss as far as the kids were concerned), but I thought the fact that I was able to sit on my private balcony, drinking a cup of morning coffee whilst watching a flock of thousands of egrets fly through the valley below easily made up for all the shortcomings pointed out by the rest of our party!

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Although Chantelle didn’t sleep particularly well (and yes, the weird teenage-attended charity dance party on the Friday night didn’t help), both the girls and I slept very well, meaning that the three of us definitely enjoyed the weekend away the most!

(We also did a bit of exploring around the grounds when we got the chance, with the girls loving all the overgrown vegetation that results in loads of cool paths between the housing blocks to wander about on.)

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With Far Hills as our main base, we enjoyed a proper weekend of out and about, spending the first day by doing a full day road trip that saw us drive all the way through to The Crags (just past Plettenberg Bay) to visit Birds of Eden, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the Plett Puzzle Park, followed by a day of hopping from one beach to the next (Victoria Bay and Herolds Bay) before rounding off with a walk along the Pied Kingfisher Trail boardwalk in Wilderness!

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As luck would have it, the weather remained beautiful for pretty much the entire weekend, with the rain only finally descending upon us come Monday – which really didn’t matter that much considering the fact that we were leaving for home on the day anyway!

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It was as far as what I’m concerned, a great weekend away with a great group of people. Jessica in particular loved the fact that Evalynne was there for her to play with, whilst I on the other hand left with strong reminder of just how much I actually love the beautiful Garden Route area – even if it seems that we almost never go out that way!

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Naturally, I took loads of photos over the course of the weekend, so plenty of photo sets still to come, but for now, here are a couple that I took at Far Hills Country Lodge itself:

Related Link: Far Hills Country Hotel

Photos at Canettevallei Lavender (2015-09-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 OCT 2015

Chantelle spotted something very cool on Facebook a little while ago – a wine and lavender farm in Stellenbosch had put out the invite that if anyone wanted to, they were more than welcome to come through and take some photos in the farm’s lavender fields before they were to be harvested.

So, at the end of September, we rounded up the kids and convinced Damen and Michelle, and Evan and Natasha joined us on our little photographic adventure (with the promise of a braai to follow).

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

Canettevallei is a wine and lavender farm that lies tucked away in Stellenboschkloof, a quiet valley situated about 10 kilometers outside Stellenbosch.

In 2005 the owners decided to plant lavender in front of their house on the farm, which then led to a lavender business, which in turn influenced the decision to plant a further three hectares of lavender.

Today Canettevallei grows lavender using organic practices to develop unique, farm fresh lavender products for body, gifts and weddings, with their main product lines being lavender essential oil and lavender ‘rice’, the sweet-smelling dried flowers of the lavender plant.

IMG_20150927_123430 walking at canettevallei lavender farm

Despite the weather predictions for bad weather on the day, the morning weather was actually very great, and so we enjoyed an idyllic drive out to this very scenic area, meeting up with the Oosthuizens and Grangers there.

The kids enjoyed a stroll around some of the fields, and we even had two of the local farm dogs join us for the walk (though technically, I’m not entirely sure we were meant to be there – it was after all a Sunday, the lavender shop was closed, and the place seemed pretty deserted… other than the people sitting on their porch in the distance, enjoying a Sunday brunch and warily watching these strangers traipse all over their land!).

Oh, and I spotted a lone cow, chilling by itself under a tree by the small stream.

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But that’s not important.

The lavender field was as most things are in real life, smaller than what it appears in photos, but it was more than sufficient for us to take a multitude of cute pictures of all the kids in this beautiful swathe of purple.

(Also, amazingly, no bee stings were recorded, despite all the naturally attracted bees!)

IMG_20150927_125921 chantelle lotter in the lavender patch at canettevallei lavender farm

After lots and lots (and lots) of photos were taken, and everyone was a bit grumpy of having to pose for far too many shots, we exited the field, made our way back to the cars and headed home towards Gordon’s Bay – just in time as it turned out – because as we finished up, the clouds raced in and the rain started pouring.

Talk about perfect timing!

The braai was good, the kids played together well, and lots of FIFA was played. Oh, and a decent amount of Southern Comfort (with Lime) and Jack Daniels disappeared in the process!

Related Link: Canettevallei Lavender

Visiting Stony Point Penguin Colony with Friends (2015-06-27) Photo Gallery 12 JUL 2015

Despite the annual Gordon’s Bay “Festival of Lights or “Winter Wonderland” being in full swing, Chantelle and I saw fit to have fun in a different way, by inviting some friends over to our side of the world for a guest house braai instead!

First activity for the day though: a visit to the penguin colony at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay.

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As it turned out, we were blessed with the perfect winter’s day weather for the trip, and Dean, Zania, Evan, Natasha, Michelle and Michael all tagged along with the little ones for a fun trip down the wooden walkway, surrounded by both adult and baby penguins on either side.

(Funnily enough though, this was the least amount of penguins we’ve ever seen there before – I can only assume our timing was a bit off on the day – must have been out hunting is all that I can come up with!)

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Nevertheless, the kids had a ball, and of course as any parent to a little one knows, that is literally all that counts! :)

Visiting Harold Porter Botanical Garden with Friends (2015-06-27) Photo Gallery 11 JUL 2015

The annual Gordon’s Bay “Festival of Lights” or “Winter Wonderland” has now come and gone, carnival weekends and all. As it turned out, Chantelle and I didn’t really end up spending too much time on it, primarily because we were busy with other things – like inviting our friends out to our side of the world for a change! :)

IMG_20150627_151701 emily lotter in harold porter botanical garden in betty's bay

With a braai organised at the guest house in the evening, and a visit to the penguins already done, Evan, Natasha, Dean and Zania joined Chantelle and myself for a little stroll around the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay (our second ever visit there), on what proved to be quite a beautiful winter’s day.

IMG_20150627_140904 crossing the bridge in harold porter botanical garden in betty's bay

As it turned out, a troop of baboons had decided to visit the gardens while we were there, meaning that we were treated to quite a few spectacles – from little baby baboons tumbling about on the grass, all the way through to adult baboons lounging around on the park benches!

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Quite a sight indeed! :)

(And of course, a walk in the sun simply had to be followed up with some refreshments at the Red Disa restaurant…)

Related Link: Harold Porter Botanical Gardens

A Cake Pop Class in the Making (2014-07-15) Photo Gallery 30 JUN 2015

Before Chantelle finally made the decision to wind down her little baking business and its unreliable income in favour of a job back at the guest house where things worked out financially a little better, we toyed about with quite a few ideas on how we could boost Chantelle’s Cupcakery’s profits/business in order to keep it alive as a viable option.

One of the more interesting plans we had was for Chantelle to start offering various cake/baking themed classes under her Chantelle’s Cupcakery banner.

Chantelle settled on Cake Pops as being the best class to start off with (they were super popular at the time), and so to test everything out, we roped in friends Michelle and Natasha to pop in and learn how to make cake pops.

IMG_20140715_094647 natasha granger, michelle oosthuizen and chantelle lotter do a cake pops class together

The end result?

Techniques learned, skills taught, and well from the look of it, lots of fun! :)

Even Teddy Bear and Barbie weren’t going to miss out on this “how to” lesson!

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Looking back at it now, it’s kind of a pity that this one didn’t quite work out in the end. That said, having two small kids at home is work enough thank you very much!

Picnic in the Jack’s Back Garden (2015-03-08) Photo Gallery 12 MAR 2015

It’s ridiculous that I’m still busy posting photo sets from this past weekend, but I guess it just goes to show that I really wasn’t lying when I said we had a jam-packed weekend on our hands! In case you haven’t been following, Saturday saw us feeding ducks, eating pancakes at the Root 44 market, playing with animals (and tarantulas!) at Giraffe House, date night supper at Cocoa Wah Wah in Rondebosch, and if that wasn’t enough, capping it all of with Nik Rabinowitz’s What the Eff at the Baxter Theater.

Sunday saw us eat cheesecake at Lourensford Harvest Market, and getting something to drink at Stodels in Bellville. And before we capped off the weekend with supper with the Montgomery Clan, our last big activity for Sunday was a outdoor picnic with the ducks of Sonstraal Damn.

Except, that isn’t quite how it went down…

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You see, it turns out that Sonstraal Dam wasn’t all that inviting on Sunday afternoon, with a miserable wind kicking up sand and dust and in general just making for a rather unpleasant outdoor experience.

So a new plan was hastily hatched, and with the agreement of Damen, Michelle, Evan, Natasha, Dean and Zania, we phoned up Andri and Malcolm (who live down the road) and asked if we could instead set up picnic shop in their backyard garden.

Happily they said yes, and so the next couple of hours was spent on blankets, dipping into picnic baskets and chatting about life, work, and whatever else sprung to mind – surrounded by vibracrete walls and the kids jumping the socks off of the trampoline!

In other words, a great example of making lemonade when life hands you lemons! ;)