Last year’s December holiday was pretty nice, kicking off first with some beach time at Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay, followed by some more R&R in Gouritz for New Year’s. Sadly for us though, our ten year old Hyundai Accent developed a problem (lost power thanks to a blown coil), which then meant an unscheduled extension to our holiday with a trip through to George – the nearest town with a proper Hyundai Service Center available in it.
That of course then meant that we needed to source accommodation in the middle of the December holidays – not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do!
As things turned out though, we managed in the end to find space at the French Lodge International, a charming African-themed guest house situated right along George’s York main street (which coincidentally is also a delight thanks to the fact that it has a decent run of Christmas street lights strung up down the length of it!).
Owned for ten or so years by a charmingly helpful Frenchman with a penchant for motorbike safaris, these days the French Lodge International (complete with small replica Eiffel Tower out front) consists of the main building (which houses a number of the larger rooms) and a whole lot of smaller, more private thatch roof rondavels – all of which are centered around a large pool that quite truthfully, saw a LOT splash time from myself and the girls over the course of our short stay!
In short – our family sized room, the breakfast, the free WiFi, the convenient location, and the French Lodge International’s super friendly staff were all great, making for a good, comfortable stay.
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As for George itself, we hired a nice Volkswagen Tiguan from a local care hire company AutoHireSA, did a lot of driving around, visited a lot of nice places (as is our norm), and did our best to put our minds off the fact that the rather expensive R6,000+ repairs were going to take much longer than what we could afford to stay.
Luckily for us though, my Dad was on hand to help us out by driving all the way from Bellville to come and ferry us and our luggage home! Talk about Uber service! ;)
After spending a lovely evening out with Damen, Michelle and Ryan for New Year’s Eve, the actual 1st of January was dominated with a trip out to Mom and Dad’s house in order to celebrate the New Year with a big family lunch.
Despite Chantelle working for the first half of the day (she would join us later in Bellville), Jess, Emily and I made an early trek through to the Northern Suburbs, where we joined Ryan, Riley, Claire (with the boys), and Granny Lotter in chilling at Mom and Dad’s pad. Lots of conversation, lots of swimming (though Emily wasn’t quite so keen on the cold water), and lots of relaxation as Mom and Dad scurried about preparing the feast, was the order of the morning.
Lunch was absolutely delicious as expected (so much variety!), Jessica and Emily enjoyed themselves on the day (as did Gran I suspect), and when Chantelle finally did join us after work, we immediately (well, after she had first eaten – hey, we’re not monsters) made her put on her new boardshorts that she had received for Christmas and got her in the water (a rare treat for Jessica who was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to swim with Mommy!).
We even dug out an old Polyotter (from when Claire, Ryan and I were kids) to see if it would be useful for Jess, but after a couple of tries we quickly decided that drowning our child with an ancient flotation device is probably not the best of ways to teach her how to swim! :)
Having not seen Jessica for a whole week now was simply far too much, so for this weekend past I hatched a plan which saw me spend time with her both Saturday and Sunday, thereby scratching the itch and making it a little easier to make it through the next week that she continues her stay with Oupa and Ouma out in Bellville, whilst the creché remains closed for their year-end break.10
Whilst Friday night was pretty much dominated by the awesome XBOX 360 game that is Vanquish (Chantelle is working bloody late at the guest house at the moment, stupid In Season period!), Saturday was a different story, when after a decent sleep I arose and gathered everything I needed for my morning outing.
My plans did receive a little bit of a setback when I realised that I had allowed Chantelle to go into work with her car instead of mine, a problem because my baby car seat is currently inhabiting Monty’s Tucson, thus of no use to me. Luckily this was easily resolved by a quick trip through to the guest house where I switched keys with Chantelle, jumping into her little green Getz and shooting through to Bellville where I met up with Pops and Ryan at the Bellville Lotter Stronghold.
A quick check and pack of the boot, and we were off in Dad’s Lexus SUV, heading straight to Wagner’s Golf Academy in Durbanville, where our mission for the afternoon would be a full 18 holes of their not quite so easy and fairly technical little mashie course.
Seeing as neither Ryan nor Dad have ever played at Wagner’s before, I was at a slight advantage having played there once before (in my previous disastrous outing with Robert where he wiped the floor with me as I continued to whack, and lose, balls left, right and centre!), a fact that I seemingly made use of as I managed to win the first nine holes by a shot and tie for first on the back nine, making me overall winner of the day (with dispute coming from Ryan’s corner. In case you’re wondering, the score was a not so stellar 39 on the front and 40 on the back. Luckily for me, neither Ryan nor Dad fired on all cylinders from the get go!).
Last time I tried to play everything with my pitching wedge, a problem because I wasn’t able to extract much lift out of it. This time however it was sand wedge pretty much all of the way, generating enough loft for me and leading to some pretty nice shots, backed up with putting which for a change wasn’t too horrible at all! For the three hours that we were there in the light breeze and blistering sun, I only managed to lose a single ball, something I’m quite chuffed when taking my last visit to Wagners in consideration!
Anyway, following our successful late morning/afternoon out, next stop for me was a pick up of Jessica from Oupa and Ouma’s house, where I was quite pleased to find that Jess still remembered her old man, breaking into a huge smile when I walked in by the door. (Apparently, she didn’t do this when Chantelle went to visit her during the week, going even so far to get a little upset when Mommy wanted to hold her! Shame, Chantelle was pretty devastated about that!)
Back at my folks’ place, it was a quick bite to eat, before a change into swimming costumes for the whole family, and into the pool where Mom, Pops, Ryan, Jessie and I had a complete ball, frolicking around in the water for well over an hour!
A yoghurt later and it was out for the count for a now dry but exhausted Jessica, while the folks and I wiled away the afternoon by watching golf and tennis, waiting for the little one to wake up so that we could get free (and cute) entertainment once more!
As all good things tend to do, the day did eventually come to an end, and so I dutifully deposited young Jess Jess back with Oupa and Ouma, before hitting the road back to Gordon’s Bay, where I patiently waited the late return of Chantelle from work (with more Vanquish).
Sunday was braai day, as Monty, Cheryl and Rob brought Jessica through to come and braai with us in the early afternoon during Chantelle’s split. Once again it was a scorcher of a day, and for some or other reason I made the silly mistake of braaing using the inside braai. Not my brightest of moments and needless to say, I suffered for it! :)
Anyway, regardless of that, the meat came out delicious as we crowded around the little air conditioner in the lounge, enjoying a great meal and great company, as well as exceptional entertainment courtesy of the always cute as a button Jess!
Eventually it all had to come to an end though, as Chantelle returned to work for her late shift, sparking the return of the Montgomery Clan with Jessica to Bellville, leaving me on mop up duty and then with just enough time to blast away plenty more Russian RIs in the excellent Vanquish on the XBOX 360! (Oh, and maybe I squeezed in a bit of blogging here and there as well.)
So yeah, after reading all of the above, definitely a good weekend that was had, even if wifey was on duty for most of it! :)
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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! ;)
Here’s an interesting note. Despite the fact that almost everyone always talks about Boxing day as being the public holiday directly following Christmas, officially its name has been Day of Goodwill since 1980 already!
Anyway, moving right along, I did in fact enjoy a pretty awesome Day of Goodwill 2011, despite the fact that wifey was working. It kicked off in the morning, as I got on with the packing while Jessie finished her breakfast routine, before the two of us shot through to Bellville, with the little cupcake enjoying her morning snooze in the comfort of her baby seat. In Bellville I met up with my folks at the Bellville Methodist Church, where the hall was subsequently unlocked and the people streamed in for a morning of badminton in what can only be described as sweltering sauna conditions! It was very much a Montagu and Lotter clan event, and in total there were about six active players on the morning, which meant plenty of game time for the full 2 hour period that we played.
With Granny and plenty of others there to keep Jessica entertained, daddy got to thoroughly enjoy himself knocking the shuttlecock around the court, something he hasn’t done in what feels like years! (You should have seen the amount of dust I had to blow off my racquet cover when I finally found it at the back of the storage cupboard!)
Eventually it was time to head home to start the afternoon routine with Jess, and so Mom and I headed off to their pad while Dad went out to scrounge up some food for lunch. With Jessie seen to and ready for her nap, Mom, Dad and I sat down and enjoyed a light lunch together outside on what really was a beautiful Summer’s day.
Now Dad and I had already seen fit to get rid of all the sweat from the morning’s play by taking a quick dip in the pool before lunch, but because this had been my big plan for the day, there was definitely no way I wasn’t going back in – all I needed was Jessica to wake up, so that I could plonk her into her swimming gear and then lather her up with some sunblock!
It took a little while to get my pink munchkin used to the water temperature (she normally swims in a heated pool), but once she was ready, I got into the pool and Dad passed her to me, marking the very first time little Jessie has been in Grandpa and Gran’s pool! :)
I’m not sure how long we played in the water for, but it felt like absolute ages, as Grandpa joined in on the fun and games, after passing along the camera to Granny who happily snapped photos from a safe and dry distance!
Ryan eventually stopped by as well, though not in time to join us in the water, but definitely in time for the big presents reveal, as we (and it was probably more Mom than anyone else!) happily worked through opening up Jessie’s huge stash of presents she had received from everyone for Christmas for her!
With the presents exchanged and snack time out of the way, it was time to bundle Jess back into the car and head off home to Gordon’s Bay, with her again enjoying a nice long snooze in the baby seat while daddy drove the boring trip all on his lonesome! Back home we met up with Chantelle who had been on a cleaning drive, and after the whole bed time routine for Jess, we quickly whipped up some chicken burgers for supper, before falling back on the sofa and enjoying the thoroughly delightful Tangled which I had rented from Mr. Video a little bit earlier!
So yup, definitely a good Day of Goodwill then! :)
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A week or two ago I finally got the opportunity to join Chantelle and Jessica on one of their Monday swimming lessons, held at the Blowfish Swimming School which operates out of a converted residential house in the Strand.
It was fantastic to actually be there in person for a change (up until now, I’ve only ever seen the video footage of Jessie in the heated pool), and to actually witness just how much Jess seems to enjoy the experience – and the water!
That said, shame, my little baby girl was well and truly put through her paces seeing as none of the other mommies that usually attend with Chantelle could make it, meaning that there were no rest breaks for our little dribble monster as they swiftly moved from one exercise to the next!
One of the best things to come out of this experience for me though is the fact that I now have a very good idea of what they do with Jessie in the pool, what she is used to, and more importantly what I can do with her in Granny and Grandpa’s pool come this Summer holiday.
Needless to say, I can’t wait! :)
Anyway, here are a couple of video that I managed to grab on the day:
And now you know! :)
2014-01-20 UPDATE: After numerous people contacting me for a contact number for Blowfish Swimming School, my wife went and dug up the number that we used when we were still utilizing their services a couple of years ago: Anke – 082 900 7614. Hopefully that helps.
Yay, Chantelle was off for a change, it was Valentine’s Day weekend, We were going away to Hermanus and most important of all little Zandea was being christened – how could one not start the weekend on such a high note? :)
Like I said, it was Zandea’s christening on Sunday and to make it all that more special, Dean and Zania decided to hold the christening at the same church where they got married two years ago, all the way out in Hermanus, Zania’s old hood. Of course, not ones to pass up a great opportunity for turning the event into a weekend away just for the fun of it, we unleashed Chantelle on the Internet and soon she had turned up a great looking place to stay – which then got converted into an even sweeter deal when she organised a guesthouse networking swap which meant that she and I got to stay the weekend in Hermanus for free while in return, the owner of that guesthouse gets to spend a weekend in the future at Gordon’s Beach Lodge at no charge. Great networking and strengthening of referral ties for the two managers and for me, the added bonus of some much needed pressure release off my poor little wallet, still feeling the stinging of the bashing it took with last week’s car saga!
Anyway, we only managed to get away from Gordon’s Bay pretty late on Friday evening after work, and eventually come 21:00 or so we landed in Hermanus, finding the Pebble Beach guesthouse, situated right next to the Hermanus golf club, easily enough thanks to Mr. TomTom’s unerring sense of direction.
Greeted on arrival by the friendly Francis, we stowed our bags in what can only be described as one of the most luxurious rooms I’ve been in and then darted out to grab a quick bite to eat at the local Spur – which surprisingly enough actually had other people still dining away by the time we got there! (Food wasn’t great though in case you are wondering)
After a fantastic night’s sleep (well for me in any event), the morning got underway with a fantastic breakfast served up by the great Pebble Beach team and with our tummies full and hunger sated, we headed out to Hermanus proper to do some stall browsing and hook up with Dean and Zania (and Zandea!) who were meeting up with us at Mugg & Bean for a drink. One successful visit later, and Chantelle and I were on our next mission, walking Hermanus flat in search of the elusive soft serve which simply put… couldn’t be found. (And no, we’re not talking about KFC or Steer imposter soft serves here – I’m talking about proper two tone, sugar cone stuff man!) Any how, with our walk not turning up anything we jumped into the car and headed down towards Onrus side but as you might have guessed, our search was just as fruitless, so with our heads hung low we turned around and returned to town – which made it all the more funnier when on entering the town and right across the road from where we were previously parked, Chantelle spotted the magical soft serve sign just sitting there minding its own business!
Overjoyed we parked and rushed down to the Princess Cafe, placed our order and then watched in horror as the poor soft serve machine sputtered into life, squirted out a couple of chocolate poo’s worth of ice cream and then promptly died, leaving us with little more than a brown twirly mess in a styrofoam cup. Shame, the girl serving us was very apologetic and as a result we didn’t pay anything for the ice cream we did manage to get out, but still I guess the little that we got was better than nothing in the end! :)
Back at the guesthouse, Chantelle was soon down and out for the count enjoying a rather lengthy afternoon nap while I set about enjoying the marvelous, black interior pool before stretching out and catching some rays on the soft grass. Next it was time for some R&R with a couple of the Ultimate Fantastic Four graphic novel, followed by the Stormers versus Lions game on Supersport, though I must admit to missing out rather large chunks of the latter thanks to my darn eyes that kept on falling closed!
The evening was spent for the most part in Panarottis, where we dined on some delicious pizza offerings (though it didn’t quite make up for the missed Cattle Baron, which would have been Chantelle’s supper treat had they not gone and closed down a couple of weeks prior to our visit!). Back home, I enjoyed a late night dip in the pool (Chantelle refused to join me for some reason – something about not having a bather with or something like that! :P) and while she enjoyed a lazy bath I got some solid reading time in again.
Oh, and we swapped Valentine’s gifts just before midnight – it seems like she just couldn’t wait to unleash the monstrous love bug stuffed animal she found upon me!
Sunday kicked off with a special Valentine’s Breakfast which basically was the same as the previous day’s breakfast but just with all the colour replaced with tones of red, white and pink – which was actually quite a cool little touch. Then a quick pack and settling of our little extras bill, we dashed off to the St. Peter’s stone church and grabbed our seats (actually, we accidentally stole the Church Warden’s reserved seats) and enjoyed the spectacle that saw little Zandea, who was VERY well behaved by the way, join the Christian family.
What was great was that Evan and Natasha, and Michelle and Damen had also made the drive through from Bellville on Sunday morning to attend the church service and following on from that, all of us met up at Zania’s mom’s house where we sat for the next couple of hours indulging in some awesome finger snacks and talking the day away. Chantelle and I eventually bid our farewell though (sorry for starting the mass exodus Dean!) and headed back to GB, where Chantelle naturally gave her new Coricraft friends a good testing out and I busied myself with setting up a whole lot of blog posts for the coming week.
The evening however saw us once again out of the door and out to the mall, where we enjoyed a great little Subway snack and then plonked ourselves down in our seats for the rather unentertaining (though it does have its moments) and long Valentine’s Day movie starring a host of A-list faces.
And that was pretty much that. A great weekend filled with friends, some driving and tons of R&R, meaning that I start this week in our newly renovated little shoebox feeling rather refreshed…
Related Link: http://www.pebblebeachguesthouse.com/
For no reason other than we could (only an hour longer to get home to Gordon’s Bay), we decided to stopover in Swellendam on the last night of our epic honeymoon road trip, where we enjoyed the steak and hospitality of Swellendam (as well as the guest house’s swimming pool) courtesy of Marula Lodge.