Tag Archives: weekend away

No Weekends Away for the Next While My Life 09 SEP 2016

Ah yes, I very naively stated at the start of this year that my plan for 2016 was to go for at least one weekend away trip each and every month, to make up for being housebound / crippled for so long following my ruptured quadriceps tendon injury in December last year.

IMG_20160416_104325 chantelle photobomb with craig lotter at warmwaterberg spa near barrydale

Looking back I really did get off to a good start (considering I could only really half walk again by May), with a trip to Jacobsbaai in February, a trip to Mossel Bay in March, a weekend at Warmwaterberg Spa outside Barrydale in April, a stay in Stanford in May, a Garden Route break via George in June, and then the massive one, just short of two weeks away in the United State of America – Anaheim and San Diego to be precise – in July. (Which I still need to blog about, I know!)

However, my year long goal has come to a crushing halt thanks to the realities of life – in other words, my disposable income is currently under strain! :D

When we learned that Jessica was struggling a bit with Grade R (and looking unlikely to progress to Grade 1 next year), we immediately leaped into action by signing her up for some intensive occupational therapy with the brilliant Nicola van Zyl at the Et Al Therapy and Learning Centre. The results have been brilliant, but it does cost me over R2,000 a month, so there’s that.

However, now we are in a predicament where the teacher is no longer sure as to whether or not Jessica should progress or stay behind next year, and with Chantelle and I sitting on different sides of the fence (I want Jessica to progress, while Chantelle wants her to hang back), we’ve decided to get a professional opinion via a thorough school readiness assessment from the very capable educational psychologist Mia Schoeman, again at Et Al. This will help us make the proper decision, but of course it comes at a price of just over R3,000.

Then there was the unplanned trip to the dentist which set me back a surprise R4,135, not to mention the scheduled 150,000 km car service on our 2007 Hyundai Accent (which we only bought at the end of 2013 following the wrecking of Chantelle’s Getz) which cost R2,945 and came back with a quote of R10,000 for work which still needs to be done!

So yes, there is a need for a slight break in my “going away each and every month in 2016” plan!

Not all is lost though. I’ve got a trip with the girls to Gouritsmond (Gouritz) already booked for late December, and I’m reasonably sure that by October the need to get away will kick in once again, overriding any silly monetary concerns that I might have…

IMG_20160206_075812 girls and craig lotter at artists retreat on a misty jacobsbaai morning

(Mind you, if you follow my Instagram feed or Facebook page it certainly wouldn’t look like I’ve let up. Spring is here and the girls and I are making the MOST of the good weather in order to explore our surrounds come each and every weekend!) 

First world problems, I know! ;)

Weekend Away at Blue Gum Country Estate in Stanford (2016-05-20) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 JUN 2016

In keeping with my mission to go away at least once a month this year (Jacobsbaai in February, Mossel Bay in March, and Barrydale in April), May proved to be no exception, with Chantelle spotting a great deal on Daddy’s Deals that gave us access to the exclusive boutique hotel-like Blue Gum Country Estate (just outside Stanford in the beautiful Overberg) for just less than half of the usual going rate!

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Named after the 140-year old Blue Gum tree that grows on the front lawn, the estate is both a working farm (olives and grapes) dating back to 1839 and a private, family-run guest house, managed by owners Anton and Tarryn de Kock (Anton, who as it turns out, studied a year behind me at UCT in the Computer Science department!).

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With the kids safely dropped off with Oupa and Ouma, Chantelle and I set out over Sir Lowry’s Pass, taking the coastal route to Stanford, i.e. passing through Hawston, Onrus and Hermanus before hitting that beautiful stretch of the R43 that will eventually take you all the way through to Gansbaai.

Given that we only managed to leave at around 16:00, it was already getting dark by the time we reached Stanford (thanks Winter sun!), making the navigation of the rather long dirt road up to the estate rather tricky – thankfully, Google Maps didn’t lead us astray!

On arrival, we checked in and immediately agreed to have supper at the onsite Blue Gum Restaurant, though not before first marveling at the exquisite, massive room that greeted us – complete with king size bed, free-standing bath, indoor fireplace, and even a private garden for our exclusive use!

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Supper was just as exquisite mind you (note: with prices to match), with a beautifully presented main course and dessert delighting our taste buds from start to finish!

After a good night’s rest, we woke, enjoyed a quiet coffee on our tranquil, private patio, and then headed to the  breakfast room, enjoying our first proper glimpse of the scenic beauty of this lush and well maintained estate  in the process.

As expected, the breakfast was an absolute treat, the staff a delight, and more importantly, one of the best eggs benedict that I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating!

After exploring the grounds for a bit, we then headed out for the day, spending a bit of time in both Gansbaai and the delightful little village of Stanford, more of which I’ll still get into when I finally get around to posting those photos as well!

(Sadly, time didn’t allow for us to make a stop at the Birkenhead Brewery, nor the Klein Rivier Cheese Factory,  but we did however get to stroll at De Kelders, wander about Stanford, visit the Overberg Honey Co., and indulge in authentic Italian gelato!).

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Following our long day of excursions, we returned to Blue Gum Country Estate and joined in for the complementary High Tea – and seeing as no one else had bothered to show, Chantelle and I got to enjoy the relaxing tea room and delicious snacks all to ourselves!

After a bit of relaxation and more exploration of the grounds, we headed back down the horrible gravel road and made our way to Stanford, where we both settled on KC’s Restaurant for supper – with the end result being the enjoyment of some particularly delicious pizza!

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After yet another brilliant night’s rest, Sunday started off much the same as Saturday, with a fantastic breakfast, a tranquil walkabout, and then finally the dreaded checkout and goodbye.

What an unbelievably magnificent place to visit, and in the same breath, highly recommendable. There is no way that you won’t come back from a weekend at Blue Gum Country Estate not relaxed and at peace with the world!

What a beautiful birthday treat from Chantelle this was…

Related Link: Blue Gum Country Estate | FaceBook | Stanford

Weekend away at Warmwaterberg Spa (2016-04-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 MAY 2016

I may have mentioned it already, but I had a horrible end to last year and a bad beginning to this one. Thus, now that I can pretty much walk normally again (at last!!), I’m doing my best to salvage the year by attempting to go on at least one getaway a month for the rest of the year – and so far we’re doing a pretty good job of it!

IMG_20160416_104325 chantelle photobomb with craig lotter at warmwaterberg spa near barrydale

February was Jacobsbaai, March was Mossel Bay, and April was Warmwaterberg Spa (just outside of Barrydale if you are looking for it on the map).

Warmwaterberg Spa is one of the oldest hot spring resorts in the country, having opened in 1887, meaning it turns a healthy 129 years old this year! Chantelle and I have actually been there before, way back in 2010, and we were both pretty excited to now head back and show off the place to the girls.

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If you have never been there before, Warmwaterberg Spa is a very simple operation, a place with all the necessities in place but without much luxury attached to it. There are quite a couple of different accommodation options, including caravan and tenting sites, to be had (we chose a timber cabin for the six of us), a restaurant and little shop on the grounds, and most important of all, the pools.

However, what it does have in spades is space, starlit skies, and stunning landscape scenery, with idyllic views that literally stretch on for miles – no matter which direction you look.

IMG_20160416_093425 landscape at warmwaterberg spa near barrydale

Discounting the historic Roman baths on the property, there are three public pools in total, each a different temperature. Seeing as it was too cold to make use of the cold water pool, we pretty much stuck to the two warm pools, with Jessica surprising us all by declaring her independence (thank you water wings!) and swimming on her own without clinging to us each and every second like she normally does!

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We were joined on this trip by Monty and Cheryl, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed having Oupa and Ouma along for the adventure. Our weekend flashed by, with lots of swim sessions (including a night dip for Chantelle and myself), peacock stalking, chicken chasing, braai and a potjie suppers, a restaurant breakfast and even a coffee trip to Barrydale.

Oh, and Emily was particularly impressed by being allowed to sleep in her own big bed for a change!

IMG_20160416_113821 girls walking to the pools at warmwaterberg spa near barrydale

As luck would have it, the weather played along beautifully for the Friday and Saturday of our weekend away, with the clouds only rolling in on Sunday, making for a slightly damp car packing session.

The girls had fun, I had fun, so yes, apart from the horrible 3 km dirt road to get to resort’s reception, Warmwaterberg Spa Weekend Away 2016 was a brilliant success!

(Naturally, I took loads of photos, as is customary on any of my weekends away…)

Sadly though, despite it’s close proximity to Warmwaterberg Spa (it is literally just before the gravel road turn off), we didn’t make time to pop in at the famous Ronnie’s Sex Shop pub. Maybe when the girls are a little older…

Related Link: Warmwaterberg Spa

Visiting Redberry Farm in George (2016-03-12) Photo Gallery 10 APR 2016

I’ve already mentioned that back in March, Chantelle, the girls and I enjoyed a brilliant weekend away break with my folks at their holiday place in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay. What I haven’t yet talked about was the great Saturday afternoon outing that saw us enjoy a leisurely, scenic drive out to George, where we paid a visit to the tourist friendly Redberry Farm.

IMG_20160312_124203 chantelle lotter with teddy at redberry farm in george

Redberry Farm is both a commercial strawberry growing farm and a popular family entertainment venue and as such makes for a perfect family outing if you’ve got a bunch of little ones running around.

There are loads of activities for the kids to do, including pony rides, bumper and paddle boats, bubble orbs, jungle gyms, and even a mini Redberry Express train, which takes kids for a quick spin around the maze.

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Talking about the maze, Redberry Farm is also home to the Hedge Maze, the largest permanent hedge maze in the Southern Hemisphere! Grown from over 30,000 Syzygium Paniculatum plants, the maze consists of seven strawberry stations, a 25m underground tunnel and a look-out point to be found within 10,000m of pathways.

Oh, and don’t forget about the strawberry picking either!

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The premises also include a fantastic farm stall and tea garden, as well as the Red Shed Coffee & Berry Bar, which serves a variety of treats.

As you may well by now imagine, Jessica and Emily had an absolute blast of an outing, and I have to say, so did I. A genuinely fantastic family outing spot that I’m sure I’ll be visiting again the next time I find myself up in the area!

IMG_20160312_144551 onboard the strawberry express mini train at redberry farm in george

Some more photos from the excursion:

P.S. The food on offer was pretty good as well!

IMG_20160312_132938 jessica making her own ice cream sweets treat at redberry farm in george

Related Link: Redberry Farm

Weekend Away in Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay (2016-03-11) Photo Gallery 06 APR 2016

In February we managed to take a weekend break in Jacobsbaai with Chantelle’s folks, and pleasingly, in March we managed to slip in another weekend away break with my folks, joining them for a stay in the Pinnacle Point house in Mossel Bay.

IMG_20160312_164106 chantelle, jessica and emily lotter at pinnacle point, mossel bay

My leg was already a fair bit stronger than what it was back in February, meaning that this time around I was a little more mobile and could thus enjoy my weekend that little bit more than what I did back at Jacobsbaai.

(That said though, I developed mumps right before we left, meaning that I did spend the weekend looking rather ridiculous with my comically swollen face!)

IMG_20160312_170154 ronald and craig lotter on the golf cart in pinnacle point, mossel bay

This particular weekend was characterized by an invasion of giant rain spiders, with the final count of spiders discovered in the house up to something like 12 or so by the end of our stay!

Dad became the de facto spider wrangler, successfully capturing and relocating all but one (Chantelle got this one before it could get her) of the spiders back to the outside world – though one frisky one that dropped down at him did almost give him a heart attack and probably shaved 5 years off of his life expectancy in the process!

IMG_20160313_093839 grandpa ronnie lotter colouring in with jessica

The girls had a blast spending some time with granny and grandpa, and of course the occasional easter egg didn’t hurt matters either. Saturday saw us make the most of some great weather and travel out to George to spend some quality family time at the Redberry strawberry farm (I’ll post the pictures later), while Sunday the weather cooled its heels a little, allowing for a more relaxed approach to entertaining ourselves.

Jess enjoyed her trips on the golf cart (which I didn’t even attempt to drive this time around), Chantelle enjoyed the peace of sleeping without snoring (she was downstairs across from the girls, whilst I slept upstairs with 85% of the weekend’s spiders in my room), and Emily loved all the extra attention she was getting all weekend long!

IMG_20160313_094206 granny cheryl lotter reading story to toddler emily lotter

We enjoyed a braai, watched the Stormers lose a narrow game of Super Rugby, and I discovered Canary Melons for the first time – thanks Fruit & Veg for that!

It was a short and sweet weekend away, with us leaving for home on Sunday afternoon already, but it was jam packed with loads of quality family time – so no complaints there! :)

(Oh, and on the way home, we finally stopped and popped in by the fabulous Tredici bakery/coffee shop in Swellendam – well worth the effort mind you!)

Oppiwa Weekend in Jacobsbaai (2016-02-05) Photo Gallery 21 MAR 2016

Back in February we found ourselves enjoying quite a good weekend away in Jacobsbaai, having travelled there to attend the fun Oppiwa Festival.

IMG_20160206_075812 girls and craig lotter at artists retreat on a misty jacobsbaai morning

All in all we were quite a big Montgomery-related family group that booked out Priscilla’s Artist’s Retreat guest house, with the end result being a thoroughly enjoyable, sociable and entertaining weekend.

With my leg still being reasonably weak though, I skipped out on joining the others on their musician/wagon/wine trips, tasked instead with looking after the girls for the weekend – which translated to a trip to the Cape Columbine light house (more on that later), multiple play dates at both Panarottis and Spur in the West Coast Mall – but sadly, no strolls around Jacobsbaai itself!

IMG_20160207_133439 cuddle cub, jessica and craig at the spur in west coast mall

By all accounts, the Oppiwa festival itself was loads of fun – Chantelle and the others had an absolute blast. On the whole, the weather was good, the company great, and the food delicious!

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(Still, it would have been a lot nicer had I been a bit more mobile! Not a lot of photos this time around I’m afraid…)

Weskus Padstal Stop (2014-02-28) Photo Gallery 03 JAN 2015

Back in February last year, Chantelle, the kids and I were invited to join both the Montgomery and Holmes clans for a weekend away in Jacobsbaai, which we of course gleefully accepted. On our way up, Chantelle insisted that we pull over at the famed Weskus Padstal, a place she was dying to introduce me to.

And I have to say, it’s just as well that she did. What an interesting little stop. Padstal, nursery, aviary, restaurant, this little place has it all, not to mention some fantastically eccentric props, art installations and just general interior design.

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A feast for the eyes and senses, and even better, a great little stop spot for the little ones! :)

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Pinnacle Point Weekend with the Montgomery Clan (2014-08-30) Photo Gallery 02 JAN 2015

In August last year Dad let us and the Montgomery Clan use the Pinnacle Point pad for the week (well for Chantelle, myself and the kids, a weekend and a little bit), which turned out to be a pretty good getaway in the end. We enjoyed great weather, Jess loved her time out on the golf cart, and of course we did a fair bit of walking and sightseeing.

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As for rest time? Well with Oupa and Ouma on hand, there was plenty of rest time to be had! ;)

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Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort Getaway (2014-06-14) Photo Gallery 31 DEC 2014

Halfway through this year Monty and Cheryl invited Chantelle, myself and the kids to join them for a weekend away at the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort, perched atop the Piekenierskloof pass, just outside of Citrusdal.

The chalet we stayed in had the most fabulous of views, you can literally see for miles all around you. It’s spacious, comfortable and features an awesome outdoor braai on the patio – which turned out to be very important because sadly the weather for the weekend was pretty sad. Rain, cold and mud were the order of the day, though that didn’t stop us from having a brilliant family weekend away anyway.

Good food, warm braais, lots of swimming in the resort’s heated indoor swimming pool, and of course a trip or two down to Citrusdal were the order of the day, and in the end pretty much everyone had a fantastic time. (Except maybe Chantelle, who was targeted one evening by an epic throw up all over her from a clearly upset Emily, and perhaps Robert, who was forced to abandon his bed because I simply snored too much. And not just me, Chantelle’s snoring eventually had him sleeping on the floor in the lounge! Only once we put Jessica in the same room as him was he finally able to get some decent sleep of his own!)

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Oh, and did I mention that the chalet had DSTV? That was of course super important, because naturally I wasn’t going to miss a single moment of the 2014 World Cup (which was awesome just by the way).

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