2018 was in short a good year for us Gordon’s Bay Lötters. Nothing particularly amazing or big dominated last year’s landscape, instead it was very much yet another year of pleasant stability or as I like to put it, “same same”.
The charmingly mischievous and cute Emily had a lovely year with her friends in the ever excellent Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, while big-hearted Jessica had a brilliant Grade 1 year of learning, playing and taking part in sport at Gordon’s Bay Primary. Chantelle too enjoyed a good year consisting mostly of baking cakes (so, so many work through the night weekends!) for her increasingly busy Helderberg Cake Company home-based venture.
As for me, I had a nice year of adding even more features to my code baby, Touchwork’s Kinetica platform, whilst happily continuing with my mission of visiting as many new places as what I possibly can get to with my girls come each and every weekend. I didn’t blog very much last year (basically I just didn’t feel like it), instead opting to play a LOT of video games come evening (much to Chantelle’s frustration I’m sure). Thankfully though, Instagram makes for a very good visual diary, meaning that not all is lost for those of you interested in following what the girls and I got up to over the course of the year.
In terms of holidays, the girls and I spent a lot of time up in Mossel Bay with my folks in 2018 – four visits to be exact, and also managed to squeeze in a weekend away to Jacobsbaai. Other than those though, we were very much home based the entire year. (Interestingly enough however, I did head off on quite a few business trips up to Gauteng and Durban over the course of the year – something that up until now has generally been a pretty rare occurrence.)
So. 2019 should be a lot of the same then.
Jessica has already excitedly kicked off her Grade 2 year with Ms Samson at Gordon’s Bay Primary (today is in fact Inter-house Athletics), Emily is entertaining new teacher Petronella and perennial favourite Rika at Vergeet-My-Nie, Chantelle is baking, decorating and delivering, and I’m sitting behind the keyboard typing this out whilst taking a break from coding and answering work e-mails.
As always, I suppose that I’ll now say that perhaps I’ll try and take better care of my health this year, maybe play a little less video games, and definitely stretch my legs more often, but truthfully we all know that this would very much be an untruth.
After all, I’ve found myself to be rather fond of all these “same same” years…
Chantelle’s favourite little Helderberg restaurant is without a doubt one of the more unusual ones to be found in the area.
In the shadow of an old decommissioned naval helicopter perched on top the roof, flanked by both the family-run scrap dealer business and costume hire shop to either side, and situated in the heart of the very unsexy Strand industrial area, is the neatly painted, slightly unassuming, Pajamas +Jam Eatery.
Never mind that though – as with most of these little gems, it is on the inside where all the magic happens.
Run by a mother and her two daughters team, the premises of Pajamas and Jam houses a large collection of neatly arranged junk (sorry, I’ve been informed that those are all antiques and collectibles), in the middle of which is a fair number of mix and match tables and chairs.
To the side, hidden just behind the mouth wateringly decadent cake and bakes table is the kitchen, from which the most interesting and on trend foods are wheeled out on a constant basis. The use of top notch ingredients means an ever changing, well thought out menu that goes out of its way to surprise and delight.
Because of the decor and quality food, this eatery is by far more popular with the ladies than the men, and that shows, with the restaurant packed to the brim from early morning already. (Honestly, it’s always a gamble as to whether or not you’re going to get a space there!)
As I mentioned at the top of this post, given the fact that Pajamas and Jam is a firm favourite of Chantelle’s, it made perfect sense to head out that way for her (kid-free) birthday breakfast back in December last year.
Fancy french toast, deconstructed croissants and what not – no wonder she likes this place as much as what she does! ;)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”50692,50693,50694,50695,50696,50697,50698,50699,50700,50701,50702,50703,50704,50705,50706,50707,50708,50709,50710″]
Brownie points scored.
On the 7th of November last year, Chantelle and I celebrated eight years of marriage to one another. To commemorate this special occasion, we decided to head out to Cape Town for High Tea at city’s famous Pink Lady: the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.
With its name taking inspiration from Cape Town’s Table Mountain and the fame of Lord Horatio Nelson, the historic Mount Nelson Hotel (now owned by the Belmond group) first opened its doors on the 6th of March 1899. It was the first hotel in South Africa to offer hot and cold running water, and it was described back then as being ‘even better than its London counterparts’.
Today this five star luxury hotel, complete with gardens, restaurants, a spa and a host of other amenities, holds on to its status of being a place of accommodation that achieves that perfect mix of tranquility and class in the middle of a bustling urban environment.
(To be honest, I kind of have to believe what they say – this place definitely does amaze when it comes to first impressions!)
For Chantelle of course, afternoon tea (or high tea as it is otherwise known) at the Mount Nelson is old hat – she’s done it more than a few times in the past, but for me it was definitely a first.
And admittedly, I have to say that I rather enjoyed the experience.
For a start, the newly renovated tea room is now light and airy, apparently very different to the darker, more reserved space Chantelle has previously experienced.
The setup is simple enough: you get shown to your table, you get assigned a tea sommelier (or a waiter if you’re unlucky), get a stand of savour finger eats placed down in front of you at your table, and then proceed to select two teas from a very exotic (and extensive) list of teas (while continuously heading over to the exquisite dessert buffet table to fill up on treats whenever you run short).
For reference, my first pot of tea was the Pu-Erh Royal 2009 red tea, followed by a pot of Lapsang Souzhong smoked black tea. Chantelle on the other hand gave the rather dramatic Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls oolong tea a go.
We had a particularly interesting tea sommelier (which is apparently now a thing) who spent a fair time talking tea with us, plus, given the fact that we were there for our wedding anniversary, we were even treated to a special little Happy Anniversary plating – much appreciated of course.
Sadly though, our romantic outing for two took a strange turn towards the end of the tea service – turning on our phones revealed that Emily’s school had been trying to get hold of us. Thanks to a MAJOR fire that was moving in onto Gordon’s Bay from Sir Lowry’s Pass, schools were being evacuated and basically we needed to abandon everything and get home fast!
Of course, being stuck more than an hour away from home meant that we had to phone up anyone and everyone in order to make a plan that ensured the kids were safe, and after a quick but slightly panicked stroll around the gardens to admire the exquisite Dylan Lewis sculptures out on display, we strapped in for a rather nail biting drive back home through traffic.
(For reference, we were all safe, but the blaze on the mountain was massive, gutting a few houses and causing much panic and evacuations, before eventually turning back in gale force winds and heading up over the mountain again. Quite a spectacle to see the mountain at the back of our house burning so bright orange for the next couple of evenings! Also, turns out the saying is true – if you live in a fynbos rich area then you are pretty much guaranteed a major fire every ten years or so!)
Anyway, back to the high tea experience – it was actually really enjoyable to have done:
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”46903,46904,46905,46906,46907,46908,46909,46910,46911,46912,46913,46914,46915,46916,46917,46918,46919,46920,46921,46922,46923,46924,46925,46926,46927,46928,46929,46930,46931,46932,46933,46934,46935,46936,46937″]
In Summary: Afternoon Tea at the Mount Nelson is an expensive outing to be sure, but definitely one worth doing if you’re looking to treat your partner to something that is special and perhaps just a little bit out of the norm.
I’m not sure what has happened to be honest, but I blinked and somehow 2017 appears to have come and gone. Being an adult, being married, being a parent to small kids, working full time (even if from home), playing a lot of video games, and heading out to explore each and every weekend sure seems to speed time up a fair bit! ;)
Consequently, any of the other things that I thought I would most definitely get around to in 2017, i.e. learn a new skill, get healthy, and perhaps socialize a bit more pretty much all fell by the wayside.
On that note, the blogging front didn’t fare all that much better – you probably noticed (if you are a longtime reader) that I didn’t exactly post a ton of new content this year. Honestly, I took (and enjoyed) a bit of a break from creating content, the result being that this was the year with by far the least amount of blog posts attributed to it since the site’s inception in 2007.
I’ll do better in 2018, promise.
It’s not like I don’t have content to post mind you. Tallying up the amount of photo folders linked to 2017 sitting in my Google Drive yields the number 137, of which only 66 have thus far made it onto An Exploring South African as one of my photo gallery posts.
In other words, plenty of local places worth visiting guaranteed to still to appear on these pages! (All that said, I did properly embrace Instagram this year and and have to admit, am totally loving it! No idea what I didn’t join the platform sooner. Facebook and Twitter on the other hand though? Meh. Couldn’t really be bothered with those two.)
In terms of the family, Emily had a fantastic year at the Vergeet-My-Nie playschool. She is clever, cute, mischievous, playful and super loving – everything you could wish for from a three (soon to be four) year old.
Jessica also had a fantastic year, with the repeat of Grade R at Gordon’s Bay Primary the absolute best decision that we ever could ever have made for her. Her emotional maturity has blossomed, both her work and work rate have improved, her physical conditioning and coordination is a lot better, she’s maintained her charming cheerfulness, and now she is SUPER excited (and ready) to tackle the big school of Grade 1 next year.
Chantelle took a pretty big step this year as well, abandoning her full time position at the Gordon’s Beach Lodge guest house in order to launch her very own Helderberg Cake Company venture. Of course, the loss of a monthly paycheck was/is nerve-wracking, but the wins stemming from the renewed job satisfaction and being based at home with consequently more time with the girls definitely makes this move well worth the while!
As for me, despite starting the year with a whole lot of good intentions, 2017 was a whole lot more of very much the same same as always.
Given that I enjoy being in charge of myself and more importantly the entire software solution that Touchwork sells (not to mention the perk of being allowed to work from home), I spent the year continuing to add to and refine my Kinetica platform – which has now been in constant development for a eight years or so!
This year I also got well and truly stuck into mobile development, with the end result being the dynamic Kinetica TouchandTell app (built using Appcelerator Titanium) being deployed to both the Google Play and Apple App stores.
(On that note, Touchwork actually enjoyed another pretty successful year, pulling in a lot of new USA-based clients, partnering up with some local selling partners, and even grabbing a new contract or two on our own out here in South Africa.)
Next year should be pretty exciting too for me in terms of development – we’re jumping head first into IoT devices and the SigFox network!
It wasn’t all work this year of course – as I mentioned at the start of this post, the girls and I went out exploring a LOT. Literally each and every weekend of 2017 saw us jump in the car and drive out somewhere (naturally, as is usually the case for me, most of it unplanned and usually very much spur of the moment), with the big family holiday up to Addo and Port Elizabeth through Oudtshoorn taking center stage back in July.
Outside of our local travels, I did find myself playing an inordinate amount of video games in my spare time this year, with Paladins being by far the game that sucked me in the most – so much so that I now actually play competitive ranked matches online, much to Chantelle’s amusement as she listens to me gripe about someone not picking either a support or front line character for the umpteenth time! ;)
I write these hello goodbye posts on an annual basis, and the “what is in store for the new year” section is almost always pretty rubbish (or better put, almost always completely wrong), however, that said, I really, really do need to improve my indoor/outdoor life balance in 2018 – meaning I suppose a lot less game time, less time sitting in my chair behind the keyboard, more time in the sun, and definitely more time in the gym (or at least on a yoga mat).
Well, that’s the plan anyway.
(I’m off to an okay start I suppose – I am now the owner of a brand new shiny gym membership here at our local Bay Fitness gym. True, I haven’t used it yet, but it is at least all mine.)
So. All in all, 2017 was pretty good year for Gordon’s Bay Lotter clan, definitely no complaints or any major problem on any of life’s fronts. That said, here’s to wishing for an even better and more prosperous 2018 for us all – a Happy New Year indeed!
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, 2010, 2009 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! ;)
With Jessica now going to occupational therapy twice a week, the opportunities for Chantelle and I to slip out for a coffee or lunch during the week are now few and far between. However, we did catch a break last Friday and managed to slip out for a bite to eat at the famous Bertie’s Moorings restaurant at Harbour Island Marina here in Gordon’s Bay.
International sailing legend Bertie Reed (1943-2006) is considered one of the best sailors that South Africa ever produced. During his life-time he sailed about 170 000 nautical miles competitively, of which over 100 000 was single-handed – including three solo circumnavigations of the globe, the first South African to ever do so!
He is also remembered for his brave rescue of fellow South African John Martin, whose yacht sank after hitting a submerged iceberg in the Southern Ocean during the 1990/91 BOC Challenge. This heroic deed (and example of outstanding seamanship in extreme conditions) was rewarded with the Wolraad Woltemade Decoration, the then highest South African civilian award for bravery.
Anyway, he and his family established Bertie’s Moorings back in 1994. The family-run restaurant/pub is centered around a hand-crafted oak barrel bar (made by Bertie himself), and can seat around 120 people. The drawcard has to be though the large deck overlooking the water!
The restaurant plays host to lots of live music gigs, and caters for big sporting event screenings as well.
We made the most of the good winter weather, and tucked into a portion of classic fish and chips, while Chantelle gave their ‘white pizza’ a shot. (Update: both were good!)
And then, because all good things come to an end, we paid our bill and went back to work!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”39563,39564,39565,39566,39567,39568,39569,39570,39571,39572,39573″]
Related Link: Bertie’s Moorings
With me still waylaid due to my battle with German Measles, we didn’t exactly go out this weekend (I was still rather contagious, so better safe than sorry). As such, Chantelle made some time in the afternoon to treat the girls (and Cara who had been spending the day with us) to some peanut butter cookie baking – which needless to say went down quite the treat!
All three girls eagerly perched up high on the bar stools, taking in all the instructions that Chantelle was feeding them bit by bit. Getting involved is of course the super fun bit, and before long the girls were rolling their dough balls, patting them down on the baking tray, and sprinkling them with sugar.
Isabella dropped by to show us her gymnastics medals that she had just won, and she ended up joining in on the cookie bake as well!
The end result? Some delicious cookies for the rest of the weekend, and a well deserved Zootopia movie break for mommy and the girls!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”38539,38540,38541,38542,38543,38544,38545,38546,38547,38548,38549,38550,38551″]
On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I took the girls out to go and buy something nice for Chantelle. We did however start our trip by dropping in at our local Gordon’s Bay public library first – the first time any one of us had actually been there!
The girls were quite impressed by all the books, and after a quick story or two (and the promise to sign up for our very own library cards), we left again, battling the strong wind and heading off through Strand to the Paardevlei Farmers Market.
After years of not being particularly impressed by proteas and the rest of the fynbos family, Chantelle has since done a u-turn and as such, the girls helped me pick out two beautiful bunches of proteas which would serve as Chantelle’s Mother’s Day gift. (We also stopped at the shops to pick up Lindt Chocolates too, just to be safe.)
Come Sunday, despite the fact that she was working a split shift, it was in fact the rest of us who were in for a treat. Chantelle had invited the folks over for Mother’s Day lunch, and with Monty and Cheryl joining us for the day, Chantelle arrived back from her first shift at work and set about whipping up an absolutely fabulous chef-level lunch with the brilliant Norwegian Salmon (sourced from Gordon’s Bay Fisheries) as the hero of her dish!
(Not to mention the delicious home-made seed bread that she too somehow found the time to bake!)
And if the main course wasn’t enough to leave our mouths watering, she also delivered a delicious Banoffee Pie for dessert.
Sadly of course, after finishing our meal and enjoying the dessert, it was back to work for Chantelle, meaning that at the end of the day, it was actually the rest of us who were more spoiled for Mother’s Day than what she was!
(But at least she had her Lindt chocolates to return to that evening…)
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”37748,37749,37750,37751,37752,37753,37754,37755,37756″]
After being closed for a bit thanks to problems with leases, liquor licences and who knows what else, I’m very pleased to see that our local Paardevlei Farmers Market has recently (and super successfully) relaunched – and I am happy to report that it is great to have them back in action!
I had paid a visit to the Paardevlei Farmers Market at its old location once or twice before, and ultimately despite the great buzz and atmosphere that it brought to the table, I came away disappointed with the cramped and dark nature of the Triggerfish building it was housing itself in.
But all that has now changed with the new location, a massive, easy to find shed that retains that vintage, industrial feel of the first incarnation, but this time with more than enough space and light to actually make this Saturday morning market feel more welcoming and definitely prime it for some excellent future growth!
There’s not a massive amount of traders on the floor just yet, but I’m sure that will change pretty quickly, and besides, they pretty much have all your needs covered – fresh produce, warm and cold drinks, decadent delights, and of course pancakes.
(Sadly though, the pancakes on offer are from Pure Pancakes – who still haven’t got their recipe right, meaning pancakes with too much bicarb and thus a horrible aftertaste/texture on the tongue!)
Nevertheless, we loved the vibe, the music, the atmosphere, and am definitely excited to watch this farmers market grow!
[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”37347,37345,37346,37348,37349,37350,37351,37352,37353,37354,37355,37356,37357,37358,37359,37360,37361,37362,37363″]
Related Link: Paardevlei Farmers Market