Hartbeespoort dam (Harties)

What fun! I was supposed to go with my cousin to Harties yesterday as her husband was going to run around the dam but due to injury this was postponed but then this morning just after nine, my cousin called to say we were going to Harties. First I was, ooh and ah, but it didn’t take much convincing and 40 minutes later I was in the car and on my way. Harties is about an hour’s drive from Joburg/Pretoria. Coming from Joburg, you have to cross the bridge and go through the tunnel to get to the snake park. There is usually a bit of a delay due to the timed one-way bridge. I was however very entertained as I saw a woman on the back of a bike in pink stilettos – a first! We decided to take the children to the Snake and Animal Park which also offers a ferry-boat cruise on the dam.ImageIt was a fun day out and a hot 28 degrees Celsius. I got to see baby meerkats which were just adorable.

We went to the Wimpy after the park as the children wanted to play at the playground and we were too late for the famous Sunday buffet lunches at the surrounding restaurants. Harties offers plenty and is ideal for a long weekend away as it is close to the city but tranquil and quiet to allow you to switch off and relax. It was a fabulous day.

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Cullinan

What a great day! I went with a friend to go explore Cullinan for the day and we had an absolute blast. Cullinan is a charming little mining town about an hour and a half north-east of Joburg (past Pretoria and the Zambesi off ramp) and is famous for the Cullinan diamond; the biggest ever diamond to be discovered in the world – over 3000 carats!! You can go there by Friends of the rail which is a steam train running from Pretoria but as we haven’t been there before we decided to go by car which was good as we got to see more than we would have had we done this by foot once there and also there were some rain showers in the afternoon.

Oak Street

There are a few tours available if you want to go see the mine, learn how they mine diamonds and see the Big Hole. Some of the tours are up to 4 ½ hours so we decided to skip it and explore the town ourselves. There is a lookout point to see the Big Hole which is four times as big as the Kimberly Big Hole and twice as deep. The view wasn’t great so you probably would have to go on a tour to get the real sense of its size. The town is cute and mostly consists of houses built out of rock or tin with a rich history dating back to the turn of the twentieth century. Most houses and businesses have kept in the style of a traditional mining community and also take pride in their gardens and art work which can be seen throughout the town.

Oak Street

We stopped at Harrie’s pancakes and shared a savoury and sweet pancake which was absolutely divine. Harrie’s pancakes is also in Dullstroom, Graskop and Hout Bay and never disappoints. I love their bobotie pancake! The main street (Oak avenue) offers a tourist centre, lots of beautiful and alluring restaurants, art studios, jewellery shops and museums. The town also has some quaint churches and picturesque guest houses especially those near Hys Rex that overlook the Roodeplaat dam. If you want to go back in time then this town is a must.

Rand Club

I went with a friend to the Rand Club last night for a tour of the once very prestigious club, previously only accessible by the elitist men of society where history, especially that of Johannesburg, was made. It was established during the gold rush of the late nineteenth century. We had a drink in the main bar, the longest bar in Africa, followed by a lovely curry and rice. After dinner we went on a guided tour through this beautiful old building that is entrenched in history. It was fascinating to hear about the history and especially stories of Johannesburg and to look at old photographs of Joburg. You cannot compare this beautiful city of today with its many green trees with the once barren landscape that was Johannesburg. There were almost no trees in sight and it was a dusty (in winter) and muddy (in summer) piece of land with no river. The club is more than 100 years old but it had some technology that was way ahead of its time such as a central vacuum system which I found most fascinating. I had a great time and took lots of photos!

Design Quarter and Primi

I went to Design Quarter in Fourways today in search of a coffee table and bookcase. While I understand the change to electronic books and have bought a few, I still like the feel of a book in my hand, like to see how far I am in the book and love the sight of a bookcase with books in a house. I also like to keep every book I read as I would like to read them again in future. Electronic books are however very convenient when you travel. Design Quarter is the all in one stop when it comes to furniture, decor and design and hosts most of the big home retail shops. They have a few specialised shops such as Plascon spaces showroom where you can go see the effect of different paints in a special showroom, a kitchen design shop that has the most beautifully designed kitchens (but you will need to win the European lotto first) and some art studios. Design Quarter also has a  fabulous open courtyard with restaurants so you can make a day out of it and have lunch as well which is what I did. We had lunch at Primi where I had a fabulous Mediterranean pasta. I love Primi and have special memories of the Primi in Rosebank where I used to have a jam jar (a cocktail with white rum, cane, vodka, gin and fruit juice) and pizza with friends before catching a movie at Nouveau. I found a bookcase but not a coffee table which is most annoying as I have been looking for a while now. All I want is a dark wood coffee table with a drawer to put the remote controls in as I hate them lying around all over the place. You would think that is a pretty straight forward request but the places just don’t have it. I have found only one in my searches the past six months and that was at Furniture-warehouse in Kya Sands so I guess I will have to settle on that one. It was however a fabulous day out!

Aarzoo North Indian restaurant

I had dinner with friends at Aarzoo which is a North Indian restaurant in Bryanston that makes delicious food. I had the lamb tikka masala with butter naan and it was simply yummy! We ended the evening with coffee at their house where I got given their wedding invitation that was beautifully wrapped in a leatherette envelope with fresh lavender stems that looked stunning and is absolutely unique. It is going to be a great party!!!