The Phantom of the Opera and Nelson Mandela Square

I had such an excellent day yesterday. It started with me meeting my friend for breakfast at Ciao Baby at Cedar Square and it was great to just relax, chat and catch up as we have been so busy lately and phone calls, emails and SMS’s only go so far. It is just fabulous and good for the soul to hang out with your best friend.

In the afternoon I met my cousin and her family at Nelson Mandela Square which is linked to Sandton City shopping centre. It has many restaurants as well as the Sandton library and Michelangelo hotel that overlook the square and the bronze statue of Nelson Mandela.

In the evening I went with my mom, cousin and friend to The Phantom of the Opera at The Teatro at Montecasino and what a magnificent production. I have seen it before but I couldn’t remember the story so it was like watching it again for the first time. I loved it and the phantom, played by Jonathan Roxmouth, was simply superb! I had goose bumps through the whole performance of The music of the night. Not only did Jonathan sing this with so much control and emotion but his acting matched his velvet voice. I was extremely impressed. We ended the evening with coffee and dessert at The Meat company. We each tried something else, crème brulee, chocolate mousse, malva pudding and fridge cheese cake. Their desserts are absolutely divine but the mousse was extremely rich and the malva pudding very sweet but what a phenomenal evening!

Freedom day, Wedding day

Yesterday was Freedom day but from now on this day will always be associated with Jaco and Liesje. I went to their medieval fantasy wedding and what an amazing event, one of the best (if not the best) I have ever been to. What made this phenomenal was that it was a family affair in every sense of the word; it was 100% reflective of the couple and the things that are important to them, of their loving, caring and considerate nature, of their love of fantasy and above all, their love of each other. They were not bound by tradition but did everything in a style true to themselves, unpretentious and real.

The wedding took place at the family farm to the south of Joburg which made this extra special as it is rich in family history, Liesje’s dad being the fourth generation owner. Everything at the wedding had a special meaning and was specially bought, designed or made, from the table cloths, crockery, the goblets, herb plants, name places written on wood to Liesje’s fabulous couture medieval dress, inspired by the character Catelyn Stark from the TV series, Game of thrones.

The ceremony started at 16:30 with everyone meeting under the giant, century old, oak trees for drinks and then preceded to an open field where guests were seated on chairs and benches in a half moon against the backdrop of a vast and beautiful landscape. It was the first time that I saw a groom that looked genuinely happy and relaxed. The Wits Choir accompanied the groom, the best men (Jaco’s two brothers) and mom down the path to where the ceremony was taking place. This was followed by Liesje who was led by her mom and dad and her entourage consisting of her brothers and sisters, cousins, friend and even the dogs. The bridesmaids all had deep purple capes with flowers in a simple bouquet. They all walked down the stone path while the choir sang beautifully.

The ceremony was performed by Liesje’s dad and it was emotional and heartfelt. Liesje used a quote from the movie, Frida, in her wedding vows that encapsulate their marriage:

“I don’t believe in marriage. – No, I really don’t. Let me be clear about that. I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it’s a happy delusion…these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other. But… But… when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous and very romantic.”

After the ceremony, as the sun set, all the guests had a chance to write a special wish for the couple on Chinese paper lanterns while enjoying some hot glühwein. The lanterns were then sent into the sky while the choir was singing. The reception was on the lawn under a Bedouin tent which had a medieval feel with wooden chairs, big wooden candelabras and herb plants in terracotta pots at each place setting with medieval beliefs written on them – a thank you gift along with a wooden box filled with biscuits. The name places were calligraphically written on wooden pieces.

The couple entered and was greeted by the music performed by former Duke of Cornwell singers after which starters were served. This was followed by Jaco’s best friend and mother’s speeches and then later Liesje’s dance with her dad together with all the grandparents while serenaded by Liesje’s sister and fellow choir members singing Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water which was a personal highlight for me as it was sung so beautifully. Liesje’s younger sister did an impromptu speech which was too cute – she was just too glad that they were married at last.

The dance floor was later formally opened by Liesje and Jaco’s dance before main meal was served and after that the party was on which carried on till the morning with the few diehards who made it till sunrise. In between cake was cut and dessert served but one thing was for sure – this was now party time and time to let the hair down. No one had to worry about drinking and driving as provision was made for people to sleep over. If anyone felt cold there were fires everywhere and you could go sit around it to warm up if you were not hot enough by dancing to the music from the 80s and 90s which was managed by Liesje’s brother who also played a tribute to the couple of a piece of jazz music he composed while at the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid last year and did the accompanying drums when Tebs was entertaining the guests with his singing.

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It was a beautiful day where everything exceeded expectations. Everything was sincere and familiar. It was also nice to meet up with old friends and see people from Cape Town and London.

Today everyone met up for brunch before leaving the venue and some 15 of us ended the last of the festivities at Liesje’s mom’s house with a braai on the grass outside reminiscing of the wedding and previous events at the house before ending it with some coffee, tea and some more wedding cake while the rain came down – grateful that the rain only came today. This was a very memorable wedding that will be thought of and talked about for a long time to come still. As Liesje’s cousin said, maybe we must have a monthly anniversary party to all get together. These are the moments that make life so special.

Rosebank Mall

Yesterday, while on leave, I found out how much fun it can be to shop in the morning when the stores are not busy. I went to Rosebank Mall and it was actually fun as the mall was very quiet, the shop assistants were extremely helpful and friendly and all-and-all I had a great shopping experience. I haven’t been to Rosebank Mall in a while as it was a big mess while they were busy with the Gautrain and then you kind of forget and move on to other places but it was good to rediscover it. Rosebank Mall is famous for their art nouveau cinema but you can also catch the latest box office movies at the Classic Cinema in The Zone@Rosebank across the mall. There is also the Rosebank Rooftop flea market on weekends and public holidays which is one of Joburg’s better flea markets. I stopped for lunch at the Mugg & Bean and was pleasantly surprised. It is cozy and the décor creates a relaxed atmosphere. I was surprised at how many people were having business meetings but then again they provide the key ingredients – coffee and WiFi.

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Lazy days…

What fun! I had a great day yesterday. I decided to take the day off which was just awesome! Sometimes, when you feel like it, you just have to do it. I had a lazy morning, watched some TV which is way overdue as the PVR is at 98% again and last year I had the same issue and then my PVR broke and I lost everything :-(. I do however get bored with TV very quickly which is why PVR is so great. Everything that used to take an hour can now be watched in 20 minutes especially any reality type shows and any result show I watch in 5 minutes as I am just interested in the results – why try and fill it with an hour of nonsense? In the afternoon I went for a haircut and tea at gran and in the evening I met up with friends for our supper club which was at 33 High Street restaurant in Modderfontein.

We take turns deciding on a restaurant and what is great is that you get to go to places you wouldn’t have known about or even thought to try. 33 High Street (yes, that is the real name) is a big old house that was converted into a restaurant/pub and serves mostly Portuguese and Mediterranean dishes. You can sit inside in one of the rooms, outside on the veranda or on the grass underneath a tent for a more informal pub kind of feel. It is big and spacious with a relaxed mood and generous food portions. It was a very delightful evening.

Today I went shopping, had brunch at Mi-Vami in Victory Park which make a stunning chicken pita and had tea with friends late afternoon at White Lies. In between I have started to read the second book of the Hunger games trilogy and have found this fabulous game on my phone – Words with Friends which is similar to playing Scrabble but you can play with random strangers as well. It is totally addictive and I have like eight games going at a time – not that it helps me. I suck! It is still fun though.

The Hunger Games and Emperors Palace

I watched The Hunger Games movie at Sandton City on Saturday night at 20:30 and was very surprised to see that Sandton was so busy that time of night as I struggled to find parking and the movie was full as well. The movie was good but a little bit long (over two hours and twenty minutes). I felt the book was much better but still enjoyed the movie as the story is very captivating. Even though I was afraid that the movie was going to be too youthful it actually appeals to an older audience as well. It was however very annoying that the people sitting next to us were busy SMS’ing or chatting and my friend lost it when at the end of the movie, right at the climax of the story, the woman’s phone rang – honestly, do people not have respect or manners anymore?

Yesterday I had to take a friend’s mother to the airport and we went to Emperors Palace for lunch which is a casino complex next to OR Tambo airport. I thought I hadn’t been there before (not being a fan of gambling) but realised that I was there last year in November for the Tori Amos Night of Hunters concert (which by the way was excellent!). Emperors Palace reminds a bit of Montecasino with the Italian theme and painted roofs and with a big David fountain in the middle. It has some decent restaurants, Nu Metro cinema, the Marcellus theatre and casino.