A week of fun

This is a busy time of year with people trying to finish off work before the summer holidays hence my lack of time spent here. Last Saturday morning I went to help my friend with her Corporate Social Investment (CSI) project. She started this project a few years ago where she offers free MS Office training to people less fortunate and what is great is that our company has embraced it and offered the training rooms over the weekend. Another company sponsors training material and people from work offer their time on Saturdays to come train. The courses finished for the year and I oversaw the pupils writing their tests.

 

Afterwards we met up with friends at the German Christmas market which was held at the German Country Club in Paulshof. It was overcast with a few showers so we couldn’t sit outside. There weren’t very many stalls so we were a bit disappointed and ended up having lunch at a favourite restaurant, Fillet where we introduced our one friend to the fabulous beef trinchado they serve there.

 

On Sunday we all got back together to watch the end of the Twilight saga. Although this has not been one of my favourite movies and I haven’t read the books, I was looking forward to the series finishing and after the dismal storyline in Part one of Breaking Dawn I was expecting great action. I was so very disappointed and actually extremely annoyed. This has now moved to one of my Top 10 worst movies ever. The acting was the worst I have seen, even Michael Sheen seemed like he didn’t care. Nothing was explained in the movie as my friend was telling us all the meanings of the different things that were in the book and I honestly hated every second of the movie and the super triple cheese galore soppy ending was the worst I have seen in my life.

 

Tuesday we had a baby shower for a friend at work. It was great fun and she received some stunning gifts. After work I went with friends to the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market which has a night market every Tuesday for the month leading up to Christmas. It is a stunning market with original and interesting goodies and food. It was so full that we could not find a table to sit at to have supper so we went to Luca’s Pizzeria in Sunninghill which is an Italian restaurant. I had the butternut panzerotti which was magnifico!

On Thursday we had our supplier year end function at the Morningside Country Club where we invited some of the agencies we work closely with for a day of fun at a Grand Slam party. Everyone was dressed either in Wimbledon whites or with hats and sunglasses ready for sports. There were tennis and volley ball matches and if you did not feel up for a game you could sit by the sideline and watch or camp out under a tree or an umbrella. It was a fun day out although the food was extremely disappointing.

Fun day in our capital, Pretoria

Some friends and I visited Duncan Yard in the heart of Hatfield earlier today and what an extremely delightful arty place that is filled with surprises around every corner. It is like a little village with hidden pathways and cute and interesting shops and restaurants. There are little gems such as the Deli which sells the most wonderful looking desserts and freshly baked goodies, Moi for a little French finesse in your home and Papa’s for some real good food where we stopped for lunch while listening to a man play the blues on an enhanced electric guitar made out of an old Ouma rusks tin.

We admired the beautiful Jacaranda trees in the Jacaranda city which are in full bloom before setting off to the Union buildings, the seat of government and the offices of the presidency and the department of home affairs. Although Jacaranda trees are native to South America, Pretoria has more than 70 000 of these trees and there is a belief amongst students that if you walk under one of the trees and a blossom falls on your head you are going to pass your exams. The Union buildings are located on the highest point of Pretoria overlooking the city, the University of South Africa and the Voortrekker monument in the distance. We walked around in the beautiful gardens, smelled the roses and watched the tourists.

We ended the day with a visit to Church Square in the centre of town. It has a big bronze statue of former president, Paul Kruger in the middle and is surrounded by historical buildings. It was a wonderful day!

Adventure at Harties/Hartbeespoort dam

I had a great day today. My friend and I decided to go to Harties for the day. We started at Jasmyn which is a big farm stall that sells fresh local produce from the farmers. There was a flea market outside with things sold by the locals. We had lunch at the Windmill Restaurant which is a great restaurant inside a big Dutch style windmill building. We sat outside and what was great was that they had a buzzer to either call your waiter, ask for the bill or call the manager so all the waiters walk around with watches that vibrate and let them know when service is required and at which table – not that it was necessary. The service was great and even the manager came around a few times.

The Windmill Restaurant at Jasmyn

Jasmyn is a treat. I don’t know who came first, them or The Food lovers Market but both are great in terms of the variety of fresh produce they sell. Jasmyn has a bookstore inside on the second floor. The gardens outside are beautiful and especially colourful after the first spring rains with the flowers in bloom. There are little trails to walk around in the garden or have a picnic.

When we left we decided to go around the dam as we wanted to go through the tunnel – a must every time one goes to the dam. On our way, we drove past the Harties cableway and decided that we would probably get a beautiful view from on top so it was time for us to explore the world from up high.I am not particularly fond of heights and I don’t think my friend realised quite how uncomfortable I was with them until she saw me all sweaty and pale but we made it without incident and it is so worth it.

Harties cableway

The view is spectacular! There is a restaurant, shop, Lookout Bar and lots of different trails to go for a walk around. There was a guy singing and some people were dancing on the lookout deck – just fabulous. They fail to warn you of the little drop going down so I don’t know who screamed the loudest, me or some other (also scared) guy in the cart but we had a great laugh after that. We drove through the tunnel and crossed the dam wall where they had the sluices open.

It was a beautiful and memorable day which ended with some rain when we got home followed by the most beautiful rainbow and vivid colours.

Col’Cacchios Pizzeria Benmore Gardens

Last night we went to Benmore Gardens to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Although Benmore is only a few blocks from work it took a while to get there as Sandton traffic was horrid due to a roadblock. While I understand that Metro Police thinks peak hour traffic is the ideal time to look for offenders who will be gridlocked and won’t be able to make their escape once they spot them, it is very annoying as people get very aggressive.

Benmore is a shopping centre that you tend to forget about because the mighty Sandton City is almost around the corner from it. We had a fabulous time at Col’Cacchios that serves great Italian inspiring food. I do not usually venture away from the pizza or pasta I like but last night I decided to be bold and try something new that I would not normally have. I had the Greco pizza which consists of seven hour lamb stew, pickled red onions, tzatziki and mint sauce. It was really yummy!

The table cloths have a sheet of brown paper on top should you want to have a special message to someone and obviously as the evening progressed some had the crayons out and were playing games like naughts and crosses or hangman on the table which was most fun. It was a great evening.

Magalies meander

It is long weekend and yesterday a friend and I decided to have a little road trip and explore the bushveld along the Magalies meander. We didn’t have anything definite in mind but was geared with the Garmin and the names of few places we thought we could try. Our first stop was the Lesedi cultural village which is on Malibongwe Drive and about 30km from Johannesburg.

Lesedi means light and the people of Lesedi take you on a cultural experience where you are introduced to some of South Africa’s ethnic groups: the Zulu, Basotho, Xhosa, Ndebele and Pedi. You are welcomed to the village by the sound of the marimba, shown some history from a short DVD presentation before going on a guided tour of traditional tribal homesteads in the African bush where you learn more about their culture and traditions. Some brave souls also tried a bush delicacy in the form of mopane worms (actually a caterpillar) at one of the stops. I prefer my protein in the form of a steak so I passed on this one.

Overnight accommodation is also available in any of the villages. The tour ends in the Boma with a blend of song and dance to the rhythmic beat of African drums. After the tour you can have a true African feast in the restaurant or roam around in the Ndebele village where you can buy beautiful African curios. The tour was really informative and fun.

We decided to have lunch at the Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij in Skeerpoort where I had traditional Dutch kroketten. They have various activities such as picnics, biking, horse riding, hiking and birding. There is also a children play area outside and some farm animals. The farm has a great farm shop that sells delicious goodies, homemade cheese and wine – a great treat.

On our way home we drove through Krugersdorp and stopped at the Silverstar Casino. We had supper at a fabulous restaurant called Steak and watched the musical fountain display outside. The fountain is apparently the biggest in Africa and second biggest in the world. It was a spectacular show!

Market on Main

I cannot believe it has been a week since I have been back from holiday and a week at my new job. Time just flies. I had a really wonderful and lazy weekend spent in front of the TV, catching up on some sleep and reading again which I haven’t done in some months. I read a superb book which I think I may have bought last year already and eventually got around to reading now.

This morning a friend and I went to explore Market on Main which is a market held on Sundays at Arts on Main where you can buy fabulous foods and produce, clothes, books or browse some artist studios. Arts on Main is in an old converted warehouse and is conveniently located on Main Street in downtown Joburg. The venue is inviting and spacious and you can sit outside in the fresh air under the trees or inside.  I bought the most divine cheesecake and the crust was made of some nutty crunch something and was too delicious!

Art is very subjective and I cannot say I was inspired by any of the work on display except for the one studio that had stunning photographs. It was however a beautiful sunny day and a fabulous morning out.

Shopping galore

My morning started with me and a bee in my bonnet, adamant to head off to the shops before the Sandtonians awake (which means before 10) as I realised I still needed quite a few things before my trip (which is in 10 days – yeah!). I went to Sandton City, then to my favourite Pick a Pay on William Nicol and then off to the new Nicolway Centre and what a stunning place.

 

I have been meaning to go for weeks but just haven’t gotten around to it. The centre is fabulous with a big focus on home and beauty, interesting and exciting restaurants and a few clothes and shoe stores but none of the big chains which make sense with Sandton City and Fourways Mall not far from there. We had lunch at Licorish Bistro and it was superb especially their fruit juice blend – mine consisted of raspberry, lichie, Asian pear and green apple and for lunch I can recommend the chef’s special – a plate of three dishes: Inkomazi chicken curry bunny chow with butternut chakalaka, a sirloin sosatie with yellow pepper essence, fennel and paprika mash and a beef rump peppered with apricot curry butter. It was tasty and simply delicious.

You would think I was finished shopping but no I decided to go to Fourways Crossing after that and was on my way to Cresta shopping centre when I decided enough is enough and went home to watch the Wimbledon finals. What a day and for someone who does not love shopping this was a shopping day galore.