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!

Irene dairy farm and Irene Village Mall

It was my friend’s daughter’s first birthday today and her party was at the Irene Dairy Farm which is an old functioning dairy farm established in 1895. Irene is close to Centurion and Pretoria. It was a warm and wonderful sunny day and family and friends met outside the Barn restaurant. The venue is open and spacious with lots of place for children to run around and play. There is a jungle gym, calves to pet, chickens and ducks roaming about and even a few swans on the dam. The Irene Dairy farm has two restaurants and a Dairy shop that sells fresh milk and cream as well as cheeses, pies, rusks, jams, biscuits and treats. Over the weekend they serve a buffet lunch. You can also bring a blanket for a picnic on the grass under the trees. It was a glorious and fun afternoon.

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After the party we stopped at the Irene Village Market to do some grocery shopping for gran. It is a shopping centre with a difference; it has a village feel with open spaces, fountains, trees and pieces of art all over. They also have a fabulous restaurant there called Karoo – Cattle and land which is a must to try.

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Dinner in the sky

My friend was telling me about this new craze for people to have dinner in the sky while suspended 50-100m above ground. She took her husband for his birthday at Cedar Square over the weekend. They have these all over the country and you can book it online via Computicket. I love mother earth and I am not fond of heights so I don’t understand why people would want to do such crazy things. You can also do corporate events and meetings but honestly! I would be utterly useless, given you are able to get me up there and probably only after you have given me lots and lots of drugs.

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.

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.

Irene Village Market, Coin World and Oriental City

What great fun!! The day started early as I heard traffic to Irene Village Market (at the Smuts House museum) was a nightmare so I was prepared to go early. Due to 101 little problems we only left Joburg at 8.30 but was very lucky to find a parking right at the entrance as people were leaving. The market is stunning with a great variety of original arts and crafts and stalls that sell clothing, toys, plants, books and food/sweets. There is a tea garden, food court, kids’ entertainment such as camel rides, face painting and candle making. I haven’t been to a market in years and this was a truly fun experience. We had a boerewors roll before discovering the stall that sold pancakes with a melted bar-one chocolate inside but mental note to have one of those next time as it simply looked delicious! We left at about 11.30 and decided to go to Coin World at SA Mint, less than 10km from the market. There wasn’t much going on as they do not offer tours of the factory over the weekend so we could only go explore the coin shop and see “Oom Kruger” the only surviving coin press of its class. Later the afternoon we went to the Centurion Oriental City which is similar to China Mall in Joburg. We went into every shop as it was intriguing to see that you can buy make-up, tools/hardware, serviettes, art tools, a cellulite pump and plastic disposable vases in one store. It is fascinating and crazy! Some stores really sell junk, let me rephrase, ALL stores sell some junk but if you dig around you will find a few cool items at great prices. I got myself a stunning phone cover for a phone I am yet to get so I have to make time to go do my upgrade next week and no changing my mind on the phone I want as the cover is already bought. We ended the day with more shopping as I failed to get my cousins’ children (whom I am seeing tomorrow) gifts during all the shopping earlier in the day but that sorted we had a late lunch/early supper at Nino’s and got home quite exhausted but what a day. PS: If brunch is the meal instead of breakfast and lunch, what do you call the meal instead of lunch and supper?

Voortrekker monument and Freedom park

What Fun! Had a blast today. Picked up my friend in Centurion this morning to go do some “touristy” thing as part of my quest to do something fun and new every weekend this year. We wanted to do the Irene Craft Market but that was closed so decided on the Voortrekker monument and Freedom park in Pretoria and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The Voortrekker monument actually offers plenty. It is an interestingly designed monument with beautiful panoramic views of Pretoria, well kept gardens and trails with tables and benches everywhere, a shop, restaurant, heritage centre, wall of remembrance and old fort. You can even go horse riding or mountain biking. The steps leading up to the monument reminded me of the Spanish steps in Rome. You can drive to Freedom Park from there with an adjoining road but I was actually disappointed by Freedom Park as it does not really offer anything other than the memorial and wall of names. There is nowhere to sit in the shade, they have no restaurant or shop to even get a water or colddrink from and on a day when it was 29 degrees Celsius it was just too hot to be out there for long so we probably only spent 30min at the memorial. I don’t think it is worth the entrance fee of R45pp. The architecture, design and landscaped gardens are however beautiful. Late afternoon I went for a drink at other friends in Centurion and ended the day with an unplanned braai at my cousin. It was a very busy day but very much fun!