Neighbourgoods market in Braamfontein and Sci-Bono in Newtown

I went with friends to the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein and what a fabulous day it turned out to be. The market is absolutely stunning and sells fresh and interesting food, wine, beer, smoothies, desserts, biltong, chips, olives, cheeses, relish, breads, raw chocolate and pesto’s – you name it! There are also other things like plants, flowers, clothes, leatherwear and jewellery. We shared the most delicious ciabatta pork sandwich with fresh herbs and apple sauce, a ham and spring onion Flammkuchen which is a type of pizza and for dessert a Barone crepe. While walking through the stalls you can taste almost everything and the quality of the food and drinks are really great. We sat outside on the second floor while enjoying our food and there was a really wonderful vibe with a live band playing. There are people from all walks of life, mixing, sharing communal tables and having a good time.

We were on our way to the car when we walked past Narina Trogon Restaurant on De Korte Street which has the most beautiful contemporary African design. We were looking through the window when the front of house manager opened the door to invite us in and we decided to have some coffee and tea in the bamboo courtyard. The restaurant is stylish with striking and interesting décor and is just around the corner from the neighbourgoods market. They can attract so many visitors if only they were more visible and people knew they were open as they looked closed when we walked past.

On our way home we decided to drive past Newtown to see if anything had changed since we were there last and it was then that I saw the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and as we had nowhere else to be just then we decided to stop and have a look around. We walked around outside to the nearby Bassline which is a live music venue, SAB World of beer is across the street, The Worker’s museum is there as well as The Dance Factory. The Sci-Bono is a science centre and it turned out to be great fun. The entrance fee was only R20 per adult and they have interesting exhibitions with fun games to showcase science and technology in fun ways. We didn’t manage to see all of it as it closed at 16:30 but we managed to play some games and see the inner workings of engines and some machinery. They offer a Seeing in the dark tour guided by a blind person in absolute darkness but one needs to book that – a definite must for next time. There is also a section that can be hired for kids’ birthday parties which is great as the centre is fabulous.

Apparently we haven’t done enough sightseeing for the day so when we drove through Auckland Park we couldn’t help but drive past our old varsity, the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) which is now the University of Johannesburg (UJ). We asked the guard if we could go see the campus and he let us in and what a trip down memory lane. My friend and I actually met at varsity so it was fun to see where we had class, drove past her residence, the student centre, library and engineering club where we used to have so much fun. A great deal was still the same.

We ended the day with drinks and take-aways at Thunder Gun steakhouse in Blackheath while catching some interesting rugby when the Lions beat the Sharks. A day that started with a planned trip to the market ended in a compact and fun day with interesting sights and beautiful memories. This was a great day!

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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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Café Picobella, Melville

I had drinks with friends yesterday at Café Picobella in Melville which is a delightful restaurant on Fourth Avenue. They converted a very old semi-detached house to make this charming restaurant that is full of character and has a relaxed atmosphere. The building still has those striking original pressed ceilings and wooden floors that are typical from the old buildings in Melville. We sat outside as it was a stunning and mild evening and ended up having a blissful time filled with wine, mojito and good company.

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I haven’t been to Melville in years and it was sad to see how some of the places have degraded as this used to be the spot to hang out in Johannesburg especially for students and artists. It was however good to see that the Mays Chemist was still there after all these years as well as Catz Pyjamas – one of the few places in Jhb that is open twenty-four-seven, where you can get a bite to eat after a night out.

Movie and lunch at Cedar Square Mall in Fourways

I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie today at Cedar Square Mall in Fourways and what a phenomenal movie. It is a feel good movie with a star-studded (mostly British cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy) about adventure to a foreign land, tolerance, acceptance and life lessons learned. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the film was packed with brilliant laughing moments as well as sincere and affectionate ones. The experiences of the retirees in third world country India reminded me a lot of Africa, over crowdedness, animals in the road, crazy taxis and busses with little regard for traffic rules but filled with charming people. After the movie we had late lunch at Ciao Baby Cucina where I had one of the best coffee shakes ever. It was a great day and what I love about Cedar Square is that it is never so busy, is open and spacious. What a fabulous relaxing day!

Weekend fun – Wrath of the titans, White lies

I had a really great weekend. I went to White Lies on Saturday which is this really great coffee shop at the Gallery Centre on Malibongwe Drive, near Republic Road. I have driven past there hundreds of time but never took any notice until a friend told me about it and what a gem. It is a European style coffee shop where you can have coffee/tea and something sweet, breakfast or a light lunch. I had the bascaiola, pasta with fresh basil pesto, mushroom, bacon and tomato and it was simply superb. I also treated myself to baked white chocolate cheese cake. In the evening I went out and had a great time but got home rather late so slept till after 9 this morning.

I met up with friends today for the movie Wrath of the titans (at CinePremiere, Killarney Mall) and I really enjoyed it. The CinePremiere is absolutely divine. There is a separate popcorn and cold drink holder, place for your handbag next to you and about 30cm between you and the seat next to you with loads of leg room so absolute comfort. I have been in the mood for a big fantasy movie for a while now and for the past few months there were mostly slow, dramatic or serious movies showing so I was very excited about this, having not seen the first instalment, Clash of the titans. Afterwards we discussed all the flaws of the movie and the weird choice of accents but sometimes analysing something actually spoils some of the fun. It seems like a Hollywood trend for actors to keep their native accent which is weird as Hollywood used to convert people to an American accent or have a neutral accent. Ares looked a bit gay and overly dramatic with his fur and temper tantrums coz daddy loved his brother more, boo-hoo, but still it was a very enjoyable movie.

I think sometimes you just have to be in the moment, not over-analyse things, enjoy it for what it is and ignore the technicalities. I remember in Varsity a group of us went to see Mars Attacks just after a mathematics exam and it was the funniest movie I had ever seen. I have not wanted to watch it again as I am afraid that it would spoil my memory of that great day and how much we all enjoyed the movie and how we cried with laughed. Sometimes movies should just entertain you. There are a few more movies I look forward to, especially after the dry spell we have had so I want to watch Men in black 3, The hunger games (which I hear the book is excellent so may want to get that) and The Avengers having always been a fan of comic book hero movies.

After the movie we had lunch at Del Forno Cucina and they make a fabulous cup of coffee. I want to start a list of places that can actually make a decent cup of coffee as I am often disappointed and if a place stocks proper coffee and the right equipment it is not to say they can actually make a decent coffee so this was a welcomed surprise. What fun!

Fratelli, Hyde Park

My friend and I left work early yesterday to have a relaxed time at Fratelli restaurant in Hyde Park shopping centre. Although we work at the same place there is never enough time for us to visit because once we get started we can’t stop and you can’t very well go disappear for hours on end from work. We always have a fabulous time and never run out of things to say, two real chatterboxes. While we were chatting over some pizza I saw this one woman staring at me the whole time but chose to ignored it. Hours later she came over to ask me if my sister’s name is Tia as we look the same, have the same laugh and we could be twins. I thought I would ask my mother if she knew of my twin as I always say I cannot be her child as we have almost nothing in common (although we do look alike but that can be a fluke) to which she jokingly responds that I had the better looking pram so Tia, sister, if you are out there, hello 🙂 As for Fratelli – we had a great time and the food was good. Most of the places in Sandton and surrounding areas are a bit noisy for a Friday afternoon so if you are in the mood for a chat then this is perfect!

Fillet signature cut restaurant in Douglasdale

My friend and I went to Fillet signature cut restaurant in Douglasdale and had a fabulous time. I had the beef trinchado which was delicious and my friend had fillet with parma ham and cheese sauce. The restaurant specialises in meat dishes, particularly fillet, but also have a few other dishes such as chicken, pork ribs, vegetarian or fish although I don’t know why you would choose to go to a restaurant with the name, Fillet, and not have meat. We were seated inside as the outside tables were fully booked when this one petite blonde woman received quite a few comments and looks when she got out of her huge SUV which she parked right in front of the restaurant with her headlights blinding everyone and she didn’t know where to switch them off saying eventually (after a minute) they switch themselves off. She just walked around apologising to everyone. This made me think how you can never just sneak out anymore and how Hollywood would need to change their movies when the good guys get away just in time by silently sneaking to the car, opening it quietly before driving off. Today you can’t open your car without usually disabling some alarm accompanied by flashing hazards, unlock the car doors which not only is noisy but also unlocks all doors, giving the bad guy a chance to get into the passenger seat and once you open the door the lights inside go on as well as the headlights as soon as you start the car and it is dark enough. I think car manufacturers need to design a stealth mode (with the click of one button) for when you need to get away unnoticed or when the Ferris Buellers “borrow” their parent’s car for a fun night out.