Stuart and I have always loved road tripping. We’ve done a few epic trips – most memorably an 5-week drive across the USA, an 8-week trip across Northern Europe, and a few different 2-3 week trips in Mid-and South Europe… There is nothing better than a holiday with a car and no plans. We split the driving equally with Stuart doing the driving during the day, and me driving back to the hotel from the restaurant. Even without reservations, we have always found a place to sleep eventually.
With no opportunity for a proper road trip at the moment, hopping into a car and driving to a secluded new restaurant somewhere in the vicinity is definitely a good way ro rewind on a Sunday.
The combination of early sunset and the safety issues in South Africa make it a challenge to take Merlin to the park during weekdays. Luckily he is such a curious little chap that he keeps running in our back garden all day long – and our domestic helper also takes him out several times a week. As a result he is (with a wide margin) the fittest creature is our household. Admittedly, that is not a high bar.
In winter it does not rain for 6 months in Johannesburg (Or at least it shouldn’t…). This means that by mid-winter, it is dry. And dryness inevitably means grass fires – some natural, but most of them not.
I continue to be puzzled on how casually South Africans treat these small fires. As long as they are under control, they are left to burn. For example, there was a small tuft burning in the neighbourhood park. The first time I saw it, there was a park maintenance team standing next to it, but after careful consideration they left it to burn. It was still smouldering the next day (unless somehow there was a second, unrelated fire at the exact same spot.
The Hadida found it quite worrying, tho. Although a little less worrying than a little puppy charging him from behind.
In the past, a big portion of social life in Johannesburg has revolved around shopping malls. The security issue in South Africa has made it difficult to create a ‘street culture’ worth mentioning. Thus it has been such a pleasure to see how there has been more and more interesting neighbourhoods and outside restaurant popping up in the past 2 years. Security is still an issue, but people find ways around it. And that leaves shopping malls for what they are good for – shopping.
Saturday was Midsummer in Finland. It is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in the north, and always makes me a little homesick. To celebrate, we had a little mid-winter fire and some good food with friends. And ironically, the weather was better in Joburg than what is was in Finland…
People of Mpumalanga don’t suffer from undue modesty – or how else do you explain a place called ‘God’s Window’. But I have to admit, the views are phenomenal. Along the winding mountain roads are little villages with crafts, great restaurant, whisky and – naturally – curios to all tastes.
One of the places we visited was Pilgrim’s Rest – a little village with number of houses restored to their ‘previous glory’. My favourite spot is the old BP Garage and it’s famous car that has been left to ‘Rust in Peace’.
Sunday was cold. Because we were travelling with Merlin, restaurants did not let us inside, so brunch was a chilly – if tasty – affair. However, a walk to a Bridal Veil waterfall warmed us right up – and made both Merlin and myself comfortably snoozy for the drive back home. Luckily, Stuart is made of stronger stuff.
I’ve been to Mpumalanga three times before, and twice I was unable to see much further than my own hand due to heavy mist, and thus unable to enjoy the famous views from the Panorama Route. The third time I was white water rafting in Blyde River and never got high enough to enjoy the views. Fourth time lucky.
This Friday was a public holiday in South Africa (Youth Day). Both Stuart and I have been so busy we only realised this on Tuesday – and decided it was too late to book a trip somewhere. In the Friday morning we promptly regretted the decision, and book a cottage in Mpumalanga anyway. Only 3h drive away from Joburg, it is a beautiful mountainous area. There is a lot of coal mining in the area, which explains the rail tracks in the middle of nowhere.
We had a perfect, peaceful Sunday. We snuggled under a blanket in the terrace with a hot drink and a book – for several hours. And that feeling of peace continued to that elusive heartbeat just before darkness. Blue Moment.