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.
Few years ago, South Africa suffered from a series of blackouts, as the energy supply was not sufficient. The situation sparked innovation in how to (safely!) light up homes without electricity. My favourite was this solar panel light set in a glass jar. Surprisingly effective and very cute, they are still in use, although we haven’t had a blackout in while. (Knock on wood!)
Stellenbosch. Wine, mountains, sun and great company. Not a bad place to travel for work.
I travelled to Stellenbosch today for few meetings. Lunchtime I spent frantically finalising some materials in the street side restaurant – but it sure beats being cooped up in the office.