Stay and play in Joburg on upcoming week-ends

Ice Age exhibits. Photo courtesy Joburg Tourism

Ice Age exhibits. Photo courtesy Joburg Tourism

Do Jozi-ites realize just how many domestic tourists come to the city to see big events?  Last week Liz at Lancaster had no fewer than 4 families who drove from different parts of the country to bring their children and grandchildren to see Disney on Ice.  We had very excited little ballerinas at breakfast time, all dressed and ready for their long awaited treat with lots of excitement and chatter the next morning about all the characters, including a few scary ones!   Then from one icy event to another, the next day they went off to the Ice Age exhibition at the Sandton Convention Centre to mingle with mammoths, woolly rhinos and glyptodons (bet you have to Google that one.)   It proved to be a big hit with even Granny braving the ice-slide.  Because you book a time-slot, it is not too frenetic, despite being school holidays.  However if you are going without youngsters and want to take in all the information, you can go when schools are back as the exhibition runs until the 8th August.

Just opened is the Canopy at that most fabulous of urban spaces:  the Sheds no 1 Fox St. The Canopy is open every Friday for casual lunches so make your way to the Market Shed  (loads of safe parking opposite) and enjoy a leisurely lunch in front of the Marshall Street Bar.  Choose between wraps, burgers, curries, ‘ribs, wings and things’, and other good wholesome fare, settle back with a glass of red wine and heave a sigh of relief that it’s Friday. What a way to start the week-end.

On of the many shops in Jozi inner city selling fab Sheshwe cloth

On of the many shops in Jozi inner city selling fab Sheshwe cloth

If, after lunch at the Canopy on Friday, you aren’t be able to stay away from the Sheds, you can return  on Saturday 11th  to meet at 10 for a 2 hour walking tour of inner city Jozi  with Past Experiences (the original Joburg walking tour company).  Joburg was laid out as a mining town with small stands and short blocks to maximize on taxable land and corner stands for increased business visibility. These narrow streets and short blocks were fine for pedestrians and horse-and-cart transport , but not so great for high traffic car and taxi volume in the 21st century.  So the best way to experience  Joburg is on foot.  The focus of this tour is on shopping, with possible stops including African fabric shops, a Chinese supermarket (Ferreirastown is Joburg’s original Chinatown) a record shop and a bag store. You’ll be able to scoop up bargains and might find shops that stock goodies you never even knew you needed. But be prepared to go with cash – few stores accept credit cards. For more information see http://pastexperiences.co.za/?page_id=54 They have more exciting tours coming up. On 25th July there’s a tour of Jeppestown focusing on the history of the area, graffiti and street art,  and past and present communities.

Exploring our past

Exploring our past

And if you’ve had enough of the big smoke and want to get out into the country,  book for one of the amazing tours of an active palaeontological dig out in the Cradle on 18th July. Swartkrans is one of the Cradle’s richest fossil sites and every now and again it is opened to the public.  Morris Sutton who is currently excavating at this site, shares his expertise and knowledge in an accessible and fascinating way. And to top it all there’s a wonderful picnic lunch served al fresco. I went a few years ago and would highly recommend it  – the whole affair is a real treat.  To book:  http://shop.maropeng.co.za/products/150718-18-july-swartkrans-walking-tour. It costs R400 including the picnic lunch.

 

 

Obstacles for mountain bike riders on the Delta cycle route

Obstacles for mountain bike riders on the Delta cycle route

If you plan a couch potato extravaganza this coming week-end,  watching the Tour De France and/or the Wimbledon finals, why not consider burning up some calories in advance by doing the Delta Park Run. Don’t be intimidated by the ‘run’ bit – plenty of people walk it. It starts at 8, it’s 5km,  it’s free , it’s fun and it makes one feel virtuous. What a win. Kids, dogs and everybody from speedy runners to slow amblers are welcome.  Or, if the Tour de France is an incentive to get onto that bike, why not join the hundreds of cyclists who ride the 25km long Braamfontein Spruit every week-end. Or simply have some fun on the cycle course around Delta Park. Lots of place to stop for coffee and breakfast at the end of your cycle:  Delta Cafe (near the blue bridge in Craighall Park ),  the new coffee shop near the bridge on Conrad Drive or Citizen Cafe on Conrad Drive.

Gentle live music at the Patisserie in Blairgowrie and fabulous breakfasts

Sunshine, gentle live music, and out of this world French style food at the Patisserie in Blairgowrie – the nearest thing to heaven on earth

For a real treat, loads of calories and a bask in the wonderful morning sun have breakfast at The Patisserie on Mackay Ave, Blairgowrie – there is even chilled live music.

Always popular are events at Katy’s Palace Bar in Kramerville,  and Slippery Spoon’s pop up dinners are no exception.  There are 2 coming up next week but Friday 17th is already sold out with only a few tickets left for  Thursday 16th.  Slippery Spoon dinners happen once a month with each menu inspired by the theme of the night.  This month’s theme is ‘Senses’, so expect something fabulous from Johnny Hamman and Marius Uys’ 5 course meal. It doesn’t come cheap at R500 a ticket with a cash bar, but it promises to be a dinner with pezzaz and style.  For more info and to book go to http://nothambutman.com/slippery-spoon/?show=Jul

And finally for some light relief and an escape from our very own everyday  political pantomime, book for Little Shop of Horrors at Pieter Toerien Theatre at Monte Casino. Be prepared for a good laugh with Alan Committee who, by all reports is hilarious in his role as Seymour, the wannabe botanist.  Based on the 1960s movie of the same name, it’s a  wonderful spoof of B-grade sci-fi movies with lots of comic book imagery and 50’s music. It is showing until the 9th August.

So don’t think that all Jozi has to offer is the same-old, same-old.  There is lots to do for people of all tastes –  for urbanites who love this gritty city, bling-seekers, families, fitness enthusiasts, outdoorsy types, foodies. … and of course the couch potatoes get particularly lucky this weekend. Enjoy !

 

 

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It’s time to celebrate the winter solstice this week-end

An apparently dead Juliet on part of the so basic but so effective stage set.

An apparently dead Juliet on part of the so basic but so effective stage set.

We’re due for a mild week-end, from Sunday the days will be getting longer and the gas crisis might ease towards the beginning of August – some positive thinking around the load-shedding blues.  So get out there this week-end as we’re spoilt for choice with really special things on offer. Number one has to be the Geneva Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet showing until Sunday at the Joburg Theatre. It’s powerful, poignant, sensuous with the most simple and dramatic of stage sets and props, stunning choreography and simply brilliant use of the human body. Parts made we want to weep with the sheer aesthetic sensibility of the production, the emotive power and timeless universality,  and the consummate skill of the dancers .  How does ‘Romeo’ perform the lifts of an apparently dead Juliet and how does an apparently limp and ‘floppy’ Juliet still maintain form and control. Breath-taking. We had excellent seats for R280 per seat which to see a world-class production and compared to the price of a movie ticket, is really good value for money.

Courtesy www.niroxarts.com

Courtesy www.niroxarts.com

And for a day in the warm winter sun, head for the amphitheatre at the Nirox Sculpture Park in the Cradle of Humankind.  Amid the sculptures of the Winter Sculpture Fair you can enjoy some glühwein  and picnic fare by Epicurean Emporium while listening to Guitar Giants such as Madala Kunene, Guy Buttery, Ben Badenhorst, Lerato Lichaba, Tessa Ziegler and Richard Bruyns . Tickets available on-line:  www.acousticsnow.org  at R300 per person, or R320 at the gate; Children under 12 pay half-price.

Still taking advantage of the mild weather venture into the inner city on Sunday 21st for a tour with Past Experiences of graffiti in Newtown.    Did you know that Joburg inner city is becoming known as a graffiti and street art destination?  This tour  looks at the history of the movement internationally as well as the graffiti culture in Jozi, major players and top artists. So throw on your comfy shoes, take the whole family and go and explore your city! From 09h30-11h30 meeting at Sci-Bono Coffee Shop with loads of parking adjacent to Sci-Bono’s parking lot on Miriam Makeba Street.  R150pp (kids 12 and under R100). To book or for more info, email  past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone  on 011 678 3905

There’s more to do with kids this week-end.   Opening at the Sandton International Convention Centre is the Ice Age Exhibition which, if it’s all it’s cracked up to be, should be loads of fun while also being educational.  45 moving life-size animals in recreated landscapes such as tundra, forests and glaciers, place the species in their natural habitat. There’s a virtual aquarium as well as lots of interactive displays and games – so it should be a winner with kids.  Sadly you’ll also have to delve into your wallet for this outing: R145 per adult, R99 for kids and R435 for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids.  The exhibition runs until the 8th August.

For those who have want something different from the Joburg week-end market fare (Neighbourgoods and Bryanston Organic Market on Saturday;  Market on Main  and Rosebank Rooftop Market on Sunday), why not try 27 Boxes which opens this week-end in Melville.   All 70 stores are built from shipping containers along the lines of Box Park in Shoreditch, London.  You’ll find a variety of boutique outlets such as Stephanie Lesabe’s Moonyu clothing and accessories and Adihambo Mula-Landers’ amazing Galago sandals; as well as funky designer stores like Love Jozi and Black Coffee.  And of course there are loads of specialist food stalls.   75 3rd Ave, parking entrance on 4th Avenue

Schutz

Schutz man

 

If you have now spent all your money (or didn’t have any to begin with) but still  want something inspiring to do -visit Peter Schütz’s retrospective exhibition at Wits Art Museum. And there’s a bonanza because Penny Siopis’ show (also excellent) is still on view. Peter’s works are complete delight . Peter who died in 2008,was a superb craftsman and a serious thinker with a wicked sense of humour.  He moved from being influenced by pop art to sculpting images that were both steeped in the European Christian tradition of saints, martyrs and Madonnas, as well as being deeply influenced by art from the African continent. Peter’s studio at Wits was a jumbled overcrowded shrine of memorabilia, knick-knacks and tsatskas.  And the curators have played on Peter’s one-eyed vision of the world (he always wore a patch on his left eye) in a wonderful peep-show giving a view onto a mock-up of his cluttered ‘cabinet of curiosities’.  It’s a complete gem of a show not to be missed.

So there’s no excuse for vegging out this week-end.  And a happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there. Although probably the best gift that Dads could get is exclusive use of the TV remote for the entire day!

 

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What better way to spend a few hours on a Sunday – Maboneng precinct

Colbert-Mashile_Beast-of-Burden-Invite-2webAnother wonderful  late summer’s day in Jozi – one of those where the temperature is balmy, the sky is blue, the place is buzzing, people are mellow, the value of friendship is more acutely felt than usual and, just maybe, Monday morning will hold off  its arrival for a while. Maboneng was this place last Sunday. A friend Barbara and I went to Arts On Main to see Colbert Mashile’s new exhibition showing at NIROXprojects.  Barbara and I had both taught Colbert when he studied Art History at Wits as part of his Fine Arts degree, so he has a special place in our hearts. His exhibition shows a real departure from his earlier works which dealt with the cultural practice and trauma of circumcision. In Beast of Burden Colbert draws on the themes and message of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, while adapting them to a contemporary South African context. Informal recyclers transform into animals as they draw their heavy loads, animals part-menacing part-victim inhabit a world of unequal power relations. Colbert’s works are strong, powerful and evocative. It’s a great exhibition.

In the Arts on Main market we found a stall selling Mojitos and opted for the no-alcohol version – wonderfully refreshing and tart with lots of lime, lemon and mint. We decided that although the food market itself was buzzing, we’d prefer something more open, airy and quieter (yes, we agreed we are getting old!) so we went down the street to Little Addis. On the pavement nearby were a young man and woman (presumably from the Signs Session side walkssign she was Kelly Grevler ) who had been working with a number of  children some of whom had been drawing and colouring-in and others who had been playing guitars. Apparently they give these free sessions to kids every Sunday. What an extraordinary initiative and so amazing what people do to make a difference.

At Little Addis we sat on the pavement watching the world go by – some in dramatic outfits and elaborate hairstyles, other pushing prams, some suburbanites (like us), lots of creative hipsters – but everybody with one thing in common – all were chilled and relaxed and just enjoying the public space.  At Little Addis we shared the most delicious vegetarian platter served with njera, that fabulous soft spongy Ethiopian flat bread.  It was seriously wonderful – best Ethiopian food I’ve had in Joburg.Little Addis menuEthiopian food

 

 

 

 

 

West African                                                                                                                                                                         And as if we hadn’t done enough of a good thing, we did a bit of window shopping including going past the House of Baobab which serves West African food.  The inside is a riot of colour with bold dramatic  fabrics and large vibrant paintings. A patron told us she’d had an excellent meal – the fish, which is cooked over hot coals outside on the street. And to end off a perfect relaxed Sunday escape, we popped into 1886 Boutique where I found a funky towel holder of a wire-decorated Joburg skyline – just what I’d been wanting for the kitchen.   Before I die cropped

Close to where we’d parked the car, was a large public blackboard on a wall with multiple entries of Before I die I want to …  and I felt an immediate connection with the first response which was …. be young again!!

 

 

NIROXprojects is open Wednesday to Friday from 12h00 to 16h00 and Saturday and Sunday from 10h30 to 14h30. Colbert’s Show runs until 8th April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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