Guest Review: Liz at Lancaster in Craighall Park – great stay with children

Liz at Lancaster is lucky enough to have an amazing clientele. Lots of repeat guests many of whom have become almost like family as we welcome new members of the next generation to stay with us. A few weeks ago we had guests come back to stay after being out of South Africa for 10 years; some business guests book accommodation with us before they arrange their meeting dates; and others get out of the car on arrival and say ‘I’m home.’ A great compliment.  We are also fortunate to get very nice reviews on TripAdvisor. Recently a guest came to South Africa to adopt her second son (she already had a delightful adopted 6 year old) and her sister came out with her. What a lovely family. And Kim wrote such an extensive review of Liz at Lancaster and all the activities for children nearby that I thought I must post it.

From Kim [photos from Liz]:

Garden Cottage - originally an early 20th Century farm worker's cottage

Garden Cottage – originally an early 20th Century farm worker’s cottage

I was in South Africa from the U.S. to help my sister care for her two little boys (one newly adopted) and was fortunate that she arranged for us to stay at Liz@Lancaster. I was able to join her for two weeks and loved the accommodations there. She stayed in the cottage, and I was just a few yards away in the Earth Room. We each had our own little courtyards. She had a full kitchen/living room, bedroom, and bathroom. I had a studio with a partial kitchen and bathroom. It was beautifully furnished and extremely comfortable. The entire

Bird feeder in Liz at Lancaster's garden - seeds, nuts, fruit, suet and left over bread

Bird feeder in Liz at Lancaster’s garden – seeds, nuts, fruit, suet and left over bread

guesthouse is surrounded by a security wall and inner courtyard as well as a lovely garden (saw beautiful birds every morning at breakfast). There was also a pool, but we couldn’t use to due to our winter stay. We had a lovely breakfast every morning in a room overlooking the garden and pool. The food was amazing–best fried eggs I’ve ever had and a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit every morning. Liz, the owner, would stop by to ask us about our previous day and offer helpful suggestions about the day to come. I was impressed that the rooms were cleaned every day. Also, one of the staff members (Mr. T.) is often available to drive. When he wasn’t, Liz referred us to a trusted taxi driver who treated us very well.

Spar Grocery store at the end of the block - 5 minute walk from Liz at Lancaster

Spar Grocery store at the end of the block – 5 minute walk from Liz at Lancaster

The location of Liz@Lancaster was superb. We felt very safe and the neighborhood was lovely. We were only a five minute walk from the grocery store, Spar. We were able to walk to another shopping area with restaurants. In addition, Delta Cafe was only a 20 minute walk away (right next to a park). Liz told us about a restaurant named  

Jumping castle at AJ's in Craighall Park

Jumping castle at AJ’s in Craighall Park

A.J.s that was only about a 15 minute walk away that had a jumping castle for the little ones and good food–as well as drinks for the grown ups. 


The staff (Katherine, Thandy, Mr. T., and … forgetting all the names) was attentive and everybody was so sweet with my nephews. I would highly recommend Liz@Lancaster for anybody staying in the Joburg area. I look forward to a return trip to South Africa at some point and will definitely be staying with Liz!

Thank you Kim and we do so hope our paths will cross again as with Tracy, Isaac and Jonah.  What a privilege to be part of the joy.

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A day in the sun enriched by sculpture, friends and laughter

General streamI’m ashamed to admit this, but I’m sure I have more photos of Nirox general viewthan I do of my beloved grandchildren.  Well … I don’t think that is quite true but every time I come back from a visit to this most magnificent of places, that’s how it feels.   These grounds are so extraordinarily beautiful – whether in winter with the stark but delicate outlines of leafless trees, or in summer with the lushness of soft green lawns and dappled shade.


Deliberately low profile, one can only access Nirox when there is some event on – be it a sculpture fair or a music event. A group of us caught the end of the Winter Sculpture Fair A Place in Time which sadly finished this last week-end. I had expected that with an international curator (Clare Lilley of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park), the policy of an under-supply of information about works on display would have changed.  stone work in streamAn indication of artist, title, medium and a brief context would enable Sean Slemon Facing the sun Permanentboth visually illiterate and relatively knowledgeable people, a way of accessing works. Instead, one encounters bemused people peering over site-maps (with an incomplete and inaccurate list of works); turning the map upside down trying to orientate themselves; turning themselves around to get their bearings in relation to some landmark; closely examining freshly planted grass areas with steel protective barriers, large hose hydrants, and dead tree trunks embedded with nails … not knowing if they are looking at an artwork or a functional  piece of outdoor equipment or a little known gardening practice.  I have not met one person (both visually literate professionals (including artists) and completely visually uneducated members of the public) who has not had difficulty in reading the map; been frustrated that numbers do not correspond with works listed; and berated the lack of provision of an easily accessible catalogue with identifying images and basic information enabling some point of access to each work.

I don’t buy the argument that it is current curatorial practice to let the works speak for themselves – the more conceptual the art the more one needs some kind of hook or access point; or that ‘labels’/numbers get moved by the public – it can’t be too difficult to produce a cheap catalogue with identifying photos of each work ; or that it is too expensive and there are no funds to produce a proper catalogue – we paid R20 for a catalogue which could have been extended slightly  at minimal extra cost to include all works.   I have spoken to several artists all of whom have said that they supply explanatory texts so there is contextual information available.

Burchell's Songsmith

Burchell’s Songsmith

Burchell close up

Burchell’s Songsmith: site-specific rock, gold leaf, sound system and engraved image of ears and sound waves on the plinth

Having said all that, we loved Songsmith by Jenna Burchell – 3 interactive stone sculptures set on plinths at the far western end of the property.  Burchell takes ancient site-specific rocks and ‘repairs’ their fractures along the lines (forgive the pun) of the Japanese practice of Kintsukuroi (repairing with gold laquer). The Japanese philosophy is that something is more beautiful when broken and that damage and ageing should not be masked and hidden.  Burchell embeds site-specific sound instruments into the cracks and by combining the gold repair with technology and sound, the rocks resonate when the space around them is cradled in the hands of the viewer. Powerful, sensitive, beautiful, thought-provoking and utterly memorable.

Glistening Demoiselle out of Black Wattle/Glinsterjuffertjie uit Swartwattelboom)

Hannelie Coetzee’s Glistening Demoiselle out of Black Wattle/Glinsterjuffertjie uit Swartwattelboom)

Hannelie Coetzee started off as a photographer and in her massive site-specific installation Glistening Demoiselle out of Black Wattle, she chooses her site as a photographer would, taking account of light and view point.  She begins with a photograph and reduces the resolution to a point where it is only just legible and then she constructs a grid of pixels so that she can make the image on a massive scale.  The growth rings as well as the actual edges of the cut wattle function as pixels bringing the image of the glittering damsel/dragon fly into focus from a particular distance.   There is a symbolic paradox in the glinsterjufertjie or dragon fly, an indicator of a healthy environment, being made here of black wattle, an alien invasive species which destroys indigenous natural elements.

Hopefully this will be one of the works which will remain as a permanent addition to the Nirox Sculpture Foundation.


Coffee in the warm winter sun. All courtesy of Nirox

Coffee in the warm winter sun. All courtesy of Nirox

Nirox is an amazing facility so close to urbanized Joburg. We

Joni Brenner's large bronze Skull catching the last of the afternoon sun with monkeys foraging in the background

Joni Brenner’s amazing large bronze Skull catching the last of the afternoon sun with monkeys foraging in the background

enjoyed a cup of coffee provided on-the-house, wandered round the beautiful environment, engaged with the sculptures and at the end of the day, as the shadows grew long and the monkeys sat picking seeds in the grass and the air grew chilly we felt warm, fulfilled and restored.  Thank you Nirox, artists, friends and Highveld weather.

The next event where the Nirox Sculpture park is open to the public is Jazz in the Cradle on 4th September.   It will be definitely be Liz at Lancaster’s Pick of the Week and guests staying at Liz at Lancaster are sure to go.


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Christmas In July 4th Ave Parkhurst 28th July – it’s fun

White House Interiors looked magical 39 4th Ave 011 788 1626

White House Interiors looked magical 39 4th Ave 011 788 1626

Carols wafting onto the July moonlit street

Carols wafting onto the July moonlit street

I don’t know how this maven missed the first evening of Christmas in July in Parkhurst. Having been a bit of a party-gal over the previous week or so, I was very pleased for an early night last Thursday. But then a friend said ‘Just pop into Mot Mot for a sherry, Parkhurst is buzzing and there’s a beautiful full moon’. I’m not sure which was the most compelling, the thought of Mot Mot (one of my favourite shops even before it’s excellent revamp ); the full moon in the clear winter’s sky on a relatively warm Highveld winter’s evening; the street buzz of late opening on 4th Ave; … or maybe even the sherry? FOMO struck (surely I’m too old for this?) …, and never one to miss out, I hot-footed it down the hill. Christmas lights abounded; people spilled out onto pavements chatting in groups; there were bagpipers and carol-singers; and a general feeling of festivity and good cheer prevailed.

Xmas In JulyAnd the best thing is that there is another evening of Christmas in July this Thursday 28th July. So make sure you don’t miss it. It really had a great atmosphere. Not too crowded but enough of a crowd to be fun and vibey. And Mot Mot is looking even more stunning than previously. They have joined up with Garden Bleu and have all sorts of amazing funky items you really don’t need, but know you will regret it if you don’t purchase, and equally know will always find the perfect place in your home. Mervyn Gers’ fabulous platters and bowls with stylish fish designs, stunning ceramics by Loren Kaplan, a huge section of bowls and

Loren Kaplan's ceramic vases and bowls

Loren Kaplan’s ceramic vases and bowls

beakers from Potter’s Seed and of course Strawberry Thief’s fabulous  chairs with bold multi-coloured fabrics, are all there to tempt you. The teaming up with Garden Bleu (who have long been in neighbouring Greenside), adds a great range and variety to Mot Mot’s offerings – wicker baskets for amazing cymbidium orchids, lots of metal decorative objects for outside walls, unusual plant hangers. It is a real treasure trove of wonderfully different objects and furniture. You will not be disappointed – it’s a treat.



Feast your eyes on those chairs

Feast your eyes on those chairs

Great new look Mot Mot

Great new look Mot Mot








There are a couple of new restaurants that have opened (between 14th and 13th Streets). Salsa is a Mexican restaurant described as fun and vibey so if a whole group are going to 4th Ave, it would be a good place to get something to eat and break bread.  Café del Sol Tre is next door to Salsa. The name Tre celebrates the power of three – the 3 members of the family who run it (Mamma Luciana, daughter Chiara and son Ryan); it’s their third restaurant (the other two are in Olivedale and Bryanston); and it’s a reference to the triangular designs of Art Deco – the theme and style of the Parkhurst restaurant. The Olivedale Café del Sol has an excellent reputation so it’s worth giving this one a try.

Coobs (in the same block), has just launched the Supper Club where they provide a seasonal menu (so always fresh ingredients) paired with SA’s best boutique wines. Chef James Diack says: ‘Coobs is one of only two restaurants in South Africa which can accurately trace the provenance of its food – meaning we know exactly where our ingredients come from’.  I want to find out which/where the other restaurant is!


One of the BEST shops in Parkhurst - an institution.

Parkhurst Bookshop – one of the BEST shops in Parkhurst – an institution.

Along with all the restaurants, pavement cafes & coffee bars (fortunately no night clubs – which has been Parkhurst’s saving grace .. witness Melville and Greenside’s downward slide), 4th Ave Parkhurst has managed to maintain its wonderfully old-fashioned high street feel with shops like the renowned Braeside butchery; the ever-helpful chemist; and hardware (nothing is ever unsolvable here); and of course the Parkhust Bookshop – another veritable treasure trove which warrants a blogpost all of its own. There are boutiques (Desray, Banana Moon, Egality); nail bars and beauty salons (Sorbet and Africology);  specialty stores: Santos (every kind of stylish storage and display box you could want), the Kitchen Shop, Polly Potter’s Toy Store, Rick’s Secondhand Bookshop; antique shops and interior décor shops.


So even when its’ not Christmas in July, it’s a great street for wandering and window-shopping. It’s always a firm favourite with guests staying at (only 5 minutes away by car).

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