Holiday time again – how to keep parents sane and small children entertained

More on parent protection programme

Yes .. 6 months have passed  since our last blog on what to do with small children in the Parks during the holidays … only now it’s midsummer with quite a few places closing for Christmas through to the new year.   Check  for many of the playgrounds, local child-friendly eateries and parks. Both Delta Café  and CrazyKidzFarmyard will close on the 23rd till the new year. Serendipity will likely close the 18th until the new year.

Not sure who is more fascinated? Source: Liz at Lancaster

Not sure who is more fascinated? Monte Casino Bird Park.  Source: Liz at Lancaster

But many attractions stay open all the way through : all the parks and botanical gardens;  the Johannesburg Zoothe ducks don’t move from the Zoo Lake; and the Bird Park at Monte Casino is open daily. There is a also great kids playground at the Monte Casino Bird Park and they have a range of other animals like lemurs, meerkats, chameleons, etc. It’s really nice for young kids.

Delta Park Playground Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Delta Park Playground Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Don’t forget the great playgrounds at Delta Park and at Zoo Lake where there are wonderful swings, slides, jungle gyms and fabulous climbing structures.




LoryParkZoo in Midrand is small with close viewing of animals so good for younger children. I don’t like any wild animals in zoos but this privately owned zoo (open throughout the holidays) is well-run and the animals seem in good physical condition.

If you want to go further afield, the Lion and Safari Park on the way to Hartebeespoort Dam has something for all giraffe-tongue-2ages. Older children will enjoy the ‘safari rides’ into the game areas while younger kids are more than happy with the fabulous playground plus bunnies, meerkats and 2 giraffes who take copious amounts of food with mesmerizing prehensile tongues.

downloadAnd another fun day with small kids is the cable car ride to the top of the mountain overlooking Hartebeespoort Dam (also further afield) … it’s a whole new perspective for a toddler to look down at the world!  It is also open every day, even Christmas Day.



If it’s theatre you want to see make sure you go before Christmas as most only run until then … but there’s lots on.


Showing at Joburg Theatre (People’s Theatre) in Braamfontein is Seussical the Musical  is the Broadway Show based on the wonderful Dr Seuss books.  Kids can meet   Horton the Elephant and Cat in the Hat and enjoy old favourites like Green Eggs and Ham!  Shows daily at 10.30 and 2.30 Wednesday to Saturday until 24th December and tickets are R135 each.



And as we are in for rhymes and alliteration you can continue the theme with Mr Popper’s Penguins showing at the Children’s Theatre (3 Junction Ave Parktown) until 23rd December.   This is a musical based on the novel by Richard and Florence Atwater.  A second production showing at the Children’s Theatre which is sure to be a hit with the younger children is Thrice upon a Time where puppets enact 3 favourite children’s stories: Goldilocks; The Billy Goats Gruff and The Three Little Pigs.  From 15th -22nd December.  Shows are on Tuesdays to Sundays at 10.30 and 2.30.


waxidate-page-001_460_wideKINDERSPIEL, EMMARENTIA

At the toy shop in Emmarentia (39a Greenhill Rd) they have a children’s  theatre programme with puppet shows, story-telling and physical theatre.

Tues 6th at 3.30 Waxi the Hero – a puppet & marionette s how Entertainment plus learning about birds. The production is sponsored by the Rare Finch Group and BirdLife South Africa

Thurs 8th at 3.30  & Sat 10 at 10 & Wed 21st at 3.30  Princess Fig and the Christmas Dragon

Tues 13th at 3.30  Rudolph on Safari performed by Margarat Auerbach

Wed 14th at 3.30  A Present for Santa puppet show


chaos-mas_460_wideFri 16th at 3.30 and Sat 17th at 10  Chaos-mas Physical Theatre (be warned –  small children may be overwhelmed by  the loud noise and exaggerated movement of physical theatre.  My near 3 year old grandson was!)

Tues 20th at 3.30 & Sat 24th at 10 Rudolph’s adventure Puppet show


On Saturday 10th December at 10.0 at Skoobs  Bookshop in Monte Casino young children can enjoy music and singing with Little Maestros where there will be songs about reindeers, snowmen and presents under the tree.  (I remain dubious about all this snow stuff in the midst of mid-summer heat waves in Jozi?)

And at Sandton City PawPatrol (from cable channel Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr)  will entertain kids until 24th December.

Janice Honeyman’s  pantomime this year is Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood. And although this is great for older kids I think for 2 to 4 year olds it is wasted on them .. to far from the stage and too fast and quick.  But for older kids and adults it’s always a good escapist giggle. At  the Joburg Theatre until 30th December.


robinson-crusoestorksAnd finally for those quiet times after Christmas, there is always a movie or too.  Check  Ster-Kinekor  for times and venues of shows but it looks as though there are two  animated Disney movies:  Robinson Crusoe as well as Moana: a story of a woman sailing to a fabled island with a demi-god hero Maui involved.  There’s  Snow Queen 2 based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story as well as Storks. Instead of delivering babies these birds deliver packages for a global retailer. And if you liked Shrek you are in luck as Dreamworks have come out with another production: Trolls.


And if this isn’t enough you can always check out Jozi Kids Great website!

Enjoy the holidays!

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UberEATS – Guesthouse value-added services


We Work Too Hard at Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Due to pressure of work and people on leave here at Liz at Lancaster’s Guesthouse a much anticipated staff celebration of birthdays, staff thank you’s (2016 Lizella top 4 Star Guesthouse  award again!) and general chill out with takeaways and maybe beer but most likely orange juice, was cancelled. To offset the disappointment it was decided when a gap arose to try for those left behind the UberEATS App and order lunch for everyone still here. We also wanted to try it and pass on the knowledge to our guests. Something we increasingly find ourselves doing – I think if you provide the WiFi you’re seen as the resident expert on all things WiFi!

Liz at Lancaster GuestHouse and Uber

However, take care when helping guests with installing Uber. We had a guest from Tanzania, who had a new phone and issues with his cell phone number, but we have WiFi and also there was WiFi where his conference was. Uber was going to solve a transport problem he had so … voilá install it and get going – but the small issue of cell phone number verification raised its complicating head – well OK ‘I will just use mine’. Mmmm… it took me 3 days, repeated interaction with Uber support, who were very prompt in their replies, and a phone software upgrade to restore my Uber to a working condition while his worked fine for the week. Oh well the guest comes first! But I digress.

UberEATS App Installation

screenshot_20161122-131216Uber’s new app, UberEATS, allows you to browse the restaurants’ menus, choose and order food, have it delivered to your doorstep from participating restaurants, and pay for it all via this smartphone app. And, in keeping with the Uber app, rate the food and delivery. The Apps name may also foretell Uber’s takeover of much of the transport space around Johannesburg these days. While I worry about a huge ‘digital platform’ putting many small business operators out of work (regular cab drivers and now Mr Delivery, Delivery Xtreme, screenshot_20161122-131233etc.), if the food can be delivered faster it is a huge advantage. And if Uber drivers here in SA earn the right for basic benefits of medical cover and holiday pay, as it seems they will in the UK, this will be even better.
You start by installing the app whose icon is at the top of your Uber app front page. This is  for most phones but in some Uber versions there is no Icon. You have to go to your App installer and find UberEATS and install it. The dinner plate with a knife and fork icon – click here and it takes you to the App, or for the first time, to the install app feature on your phone.  Then install the app and that’s it.

When you open it you will be presented with the default delivery address, which you can change.

Eating In – Wide Choice of  Local Restaurants

screenshot_20161122-131419screenshot_20161122-131618Next are the restaurants and their menus that are open and nearby. It is very easy to browse the list or search for a specific restaurant.

Once you have selected your items you submit your order. The system then tracks the stages visually in the app.

I found UberEATS very easy to use. It is actually easier than Uber (I still find it difficult to get the pickup and destination right at times – the system wizzes off with my clumsy unintentional first choice – saw this with our Tanzanian guest too!). UberEATS  has a place for special requests to the restaurant – hold the pickle/ no mayo!



screenshot_20161122-131844The selection of restaurants on the system was impressive. Couldn’t think of one left out and found ones I didn’t know about. There are mouthwatering pictures of the menu dishes.

The damage at the end is politely applied to your Uber payment option. I will use UberEATS again – on Payday!

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Every winner has a loser : William Kentridge’s ‘Triumphs and Laments’ on the banks of the Tiber in Rome

William Kentridge’s ‘Triumphs and Laments’ on the banks of the Tiber in Rome

What’s not to get passionate about?  – a chance to visit Rome to meet up with a long -time friend and ex-Wits colleague Michael and various of his family. But just as exciting as the idea of spending time in Rome, is the fact that Michael is an art historian and had been asked to write on Kentridge’s latest magnus opus located on the banks of the Tiber.  Triumphs and Laments is Kentridge’s largest public project to date and the largest public art project in Europe. Using his very particular visual language and his technique of creation through erasure (more of that later), Kentridge subverts and questions traditional representations of the historical past. Kentridge who has achieved such international fame (he was named by Vanity Fair in 2013 as one of the six greatest living artists in the world), grew up in Johannesburg and despite his international profile still lives and works in Johannesburg. Given the fame of our Jozi boytjie (how he would hate that appellation!!),  I was surprised on regaling guests on my return, that so few had heard of this colossal project (which really does sit easily with the massive scale of much of Roman public art and ruined remains).

View of 'Triumps and Laments' from across the Tiber with ant-like figures in front of the frieze to show the colossal scale

View of Triumps and Laments from across the Tiber. Ant-like figures in front of the frieze give a sense of the colossal scale. Ponte Sisto is to the left and Ponte Mazzini to the right. Photo: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Where and what is Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments?  

Between two bridges across the Tiber (the Ponte Sisto – a 15th century pedestrian bridge) and the Ponte Mazzini (built in 1908) is a relatively straight half-kilometre stretch of the river bounded by a 13 metre high travertine embankment.  It is here that Kentridge’s procession of more than 80 figures, each over 10 metres high has been ‘reverse graffiti-ed’ on the massive western river wall.

Ink Drawings of Death of the film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini on the Kentridge exhibition at Macro (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Rome

Ink drawings of the death of the film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini ; Kentridge exhibition at Macro (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Rome 17/04 – 02/10/2016 Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Starting with sketches, then charcoal drawings, then ink drawings and small experimental stencils and finally the massive 10 meter-high stencils, Kentridge set his team to work on placing the stencils against the dark polluted limestone walls of the Tiber.  The accretions of grime and ‘traditional’ graffiti were washed away or erased through cleaning, so allowing the silhouetted procession of Kentridge’s iconic figures to emerge – the dark areas of the figures defined by the dirt that remained and the light areas by the parts that had been cleaned. ‘In a few years, the images will fade, so that a new history can be drawn again. It will be sad, but poignant, to watch it dissolve over time.’ ( 21/04/2016)  Part of its meaning and significance lies in its ephemeral nature which is so counter to the permanent materials traditionally used for long-lasting historical monuments.


History of the project

The project was officially opened on 21st April 2016 – the 21st April being the apocryphal date of the founding of Rome. The project has been 12 years in the making starting with Tevereterno, a non-profit organization getting permission from the city to work in this downtown section of the Tiber (which they named Piazza Tevere) to create a dedicated public space for contemporary art.   This regeneration and public space project (funded by corporates and private individuals) has been driven by architect Tom Rankin (director of Tevereterno) and Kristin Jones , a New York based artist. In 2005, Jones made Piazza Tevere’s first public art project in the form of a frieze of 10 she-wolves using the same method as Kentridge in his Triumphs and Laments – ie cleaning parts of the limestone so leaving the dirt to form the images.

Rome’s glorious past questioned, fragmented and overturned

As its title suggests, Kentridge’s project is no triumphal heroicization of Rome’s grand past,  magnificent deeds and great rulers.  Here a triumphal march meets a carnivalesque ‘ship of fools’.  Kentridge says –  ‘It’s a South African perspective on Roman history that takes into account contradiction, vainglory, utopian idealism, loss. ( 21/04/2016) And “Every triumph and glory is someone else’s lament and shamefulness.”  Kentridge had a team of researchers working for him on this project and they built up a data base of some 500 images from which Kentridge chose 80. There are soldiers, popes, kings, philosophers, martyrs – many of whom are associated with less proud moments of Rome’s history.

Winged Victory at the Ponte Sisto side of the procession

The ‘triumphant’ Winged Victory at the Ponte Sisto side of the procession Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Preparatory layout showing placement of figures and measurements with the cracking Winged Victory on the left

Preparatory layout showing placement of figures and measurements with the representation of the  Winged Victory cracking on the left Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

So symbols of Rome’s glorious past are constantly questioned. For example the winged Goddess Victoria is presented in 3 forms: proud and strong (the first image seen if approaching from the Ponte Sisto); then in the middle of the procession the same figure is shown disintegrating;  &  at the Ponte Mazzini end of the frieze she is represented as being reduced to a pile of rubble .  (There is no beginning and end to this procession of figures, no chronological structure. Images work in fragmented juxtaposition with no coherent narrative.)

Wide and varied iconography

King Vittorio Emmanuel II on a mock horse and a broken stumbling horse

King Vittorio Emmanuel II on a mock horse and a stumbling horse – sad inversion of the powerful rearing horse in equestrian monuments Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Triumphant equestrian monuments find their counter-image in leaders on mock horses. Iconic images from popular culture are conflated with historical events.  References to slave galleons on the Mediterranean are conflated with refugees landing at Lampedusa.  Figures fleeing with menorahs reference Rome’s historical Jewish ghetto close-by on the opposite bank of the Tiber. Many of objects that form part of Kentridge’s familiar iconography become imbued with a particularly Italian connection: the espresso coffee machine; the sewing machine could be a Necchi brand.

Preparatory layout on exhibition at Macro showing positioning of figures in frieze

Preparatory layout on exhibition at Macro showing positioning of figures in frieze Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

And many of the figures are drawn from art historical sources which have a particular Roman connection such as Michelangelo’s Prophet Jeremiah from the Sistine Chapel; Bernini’s St Theresa in Ecstasy; part of Mantegna’s Triumph of Caesar, originally for the Gonzaga Ducal Palace in Mantua and now in Hampton Court Palace; three figures taken from the Arch of Titus, carrying the treasure of Jerusalem; the Crucifixion of Peter – according to Christian tradition he was crucified (upside down) in Rome by Nero.

The she-wolf who is said to have suckled Romulus and Remus

The she-wolf – central to Rome’s founding myth Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Emaciated she-wolf

Sad echo of the nurturer of the founders of Rome Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse









Images from contemporary culture

Sugar packet from Caffe Braccio

Sugar packet from Caffe Braccio Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

she-wolf-sculptureAs seen above left, Kentridge has represented the she-wolf (who is said to have suckled the twins Romulus and Remus) with 2 pitchers under her teats.  When we stopped for a cup of coffee at a typical Roman cafe – Caffe Braccio – my colleague Michael pointed with wry amusement to the sugar packet which showed 2 coffee cups under the mythical wolf’s belly!   Just the kind of image that would have sparked Kentridge’s replacing of the founding twins with 2 pitchers!



Fridge magnet from the gift shop at Macro showing Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg from La Dolce Vita (1960), bathing in a tub instead of the Trevi Fountain.

Fridge magnet from the gift shop at Macro, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, now on Liz at Lancaster‘s fridge



There are iconic images from Italian cinema conflated with historical events and some which are subverted with ironic humour.  One such image is that of  Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg from La Dolce Vita (1960), represented in a bath tub under a shower instead of in the Trevi Fountain. Delicious in its irreverence!






Accompanying exhibition at Macro

We were fortunate enough to see the exhibition with works related to Triumphs and Laments  at Macro (Museum of Contemporary Art) – on show from 17/04 – 02/10/1916. On exhibition was a film of Kentridge talking about the project; a short video on the actual making; some of the sketches; some images that are not used in the final work; a plan to scale of the exact layout with placement and proportions of all the figures in the colossal frieze; and some of the cut-outs used in the live procession at the opening performance on 21st April. What a complete treat this was.


Stencils of various images (some not used in the final work)

Stencils of various images (some not used in the final work) Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Ink drawings on show at Macro

Ink drawings on show at Macro Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse










The role of erasure

Kentridge is no stranger to the process of creation through erasure. In his early animated films (the Felix and Soho series), he makes a drawing, films it,  erases parts of the drawing and makes changes, and films it again (each change gets from ¼ second up to a couple of seconds of screen time).  In this way a single drawing is altered and filmed to produce a moving image.

Use of cut-outs

Kentridge poster in sitting room at Liz at Lancaster

Kentridge poster in sitting room at Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Similarly using cut-outs have long been part of Kentridge’s visual language. The nearest I can get to owning a Kentridge image is an exhibition poster from a 2000 exhibition in Sydney which hangs in the guest lounge at Liz at Lancaster!  The cut-out images in this poster such as the bent figure carrying a burden on his/her back;  the maimed figures; and the shower head – all reappear as part of the visual language in Triumphs and Laments.  Kentridge also often uses cut-outs in shadow processions as back drops to live theatre, in his operas, and along with shadows of live actors and dancers in multi-screen film installations such as the recent installation Notes Towards a Model Opera at Goodman Gallery .

Jozi’s Firewalker

FireWalker Johannesburg

FireWalker Johannesburg

And one of Jozi’s iconic public sculptures is Kentridge’s Firewalker installed at the end of Queen Elizabeth bridge as one enters Joburg CBD proper. Here metal plates replace torn pieces of black paper and form a 3D image which only coalesces into coherence when viewed from a particular viewpoint.
I cannot believe just how privileged I was to have been able to see Triumphs and Laments which, because of the medium, is ephemeral and transitory; to have had the benefit of Michael’s knowledge and insights in the reading of the images; and to have experienced the sublime location, context and scale of this monumental work on the banks of a beautiful river in the quite extraordinary city of Roma. Unforgettable!

My one sadness is that this public art project which is part of a regeneration project aimed at enlivening and revitalizing a public space, seemed to go largely unnoticed by locals (joggers and cyclists) and tourists alike. The latter were focused on taking selfies on the Ponte Sisto against the backdrop of St. Peter’s in the distance.


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