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Two bunnies and lady doing yoga

Yoga + Bunnies

Did I mention that a few weeks ago I was invited to take pictures of a group of people doing yoga with bunnies? Bunnies — as in actual rabbits? Yup. The Lonehill Bunnies is an animal rescue in Lonehill (near Fourways) that focuses on rescuing and caring for stray and abandoned domestic rabbits. The bunny yoga event was a fundraiser for these lost bunnies. I feel kind of bad publishing this post. I’m pretty sure the moment it’s up I’ll start getting messages from people asking how they, too, can do yoga with bunnies. Sorry, wannabe bunny yogis — I don’t have an answer for you. As of now this was a once-off event, but hopefully the folks at Lonehill Bunnies will schedule another one soon. I feel they would be crazy not to, as this looks like a fundraising goldmine if I ever saw one. In the meantime, I can’t not share these photos as they are too awesome. Yoga with the Lonehill Bunnies This bunny yoga session was the first of its kind in South Africa. (Apparently something like this has happened before in Canada, but that’s the only other place anyone knows of.) It was basically the […]

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Shanana Malawi boat

Hi from Malawi

Malawi. I type the word and stare at it, say it over and over in my head. I google Malawi and get this from Wikipedia: The name Malawi is thought to derive from the word Maravi. The people of the Maravi Empire were iron workers. Maravi is thought to mean “Flames” and may have come from the sight of many kilns lighting up the night sky. The Shanana Malawi, docked at an island in Lake Malawi. I spent ten days in Malawi. On the ninth day, sitting in the beach bar at Fat Monkeys Lodge in Cape Maclear, eating a chicken mayo sandwich and staring out at the lake, I began mentally composing a blog post. As I was doing that, I started to cry and had to quickly wipe the tears away when a guy in the bar walked up and asked if I knew where to find an ATM. (I didn’t.) I wish I’d gone to my room right then and written the post. Now that I’m back in Joburg it seems kind of melodramatic and I’ve been stalling on blogging for three days now, because I need to write this before I can move on to anything […]

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Yield coffees and sandwiches

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Yield Coffee Bar

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote my top five Jozi coffeeshops post. All the places mentioned in that post are still great. But I’ve discovered several good new coffeeshops lately so I thought I’d do a series of short posts about them. First up: Yield Coffee Bar. Yield is in Linden, which has always been one of my favorite Jozi suburbs for eating out. I didn’t discover Yield right away because it’s a block away from Linden’s big cluster of restaurants along 7th Street and 4th Avenue — at the corner of 6th Street and 3rd Avenue. Looking in on Yield Coffee Bar. Inside Yield. Yield is a tiny, simple little place. It serves delicious coffee — the beans come from Urban Grind Roasters, which I wrote about in my top five coffeeshops post — and sandwiches. I met a friend there for lunch and we had iced coffees and salami and cheese paninis. Good iced coffee is hard to find in this town (although it’s starting to get easier, thank god) and Yield serves a good one. Iced coffee and sandwiches. Note the biodegradable cardboard straws. I wish every restaurant would do away with crappy plastic straws and start […]

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Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores

“Renee’s Little Killers” at Jozi Carnivores

After I published my recent blog post about Bonsai Magic, a lady named Renee emailed and asked if I’d like to visit her nursery in Houghton. The nursery is called Jozi Carnivores. Carnivorous plants. Plants that murder stuff. Yaaaaassssssss. Renee didn’t have to ask me twice. Here’s a question that just popped into my head: If a human vegetarian eats a carnivorous plant — a plant that eats animals — is the vegetarian still a vegetarian? Discuss. Anyway. I’ve always been fascinated by venus fly traps. This is the species we all think about when we hear the term “carnivorous plant” — a plant with prickly little trap-like hands that clamp shut around their prey. A Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores. That bug sitting on the plant is actually a hollow carcass — the plant already killed and ate it. Renee demonstrates how the fly trap traps. But actually, there are lots of other different kinds of carnivorous plants that murder and consume their food in various horrific ways. All of them are fascinating. The American trumpet pitcher, for example, lures insects to its “trumpet” with sweet-smelling nectar. The insect slips and falls down the long, skinny plant shaft and gets trapped […]

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Jozi skyline at sunset

That Jozi Skyline

I have a friend who owns a flat in Hallmark House, a recently renovated building in the center of downtown Joburg. Hallmark House is one of the best places in the city, if not the best place, to view the Jozi skyline. The view from my friend’s balcony. This friend wishes to remain anonymous, as I’m sure you’ll understand. Otherwise she’d have every photographer in the city trying to bang her door down. A couple of nights ago, the anonymous friend invited me and a few other friends to photograph the sunset from her 12th-floor balcony. I’ve taken lots of photos of the Jozi skyline before, from lots of different buildings. In fact I’ve been to Hallmark House multiple times and to this very balcony more than once. But there was something special about this particular night. I’ve certainly see more dramatic sunsets than this, with crazier clouds and more dramatic colors. But the light on this evening was perfect and so was the city. View of the city around 5:30 p.m., before the real show started. It had been cloudy all day with on-and-off thunderstorms — weather conditions that bode well for sunset. As the sun went down behind […]

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Pigs at Brightside Farm

Brightside Farm: Where Joburg’s Best Food Comes From

Every once in a while, my work affords me an opportunity to do something really incredible that I would never be able to do otherwise and makes me feel grateful to be alive. Visiting Brightside Farm was one such opportunity. Janet Diack, owner and operator of Brightside Farm, holds up a baby wild boar. Brightside Farm is in Magaliesburg, about an hour away from Joburg. The farm is owned by the Diack family. James Diack is a chef and runs four Joburg restaurants: Coobs in Parkhurst, the National in Parktown North (which I wrote about briefly here), Il Contadino in Parktown North, and the Federal in Melville (which is currently closed but opening again shortly with a new name and concept). James’ mother, Janet, runs Brightside Farm, which supplies James’ restaurants with the majority of their food. Brightside Farm is paradise, for people and for animals. Yes, many of these animals eventually become food in a restaurant. But before that happens, I can’t imagine a better place on earth for an animal to spend its life. (Incidentally, Janet is a vegetarian.) Free-range pigs at Brightside Farm. Brightside is also paradise for plants. There are all kinds of interesting vegetables and […]

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Pizza and beer at Impi Brewing Company

February Restaurant of the Month: Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville

It’s time for the second installment of my 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. This month I’m featuring the Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville. I almost hesitate to call Impi a restaurant, as it’s really more of a hangout. But Impi has such a cool atmosphere, in such an interesting Joburg location, that I feel compelled to include it in this series. Outside Impi Brewing Co. Impi means “war” in Zulu. Impi is in the new Victoria Yards complex, in the tiny suburb of Lorentzville, which is between Bertrams and Troyeville. My friend Gail just wrote an interesting post about Lorentzville, which I recommend. Lorentzville is also home to the legendary Fama Deli. The first cool thing about Impi is it’s in Victoria Yards, this sprawling warren of artists’ studios and gardens and galleries and workshops that just opened a few months ago. (I briefly mentioned Victoria Yards in a post last month.) The second cool thing is the decor: It’s a tiny place filled with an eclectic mix of Zulu art/artifacts, modern industrial furnishings, and quirky antiques. Inside Impi Brewing Co. with owners Nico (left) and Tsietsi (right), and bartender Kgomotso (middle). I love the headdresses on the wall behind them. The […]

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Heather at Brightside Farm

Heartbreak: A Valentine’s Day Post

My alarm went off ages ago but I keep hitting snooze. Eyes closed, pretending it’s not morning, I imagine I’m in a doorway. I’m standing in the doorway and a huge, heavy steel door slams shut. Right in my face. I bring my hand to my face and everything feels intact. No blood, nothing broken. But it hurts like a motherf*cker. I stare at the slammed-shut door. Half my life is on the other side but I can’t see it or hear it or feel it anymore. I scream, bang on the door a few times. But it hurts my hand and my face is numb and what’s the point. The door is locked and I don’t have a key. That part of my life is gone. I should just walk away from the door but I keep standing there because my legs are paralyzed. I stand there and cry and there’s a breathless, splitting-open feeling inside my chest, like my heart and lungs are being torn out of my body and thrown on the ground and stomped on. Every morning, and several times throughout the day, every day, the feeling is the same. This is heartbreak. heartbreak (n.) also heart-break, […]

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Gerakaris winery in Craighall Park

A Winery in Joburg!

There’s a new winery in Joburg called Gerakaris Family Wines. This is a big deal (hence my use of a rare exclamation point). Let me explain why. South Africa is heaven for wine-drinkers. I rave about it all the time to my American friends. South African wine is as good or better than wine anywhere else in the world, and ridiculously affordable. Also drinking wine in South Africa is a particularly enjoyable activity. We’ve got the right weather and the right scenery and it’s all just perfect. But South Africa’s wine culture is in Cape Town and the surrounding areas of the Western Cape province. No one comes to Joburg for wine. The climate here isn’t right for grapes and it’s next to impossible to buy decent wine by the glass in this town. Up until now, as far as I have been able to determine, there were no wineries in Joburg open to the public. That changed a couple of weeks ago when Gerakaris opened for business on a quaint little property in Craighall Park. Gerakaris Family Wines. Gerakaris is not an actual wine estate, meaning it doesn’t grow its own grapes. But that doesn’t mean the wine isn’t […]

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The Steyn garden and dog

The Magical Bonsai Trees of Randfontein

A couple of months ago my friend Ang went to a bonsai tree nursery outside of Joburg. The nursery has thousands of bonsai trees and it’s called Bonsai Magic. Naturally, I saw Ang’s Instagram post and went to Bonsai Magic myself about three days later. Bonsai, as I’m sure you know, is a Japanese art form that involves growing and sculpting tiny trees. I vaguely remember buying a bonsai tree at the mall with my allowance when I was about 12, probably inspired by Mr. Miyagi of the Karate Kid, and promptly killing it. (I’m sure there are others among you who did the same.) I hadn’t thought much about bonsai trees since those Karate Kid days. Until I went to Bonsai Magic. Rows and rows of bonsai. I’ve just realized I really love that word. BONSAI! Bonsai Magic is owned and run Kathy Steyn, who I understand is one of the top bonsai artists in South Africa. Kathy and her husband have a lovely house with a beautiful garden (the nursery is on the property), lots of chubby dogs, and a gaggle of exotic ducks and swans. The Steyn garden and dog. And lots of bonsai. Black swans. The Steyns are currently […]

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Culture section of National Museum of African American History

From Africa to America: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

I’ve just returned to Joburg after two weeks in the United States. I spent most of the trip trying to stay warm (this was my first dose of American East Coast winter since 2010), running errands, and spending time with family and close friends. I didn’t have much time for cultural pursuits, but I did achieve one major Washington D.C. tourism goal — a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (I’ll call it the African American Museum for short), located prominently on Constitution Avenue right beside the Washington Monument. The museum opened in September 2016. Read more about the museum’s award-winning architecture here. I feel it’s important for me to write a post about this museum, as it links the two halves of my life together in a couple of ways. First, the African American Museum was designed by acclaimed British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, who also designed the Hallmark House building in downtown Johannesburg. I stood in the same room with David at the Hallmark House media launch a few years ago but was too shy to talk to him. I regret that now, as I’d like […]

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Pork belly from Reserved Cafe in Melville

January Restaurant of the Month: Reserved Cafe in Melville

Since I finished my #Gauteng52 series in 2017, many people have asked what my 2018 campaign will to be. I actually wasn’t planning to do anything. But upon further reflection it might be nice to do a couple of shorter projects. Hence, I bring you the 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. My January feature is Reserved Cafe in Melville. I stumbled upon this restaurant a week or two ago. It’s on 4th Avenue in Melville in 27 Boxes — a shopping center made from shipping containers. (27 Boxes has received some disdain from the community since it opened a couple of years ago, but the centre is under new management now and I think it’s finally finding its feet.) Reserved is on the ground floor in one of the spots opening out onto the street. The interior of Reserved Cafe, the size of a single shipping container. An iced coffee from Reserved Cafe, at an outdoor table overlooking 4th Avenue. Normally I get annoyed by iced coffees that are more like milkshakes than coffee. But this one was particularly good — not too sweet — so I didn’t mind. I had walked past Reserved a couple of times before and didn’t consciously […]

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