Wonder at the Wonder Cave

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The ancient Wonder Cave is North of Johannesburg in the Cradle of Humankind and was discovered by Italian miners in 1898.

This is South Africa’s third largest cavern and there are plenty of beautiful rock formations to see. There are stalagmites (the ones that grow downwards from the ceiling) and stalactites (the ones that grow upwards from the floor).   One formation looks like a giant mushroom, another like a praying Mary.

There are 87 steps from ground level down the lift, which isn’t too taxing, but it does of course mean that when you’re done, there are 87 steps back up.  Continue reading

Alarmed

We spent five years living in Lagos, Nigeria. To date, I’ve barely touched on our time there. It’s a chaotic and often frustrating place to live and it’s difficult to know where to start as there are so many memories and mishaps to dust off.  As a first taster, I’m sharing one of the many (but far from the most) frustrating vignettes with you.

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This is a smoke alarm.  I think it’s used for catching mosquitos.  No?

The estate electrician phoned one day to tell me that he was coming to install smoke alarms. I was confused as we already had plenty thoroughly our apartment.

Me:                        We already have smoke alarms.

Electrician:          Yes, I am coming to put smoke alarms.

Me:                        Where are you going to put them? Why are you going to put smoke                                                        alarms? What’s wrong with the ones we have? Continue reading

Don’t Worry, Only the Cows Can See You

 

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Loo with an Unexpected View

I think this must be the first ever loo I’ve visited with floor to ceiling windows. It was completely disconcerting.  There’s a nice trough below the window encouraging the resident Nguni Cattle to come close and eyeball you.  With their wide handlebar horns and barrel chests they are a distinctive sight to behold.

It’s enough to give you stage fright.

Loo with a view, poo with a moo, but don’t worry, only the cows can see you.

You too can visit this loo.  Drop by the Blueberry Cafe in South Africa’s Kwa Zulu Natal Midlands.  Their food is tasty, the views delightful and there’s a nice little gift shop to boot.

Have you come across any loos with unusual views?

 

Discover Sci Bono

Sci Bono Discovery Centre is situated in an old power station in Johannesburg’s Newtown. We’ve taken our kids a few times and they love it.  We hosted a birthday party there this morning, which included a guided tour of the best bits and an awesome exploding science show.  Quite a few of our guests had never been, which made me realise that plenty of Jo’burgers have never checked this place out.

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Exploding Science in Sci Bono’s Party Room

This is why they should…

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10 Reasons to have a Dog in Johannesburg

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Two little Doggy Dogs, standing on a wall.  How did they get up there?  How did they not fall?  One named Peter, one named….You know what, I have no idea what they’re called.  Not our dogs, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

 

Shortly after arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa, we adopted a little rescue dog.  It turns out that despite my initial concerns and reservations, I’m actually quite pleased that we did.

To be fair, most of the reasons I give for getting a dog apply to wherever you are in the world, but prior to arriving in Johannesburg adding a dog into the mix had never been a serious consideration. Reasons 4 and 5 are particularly pertinent to people who have just moved (like expats) and probably reason 6 also.  Reasons 9 and 10 are two specific reasons that meant that getting a dog in Jo’burg was particularly appealing.

 

  1. You love dogs.

 

  1. You really love dogs.

 

  1. Your family really loves dogs and although you are wobbling on the fence about getting one, the perfect little dog, sniffs you out and chooses you.

 

  1. Friend Maker: If you’re just moved to a new place (a common occurrence for serial expats) you generally start with a sum total of zero friends. There are plenty of ways to make friends and a dog is one of them. Unlike humans, who often do no more that grunt a greeting to strangers in the street and keep walking, dogs are far more sociable. While dogs are busy sniffing each others bottoms, you can either avoid eye contact with the other dog owner or make polite conversation, which COULD be the start of a beautiful new friendship.

 

  1. Depression Defender: Expats are particularly susceptible to depression, with frequent change of location, language, friends, employment status and all the other quirks of regular foreign assignments, your world can feel like quicksand under your feet.  I’m not suggesting that having a dog cures depression, but it’s a proven fact that pets can help ease these feelings by keeping you company. Having a bad day? Brush your dog, pet your dog or take it out for a walk. The affection you receive in return is completely disproportionate to the effort you put in.

 

  1. Exercise Enforcer: Dogs need regular exercise or THEY get depressed. Even if you’re not a big fan of going to the gym, taking regular walks is great exercise and helps keep you and your dog healthy and happy.  Jo’burg is a car centric city, so you probably don’t get as much day to day exercise just getting from A-B as you would in many other cities – add all that lovely calorific south african wine into the equation and you’re in big trouble if you don’t get out and about.

 

  1. Scape Goat: Somebody’s been eating the cheese? Somebody makes a rude noise at the table? Blame it on the dog.

 

  1. Waste Disposal: Most dogs are happy to tidy up any leftovers, vacuuming up crumbs and spilt milk. This is particularly helpful when the bin men go on strike, which they have done recently. Every little helps to keep your rubbish bag just that little bit emptier.
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This is the Cheese Thief.  She hardly looks capable of cheese (and sausage and pizza and any other tasty foodstuff) thievery, but she is, don’t let those big brown eyes fool you.

Just in the last few weeks I have been delighted that we took the plunge and got a dog for entirely selfish reasons that have nothing to do with loving or liking dogs.  Ultimately, reasons 9 and 10 are THE reasons I’m most thankful that we have a dog in Jo’burg.

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New Gold Rush in Gauteng!

Gold is the magic that pumped through the earth’s veins giving life to Johannesburg on land that was otherwise not suitable to attract and sustain a large human population. Primarily, it is unsuitable land because there is no natural water source to support the consumption needs of a vast landlocked city and the joke runs that the only reef to be found anywhere near here is the Witwatersrand Gold Reef.

Johannesburg sprang up virtually overnight when the first gold rush started after the discovery of gold in 1886 and is known as the City of Gold.  It now looks like we could see a second gold rush 130 years later….

On Easter Sunday we went to an Easter Egg Hunt at Birnisan Farm to the North of Johannesburg. What we actually found (or rather what Pickle found) was far, far more exciting.

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‘Diamonds’ gathering dust on the windowsill.

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