All Hail just Broke Loose in Johannesburg

Yes, you heard that right, hail storms are a thing in Johannesburg.

I said all hail, not all hell.

It WAS biblical.

After weeks and weeks of rainlessness in Johannesburg and much of South Africa…

After weeks of drought and water restrictions…

All    hail    broke    loose.

It was a week night. My friend and her son had some over for pizza and wine. We sat gazing at the bright sunny sky beyond the window pane as we chatted.

Her phone rang. Her husband urgently wanted to know where she’d parked her brand new car. This seemed like an odd question. He told us of a huge hail storm baring down on the city. We looked again at the sunny sky and laughed.

“Perhaps I’ll move it just in case”, said my friend. As we turned and glanced out the opposite window we saw that the sky was ominous. Two minutes later all hail broke loose.

The road outside became a torrent and we watched in horrified awe.

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Happy Expat Wife, Happy Expat Life – 5 Happy Expat Strategies

Expat Happy Wife Happy Life

Happy Expat Wife, Happy Expat Life

See how I adapted a well-known adage by throwing the word ‘expat’ in there? I would even go as far as to say that it’s MORE true that the original Happy Wife, Happy Life saying.

Let me explain:

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Honeydew Mazes: Johannesburg’s Best Kept Secret

Honeydew Mazes is one of Johannesburg’s lesser known attractions.  It’s not well signposted and doesn’t feature heavily in guidebooks.  We joined forces with another family and went to see what it was all about.

From roughly February until June there is a Maize Maze. It’s October, so at the moment the Maize Maze looks like this.

Waiting for the maize maze to grow. Honeydew, Johannesburg.

For the rest of the year there is the more permanent ‘Elemental Maze’. Grab a clipboard and pick a team name, (we were the Chocolate Loving Minions), and you’re ready to go and explore.  There are 5 secret gardens to find and in each one there were creatures to spot, quiz questions and riddles to answer and things to identify by scent, sound and touch.

Kids exploring Honeydew Maze, Johannesburg.

Some of the questions were a little….unexpected.

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We found the woodland fairy in one of the gardens. She was pretty creepy.  Dirty faced, she was nailed to the branch through her belly button.

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Apart from the gremlin fairy and the question about gun law, the outing kept two mums sane on an otherwise long and frustrating husband-free never-ending Sunday and five kids (aged 5-12) engaged and occupied.

At the end of the challenge staff check your quiz answers at the snack shack. Regardless of the quality of your answers, the staff will dish out ice-lollies as a reward.

Once you’ve completed the big maze, there is a large open area with picnic tables.  Packing  your own delicious picnic is recommended, as the range as food options at the snack shack are limited. It’s not far to the car park, so leave your cool bag in your car and fetch it when you’ve completed the maze.

In addition to picnic tables, there are a selection of smaller mazes for children to explore on their own.  There are math mazes, a rope maze, a circular maze, a hedge maze. It all made a refreshing change from the usual swing-slide-climbing frame combo and kept the kids enthralled for hours.

Children playing in Labyrinth

IMG_1667We had to drag them away at the end of the afternoon.

It’s rustic setting, rather than a slick and Disneyfied one and probably the only niggle is that there are only two loos, one marked with the creepy fairy’s creepy Barbie cousin (for girls) and the other creepy Barbie’s freaky boyfriend Ken (for the boys).   More toilets please Honeydew, or are there some that we didn’t find?

Aside from the lack of loos and trio of creepy dolls the entire day was a huge hit. We’ll absolutely be heading back for another dose of fun when the new Maize Maze has regrown early next year .

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For further information, including how to get to Honeydew Amazing Mazes, click HERE. (I’ve added a link to the Facebook page rather than the website, because I’ve had a few problems accessing it.  Perhaps a temporary glitch?)

Blood Moon Buffoon

Blood Moon Monday, Johannesburg.  I leapt out of bed at 4.30 am, cameras (yes multiple cameras from point-and-press – my usual modus operandus – to a complicated multi-lens version that I don’t actually have a clue how to use) at the ready to capture the supermoon lunar eclipse.

Buffoonery:

I was being considerate and trying not to wake the rest of the family. I couldn’t work out how to switch camera on in the dark and was stumbling about hefting doors open. Eventually, I switched a camera on and took some photos. They were rubbish.

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I didn’t look quite how I had expected.

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Africa After All 5. Hats Off

I want to end this series of Africa Lite and yet Africa After All posts on a positive note. Despite all the inequality, despite all the problems, crime and other negative associations with Africa and in this particular set of posts, the country of South Africa, on many a street corner you will find somebody who is trying their hardest to make the best out of the worst.  Their entrepreneurial spirit is hugely inspiring.

Take this guy for example…

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Africa After All 1. Local Advertising

“What does it say on all those posters? Please slow down so that I can read one of them.” This is just what you want your mother-in-law to point out when she’s visiting isn’t it? I’m talking about the mini posters stuck on lamp-posts and roadside electrical boxes citywide in Johannesburg.

The Abortion number plastered ironically outside a hospital.  The ones claiming to be able to assist with all sorts of problems – promising to magically reunite you with your ex and miraculous cures for the under endowed.

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The Clowns are Fighting

I have a distinct childhood memory of standing by the back door in my parents’ 1970’s avocado and cream wallpapered kitchen during a storm, my eyes raking the sky expectantly for giant clowns.  “The clouds are fighting” is what mum had actually said to explain away the roaring thunder. Continue reading