Clock Heaven in South Africa

For years, Dullstroom has been a constant fixture on our drives to the Kruger Park.

We always stop there.

We always eat there.

And we always shop*** there.

From a pretty but small stop-over in the late 1990s, we have seen Dullstroom grow into an increasingly sophisticated little place, complete with smart shops and smart places to eat.

One of the fun shops we always visit in Dullstroom is The Clock Shop, which sells clocks (obviously) but in quantities you never knew existed, in every shape, size, design and colour of the rainbow.

To wit :

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There are theme-based clocks:

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There really is something to suit every taste and budget, from cheap ‘n cheerful, to kitschy, as well as seriously expensive.

By expensive, think fabulous old grandfather clocks:


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There are some clever designs:

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There is a repair shop :

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So yes, all in all, pretty much clock heaven, I’d say.

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Oh come on, watch the video clip below, and then tell me – who doesn’t secretly rather like a cuckoo clock?

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Oh yes, those *** up top.

This is what we bought last month in The Clock Shop :

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We bought the bird song version, which I promptly hung up in my Delhi study, and once an hour I am transported back to Africa.


The shop is on the main street.  Just ask anyone where it is.  It’s that kind of place.

JENNI BUTTON – classic, elegant South African clothing

On a recent return visit to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we lived for many years, I was looking for Western smart formal wear for my daughter. We now live in India, and office appropriate Western clothing isn’t always easy to find.

I was pointed in the direction of Jenni Button, and found a shop where I could have bought just about every item of clothing, so elegant and so smart and so classic are her designs.

How is it possible that I lived all those years in South Africa, in ignorance of this talented designer?

Ah well, better late than never is my mantra.

Loved the look and feel of the shop in Sandton City, with the colour co-ordinated displays.

Ms Button has simple formal wear and cocktail dresses, for example, all hanging together, by colour, tempting you to mix and match.

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As an aside:  I found small size clothes difficult to track down on my earlier not very fruitful shopping trips through the better known stores in SA.  I needed Size 6, and very few stores had this size on offer.  Jenni Button did.

Personally recommended.

I didn’t tell the staff in the shop that I blog or review.








Tsonga. Fabulous South African shoes

I have been a devoted fan of Tsonga shoes for years now, ever since we lived in South Africa. Their shoes are, without question, the most immediately comfortable shoes you will ever buy.
Let me explain.
I now live in India, in New Delhi.

In late May Delhi is hot.

As in 46C hot.

And when I stepped out for a day long shopping trip and wandering around with a house guest who likes to visit in the heat, I put on a brand new, never-before-worn pair of Tsonga sandals.
“Foolish woman,” do I hear you cry?
“Blisters guaranteed,” do I hear you mutter?
Not a bit of it.

These sandals (below) felt as comfy as slippers, the second I put them on, and after a long (very long) and hot (very hot) day wandering through Delhi, my feet felt just great.

No blisters, no chafing, no soreness.

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I don’t know how Tsonga does it, but every single pair of their shoes, loafers, sandals that I have bought over the years has been like this – comfortable from the very second you slip them on.

And it’s not just womens’ shoes.  My husband is also a firm believer.

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It was this claim that I used to persuade friends on their first ever visit to South Africa to buy at Tsonga in Dullstroom, and they reported back enthusiastically.
I shopped, as usual, on my trip earlier this month to South Africa, and came home with yet more Tsonga loafers.

Red ones, this time, to make a change from my standard blacks and navy blues.

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A part of my Tsonga collection (below).  An investment, say I…

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They are not cutting edge stylish – no killer heels, ladies –  but for traditional, classic, elegant loafers and brilliantly comfy sandals, Tsonga is your place.  They also had fab looking boots in their Dullstroom shop, but I had absolutely no justification for buying any, sad to say.

Personally recommended, without hesitation.

I have never mentioned in any of the shops visited over the years – Cape Town, Dullstroom, Hazyview –  that I blog or write reviews.

Where to find excellent coffee in downtown Johannesburg

On a recent holiday in Johannesburg, where we used to live, we went wandering through Braamfontein, a part of town that was hardly on our radar screen when we lived in Joburg, because it was downtown and perceived to be unsafe.

Fast forward several years (oh dear me, how I miss living in wonderful Joburg) and a brilliantly highveld winter morning, and we were headed to Braamfontein to meet up with friends and to explore the newly revitalised part of town.

Father Coffee is a small, elegant coffee bar and, as luck would have it, it was celebrating its first birthday that morning, hence the cake.  This cool little haven is partly owned by the son of our friends-  here he is busy at work :


I loved the feel and pared down space :


Outside is equally cool :



My cappuccino was delicious and very reasonably priced.  I’m told the espresso was perfect.  Ditto the birthday cake.

They sell their Africa sourced coffee beans.

What’s not to love?







Personally recommended.

I didn’t tell the staff I blog and write reviews until we had finished and after I asked permission to take photos, which was graciously granted.

Lovely place.




Are these the best olives in Johannesburg ?

Every Sunday morning, the otherwise completely ordinary rooftop parking lot of the Rosebank Mall becomes one of Johannesburg’s iconic markets.

Crafters, traders, performance artists, food stalls all spring up for the morning, the crowds pour in to eat and shop and wander, it is all a tad bohemian and great fun.

When we lived in Joburg, Rosebank Rooftop Market was a Sunday staple, and now, whenever we return on holiday, we aim for at least one Sunday morning in Joburg, just for the market.

There, we make a bee-line for traders we have patronised for years.

Such as Doreen, who sells what have to be THE most delicious olives in Johannesburg.

Her olives are fat and plump and well-stuffed – and not cheap, I must in all honesty warn you. But they are absolutely delcious.

We have been buying feta-stuffed olves and garlic-stuffed olives from Doreen for years, and on a visit to Rosebank last Sunday, we tried out a new product – olives stuffed with blue cheese.


Doreen also sells stuffed artichokes, which are a long-standing family favourite, and pestos, and ginger and all manner of utterly delicious treats.

Doreen and her husband can be found every Sunday, in 5th Avenue on the Rooftop Market, in the section where all the food stalls are, quite close to the Polish meat seller and next to the Indian spice seller.

MIAS ANGLING Woodmead Johannesburg

Mia’s angling store in Johannesburg’s Woodmead Shopping Centre, is a mecca for anglers.

A magnet for fishermen.

A lure for outdoors-y types, and any other clichés you may care to think of.

Trust me, I should know, having spent enough time there, watching my husband spend our retirement money on yet more rods and reels and lures and bags, and – listen up, here’s the latest purchase –  a dinky little folding stool, lighter than the other folding stool he bought at Mia’s last year, and absolutely ideal for fishing from a coracle.

As one does.

Anyway, back to Mias.

They stock literally everything a fisherman could want, and then some.

They also have serious diving and scuba equipment, where I always hang out, to combat my personal fishing-shopping-boredom. They sell sports shoes and hats and maps. Loads of stuff.

But their absolute holy grail is fishing.

The sales staff is knowledgeable and friendly, without being in the least bit intrusive.  They offer advice, they advise, and they never push you to buy.  They stock local and imported makes of rods, and reels, and lures, and bait, and bags and boxes –  you name it, Mias has it.

The details below are for the Woodmead store, which I know like the back of my hand.

011 804-4102/4
20 Waterval Crescent.
From 10am – 1pm

There are 4 other local branches in and around Jo’burg.







Bella on Rivonia Road in Johannesburg is a perfect place for lunch. Airy, friendly, relaxed staff, serving easy on the palate light food, which is consistently good, with a wide choice of specials of the day. It is very much the place for ladies who lunch.

Safe and ample parking.

Outdoor heaters to supplement the winter sunshine.

The fare is light bistro-esque. Quiches, salads, delicious fish-cakes, chicken pies in winter, generous open sandwiches, and delicious in-season puddings.

It’s not cheap, to be honest, but the food is good – although crab-cake and a small side salad at R 90 did strike me as a tad pricey.

Lunch for 2 with no alcohol, no pud, just a main course, fruit juice and a coffee each cost R237.

I have eaten at Bella about 5/6 times over the past 2 years.

66 Rivonia Road

Tel : 011 883 6665