When I told friends that I was headed “South” most of them said that I should visit this particular nature reserve, situated like a green lung not too far from where my wife and I were staying for an extended weekend. Unlike the park near our home, this one had a clean and sunlight-filled entrance that included a small coffee shop, that we visited after the walk.
A river runs through it, the Klip Rivier, but no Robert Redford in sight. There is something about clear, moving water that calms my soul and connects me to my surroundings.
This well-constructed bridge over the river seemed to be pretty stable, but it turns out that I was wrong and once there are a few people on the structure, it does wobble just a tad.
It was here that local resident Trevor W Sturgis, his Dad Tony and I spent about 20 minutes in quiet meditation. Try as I might, I was unable to still my mind completely and I found myself in conflict with my thoughts as I tried to be in the moment and not drift off into the past or the future. Meditation is NOT as easy as it seems. It takes an enormous amount of self-discipline and that is something that I want to work on in the future.
I was told that these ruins we part of an old farmhouse that used to be on this land. This area is often used for tv and movie shoots and if to prove that point, just a short way down the path, we stumbled into a film crew and actors. At least I hope they were actors as there were guns and camouflage uniforms involved.
A different part of the river on the way back to the car and off on a journey around the various suburbs that form The South… A drive through Bassonia, Glenvista, Oakdene, Winchester Hills, and Mulbarton, names that I have only seen on maps.
Sunset as seen from the balcony of our room at Thaba Eco Lodge & Spa where we were staying for our extended weekend.
If you go to the South, then you have to visit the iconic (and legendary) Gino’s, which has been trading on this spot since 1987. And it is still going strong. I mentioned in a Facebook posting that we would be eating here and it seemed to trigger many happy childhood memories for friends that I was unaware spent their youth in the South.
It seems that Gino knows the demographic of his client base. Or well enough to have had THIS chair lift installed. And he tells me that it is an updated model of the original chain-driven one. As an aside, after having eaten here I almost asked if I could try it out instead of using the stairs after enjoying one of the largest meals ever…
There are old framed menus hanging on the wall at the reception desk ( a pizza cost about R5.00 back when they opened) and there are these pizza paddles hanging above the prep area to remind customers old and new of those early years.
I bet that there is not a single well-known brand that is NOT stocked at the bar at Gino’s. I did not count how many brands there are, but certainly more than enough to keep even the most discerning palate content. Here, as long as it is wet and is alcoholic, no one needs a fancy lable.
And what goes with pizza? BEER! That goes with pizza.
“Have some soup as a starter”, suggested Gino. What he failed to mention was that it was the size of a small above-ground swimming pool. I was expecting ‘Nothern portion” sizes and instead, I was served enough soup to feed a family of four. But I LOVE soup, and by pacing myself correctly this bean and pasta extravaganza finally capitulated and if there had been a slice of bread, I would have cleaned the plate.
As far as I am concerned, there are certain rules when it comes to ordering a pizza:
1] NO pineapple on a pizza
2] There is only one size…LARGE. None of this pretentious hipster small or medium. Go LARGE or go home as far as I am concerned. You can eat half and take the rest home for a late evening snack or enjoy it cold for breakfast.
I have to admit that THIS large was a new size for me. And the pizza was more oval than round. But that aside, it was bloody delicious.
As a result of COVID-19 protocols, the pizza arrived whole at the table, together with this pizza cutter. A sort of cut-it-yourself main course.
Many thanks to my long-time friend Trevor W Sturgis who was my unofficial guide for the early morning walk and the suburb drive.
Our accommodation for the weekend. With the most stunning view from the balcony.
To find out more about what this stunning venue offers, click on the logo to visit their website.
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