O, Pretoria!

These days I work, not in downtown Toronto, but in Pretoria, Gauteng – administrative capital of South Africa, a small city with Boer Republic roots and an African feel, a place of substantial Anglo-Dutch architecture from the nineteenth century commingled with brutalist Afrikaner buildings from the 1970s, and the litter, taxi mayhem and crumbling sidewalks of Maputo or (who knows, since I haven’t been there) Nairobi. I go there, most days, by Gautrain, the gleaming Bombardier-built high-speed commuter train that links Johannesburg with Pretoria and the O.R. Tambo International Airport. Most days, since I try to travel outside of rush […]

Three Toms

From last weekend, Sunday – three pictures of wee Tom Tjasink, my grandson, aged 2 months.

44 Stanley

44 Stanley is the place to be, on a chilly Saturday morning on the edge of downtown Johannesburg. A warren of small courtyards, art shops, craft shops, restaurants, it’s abuzz with the hip and the funky, old and young, a place for picking out fine hand-made chocolates at Chocoloza, ceramics at Storm in a Teacup (we bought two striking, black, nested bowls, with a long-handled jacaranda spoon, for under $20), linen at Mungo, furniture at Colony, or ordering a wood-fired pizza and a glass of wine at Il Giardino, where Rob and I sat by the Queen Anne stove last […]

Rosebank Sunday Market & Boot Sale

Sundays are craft market days at the Rosebank shopping mall here in Johannesburg. A big chunk of the fourth floor parking area is corralled off for leatherwork, ceramics, beadwork, clothes old and new, jewellery, and of course coffee, food, drinks, African masks and carvings. Once a month, a car boot sale is bolted on somehow, and the market expands to take in old shoes, old tools, old knick-knacks, spilling out from boots and over car bonnets, onto trestle tables and floors. The vendors wait, bored or anxious, while people saunter by, or pick over their stuff, or cast a jaundiced […]

Notes from Fathers Day

There are two new dads in our immediate family – my two sons-in-law, Shaun and Gareth. Fathers Day this year was the first for both of them, and I wonder what went through their minds, about their new status in life, their new roles and responsibilities. Or did they simply shake their heads in wonder and surprise as they got on with the business of changing the nappies? No nappies for me, mind you – not on this particular Fathers Day, anyway. Instead it was off to Roots, at Forum Homini in the Magaliesberg, for Rob and me – the […]

Family Business

A lot can happen in three months. It’s a little less than that, in fact, since we shipped my mom up from Cape Town, to meet her great-grandson, before he was wafted away by his parents to start a new life in Canada. “He’s going to speak with a Canadian accent,” I told Eve and Shaun brightly. They looked at me, disbelievingly. We had a nice day, as I believe I have blogged about previously, at Kathy and Gareth’s, and given the nature of the occasion, I took lots of photographs, which I loaded onto a memory stick and gave […]

Time out

There comes a time, readers, friends, and family, when a little time out is needed. The almost two weeks since Rob arrived here in Johannesburg from Canada has been weirdly disjointed – wonderful to be together again, after too long an absence, but on the work front, the kind of disfunction and toxicity (not with the company I work for, or the government department, or the funder, fortunately) that I had thought – hoped – not to have to experience again, at this stage of my life and career. So – after working all Saturday – this Sunday is time […]

Man meets man, Nirox

I throw this image onto the table – Man meets Man, from the Nirox Winter Sculpture Festival – like a playing card, to signify risk, a gamble, a certain funkiness of things. Look at the silver boots on the winged feet of the old geezer with his back to us: that could be me, facing an inscrutable future. A quick counting of the cards: Rob landed safely at O.R. Tambo on Monday evening – Queen of Hearts a calm, contented, autumn afternoon this mild Sunday at the Ale House in the Magaliesberg, in the highveld sunlight – Ace of Hearts things coming to […]

Sunday constitutional

I was taking my Sunday constitutional, last weekend, at the Emmarentia Dam, just down the road from where we used to live, and on my way in to the Botanical Gardens, just over the dam wall where there is a little harbour and model lighthouse, I saw yachts – a dozen or two model yachts, racing each other in the autumn sunlight, while their owners/sailors watched from the shoreline, completely rapt and intent, and content to allow me to clamber around taking photographs. Here are five images, taken hand-held with the little Leica, which I hope do something to capture […]