Revival to the fashion district of Johannesburg

    Stitches running up the pavements, garment patterns on streetpoles and threaded colour gateways are to mark the exciting, new-look fashion district in downtown Johannesburg.
The announcement - leading up to Fashion week - by Mayor Amos Masondo, for the public upgrade of the fashion district to be completed by mid-July, involves demarcating the area with 11-metre high gateways that look like colourful fabric threaded through the street poles that will light up at night.

These gateways will be supplemented with signage consisting of 48 large steel garment patterns erected on street poles and on the pavements will be three different stitch patterns cut into the paving tiles and filed with mosaic tiles.

The pavements will be further transformed with benches with inlaid mosaic stitch patterns and trees in a part of town that is particularly bare of greenery.

The fashion district takes up 20 blocks and is a colourful part of town with shops spilling out their merchandise onto pavements. The northern section of the district has several Art Deco residential blocks, but it is otherwise largely an industrial area with textile factories and clothing shops.

The fashion district has been in the eastern part of the CBD for over half a century, with tailors and seamstresses working from its rather dreary buildings until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the local industry hit the doldrums.

But in the last two years it's found its feet again: factories have opened up again as smaller, more efficient operations and most importantly, they've now found a more secure, niche market: ethnic African designs, which are becoming more and more popular and can't be produced by Asian sweat shops because they're very individualistic.

As an appetiser for how creative and inspiring the inner city of Johannesburg can be was the relocation of the main Joburg Fashion Week from its usual Sandton location to Johannesburg city. This new location allowed leading and upcoming local designers to transform the Bus Factory, Constitution Hill, the Rand Club, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and Nelson Mandela Bridge, among other city landmarks, into fashion havens for the stylish week.

Designers who showed their autumn and winter collections included Suzaan Heyns, Errol Arendz, Kluk CGDT, David Tlale, Wild Fig, Abigail Betz and Heni. Driven by AFI. The show was noted to have provided an effective platform for the promotion of African fashion design.

For more information on Fashion week visit Joburg's website or read an Fashion Week article

Fashion Week and Fashion District

Lego has moved into the electronic age

The word Lego is well known amongst at least 3 generations and just the word brings back memories of building fantasy worlds on the lounge floor on a rainy day.

With the threat of becoming a "previous generation" play toy, Lego has had to up the stakes and move with the times. And they have done this remarkably so, with one of their latest product lines called Power Function.

Power Function is the integration of electronics and the Lego blocks to make an interactive technological play toy. It has battery boxes integrated into Lego blocks to deliver power, it has different types of motors to make things move, it has lights, a remote control and even a connection to a computer - everything you need in an electric building system for your budding electronic / electrical engineer. Everything fits together in a system to let your child or (for those still young at heart) husbands build and control their own inventions.

But wait, this is not all - they have extended their product line into infrared receivers and seekers; converter cables; servo motors; touch, light, sound sensors and much more. You can even get a Lego bluetooth dongle. For any child enthusiastic about making things work this would be a dream come true.

And this could potentially not be the end of their progression into the technological age, with other integrations like Lego USB Hubs, Webcams, iPod speakers and docking stations potentially viable there is no end to the number of generations still to come that know and play with the Lego brand.

For more information on Lego's products, visit their website or this blog of Lego inspired products.

Electronic Lego

Avocado is high in nutrients and reduces cholestrol

The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to Puebla in Mexico and the undomesticated variety known as a criollo is small with dark black skin and contains a large seed.

Interestingly, the oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlan, Puebla, Mexico that dates to around 10,000 BC. The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America - a water jar shaped like an avocado dating to AD 900 was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan and was associated with fertility.

Avocados are high in valuable health-promoting fats and nearly 20 essential nutrients. For a typical avocado:

  • About 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat.
  • Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K.
  • Avocados have a high fiber content among fruits - including 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fiber.
  • A fatty triol (fatty alcohol) with one double bond, avocadene (16-heptadecene-1,2,4-triol), is found in avocado.

High avocado intake has been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood serum cholesterol levels. Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, mild hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (helpful cholesterol) levels. Additionally a Japanese team synthesised the four chiral components and identified (2R, 4R)-16-heptadecene-1, 2, 4-triol as a natural antibacterial component.

Avocado's also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein in foods that are eaten with the fruit.

Essential tips

  • Avocados are perishable, so always use your avocado just after making it.
  • Opt for organic and fully ripe avocado for taste.
  • While storing unused avocado, cover the unused half with plastic wrap and refrigerate it immediately.
  • Never keep an avocado in the freezer; it will simply die by the temperature shock.
  • To ripe the avocados quickly keep them in a paper bag, or wrap them in foil to hasten the process of ripening.

Source : Wikipedia


For a quick weekend away

If a quick weekend away is all that you need, with minimal fuss and preparation, then this simple small farmhouse cottage is the way to go. It is located on a working farm about 180kms outside Cape Town, just 12.5 km from the town of Ashton on the R60 road to Swellendam.

The farm - Spanspek se Plek - is set in beautiful scenery with a backdrop of the Langeberg mountains being the main focal point. The area on the farm and surrounding it is green all year round as it is fed from fresh water from the mountain itself.

The farm has at least 3 dams on the property, a vineyard, orchard and fresh produce, honey and jams grown and made on the farm can be purchased at their farmstall just a few km's up the road.

Activities on the farm extend from walking, swimming, fishing, fruit picking (in season), quad biking, mountain biking or just lying in the sun next to the fresh water spring leading into the topmost dam under the shade of a willow tree. If wine is on the palate, then travel around to surrounding areas for traditional weekend wine tasting.

The converted farm labourers cottages themselves are very basic but are fully equipped with all the necessary utensils and facilities one might need for a simple weekend away. Paraffin lamps, candles and the glow from the braai fire outside will enhance the feel of seclusion and simplicity. There is nothing here that will make you feel like you are at home in the bustle of town living.

The farm currently has 4 or 5 cottages that can accommodate from 2 people up to 8 people in 1, 2 or 3 bedroomed locations. The cottages are neat, clean, basic in furniture and simplistic in style and therefore are easy on the budget (prices ranging from R250 per night to around R800 per night depending on the cottage chosen).

For more information on this farm or specific accommodation visit their website.

Spanspek se Plek

Hot News

Design Indaba - this weekend

This annual Indaba (aimed mostly at local talent) is a fantastic way to encourage creativity, out-the-box thinking and ensure that South African design juices continue flowing.

Showing at the CTICC in Cape Town 25 - 27 Feb 2011. This year there will also be a Design Indaba Film Fest 18 - 27 Feb 2011.

Don't miss out!

Featured Plant

Salvia Chamelaeagnea

Cassine Peragua
(Cape Saffron)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous medium tree to average 5m. Has showy small flowers.

Flowering time :

Late Summer / Autumn

Conditions :

  • Full Sun
  • Average water
  • Evergreen
  • Wind resistant
  • Some frost
  • Any Soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Ernst Gouws & Co
Chardonnay 2010

Winery : Ernst Gouws & Co
Winemaker : Ernst & Ezanne Gouws

Description :

100% Chardonnay sourced from the famous Swartland region from a diversity of soil types.

Aroma : Diverse expression of typical floral and citrus aromas on the nose.

Palate : Complexity on the palate with flavours of grapefruit and grilled nuts have an underlying buttery richness about them. Freshness is underscored by a textured mouthfeel and length make it an ideal food pairing wine.

Winemaking : Fermented and then spends 7 months in new French oak barrels on the lees with 100% malolactic fermentation allowed.

Food Pairing : Enjoy with cream-based pasta dishes, grilled fish or barbecue chicken.

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Swisschard
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Oreganum
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    January's Teaser Answer :


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82