It’s an interesting fact that if a picnic on a lawn somewhere draws a loud “Boooooring!” response, it’s almost always from those who haven’t actually been there. Ignore the dictated ideas of a good time and, even flat broke, grab yourself a treat from this list.
Hazel Food Market
Markets have evolved from the fiefdom of old tannies and lost hippies into far more accommodating and valuable happenings. Hazel Food Market is no exception and, although you’ll probably end up feeling famished after strolling around a while, it’s a fascinating glimpse of culinary talent and diversity. A truly cosmopolitan gathering with accompanying national dishes, the market is alive every Saturday between 8.00am – 2.00pm. Ok, we lied. It really is free to look and stroll, but take a R50 at least, as ogling all of that yummy stuff is going to drive you nuts if you can’t taste some! Pretoria actually has a host of markets dotted around the city – including Irene Village Market and [email protected] If markets attract you, check out the lot of them to make your pick.
Union Buildings Madiba Statue
Fittingly, as we’ve just recently had Mandela Day, picnic lunches on sunny lawns are not the only winter free fun to be had at the Union Buildings. An imposing statue of Nelson Mandela also stands on the grounds, and is well worth a visit. There are many displays of our history round the country, but this one spot always seems to capture an essence of South Africa’s potential and its greatness. Still the tallest statue of Madiba in the world at nine meters, the unveiling took place on 16 December 2013, the Day of Reconciliation. Officially, this ended the ten days of mourning, after Madiba passed on 5 December 2013.
Possibly the most patient host in the world, Ludwig Taschner opened his rose farm to the public when the 1820 settlers started unpacking, and has been the face behind the farm ever since. Although Ludwig passed on, his ethos and his love for roses remain. Surely one of the most colourful and delightful little excursions one can take, a visit to Ludwig’s Roses is always a tonic, even in winter, when the roses are not at their most floriferous. The sheer number of rose trees and fascinating snippets of breeding history make it all worthwhile.
Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve
Sometimes still remarkable that it’s completely free to enter, the Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve remains an amazing snapshot of diversity and raw nature so close to Pretoria city. A treasure trove of plant, insect, bird and animal species, the reserve is a true public facility. Free to enter and enjoy, as long as you can get there with a sarmie in your pocket, a whole day’s adventure awaits you.
Magnolia Dell Park
With varying bloom times, even when the magnolias aren’t flowering much, this park is still beautiful year-round. There are intermittent complaints about the litter – step over it and move on – although the park is generally clean and tidy. Weekend traffic tends to bottleneck litter at times, but it’s still a stunning venue and worth residents’ patronage. Take a picnic or just a long, pensive stroll. Few of the city’s parks hold so much history or give such a snapshot of bygone times from such a limited surface area.
Great for photo shoots and breakfast, as there’s a restaurant on the premises at Magnolia Dell too. Walking is free, but chewing will require either a picnic basket or some petty cash for on-site grub.