Saturday, April 25, 2009
Saturday, 25 April: Visiting Rosendal
Who needs city streets, bling boutiques, glitzy malls, cell phones and traffic jams?
The newly harvested maize fields where horses and cattle graze, evergreen willows and rust-gold plane trees, the strange shapes of the striped sandstone cliffs of the Witteberg and the Maluti's, veld flowers interwined with grass in seed, blue skies and the long tarred road with an occasional truck or car, frequently outside the range of a cell phone signal made my short visit to the Eastern Free State a perfect holiday.
Our first stop was the little farming village of Rosendal about a two hour drive from Bloemfontein or a three hour drive (and light years) from the frenzy of Johannesburg. I visited this little town about ten years ago on a similar trip and it appeared quietly neglected. Now Rosendal is part of the rural renewal taking place across denuded country dorpies (hamlets), villages and small towns as city wearied artists, potters, weavers, enthusiatic dealers in antiques, country junk and local wares revive the old settlements.Rosendal may have only one tarred road but it has a little theater where well-knowns come to perform. Rosendal's streets are dusty; its permanent population is under fifty souls, according to a mosaic craftswoman and weaver.
The Old Trading Store(Die Ou Handelshuis)is choc-a-bloc with antiques, memorabilia, yesteryear evening dresses, crockery and glassware.
Next door is the Meerkatkolonie Art Gallery (The Mongoose Colony) where soft stocking sculptures recline on an old bench.
Michelle Nigrini, artist, also presents creative weekends at the local hotel. Dahla Hulme creates functional art, furniture and sculptures using old farming implements, animal skulls and bones.
Rosendal can be roughly translated: Dale of roses. The prolific garden, planted English country style, at The Rosendale Country Lodge based in a restored and converted cheese factory contrasts with the open veld.
We didn't stay to taste the famed baked cheese cake on the Lodge's verandah. Next time!
The town's orginal cottages are built of honey-coloured sandstone
The climate is severe in winter with frost and frequent snowfalls so one needs mittens especially these which look good enough to eat.
Turksvy (Prickly Pear) Trading store is a vintage store packed to the ceiling with bottled fruit, jams, soft print cottons,homemade soaps and antiques.
Suzani's right next door has a most impressive dislay of old enamelware and ironware.
Next stop, next week, country churches...