Suburb no 67

Suburb no 67

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Every now and then I find it good to get away and spend time doing nothing constructively! Sometimes I come back with interesting items that I’ve bought, whilst at others I return relaxed and with just a whole bunch of happy memories.

Last Tuesday I went, with one of my daughters, and casually explored Parkhurst. It is one of the city’s older suburbs, number 67, established in 1904 and divided into 2147 stands, which once sold for £100 each. The original farmland was purchased from Petrus Johannes Barnard for £36,019, 11 shillings and 4 pence, by the African Realty Trust, formed by Mr Isidore William Schlesinger, the New York insurance salesman. Over 11 000 people entered his competition to name the new suburb, and it took the judges a month to sort them all. They then decided on the name Parkhurst, suggested by 49 entrants, – “on the ground that it seemed to them the most appropriate, because of its “euphony, comparative brevity, and general fitness to the locality.”” However, it was also the name of a British prison on the Isle of Wight, and this caused some interesting correspondence in the papers at the time! By the end of the 1930’s the essential services of sewerage, electricity, piped water, municipal gas, tarred roads, canalisation of the spruit running through the suburb, and bridges were in place. Since then the development and nature of the suburb has quietly continued. Many alterations and renovations have taken place, which have now given it a trendy and attractive atmosphere. The main street is lined with pavement restaurants and antique and arty shops, whilst the side roads drowse under the covering of tall trees.

We wandered slowly up Fourth Avenue from the Jolly Roger Pub and Pizzeria, which can be a throbbing and happy hive of activity. There are a number of antique shops, some better than others and, of course, more expensive than others – however, they offer a fair range to look at and from which to choose. Cabbages and Roses has attractive and special linen and homeware on display, and The Polka Dot Shoppe, with it’s bright and cheerful exterior, drew us inside to investigate –I was both sorry and happy not to have a granddaughter with me! The Treasure Trove, well named, took me back to the fashions and jewellery of my grandmother, whilst the Dullstroom Books and Gifts Shop invited a slow and investigative wander through its treasures.

A short walk down 12th Street is St Paul’s Anglican Church designed by Felicia de Villiers, who was the architect wife of Henri de Villiers, a former Chairman of Standard Bank Investment Corporation, and great supporter of the Grahamstown Festival.

On the way back we stopped in at The Full Stop Café, a charming continental restaurant, with intimate window tables looking out onto the passing show. It was chilly, so the tea, coffee and chips went down very well. Many of the businesses have put a great deal of creativity and effort into making themselves bright, modern and attractive. There is a cheerful vibe to it all, and it is worth a visit to browse and wile away an hour or more, to shop intentionally, to meet someone for coffee or a meal, or to have dinner.

Stop rushing for a moment – become a human being instead of a human doing!

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