Winter has officially arrived in Johannesburg. The sun still comes out most days, but at night the temperature drops down to below 40 F. So, while the rest of our family and friends are celebrating the early days of summer, we are huddled up in sweatpants and going through an alarming amount of gas to run our small space heater.
The cold has me feeling a little stir crazy, and I just had to get outside today. I took a brisk walk around the neighborhood, and felt inspired to share some of the pretty sights of our temporary home.
Westcliff is one of the oldest suburbs in Joburg. Not long after gold was discovered in the area of what is now Johannesburg, the Randlords, ultra-rich mining magnates, moved in. In 1892, they began building their grand homes on the crest of the Witwatersrand Ridge. Westcliff was born, rising high above the rapidly growing city.
Directly across the street from our house is a stately gate that leads into the large, beautiful gardens of Glenshiel. The large stone home hidden behind the trees was built for Sir William and his wife Lady Isobel Dalrymple in 1908. The couple used the grounds to host regular parties that were the talk of the town, and boasted the first swimming pool and tennis courts in Johannesburg. The grounds now look like something out of The Secret Garden, and I have made it my mission to make it onto the property before I leave here. Stay tuned.
Also just a few doors down from us is the Ridge School, a school for boys that looks unchanged since 1920. In fact, the uniforms thy wear are the exact same uniform that pupils have been wearing for almost 100 years, knee-high socks, blazers and all.
Most of the mansions are hidden behind high walls and old trees. But I love to look at the unique gates and try to imagine what’s behind them.
Westcliff is just a five-minute drive from the busy downtown, but you would never know it on the quiet tree-lined streets. I love the glamorous homes and lush gardens. But mostly I love living here because it is so safe and walkable. There are very few places in this city where it is wise to walk around alone, without being very careful and constantly aware of your surroundings. Westcliff is safe enough that I have never felt uncomfortable on the streets or in our house. It’s probably the nicest neighborhood we will ever live in, and I am super grateful that we were lucky enough to find such a great place to live during our time here.