Why you should visit Johannesburg, South Africa.

Once you get the travelling bug, you’ll no doubt want to visit every country and continent and keep adding to your experiences. If you are surfing between ideas of where to go next, you should definitely consider a visit to Johannesburg, South Africa. Think about it; South Africa is full of travel destination gems. You can switch between the cities and National Parks,  and include plans to visit Johannesburg in your travel list. You can easily buy tickets from Cape Town to Johannesburg and other internal routes to help you get about in the quickest amount of time.

5 Reasons you should visit Johannesburg:

  • Nelson Mandela’s house is in Johannesburg

Visit Mandela’s town, which was once a small township, but there are now almost a million residents. You can see how the pain and tragedies of South Africa have shaped this once little town into the city you see now. Local travel agencies organise tours for foreigners and solo travellers. The tours include visiting the town, Mandela’s house and his museum.

  • Johannesburg is the home of South African graffiti

Street art goes to the highest level in South Africa. Every city in SA is beautiful, but Johannesburg stands out with its exceptional street art. Local people are used to seeing gorgeous murals, but a lot of tourists visit different neighbourhoods to see such famous graffiti murals like “Una Salus Victis Nullam Sperare Salutem” by Faith 47, “Family Time” by Falko 1, “Jozy” by Kazy Usclef, and many more.

  • Wild adventure is just around the corner

Johannesburg is a modern city with great architecture and universities, but wild adventures in South Africa aren’t too far away. Pilanesberg National Park is just a couple hours’ drive away from Johannesburg. The park offers guides and vehicles, as well as walking excursions. You will be able to see lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, giraffes and different types of birds.

  • The vibe and people are amazing

One of the best things about visiting a new country is meeting people and getting to know the environment. The vibe when you visit Johannesburg is fabulous. Everyone is cool, and street animals are warm and love attention. If you want to buy something original, unique and handmade, the streets are full of designer brands and small shops selling clothes, accessories and keepsakes.

People have a welcoming attitude and colourful stories. This city attracts other people with its people. One of the biggest reasons tourists return to Johannesburg is the people.

  • South African Food is Amazing

Trying different food at new places is always interesting. Trying different food from other countries is really interesting. South Africa offers a variety of dishes and when you visit Johannesburg you’ll find it’s definitely a golden city in this case. Besides coffee shops and steak houses that are common in every city, Johannesburg offers food markets and restaurants that serve local dishes such as chakalaka and pap, brai and bunny chow.

Your South African adventure is just one click away when you book your flight!



Mumbai Memoir 87- ‘Nobel’ structure in Mumbai’s ‘concrete jungle’!

My niece Ishita and myself posing besides a sculptor at Sir J.J. School of Art.


When I sit at my study table, the view outside the window often transports me into the bygone era of Mumbai’s colonial past. The skyline sketches a landscape of British made old architectural buildings which stand out, amidst modern skyscrapers that define Mumbai’s ‘concrete jungle’. Out of all the British build institutions around South Mumbai, the closest to my heart is ‘Sir, J.J. School of Art’ The reason for my fascination towards this institution is that, the field of Education & Art both are dear to me and, as this institution nurtures both, therefore its presence in the vicinity has naturally added value to the landscape of my mind!

The J.J school of Art was established in March 1857. It was named after Sir. Jamshetji. Jeejiboy, a Parsi businessman and philanthropist, who had donated Rs 100000 for constructing the school premise. In 1866, Lockwood Kipling (father of the British writer Rudyard Kipling) became the first Dean of this art school. The school building was designed by architect George Twigge Molecey in neo- Gothic style. The school’s campus and the Dean’s bungalow, where Rudyard Kipling was born and lived for the first six years of his life, is a heritage structure which very few people are aware of. On several occasions, I have explored the school’s architecture, sculpting, drawing, painting and applied art departments and was impressed by the work of art which were displayed there.

The painting and sculpting workshops of the art school nestled amidst greenery.

In year 2008, Jindal Steel Works (JSW) Foundation took up restoration work of the art school’s architectural structure, which has re-kindled the vintage spirit the premise once radiated. The school was build way before electricity was introduced to Mumbai (then called as Bombay) The brilliance of the school’s architect is seen as one notices the use of natural space and light in the institution’s premise. It is evident that air ventilation too was well thought of then, as few rooms of the art school still have holes in ceiling through which a huge hand pulled cloth fan use to be suspended. This fan was pulled by a ‘punkah coolie’ who was specifically employed to cool the room.

Mumbai roots- Rudyard Kipling, the winner of the 1st Nobel Prize for Literature in English lived in this South Mumbai bungalow during his childhood.

Being a writer, I am naturally drawn towards biographies and lifestyle of authors, novelist and facts of the literary world. Knowing that Rudyard Kipling’s childhood was spent in the premise of J.J School of Art, I just couldn’t resist the desire to pay a visit to the bungalow in which the award-winning novelist once lived. After seeking due permission from the authorities, I visited the Dean’s bungalow to get a first-hand experience of the place, where the ‘The Jungle Book’ author spent his initial childhood days of life.

Rudyard’s love for Bombay is evident in a quatrain (a poem of 4 lines) which I read recently:

“Mother of Cities to me,
For I was born in her gate,
Between the palms and the sea,
Where the world-end steamers wait.”

Nobel’ structure in Mumbai’s ‘concrete jungle’!

It was a delight to walk in the front yard of the bungalow and imagine the old times when little Rudyard would have been playing there and probably absorbing the Indian ethos that later went into formulating the characters of ‘The Jungle Book’! Just then I saw a rooster crowing nearby. As if the rooster was proudly announcing to the world about the glory, which the Bombay-born Kipling, brought to the English language, by being the recipient of the 7th Nobel Prize for Literature (and 1st Nobel ever won for English language) in 1907!

Photo courtesy: Shraddha C Sankulkar


South Mumbai skyline on a cloudy day. The green patch seen houses the structure where once Rudyard Kipling lived.




Red Devils by Kastlekelm Miniatures

By Ann Evans.


Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography



You don’t have to own a dolls house to enjoy miniatures. Whatever your job or hobby, you can be sure some talented miniaturist will be creating a scaled down version of what interest you. Ann Evans takes another peek at the world of miniatures.



With another successful Miniatura Show behind them, it’s all systems go now for the Miniatura team and the amazing talented miniaturists who attend their shows to prepare for a very special event in the spring – Miniatura’s 70th Show.


There will be more feature stands for the public to see plus all the usual commercial stands. Top miniaturists from all around the UK and abroad will be exhibiting their incredible miniatures – including furniture, food, ornaments, glass, porcelain, art, needlework, dolls and dolls houses in 1/12th, 1/24th and relative scales, which will astound you.


Organisers Andy, Bob and Muriel Hopwood are hoping for the return of semi-retired artisans to come along for their 70th anniversary event. And leading up to the Spring Show, there will be all the usual competitions and monthly prizes. It’s worth noting that anyone who signs up for their monthly Miniatura newsletter is automatically eligible to be entered into the monthly prize draws with great miniature-related prizes to be won.


At the forthcoming Spring show there will again be friendly workshops led by experts in their field. At the autumn show the Miniature Needlework Society showed people how to create a Florentine Carpet; WADDHAM’s showed how to make dustbins, bread baskets and baby dresses; The British Polymer Clay Guild, The Rugby Miniaturists, Queen Elizabeth Dolls Houses and David Bishop from Little House Plus also ran workshops while Club stands put on displays of members’ work for visitors to admire.


The great thing is that you don’t have to own a dolls house to enjoy these incredible miniatures. Many people buy specific miniatures to put on their shelves or desks at home, or to give as gifts. No matter what your profession or hobby is, whether it’s cooking, gardening, painting or reading, there are gorgeous miniatures just perfect for you.


For example. photographer Rob’s eye was caught recently by some Red Devil’s – as they are his favourite football team’s mascot; while I just loved a pile of wobbly books; both items made by Kastlekelm Miniatures. DIY husbands and dads might like a mechanic doll made by Julie Campbell or a workman’s toolbox by Severn Models to stand on their workbench. And who wouldn’t love some flowers, such as those made by Jan Southerton? You can discover more incredible miniatures of all types on the Miniatura website.


Miniatura all started with Muriel Hopwood making ceramic jewellery which she sold at craft shows in the mid 1970s. After meeting someone who made miniature plants, she started making miniature pots and bowls. Before long Muriel and her husband Bob, along with sons Dave and Andy were attending events all around the country, often getting up at 3am in the morning to get there. They decided to organise their own fair, and this took place in September 1983 at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. When they outgrew that venue they went to the Motor Cycle Museum, then finally in 1992 at the Birmingham NEC, where they have been ever since.


Andy Hopwood said: “We can still remember those shows from 35 years ago at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground – which has since been re-built; and suddenly it’s nearly 2018 and we are getting ready for the 70th event. We still make changes and improvements to the show, I think it’s essential to keep growing and adapting to what visitors and exhibitors want and need.

Organiser Andy Hopwood at the 2017 Spring Show

“In recent years we have added an extra seating area and carpet to make it a more comfortable experience, and this time we’ll be focusing on the workshops a little bit more. We are also hearing news from the exhibitors about special miniatures they plan to launch at the show, that’s always as exciting for us as it is for the thousands of visitors.”


Make a note in your diary that the 70th Miniatura Show is on 24th and 25th March 2018. Sign up for their newsletter to be kept up to date with everything that’s happening, and to be in with a chance to win great prizes.  Visit: www.miniatura.co.uk
















Mumbai Memoir 68- My explorations with Mumbai’s Art Zone

Murals and decorative pots from ArtIdeaz Studio

Murals and decorative pots from ArtIdeaz Studio

Throughout the week, Mumbai’kars (citizens of Mumbai) are running around with a problem-solving agenda. Everyone is seen in pretty serious gear until weekend arrives.

Artistic tissue boxes from ArtIdeaz

Artistic tissue boxes from ArtIdeaz

Mostly weekends are spent for recreational purpose or pursuing ‘mindful’ activities. South Mumbai is an artistic hub, especially the Kala Ghoda area. The Jehangir Art Gallery, the Modern Art Gallery and the Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay (earlier called Prince of Wales Museum) are monumental centres that exhibit art in all forms.

Manjiri Chandorkar, owner of ArtIdeaz Studio, Andheri (West), Mumbai

Manjiri Chandorkar, owner of ArtIdeaz Studio, Andheri (West), Mumbai

In the last week of December 2016, my friend, Manjiri Chandorkar, who is a talented artist, invited me for an exhibition in which she had exhibited her paintings at Coomarswamy Hall, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay, Fort.

Utility boxes from ArtIdeaz

Utility boxes from ArtIdeaz

The exhibition was organized by Generation Art Foundation headed by Mr. Ghanshyam Gupta. Himself a highly qualified fine artist & having earned his Masters degree from Royal College of Art, London, Mr Gupta offers platform to promote artists through his foundation.

Manjiri Chandorkar with fellow artist Binal Patel

Manjiri Chandorkar with fellow artist Binal Patel

For more information visit: www.generationartfoundation.com Most of Mr. Ghanshyam’s work that was exhibited had the theme of ‘meditation’ ‘abstract’ and that of ‘mind focus’. Here’s the gallery of his work: http://ghanshyamgupta.com/index.php/gallery

Manjiri Chandorkar exhibiting her painting at Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya’s Cooparswamy Hall

Manjiri Chandorkar exhibiting her painting at Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya’s Cooparswamy Hall

Besides Mr. Ghanshyam’s work, Manjiri Chandorkar’s work stood out the most. A local newspaper- ‘DNA’ too featured her painting ‘Rosella in Paradise’. After completing her Diploma in Applied Art & Art Education from Pune, Manjiri first devoted her time to building her family, comprising of two beautiful daughters (Mukul & Riya) and her Sound Engineer husband Mr. Pramod Chandorkar. Today Manjiri is full time focussing on her own Andheri (West) based art studio named ‘ArtIdeaz’ where she, along with her artist team comprising of Binal Patel, Meghna D’souza & Kshama Rao create beautiful paintings and artefacts.

Manjiri and me

Manjiri and me

Manjiri and her group have mastered several techniques like relief work, oil, artefacts and express in mediums such as clay, paper mache and cone work. Breaking the stereotype that art only can be bought by elite population of society, ArtIdeaz have created artistic consumer products which can be afforded by any average income group person.

Mind Matterz, me and ‘mindfulness’- backdrop of Mr. Ghanshyam Gupta’s painting.

Mind Matterz, me and ‘mindfulness’- backdrop of Mr. Ghanshyam Gupta’s painting.

Only thing, he/she should have taste for artist products that come in the form of tissue boxes, magazine holders, table mats, coasters, jewellery boxes etc. For glimpses of team ArtIdeaz’s work click: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Artideaz/photos/ The ArtIdeaz group headed by Manjiri actively in participates in various exhibitions. It’s a group where passionate like-minded artists have come under one umbrella and are collectively working together for larger good.

Mr. Ghanshyam Gupta, artist, art curator and founder of Generation Art Foundation.

Mr. Ghanshyam Gupta, artist, art curator and founder of Generation Art Foundation.

My organization, Mind Matterz’s online merchandise store http://www.mindcart.in is one of the promoter of Manjiri’s ArtIdeaz’s art and creative products. The reason Mind Matterz is promoting art is because I strongly believe that every qualitative art form has ‘mindfulness’ value.  Thus Mind Matterz decided to tie up with ArtIdeaz since 2015 and in the process  promote art among the classes as well as the masses. To buy ArtIdeaz products visit www.mindcart.in or email info@mindmatterz.net /cmanjiri71@gmail.com

ArtIdeaz participating in Thane Upvan Festival’Jan’17. Binal, Manjiri and Kshama Rao.

ArtIdeaz participating in Thane Upvan Festival’Jan’17. Binal, Manjiri and Kshama Rao.

Just like a mobile phone requires charging to function smoothly, similarly humans to need positive charge to solve their problems. Art in any balanced form acts as a positive charger which stimulates the brain in form of visual (paintings/photography), auditory (music), smell (fragrances/food), taste (food & beverage) and touch (dance, food, massage art) form which thereby creates a positive charge. It’s a known fact that only after getting positively charged we can approach our problems with the application of our intellect. So, through this article I would encourage Mumbaikars and the world to experience art in some form atleast on weekend, to feel rejuvenated and fight the blues of the bygone week.

Painting exhibits at Coomarswamy Hall, Fort

Painting exhibits at Coomarswamy Hall, Fort

Photo Courtesy: Shraddha C Sankulkar, Manjiri Chandorkar. Aditya Chichkar
















DINNER ON THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA A never-to-be-forgotten experience.

Royal Yacht Britannia 173 (Small)

This is my favourite article of 2016.

It was an experience that will live with me for ever!

A lone piper played as we walked along the long red carpet, the back of his heavy kilt swaying from side to side.

It was a bitterly cold evening and we were glad to step into the yacht’s welcome warmth, taking a glass of champagne from the waiter’s tray as we passed.

To the right is the reception area, and the lounge.

I sat where the Queen used to sit, on one of the floral settees.

The lounge is surprisingly homely and welcoming, with a fireplace, a grand piano, and matching settees and chairs, with small side tables beside them.

We were given a brief tour of the yacht, followed everywhere by two waiters, one with canapés and the other with Champagne.

All the clocks were stopped at one minute past three in respect to the Queen’s last visit.

(By the way, Queen Elizabeth ll is Queen Elizabeth l in Scotland as the first Queen Elizabeth was Queen of England. She wasn’t Queen of Scotland!)

Royal Yacht Britannia 176 (Small)First we visited the Captain’s suite of rooms, which had a sofa and chair which were over 100 years old, and a large dining-room.

All the Officers would eat together daily, and the Queen often ate with the Captain.

Sometimes the Captain had to wear up to 12 uniforms a day!

The sun deck was where the Queen and other members of the Royal Family had breakfast every morning at 8.30. The furniture is 1960s plastic.

There was a bar, and a large barrel which used to contain rum for ‘splicing the mainbrace.’ Every day until the 1970s each member of the crew was entitled to ½ pint of rum daily!

On the deck, a swimming-pool was sometimes erected for the Royal Family’s use.

Deck quoits was also a very popular pastime.

Royal Yacht Britannia 185 (Small)The deck was scrubbed, starting at 4.30am, every day.

If any of the crew saw the Queen, they had to ignore her.

Along the wooden corridor was the Queen’s bedroom. It’s quite small and basic, with a bathroom. Again, she preferred floral prints.

The Duke’s bedroom was through an adjoining door, and decorated in a more manly style.

Across the corridor was the family Honeymoon suite/guest room/nursery.

I elegantly swept down the stairs at the end of the corridor. Anyone in the reception area and the lounge could see me approaching. But nobody took any notice. They were all too busy talking about whisky!

George lV stepped ashore at Leith, outside Edinburgh, in 1822 and asked for some Glenlivet Whisky.

A Performing Poet enthusiastically praised Scottish whisky in a specially-written poem.

A lot of us didn’t understand what he said, but we loved the way he did it!

Royal Yacht Britannia 203 (Small)There are several small side-rooms, where guests could read, access their computers, or talk in private.

The huge State Dining-room is along the corridor from the lounge area. I’m not sure how many it can seat, but it must be around 50.

‘I bet the Queen didn’t have to do this!’ I said, sprawling over half the wide table to reach the silver salt and pepper.

Cabinets line the dining-room, with gifts from all over the world.

When the Queen was entertaining an Official, gifts from that country would be sorted out and displayed in the cabinets, among others.

Wherever the Queen went on the yacht, her business entourage travelled separately.

As a starter, we were served an Amuse-bouch; a soup in cups.

I’ve never seen such perfect service anywhere in the world. All the waiting-staff lined up on one side of the table, wearing white gloves, and, at a word from the Head Waiter, they all put the cups or plates down in front of the diners at once. Then they repeated it on the other side of the table.

Next came Cured organic Shetland salmon with a saffron and shellfish dressing.

It was simple and pretty, served on a glass plate.

Royal Yacht Britannia 235 (Small)This was followed by Roast fillet of Orkney beef with fondant potato, parsnip puree and a port wine sauce.

The pud was Mango tart with raspberry sorbet and a passion fruit coulis.

I thought I was full, but it was a very refreshing dish.

Finally, Coffee was served with trays of hand-made petits fours.

Again, some spare room was miraculously discovered in the depths of my happy stomach!

I was given a tour of the kitchen by Bruce, the Fine Dining Manager.

We had two chefs, but sometimes there were up to four for a big function.

The ex-yachtsmen meet once a year for a dinner on the yacht, but the Queen’s never been back – to anyone’s knowledge. But a couple of landrovers with blacked-out windows were once spotted beside the yacht. They waited for a while, then they drove away.

Zara, Princess Ann’s daughter, had her wedding reception there, but the Queen didn’t attend.

Built in 1953, the yacht served the British Royal Family for 44 years, and was finally given to a charitable trust. It was the only non-profit making offer put forward.

So now Britannia is permanently moored in Leith, just outside Edinburgh.

The barge, used by the Queen in bad weather, is moored beside the yacht, and her Bentley is in a glass case on the deck.

Picking up my glass of wine, I left the dining-room, and sat in the Queen’s favourite seat one final time.

I found it quite sad as I sat there looking around me.

No wonder the Queen was fighting back the tears as she said goodbye to her floating home. It really was a relaxing, simple break from her palaces and castles.

Yes, I was sorry to leave it too!


Lyn was a guest of The Glenlivet, celebrating the Glenlivet Founders’s Reserve launch.

For more information,