While pockets of Johannesburg are quite clearly taking strain in the current economic climate, Parkhurst appears to be thriving. Parkhurst came into being in 1904. According to records on the area a competition was run to decide on the name of the suburb. Strangely, from the 11 000 odd names that were entered, the name Parkhurst was chosen. Parkhurst was and still is a well-known English jail on the Isle of Wight.
The suburb’s strange appellation didn’t deter buyers. Over the decades the suburb grew and flourished. In more recent times a designer ‘set’ moved in and the area is now considered one of Johannesburg’s trendiest suburbs. Owners have taken to converting the quaint 40’s and 50’s style homes into designer pads worth millions and 4th Avenue in particular is now brimming with all manner of fashion designers, décor shops, vintage stores, galleries, antique dealers, restaurants and boutique shops.
At the time of my visit, 4th Avenue was thronging with foreigners, the well-heeled and their genuine Louis Vuitton bags. I followed the fashionistas to ‘Vovo Telo’ which was so busy its bejewelled and berolexed patrons were near spilling into the street. I love trying new restaurants and Vovo Telo didn’t disappoint.
Vovo Telo occupies what appears to be the shell of a converted house. Think pressed ceilings, wooden floors and broekie lace hanging from the roof outside. A table and shelves stacked with delicious baked goods occupies the centre of the restaurant and you can purchase other ready-made products at a side-counter. ‘Takeaway’ food includes chocolate buttermilk cake, muffins, Portuguese tarts, sourdough bread, ciabata loaves and thick sticks of olive and cheese bread.
I ordered a ‘classic’ pizza which turned out to be arguably one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in a while. The tomato painted pizza crust was ultra-thin, crispy and rectangular shaped and was garnished with just the right amount of Danish feta, crispy bacon balsamic vinegar and rocket. I had no intention of finishing the entire thing but found I just couldn’t resist.
Parkhurst is a great area to walk off a meal and I decided to do just that. Names you’ll come across include Ku De Ta, Polly Potters Toy Shop, 4th Avenue Coffee Roasters, Paul Harris, Purple Heel, The Attic, Blue Collar White Collar, In Good Company, Frenchies, Exquisitely Yours, Cabbages and Roses, Bistro Vine, Georges on 4th, Julian Décor, Modernist and The Cow Art Works to name but a few. The ubiquitous Mugg & Bean even makes an appearance.
You’ll find just about anything you desire on 4th avenue. Just be warned it will probably cost you though. A pretty yet basic candle was priced at over R400 at one store and a pair of shoes could set you back R5000 at the Purple Heel. I knew Paul Harris would be expensive simply by the fact that its shelves featured only a smattering of items. Needless to say I was right.
I finished off the day with a visit to a nearby ‘open garden’ in Parktown North which happened to be on show that day. ‘Gardens of the Golden City’, an umbrella organisation of Johannesburg’s garden clubs had chosen the garden and all proceeds from the day went to charity. Parktown North is a glorious suburb in its own right. Oak trees line its streets and the properties are typically grand and feature sweeping gardens. The property I visited was no exception to this rule.
The house was a lovely double storey thatch affair surrounded on all sides by a magnificent garden. Enchanting pathways, quirky wooden benches, colourful flower beds, water features and a 400 strong rose garden were but a few of its features. I could quite easily have disappeared with a book into one of its many nooks but settled instead on tea and cake under a massive jacaranda tree. Clearly money didn’t present a problem for the garden’s owners, which coupled with my experience in nearby Parkhurst simply proved to me that there is still plenty of money around if you know where to look.