Before I moved back to Johannesburg, I was confronted with the idea that I will be leaving my greenery behind. The idea of not hiking some stunning trail every second weekend made my heart heavy…
I decided to make it my goal to see as much and experience as much of Johannesburg, including any outdoor activity, that I could manage to see and experience!
Those who aren’t familiar with Johannesburg will be surprised at how green this city is! There is a park around every corner (I’m not even exaggerating).
For a while now, Ry and I wanted to go and explore a park we haven’t been to before and go for a some-what romantic picnic. Emmarentia is usually what comes to mind. Big luscious fields, trees, rock concerts during the summer, botanical gardens and the dam – the perfect place to take your doggies for a walk. But this time, we wanted to go somewhere new and unique.
As I started brainstorming, I remembered that James & Ethel Gray Park is a few minutes from my parents’ house, and from photos that I’ve seen, it seemed so beautiful. Ry and I got our picnic basket together, grabbed some picnic goodies and a bottle of wine and Google Maps-ed our way to the Park.
Neither of us have ever been there before, so when we arrived, we simply ventured into the park past the Acrobranch (What is this?!), and took a stroll next to the dam until we found a cozy spot to set up our picnic.
I must admit, I’ve heard stories about the safety issues in many of Joburg’s parks, and I knew I had to keep my Joburg caution on full-alert. As we started enjoying our time in the park, I saw a man sitting on a park bench not too far away from us. I whispered to Ryan to keep a continuous lookout. As the time went by and nothing happened, we continued to enjoy our time, and suddenly when I turned around, the man was standing right behind me!
“YOU GAVE ME SUCH A FRIGHT”. He immediately apologised and said that he was very hungry and asked if we had some food to spare.
As a resident of Johannesburg, you need to understand that wherever you go, there will be people from all walks of life. As best as you can, keep judgments aside and understand that you need to be careful. Never venture to a place with a bad reputation, always stay in numbers and always stay close to other people when you are in public places.
Most importantly, remember to respect people. All people. People do not necessarily mean harm. If you greet them and respect them, the chances are that they would respect you too.
I gave the man some crackers, salami, cheese and a mini-burger (thanx, Woolies!). The smile on his face was priceless. There is nothing more rewarding than doing a good deed and it making you feel good too. No good deed is ever too small.
All-in-all, we had a fun time: Autumn sun paired with good wine, delicious snacks and a pretty view. The dam has a number of duck species, so we crunched some crackers in our hands and fed them to our new duck friends.
We decided that the next time we go back to James & Ethel Gray Park, we have to give Acrobranch a try. Acrobranch is a treetop obstacle course with zip lines, swings, bridges and nets. They organise events, such a children’s parties and team building for adults. You are never to old to go outside and play!
Never be afraid of going to new places. Always be cautious, never go venturing in public open spaces alone, stay where the people are and always show your respect to others.