Cheapflights hired a mommy of two blogger who “lives close to Bloem” to write an article of 6 things to do on the cheap in our hood. Bless her. I tried taking that line but even though the the accounting department was close to the law faculty where I studied, KPMG still won’t give me a job.
More importantly, I was annoyed by the copious comments of people hating on Bloem saying that there was nothing to do in this city.
I often sit in the Mystic Boer listening to people lamenting the short supply of things to do in Bloem and wishing they could move to Cape Town…but when I hit the mother city, I can rest assured I’ll see all the Bloem expats either at Yours Truly or Von Hunks…and either spend a small fortune on parking or Uber if I feel like going to the “free” beach…but hating on Cape Town will be a separate article.
Having lived in Bloemfontein for 25 of my 28 years, I could never remember being bored, unless I was lazy. Most people who get annoyed with Bloem are probably annoyed because they wanted to go home at 2am with a dude at Western Saloon who had Toyota keys sticking out of his pocket because they thought that those keys opened Hilux but they really just opened a Tazz…or they drive a Tazz.
To counter this, I went through my photos from grade 9 until present day and made a list of the coolest stuff I think that Bloem offers. When building this list, I thought it lazy to pinpoint particular places and rather offer categories of things to do where possible (except for the markets). The point is to prove that Bloem doesn’t suck and offer something to those tempted to say it.
I should also mention that there’s no cost cap to this list. I may be an attorney and people assume attorneys are wealthy but since I haven’t practiced in nearly a year, most of my life is spent on the cheap. While there are a couple of expensive items on the list, the majority of the options are either free or more affordable than maintaining one’s DSTV privilege.
Before we get onto the list, I must say that I’ve read many such lists that are simply “meh” and don’t give Bloem the credit it deserves. These lists upset me because they push the idea that it’s cool to talk smack about Bloem. Thus I’ve deliberately left the common things like Naval Hill, Bowling, Botanical Gardens and hitting the gym off the list.
What is on the list, however, are 3 categories of things; first, things that can be done at any time. These make up the bulk of the list. Then things that are particular to certain days and times. Thirdly, a couple of things to do on the long term. Together, these make up the 99. Thereafter, I offer a bonus list of things that Bloem used to have that I would love to have back, in case anybody wants to give me money to start them…so without further ado…
- Swing Life Away
Bloemfontein boasts a number of parks, each boasting a set of playthings. Fortunately, none of them have an age restriction though most have an ass restriction. I wear size 38s so I’ve been relegated from the slides and swings but the see-saw welcomes me with open handles.Hitting the parks at the end of a date seems like a dodgy prospect but it’s super fun. If not, it makes for a great, “well, let’s have date two at the park” excuse to see your date again.What I love about the parks are the pseudonyms; from Redds Hill to Wine Park, each group of friends call the parks something different reflecting their interests and uses for the parks. On second thought, perhaps I shouldn’t have shared our names for the parks.
With over 200 geocaches in Bloem, many of which require at least 3 attempts, there’s a lot to be done on the treasure hunting scene. If you’re not familiar with the concept, you should read up on it.
What really gets me going is the effort many who have placed caches put in. Learning about Bloemfontein is exceptionally fun this way because most caches tell you about the history of the spot where the cache is hidden.
There’s even a couple aptly named “Louwtjie en Vroutjie” who place some of the best gems in the city, from Naval Hill (I know I said I wouldn’t mention it) to the tank on Nelson Mandela, caches are everywhere.
It may get pricey but fortunately there’s an opensource alternative to the official app.
Putput is totally underrated and while we may have a putput course on Park Road, it’s possible to use the the feature of the Free State that everybody rips on it for…it’s flatness…to your advantage.
Much like every tree is a laver-tree, every surface in Bloem is a potential putput course. Corporate put put gifts are available everywhere but if you’ve already got the club and balls then you can fashion a hole out of a 2L coke bottle.
If you are keen to slum it then most parking lots make for a great time but if you can spring the couple of bucks, trying to get the free game on the 18th hole and hear the hooter is totally a jol!
Skop a braai
South Africans love a good braai but we Free State-ers have perfected the ability to do it anywhere. From a halved oil drum to a wheel barrow, anything is a firepit when viewed through Vrystaat eyes. Not even being confined to a moonboot will stop us from lighting up the blitz. Ever been overseas? You’d be grateful for the the quality of meat we have on this side and being surrounded by farms, we get it oh so fresh. Vegetarian? Shame! But still, your local Spar probably sells mushrooms and garlic bread…maybe
Finding your favourite butchery is also a great adventure. Personally, I’m a fan of Van Vuurens in Westdene though I also digg the Wollenschlaegers behind Emily Hobhouse Center.
If you’re too lazy to braai your own meat, there are plenty of places that will do it for you but more on that later down the list.
Gin is becoming more popular in Bloem as brandy specials have gone from the good ‘ol Second Avenue R9 a double to the new R25 a pop. Every place you can drink at offers gin and if somebody tells you that you should go to the gin bar, they’re probably talking about the Wiltshire and White Horse Company which has a good selection.
For true gin connoisseurs thought, there is a secret gin spot in Bloem known as the Kitchen at Warm Karoo. Like major gin bars, they not only offer a different array of exquisitely great gins but also a choice of various tonics. I should warn you though that they say gin is the drink of sociopaths (more because of the tonic) so best beware if caught sacrilegiously drinking gin with lemon…gross! #RiseOfTheCucumber
Take the dog for a walk
So dogs are awesome and Bloem has an infinite number of places to take them. If you’re willing to spring the marginal membership fee then 7 Damme is great but a simple walk to the local park and throwing a stick around is also a good go. Don’t have a dog? No problem. You might not be able to take them for long walks but you could still volunteer at New Beginnings to play with the dogs in rehabilitation and awaiting adoption.
Odds are that if you live around Bloem, you know somebody with a farm who has access to a dam somewhere but even if you don’t, there’s no despair. Kalkfontein is a mere hour and a half away and if that drive is too much for you then Soetdoring Nature Reserve is only half the distance away.
What is important is that you do your homework first. Soetdoring no longer allows open fires and before fishing, one must get a licence to fish and of course, there’s the weather to watch out for. Because you’ll be making a mission to get there, take the time to make sure you get everything right before setting off.
Once I hang out in Reinheim in a caravan but that’s hardly camping. For festival prep, some mates and I have gone out to a plot and set up some tents.
You may think that we’re only at list item 8 and things are looking desperate but this was exceptionally fun. We’ve been doing this since some friends threw a make shift fest on a plot just outside Bloem.Get some mates together, bring a guitar or two and things can happen…it’s kinda how Oppi began anyway.
The Free State boasts 3241 on-site consumption liquor licences issued. If you’re an avid party animal, odds are you make use of maybe 10 or 20 of those. So why not check out a new place.
I’ve been around the province trying out different pubs and bars and Bloem has some seriously cool hidden gems but you should explore for yourself.
Before it shut down, Craig’s Pub was the ultimate place to catch up with the local journos so I loved it for its gossip quality…and fish tank.
Today, however, if I’m not hitting my typical 2nd Avenue joints, I enjoy a mission to Sechaba’s and Uncle Thabo’s when I feel like shisa nyama. If I feel like some good boere treffers, a hit to the bar of the old Boulevard Hotel (we fondly call it “Die Gat”) is in order. Yup, the Gordon Street hotel might not be in operation anymore but the bar is still going with a snooker table and updated jukebox to boot.
So the next time somebody moans about only having one place to go, tell them about the 3240 others because each of them have something different to offer and finding something you enjoy is exciting. Personally, I’m excited that I discovered Blend‘s cucumber martini.
The rise of the hipster has overrun certain aspects of Bloemfontein and craft coffee has become more popular that craft beer. From Cafe Plenty to Picnic, most artisan restaurants offer a variety of coffees but there has also been a rise of coffee specific joints.
Royal Rostery in LHP offers a couple of good blends but if you’re keen on some of the best coffee in the country, you can’t go wrong by hitting up Stereo Cafe in 2nd Avenue. Not only will James or Jonno make you an amazing brew but if you’re alone, you’ll likely be engaged in pleasant conversation.
Throw a party…better yet, have somebody throw it for you
Some of the best memories of my youth find place at house parties…something that Bloem seems to have lost sight of. Because so few people throw these anymore, you could opt to do it yourself but hopefully after reading this, a couple more people might be amenable to put their house at risk.
Of course, it need not be as raucous as I recall those I used to frequent but whatever.
The point is that fun is generally had when you find yourself around a collection of friends and/or family. Most seem to find it too much of an effort to catalyze such a gathering so get over that laziness and bring your mates together.
House parties tend to be less expensive than dinner parties because you can get away with using the term “bring your own…” as opposed to cooking for everybody…assuming nothing is broken.
Freshford House Museum
I may have promised not to mention specific things but this is a museum left off of most Bloem lists and I lament its exclusion each time. It is easily one of Bloem’s forgotten greats and it’s dirt cheap. A 90 minute tour of how the elite of town used to live cost me only 15 bucks last year and the old tannie from Dewetsdorp who took me around knew her stuff.
I suspect that it’s lost on most is because it’s speaks to the old colonial way of life so marketers might thing that neither Bloem’s boer nor its black population may be interested but they’d be wrong.
From how the Englishmen of old would treat their servants to how they would treat their spouses, it’s an emaculately kept memory of part of Bloem’s lost history…and you wouldn’t believe where it is…Kelner Street…like right there and you’ve probably driven past it hundreds of times without even knowing.
Once you’ve completed the tour, the garden is also something to check out. From herbs to roses, living rich back in the 1800s didn’t seem too bad.
Kick Some Ass
Paintball is a painful exercise I’m not to keen on because if you saw my Counter Strike skills, my kills-to-death ratio is painfully bad. Carrying that terrible aim into the real world always lands me with more bruises than joy but life is give and take so if my mates want to engage in an activity that they stand a chance against me in, I must offer sacrifice of my pride and take a couple of shots. While we often play at Meerkat (because we like to have drinks afterwards in the lapa), Ruins is far bigger in case you have more than a dozen friends.
Ride a horse
I must admit to never having been on a horse (something about seeing a camel carry my mother away back in Lebanon for a couple of minutes as a 3 year old child and crying hysterically) but I’ve been on the sidelines while my friends did it.
Bloem used to have a grand horse racing tradition. In fact, you might not know this but if you drive around President Paul Kruger Avenue, you’ll notice your odometer will clock precisely 4km. That’s because it used to be a racetrack.
Some research will indicate that there are quite a few places to get on a horse and even get some lessons. The scenery and other things available at Die Oudekraal would make it my first choice should I ever get over 3 year old Chem’s fears.
Get in 18, or 9 or 1 or whatever
Rumours abound that the powers that be want to shut down Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park but until that manifests, Bloem sports two really great gold courses .But that’s not all. There are some driving ranges. My favourite being Tempe, thought Tempe also boasts a course. Driving down Curie Avenue there is a course though I’m not certain if it’s still operational.
Basically, you’re not short of options if you feel like being Tiger Woods (in terms of golf…not so much adultery but I wouldn’t write an article advocating that)
Hike it out
You wouldn’t believe me but there are a couple of cool places to have a hike in and around town. If you insist on doing the Naval Hill thing, you could go off the beaten track and venture into the valley. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to and there are live wild animals around so you might not want to take the risk…certainly not alone.
With 7 Damme and Botanical Gardens also offering hiking trails, you could make a fun afternoon of it though Pellesier Koppies and Woodlands also offer extensive hiking trails.
Of course, if you’re up for a drive, Clarens has a lot to offer but about 50km on the old Kimberley Road, there’s a dried up dam to your left that is our feature walk around.
Buy a PS1…sell it 2 days later
As a kid in grade 2, I remember when Crash Bandicoot 2 came out and Simon and I were super keen to play it. Neither of us owned a PlayStation though but fortunately, Mr Video would rent them out for 25 bucks with a game. Add some microwave pizza and that was our weekend sorted!
Alas, video stores no longer rent out consoles but that’s not too much of an issue. The second hand market in Bloem is rife with consoles, from Cash Crusaders to Gumtree, you can pick a console up for a couple of hundred bucks.
If the second hand bug bites beyond consoles then there are great places like Kraaines and Desleys were you can pick up incredible cool gems one the cheap.
Start a Twar
Pseudo-celebrities in Bloem from hiphop artists to radio presenters really take their online personas personally. You can hit them where it hurts by hurling insults at them through the channels of Twitter.
It’s most enjoyable when they return the favour and a full on Twitter war erupts. To this end, as a nobody with nothing to lose, you can simply continue hurling insults and see these guys try defend themselves.
I found that, from drafting the lessons on how to be a true millennial, the best insult goes as follows, “Your life has more hashtags than likes”.
I also found it rather hilarious when one Dora (who I’ve never met) attempted to take me on and gave up instantly.
Do me a favour when you start hurling insults and use the hashtag #BloemBanter so we can follow the Twars.
Yet again, another specified location but it’s important and activities are potentially endless once you’re there. Sure it’s a summer mission and sure it’s something you must budget a day for but if you take the right gear, you’re in for a fun day.
Our checklist generally includes slide mats, hubbly (which we used to fill with Redds…remember Redds?), a couple of beers, wood, meat, balls (both tennis and soccer) and cucumber and cheese sandwiches.
Best part is that if you forget anything, you can buy it at the shop there, from ice to blitz…but not cossies, be sure to bring a pair of those if you’re going to hit the pools.Incidentally, there’s also a putput course.
Breakfast! The best part of waking up for us fatties. In the days of Barba’s and Second Avenue Cafe, I would look forward to school exam block days because tradition had it that Jonathan and I would meet for cheap breakfast before hitting the books.
While those establishments have been long gone, breakfast specials are found everywhere from Eurocafe’s breakfast buffet to Urth Cafe to Cafe Plenty. Basically, if there’s an establishment with “cafe” in the name and it doesn’t have a breakfast special, it probably won’t survive long enough for you to notice.
So this one may be slightly mean but I’m not a fan of the pushy tactics of salesmen so I have no issue messing with them a little, especially car salesmen…especially that one dude who looked at me with that ‘you can’t afford this’ look when I asked him the price of a new Mazda MX5. He was right but still, how dare he? Bloem’s second hand car scene is huge and salesmen are desperate to make sales since a large chunk of their income is based on commission. This means that they’re willing to let you hit test drives if you can convince them that you’re serious about buying a car.
Some form of divine providence has guided car retailers to all congrigate in the local car Mecca known simply as Church Street so parking your car are taking a walk up the street could make for a full day’s adventure.
While you’re there, check out the Eifel Tower replica. It also contains a geocache.
Look, nobody said this list contained completely legal advice but here goes anyway. There’s been somewhat of an exodus from Bloem’s suburbs and a number of houses are on the market. Since few people are buying, people often leave their houses vacant while they head out to their new abode, where ever that might be.
While you’d be silly to throw a loud party and get caught, if nobody knew you were there, how bad could it be? Well that was our thinking back in grade 11 when a lovely house in Wilcocks Road offered us sanctuary from the rest of the world and a venue to light a fire and hang out.
It’s obviously not advisable but if you were to attempt this, know the risks, leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs. On second thought, if you do this, don’t leave prints of any sort and probably don’t take photos either #evidence
Back in high school, the Asian kids would always have what I thought was weird food packed for them. Bless younger Chem for he was conditioned and isolated from other cultures as are most Bloem kids.
Then I tasted White Rabbit toffees…Since then, the Asian markets of Bloemfontein have been as appealing to me as the Preller PicknPay is to wealthy housewives.
Two stand out predominantly being the market at Emily Hobhouse Center and the other on the corner of Aliwal and Kelner Street (next to where the Book Nook used to be…what a loss that was).
From sushi ingredients to tofu, these places rock. The majority of my waist consists of pork dumplings which make up a meal at least once a week.
Cooking Asian for your mates not only makes you seem impressive but exotic too.
Visit the Rose Garden
Bloemfontein actually boasts a rose garden but I don’t think there are any roses left in it. It also had a couple of markets in it which were distinguished from the markets we’re exposed to today because it would feature the work of local artisans without the pomp of imported goods.
While the loss of the rose garden is terribly sad, Bloemfontein still lends itself to some impressive garden work. A walk though Waverley Road or Innes Avenue or most suburban streets would afford evidence to the incredible flora of our city.
Read a book
If you’re complaining that the public library has been closed for renovations for over a year and you can’t get a book, stop being lazy. There’re other libraries from Rocklands to Langanhovenpark and it costs less than a coffee to sign up. As alluded to above, a great Bloem institution, the Book Nook has been lost but fortunately there is another great second hand book store, the Bloem Book Shop where you can pick up books at prices that will grant you the feelings you had as a kid armed with R200 when nothing in the Crazy Store cost more than 10 bucks.
Reading is lost on my generation so if a couple of us can make being smart cool again, it would be lekker. Perhaps there’s a book on how to do that.
Hire a party bus
Ever since I attended my first annual Greek Youth Party Bus a decade ago, party buses have had an effect on me similar to the effect of a shoe sale on a diva.
There are a couple of companies that do it town so you can check various options out. To date, the best party bus experience I’ve had was on a bachelors party where the bus took us to Dewetsorp Golf Club where the party continued until we returned.
From marketing our university residence during open day to making a trek with mates more enjoyable, a party bus is a great excuse to have a party. Surprised more people don’t do it.
Have a steak
Steaks are incredible on their own so imagine if a great chef preps one for you. Bloem rocks some great establishments which make amazing steaks.
Growing up, we had the Beef Baron but since it is no longer, there are a couple of other places to test even the most devout vegans. From the Longhorn to the Shute (seriously, they know how to make a steak at the Shute) to Margaritas, Free State meat finds great places to be cooked.
As an avid lover of Old No 7, my particular favourite is New York‘s Jack Daniel’s Rump.
Bloem isn’t as small as you think and one is generally tempted to stick to only those areas near to them. Personally, I never ventured further south than the CUT unless it was to go to the Bloem Show (don’t judge, it’s one of the few places that still offer caramel bananas).
Since geocaching, I’ve taken to parking my car in a different area and walking around a new suburb and not leaving until I find 10 things which pique my interest.
Doing this, I discovered new parks, geocaches and burger joints…also potential property investments. Now it’s just a matter of exploring and finding some capital.
The Bloemfontein art scene is huge yet underground. Following the movement of the Fractal community will let you know when there are new exhibitions but Oliewenhuis is not where all the art happens.
Cafe Plenty has a great gallery that’s often updated as does Iewers Nice. But one need not look too far for art as the community expands.
First Fridays has opened art to a greater audience in the city and made art more appealing.
Moreover, antique shops and the art shop in the Checkers Hyper center in the south have made the art arena larger, wider, more vibrant and much more accessible.
In Germany, many large cities are developed to the point where home owners cannot afford to have gardens because of the price of land. This is remedied by the existence of many parks.
While we tend to have gardens, we also have many parks which are underutilized. I make a big deal about our parks because they’re really cool so if Bloemfonteiners can get over their pretense, they might enjoy an asset that’s right there.
Some parks have interesting goodies attached to them such as the Orchid House. Check things out when you are at a park. Just because you can do it all in a day doesn’t mean that it’s bad, nor does it mean that you shouldn’t.
Bloemfontein boasts a couple of hideouts for cool suit items. From wooden ties to wooden bowties, wood seems to be the ultimate in suit accessory fashion.
I’m still waiting on wooden cuff-links but maybe that’s the next thing Love Warrior will stock. There are also occasional occasions to don a suit from watching the symphony orchestra to hitting a play in the Sand.
There are actual suit shops around town but that’s another list item.
Hang out in Court
As an attorney, this one’s pretty close to me. I get so annoyed at the prospect of 100s of law students passing through the local university without even setting foot in a courtroom despite having 3 different court houses in Bloem but that’s their issue.
Many people don’t know this but court is an open thing. Anybody can go sit in on a hearing from a divorce to a property dispute. One of my first dates with my girlfriend was taking her to a divorce hearing and predicting each argument (with great success) so that she knows who will come off worse if she ever leaves me…but I digress.
If you want to hear excellent argument, make a plan to sit in on an interesting matter in the Supreme Court of Appeal (it is the only one in the country). Serious matters attract advocates from all over the country so you’ll be witnessing the cream of the crop in action…for free.
Sure it’s not everybody’s cup of tea but it’s there and everybody should have exposure to the legal process at some point…and preferably as an observer, not an accused/defendant.
Volunteer at the Cheetah Experience
There are a number of charities you can get involved in (more on that later) but Cheetah Experience is up there in my favourites tab. Many of the staff whom I’ve met (if not most) are former volunteers (from around the world no less) who love the work so much that they made it their livelihood.
The place is rather spectacular and well run to the point that the volunteers offer their time, in some instances, from 5am to 9pm.
Even if you don’t volunteer, you should go check it out. The caracals are more adorable than your granny trying to quote Eminem lyrics in an attempt relate to your generation.
The Bloem manufacturing industry is minute but it still exists and you would do well to investigate it. Of particular interest to me is pallet furniture so Palletfurn is a great industry player that even exports out of the city.
It’s exciting to see things happening in Bloem that have use beyond the the borders of the city and putting the city on the map. If they get more exposure, it would do wonders for the growth of the manufacturing sector, especially promoting startups.
Maths teaches us that there’s no such thing as flat
Bloem gets a bad rap for being flat but that’s not particularly true. Any fan of 4am missions to “Liggies” before the police closed it down would know that there are awesome views of our city from our city. Some of my favourite views are on the side of Hennie Potgieter Cres, especially when we’re graced with a fabulous huge full moon. There are other places but those are for you to find and maybe Alexia and I will run into you there (I’ll give another one away later down the list).
Great musicians are born in Bloemfontein and often they leave but the hip hop industry is alive and well with parties being thrown regularly.
The corner of Kolbe Avenue and President Avenue often has a big poster advertising these parties but you don’t have to look far to find hip hop artists.
Get on air
Radio in South Africa is struggling for content and with listenership dropping across the board, presenters will feature anybody with something to offer.
It works like this; you go on air and tell your friends you’ll be on air and then they listen. Hopefully they enjoy it enough that they listen to the next couple of shows even when you’re not on.
Even if you don’t have any interesting things to offer, make something up and make it interesting to listen to.
I’ve been on Kovsie FM as an expert of hubbly etiquette, CUT FM as a legal strategist, CliffCentral for living in Hillbrow, ANN7 for making a Facebook post and OFM to discuss policies during my SRC president days. Nowadays, I make fewer appearances on radio with made up titles because when I want to take my shot at a more permanent position on air, I’d need them to take me seriously.
Have an Instawalk
What’s that you may ask? It’s a gathering of people around interesting photogenic places where they walk around taking photos and uploading their best ones with the same hashtag, say #InstaBloem.
Given that Bloem has such incredible architecture, it’s odd that nobody has done this yet but if you’re reading this, then perhaps you could be a pioneer. Let me know, I’ll join. The ones I did in Johannesburg were incredibly fun.
Get yo hair did
There are tons of places in Bloem that do hair and beauty so you can take your pick. I used to have my hair and beard done at BAB Barbers but when they told me I needed to make an appointment, I couldn’t take them seriously as a barbershop.
Seriously, the vet at Brandwag doesn’t even require appointments and that dude has the title of Doctor. Kudus to them for being so busy though *smiles*
Today, the ballie at Free State Barbers in Northridge styles me out and also stocks my oil of choice.
I have friends at Hair@Bennies who I also let touch my scalp sometimes when I’m keen to make a drive to LHP.
I’m not one for spa therapy but recently, my girlfriend took me to Emoya spa and the massage was incredible. Since then, I’ve been checking out other spas and noticed we’ve got a couple.
There’s even a Thai spa in Wilcocks Road but I’m yet to try it out.
Another thing I discovered in Jozi, night trails is when you leave your exposure on the camera open for a couple of seconds at sunset so you get the New York-esk kinda picture.
Night trail photography hasn’t made it to Bloemfontein yet but there are a couple of reasons why. Firstly, instagram doesn’t have that feature and secondly traffic hasn’t hit Bloem until recently.I’ve found the best place to do this is on the ridge next to John Williams motors on the side of Nelson Mandela Road. It’s another cool viewing point I used to end dates during my days of courting.
The Old Presidency museum is also one of those goodies left off of the list. I’m not as much of a fan of what’s inside it as much as the building itself.
It also boasts a cool art gallery and sometimes a theater.
Admittedly, I’ve never been able to skate but I was always in the punk rock scene so all my friends were skaters. I usually just followed on my bicycle and worked the camera. From Bobbies Park to the Skate Park out on the old Kimberley Road, there are plenty of dedicated spots featuring some of Bloem’s maddest talent.
That being said, there are some unofficial spots where one can skate too. The community is also very accommodating and helpful so even if you bail (I did a lot), you won’t be judged…much.
As a kid, I went to a lot of parties and one of the coolest things we did was at David’s party. His dad took us out on a bakkie to Happy Valley where we collected pine cones.
These things make for a great fire (though you need many). Sure it’s childish to do and you could just go buy wood anywhere on the side of the road but there’s something exciting about making a fire with fuel you’ve collected.
It’s the same feeling you get from eating springrolls you’ve made as opposed to eating the yummy Pat Pong ones.
Visit the elderly
The best advice ever offered to me came from my client and entrepreneur Steve. Steve told me to go to an old age home and speak to a retired person who worked a job their entire life and see the regret in their eyes about how they lived their lives.
After doing that, I quit my job.
More than that though, I found that the elderly contain so much wisdom and they’re all too often willing to speak to those willing to listen.
Our generation venerates the youth at the expense of the elderly much too easily and you could do yourself a great service by taking the time to hang out with them.
Catalog street art
Awesome dude extraordinaire, Cale Waddacor cataloged Johannesburg’s street art and published a book on it, Sure, Bloem’s not as vibrant but I’ve seen some great art all over.
If somebody were to catalog it, it might inspire more and we might create another tourist attraction but right now, great art is going to waste.
Check out the cob houses
Now I’m not one to promote poverty tourism so don’t read it like this. There are some people who make incredible houses out of cob with great art.
This sustainable form of house building has incredible properties. It’s really cool in summer and super warm during winter.
Some good people teach and train others to make these houses and empower the unemployed to establish their own house making businesses.
Go to church
The churches here are pretty majestic and incredible to look at. Of course one could seek out the cathedrals but there are a couple of little gems around town.
My favourite is what seemingly is an abandoned chapel just past Route 66. But there’s also the Klipkerk, the Saint Andrew’s Chapel and many others just steeped in history.
My girlfriend gave me a juicer and juicing has been so much fun but not as fun as hunting for juice ingredients.
Sure you can pop down to your local but where’s the fun in that? Bloem offers stacks of places to grab fruit and veg. One is even aptly named Fruit and Veg City.
Opposite the abattoir though is Metro Food Market which has all you could need all in one place.
Grow a succulent garden
So succulents are an awesome grow and they are found all over Bloem. Driving around looking for ones to take cuttings from can be a lot of fun when you’re looking for something specific.
Of course this requires research. If you have an idea of what you want, going around hunting for it makes for an interesting treasure hunt.
I won’t admit to having taken cuttings from the Botanical Gardens but I am disappointed at the state of their nursery. The dedicated succulent garden there does however give a good indication of the variety of succulents and will give any gardener an idea of what’s on offer while providing some inspiration.
Get a room!
You know what we have a lot of here? Guest houses! If you’re in need of a holiday but can’t head off somewhere, booking into a guest house is nearly as good as a holiday.
- Meet your new friend on TinderTinder may be known as a hookup tool but if you put something interesting in your bio about what you’re looking for, it makes for interesting friendships.A close friendship I fostered out of Tinder was with somebody touring from the United States who in her bio stated, “I’m just here to tour. I have a boyfriend who I love but keen to meet new people. Show me your city. Show me where to get good weed and where the best parties are”
I may have disappointed on the weed part but I appreciated the gusto and so it was that it became a great friendship with no romance.
Check out the Franklin Game Reserve
Okay okay! I know I promised not to mention Naval Hill but I consider the game reserve on Naval Hill as separate to the rest of the the Hill.
Featuring Geoff and Ugna the giraffe, a couple of buck, some ostrich and a whole lotta other cool animals, it’s so awesome to explore (many geocaches too).
Be careful though because the animals are wild and you’re invading their space which they might not appreciate, especially if you deviate off of the paths.
Eat a Boerie
Yeah you can get this at any market but there are a couple of guys who are super fun to speak to and you might end up ordering another one just to continue the conversation.
From hitting rock bottom to stories of just leaving corporate South Africa to live a simpler life, John outside PicknPay at Bloemgate, Gys die Slagter at Reizis Square and a man who calls himself Mr Hamburger make for the most pleasant lunch time conversation.
Mr Hamburger even has a stall outside party places so he’s also a lifesaver in instances where your 4th flaming Lamborghini has been spiked.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_YYNvefZDo
Strava is my running app of choice but there are a few. There are over 11 running clubs in Bloemfontein but you can take your choice as to when to run thanks to technology and still be competitive. The city is full of running trails so it’s possible to do an infinite number of different runs.
Compete with yourself or with others.
Special benefit is that the air in Bloem tends to be cleaner than most big cities so run in the morning, afternoon or evening. It’s all (smogless) good!
Get you some ink
There are stacks of tattoo joints in Bloem, from Costa at Tattoo Republic to Seth at Beyond the Flesh. They tend to do piercings too.
Like having a lawyer or accountant, you should establish a long term relationship with your tattoo artist so that they better capture the art you want on your body.
Personally, I make use of Mona at Skin Art for the one tattoo that I do have. The great thing is that we’re spoilt for choice in terms of not only studios but artists as well.
Joan Abrahams is the mother of Bloemfontein and an incredible woman with a wealth of knowledge. She’s written two books which are rare finds but if you can find one, you’ll find some extraordinary stuff about Bloem.
Tannie Mossie used to be a huge support to the military boys during the border wars and a teacher.
I still have the coin she gave me in grade 8 which has a historically significant backstory.
Check her writing out and if you ever get the opportunity to take a tour with her, take it.
Be a vigilante
Sure there’s a Bloemfontein Park Like a Doos page that you can report terrible parking to but there are other ways you can be a civic member.
Be creative. Go beyond the placing of “no illegal dumping” signs and wear a cape.#nameandshame
Health is important and Bloem has the resources to maintain it. Sure you can gym and juice but once you’ve done the research, you’ll find that there’s more you can do.
There are a number of health shops throughout Bloem but the tried and tested option is Emagemes at the Waterfront. What I appreciate about Marna and her crew is that while they stock everything you’ll need, they also make sure you’re equipped with the knowledge of what you’re doing to your body with all the things you put into/onto it.
Most of us have stuff we’re willing to part with and instead of selling it or giving it away, exchange it for something. Again, Bloem has the capacity to do something that’s not currently happening but should be. We don’t have Spanish trades but no reasons not to?
Two or more friends should surely be able to swap stuff out so there’s no reason why not to engage in such. Girlfriends do this all the time with sharing dresses because it makes for more efficient use of the item.
Let them eat cake
As Dylan Moran said, “Cake is the language of love” so getting cake is always great. You could make it yourself but why bother when it could be made for you.
In great Afrikaner tradition, Bloem boasts a tuisnywerheid around every corner, each of which has such a selection of cake…and, of course, milk tart.
While one cannot exactly collect cakes, one can try them all. Bloem’s shops totally help in that department.
True music fans hate mp3s because they compress audio but taking out the frequencies that the human ear cannot hear. This is why they love flack files.
Similarly, music fans prefer LPs over CDs because of the greater depth to the sound…even if they’re being pretentious.
So where does one get LPs in Bloem. That’s a challenge worth taking on. Desleys holds a few as do the antique shops but I think the biggest collection in Bloem is sitting in my house.
If you find a great source that’s bigger than all the little ones around, let me know.
Let international come to you
Thanks to the university and a bunch of other things, internationals come through to Bloem every now and again and it provides a great opportunity to expand your horizons.
I find that most internationals are drawn to the Mystic Boer but if you know the right people, you could get an invitation to the international houses and do some exchange…maybe a melktert for an international meal.
You could meet anybody from Germany to Isreal and learn some global things along the way.
One of the Isrealis selling sea salt in the Waterfront once asked my then girlfriend (at that time) if she’s ever been with an Isreali. She responded that she hadn’t but she’s dating a Lebanese guy. It got awkward from there on…
Rent a DVD
In the age of ThePirateBay and DSTV, we rarely have the adventure of a movie night anymore. Recall the days of going to Mr Video, arguing for over 20 minutes about what to watch and then settling on a film neither of you liked but could both tolerate.
What’s great about renting a DVD is that because you go through that effort of going out and getting the film that you’d go to the effort of making the movie night a great time.
Instead of just blomming on the couch watching whatever’s there and eating whatever you have in the kitchen, this way you go out of your way to ensure the popcorn is fresh, the movie is tolerable and the company is right.
Again, taking on the salesmen of the world, going to the fancy dress stores (especially the one in the Waterfront) and trying on all the nice suits you have no intention to buy is a perfectly satisfying way to spend a Thursday morning.
Alternatively just wear pretentious suits for no reason and notice how people treat you differently. There’s something about a suit in Bloem that makes people appreciate you more. Perhaps because it’s an easy association but either way, it’s super fun to go try stuff on and pretend you’re rich enough to rock it.
Whatever hey. It’s not like Instagram shows whether you own the clothes or not.
A huge reason for businesses to leave Bloem is our idiot (and unsustainable) desire to haggle on every line item of a budget. If you can get soap at R2 less elsewhere, you’re going to do it.
Business interests, quality, networking and sustainability tend to always come second to cost. This is why the club with the best brandy special survives (until it doesn’t) longer than its competitors, regardless of the dangers of the race to the the pricing bottom.
But that’s not the point here. Consider the last time you walked through Sandton City and got the looks of disapproval for not having spent the requisite 2 hours in front of the mirror, taken the 4 instagram and 2 snapchat selfies captioning them, “be your best self today” and applied your most elegant gait prior.
Minimum accepted dress in this town is shorts and a tshirt. Shoes, socks (and I assume underwear) are optional.
Sure, you’ll get looks from all the ladies who used to be farm girls but then married rich…but they’re just envious of the life they left behind.
It’s the most liberating thing since nudism but this liberation struggle won’t get you thrown in the tjoekie.
Get your hobby on
Hobbies are great and there are a couple of outlets that allow you to get it on. Personally, I’m a fan of building model planes so even the toy store in Mimosa is up my alley but for the more intense hobbiests, there are a few specialised places.
One worth mentioning is the hobby store in Fleurdal because it stocks all you need to build an actual flying model plane and fly it.
I must mention that I’m talking about proper model planes and not these new drone things that make RC flying the next best way to stalk your ex after they block you and your additional fake account on Facebook.
When remote flying was still an accepted recreational sport, these guys were there and they know the ins and outs of it all.
Most times when exotic cuisine comes to town, the locals look at it with scorn, consider it not to be on par with braai kos and then forget about it. Peronally I miss the Cafe Orient but I understand why the population of Bloem didn’t want to sit on cushions, smoking hubbly while they eat.
Sushi is the enigma in this equation because it seems to have caught on in the 5 years that it’s been around. From the Na Go Yas to the Full Houses to the rather unfortunate and offensively named Haro, sushi is everywhere and if you were cool, you’d make it yourself but sometimes the laziness gets to you and you outsource your coolness to those who specialize in it.
But I take who I outsource to very seriously so when possible, I always outsource to Jackie, owner of Dala Mala at Showgate. I know it’s cross pollination of cultures but you can always tell a good sushi place by their chicken sweetcorn soup and whatever measure you wish to implement, Dala Mala comes out tops.
Climb a rock
Yeah okay, I’ve never done this in Bloem but I did climb the rock in Umhlanga and have a lot of friends who climb rocks here while look on and sip from my hip flask. It looks like they’re having a good time and despite not understanding the appeal, my friends having a good time doing it warrants it going on this list.
So rock climbing is seemingly the solution to any spiderman fetish one may have but from the looks of those who do it, it also acts as an alternative to the gym.
Seeing as you can climb any rock and be proud of yourself, serious rock climbers have taken it to the next level and manufactured their own walls to control the difficulty of the climb.
Major rock climbing walls can be found at the UFS and the CUT and one would have to join some form of club and do all the health and safety things surrounding it before assenting.
Just don’t fall or you’ll be dangling from a rope and even though walking around town barefoot isn’t embarrassing, that is.
We arrive now at the portion of the list which entails things to do at specific times. This portion of the list aims to respond not only to the “there’s nothing to do in Bloem” moaners but also to the “nothing happens here” ones.
- Sunday Night Live MusicSundays have become my favourite nights in town. Primarily due to my unemployment, I have no reason to fret the upcoming Monday but also the live music on offer is great.Scarlet Room happens to be my staple and you can almost guarantee a good time with a good band because they’ve got an excellent rotation. (Bloem actually really does have great musical talent).
I’m particularly keen on Shared Address but really it doesn’t take a lot to excite me when the blues is on offer.
Once you’ve had enough of Scarlet, Boudoir also offers something cool on Sundays. Jason Coetzer brings out his guitar and gives a platform to other artists who wish to have a spot to play.
Sometimes, Boho also does a Sunday jazz night but the also have live music regularly.
Chicago bands Friday
Increasingly, live music comes out on Thursdays too at Chicago but you’re also in for a treat on Fridays.
Since beer comes in at 18 bucks a pint and a Californian pizza will cost you less than 70, you could feast on the cheap while listening to good music.
Quick warning to those with rubber arms; the bar staff can be incredibly persuasive and a bottle of tequila later, your next morning self might not be too impressed with you.
Quiz Night Thursday
Quiz nights come and go so it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for what’s on and when. When Mensa was still active in Bloem we used to go but after we started losing, we had to change our name from Mensa to Anne’s Hide and Seek.
Since Duncan Bayne is the second funniest person in town, I love him as a quiz master. Of course he’s no Quizmaster Vazz (Your Mother’s Favourite Quizmaster) but we can’t expect to draw all the talent to Bloemfontein. Duncan hosts the @Office monthly quiz night which tends to be the most difficult in Bloem in my experience.
A more frequent quiz night happens on Thursdays at Blend where you’re incentivised to score high in the rounds with free shots.
Model Trains Sundays
If you don’t have kids, you probably have access to kids whom you love and care for…nephews, nieces or kids of your friends.
Kids love trains and those at Modeso Park make for a perfect Sunday outing to take the kids. My nephews love it and so too do all their fellow passengers. If the train is too full or they have gotten over it, there’s a park right next to the train and if you’re keen on a break, there’s also a geocache nearby.
Hit the drags
[I just caught the ambiguity of that title] The Bloem drag racing scene is nowhere near as zef as one might imagine. I remember my first time at the illegal drags back in 2007 when the cops would continuously stop the activities. The crowd was so welcoming and accommodating and everything seemed relatively safe.
Being on a public road near an abandoned factory did scare me slightly but I was new and just a spectator. I had no clout to crit.
Anyway, since then the drags have gotten more legal, their own track and are advertised regularly.
Of course, sometimes, some people just can’t wait for the legal drags to happen and while I can’t share with you where they meet, I can say they might desire to check if there’s any Coke left in the old factory off Church Street to quench their thirst. They’re pretty open about this on the Facebook pages anyway.
Ready Aim Fire
Shooting ranges and archery clubs, while not many in number, exist in Bloem. If you can get in, of course Tempe has a club but there are a couple around the city which offer different things and packages.
It’s worthwhile checking them out since a day on the shooting range is probably more pleasant than a day on the driving range. It just seems that even if you miss your target, you’re still holding a gun and that seems more cool than hitting a ball with a stick.
The art scene is gaining more traction and the organisers of First Fridays (modelled on Cape Town and Johannesburg’s Thirst Thursdays) have given platform to the art world of Bloem to showcase their pieces.
First Fridays happens generally in and around 2nd Avenue so you’ll be able to follow them on their Facebook page and see which bars are showcasing art and enjoy art and drink and food all at once.
Get some culture in
This is a broad one since there’s always a bunch of disjointed cultural activities taking place that few people know about yet we’re exposed to daily.
Just look out on the street lamps and you’ll notice upcoming performances of the Free State Symphony Orchestra, performances at the UFS Odeon (usually these are free) or even something happening in the Sand Du Plessis.
Bloemfontein boasts a couple of theaters and there’s generally something going on in at least one of them in any given week so just keep your ears to the ground.
I’m more a fan of hosting board game evenings at a home but I agree that sometimes that’s just too inconvenient. When such a time comes, Coffee Talks hosts a weekly board game evening on a Thursday night.
The cafe offers a range of artisan food and juices and coffees and the like. For most, it will be quite a drive but if you’re invested in having a good evening and you take some friends along, the returns in terms of fun will be worth the investment.
Support your teams
When people think Bloemfontein, the immediate association is the Cheetahs and sure, cool. We should support them since going to the rugby is fun. You know what else is fun?
Hitting the oval and watching the Knights or hitting Seisa and watching Celtics (seriously, Celtics supporters are serious about their team). But we tend to be a one sport community and thus only support one team of our city instead of all of them.
So, identify your sport and challenge yourself to support the local teams of the other disciplines. Who knows? You might end up wearing a Roses FC or Shimlas Jersey.
Pretend to buy a house
*laughs in evil* Sundays were always fun because we used to dress up as if we’ve just come from church…people take you more seriously when they think you’ve just come from church…and inspect open day houses. Sure, we were never going to buy them but we have accumulated lists of what we want in our houses when the day comes.
Perhaps it is wrong to give the real estate agent a sense of false hope but if you don’t take it too far, they still sell it to another person at the end of the day and get their money…win win.
Join a cause
There are so many causes in town that need hands. To name a few there’s End It, New Beginnings and of course the organisations that support causes like Round Table.
If there’s an issue you care about and you don’t want to be bored, see how you can exchange your boredom by giving back to something on your heart.
Ahh yes. Naval Hill Park Run. Those who haven’t already done so will take the traditional photograph alongside Mandela to present when accused of racism. Excitement permeates the air with the knowledge that most will be collecting their first Discovery Vitality points that week. As the crowd gathers to a critical mass, mobile phones will come out to record the insurmountable 5km run of each individual in an effort to inform potential suitors that despite the 2 bottles of brandy consumed 14 hours ago, the individual is extraordinarily well built.
LHP Park Run was recently established but Naval Hill is the long established run. Heidedal also boasts it’s own park run. This is almost as cool as being mentioned in that 2009 JR song about making circles bigger.
Since Park Runs extend beyond the usual Saturday morning fixture, a week can easily get more condensed by partaking in the 5km journeys.
The long established weekly market of choice on a Saturday morning and also home to Kerry’s Kaas, creators of the best cheese in town. From crystals to melktert, you can find anything at this market.
Recent additions include sushi (with chillies…weird I know…but delicious). A definite must for any out of towners who want to see what the locals have on offer. Be sure to arrive early
Reizis Square Market
A monthly market held where my dad kept convincing me that “whoever builds here is very brave”…a decade later and my dad is eating his words. Be that as it may, this market draws a lot of people for what it offers. A couple of ethnic food stores and some craft beer and easily 500 people pitch.
It goes to show that you don’t need much to set up a market and have the people have a good time.
Westdene market used to be a thing of beauty and then died down some 5 years ago. While it continued running, interest dwindled until very recently when, I suspect just based on better marketing, the market is buzzing.
This monthly Saturday morning market is the more nature orientated market with fresh produce and holistic living and of course, much art.
To most Emoya is an inconvenient drive especially with those annoying, yet essential, speed humps that they’ve just placed on Lucas Steyn.
The market is worth it if you’re not going shopping but you’re just keen for a day out in the sun.
Unless there’s an attached event, such as a karate show or a New Beginnings dog parade, there’s nothing that this market offers that you can’t get elsewhere save for the exquisite venue so if you’re keen on just chilling for the day, this is the place to do it.
It helps that the Famous Brew and Still has a stand there. Their gin is to die for.
Urth Café Market
Have you also just started to notice just how many markets there are in Bloem? The Urth market up north is a night market which generally boasts a blonde lady singing to backing tracks followed by a band doing covers and arts and food stalls.
Easily the most family friendly of the night markets, it’s got places for the kids to play and also the Famous Brew and Still for the adults. Have I mentioned that their gin is to die for?
It’s also hosted at the nursary so prettiness abounds as do the steak filled rooster koek.
Botanical Gardens Market
The market with the highest cover charge but generally worth it because it gives you something to do on Sundays before live music time.
Of course there’s live music here too but some dude singing to back tracks doesn’t quite do the Sunday live music evenings justice.
The market sports a range of kiddies activities, hallumi fingers and varieties of spring rolls (peppadew and feta…yum).
More importantly, they also feature the Famous Brew and Keg. If you can get your hands on their whiskey, it’s to kill for.
Recent addition to the Bloem scene, Lesley Jennings brought us Startup Grind. It’s a live talk show hosted in a pub/bar with a local business personality sharing business insight and ideas.
Even if you’re not a fan of the content, the networking opportunities are growing as more and more people get wind of it’s value.
Certainly more valuable to attend than a JT Foxx talk and great to hear stories of local successes.
Scout the bikers
Bloem rocks a couple of bike clubs so when I’m bored on a Sunday morning, I’ll hunt them down and watch the procession of bikes. Yeah, it’s probably the most desperate thing on this list but still worth doing.
I know that some of you reading this, like me, have gone and watched planes take off and land. There’s something redeeming about it.
Checking out the bike procession is just a version of that.
The best thing on a Wednesday night happens at Scarlet Room. Of course their burgers are amazing but on these nights, all the fun happens.
Music bingo is when you’re given a bingo card but instead of boring numbers, they have songs on. The DJ plays songs and if you have the song on your card, you cross it out. A line gets you a shot and the first to have 2 lines down and 2 across wins a bar tab.
Sometimes the songs are themed which makes it more fun. Anyway, in Johannesburg, life was haphazard but the one continuous thing was that Wednesday nights would always be at the Jolly Roger. I’m glad I found something local to plug that hole.
The last portion of the list is Long Term Investments. These are ideas to keep you going and improving and not just spending time on once off fun
- Learn an InstrumentMany people are aware of Transnet being a jobs program for poor white people in the days of Apartheid but Bloem boasted another white upliftment project, the Musicon.The Musicon was developed to foster kids into the arts and develop a symphony orchestra from it. Of course since democracy, it was no longer exclusively white and the upliftment continues through the work of the dwindling number of dedicated teachers and instruments.
Hiring a R40 000 instrument costs about R100 a month and the lessons are nearly as cheap. It’s no wonder that such great artists come from Bloem. It’s sad that they leave but the resources are here to develop musical skills so sign up.
More importantly, we should make me CEO of the Musicon because I have so much I want to do with that place to foster the arts in Bloem and SA #GiveChemTheMusicon
Join a League
Initially I merely wanted to point out that we have great indoor football facilities at Fives but then I recalled that we have action netball, action cricket and a bunch of other sports leagues that one can partake in.
So if you haven’t played squash since you were slammed 9-love in that Free State open tournament back in grade 8, dust off your ego and pick up your non-marking shoes.
Art it out
Once, while geocaching at Oliwenhuis, I saw a friend doing pottery. In addition to the many art schools, there are a couple of groovy art shops around town so you really have no excuse not to be creative, unless you’re not creative…in which case you should try be more creative.
I’ve been saving money to do my pilot licence and glider licence for awhile now but Bloem boasts a great flying climate.
It’s no wonder that the endurance 1000km glide starts in Bloemfontein. The aviation school here is highly rated and they seem to take their work seriously, which is kinda what you want when you’re a couple of hundred meters in the air entrusting your life to a machine and a pilot.
Enter the pizza debate
Pizza is a tremendous way of shoving 2000 calories into your body so if you’re going to do it, you’d want to do it right.
Of course, back in the 90s, there was only one pizza and that was made by Silvano.
Today we have a debate raging as to where the best pizzas in town are found. Standing out are Bella Cassa and Kerdoni’s (incidentally brought to fame by the return of Silvano…who since left). Recently I’ve found myself loving Chicago pizza too.
I’m told that there’s good pizza at Avanti though I’ve never tried it and Eatalia may be owned by a Greek but he’s specialized his Italian craft.
So together, we need to establish what the best pizza in town is. Probably use #BloemPizza and let’s see how far we get.
From the CUT Hotel School to FBI, trained chefs come out of Bloem on the regular and so too they need work. Often they host schools or courses on making something or another.
Just the other day, Cafe Plenty’s Patso hosted a how to make pasta course and will soon be hosting one on sushi.
Learning to cook has never been this accessible so whether you want to eat or you want to impress, cooking is a great option. Learn how to.
If you dance the night away at the Mystic Boer, you’ll notice the inscription from the great Jack Parrow song about dancing. But dancing to the screams of Francios van Coke is not the only way.
From tap to Spanish to modern and even pole, every dancing style is accommodated in the multiple dancing schools of Bloemfontein.
I’m not entirely sure which I’d pick but it’s genre specific so talk to some people and do your homework and you could be a sex god tapping away to Rick Guard’s Stop it I Like It.
Start a cause
Finally, and in a dedication and apology to my elder sister Tracy; People in Bloemfontein are generous. They may not have disposable income to give away but they tend to help where they can.
Tracy identified this years ago and began One Man, One Coat where she’d just made a Facebook page and stand on the streets in the cold and collect coats and jackets from passersby to give to the poor.
Having misread the Bloemfontein community, I thought it was a waste of time that would get no traction nor attention and maybe get three jackets. When I saw the three cars full worth of clothing, I realised I could not have been more wrong.
Today Tracy lives in Cape Town but Zelda of OFM and her friends have taken on the baton to run One Man, One Coat and it taught me a valuable lesson; if you expect to fail, you’ll be blinded to the possibility of success. Similarly, if you expect your city to be dull and boring, you’ll be blinded to the possibilities of what’s around you.
Bloem might not be as buzzing as other places but it’s not dichotomous. In other words, just because it’s not as buzzing doesn’t mean it’s not buzzing at all. Sure, not everything on my list will grab you but it’s my list and if I can make up a list of 99 things in a single day, imagine what you could come up with if you put in the effort.
There are still a couple of cool things Bloem used to have that it’s since lost such as the ice rink, lazergames (which had a bitchn Bimbos next door) Gigazone (which made incredible cheese and ham toasties) and the ultimate rock band gigs at the Andre Huguenot Theatre on Friday nights. All these things died out but it doesn’t mean we can’t revive them.
Similarly there’s no reason why the Bloem Beer Pong League can’t be reestablished, together with the weekly poker nights and the Sunday morning soccer sessions at Oliwenhuis. The stuff’s there, we just need to work with it.
So here’s a shout out to Bloem, the city that gave me an upbringing I’d never change and that offered me enough to be who I am today. Slow, timid and open to innovation, other cities may profess to be my house but Bloem will always remain my home.