In the rolling hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands the quiet hamlet of Rosetta has plenty to boast about
Words and Pictures Andrea Abbott
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
It might be a quiet hamlet but one look at the quirky creatures in The Ugly Duckling of Rosetta might have you thinking you’re on another planet. Actually, if you’re wanting another planet, Rosetta might be just the launching pad. In the mid-1950s, extraterrestrials are said to have landed there on a nearby hill. The aliens blasted back into space taking with them Earthling and meteorologist Elizabeth Klarer who, until her dying day in 1994, maintained she’d had an affair with Akon from the planet Meton. Their son Ayling remained on Meton when Elizabeth returned to Earth.
Photographs Elizabeth captured of a UFO above the Berg in 1956 gave her story some credence. In time, the excitement died down and today Rosetta is, as one local put it, “on the forgotten leg of the Midlands Meander.” Nevertheless, it still has its stars. See Elizabeth Klarer’s UFO photos at www.ufoevidence.org
MIDLANDS GARDEN CENTRE
This is where keen fruit growers in the Midlands and from as far away as Harrismith and Gauteng come to buy cold-hardy fruit trees. “That and roses are our main business,” says owner Jacky Jooste. Jacky and her husband Albert (above)recently took over from Jacky’s dad, Chris Kock. They aim to maintain Chris’s high standards and prices at around half of what you’d pay in the city.
A new feature is the Green Bean Coffee Shop, housed in a log cabin that’s soon to be equipped with a log fire. Just in time for Rosetta’s icy winter! The Centre is a restful place that’s well worth a stop, even if it’s just for the excellent coffee (Makador), savouries like tramezzini, and home-made cakes. Top of the pops is the melktert. “Real boeretert,” says Jacky. “My mom bakes it, using her Gran’s recipe.” Look out for the centre on the left as you enter Rosetta from the Nottingham Road side.
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THE UGLY DUCKLING
“It used to be a trading store and was a really ugly building. Thus the nameI chose: The Ugly Duckling,” says Rolfe Bettison (above), owner of this exotic emporium that’s stocked to the hilt with clothing, furniture, decor, fabric, carpets, and other items from Bali, Indonesia and India. Rolfe opened The Ugly Duckling in Rosetta sixteen years ago. “I wanted to sell something different.”
Since then, Ugly Ducklings have hatched in Balgowan, Central Drakensberg, Clarens and, most recently, Hartbeespoort Dam, but the most expansive remains the original Rosetta store. Wander through room after colourful, packed room, and just when you think you’ve come to the end, another door opens and you start exploring all over again. It’s spelunking of different kind, cave after cave of delight that makes a splendid retail eaxperience. If you would like to go shopping in Asia without travelling all the way there, then The Ugly Duckling is the place for you.
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