Monday, 28 February 2011

Discipline for teenagers

I'm a mum of teens, 2 past, 2 current and 1 to go. I've supported families with difficult teens, attending parenting courses, spent 10 years as a Youth Worker and developed and delivered parenting courses. The advice below is all the best bits put together that have worked for me. I read a blog by @skc0602 and decided to put something have a read...adapt it to your needs and let me know how it goes.

Describe the behaviour you want to see, don’t compare treatment with others i.e.’ your sister/brother does it without a fuss’, just develops resentfulness.

How far are you prepared to go?...What is the desired outcome?...If you want homework done and they are refusing to do it...don’t make idle threats...If you say they are not going out till the homework is done are you prepared to stand by the door all day/evening till they do it?...what is likely to happen?...bad atmosphere in the house?...screaming/shouting/threats?
A child cannot wait for a reward, they need an instant response...try ‘yes, you can go out, on your return you will be doing your homework before TV/xbox etc.

Don’t say Don’t state the positive outcome
Don’t say I can’t understand you while you’re shouting at me
Say talk to me in a way I can understand

With things that are non negotiable i.e. homework, allow the child to make the decision.
Offer choices within limits
Don’t say are you going to do your homework? – if they say no, how are you
going to deal with it?
Say when you’ve done your homework do you want to? (offer choices
you know you can deliver)

Express No in a positive way
Don’t say No you’re not going out till your homework is done
Say Yes, you can go out once you’ve done your homework

Offer encouragement to build self esteem
Don’t say your hair looks nice
Say wow that must have taken you some time
Don’t say you look good
Say I bet you feel really good in that outfit

Teach Skills
Plan ahead, explain the value of the skill, break the task down, do it with the child teaching independence.

Do not threaten, blame, lecture or repeat – a child will just shut down.

Don’t offer advice – ‘what would you know?’ ‘you don’t understand’ everyone else.....’ – guide through the problem solving process, if you don’t the child won’t develop coping skills.

Remember when you are angry the other person (child) is in control.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

and finally....

I've been a football fan for too long and a Birmingham City fan now in my 5th season. I'd followed them for a while but my family life and having 5 kids did not allow me time to go to matches.
I started going to the games when they were in the premiership but unfortunatly they soon went back down. I took my eldest to see them play Liverpool, his team, as there was no way I was driving up there to watch them play.
I attended every home game in the Championship and really enjoyed the football. I was on Match of the Day with a crowd of less than 20,000 when they played Blackpool and when Jerome scored there I was, billy no mates, (all the seats around me were empty) the camera zoomed in to me in a bright pink top cheering my head off.
The kids came to a few games in the Championship and towards the end of the season when they saw promotion in sight, they too started to attend.
Hubby came once or twice, but as a Man U fan he found it boring, so it became 'me and my boys'
We've cheered, we've cried, we've even left St Andrew's swearing blind we'll never go back, but we have.
My last game before leaving for South Africa was against Arsenal on New Years Day. I was very disappointed, we'd beaten Chelsea and held Man U at home then go losing 3-0. I cried and left the ground early.
But tonight was worth every bit of the pain...we won the Carling Cup, our first trophy since 1963...I say we but I wasn't actually there neither did I kick the ball, but it feels like 'we'.

Friday, 25 February 2011

and on a positive note.......

Today my dad sold the car.

We tried marketing it before we left the UK, but only got offered £5,000 and as you know we only had 3 months from 'Would you like to move to South Africa to actually being here'

So we added my mum to the insurance, so she could go out with any perspective buyers, and dumped it on their drive. Insurance and MOT expire end of March.

Dad has been calling all the garages he can think of, put ads in the local paper and in shop windows around Monmouth and still no luck.

In the end we said 'Dad, get what ever you can for it and deposit the cheque in our bank account as we're running out of money' and today I got the email that siad he'd done it and money is on it's way....yeah for Dad.

We called him this evening and this is what happened......

It proved to be adifficult day. When we arrived they insisted on doing afull check the first thing they noticed was the tyre warning light had come on and they said 3 of the 4 valves needed changing as they were badly corroded ( mother had noticed but said nothing) Then they said 2 of the rear inside door panels were marked and would need replacing finally the small burn hole in the drivers seat(this is the problem with main dealers they are too fussy) They had about 6 Coffee machines that were more expensive than my car. Their first offer was £5200.00 which we turned down then £5700.00 then £5900.00 . They could see we were both upset Mother did a brilliant job and must have pulled on their heart strings as they then offered £6000.00 as she said she was too upset to drive it home, maybe it was allpart of their plan to get the car cheaper anyway we got there in the end. They did comment the General appearance was exellent.

Now then Dad, how do you fancy renting our house for us as the bloody agents have been less than useless?

And what do you think happened next?

If you are of a nervous disposition or don't like swearing look away now.

FUCKING UK FUCKING Removal firm have FUCKED UP and FUCKED me off big time.

Email received last week,to confirm container will be arriving in Jo'burg on 4th March.

Email received today from agents in Edenvale to say container arrives in Durban on 4th March, OK a slight mix up, Durban-Jo'burg about a 4 hour drive.

But, included in the email were 5 attachements requiring completion in triplicate, stamped and returned to office in Edenvale by Monday am oh and payment of approx £250.

So I call them, I explain I can't access emails on my phone and that I don't have access to a printer and what does 'stamped' mean and where do I get it done? I also inform them I can't make payment over the internet, (see blog re buying a car) but they don't take cash payments, can they help me please?

Yes they can, come to Edenvale on Monday, print and complete forms, use their internet to make payment, drive to Pretoria to customs to get forms signed, return to them so they can process, OK so not the easiest of tasks, but at least they are willing to help. Go google Centurion where we live, then Edenvale, then Pretoria to see where I have to drive to and from all day, but at least I can get papers signed in time to recieve my containers of furniture.

In the meantime I have emailled the UK agents and asked them the following:
1. Why didn't you tell me this either verbally or in written format.
2. Where has the extra cost come from? and again, you never mentioned that.
3. How the fucking hell do you expect me to do all of the above (didn't mention how helpful the agents in SA have been, they don't need to know that)

There are also further complaints to follow like:

We would've liked our container shipped up beginning of January as they informed us it took 10-12 weeks to arrive plus customs clearance time that the SA agents would organise.

So they removed our furniture on December the 23rd, they had provided us with a full quote for the price and insurance.

On the 23rd as they were removing the furniture I went to the office with the insurance quote form and was informed there was an additional £800+ cost to pay as that was included in the cost. I also asked when our goods would be sent and was informed they needed a copy of the visas...which we didn't have and knew the earliest date would be 7th January (as it happened they were delayed for a further week, again see blog on visas)It was likely our container wouldn't be sent till end of January at the earliest.

As soon as we had the visa we provided them with a copy for them to inform us container now won't be sent till 1st February. The implications of this, not only the costs involved detailed below but the fact with 2 kids we were living in a house with no furniture over Christmas, eventually having to move into company flat in Manchester, which was furnished as it all got too much for us.

So based on the 10-12 weeks they told us, there was alot of stuff we sold or gave away, not thinking that our furniture would reach us until sometime in April, for example iron, bedding, towels and quite alot of other stuff including all our white goods, as we thought we'd have to buy those kinds of items anyway and it seemed pointless to have 2 sets, as it happens we will have about 1 week in our new house (current rented accomodation is fully furnished) and in that time we could eat take out, arrange for clothes to go out for laundering.

So yet more cost involved we now need to buy all the above mentioned goods and the cost here is far greater than the UK.

We SHALL be seeking compensation from the company involved and if I do not get a satisfactory answer I will be naming and shaming on twitter, to make sure no-one else has the same problems as we've had.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

I bought myself a GPS yesterday, it has built in bluetooth for hands free driving and that old familiar 're route' if there's been an accident or there are road works ahead ... but get this ... when you opt to 're route' unlike UK ones this has an added feature to avoid town ships, it also beeps at speed limits ... still not sounding too bizarre? Well this one also beeps and the voice warns you of dangerous areas ... *beep beep* 'warning entering area of carjacking, approach with care'

Safety and Security

On a previous blog, I wrote ‘What comes first? The need for protection or the fear of crime?’
I was fearful, very fearful for my safety and my family, no one told us anything positive about life in South Africa prior to our arrival
Carjacking at gun point
Mugged in the streets at knife point
Well yes it does happen (see previous post) but you don’t need to live in fear of it...just be sensible.
In the first week I carried a small amount of cash, one credit card and my phone all in my pocket, by week two after observing the behaviour of others I carried a small clutch bag from Fossil. I soon learnt I neede to carry my passport, driving licence and International driving permit with me and I’m back to carrying a handbag full of crap.
I sling it over my shoulder when out, I lock it safely in the boot of my car when driving, mobile phone in door pocket and the car automatically locks when I’m I safe?
Not completely , I’m still at risk, just more prepared for it, am more confident in myself and walk/drive away from situations that make me feel different from how I should behave anywhere in the world, I just keep reminding myself not to be complacent.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

At the Robots

48hrs after arriving in SA, hubby is in work, he has a lift every day, and the kids are in school, I have a hire car (as James May says ‘the best car in the world’)

Now bare in mind the horror stories I’d been told about SA and I’m off driving on my own in a place I’d never even visited before.

At the robots they try to sell you all sorts of things, keep your windows closed is the advice or they’ll grope you, don’t make eye contact. They’re not interested in selling you stuff really, they’re just checking your car out, then signally their mate at the next robot so he can smash your window and grab your bag, yes that does happen but so far the only people I’ve met that have told me this sort of thing has started with ‘my friend....a bloke at work, my aunties next door neighbours cat....etc etc’

At the robots today I rolled a cigarette for a man trying to sell me a whitener for my Tekkies (trainers), stopped for a chat with the newspaper seller, I explained to him I can’t read Afrikaans, he suggested I bought his paper as there are alot of pictures in it and I could work it out from that. I replied ‘Lekker’ and he replied ‘see you’re learning already’

Embarrassing moments

OK I’m in the supermarket, Checkers, in the toiletry aisle looking for ‘women’s things’ The brand names are the same and they offer the same two options of either Tampax or Towels. I looked to see if I could buy my normal product and had been stood there for a while when an assistant asks if she can help......I ask if she can help me find Night time pads without wings. Her reply was I’m new here, I’ll go being English this isn’t a subject we discuss openly in public with strangers, so off she goes and returns with a MAN, he looks through the shelves and asks me to wait while he goes and asks, another MAN comes back and asks me...’is it for heavy, medium or light flow’ I reply and he goes off to the warehouse. I’m now stood there wondering WTF when he returns, offers me an alternative as they don’t sell the ones I want and suggest I cut the wings off.

Michael McIntyre moment

Have you seen his routine when speaking to someone either on the telephone or face to face when you don’t quite catch their name or what they are saying.

You say ‘pardon’, you still don’t understand, by the time you’ve asked for the third time it’s now considered rude, so you say well thank Mr ermjamigig.

The first time this happened to me is now a family joke, I had just met my husband and while at his house looking after the children I answered the phone, it was a work call, I took the message but had missed the man’s name, so I asked him for it, he had a very heavy accent and I said, I’m sorry I didn’t catch that, he repeated it, I then asked him to spell it, still didn’t catch it, said thank you and hung up......when Peter got home I told him he’d had a message, he asked who from, I replied Mr Crisp took him a while but he worked it out in the end.

This is what it’s like for me every day in South Africa, I keep hanging up or walking away not having a bloody clue what was said while they look at me wondering, as I walk off smiling ‘are all English women mad?’

Monday, 21 February 2011

Is this the best sales technique in the world?

When you buy a car in South Africa you have to give the insurance company the name of the garage so they can fax proof you are insured before you can drive away. The insurance company I used is OUTsurance and it was the easiest thing I've had to do since we arrived, they requested I drove the car to Glasfit to have the cars body work, plate and year of manufacture checked out, all makes sense to me. Apart from the insurance service, Glasfit also repair windscreens and intall 'smash and grab' glass which is a necessity over here. My vehicle does not have factory fitted safety glass and the woman launched into a fantastic sales pitch, she didn't pause for breath:

' Ma'am, you don't have the recommended safety glass you are putting yourself at risk. At the robots (traffic lights) you WILL have your window smashed, you will have your necklace RIPPED off your neck, you will be assualted and YOU have been warned, don't wait till it happens we can fit it now for ... rand'

mmmmmm no thanks and I drove off ... I will have it fitted but not by a company that try to sell you a product by scaring you half to death.

Why do you blog?

I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed writing. I never thought I had anything of any interest to say until I discovered Twitter in February 2009. I did the usual and followed the celebs then I met @jayman888 @janedebond and @justin_a and from there life took on a whole new meaning, as my list of friends grew and after a small problem when I fell out with someone changed my name. I met @mediocre_mum on #fdf (fancy dress Friday) and my love affair with communicating began in earnest.
I started to blog when I wanted to say just a little bit more and to this day I still haven’t fathomed out #twitlonger. I blogged every day stuff, thoughts and feelings, explanation of a tweet if it met with too much opposition, issues with the children, schools and behaviour. I joined British Mummy Bloggers and @mediocre_mum sorted my blog out for me, comments, gmail account and started a face book page which she linked to my blog.

I’m now living in South Africa with my husband and 2 youngest kids, it has been a difficult transition, been here 5 weeks. I had a small note book that I jotted things down in, then wrote it up in full in as a word document and cut and pasted into my blog, I’ve had to invest in a bigger note pad now, which I’ve already started to fill, there are so many wonderful and amazing things to see and do, along with the hassles we’re encountering, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Special thanks to

@hippydi in Cape Town who phoned me one day after I tweeted I was feeling down

@amandamuldowney in Saudi for contact information, advice on shopping and places to visit

@letsbreastfeed in UK for her emails offering encouragement and support

And then of course there’s the rest of you for putting on with my crap and showing interest.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Will it ever end?

I am an intelligent person who is capable of sorting most things out, sometimes I overreact and panic other times I’m just physically unable to do anything about it.
For example I am unable to get a mobile phone or internet contract as I need to provide 3 months of bank statements, I have been in the country just over 4 weeks. I thought I’d set up international banking with HSBC but turns out as they don’t actually have a branch here, it was a waste of time. I needed to buy a car but was unable to transfer money from the UK in the time needed and put myself at great risk walking around from bank to bank carrying all my ID and a ‘cash’ cheque to make the down payment. The accommodation the company have rented us does not have a landline and despite asking 3 weeks ago for one to be put in so I can call banks, garages and rental agents to enable to do the things we need to do, it has not happened. Next challenge is to organise a land line and internet for the new property but again 3 months of bank statements aren’t available and I actually don’t know, despite going into shops asking strangers for advice how to actually do it. Peter had to give permission for me to have a bank account as I’m here on a visitor’s visa and I have to use the internet to transfer money from his, into my account. My tools to do the job are limited and I’m struggling. If I ask for help, I’m nagging, so I struggle on doing all the things that I’ve been advised not to do.
I have a car now, the loan has to be paid off within the 2 years that my visa allows me to stay here for, surprisingly car insurance was easy and I’ve even been able to set up a D/D from my bank account for it.
My sister had a baby yesterday morning and by this stage I was able to get internet access from my phone, I discovered this by again taking to strangers, going into the shop and asking in several different ways until they understood what I was asking for, got them to re configure my mobile so it would work and made several trips back to the shop until it was sorted.
Back to my sister: I’ll not dwell on what did happen or what could have happened, but just tell you that yesterday my sister was lucky to be alive. I was awake on and off during the night using face book that was playing up, getting updates from my niece on the progress of the baby. I wouldn’t have been much help if I had been in the UK, would have probably rowed with my parents, would have sat and waited for a phone call from my desk at work and then probably been told I was being bossy anyway. (But that’s what we big sisters do). As face book was playing up, I could read the messages but not reply so I started texting my niece (cost not an issue, it had to be done) then she texted me back with the news that my sister was in intensive care, the weight and name of the baby and the information that the baby was fine.
There wasn’t a lot of point booking a flight home (can’t afford one right now) and little if no point calling the hospital as they wouldn’t have told me anything any way. I assumed my parents would be there anyway as support, so I waited until the evening, checking emails and face book all day for news, struggled to make myself understood and managed to purchase a phone card. I eventually found a phone box after discounting several for safety or hygiene reasons and made the call back to the UK to discover the man in the shop hadn’t activated the card and the call home I so desperately needed to make wasn’t going to happen.
I moved from the other side of the world with Peter’s job, 2 children away from their father, no job for me and no family or friends here for any of us. Thankfully the kids have settled in well to their new school and have made friends easily; they are distracted by the wildlife and the sport and have been able to make limited skype calls to their dad. Peter is in work and has maintained familiar contact with colleagues and his family when they have skyped him during the day. But me, I’ve been all on my own, when the family do come home in the evenings they have had a long day and want to switch off and relax. I have no support network available to me only Peter to complain to, I am powerless to do anything without him. I can’t even make a complaint to the company about the lack of support they have given us, despite asking for it, research into our arrival has not been done, otherwise they would have known about the 3 month bank statement issues, the large deposit required for the car and 2 year repayments, but the biggest issue of all is you do not move someone half way around the world with their family and then leave them on their own to sort out transport, bank accounts and housing without the tools to do the job.

Who's fault is it?

My 16 year old son, Dan, was failing at school in the UK, his grades were low and his behaviour record was appalling. Is it all his fault?

So what’s the worse thing you can do to a child who’s not behaving themselves at school, take them out and home ed, additional lessons after school, change schools…we looked into all 3 options and ended up going into the school on a regular basis and ask what they were doing to address the problem. It became clear that the school weren’t interested in Dan and his future despite full support from us his parents…’why do you do this dan?’ ‘what do you intend to get out of it?’ ‘Do you want to end up on benefits, no job, no life?’

It fell on death ears, but doesn’t it always? Behaviour spilt over into home life and things were pretty awful for a while.

‘What do you want to do Dan?’ ‘Dunno’ with a shrug of the shoulders

Dan loves his sport and his incentive was to go to school for years 12 & 13 with Birmingham City Community department aged 16-18, play football and study for a level 3 qualification. All he had to do was work as hard as he was capable off, stay out of trouble and get 5 grades c’ to get a place.

To support this, I made many trips to school to ask them what they were planning to do to support Dan in school, address his behaviour, with us supporting the school. T school did very little, they labelled Dan a bully, a class clown…(see previous posts for other issues) and basically tried to ignore him as much as possible. In fact the school were so supportive that when we announced we were moving to South Africa the school report they sent said ‘we have concerns that Dan will not be able to adapt to a new environment at such a crucial time in his education’ (he was due to sit GCSE’s this May/June) How would they know he can’t adapt to change, he had the same form tutor and subject teachers for the 5 yrs he’s been in the school.

So we came to South Africa 5 months before his GCSE’s moved him away from his friends, his football and every thing he knows, moved him to the other side of the world, threw him into private school, 48 hrs after we arrived, made him wear short trousers and a tank top and left him to it….

Problems?…nah you’ve got to be joking, ok so there have been a few little issues for example the education system is much different here and advanced compared to the UK, he drew the line at wearing speedos for swimming (don’t blame him he’s 16) he immersed himself in school cricket team, plays football 3 times a week in Pretoria and is a model pupil in school…..

So how did all of this happen, why the change in Dan? Well I believe to change the behaviour, you need to change the environment…a bit extreme some of you may say, it could have all gone wrong, but preparation, preparation, preparation has made for a smooth transition, but the biggest help of all (see previous post) is being somewhere where people want to work, want to do well, where there are no state benefits if you don’t do well in school, in a country with positive role models not unashamed public wealth and so called celebs making a fortune from sleeping with footballers, singing on talent shows, excessive partying…don’t get me wrong it does go on here, it’s just for adults and those that can afford it by working hard, not a free for all society.

What are you doing to help yourself?

UK, France, Germany, Sweden and US are Welfare states – a model of provision by the state, social protection delivered in conjunction with government, independent, voluntary and autonomous public services.

Outside of the above countries there is little and often no financial support available if you do not work and provide for yourself.

We have visited many countries without welfare assistance and in these countries these people work bloody hard, long hours and with little pay to survive and I mean survive...not sit back, claim benefits and moan at how the government aren’t providing them with jobs from the comfort of their social housing, with Sky on a 42inch flat screen TV. Now I know people can’t always control their circumstances and do not choose to live like this, but I don’t think anyone knows the full meaning of poverty until they have experienced it.

In Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, poverty is rife. I’m discussing these countries as I have visited and seen some of it 1st hand. Begging in these countries can be aggressive, but I’ve only been to the tourist areas where no doubt they ‘play’ on the emotions of the tourist with their spare cash and feelings of guilt, they will grab your bags at the airport in exchange for a few pence to take them to your tourist bus or follow you around with hands open, mainly kids just asking for money till you give them some to go away and take your guilt with them.

Now I am seeing things differently, living in South Africa there is poverty here and the people are very gracious about it. We pass a man every morning living in a tree, he roles his blanket up every morning at 6.30am and goes to work, he stands at the traffic lights with a selection of phone chargers, tax disc holders and tights and walks up and down the stationary cars, just holding them aloft, not trying to get people to pity him, not pestering for you to buy his stuff, just doing a job and people wind down their windows and buy things from him. There’s the woman on the side of the road near the school, who sets up her stall around the same time and lights a fire in a large drum on which she BBQs sweet corn all day, she sells mainly to the domestic servants at the end of the day on their way home from work and passes by in their cars stop and buy.

Did you know there’s a minimum wage for domestic servants depending on whether they’re full or part time, they have maternity and paternity rights and the average wage is approximately 90p an hour. They work in our big houses from 6am often walking many miles to get there and back and return late at night to their tin roof houses where the rain comes in.

So next time you sit back and complain about how unfair life is and how no one is doing anything to help you, just ask yourself this question... ’what are you doing to help yourself?’

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

I NEED to make some friends.

I’m really enjoying life here in South Africa, at the moment we are in basic rented accommodation, one small TV, no telephone or internet....we have pay as you go phones and a dongle but the speed is slow and the cost is high, family can’t contact us as promised and the kids haven’t been able to keep in touch with the UK as promised either. But three weeks with this lack of technology is starting to suit us. The kids have been able to play games on their laptops and DSI light, but even now they are losing interest it that...the boys have made friends very quickly in their new school and joined every club available. They are sociable children and make friends easily. There have been quite a few rows in the early days while they adapted to their new life, but this wasn’t due to lack of technology alone this was mostly down to our accommodation. Since the middle of December the kids have been sharing a room at their Dad’s or staying at our house in the UK without any furniture or sharing a bed in the flat in Manchester for 2 weeks prior to coming to SA. Now we are spending more time as a family, watching football on the telly or the discovery channels (they’re the only programmes we all agree on) we are having a Braai every other night, going out for picnics on weekends, we go to bed tired and relaxed every night by 9pm and the children are playing football 3 evenings a week in Pretoria, while Peter and I sit and watch them whilst chatting. There are cricket matches in the week we enjoy also.

Life here is more about family.

However, I need to meet people now. It’s been hard work trying to buy cars, rent a house, sort out bank accounts without any help and not having the internet and a phone has made it harder. So I went to a nail bar this week, I don’t normally do that sort of thing, but I met 2 lovely women, Tshego (pronounced sayho) and Celline...we have swopped phone numbers and will be meeting up next week for lunch.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Do you ever get these phone calls?

Every time I go out the bloody phone rings within a few minutes and I’m greeted with ‘Mum, can I have......?

Today’s phone call was as follows:

Dan: ‘Mum there’s a lizard in my pants drawer’

Me: ‘There’s a snake in my boots’

Dan: ‘Not funny Mum, what do I do?’

Me: ‘Catch it and put it outside’

Dan: ‘How do I do that?’

Me: ‘I don’t know’

Call ends

Phone rings

Dan: ‘I tried to catch it, but it’s now in my sock drawer’

Me: ‘There’s a snake in my boots’

*Dan hangs up*

How do you know what questions you need to ask?

Part of the preparation of moving to South Africa was to go to HSBC, The World’s International Bank, to open an international bank account, however, they do not have a branch in South Africa, (they have an agent) but they can assist us with off shore banking. Ok so we still need banking in the UK for when we finally sell the car and get tenants in the house, we have to pay for buildings and life insurances. We need to be able to get credit in SA and at some point may require to take our money out of SA as and when we decide to return to the UK.
Account opened, details received for the off shore account so we can pay Peter’s salary into it and all fees discussed and understood, agent will be able to assist in setting up an account in SA, all good so far? no
So we arrive in SA and call the agent for HSBC in Sandton, need to open an account with Nedbank...on your armed with er..visas, passports and copy of Peter’s contract we head off to proof of address, we’re in rented accommodation, paid for by the company, so return the next day with rental’s in the company’s name not ours...return the following day with rental agreement in joint now all paperwork is in place...return to hurdle...joint bank accounts don’t exist and as I don’t have an income Peter has to give permission for me to have my own account...return to bank two days later to collect credit cards, internet banking details, logged in transfer of money from Peter’s account to mine and PIN’s set (five digit PINs here).
Then there was the slight problem with setting up the payments to the offshore...the plan was salary paid into Jersey then set amount transferred back in Nedbank, SA...set fee...arhhh, HSBC don’t have a branch in SA there is an additional charge payable through the correspondence branch in Sandton...who, please note, have not assisted us so far.
So what have HSBC done for us as a Premier customer?....they cancelled my UK card due to unusual activity on the account...mmmmmm we’re in SA, please see above for why THAT isn’t unusual. We’ve made a complaint, but all we got was HSBC informing me that the information we were given was correct, we weren’t disputing that, we were disputing the fact, that not once, at any point did anyone point out to us, that because HSBC do not have a branch in SA, that all the benefits of being a Premier Customer as
1. Discussed in the bank. 2. In the shiny brochures given to us. 3. On the internet.
DO NOT apply if they DO NOT have a branch in the country you are moving to that the account WILL NOT be suitable for us.
So, Yes, we now know what questions to ask, but we didn’t 3 weeks ago when we arrived and we didn’t 6 weeks prior to that when we went to HSBC. So thanks for nothing.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Meals on Wheels

Man mauled to death by Cheetah
I was in the school shop beginning of the week, when a pupil walked in and asked
Pupil: ‘has anyone heard what happened to the cyclist in Brits?’ (20miles from here)
Me: ‘NO’
Pupil: ‘well, he was riding his bike when a Cheetah pounced on him and mauled him to death, I
want to know where the Cheetah came from?’

Me: ‘well yes, I too would be asking that question if I wasn’t in South Africa’

Pupil: ‘oh yeah’

This is what happens when you drink too much

Quick kids, there’s a snake in the garden
Ok so wine had been drunk, it was dusk and we are in South Africa, but really Peter you thought this was a snake?

School Discos the same the world over

New School

New Country

New Girlfriend

It’s the schools V Ball tonight, doesn’t he look smart?

Girls on the left, boys on the right and all the parents and teachers in the’s the same wherever you are in the disco’s.

When will all of this stop being new?

Well not yet at least. Everything we see and do is either amazing or a challenge. So many of you are encouraging of my blog, to be honest I thought you’d all be bored by now reading it and I thought I’d stop having anything of interest to say, but that’s not the case.

Today we went to Cullinan, where some of the world’s largest diamonds have been found. It is still a working mine and unfortunately we arrived too late for the tour but we had a lovely picnic and walk round a tiny village built in 1903.

This is not a secure area, other than the type of security you’d expect to see at a diamond mine anywhere in the world. But it was a safe area, we were free to wander around and realised that this was the type of thing we were missing. More time in the country for us. I mooched around the antique shops (junk) and Peter and I sampled some local ales brewed at the back of a cafe.

While Peter was out the back discussing the micro brewery with the owner, the kids sat out front having a drink and I walked over the road to take this picture. I ended up flat on my arse on the ground, as I stood on a pile of acorns and in cartoon style, not very gracefully, tried to maintain my I sat there trying to gain some composure, I was pelted from above by yet more acorns.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Guest post by my son Dan

My experience of a cricket ball hitting me in the neck.

Yes you did read the title correctly. I was hit by a cricket ball in the throat on Saturday 5th February. One of the scariest days of my life.
I’d just hit a four and the bowler was making jokes about me being a ‘Pomme’. Harry Potter as we called him, who had just hit 140 runs with the bat walked back to his marker. This was the start of hell for me. As he ran towards me I sensed something wasn’t right with this delivery.
I planted my front forward and then boom; the ball clipped the top of my bat and went straight into my throat. All I can remember at this point was the ball hitting me then opening my eyes and next thing I know im on the floor and there must of been about 10 people surrounding me, covering my face from the sun. I was struggling to breathe and an Ambulance was called immediately! I was hyper ventilating, which basically means that I had too much CO2 in my lungs, this also causes your hands to tighten up. Just before the Ambulance arrived Marc and some other people tried to take my helmet off. The pain was unbearable!! So they quickly stopped. Still struggling to breathe I can remember asking if someone could call my parents. And saying that I just want my Dad...Oh and that im struggling to breathe...
Once the ambulance had arrived they put a needle into my veins to supply me with painkillers, an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. At this point the paramedics were jabbing me with needles all over my body to see if I could feel any of them...which I could not. I can clearly remember that all they kept saying to me was to slow my breathing down, easier said than done to be honest.
After a few long minutes of lying on the floor it was time to move me to the ambulance. This was the worst pain ever!! They put a neck brace onto me, rolled me onto my side and then boy did I scream loudly!! I was told that you could hear the scream on the side of the pitch. They picked me up, and finally we were on our way to Sunning Hill Hospital. Robbie was in the back of the ambulance with me holding my hand all the way; well I say all the way, I mean up to the point where they checked out my lungs. They stopped at the side of the road. Robbie was chucked from one side to the other side of the ambulance. The paramedic ripped my shirt off of me. At this point I was seriously struggling to breathe now. This was the scariest part as I could hear them talking to each other about putting a tube down my mouth and connecting me to a machine that would breathe for me. My right lung had become bigger than my left lung .Thankfully they didn’t have to as I managed to slow my breathing down my throat as I slowed down my breathing. Only for about 30 seconds or so.
Once we arrived at Sunning Hill Hospital they carried on supplying me with 9 different types of painkillers. Which were slowly doing their job. They then moved me onto a bed and again I screamed as this pain was unbearable even with 9 painkillers in my body!! I was then asked my name, date of birth etc... When asked for my address in which my reply was ‘flat 60 past centurion mall’ all the doctors stared at me in amazement by the fact I didn’t know my own address. Robbie quickly explained to the Doctors I’d only been in the country for 2weeks. In which one Doctor replied ‘Welcome to South Africa my boy’ this brought the first smile to my face!! After lying on the hospital bed for a few long lonely minutes. The Doctors returned to talk to me; this was hard for me because my wind pipe was swollen and bruised so I was almost shouting my answer at them just so they could hear me normally.
Then my parents arrived to see me. This made me a very happy young man. My little brother walked in first to see me and for some strange reason he had a huge smile on his face. Which I still haven’t got the bottom of too yet. He was closely followed by my Mum whose first words to me where ‘Stop getting hurt in sport as this is the 3rd time we’ve been in hospital with you’. After the Doctors had explained to my Mum what had happened to me it was time for my x-rays. Two on my neck which thankfully came back all clear. But before I could take off the brace keeping my neck straight and still I had to go for a CAT scan which was interesting as I wasn’t allowed to open my eyes for more than 10minutes, in which I had gone to sleep in. And thankfully this came back with the all clear too!! So I was moved from ICU to a normal ward where I could sit up and have something to drink which I had wanted to do for a good 3 hours by now. In the ward Alex my little brother got out his camera and showed me all the pictures of the animals from the Safari they had been on. This was taking my mind off of the pain. I can remember waiting around for an hour in which Mr Burger came into see me and said that he’ll replace my shirt for me as it was the first time I had worn it. Good luck or what...
At 6 o’clock this guy walked in wearing an orange shirt and jeans. Turns out he was the Doctor who we had to wait an hour for. My Mum quickly said to him ‘If there wasn’t a Nurse behind you I wouldn’t have let my Son go with you.’ His reply was funny. ‘They call me the electrician for a reason.’ So I stood up and with some tubes still attached to my right arm I carried them up some stairs in which I struggled to walk up as I still had pins and needles throughout my body. Stumbling on I got to his office, where he led me into a back room with a weird looking machine, told me to take a seat, and squirted medicine cocaine up my nostrils. The ‘cocaine’ didn’t really have any effect on me at all. After 30 seconds or less ‘The Doctor’ picked up a camera and started slowly placing it up my nose so that he could see my throat. This had also come back all clear thank god. He then prescribed me with some medication to take and it was time to leave at long last. After getting the tubes removed out of my arm I said thank you to all the Doctors and Nurses that had looked after me during the day, grabbed my stuff and walked across the hospital topless getting hundreds of weird looks off people.
And that was the scariest day of my life.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Help needed......send tea bags

We are going to Kyalami near Johannesburg to see #TopGear, in March for Alex's 12th Birthday. Shhh but we are all big fans of the show.

Dan has challenged me to get the team to bring out some PG Tips tea bags.

I keep missing @BBC_TopGear on twitter so I've sent them an email....

'Please bring PG tips with you to Kyalami as I've run out. Moved from Malvern in the UK, to Centurion 3 weeks ago, kids in school, hubby in work and I need my tea bags.

Go on accept the challenge, I'll brew up and be Mother.

Suzanne (aged 39 and a half)'

this scares the living daylights out of me

This picture was taken whilst travelling at 120kms per hour on the N1 towards Pretoria. I dread to think what would happen if there was an accident.

How’s that for a training pitch?

This is where Alex and I will now be spending Mon, Tues and Thurs evenings while Daniel plays football with TUKs at Pretoria University.

Being a Foreigner

Well I never!!!!!
So far we’ve been called Pomms, Immigrants and foreigners.
We can’t get a car loan as we are required to pay it off in two years as that is the length of the visa, despite the fact the job is open ended. I’m not allowed to work, but Peter is paying local taxes and we will be paying rent and spending our money in South Africa, yet we are treated as a flight risk.....
If we get a loan for a car then decide to leave the country, there is nothing anyone can do about it...but hold on a minute...don’t they realise how much it cost us to get out here in the first place, visas, x rays, police checks, a year’s deposit for both kids at school and a year upfront, furniture removal, additional luggage at the airport plus the flights.
Oh and don’t forget...I have a car in the UK sitting on my parents drive I can’t sell and the Tax is due in March, plus it’s still fully insured, a house we are paying a mortgage on that is sitting empty waiting for tenants, the set up costs, electricity and gas safety checks, redecoration, new carpets after the flood (not off insurance) the energy efficient certificate, the stuff we had to give away or sell for a loss (ebay), agents fees.....
So right now we can’t afford to go home (not that we want to) account was a great achievement, which has enabled us to rent a house from March, but in the mean time we are being fleeced....need 3 months bank statements for mobile contract, internet and land line.....
So I’ve decided to do what others do.....
‘I’m a Nigerian representative for the exiled King...send bank details to’


Kids were told off in school for saying Oh my god and Jesus Christ, as it’s highly offensive over here, however, a Teacher can use the word SHIT in front of them.
Anyone else experienced anything like this?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Crunch time

Last night I nearly booked flights home. Dan had been in hospital. We had to pay for the treatment as our med aid wasn’t up and running, the kids were arguing and everytime we told them off they pulled their trump card ‘I miss my dad’ I don’t doubt that they do and I’m not trying to demean their relationship with him, but it’s every bloody time they have to do something they don’t want to do. I creid myself to sleep over it all.
This morning brought a different day and with it a different set of emotions......we promised the kids so much with our new life in South Africa and so far everything is the same, they are in school, Peter is in work and only my life is different, I’m not working, I dealing with a different set of values, accents and languages and renting a house, buying a car and not even allowed a bank account due to the nature of my visa.
I tell a lie there is another big still haven’t rented the house out in the UK and this morning we paid a deposit and 1 months rent to secure a house. The current accommodation is a 3 bed apartment there is one TV and a small lounge, a tiny garden, but at least it has 2 bathrooms. Doesn’t sound that bad really and it isn’t. It’s just we are used to a lot more space. We only have the contents of our suitcases with us and things like the internet are not as widely available as back home. So far, we’ve moved to the other side of the world, our living conditions are less than before, our ability to do things is limited due to being in a different country and our personal things are on a boat somewhere and won’t be with us till March.
But when the children get home from school we can tell them which house we’ve rented and that we are moving in on March 1st. It will be something to look forward to and the kids love the house we’ve is beyond our wildest’ll have to come and visit to get the full picture but it’s 4 bed, has a pool, overlooks the golf course, has a river at the bottom of the garden, it has glass floor to ceiling windows, balconies, a mongoose that lives on the decking and the utility room is bigger than our previous kitchen.


I have never in my entire life heard such blatant excuses for being late.
I hit ‘dismiss’ and not ‘snooze’ on my alarm ... used several times
My domestic was late, I needed to discipline her ... used almost daily
I’ve been away this weekend and I’m tired.
I used to find it very frustrating in a supermarket in the UK ... ‘do you sell....? was usually greeted with ... ‘I don’t know’... followed by a long pause before I said either ... ‘well can you ask someone that does know’ or my absolute favourite ‘it’s not my fault you work here’. In South Africa if I ask for something, they don’t tell you where it is or even take you there...they bloody well go and fetch it for you.

The weather

Well we’ve arrived in the worse summer they’ve seen in ain’t half rained...A fireman died trying to rescue a woman who was swept away in her car in the floods, we’ve driven the usual route to school, to find roads closed due to flooding.
I think we’ve acclimatised now though, we are sleeping under the feather duvet, wearing socks and a jumper in the early mornings and when it goes dark, however you can tell we are still new here, we are all red on our shoulders, necks, faces and in particular Alex’s nose.
The only trouble we’re having with the weather is getting our heads around the fact it is February, it is summer, it is 30c and the next season is autumn.

Well, what else am I supposed to do?

Some of you have ‘mocked’ me for doing my ironing etc, some people I’ve met are very surprised that I don’t intend to hire a maid...again, I am English, I’ve been working full time for the past 21yrs and during that time I’ve had 3 children, remarried and inherited an additional 2 kids. WTF? Am I going to do here?
The ladies lunch....I tried that once or twice at The Downs School, didn’t like it
The ladies play golf....BORING
The ladies all join the gym....won’t need to as I will be doing all my own housework, ironing and gardening
Keep me busy, I’m dangerous when

So what is the same and what is different?

Recycling? You’re having a laugh
Everything goes in a black bag and in the wheelie bin and that’s that, yet they charge you for carrier bags in the supermarket and everyone brings their own bags. However when we move things will change.....we compost in the UK so will be doing the same here. I will have bins for bottles, plastics, cans and papers as the larger Pick ‘n’ Pay stores have a set of wheelie bins for recycling outside.
The cost of things
I already own the largest collection of ‘Tupperware style’ pots and cooking all meals from scratch, I haven’t bought a single packet mix and the only tinned food I have bought was Heinz baked beans from the Spar shop, I’ve made my own gravy, tomato soup and puree. Individual ingredients are far cheaper than the UK but convenience food costs a lot more.
Toiletries are very expensive here at least double what you would pay in the UK for exactly the same product/brand...I guess that is due to the large supermarkets in the UK driving the prices down. Sun cream in particular, which I would consider a necessity is min £8 per 150ml and assumed it would be a lot cheaper. Tax is only 14% and it includes kids clothes and medicines.
Day to day living
Life is pretty much the same, but I cannot work for 2 years but I will be using that time to finish my degree with The OU in criminology, can’t think of a better place to study it can you? The school run is a pain, they start around 7am and I’m home by 7.30am everyday. I hang the washing out before I leave and it’s dry and ready to iron when I get back. The shops don’t open till 9am and close by 6pm...the larger supermarkets stay open till 8pm. There are no Sunday trading laws that I can see, some shops are open, some aren’t, some shut at 2pm others at 4pm so it’s a bit hit and miss at the moment.

Using my natural resources.

When in Denver 2003, Peter was working at Corrs brewery and we were staying in Golden, a small town, by the 3rd day I was a little bored, so I inquired about the nearest shopping mall and was told where to catch the bus, the number I needed and how much. Using my Englishness I found out from the driver what time the buses returned and where from.
Again in 2007 I found myself, alone, for the day in Coos Bay in Oregan, this is a logging town and full of thrift and gun shops, initially I was a little concerned, but used my resources...i.e. being English and received some wonderful help and assistance.
In Paris in 2000, we stayed in a hotel, that left a lot to be desired..armed with ‘Michael Thomas French for beginners’ I booked a new hotel, a table in a nearby restaurant and gave directions for Peter to find me when he finished working for the day.
I find being English a fantastic thing to be, although technically I am Welsh, Peter and I tend not to do the ‘tourist’ thing, when on holiday we hire villas/gites away from the tourist areas and often find we’re the only English people there.
The children are the only English students in the school and we’ve met one other English man, who happened to be in the same hospital as Dan on the weekend. People are surprised that 1. We’ve come to Centurion and 2. We’re going to be living here.

losing my idenity?

Losing my identity
I thought I would have to change my way of life completely when we moved to South Africa, having read the tourist books and from information from the media, well meaning family and friends and South Africans living in the UK, here follows the advice I was given:
1. Do not carry a handbag, keep 1 credit card and mobile phone in trouser pocket and carry a dummy wallet to hand over if mugged.
2. Don’t wear Jewellery out in public, you will be targeted even if it’s only ‘costume’
3. Never stop at a red one does, you will be car jacked
4. Don’t drive alone and never at night
5. You cannot walk anywhere

And here’s the truth
1. Everyone carries a handbag
2. Everyone wears jewellery
3. You MUST stop at red lights
4. I’m in and out of the house in the car all day
5. I have walked from the house to the mall and back, from mall to shopping centre

South Africa is like the UK in so many ways. There are certain parts of Birmingham I avoid, or if I have to go there I take great car, put all valuables in the boot and keep to the main areas. Have you ever been to Moss side? Have you ever been to a local Derby. I for won’t will never go to a game between Birmingham City and Aston Villa again. I have and I won’t be choosing to go there again. You have to be street wise everywhere you go in the world. Do what the locals do and if you’re not sure about something just ask.
There are a few places I won’t be going here, I’m not comfortable when driving past townships, I certainly wouldn’t stop there and ask for directions and yes I am wary at the Robots, leaving a gap between me and the car in front so if necessary I can get away quickly, it’s just common sense really. However I’m driving a hire car, ‘the best car in the world’ May. James, Top Gear, at the moment and will be staying away from the cars involved in carjacking..for example I won’t be buying a 3 series BMW in black as I will make myself a target.
I’m not going to new places on my own either...Dan has soccer trials with TUKS tonight in Pretoria. Peter is coming with me this evening and tomorrow I will drive there alone, if I don’t feel safe with the location then we will find another club for him to play with...again, common sense.

Why do the robots never work?

At every stop sign and every set of Robots (traffic lights) people walk down the road trying to make a living by selling you goods.
I have to investigate if I can go into a shop and purchase tights, tax disc holders and car chargers in South Africa or these items are in demand, cos that’s all they seem to try to sell you.
The robots often fail to work and you’d think all chaos would ensue, but you’d be wrong. Every car driver treats the failed lights like a they would when approaching a STOP sign and take it in turns to proceed, all very civilised, however roundabouts don’t work the same way as the UK as I’ve found out (I know this because I’ve been tooted at) you don’t give way to the right, you treat roundabouts as STOP junctions also.


I love the TV adverts here. Whilst watching the football, different companies take it in turns to have a small logo on the top right of the screen, when there is a lull in play or half time the screen is slightly reduced in size and a company advert frames the action. The same applies with TV shows, no long boring adverts just a series of idents throughout the programme.
We have watched nearly every Barclay Premier league football match on TV. They seem to like Birmingham City here have watched all their games, and they seem to be playing much better since I stopped attending the home games.
DSTv is a satellite channel, we have to investigate the cost involved, it’s free at the moment in the apartment, they are about 4 weeks behind with Eastenders and 6months with Casualty and Holby City, they show deal or no deal and who wants to be a millionaire? But to be honest we’re not watching a lot of it apart from the football.

Local Radio

We’ve found a local radio station here in South Africa that the boys and I listen to on the way to school and back each day. It’s 94.7 and in the mornings called Breakfast Express. It’s the standard format 1 man and 1 woman, lots of chat and music and it’s even sponsored by Nados and a local bowling centre. We used to listen to Radio Wyvern and it’s very similar in style to the Robin Banks and Theo show.
This morning there was a prank telephone call to a woman who had placed an ad with Gum tree to sell a fridge.
The ad read:
Samsung fridge, only used once, white, works wells.
The presenter phoned this woman claiming to be the moderator for Gum tree and asked her why she had used the word ‘white’ to describe the fridge. At this point the woman apologised and said she would change the ad and asked what she should change it to. ‘previously considered superior’ her response was hysterical she called him a ‘retard’ he then said ‘you are implying a white fridge works better than a black fridge’ she said ‘when have you ever seen a black fridge?’ his response was ‘exactly’ and implied people like her were being racist and holding back the cause for equality. At this point she lost the plot and hung up on him. He called back and all we heard were a string of bleeps as she let rip and she hung up. He called her back again and this time she asked for his name, which he gave her, she didn’t make the connection with the radio station and accused him of being a simpleton and asked ‘what about the other ads, was he going to ring all of them up?’ he replied ‘yes’ and she laughed out loud, more expletives followed, a few more ‘retards’ and ‘simpleton’ then he told her who he was.
By the time I drove through the security gates I was in hysterics, the guard asked me if I was listening to 94.7 and told me they do this every morning.

This is how the day started a trip to Krugersdorp to the nature reserve, it was fantastic, cost approx £17 for me, Peter and Alex. We were able to get out the car and take photographs, obviously NOT in the area where the lions were. The one in the photo was about 2metres from the car, with only open air between us. We saw a herd of zebra and 3 giraffes on the hill top.

We were sitting down having a picnic when the phone rang, from Cornwall Hill College. The picnic was over we packed up and drove out through the park to the hospital in Jo’burg, we had little information other than Daniel had been hit in the neck with a cricket ball, while batting and was stable at the moment. We needed fuel, couldn’t find the hospital on the sat nav, I’d seen the sign for the hospital last week when taking Peter to work, we arrived and were greeted by 4 of Daniels school friends, one had travelled in the ambulance with him, their parents were in the waiting room. We thanked them for waiting, ‘they are all our children’ Daniel had x-rays and a CT scan and was seen by the ENT Doctor....all this took place, from admission to departure in 2 hrs. However, we left several hundred pounds lighter as our med aid hadn’t registered on the system.

Daniel is fine now his neck is swollen and bruised and his voice is very croaky, they had to stop the ambulance on route as Dan wasn’t able to breathe out and his lung over inflated; he was knocked unconscious, but remembers everything that happened. As he had too much carbon dioxide in his system his body went into spasm. The school matron phoned regularly and the head of the PE department came to the hospital to see Dan.

What did you do this weekend?

So kids, what would you like to do this weekend?

Dan: I’m off to Jo’burg to play cricket for school

Alex: Can I see some Zebras?

Us: Yes of course you can kids......and off we went.

Friday, 4 February 2011

What a difference a day makes.

What a difference a day makes.
This time yesterday was a completely different story and this is how it went.
We are house hunting and trying to by me a car.
I had two issues to deal with yesterday....rental agents weren’t returning my calls, several viewings I had made were inappropriate to what I’d requested and no one seems to have the ability to be flexible. I ask for 3 bed min, 2.5 bathrooms, separate annexe/flatlette and pool....’No, we don’t have anything’ Ok what do you have in that price bracket?....’nothing like that’....try again and this time ask...’how about a 4 bed, pool, garden and servants quarters’ ‘oh yes we have those, when would you like to view?’ slightly frustrating these calls, I have a pay as you go mobile, in someone elses name, so only they can top it up for me...doh!!!! how do I contact them to say I need more credit......? I had 2 appointments where the rental agent didn’t turn up, I had 1 appointment where the current tenants didn’t know we were coming, the house was a mess and there were 2 small dogs licking me and generally getting in the way, four times I asked the agent to do something about the dogs as I don’t like them (not afraid, just don’t like dogs) and four times I was ignored.
Peter is sorted he is getting a shiny Toyota Fortuna, it does everything except drive itself, special safety glass with a film layer so if anyone smashes the window they can’t reach inside the car, panic buttons near the seat belt clip which automatically activates the tracking device, built in sat nav, blue tooth for phone, DVD player and camera parking. It will be ‘our’ car but mainly driven by Peter for work in the week. So what am I getting? Well yesterday it was suggested I look for a small run around while we wait for my car to sell in the UK. So off I go armed with no local knowledge to find a car for approximately £5000. Some of the areas I pulled into had me refusing to get out the car and I turned round and drove off. Where I did find cars in the price range they were over 13 yrs old, full of rust and no guarantee they wouldn’t keep breaking down and here in South Africa that is not something I want to do. I can’t get finance as I don’t have an income and if Peter takes out finance it has to be completed within 2 yrs as that is the length of our initial visa.
So there I am yesterday, driving around some dodgy areas, getting hassle with the rental agents, no credit on my phone, 3rd trip to the school.
So I had a hissy fit and Peter faced it full throttle......he called me while I was still out and started by telling me he’d skyped Andrew in the office and another colleague from the UK, he’d made and received phone calls with ex colleagues, tying up loose ends and arranged a trip to Europe in March.
’you have a decent car. You’re not the one going 3 times a day on the school run, where do you suggest I put a week’s shopping in Golf or similar? Are you happy with me sitting on the side of the road in South Africa with the kids?....etc etc etc’ ‘Great!!!! You’ve got a mobile phone and the internet, you’ve got people around you helping you out with everything you need doing, you’ve had contact with familiar people, I’m struggling to understand the language, the accent, driving around areas I’m sure I shouldn’t be in and apart from the rental agants I’ve not spoken to anyone today, about anything else other than try to buy a car, rent a house and pay for the food shopping.’
And I can’t even do that properly as HSBC froze my bank card for unusual activity, i.e. we are in South Africa, we only set the account up because we were moving to South Africa. I keep running out of credit and can only access the internet for short periods of time. I’m still trying to sell the car in the UK and rent the house out. I’ve sent post cards and letters home, been keeping in touch with the UK via one very heavily pregnant sister who is sorting out some UK stuff for us, dealing with the kids and trying to sort out for us via face book and she seems to have a problem with her caps look and it looks like she’s shouting at
So Peter brought HR home with him tonight, she is very similar to me..i.e. forceful and I explained to her...I can so these things, I just need a bump start and the tools to do the job, so she topped my phone up for me, gave me access to the internet and ........
24hrs later, I have viewed 5 properties, going back to one this evening with Peter and the boys as I really like it and off to view vehicles at Toyota after collecting the children from school.
*Smiles and pats self on back*

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

What's the siren for?

The bell rings to signal the start and the end of lessons in school, the other bell you may hear from time to time in school is the fire alarm.

So what is the siren for? And what do you do when you hear here it?

In the boys school in South Africa it is heard when there is a lightning storm and when you hear it, you get indoors as quick as possible.

Having witnessed a storm tonight on the way home from school, I understand the necessity for it. I’ve never seen lightning like it, it was striking the hills and each flash lasted long enough to point it out to the kids and for them to turn round and witness it.

Whilst hunting for a house to rent today, we were taken to see a fantastic property with a thatched roof; I now know that the pole in the garden was not for raising a flag up.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

and today they decided to hassle me with

Today, I drove to find the car licensing department for Centurion here in SA, to find out if I needed to get a South African driving licence as the car dealers said it may be a problem with finance. As typical of this country there was a queue snaking round the building, 200+ people. I walked to the front apologising for being English, saying as I didn't want to renew my license would anyone mind if I cut through as I didn't know how the system worked and didn't want to queue for hours to be told I was in the wrong department......ha ha I was in the wrong department, no one minded me cutting through and everyone was really helpful and friendly.

Indoor Smoking

Well this has had me in stitches. In South Africa all the restaurants have the majority of their seating areas for eating outside. If you want to have a cigarette, they take you inside to a glass room where you can puff away to your heart’s content.

The Honey moon is over

Week 2

I’m not South African, therefore I do not know the ‘rules’ of the country.

Every bloody time we reach a land mark such as finally picking up our bank cards, providing us with a credit history and proof of address, no sooner do we meet another hurdle in our way....’we need them certified’...FFS another trip to the bank, more queuing, more explanations, documents verified (stamped by the bank) then we start all over again.

The car is another we only have visas for 2 years (we intend to extend them, if allowed) we can only get credit for a 2 yr period. Therefore the car I wish to buy has to be fully paid off in the next 2 years. So I thought I’d buy a car outright, but another hurdle was put in my way.....I can hire a car here and drive with an International Driving permit, stamped by the AA. I can bring my car over from the UK (see earlier blog for the hassles that caused) and drive with an IDP, but to buy a car and then insure it I have to have a South African driving tomorrow I go to queue to find out what that entails....I have been warned by the bank and the car dealers to take a book and be prepared to be there all day.....let you know tomorrow.

it would have been better if you'd told us before we came out here, but then you didn't know the barriers we would face...because you didn't ask what was needed in advance to prepare us properly and another hunting...on my own....what do i need to do...? it’s not like the UK try it in another country on your own...grrrrrr....(frustrated only, coping well)