Wednesday, 31 August 2011

My day in pictures (and a few words)

I spent the morning at my desk

Went to Plantland to do the recycling

A coffee at The Cornish Kettle

A drive to the Mall, nothing running on the Gautrain

Loads of parking spaces

Although it's winter it doesn't rain. The restaurants are by the riverside


in the Mall

Parking is cheap

Considering it's security parking

On route to get Dan

from school

The drive home

Entering the estate

Watching the sun go down from the balcony with a bottle of wine

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

What were you thinking?

When I was pregnant with my 1st child I decided if he was a boy I'd call him Benjamin, went I went into labour my mum said she couldn't wait for little Benji to be born, and on that note I called him James, the chosen middle name. Thankfully I didn't have a girl as the chosen name was Lucy, which also happened to be the name on the yellow sanitary bin at Hereford Hospital.

When my second son was born he had no name for 3-4 days, I called him Daniel, after Ken Barlows son in Corrie, cos I kept hearing the name and I liked it.

My 3rd child was going to be Alex, whether a girl or a boy.

I've been upping my internet profile and joined several other online support groups and been following a fair few numbers of blogs and what I've noticed is the ridiculous amount of what I consider to be stupid names for children, names that I feel age a child, names that although different are the same different as everyone else they will grow up with.

So how did you chose your child's* name and why?

*probably best you don't mention the childs name unless you're happy to hear what others have to say on it.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Am I being too fussy?

Thank you Pick n Pay for contacting me about the issue below. Because you cared, because you phoned, because you addressed my concerns, because you asked my opinion I continue to shop with you.

I don't think so and I don't think many of you will either.

I shop in Pick n Pay, a large South African supermarket chain, there's not alot of competition.

Whenever I shop I take my own bags which seems to throw the staff (recycling isn't like the UK here) and everytime I have to ask them to put the raw meet in a seperate bag and everytime I greeted with a look of Why?

I have no say in my bags being packed, it's a service all the supermarkets provide. I'd rather have the trolley unloaded and do my own packing, but hey, that's just me.

So today rather than ask/argue/takwe the bag and do it myself, I requested the shopping was put into the trolley and I'd pack in the car.

So carefully lifting out the heavier items, coke, wine, tins, to go first of the belt, followed by the crisps after the veg, I thought I'm onto something here.

The heavier items are replaced after scanning into the bottom of the trolley and the lighter stuff is put on top.

Then using a paper tissue I picked up the meat, which was leaking, it always leaks, placed it on the belt, handed over a plastic bag and requested she put the meat straight into the bag as it was leaking.

Simple task? NOT

the meat is slid down the belt, handeled, passed to the bag packer who to my horror placed it on top of the trolley, on the cakes and the bananas. Quickly I snatched it, shoved it into the plastic bag and asked her to get some more cakes and banans, not contaminated with raw meat.


Food poisioning.

As I left the shop, the counter wasn't wiped, I told the woman behind me in the queue there was raw meat on the conveyor belt, she shrugged.

And so my battle continues.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

i feel a little let down

Last night I dragged myself down to the club house for the 'spin and win' night that Alex kept pestering me about, there was a Braai and what turned out to be a game of bingo.I heard a few English voices and at the buffet table I introduced myself to this woman and her husband by saying 'you don't hear many accents like that here'

They both looked so relieved to hear another English voice and introduced themselves to me.

After the Braai and the bingo had finished I walked over to their table to discover I had happened upon the ex pat club for Centurion, which to date I had carefully avoided. I didn't want to just make friends with ex pats, but seeing as I was having little luck else where, I introduced myself. The 'leader' of the group said 'you're the one that moved into Kaths house,I know she gave you my number, why didn't you call?'

oh well, too many visitors etc was my reply, but I'm here now.

I chatted with A and her husband. We shared many things in common since moving to South Africa, difficulties with bank accounts, loans for cars etc and lonliness, the American woman also joined in with the conversation.

A's husband told me he was pleased they'd met us, as A could do with a friend, someone to have a coffee and a gossip with. He gave me his wifes number, I called it so she had my number and we chatted for the next couple of hours.

Arrangements were made for me to go to their house the following day, I'd told them my husband was away for 2 weeks and as they had 2 young kids and mine were easily entertained with the TV and could be left at home, we could meet anytime next week also to do things with the boys.

A told me that she didn't venture out for and neither do I really, but then I found out how far she didn't venture out and realised I was way ahead of her in terms of settling into my new life.

We talked about shopping trips in Johannesburg and Sandton, the game reserves for Rhino spotting and various other places I had already been to, that she said she'd love to go to.

So this morning about 11am, I sent her a text to see if it was still alright to come round, no reply, I deliberated as to whether I should go and got some good advise on twitter.

I arrived 15 minutes late, so not to appear too keen, cos really I was over keen, the prospect of having a friend, etc.

The gate house called them to say I was there. 'No sorry they aren't expecting anyone and don't know who you are and anyway their out, will be back shortly'
So I pulled my car over to the waiting area and sat for 10 minutes reading my book, I realised this looked and felt really pathetic so I left.

I went to te mall nearby and had coffee, then lunch and surprisingly had avocado, which I expected to hate, but actually rather enjoyed, had another coffee, moved indoors to the smoking room for another coffee and spent nearly 2 hours reading my book and enjoying my 'me time' (had had a big row with the kids before going out and really didn't want to go back)

I was on the verge of tears alot, but I don't think the book I was reading helped much (the understudy, by David Nicholls)

I returned home...oh sod it, stuff it and got a text message from A.
'Sorry we had to go out, maybe another time, let me know'

I haven't replied and I won't be replying, that's her call to make.
She's the one with the small children, she's the one that doesn't go far, cos she's scared to. she's the one that needs a friend more than me, because i've got you guys and right now I really don't want anything more.

I'd just got to the stage of enjoying being me.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Teenagers and school holidays

My two remaining kids are 12 and 16 and during the school holidays I can leave them in the house to pop to the bank, the shops or even get the car serviced at 7am.

Sometimes I can't leave them in the house together as the alpha male syndrome with the youngest is kicking in, but I trust them to have a key and go in and out.

The 16 year old is usually in all day and 12 year old in and bloody out all day.

Now I'm grateful my kids are older now, I recall the pressure in the family holidays to entertain the kids, mind you there were 5 of the buggers then, the costs involved, two cars where ever we went, but eventually buying a voyager with 7 seats as i could rarely manage 5 on public transport and don't get me started over the cost.

I see despair on twitter and face book at the start of the holidays. 'what do I do with my 7 & 5 year old for the next xx weeks? So I make suggestions, junk modelling, nature walks, sand/water, sod it even let them stay in front of the tv a few days, it won't hurt them.

But what to do with mine, no one ever offers me suggestions for what to do with my kids in the school holidays, but one day you will, when yours are in their teens.

We've been away for over a week, but the rest of the time they have been sprawled over my sofa in front of the TV, there is a permanent trail of biscuits crumbs, coke spills, empty crisp and sweet packets around the house, there's never anything to eat, there's nothing to do, they're bored, just want money which I don't just give them and to do what with anyway, no one is out.

So I suggested a picnic and a drive round the local game reserve tomorrow. We'd go spotting the Rhino or go a bit further afield and look for elephants, tea out on the way home, their choice and guess what?

Muuuuum we're not kids anymore.

I'm NOT weird

I know some of you think I'm a bit weird and some of you actually know I'm a bit weird, but honestly, I'm not.

You see my weirdness is due to the fact I'm out of my comfort zone, what i know and what I've always known and all of this is new to me.

I don't know if this is typical of moving to a new country, because this is the first new country I've moved to.

I don't know if any of you reading this have ever moved to a new country either and if you feel a bit weird about it also.

When I tweet or blog my experiences on South Africa, I've only got the UK to compare it to.

Please don't unfollow me on twitter because you think I'm slagging your country off, I'm not I'm just comparing it to what i know, not saying it's better or worse than the UK, just it's weird.

Not that South Africa is weird, but that being here feels weird.

I'm not being sarcastic when I express concern, interest or sheer shock at what I experience or what I see, just the fact that it's weird for me not being South African to do.

I asked a question to the owner of the awning company...he thought I was weird 'How long do these winds last for?'

I asked a question to the owner of the door company...he thought I was weird 'do they set fire to the veld on purpose or is it just because the veld is so dry?

I asked a question to the agent?...she thought I was weird 'When does spring start or do we just go into summer?

i arrived here in the height of the summer there will be another 4 months of what you think are weird questions...which to me are just all new and exciting experiences.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Flying air france and the airbus 380

No smoking room at Heathrow Terminal 4...I have needs and they would've been met if I needed a prayer room or Muslim toilets.

Anyway we board, no overhead space for the hand luggage, one child with broken arm, very excited to be flying also very upset having said bye to his brother and dad.

Find overhead space for luggage, stroppy cow trying to push past to her seat, they're allocated FFS, back off...walk to seat 3 rows away, air steward or security and safety as written on her badge, calls me back and asks me to move luggage, er why? because these people in these seats need space, I challenge her to find me luggage space near me, bloke in front is muttering to no one in particular about me daring to answer back and says I should have my luggage under my feet.

ha my hand luggage won't fit under the seat in front of me and the air steward asks who's bag this is, the man in front identifies it, she puts it under his seat, orders me to place my luggage in the locker over head and he moans for the next hour about having no leg room.

Arrive in Paris, we are greeted by staff who gather us together and run to the terminal to get our flight...the man is still moaning to anyone that will listen to him about anything and everything..the flight is called, in no particular order, they are only loading passengers on the lower deck, so by now everyone has reached the front and told to stand to one side, the man is moaning now as it means he's lost his place in the queue, again the seats are allocated.

So everyone is seated downstairs and there's about 50 of us left hanging around, the man is still moaning, an announcement is made, there has been a problem with the cleaning cart and the lift door, so we're asked to take a seat while they sort the problem out.

I spend the next 2 hours in the smoking pods with the Harley Davison guys and the man moans for 2 hours. I pity the people already seated.

We board, I have a spare seat next to me, we're served a delicious tea of Thai Green Curry, salad, cakes and wine and I settle down for 6 solid hours sleep till some idiots alarm goes off on their watch.

So you've broken your arm...what next?

Saturday night, your child gets brought home, he's tripped over his own feet, fallen and you can see straight away it's broken...

Off to A&E...where is A&E OMFG...

There's a hospital near us, Unitas, Peter went there to the travel clinic, they must have an A&E, it's going to be a long night...oh wait it's not the UK, we've got private medical care which I'm still not sure how to use, but here goes.

Arrive at hospital at 6pm, Peter meets us there, he was out at the driving range.

Straight in, give a few details, Alex is weighed, blood pressure taken. Asked to go out front and set up a file for payment...

After the previous hassles we had with Dan in A&E and making payments, it's decided I will complete all the necessary paperwork as Peter travels so much with his job, it makes sense for me to recieve the bills and deal with it all.

Now bare in mind it's a good job Peter is there or Alex, aged 12 would now be all by himself, already crying, in pain and quite distressed.

Give our med aid details, ask if they have an account with our providers and will all costs be covered, reassured yes, sign forms...hang on a minute, I'm not signing this...told to cross out anything I don't agree with and initial it...the bit I cross out says something along the lines of 'I accept that I will not hold anyone responsible for any negligence caused by our staff during any procedures and will not hold them liable' feck off.

By now it's 6.45pm I return to Alex, an xray has been booked, he's been informed his arm is probably broken and he may need surgery, again am grateful Peter is here as he'd had to reassure him it would be ok.

By 7.30pm he's been xrayed, it is broken, he will need surgery and to stay in for the night and at 7.45pm we're on our way to the ward...the adult's ward, he's wheeled into a room with two can he have his own room...yes, if we pay for it...I explain I'm not happy with my son sharing a room with a male, a grown up, a possible paedophile, No I'm not being over the top I worked in child protection in the UK, I demand admission to Paedeatrics.

Once Alex was settled, head phones plugged in, I went home to wash, pack an over night bag and grab something to eat, leaving Peter watching Alex, watching the TV.

I returned to the hospital at 9.30pm. The hospital had fed and watered Peter and sorted out bedding for me for the night. Peter went home and an hour later as promised, Alex weas wheeled down to theatre. I was dressed like a smurf, Alex counted back from 10...'3....2....1 I'm still awake mummy' then out like a light...

by 11.50pm we were back on the ward, bone realigned, he wakes, sits up and yells 'it's blue, I like it, I want hot chocolate and crisps and chocolate, my sandwiches, where are my sandwiches, yuk they're tuna, the nurse said they were chicken, where's my xray, I want my xray, did they cut my top, where's my socks, mum, mum'

I was dispatched to the vending machines for his order, he ate, fell asleep and I left the hospital at 1am, the hospital is only 7kms away and I ignored the lights and the speed limit and drove home.

Alex was very pleased to see me in the morning, he'd been in pain over night as his cast was too tight, the baby, the drip, the nurses had kept him awake all night, he'd been given more pain meds in the night and the nurses said he was so funny with the stuff he was coming out with....home by 10am.

PS despite telling the Dr his cast was too tight, twice, we were ignored, and had to return on Tuesday evening to have the cast cut to relieve the pressure after he spent the day with his arm elevated and clutching an ice pack...I refused to pay any additional charges and made a follow up appointment for 3 weeks.

The bills started coming in and dribs and drabs, some were to pay myself and claim back, others direct...I informed our med aid company that I wasn't happy with this, had a little strop (I'm getting good at this) and all bills were paid direct by the time we got back off holiday.

On a positive note

What I missed...

What did I miss not being in the UK?

I was missing just going out, parking the car in town or even walking into town...I never used buses as I got travel sick, but I was craving to get on a train with a latte in my hand from what ever outlet was near by and just plain old walking around.

And when I got back to the UK I realised actually just how much I'd missed it...I didn't even mind the rain as I'd not seen any since the 2nd of June.

I realised I'd missed it still being light after 6pm, the smell of the grass, the noise of the traffic, the variety of shops and the range of products and mustn't forget the free wifi.

Who's your support network?

When I had my kids I lived in a small village in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Ive just turned 40 and my kids are 19, 16 and 12...I also have 2 step kids aged 23 and 22.

At the time I'm talking about I only had two children they were newborn and aged 2, I moved away when they were 10 and 7 and had another child aged 2.

I joined a local playgroup, saw the health visitor at clinics on a regular basis, took turns to have friends round with their kids, went to play groups, met up for picnics in the parks, bike rides etc, the kids went to nursery, preschool and school together, with the same group of people for the 8 years...a few new people moved to the village and joined the same groups and a few moved away.

We all helped out at the school with fundraising and fetes, at church groups, cubs and brownies and the local football team.

Yes there was a clique, there was the one with the foul mouth, the one who let their kids run wild, the one that had an affair and split the village, the one that had a bit more spare cash than the rest of us and the odd falling out about who's child started it.

But on the whole it was good, I'd even been to school with 2 other parents in a different town, there were nights out, tears and endless babysitting.

We were all a similar age, from similar backgrouds and similar experiences. It wasn't idylic but it was fun.

Do you have this? This was 1995-2002, I didn't get a mobile phone or the internet till 2000.

I wish it was still like this, today when you have a baby you reach out to the internet for information and advice, breast feeding, what age to leave your kids alone or let them out in the street...

...but when you get your response from 100's of people and experts does it make you feel good, does it make you feel as if you're doing it all wrong or does it help justify your parenting skills?

Remember when you use the internet, twitter, facebook or google you're reaching a much wider audience, you're recieving advice from people that haven't had kids, people from completly different social and financial backgrounds, different ages, countries, experiences.

It doesn't mean that they're right and you're wrong.

WTF is blogging etiquitte?

Sod off and get a life.....

If someone argues the toss with me...and they have and they will again...over my views and opinions, I'll defend myself alright, It's my take on things, it's from my view point and from my experience...

If you have a different view point or different experiences that's great, share, but don't tell me I'm wrong...I'll argue/debate for so long then I'll walk away...if anyone wants to defend me that's great also, but I won't be pimping for support to back my views up...I'm not bothered with follower numbers, comments or who's list I'm on, most of my blogging is for friends to read that aren't on twitter or facebook and they are also forming in part a diary for us of our lives in South Africa.

If people become abusive, offensive or use foul language I walk away, especially when it happens on other peoples blogs...I don't get's not my fight...

If it happens to me in real life I don't go phoning a friend, or drag a stranger into the row...I walk away, so why do people think it's different on the internet?

You'd walk away from someone in the street being abusive so do the same on the internet, unfriend, unfollow. Block them if they are abusive and if they threaten you go to the police, don't stay around to be bullied and threatend, don't fight back....just walk away

What I'd do differently

If I was coming to South Africa now, knowing what I do, this is what I'd do differntly.

I'd get my visa sorted and in my hand before I did anything else...mind you I'd still need to choose a school in get the study visa.

First things first...

1. Visit the country you intend to move to

visit the banks, the mobile phone shops, find out who the car and house insurance companies are

find out what documents and conditions apply to do any of the above

drive around the area, hire a driver if necessary, look at various areas, prices for housing and visit as many schools as you can

get a list of house agents in advance, call them, find out rental prices, deposits

go shopping, especially the supermarkets, check out the cost of things, especailly cars and what requirements are in place to purchase one

talk to people

2. Use companies for the removal of your furniture based in the country you're moving to...they will know the regulations at customs, hidden charges etc..they will use a local agent in your home country that you will be able to communicate with. You need your visa number before they can ship your belongings.

3. If you own a not move until you've either a) completed the sale or b) found is cheaper and easier in the long run to rent a place than to leave your home country without having sorted yours out first, the same applies with all final bills associated with the property, the same also goes with a car, try and sell it as quick as possible or if you want to take it with you, get your country of arrival to arrange this.

4. get your post redirected to a busy person...someone that is prepared to open and scan your mail asap so you can sort any final demands will also need a UK correspondence address for all mail associated with your bank accounts.

5. Make sure if you have temporary accomodation in your new country that it is in both your names, as you will need proof of residency to open up any and every account. In South Africa make sure you have at least one utility bill at your physical address in South Africa, if you choose to have a PO No.

Differences between UK and SA

It doesn't look like anything has changed in the UK since I left in January, but my trip back last week did highlight the differences and all of them were negative...OK so I arrived back to the riots, seriously nothing to do with me.

I'll start with the media...all doom and gloom, newspapers and the TV describing Broken Britian,almost condoning the riots and the looting, with their explanations and reasons as to why these people were behaving the way they did...they have nothing...yeah so what...come to South Africva and see what NOTHING really looks like and the vast differences between rich and see here in South Africa if you don't have a job, you don't have money, therefore you don't have a house to sit in and watch SKY TV all day, complaining how the government and education system have failed you and absolutly no benefits...

People...How rude? and as for queing, the English say they're good at they ain't..they're good at moaning about it, complaining if you're taking too long or if someone dares to push screachingin the supermarkets, parents ignoring them or screeching back, snide looks and heavy tutting, no patience, no you have to queue for everything, for hours, only to be told to come back another day...very few tempers flare up.

Everyone in the UK feels they have a right to comment on everything, yet do nothing about it...mutter under their breath, snort and tut heavily but that's offers of help when struggling with 3 cases, 2 hand luggage and a child with his arm in a cast, the bus driver and the passengers tutting as I try to get on the bus...I'm more than capable of lifting and moving the said luggage, just not in one bloody go.

South Africa is aclean place, I didn't realise how clean till I went back to the UK. I even tweeted Tesco with a picture of the mess outside the front of their store in Newport, all the public toilets weren't clean.

Everyone moans about the state of the roads in SA, the pot holes in particular, but the UK was just as bad, if not worse...the major roads in SA are 4-6 lanes, they resurface them regulary, they don't shut the whole road down and take several months, they resurface lane 2, you still drive on lanes 1, 3 and 4.

I don't know who it was but somesome said the 'whites in the UK were behaving like the blacks'..try being Black here...mind you if you're white it's just as hard...yes there are violent crimes, hijacking, armed robbery, but you don't see fights in the streets, drunken behaviour, people don't swear at you if you accidentially bump into them, kids don't hang round street corners scaring people and preventing them from walking past, the streets aren't full of litter, the toilets are always clean.

Racism is still an issue here, but there isn't an obvious class system, you're either black, white, rich or poor.

Taking kids abroad

I've checked the government websites and cannot find any information or guidance about travelling with kids abroad when they have a different surname to you.

In 2008 we drove to France, via the tunnel, me, hubby and my eldest was 16. Peter stayed on in France for a few days and was flying back after some business and Jamie and I drove back.

We arrived at the port to be questioned about why we had booked for 3 but only 2 were returning, I explained to customs that the tunnel booking hadn't allowed us to book 3 out and 2 back and that my husband was flying back at a later date...OK no probs...but what is your relationship to the child in the vehicle...I said he was my son..why the different surnames...I explained I'd re married...did I have any proof he was my son...I had a scan photo in my wallet, just ask him, he's 16 FFS...eventually they let us through and suggested I carried his birth certificate with me when we travelled again....

...and here lies the son had my maiden name which was changed by deed pole when I married, then I got divorced and to prove he was my I'd need to carry his birth certificate and mine to prove my maiden name, then my marriage certificate to show my previous name, then my new marriage certificate to prove my new name and make the connection back to my sons name...

So from then on I carried all this documentation with me when we flew anywhere...but was never asked for it, the US, Tunisia, Turkey.

When we moved to South Africa we had visas, we'd had to have a letter of permission from the children's father to obtain the problem leaving the UK, but when I tried to take the youngest out of the UK after a visit home last week, I went through the same problems.

FFS do these people not understand a Visa and the process I went through, no one anywhere tells you to carry all the above mentioned documents when travelling abroad with kids. They finally let us through in immigration at Heathrow, but advised I carried his birth certificate on the next visit...which still wouldn't prove he was my son, just that I had his birth certificate.

No wonder I'm ill

After an emotional good bye to my 19 year old in the UK last week and a minor car crash (was stationary at lights with handbrake on and a BMW drove into the back of me, in Mother in Laws car)a long delay in Paris in the middle of the night, I arrive back to South Africa to collect the car which Peter had valet parked for me when he flew out to Cape Town.

I got mugged at the door by Dan for his spoils, slept longer than I wanted in the afternoon and finally got back to sleep past midnight.

On Friday I couldn't find my car keys, Peter had put them somewhere safe. I collected Peter and his colleague from the airport Friday evening, stopped for a meal on the way home and crawled into bed at midnight (again)

Saturday morning Peter goes to golf, I'm not feeling well, tummy ache and feeling sick. I try to start the car to go food shooping, having located the keys, and the battery is dead...great..I call OUTsurance breakdown to be informed I only have 2 free call outs per year. So Dan and I attempt to bump start the car, but we can't get it up the slope in the garage. Peter and colleague get home we try jump starting it, no bloody luck so we give up.

Sunday night I drop Peter off at the airport, I've been able to drink but haven't been able to hold down any food. I have an emotional drive home as I won't see Peter now for two weeks, collapse into bed, but unable to sleep.

Managed some lunch today and was promptly sick. the neighbours came round to offer some help with the car, but I've called the garage and they're sending someone out. I broke down. Told them about the bump last week and they've made me an appointment with the chiropractor and will take me later in the week.

The garage get the car started, I'm low on fuel, go to get fuel discover I've a flat tyre, drive to the tyre place to be told they don't have a valve for my jeep, walk to the garage, they call the tyre place who replace the faulty valve, but I have to go back once they get a valve with a sensor in it.

I'm tired, ill and miserable, I've got tea to cook, washing to bring in and a thumping headache...

...but then Peter calls and suddendly I'm feeling better having off loaded and told him off for abondoning

Monday, 15 August 2011

Internet Porn

If I want to see your bits, then I'll ask....I'll google, I'll buy a magazine...
but I do not want to see them on here. I'm not a prude...I just don't do porn...I don't even own a vibrator.

If I was walking down the street and someone flashed their bits at me, I'd call the police (once I'd finished laughing), next person down the street could be a child.

I'd be asked for a statement, I'd give a description of the person (not their bits)

Hopefully they'd be arrested, if caught, and charged.

So why is it different if someone flashes me on twitter, posting pictures in their timeline or even with an @ to me?

Go find yourself a forum where people request to see your bits, when they have sought out this type of activity...

...and stop 'shoving'* it down my throat...

*pun intended

UK Riots

Arrived back in the UK to riots and looting....

The dictionary says Looting is valuables pillaged in time of war...


I have a 19yo and a 22yo both male. The youngest lives in the UK and is training in hotel management and the eldest is in the British Army based in Germany.

The youngest worked really hard in school, managed the 5 GCSEs and has opted for the vocational route rather than Uni. The eldest couldn't be arsed and yet still got the 5 GCSE's and also opted for training rather than furhter education.

They work hard, they have full support from their family, they've caused us concern in the past, mates, trouble, attitude but they know if they want anything they have to work for it.

They are the same generation as the looters, which means by default, we are from the same generation as their what went wrong?

This country went down hill, in my opinion, when Mary Whitehouse died...Where do I send my application form?

At the airport (part 2)

Had hoped for 'Plane' sailing, but nothing in my life is simple. Checked in with Air France to be told we boarded at 6.30pm. I said 'that's a bit early for a 8.30pm flight, to be informed the flight was 7.30pm. A quick goodbye with hubby (no time for tears) arrived at Passport control and OMFG!!!!!!

My passport was fine, scanned and a few questions about when I arrived, my visa status, was I returning to SA?...I was a bit concerned about leaving the country and being allowed back in, but all was OK...Alex's passport was another had been date stamped but he hadn't been entered onto the system. Why the different surname, any proof he was my son? I informed the woman that we had all arrived on January the 19th with Peter and my other son, she made the connection on the system, entered his details and off we went at speed to the gate.

Got to our seats, leg room, bliss, plane moves to runway, taxi's and takes off on time. The screens in front of us are activated and the arse hole in front leans round (there's no seat in front of me for the emergency exit) and says 'your son won't be using the touch screen as I don't want disturbing on the flight' I was stunned, in fact so shocked I didn't even swear at him, he proceeded to recline his seat, making sure he rocked it several times. During the flight he lolled over with his arm and head into my floor space and I nudged him gently with my foot, waking him, he glared at me...I said 'touch screen, now please move out of my space that I've paid for' nudged him several more times till he got the message. The sad thing is, he wasn't interfering with 'my space'. Alex was using the remote control for the touch screen and the bloke wasn't actually disturbing us, but point made.

The seats on Air France have a gap between the arm rests and the side of the plane, making leaning against the wall impossible, the arm rests didn't lift up and when Alex slept in the floor space I was unable to lay across his seat and get any sleep. The cabin crew drew the curtain around their little bit and carried on talking throughout the flight and everyone stood to stretch during their flight in front of us, talking and waiting for the toilet, who's door was opened and closed all night.

On arrival in Paris we had to clear security, our bags went straight through, I was tired, uncomfortable, a little smelly and asked for help from the airport staff with 2 laptops, a child with his arm in a cast, the hand luggage, locating passports and told NO. I was furious when they made Alex remove his cardi, over his cast. I found the toilets, the smoking room, an area for Alex to have a little sleep and then headed to the cafe for coffee, fruit juice and croissants, to be informed we only take notes, not coins. So I find a nice English man, explain I only have British coins, the UK banks stopped my cards months ago for irregular activity, despite telling them I'm in SA and he changes my coins into notes for me.

An smooth flight to Heathrow, where Alex's Dad is waiting for us. Alex ran out the door, leapt up into his Dads arms, having last seen him in December and made the woman, stood by the side, cry.

Back to the UK (part one)

Dan was off to Mozambique with his friend and family for a week which involved a visa which actually turned out to be a quick and easy process considering all the hassle we've had doing everything else since arriving in South Africa, one visit to get the info, a trip to the bank to pay the fee, 2nd visit to drop off completed form and proof of payment and the final trip in the afternoon to collect the visa. At the same time we were doing this Peter announced he was off to Denmark in August, then the UK for a week, Alex had tripped and broken his arm, we were recovering from 5 solid weeks of visitors and I was feeling sorry for myself.

It's been non stop, sort this, sort that, change address, cancel accounts and I've had a hissy fit, a strop and booked 2 flights for me and Alex to the UK for a week. I started packing as soon as the flights were booked, located UK Sim card, scraped up £20 in pound coins, loaded the laptop with films, called family and friends and made arrangements, asked MIL to insure her car.

Spent the day before the flight cleaning the house while Peter and Alex went on a 8 hr trip to take Dan and his mate to Nelspruit to meet his mates parents for their 12hr road trip to Mozambique. Monday all the bedding was washed and beds re made and as I've been told off for chavving up the golf estate, I had to use the tumble dryer.

Alex spent the entire day pestering me 'what time are we going?' 'how long now?' and eventually at 4.30pm we left for the airport, cases cling wrapped, I get a touch of the 'I hate flying' and a touch of guilt about all the money (we don't have) I've spent on the flights, upset about leaving Peter, this will be the longest time we've been apart and the fact that this is the first time I've done such a big journey on my own...

...but what could possible go wrong?