Saturday 31 December 2011


Well Happy New Year to one and all.

It's been a different year from anything I've ever experienced, same hassles and lows. Family, kids, finances, work, study etc and some fantastic highs, new cultures, living in a new counrty.

A few months ago I met Kate who blogs over on

Grooving Mums blog hop was set up for a variety of reasons, but mainly to get people together, mums whom felt they'd lost their way, to support one another along the way.

Each week kate sets a challenge and this week is Resolutions she has asked us all to think about the following:

1. What do I want to change?

2. Am I sure I am doing this for me and not just to please others or to live up to some society image of womanhood?

3.What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal? That would be joining #groovingmums by the way lol.

Friday 30 December 2011

Our first Christmas in South Africa

Too much food.

It’s that time of year where we over eat for a few days, maybe a week. But I’ve been over eating for the past month. I’ve put on weight; I feel bloated and have been suffering with indigestion.
We eat so differently here in South Africa, Hubby has always loved cooking and is very good at it. I’ve not been bad at it but with working full time I would more often open a packet of chicken Kiev’s with mash than cook a meal from scratch. Well that all stopped when we moved here and I’ve not bought a single thing from the freezer or anything in a box with ‘Ready Meal’ on it since we’ve moved here. *ice cream, peas and pizza bases excluded.
We buy far less junk food, crisps, biscuits, chocolate due to the price, individual bars the same as UK but we’d always pick up the offers, buying far more food/snacks than we needed and we’d eat them. There is less snacking between meals also.

No DFS adverts here

There was snow in the UK two weeks ago; it was dark by 4pm the lights on the houses were on, the shops full of Christmas goods, people filling their trolleys, carols, Noddy Holder and generally a feeling of Christmas. But I arrived home to South Africa 5 days ago, it was 30c, we were in the pool, the air conditioning is on and I feel Christmas has been and gone.
But they do have Christmas here, it’s a question I’ve been asked and ‘why not? why wouldn’t they have Christmas?’
Yes there are lights on houses, there is Christmas music in the shops, the tree is up, presents underneath, cards on the wall and the sun is shining and that’s odd. The shops are quieter, there is less panicking, haven’t seen a single Christmas advert on the TV, ‘your child will be unhappy unless they have this......’ far less pressure, far less commercialism and not one ruddy DFS advert.
I asked don twitter if there were any Christmas traditions I could observe and everyone said ‘no, not really’ but I’ve since discovered most people seem to have their turkey on Christmas eve and then a less formal lunch on the day itself of salads, cold meats etc, this is due more to the heat than anything else and I may regret my decision to cook a full roast by the time the sun comes up.
The decorations are the same here, tinsel, baubles, fairy lights, snow scenes. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t different, but I hadn’t really considered what Christmas was like, how it went here. I asked ‘why the snow scenes? Why the same as the north?’ the general reply? ‘Santa is from the north and it snows there so we honour that tradition’
So I’ve hung elephant and zebra on my tree to give it that South Africa feel.

Post Christmas

Well there isn’t one, not in the way I’m used to in the UK, shops on reduced hours, but then that happens often, certain places close early on a Saturday and many places aren’t open on a Sunday.
There are no obvious sales, by Wednesday the shops were empty of Christmas stuff, decorations, cards, food etc...a few shops had some Santa chocolate on sale but that was it.

Public you use it?

There isn’t any in South Africa....that’s what I’m told. Well actually there is but I’m also told NOT to use it, it’s not safe, trains are dirty, overcrowded there is trouble on them, expensive. There is the Gautrain running from the airport to Pretoria and many stops for shopping and entertainment, but we’ve not been on it yet and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve missed public transport, the freedom to catch a train to Birmingham to watch the football, a train to Worcester for work or shopping. Putting the kids on a train to visit their dad and catching the bus back from town if I did too much shopping to carry.
But on this trip to the UK I’ve realised that I haven’t missed it at all, not one bit. My first train journey on my UK visit was from Gatwick to St Albans, OK granted it was 7am and travelled through London, yes it was going to be busy, but it was over crowded, I stood up for the 90 minutes it took, stopping at many places to pick up even more people. I had two cases, it was hot, people were shoving their way on and off and people were narky with me for taking up the room. No one said anything directly but there lots of comments behind my back.
The next train I caught was from Reading to Newport. I had a seat; there were TV screens, like on an aeroplane, £1.73 per journey and a good selection of programmes. It was a cleaner train with a buffet car. I hate that, you have to plan your trip for coffee to ensure you don’t stop at a station whilst you’re gone so no one can steal your luggage.
The third train trip was to Birmingham to watch the football. I parked in Colwall a few miles from Malvern as there is off road parking available which is free. An uneventful trip to the football, freezing cold, made better by the fact we won. I had a seat on the train, but it was over crowded and a few people were getting narky as they thought they had the right to a seat and not someone else of the same age/ability. If they had a disability or were pregnant and it wasn’t obvious then they should’ve said. Anyway as is typical of this train journey, there was an announcement that the train wasn’t going past Great Malvern and we were to alight and wait for the next one in 20 minutes. So shivering on an open platform, we waited and there was an announcement that the nest train to Hereford had been delayed. We shivered for an hour.
There was one bus trip from Bath to Bristol...£ I found the answer to the question ‘where do they get these people from?’ Seems half the passengers were off to appear on the Jerry Springer show.
I realised I miss public transport because it wasn’t available, not because I enjoy using it.

Travel isn’t easy

After 4 days back in the UK I was in immense pain with my neck and shoulder, same thing happened after the UK trip in August. What causes it to flare up like this? I was injured over 15 years ago and lived in constant pain, medication and numerous treatments from the local hospital; I’d have a few good days at the most. Since moving here the pain has gone. No work, less driving, no stressing myself out trying to fit everyone and everything into our busy lives and the heat has helped tremendously.
But 2x8 hour flights, dragging suitcases, bed hopping and driving followed by 2x8 hour flights and I’m buggered and it’s going to take a while to recover.
Ok I’m now stress free, living in South Africa, no work, studies, and only 2 kids instead of 5, no constant running around for various and many activities. I swim everyday and I enjoy cooking for and looking after my family as a role now rather than a chore.
Well I lie slightly, I’m stressed after nearly a year of doing things on my own in regards to ‘how to live here’ I’m struggling to resolve issues with banks etc in the UK and I’m stressed at feeling undervalued in the job market which has hindered my ability to function properly in this country without constant ‘permission’ from hubby to set household accounts up. But the task of renewing things this year is less daunting as I know how and where to get these things done at least.
But 3 weeks in the UK and my stress levels were sky high. Why? Trying to accommodate everyone. I take too much on, try to do too much, OK I’ll leave YOU out from my visit...oh you didn’t mean that did you?
I found UK driving stressful, most of my trips were at the end of the day in the dark, I’d forgotten how dark it was, street lights run out when you leave the town and many major roads don’t have them either, long journeys after a busy day. I struggled with headaches, tired eyes and stiff neck and back. It’s a chore I haven’t missed. I drive here, but apart from a day trip, its short local visits and I rarely drive at night here.
Each place I visited fed me, wanted to know about our ‘exciting’ lives in South Africa, they obviously don’t read my blog then, it’s mundane, it’s routine, I didn’t object but I found it different to inject something new into it and I tired of saying the same things.
I want/need to connect to the internet, use the phone, speak to hubby, followed by a long soak in the bath and a steaming mug of tea, chill in my pjs after a long day and a comfy bed, but that would be rude so I keep on going.
The there is the shopping and gifts, which to my dismay aren’t going to fit in the suitcases (they did in the end, but left little room for me to buy things) I’d forgotten how unfriendly the UK was, it was crowded, people were rude, pushing and shoving, tutting and complaining about the queues, banging into you with their shopping bags without so much as a sorry or a sideward’s glance.
I wanted/needed light and space. The UK was dark, I know it was winter but on one day I glanced at my watch thinking it was nearly 5pm but it was only 1.30pm, in the afternoon.
I missed my family and friends, but I didn’t miss my old lifestyle, I was ready to go home, I just needed some space.

Everything is arse backwards

Every house I stayed at in the 3 weeks back in the UK was different. I ran the hot tap but cold water came out, ah yes, new house, different taps, some taps even turned the wrong way, on some the H and the C had worn away so it was guess work.
There was liquid soap, bars of soap or no soap. My hands smelt of lavender, strawberry, mint.
The kettle is corded, cordless, for the stove. The jam was in the fridge, not the cupboard, it was decaf tea, brown sugar, spread not butter.
A duvet, several sheets and blankets, which layer did I sleep under? One pillow, 10 pillows, a brick for a pillow.
I’m not complaining everything was just different everywhere I stayed and I’m truely grateful for everyones hospitality.
‘Help yourself to anything you want/need’ Well I would if I could bloody well find where you’ve hid it.

Welcome (back) to the UK

After the initial shock of how much everything in South Africa cost, I’ve now realised after my second trip to the UK that it’s not all bad.
The initial house deposit , first month’s rent and buying a car was financially crippling, add to that beds, bedding, general household items due to our lack of knowledge and ability to travel further than a few miles to set up everything up.
Nearly a year on, I’m now familiar with the locality. I know where the best places are to shop and kick myself when I see how shopping around could’ve saved us a lot of money, but hey, it’s done now.
I arrived back in the UK the 1st of December and nearly had heart failure in the pub when three glass of wine came to £15 and you should’ve have seen the look on my face in the cafe where toast and butter was £2.50.
A quick scan round ASDA and I was mortified at how much food has increased in the UK. Toiletries are still much cheaper in the UK and the supermarkets all run 2 for 1 BOGOF offers and the competition between the giants does keep the prices low on some items and often my shopping would be dictated by the offers rather than the brand (still won’t compromise on my PG Tips though)

Thursday 29 December 2011

Give me tea

I love drinking tea, milk, one sugar and cats piss colour, weak but don't just add extra milk as I also like my tea hot.
I love drinking coffee, cafe latte (there's no r in it not laarrrte) single shot and two brown sugars.
Cafe Nero understands 'single shot' so does the near by cafe, sort of, they serve the cafe separate from the latte for me to mix myself.
Hubby has an all action, singing, dancing coffee machine but to be honest it's a fecking flaff...grind the beans, froth the milk, clean the machine and it's tastes more like a cappuccino.
I decided to make myself a 'proper' coffee as my mum describes it (she means instant) as I couldn't be arsed with the machine or going out...took one sip, the smell put me off and I tipped it away...I'm back to my faithful never let's me down.

It's never too late to read to your kids

My 12yo is the youngest of 5. The novelty of all things parent wore off by the time he was born. The older children went to gym, swimming and various other clubs. They complained about going, they wanted to come home after school, play with their mates, their toys, watch TV etc not go to some club, have tea, fit in homework and do some reading before being forced to bed too early just cos I was tired.
So number 5 son didn't do any of the above, he's dyslexic, he struggles with reading, he prefers to play on his own, he's imaginative, creative and bloody messy. He pretty much decides when he goes to bed, within a time frame. He pretty much chooses what he wants to eat (was gluten freed for 7yrs due to medical and behavioural needs) and we attempt no more than 30 mins of homework on a school night (tbh there is little homework).
Granny bought him a book for Christmas 'gansta granny' by David Walliams. He wasn't going to read it, he ignored it and moved it from sight.
Three nights ago I asked him if we could read the book together. He said no. I asked him if I should read it to him. He replied 'if you want, but I'm off to bed now' so I read a chapter, he asked for another, he asked me what some words meant and why they just didn't say that'll the first place.
The second night he didn't go to bed till 10pm I told him I was too tired to read, he begged, he pleaded saying he didn't realise there were rules to reading. So I read to him and last night he said if he went to bed at 8.30pm could I read for half hour instead of just two chapters and he's lined up a doctor who book for me to read next.

Monday 26 December 2011

I just want to blow my vuvuzela

So the announcement came on Christmas eve 'closed due to flooding' omg what to do? Cries of 'it's terrible' 'there's a shame' 'what are they going to do about it?' ' it happens everytime it rains'
So they worked hard in Christmas eve clearing up the debris, ensuring that boxing day all was reopened and people wouldn't be upset, people could have their lives back.
This morning I went for a walk, I heard comments 'it's such a shame' 'it's been ruined' 'this shouldn't be allowed to happen in this day and age'
So what has been affected? Why do I want to blow my vuvuzela?

It's a bloody golf course, that's all. What about the rain in the townships? Don't they get flooded? Don't people there lose more than just one day of leisure?

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Grooving Mums week 12, 13 and 14

Well firstly, thanks for reading my weekly grooving mums post, actually this week its 3 weeks into 1 as I've been travelling round the UK.
Grooving mums blogging, inspired by @netcurtains or, isn't about recovering ypour groove, it's about meeting people for what ever reason are at the same stage in life as you are. Something has happened (emigration in my case, depression, new baby, death, divorce, health) and something needs to be done to recover the groove,get back to where you once before or change directly completly.

week 12
1. How is your health? Is there a niggling problem that you are avoiding bringing to the attention of your GP? Are you up to date with your smear test and other matters? How can you ensure that you are in tip-top form before the stress of Christmas hits?

My health is good, a few problems earlier in the year with my teeth and a minor car bump (not my fault) which agrivated an old neck injury, but otherwise good.

2. What does the concept of freedom mean to you? Do you have enough or do you sometimes feel hemmed in with your various responsiblities? When are you cut a bit of slack by your family, friends and colleagues?
Freedom is a difficult one for me, living in South Africa personal safety is a big issue and I’m grateful we live in a security estate around a 18 hole golf course. I miss the freedom of being able to work, but not the actual work and I find it very frustrated at having to ask for money from my husband.

3. Laughter Therapy – Can you do something this week that will make you laugh out loud? Perhaps see a funny film, write an amusing blog post or visit a comedy show? Maybe just share a joke with us.
There has been lots of laughter this month catching up with friends in the UK and trying to pack the suitcases tonight had me and my mum in fits of hysterics.
Favourite joke...Why did the chicken (me) cross the road? Because she saw the Zebra crossing.

4. Blog Hopping – One good way to make new blogger contacts is via blog hopping. How about taking part in one of the Britmums prompts this week? One is related to the festive season and one is about blogging in the New Year. Visit the Britmums site for more details.
I gave my blog a make over I’ve added tabs at the top and learnt how tagging drops the posts into the tabs.

week 13
1. Get some catalogues and look online and in the shops to identify something for your body that you would like for Christmas. Then tell us all about it.
One of the things I have been shopping for on my trip to the UK is for dresses. The only time I buy or wear dresses is for christenings, weddings and funerals (been to one on this trip). But in South Africa summer lasts from September till May and even te days in the winter are 20c, so plenty of opportunities to wear dresses and several bought (no pics as I’ve packed)

2. Can you do the same for your mind? Perhaps a book or film on a topic that you would like to explore further. Again, please share your ideas with us.
I don’t watch films, I can’t sit still, but I had two 8 hr flights to get to the UK so I watched Harry Potter, The Smurfs and Glee the Movie and thoroughly enjoyed them

3. Light a candle. If you are up for meditation, try that. If not just enjoy the sight of it or buy one of those lovely scented ones to lift the spirits.
I have been given candles and incense sticks by my Sister in Law for Christmas and will be nice to light a candle for fun rather than just to keep the mossies away.

4. Make a change to your blog. Add an image or a badge (The Grooving Mums one is very lovely, hint). Add a disclosure policy if you are interested in reviewing product samples. Give some real thought to what you want your blog to do for you in the New Year.
Apart from the changes mentioned from last week (see above) I’ve decided to 'have a go at this making money from my blog’ lark. Goes against everything I’ve ever complained about with bloggers, but I won’t be reviewing products, not sure what or how, but I’ll let you know.

Week 14
1.Set aside a 3 hour time slot between now and New Year’s Eve which is just for you to do what you want when you want how you want and where you want. Diarise it and try to stick to it and insist on it.
Don’t usually have this problem as the kids and hubby are out most of the day and I have loads of ‘me time’ But I’ve spent three weeks touring the UK and the only ‘me time’ I’ve had recently has been in the car driving from place to place seeing family and friends. It's going to be difficult to fit 3 hours in with them all at home till January 11th, but to be honest I've spent so much time on my own that I actually want to be with the family at the won't last long.

2. Think about one element that has never featured in your Christmas Day and see if you can incorporate it. It might be going for a walk, breaking with tradition, attending a church service, buying a gift for yourself, you get to decide but just do something different.
Well, again, life in South Africa will involve a Braai, out door cooking, a dip in the pool after lunch and wearing a dress sitting in the garden drinking wine at sundown.

3. What can you do to honour a good cause this Christmas? Could you set up a standing order for your favourite charity? If money is tight, can you give your time in some way either to an organisation or to an individual who might appreciate a friendly word or visit?
I’ve been involved in the @sant shoebox appeal and finally @thebabyhouse has got their first children who will be in a safe home for maybe the first time in their lives and I have been collecting clothing to take for them for Christmas.

4. This post is part of the #groovingmums initiative. If you blog, why not consider setting up your own initiative that brings bloggers together?
I’m hoping to promote the parenting teens area of my blog, I’m fed up with all the ‘mummy’ advice for young children, the question of co-sleeping and breat feeding etc, these children will grow into teens and the blogs will develop, but in the meantime, mine are teens now, so as there is little advice around for me, I thought I’d develop some for others.

5. Buy yourself a journal or notebook where you can record thoughts and feelings as you start to make positive changes in your life and world. You can jot down inspirational quotations, nice things people say about you or whatever helps you most. It would be a good place to write down the #groovingmums challenges too. Give some thought to what sort of notebook, pretty, funky, stylish, you decide and then share a picture with us.
I have one, it’s my blog jotter, my note taker and anything else that pops into my head, even ideas for a book.