Tuesday 28 February 2012

When people just take, I stop giving

Well here we have it, the cycle of depression when Suzanne says FUCK IT, everyone and everthing I've had enough.
I'm not talking about you all, in fact I'm only talking about a small minority and I can't disclose who these people are, maybe it's family and real life friends, maybe it's just people on the internet that I've never met, maybe it's just a mix, but you won't think it's you and if you do think it's you, you'll get defensive with me.

I'm not expecting any comments on this blog, in fact when I blog most people respond on twitter if they want to say something, cos sometimes it's just too bloody awkward to comment, hence the reason why I'm a bit pissed off.

As in time honoured tradition when Suzanne gets down, no one knows what to say, so they say FUCK ALL, it's for the best, I'll only jump down their throats and scream...'what the fuck would you know?' followed by 'you think you've got problems?'

Well I have problems also, 'good old Suzanne can always be relied on to say/type the right thing at the right time' and when you're down you'll either think 'that's nice' or you're too down to even take it in.

But when things perk up, even if the fog lifts, even if it's just for a day, it would be really nice of you to acknowledge, good old Suzanne and not galivant off with your real/other friends and then come bouncing back to me when they can't cope with you when you're down.

It would also be nice if you could consider why Suzanne is supportive, has she had similar situations? Is she feeling the same way right now?

I say when things go wrong, but no one knows what to say to me, you see 'it's different for you, Suzanne we don't know what to say or how?
Well I've not lost a loved one, I'm not in a violent relationship, I'm not suffering with PND, I have a lovely husband, 2 fantastic kids with me and money to spend. I'm not hard done by, by anyone else's standards.

But I left 3 kids in the UK, that makes me sad. OK they are all adults now, but they're still my babies and yes I know it was right to let them fly, but they'd all left home aged 18 a long time before we emigrated. They still need their mum and when they do ask for help, which is quite often, it hurts that I can't be there for them....no my magic wand never worked when we were all in the same country anyway.

I've lost my freedom and my independence, my ability to work and yes I know I'm going on about it, non bloody stop, but like PND it doesn't just go away because someone tells you to get over it. I am adjusting and getting used to it and yes with time I'll get over it and move on.

So please, say anything, just something, make me laugh is always a good one and remember I'm down, but I make time to comment, it would just be nice when you're feeling a little better that you realised the support you have, the understanding and the friendship that you have from me and not ignore my efforts.

if my efforts aren't wanted then I'll stop wasting my time, if you don't tell me either way, I'll just carry on and sometimes I get hurt.

Where's my change?

I have a bill to pay. R817.33 (eight hundred and 17 Rand and thirty three cents) So I take 8 x R100 and R10 in notes, then add to it 7x1 Rand coins, 20 cent coin, 10 cent coin and now what? The smallest demonimation of coin here is 5 cents. So I add the 5 cent coin. There is a stare off and the cashier hands me back the 5 cent coin. Does anyone know why they price things at 99 cents or produce a bill with 33 cents in it, when they don't have the currrency to give out change?

Saturday 25 February 2012

I guess we're just not that important

Now before you go getting all indigent with me and start saying 'what about......? what I'm trying to say here, is that life moves on. Moves on for those who leave and start new lives and moves on for those that have stayed behind.

Yet you haven't choosen to stay behind in the same sense we've chosen to move on. We haven't moved on because our lives were boring and going no where, we moved on because we were given an opportunity, we didn't seek it, we weren't being brave taking such a big step, someoone called us and said 'hey do you fancy living and working in South Africa?'

So we set off 4 months later on a new advventure, no expectations, some big disappointments, a lot of upheavel and many, many tears.

At first contact with home was vitle, post, internett, phone calls, we craved it, we encouraged people to write, we sent gifts as an incentive to get replies and we just plain gave up on some people. We have been pleasantly surprised by others with the time, effort and finance to make us feel like we are still part of their lives and still of importance and value in their lives and you just don't realise how much we appreciate and love you all.

It only neeeds too be a post card, a tweet out of the blue to say 'how you doing?' a messaage on facebook where you've contacted me first, rather than me having to say 'hi' all the time or a box of pg tips for that little touch of home.

I know many more of you have written and I have no idea where this post has got to and I discovered in December back in the UK that a lot of you thought I couldn't be arsed to reply and made an effort to contact me via email.

But it's all died down now, everyone has moved on, the excitement having family and friends in Africa has worn off. I'm sure you can find 5 minutes out of your day to reply to my emails at the very least and it only takes a few seconds to click 'like' on a facebook posting.

Our lives have changed beyond recognition now and I know it would be hard for us just to slip back into your life again, but please don't forget about us, we are a little isolated here and I know it was our choice to move but we didn't intend on forgeting about you all, so don't forget us, after all we do make an excellent holiday destination.

Thursday 23 February 2012

What season is it?

Well here in South Africa it is coming into autumn and in the Uk it is nearly spring, simple, you still with me. But I'm struggling with it all, as it's February, summer can't nearly be over can it, it's February, I should be looking forward to the warmer months. It's nearly Easter, that means spring, new life etc etc chickens, bunny rabbits, spring lambs springing, clocks springing forward and lots of chocloate eggs. Ok so we have Easter here but that's in the autumn, leaves falling off the trees, dark night looming, winter on the horizon, clocks going back, halloween and bonfire night. But there's no halloween and bonfire night here in autumn because that now happens in spring. The clocks remain the same all year, sun set and sun rise varies by an hour or two and spring only lasted one day, it was on the 1st of Septmeber this year, autumn was merely a few weeks. It's not cold in the winter here in the day and it never rains, but it does drop to freezing over night...did you know that? There may be a dew in the mornings but there's no ground frost and I've heard talk of snow in the winter but not seen any here yet. The reason I'm confused is because of my dining room table..yes you heard me right...It's themed or rather I'm trying to theme it. First there was christmas and what's it doing in the summer and why is my birthday now the middle of winter?
Then there was valentines
But what do I do for Easter? I need an autumnal theme with an Easter feel. Do you have any ideas? Mind you I'm not sure it matters that much these tomato plants were planted in spring as you would do in the Uk, but now nearing autumn they're just starting to grow.

Monday 20 February 2012

39 years and 7 months

that's how long it took me to achieve everything I wanted in life.

I plodded along from the age of 21 till I was 28, unhappy with my lot, dead end jobs, no degree.

After leaving school and college I spent 3 strange years working for SCOPE in a residential unit. I was 18 when I got there and my salary paid for trips to London to vist friends, drinks in the pub, new/nice/designer clothes, TV and stereo equipment. No plans for the furture, just getting by enjoying being a teen, the lask of a boyfriend was an issue as all my mates had one and it did make social occassions a bit awkward. But then it all happened and I got pregnant, gave birth at 21, moved home as a single mum and then the struggle began.

I always worked, I started studying, City and Guilds, NVQs, even started my teaching degree. I worked maily in care and even in a chip shop to make ends meet. I married had 2 more children and lfie just seemed not to be going anywhere for me. The jobs I did, I did well and I knew I could do better. I got involved in Youth work, I volunteered with Venture Scouts, I worked unsociable hours to fit around my family life, I drove a beaten up car, lived hand to mouth, but I wanted more, I always did and I still do.

There is nothing wrong with wanting more and working hard for it, I just need a kick up the arse.

I met my husband and inherited his 2 kids and a messy divorce and my life got put on hold for 3 years, we then married and moved away, not far, and we started afresh with the 5 children, it was hard work, but quality of life improved and while hubby travelled with work, building his career and salary, I started my studies, joined the PTA, got involved with the local football club, net worked and made friends. I worked as a nanny for two years, I supported children in school with autism, I worked in a local secondary school and I studied on top of that, until finally I got a job as a lecturer at the local college, teaching life skills, managing finances, customer service, training adults to work as teaching assistants and finally securing my first step on the career ladder working for the local FA as a child welfare officer.

I continued to study for the next two years, we now only had 3 children at home, I networked, I took over with the running of the football club. I got to work away and stay in hotels on occassions, finally craving some me time.

For the first time in 39 years and 7 months, I was happy for me. I've always been content with my family life and the kids, little darlings that they are and yes we've had many and our fair share of ups and downs, but it took me along time to gain something for me.

January last year, it all stopped, abruptly, overnight when we moved here. This time however I don't know what to do to get it all back. I can't work due to government restrictions, I don't have the freedom for wandering around and joining in things, especially as most expat group members work so all events are evenings and that means driving in the dark, which living here is not the wisest of ideas.The 2 remaining kids are 13 and 17 so hardly going to the park or bumping into other people with kids which is always a good way of making new friends.

So I need to find a way of reinventing myself, of discovering who/what I really am when I'm away for the social norms that I grew up with.

You go to school...yep done that, you obtain higher qualifications...yep done that also...you marry, have kids, get some me time, spend time with your partner as the kids get older, have holidays togther, prepare slowly and wind down for retirement.

But does anyone have any ideas as to what I can fill my time with between now and retirement age please? for the next 19 years and 5 months.

Sunday 19 February 2012

How to spot an expat?

We are the ones in Pick and Pay that yell 'kids they sell hula hoops' that stockpile the Dr Pepper from the Spar.

We get family and friends to post over home comforts and we tweet in despair when we run out of tea.

All gifts sent home are souvenirs. Parents houses are full of 'local' tea towels.

We exclaim 'how much?' at all the cadbury chocolate and verge on becoming alcoholics at the low price of spirits and wines.


1. I play the clarinet
2. My name is Suzanne, but I once owned a chicken called Ruby
3. I love camping
4. Pot noodles make me sick
5. I love rearranging the house
6. I have a Blue Peter badge
7. I can't sing
8. I always have my toenails painted
9. I'm actually a very sensitive person
10. I miss going to watch Birmingham City play each week

Friday 17 February 2012

Unbelievable parenting?

A good few years ago, I drove my friend, her daughter and daughters best friend to the bowling alley in Newport. On route we picked up the girls 'boy' friends, they were all aged 14.

On arrival in Newport one of the boys gave me an enverlope containing a tablet which he stated he must have at noon. 'Oh I say, is it a antibiotic?' he replies 'no, it's ritalin, I've got ADHD and as long as YOU give me my medication, I'll be fine.'

Now to me that is NOT acceptable, you DO NOT send a child off with people you hardly know without imparting information like that.

There was another time at one of the kids birthday parties, I know the children, all 30 of them, were aged between 5 & 7. All dropped off by parents, some didn't even show their faces. At the end of the 2 hour party one parent said 'was ..... ok as i forgot to leave his inhaler, he's got bad asthma' and another asked if their son had been OK as he had recently been diagnosed with eplipsy.

OK, OK, OK I happen to know what to do if someone is epileptic and has a seizure and fortunatley my teaching background is Autism and ADHD, but it is very wrong of a parent NOT to mention this, when trusting your child into their care.

Today I get a phone call from school, I'm supposed to be having ..... to sleep over for the weekend. Nope not happening, he has his weekend bag and is waiting for me to collect him as his parents are away. Sorry, but the child asked several weeks ago if he could stay over and I said 'here is my telephone number, your parents have to call me first and I will need your medical aid number. (I'm not prepared to pay for a child who injures himself then have the difficulty of claiming the money back from the parents)

The child's parents never called me, yet they sent their son to school this morning, knowing they would be away for the weekend without calling me to check it is ok. The child did stay over for one night last year after he fell out with the child he was staying with while his oarents were away and turned up at our house asking to sleep over. He gave me his parents number but they failed to reply so I went to see the people he was supposed to be staying with to discover they had gone out and left this child. When I finally got hold of the dad, he told me he was away and as long as his son stayed in the estate till Friday he didn't mind where he slept.

My son and his friend are 12/13.

I polietly informed the school that the child was currently their responsibility, they agreed with me in reagards to my reasons for the child not sleeping over.

Now the big Q's... Would/Do you inform other parents of a disability/illness/physical or medical need when dropping your child at a party?

Do you insist on meeting the parents or at the very least speak to them on the phone before allowing a sleep over?

My other son has a friend sleeping over tonight...the parents sent a SMS/Text to confirm I was aware of these plans...they are both 17.

Thursday 16 February 2012

I have new skills to offer, but I do require payment

This morning I emailled my CV to a relocation firm here in South Africa. My back ground is teaching in Special Needs and family support as well as two years spent as a Child Welfare Officer with a large sporting organisation.

All the skills I've gained over the years through work and studying were all put to good use with relocating our family to South Africa.

I'm pimping for work and have discovered it's every man/woman for themselves so I thought I'd blog a round up of what I've achieved here in the past year, who knows? at the very least I might get a book deal or even better paid employment in this area of work.

So here goes...

I arrived in Centurion in January 2010 with my Husband who is on a Inter Company Transfer Visa and my now two children aged 13 & 17 both on student Visas. I am here on a visitors visa of which I had hoped to obtain a work visa, based on information given prior to leaving the UK. My Husbands company are in the process of extending the visas.

Prior to our arrival I had not visited the country, we arrived within 4 months of the job offer being made and upon our arrival discovered that apart from a 6 week rental contract in the company name, nothing had been organised for us and there was no support available. Completely unfamiliar with South Africa, I made it a priority to settle the children and within 42 hours they were in school. My eldest was playing football with Birmingham City prior to our relocation and I found a football club for him, TUK's, to train with prior to leaving the UK. The school was chosen for us by the company as they had to have an offer place prior to the visas being issued.

In regards to the application for visas, my Husbands company provided the necessary paperwork for the transfer, but I was left to communicate with the school and arrange for their current schools to access their learning abilities and starting dates. I also made all contact within the UK in regards to where and when we submitted forms, chest xrays, police checks with out any support.

I then had 4 weeks upon arrival to open bank accounts, obtain proof of residency, register with RICA to obtain SIM cards, apply for a loan, purchase a car all necessary items in order to enable us to find a property to rent. We had no telephone or access to the internet in the apartment rented for us, which made the whole task a rather unpleasant, frightening and time consuming process. We further discovered to our alarm, when the eldest child recieved an injury on our 2nd week in the country that our Medical Aid hadn't been properly organised. This took several months of threatening phone calls from the hospital before we were able to sort it out and reclaim our payments. During this time we couldn't get a credit card or loans (other than the car, which due to the 2 year visa restriction meant a heafty deposit and high payments) all inital costs were made from our UK bank accounts. We did make plans with a UK bank offering all the services we needed but they failed to deliver, including cancelling my bank card in the first week due to 'unusual' activity.

After finally renting a property, I then had to find out how to get the water and electricty connected, telephone line and internet installed along with DSTV and sort out car and contents insurance. My husband was travelling abroad during this time and due to me not having proof of employment this was a difficult and long winded affair. We also had problems with customs in regards to releasing our container and this involved trips to SARS with additional release papers that the UK agents had failed to comply with. There were issues in regards to additional payments and with persistance and many visits this matter was over come and our furniture was only delayed by 2 weeks. However, during this period items were needed to be purchased which meant going places during the day unaccompanied in a foreign, unfamiliar and dangerous company to obtain.

It wasn't until April/May last year that I then turned my attention to Doctors and Dentists, familiarising myself with the Medical Aid, how to call an ambulance which hospitals, doctors, dentists met the payment requirements for the Medical Aid.

Now a year on I have started to build a support network, any help I have recieved has been via a network of people in the UK other expats all over the world and people I've met in South Africa, all online on social networking sites. I joined an expat group in Pretoria called Internations, which helped me to get out and meet people, but I've yet to meet anyone that has been in a similar situation. Everyone I've met to date has had help with all of the above to the extent that their companies include utility bills as part of the rental payments and cars and cells phones and medical aid cards have been handed over on arrival. Also most expats are not paid in local currency meaning that they still have credit history in their original country.

I feel now that the time is right for me to start to look for employment, I had intended to continue with my UK studies, but this impossible with sorting out all of the above and distance learning required the use of the internet which, other than 3G on mobile phones, we were without.

I feel that my ability to do the above has come from my sheer determination to succeed and to make a life for my family out here. My skills from my previous employment have been used to their fullest, communication, organising, negoitiating, overcoming hurdles have been best tested in this area of my life. My ability to remain calm and focused in some of the most difficult of situations has paid off and has enabled me to be very familiar with Centurion, Pretoria and most parts of Jahannesburg. Within 3 weeks I was driving after dark for football training, locating government buildings, improvising, adapting everything I know to help me be understood in such a different culture.

The biggest battle I face and still struggle with is the feeling of lonliness, lack of employment and a social life, which I feel should have been addressed on our arrival in order for me to have met people to have been offered support in regards to settling here. A simple list of properties to view, doctors, dentists an appointment to have the Medical aid explained, contact numbers for the municipality departments, telephone, internet, recommendations for car insurance companies, tourist leaflets on places of interest and more importantly a contact person in case of emergency especially when our eldest was injured and again when the youngest broke his arm and required surgery in July.

Having achieved all of this and alone, I feel I am in a good position now to offer support and guidance to other families relocating to South Africa and I would like to use this knowledge and experience to gain employment in this field.

I look forward to hearing from you and to potentially discuss a way forward.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Dear people of South Africa, why did you treat foreigners like this?

This is typical of everything I've tried to do in this country. Whether it is the water and electricty, opening a bank account, registering at the Doctors, I'm made to feel stupid and of no value whatsoever.

You may as well send me to the moon and speak in Chinese.

Today I went for my 3rd visit to the Vehicle test centre to apply for my sons Learner's Licence.

Let me tell you about visits one and two first.

1st visit

From experience I know that when you apply to do anything here, they will assume you are South African and tell you what a South African needs to do, what forms to fill in and what to bring back with you. So I go and say nicely 'Hi, I'm from the UK, I now live here in Centurion, my son is 17 and would like to apply for his provsional driving licence' BLANK FACES So I rethink what I've just said, after all I'm the foreigner, I only know how to say things the way I've learnt so I adapt and say 'my son would like to learn to drive, can you tell me what I need to do?'
'OK' says I,' but he is not South African, I know you will ask for more than that when I come back'

2nd visit

'We are not South Africa, I explained what I needed and why, please can you help me'
So I'm given the correct forms, told what I need 2 x passport photos, copy of ID (passport and visa)

3rd visit

'OK, this is my 3rd time here, I've asked, I've explained, I'm British, not South African'
Explains whole bloody thing again, given form to fill,
'but this form is requires me to provide receipt for purchase of vehicle, my son does not have a vehicle'
'What is Watloo, where is Watloo?'
'Where?' I don't understand you, I want to speak with a supervisor
'Do you think they will stop being busy if I shout?'
*Cue laughter from South Africans behind counter and in the waiting area
So I approach a guard in reception and ask to speak to the manager.
I speak with a woman behind a glass window, she tells me

I'm in floods of tears now 'please tell me where/what Watloo is?' her reply was laughable and with that I stormed out

A woman in the car park sees my distress and tells me Watloo is north of Pretoria, it is an area and gives me directions.

I still don't know what forms I require to go there or even why, when my son doesn't own a car, I guess he needs permission to drive here, silly me for thinking a Learner's Licence would be it.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

What's new this week as I work on being a groovymum

How to be a Groovy Mum

Kateonthinice describes what a Groovymum is missing over on http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/how-to-be-a-groovy-mum/
Take a look if you fancy joining in.
I did back in Septembher when I felt something was missing from my life, and that something was work, how do I compensate for not working for the 1st time in 20+ years. It's not easy, I felt part of my identity had gone. I'm trying to reinvent myself, it's a long process (been a year already) and it's getting there day by day.

I'm finding things a bit negative at the moment, so I'm going to ignore those thoughts and only focus on the positives from this week.

This weeks challenges from Kate are as follows:

1. Body – What are you looking at? What can you see differently? On a practical level, how is your eyesight and eye health?


2. Mind – How is your mental health? Are you stuck or if you think really hard, can you find ways to improve things for yourself? What can others do to help you?


3. Spirit – What memories are you making? What would you like your legacy to be?


4. Blogging – Do you think people miss you when you don’t blog? What can you learn from that?


5. Special Days – Valentine’s Day is a week away. Do you acknowledge it? How do you show love on that day or all year round? Who loves you?


6. The Big Question – This is the challenge that is supposed to help you to reflect deeply. This week’s is …

What good are you doing?


So that's my Groovymums for this week, nothing new to challenge myself with, but much more positive than the past few weeks

Sunday 12 February 2012

Why teenagers gets stroppy

Have you noticed when you ask a teenager to do something that they always have to do something else first, like finish/save a game, go to the toilet or just send an important BBM.

Well here's why, according to my kids. It's what I do.

Whenever they ask a question or want something I usually reply 'what now?' or 'now, in a minute' I have to fund the remote to mute the TV so I can hear them, or go to the stairs to hear them repeat again.

I've explained a million times that when I'm in the middle of something it's cooking their tea or washing and ironing their clothes, not just doing something for myself.
In regards to having to go to them when they call there is a rule that I know enforce. There is one of me and two of them, if they want something, they must come to me, not yell and shout and expect me to respond.

But the biggest battle/hurdle I've over come is the asking them if they want something or to do something.

You see they will inevitably say 'no thanks' or request something we haven't got when I ask want they want for tea.

So, it's now 'you can either come shopping or do your homework' and not 'are you going to do your homework?' and 'would you like pizza or lasagne for tea?'

This way I'm not fighting a losing battle and the kids don't lose respect for me.

There's no point giving my teenagers an option if I'm not going to allow them to follow through with their choice.

At the end of the day their homework needs doing so why ask them? And there's no point telling them, so make it their choice to do it or whatever it is that needs doing, that way one can issue consequences without losing face and entering into a full scale battle.

This email dropped into my box tonight, can't believe anyone would be guliable enough to reply

From: ADRIANA (qxvlphythh@xleesifhkw.com)
Sent: 11 February 2012 16:40:40

Microsoft SmartScreen marked this message as junk and we'll delete it after ten days.
Wait, it's safe! | I'm not sure, show content
BABE... i guess your not getting any of my email huh? ive beentryign to email u so many times but this dam laptop is such a piece ofgarbage and keeps freezing.. anyways how u been? In case u dont knowwho this is its ME ADRIANA.. we used to chat a bit on facebook and thenI think u deleted me :( haha.. anyways guess what... I got 2 things totell u.. both good news.. 1) im single now.. yup me and my bf broke upabout 3 months ago... and 2) guess where im moving? RIGHT EFFING NEARU.. lol... ur actually the only person im gonna know there.. well 3cousins too but i cant chill with them lol..I remember when we chattedu told me u thought i was cute and u wanted to chill so now we finallycan HAHA! im kinda scared to move.. im hoping this email addy is stillthe one you use and u can chat with me ebfore i get there.. maybe evenhelp me move my shit in...are u still on facebook? i cudnt find ui wassoo confused...anyways im gonna need someone to show me the town andtake me out so u better be around bebe...we only chatted a coupletimes but i remember thinking to myself i wanted to get ot know ubetter when i was single..a nd i thoguth u were cute too but cudnttell u cause i wasnt single lol...ok so more info about me.. well im23.. virgo.. love the outdoors and love to socialize, go out fordrinks, restaurants, movies etc.. travel.. i have a lil kitty namedBOO and i luv her to death... uhhh oh im a super horny gurl too butevery gurl is they just wont admit it. so ilove watching p0rn and allthat.. love sex etc blah blah blah...who doesnt..I really hope we geta chance to chat for a bit either online or on the fone before i getthere enxt week.. i hope u remmeber me and still wanna chill and arentmarried yet lol.. OH YA also.. i need to find a job when i get there..do u have any hookups or know anybody hiring? id LOVE to work in a baror osmehting like that...really anythgin cause my current job is funand all.. and technically i CUD keep doign it but i want a change.. icurrently work from home and well thats cool but i need ot be outmeeting people.. oh wait. i dont think i ever actually told u what idid? hmm shud i......???? ok WELLLL... and dont get all weirded outon me.. i work on a webcam chat community site and i get paid to chatwith people and get naked HHAHA... BOMB right :)? I KNOW.. like ifigure iim horny anyways why not get paid to chat with people and playwith myself heheh...anyways i hope u dont look down on that and NOTHATS NOT WHY IM CONTACTING U RELAX URSELF lol... i actually need helponce i move and i remembered u live there so im reaching out....like isaid before this computer is a complete piece of CRAP and freezes NONSTOP.. ive tried ot send this email to u maybe 3 times already and imhopign this time i can hit SEND before i run into trouble lol..ANYWAYS.. heres the deal....every month natalie (my boss) gives eachof us 3 VIP codes to give out to whoever we want.. so with this code ucan lgoin to watch me at work for free and dont have to pay likeeveryone else... the only way i can give u one of the codes (so we canchat) is if you absolutey DO NOT give it out to anyone else and u ONLYUSE IT FOR URSELF... i only get 3 a month and she gets pissed if morethan 3 people use them so DONT SHARE IT MISTER... i figured u cudalways email me back instead but my email account doesnt even let melogin half the time.. so the bets palce ot chat me is my chat room...if theres anyone else logged in when u sign in ill boot them out.. butremember DONT SHARE THIS PASSWORD PLEASE BABE IM BEGGING U.. I TRUSTU... im online most of the day now to try and save money for my move..also since im in such a huge debt already form my student loan :( Ireally thingk we need to chat before i get there and make sure u evernremember me hahha.. anyways ive rambled on and on now and ur probablysoooo annnoyed with me so ill stop now.. im gonna go start work.. ireally hope u come chat me. it wud make my day and releive a lot of mystress about the move... REALLY i mean that....anyways once i see u ininsdie ill shoot u myc ell number and u can gimme yours.. if u dontwanna come chat i understand but its really the only palce to find menow days.. if u email me abck ill probably get it once i get thereafter my internet is setup so about 2-3 weeks fomr now.. but im hopignto see u in my chat room.. rmemeber its 100% free with this code imgonna give u.. just DONT GIVE IT OUT OR ILL KICK U IN THE BALLSINSTEAD OF LICK U IN THE BALLS WHEN IS EE U hahahahha...k babe im outfor now... chat ya soon.. kisses xoxo ADRIANA FREE VIP BYPASS LINK------>> http://bit.ly/zjbsdM

Saturday 11 February 2012

I was disappointed that Soweto exceeded my expectations...

or bullet holes of Soweto....or walking in Mandela's footsteps.

A colleagues of my hubby offered to take us into Soweto to show us where he was born and raised.

We met him at the services on the N1 and he hoped behind the wheel of our car and drove to Soccer City. Such an iconic/familiar sight of the World Cup 2010.

We drove round the outside of the building, stopped for a few pictures then drove into Orlando East to the Hector Peterson museum.

Hector Peterson was a 13 year old boy who was shot and killed on June 16th 1976 in the Soweto uprising, after the government tried to enforce all teaching in schools to be in Afrikkans. Hector's body was carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo (an 18-year-old school boy and a photographer, Sam Nzima, snapped the picture of them along with their sister, which came to symbolise the people's struggles.

Inside the museum there is a quote from the children's mother saying that her son was not an icon in life, therefore should not be an icon in death.
I left the museum struggling to hold back the tears, any child identified of school age was a possible target and kids as young as 6 were shot by snipers.
Obviously as in any war/battle/conflict there are two sides to every story, but this was the people of Soweto's.

We then drove to a Catholic church, Regina Mundi, despite faith, this was the church where all the funerals of the Soweto uprising were held, it is also where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings were held between 1995 to 1998, presided over by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The church was often used for anti-apartheid activities that were banned in South Africa at the time.

The church seats 2,000 people with room for a further 5,000 standing.

During the Soweto uprising, students sought refuge there, but were stormed by the police after tear gas was thrown inside and fired bullets in the church. No one was killed although many were injured and the tour guide was more than happy to point out the bullet holes in the ceiling.

The stain glass windows depict the uprising and the death of Hector Peterson and the church houses a painting of the Black Madonna by Larry Scully in 1973. I'm sure the guide does this with everyone, but he placed me where Mandela stood.

Next stop...Nelson Mandelas house

WOW....going back to the title of my blog, I wasn't disappointed with the house, the street or even Soweto, I had a set of expectations that were much lower. Have you ever been to the Louvre? Seen the Mona Lisa? People tell you it's a small painting and until you see it you can't explain how small you thought it would be...it's the same with Las Vegas, it's big, but until you actually get there, what you imagine as being big, is nothing on how actually big Vegas is. It was exactly like that for me in Soweto so called as it is a South West Township. But Soweto isn't a township any more, the roads are tarmac, their are huge Malls, markets, petrol stations, car washes, banks, in fact there are parts of the UK that Soweto would put in the shade. The houses, yes houses, were smart, tidy, freshly painted, flowers in the garden, it was safe, felt safe as we drove, parked the car. My expectations of Soweto were low and they needn't have been.

Hubbies colleague took us to his Grans house, he told us she couldn't read and write and was determined that her children and grandchildren would have an education and they did including her grandson with a degree and a successful career in finance. He drove us to his Mothers house, she was away on holiday and her maid was looking after the house for the week.

I will be going back to Soweto, I want to go to a match in Orlando and at Soccer City. I shall be taking family and friends there to do the tour (all sign posted) we will have lunch there and do some shopping.

Soweto was a lovely place to be.

Friday 10 February 2012

It's my twitter and my blog, stop trying to tell me what to do

I am fed up of 'social media' experts telling me how to tweet and blog, telling me what millions of people want to see from my tweets and how to organise my blog for maximum reach.

Well do you know what? I'm not reaching millions and neither are they. A few are successful, have books published (please note most are self published e books) I'm blogging/tweeting as I see fit and in a way so are they, but I hate the generalisation of 'people don't like...' or 'people prefer it if you...'

I personally hate it when I follow someone and get an automated DM 'Hey thanks for following, lets keep in touch' I do unfollow if it's obvious they're only interested in numbers or just promoting a business, but after I've re read their tweets to see if this is something maybe a 'social media' expert has advised them to do for the 'personal touch'

Some people are fortunate to make money off their blogs, but setting up a blog to tell you how to make money off it, really gets my goat. Most people get free products to review and I note that nearly all the reviews are how wonderful and fab said product is. Give me a product to review and I'll not write about it as if it's changed my life, I'll just mention it in a relevant post and I'll tell you if it's not that fab/wonderful/life changing.

I don't care about comments, I'm not looking for attention, I'm use blogging for when I want to tweet longer (and BTW if I want to use 'tweet longer' I bloody well will) when I'm angry with something, when we've done something amazing, my blog is a diary to use as reflection of our life in South Africa, a place to share with family and friends, to post (what I consider to be) amazing pictures and experiences.

So if you don't like my blogging/tweeting just unfollow. I have and continue to do so with many people.

And finally #IfIWantToUseaHashtagIWill

And that is my last word on 'social media' experts as I'm unfollowing most of them today and won't be subjected to their thoughts in my timeline.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Enough is enough...no more moping

I've had it up to here with waiting for other people to get back to me.

I've had enough of companies failing to get back to me, individuals letting me down, by their lack of thought, effort and just dam right lies.

But no more...

I've been depressed, I've been ill, I've shouted, I've complained (telephone, email, letter and in person) I've cried.

And today it stops.

I've given up with my complaint against Vodafone for their complete lack of customer care, refusing to respond to emails, phone calls.

I will not dignify Britannia Movers with replying to their latest email that started....'without prejudice' and ended with 'we contacted the agent in the UK, they said they had no problems' so that's alright then.

I'm resigned to the fact that I don't have a volunteers role with The London2012 Olympics (if anything is offered now it will be accepted)

I'm not going to the Doctors for advice and guidance, they can give me pills, refer me for therapy, but they can't take away how I've felt for the past year, they can't magic me up a job (no one can, the laws of the country make it almost impossible for me to work her). No one can remove the damage that has been done to me as an individual from all the above.

It's my responsibility I've allowed these things to get to me in the absence of anything else in my life (work, study, friends)

I will continue with my quest for compensation with HSBC after I recieved a letter of apology for the fact their advisor and literature mislead us.

I will continue to chase Barloworld Toyota for my tyre pressure guage, even if I have to pay for it myself.

I've got out of bed, I've dressed, I've photocopied my passport to take to the police station to get finger printed so I can get my police clearance check and then I can call some organisations that people have recommend and start the voluntary work.

I'm going to sort Daniels provisional licence out, book Alex his scuba diving lessons, Go to visit the offices of Discovery Med Aid and ask them exactly how this bloody scheme works adn I'm going back to UNISA to find out what course I can study that is relevant to what I've already done and to living here. I've contacted the Open University to find out how/if I can continue with my studies.

But first of all I shall start with a cup of tea, after all I'm British and that's what we do in a crisis.

Sunday 5 February 2012

'What have you been doing all day?'

I've got a bit of a temperature, sore throat, runny nose and my body aches. So yesterdayI took to my bed for the afternoon, dosed up on paracetamol, a mug of tea, book and twitter and fell asleep for a short time.

During this time my family left me alone, they watched TV, no arguments. It was bliss.

Hubby called me around 8pm to say he'd made a curry and would I like some..it was delicious.

I had a fitful sleep during the night, was up and down, some tweeting, tea, a smoke.

I woke this morning at 8.30am and hubby left the house within 15 minutes to take his car to be cleaned.

I saw the devestation in the kitchen and I freaked. Onion peel on the floor, curry stains on the work service, plates, pots and pans piled high all coated in the yellow curry stain.

I made a cup of tea, I put the bread maker on and knocked up a sausage casserole for in the week as the meat was going out of date today.

Still feeling ill and very hot, I opted to run the iron over the school uniform so I could then justify going back to bed and resting for the day.

I was ignoring the mess, he'll clean it if I leave it...but I couldn't ignore and despite him not being here to hear me, I thumped and banged every dirty dish in the dishwasher, I wiped down every surface. A child ran to my rescue and swept the floor joining in with my mutterings. I smashed a crystal wine glass, not in anger but beacause everything had just been shoved onto the units and came crashing down like Kerplunk when I moved one thing.

I swore, I sweated, I stopped for a drink...I finished, I showered...I went back to bed.

He came home...I told him I was feeling ill still, I asked him to make me a cup of tea...his response was 'what have you been doing all morning?'

I smiled sweetly, I returned to bed, something was muttered in the lounge with younger son.

Tea was delivered and followed with 'can I get you anything else darling?'

I think I might get him to take me out for lunch.

Saturday 4 February 2012

From one expat to another

My friends husband is in hospital and I'm thousands of miles away.

Skype, mobiles, World Call cards, emails, facebook and twitter have made such a difference for expats living abroad, it makes the world feel smaller, but in reality it just highlights how far away you are from family and friends in times of need.

If you've read my blog or followed me on twitter, you'll know that despite the help we were offered to relocate our family to South Africa that the help never actually materilised. One year on there is a chance we have to move house. No big problem is it really? and I was going to blog about it anyway, but since recieving the news from my friend this morning, there has been many (selfish) mixed thoughts and emotions.

8 days into our arrival in South Africa, we got the call all parents dread, not the first time, but when a call starts with 'there's no need to panic, the paramedics are here' you panic. We were alone, a few parents, a teacher and some of sons mates turned up at the hospital before we got there, but all sorts ran through my mind when the ambulance called on route to the hospital and requested permission to carry out a tracheotomy.

We'd been in the country 8 weeks, I spent the night with a mobile phone on 3G that kept switching itself on and off, using the message system on facebook to rely on updates from my 16yo niece for information on my sister who was in labour and things had got complicated. We had no phone in the apartment, we'd asked for one to be put in, but as the apartment was rented in the company name we had no proof of residency so couldn't get one installed for ourselves. I then spent the following day back and forth to the phone box on the corner, cutting calls short when the lightening and rain came.

Since then there has been a broken arm, a child in the UK rushed into hospital (cause still unknown) a death in the family.

So not really different from many other people is it? and for everyone else a few words are exchanged and life carries on.

This morning I've taken son to school for his cricket match, sorted out the washing, the ants in the dishwasher, drank tea and had a smoke or two. And while I carry on with my normal day, my friend's is suspended. If I was in the UK I would've driven to the hospital at 1am, she knows I would. But I'm here and a 12 hour flight away.

So again what's different from everyone else?

We are both expats, I'm in country far away from family and friends and so is she, in a foreign country away from her family.

It takes a long time to build a support network, you sort of just assume it happens, but it doesn't. We all have people that can pick our kids up from school, rally around with cups of tea, provide a glass of wine and a shoulder to cry on. But when you're in a foreign country it's not quite the same as just moving to a new town, where your family and old friends are just a few hours away, where you can pick up the phone and speak freely (it's not the cost, it's the bloody reception and sometimes it just doesn't work here).

So back to moving house, my first thought was 'in the grand scheme of things' it's not that bad, so what we can move, we don't have to pay for the move, I'm not working it's not really a big deal. But...

...actually it is a big deal, I've spent a year building a support network, lift shares, friends, people to share a worry and a glass of wine with, people who send an sms and ask if everything is OK, who offer to help if needed.

I can't give that all up, I won't. Moving to another estate is NOT an option, my network will go, I won't be able to just turn up at a friends house to set the world to rights. I'll need to be booked into the estate, I won't be able to wander in as my finger print will be deactivated and I'll have to start my network from scratch again.

There's a new movie out with George Clooney (swoon) called The Descendants. The trailer on DSTV is 'just because with live in paradise, doesn't mean to say we don't have the same problems to deal with' I guess that's true and as we've found out, life isn't greener on the other side, same shit, different day, different country, and 24 hours and cost of journey for us to be there for you, or you to be there for us.

Friday 3 February 2012

I'm changing my name...just call me Martha

The secret to being the perfect wife and mother or is it just Groundhog day?

No. I'm not trying to sell you anything, I'm not even going to offer you any household tips or money saving ideas...I'm just going to show you what happened to my life/home/family the day we moved to South Africa...not it's not because of the country or the weather and No, I don't have a maid...I'm just bored, kids are teens, hubby has a busy and demanding job that takes him out the house for 12 hrs a day and I no longer work, study, run a football club, sit on various committees, have a huge social life (although that is improving)... I'm home alone from 6.45am till gone 2pm each day.

I wash, dry and Iron every day.

Hence my back kitchen and yard look like this after 10am every day

I wash up as I go along and unless it's being used, everything is put away.

I cook a meal from scratch every single day (unless we eat out).

Strips of beef, marinaded in Oyster and Soy sauce, selection of chopped veg, and softened noodles of choice. Brown beef (or you could use chicken) add veg, stir fry, add noodles, warm through and serve.

I hand write letters.

I bake cakes.

I do arts and crafts.

But this is one step too far.....I need to get out the house more.

However, laugh as you may, it's that or I'll cry, this is one 'time saving' idea that I would like to share with you.

It's my upstairs, downstairs box.....that's right, put everything in to go downstairs and then after child/hubby has been ordered to take it downstairs and put contents away, it then lives at the bottom of the stairs waiting for it to get filled up again.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Oi!!! Do you want a sandwich?

It's Thursday night, it's football training.

Actually every Monday and Thursday I collect Dan from school at 4pm. I make him a pack lunch as we don't get home till 7pm and by the time I've cooked tea it's 8pm.

I was late picking him up today so he didn't eat his sandwich as he didn't want to get cramp so at the lights at Menlyn just off the N1 on our way home, I yelled out the car window 'Oi!!! Do you want a sandwich?'

The guy was carrying a bin bag ( he collects rubbish from peoples car in exchange for small change) and dressed in tatty, dirty clothes, he ran up to the car 'thank you, thank you, thank you' and before I could drive off he crammed the sandwich into his mouth.

He brought tears to my eyes.

Next week I'll be making extra sandwiches and refilling some plastic bottles with squash to hand out at the traffic lights.

Tonight I am grateful.