Tuesday, 6 March 2012

February's newsletter home

February’s Newsletter
Another busy month, more experiences, new place, people. It sounds all very glam and some of it is, but there is still and always will be the underlying fear for personal safety and although we’ve been exploring further afield, it is impossible to put into words what it’s like to do things that sound so normal when we were in the UK.
We’re starting to make some very good friends and can’t believe it has taken over a year to build and nurture a support network. We nearly lost all our hard work when the company explored the possibility of us moving to a smaller estate with cheaper housing. It wasn’t far away but would’ve have meant we no longer had access to where our friends were making it impossible for the kids to play or for us to just pop in for a coffee or have friends pop into us without booking in at the gate, scanning driving licences and vehicle details.
We are still having issues with the post and it only arrives after we go to the post office, demand they search for our mail, assuming it’s got past customs, and then wait a few days for it to be delivered, so we apologise if you’ve sent us anything and we’ve not acknowledged it. Surface mail takes 56 days to reach us and the only way we can guarantee delivery is if it is sent by recorded delivery and then you’ll need to tell us the tracking number so we can chase its actual arrival to us. Cards and letters marked as ‘printed papers only’ seem to have a greater success rate and anything with your name and address on the back has some chance of being returned to you. The second anyone puts a declaration of what’s inside, you can forget it; it’ll not get past customs.
Not working, studying or having young children is making it harder to make friends. There are lots of activities, groups advertised which we’ve joined but most take place in the evenings and with Peter working it’s not all that safe for Suzanne driving alone at night. A simple journey home from friends in Jo’burg after a meal was a hair raising experiences for us both in the dark. Suzanne has been knitting and has purchased a sewing machine for her to have something to do, that’s how desperate things have got.
We had a fab trip into Soweto with a guy who is from there and now works with Peter; he drove us round the tourist spots and took us to his family home to meet his cousins. We felt safer in Soweto than certain parts of the UK and it was so clean and tidy, even round the market areas and the shopping Malls are huge. We drove round the world cup stadium.

Suzanne ventured off into Pretoria to get her Police Clearance check so she can start to apply for work, but with the law here, unless she changes the colour of her skin and her nationality things don’t look too good. After having fingerprints taken, it was a trip into Pretoria, the capital to hand them in and took advantage of a walk around the city, which is something we don’t get to do here, usually everything is behind a security fence and it’s not somewhere one would go in the evening.

We took the boys camping to Bela Bela, about 90 minute drive north to go camping for 2 nights. Your tent is pitched for you for about £5, which stopped all the arguing that goes with camping and we had access to the water parks for the pools, wave machines and slides with a nominal charge for go karting and the pedalo’s. There was plenty of shade in the park and a Spur steak house and small shop. We were able to walk into the town, built in the 70’s and nothing done since for gas, coals and meat for the Braai.

March sees Suzanne’s old school friend coming out for 10 days, then the schools are shut in April, so we will be going back to Bela Bela and off to Durban for a week. Jamie is out in May and by that time, Suzanne will know if she’s been successful with her application to work at the London Olympics and we can then book our UK trip. Peter is off to Egypt for a week for a meeting and hopes to have a work trip to the UK soon. Dan is busy with his football at TUK’s, his Rugby with school and his upcoming matches and weekend tours. Alex is still busy being Alex and he wants a disco for his 13th, which he’s going to DJ to show off his lasers and music equipment. We are also looking at Scuba Diving lessons for him during the holidays.

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