Sunday 29 April 2012

Drunken Tweeting

Anyone got a clue what i was on about last night?

Answers on a post card please.

13h Suzanne J S ‏ @chickenruby
I'm not even making dense. T nydelf

13h Suzanne J S ‏ @chickenruby
Think I brat go to bed now

13h Suzanne J S ‏ @chickenruby
O ate biltong pm that drunk

13h Suzanne J S ‏ @chickenruby
Want to entertain a 13yo? Get pissed and fall over, he's still laughing and in grateful for spell check

15h Suzanne J S ‏ @chickenruby
Iim pissed, bloody swedesand theit free flplloeingalcohol

What excites me

I had a phone call from my Mum in the UK this morning, she asked me if I was excited about our up coming house move....'No not really' she was disappointed.

It's made me think about what does excite me and to be honest I'm not sure how to really interupt the word.

A google search comes up with this definition
1.Very enthusiastic and eager.
2.Sexually aroused.

I'm not discussing number two with my mother, but yes, that does excite me.

I'm not excited about our upcoming move. If you've been folowing my blog and twitter you'll know that the whole house thing has done nothhing but pissed me off.
A google sesrch comes up with this definition
1. Vulgar.
2. Very annoyed.
3. Angry

I've moved past the angry stage, but yes I'm still very annoyed.

I can't help thinking how number 1. Vulgar relates to 2. Sexually excited

So what does make me excited, enthuastic and eager? In no particular order.

The London Olympics? Well I am excited to find out if I have a volunteers role, but equally pissed that I haven't found out yet.

My son's visit next week...that excites me, I've so many plans for places to go, fab experiences.

My cat...I get excited with her excitement when she sees me, when I call her in at night and she comes running.

Planning...when I'm not pissed waiting for others to make decisions, sign documents etc, I get excited by writing lists, making plans a, b & c to cover all eventualities.

Hubby...he equally pisses me off and excites me...I get annoyed when he goes away with work, and i'm eager for him to come home, so we can get pissed together (both ways as mentioned above and a spot of alcohol)

I'm excited to have made new friends, it's all in the early stages so sometimes I get pissed when they can't make a date.

Post...that both excites me and pisses me off, I've given up now on those that don't make an effort and I'm sure feed back will come soon about how pissed they are because I've stopped writing in response to them not responding.

There's not alot else that excites me to be honest with you, because with every great excitement comes the 'pissed' bit.

Christmas is exciting but I get pissed off with the shopping, the making sure everyone is catered for in terms of who we visit.

The same with UK trips, excited to see everyone, but pissed with the demands on my's not a holiday, it's great to see everyone, but I get pissed that I can't do it all.

i'm sure there are many more things that Piss me off and excite seems that you can't have one without the other.

Anyway....what gets you pissed (not home brew) and what makes you excited?

Friday 27 April 2012

Waiting for the Olympics

Ages ago I applied through my employers to be a volunteer at the London Olympics...I ticked every box for everything and sat back to wait.

100,000 people were to be interviewed from 250,000 applications.

My interview was scheduled for June...panic, family visiting, expensive for a flight back to the UK and 'did I still qualify?'

Yes I did and I still do, despite living in South Africa, I'm only on a visitors visa and hubby on an inter company transfer and I've reassured them I can and will be in the UK as soon as they want me.

I tweeted about my questions and a lovely woman told me I could have a phone interview and gave me contact info so I could arrange it and I had my interview in June. It lasted an hour, then two further call backs to ask if I was available for both games and would I be interested in a leaders role.

The answer was yes and I'm sitting waiting.

I emailed in February and had it confirmed I'd know by April 30th. It's the 27th today, I caved in, I called the UK...nothing.

I have a 7 in 10 chance of getting a role...I need to know as soon as possible so I can start my twitter campaign... needed to pitch tent for xx weeks, in exchange for house work and child care

Wednesday 25 April 2012

More haphazard cooking.

I don't do recipes, I do what have we got in the cupboards and fridge and throw something together.
Tonight we are having chicken and veg kebabs with egg fried rice.
First I marinated the chicken using honey, soy sauce and olive oil.
I then chopped a pepper, an onion and washed a handful of cherry tomatoes.
I put a piece of chicken, onion, tomato and property on a kebab stick and repeated the process till I used everything up.
Bunged it in the oven on 200c for 90 mins.
I boiled the rice. Sautéed an onion in a pan. Cracked an egg on the pan and scrambled it. Added the rice and some more soy sauce. Stirred, dolloped on plate, stuck kebabs on top and ate it.

In search of my Groove

This blog hop was set up by @kateonthinice in September 2011. I joined at the beginning because to be honest I was feeling rather deflated. My whole life as I knew it disappeared over night and other than other expats and my Husband and two teenage boys, no one understood what it was like to move 5000+ miles away from every thing I'd ever know and knew and to start afresh in a country that is famed for it's violence and poverty.

All anyone saw was this Grand house we live in on a golf course, with a river at the bottom of the garden and wall to wall sunshine.

Yes the above did help, but it cannot and will never replace the first year we experienced here, too scared to venture out in case we were hijacked at gun point. Not knowing where to go and have no one to turn to, to ask for help.

But those days are over now, I've made friends, locals and other expats, in fact I met a couple on the weekend, who are not only from the same UK town as us and know some of the same people, but our children were actually at school at the same time, granted theirs are older, but at her house this pm. Another friend, Cheryl (she reads my blog) has been a life saver, not only do we have kids who get on well and are the same ages, but we have a similar outlook on life and I don't know what I would have done when I needed a friend and she wasn't there.

There have been fab outings and adventures and I've seen more wild animals than I can shake a stick at.

We've had family and friends to visit and my son is out again next week. But it leaves me with a hollow feeling when they go, I'm back to being on my own, while they go back to their lives of work, family and friends...But no more moping. I have my wonderful Husband and two kids here, we all have our health, I have friends and although I still cannot work, I can volunteer, which I've been doing for nearly a year now.

So no more me needing to Recover my groove, it's not back, it's just different, my grieving period for my old life has gone and it has morphed, painfully, into a new one. But I will still take part in #Groovymums, it will remind me how far I've come over the past year...and on that note...

"I encourage you to read the questions here and if even one rings true for you, join in. You can do this by linking up relevant blog posts about how you are taking steps to change your life for the better even if in tiny ways. You are also invited to join the Groovy Mums Ning network to meet some like-minded ladies keen to get their lives back on track."

Here are some challenges you may want to consider this week.

1. Body – What new ways can you find to take exercise?

Not alot of opportunities here, without getting in the car first, I've thought about learning to play golf, it's a cure apparently 'all the expat ladies play' but it doesn't appeal, it's not me. I use the gym every day, swimming, and now the weather is cooler I will start to walk around the course after play finishes for the day.

2. Mind – It is Depression Awareness Week. Have you experienced depression? Do you know how to spot the signs of depression in your loved ones and others? Check out for information and support with mental health issues. They are also asking for your stories.
Yes I've been depressed, did you read the intro to this above?

3. Blogging – Did you know publish round-ups of good posts on certain issues such a food, politics, special needs, green issues, health and more? Why not promote your posts to the editors of these round-ups and raise your profile?
I do visit @britmums more often than I used to and where I can't add, I RT.

4. Special Days – This week saw us marking St George’s Day. Is there a dragon that you need to tackle in your life?
Mmmmmmm, hi family,let me know you read this, could do with your help and no I won't be asking, because I know you are reading this.

5. Charity Connections- Get shopping online and hundreds of retailers will give a percentage of what you spend to a charity of your choice. Click here and register for free for Give As You Live with your name and email address. Do it today! You don’t have to spend any money now but it means when you do shop online you can ensure some of the money goes to a good cause. Why wouldn’t you? When you click, you will see poppies because I am personally raising money for the Royal British Legion but you can register here and then when you shop, you can select a charity of your choice.
Sorry, there is no way I'm doing any transactions online over here.

6, The Big Question – What has the last year brought you? Are you happy with it?

Well again, please see the introduction, Yes I am happy, I've laid alot of ghosts to rest, I've learnt to ignore the rest. I've also spoken up and made it clear with certain people, that I am not happy with the way they have treated me and my family (ie hubbies company) and I've told them what they need to do, to help us. They will never make amends and in fact they've given up apologising, but that hasn't solved anything. I'm satisfied now that I have inconvienced them where it hurts, financially, but not to our gain, just to sort out the bloody mess they made. And on June 1st we move into our new house and I can/will finally move on.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

I'm sick to death of being laughed at?

I would like to invite any South African to travel back with me to the UK on my next visit so I can laugh at them for their silly mistakes.

Hire a car in the UK, drive to a petrol station and sit in the car waiting for an attendant to come out and fuel your car. I'd love to see the look on your face when you blast the horn and no one comes to help you. Would you actually know how to fill your car up and as for air in your tyres, well that would be a laugh.

Stand at the checkout, watching all your shopping getting scanned, then being tsk tsk'd by other shoppers as you feebly attempt to pack your own bags.

Wait in a car parking place for some one to jump behind your vehicle to help you get out of a tight spot.

It would all be new to you, you'd assume things would be the same where ever you went, you certainly wouldn't expect to be laughed at for not knowing how a system ( sucessfully for others) works, especially after you've gone to the trouble of explaining you're from a different country.

So why do you think it's OK to laugh at me?

I think it's perfectly normal to ask the garage where you purchased your car from, who you have an extended warranty with, for the price of a service. Don't you?

Well Barloworld Toyota thought it was funny, the service receptionist actually Lol'd at me, then said 'we don't service any other vechiles other than Toyota'

So marching off to the Jeep garage, I explained I wanted a quote for a service, a new Transfer Case Switch (I currently have a turning cirlce the size of a football pitch) and a tyre pressure valve that Toyota have ignored since I purchased the car.
They made me a cup of tea while I waited....what service and no one laughed at me.

How to apply for a South African driving Licence

My son is 17, he wants to learn to drive, having discovered there is no extra cost with OUTsurance I am happy to teach him.

However, it's not as simple as complete form, send it off, wait for Provisioal licence to arrive, stick L Plates on the car.

First we were told to complete an APPLICATION FOR LEARNER'S LICENCE after the where? what? how? we finally submitted the form, sat in a queue, waited to be called and were told, by the same person who checked our forms an hour ago, that we needed a TRN. TRAFFIC REGISTRATION NUMBER. You can read here what happened next.

Finally having established What? Where? Watloo was, where we needed to go for the TRN hubby traisped off to Pretoria, avoiding Mamelodi, to the licensing services to collect the form.

We then needed a letter from sons school to verify he was a student there, what subjects he was studying (WHY?), verified copy and original passport and 2 black & white passport photos. Hubby traispes home with form.

We complete form and gathered letters, pictures, photocopies required and returned with my proof of address and verified copy of passport and original.

My passport states visitor, so it can't be done.

We are now in the process of obtaining the contract for our new address so hubby can provide the following details when they return to collect the TRN on May the 14th, at least they allowed us to submit the form.

All that's left to do now is for hubby to obtain the following information and they can return to get the TRN.

Contract and headed letter from company to verify (full names) are residents of ...
Colour photo copy of passport and visa.

(You will need several of these for address changes)

Take to Police Station to have them verified, also request to sign an affidavit to state that you are resident in the above property and that (son's name) resides there with you on a full time basis.

Change address at bank and ask for statement with new address.

We have to go back to the first place to resubmit the original documents, take an eye test, wait 6 weeks to be informed of examination date, obtain licence, stick L plates on the car and then book actual driving test.

See simple and easy, isn't it....only when you know how

Monday 23 April 2012

What's for tea? Tell me whats in the cupboard first.

Well there's salad and home made coleslaw left over from yesterday and chicken defrosting in the fridge and have a packet of pasta, so we...

Browned the chicken
Cooked the pasta
Melted a dollop of butter, mixed in a dollop of flour
Added half point off stock, slowly and brought to the boil
Drained the pasta
Added chicken, dash of mustard, lemon juice, sugar, cup of milk and heated gently
Served up the pasta, poured the chicken sauce over the top, added fresh chopped herbs and....

Ate every last bit (no time for photos)

We are now baking chocolate brownies

Whisk 2 eggs and add caster sugar
Melt butter and cocoa powder blend in plain flour until it looks right and a tea spoon of baking powder (we couldnt find any)
But they taste and look good.

Why I dont like sponsored posts

I saw this tweet from Brit Mums and it prompted me to think about the blogs I follow.

"@BritMums: Thinking about a blog Spring Clean? Have a trawl through our BritMums Improving your Blog series!"

In case you haven't heard, I've been nominated for the #BiBs, brilliance in blogging, in there GO category. I was rather surprised. I didn't think my blogging appealed to that many people and in all honestly I'm not expecting to reach the shortlist, but who knows?

I don't do sponsored posts, mainly because no one has ever offered and I don't know if I'd take up the offer any way. I blog about what happens, how we resolve it as a family and to generally rant and rave about the injustices in life. Since moving to South Africa, my blog has developed, I now self host and I know how to check my stats and add badges and the importance of tags. I've also started blog hopping have joined many networks and I do advertise my posts more.

I've also ventured further a field and signed up via email to subscribe to certain blogs (i can't cope with google reader) but I'm starting to get fed up with how blogging is changing.

When people write geninue posts about holidays, kids, life and love, it doesn't matter how old their children are, I understand, I empathise, I comment. But with the number of sponsored posts out there now, I struggle to find anything in common with the blogger, the products they review aren't relevant to my family or life and the subject line of the email 4/5 times names the company they are reviewing for. To be honesty it puts me off and as a result I've started to unsubscribe now, my blog is real life and I intend to keep it that way....mind you if I do get down to the last 8, feel free to remind me of this post.

Happy blogging...*goes in. search of bloggers who if do sponsored posts at least review products relative to my family*

Sunday 22 April 2012

It takes a lot of patience to live in South Africa

5 days  after arriving in South Africa. I did my first school run. I decided to take the children to a mall for their tea as we were living in a small apartment and I'd been indoors all day.
We selected one of many restaurants and placed an order.

A white man in his 60's sat down, clapped his hands loudly and yelled at the black waiter 'get me a cold drink, now' My 11yo exclaimed 'how rude'

Unfortunately, this is all too common. Last night hubby asked the waitress to close the door, it was a bit chilly. There were customers outside and the waiters and waitresses were back and forth with trays, it was difficult to keep the door closed. Just as we were leaving a white woman in her 50's screeched at a black waitress whilst clicking her fingers 'I said shut that freaking door, how many times do I have to tell you' I was angry, I made to say something to this woman, but decided not to as I didn't want a scene. I followed the waitress, told her I'd heard what had been said and how and would support her in a complaint, the white manager was appalled, told her to go on a break and as we left her approached the woman at the table.

Now you may be wondering why I've used the words black and white, male and female...does it really matter what colour of skin or sex someone is? It shouldn't really, but here it does, especially when the black person is a worker, living in a township and lacking in education.

Is that my opinion? No, its an observation and all too common. But I understand it, I'm just not ride, nasty or aggressive to those that come from a different back ground to me, be they white, black, speak a foreign language or have missed out on an education.

You see the main language spoken here, the one the government in 1976 tried to enforce the blacks to speak, to make life easier for the whites, that sparked the Soweto uprising is Afrikaans. My gardener and the guy who cleans the pool are black, they speak to me in Afrikaans, because I'm white, because they assume I speak the language, but its not even their language, their are 10 other official languages in South Africa, they also speak my language, English. I don't speak any other languages apart from a little conversational French.

But I don't think its the language that causes a problem, I'm not even sure it's the education divide, it's the culture. How can someone who lives 100's miles from their family, in what can only be described as a home made tin hut, sometimes without electric and water, a dirt floor, no windows and a roof that leaks when it rains, have anything in common with you? Standards and values are different, not wrong, just different.

A few times I've found myself getting wound up, trying to explain myself, to communicate my needs. It is annoying, I do get frustrated, but I've seen others scream and shout, where does it get them? No where. I see the workers shut down, walk away, shrug their shoulders.

I thought it was bad manners when I heard white people asking a black person to repeat back to them what they'd just asked them to do. I understand now why that happens.

Yesterday, I asked the black man at the garage to check my air in my tyres, I told him 227KPa. I tipped him and started the long drive home. At 120kms I hit a pot hole, I lost the back end of the car, fortunatly there was no one else around as I regained control of my vehicle. I stopped at the next garage, assumed I had a puncture. I asked the guy to check my tyres and tell me what the pressure was, he informed me out was 22PSI all round. I'd been misheard, I'd not checked, it should have been 33PSI. He'd heard 22 even he would've known that was too low unless I was driving on sand, but he did what I had asked, he didn't question me, they don't...there's too many memories of aparthid here.

That could've been a costly mistake, but it was my mistake for not checking I'd been understood.

Friday 20 April 2012

Keeping in touch, the old fashioned way

I read a post yesterday on @britmums by @kateonthinice about writing posts similar to other bloggers.

Today I'm doing the same. I read this post by @mummyblogger posted by @mumsnet and after leaving my comment I realised I wanted to expand on this further in regards to letter writing.

I've written posts before about the importance of contact with family and friends back in the UK and the rest of the world. I tweet often about the disappointment when peoples lives become too busy to answer an email, yet alone spend time writing a letter.

I am aware many letters just don't get through to me, due to a postal service that shall we just say can be a bit dishonest.

My disappointment with the number of people I thought were friends, the number of family members who say ' they love hearing my news but have nothing to say back' has been counterbalanced by the love I have from twitter.

I have approximately 20 twitter penpals, who tweet when they receive a letter so I know its arrived and tweet when they reply so I know to look out for one.

If you want to be my penfriend, DM me or contact me on email visa this blog.

I love nothing more than post dropping through the door, I've even been excited to get my bills delivered on time.

Sad, but when youre an expat any and every bit of communication is welcomed and the contents poured over at every opportunity.

Dealing with selfish neighbours on a camp site

This morning at 6.30am I was woken by your two year old, screaming. By 7am you had lost your patience and were outside your tent as the two year old hammered their toys against the tree. You did nothing to stop them.
By 7.15am I gave up trying to get back to sleep and sat drinking tea, reading my book. You offered no apology, not even a friendly smile our a wave to say morning when I noticed you starting at me.
You then proceeded to shout at your child for banging their toy against your car and in frustration you went back inside your tent, leaving the two year old peacefully playing.
However this did not satisfy you, you then proceeded to pick up child and take them back into your tent, where restricted by space your child screamed almost non stop for half an hour.
This was almost unbearable until you and your wife started arguing, you'd let the child wake her up, you should have taken the child for a walk and not woken her up.
At this point my children were awake, grumpy and miserable and decided to take their bad mood out on me. They squabbled through breakfast, argued about the washing up, messed around getting ready and were generally unpleasant and noisy.
Your child had since quietened, your wife was still sniping at you and you sat there starting at us in disgust as it appeared we were the ones ruining your peaceful morning.
Last night when we sat talking after dinner, around 8pm making pop corn without the lid on the pan, laughing and joking and you came over to ask us to keep the noise down as you were putting your child to sleep, we obliged.....tonight we won't.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Don't panic just can appeal the decision

With 5 children, I've had serious fun and games with their education.

We lived in a rural village when the children were at primary school and to be honest, unless every house hold had more than 10 kids, there were never any situation that they wouldn't get a place at the village school.

Secondary school was a different issue and as the time drew nearer we decided we'd be moving. Not to be in the catchment area for the best school, but to take our children out of the country side to a town, near a city, similar to how both me and my husband grew up in the north, him in Manchester and me in York.

We had two in primary, one in secondary, one under 2 and the eldest was in a residential school in Bristol, due to her complex disabilities.

Factors included for moving were, distance to daughter and hubbies mother, both in same area, my parents in south wales and the childrens 'other' parents in the Forest of Dean.

We settled on Malvern, a house next door to a primary school, half a milder from the secondary school. In fact there were two secondary schools in the catchment area and give primaries within a 10 min walk.

We opted to use the two nearest schools, to cut down on our travel as parents and so the kids would have friends near by.

The primary school next door said they were full and that was that, we needed year 4 & 6. oh we have a place for year 4, but not 6. We explained how the older child was being moved at a crucial time in his schooling and that to have him at a different school from his peers, would mean he'd have to make a whole different set of friends after two terms when he moved onto secondary. I asked for the contact details for the board of goveners and without passing them on, the head suddenly found space.

The youngest child also started at the same primary, but it became evident very quickly this school with 450 pupils was too big and his needs weren't being met. Without any hesitation we transfered him 12yo private school in year 2, where he stayed till secondary age.

We realised our first choice of secondary school for the two older boys hadn't been the right choice, the next child went to the other secondary school as did most of his peers and we had no problems at all with the process.

When the youngest reached grade 6, we had the option of him remaining at private school till grade 8, then transferring him to either Malvern college our back into the state system. It became obvious that he want going to get a bursary and the fees would double out of our reach, so we made an application for a small secondary school outside our catchment area. We applied late, we accompanied our application with a letter from the current school, out lining his difficulties and our reason for his attendance at the school. We were rejected. We had not been happy with the other two secondary schools our other children had attended in regards to additional needs and pastrol care.
Our rejection letter came with details of how to appeal. I called, spoke to a lovely woman, explained the situation, completed the form with a letter from the doctor, the psychiatrist and educational psychologist and the dietician all in support of out application and a place at our chosen school was awarded.

He started there on September 3rd 2010. Five days later hubby received a phone call to ask if we would move to South Africa in January 2011 and so the whole process to find another school for the last two children at home started all over again.

I thought I had blogged about this at the time, but discover I hadn't, I worked in the educational system and knew how to make an appeal, I was fortunate to have access to others that could help me through the process.

After reading all the disappointed tweets this morning and last night, I stumbled across this web sure which gives the same level of information and support I received so I thought I would share it with you.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Linking up with # groovymums from last week, I've opted to use challenge number 6 as a way to find out how to be an effective volunteer in Africa. To find out why organisations are turning me away. I have skills, qualifications and experience, but they are just not interested. What am I doing wrong? 6
. The Big Question – what one small thing can you do that will make a big difference?  Take this how you will and in a way that serves you. 

You wouldn't believe the knock backs I'm getting here in South Africa.
I research, computer on twitter and make contact and get knocked back.
I'm not qualified, I'm not the right race, I don't speak the language and I'm not here long enough to make a commitment.
Every bloody day I see tweets about poverty and aids in Africa, every day we are being asked to raise awareness and every day I offer my services. No one asks me what nationality I am, whether I speak any languages other than english our how long am I living here for.
They just tell me they want local people who can offer commitment, understand the culture and the language.
Then they provide me with a link to their fundraising website.

Well I live in South Africa, I'm a qualified lecturer of special needs and life skills, I've planned, developed and delivered child welfare courses, I've trained teaching assistants, I've managed over 120 volunteers in child welfare for The English FA, reaching thousands of individuals, parents, children, coaches.
I have a CV I can send you.
I'm currently involved with @thebabyhouse and @santashoebox. I have time, transport and the will.
So what are you waiting for? Contact me, offer me a volunteers role in your organisation and let me show you what I can do to help.
* I do only speak english, I am white british, but I'm local, I'm here and I'm committed.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

What happens when you google '2011 mens wet speedo contest'laugh

How do people find your blog?

Well I post a link to each blog on twitter and I am a member at Love all Blogs, Mumsnet and Britmums, where most of my traffic comes from.

However people also come accross my blog, usually by accident after searching key terms. Most of them are quite reasonable and sensible, some are just bizarre.

a cage liked fence for keeping toddlers out of danger
expat mums durban
he holds my hand he helps me stand
how hard can it be to move country
how hard can life be
how safe is south africa
the boy that died by getting hit in the neck with a baseball
to get down step daughter agony
woman in bouncy castle
a map where cheetahs live
lion hiding behind grass
teddy bear optician
men in speedos
what season is it
golf ball hit on the neck

But I think the person who searched the following term was probably left slightly disappointed when they stumbled across my blog, don't you?

'2011 mens wet speedo contest'

What search words have people used to find your blog?

Friday 13 April 2012

Something momentous happens tomorrow.

April 14th 2012 is a very special day for me.
It's the day I've been dreading for 13 years.
The planets may not be colliding and the sun may not suddenly burn out for the rest of you, but for me it may as well be the end of the world as I know it.

Tomorrow my youngest turns 13, a teenager, hormones, the inability to communicate, refusal to leave his bed or go near water.

OK so you've all been there, either as a teen yourself or with your own child, but tomorrow I will be the proud owner of 3 teenagers all boys.

Can you imagine it? Do you feel my pain?

My only saving grace is that this period only lasts for 16 days as my oldest turns 20 on May 1st and he's in the UK.

So it's not actually that bad I'll only have 2 teenagers under my roof for a further 3 year till middle son reaches his 20's...but isn't that bad enough on it's own?

*swigs back the gin, neat

Why you need a smear test.

I am aware that a smear test cannot identify Ovarian Cancer but there's no reason not to have one done.

A woman I know has just died. She was 32 and leaves behind a husband and 2 young children.

I used to help run a football club and Sam was one of many volunteers. But Sam always gave that little bit more.

She spent hours begging and borrowing around town for donations for the big fundraising event and when she fell short, she'd dig deep into her own pockets. She qualified as an FA coach doing everything she could to support the club, realising the value of such a club in her local community.

You'd find her on a Saturday morning helping with the teas and bacon buttes and on Presentation night she'd arrive early to set up and stay late to tidy away.

Sam and I were not friends, more acquaintances, most mornings I'd see her pass my house as she dropped the children at school and walked up the road to work. She'd always stop for a chat or wave at me in the kitchen window.

Sam had cancer, she died 6 weeks after being taken ill. The cancer spread to her liver, lungs and heart, having started off as undiagnosed ovarian cancer.

According to her friends Sam was very brave in her final days at St Richards hospice in Worcester.

So this is why you need a smear test, I've had one recently, it's not pleasant, it's slightly embarrassing and is uncomfortable.

But it could save your life and save you from suffering in pain and save your husband and children suffering when you are gone.

Just what are all these blogging awards?

In 3 & a half years I've been approached twice to do a sponsored blog. One company didn't bother replying after they made contact with me...Sainsbury the other was an offer from an independent beautician in exchange for a facial I just had to blog about it. So there ends my PR.

I've joined many blogging networks, contributed to blog hops and joined in with the odd twitter party, but that's it.

I don't like selling myself, compromising how I blog, reviewing products that I probably would never buy, just to earn peanuts and a few free toys for the kids.

So how come I've been nominated for an award in blogging? How did that happen? I'm not exactly user friendly and am often found making scathing comments about yummy mummies (got a lot of hits on that post).

What happens if I do reach the last 8 in my category?

What do I get from being there? What happens if I win?

Do I have to do sponsored blogs? Review products? Sell myself to the highest bidder?

Or am I just confirmed as brilliant blogger which you already know I am?

I'm NOT offering Facebook 'likes' in exchange for your vote.
I will NOT gush and rush over to your blog and leave comments in exchange for your vote.
I will NOT pimp you out or subscribe to your blog in exchange for your vote.
I will NOT advertise my brilliance by email, on Facebook or with an add in the local paper.
I am NOT desperate for your vote, hence no link and this plug on twitter.

You find me, you like what I read, you vote.

Camping with teenagers

Any holiday time is hard work, no matter what your kids ages. When ours were younger (all 5 of them) we spent days on the beach, in the woods, at relatives, in the park, but then they all started to get older and needing higher levels of entertainment and this unfortunatly costs money.

A few rides at the fair ground on the beach, large appetites that need feeding, ice creams, replacement hats, sun cream, buckets and spades, money for the goes on and on.

I don't recall what age my children were when things stopped being free, when an easter egg hunt was eggciting (sorry couldn't resist) and junk modelling lost it's appeal.

But things turn round if you find the right place to go on holiday, if you stop thinking about what you as an adult want for a holiday, as these are the ones that usually cost the most money in regards to entertaining the kids and plan a holiday for the kids, around the kids and then I can guarantee that you as a parent will get to relax.

So here's what we did for 5 nights over the Easter weekend.

Booked a campsite, we only need a roof over our heads for sleeping.
Yes, we are lucky here, it doesn't rain at this time of the year, it's warm during the night and hot in the day.

This is the second time we've used Forever Resorts and will continue to use them everytime. Plenty of washing facilities, clean and tidy. Reasonably priced shops and restaurants. Clean pools, spas, changing facilities and lots of free activites. Tubes, slides, hot baths, wave machines.
The additonal activites zip wires, go karts were at a very good price and were worth the money for the time you spent on them.

Made sure there were enough sockets for kids to charge Blackberries and laptops for watching DVDs on. There is no point going away with teens and telling them they can't have them. Why would you want to be away with teens that think they are old enough to stay at home without you and then ban them access to their world and put up with endless strops? Why would you want to do that to yourself?

So what was there for the adults? Bars (Beer, Southern Comfort & Lemonade R30, less than £3) loads of open space to set up towels and deckchairs, 12 hours of day light to sit, read and sunbathe. Occupied and happy teens. Restaurants with TV's to watch the sports. Camp attendents to assist with putting up the tents and for R20 will do your washing up (bit lazy, not for me).
Peace and quiet and money left in your wallet at the end of the stay, some campsite made bunting and no worries about what to wear.

Fuel R 700 4x4
Campsite R2300 High season
Food R 600 Meat for Braai,salad, bread, pasta Sundries R 600 go Karts, ice creams, drinks

Total holiday cost R4200 (£340)

*This blog post has not been sponsored, I've just been so impressed, I thought they deserved a plug.

Thursday 12 April 2012

When no one stops to help

I think it's such a shame in this day and age that the days of the good samaritan have passed us by...I'm not going all religious on you here, but what with it being Easter and living in a religious country, I half expected better.

Now it turned out this was nothing more than a drunk, passing out on the side of the road, but how are you to know that? He could've been diabetic, he could've been attacked or anything.

Yesterday I was out with my youngest and his mate nearing a 4 way stop, so I'm travelling at next to nothing. I see about 10 cars ahead of me a young man on the pavement, I don't notice him stagger i just see him crash to the ground and smash his head on the kerb. What do i do? I live in South Africa, one doesn't stop for anyone, ever, not even a female in distress as it could be a ploy to rob, rape or murder you, yes I'm being serious. No one else stops, no one else even pays attention, and as I drive past I notice he's vomited, yes he may be drunk, but he could also have a head injury. So what do I do?

I don't know the number for a government ambulance, in fact I dob't know the number for our medical aid ambulance either, so I pull into the garage, I tell the manager what has happened, he says I've done the right thing and he grabs a worker and they run off to help. As I leave the garage, having sone my bit, I glance up the road, he is still unconscious and no one has stopped to help.

I called back into the garage today to find out what had happened. The manager told me he was drunk, he was wearing a uniform for another petrol station, they had phoned them and said this guy was an alcoholic and they were trying to help him. The guy had come round and had refused any help, so they took him back to the garage where they let him sleep it off.

I apologised to the mananger he said 'what for?' 'you did the right thing and no one else did anything, thank you for stopping'

I will do the same again, from a distance and I must call my medical aid company in the morning to get the number for an ambulance...just in case.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Being an expat has turned me into this.....

I cannot believe I had time to do anything when we lived in the UK. I worked we had 5 kids at home and I was studying for a degree. I made cakes, I cooked once a week for the freezer, I atended meetings all over the county with my job and ran the local football club.

I always made time for family and friends, but I'd often be up at midnight trying to catch up with myself.

I get asked a lot 'what do you do with yourself all day and I really don't know' I tweet during the day, total drivel, about what I'm doing and this morning there were a few comments about me being a super mum and I was putting others to shame.

Not really. The kids are 13 & 17 and in school from 7am often until 4pm every day and on the weekends and holidays they are out and about with their mates on the estate, away at Private game reserves with their friends parents on weekends or on rugby tour somewhere in Limpopo. I need to keep myself occupied or I'll go mad. I do a bit of volunteer work here and there and look after my friend's children (also teens, as in I collect from school, do homework and feed them)

Todays tweets were typical of what I get up to.

I made sandwiches ready for the toaster and a mix for waffles ready for when the kids came home.

I prepared tonight's birthday feast for my friends birthday.

I decorated and laid the table, blowing up balloons.

Emptied and reloaded the dishwasher and emptied it again.

Put the washing on and hung it out.

Blogged, tweeted and caught up with emails and played with the cat.

I made easter gifts for the kids and some friends.

Collected kids from school, fed them.

It's now only 1pm

Packed the car and bags for camping.

Popped out to the post office and to buy Steak.

Cleaned the fridge after throwing a glass of red wine down the back of it.

Cleaned the kitchen.

Brought the washing in.


Swept and mopped the floor.

Took kids to back to school for hockey.

Fed the cat, made milkshakes, altered the timer on the sprinkler system.

Just got this left to pack, which I'll do in the morning.

And's 6.30pm. The house looks exactly the same as it did this morning when hubby left for work...and if he dares to ask me what I've done all day, I'll just email him this link.

I'm not a super mum, I'm just a bored housewife (not yet desperate)

The one where i just pop to the shops

Honestly the horror stories I was told prior to moving to South Africa, just up the road from Johannesburg in Centurion, over looking Super Sports Cricket ground.

Anyway I didn't think I'd be able to go anywhere, thought I'd have to make sure we had everything we needed before sunset or we would have to wait till the morning to go out and buy milk etc.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Take the last 24hrs for example.

School run at 7am as the workers are arriving from Mamelodi and Tembisa. 100's of people literally pouring off the train. Back at 9.30am to collect eldest then return him at 12pm. I then headed off in the general direction of Sandton to Lone Hill for a tweet up. As I drove down the R511 past Deipsloot a large township, my only concern was for the taxi's that seem to have a mind of their own when driving. Following basic instructions on a SMS, I turned right after leaving the mall, right again and 2nd right and tah dah I was there...not a Sat Nav or GPS in sight. The traffic was really heavy when I left, so turning left, then left again I returned to the N14 via the R55.
I was quite proud of myself.

I called in at the Mall for flowers and chocolate, then waited at the school for the kids to finish. Hubby called in via the chinese takeaway and then I returned the eldest to school. I stopped for Petrol at the BP garage as there was a price increase as from today and then back out at 8.30pm, in the dark to collect eldest from his social evening.

This morning was school run, then school run again, popped to the shops for steak and the post office, took kids back to school for hockey, nipped in at KFC for a latte.

It's getting dark soon, the youngest is out round the estate with his mates, hubby is driving home from Polokwane. I have to get the eldest at 7.30pm and then friends are coming round for a birthday tea (friend's birthday). Alcohol will be consumed.

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Badplaas about a 3hr drive North East to go camping for a few days with the kids.

The only hassle and the only thing no one told me about was that when you go out you need your driving licence and passport at all times, because if you get stopped by the police (and we have many times) it's a long painful process down the police station and you can't get into any other security estate without them.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Living with a house full of men is driving me mad.

All my female friends that have children have at least one girl in their family. I don't.

I live in a house full of males and it's driving me mad. 5 of them (including hubby) OK so the 2 older boys have left home, but they visit and I can't cope with the hormones and the level of male banter that is driving me potty.

Can you imagine it? Do you know what it is like to have everyday living in an all male sitcom? that's what it feels like. Short, sharp, (what they consider) snappy and witty comments is driving me mad, piss taking one another and yes Hubbby does that also, rough and tumble and arm punches, swearing as part of every day conversation with one another, aggression...oh the list goes on and on and on.

Alot of it is probably my fault, you see I yell at the TV when the football is on, I watch the rugby, I ask about the cricket scores, I go to football matches. I can do DIY (small jobs) I can fix chains on bikes, so they see me as an honorary male and they treat me as one.

But I'm a girl, I like pink, I don't like chipping my polish or breaking a nail when I'm putting the chain back on the bike. I want to watch Rom Coms and Glee. I want to listen to 80's chart music, but I get outvoted. It's Action films and rock music.

I've made two new friends her, they also live in male dominated families, they feel the same, I know, I can tell, so I'm going to organise some beauty and some spa trips, we will have chick flick dates at the cinema and I shall expect to come home from my girlie away days to the ironing done and dinner ready on the table. I'll give them their 'men' time together as long as I can have my 'girl' time.

How a cat is changing my life

This is Pushkins.

She has been hanging around where we live for a few months now, in the garden but never really venturing close enough.

Two weeks ago she started making more visits and allowing us to stroke her. We gave her the odd bit of food and water to drink, then she started being a bit more adventorous and choosing to sit on our laps. She was well cared for, shiny, clean fur that didn't leave a greasy residue on your hands after stroking her and no 'cat' smell.

So we started feediwg her, I've advertised on the boards and at at the front and back gate with my phone number but no one has been to claim here, so I guess she's staying.

I'm not an animal person, we had cats and dogs when I was a child, I've owned fish and a few birds over the years and the kids have had hamsters, but that's been it and these pets have mainly been because 'everyone else has them'

When we moved to South Africa we looked at getting a dog, as I wasn't working and I'd have time to look after one properly, and after many visits to the rescue centre we gave up 'What about going on holiday, who will look after it?' and besides we never actually found the right one.

But we've found this cat, or rather she's found us.

She spends her days snuggled up on my lap, she follows me around from room to room, she is always waiting for me when I come home and wake up in the morning, she sleeps in the house with a window open so she can come and go at night, she cries for me if I'm in the bathroom or I go out. Hubby and the kids enjoy having her around, they say I am calmer, more relaxed, chilled out.

She provides me with some company. I'm dreading someone coming to claim her, I'm worried about going away for 4 days this week (have arranged a friend to come and feed her) and I know when we move to the other side of the estate I'll be back up here everyday to fetch her, until she settles.

She has given me something to do with my day even if it is stopping her from getting up on the bed with me and interferring with my lap top as I type.

Linking up again with Groovymums

Back in September I linked up with @kateonthinice and her Groovymums blog hop.....Why? Why not, I'll give most things a try. 'Have you lost your groove as a mum?' and what can you do to recover it. Well I've said before it wasn't becoming a mum that caused me to lose my groove, but 'only' being a mum that did it.

I'm not knocking anyone's choices for being a SAHM mum I'm just merely saying having the situation forced on me has been hard and everytime I start to think I'm adapting I take a huge leap backwards. Baciscally being a full time Mum for me is boring, but remember my kids are now 13 and 17 and the older 3 are in the UK. So actually being a SAHM is probably not the right word to describe my situation, I'm a Home Executive according to the schools records, although I did write Unemployed on the forms. I'm not needed for much psychically, although mentaly and emotionally as a mum I'm always needed.
Each week there are challenges on the groovy mums blog hop, aimed at getting you to reflect, to make time for yourself, they are all optional and I try to answer them all so here goes.

1. Body – Are you looking after yourself enough?
2. Mind – What are your current thoughts and feelings about the Groovy Mums blog hop and/or the Twitter party. Blog about it or leave a comment.
3. Spirit – Do people find the spirit challenges helpful?
4. Blogging – Please do take a look at the Brilliance in Blogging Awards shortlist over on Britmums. I found it lovely to discover blogs that I did not know about. We can all learn from and with each other.

5. Charity Connections – Do think about supporting National Daffodil Month and raising funds for the Marie Curie nurses.

6. Special Days – How are you sleeping? It is National Bed Month and you can find out more on good sleep by clicking here

7. The Big Question – Why do you set limits for yourself? Are you setting them too low?