Sunday 30 June 2013

Evicting tenants

I had a short hold tenancy agreement drawn up in 2011 between myself (the landlord) and the tenants and have issued a section 21a notice, giving 3 months (legally only 2 months is required) notice for eviction. I am not required to give a reason for eviction. The rent has been paid by the tenant’s guarantor since November 2012 after continued late and missed payments.

I have kept to my side of the contract as a landlord, including purchasing a new oven since issuing an eviction notice.

I paid a solicitor £775 to make an accelerated possession order; I needed to supply a copy of the section 21a and a signed document from the agent who served it, plus the tenancy agreement.


The tenants had 2 weeks to supply a defence to the courts, normally citing critical illness, late stages of pregnancy (none of which apply) If the judge issues a possession order the tenants will normally have 14 or 28 days to leave the property. If this will cause them exceptional hardship, the judge may give them up to 42 days to leave.

If they don’t leave at this point, you can use bailiffs to evict them.


If your tenant is looking to be re-housed by the local authority, note that they will not normally do this until a possession order has been made against the tenant, and sometimes not until a bailiff’s appointment has been made.


I've had many offers from family and friends to go round and have a word, well we don't live in a 1970's movie and there are laws to protect the tenants from harassment.


It is a crime to harass or try to force tenants out of your house, if you attempt to do this they are entitled to claim damages through the court.

Harassment includes:

Anything that I do or don't do that makes the tenants feel unsafe. So I can't disconnect the electricity or water as many of you have suggested, I can't refuse to carry out repairs, I can't ask a friend to cause problems or make any threats physically or of violence to them.

It is illegal for me as the landlord to not give them the right amount of notice or just simply change the locks.

There is an awful lot of protection for the tenant, how they can get rehoused, how they can protect themselves and what their rights are if I as a landlord don't apply the law, but there's sod all around to tell me what my rights appears I don't actually have any.


Saturday 29 June 2013

Holidaying back home? no, more like Tour of Duty

‘Ooooh lucky you, you’re going on holiday, to the UK, I’d love to go to the UK, take me with please’

And therein lies the problem.

I don’t want to take you with me to act as a tour guide, nor do I want to bring back all the things that you can actually buy here, but are just over priced as they are imported, like Bisto gravy and curly wurlys. I’m not going on holiday, I’m going on a ‘tour of duty’

I’m travelling to the UK this occasion to evict tenants from our house. The first thing I have to do on arrival is sign legal documents and hand them in at the court. Once I find out the time scale, costs etc I can then start making plans for all the visiting. In the meantime since announcing my trip, everyone is demanding a large slice of my time, hence the reason I booked a month long trip. I have many lovely things planned, visits, Britmums live, watching my son jump from an aeroplane, shopping and camping trips with friends.

I will also be investigating boarding schools for the youngest and have many appointments set up around the country so I can ‘kill two birds with one stone’  so to speak.

But I won’t get much rest, parents and children live Leeds, Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Monmouth and Bath. While I’m in the area I’m asked to just ‘pop by’ and say hi. I feel guilty if I don’t have time and people don’t seem to understand ‘why not?’ just ‘popping by’ often means I don’t get back to my bed for the night until late in the evening.

Well this trip is going to be different. Don’t make contact with me the rest of the year, don’t expect me to just ‘pop by’ on my visit. Funny how some people never contact you, yet see you’re planning a trip home and all of a sudden they can see you on face book, or they remember your email address. Yes it can be said that I can contact them, but I’ve done that and just given up, I’ve put myself out to squeeze in a visit in the past, but not this time.

So that aside, I’m still bed hopping, I’m still trying to fit everyone in, I’ve prioritised family and close friends, the other priorities are the house and the younger child's education. So please excuse me if I don’t visit you, you can always come to see me if you want, sorry for not filling my case with stuff to bring back for you, both directions.

Friday 28 June 2013

My trip to BritMums Live

‘Why are you going to BritMums?’ was the cry from many of the people I tweet with and know in real life.
‘You’ll not survive 5 minutes’
‘Bet you get kicked out, you know you can’t keep your mouth shut’

Well I’m not sure why I wanted to go, other than it was the weekend I was due to return to South Africa, I was going to visit friends in London, there were a few tweeters and bloggers that I’d connected with and wanted to meet and I thought it won’t do any harm to learn a few more tips in blogging.

I booked a hotel and requested a roommate to help share some of the costs. I arrived at The Brewery at 1.30pm, nice and early and immediately connected with an established tweeter and blogger and met a new one, we continued to bump into one another all weekend.

There were a couple of people I’d never engaged with before who approached me and said they loved my blog and had followed me on twitter for a long time. There were other people I’d followed for a long time also who had never interacted with me before…..guess the message is, if you read someone's blog or follow them on twitter, it does no harm to let them know you’re there with a quick Hi or a comment on their blog.

And then there were the ones who looked nothing like their profile picture, the ones who were taller/shorter/fatter/thinner than I had imagined, the ones who come across as so confident on twitter who were shrinking violets in real life. There was an obvious clique in the room, commented on by many, there were the yummy mummies with the ‘darhlings’ and air kisses and then there were the odd few who were damn right rude.

Any idea why I had this photo taken?
I wasn’t the only one there I discovered after tweeting about it……I was snubbed, three times, by women. One actually said hello, looked at my name badge and walked off, another said ‘oh right, you’re chickenruby’ and turned her back to me to talk to the person I was with and the third swept right in, mid conversation and high jacked the person I was with who muttered ‘sorry, I’ll be back’ (and she was). I must confess there were a few I met or saw from afar that I discretely un followed on twitter.

I entered many competitions, had photos taken, played games, picked up freebies and had the most amazing goody bag.
At Reading station a woman approached me and asked if I was a BritMum? she then told me she'd read about the BritDads in the paper and just walked off.......

I gave most of the stuff away to friends if it wasn’t appropriate to  me or my family.

But did I learn anything? Would I go again? Would I recommend it for next year?

Yes I learnt a lot of things. I’m writing a book; well I have a few on the go which will probably all end up merging. From Chick Lit to real life. For one book I have 30,000 words. I need 3 chapters and a synopsis to submit to an agent. I can publish an e book, but I’m not a technical person (any offers). I linked up with Save the Children whose local branch in South Africa is in Pretoria, just up the road from me.

I got ideas, I got contact names, I got advice on how to pitch ideas to organisations, I learnt about media Kits (well I have the links) But I won’t be going next year, unless I happen to be back in the UK and Yes I would recommend you buying a ticket for next year. You can spend the time on your own quite comfortably, decide which seminars you want to attend, sit quietly or ask questions, you can come and go through the 2 days, don’t worry about arriving at a session late. If it’s not what you were looking for just tuck in on the end of another one. Sit in the Fox’s lounge drinking coffee, enjoy the food, smile and at the very least make some new friends.



Any ideas how much The Home Sense furniture was worth and who won it?
And if I can recommend one tip…it would be to NOT worry about what you’re wearing, pitch up in something comfortable, flat shoes. If you feel comfortable you’ll be more confident.

Train travel in the UK

Although I approached The Trainline for sponsorship, they declined, but I wanted to share my experience.

By booking in advance, you can save lots of money, however you are then restricted to using that ticket not only on that day, but at the time stated also. A bonus is I was able to book a seat for every part of my journey at no extra cost, but I did have to pay a £1.50 booking fee so I booked as many tickets together as I could.

But how do you find the cheapest fare? What happens if your train runs late and you miss your connecting train? If you turn up early can you catch an earlier one? What is the cheapest route?

How much time do you have? It was not easy, thankfully I’m was born in the UK and lived here for 39 years before moving to South Africa, so I know the geography of the country, I’ve lived in Wales, the north east and the south west, travelled with work both alone and with hubby to London and the north west, but still it wasn’t an easy route to plan.

So to get to Leeds from Newport the cheapest way to travel is via Manchester, however this involved a 2 hour wait for my train to Leeds, then the following day Leeds to Manchester another 2 hour wait, then the train to Watford with a change at Milton Keynes another change at Watford and on St Albans (collected from station)

Travel in and out of London for the next 4 days was purchased daily as I didn’t know how long I was going to stay and where I was going to be. I was then dropped at Reading for the train home.

Total journey costs including booking fees with The trainline       £158.90

Total journey costs without using The Trainline                               £175.40

Total cost if I’d travelled by road                                                          £ (car size and fuel dependant plus
                                                                                                                         tolls and parking)
 Total savings                                                                                             £ 16.50

If I’d been able to plan the whole journey a week or 2 in advance with The Trainline It would have cost                                                                                                    £115.00

I don’t know what would’ve happened if I’d missed a train, probably had to have paid full price for a new ticket. All I know is when I asked if I could catch an earlier train as I’d sensibly planned for at least a 90 minute break between stops, to allow for late arrivals, I was informed that wasn’t possible unless I purchased a new ticket.
It was a bit of a flaff to be honest just to save £16.50 but you can see if if I'd booked 2 weeks ahead my savings would've been £43.90


Sunday 23 June 2013

Top tips for baking with kids

Grrrrrrr another challenge from Mediocre Mum and this time a Slow Cooker recipe. Today she is actually using the oven to cook dinner so that only left us the Slow Cooker grrrrrrr (again).

Banana bread baking with a 5 year old.

I measured out all the ingredients in advance under Chrissies watchful eye. I prefer to bake using the trusted old method of....'that'll do' All I then had to do was supervise 5 year old and instruct.

Bananas mashed, melted butter stirred in, baking soda, vanilla essence, salt, sugar, egg, flour all added and mixed with a wooden spoon.

Slow cooker prepared by buttering and dusting with flour. Mix poured/glooped in. Switch on high for 90 minutes and leave 5 year old to do the washing up.


Top 3 for the perfect roast

I cook roasts in the slow cooker as I find the meat is more tender. Over the past 3 years since I've been an expat/out of work, I've learnt to cook. Roasts are my favourite and I have the timings down to perfection.

The top 3 tips for the perfect roast (as discovered by me) are:

  1. Use apple juice for Pork, coke for Lamb and beer for beef in the slow cooker, after browning the meat. I put the slow cooker on low for about 6 hours.
     2.  Put the meat in he oven for the last 30 minutes and use the liquid from the slow cooker to make
          the gravy with.

     3. Mix 3 eggs, a cup of flour and milk, mix in a jug. Add a few drops of olive oil to a muffin pan
         and heat in oven for a few minutes, before pouring to a third in depth and return to oven at the
         same time as the meat.

Can I just have 5 minutes peace and quiet, please

How many times have you just wished you could have 5 minutes peace and quiet? 5 minutes in the bath without the kids knocking on the door wanting something and even when you get 5 minutes peace in the bath to relax and unwind it's not quite as somewhere in the house there is an argument going on?

Today in Morrison's I had a mini melt down, the tears flowed. I just wanted 5 minutes peace and quiet. I bought these, as tonight I plan on spending time in the bath treating myself, relaxing, me time.

It's achievable tonight, I'm staying with friends. So why the mini breakdown?

We are waiting for confirmation of youngest son, aged 14, returning to the UK in September to start boarding school for his GCSE's and A levels. The 18 year old isn't at all time consuming especially since he passed his driving test earlier this year, so school runs and lifts for clubs and activities stopped a while ago.

From September onwards I'm going to have 5 minutes peace and quiet whenever I want it and that's just the problem. 5 minutes peace and quiet isn't needed when you don't have anything to take a break from.

Top 5 tips for long haul flights

As an expat I regularly fly between South Africa and the UK. I've also made numerous trips from the UK to the States.

For me flying is something I have to do and flying in economy for up to 11 hours in one trip is just a necessity and not an enjoyable part of the trip.

But it's something I have to do and I've picked up lots of tips from fellow travellers and experience.

So here are my Top 5 Tips for surviving a long haul flight.

1.     Join the airlines loyalty scheme. If you make regular trips you can benefit from using airlines
        lounges. You will benefit from free beverages, not have to convert currency and use the
        showers (towels and toiletries provided.

2.     Travel light. Check the airlines restrictions for hand luggage. Just because a bag is marked 'cabin
        size' doesn't mean it is suitable for all airlines. Check the hand luggage allowance weight. Take
        into consideration the weight of the bag/case you use.

3.     Pack a hand towel, face cloth, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, change of underwear and a
        clean top to freshen up with. If you have a direct flight and have travelled for 11 hours, instead
        of standing in the queue for passports, first visit the bathrooms and freshen up. That way when
        you're met the other side you'll look like you've flown 1st class.

4.    Find your gate. Check where your plane is departing from as soon as you arrive in the departure
       lounge, especially if you have a connecting flight. Flying regularly through Dubai airport
       between South Africa and the UK, there is a minimum of a 3 hour stop over, knowing where
       your departure gate is and the time taken to reach it, does allow you to be more relaxed when
       using the lounges or duty free shopping. Remember to check the boards in case of change to
       departure gate.

5.     Carry all documents, valuables, laptop, cameras, phones and charging cables in your hand
        luggage. There is nothing worse than a delay and dead batteries or worse discovering your case
        on arrival has been tampered with and wasting valuable time filling in police and insurance

Friday 21 June 2013

What goes on at a food event?

Don't know whether I should call this a 'sponsored blog' or not. I wasn't given any directives. I was a plus 1 to an evening at Tesco in Hatfield. It was a foodie thing, for bloggers to sample foods and give an opinion....or something like that.

I'm not a food blogger, but there are a few food posts on my blog. Anyway I went along not really knowing what to expect, had a glass of bubbly on arrival, chatted with a few people before sitting down to a presentation on Berries. Strawberries......did you know there are 35 varieties? an average of 200 pips on one and that Tesco finest, standard and value all come from the same growers and are boxed according to size, colour and taste? the only other thing that really stuck in my mind was the new Kiwi berry coming soon, complete with edible skin.

There was a taster session and to be honest I ate more of the clotted cream than I did the strawberries and therefore wasn't able to play the 'was A, B or C the finest, standard or value range' game. I thought the balsamic vinegar dip was an interesting combination and the blackberries were a bit sharp.

A bit more talking another glass of bubbly, a questionnaire and then the bit it appears everyone had come for....the freebies. Can't seriously believe how far some people travelled for this event.

I cannot give you a cost for this recipe as one wasn't provided and I'm not really sure what Tesco wanted from this event. I'm put off trying new foods due to costs, I'm not a big fan of tasters in supermarkets as you never know who's grubby hands have been handling the food (customers that is) I like the idea of the ready prepared pots where you can taste a variety of fruits but they are so expensive.

For me to try something new, the event was the best way of doing it, unfortunately the kiwi berries weren't available to taste so I can offer no opinion on them, which is a shame. But I can offer an opinion on the taste, which was lovely and I'll let you know about my opinion on the price when I next buy the ingredients, but that will be back in South Africa.

I had to google the recipe for the Summer berry tart with lemon cream that we had sampled. You'll have to excuse my methods as I was using someone else's kitchen and couldn't find anything, but it was simple to make, infact so simple after I'd used her goodie bag to make theirs, I took my ingredients on a train and tube to Wimbledon to another friends house where I stayed last night and with the help of her 10 year old son, made another one.

Couldn't find a whisk, so used the blender attachment (It worked)
 Tesco provided the pastry case, so no need to make one
 When it says 'warm the redcurrant jelly' it means DO NOT BOIL IT or you'll spend half an hour cleaning the pan
Tah dah and tastes as good as it looks.......yummy

Monday 17 June 2013

The expat on holiday

Being an expat on holiday rarely involves actually being on holiday. The guilt of booking a trip to another country other than where they live or their home country, is too much to bare, plus there is never any money left for a holiday after the annual trip home.

Many expats find themselves in a similar situation when they return 'home' for a visit. They are expected to 'do the rounds' and see everyone. Despite family and friends saying 'no pressure, we understand' there is still the pressure, even if it's self imposed, to fit everyone in with a decent amount of time, it can be done, but the expat returns and needs a holiday despite having travelled 100's, 1000's of miles on holiday in the first place.

I hear expats talking about renting a cottage and inviting family and friends to come visit them, but not everyone is on holiday and it becomes a complicated process trying to juggle dates and avoid double booking.

The trouble is that when you become an expat you become everyone's favourite holiday destination, but you're not on holiday yourself and you end up needing a holiday after your visitors return. You're expected to show them the sights, act as tour guide, provide all the information they need.

But when the expat returns to their home country, it isn't any different. Whether you travel around visiting everyone or everyone visits you, the expat is till expected to be the host, entertain, share knowledge, tell stories of their lives as everyone else thinks their own lives are boring and they have nothing to share, but for an expat, hearing tales from the homeland, really does help. After all an expats life isn't exciting to the expat, it's the same/new stuff, just a different country.

This years expat visit home

As an expat who returns to the 'home country' twice a year, whose husband returns twice a year (on separate occasions) with kids flying back once a year, I think we have maximised our family and friend time to the limit. As a family we have different needs and although everyone offers us their spare room, which is often the sofa, it's not really practical for 2 adults to stay in the same place. Hubby is a little fortunate as in his trips coincide with business so he can pop in and out and only has to spend the weekends in spare rooms or on sofas. For me I rely on the generosity of friends. I try not to spend anymore than 2 nights in each place, although I know I'd be welcome to stay longer I don't want to inconvenience anyone. I'm on my 4th week in the UK, so far I've stayed with family and friends in Cornwall, Devon, Bath, Monmouth, Ross-on-Wye. Driven backwards and forwards to Gloucester and Malvern to visit the kids and solicitors. In total clocking up 1,400 miles.
I've given up on the car now, I'm now train travelling. I'm currently in Leeds visiting my son, then it's off to St Albans and into London, ending up with #britmumslive conference and then train back to Newport. The remaining two weeks will be spent carrying out repairs to our home that we rent out, as long as our tenants have moved out by then, despite currently ignoring a court order to do so.
I'll be back again in September to settle 14yo into his boarding school for up to 2 weeks. Hubby is travelling with me, we shall rent a car, rent accommodation and just tell people where we are, hand out phone numbers, it'll be up to them to make arrangements whether it's by visiting us, us to them or meeting out.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Touting for sponsored posts for #britmumslive

I'm new to all of this, well I've been blogging since October 2009 and with an average of 6000+ hits per month I'm obviously doing something right. I don't go looking for things, they come and find me.

This year I've decided to attend Britmums Live on June 21-22nd. I want to learn more about blogging, no follow links (should I ever get anything to review) Raising my profile and awareness of adults with disabilities in South Africa, meeting and sharing expat experiences with the aim to support others taking the first and very difficult steps. Support groups for when you're children leave home, as mine is doing in September to return to UK boarding school and the depression that comes with dealing with all of this.

So what I need is a start, a push, someone who knows what they're doing and is willing to mentor me down the difficult route of touting/begging for further help.

Can you RT the tweet with link, share this post, actually sponsor me, offer me support and guidance on how to word these things correctly?

Here's what I've written to date. I will tailor it to individual companies, but if you have any contacts that you're willing to share, please let me know.

Gratefully yours


I’m a British expat living with two teenage sons in South Africa since 2011. I travel to the UK on a regular basis to visit parents and adult children. I also take the opportunity to visit friends and my destinations are Bath (Mother in Law) Monmouth (Parents) Gloucester (Step children: Son aged 24, Disabled daughter, aged 25) Leeds (Son aged 21) Leamington Spa, St Albans and various locations in London. This trip has also involved two camping trips to Devon (friends) and Cornwall (MIL)

Future travel will include UK trip in September to settle son into boarding. Camping with pets and Kruger National Park. Climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds for adults with disabilities in South Africa.

Whilst travelling I tweet as @chickenruby with 2225 followers and I blog over at with, according to Stats, 6000+ hits per month.

I blog about:

·         Life as an expat, from saying goodbye to purchasing a car, with hints and tips.

·         Raising teenagers from buying condoms to relocating youngest back in the UK education system and full time boarding.

·         Fundraising for Adults with disabilities in South Africa

·         Depression

·         Dealing with the unexpected

·         Disability

·         Fundraising and supporting and

I am a featured blogger over at Internations,, Mumsnet, Netmums, Britmums. I have written articles for Mark Warner on holidaying with teenagers (published soon) Currencies Direct on purchasing a car as an expat (published soon) and featured on the expat HSBC top 5 tips on dealing with depression.

I am currently in the UK to evict tenants from our family home, find a suitable boarding school that supports dyslexia for my 14 year old son and to attend Britmums live 21st-22nd June. BritMums Live will attract 500 attendees and is the only conference dedicated entirely to the parent blogging audience of more than 4k influential and engaged bloggers

I will and have been blogging and tweeting about my experiences and adventures since arriving in the UK May 22nd. I have an open ticket to return with Emirates Airlines as soon as the necessary repairs have been completed to my property.

What I am looking for is a sponsor for the following and products to review. In exchange I will advertise your company/organization at Britmums Live. I will tweet and blog with follow links, where appropriate, on my website. I do accept guest posts but only with personal experiences and I have guest posted for various bloggers.

Please let me know what you would be interested in helping me with.


Britmums ticket                                  £ 80

Train travel                                         £150

Additional luggage to take hand made hats, scarves and donations to for adults and children with disabilities in South Africa. Cost unknown

Food and drink for rest of duration and stay whilst travelling approximately £10 per day

Hotel in London 2 nights                     £160


Outfit for Britmums inc printing        £100

Painting and decorating supplies

Carpet cleaner

Dry cleaning for curtains





Friday 14 June 2013

Why as an expat I'm permanently stressed. Education and evicting tenants.

My youngest child doesn't want me to blog about him anymore I don't mention the name of hubbies company as I don't want to jeopardise his employment, but I will blog about how the company and my son's upcoming adventures affect me as a wife and mother as well as an expat on a continual loop of trying to adapt to my new life.

Due to quite a few things not being put into place by the company, our move to South Africa has not gone well. Two and a half years later we are still sorting issues out. With hindsight, i.e. 'what I know now' things would've been done differently, but I didn't know then what I know now. I also didn't know what questions to ask as I didn't know what to expect......are you still with me?

I'm currently in the UK for a variety of reasons. One being to evict tenants from our property after they ignored their two month notice of eviction. It's taken me three weeks to get the court order papers drawn up and issued (well I was told they'd be issued either Tuesday or Wednesday, today is Thursday, by the solicitor who took £775 off me, but I'm none the wiser still) I don't know yet when I'll fly home as the tenants have two weeks from receiving the order to vacate the property or it's back to the courts for me to make an application to have the bailiffs sent round. I will then have to submit costs and receipts for damages through the small claim courts. No my agent can't sort it, he's just as much to blame in my book for not letting me know about the difficulties until February this year.

The second reason for being in the UK is to sort out the youngest (he who can't be named and talked about) and his education.
The company (they who can't be named either) informed the school, to secure a place, that we would only be in South Africa for two years and didn't pass on the Special Educational Needs reports. To be honest, like the house, I trusted the professionals for the first year while we found a home, made friends, adjusted to life away from family, our adult children, dealt with the guilt of leaving etc, etc.

Our eldest child who is 18 is due to Matriculate the end of this year. The degree system in South Africa is very different from the UK and basically does not suit his future career, so he will remain in education until December 2014 to convert his Matric to A levels. He will turn 20 the following month, in the January and won't be able to start UK university until October 2015. He will be nearly 21 when he starts. He will have spent two additional years in school.

We don't want the youngest child to be in the same situation, especially if we have to move. He is severely affected with dyslexia and dysgraphia, his education has been adversely affected and he needs to do GCSE's.

I'm now sitting and waiting for the company to decide if they will pay school fees, I can't work in South Africa and if I could, I wouldn't earn anywhere near what I earned in the UK and bare in mind we afforded private boarding education in the UK prior to becoming expats. I'm also waiting for the tenants to decide when and if they move out, relying on the courts and their timescale to assist me getting my house back and finding new, more suitable tenants. I have issues with the insurance company that do not mention in their literature that 'unless you have a personal reference it's a waste of time having insurance as they won't pay out'

In fact I have quite a few issues with other people, supposedly professionals that I wrongly assumed would act accordingly, letting me down, causing me stress, valuable time away from my family and considerable expense.

I'm angry, upset and very sad. Sad I will be sending my youngest back to the UK for boarding (dependent on others, if they say no, we're stuffed) I'm putting my emotions in my suitcase and zipped them away for the time being. I'll have to deal with them at some point in time, but with everything else going on 'how I feel about my son leaving home' will just have to wait.

Saturday 8 June 2013

What I miss about the UK as an expat

I miss the long summer evenings.

Well I did during the first week, but now I'm not sleeping.
It's dark in South Africa by 7pm in the summer and 6pm in the winter. 3 hours after sun down I'm usually tucked up in bed. 3 hours past sun down in the UK is 11pm onwards, then the sun wakes me early in the mornings. I can't seem to adjust.

I miss the supermarket offers.

Well I thought I did, but the price of everything in the UK has gone up.
In South Africa prices are pretty much the same wherever you shop, occasional offers but no BOGOF deals. Shelf life is shorter and vegetables are funny shaped (natural).

I miss the variety of foods.

The supermarkets in the UK offer a wider variety of brands.
In South Africa the freezer sections are smaller, the range is not so wide. I've been back in the UK 2 weeks, I'm eating more processed food. I've gained 3 kilos since I've been back.

I miss the freedom.

I love being able to walk around the town, catch the bus.
In South Africa it's drive to the mall, shop, drive home. No just dropping into someone's house to say hi as you pass as you have to phone in advance, get access codes or be booked in at the gate. The bus costs a fortune in the UK, car parking is extortionate, the towns are too busy.

The weather.

It's boring the weather staying the same in South Africa, hot with occasional thunder storms in the winter, making it impossible to breathe some days without aircon in the house, the winters are cold, temps dropping to zero, but the days are hot.
The UK summer is cooler than a South African winter. Last week I sat on the beach with a coat on and wearing gloves, while people around me sat in shorts and bikinis. I wear the gloves as the chilblains are back since I arrived in the UK.

What I miss about South Africa.

The sky, the open space, the horizon.
In the UK everything feels like it's on top of me, closing in, dark and the sky isn't blue like it is back home.

Monday 3 June 2013



Would you at your earliest convenience let me know when you intend to vacate MY HOUSE, following your Section 21 eviction notice served in February asking you to leave by May 24th, due to poor payment of rent.

Since November 2012 you have made all payments late and have not considered that we have a mortgage to pay. I replaced a new washing machine that only you had used and was brand new when requested and provided you with a new oven as soon as I was notified at a cost totalling £800+. I made these payments with immediate effect to ensure that I was not in breach of my tenancy agreement with you.

You have also failed to report repairs as they have occurred and refused entry to the agent for inspection reports, the plumber to fix the leaking taps and British Gas to carry out safety checks, by failing to be in for appointments. You have also neglected the garden and I notice from inspection report photos for rooms that the agent could access that you have put up clocks, racks and pictures on the walls without obtaining permission to do so.

You have made no attempt to contact me during this period to ask if you can stay on in the property until you find a new place. You have not offered or attempted to make any further payment for the time you remain in the property. You have not indicated any time scale in which you will move out.

I have travelled to the UK from South Africa in order to carry out necessary repairs and to remarket the property. You are preventing me from doing this by your refusal to move out. You can use the Section 21 to go to the CAB and be given advise on housing issues, should be unable to afford rent on a new property. In the meantime my expenses are increasing daily, cost of accommodation, solicitor’s fees and court fees to repossess my property. I am also continuing to pay my mortgage and I’m unable to re advertise the property for rent due to some of the issues mentioned above.

I will be making a claim through the courts once the extent of the damage to the property is assessed, as the cleaning costs alone to remove the odour of the dogs by cleaning the carpets and the curtains plus the cost of a gardener will use most of your deposit and including the time you are now living rent free. If I am unable to recover the costs from yourselves then the guarantor will be liable.

To avoid any further expense to yourself please inform me or the agent when you intend on moving out of MY HOUSE and ensure all rental payments are up to date as well as the house and garden restored to the condition in which you rented it.


Evicting tenants after their section 21 notice to leave has expired

How do you get your house back from tenants after serving them their legal 2 month notice for failure to pay their rent?

Well I'll be able to tell you that in a few days after I've paid a solicitor £175 per hour plus vat and submitted my repossession order to the courts (fees unknown).

We rented our house out in March 2011 with a local agent, he sold the business later that year and then in March this year they sold it on again. Between November 2012 and right up till today we've had problems collecting the rent. I only found out by chance in February that no rent had been paid since the previous October, fuming on 2 counts. 1. What right does anyone have to live rent free and 2. Why didn't the agent tell me? Anyway point to is immaterial now, I have the rent from the guarantor up to May 24th, which was the date given back in February for the tenants to leave the property, but they haven't they've stayed put and say they have no where to go, despite being informed by the agent that I'm back in the country and have started court proceedings.

Except I haven't started court proceedings. I had to wait till the first working day after the notice of eviction expired which was Tuesday last week. I made a claim to my insurance company as I am paying for legal cover, they take 3 days to tell me I need to provide a personal reference for the tenants, so after finally getting in contact with the original agent I discover one wasn't carried out. So I've wasted a week, the insurance won't cover me and I've booked to see a solicitor tomorrow afternoon.

When one has no experience of something how the hell does one know what questions to bloody well ask when taking out insurance policies, renting a property. I made a silly assumption that if I hire a company to do something for me that they will know what they are doing and maybe mention the things I need to have in place to prevent getting into difficulty later down the line. I've just been wasting my time and money with so many things and I am very angry.

When I google 'how to evict tenants' the results are from Shelter, the CAB and other homeless charities advising you on your rights should you be evicted, there is very little to protect the decent, honest landlord who thought 'I'll rent my house out while I'm living overseas, as it seems silly having it empty when there are so many homeless and low income people about' Well stupid me for thinking that I may have some rights.

The guarantor is elderly and ill and does not have any more cash to pay for his daughter and son in law to have a roof over their heads, but that's not my fault and I will not feel guilty if he has to sell his house to pay my costs, I'm not running a charity.

Apart from the costs to evict the tenants through the court and the loss of rent and future rent, plus all the repairs that need doing and the cleaning, I've travelled from South Africa to evict the tenants, I will have to extend my 4 week stay, I have accommodation and tr4ansport costs to cover and still have a mortgage payment to make each month.


Saturday 1 June 2013

learning the local language #expatlife

There are many benefits to learning the local language of the country you live in. Not only is it rude (in my opinion) not to, it can save a lot of time and difficulties for both you and your family and your host country.

But I live in South Africa; people mainly speak in English, esp. when they see the glazed expression on my face. But I’ve mastered simple greetings and I understand an awful lot more than I can speak. I often respond to a conversation in English and they pick up on my accent and reply in English. For example this is usually situational, I enter a shop, and I assume they say ‘can I help you?’

My biggest pet hate about living in South Africa is that people here will apologise for assuming I speak Afrikaans and say ‘sorry’ when I tell them ‘I only speak English’. You see there are 11 official languages spoken here. But only 5% of the population has English as their 'home' language.

Almost everyone I have met speaks a minimum of 2 languages, their ‘home’ language and English, but some people speak 4 or 5 or even more languages.

You also never know what language is going to be spoken to you. Most people have maids and nannies, from far afield, not only in South Africa but neighbouring countries also. Children learn to speak their home language, they must Matric School in Afrikaans, they need to learn English in schools, and they learn the maids/nannies language also.

I've started to identify the different languages spoken and with that can identify where people come from. In the UK people have definite accents that lets you know where they are from. In South Africa the only accents I can hear are with the Afrikaans and the difference between Cape Town and Jo'burg. There is also a definite class differentiation in Afrikkans, where the first let of each word is over emphasised and drawn out.

I always speak in English, I have a few key words I can use when volunteering and most people are keen to teach me. I find that most of the time when I reply to someone in English that they've actually spoken to me in Afrikaans. So I'm getting there, slower than I had hoped for, as the main language heard daily is English, the music is in English, the street signs are in English and there are 10 other languages spoken all around me every day.......where would you begin?


Any idea where I start?