Friday 30 May 2014

How does an expat differ from an immigrant?

Expat comes from the word expatriate, it means to live in a different country from where they were born and brought up. Expats are considered to be people living temporarily in their host country, with the intention of returning home at a future date. 

Expats are not to be confused with Immigrants. Immigrants are people who have moved to live permanently in a new country.

With the recent elections in the UK, there have been lots of comments about immigration in relation to UKIP, especially about how people move to a new country and expect to live exactly the same but in better conditions than their home country. I commented on an immigrant post on twitter about how he had the right to live where he wanted and to have the same rights as people who were born in the UK. He made a comment about ALL white people and I suggested that the use of the word ALL was racist and maybe he should use the word some. He replied with 'what is it with white South Africans?' to which I replied I was British and although I didn't like a lot of the laws of my host country, I had accepted that I couldn't change the way things were for me.

Now here's the thing....If I want to stay in South Africa I have to accept the laws of the country that I have chosen to live in, whether I like them or not, but it seems to me that a lot of people who chose to live in the UK, don't like the laws and want them changed.

Now as an expat I'm not entitled to work, vote or have a bank account without my husbands permission. Yes I could work (illegally) if I could get someone to take me on, or I could apply for residency next year so i can work and pay taxes or I could simply return to the UK if I was that dissatisfied with life here.

11.5 million people voted for Jacob Zuma to stay as President of South Africa. 10 million people voted UKIP.

The population of South Africa is around 52 million and the UK 62 million. It just goes to show that a small number of people can make big changes.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Donate, buy or a bake a cake to support orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa


You don't get to eat the cake, but a child in a township does.

We need 1000 cakes for Viva Foundation Orphans and Vulnerable Children Family Day on June 7th.
If you're in Pretoria and can bake then just let me know how many you can commit to baking.
If you want to make a donation you can do so either in South Africa here or the UK through Paypal 
Please mark your donation CAKE.

There doesn't need to be a birthday to eat cake, it's just as much fun.

It can be Easter or Christmas.

Decorated or plain.

Over the past 3 1/2 years since I've been living in South Africa I estimate I have baked around 4000 township cup cakes.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

My view from above

After a recent trip to Dubai and a journey in the lift to the 'at the top' experience 452 meters above the ground, I realised I've been 'at the top' of a lot of places in a lot of places. I've seen many things from above and I thought I would share some of my photos from 'up above' and ask you 'what have you viewed from above?'

 Table Mountain

 To the left, South Africa, the right, Mozambique

 The Grand Canyon

 Hoover Dam (picture taken from the road bridge, not the air)

 A Hippo in South Africa

Monday 26 May 2014

Children's Homework

But you don't have kids living at home anymore, why are you blogging about homework?

I tutor a 12 year boy in study skills 2 days a week after school. He has the knowledge but like a lot of children his age, he doesn't have the concentration span and is tired after 8 hours at school.

I don't recall homework being this difficult when I was a child, I don't remember my parent's forcing me to do it. Maybe they did, maybe I didn't get any, maybe like most parenting experiences I've just blocked out the pain of persuading and bribing my children to do theirs. Maybe it's just easier when it's 'someone else's child'.

When my eldest now 22 used to get homework, it was paper based, in a world before google, it was reading, spellings and maybe an experiment, it also involved collecting a lot of things to take to school from what I recall of walks in the wood, with plastic bags full of leaves and I remember ageing a document with tea and putting it in the oven to age. We had a gas oven...oh the hysterics. The now 19yo was a pain with homework, never had any, never did any and TBH, I really wasn't that keen on homework anyway.

And then homework changed, it became computer based, google this, google that....and dial up internet, what I used to write in the homework diary 'no internet access' and no I wasn't prepared to traipse to the local library with 3 kids most days after school.

Homework has changed a lot over the years. I remember being taught in school, copying off the board then tracing or copying a picture from my text book and colouring it in at home.

Last week a mother to a 5 year old tweeted that she, not her daughter had been issued with homework, the reason why it was her homework and not her child's was that it required her to find out the differences between Indian and African tell me? How is a 5 year old supposed to do that?

This week the 12 year old's homework has 'done my head in' we started with 'write 10 lines about your Easter holiday and translate in Sepedi'.

So the child writes his work out, then pops it into google translate and guess what? Sepedi isn't an option. So what does he do? Nothing, that's what. What do I do? Give me a Sepedi dictionary and tell him he has to use that. Ha, a 12 year old and a dictionary, it just doesn't work. We've had homework in the past on using a dictionary, but it's only been to find the definition of maybe 3-5 words. He wants to download a programme on my laptop, that costs money, when I say no, a full strop begins.

So we get out his Sepedi book and silly me, I assume that there will be work in the book similar to what he's been asked to do for homework, you know, a few clues to key words and sentences, but no, nothing, zilch?

And now he is revising for a Math test tomorrow, no text books, only workbooks that are complete and marked. How do we revise a subject when the answers are there in front of us? Well it's easy, I just do this........

Now how many parents have the time to do that?

Sunday 25 May 2014

How often to you speak with your kids?

My kids all live in the UK. The eldest is disabled and doesn't speak, nor does she pay much attention to a computer screen or even recognise us.
The next one doesn't really 'do' internet and despite having an email address, a Facebook account and a mobile phone, he never uses them, so sending messages or ringing him, it could be months before he picks them up.
The middle child does respond to text and Facebook messages, but rarely makes contact with us outside of Christmas, Birthdays and Mother/Father's day.
The 2nd youngest is on twitter, Facebook, instagram and we chat daily, comment on each others pictures and updates and Skype often.
The youngest is in boarding school, Facebook etc is filtered through the school's wifi and 3G is almost none exsistant as the walls of the school are very thick and the location is remote, although I can see he's seen the whats app pictures and comments I send him, although he rarely replies. I do phone him on his mobile once a week but he only replies if he happens to be somewhere where there is reception and the call is usually cut off.

I send postcards but the boys always say 'don't bother Mum' or 'I'd rather you didn't as it gets read by everyone first'. I send letters with small gifts or money, but I rarely hear if they've received it.

I did get a post card from the middle child a few weeks ago, but only because he girl friend made him.
The thing is, it doesn't bother or upset me, the kids don't mind either, or so they say. I visit the UK twice a year, they come here once or twice a year and they have family in the UK, cousins, aunts, uncles etc that they spend most of their time with and the 2 eldest boys are in serious relationships so MUM is way down the pecking order anyway.

Thursday 22 May 2014

What do you see when you look at me?

What do you see, when you look at me?

What do I see when I look at me?

I see a 42 year old hard working woman, twice married, mother to 5 kids, none of whom live at home anymore. In fact I don't even live at home anymore, I've been an expat in South Africa since January 2011.

I see a lively, outgoing, fun woman, who will drop everything to help you. But I also see a sad and lonely women who craves company, who needs to feel valued and wanted.

I see a women who has something to prove, who wants a career, who wants to have some control over her life, someone who is full of ideas, but little idea how to put them into action.

I see a women who has to cover the grey hairs, who could do with losing a few pounds and tightening those stomach muscles, it's been 15 years since she had her last child, there is no excuse anymore.

I also see a women who knows she is loved by her husband and her children, a women who puts them first above her own needs whether financial or emotional.

I don't see a lucky women, who married well and lives in the sun, without a care in the world. I see a woman who, with her husband has worked hard to be where she is today, with so much further to go.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Walking in Johannesburg and The World of Beer

Firstly I would like to thank my friend Laura who invited me to the #JoziMeetUp where I met Louisa, who then invited me for coffee in Johannesburg Central Business District today gave me access to her staff car park in Ferreirasdorp which was the first tented camp settlement after gold was discovered in 1887 and took me to Cramers who claim to sell the 'World's Best Coffee' and it was good, where we chatted and set the World to rights.
We then walked back to the office through the Gold district

And past the Law Office of Nelson Mandela and O R Tambo

and then to the 5th floor of Louisa's office so I could take some pictures of Joburg CBD.

I didn't go straight home, we arranged another coffee date for Louisa to come to my neck of the woods and I wandered off, on foot, to SAB World of Beer.

R75 entry, tours start on the hour and last around 1 hour 15 minutes. You get 2 vouchers for drinks, a full guided tour and a Castle Draft taster on route and they let you keep the glass.

I was early so opted to visit The Tap Room for some lunch and ordered the Thai chicken salad, it cost R40, the drink was free and it was so appetising I didn't even stop to instagram it.

The tour starts with the story of Charles Glass and tells you about the history of beer from the Egyptians who drank it though a straw to filter it, to the Bavarians who came up with the light liquid colour we know today, a visit through the barley fields and hops and the distilling process before returning to the Tap Room to use the 2nd drinks voucher and a walk back to the car and home.