Wednesday 30 July 2014

Say NO to underage drinking

After a recent trip to a rural community near Kruger National Park, where there was no access to clean water, yet one passes many shabeens selling Castle Beer on the 2 km walk to fetch clean drinking water.

I approached South Africa Breweries and asked them what their social responsibility was in regards to supporting the community. They replied and invited me to take part in their 18+ drink aware campaign which is launched on August 1st. Make a pledge and add a twibbon to your profile on face book and twitter to show your support. I also invite you to blog about your personal experiences with alcohol, effects on the family and how you’ve approached the discussions with your children and tweet and/or face book to show your support.

Over the next few blog posts I will be blogging about personal experiences of alcohol. I am a Mother to 4 boys aged 15-25, I also worked for 14 years as a Youth Worker in the UK dealing with teenagers and alcohol and I’m currently living in South Africa working in several townships where I see and hear about the effects of alcohol and the damage it causes the local communities. I was also a teenager, I drank underage and I enjoy alcohol now as an adult.

This series of posts isn’t an attempt to stop people from drinking it’s to encourage them to drink safely and to educate their children about the dangers of drinking under age.

I shall leave you with my experiences of my teenagers and alcohol and let me know if you think I handled this correctly or whether you would’ve done anything differently?

SA Breweies say:

No one under 18 should be drinking alcohol and it is up to us to stop our denial about the situation and do something about it.

· 1 in 2 teenagers in the average South African home is a user of alcohol.
· Yet the vast majority of parents think their teenagers don’t drink
· Around 15% of boys and 8% of girls said that they’d had their first drink before age 13
· People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent than those who have their first drink at age 20 or older
· Teens that use alcohol are three times more likely to be involved in violent crime
· 67% of teens who drink before the age of 15 will go on to use illegal drugs

Monday 28 July 2014

Expat travel with a teenager

My last major trip was to the UK in April where my 15 yo son and I travelled by train, coach, bus, car and foot between Leeds and Bath while he was on his easter holidays. We stayed with family, friends and in hotels. Since then I’ve had a trip to Kruger which was a working holiday and this week the teenager and I are heading off to Cape Town Friday till Wednesday.

We are travelling by train and leave Johannesburg central station at 12.30pm arriving in Cape Town at 3.30pm the following day. We have booked accommodation a 5 minute walk from the waterfront and are flying back home Wednesday night with avios collected with British Airways.

The whole trip has cost less than R5000/£278. While we are in Cape Town we will be travelling on the Big Red Bus, taking a trip up Table Mountain, visiting the aquarium, whale watching and a helicopter ride over the bay. We’ve yet to book these excursions and have approached companies to see if they’d be interested in a sponsored blog post or two with numerous tweets, face book updates and instagrams thrown in at random.

Hubby will be dropping us at the station Friday an hour before the train leaves, due to the barriers closing prior to departure, we have a bag of snacks and food packed for the journey as this is South Africa and one ever knows what will happen, don’t want to be stuck with no food or drink for over 24 hours. I wonder if they'll let us braai on the train. We are also taking bedding with us, although it is provided at R55 pppn, there have been disputes recently, if bedding is available hubby will take it home, which will make our flight back a lot easier without sleeping bags and pillows.

Both the teenager and I are very excited about our upcoming trip, especially as public transport isn't available in Gauteng apart from the Gautrain which is quite expensive. Watch out for photos, tweets and blog posts. I'm not sure we'll have a lot of internet access, especially on the train, but we do have free wi fi in our apartment.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Top Tips for a game night drive on Safari

Don’t expect to be able to take photos unless you have a camera that is capable of taking pictures at night.

Don’t expect to see any particular animal, its not guaranteed. I saw 2 rabbits and an owl in the first hour.

Book in advance as these trips are very popular and fill up fast.

Take a blanket.

Although I don’t wear contact lenses I’d suggest you swop them for glasses, its very dusty and it gets everywhere.

Wear a scarf that you can use to cover your mouth and nose.

Don't shine the torch in animals eyes, it will aggravate them.

These are some of the better pictures I took.


Sunday 20 July 2014

My 'ME' time #MySundayPhoto

I wake up every morning and go downstairs and everything is just where I left it, cushions straight on the sofa, washing up done, laundry up to date, fridge and cupboards full and I hate it.

Why? because I spent 21 years as a full time mummy, firstly to my 3 boys for 7 years then I inherited 2 step children. All I wanted was 'ME' time, 5 minutes peace and quiet every now and then, in August last year I went from being a SAHM to a SAH and for the past 11 months I've had nothing but 'ME' time and I haven't enjoyed it.

My 15 year old arrives next Sunday for 5 weeks, followed by a visit from the 22 year old and his girlfriends for 2 weeks. My next available 'ME' time will be September 17th so for the time being I'm enjoying the calm before the storm and making the most of it.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

I get to be a mummy again for 5 weeks

My 15yo son arrived from the UK today and while he thinks he’s on school holidays, then coming to South Africa for holiday, he’s got another thought coming.

I won’t be made to feel guilty for him not living at home anymore, since returning to UK boarding school almost a year ago, because when we lived in the UK he was in boarding school and then we only lived 4 miles away, instead of the 6000 miles we do now.

I last saw him in April for 3 weeks and we toured the UK on bus, coach, train and foot, visiting his siblings. Hubby was also in the UK in May and took him to see family and friends, days out with his siblings and a deep-sea fishing trip. When he came out for Christmas we toured the coast line of South Africa, driving to Durban, down the Wild Coast to Port Elizabeth, the garden route, 5 nights in Cape Town then a drive back through the Karoo with Granny and his older brother.

For this trip we will visit the North Coast, to the beach for a week or so, we have safaris planned as his art course work is focusing on the plight of the Rhino’s and he needs photographs and video footage that he can shoot himself, rather than internet research and library copies. We are also planning a train trip to Cape Town for a few days, just me and him.

But we also have course work, revision to do. His school has emailed a list of what he has to do and they are ensuring he packs his study books in his suitcase. He starts his final year of GCSE’s this September and as the last of 5 children to sit exams I’m really not looking forward to the parenting side of the holiday in regards to home/coursework and revision. Between the 4 boys they know every trick in the book in regards to ‘looking busy, but doing sod all’ but they underestimate my powers as a parent, a teacher and a tutor.

I’m looking forward to being a full time Mummy again, even if it is just for 5 weeks and then the day 15yo returns to the UK, the 22yo and his girlfriend arrive for 2 weeks and that presents a whole different kind of parenting, as he left home aged 18, 3 months before we moved to SA and I’m not used to ‘parenting’ an independent adult.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Harties CableWay

We try to find somewhere new to visit every month while we are in South Africa, this weekend we visited Hartbeespoort, a 45 minute drive from Pretoria, to collect a mask that a colleague of hubbies had purchased. We decided that on the way home we'd pay a visit to Harties Cableway.

I was a little shocked at the price R160 per person, with a R20 discount if booked online. For South Africa that is on the high side in regards to an entrance fee. The ride was smooth and pretty quick to the top. The cars carry 6 people and they make sure they are full, without separating families and groups.

Once at the top there were sign posts to the pizza shack, toilet, self serve restaurant, bar and kids playing area. I really wouldn't want to visit in the summer as I can imagine it is packed, but on a cold winters day, we were able to walk round, read the information plaques, take photos and find a seat at the bar to have a drink and enjoy the live music.

We opted to eat at the restaurant downstairs, which had a good selection and was reasonably priced. i don't think it is somewhere we will be adding to our 'must take out visitors' list, but we've been and it's another thing ticked off our 'must visit before we leave South Africa' list.

Monday 14 July 2014


Too many pictures to choose from today, so feel free to visit my instagram if you're interested.

Visit to the African Cultural Market in Hartbeespoort, followed by lunch at the top of Harties cableway, North West Province, South Africa.

Friday 11 July 2014

Do you have empathy?

No, not really. Even if two people experience the same thing at the same time, both will react differently, this is because people are individuals and what affects one person and leads to shaping their future can easily be dismissed by another who sees the event as just something that happened and moves on, others may be unable to move on and because others don’t suffer or aren’t affected it doesn’t mean one should be dismissed.

Hubby and I have been talking about this a lot recently, many due to the fact I struggle to say ‘emphasize’.

One of the things we get fed up with, being an expat, is that the rest of the world seem to think that because the sun shines, everything is ok with us, what possible problems could we have? Having no children at home, me not having to work, sun, pool, fabulous scenery, experiences and I’ll not go into the details, but life here in South Africa is just ‘normal’ to us. I mean yesterday I mopped the bathroom floor and put 2 loads of washing on, but you don’t want to hear about that really.

A few months ago I was in a building that was held up at gunpoint, although I wasn’t in the room, I was next to it, blissfully unaware that anything out of the norm was occurring, my reaction shocked me. I was uncontrollable; I shook and was unable to drive home for nearly 3 hours. I spent the rest of the afternoon with a friend until hubby came home, as I couldn’t cope with the thought of being on my own. But that was nothing compared to the person who had a gun held at their head, for the 2nd time in 2 weeks.

After the first robbery I thought I’d expressed my sincere thoughts, I thought I understood what they’d been through, I imagined how I would have felt and therefore I had emphasized. After the 2nd robbery and once I’d recovered from the ‘there for the grace of god go I’ I emphasized with them again, because this time it was more real to me …. or was it? I still don’t think I got it right. Some of the staff were back to work the following day, some were off for a fortnight, another had yet another experience when robbers broke into her home a few weeks later, this time she was physically hurt as well as emotionally but was back at work the following day.

The difficulty with empathy is that having empathy often leaves the person you are emphasizing with feeling like they should’ve reacted/responded differently. When someone emphasizes with you, for example they understand what it’s like to pack and move home to a new place and you say to them, but you haven’t moved 6000 miles away from everything and everyone you know it just belittles their experience/situation and they don’t bother emphasizing again, they just that think you’re belittling their experience, but you’re not, you’re just trying to say it was different for you, therefore in conclusion I don’t think anyone has empathy.