Life Update

As forewarned dear readers, the next few months are going to be quiet as I put my head down and concentrate on my studies and keeping on the straight and narrow.

Having said that I am very excited as I start planning for my travels next year.  As has happened a lot in my life so far, I have had to bide my time and wait patiently (or not so patiently) for things to fall into place so that I can realise a dream.

So my first plan of action has been to enrol in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.  Easy right.  Thousands of kids do this every year and go on to get amazing jobs overseas.  Well, the easy part was enrolling – nothing since has been!  I’m not sure what happened between leaving school 27 years ago (really!!!???) and what they expect to be taught these days but it is HARD.  Or should I say difficult, complicated, onerous (see I know all the big words but apparently not only are they adjectives but they can also be nouns when used in a certain way!) And, if used in another way, may be a gerund.  And don’t even get me started on past present continuous and the like!  Anyway, luckily Khaya is in Thailand teaching English and I get the sense that what you need to learn (and get over 75% for) is not necessarily put into practice quite so formally in the real world, so that makes me feel a bit better.  Except I still have to get 75% for every single assignment of which there are many in order to continue and ultimately pass.

The other exciting thing that happened is that I have already found my school!  It’s in Tehuacán, Mexico.  I had a Skype interview with the supervisor yesterday who asked all sorts of weird questions – like if you had a superpower what would it be?  I said, to be able to read people’s thoughts (Yes, I was an avid Misfits watcher!).  If I could choose between flying and invisibility which would I choose?  I chose invisibility.  How would your boss describe you?  I said ‘annoying’. 😉 Anyway, after a 45 minute chat he told me that he never does this on the first Skype interview but I’m hired.  He found my ‘quirkiness interesting’ and has a good feeling about me.  Well, I hope he does not say that to all the prospective teachers.  Anyway, its a long way away still but as soon as I saw the advert for this school, I knew it was the place for me.  I have 4 months there and am going to travel for 2 months and already I have changed my mind a hundred times about where I am going to go.  But more about that later.  As I type this I received the confirmation email saying that they want me to join their team! I am so excited!

I am thankful I have all these things to keep me going and occupied because life is hard and lonely in London when you aren’t doing much and are trying to save money.  It has literally rained the entire summer so far.  I bought a bike recently and have not really been able to ride (except for weekends) because every night when I get home it’s drizzling or pouring with rain.  I am really missing the boyfriend so much and and there is no sign of an imminent visit due to his expanding business which in itself is leading to huge stress because the Skype dates of old are very few and far between these days.  But on the plus side, his business is booming which is amazing.  I am so grateful to have this man in my life who will keep the home fires burning while I get to follow my dreams (with the general expectation that one day we will live and make a life together!)

 

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The WEIGHT Blog : Chapter 2

I’ve decided to blog about my weight quest in the hope that by blogging about it, it will keep me on the straight and narrow and more determined to have a positive outcome to this endeavour.

I started my new eating regime on 20 June 2017.  This was the day after we came back from Amsterdam and I knew that I had to do something and fast!  I wasn’t entirely sure which diet I was going to follow at this stage, I just knew I needed to eat less so I decided to just count my calories.  Inserted my height, gender, weight etc into some app online and voila, it told me how much I needed to eat in order to lose.  At the same time the boyfriend was urging me to start Banting as its always worked for him and he believes it’s the best eating plan one could ever be on.  So after doing some research I decided to give it a go.  The premise behind it sounded good – if your body doesn’t have any carbs to burn energy, it will turn to the stored fat in your body and start burning that.  Sounds foolproof right?!  And it kinda is – if you can stick to eating the correct amount of protein and fat.  Unfortunately you have to eat a LOT of fat on this eating plan and I didn’t feel like that was working for me either.  I like that there are no carbs, except certain fruit and veggies but trying to get the right amount of fat in meant eating a lot of meat and cream and cheese which wasn’t really working for me and I didn’t feel like I was losing weight.  At first I didn’t worry too much about the scale, as I have enough clothes in my cupboard that don’t fit anymore and those are the true test.  But yes, I wasn’t feeling much difference in those clothes either.

So during this time I am reading and researching and trying to figure out what will actually work for me and I find a term call ‘intermittent fasting’.  Banting advocates it and I believe the 5:2 diet does too.  It has been around for thousands of years,  not as a diet but as a way of life. I am not going to go into the in’s and outs here – there is a vast amount of reading material on the internet – but this one struck a chord with me.  For so long I have been eating every 2 to 3 hours worrying that I will feel faint and dizzy if I leave too long between meals.  And if I did have longer breaks, I would feel like faint and dizzy.  But that’s only because of the all the carbs I was eating.  If eating a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet, people can fast for extended periods of time.  It sounded crazy to me that there are people on the internet advocating only eating ONE meal a day!

Anyway, so I have started on the lowest one you can get which is sure to make a difference and that’s 16:8.  With this one you fast for 16 hours and then ‘eat’ for 8.  You don’t obviously eat for 8 hours straight but you have your food during that time.  So my normal day is – you tend to work backwards on this one as it depends on what time you finish having dinner.  Generally I have eaten by 7:30 so 16 hours later is 11:30.  I eat what I guess we can call brunch.  It usually consists of an omelette – 2 eggs, spinch, peppers, mushroom and cheese.  Then a bit later I’ll have a bowl of fruit and yoghurt and then for dinner is a huge plate of veggies with some kind of protein.

I was crapping myself when I decided to do this, but at the same time reading about it, felt so right.  The science behind it made so much sense to me and also I had been limiting my carbs to next to nothing for two weeks by then so I reckoned that I would not feel dizzy and faint if I waited 2 extra hours to eat instead of eating at 9. And I was right!!!  It was SO easy!  The most difficult thing for me so far has been not to have a snack AFTER dinner.  I get peckish around 10 and then want to have an apple or something but NO – that immediately puts your body into receiving food mode again and so even just a little apple or a cup of yoghurt upsets it.  But in the morning, those extra hours fly by and to be honest, I’m actually not ever technically starving when I eat, I just eat because I still feel in my head that if I don’t it’s wrong.  I’m going to take a while to work myself up to fasting for longer – if at all.  The change in mindset has been surreal.

I’ve modified it slightly now so that if I feel like eating a slice of health bread, or a sweet potato, or half a cup of unsweetened muesli with my fruit and yoghurt, then I do.  For my body,  I feel that some carbs are necessary – you know when you just know.

I am eating FAR less than I was and have completely cut out sugar, bad carbs, beer, wine – it’s all good, healthy food so I feel like I should have lost more in the time I have been on this diet – which is 6 weeks.  For the first 4 weeks there was no change on the scale.  I deliberately didn’t start an exercise regime because I wanted to be able to see the change on the scale and not get confused between losing fat and gaining muscle.  Nada.  I was feeling despondent.  Then I read some more and most of the articles say that nothing will happen for at least 6 weeks and then the weight will just melt off.  My clothes however, were feeling less snug – although I have not yet attempted to put anything on that I couldn’t fit into anymore.

I left the weighing in for 2 weeks and on the 6 week mark I weighed myself – moment of truth readers!!

The sad truth is that on the scale, I’m lucky if I’ve lost half a kilo.  BUT on the upside – I went clothes shopping about 6 weeks ago and I found this amazing pair of pants that I liked.  They were so amazing that I thought to myself I cannot buy these in a size 14 as I will lose weight and they won’t fit so I bought them in a size 12.  They cost a lot of money and I thought if this isn’t incentive, nothing will be.  When I bought them I couldn’t even button the top button!!!!  Put them on this week and I can button the top button up – so yeah!  It really is true about not getting on the scale but rather using your clothes as a yardstick.  I still can’t zip them up or wear them but I’m getting closer!!! 🙂

 

My previous life

Every time a person asks me what I have tattooed on my leg it makes me realise how far removed I am from my old life.  I actually want to say to these people:  Those are the names of my children, the children I had in a previous life.  I think about this a lot.  I think it’s because when I was living that life I couldn’t imagine my life being any different or that it would ever end.  Having three children spaced apart by first four years and then five years meant that I had young children for a very long time.  Also because I had them so young for the first 23 years of my adult life, I was a mom.  It was all consuming.  And so today, in this new life of mine, it completely amazes me that I no longer have that life.  My life could not be further from that life.  I feel a bit like Benjamin Button.  Like I literally have the life now that people normally have in their twenties.  Even the people who like me, had kids young, seem to already have grandkids and are therefore still in the family lifestyle mode.

It makes me wonder if people who have kids when they are older, can actually see that there is life post kids or is it the same for everyone – even if you did have ‘life before kids’, when you are in it, does it feel for everyone that there will be no end to the sleepless nights, the constant meal-making, the constant dependence they have on you (even when they are no longer children and are teenagers, they are still dependent in terms of needing lifts here and there, help with homework and studying, support, love and attention).  

For so long I was a mom and wife first and foremost.  Nowadays people meet me and unless it comes up, I am just a person, Maria, who recently moved from South Africa to live in London.  I am not sure how I feel about that.  Maria IS a mom and will always be one, no matter where I am in the world or what I am doing.  Three very important pieces of me are my kids, yet they are not all encompassing anymore.  

I’m writing this post because this is something that has been on my mind a lot but also to get other people’s viewpoints on how they experienced or are experiencing motherhood.  Does or did it feel all consuming to you too with the feeling that it will/would never end.  If that has come out negatively it was not meant to.  I loved being a mom when my kids were growing up and I think I was a pretty good one but I do remember thinking at times that it would never end; and being so very weary a lot of the time.  This is why we should listen when older people say, enjoy every moment, because before you know it, they will be all grown up.  That precious time when they are young and completely yours is so fleeting.    

I think that’s also why I am so sedentary in my new life now.  There is no need to jump out of bed in the morning and race around making sure everyone has everything they need.  So I don’t.  I can lie in bed all weekend if I so wish, and sometimes I do.  I can eat toast and butter for dinner every night and sometimes I do.  My time is my own and I am free. Having said all that, I do miss the morning cuddles.  I do miss seeing everything through the eyes of a toddler.  Every worm on the grass, every puppy in the street, every fish in the aquarium, every programme on TV is met with pure delight.  I miss getting cards that say You are the best mommy in the whole world (although I did get a really awesome card this Mothers Day that said ‘You’re Not Like Regular Moms.  You’re a COOL MOM!’)  It’s such a double-edged sword because while I don’t necessarily want that again, in fact I know I don’t, and I love that I am finally at a place where my time is my own, I do think back to it and wish I had been more present and more grateful for what I had.

I read mommy blogs from moms who struggled to have kids and I appreciate how much they appreciate that their kids are a gift and a miracle.  I planned two of my three children and wanted all of them very much so it’s not like I didn’t appreciate the gift I was given.  But by the same token, as much as a mom who desperately wants a child after years of waiting, after waiting 23 years of adult life, I appreciate every single day I wake up alone in my comfy bed to do exactly what I want to do.  The problem though, is that I’ve gotten lazy.  Because of the frenetic lifestyle of my previous life which was constantly on the go – when I have a choice now I often choose to do nothing.  The thought of getting up and going for a run does not do it for me anymore.  I’m definitely fatter and lazier for not having young kids anymore!   

Being a mom is the best thing I have ever done and will always be the best thing I have ever done, no matter how much I accomplish.  Their accomplishments are mine and I could not be prouder of the young adults they are today.  I didn’t provide them with the perfect childhood but it was certainly interesting.  Love and miss them more every day!

Home for the holidays

Before Portugal I went back to Cape Town for 2 weeks to visit my boyfriend, family and friends.  It was my first trip back since I left in July last year (except for that one hectic week when I went back for my dad’s funeral) so was looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up.  So for starters, two weeks was not enough!  You need one week to get settled, then another week to actually start enjoying yourself and get into the Cape Town vibe and then another week to be at one with it all.  So next time, definitely three weeks or more! 🙂

I crammed so much into that time!  First of all, the boyfriend had acquired a motorbike since the last time I was there and was very excited for me to ride with him.  I, on the other hand was slightly nervous and had all sorts of scenarios flashing through my mind, not least of them was that I have no medical aid in South Africa anymore so if something happened …. Anyway, I bit the bullet and feel like I gave off a very unanxious vibe throughout the holiday.  I’m sure the boyfriend would tell you otherwise. But seriously, by the end of the holiday I was not squeezing his midriff so tight he could hardly breath and was able to hold onto the handles on the side quite comfortably without feeling like I was going to fall off.  And truth be told we did some amazing rides.  On the one Saturday we did the entire Peninsula.  Started in Glencairn, went up through the Navy barracks; I sat on a cannon.  We found Just Nuisance’s grave and went for a long walk there – saw Simon’s Town from an angle I have never seen it from before which was actually amazing.  You live in a place your whole life and you think you have seen everything so it’s uber cool when you discover something new!  Then we went all the way around Cape Point and ended up at the 2’6 for a pint (half a pint for Dan as he was driving). Then we went back through Scarborough, down to the beach and then to the Jolly Skollie (Camel Rock Restaurant) for a bite to eat.  That was the best bike day.  We also went to Hout Bay which was the day we went the fastest we ever went (on the M3).  160kmph and weaving through the cars!!!!!  Let’s just say that I preferred the sedate coastal drive. 😉

Trying to look sexy & confident while shitting myself 😉
Me at one with a very big cannon (and a helmet)
Just Nuisances Grave
The view from the top! Absolutely stunning!
One of the very few couple selfies I was permitted to take on my trip

Other highlights of the holiday include:

Staying at Monkey Valley for 2 nights.  I’ve spent a bit of time there and got married there once upon a time; yet I never get over its beauty.  That view is just one of the best you will ever see in the world.  It was extra special that I got to invite all my special peeps over for a braai on one of the nights.  However, it was far too short and if we go again, 3 nights or more is a must (Dan, take note!).

View from our chalet

My besties birthday – we drank champagne from morning until night non-stop and we didn’t even get drunk! Still not quite sure how that happened.  Now that I think about it, Cathy was making the mixes in the beginning, hmmmmm, maybe the key was that not much champers was going into those first mixes.  That would explain things!!! 😉  Anyway, whatever happened it worked, because it was just a fun, chilled, awesome day, hanging with good people and good vibes.

Happy, shiny, beautiful people!
Ok, so the night did END somewhat sketchily with us dancing all over the house, in passageways for example

My get-together at the Glencairn Hotel –  another fun-filled afternoon seeing people I haven’t seen in ages and managing to see family too (thank you for coming, you know who you are).  (Did not take one picture there, silly me).  However, afterwards went back for 2 nights at an absolutely stunning home in Glencairn courtesy of a friend who could not make it to my get-together as she was away.  Thank you so much Adrian and OMG did the threesome have fun that night braaiing and played Heads Up.  I want to choke with laughter every time I think about it.

View from the balcony
View from the braai
Our feet at the end of the night! Don’t ask!

The Farmhouse – watching Grassy Spark – one of our favourite SA bands! Going there was probably the most nostalgic I felt during my holiday. Have had such good times there and this time was no different.  The vibe was excellent, and the bands all put on such a good show.   The energy was top notch and I got to dance and jump and go mad with the sun on my face, my whole body energised.  Then afterwards, a divine braai with friends, which ended late and resulted in hangovers but totally worth it!!

Tania and her tribe, arriving at Grassy Spark. Excitement much!
So happy that Khaya came and joined in the fun. So much love for these chicks!
In our happy place!

Family nights with the kids – we had so many fun nights playing board games, eating sushi and braaiing (and yes, I believe one night was sushi and braai – why not!).  Nothing quite like having a braai, with your nearest and dearest, just chatting and catching up.

Nick guessing which famous person he is – check out the mullet wig
Daniel guessing which famous person he is – the mullet really suits him!

We even had a cultural evening and went to the theatre.  Kalk Bay Theatre is a must do if visiting the Deep South.  It is intimate and cosy (the complete opposite to most theatre experiences you would have in London). There is a restaurant at which you can eat beforehand with lovely (but not spoilt for choice) 3-course meals and of course as much tipple as you like.  You can even take it in with you to watch the show. The show we went to see featured the gorgeous Liam McDermott (Khaya’s boyfriend) and because the audience really is so very small we took up a 10th of the entire audience so you can imagine how much clapping and cheering was coming from our section.

Me and my beautiful daughter before the show!
Me and my beautiful friends after the show

As suspected, I did not do everything I would have liked to do while there. I missed going up Lions Head – but my ex-colleague wanted to do the usual mission and go at 5:30am before work.  I somehow could not get my head around doing that!  I missed seeing some of my friends that while we are not close, I would have loved to have seen.  I’m just grateful that I did get to spend time with my nearest and dearest.

Had some hilarious restaurant experiences where the service was just so awful you felt that surely there was a hidden camera somewhere playing a joke.  On the whole though the food was amazing.  We ate out a lot and ate a lot of calamari and seafood.  Hands down though, the best food we ate was at the Chapmans Peak Hotel in Hout Bay.  Baracuda’s in Fish Hoek was not bad either.  And the waffles, egg and bacon with syrup at Fish Hoek beach was top notch.

I do not feel drawn to South Africa at this time.  Especially after Portugal and the realisation that there is so much of this beautiful world to see. Yes, my kids are there but I’d rather see them over here or plan a trip to another country than go back to Fish Hoek again for a very long time. Fish Hoek/Deep South in general, you are truly magnificent and I appreciate your beauty but you will be just as beautiful as you are now next time I visit.  Actually more beautiful because by then hopefully all the vegetation and mountainside ravaged by the recent fires and the pending rain will have fallen (Please Universe, let it fall).

Beautiful sunset at Tania’s house
Beautiful day at Tania’s house – these are pics she sends me when I am already back in the UK to try and lure me back, tempting for sure!
Fish Hoek beach from the catwalk

Dry February

After being in London for 6 months I can honestly say that the Heathrow Injection is a real thing.  The ‘Heathrow Injection’ is a metaphor for the weight one inevitably gains when one migrates to London for an extended stay. It is attributable to the face-paced lifestyle that leads one to eating mostly take-away and fast foods.

I can hardly say that my lifestyle is particularly fast-paced now, I walk a lot and I definitely do not eat a lot of take-out.  The reason for me putting on weight can be attributed to Tesco’s reduced shelf and beer and yes, the two are not mutually exclusive.   Because when drinking beer I thought to myself, oh well, if I’m drinking 3 loaves of bread a night, I might as well eat bread and sausage rolls for lunch.  Plus I walk 40 minutes a day so surely I will walk it all off.  Um, no.  I have picked up 1 kg for every month I’ve been here.  So, that coupled with my slight concern for my drinking habits led me to doing Dry February (the shortest month of the year and so hopefully the easiest to do).

Well, let me tell you, the first three weeks were hell!  I hated every minute of it.  I didn’t feel any better in the mornings and didn’t have more energy, and it all just seemed like nonsense.  But after three weeks whatever was supposed to kick in, did!  My skin suddenly started feeling so much better (and other people remarked on it so it wasn’t just me), I started making healthier food choices (and I could because I was saving SO much money on not drinking that I could afford to move out of the reduced shelf aisle and mosey into the unknown fruit and veg aisle, where I discovered a whole other shelf that supplies reduced food that is not carb intensive!!!  I also have loads more energy now and am spending my weekends in Richmond Park walking and running and cycling.  As soon as the days get longer I will be doing that every evening after work too!

I’ve read a few posts about other women who do this and they all seemed to do it for a two month stint.  Because everything only kicked in after three weeks for me, I think this is a good idea.  I’m starting to see slight weight lose and if I am going to start drinking again in a week’s time, I’ll just pack it all back on.  So, for all the ranting and moaning that I’ve been doing I am actually going to venture into March and see how long I can continue this for.

It’s also made me realise I have willpower of steel.  I honestly had a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other and the only reason I didn’t give in was because then I would have to admit to having a drinking problem.  Now I can say that I don’t!  (Even though I was thinking about alcohol pretty much all the time for 3 weeks).  😉 Another thing that made me deliriously happy was that I actually did quite a few things in February where other people were drinking.  In fact the very first weekend, only 3 days in, I went to my cousin for a night and he had other friends over.  We stayed up til 2:30 in the morning and I didn’t touch a drop, even though there were getting very merry.  And the best part was that I still had such a fun time!  In fact, all the functions I attended I enjoyed thoroughly.  For me it’s been the getting home after work and having a glass of wine times that I have missed the most.

February has proved to be a most challenging, thought-provoking and intense month.  I did it dry, I did it without a phone and my boyfriend and I rekindled our long distance relationship which I will now class as a romance!!!! There’s sure to be a blog post forthcoming out of THAT story soon!

 

Kids in London

So after such a long build up – I think Rayne started the countdown at 100 days, the kids have been and gone.  What a whirlwind time we had!  Not sure where to start … so many dimensions to this trip.  The touristy stuff combined with the emotional stuff.  Being together for two solid weeks made me realise just how connected we all still are.  After living such separate lives generally – Nic at boarding school, the girls leading their grown up, working lives, we integrated and gelled so completely well again – like we were never apart.  Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get irritated with each other.  The normal sibling stuff was there but it was not bad at all – Nic had two mothers the entire trip.  His cool mom and his irritating mom.  I am the cool mom.  I will say no more.  🙂 Because this is not a travel or adventure blog and because my blog is about being in London away from my children, I want to focus more on the emotional aspect of them being here.  It’s been almost a week since they left and already it feels like a dream, yet while they were here it felt so real and solid and right.

I got to give my son some of the best experiences of his life so far.  He went to a football game on New Year’s Eve and watched a really good game of football.  Chelsea vs Stoke (4-2).  We went on a stadium tour of Arsenal stadium which is where I got to watch him chat to the tour attendant and realise that my son is a vibrant, interesting and interested boy who gets on well with people and is becoming a mature, solid guy.  Affection was not taken well by him on this trip but I can live with that.  ‘Don’t touch me’ often came out of his lips when I wanted to get all demonstrative.

Their first day was an adventure in itself.  First of all I thought I would be late to the airport because I had under-calculated how long it would take me to get to the airport.  I knew they had managed to get OUT of South Africa because Rayne had messaged me – the reason why this was so important is because we had been hearing horror stories about kids not being allowed out of the country at customs due to not having the correct paperwork.  Rayne had already asked permission to leave her brother at customs if this happened!!!!  (I said NO!) After all that, the only bad thing that happened was a really long queue at customs (not one question asked) so I ended up being there in plenty of time and then obsessing about why they were taking so long.  I had cried three times before they eventually came out of arrivals and wondered how it would be to see them – maybe it’s because the break from seeing them hadn’t actually been THAT long but it was just like, OK we all together now, let’s go!!!  And go we did.  These kids did not know what hit them.  Got them on a tube, then on a bus, then home, then back on a bus, then a tube, hit Winter Wonderland, did some crazy rides, ate some crazy food, then back on a tube, then a bus, then a walk home.

My biggest coup of the whole holiday was taking them to see a play in the West End – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.  Nic was in no way happy to have to go and see a play. That is SO not cool! I chose this one specifically because I thought the storyline would appeal to him.  And it did.  He was blown away and loved it and was not afraid to say so!  In fact, it was number 3 on his list of best to least favourite things we did on the trip.  Here is his list:

1    The Chelsea vs Stoke Football match at Stanford Bridge Stadium

2    Camden Market

3    Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

4    Winter Wonderland

5    Madam Tussaurds

6    Arsenal Tour

7    The London Dungeon

8    The Science Museum

9   The Tate Modern Art Museum (this was expected but needless to say Khaya insisted on staying when we needed to leave because she was enjoying it so much and Rayne loved it too, much to her surprise!)

Look! Khaya and Nic met Morgan Freeman
Look! Khaya and Nic met Morgan Freeman
And Shrek!
And Shrek!
And the tour would not have been complete without meeting Bob!
And the tour would not have been complete without meeting Bob!

The funniest part of the trip was when Khaya vomited at Winter Wonderland.  She went on two extremely crazy rides one after the other and after the second one got off, green, and gesticulated wildly that she needed to hurl.  Luckily we were close to about the only grass patch in the whole place and I said just go for it.  And go for it she did! Was hilarious!  We had such fun that day, went on so many rides, drank wintery mulled wine and cider, ate roasted chestnuts and churros … and that was just Day 1.

Me enjoying the mulled wine (with a shot of brandy) at Winter Wonderland
Me enjoying the mulled wine (with a shot of brandy) at Winter Wonderland

Rayne and Khaya did not like the transport system and they did not like the weather.  But they shopped till they dropped.  After the first disaster when I sent them off shopping and told them to just catch the same bus back from the bus station and they got lost because that bus actually left from a different area of the bus station that I did not know about.  The unfortunate thing about me being a relative newby to London is that half the time it was the blind leading the blind and I feel like we took some very long routes at times.  LOL.  Nicholas did his best to annoy his sisters and did very well most days, especially the day we went to Madam Tussauds and went on an automated tour in little buggies.  The people in the buggy are meant to tune it to the language of choice and Nic thought it would be funny to change the language.  Unfortunately once chosen it could not be unchosen, so Rayne and Nic listened to that whole tour in French!!
Both the girls have their own blogs and so I am sure they will share more of how they experienced the trip.  It was the trip of a lifetime, because it was so fantastic and because we will probably never have a holiday with just the four of us again.  It was so special because I shared it with the most special human beings in my life.  I am so lucky and honoured to have given birth to such awesome people!  Only 115 days until I see you all again, let the countdown begin!

Walking the streets of London!
Walking the streets of London! And boy, did we walk!
Camden Town!
Camden Town!
Us on the Millennium Bridge, just before going to visit the Tate Modern
Us on the Millennium Bridge, just before going to visit the Tate Modern
Our last day - enjoying coffee and croissants!
Our last day – enjoying coffee and croissants!

Sayonara 2016

As 2016 draws to a close I’ve decided to make this my last blog post for 2016.  With the cold weather coming in fast and knowing that I am going to have 2 weeks with my children exploring London to its fullest, I’ve decided to hibernate a bit until they get here and no activity means no blog posts. Well, that’s not entirely true as many of mine are not about actual London activities and more about things that have interested me since I’ve been here but it’s good to have a break, nonetheless!

I’d like to reflect on 2016, which was a tough yet exciting year:

Things I learnt in/from 2016:

    • Technology really does make the world a smaller place.  If it wasn’t for my phone I would never have been able to leave my kids and my friends and travel halfway across the world.  I speak to my daughters and my best friends every day and I don’t think I could have given that up or have survived so well without having that connection.
    • Leading in from the above point, I am not homesick.  And I think it’s because I am still so connected to my people.  Not so connected to my country, which is sad but a reality.
    • My son does not miss me.  I religiously get hold of him every weekend to Skype (he is in boarding school during the week so I can’t chat to him anyway during the week).  This is our conversation:

“Hello my boy, how are you”

“Hi, fine”

“What you doing this weekend”

“I dunno”

“Can you skype”

“I dunno”

“Hows school”

“Fine”

You get the picture …

    • Long-distance doesn’t work.  Actually, no, sometimes it does but it doesn’t work when there isn’t an end-date to the time you will be apart.  And when one party is adamant that their future is in South Africa and the other party is adamant that their future is in the UK for the foreseeable future, then something has got to give.  This relationship has taught me that you don’t have to hate the person to break up with them, but rather to remember the good in them and good they brought out in you.  And that sometimes, it’s just circumstances, rather than anything more sinister that brings a relationship to an end.  
    • Walking long distances every day does not make one thin.  But it does make one’s butt look better.
    • The sun really does go down at 4pm in winter in the UK.
    • It’s a very real dilemma to be in a job that you hate but requires no travelling on any form of public transport.  Stay in the job that is so chilled that you are constantly bored or get a better job that requires an hour’s travel each way with the threat of having to stand under sweaty armpits and delays, just to name a few. This is something I actively have to address come 2017!  I feel so blessed that I was eased into London life so well but now I have to take the bull by the horns and realise my potential.  London, look out, here I come!