My one year Londonversary!

I have been in London for a year already!  The time has flown!  What an exciting, exhilarating, amazing year this has been for me!  If I had told my 20 year old self that this is what I would be doing with my life at 44 I would not have believed me!

It’s weird because on the one hand I have had lots of time on my hands to do nothing, but when I put it all down on ‘paper’ I  can see just how much I have accomplished. This post is a tribute to my first year in London – all the places I have been in London, all the places I visited outside of London in the UK and my travels to other countries.  It’s a pretty impressive list, even though I say so myself!

July – Arrival which was coupled with a few stressful moments –  finding work and the accommodation debacle. Thank goodness Cait and I had our day out in London!  – Cait, Tait and Bi-Bim-Bap

August – I started work in August but prior to that I managed to get myself around quite a bit of the UK.  Nottingham (to visit Dan’s gran), Gloucestershire (to visit an old friend from SA), Cheltenham (to visit my cuz) and Malvern to visit my old friend Annabel where we had a marvellous time hobnobbing with the rich and famous! Also attended my first big festival in the UK: Nottinghill Carnival – what an absolute jol!

September – After only being in the UK for 2 months my only living parent (of which I had 3 originally), passed away suddenly.  Here is my tribute to my step-dad – On Becoming an Orphan

October – Little did I think that I’d be going back to South Africa so soon!  But I had to go for the funeral and sort out my dad’s affairs – I spent a hectic week in Cape Town

November – Went and saw The Lumineers as part of my birthday weekend and went to France for a long weekend!!!!

December – Went to Reading to my cousin for a few nights for Christmas and then of course, the main attraction of Dec 2016 and January 2017 – the Kids visit!!!!!

January – The Kids Epic Holiday in London

February – I did Dry February and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes this month.  MFATGG was the show I went to alone (but with Dan in my pocket)!

March – Back to South Africa to visit the family

April – Long weekend in Portugal – Lisboa you beauty!

June – I always love when I have visitors to the UK as it forces me to get out and about in London which I don’t tend to do when I’m on my own.  Extra special because it was the boyfriend who visited and we really got around this trip! Dan and Maria do London (and a bit of the countryside too!)

June – I LOVE AMSTERDAM!

July – Summer Concert in Hyde Park – main act was Green Day but we also got to the see The Hives, Gorgol Bordello and Rancid.  Hands down the best production I have ever been to!  Hands down the most sober I have ever been at a concert so maybe that’s why! 😉  Green Day played for 2hrs 45 minutes and their stage presence and interaction with the crowd was just amazing and heartwarming and yeah, I’m gushing.  🙂  We were in the middle of a rowdy group of people who moshed to most of the songs and everyone was making friends with everyone else, people were pissed and having a great time.  There are LOADS of videos on YouTube of this crazy event but the part that blew me away the most was when Green Day had a quick break and they played the music to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and the crowd sang every single word.  Watch this video to see and also to see how insanely BIG the crowd was – 65 000 people!!!!  If this doesn’t give you goosebumps, nothing will!

I’ve been in the same job since I arrived here and that too has been an interesting one as there have been times when its been super slow and boring and I was constantly weighing up the pros and cons of the job.  But for the most part I am really grateful to have a job with a great salary and very importantly, that I am able to walk to work, the little bit of exercise I do still get!

I will admit that the travel bug has bitten big time and what I’ve learned from all these quick adventures to other places, is that I would like to immerse myself into the culture of a country, to be able to take time to explore and learn things more deeply than you can when you go for a few days.

Which is why I am doing the TEFL course so that I can go to South America and stay there for as long as I can afford to, living with the people, learn a new language, and really explore … the country, and myself.  I love London and I am so happy here but I definitely feel like I do not want to just be here now.  I need new experiences and new adventures and that is what I am working towards with London’s help – as its paying me the salary I need in order to save enough! 😉  No more travelling for Maria this year!  It’s all serious from here on out – study, save and get slim is my new mantra for the next six months!

The WEIGHT blog series : Chapter 1

There is always so much hype in the media about women embracing their body shape and not trying to aspire to how the models in magazines look. I’ve decided to write about my experience – mainly because I have picked up a lot of weight since moving to the UK and none of my 44 years of experience of my body has anything to do with me wanting to look like a model in a magazine.

This is my story, my body and my opinions ….

As a child I remember my mother continually getting on the scale and saying she was fat.  She wasn’t.  She never told me that I was fat but she had VERY strict ideas about eating.  A person should have three meals a day and should never want more than that.  As a lot of people know, as a child, you aren’t ready for breakfast by the time you wake up and are hustled off to school so by ‘first break’ you are starving and you eat your lunch. Therefore no lunch at lunch time, then sport, so by the time you get home by 4 pm you are absolutely STARVING!  My mother would NOT allow me to eat when I got home because after all, she had packed me a healthy, substantial lunch and we would be eating supper in two hours.  Because my mother was often ill, she spent most afternoons sleeping and I became the world’s most stealthy secret eater.  My mother was fastidious about cleanliness so you must imagine that for me to cut 4 slices of bread (this was before all bread came already sliced (best invention EVER!) and butter them and use a spread such as cheese or Marmite was an absolute feat of ingenuity.  So I would do this pretty much every afternoon and when supper time came I was stuffed.  But I had to eat my food (and every single morsel of it) because to leave anything would be wasteful and cause an argument.  To this day I cannot leave anything on my plate and get anxious if other people leave food on theirs.  Everything must go!

I don’t remember worrying too much about my weight or how I looked during my high school years.  I did obviously care but it wasn’t an obsession or anything.  I became obsessed after I had my first child.  After that I was convinced that I would be labelled – put into that bracket of once you have a kid you just let yourself go.  And that’s what started the obsession for me – it was not about wanting to look like a model but more about worrying about the perception people would have of me.  Maybe it was because I was an extremely young mom (20 when I had her), I can’t recall, but I just remember that I was totally obsessed with remaining thin.  I was frighteningly thin by the time she was 2 years old.  I took diet pills and all I ate every day was a tiny bit of supper.  Nothing else passed my lips except coffee and cigarettes during the day.

Then, when I wanted to have my second child I was in a real quandary.  I didn’t want to give up the diet pills because I knew my appetite would return with a vengeance.  But I also didn’t want to put on weight.  So I did my research and worked out, very carefully when I would ovulate.  So I would take the pills all the way up until I ovulated and then wouldn’t take them again until I knew I wasn’t pregnant.  This lasted six months until I did fall pregnant and because I was SO thin when I fell pregnant I ended up putting on 25 kgs.  I will admit to binging on King Pie and croissants while pregnant though!  The moment I stopped breastfeeding, back to the old regime and all the weight came off.

Then the worst thing happened – the active ingredient in the pills – ephedrine – was suddenly made illegal and the pills stopped working.  It was around this time that my first marriage broke up and life got really hectic with lots of parties and stress and trying to cope with two little ones so the weight stayed off.  I did also start being very conscious about what I ate and always made sure the children ate healthy food and snacks. As my girls got older my regime was also for them – I wanted them to be proud of their mother who still looked good and looked after herself. Throughout all this time I had also been a gym bunny – since the age of 15.  Obsessed!

I chatted to my girls about it when I decided to write this blog and they both remember me caring about my body and what I put into it.  They remember me always being good about my weight, eating healthy food and gyming a lot.  I asked them if I had negatively or positively influenced how they looked and felt about themselves and their bodies and they said not at all really.  They both said I was always very honest with them when they did put on weight or lose it again.  Khaya said I once told her that she would never be anorexic because she loves food too much!  I still haven’t been proven wrong! 😉

I was very conscientious when the kids were growing up and that started changing towards the end of my time in South Africa because by then Nick was in boarding school and the girls weren’t living with me but I was still VERY active.  I was walking up Lions Head once a week before work, going for some kind of marathon run or Impi Challenge pretty much every weekend and was still gyming or walking before work.

London changed all that.  This is what happened:  First of all, because I walk everywhere, I got it into my mind that I could eat anything.  Walking does NOT make you lose weight – especially if you are eating as much as I was.  Also, the food here is so darn cheap!  You can buy a big packet of Nachos for 46p!  You can buy a sandwich for £1.  You can buy a jar of peanut butter for 65p!  You can buy a 6 pack of doughnuts for 50p!  Those big Cadbury Oreo chocolate bars – £1!!!  And because I have never been good at portion control, this was not good for me and my waist-line!

Also, going back to my previous post about my more sedentary lifestyle and herein lies the problem.  I have really enjoyed doing nothing and that includes not having to cook or get off my arse!  It’s not like I didn’t enjoy going to gym and all the walks and epic hikes (I loved them) but when I got here I welcomed the change as well.  I didn’t miss the walks and was completely happy and blissful reading or watching movies in bed all weekend (with my snacks!!).  The cold weather helps with that.  And when its summer here, its so darn hot and muggy you don’t feel like working up a sweat either!

THAT HAS TO CHANGE!  But the reason I want it to change is not because I want to look like that skinny model in the magazine.  It’s because I know I am not being good to ME.  I know that I don’t need to eat as much as I do and I don’t need to be SO lazy.  I don’t even care how much weight I lose.  I just want to be the best me I can be.  That will probably never be the active, go-getting me of five years ago.  But I feel that I need to reach some kind of compromise between current me and previous me and get to a place where I feel comfortable in my skin again – and hopefully my jeans too!

I have never really dieted properly without the help of some kind of dieting substance so this time I have to go on sheer willpower.  I am scared.  Very, very scared because I LOVE putting food in my mouth.  I am not sure if that’s because of my secret eating of my childhood or because I deprived myself of food for so many years but whatever it is, the obsession is real.

I had a great year of eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted and being lazy and just enjoying doing nothing if that’s what I felt like doing.  But by the same token, as much as I wanted to be a great role-model for my girls when they were growing up, now it’s about me and being the best me I can be FOR MYSELF.

I don’t know how other women feel but I just feel that if you know you are doing the best that you can for your body and yourself and even if that means you aren’t model thin, then surely you can be happy in your body and enjoy it.

If I could talk to my 20-year old self (which it seems is all the rage today), I am not sure I would tell her any different.  Yes, what she did was stupid and she is lucky that she still has a metabolism, but isn’t that what life is about?  Learning from life and using what you learn to become wiser.  In my mid-40’s I realise that if I want to do this I have to do it with nothing but willpower to power this.  The long and the short of it – for me and my body – is that the less I eat, the less I weigh, and the better I feel.  Simple as that.

I will write another blog about this soon and let you know how I am getting on.  If anyone has any tips or stories of their own to share about this very sensitive subject I would love to hear from you.

The Bucket List Blog – Chapter 6: The Future

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching since starting the Bucket List blog series.  So instead of this blog post being about the top 10 places in the world I really still want to visit (which was the original aim), its going to be about my immediate future plans.  Writing this series made me realise that there were a few things I wanted to do when I was married that I was really passionate about, and that I would still like to do.  Going through all the photos and memories and my journal, reignited some smoldering fires that have clearly not gone out!

Two things spring to mind first and foremost.  I wanted to go and save turtles in Costa Rica and I wanted to become a teacher.  Saving turtles in Costa Rica was a ‘I need to find myself’ cry for help when the stresses and strains of being a mom and a wife and a go-between was all getting too much for me.  But of course that idea didn’t sit well with anyone and volunteer work such as that, requires you as the volunteer to actually pay to do the work.  But now, this is something I could potentially do.

The other thing I wanted to do was become a teacher.  But changing careers and studying and then becoming a low paid teacher in South Africa was not really feasible either.

BUT NOW, the world is my oyster and so the plan is to do a TEFL course, learn Spanish and then go and teach English as a foreign language (hopefully in Costa Rica so that I can save some turtles too) but if not there, anywhere in South America.

And that dear readers, is my next quest.  It probably means that I am not going to have too much new material for the next while as I settle down to studying on the weekends and save every last cent I have in order to fund my time away, but I do have a few holidays that I have not blogged about yet (Daniel in London and Amsterdam) and a few things on my mind that I wish to share … so don’t panic as the drought is not imminent. 🙂

Perfecting the long distance relationship

For those who know me and Daniel, you know that we have been together for almost five years and of those five years, we have spent probably half of them living in different countries.  To say that ours is an unconventional relationship would be putting it mildly.  If after a year of being together, someone had asked me to put money on whether or not we would still be together, I would most definitely have bet for not, and lost.  We have been through a lot in the last few years – both my parents passed away and Daniel’s mom and grandfather too.  Daniel’s mom’s passing was especially tragic as it was cancer, it was quick and she was only 49.  So we have been through stuff.  I have watched Dan grow from a computer game obsessed young man who would get to bed at 3am every night into a man who now owns his own business.  It’s funny that one of the main reasons he started his own business was so that he could sleep late and not have to negotiate heavy traffic and taxis every morning and evening.  Yet, he is up at 6:30 every morning now raring to go.  He has bought a bike and so even if he does have to ‘go into the office’ he can do so with ease.

I thought that everyone who is in a long distance relationship would have thought about the things we do to keep the relationship alive but apparently not.  Everyone I tell thinks it’s completely unique and cute (or else they are vomiting behind our backs, who knows?).  But in the interest of keeping a long distance relationship going strong here are some tips to keep the romance alive.

The long and the short of it is this – when you are not out and about with friends, which of course should still happen as it would in the normal course of events, do everything together.  With the technology we have today this is completely doable.  You can cook together, shower together and then get into bed and talk, choose a movie or a series and watch together, just as you would if at home..  Once in bed at the end of the day, Dan and I Skype for a while and catch up on our days.  Then we put the same movie/series on on Netflix, get to the same point in the show and then press play.  Skype minimises to the top right hand corner and voila, you are watching a movie together.  In some ways it’s better as both of you can fart in the bed and it doesn’t affect the other! 😉

OK, so there is the very real problem of missing the physical aspect of the relationship and yes, that’s the worst part about being separated, no mistake!  But we all know that there are ways around that and while there can never be physical touching while apart there are loads of ways to enjoy each other’s company and still keep the romance alive.  Like taking him into the shower with you.  Or going sexy underwear shopping with the whatsapp camera on.  And then getting home and putting it on.  We have called it the ‘laptop dance’ and it works wonders for keeping things exciting! 😉

For most people in long distance relationships, they are apart for a reason that is important for the future, the goal is that you will be together again and the end goal is making a life together.  Otherwise you would not do it.  As its hard.  But these days the time apart does not have to be a negative thing.  It can be a time of spicing things up, enjoying yourselves in a way you might not be able to when eventually together.

A few weekends ago a band that we both really like played a show in London and he asked me to go and ‘take him with me’.  As it was last minute and a pretty obscure band, no one I knew wanted to go with me so I essentially did go alone. That was a huge ask but I did it because I knew that he would appreciate it, and he did.  Even though I kept muting the sound by mistake when sending videos and the wifi was not great on the Whatsapp call, it was certainly a unique and memorable experience.  It got me out and about to a place and a show I had not seen before and it was worth it for having given Daniel the experience too, albeit a bit smudgy and wonky.

I miss my partner immensely but we are basically together at every opportunity chatting and catching up, our lives are still very much intertwined. My heart is full.  I feel lucky to be in London with a boyfriend who is happy for me to be here and who understands that my life is here now and that he needs to make the move over here and live with me eventually.  I understand that may take a while because he has a business to grow and that making the move to the UK might be a challenge.  It’s also great to know that while that is our immediate future goal, our long-term future is still fluid.  I will admit that its not always easy.  I have had to practice patience which is not my strong suit.  It gets tiring always going out on your own even though you have a partner.  But its also fun to go and then be able to tell them all about it afterwards.  I guess there are loads of couples out there who wish for the day they could get some distance in their relationship.  I guess its all relative and we need to do what feels right.  In the past I fought this relationship every step of the way because I thought that the age-gap was too big, or that he didn’t love me enough or that I wasn’t sure I wanted to DO love again being the cynical, jaded person I am now.  But he changed that.  He showed me that the gap is irrelevant and that his love for me has grown in such a way that its apparent.  I feel happy, safe and secure.  Still don’t feel patient though! 😉

My soul bestie
This is a pic of me and Dan – can you see Dan in this at all?
Dan and I having a laugh on one of our last nights before I left for the UK last year!
One of the very first pics I took of him – 4 years ago
Dan in London – when I wasn’t – 3 years ago.
Dan cooking me my fav on the braai – Woolies steak!
When your man thinks its funny to dress up in your clothes … I must say the colour really suits him!!

If anyone has any other tips to keep things exciting and funny please let me know, I would love to hear from you.

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!

 

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!