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. 🙂
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! 😉
If anyone has any other tips to keep things exciting and funny please let me know, I would love to hear from you.
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. 😉
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!).
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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).
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!
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”
“What you doing this weekend”
“Can you skype”
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!
Even though Angela had given me the £30 for assembly of the bed (insert that post here) we had all pitched in and gotten the bed assembled in the end, so there was no way I was going to spend that money on myself, by myself. Luckily the chance to spend it on all of us came a few days later. Somehow Cait managed another half day off work (and I was still in tourist mode) so we decided to go do something really touristy that didn’t require us spending too much money. We wanted to keep the spending of the thirty squid until Reece joined us after work. We eventually decided on going to the Tate Modern as it was free to take in the artiness of the Tate.
Cait did art at school and loved it so I felt like I was going with someone who knew their stuff and would ‘get’ the art which is something I struggle with at times. She would be that person who could walk around ooh’ing and aaahing at what I would find difficult to comprehend. So it was with great relief that Cait had just about the same expression on her face as I did walking around the various exhibitions on offer there. Consternation, confusion and conundrums are words that spring to mind when I think of that afternoon.
I mean seriously: what do my readers make of this:
And really this???
What does it all mean Basil??
To be honest, because of its absolute assault on my senses and what my brain thought was going to happen in there, I actually found it a really enlightening experience and could have stayed longer, except feet were tired and beer was calling. I will definitely go again. It was an exceedingly trippy and entertaining experience!
After that, we concentrated hard on spending the £30 which wasn’t too difficult really. We found an awesome Korean restaurant called Yori (its in Soho) which was awesome because it was authetic but also because we had a voucher for 2 for the price of 1. So we managed to eat quite a bit considering we had £30 to spend!
BI-BIM-BAP – my absolute fave meal of all time!
Not only did we go to the Tate Museum and Yori but we also walked around, caught the bus, saw Piccadilly Circus for the first time and were generally amazed by the sights, the sounds and everything going on. It was such a special day and one of the highlights of my experience so far. You know those days when at the end of it, you are truly grateful, happy and satisfied by the turn of events. It’s sad that we eventually lose that childlike excitement about absolutely EVERYTHING we see.
So even before the accommodation debacle (this is a future post due to the debacle not being over yet! – watch this space) a few other things happened which I was NOT expecting in this first world country we call England.
Do you remember my concern when I went to the bank and was told the card would be posted to me??? Well, I’m not sure if the Universe decided to have some fun with me but after waiting patiently for a week (I was told it would take a few days), I left Hammersmith to start my new life in Richmond and asked Cait to keep an eye out for when it arrived (pin letter and card letter to arrive separately as is the custom in these here parts). Archaic if you ask me! But I think I already said that.
Anyway, while freelancing in Paddington I get an automated call from the bank to say they suspect fraud on my account and if this is indeed the case, then I need to call this number etc etc. That was a surprise considering I didn’t even have a card and a pin yet so yes, fraud indeed suspected!
After answering a million automated questions I was finally put through to a human who then asked me another 101 questions, half of which I couldn’t answer as I hadn’t yet received the card!!! ‘Where were you when you suspect your card was taken? ‘ Well, I have no idea, somewhere between the bank posting it and it never getting to my post box! And ‘dear customer, you really need to be vigilant and keep your card safe at all times’. ‘Yes, I will, if I ever get it!’ Anyway, the reason why they suspected fraud and kindly alerted this fact to me was because the maximum amount had been drawn out of the account 2 days in a row – £600 in total – and apparently that’s an alerter because no-one draws money anymore – they just swipe. Anyway, they very kindly put the money back into my account. I, however, had to go into the bank to cancel the card and then they wanted to post it to me again!!! So, I had a word. And a week later I was able to pick up my contactless (another stupid, stupid idea I think) card and that problem was sorted.
CURIOUS INCIDENT NO 2
While still staying with Cait in Hammersmith they needed to have their bed replaced as it was broken. So the landlady had ordered a new bed from John Lewis (who I later found out is meant to be the best furniture place in all of London in terms of quality and I assume service, delivery and all of that). Cait had told me that the landlady would make arrangements for someone to be there when the bed arrived and assembled but the date kept changing.
I was alone at home the day the John Lewis guys arrived. This rang some alarm bells, firstly because I was pretty sure someone besides me should be there and secondly, when he was leaving I told him that I was pretty sure he needed to assemble the bed as the landlady had paid for this service. He said no, it was not stated on his delivery sheet that assembly was part of the service and so he would not be doing that. During this time I had called Cait to make sure and she assured me that they did indeed need to assemble the bed. So there I went running down the road trying to find out if there was anything I could do to make him come back and assemble the bed! By this time the landlady had found out and was screaming down the phone to the delivery man who was very stoic in the face of such verbal abuse. It wasn’t on the delivery sheet to assemble the bed so that was that in his mind.
Five minutes later the landlady came tearing down the road, on her bicycle, looking like Angela Lansbury in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She implored me to help her assemble the bed as she wanted it done before Cait and Reece got home. So I said sure. It was at this time that I found out about John Lewis’ apparent good reputation and also how in this instance there service had been appalling. It was highly entertaining but also interesting to see that South Africa is not the only place where this can happen and that it does indeed happen elsewhere. It’s probably good to note here too, that I did not leave South Africa because I was unhappy with customer service and believed it would be better in the UK – if that was the case, I would have had a serious case of the ‘WTF did I get myself into’s’.
Said assembly of said bed, coupled with Angela flying around the room, getting me to follow instructions was hilarious to say the least. I’d like to say otherwise but we sadly did not manage to finish the assembly in its entirety before Cait and Reece got home and they ended up helping. What was meant to take 40 minutes and 2 people according to the assembly sheet took us 90 minutes and 4 people (in the end). As a parting gift before flying off on her bicycle, Angela gave me £30 which is what she had paid John Lewis for the assembly of the bed (she had vowed to get it back from them as she had already paid and I am damn sure she did!). So the next day we spent it wisely – more on that in a subsequent post. I found it very amusing that the first money I earned in England was for doing manual labour! 😉
CURIOUS INCIDENT NO 3
So I will admit that I came to England with a sense that things would be far safer here. Even though I am very vigilant still and probably always will be (thanks Lloyds bank for alerting me to that as well). And apparently Richmond is one of the safest areas in London etc. However, on my very first amble down Sheen Road, with Mnandi about to show off the town to me in all its glory, we stumbled across a crime scene. Yes, a real one like you see in the British movies. The police tape was cordoning off an area and in that area were a whole lot of things that were marked (presumably Exhibit A, B etc) and the guy standing over the items was in a white jumpsuit that said Forensics on the back. And there was blood EVERYwhere!!!! Someone had been moving as it spanned quite a vast area and was splattery! Anyway, I wanted to take photos (obviously!!!) and then I could have posted it here now but Mnandi was horrified and said absolutely no way. I still have no idea why! She was visibly shaken and said that nothing like that EVER happens in Richmond. Well, it very clearly did. I tried to find a report on it on the internet and really looked hard but could not find anything so maybe it was brushed under the carpet like so many things are in British culture … nothing to see here kind of thing. 😉
Anyway, the rest of that day was magnificent and Richmond is truly an awesome place to live. We walked along the river and picnicked and drank and soon all my curious incidents were long forgotten, put into the back of my mind until I could write about it!