Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Having only been here two weeks (officially arrived two weeks ago today) it’s impossible not to make constant comparisons between my birth (now home) country and the country I grew up in. It’s easy to be a South African sitting in South Africa constantly moaning about the state of the country and how green the grass is on the other side of mud island, once you’re here it’s a whole other ball game – even better than you can imagine!

There are ups and there are downs, as with anything in life. Right now, I’m missing my husband and my girls so much that I forget to stop and smell the roses so to speak. I forget just how amazing this country truly is and don’t put much thought into the day to day differences that suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks today. I thought I’d list a few of them, home truths, dreams that have become my reality and give you insight into every day life here in jolly old.

Public transport works.

It’s an amazing thing this ‘public transport’. All races, religions, ages and creeds use public transport in the UK – From the average cross country trains and the London Underground to buses and cabs, there is an option for all wage brackets. That said, you pay for public transport to work… I travel from Crowthorne to Wokingham, Wokingham to Virginia Water and Virginia Water to Chertsey every day (Morning and evening), that trip costs me £16 a day (or £260 for a monthly season ticket) – that’s a big chunk of change out of my salary, I assure you – AND that’s without even touching London central. Sure, cars here are well affordable and you get to pump your own gas but those costs add up just as quickly and we won’t even discuss traffic on the M25 or lack of parking in London. Did I mention that there are no taxi’s? Oh, also, there are no taxi’s!

Self service and laziness.

The Brits are just as lazy as they are independent. Here, you have to ‘pump your own gas’ and yet you can get food, beer and cigarettes delivered to your door (just about anything actually) at any time of the day or night. Sure, you can make use of the self service check out at Tesco’s but because you’re spoiled for choice, we will put 4 hair dressers on one short street. Why not? It’s rather confusing and complicated to get used to… I’m getting there slowly :)

Old people

Wow, no offense to anyone but there are a lot. Or maybe it’s just that you see them because their bodies are younger than they are thanks to this amazing climate and they get themselves out and about into the world?! The reality is that I don’t think the pensions are nearly enough to keep them comfortably going… Or, out in the sticks, they’re so bored all they want to do is be around people. At my local Sainsburys, the trolley collector (yes, it’s a job) is about 90 in the shade and yet takes those trolleys back to their houses every day with a smile on his face… Either that or the 88 year old cashier caught his eye. It’s cute, all these really old people, I’m gonna live for ages!

A different era

Perhaps it’s just where we live or where I work or maybe we went into Camden on a rough day but I’m pretty certain that most of England thinks they’re living in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s – not that I’m complaining at all – only with earphones. The men, well, there are three types. Rough and tough, bearded, tattooed and Doors looking regulars. Metrosexuals with a comb over, brown pointy toes shoes, grey suits and an upside down newspaper. Lastly, the ‘chav’, grey tracksuit pants, high tops and quite probably a pony tail – they like to say ‘Blood’ a lot. Anyone else is foreign. The lines between fashion senses are pretty definitive. When it comes to women, there isn’t much of one style persay but as mentioned in a previous blog, camel toes are acceptable as are mustard yellow leggings, brown cardigans and purple hair (all combined). It’s safe to say, the most eclectic people get to live in England and it’s completely normal.

Food

… Is awesome. Bland as all hell. Just the way I like it. Sure, they don’t know that a kebab is actually a pita bread and Fanta Orange is supposed to be Orange, but everything else edible is awesome! I’m just happy that I can have Ribena any time I like, I’m weird like that.

Work

The English don’t really know what ‘work’ is, that’s why they’re so quick to hire South Africans. I get into trouble if I get in earlier than start time or leave later than finish and heaven forbid I don’t take my lunch – the concept of a lunch hour is foreign to me so it’s pretty amazing to actually eat during the day. When we are all working, my definition of busy is very different to that of a Pom. It’s refreshing really, people here understand keeping work and home separate.

I could go on and on and on… I’m not saying it’s perfect here but it’s a foreign concept to me to be ‘nice’ to your neighbors, to walk around at all hours of night in the dark safely, to smile and wave at passers by and to have a library or museum on every corner. What a cultured place to live… I know I’d fit right in, if only my people would arrive and I could get back to being my awesome self.

Guess what? I’m on a train…

In a few days time, I’m turning 30 years old… What do I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing.

Well, not nothing exactly but barely anything material anyway. It’s difficult knowing that all that is important to you in the world is sitting in another country and all the possessions you keep can fit into 3 small suitcases. So what’s different about this birthday compared to the others? Firstly, I’m not with my husband and my children which is a totally foreign concept to me. My birthday is always a big celebration in our home, it begins with a birthday week and my husband has been known to buy me birthday presents everyday for that week, it generally ends somewhere between a braai and the pub with many shooters in between. Sadly, on my biggest birthday yet, the oldest I’ve ever been, I’m ‘alone’ and I hate it.

I’ve spent the last few days of my birthday week in tears, not because I’m sad about getting old but because I’ve learnt that what makes a birthday is those closest to you and not what you do or what gifts you receive. I, the Shevster, am losing all street cred for the many tears I’ve cried for my family that I’m longing for – so much so, I was going to buy myself a birthday present, a one way ticket home back to them – Home is where the heart is and England just won’t be home until they arrive.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the UK – it’s been the most amazing few days with a multitude of changes. My body is adjusting to the new climate, my stomach is adjusting to all the new food, my feet are adjusting to all the walking I’ve had to do and my mind is adjusting to the train commute and new job I’ve started. It’s quite a challenge being independent living with your family to being a guest in someone else’s home without said family, it’s taking some adjusting there as well – Thank goodness my housemates have been more than accommodating, they’ve been awesome. In just over a week I’ve given up everything I owned, left my family, moved to a new country, become a lodger and started a new job to which I have to commute on various trains – I’d say that I deserve some leeway on those tears, it’s mighty big steps in the right direction, no one said they’d be easy.

Before arriving in the UK I knew that I’d be joining the train commuters on the daily journey to work and back, it’s a given considering I don’t drive – Even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to afford a car, petrol and insurance is just as expensive as a rail commute – Yes, the trains run late or don’t run at all but there is always another one – At least I don’t have to sit in traffic. My commute is fairly simple after a few days of doing it, Nicolle drops us (me) at the station in Crowthorne, I then take a train into Wokingham and from Wokingham to Virginia Waters and finally ending in Chertsey where I have a 5 minute walk to the office. The whole journey in the morning probably takes approximately an hour and 10-20 minutes depending on the times. The return home is a little longer as I have a 30 minute walk from Crowthorne station to the house, my shins are already screaming this week! On my first day at the office, Scruff did the trip with me to make sure I didn’t get lost and since then I’ve been on my own – the return home was extremely daunting but I managed and got home in one piece. Since then, it’s gotten easier and easier and for the first time yesterday I got home without my Google Maps for train times and directions on my walk – soon I’ll be ready to venture out into the bigger stations, spread my commuting wings a bit.

The funny thing about the train is how you start noticing the same people on the same trains – So many people do these journeys every single day, reliant on these trains to arrive on time to make the connection onto the next one. When one train is late, your journey can go from 30 minutes to an hour and if you miss that connection, a wait at the station is a given. Having experienced these delays and waits myself, you can’t help but sit and watch the people getting into and off of the trains – It’s an awful time, all this commuting leaves you alone in your own mind with far too much time to think and miss family, so you have to think of something else to do and occupy your mind before driving yourself mad. Anyway, so I watch the commuters, judgmental I know.

It’s become apparent from my train-spotting (almost) that it is perfectly acceptable to wear leggings as pants – there is no longer a need to wear a top long enough to cover your ass and camel toe is the new ‘style’. It doesn’t matter if said leggings are see through either because it’s fashionable right? It’s the middle of autumn, starting to get a bit cooler in the evening and at 6pm sitting at the station, the girls are running around in ankle boots and mini skirts with coats longer than their skirt, no stockings and goose bumps galore. I’m quickly learning that the UK has its own fashion sense and it’s rather odd to keep up with. It’s also easy to watch people (or hear them) on the train as well… For example, my hearing OCD generally kicks in quite quickly after boarding the train, the sounds of people snorting and sniffing, slurping their coffee and biting their nails – it all drives me absolutely moggy. While the train has ‘Quiet zone’ signs asking you to keep your phone on silent or your headphone volume at a minimum, I always manage to sit across from the commuter who can’t read and instead has their music blaring that the whole train can hear it. It’s safe to say that shortly after getting on my train, I’m extremely happy to get off. What was exciting the first few days is now just a pain in the butt… It’s official, I’m a commuter.

On a more pleasant note, I got a bank account this week! Yay, I’m 30 and I have a bank account! (insert sarcastic snort here). What a mission… It is extremely difficult to open an account here without a utility bill, which I don’t have because I live with people and won’t have until I’ve got a bank account out of which to pay rent… A few banks later, I found one willing to help (Yay Halifax) and now I can starting earning my salary… Next step is my National Insurance number for which I have my appointment on the 6th of November and then a few weeks wait until I can rent my own little place, after payday in December, ready for Jp and the girls to join me in the new year (Which feels eons away!)

So this weekend we are headed off to Camden to celebrate the birthdays, I’m looking forward to it but truly long for next year, my 31st, when I have those that matter around me.

Now if this guy opposite me could stop snorting, that would be great…

It was almost a month ago that I was fortunate enough to have gone to Reunion island for the Mascarun South Africa. If you had followed my blogs you would have been able to keep up with all the amazing activities we got to participate in as well as the love I developed for this beautiful, captivating island. Well, now you can see it for yourself as well. The Reunion Island Tourism Board put together this 5 minute video for us on our adventures in Reunion over the Mascarun challenge – Now I can share it with you in the hopes that it will inspire and motivate you to visit the island and have as much fun as I did. Happy viewing!!

Mascarun

This afternoon I watched one of the most disturbing documentaries I have ever seen, Blackfish. The movie centres around ‘Tilikum’, an Orca living (existing) in Sea World in Florida who killed a while trainer and what transpired in the aftermath of her death. What was disturbing about this documentary was not the death of a human being but the utter disregard that people have for the lives of animals. As a race, we should be disgusted in ourselves.

I am not an animal rights activist, nor am I a vegetarian and admittedly I do not do enough for animal rights as I could be doing. I am just a regular woman with pets that I absolutely adore and love who is guilty of visiting zoos and aquariums, funding the idiotic animal circus that is this parade of the earth’s creatures. Something about this documentary on Tilikum has sparked a few things in me, one of which being anger. I am so angry that human beings feel they have the right to own and control such beautiful creatures – To take an animal from its natural habitat where it will be healthy and free and instead, lock it up in the smallest pools for most of its life for our viewing pleasure and then fool the public into believing that this is what is best for the animal.

A friend of mine has been battling with guilt around eating meat, something we have discussed at numerous lengths to gauge what exactly is the best way forward to do what she / we can, even in the smallest way, for animals. It is such a debated and controversial topic and unless you only eat fruit and vegetables exclusively, you walk a very thin line trying to aid the cause without doing any harm. Most of our conversations ended at a crossroads, unsure of the answers to the questions and what to do next. Where does one draw the line? Who decides that cows, pigs and chickens are good enough to eat but wanting to have your feline for dinner is frowned upon? We judge people in foreign countries for eating some of the things that they do (and consider a delicacy) whilst eating a steak from a cow that could also have been someone’s pet. I am not condoning eating domesticated cats in any way, but who is to say what animal ‘deserves’ to be eaten and which animal does not? If I, as a cat lover, do not agree with eating cats because I keep them as pets and could not even fathom the idea that someone could actually do that, would it be fair to say that people who own animals such as cows, pigs and chickens amongst others, would not eat meat from that animal as well for the very same reason? If this is true, could you then go on to say that someone who does not have any pets whatsoever considers all animals ‘fair game’ making the cat dinner sound a little more plausible. Rather than the above, the alternative is to look at a no meat option because let’s be honest, you cannot be a vegetarian but still eat chicken, fish and meat products – What makes that fish any less important than the cat in your house (If animal activism is your reason for being a vegetarian of course, I am generalising here).

But what about animal products?

You may have decided that you will no longer eat meat whatsoever, instead you will try to balance a diet of legumes and rabbit food, I for one could not stomach that way of eating. But surely, for the good of the animals, we should be avoiding their products as well? How am I saving a cow by not eating a beef steak but I will buy a litre of milk at the shop that was knowingly STOLEN from that cow after it was forced to reproduce non-stop for its entire adult life to maintain sufficient milk production, after all it is a business right? Is it fair that I will not eat the chicken but we will take their offspring (Yes, that is what they are) and eat it before it has a chance to be that little chicken? That aside, I will eat those eggs knowing that its layer was kept in a cage with 200 other chickens where they could lay egg after egg for the everyday consumer to keep up with public demand. How about my genuine leather belt, shoes or handbag? I do not want to eat the beef but I will still wear the skin of the animal because I like those shoes or I need a jacket in winter?

Let’s assume that after many discussions we deem it near impossible to avoid some, if not most of these scenarios. It is decided that perhaps we will continue to drink milk, eat eggs and throw a steak on the braai but instead we choose to investigate where our food comes from to make sure that the animal has been looked after well enough before having its throat slit or head chopped off. Will it help me to sleep at night knowing that the beef ribs I had earlier would have come from a cow that was free to roam the meadows and ate the greenest of grass, drinking the most pure water with many other fat and healthy cow friends? No, because while the cow has a somewhat nicer life, the end result is the same. That cow is being raised to be food, that cow will still be turned into a handbag and that cow’s milk is still taken to put into my cereal instead of what it is meant for, to feed its young. Even if it did make me feel better, this is what the world suddenly calls ‘free range’ and ‘organic’ – What should be natural and NORMAL is now a speciality – When did it become a speciality for an animal to roam in a field? Since when is it acceptable that this animal can only eat the best grass if it is raised in this way?

We moan when a registered voter doesn’t vote because they want to complain but will not actually do anything about the situation but it is easy to feel that way about not eating meat as well. What point is there to me, one person, no longer eating meat or derivatives? Just because I stop eating meat, doesn’t mean the rest of the world will. As long as there is a demand, the battery chicken farms will still exist and the milk stealing dairies will still go about their business, that is not going to change because of me. Then I have to hope that as long as I am eating the steaks and drinking the milk, the animal did not die in vain and someone who truly appreciated its sacrifice has ingested it instead.

What does this whole rant have to do with Tilikum?

At the end of the day, it is all the same. We keep and kill animals in the most inhumane way to feed the population. At the same time, we capture and imprison innocent animals for our selfish viewing pleasure. When will the realisation come that we are a selfish, cruel, disgusting species who live only for ourselves instead of for the good of others. Too many SICK things are happening in the world already, is it too much to ask to preserve the life of animals that cannot speak for or defend themselves? What does it say about us that so easily we abuse those that are weak and defenceless – If we cannot preserve animal life, how the hell do we have any hope of raising children that actually give a sh1t? In an age when we can send men to the moon, we cannot create a world without the unnecessary killing or abuse of animals for food or entertainment?

Call me a wishful thinker but I can only hope that day will come, when it will be just as inhumane to eat a cow as it is to eat a cat. I am not a vegetarian, I am not an animal rights activist and I have been to a zoo or two. I am not perfect and I do not have all the answers but I can only hope that things get better for animals like Tilikum and so many others that suffer at the hand of the human race.

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I do not mean F@#k Off Cos You’re Stupid. No, I mean FOCUS – Focus on what is going on around you, FOCUS on what is directly in your future, FOCUS on the end goal and everything you do will fall in line with that, right?

Easier said than done. In the last few weeks (By few I mean two) I have been all consumed by the administration necessary to move my family cross continent. While I understand the magnitude of what I am doing, I have not actually sat down and allowed myself to focus on this task at hand, instead I have been shifting attention to each individual task with the bigger picture in the back of my mind. I understand that what I have just said makes me sound like I have not in fact thought this move through, that is not the case (I do nothing BUT think about it), what I mean is that I have been so caught up in arranging my husband’s settlement visa, obtaining my children’s passports, selling everything I own in the world, leaving behind friends and family and finishing up in my current job. There are so many finer details to be thought of and arranged that I have completely forgotten to think about what is ahead, the fact that I am leaving the only country I have known in 24 years.

I was on the way home last night and in the car I was doing my usual moan to Erin about how there is just too much to worry about, too much too arrange, too much that needs organizing. Many a day I have questioned my decision and I am constantly in a state of anxiety about the visa’s and passports and of course, the what if’s. What she said to me (Thank you) was almost profound… I am not deserting my family, I am giving them a better life and when this is all over this terrible time in limbo will just be a distant memory. I definitely will not be crying about how long the visa process took when my husband actually arrives and we can focus on the future. What I should be doing now is preparing for an ADVENTURE that awaits me – Next week I get on a plane and fly, one way, to a new country. I will live in a new house with very different living arrangements, I will start a new job, I will have to get used to a new transport system and meet all new friends.  I will not be near to any of my immediate family and I will have entirely new surroundings to explore – It is an amazing future that awaits me, it truly is an adventure – One that I have not spent enough time getting excited about.

Yes, the next 4 months or so without my husband and children is going to be very difficult but at the same time, the adventure is going to be amazing! Relationships will be tested and resilience will be in question but at the same time the world will open up for me and I need to enjoy every second of it, there will be no point in moping around without my loved ones – INSTEAD my time will be put to good use preparing everything for their arrival.

I cracked a beer when I got home today, not because I was thirsty and not because I wanted a drink in a social manner. No, it was because the UK spousal visa that we have to apply for in order for J-P to move to the UK is driving me to drink.

Do not get me wrong, I am excited for this move (Really excited – Especially since I have now seen a picture of my new room for the next few months) and I understand that certain paperwork must be done in order for my husband to come back to my birth country with me, I am more than willing and able to co operate… but Holy Sh1t. On days like today, I wish I had married a British passport holder (No offence babe).

Look… there is a metric ton of documentation required for the visa. Most of which is pretty easy to acquire but the actual application itself is pretty daunting, to do it without the help of a reputable visa / immigration specialist is probably not a good idea because after playing Google detective and reading up on all the horror stories of failed applications, it will only mean taking a risk I am not willing to take – Anything that can delay this visa application is NOT a good thing.

The first visa / immigration agent I contacted basically blew me off without even reading or listening what I had to say. You see, you need to be able to support your spouse and earn the equivalent of GBP18600 per annum – While this is fairly easy to prove and apply for after working in the UK for 6 months, before that time the only way to go about this is to prove you have earned that money in the last calendar year (Start the rands to pounds conversion as the non bread winner, enough to make one sick). I made this difficult for myself admittedly by moving jobs 5 months ago and taking a drastic cut in salary, this of course affecting my financial requirement for the application – A battle that I now face in the eyes of the visa and immigration authority. If you know me, you will know that in fact I do not stop at NO and went on to the second immigration assistant for some advice, thankfully they were a little more forthcoming with information and I was able to get an actual calculation method to check if I did qualify with my current earnings on the GBP18600 stipulated – THANK THE POPE, I just squeezed it in to allow for an application at the end of November 2014, perfect right? After emailing all my calculations that I spent HOURS working on to this agent, she then came back and said that she would need copies of my payslips to verify this information (Just in case I fabricated my own amounts I am sure) which I then sent on to her as requested.

TWO DAYS later, I am still waiting for a response – After calls, emails and voicemails we finally managed to speak to another gentleman who said he would get back to us by tomorrow afternoon to see if we qualify – I cannot possibly understand that delay as I did their job for them? Anyway, not one for incompetence or snail’s pace, I decided to email a few other immigration agents to get a feel of who actually wanted to assist me and who did not – At the end of the day you would expect them to WANT to help when they make up to R10 000 in service fee out of me but hey, what is R10k anyway? Two of the agents I emailed responded – The first, an email detailing that I would no doubt have a successful application once I have been working in the UK for 6 months (Thank you for pointing out the obvious – Information I already have, am well aware of and am trying to avoid at all costs). The second, a company finally willing and able to assist and confident that my calculations are correct and we can successfully apply by the end of November 2014 – Best case, we have the visa in approximately 7 weeks, worst case 12 after application. Without hesitation we have set up our appointment with them, paid the appointment fee of almost R1000 just to see them and already have a file full of documentation to take with – Easiest clients EVER!!!

Now that we have finally found a company willing and able to assist, the mountainous administration is ahead of us  – From photo evidence of our relationship (Thank goodness for Facebook) to letters from loved ones authenticating our marriage, from a misplaced matric senior certificate issued 14 years go – J-P’s, not mine – to certificates and as much original paper work we can find. We have our work cut out for us, all the while I sit in the UK and leave this in my husband’s capable hands (I promise babe, I do think you are capable). This process is most definitely not for the faint hearted, or for the tight budgeted – The visa alone comes with a price tag of GBP885 excluding the fee for using an immigration specialist of approximately R10k as mentioned, added to the cost of an English test at about R3k and a TB test of R1k.. All in all, over 30 000 rand… A R30 000 well spent as far as I am concerned.

I could work in the UK for 6 months and then only do the application, it would probably be a hell of a lot easier – But the truth is, I do not want to be without my husband that long and so I am not willing to accept that. When you want something bad enough, you figure out a way to get it and it just goes to show that if you keep on and on and become a nag, someone will eventually come to your party! I may have had a few more beers by the time this visa comes through but the bottle of vodka at the finish line will be well worth it when it has been issued.

It is difficult and heart breaking decisions and moments like this that have me awake from 3am in the morning – I am beginning to wonder if I will ever get any sleep again in the lead up to my move (In case you missed it, SA to UK) Now that all the formalities are done, now that everyone knows, now that jobs have been left and friends and family have been notified, it is time to put all the plans into action – With a little less than 3 weeks to do it! This morning, all that I can think about is that fact that I have to leave my animal children behind – I am the most awful pet owner in the world :(

In the last few days, many people have posed questions to me about my desertion of my family – The human ones, J-P (My husband) and my daughters Hayley and Dakota. How can I do that to them? They won’t have two parents? How will they manage? How will I manage? In answer to everyone, it is the most difficult thing I have ever and will ever do, but I guarantee you that they will be stronger for it. They are not being ‘deserted’ as many people have put it, in fact now more than ever they will be around close friends and family to spend what time they have left with them. Both of my daughters will still have their fathers here in South Africa with them up until the move as well as all the grand parents and aunties and uncles they have, they are very blessed in that regard. Will they manage without their mother? Absolutely. I am not saying that I am a non issue in their lives, no doubt they will notice my absence and the distance put between us will be the longest mile imaginable but it is not FOREVER, hopefully it will not even be for more than 3-4 months if we can get all the paperwork right. They are resilient and they are still young, before they know it they will be with me in the UK looking forward to their first white Christmas (Probably next year) and speaking with little accents – This will all be a distant memory, the first and last time our family will be separated like this.

siobhan 3a Siobhan 37

Those of you who know J-P and I well will know that in recent years we have had to deal with some pretty rough stuff and heck, we got through that! We can get through anything (Except his snoring which this morning is exceptionally loud in my already over flowing mind). He is an amazing father with an excellent support structure, he will do a fabulous job with the children preparing them for this big adventure that I absolutely cannot WAIT to share with them. The beauty of modern technology is that the world has shrunk – We have the internet, digital cameras, Whatsapp and instant messaging, Skype and Facetime – We have so many tools at our disposal that it is impossible not to know how the other half of the world is living.

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I like to think of this little separation as a good thing. I will be there for a few months without them, finding a nice little place to stay and making it comfortable for them. I will be finding my way and learning the ins and outs of the towns and transport system. I will be contacting schools and making provision for them to start when they arrive. I will be making sure that by the time they do get there to join me, everything is already done for them so that along with the excitement of seeing their mother in person again, they will be in a comfortable loving home and I can excitedly show them the ropes – Not all 4 of us arriving, battling and fumbling our way around another continent. At the same time, they will be here with family maximising all the time they possibly can (and being spoilt, I am sure) – A few months goes by in a flash, they will be with me before I know it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say, it is a necessary evil and one that has no choice other than to play out so that we can do and have what we want for our young family. My children have already given me a task, at Christmas time when hopefully there is some snow around, I have to go outside and sing ‘Do you want to build a snowman’?, record it and send it to them… Easiest christmas present ever :D

When we were originally in talks about the UK move, we did not foresee this happening for at least another 2 years or so, so you can imagine that we are a little unprepared in more ways than one (Including financially, but if you wait for financial readiness you will never get anywhere in life, this I know). We had planned to travel with all 4 of our cats and even starting looking at the budget and formalities involved to do this. That said, this move is happening a bit differently than we had originally planned and now that is no longer a possibility. The first difficult thing that I have to do is find loving homes for my 4 furry feline babies. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I love my animals, this is not an EASY thing for me to do. My cats are my other children and without them life absolutely sucks, now I am sitting here typing this blog and all four of them are around me in the lounge as if they know that I am talking about them or crying for them… well, I am, on both accounts. If this is me with the animals, how the actual heck am I going to leave my kids?! So I have done the necessary and shared a status update on Facebook for my close friends and family, ideally that is where I need my animals to go, to a friend or family member who can give my babies as much love as I have and do.

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Despite having to heartbreakingly leave my animals behind and then desert my husband and children for a few months, I also have to leave all my family and close friends – The only life I have known for 24 years of it. I know, I am not the first person in the world who has moved countries and I most certainly will not be the last, that said, it does not mean that the end result affects me any less?! My sister said to me that she will miss me (Obviously) but I replied to her that we live mere roads away and yet we only see each other sporadically anyway, so the impact should surely not be so great. She had a valid point though, we get complacent and don’t see each other because we know that at any time we can. We can hop in the car, meet at the shop, go past the office or meet for lunch – it would be that simple if we allowed it. My best friend of now 21 years (That is a long time) and I have a relationship that allows us to get on with or lives that are at somewhat different stages at the moment and yet when we meet up, it is as if we saw each other yesterday and nothing had kept us apart – That will not happen any more. Instead, we will be reduced to the technological advances I mentioned earlier and hope that the British and SA governments work together to soon abolish the visa requirements for South Africans, so people can come visit us as well! When I leave on the 15th of October, I will be missing my planned 30th birthday party, my mom’s 50th birthday, my husband’s 32nd birthday, Christmas, Hayley’s 9th birthday and New Year – I just have to get past all of those difficult occasions and then my family will be almost ready to arrive!

It is a tough one, a really tough one. A decision we are not making lightly. We are choosing to raise our children without their grand parents, without their aunts and uncles and without any future cousins they may potentially have (I still want to be an aunty by the way, just because I am cross country does not mean I did not earn that right ok siblings?). We are choosing to raise our children in a country that they were not born into. My husband is choosing to move with me to a country in which he has to start again. Do I feel like I am taking something away from them? Of course I do, I know what it was like to be raised in another country without those people in my life but at the same time, I am opening up so much more for them and plan on my children being seasoned travellers very soon – The SA / UK commute will be a regular one because despite our need to move, I will never sever that tie.

And then, the letting go of worldly things. My life has had many battles and challenges, it was certainly not always easy and I did not always have the things I wanted. I spent the last 10 years building myself up, recovering from past mistakes and trying to build a life for myself materialistically… Finally, I am in a good place and have nice furniture, a nice house, nice clothes and nice things and I have to GIVE IT ALL UP to start once more. I cannot think of anything more frustrating… Well, they say life begins at 30 right so I guess I am just starting my life all over again. Time to relinquish almost everything I own in the world so that my little brother can start his little life on his own and we can start fresh. I will be going to the UK with my measly 30kgs of luggage and the move cube, with the last bits and pieces we can squeeze inside

But it is done and I am going and I am so grateful for the support that we have as a family, here and there. We appreciate ALL the help everyone is giving us and we would not be able to do it any other way… it is sudden, it is last minute and it is how I role. It is happening people… It is nearly time. Thanks to these two crazies again, I also cannot wait to see your faces so it is not all doom and gloom!

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