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!!
Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
Tags: Beach, Holiday, ISland, mascarun, reunion, Travel
Tags: Adventure, Chidlren, Country, Emigration, England, Family, Husband, Moving
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.
Tags: Emigration, England, Husband, Immigration, Passport, Spousal visa, UK
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.
Tags: Children, Control Freak, Daughters, Emigrate, England, Family, Husband, Love, move, ocd, UK
Admittedly, my poor husband does not get enough credit. In the lead up to my trip to the UK without him, my nightly insomnia is fuelled with the worry that without me, he just will not get anything done. A visa in the pipeline, multiple passport applications to be done and the next few months of being a single father, that husband of mine has his work cut out for him and despite his numerous attempts to quell the beast that is my OCD, I really cannot let it go. So what does one do when one has far too much time on one’s hands and enough anxiety to push an AA meeting to vodka? One makes lists of course. To do lists. Checklists. Bucket lists and blacklists. If it can be listed, I will list it somewhere – Suddenly excel and I are on amazing terms and short of detailing the number of breaths I have to take in a day to survive, all of my daily tasks are documented. So why the lists you ask? I can tell you for certain, it is not because I think my husband is incapable of doing as I ask, it is more a case of me worrying that I will forget to nag about yet another task I have given him to do.
One of the incredibly difficult things for me to deal with about our impending move is the fact that I just do not have control. I am in control of the basics, the finances, the movement and the choices we have made, the rest is in the hands of government departments and others. I can only do so much and for me, with the kind of anxiety that I am currently suffering, that ‘so much’ that I can do is just never enough. With my move happening far sooner than that of my family, I am forced to relinquish control to my husband for many of the things that I would normally handle and have been in charge of handling up until now. When I leave, he has to make sure he obtains everything required to apply for his visa, all of the documents needed for the girl’s passports, taking over the duties of looking after my children and making sure that everything runs as smoothly here as I hope to have things running over there, ready for them to come over as soon as possible. With all of these things that he has to do and arrange, I have sat night after night typing up to do lists and trying to get as much done before I leave as humanly possible – Driving this husband of mine absolutely bloody moggy, not because of his inability to do this without me, but because of my inability to just let go.
A spiky marshmellow is what I have been called by those that know and love me, or so they say. I tend to portray this tough, hard exterior and yet right now I am melting on the inside. I found myself waking up this morning thinking that today was the second last Sunday that I would spend in South Africa. I struggle to think of what it is I will miss about this country, barring family and friends of course, yet I know the day draws nearer to when I have to get on that plane and wave goodbye to my children and my husband for what will be a lifetime until they arrive. ‘I love you three’ will be something that my three year old says to me over Skype without the accompaniment of a snake love (It is a hug on steroids with the constriction of a snake of course, totally normal). Glee will not be in on in the background of my home while my husband pretends it is on for my 8 year old and that same 8 year old will not be coming to me to help me with her homework, or reading her stories to me while I am in the bath.
The universe has a funny way of giving us what we thought we wanted when we did not want it at all. Before you misinterpret that, understand that I am not referring to the England move as that is something that we want more than you could possible imagine. What I mean is that in getting what we want, we are faced with a separation that no one would ever have asked for and yet subconsciously, as a mother, there are times when my inside voices have screamed for solitude and peace and quiet. I have never been ‘on my own’, when I moved out of home it was with the father of my daughter and thereafter it has always been H and I, I have never had to be alone no matter how many times I frustratingly wished I could be. I have of course, always done everything backwards so it makes sense that the universe has decided that having a husband and two children means it is time for some ‘ME’ time – I am about to be alone for the next few months, whether I like it or not. Trust me, I don’t like it but I will be damned if I don’t make the most of it – I am going to enjoy this time on my own, by hook or by crook and when my family arrives they will be more appreciated and loved than they could possibly understand – SNAKE love all around.
Making lists seems to be a way of taking my mind off of all this pressure, the fear of loneliness and the worst case scenarios that as a realist, are firmly cemented in my mind. All I can think about is what if the girls do not get their passports (Most unlikely, in fact improbable but still a thought), what if my husband does not get his visa (Again, improbable but realistic), what if things do not work out the way I have so cautiously planned and what if all my list making is in vain and no one bothers to follow my lists. What then? The fact that my lists could go ignored has me needing to make a back up list for myself, just in case.
I sound like an absolute nut job right now, I get it. If you were about to endure what I am going to be, you would be a nut job too. Nut job or not, I have to believe that my lists will be read and my OCD will not be in vain… Add control freak to your list of judgements for me, at least you can tick it off – Ticks always make the list look better.
Off to tick a list…
Tags: Animals, babies, Birthday, Cats, Children, christmas, DakotaStorm, Daughters, Emigration, England, Expat, Family, Furniture, HayleyGrace, Homes, Husband, Immigration, Leaving, Migration, move, UK
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.
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.
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.
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!
Tags: GoToReunion, mascarun, reunion
In case my blogs have inspired you (and I hope they have) to visit Reunion Island, you can get more information on the Island in the links below.
Follow the Reunion Island Tourism board on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ReunionIslandTourismBoard?ref=br_tf
For more info on the Mascarun adventure, like the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Mascarun
General information Reunion Island http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9union
And one last one, Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/reunion