Its always a harsh Goodbye

A few years ago, I met a guy that worked at supplier for the company I worked at. He was our account manager and he used to pop around often, as sales people do. Over a period of months, we became friends – discussion progressed from work related stuff to things like gaming (I believe it was HoN and Portal at that time), kettle bells, micro-biology, travelling, family, weekends…endless coffee’s and cigarettes outside in the sunshine.

Fast forward four years and he left to teach English in South Korea. We continued to speak occasionally and, eventually, lost contact for a while. he carried on with his exciting life and I with mine. I got married, moved overseas and got older.

In June, we reconnected on Facebook and it was as if we had never lost contact. This friend of mine who was the epitome of vibrant – he was so happy and enthusiastic, he lived his life the way most people could dream of living. In his own words, he had “side stepped” the corporate world to live his life the way he wanted.

Three or four weeks ago, he got hold of me on facebook and asked me to meet up with him in Canterbury as he wanted to hang out for the first time in two or three years – I wasn’t able to make it as I had some work that I needed to finish – well, I learnt my lesson.

Last weekend we spoke on facebook about his impending trip to Scotland. 9:26pm, and he ended it off with “Its weeeeeek-aaaaand” and a big smiley face. I worked the next day, in Canterbury and was driving home thinking about him and how I would see him when he was in Canterbury again.

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Christophe died that morning, I learned about it when I got home from Canterbury.

I guess I have felt the shock of it all week – a surreal numbness. I expected him to send me a message saying “psych bro, bad joke”.

I learned tonight that he was cremated yesterday in Belgium with his family around and, perhaps, it is the finality of it – the fact that he is no longer in this world, neither in body or in consciousness, but it was then, for the first time, that I shed tears. Perhaps Mother Nature understands, as rain falls and the cloud flash and grumble this evening.

My friend, I miss your presence in my life and I will always feel the loss. Your vibrance and your energy, your good spirit made the world a better place.

Gone — flitted away,
Taken the stars from the night and the sun
From the day!
Gone, and a cloud in my heart.
~Alfred Tennyson

Forever xx

Its a bit of an art

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And this would be my attempt at it.

I attended Dr Sketchy’s Anti Art School yesterday evening with Cass and Ash, which is apparently a thing. An international, world-wide, all the cool kids are doing it thing.

Wine, beautiful people, a bit of comedy and a good night out.

My husband is totally impressed by my drawing skizzles (even though I think I’m rubbish…totally), but I guess you can see that it is a woman sitting on a chair, so that’s, at least, a good start, right?

In other news, I signed up to a 30 day sugar free challenge. This is going to be a challenge for me. Cape Town Nicole would have pffted at this like it was as easy as breathing, but England Nicole has fallen into some terrible habits since being in England, so this is the start of the end of the bad habits. I just hope I dont get the dreaded “withdrawal” symptoms they speak about…headaches, grumpiness…basically, what I am like when I am tired.

Travels….I spent 3 days up in Scotland (specifically Dunfermlin and Edinburgh) last week with my colleagues for a workshop, which was fine – the workshop I mean. Scotland is awesome. Its full of Scottish people, for one.

We spent one evening at this great restaurant on the banks of the river, chatting and getting…um…liquidised, and the second night was spent doing a whiskey tasting and Scottish food tasting experience. I struggled with the whiskey tasting – the tour was great, but I cant handle neat whiskey – put some soda and ice with that puppy and Im all over it, but not neat. My tastebuds felt violated. Im glad I did it though.

We moved onto the Scottish food experience after that – which consisted of smoked Scottish salmon, liver pate and vegetarian haggis to start. The salmon was awesome, the haggis was pretty good (I would not have eaten it had it been the non vegetarian version…my brain wins out on this. Cant force myself to eat animal organs)…and the pate…well. I tasted it, lets just leave that there.

Mains was some or other white fish broth, Scottish steak and guinea fowl stuffed with black pudding. The fish and steak were amazing. In fact the steak was possibly the best I have had in a long, long time. The guinea fowl tasted just like chicken, albeit a bit drier and the black pudding stayed on my plate staring at me, because I also dont eat baked blood.

Dessert was a white and dark chocolate mousse cake thing, which was lovely and was paired with more whiskey, which I passed down the table to one of my younger, more adept colleagues (as did many of us. Haha).

I didnt have the chance to find an authentic Boyd tartan while in Scotland, so I’ll have to try again when Jean and I go road-tripping around the high- and low lands in search of castles and William Wallace.

St Giles Cathedral

St Giles Cathedral

More Whiskeh!

Whiskeh!

Whiskeh!

 More Whiskeh!

Anyway, Im off to Dublin again on Thursday and Friday and then up to Blackpool on Monday for one night and then I have leave for just under two weeks because Tim is arriving! Mass excitement and celebrations!

Over and out!

Reflections worth a year

In one month and sixteen days, Jean and I will have been living in England for a year.

A year.

One whole year.

My life in South Africa is not a distant memory, but it does feel like it was someone else’s life that happened so long ago. I guess that I have adapted to England (and everything that that encompasses) so well, that it feels like I have always lived here. I barely recognise English accents on people anymore (unless they come from up North, are Scottish or just have terrible command of language and pronunciation (and, believe me, it does exist)), I dont spend all of my time being cold (but I definitely look forward to summer), rain is just part of life now, as are old people and shopping trolleys. I’ve started saying annoying things like “Hiya”, “See ya later” and “You alright?” (dont judge me) – not because I am trying to be British, but, really, if you go to France, you try to speak French (well, I do)…so, it goes without saying, if you are in Glorious Britain, you speak like the locals. Also, I think “How are you?” is weird in some circles.

Public transport is also a part of life, and, although I already knew this, I rediscovered why this is so – Google may say that is only takes 49 mins to get to your destination (as opposed to the 1h30 on the train), but Google is a lying bastard, and forgets to inform you that Dartford Crossing and Blackwall Tunnel are the tarred, traffic-stuffed equivalents of hell on a warm Sunday – and ONE of them doesn’t have any safety exits that you could escape from if it did actually turn into a real hell on a warm Sunday.

In a twisted and exciting turn of events (well, many turn of events actually), we have friends moving over – Sam and Paul, Mike and Clare. We have friends coming to visit – one of Jean’s best friends, Tim, is staying with us for two weeks in July. as is a good friend of mine, Nadine. I am beyond excited to have friends here. I felt something quite unusual the other day when I realised that we would have actual friends from our actual former life in our actual new life – it sounds really menial and quite silly, but its quite surreal to have your friends an family, whom you never thought would share in your new life because you live so far away, learn about, understand and know your new life.

Of course, there are things about South Africa which I miss – like my family. I miss seeing my Dad, step-mom and brothers, I miss seeing my gran and Oggie, I miss seeing my aunts and I really miss seeing my friends. I still speak to my friends regularly and, to some extent, it makes it feel like they are less far away because we still know so much about each others lives, but I do miss being able to pop around for dinner of coffee, or just to hang out.

Thankfully, I work with a pretty great bunch of people, so that kind of fills the human-interaction void (when I dont get the chance to see the friends I do have here, like my Cass), although its not quite the same – I’m sure that my bluntness, naivety and general non-British weirdness is pretty entertaining for the most part, but sometimes it would be nice to have someone understand when I exclaim saffa-isms like “goeie bliksem!” (then again, sometimes its probably a good thing that no one understands). Nevertheless, I feel pretty lucky to have wound up around mostly like-minded people to spend my mandatory 8 a day.

Jean and I have had our ups and our downs and I have no doubt we, like most people, will always have ups and downs, but I feel like we are past the worst of the downs, so that we can now go back to the silly downs that we had when life was lived out in South African sunshine. I realise that I take him for granted some days, but its takes one bad day for me to realise how priceless he is, because I only need him to tell me that everything will fine for me to believe it.

So, after all of this rambling, I guess the final thing to say after a year on the island is that life is so different and, yet, it is also the same, but I feel like i have lived here forever and I have no desire to ever leave (except for extensive travelling and visiting to SA, that is).

England has become my home – I mean, I even voted and stuff.

Long live the queen(s).

No flow, just no flow….

After two weeks of (nearly) continuous travelling, my feet have hit the ground – thank god.

It started off with a trip to Cardiff for two days, followed by a trip to Hay-on-Wye and Bath for a weekend, Reading for a day and then Dublin for another two days. The next trip it seems I may take is Sunderland oop Norf and then Paris at the end of March, which I am over-excited about.

I spent this weekend planning our itinerary for our five day escapade in the city of Love – which will include the Louvre, Orsay, Pantheon, Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice, Champs-Elysee, Arc du Triomphe, Versailles, possibly the catacombs (depending on whether we have to stand in a queue for 4 hours or not) and NOT the Eiffel tower – apart from gazing upon its Eiffel-ness (reason being that I could not be arsed to either pay through my teeth to fast track it up, or to stand in a queue forever and a day…also, my husband doesnt like heights). Perhaps a hop on and hop off tour. And definitely the Moulin Rouge – and a few Parisienne markets. Its going to be a full five days. I’ve also been learning to parlez the franciase again, as I have forgotten most of what I learnt in school. If you think verbs of any kind in Afrikaans are confusing…sister, you aint tried them in French. Je suis..comment..er habitons (habitans? habite?…) d’ou..OUI! *smile and wave*. I know Cafe au Lait. That’s the most important thing.

Bath was simply amazing – Jean and I plan to go back there for a weekend to explore it properly, as we only had an afternoon to spend there, which we used on a tour of the Roman Baths. Romans were kinda gross. And naked. Wont lie.

Anyway, I picked up this little thing from my mom, where I collect fridge magnets for every place that I go…so I was pretty sad when I opened the fridge last week and chopped the head off my Welsh dragon magnet. He is now headless and attached to the microwave for fear of further body parts being crushed.

Speaking of our fridge, our estate agent popped around last week because we have an old building mould problem – which is pretty bad at the moment. We cant open our windows to ventilate our flat because they are wooden and swollen from the winter damp and, as a result, we have mould growing around the windows in our bedroom. We also have a water collection on the windows sill from the condensation of our single glazed windows (which, oddly, both our cats like drinking. Again, kinda gross). I’m not sure what to do about the damp and the mould, and I’m not sure that our landlord can do anything because we live in a listed building. I’m sure things will be fine in summer…but what about now?

Lastly, for now, most exciting news – we have friends moving to England! Yay for friends! They arrive in October and I am so excited that I may sleep at the airport the night before. No jokes.

Anyway, that is me.

Peace out”

The overriding emotion is just gonna be excitement

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Its taken less time than I thought it would, considering we have been living on English soil for a mere 6 months, but we have taken our second steps towards becoming world travellers.

Granted, I have already been to Ireland (and I am going back on Sunday, again, for two days…sigh…) and Sweden, but Jean has not, yet, been out of England. To kick off our travels, we have a weekend coming up at the end of January at a little place called Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which is, apparently, called the town of books (I am not sure why, I haven’t done enough research, but I imagine it may have something to do with a lot of books). This will be my second trip to Wales in a week, as (as of about 4 hours ago) I have a trip up to Cardiff scheduled for earlier that week for work commitments. I’ll be back up in Wales a few weeks later, in Newport this time, also for work commitments.

Fast forward to March and Jean and I have booked a trip for Paris, France for five days. I cant even! (contain my excitement, that is). I have dreamt of going to France since I was, probably, about eight years old, and never thought I would because, well, South Africa is continents away from France and helluva expensive to travel to from there. Thankfully, from London, its a sweet 2 and a bit hour train trip into Gard-du-Nord and “Bonjour Paris!” We’re staying in the lovely Montfleuri near the Arc du Triomphe and have booked tickets to dinner and a show at the legendary Moulin Rouge. I’ll also be booking tours up the Eiffel Tower, to the Louvre, Notre Dame…well, there is much we will be doing. I am also learning French, which, to be fair, I have been doing for years and have always been able to speak a very basic level of the language, but I am trying my best to be a bit better and more conversational.

Scotland is also on the cards for sometime before the middle of the year. I fully intend to invest in Boyd tartan while we are there. Because, when in Scotland, do as the Scots do.

For now though, I need to clamber through the slight catastrophe that is my working day and make it through to the other side, in tact (which I feel I barely did this week).

Aside from all of this excitement, our home is finally a real home and not the empty cavernous shell that is was for the last month of 2014. All of our furniture arrived between Xmas and New Year, so our lounge and bedroom are, for now, complete – with the exception of a few aesthetic details that we plan to add.

I have also re-invested myself into literature and have been reading up a storm. I’ve committed to reading 10 books this year, but as I am already on my second book, think that may be a bit unambitious. The book I am currently reading is a thriller called “The Girl with All The Gifts” – if you are into post-apocalyptic type cutesy thrillers, check it out.

Anyway, that’s me for now.

Dream of strolls along the Seine and butter croissants

x

Excerpt from my life

I’m aware that I may state this in every post that I write, but I really am bad at this blogging thing – I resolved to do this at least once a week. If I get to it once a month, its an accomplishment. I cant even attribute it to being very busy (well, maybe I can, a little bit)…

Captured in Gotherburg

Captured in Gotherburg

Narnia or Harry Potter? Green Park in London

Narnia or Harry Potter? Green Park in London

Winter Wonderland fun!

Winter Wonderland fun!

So, in an effort not to type myself to death, Ill summarise the last month in bullets:

  • Travelled to Ireland and Sweden (again)
  • Moved into new home
  • Cats arrived in England
  • Fell down stairs, went to A&E for x-rays, sprained ankle
  • Got a call from A&E because they thought my ankle was actually broken…was forced to use crutches for “in case of…”
  • More x-rays, ankle isn’t broken – thank god
  • Booked a weekend road trip for Jean and I to Wales for end of January
  • Bought Xmas presents
  • Got a tattoo (not drunk or at a music festival, this time)
  • Participated in a bar crawl on aforementioned crutches
  • Jean smashed the passenger side mirror on the car into another cars mirror (had to put it in there – to prove its not only me that it happens to!!)
  • Attended book club (and have spent excessive amount of money on books due to rekindled love of reading)

I am going on leave after tomorrow, until 5th January and am quite looking forward to the time off. I keep thinking to myself that taking leave is ludicrous (I only took it because I had days that I would, otherwise, lose) as I haven’t been working hard all year, but then I also think that I worked like a donkey before I left South Africa – I juggled a wedding, emigration and title handover at the same time, I trained two people to take over my team when I left my last job, only to have a weeks break before I left the country. Sure, I didn’t work for the first month and a half in England (not full time anyway), but I was job hunting and doing part time work, until I found a job and I have been working hard ever since…perhaps I do need the slight break.

Aside from all of this, I am still waiting for this epically Arctic British winter that I’ve heard about – its been cold enough to wear a coat, scarf and gloves, and its been cold enough to freeze the car shut, but only for a day or two at a time. Today, it is too warm for a coat. Will I ever see the snow!? Its not even raining, for heavens sake! What is this place? Surely not the muddy, cloudy, rainy, cold England that I’ve heard stories about!

Anyway, now that I’ve made the mandatory, British comments about the weather (clearly, the British are rubbing off on me).

Peace out!

All that glitters isn’t gold

Some days, and they are very few and far between, but some days I wish for a semblance of the normality that was my life in Cape Town. On most days, I can handle the new “normal” of England – I can handle the strange people with their odd habits, the food that tastes different, the relentless weather, the impending darkness of winter (even thought its not even winter yet), yet, every so often I miss the easiness of my former lifestyle – warm days, a place that I knew like the back of my hand, people who understood my sense of humour and who understood South Africanisms on a whole, flavoursome food, vibrant personalities and a job that I excelled at – with my eyes closed.

Don’t get me wrong…I do love England and I love that England is on the doorstep on the rest of the world, where South Africa is like the back room of the house that people seldom go to because its just too much effort. I travelled to Sweden last week and I am travelling back to Ireland next week, so I cant complain. I love the travelling – more than I love the heat of an African summer.

But on days when I doubt my existence, such as today, South Africa glimmers like gold in my mind eyes, whereas England is grey. But only for today (every other days, its green!).

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was homesick, because I don’t long to go back, my soul does not ache. I know what I left behind and I know why, but, I suppose, I miss the familiarity. I mostly miss being around many people with whom I can relate on many levels, as opposed to one or two who I can relate to on one or two things.

What I think I need most (as pathetic as it sounds) is a new group of friends – who live the same country as me, because, currently, I have one.

This is me not enjoying my day.