24 Hours in Hermanus – You’ll Have a Whale of a Time

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There is a vast swathe of the jagged southern coastline of South Africa that is prime whale watching territory. The small coastal town of Hermanus has the advantage that it perches on low cliffs fringing deep Walker Bay, offering excellent land based whale watching. The town’s fortuitous position means it has been rated as one of the top 12 spots on the entire planet for spotting the gentle giants of the ocean.  If you go during whale season, you are virtually guaranteed to see whales (yes, that’s whales plural) without even having to set foot on a boat.

We hoped we could experience the highlights of Hermanus and surrounds in 24 hours, here’s how we did… Continue reading

Generation eXpat – From Career Girl Statistician to Illustrator

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It can be tough being the Trailing Spouse on an expat posting, there are times when you feel like you are the excess baggage.  The life and career you had built before is almost certainly on hold or possibly gone forever, particularly if you are not permitted to work in your host country and the goal posts move even further apart if you decide to start a family while you are overseas.  There are two choices – bemoan the doors that have closed to you or go out and unlock some new ones.  There are many inspiring expats who have used their time to do something new and go in unexpected directions.

Fellow expat Debi Beaumont is one of them.  She had a busy and successful career in London and when she landed in Johannesburg as a shiny new expat, suddenly career-less and also pregnant she slowly realised that her hobby was becoming a passion that opened new avenues up to her…

“When I arrived in Johannesburg for the first time (we’ve been back and forth a lot!) I was new to the expat thing, I knew nobody in the city and I was so extremely nauseous with my first pregnancy that it could take hours to drag myself out of the flat each morning. How on earth was I going to meet anybody and make friends, I wondered. Continue reading

Knocked up Abroad Again

 

No, it’s not that sort of announcement.  I’m not expecting, but once upon a moonshine I was and hopefully you will soon be able read about the slightly less conventional road to parenthood that we travelled in Lagos, Nigeria in an actual book.

Following on from Lisa Ferland’s anthology Knocked up Abroad, a second book, Knocked up Abroad Again is in the imminent works and I’m excited to have contributed a chapter.

Winging it in West Africa is my account of being an expectant-and-then-new mother in Lagos and trying to circumnavigate tropical diseases (a phase of shoe licking did nothing to quell my anxiety), field ‘helpful’ parenting tips from our steward Augustine and assess the perils of being pregnant in a Lagos traffic jam.

Parenthood is daunting enough, but hurl cultural conundrums, language barriers of life overseas and in my case, the utter craziness that life in Lagos hurls at you on an hourly basis and you end up with a melting pot of fascinating stories.  In this case 26 stories set in 25 different countries contributed by an interesting and resilient group of expat women.

So….PLEASE click on the ginormous image below and take a look at the Kickstarter campaign that launched today, support this book and the fantastic group of expats behind it by backing the Kickstarter campaign, liking the Kickstarter campaign and sharing the Kickstarter campaign with your friends.   This will ensure that this gorgeous book will soon go into print meaning that these eclectic tales of global parenting can be shared with a wide audience.  Thanks.

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Moving to Lagos? Get the Lowdown on the Lingo. (Part II)

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As promised, here is Part II of my A-Z of Lagos Lingo.  If you haven’t read Part I yet, click here.

N-Z of Lagos Lingo

N is for NEPA plc:  The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHC or PHCN) used to be called the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA plc).  Due to the frequent power outages, it was more commonly referred to as:                                                                                 N.ever E.ver P.ower A.vailable, p.lease l.ight c.andle.

N is also for Naira:  Nigeria’s currency…and is for Naija:  A slang name for Nigeria   …and for Nollywood – I’ll let you work that one out for yourself.

O is for Oyinbo:  (I’ve also seen this spelled oyibo) Literally it means peeled skin.  If you are a white person, you will probably hear this often, usually to get your attention (yes, you are the peeled skin person) or as an informal greeting.

O is a popular letter, it is also for: Continue reading

Horsing Around in Johannesburg

Lippizaner Rearing

 

We went to see the Lippizaner show in Kyalami, Johannesburg.  Lippizaners are beautiful and usually (but not always) white-coated stallions first bred in the 1500’s for military purposes.  The horses are highly trainable and are the modern day rockstars of the dressage world.

Knowing very little about horses though, I went along expecting to see people riding rearing horses (as per the logo on the tickets).  I was anticipating War Horse on steroids, flaming hoops and circus tricks.

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I was expecting War Horse on steroids.

Clearly I knew NOTHING…. Continue reading

Moving to Lagos? You need to know the lowdown on the lingo.

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Lagos Lingo:  D is for Danfo

 

The official language of Nigeria, the language of business and commerce, the common language for Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas and other tribes to communicate with one another is English. Whether you are a native English speaker, or like many expats have English as a second (or impressive third or even forth) language, it sounds like one less thing to worry about when moving to Nigeria.

However, even when more standardised English is spoken (and a lot of the time it will be the less comprehensible pidgin English that you hear around you), there are various words and phrases that are likely to confuse, amuse or befuddle you from the moment you step off the plane.  You might figure them out easily, you might not.  Let me help by decoding a little bit of Lagos Lingo for you.

A is for Area Boy:  A local hoodlum.  Watch out, watch out if you are told the area boys are about.

B is for Breaking Plates:  Plates that are not plastic.  i.e. the regular kind of porcelain plates that most expats over the age of 5 would eat from. Continue reading

Feeding the Five Thousand

South Africa is a meat loving nation.  The braai (barbecue) is practically a national pass time, heck, it’s nigh on a national sport.  Just to give this claim some context, you need to see this mother-of-all-meat competitions running at one of our local shopping centres..

Continue reading

Digital Detox

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Clear Your Mind (photo taken at Botany Bay, Kent)

 

…and I’m back. I’ve been away and decided to take a break from the internet, the mistress than never sleeps and is relentless in her quest for your attention.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.  A holiday is supposed to be just that, a holiday.

Apart from a quick scan to check for vital emails I traded the internet for building sandcastles, visiting real castles, going for picnics, playing in parks and unadulterated quality time with family and friends.  We had a wonderful holiday, BUT, apart from the shot at the top of the post, I won’t be posting ANY of my holiday photos or writing about it.

I haven’t got a clue what my Facebook friends have been having for dinner for the last few weeks or what hilarious antics have been perpetrated by their pets or small children.  I haven’t seen updates telling me how long my friends have been friends with some someone on Facebook who I’ve never even met (accompanied of course by a slideshow of their friendship).  I’m assuming most people I know have been away or are currently on holiday at this time of year.  I hope they enjoyed or are enjoying themselves and look forward to hearing about it in person next time I see or speak to them.  I can live with not instantaneously knowing all these details.  It’s a relief not to see social media’s collective stream of consciousness for a little while.

With all the terrible things happening plastered across the front pages of newspapers and the whole Brexity mess going on at home in the UK, it’s impossible not to know what’s going on in the world, but taking a step back from the relentless cyber news cycle and everybody’s online reactions and comments to it all was an unburdening.  There was no temptation to click on link after link for further information, or to discover completely irrelevant but utterly tantalising content.

Once you’ve finished reading this stellar blog post and liked, commented and shared it (oh the irony), give the digital detox a whirl.  Switch off your computer.  Lock up your smartphone.  Stop liking, stop sharing, stop commenting and go out, have fun and be present.

Now that my holiday’s almost over, I had better get my thinking cap on for some new blog posts, so please stay tuned (again, I realise this is an ironic request).  

In the meantime, if you are going ON holiday, please go OFFline.

10 Things I’ve learned from running an Expat Facebook Group

I am THAT woman.  I don’t know how it happened, but I am the mug that runs our local expat Facebook group.  I assumed there would be one (an expat Facebook group, not a mug) when I arrived in Johannesburg.  After all, I’m sure every major city has had at least one of these groups for ages.  I searched for it before I arrived, I asked around when I got here.  I got tumbleweed.  So eventually, I stepped up to the plate and set one up.  It took all of 10 minutes to pick a name, write a description, add a photo, select the settings and add a few friends.  I think I started off with about 10 people.

On the back of the initial 10 minutes that I invested, not much happened for the first couple of weeks.  Then a lot happened.  It’s become a bit of beast.  A much needed and generally much appreciated beast, but a beast nonetheless.

Here are 10 things I’ve learnt from running an expat Facebook group (and yes, there are links at the end of the post).

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Chicken Dumps Pig?

Yep, that was today’s lamppost headline of the day.  Chicken – dumps – pig.  I’m sorry to say I couldn’t track down the actual story on the Daily Sun website.  I tried.  Instead I did dig up an alternative sensational chicken story that they ran last year.

It appears that the Daily Sun is a goldmine for catchy and unusual headlines and juicy juicy stories.

Chicken Dumps Pig!

Back to reality……we had a Dragon Crossing the road, a Severed Spider Corpse hidden amongst the pool toys and a Giant Praying Mantis scaling the side of our house.

What can I say, it’s just another day in Africa.