The Iceberg of Cacti

Icebergs, people, cacti….you can’t always see the full picture, maybe because your perspective is skewed or obscured.  Sometimes you have to go the extra mile and dig a little deeper (in this case inside my wheelie bin) to get the full story.

These large cactus ears popped out from behind our chimney over the Christmas break.  I thought they looked about the size of a human head each.

I let our landlord know and a man with a ladder duly appeared to remove them.

I meant to ask him to let me see the cactus before disposing of it, but it had already gone in the wheelie bin by the time I’d walked the dog.  I smiled and pretended that was exactly the answer I had wanted to hear. It wasn’t though, I am inquisitive by nature and really wanted to see the cactus and confirm whether my human head estimate was accurate.

I waited for him to leave and the minute his car turned out of sight I was rummaging in the bin and ended up tipping the contents all over the driveway to see what I could see.

The cactus was far more aggressive and extensive than I had imagined.   Continue reading

Why Expat Partners are Like Dung Beetles

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There’s always a bit of a brouhaha when it comes to labelling or describing expat partners. A few of the titles used include Expat Spouse, Expat Wife, Trailing Spouse, Trailblazing Spouse, Lady of Leisure, Lady that Lunches, Guy that Golfs, Excess Baggage or as my husband endearingly calls me Expensive Habit. None of the terms is perfect and some are deeply loathed by the expat community.

So, I’ve come up with yet another alternative for you.  It’s an analogy that first occurred to me when I wrote about the industrious dung beetle after we saw hundreds of them on safari.  They are completely fascinating little creatures and the comparison between expat partners and dung beetles has been scratching about in the back of my mind ever since.  Yes, I am comparing the Trailing Spouse to the Dung Beetle.

Confused?  Here are 6 ways that expat partners are like dung beetles:

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Why Expats Drink Gin

Gin and tonic is an iconic and yet slightly negative symbol of expat life.  The drink contributes to the image of the idle, drunk, spoilt expat living a life of luxury in far flung tropical locations. But do you know the real reason expats first started drinking gin and tonic?  You might be surprised.

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Let’s wind back a few centuries……

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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

Africa After All 3. Hands Free

In urban areas of Johannesburg, pushchairs (strollers or buggies) are often impractical.  They probably would not be welcome on precarious mini-bus taxi rides, neither are they suited to some of the non-existent pavements or uneven roadside verges.  I also imagine that for many, the cost of pushchairs is prohibitive (if you had to choose between buying a pushchair or putting dinner on the table, which would it be?).  Then you would have the issue of storage.  Accommodation for many is compact and crowded.  All this means that seeing ladies with babies or toddlers tied to their backs is a very regular, normal occurrence. They also manage to make it look rather easy.

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