By the time you read this

I am technically back in South Africa for a quick visit. My journey really started early on the morning of the 22nd, travelling from Ashchurch to Cheltenham and then onwards to Paddington Station and finally Heathrow for my overnight flight.

My mother took a bad turn last December and I decided then that I needed to go down to see her, although having enough leave and being able to get a slot to take it was difficult. I was also tied in by the date for Brexit, and will rather be back in the UK before it happens. Ideally I wanted to do this trip in March or April but beggars cannot be choosers.

So, if things get quieter for 2 weeks you will know why. I will catch up when I get back after the 7th.

Hang in there, keep calm and don’t panic!

This time last year

This time last year I was in the air somewhere over Africa (I think) heading South towards Johannesburg.

Approaching ORT, with Johannesburg in the distance (1500×964)

It was a trip that I had to organise at very short notice and was one I did not really want to do unless I really had to. The reason behind it was the ever declining health of my mother who lived on her own in the South of Johannesburg. When I finally saw her early the next day I was shocked, it was hard to believe it was the same person I had known for all my life (my father passed away in 1981).   

There were a few problems that needed dealing with, and we were fortunate that things happened when they did or we would have been in an extremely difficult position.  The decision was made that we needed to get her into frail care. She was not coping well and a recent fall had really robbed her of self confidence and raised the alarm bells. The complex where she lived had no facilities for frail care, or even a resident nurse or caretaker. Too many occupants died unnoticed in the past and it was a situation we wanted to avoid at all costs. 

I won’t waffle on much in this post, I just wanted to say that a year down the line she is doing better than she was this time in 2017. I wont say she is healthy as a 70 year old, but at least she is in a better place physically than she was in March 2017. 

She moved out of her flat in May 2017, and that must have been a horrible experience for her. Leaving your life behind to embark on what may be your final days is not something to be taken lightly, and I do understand her reticence about going into frail care. Naturally the question is: did we do the right thing? whether it was right or not is irrelevant,  what is important is that it was the only option we had and it was better for her in the long run. 

Only time has the answer to our situation. Fortunately I am in a better position visa wise, but there it is inevitable that at some point will have to make another trip down south. There is very little I can do about it and just next year this time I will be doing a two years down the line post, let’s wait and see.

DRW © 2018. Created 20/03/2018 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

Well, my short sojourn to South Africa has finished and I am back in the UK. I am suffering from sinusitis and apathy, and frankly dread going back to work tomorrow.
I was only there for just under 3 weeks, but accomplished a lot. My car is sold, my furniture is sold, my collection of “stuff” is so much smaller, and I have managed to cull 2 sources of debt from my “portfolio”.  It was traumatic getting rid of some that I have had for years. I still had the bed I bought in 1984, as well as quite a few other items that I bought all those years ago when I moved out on my own. They are now history.
What did I think of South Africa? 
It has become expensive; foodstuff and clothing have jumped in price, all of which is exacerbated by the e-toll debacle. Service is still mundane in some places, and generally the areas I was in are looking decidedly shabbier. Quite a number of shops that I had frequented before had also closed, and there was a decided look of emptiness on the shelves of others. I did experience very good service in a number of places, and for that I am grateful. It did make my life easier. Unfortunately SA is suffering from a number of strikes that are effectively killing the economy, and that means things will just get tougher. If my memory is right the Rand/Pound exchange rate was about £1=R16 when I arrived, and when I left it was £1=R18.04.
I was not there to do the “braaivleis, rugby, sunnyskies and chevrolet” thang (gads, I hate that advert). It was all about rationalising my stuff and moving the balance into a smaller storage unit. I did bring 3 of my doll collection back with me,  and some of my anime has also come back with me. My computer is broken up, my book collection is reduced, and it was not an easy thing to do. 
My mother was relieved to see me after so long, but I think she is also resigned to the fact that I will not see her again probably till next year. She is unfortunately bearing the brunt of neighbours from hell, and is convinced that “payback time” will arrive one day. The reality is that had I had a job in SA I would not have moved to here, and could have done something to get her moved elsewhere. Frail care would be the ideal situation, but finances really govern what can or can’t be done.  I was also re-united with my friends and of course their collection of cats, sadly, one of these is really showing his age and it was not easy to see this once fiercesome street fighter reduced to being a mere shade of his former self.
The flights home were long, and by the time we landed I was tired, but, I did get to watch a number of interesting movies, most memorable being “I, Frankenstein” and “Pompeii”.  I do not know how I managed to get such a kak seat on my Dubai – Heathrow leg, but I do know that the guy sitting next to me was a real grumpy-kun. Frankly I am not too big a fan of those new fangled A380’s, if anything they are just like everything else I have flown on, just with more people.
So, in a nutshell that was my trip. Phew, tomorrow its back to the olde grindstone. I just hope that the pile of busted equipment hasn’t completely obliterated my desk.


© DRW 2014-2018. Image recreated 17/04/2016