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

14 Months ago

It is 14 months since I last stepped on South African concrete/grass/tar/dogpooh, and as I write this I have been back here for 2 days. The flights were long; 15 hours in the air and a 4 hour layover at Dubai. I don’t have jetlag, but am just a bit tired.

My flights were not too strenuous, and I managed to catch up on a number of movies that I had missed. The weather was great although it was clouding when I left Salisbury, and once we were over the clouds the sky was clearer 🙂

I have to admit landing at OR Tambo was a strange feeling because it has been so long. Kudos to the airport staff for being as friendly as ever, and very quick formalities. By 12H00 I was on my way to where I was staying for these few days.

I have a number of reasons why I am here, I do want to settle some of my affairs, and dispose of some of my stuff, as well as visiting family and friends. My mother, who is 84, is still doing well, but I do fear that her neighbours drive her somewhat batty. Oddly enough I still know how to drive, even though I had last done so 14 months ago. But the extremely controversial tolling of our ring road is driving many people deeper into poverty, heavy vehicles onto suburban roads, bird flipping at toll gantries and a lot of ill feeling with the residents and motorists. Johannesburg has always had very bad traffic, and it is still bloody awful, but then I have seen bad driving in the UK too, although they do tend to stick to speed limits and obey traffic signs, something that they do not do in South Africa. 
This morning I went to visit my mother and we went to a local eatery (no names, no packdrill). R133 for 2 breakfasts, a cup of tea and a milkshake. I was shocked. I was equally shocked when I went to the local purveyor of food and other overpriced goodies to buy some underwear and socks and saw the prices. For that I could have bought 2 breakfasts, a cup of tea and a milkshake, and still had change! I may have to rethink my plans about getting some new clothing.
I also visited Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg to photograph some graves of SANDF members who died/were killed in action, and was saddened to see that the grave I was after had a headstone that no long had any identification to it. However, I was glad that I found this grave and we can now add it to our database at the South African War Graves Project. Depending on time I may do some more gravehunting, but that is not set in stone.
What still has to be done? I am disposing of a lot of my furniture and books, as well as my car, which is becoming a burden as I have to pay storage and insurance on a vehicle that I no longer can use. There are also a few bugbears I need to settle, and at the end of the 1st week of June I will be returning to my home in Salisbury. That in itself is a strange feeling as I no longer consider South Africa as my home. 
I hope to add more to this post as I go along, at this time though I will leave you with a photograph of Kloofendal Nature Reserve. I used to live on the edge of this reserve, and it was a very pretty place, but the Highveld Autumn is now beginning to bite, and there is always a risk of fires and the vegetation is very dry. 
Watch this space!
© DRW 2014-2018. Images recreated 17/04/2016

Hello London.

Followers of this blog (all 3 of them), may have read that I was weighing anchor and heading off to London at the end of February. At the time of writing I have now been here for two days, and my legs are sore from my touristy jaunt I did today, I want to make this blog some sort of recordal of my “adventures” in the United Kingdom, so I may start enthusing a lot.
My trip started early on the 28th of February when I caught the Gautrain for the last time en route for the airport. I had booked with Emirates because I had flown with them before and service on the Johannesburg to Dubai leg  is wonderful, however I am not a fan of Dubai airport, but more about that later. Unusually the flight was a partial day flight, departing at 13H50. The first leg was on board a Boeing 777-300, one of my favourite commercial airliners, and IMHO one of the most comfortable. On board entertainment was wonderful, and the food and service was top class. I spent most of the flight catching up on movies that I had seen before.
Our arrival at Dubai was after an eight hour flight, which put me at GMT+4. And as usual I looked for those out of the window shots that I so love. I was fortunate that I got day
And sunset. 
It was while we were preparing to land that I realised that my bugbear was about to provide a way to a spend the 3 hour layover at Dubai airport. I even did a blogpost about this bugbear of mine. Yep, I had a time zone problem, and even now, two days later I still have not managed to correct the date on my landmine watch. Did I mention it is going to get dumped? Oh, the alarm now goes off at 21H15, and the date is Sunday 14TH.
This is all I saw of Dubai.
Dubai airport, is crowded, large and impersonal, full of golf carts arrogantly shoving people aside and incomprehensible announcements. Part two of my flight was on one of those new fangled Airbus jobbies, They even have a dedicated terminal, and you get there by train! My other bugbear with Dubai airport is that you cannot see the aircraft from inside it. So the only pic I have of that particular aircraft is this one… Yes, there is a thumping great Airbus behind the lace curtains.
Flying overhead in Boksburg
Model seen at Heathrow in 2008.
Model seen at Heathrow in 2008.
Boarding took ages, after all there were a lot of people to squeeze into it, and I must admit it was very similar inside to the 777, I do suspect the people on the top deck probably had gold plated taps in the bathroom, but there were none in economy.
The flight was uneventful, although we were now heading back to GMT. (I won’t even comment on trying to get my watch to understand that)
Then we dropped out of the sky into a damp and chilly London Heathrow. It was time to put my new visa to the test, and surprisingly enough passing through immigration was easy. Now I had to find my way to Kennington in South London which was where I was staying until 8 Feb. There were 3 options: Heathrow Express, Tube, or Coach. I suspect I am sucker for a train so chose the Tube. I had to change trains at 3 different places but surprisingly that in itself was a breeze.  I do remember sitting on that tube from Heathrow with my luggage and heavy eyes from the lack of sleep; with people all around tied up in their own world of cell phones, headsets or books. They were on their way to work, I was on my way to a new life.  
Kennington Tube Station

I emerged from the station after my long flights and dragged my luggage to where I was staying. Fortunately I had emerged at Oval instead of Kennington, and strangely enough never photographed Oval station.  However, part 2 of day 1 will come later, because today I spent in London sightseeing and my muscles are screaming in pain. I am not as young as I used to be. Realistically though, there is a lot to do between today and the end of the week. For starters I need a NINO, sim card for my phone, accommodation from next week onwards, open a bank account, and of course find a job. 
DRW ©  2013-2020. Images recreated 26/03/2016