23 May 2011

Monday rambling

Sorry I've not been around. This journey has lots of ups and downs and the last few days have been part of the downs. I'm feeling a bit happier today so I thought I'd answer the questions I got.

Woodengirl had a few questions. She wrote, "I would love to read about your beginnings in South Africa, what it is like there. Also would love to know your impressions of England, and why you are drawn to New Zealand. I would love to know more about your photography. I love your photos. How did you learn your skills?"

It's so weird to think back to my life in South Africa; it feels not just like a different chapter but a completely different book. I honestly can barely remember what it's like to live there - but then again, I can barely remember Life Before Kids!

South Africa is very down-to-earth and laid back. There is amazing culture. The weather is hot (I mean HOT) and sunny for 9 months of the year. In Cape Town we had wet winters and hot, dry summers, but that varies depending where you go in the country (up north has thunderstorms in the summer and dry winters; the east coast is very humid).

My favourite memories of South Africa are usually about the outdoor lifestyle we enjoyed. When I was a child we used to go camping in the mountains every single weekend. I loved it. It was completely uncivilised, we were literally in the middle of nowhere. I loved being totally surrounded by nature. My friend Leith and I (her family camped with us) would spend all day running around the mountain in nothing but our bathing costumes. We encountered snakes, spiders, baboons, mongeese, eels, crabs, fish, birds, frogs, insects, all sorts of creatures. We learned to respect nature and to appreciate it.

When I was around 16 my dad started doing rescue for Hobie regattas and of course my older sister, Leith and I soon tagged along considering there were tons of hot guys doing the sailing. I even did some sailing myself for a while. But besides the guys and the parties and the sailing was the camping. Even after Grant and I met and got married we would still go camping at the dam in the mountains.

We camped in a caravan and in tents and sometimes just under the stars. My dad had a boat and we had fun on the water-skis and kneeboard. We also had a paddle-ski and of course we swam.

The outdoor lifestyle is one of the main things we miss about SA and one of the things we are so looking forward to in NZ. We want that for our kids. They have no idea what they're missing because they've never had it, but we do.

Okay, moving onto our impressions of England ... wow, where to start. I have loved living in England. It's where I have properly "grown up" and (cheesy alert:) "found myself". It's where we started our family. I will be very homesick for England ... but it's definitely time to go.

It's hard to share my feelings about England without sounding negative because of the place our lives are in right now. Our reasons for leaving are at the front of our minds. They include the over-regulation of everything ("health-and-safety" trumps common sense), the gloomy, cold weather and loooong winters, yob culture and idolatrous nation (un-religious so they worship things like football (soccer), alcohol, celebrities, brand names, etc), the lack of respect, the bureaucracy Grant has to deal with at work, bullying, alcohol bingeing, general low standards, overcrowding, lack of parking, and I won't even go into political stuff.

But let me tell you, we have met some amazing people here and made some wonderful memories and seen some beautiful places. The softness of the English countryside, especially in spring and summer, is something special. I love the quality and variety of products and groceries available. The NHS has its faults but I had wonderful midwives and very satisfactory birth experiences and great support afterwards. The NHS has failed me miserably too at times, of course, but it's great to not have to pay for kids' prescriptions or glasses and have free hospital visits (having a baby doesn't cost a penny, for example). The public transport is generally reliable and you can get around without a car if you need to. I love seeing the seasons unfold; there is a real spring, and a real autumn. It's great having double-glazing and central heating. There is such history in this country and amazing things to see.

But what draws us to NZ is the outdoor lifestyle, the laid-back people, the fact that it's twice the size of the UK but has one-tenth of the population, old-fashioned values (compared to England), better weather, shorter winter, more light, more space, less bureaucracy for Grant. We'll never go back to SA so we're going looking elsewhere for the things we miss.

And lastly, with regards to photography, the way I learned was buying an SLR camera second-hand on eBay, reading Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure", learning online and practising, practising, practising!

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...