Bringing back memories of Paul Hardcastle’s epic 1985 anti-war dance hit… er… 19:

Why? Well, today marks exactly 19 years since I arrived on these shores. OK, I was somewhat older than 19, but that’s beside the point.
Often referred to as “my favourite import” by my South African wife in the early days, more recently, I’ve learned to take a bit a back seat while several packets of Holland and Barrett’s Yoghurt Coated Brazil Nuts do the driving.

Find your place. Settle. It’s all good.

Anyway. It’s been a whirlwind 6940 days with very few regrets along the way. Onward and upward for the next 19, n-n-n-n-19 years.


Shumi elinantlanu.

It’s fifteen years today since I moved from the UK to South Africa.

A lot has happened in those fifteen years, including (but not limited to): one marriage, a few jobs, two kids, some houses, a beagle, an awful lot of braais, many litres of Castle Milk Stout, and several thousand blog posts.

No, I’ve never really thought about going back.

Sometimes we celebrate this anniversary, sometimes it passes us by and we only realise after the fact. Today, I marked it by smashing out a ridiculously vigorous workout at the gym, which will mean that I won’t be able to walk tomorrow.

Lovely. See you again in 2034.

The Worst Idea Larry Ever Had™

When you move your entire life 6000 miles… from home, it can be a bit of a wrench. And that’s putting it mildly. Uprooting yourself and everything else from all that is near, dear and known to you and transplanting it to somewhere way, way out of your comfort zone is no fun – despite the rewards on offer should the move be successful.

And so it was I moved to SA and struggled to settle, despite the best laid plans of Mrs 6k, her friends and family and the dear, dear Department of Home Affairs who made it abundantly clear that they would love me to hang around as long as I kept filling in forms and handing over money.
One of the things that made life a whole lot easier was joining up with The Firm. Now, this isn’t some scary Tom Cruise film whereby your company takes over your life, this is a football team. Because there’s nothing better than social football to get you meeting nice people, getting some exercise, drinking some beers and kicking seven bells of crap out of the oppostion on a Tuesday evening.

The Firm is often labelled as The Best Idea Larry Ever Had™, Larry being the guy in charge who had the idea of converting a group of Fantasy Footballists into a crack squad of 7-a-side footballers. The mix is just right: a hint of youth, a tablespoon of experience and a dash of competitiveness, all topped off with a dreamy helping of enjoyment.
We play every week; most we win, some we lose – occasionally we’ll bring home a trophy for our troubles. It’s perfection.

But then, if The Firm was The Best Idea Larry Ever Had™, the idea that Larry had on Sunday was probably The Worst Idea Larry Ever Had™. The plan, as usual, was to have a bit of a run out on a Sunday morning down at the Greek club. And hour of 5 on 5, whites vs coloureds (Shirts, people. Shirts) ahead of spending the rest of the day with family, on the beach or flopped on the couch in front of some Premier League action. But there was no slot free at the Greek club that morning until 11. And it was when Larry was told this that Larry had The Worst Idea Larry Ever Had™.

Cool. We’ll take it!

Holy crap. What a mistake.

Pulling into the car park at ten to, I noted that it was 36°C on my car’s thermometer. In the shade.
As I stepped out of my airconditioned comfort out into the Green Point sunshine, I was met by a wall of thick, still, hot air.
Some sort of sense of self-preservation should probably have kicked in here. But it didn’t. And so, armed only with several litres of cold water and a willingness to kick some balls, we headed out into the heat of the almost midday full sun.

It was horrible. One of the worst footballing experiences of my life. Within 2 minutes of running around, I was gasping, drenched through with sweat and feeling dizzy and nauseous. These, even by Cape Town standards, were extreme conditions. The ball wasn’t even flying through the air properly. I felt truly awful.
Some sort of sense of self-preservation should probably have kicked in here. But it didn’t. And so, with a couple of breaks, we continued to toil for an hour. What utter, utter idiots.

It killed us. I have heard no positive comment come out of the camp since the game finished. In fact, as one of the other protagonists pointed out last night – I’ve heard very little from anyone. He and I may indeed be the only survivors.
It literally took me two hours to cool down when I got home. Yesterday afternoon, I vomited twice, drank a case full of energy drinks and took a whole packet of Imodium and I’m still completely broken. I’m left frantically looking for some sort of Reset button for my body. Does anyone have the instruction manual, please?

Thing is, I’ve learned nothing from this experience. When the shout comes for next Sunday’s game, I won’t consider the weather forecast. I’ll be there and I’ll probably almost kill myself again.

So there you have it. If you’re looking to try and settle down in a foreign country, join a social football team and see if you can completely destroy your body on a hot Sunday lunchtime.

You’re welcome.

Getting six years older

As we celebrated the sixth anniversary of my arrival upon these shores, we came to realise exactly how much we’d got through in those six years. Actually, when one takes into account what we’d done in the first five years, this last one has been pretty quiet.

Four jobs, one engagement, one marriage, three new cars, one new house, first child, second child, four trips to the UK and about three vineyards-worth of fairly decent red wine, I’m still here and still loving it. But of course that wasn’t always the case.
Settling into South Africa and the distinctly different way of life took a long while. When it did happen, it happened overnight, but that night was after a thousand other nights here. It came with a sudden change of mindset – an epiphany, if you will – that this wasn’t the UK and I couldn’t make it like the UK. And while that fact may please many (if not all) South Africans,  it was finally my declaration of a ceasefire against the system that brought peace to my life.
(Incidentally, it’s worth noting that since then, the system has actually become a very good friend and we regularly meet up for a beer and a chat about politics, religion and the World Cup.)

Which is nice.

And in those six years, I sadly seem to have crossed that line where things that would previously have bored me have become things that now excite me. Like, for example, the fact that I can’t wait to install the new irrigation system in my front garden. Now, I’m not so far gone that I don’t see that that might seem a bit sad to younger readers, but when I put it in – it will be awesome.

Still don’t believe me? Right, I’m going to take photos…