My sister Sioux came to live and work in the UK last year in November. The time has flown and she has travelled far and wide in the last 11 months. This is her birthday month (I won’t give her age away😉 ), but it is her 1st birthday in the UK. She decided some months ago that she wanted to visit somewhere special for her birthday; initially a trip to the Isle of Wight was planned….but after seeing an article on Rye – Mermaid Street in particular, she decided that this was where she wanted to go.

a trip to 1066 country

Mermaid Street in Rye

And so the plans were made.

I was to join her and so that we could make the most of the trip and explore the area, my daughter lent me her car; Fiona. With 4 days and a car, we made the most of every minute.

a trip to 1066 country

Sisters – happy birthday to you; Sioux. I’m delighted I could join you🙂

a trip to 1066 country

a day trip to Hastings

a trip to 1066 country

a day in Rye


making the most of our last day

We visited churches, explored castles, admired some amazing views, ate good food, played scrabble, photographed just about every house in Rye, watched the sunrise and the sunset,

a trip to 1066 country

sunset at Dungeness – the ends of the earth

laughed and exchanged stories, and watched the footie in a pub LOL (she’s a Liverpool supporter!).

This is the first time in 58 years that we have been on holiday together without parents, step-parents, siblings, family or children……just the two of us. We had a great time🙂

Happy birthday Sioux!Happy birthday Sioux!



autumn’s colours

Gathering Leaves by: Robert Frost (1874-1963)

autumn colours in Canterbury

autumn colours in Canterbury

SPADES take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I mage a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight;
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who’s to say where
The harvest shall stop?

work and travel as a carer

Whilst working for the client in Shepperton the family took her out for lunch on the Sunday so I had an extra hour for my break.

One of my policies when working in a new area is to not only explore the area I’m in, but where possible to explore further afield….so with this in mind I hopped onto the train and went to explore Hampton.

things to see in Hampton

things to see in Hampton

I was expecting to find some interesting ‘things to see’ and although the older buildings are really attractive, it’s mostly suburbia and a HUGE reservoir/water works dominates the scene. Makes sense since the River Thames is nearby, but it didn’t add to the atmosphere!!

I had checked google maps before setting out and the Thames looked quite close to the station…..it wasn’t!! LOL So near yet so far, the river was mostly hidden behind the reservoir. After 30 minutes of walking I finally reached a stretch of the river I could actually access.

sailing at Hampton

sailing at Hampton

I love the river and any opportunity to explore different sections is welcomed, and so I did. I came across Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare and suddenly I realised that in fact I had walked this stretch a number of times in the past (when we lived in Twickenham).

Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare in Hampton

Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare in Hampton

By now my time was running out and as the trains only run once an hour to Shepperton I decided to rest there a while and phoned my sister (in South Africa) for her birthday.🙂        15 years ago at much the same time I was saying happy birthday to her in person in Dublin

rowing on the River Thames at Hampton

rowing on the River Thames at Hampton

I had a lovely view of the river and managed to capture a few scenes of people going by on skiffs and canal boats.

a canal boat goes by along the River Thames

a canal boat goes by along the River Thames

I also noticed what looked like a little cruiser type boat on the opposite bank that looked like it had sunk….

river thames hampton

my ship has sunk in Hampton

Then it was back to the station. On my way, and noticed a row of three houses on the High Street named: River View Cottages….uhm, yes well…..at the time they were built they probably had a view of the river, but that is no longer the case. If they stood on stilts and stretched their necks while standing on on the roof they might still have a glimpse ‘view’ of the river.

So Hampton was a bit of a disappointment, but at least I’ve been there and done that…no need to return. Sorry Hampton. Although I haven’t anything more to add…this history board could add a little interest. The dates of these places always fascinates me.

Hampton Ferry & Molesey Hurst

Hampton Ferry & Molesey Hurst

I was recently working at a position in Shepperton

exploring the UK

Old Shepperton

…..lovely lady, light cooking, not much to do in terms of housework, and not much by way of shopping…..but and this is a BIG BUT….it was a killer from a physical aspect and I eventually felt like I was broken. Every joint in my body was aching, my shoulders were aching – even my toes and feet were aching. The reason for this is mobility and lack thereof: I had to mobilise and transfer the lady up to 25 times a day….okay so the agency said she has a ‘Sara Steady’ to move her around, but what they didn’t mention is that even with wheels, the weight of moving her around the house, hauling the frame over the ledges between rooms, manoeuvering the frame into position countless times a day and the morning and afternoon and evening manual handling of a 9.5 stone lady who is semi-paralysed on the left hand side is excruciatingly exhausting and after 4.5 days I felt broken.

This type of role is not new, I’ve been in loads of similar positions before where there is a lot of manual handling and sheer physical graft. The training staff at the annual M&H sessions always say…oh, just do this, or just do that. They use us, the trainees….able bodied persons who instinctively assist and aren’t a dead weight, as the ‘dummy’ for demonstrating. Okay so fine. But although they always say ‘we realise it’s different when you’re on the job’, seldom is our physical health given too much consideration when placing us at assignments. We are given all sorts of tips and ideas to use to help our clients mobilise, which is all well and good if the client is unwilling or unable to position themselves or move themselves into a position that is suitable for us to then use that idea or tip. Many are unable to shift ‘first one leg, then the other’ because they are a) semi-paralysed bearing the full weight of their bodies, or b) too heavy from not getting any exercise due to their particular disability (obviously not their fault) or c) refuse to have the Carer use a strap/belt to lift them, preferring instead to ‘please can I use your arm’. If you say no, we’ve been trained to do it this or that way, they get into a sulk and then you find that they ‘don’t like you, or you’re not suitable’ = black mark against your name. Either that or you get the same old story ‘the last girl didn’t mind’ or managed alright. Hmmmm.

I’ve been doing this ‘job’ for the last 14 years. In that time, amongst all the other manual handling positions I’ve had to manage, I’ve had to push a client up a hill in a wheelchair because his son wanted his father to ‘go shopping with you so he can choose what he wants’ giving little thought to the fact that pushing a dead-weight and groceries up a hill in a wheelchair is extremely difficult and hard on the body of a Carer who weighs less than the client, wheelchair and groceries put together!!! In that instance it was Wembley Hill.

Last year I was at a position where I had to wheel someone who weighed 12 stone across a deep pile carpet in a hoist. The family just didn’t ‘get it’ when I said it was too heavy and after a few others choice situations at that particular assignment, they lodged a complaint about me…nice one, kill myself on the job and invite a complaint. More recently I was working, again with a hoist, and as I slipped my arm beneath the client’s leg to pull the sling strap through I twisted my wrist…I thought I had broken it. Fortunately I hadn’t, but it hurt like hell. But I didn’t give up, I strapped my wrist up, paid more attention to how I was using my hands and carried on till the end of the assignment…..that’s what you do. The alternative is quitting and losing pay and the agency usually don’t have any other assignments for you, as well as which they don’t always take kindly to their Carers quitting. Fortunately I was working with a double up carer and not on my own so at no stage was the client’s safety compromised. When I got home after that particular assignment I went to A&E and had x-rays done, and although nothing was broken it seems I damaged a ligament?? And that only heals with time.

I’ve had to lift heavy legs off and onto beds more times than I care to remember, allow a disabled person to grip my elbow while they raise themselves up coz even if you had a mobility belt/strap, they don’t have the proper bed, the right equipment or the strength to manoeuvre and due to their weight you can’t get the belt positioned properly under their body. Moving a 9 stone plus disabled person whether in a wheelchair, in a hoist, on a Sara Steady or using a slide sheet is exceptionally strenuous on your joints and body in general and eventually takes it’s toll….hence the damaged ligament!

14 years later and I am broken.

After 10 days at this last assignment I caved in, I reached a point where I could barely lift my arms and walking was agony….my poor toes were sore!! Since I really didn’t want to compromise my health any further or the safety of my client, I phoned the agency and asked to be replaced. Thankfully I got through to someone who was understanding (not always the case), and within two days I was handing over to someone new and on my way home. The family weren’t quite so understanding. The next time I hear the words “but the last Carer managed alright” I think I’ll spit!!!!

We do not come out of an Ikea flat-pack!

The bugger of it is that I’m heading towards my mid-60’s and won’t be able to manage these ‘heavy’ assignments for much longer…ergo my income will drop, which means I’ll have to work more days each month and my lifestyle will be reduced as a result – I currently work between 14-21 days per month; on duty 22 hours a day, of which 7-8 hours is for sleep, and my ‘weekends’ are the days I’m home….once on an assignment, it’s exceptionally rare to get more than 2 hours a day off.  Some months I get a 3 or 4 day weekend.  It’s not as if we Carers earn a load of money anyway, but once you start taking on the lighter roles, the daily rate drops, the number of assignments are fewer and so the process, like my body, gets broken.

I left the job just on 6 days ago now and I’m still aching…..darn!! LOL or not. Maybe I’ll do a Forrest Gump……I hear Orkney is quite lovely!!🙂

On the plus side I got to explore another area of the UK and although the new part of the town itself wasn’t brilliant, the old town was quaint and pretty

old shepperton

Old Shepperton

and to my joy the River Thames was nearby; I managed to walk there a couple of times during my breaks which was a real bonus.

The River Thames at Shepperton

The River Thames at Shepperton

shepperton and the river thames

River Thames and Shepperton Lock

There’s always a plus side🙂

My daughter and I went to Bleak House on Saturday afternoon for a Cream Tea and to tour the Smugglers Tunnels beneath the house…Bleak House was once known as Fort House and Broadstairs was a hotbed of smuggling with many notorious smugglers once captured,  being deported to Australia.

smugglers tunnels and afternoon tea at Bleak House

If you wake at midnight and hear a horse’s feet, Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street…

In 1723 Daniel Defoe wrote of a visit “Broadstairs is a small fishing village of 300 souls, of which 27 follow the occupation of fishing…” You can surmise therefore that the rest were gainfully ’employed’ in other businesses…..in fact, beneath much of Broadstairs is a warren of smugglers tunnels, mostly closed off now. Oh how I’d love to have access to those tunnels🙂

afternoon tea and smugglers tunnels at bleak house

This chap had been ‘redcapped’ for being an informer, as lucrative a business as smuggling, with the possibility of a £500 reward for information.

‘Redcapping’ – A Revenue Spy who broke the smuggler’s unwritten law were dealt with in different ways. The Informer would be staked out on the beach at low tide with a RED LANTERN by his head. The smugglers would then watch to see that the spy was not released till the lantern had gone out.

Broadstairs is located on the east coast of Kent on what is/was known as the Isle of Thanet; an island 2 miles out to sea – the water separating the island from the mainland known as the Watsum Channel. After the channel silted up, the land which includes Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate is now part of Kent  County.

The Romans considered the Watsum Channel very important and built forts at Reculver and Richborough to protect it. In 449 The Vikings (after which the little bay is now named), under Hengist, landed at Thanet, rowed up the Watsum Channel and attacked Canterbury.

Broadstairs is just filled to the brim with history. Since Roman times and the Vikings Broadstairs has seen the likes of Wellington’s troops camped out and Napoleon’s Standard was presented here in 1815 after the British won the Battle of Waterloo. Charles Dickens lived in Broadstairs on numerous occasions and one of the most well-known is Bleak House where he wrote much of David Copperfield. As part of the tour we were able to visit the study where he sat and wrote while gazing out the windows across the English Channel.

smugglers tunnels and afternoon tea at Bleak House

the desk where Charles dickens sat and wrote David Copperfield

Previously known as Fort House, Bleak House, as it looks now, was remodelled in 1911. We’ve been there a number of times for Cream Tea but this time we decided to explore the smugglers caves beneath. Absolutely awesome.  I’m guessing that since the land is chalk it was pretty easy to tunnel away and create the caves and Smuggler’s tunnels. The chalk cliffs extends all the way from the Thames estuary as far as the White Cliffs of Dover and thence to the Isle of Wight.

smugglers tunnels and afternoon tea at Bleak House

smugglers tunnels and a cream tea at Bleak House

The Cream Tea (which is what we normally have) is delicious and the scones are fresh and yummy. I can recommend a visit to Bleak House for tea and do be sure to include the tour of the tunnels and Dickens’ study…at £4 per person for the tour, it’s a steal😉  Although you can order the Cream Tea on a whim…NB if you wish to partake of the Afternoon Tea at Bleak House you would need to book in advance.

15 years ago today I left South Africa…..never to look back as it turns out.

south african flag

the current South African flag; no longer a colony but still part of the Commonwealth

My departure came about in quite a convoluted way and as they say; ‘the planets were aligned’. A number of major life events occurred within a short space of a few months and I then found myself on a plane heading to the northern hemisphere.

happy 15th anniversary Travel to make something happen

Travel to make something happen

June (sometime) 2001: the company I was working for went into liquidation because the two owners had a falling out. The liquidators kept me on to help collect outstanding monies (after all that was my job), besides which I turned up at the offices every day even though the company was in liquidation; so seeing my determination….I had another 3 months of work.

July 2001: sometime round about now my sister who was living in Ireland at the time said she’d love for someone to fly over and join her and hubby to celebrate a milestone birthday ; 30 years of age!! Of course I volunteered….for sure!🙂

August 15th 2001: my daughter attained her ‘coming of age’ – 21 years and you get the ‘Key of Life’ in SA and officially; your freedom! Technically you’re an adult from 18 when you qualify for a drivers license. We had a wonderful party for her on a boat in Cape Town harbour with bells, balloons, a band (her Dad who is a musician sang to her) and a smashing meal.

September 30th 2001: the liquidators signed off on the rest of the debt and I was free to go.

October 2nd 2001: Ailing carrier Swissair has run out of cash and suspended all its flights “indefinitely”. wtf???? I’m due to fly on the 8th!!! So began the fight to get on a plane to Europe regardless.

October 8th 2001: passport to freedom in my hand, I bounced my way through customs, thrilled, excited and terrified in equal measure to be flying to Europe….with SA Airways!

October 9th 2001: I landed first in Zurich in-transit to London, then after flying and crying across Europe I landed at London City Airport at which stage the terror set in – how would I get to Heathrow? But I did….first a bus and then tube on the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow and thus to Dublin Airport – happy birthday to Caroline….it was awesome that I could arrive in Ireland on her special day🙂

happy 15th anniversary

Caroline and Ewart

The timeline of events and what happened first and which decisions were made when are lost in the mists of time….but from a date perspective….the above is more or less what happened when. In the meanwhile, between being retrenched from my job, making the decision to fly to Ireland and wondering what to do with my house, I scurried about collecting the necessary paperwork for my visitors visa, sold my car to my daughter, started sorting out my belongings and getting rid of much stuff, making the heartbreaking decision to have my kitties adopted (a friend took 4 of them, one had to be put to sleep due to a nasty virus that was eating her up😦 ), making my flight bookings with SwissAir, only for them to go run out of cash at the time, subsequently visiting the airport and refusing to leave till they booked me onto another flight (finally after much persistence they got me onto SA Airways), then deciding what to take and what not…..I was heading into the NH winter (and it was as cold and wet as they said it would be),

happy 15th anniversary

having fun in the snow in London

going into work everyday for three months knowing that once I finished for the liquidators that was it…no job to come back to. Finally it was all systems go and my daughter took over the house and car, moved all my belongings lock stock and barrel into storage (and it was still there till May this year hahaha)

kitties settled into new home, job finished, suitcase packed, visa entered, passport stamped…I was on my way.

irish blessing st patrick jonathan swift gullivers travels

may the sun shine warm on your face, may the wind be always at your back

I cannot tell you how excited I was.

The flight was as full as it could be. I’m sure they had some folks stacked in the hold!!! LOL

After a long flight we landed safe and sound in Zurich. I bought a pastry and hot chocolate, sent a postcard and made my way to the boarding gate for the next leg of my journey.

I’m very interested in and keen on WW2 history. As we flew from Zurich to London I looked out at the blue skies and remembered all the air-battles that had taken place in that airspace, of all the people who died in the skies and countries below…of the people who fought for their freedom from all parties involved…and cried and cried, just about all the way to London….I was overwhelmed!

Finally we landed at City of London airport and after making my way to the tube as we came out of the underground at Hounslow I looked out the window of the train and very clearly in my head I said “Oh! I could live here!”. The chimney pots reminded me of Mary Poppins…only my most favourite film of all time…..I fell in love with a city.

happy 15th anniversary

Keep Calm and Rule Britannia

Next leg of the journey was finding my way to Aer Lingus for the flight to Ireland. By now I was exhausted and so excited I could barely contain myself.

St Patrick's Day cupcakes...Guiness flavour!!

St Patricks’s Day cupcakes – Guinness flavour!!!

Finally we lifted off and I had my first real glimpse of London and the River Thames. Little did I realise that just on 9 years later I would be totally besotted with the city and the river that runs through it.

happy 15th anniversary

London from the air

A passion that has taken me into nooks and crannies, along streets so full of history you can barely walk 3 steps without being amazed and participating in historical events the like of which I had never even imagined; I’ve spent more than 3 Days in London😉

And then finally we flew over the Irish sea and so to Dublin. Seeing my sister and her hubby at the airport was thrilling, and so emotional…we cried enough tears of joy to refill the River Liffey should it ever run dry.

river liffey penny farthing bridge dublin ireland

the Penny Farthing Bridge and River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland

And thereafter history was made. I adored Ireland. I stayed with my sister and her husband and we had the most amazing time, travelling everywhere.

happy 15th anniversary

having fun with Caroline & Ewart – in those days I could still climb walls!!

I swear we visited just about every county in the south of Ireland bar a few which I visited on the next 8 trips to Ireland over the next few years….till they eventually went back to South Africa.

Winter was as cold and wet as they had said it would be, and as miserable as I had not imagined. I was due to fly back to South Africa on the 4th December. We went for dinner at BLT in Dublin. I cried and cried and said “I don’t want to go back! I don’t want to leave!”IMG-20141203-WA0005

So I didn’t🙂 I just didn’t go back. Instead I spent another two months loving Ireland and making the decision that I wanted to live forever and ever in the Northern Hemisphere. I wasn’t able to work in Ireland so instead just before my visa ran out I flew back across the pond to London, acquired the necessary paperwork to apply for my ancestral visa and after two weeks flew back to South Africa, finalised the sale of my house, and flew back to Ireland on the 22nd April 2002.

And I’m still here!!! I’m now a British Citizen, settled more than happily into my new persona and celebrating still my freedom.

happy 15th anniversary

at my citizenship ceremony in Maidstone 25.02.2016

I love this country, I could never live anywhere else. I’ve achieved three of my dreams; visiting Venice, a birthday in Paris and seeing the White Cliffs of Dover (once I got my UK Passport). I’ve celebrated my 50th (Paris) and my 60th since I’ve been here (helicopter flight over London – gift from my daughter), travelled to the USA 3 times and Europe a great number of times, attended the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, seen the Queen in Windsor on her 90th birthday and for the last 6 years at Trooping the Colour in London, attended Kate & William’s wedding (as a spectator), been to the London 2012 Olympics, flown over London in a helicopter, travelled the length and breadth of the UK, been to more villages, towns and cities and castles than I can remember, attended numerous traditional and annual events in the city, and thanks to my friend Joe been a passenger on the Trinity Tide

happy 15th anniversary

me on the Trinity Tide for the Green man event in January

and amongst all of that…..my daughter joined me here in 2003! Best gift ever.

happy 15th anniversary

me and Cémanthe


Happy 15th anniversary to me!


Two years ago my daughter up sticks and moved to Broadstairs. I’d heard of the place but never been there.


Broadstairs – a seaside town in Kent

My heart wrenched when I left London – I rent a room from her for the times I’m not working, so I had a choice of finding somewhere in London to live or continuing our previous arrangement. Saying goodbye to London and the River Thames was really hard.

twickenham bridge & the river thames

view of the Thames from Twickenham Bridge…I loved this view

I had many. many happy memories of our time in Twickenham/Richmond and spent so many hours walking alongside, photographing and just staring at the Thames that I could live another life, it is a truly beautiful area and stretch of my favourite river.

I camped out in an empty house for two days after she left on the 4th, but finally my time ran out and 2 years ago today, with suitcases and bags in hand (travel lightly you say!! How???), struggling to drag and carrying my load along the sidewalk and across roads to the station, I finally arrived at Broadstairs; 3 train journeys and 3 hours later.

What an amazing place…….and that beach!!!! Our lives are spent walking along that….


a view of the bay from the cliff top

The house is a tiny, charming little place, a home where we’ve since acquired a kitty by the name of Elsie, a rescue cat, who after months of lots of TLC has settled in like she always lived there!

The town a treasure trove of history and places to explore……

…..but the best thing about living in Broadstairs are the sunrise and sunset.

Now we don’t always get to see either of these due to the inclement UK weather, but every now and then a real charmer puts on a display like no other. Winter is the best time of year to watch the sunrise (for me that is) coz it comes up later and I’m not an early bird…although I have been known to drag on my clothes, eyes still sticky with sleep, teeth unbrushed, grab the keys and dash along to the esplanade….sans my first cup of tea!!! which is a miracle, but some days the miracle is happening on the horizon.

sunrise over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

sunrise over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

We’ve watched many a sunrise and quite a few sunsets since moving to Broadstairs. We’ve watched calm days when the water is so still you feel you could walk across it and other where the wind lashed the waves into a fury as they lash out and crash against the harbour wall.

sunset over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

sunset over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Viking Bay and the beach that ‘belongs’ to Broadstairs certainly is in my opinion the most beautiful of all the beaches/bays in the area, is a constant gift of beauty. It is the first thing I head over to when I get home and usually the last thing I wander over to look at before I leave on my next assignment. It is a constant draw and even when we’re home, we walk along the esplanade just about every day.

viking bay broadstairs

beautiful Viking Bay, Broadstairs

I have explored the streets and museums, eaten at the tearooms and restaurants, walked this way and that along the coast; either northwestwards to Margate or south to Ramsgate. It is the start and end point of my practice Camino walks and has been like a cosy blanket in my memory when I am working away and longing for my bed and the familiarity of the streets.

broadstairs a seaside town in kent

wish you were here….

Now, two years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It has become home……just in time for my daughter to up sticks and move again LOL At the moment she is house-hunting with a plan to buy her own home. I guess in the foreseeable future I will be landing somewhere else to watch the sunrise and sunset….who knows where?

So long as there is a beach🙂 Life is after all……a beach!!