V is for Victoria street in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Lined with oak and plane trees, it’s probably my favourite street there. In spring and early summer it’s at its most beautiful full of new green leaves. The street still has furrows next to it, a throwback from the town’s early days when the furrows served as the main water system.


Victoria Street, Stellenbosch, South Africa

V is also for Voyager Estate, a wine estate in south west Australia. It’s famous for having been built in the Cape Dutch building style, something the (Australian) owner really liked when he visited South Africa. To us it’s a piece of our old home in our new home.


How Our Lollipop Lady Helped Us Settle In

I bent down to take a coffee mug out of the cupboard this morning and the first one my hand found was one given to us by our Lollipop Lady more than ten years ago. Suddenly lots of memories came flooding back. We’d never heard of someone being called a “Lollipop Lady” until we moved to Perth in 2005.

A Lollipop Lady is a lady who is employed to help children cross the roads close to schools. Gentlemen also do this job but the name originated in the UK where a lady would stand in the middle of the road holding a big circular (lollipop looking) sign to stop traffic so children can safely cross the road.

The house we rented at the time was about half a kilometre from school and so I walked the kids to school in the mornings and walked to fetch them in the afternoons. Since Child No 3 was only in Kindy (Kindergarten) at the time she only went to school twice per week and therefor did a great deal of walking with me. Subsequently she also got to know the Lollipop Lady quite well.

Our Lollipop Lady was a caring, friendly and warm person. She always had a smile on her face, come rain, hail or shine. And there were some bad weather days – some 40 degree ones and some wet, cold and miserable ones. It didn’t matter what the conditions were, she was always upbeat and interested in what was happening in everyone’s lives.  She knew everybody in the area so when this new family walked up on the first day of school and greeted her with a strange accent she was naturally curious about where we came from. She was the first person who taught me what a “sook” is and so my introduction to Aussie sayings commenced. (A sook is someone who is not very brave). She was in awe of the fact that we’d packed up our house on a different continent, got on a plane with a suitcase each and started a new life somewhere else. She said: “I could never do that Love, I’m way too much of a sook.” I replied that it was all the friendly people in the community that helped us to settle in. She was so lovely and welcoming and always had time for a chat. In the afternoons she’d ask the kids each in turn how their day had been. It was almost like having a caring surrogate aunt when we had no close family around. For our first Christmas in Australia she gave us a set of four coffee mugs. It was such a lovely gesture – there was no way she’d be able to give each family who crossed the road under her watch every day a Christmas present.

I still remember how, one morning when my husband walked the kids to school, four year old Child No 3 rushed up to her, bursting with excitement. “Mrs Jones! Mrs Jones!” she called. “Yes, Love?” Mrs Jones replied. “My dad got me a trampoline at the dump!” Child No 3 exclaimed. I’m not sure what Mrs Jones’ reply was but my husband said that she was genuinely very interested in the trampoline but he could still hear her giggling as they walked off. In Perth, the local councils do bulk verge refuge collections about once a year. There are limits to what one can throw out but a great deal of unwanted items end up on verges, some in better condition than others. We can also throw out garden waste (which helps when you do a lot of pruning). The day before my husband had spotted a little mini one person trampoline that someone had put out on their verge as part of their collection. It was still in good condition so he picked it up and brought it home for Child No 3, who was over the moon about it and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about this treasure.


The park close to the kids’ primary school

After about a year and a half we bought our house in the neighbouring suburb. The kids still went to the same school but I now drove them to school and so we didn’t get to chat to our Lollipop Lady daily any more. Sometimes I parked the car at the park where she worked and walked up to school and we’d have a quick chat. A few years later she retired and some parents organised a little farewell for her in the park. We went to say goodbye and thank her for all the times she helped the kids but also for the way she welcomed us into the community. I haven’t seen her for some time now and I wonder if she’ll remember us but I’ll always remember her and how positive an influence she was when we first moved to Perth. I doubt she has any idea how her caring and kindness just made us feel like we belonged but we still have the coffee mugs that bring back some very fond memories.


The park close to where our Lollipop Lady worked every school day

The Boy Look Conspiracy

“It wasn’t there when I was here earlier, I’m telling you. See that guy (shop assistant standing on a ladder minding his own business packing shelves) is laughing, he hid it and then put it there after I left”. Ironman was trying to justify having come home empty-handed because “it wasn’t there” after he went to the shops to buy some coconut milk (since one of our kids was on a lactose free diet). He went to the shops to save me some time but could not – even after very specific directions (which aisle, shelf, side of the shop, next to which product etc) – find this specific type of coconut milk we were looking for.

He came home adamant that the shop didn’t have it. “It’s not there”. He was resolute. But I was equally unwavering that it was, and that I needed it, so I stopped dinner preparations, left all the food out on the kitchen bench, picked up my handbag, grabbed the car keys and said: “It’s ok, I’ll go and get it”. “I’ll come with you” he said, “so I can show you it’s not there”.

Here in Australia we have something that’s called “having a boy look”. I love Aussie sayings, they are so descriptive. “Having a boy look” is when a man is looking for something that is in plain sight but he can’t see it. My husband will sometimes stand in front of the pantry cupboard, staring at the contents looking for the coffee and then call me: “Where’s the coffee?” I’ll call back: “It’s in the cupboard”, to which he’ll reply: “No, it’s not”. Depending on what I’m doing at that point in time I’ll either reply: “It really is there. I know it doesn’t jump out at you to make itself visible but I promise it’s there”, or I’ll stop what I’m doing, go over and take the coffee from the shelf and hand it to him with a sigh.

On the hiding-coconut-milk-day we got in the car and drove to the shop. I walked in, purposely strode to the shelf where I knew this coconut milk was kept, not looking right or left, just straight ahead with my husband following, feeling quite sure of himself that I would soon be proven wrong. That we’ll get to the shelf and there will indeed be no coconut milk where I said it would be. We got there, and alas, there it was. I didn’t say a thing, just took it off the shelf, turned around and went to pay, trying my best not to laugh. There was a shop assistant standing on a ladder in the aisle, packing the top shelf and watching these two very determined characters bemusedly. Meanwhile my husband promptly formulated his defence: “It wasn’t there when I was here earlier, I’m telling you. See that guy (the shop assistant) is laughing, he hid it and then put it there after I left”. “No”, I said, “it was there all the time, you just had a boy look”, still trying not to laugh. “I asked him if there was any and he went and checked in the store room and said they didn’t have any, then after I left he quickly put it on the shelf, he was laughing at us.” A conspiracy theory had super swiftly been devised. I have to give my man that: he came up with that theory at breakneck speed. “Did you see how he was laughing at us”? “He was laughing because it’s funny”, I said. “Probably also because he had an equally bad boy look and couldn’t find it himself and was relieved because he’s not the one who went home and said there was none when in fact there was some”.

By now we were back in the car and I couldn’t contain my giggling any more. It was just too funny. All the way back home he was unshakeable: he’d been set up. We walked in the door at home, still laughing and both sticking to our guns but the balance of power in the house (also known as three teenagers) quickly delivered their verdict with smiley, shaking heads: the coconut milk had been there all along.

The boys in our house have a boy look quite often and since we all tease each other all the time us girls don’t pass by an opportunity to make light of it but my husband still sticks to his story about the coconut milk: it was hidden and put there after he’d left.

The coconut milk that was hidden

The coconut milk that was hidden

Perth: A Dog-Friendly Place with Friendly Dogs

Every time I go out for a walk I see people walking their dogs. The dogs always look so excited at the prospect of meeting another person (Yay! Someone else who can give me attention!). They look up with anticipation and try to come over to say hello. I’ve had dogs run up to me on and off their leads. One morning a particularly boisterous fully grown German Shepherd made a beeline for me in a park, off his lead. Having grown up in South Africa where dogs aren’t only pets but also guard dogs, any random dog charging you was something to be wary of. For a split second I wasn’t sure what to think and then realised that everything about this big boy’s bouncing body language was pure playfulness. All he wanted to do was say hello. On another occasion a puppy ran up to me and just wanted to play. His owner was right there in their driveway but pup didn’t want me to continue on my walk. After I stopped and played for a minute he just wanted to play some more.

Every day people are out walking their dogs and the dogs get even more excited when they spot a fellow canine. They run over and sniff hello with tails wagging. Some days the dogs are friendlier than their owners and one can’t help but think that the dogs of Perth are very friendly.  Of course there are exceptions. We’ve had a couple of encounters with unfriendly dogs but the general dog population is very sociable. And ranger services are reassuringly very efficient.

Every park and dog beach (there are allocated beaches where dogs are allowed as they’re not allowed on all beaches) has little plastic bags and bins handy for owners to pick up and dispose of their dogs’ business which makes it a very dog-friendly place. Add to that the great outdoors climate we have and you have a recipe for happy dogs and happy owners. The dogs love going to the dog beach, there are so many other dogs to play with and smells to investigate. We go to our local dog beach once a week and the park a few times a week and our dogs love it. They get to run free off their leads. Tessa in particular, loves the ocean and will run into the water on her short little legs and sometimes the waves will crash over her. It could be the middle of winter but she doesn’t go to the beach without going for a swim. Zeta doesn’t love the water as much but loves running as fast as she can with ears pulled back so she looks like a miniature greyhound. They love the freedom. Tessa is always watching out for another dog that looks like it’s having more fun than her and then she stays with that dog, regardless of what we’re doing. We might be 50 metres up the beach but she doesn’t care. It’s usually a bigger dog whose owner is throwing a ball far out into the sea for it to go and fetch and Tessa will join in as if she’s always belonged with them, run along as deep into the water as she can and wait for the other dog and repeat it over and over. Every now and again when she’s “adopted” another family like that we have to stop, go back, pick her up and carry her away, otherwise she’ll keep going back there. Under any other circumstances she is the most obedient dog but take her to the dog beach and she suddenly has selective hearing. In an endearing way. At the beach Zeta is actually much better behaved. She sprints, stops, smells something, looks up to see where we are, sprints off again and every now and then she’ll come to us and check in before she goes again.

Tessa enjoying her run at the dog beach

Tessa enjoying her run at the dog beach

Tessa enjoying the sea

Tessa enjoying the sea

Zeta at the park

Zeta at the park

It’s a great family tradition of ours, the weekly outing to the dog beach. A refreshing walk at the beach –  whether it’s in the dead of winter or a balmy summer’s afternoon –  while watching the dogs’ delight, is a great way to spend some quality time in the outdoors amongst lots of other friendly dogs. Their happiness in infectious. When they’re happy we’re happy. We laugh about their antics and love seeing them have fun and in the process the joy spreads. For that half an hour or so it’s all about the dogs. And then again, maybe not, since us humans go home feeling very content as well.

Quality time at the dog beach

Quality time at the dog beach

We've seen some magical sunsets whilst out at the dog beach

We’ve seen some magical sunsets whilst out at the dog beach


(Apologies to non-Afrikaans readers.)

Geskryf na aanleiding van Scrapydo se Toeka-Tokkel onderwerp vir die week: Bestuur. Ek het leer bestuur op ons kleinhoewe in die Kaap – enigiets van ons klein Isuzu Elf trokkie (dit was so stadig my pa het altyd gesê jy kan sommer uit tweede rat uit wegtrek) tot ons Kombi. Wanneer my pa die dag met my op die pad gaan ry het het hy besluit hy het ‘n sterker kreet as “Stop” nodig gehad wanneer ek nie gou genoeg gereageer het nie. Om die dringendheid van sommige situasies aan my oor te dra het hy besluit dat “Nood stop!”, “Nood stop!” die gewenste uitwerking sal hê. Vir ‘n tyd lank het dit mooi gewerk tot ek (met tipiese 17-jarige alwetendheid) eendag toe hy weer roep “Nood stop!” so skielik, so hard op die rem getrap het dat my arme pa se kop die truspiëeltjie voor teen die venster losgestamp het. Ek het darem geleer wat ek moes leer om my lisensie te kry die dag na my 18e verjaarsdag. Die verkeersbeampte het nogal gesê “Jy is gretig om jou lisensie te kry” toe hy na my ID kyk en sien ek is 18 jaar en 1 dag oud.

So het ek die Kaapse paaie vir die volgende veertien jaar gery tot ons Dubai toe getrek het in 2004. Gelukkig het ek nie nodig gehad om weer ‘n bestuurstoets daar te doen nie, maar ek het bitter vining hare op my tande gegroei toe ek op daai paaie begin bestuur het. Die eerste nuwe ding waaraan ek gewoond moes raak was linkerhandstuur en dan om te ry aan die regterkant van die pad. En niemand ry stadig op daai paaie nie. As jy nie selfgeldend bestuur en vir jouself ‘n plek neem nie bly jy agter. Die grootste verandering was om teen jou instink in eerste links te kyk en dan regs. Ek is aan die diep kant ingegooi want sommige dae moes ek die kinders by die skool gaan optel en die padwerke en verkeer tussen ons huis in Dubai en die skool in Sharjah (die volgende Emiritaat) was rof. Sit nou daarby die instruksies van ”as jy hier ry kyk uit vir die Dubai/Abu Dhabi teken, dan is dit 3 “interchanges” en dan neem jy daai afdraai. As jy soontoe gaan, moet jy die Ras al Khor afdraai neem, maar dit sê nie Ras al Khor op die borde totdat jy al klaar afgedraai het nie. (!!!!) Onthou altyd: Route 311 (Emirates Road) en Route 44.” Hoe onthou ‘n mens al hierdie goed die eerste keer sonder ‘n toetslopie terwyl karre verby jou ry en voor jou inry voordat jy nog ‘n kans gehad het om dit te registreer? Ek het dit darem gemaak tot by Sharjah maar die eerste keer wat ek uit die stad uit huis toe gery het, het ek reg verby ons woonbuurt se afdraai geskiet (alles lyk dieselfde in die woestyn) en kort voor lank was daar net sandduine in sig en manlief het net sy kop geskud “want hy het mos vir my instruksies gegee voor ons uit die stad weg is”.

Daar was baie verkeerssirkels of “roundabouts” soos hulle daar genoem word, sommige met vier bane reg rondom met verkeer wat konstant van alle kante af insny. Op ‘n stadium het ons erge wind en sandstorms beleef en die lug was vaal en deinserig en ‘n mens kon min sien. Eendag het dit behoorlik gestorm en toe ek en die kinders verby Nad al Sheba (die Perde- en Kameelrenbaan) ry, sê ek vir die kinders ek is seker die kamele kan nie in ‘n sandstorm oefen nie. Elke keer wat ons daar verbygery het het ons die “canimals”, soos driejarige Kind Nr 3 hulle genoem het, sien oefen. Duidelik was die kamele en ruiters meer gehard as ons want daar was hulle: getrou soos altyd, selfs in die middel van ‘n sandstorm. Die kinders was gefassineer deur die kamele. Op die terugpad was een hele baan van Emirates Road naby Nad al Sheba toe onder die sand!

Die dag van Kind Nr 3 se eerste swemles by die Dubai Country Club moes ek vir die eerste keer self soontoe ry. Die eerste deel van die pad was op ‘n pad wat ek ken, maar dan was daar ‘n paar snaakse draaie. Om alles verder te kompliseer moes ek ‘n vrou ontmoet by die Country Club voor die swemles, oor ‘n moontlike gratis maand lidmaadskap maar eers moes ek wag tot die skoolbus vir Kind Nr 1 en Nr 2 afgelaai het. Alles het goed gegaan tot ek by die tweede snaakse draai reguit gery in plaas van afgedraai het. Die naaste afdraai wat ek toe kry bring my toe by Nad al Sheba (die Kameelrenbaan) se ingang! Die laaste plek waar ek wou wees! Manlief het gebel en gevra of ons al daar is. Ek sê nee ek het verkeerd gery maar ek sien hier is aanwysings na Emirates Road, ek sal my pad vind van daar af. Famous last words. By Emirates Road gekom neem ek dit toe verkeerde kant toe. Wat andersins nie ‘n groot probleem sou wees nie want jy neem mos net weer die volgende afrit en draai om. Die enigste probleem is dat die volgende afrit toe eers 20km verder is! Toe ek op die pad kom het ek geweet hier’s ‘n probleem, want dis dieselfde pad as die een wat ons Abu Dhabi toe geneem het! Ek wou nie Abu Dhabi toe gaan nie, dis 150km weg! Teen daai tyd was ek al so moedeloos ek het begin vra wat kan dan nou nog verkeerd loop. Toe gaan die petrol liggie aan! Terwyl dit alles aan die gang is sing James Brown oor die radio “I feel good!” Miskien jy James Brown, maar nie ek nie. Die uiteinde was dat ons heeltemaal laat was vir my afspraak en Kind Nr 3 se swemles. Die hele petalje (van waar ek verkeerd gery het tot terug by die huis, met nood aanwysings van manlief tussendeur per selfoon), het ‘n uur geduur en dit het my gekos by die huis swem met Kind Nr 3 omdat sy so hartseer was oor haar swemles wat sy gemis het. En dit op die eerste dag hier wat koel was, vries ek toe in die swembad vir my sondes.

Na ‘n paar maande daar het my selfvertroue darem bietjie beter geraak en naderhand het ek graag die pad Sharjah toe aangedurf om te gaan rondsnuffel by die bekende Blue Souk (mark). Een middag moes ek Kind Nr 2 dringend by die hospitaal kry nadat sy ‘n allergiese reaksie vir sekere medikasie ontwikkel het, en ek het soos ‘n wafferse wedrendrywer my hoofligte aangesit, in die vinninge baan in beweeg en my voet neergesit. Nood leer regtig bid. Later van tyd het ek selfs – na ek die padkaart mooi bestudeer het (dit was voor die tyd van “Google Maps”) – Dubai se middestad aangedurf om te gaan verken.

Na al daai adrenaliengevulde ondervindings op die paaie was Perth se paaie ‘n groot kontras want almal het mooi by die 100km/h spoedlimiet gehou op die snelweg. Net toe ek begin gewoond raak het aan Dubai se paaie het ons weer getrek en toe lees ek weer van voor af padkaart, maar gelukkig het alles rondom my aan die “regte” kant van die pad en teen ‘n respektabele spoed beweeg. Een deel van my Dubai-bestuurstyl het egter veroorsaak dat ek eendag nie lank na ons in Perth aangekom het nie, deur die polisie van die pad afgetrek is. Groot was my skok want ek hou daarvan om die regte ding te doen maar dit blyk toe dat U-draaie by verkeersligte hier in Perth onwettig is. Ek verduidelik toe mooi dat ek nie geweet het nie en dat dit in Dubai ‘n groot deel van die verkeerstelsel vorm. Hulle laat my toe maar gaan na ‘n waarskuwing.

So het ons gewoon en bestuur in Afrika met sy koedoe-, vlakvark- en olifantswaarskuwingsbordjies, toe in Dubai met kameelwaarskuwingsbordjies en nou in Australië met kangaroowaarskuwingsbordjies. En die tyd het vinning aangestap en ons moes al ons oudste twee kinders leer bestuur so ek het ‘n paar maal al gedink aan my pa se “Nood stop” kreet. Sommige dae wanneer ek langs die leerder-bestuurder gesit het kon ek letterlik voel hoe kry ek nog grys hare by die minuut en my hart het in my keel geklop en nou en dan skop my regtervoet onwillekeurig vorentoe vas om ‘n spookrempedaal in ‘n nood stop vas te trap, en dan moet ek myself herinner om asem te haal tot ons weer by die volgende situasie kom. Hoe het die tyd dan so vinning verbygegaan vandat ek leer bestuur het tot ek my kinders moet leer bestuur?

Koedoe waarskuwingsbordjie in Namibië

Koedoewaarskuwingsbordjie in Namibië

Vlakvark waarskuwingsbordjie in Namibië

Vlakvarkwaarskuwingsbordjie in Namibië

'n Kameel waarskuwingsbord naby Dubai

‘n Kameelwaarskuwingsbord naby Dubai

'n Hoofpad buite Dubai - net nadat ons die kameel waarskuwingsbord gesien het.

‘n Hoofpad buite Dubai – net nadat ons die kameel waarskuwingsbord gesien het.

Afrikaners in Perth

I’m very excited today. My post about celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Perth has just been published in the on-line edition of a South African magazine after I translated it into Afrikaans. This is the link:


The original English version is here: https://searchingforironman.com/2015/01/23/10-years-in-this-great-southern-land/

10 Years in this Great Southern Land

10 Years ago we boarded a plane from Africa and landed at Perth airport about 9 ½ hours later, walked out the airport into the late January heat feeling quite insignificant. The realisation that we knew no-one made this family feel a bit lost and it hit home as we walked into the “Arrivals” hall amidst people being welcomed and greeted by family, friends or business associates, not knowing anyone and subduedly making our way out the door to find a taxi. Arriving at our short-term rented apartment in the city the exhausted and jet-lagged kids fell asleep sitting up in chairs in the middle of the day while Ironman went out to organise a rental car and so our first week went by in a blurr of organising all the logistics of settling down in a new place with my husband having started his new job and the kids and I driving from one possible rental house to the next looking for one that would meet our requirements. We’d timed our arrival so the kids would be able to start the new school year which left us with 10 days to find a suitable school as well as a house to rent in the same suburb which proved to be a challenge in the middle of a mining boom and accommodation shortage but we managed to sign the lease for a nice house on the Friday afternoon and on Monday morning the kids started school on the first day of the new school year together with all the other kids. Two big and very important boxes were ticked.

As we’d said our farewells to friends in South Africa they would jokingly talk about the “honeymoon period” of a move to a new country such as we were doing being about three months, but having moved to Dubai just under a year prior and absolutely loving the adventure of that I felt like the honeymoon period was over when our plane landed in Perth. Being uprooted twice in under 12 months to move continents, settle down, make friends, ensure the kids are happy and doing well at school, finding substitute products in the shops to the ones you were used to, finding a hairdresser who cut my hair the way I liked it and all the rest of it, didn’t come naturally for someone who loves being in their comfort zone but I knew that this move was best for my family so I was determined to make it work. During our visit here in August 2004 while I was still grappling with the idea of having to move away from Dubai where we’d just settled a few months prior and the exotic adventure of which we were thoroughly enjoying I was under so much pressure from my husband to like Perth that I broke down in tears one day telling him exactly that: “You’re putting too much pressure on me to like it” but walking down Hay Street, Perth, another day during that visit I realised that I would be able to live in this city and that I would be able to make it work and knowing that was enough for me at that stage. I knew that the lifestyle would be better for the kids and the whole family in the long run.

Looking back, the first year was definitely the hardest but we made good, lasting friends who became our “Perth family” over time. We found the people of Perth to be very friendly, welcoming and accepting with a great sense of humour and got used to driving on the left-hand side of the road once again, everyone driving strictly at 100km/h on the freeway (after the manic speeds on the roads of Dubai), the green of the Eucalyptus which was very different to the bright and lively green of the oaks and plane trees in Stellenbosch which was one of the things I missed at first, the idea of not knowing when exactly we’ll see our family again, hearing many different accents around you every day, total fires bans during summer because of the extreme bush fire risk, and Vegemite. I only made one illegal U-turn (in my defence, I didn’t know it was illegal) and got pulled over for it by the police – much to my absolute distress, being someone who likes to do the right thing – but they accepted my explanation that in Dubai U-turns are the order of the day and a very large part of the traffic system. Having given up a work-life of accounts, financial statements, various types of tax returns, payrolls, monthly financial reports, spreadsheets and intricate cash flow forecasts built on different variables to being a stay-at-home-mum in exciting Dubai where everything was new and interesting and something as simple as picking up the kids from school was an excursion because of the distance, traffic and some crazy road users to contend with, to being a stay-at-home mum in a quiet Perth suburb where everything worked in an orderly manner as it should, it quickly felt like my world had shrunk to a triangle of going from home to school to the supermarket and back home and repeating the same day after day, and it didn’t take me long to feel a bit claustrophobic but after a weekend away in beautiful Yallingup and Margaret River after about four months I felt like my horizons had expanded and I could breathe again. With all of Ironman’s travels for work he didn’t experience this problem but instead found interesting places of exquisite natural beauty for us to visit as a family which we started doing as soon as time and budget allowed and before I knew it I’d fallen in love with the splendour that the Western Australian coastline and bush offers. The beautiful, clean beaches; colour of the water whether it be the crisp, clear Southern Ocean around Esperance and Albany or the warm, turquoise waters of Broome; the unique charm, beauty and magnetism of Rottnest Island that makes you never want to leave there; the red pindan sand of the Kimberley, age-old forests of the South-West and the vast open spaces. I love being in the countryside and still have the need to get out of the city every now and then and breathe some fresh air and I’m lucky to have the opportunity of so many great places to visit and many more gems of places yet to see. I discovered that one could actually live anywhere as long as your family was safe and healthy. I also realised that I only missed certain things (other than family and friends of course) about our life in South Africa when I actually stopped to think about those particular things (which didn’t happen every day), but when I did a deep yearning for some of those things and places would overcome me and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever visit a specific spot again and I’d miss the very distinct vibe that is so colourfully part and parcel of the rainbow nation and I learnt that a photo of an African dawn or sunset still pulls at the heartstrings like no other, but life keeps us busy and there was no time or point in longing for something that wasn’t a part of my daily life as it was at that point, dwell on it or mope about it. I have been very fortunate in that my family (near and far) are all in good health but we do miss them and have to remind ourselves that lots of people live far away from their families nowadays. We have so much to be grateful for living in a safe and beautiful place that offers the kind of freedom of amazing lifestyle that it does, and the privilege of so many opportunities. One cannot but love a country that offers you the opportunity to put on your shoes and head out for a safe morning walk on your own on a quiet country road you’ve never been on and to just follow the road to see where it takes you and to keep going to see what awaits around the next bend and then as a bonus to stumble upon views such as this:

View towards Yallingup, Cape Naturaliste Peninsula

View towards Yallingup, Cape Naturaliste Peninsula

A landmark moment in my memory was the first day of the kids’ second school year, one year after arriving. After having gone through so much change during the preceding 24 months and constantly feeling like I was doing something for the first time and still learning my way it hit me on that day and I thought: “I can do this. I’ve done it before.” Such a simple thing but it meant so much at that stage. After a while we started to feel like we’re not the newcomers anymore and that we really belonged here and embraced many things about the Aussie lifestyle such as gas barbeques (after having used coal for our braai all our lives) which meant that the barbeque was ready within minutes and also that I was able to cook something on the barbie without fuss when the man of the house was away; blower vacs (a blower and vacuum combo perfect for the garden); having a bread machine and making our own preservative free bread within two hours or less; the concept of “suck it up” (just get over it); driving for hours and then looking at the map and realising that we’ve only covered a small portion of this vast country, and to say “No worries” (no problem), to stop calling a traffic light a robot as well as lots of other descriptive sayings and acronyms. We wrote the citizenship test and became citizens on Australia Day in 2009; I’ve swallowed a fly – I think that should count for at least a 50% credit towards the citizenship test – and had many more near-misses like that; started a book club together with friends which has become a close knit group of us who treasures and looks forward to book club night on the calendar every month; I’ve given up the stay-at-home-mum status and took a part-time job in 2008; I now struggle to say phone numbers in Afrikaans which had been my first language for 30 odd years (I now feel like I have two first languages); come to appreciate the Freo doctor (cool sea breeze) on a warm summer’s arvo;  we’ve enjoyed lots of sunset barbies at the beach with friends; have an annual “moving to Perth” anniversary dinner with friends who arrived within a week of us and whom we met at school on the first or second school day; done many a road-trip and love the vast beauty of this great southern land but I still catch myself sometimes as we drive home after a long trip away nearly saying we’re going back to the Cape (Cape Town) and not Perth, it must be so ingrained in me, and also discovered that it’s still heart-breaking when the Springboks lose a test match. Especially in Perth. I have a number of favourite places in WA though, from Denmark to Rottnest Island, Coral Bay and Broome, and love each one too much to choose it above another. After 10 years in Perth it’s fair to say that our experiences living in both South Africa and Australia (and throw in Dubai for good measure) have all shaped, formed and influenced us as people and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. This child of Africa will always have an unbreakable bond with Africa but is undeniably also Australian and loves living in Perth. Fair dinkum.

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island

Coral Bay

Coral Bay



Our local coastline with view towards Hillarys Boat Harbour

Our local coastline with view towards Hillarys Boat Harbour

Perth city view from Kings Park

Perth city view from Kings Park