Monday, 5 January 2009
Things I like and things I don't about the UK
On the 1st January it was our two year anniversary here in England and its time to reflect. Its dark, cold and misrable and I need to vent - so sorry about this!!
Things I don't like (i.e. hate) about the UK:
1. DIY. Everything here is do it yourself. You clean your own house, pack your own groceries, clean your car, put petrol in your car by yourself, you have to pay to fill your tyres with air -yourself.
This is all good and fine if you can then treat yourself with a nice cuppachino. But alas - here even the coffee shops are DIY. First you choose from a mediocre range of sandwiches on a shelf, then you stand in a queue to pay for the mediocre sandwich and order your coffee, once this is done, you take your coffee and mediocre sandwich on a tray and get a stick to stir your coffee with (which normally comes in a paper cup). You then glare at people already sitting down until they've had enough and they get up and leave. You then race for their table and hope you are there first. But alas this is not where the diy ends. You then have to pile the previous diners dirty cups and sticks and packets onto a tray and get rid of it somewhere, and wipe the table with a serviette before you can sit down and have your cuppachino but you can't even friggen eat the foam off because you don't have a spoon. So you just sit there and drink your cuppachino and eat your sandwich with your hands and try and keep your kids from going under the filthy table. Until someone else starts eyeing you and you get up and leave. This privilege could cost you around £20 if your kids also each have a muffin and an apple juice. Fun isn't it.
So if you are living in South Africa and on Saturday you go to your usual coffee shop and you and sit at a nice clean table and the waiter brings you a menu with a smile on his face and then you get your sandwich served to you on a plate with some chips and salad as well and a knife and fork (wow) - give him a big tip and think of me... And Brits - you deserve better - bugger Starbucks and Costa!! (I forgive Pret cause they make great sandwiches).
But this is unfortunately not where the diy ends. Because if you want to buy some furniture for your house and you pay around £40 just for the delivery, you would think that you would get an assembled piece of furniture and the delivery guy will maybe put in in the correct spot for you. But no. Since we've moved here we've had to assembled a huge bedroom cupboard, a smaller entrance hall cupboard, a scooter, our iron patio table (which I did myself), our lawnmower (which I did myself), Silke's huge outside play house and table set and a pink princess castle for Mieke which alone took me an hour!!
Ikea just takes the cake in this department and unfortunately was our first (and last) experience of this kind. Okay it is cheap but not worth the excruciating effort. First you visit the showroom section and choose what you like. This in itself is a mission with 2 small bored children tagging along. Then you take note of the parts you need to build your cupboard, then you go to this huge warehouse type place, get a huge trolley type thing and look for your numbered parts and load them on your trolley (yourself of course). Some of these parts are obviously quite heavy and needs two people to load. Then after you have (hopefully) everything you need, you stand in a looooong que to pay. Then after all that... you stand in an even looooooooonger queue to book a delivery at a whopping £60!! And the nightmare really only starts when they deliver your box of wooden panels and little screws and bad instructions. I don't really want to talk about it, its so bad.
Yes I was really spoilt in South Africa and I really miss it and so what....
2. The Weather
Its winter now so I find it particularly difficult to cope at the moment. Its just cold cold cold. I have not been outside by choice for quite a while. And because we don't really have shopping malls even going to town is a freezing event and not much pleasure - even with all the January sales. And by four o'clock its dark outside. Sometimes it snows but after the first excitement, I don't find my car sliding down the road very exciting. Terrifying more like it.
Summer is better, especially on the two really hot days we normally have. Then we just love going to the park and sitting outside until 9:00pm and eating ice cream and having a lovely braai. But most of summer, autumn and spring is cool and wet unfortunately. And it just gets to you. That's why its one of the most talked about thing here in the UK - everyone is always talking about the weather.
3. The size of my R4.9 million house This is not an issue for everybody as many of my classy here friends have perfectly nice houses. Which costs around R10 million. Our house is new and we have a garden which is nice. But that's where it ends, its small, no cupboard space and only has one bathroom. And we spend so much time here that being in each other's immediate company all the time just gets a bit too much. If I think of what I can afford in SA for less than half this price I just want to ... take deep breaths.
Okay well after the above 3 things I am tired of moaning so here are some good things about the UK:
1. The Service from Government Departments For instance today after I was skating my car down the hill in front of Mieke's school today, I phoned the Surrey County Council to inform them of the ice on the road. They answered very quickly and a friendly lady took my details and gave me a case number. She also said that they normally grit all roads in front of school. When I went to fetch Mieke at 3:00pm the road and pavement was gritted and fine for driving. In South Africa I would still be hanging on the phone at 3:00pm so its just as well it doesn't really snow in SA.
2. The people In the beginning this would have been on my negative list, as some of them can be quite grumpy especially in winter (but who can blame them?) but in the past two years I've met some very nice people (mostly foreigners like myself) but some Brits as well. Especially all my neighbours in our little complex are very kind and welcoming and we visit each other quite often.
Other nice things are the good schools (if you can get into one), the safety, its always green (how else with all that rain) and its close to Europe!!
Okay now I feel much better. Please see some cute photos of my two little angels - both of them were angels in their school plays. Also some photos of the fun the kids had at our New Year's eve party at our neighbour's house - things just aren't quite the same once you've had kids - especially now that the little monsters stay awake until twelve!!