Sunday, 29 March 2009

Beautiful Guildford

Sometimes I am less than enthusiastic about England, but that has 90% to do with the weather. Things are looking up (meaning the weather) so I thought I would write something positive about the town we are living in - Guildford.

Friday was Werner's birthday so I organised a babysitter and we went to the Thai Terrace - a Thai (obviously) restaurant at the top of Castle Car Park in Guildford. Wow. I've never been to such a stunning place - why we've never been before I don't know. The most stunning view - even at night, beautiful gardens and interior and all the staff bow to you as you walk past them. Great service and not too expensive either for what you get. So we were pleasantly surprised and I started thinking about how interesting little town Guildford is.

As I walk along the cobbled High Street, I wonder how many thousands of other mothers have walked there since forever, rushing their children along, watching the street musicians and doing their shopping. The High Street is really the most beautiful I've seen in England, with the gold gilded clock as a centerpiece and the Surrey Hills in the distance - I can understand why it has been painted many times. On a summers day nothing beats walking down the street and listening to the street musicians and just taking your time. The Chinese violin player especially who astounds us and Mieke loves watching him as she is also now playing violin. And because he plays stuff from Mamma Mia and we all love Mamma Mia. Except Werner...

Then there are the odd people of Guildford. The bearded lady who always sits at the same chair in MacDonalds and if someone sits in her chair she will wait for them to leave so that she can have her seat. Mieke is sure that she follows us because she always seems to be there when we are there. Either that or we both spend too much time at MacDonalds. But she is really freaky with her long white beard and painted lips and beady eyes which follow your every move. But she is an institution and we might even miss her if we don't see her any more!!

There are quite a few other weird people, like the man in the white suit who shouts in the High Street every weekend, the lady who keeps invading schools and getting arrested and a few others which I will probably get to know better the longer I live here.

But the best thing about Guildford is the variety of things one can do. You can eat food from all over the world - french, thai, chinese, italian and the best thing is when you visit a french restaurant you will be served by a french waitress - who doesn't understand English that well and definitely not Afrikaans South African English!! So our Thai Restaurant had only Thai staff and it just makes the experience more authentic.

You can feed the ducks and swans at the river and watch the people on their boats struggling to get through the locks. You can go to the 'cinema' as its called here or to one of the two theatres. You can visit the remains of the thousand year old Guildford Castle with its beautiful gardens and look for the statue of Alice in Wonderland. You can visit the library or spendtime browsing in Waterstones bookshop while your kids watch the fish and enjoy their book section. You can take your little one to a toddler group at one of the churches close to town and have a coffee and a chat with other mums while the little ones play. And then you can shop, if you want.

So I've learnt to walk. Far and uphill and over cobbles and pavements while pushing a 'buggy' and carrying shopping. I've learnt to get out there if the sun shines cause tomorrow it might not. I've learnt to take the bus to town and to have the correct change ready so as not to P$£* off the bus driver.

And now I walk up the High Street with my children and say hello to familiar faces and give directions to people that ask and I remember something I thought right in the beginning when we first moved here. I said that what I missed most is seeing people I know in the mall or in a shop. I kept on expecting to see someone I knew but of course I didn't. But now I do. Nearly every day I see someone I know and we say hello.

Now isn't that just wonderful!!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Spring is in the Air - Smiles all around

Today it was 16 degrees celsius outside. Mieke insisted on wearing her summer school dress and felt a lot more comfortable than in her scratchy stockings!! Even I walked outside without my coat for the first time in months - Jay.

Last week Mieke had a friend over to play. This was part of their conversation in the car:

Mieke: 'What does your dad look like?'

Friend: 'well he has short hair. He never wears a suit to work. He always wears either his blue jumper or his green jumper. And he picks food up from the floor and eats it.'

Mieke: 'What types of food, like pizza?'

Friend: 'Yes'

Mieke: 'And like biscuits'

Friend: 'Yes'

And this went on for quite a while - hilarious, want to tell friend's mum but dare not! Still figuring out the English sense of humour - no sure if it will go down well.

Tonight I was at Mieke's school's art exhibition until nearly 9:00pm. I blame myself as I organised it for some reason. I don't really know how I get myself into these things. I used to be the class rep, now I am the class rep and PTA secretary and the organiser of the school art exhibition - luckily the last one is now over.

So when I got home both girls were still awake (obviously) and Silke crying because Daddy 'skrikked her' because apparently, as Mieke informed she pooed in the bath. And apparently she pooed a million little poo pieces in the bath. Daddy was not impressed and I was VERY HAPPY that I was not home. But unfortunately I was left to search for Silke's bottle before I could make myself some supper so we looked under the couches, under the table, behind the tv, in the dishwasher, in the kitchen cupboard, in the toy box, in the bathroom, under the bed, in the recycling bin and then eventually in the dustbin. Where it was. Of course, why did I not look there before.

Tomorrow its to school with Mieke, to pre-school with Silke, home for 3 hours where I will try to clean all the things gathered under the couch as Werner pointed them out to me today, then fetch Silke, beg her to eat her scrambled eggs and toast, off to Gymnastics Factory with Silke, hanging around until 4:00pm for Mieke to finish chior then back to Gymnastics Factory for Mieke at five pm while Silke harrasses her guys (other kids waiting for their siblings - includes girls and boys), home at 6:30pm by which time I feel like I've been to Gymnastics Factory.

On Thursday Mieke needs to be dressed up as an evacuee from the World War complete with old suitcase and gas mask box?! around her neck, and on Friday its coffee morning at the school and Blue Class's cake sale which involves me standing behind a table with seven cakes (my dear Blue Class's contribution) trying to divide it between 180 kids each clutching 20p who are demanding cakes while I am trying to keep an eye on Silke who is probably trying to climb a tree but I don't know cause I can't see her.

At least I'm not bored....

Monday, 9 March 2009

Ditjies en Datjies

We went to Bruges in Belgium a few weeks ago. Just decided to go somewhere before our visa expired. What a wonderful weekend - just too short. Lovely chocolate and waffles and beer (the beer taste very fresh) - even though it was freezing it was delightful!!

Mieke loved the hotel the most (she is a real spoiled brat just like her mom). But it was great - lovely comfy beds, delicious breakfast and a warm indoor swimming pool - what more could you want.

We also went on a horse carriage ride (our horse was called Lulu) and the kids loved it. Clippity clop through the streets, stopping every now and then to look at a 900 year old church, or the oldest chocolate shop or the Lake of Love. We really had a great time and made me think I could actually live here.

But I can't. I still feel like my real life is going on somewhere else while I'm wasting my time here. I sometimes look around and just hate what I see. The brown houses, the grey skies, the grottiness of it all. What is wrong with me, why can't I just get on with it and enjoy my life. Why can't I make this my home?

I feel ungrateful but at the same time angry that I am here. Frustrated, sad, irritated. What can I say - I disappoint myself.

So now we are applying for Oz, the big brown country, hot as hell with huge scary spiders and Mieke who has suddenly developed a terrifying fear of them, jellyfish that can kill you, snakes and sharks and fires. Flies and more flies ("aussie salute" the constant swiping away of flies), attacker magpies and racing hoons.

So that's my choice: either stay in this damp, grey, brown, crowded place with their warm beer, dirty pubs and oily fish and chips, freezing my butt off for half the year and when the sun comes out having to look at ugly pale blue male chests parading everywhere. Or Oz...

Please can't I come back to South Africa - please someone help me!!!! Can't we all live in peace together, why so much hate and intolerance. Please just do it - just sort it out so we can come home.