Making a house a home – again

In Carole's blog, Expat Life by Carole Hallett Mobbs2 Comments

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Hello from South Africa!

Yes, I’m online properly again! How are you all?

I’ve been here for three months and I’m finally beginning to get everything sorted. I have my own room to use as an office and it’s fully connected to the internet now, so I can throw myself back into my work on ExpatChild. It’s taken a while to get to this point but I can definitely say I am feeling at home now.

We arrived early in July and stayed in temporary accommodation for a few weeks before moving to our permanent-for-four-years house at the end of August.

A week after we moved in our ‘shipment of everything‘ arrived and so began the process of unpacking and finding new homes for all our household items. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds because the house is a lot smaller than we’ve been used to, and there is no storage space. For example, there wasn’t anywhere for books to go. Literally nowhere – no shelves anywhere in the house! And I have a lot of books.

What we have had to do is this: room by room, unpack the very badly packed boxes, put away what we can and dispose of broken items (there weren’t many, but there should not have been any). Then, repack the boxes until a place can be found for everything.

In the case of the books, we unpacked the books so we could rescue the random ornaments and other items that had been chucked in with them, then repacked the books again into fewer boxes to save a bit of space. Then my husband had to find a timber merchant, order wood, find a DIY shop to buy some wall brackets, get the wood delivered and make bookshelves in his spare time. Once made, I could then unpack the books. We’ve had to do this several times so far for other rooms. Not something you expect to have to do upon arrival in a new country!

But of course, all this has taken time. Normally I can be unpacked and ‘at home’ within a few days. This time, so far, it’s taken six weeks and I’m still not finished. Only one room to go – after we’ve bought yet more shelves and a chest of drawers! We put up some pictures yesterday and the house is looking like home at long last.

Aside from the infernal unpacking, South Africa is just wonderful! The weather is amazing (hey, I’m British, I have to talk about the weather!). When we arrived it was winter. In July. Even so, it was warm, verging on hot, during the day and cold at night. I think these upside-down seasons will take a bit of getting used to as I’ve never lived in the southern hemisphere before. Spring has now made an appearance and flowers are blooming colourfully everywhere. Pretoria’s famous jacaranda trees are beautiful and line the roads with a dainty purple glow.

We’ve explored shopping malls, exclaimed delightedly at the availability of good quality, delicious food, learned lots of new things such as how to cope if your car is hijacked (in theory, thankfully not in practise), been to nature reserves (my favourite way to spend a day), visited amazing garden centres and marvelled at what I could grow in this tiny garden and basically just getting to know our new home country.

We spent a few nights in a log cabin in the Mpumalanga and this was my first holiday since 2011 and the most relaxing break I’ve had in a long time. Hopefully, there will be more breaks like that in the coming months and years.

On a personal note, I attend mosaic workshops (a reclaimed hobby) and have just started learning Pilates. I’ve made new friends already and feel that here I have a life here after two years of just ‘existing’ in Berlin. People here are incredibly friendly and extremely welcoming.

Our daughter spent her summer holidays here with us before excitedly heading back to the UK for school. I’m still not used to the ‘empty-nest’ feeling and keep expecting her to appear demanding food or iTunes credit. We keep in regular contact via constant emails and daily phone conversations, so it’s a lot easier nowadays than it would have been before electronic communications.

I feel amazingly content and very positive about our stay here. Even though it’s only been three months, I truly feel I’d like to stay in Africa forever.

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Comments

  1. Great to hear from someone else who refuses to put their library in storage – bookworms UNITE! Glad you’ve settled in so well, South Africa is somewhere I’d love to see so I’ll be visiting vicariously through your coming posts 🙂 Great to have you back.

    1. Thank you, Aisha!

      No way could I ‘hide’ my books. And to think that the powers that be think one small bookcase is enough for a family! That one just contains my daughter’s books.

      I’ll have my personal blog up and running at some point which is where I’ll share lots of photos of wildlife and birds – a major passion of mine 🙂

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