Friday, 16 October 2015

Thursday 15th October

So I am here – finally – in Johannesburg – sitting in a Spur restaurant. 

Where to start… Luke and I set off from the villa at about 2.15 – pulling my bags up the hill to the Grand Hyatt to catch the airport shuttle. A good idea as it was very direct – about an hour and 40 mins – having a last sight see of Seoul. We thought of using the metro but then decided nope – too much and it would’ve saved about 15 mins or so.   I wanted to leave before Morgan came home – we had told her that I was leaving but I guess I never actually said goodbye as such – so be it….

So at the airport, Luke checked me in on line. We had then to go to the counter to get my boarding card. That was when the fun started – I had completely forgotten that I should also have my South African passport as well as my British passport – I left SA and entered Korea on my UK passport but to get back into SA needed my SA passport or else a visa on my UK passport! The lady was very sweet but kept on saying how can they let you back into the country of you don’t have a visa…. I have a letter dated 1997 in my UK passport from the Dept of Home Affairs giving me permission to have dual citizenship but that I needed to produce this letter and my passport to re-enter the country (SA). Anyway when I told her I had my SA passport number she finally said I could go – the other thing was that my UK passport did not have an entry stamp in it as I guess with so many people coming in together – it didn’t get stamped!! Anyway she wrote the entry date in and said good luck – she was sure that they would let me in….. 

Luke had a burger while I went off to find a plug for my computer so that I could find a document that might have my SA passport number in it!!! I found it on my Volunteering in Nepal documents!! YAY!! All very tense. 

Luke caught the metro back home and I checked through customs and bought a book – in fact one set in Seoul – that I started while waiting to board.

The flight was great – a 3 hour flight to Hong Kong – the lady wisely booked me an aisle seat as close to the exit as she could, with no one next to me – the transit time was bit tight but the airline met the Jhb passengers off the plane and took us through customs with crew and staff so all was fine.  I ended up in an aisle seat again with two empty sets next to me and a big guy from Senegal on the other aisle seat. He invited me to use all the seats so I managed to spread out and get some shut eye. Quite a different experience from our (Business class!) flights to Korea but nevertheless just fine!   I even got to watch “Far from the madding Crowd” and literally squeezed in seeing the ending as we landed at ORT.  I was caught completely by surprise as we touched down – was dozing I think and thought oh my these are pretty bad rumble strips/speed humps we are driving over when I looked up and out the window and saw the land flashing past and suddenly felt the tears welling up – I was really choked – it felt so wonderful to be back on SA soil… Then of course I started worrying about how I was going to go through passport control without a passport!!! So I handed in the UK passport at the SA passport holders point of entry – of course she wanted to know if I was a SA citizen – I then showed her the letter and off she went and came back with a large chap who said I would have to go with her – Pindile – to get my fingerprints checked. Off we went - I felt sooo foolish. I heard them talking and said in Zulu that I had forgotten it and then one said, in Zulu as well, did she lose it or forget it and I said no I had forgotten it and that it was in my son’s home in a drawer!!! That reassured them as they were concerned that I had lost it! They asked me for my ID which I think I have also left in Seoul!! I showed them my SA drivers licence. They asked for my ID number, then the SA passport number and date of issue and expiry. I then had my thumb print taken and all matched what they had on their system.  Anyway I was given a section 22 or something warning which was a first warning. I could get another warning and on the 3rd time. I would lose my passport and not be allowed to leave the country every again!!  It felt so weird to be asked how long I planned on staying in SA ……!!! 

When we traveled to Korea, Mel had all the documents together and handled all the airline check ins so it just made sense for me to give her mine as well. The problem is that I never got them back from her. I had my UK passport as I needed it to get into the tour of the palace that I did in Seoul. I completely forgot about the other documents!!!!

Once through, I called John tell him all was well – I was in floods of tears by this time – I guess I hadn’t realised how stressed I was by it all!!!  Besides all the other stuff probably (no, definitely!) going on – being back in SA again, leaving Luke and Mel and the children…..

I must say it feels wonderful to be here - to hear the accents, to see the familiar looking people, to see so many black faces again, to see the usual restaurants. My friend Sheila, who was going to chill with me until my CT flight, was not able to be here after all. So I tried to get an earlier flight as I had a 4 hour wait, but there was nothing available so I checked through my bags and have been sitting here in Spur – had two cups of hot tea and cold milk, an enormous breakfast – eggs, steak, bacon, wors, tomato, chips, mushrooms and toast, all for the princely sum of R 79.50!!! I have just loved listening to the chatter around me - and sitting here with all the different races and languages that make up the people of home!! Am now enjoying a rooibos cappachino so I really feel that I have landed! 

Something else just occurred to me – I am enjoying seeing people interacting and not sitting next to each other having conversations with some one else or with their heads buried in an e book or more likely a game!!

Josh called me soon after I landed – that was also a bit of a tearful call – then I chatted to Beulah who is fine but very tired after having chemo and steroids yesterday. So there it is – I am here and happily so – of course I am already thinking about Morgan and how she was when she got off the bus yesterday but I know she is fine. I will come back to get up to date on the last few days in Seoul – was fun. Now the last leg to CT and mister John – YAY!! 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Wednesday 14th October

So it is here finally - DEE day!! Thought I could get a wee blog in but Seren is stirring so guess it will be very wee!! Luke and Memory have gone off to the embassy for Memory's alien registration interview or maybe to just collect her AR card which is the final bit of paperwork they need to do - YAY!!

I bid a tearful goodbye to Morgan this morning - me tearful - altho she didn't see them because that was my last time with Morgan for a while and her because "I don't want to go to school nana!!" She knows I am going on an aeroplane to see John today - didn't quite spell it out to the extent of  - so I won't be here when you return from school.... but her comment when I mentioned that I was catching a plane tomorrow (last night) was "And I am going on the plane next week!" So I said she would fly next year but before that nana Sue and Bampi were coming to see her and next year John and I will come back again - she then added "and Loqi" (our 15 year old kitty!!)  We then had a long discussion about why Loqi would not be coming - with many why's after each answer!!

Luke, Morgan and I played school last night. She suddenly said we had to go into her playroom (bedroom) for a lesson. We were told where to sit and how to sit with crossed legs - much discussion and concessions because I can't sit with crossed legs!!   More later as Seren is now chatting in her cot and is definitely awake!!!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday 9th October

So we didn't get to the supermarket yesterday and instead set off after Seren's nap this morning - very comfortably in the wagon!!

Here it is fresh off the assembly line!! This how people park their cars here - always reversed in, ready to drive out

Proof - 39 k's on the clock!

Not much space for shopping et al once Seren's pram is in place!! Seats 8 and 9 are jump seats here in the back 

View from the front passenger seat past 2 car seats in 2nd row, to 3rd row, passenger seats, to back - boot area or jump seats

The madams in the carriages awaiting lift off....
Memory and Seren in the Lotte market - the big supermarket where we do all the food shopping. Between the two of them they created quite a stir....just curious on lookers, most of whom ignored Memory in their preoccupation with Seren's  blue eyes!!

After a mammoth shop - we went to an American pub type steak house called Benningan's where
Seren had her first restaurant food - she loved the chippies!! After she had had her own lunch brought with us!!

The family sitting down to lunch!
 A super outing - after the shop Memory and I went off to get her a tracksuit at the pop up shops outside the mall. We found a top and bottom that looked good together. Thereafter we set off home.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Thursday 8th October

So yesterday when Morgan arrived from school, we went straight from her bus to the Swing park - Memory pushing Seren and Luke, Morgan and me on shank's pony!! The days are lovely at the moment - a definite chill in the air though, hinting at what lies around the corner. Will continue later as I need to get Morgan's lunch started.

So this is now later - we had a lot of fun at the park with Morgan climbing all over the jungle gym and monkey ropes - Memory will have her hands full watching both of them when she is on her own but I have no doubt she is up to it - she was often at the park in Rondebosch with the two of them and once Morgan has something explained to her she is usually happy to follow what she is told, so in thus case - not that high, I can't manage you  - I always say - "Morgan that is something you will have to wait to do with daddy!!" - usually climbing into the upper branches of the tree here in the garden.. Seren is so close to crawling - I am very glad that that will be Memory's challenge and not mine!!!

Last night was lovely - to hear the peels of laughter from Morgan and Memory while Morgan took her bath - they were singing 'Shosalosa' but a so-called naughty version that Morgan learnt at her old school.

I am now sleeping on the huge loft sofa in Luke and Mel's room - it was the best option and is working fine. Seren is back in their room and Luke has now put a nail in the ceiling to hang Seren's mosquito net from - shame she has been badly chowed by the dam mossies, and has three inflamed bites on the left side of her forehead.  They don't seem to bother her though.

So last night Mel arrived home n the monster!! - their huge black 9 seater car. It had 39 kms on the clock and was covered in plastic. Morgan and Mel had a great time ripping it all off this morning. Luke then drove the three of them off to Morgan's school as Mel did not have to go into work today and decided to use the opportunity to spend some time at Morgan's school. Morgan was very happy in her new spot as she is quite a bit higher than in the other car and so can see a lot more. The windows in all the cars here are tinted so its impossible to see her from the outside. Luke fetched them just before the children had lunch and nap so right now they are both having a nap together before Morgan goes off to Georgia's for a play date and the rest of us go shopping - mainly to find food supplies for the house and Memory so she can prepare her own meals and also to look for winter clothes for her.  I spent some time with Memory and Luke this morning while Seren was napping, looking at some of the  Montessori material that we bought for the children and explaining the how and why and when of playing / working with them with both children. Seren astonished me yesterday by picking and placing a ball inside the round hole in the roof of a wooden box. The ball then slides down the base of the box which has a ramped floor and out an arch in the side of the box where it is caught in a pen like space with low ridges on the sides.  She repeated the action 21 times - this adoring granny was observing her and counting. The genius of Montessori to create an activity that a child Seren's age can manage and succeed at, as well as allow for the child's need to repeat the action so many times.  It is wonderful to see how dextrous Seren is becoming as she makes her choices of what she wants to hold and what she wants to reach out and grasp and by any means get to .......  We have sorted out the two sets of shelves on the two play mats so that it is safe for Seren to have access to the bottom two shelves.  I have really enjoyed getting the play areas organised. It works very well for them to be part of the lounge / dining room area. Morgan has her train set in her bedroom so it is fine for her tracks to be set up permanently. I now know all about Thomas and Gordon and their mates!!

Nancy is here today so all is looking pretty spruce!!!

So this time next week I will have just landed in CT - how exciting is that. The only thing is of course, I am already placing more value on the little hugs and times of closeness I have with Morgan and Seren as the day of departure gets closer!!  Nope, don't lets even go there!!

One of Morgan and Seren's favourite games is for Morgan to throw her beach ball covered in as Luke said "A whole lot of different Disney princesses!!" at Seren - it usually bounces off her face or head and then Morgan throws it again amidst peals of laughter from Seren - see the short video below - Morgan pushed off once she spotted the camera!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Wednesday 7th October

So today we have Memory's hands to help us! It was so sweet to see Seren and Memory together again this morning - as if no time had passed since they were last hanging out!!

This morning in the play area - Seren wearing Morgan's 12 - 18 month baby grow pyjams!! -
we have a tall gal here that's for sure!! Seren turned 10 months old on the 2nd Oct.
After Seren's nap this morning, the three of us took a stroll up the 90 degree slope to Namsan Park!! Memory pushing Seren's pram. The park is really very close, just up this impossibly steep hill but nothing that someone who has been around for less time than me, cannot manage!!!  We hung out in the rest tent at the Children's Forest playground where Seren sat happily playing with her toys while Memory told me all about her trip. The only hiccups were at the Korean embassy in Harare where she was told she had to come back in 4 days rather than the next day as we had been told. She immediately phoned Mel and while she was on the phone to her, a Korean woman appeared who confirmed that memory was correct - she then took Memory's papers and asked memory to fill in forms and told her to come back the next day. Memory and I agreed that this is exactly what so often happens in government offices - certainly in South Africa - where people just accept what they are told - that they must come back another time - power and control mentality!!

The second hiccup was at check in at ORT airport where she was asked for the letter of introduction and her work contract - these were in her case as she thought that she had only needed them to get the visa number and that all should be OK there after. So once again she got onto the phone to Mel who emailed a letter of introduction and Memory's contract straight to the person at the desk. 10 minutes later Memory was given the go ahead to board! The wonders of this techno age!!

Tuesday 6th October

So wondrous news - Memory had arrived and is fast asleep in her room! What a star to have made it all the way - quite a journey which started a week ago on a bus from Bulawayo.Morgan was still awake when she walked in with Mel - when she heard Memory was here she came out of her room and ran into Memory's open arms - wonderful....

So we are now looking at my return flight - in all likelihood I will fly out on the 14th - it will be good to have some hand over time with Memory. It feels really good to be going home but the thought of not seeing the children is not good but I knew that all along ..... will clock in again tomorrow

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Saturday 3rd October

So things are certainly moving right along here...... the best and big news is that Memory is en route!! She did all she had to do - quite a daunting task - organise family affairs on her home front, bus from Bulawayo to Harare, check into a hotel, find the Korean embassy and get all the paper work and interview process slotted, then catch a bus to Jhb from Harare.  Well done Memory we are delighted and can't wait for her to get here on Tuesday evening.

Today I woke up feeling pretty rotten - no doubt a combination of too much wine last night and a bit of a googly tum! Anyway I handed Seren over to Luke at about 7 am and went back to sleep. I then slept while Seren had her morning nap. Everyone went out for lunch while I pottered around feeling much better. We then achieved the much desired trivector!! Seren and Morgan asleep at the same time! Luke and Mel got stuck into the store rooms downstairs and sorted out the remaining boxes - much excitement as we rediscovered the last of the toys and the winter clothes Mel had ordered from the UK for the girls, plus Memory's box. So we are feeling pretty satisfied after a productive day. Luke is out with the cycling guys and Mel and I are chilling at home.

Yesterday Morgan and I went to an amazing place called the Teddy bear Zoo, with Georgia her friend from school and Katie, her mom. It is on the second floor of a VERY upmarket mall - quite expensive - about R 300 entry for me and Morgan so not somewhere one would go every day!! It was Disneyland on steroids!! Everything was artificial - there were life size teddy bears dressed in parks board type uniforms dotted all over the place. As we walked in there were surfaces - like wooden planks with tree logs to sit on where the children worked in their own space that had a virtual book with different animals on each page. They chose the animal they wanted to colour in, which they did by choosing colours to then draw in the outlines of the animals with their fingers.  They then had to touch the scissor icon to "cut out" their drawing. After this they swept their hand over it(threw it away!) and it suddenly appeared on a screen where it joined the other animals in the jungle!! So Morgan was able to watch the fox she had coloured in, walking around under the trees in the jungle!!! They could also email it to themselves and print it out at home!!! There were enormous animals for them to ride on, steering along the track - Morgan chose to ride on a rhino but lasted all of a minute before she wanted to get off. Georgia was on her lion for rather longer! Then there were foofi slides which they called monkey slides and a kangaroo trampoline and a place where they could play with large construction vehicles - see the pics - need less to say they had a ball.

Geogia and Morgan in the wide walk ways of the mall
A couple of the life size animals for the children to ride on
The farm yard animals
The shopping centre was something else - so luxurious - all the fittings and finishes - with many western ranges and English everywhere!