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Posts Tagged ‘the adventure of a lifetime’

19 years ago today, 08/10/2001 I embarked on what was to be a life changing event, and the adventure of a lifetime.

A few months earlier a number of events converged and conspired to change the course of my life.

The company I was working for in South Africa went into liquidation in July, and although I worked for the liquidators for 3 months, I was officially unemployed from end September.

In August, my daughter reached the grand age of 21….in South Africa, this is a milestone birthday and she was now an adult for real, and I gave her the ‘key to the door’. This is a symbolic key, and really means that now she was entirely responsible for herself and her life….

My younger sister, who was at the time living and working in Ireland as an IT Specialist, with her husband, was about to reach a milestone birthday too….the grand age of 30 in October!! ☺☺☺ She asked if someone in the family could fly over to help her celebrate, and since I had no responsibilities, I said YES!! I’ll come…

And so it came to pass that on 8th October 2001, just one month after 9/11 I flew from South Africa to Ireland.

I almost didn’t get to fly over across the seas to Ireland as the airline I was due to travel with; SWISSAIR had their planes grounded due to financial difficulties. Fortunately South African Airways aka SAA was linked to SWISSAIR and they made accommodation for all the stranded passengers and I was lucky enough to leave at the exact time of my intended flight.

Leaving South Africa on an overseas flight for the first time in my life was both thrilling and terrifying….would I find my way around the airports – we flew overnight into Zurich where I had to change flights…terror LOL. But I managed alright and even found time to have a hot chocolate and pastry…and Swiss Chocolate πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

I sent a postcard to my daughter from the airport and I remember walking past the postbox 3 times before someone showed me exactly where it was, it was green – I was expecting a red postbox. 🀣🀣🀣 I have learned so much since then.

From Zurich we flew over Europe and I cried nearly the whole way….as someone with a keen interest in history and particularly WW2, all I could think about was what had happened in those skies 60 odd years ago, and in the cities below. It was heartbreaking.

Finally we arrived at the City of London Airport where I had to take first a bus to a tube station and then the tube to Heathrow….my mind was expanding at a rate of knots πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ I can’t tell you how much I learned in those first few hours. I had to ask, absorb, remember and retain, and follow more information in a short period of time than I had ever in my preceding 46 years…

On my way to Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line, I remember exiting the underground near Hounslow and seeing all the houses and the chimneys….as a huge fan of Mary Poppins I was immediately smitten by the chimney pots and the tall houses and thought to myself “I could live here”. And now I am….to my everlasting surprise. I never in my life imagined ever living in another country other than South Africa.

I flew from Heathrow to Dublin and arrived in Ireland on my sister’s birthday πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Lots of hugs and kisses and high excitement ensued.

Loved Ireland. So much so that when the time came to return to South Africa in December, I didn’t go back. I stayed on for another 2 months till justbeforemy visa expired, then returned to London, spent a week there obtaining the relevant paperwork that would enable me to obtain my Ancestral Visa….I had already decided by then that I wanted to relocate to the UK/Ireland.

The 6 months I spent in Ireland were some of the happiest of my life and I wanted more. We had so many amazing adventures and travelled the length and breadth of the island visiting so many wonderful places.

I flew back to South Africa in March of 2002, and by 22nd April 2002 I was back in Ireland having sold my car (to my daughter) put my house on the market for sale and my possessions into storage. My daughter moved in with her then boyfriend once the house was sold and I settled into my new life in the UK….and I have never looked back. I have never had a day’s homesickness or yearning to return to SA.

In the 18 years since I’ve lived here, I’ve obtained my British citizenship, travelled extensively in the UK: been to just about all the English counties, Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland and a number of UK islands, innumerable times to Ireland, America 4 times, Iceland, France: Paris, Versailles & Calais, Italy: Venice, Verona, Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Lucca and Sienna, been to Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels and Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain.

I’ve walked on fire, climbed halfway up Mount Snowdon, flown over London in a helicopter (a gift from my daughter for my 60th birthday), had a flight along the Kent coast in a Spitfire in 2018 (another birthday gift from my daughter 😍) – the same year I got the wonderful news I was to become a Granny 😊. I’ve taken part in the Tudor Pull, travelled on the Trinity Tide, travelled through Paris in a soft-top convertible (a gift from my daughter for my 50th birthday), enjoyed numerous steam train journeys, explored 85% of the streets, lanes and alleyways of the City of London, attended all the major London annual/traditional events and commemorations, travelled on the Eurostar to Paris and a ferry to Calais, I’ve become a long-distance walker with 4 named walks behind me: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, St Augustine’s Way, the Portuguese Camino and the Pilgrim’s Way, and yesterday I walked across the top of the White Cliffs of Dover – so now I’ve seen the cliffs from the sea, the air and walked across the top!! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ I’ve visited 146 places named in the Domesday Book, and hundreds of churches, and participated in an archaeological dig in London, and obtained my British citizenship in 2016.

My current goal is to walk the full England Coast Path and the Welsh coastline (a long term project I started on 22nd September this year) – it’ll take about 6 years to complete.

Because I had been to so many places I set up Project 101 with the goal of visiting or seeing 101 different categories.

Best of all my beloved daughter joined me in the UK in 2003 and is now happily married and has a baby boy – so I am now a Granny….the ultimate.

Always believe

I’ve learned how to blog πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ, built a small business and an app, wrote a book and had some poems published. I learned how to create videos and use YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter…although I’m no longer on the two last platforms.

I’ve been on protest marches and attended the 2012 London Olympics, voted in elections, voiced my opinions about the government 🀣🀣🀣 and the weather….always a good topic of conversation, and tonight in celebration we had a right proper British meal; fish and chips πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

When I first arrived in 2001 I hardly said a word to anyone, especially strangers, now I talk to everyone and anyone….wherever I go and as a result I’ve met some wonderful people, many of whom are now close friends.

3 events in 2001 conspired to send me on an unimagined path and the adventures of a lifetime. Happy 19th anniversary of a new and very different life to me πŸ₯‚πŸΎπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽˆπŸŽˆπŸŽˆand of course a very happy birthday to my sister 😍😍πŸ₯‚πŸΎπŸŽ‚ you know which one you are πŸ˜‰

I wonder what adventures await in the coming years!! Oh, and next year I get my bus pass….hopefully 🀣🀣🀣🀣

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