Home from Home

I feel like a bit of a mutt, nationality-wise. My passport and birthplace call me British, my upbringing and my heart say I’m South African. Born in one place, raised in another – and now raising my own family here, there and everywhere – sometimes I’m a bit fuzzy about my national identity, about where “home” is.

I’m fuzzy, that is, until the exact moment, once a year or so, I step off a 747 on to the tarmac at Cape Town International Airport. And then it all becomes startlingly clear.

For me the simple truth is that “Home” is more than where the heart is.

Home is where the sky opens up to embrace you, where the smell in the air and the breeze on your face sing a familiar song and your heart relaxes. Where they know you without any need for explanation. Where street corners and memories are inseparable from one another and the bird song in the morning is like a language you’d almost forgotten was your mother tongue. Read More »

Same… but different.

It’s been over two months since we hauled our lives across the world to a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, and I feel like it’s been much longer. Perhaps because in truth we have been moving all year. Like waves, one change after another has washed over us in 2016 and now finally, with only one more house move to go in the next few weeks, I feel like the time is approaching when I might finally be able to stop paddling madly and lie back and float for a while, maybe take in the view.

When you move your life, you have to find a way to move your whole self along with it. In order to do that you adapt. You seek out the parts of yourself that will cope with the unfamiliar aspects of your new life best, and you rely on them. The landscape of who you are hasn’t changed – it just looks a bit different. You’re the same person, but you’re dusting off different parts of yourself, blowing away the cobwebs and holding them up to the light, working out how to repurpose them for this newness you’re living. It’s interesting – so I wanted to stop, take stock, and write the changes down before they become just the new normal. Read More »

Afternoon tea in London Town

I have a confession: no matter where I am in the world, however lovely the location, a little piece of my heart always longs for England. The place of green and pleasant land – and the afternoon tea.

Tea makes everything better. In my world this is fact. And tea accompanied by finger sandwiches and baked goods is, in my opinion, a thing of true beauty. It’s been a few years since I’ve lived in London, but when I did I made it my business to enjoy the ritual of a traditional afternoon tea at a beautiful hotel as often as reasonably possible. And every time I go back to my favourite city in the world, an afternoon tea is a priority. Oh England – thank you for understanding that a love for tea is a real thing.

Here are a few of my favourite afternoon teas of all time.Read More »

A Beginning’s End

In 1998 Semisonic sang such a beautiful and poignant line: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” It was our last year of school at the time, and as far as my friends and I were concerned, the lyric may as well have been written exclusively for us. We danced to Closing Time, clinging to each other and swearing that the passing of the years wouldn’t change our friendship.

As someone who instinctively avoids change wherever possible, I’ve always felt hugely comforted by that lovely line. It conveniently pops into my mind and gives me strength whenever I’m facing down that thing we all hate: an ending. Tonight, on my little family’s last night in Switzerland, the beginning of our time here feels like only a moment ago. Now we are saying goodbye to our life here – for the time being at least – and I’m trying like crazy to keep sadness at an arm’s length and remember that although this particular beginning is ending, a new beginning is ahead. Read More »

Chat with a “Repat”

I’m really happy to be publishing my first Chat with a “Repat”. This feature has come about partly as a result of my nosiness (I love to hear other people’s stories), but mostly because, as an expat, I find the concept of “going home” absolutely fascinating, and I wanted to ask people who’ve done it what the experience was like for them. So here’s the first of what I hope will be many interviews with people who have gone home – in every sense of the word.

Terri-Anne Boers is a physiotherapist and mum of two. Four years ago she moved from London back to her home town of Johannesburg, and experienced all the ups and downs of repatriation. I chatted to her about her journey from then to now.

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Where is Home?

“Where are you from?” This is the question that, as an expat, I’m asked more often than any other. I always have to hesitate. Where is home? Is it where I was born? Or where I grew up? Is it where I first shared a home with my husband? Where we first became parents? Where our second daughter completed our family? Where my parents live? For me, none of the above applies to the same place. So I feel like little (and not so little) pieces of my history and my self are scattered around the world – where exactly I call “home” has become fuzzy. Read More »

Front Door Stories

It is solved by walking.

I know this can’t be true for all problems in life, but I’m a huge believer in the therapy of going out for a walk. When I’m grappling with a dilemma, having a bad day, feeling sad or just have cabin fever, the simple act of stopping what I’m doing and leaving the house to put one foot in front of the other is symbolic for stepping out of my rut and looking at things from a new perspective. Read More »

Catherine Dietrich_Isle of Man_travel_tourism

Things to love about the Isle of Man

If you or (maybe more likely) your guy are into motorbikes, then you will know exactly where the Isle of Man is. If you’re not into motorbikes you might be vaguely aware of the island as being a tax haven, possibly somewhere in the Channel Islands (it isn’t – it’s off the north west coast of the UK – but you wouldn’t be the first to make this mistake). But if you pay attention to the news this week you’re bound to hear a mention of it. Because this is the week of the year when the Isle of Man trades its sleepy island status and steps into the spotlight as the host of the famous TT races – one of the most prestigious (and dangerous) motorcycle events in the world.

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