Sunday, 29 January 2012

The soap is finished

The Soap is Finished!

In August 2011 I told you that the “end is near”.  In that blog entry I mentioned hwo difficult it is to make certain decisions, especially long term decisions. We really do not know when we will be moving.

In Augustus 2011 het ek vir julle vertel dat die "einde naby" is en dat dit moeilik is om sekere besluite te neem, veral langtermyn besluite. Well, the mentioned soap is finished now!
The few bars of soap I bought in June / July are finished. The “few months” that I hoped it would last is done. But you will not believe this.  The same soap was on special again at the local grocery shop – just my luck! So I bought a few more. Still that weird feeling that I may have bought too much….
I really feels that my everyday decisions making skills (and my search for specials!) are being pushed to the edge.
At this stage I pass every decent special and as weird as it sounds, it affects me emotionally, because this uncertainty filter into my every day operation.
The kids are back at school for the new school year, and even with this, I am not able to make long term decisions. I only bought the necessary stationery. I did neither by new school clothes nor school shoes.
With regards to extra murals: We want the kids to participate in sport, but it is not fair on the sport teams for them to quit in the middle of the season.  Once again, a difficult decision.  2 of the girls do horse riding, and the youngest loves netball.  We discussed the matter with her and she decided to give up Netball this year, and also start horse riding. This way she is not affecting the Netball team.
As soon as we know a date that we move or once we are in Australia, it will be an adjustment again, because I will be able to make long term decisions again.  That will probably be something to get used to again.
Now, if only the house could get sold!!!!!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bucket List (1)

In the absence of a better word, Sarel and I decided to create a "Bucket List" of stuff we still want to do while we are in South Africa. 
A Bucket list is a list of stuff a person wants to do before he/she "kicks the bucket". We are not planning on "kicking the bucket" but we certainly have a deadline with regards to time in South Africa.
We've made a list of places we want to see of want to go to. There are so many places, but here are some of the items on this list which we were already able to do:
-          Mpumalanga Holiday (4 night/5 day holiday)
-          Kruger National Park Holiday (1 night , 2 days in the Park)
-          Durban Holiday (Long week-end, 4 night/5day holiday)
-          Maropeng - Cradle of Mankind (One day outing)
-          SAB – World of Beer tour (One day outing) – Unfortunately I forgot my camera at home and did not take any pictures of this outing.
-          Steam train (Fortunately this was a Year end function of the work and we took the kids along)
-          SA Lipizzaner show (“Spur of the moment” outing this morning. - photo's to follow)

During the next couple of days, I will post some of these photos of our Bucket list outings. The first of these photos are our Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park holiday in April 2011.

A giraffe in the Leopard Creek Golf Estate (next to the Kruger National Park) 

A ride in the Golf Car passed the Giraffe at Leopard Creek

Lunch at Pilgrims Rest - a Gold rush "ghost town"

The "Pinicle" Close to Graskop

God's Window - close to Graskop - You can see miles and miles of the "lowveld". Beautiful view!

A waterfall close to Graskop

The 3 "rondawels" or "huts" at the Blyderiver Canyon

This photo was taken on the balcony of our self catering unit at Crystal Springs - just outside Pilgrims rest.  We woke up to this view every morning!

It was Cara's 8th Birthday this day.  We celebrated by playing a round of put-put (mini golf) and went to a forestry museum and a restaurant at Sabie

The restaurant used an old train as part of the seating area.  The kids enjoyed the train's windows.

In the Kruger National Park you see a lot of  Impala.  The first few that you see you stop, take phones, admire them and then after the 14th herd, you don't even stop. :-)

This is my favourite animal.  So beautiful! I am busy doing a cross stitch of 2 Giraffe.  I will post the completed picture (once it is done!)

A warthog!  Funny looking animal ?!

At this lookout point in the Kruger you are allowed (at own risk) to get out of your vehicle (Elephant's river at the back).  Just as I took this photo, a little monkey (a real one) jumped into our car via an open window.  He stole a packet of crisps (Nick Nacks). 

And this is the culprit.  His little mouth was golden yellow from the chips.  He obviously knew how to eat the snack, as he held the packet properly and it looked like a small child having a treat.  Just after he finished he threw the paper on the ground.  Just like some humans I know.  As soon as it was safe to go near the paper, we picked it up and threw it in the bin provided.

Kids at a life size statue of an elephant at Skukuza Camp in the Kruger

This photo was taken an hour before we had to exit the Kruger National Park.  We were not too happy as we only saw 2 of the big 5 at this point. Many elephant and 2 rhino's.  We were so happy when we saw these buffalo.  At least it was 3 out of 5.

Less than 10 minutes before the Phalaborwa Gate and our exit time, we saw this Leopard.  We were so surprized to see this majestic animanl right next to the road. I was sooooo stunned and totally forgot to take pictures.  Sarel remined me to take photos. At least I got this one of the Leopard as he/she walked away.  Now we had 4 out of the 5.  The lion family hid from us.  Next time, King of the jungle, next time!!!

One of the many elephant we saw in the Kruger.

South Africa is a beautiful country and it is sad to think that we will not be able to go to the Kruger as often as we are able now.  But we understand that in order to have the freedom we want for our kids, there are some price to pay.
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Monday, 16 January 2012

1st Quotation

This is another blog entry that is overdue, but rather late than never…..
End of last year we decided to get a quote for the move to Australia and we contacted a company called Overt the limit. We got their contact details from the immigration agent we used. 
The representative who came to see us is Leslie Nienaber.  She gave me consent to publish her contact details. Her number is 011 964 8134.  They also work with import and export and other luggage issues – look at their services on the website (http://www.overthelimitluggage.co.za/)
Leslie was a tremendous help and gave us so much advice.  Being inexperienced in this field, you hear so many stories such as what you are allowed to take with to Australia and what not, etc and we just do not know what is the truth.
We’ve heard that we are not allowed to take wood, my heirloom a very old “riempie bank” (see photo) and that the piano would damage – thus we were very uncertain on how to prepare for our move without having correct info.
My Riempies heirloom

According to Leslie, we are allowed to take wood stuff (conditionally of course), feather pillows and my “riempie” heirloom.
As long as the wood and feathers are treated – no problem.  What would be problem is bamboo like baskets etc.  Also typical African wooden curios. The wood for these are not treated and can be a huge problem. 
The piano will be OK and I think it has a better chance of rotting because nobody plays it now, rather than being on a ship for a few weeks. J  I must remember to tell you the story about the piano and the piano lessons! But this for a next entry.
I have plenty of wooden cat ornaments (YES, I am one of those cat-crazy people!!!) and some are definitely not treated, thus, I will make sure I treat them before we go or alternatively, I will give it to my cat crazy family as a departing gift.
Apparently, if you take alcohol/liquor with, you may pay a liquor tax on it which is about 80% of the current AUD value of the bottle.  Luckily we do not have too much, but those that we want to take with, well, we’ll just have to pay if we want it.  Before we go, we’ll have a nice “empty-the-bar-party” and make sure we have enough beds for all around the house J
Further, some tips Leslie gave us was to make sure all our stuff is wash, sorted and arranged in all the rooms which the packers should pack.  The stuff we do not want to take must be stored in a separate room. The packers won’t go into that room.  All the stuff that goes into our suitcases must also be packed separate and kept in that room.
The packers will pack everything on this side and in Sydney they will unpack everything again. Obviously they will not put it away – that will be my job.
Now, it is time to tell you that I am a total control freak and when it comes to moving (which I have done a lot in the last few years), I know what to do, how it should be done and I WANT TO BE IN CONTROL.  I am dreading the move, because I will have to leave it in someone else’s control.
I think I will go to a spa for those few days!  I will discuss the matter with Sarel. (“wink”)
We have a 5 bedroom house, with 3 lounge/entertainment areas.  Thus, we will not be able to get away with a small container.  We got a quote for the 40ft container and the amount we were quoted is: R99,045. Thus, around R100,000. This amount does not include insurance, storage or fumigation. 
R100,000 sounds like a lot of money, but in honest truth, I can not replace my house contents for less than that in Australia.  It is well worth the money and on the other side, we will have our own familiar things with us and thus will feel more comfortable and happy with our own stuff.
Leslie uses KINGS INTERNATIONAL (www.kings-int.com) to do the move.
We will however get 1 or 2 more quotations, just to make sure we get the best deal.
For those who have already done this move, I am sure you are happy that you do not have to do it again, but for those who still need to do this move, I hope above info helps.  I will keep you updated with all our move info.
Cheers, until the next blog.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Biltong convenience

This morning (Saturday) I woke up with a terrible sinus headache the familiar sinus-infection-horrible feeling.  I decided I am going to stay in bed and try and do as little as possible today.
After the needed morning toilet routine I thought, oh well, I am up, I can just as well go and eat something and have the necessary medication to help with the sinus infection.
After breakfast and the medication I went straight back to bed to go and feel sorry for myself.  Lying in bed I continued to read a blog of a South African family who moved to Australia a few years ago. Normally when I “discover” a new blog, I start reading at the 1st entry and continue my way until the last entry. It is like a book and I battle to put the laptop down to do other stuff until I have read the whole blog. 
This particular family also wrote about their Biltong adventures and their need to have biltong.  Like so many other blogs, they tell about making their first biltong as well as all the drama to get the correct gear, meat and spices.  Normally the bloggers tell us about the success and how nice it was to have their own biltong ready. 
Now, for the foreigners who do not know what biltong is: It is the most delicious dried meat snack you will ever have in any country.  Biltong is a snack tradition in every South African household and every child are brought up with biltong as a snack.  WE JUST LOVE IT!  It is like chocolate.  If you did not get your fix in a while you suffer from withdrawal symptoms which normally include a drooling mouth just thinking of it.
If you want to know more about biltong, follow this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biltong
Seeing that us South Africans love our biltong so much, it is normally a big deal if and when the expats make their own or if they have to buy some at ridicules prices in other countries.
I saw with my own two eyes that biltong sells for as much as AUD90 per kilogram. This is a very sad story as it is very expensive.  That is why most South African expats try and make their own biltong.

OK, back to me, in bed with sinus infection.  After a while I felt better, had my shower and went to the TV room to watch South Africa play cricket against Sri Lanka. Sarel was already wathcing and  I told him about the blog and the biltong and we started “drooling”.  It is time for biltong!!!!!
Luckily we still live in South Africa and there are biltong shops all over. We have specialised biltong shops as well as biltong available in all butcheries and grocery stores.  You can even buy biltong at the liquor stores (Biltong and beer or a nice red wine goes so well together)
So while drooling, I grabbed my handbag and car keys and off to the nearest biltong shop I go.  I walked in asked for R50 biltong and R50 dry wors (a dried South African sausage type thing).  Because I know the owner of the shop so well (from all the times I buy biltong there) he asked me how our Australia plans are.  I told him we are just waiting for our house to sell, but while we still live in SA, I am making use of the convenience of the Biltong shops.  He laughed and said that he thinks we are really going to miss the biltong shop.
By the way, this biltong shop sells its biltong at R150 per kilo (around AUD18)

While typing my blog, I am having a biltong sandwich and loving it!
We are really going to miss the convenience of getting biltong all over. Luckily we practiced to make our own biltong (and wors) last year, so I think we will be OK.  This is one of our projects in Australia – to make our own biltong and as soon as we do, I will blog all about our BILTONG ADVENTURES.

Monday, 9 January 2012

What we learned from our Australia trip in October 2011

I am sooooo overdue with this blog post and have to apologies for the delay.  With year end and Christmas time, I just did not have enough time to do this translation.  The Afrikaans blog has been posted some time ago.
The main reason for our Sydney visit last year end October, was three fold as follows:
1.    To do our 1st “entry” to “activate” our Permanent Residency Visas
2.    We wanted to meet other expats to get info. My sister in law arranged several meetings with friends of theirs and we loved meeting all the different people and to listen to their individual stories
3.    We wanted to see schools, neighbourhoods, and general “shopping” – to compare prices. 
Well, herewith a summary of our observations. Remember this is my interpretation, thus if you have something to add, change, or need to let me know I am on the wrong path ….. please leave a message.  I will appreciate all feedback.

·         Take as much of your SA stuff as possible with.  Furniture, crockery, linen, hobbies, tools, etc. Do not feel sorry for the domestic worker and give her tons of  stuff.  Everything you give away, needs to be replaced in Australia and it may possibly be at a much higher price than in SA.  Especially expensive while you are not earning dollars!  Look at furniture prices on Freedom’s website and you will see the furniture is more expensive.
·         If you really want to have new stuff like pots, pans, or furniture, rather purchase it in SA and send with the container.
·         Australian retail websites are in general a bit more comprehensive than SA’s (especially with regards to prices).  You can do your homework with regards to comparison of prices etc.
·          All the money you save by not replacing something in Australia can be better used to buy those necessary groceries that need to be replaced in Australia, or to spend it on yourself, family or kids to make the adjustment easier (like a week-end away) or for school clothes and supplies.
·         Some SA books are not important in Australia.  E.g. Afrikaans books, Church or industry specific books (which has no relevance in Oz), SA garden, animal and bird books are not necessary to bring with.  Obviously, if the book has personal or practical relevance, bring it with. I have heard about a person who brought 4 Afrikaans bibles and several Afrikaans hymn books – could not do tooo much with all those books. Sort your books, donate to the library/school or give to the family
·         Remember your house in Aus will most probably be much smaller than your house in SA, thus think carefully about the furniture you are taking with.   Bulky furniture may not be as practical. 
·         Also, do not buy too much new furniture/stuff.  If you survived without it in SA, you will most probably be able to live without it in Oz.
·         New furniture warning – The immigration guys may ask for evidence that your furniture is older than 1 year. Thus, if you still have your receipt, take it with.  If you can not produce a receipt and it looks like the furniture is new, you may be charge an importation tax (or something like this)
·         Australia has a very comprehensive storage retail industry.  There are several shops which specialises in storage solutions such as Howards Storage World and IKEA. (find them on the internet)  Plastic containers may be a bit cheaper in SA, but the quality and efficiency of these products in Australia is in my opinion much better.  Thus, don’t’ buy extra storage solutions in SA – come get it in Australia.  Have a look at especially Howards Storage World to see the type of solutions I am talking about.
·         It is preferable to buy your expensive appliances in Australia.  The most important reason for this is that you will have an Australian guarantee (not the extended guarantee which they try and sell you – just the regular one)  This is applicable for items such as TV, Vacuum Cleaner, Lawn mower, etc. The prices of these items are not too expensive (compared to SA) and at least you’ll have a valid guarantee. Thus, what I am trying to say is not to buy expensive new appliances in South Africa. What if you new SA Guarantee TV breaks in Australia?  Then you do not have a guarantee to get it fixed or replaced.
·         Don’t purchase new washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher.  These items are relatively well priced in Australia and most houses come with these appliances.  If yours are still in a good working condition, bring it with.  Just remember that you are most probably going to rent the first few years and most houses comes with at least a Dishwasher and Washing machine.  Thus, if you bring your own, you may have to store it (for a long time) in a garage or other storage solution before you are able to use it. I suggest you find out form the local retail agent what will be in an average house and then decide what you are going to bring with and what you are leaving behind.  But, I suggest you do not buy ones before you move to Australia.
·         If you have to purchase new appliances, purchase a brand name that is big in Australia (for repair purposes). Look at websites such as Harvey Norman and Bee Ling to see which brand names are popular.  I heard the story that LG products carry a 3 year guarantee – regardless which country – but I am not sure how true this is.
·         Just  like in SA, there are shops in Australia which sells “damaged goods/ appliances”. In other words, demo models, scratched or dented machines etc. These products are much cheraper.  In Sydney I know of 2 shops like these, 2nds world and the Good Guys. 
·         Purchasing a vacuum cleaner may be more complex than you thought.  Remember you do your own work in Australia, thus make sure the vacuum cleaner is comfortable and light weight.  You also have a good chance of ending up in a double storey, so remember who is going to carry it up and down the staircase.
·         Some items need to be cleaned spotless if you want to take it with. No need to get professional people to clean it and get certification etc.  Customs are not interested in your certificate.  These items include bicycles, garden equipment, vacuum cleaner, tools, garden tools, camping gear and garden furniture.  Rather clean it yourself (steam clean or pressure clean and save some money)
·         If you have kids, try and buy some clothes in SA. Build up a stockpile for the next few years.  Such as jeans, t-shirts etc. The classic stuff.  Clothes are expensive and it will take you a while to find the cheap shops or to be able to know which Oz shop offers the same quality as Woolies, Jet, Edgars or Ackermans. 
·         Beds are quite expensive.  Try and take your own beds.  Unfortunately beds sizes differ slightly in Australia, thus if you buy new beds in Oz, your linen may not fit. And visa versa. Thus thy and bring your beds and linen (Buy some extra sheets etc if need be)
·         Curtains.  This is a difficult one.  Most houses come with blinds.  But I had a look at the prices of the ready made curtains of shops such as Target, the Big W and IKEA are reasonable.  Thus, bring your curtains with, but it will not break the bank to purchase new ones in Australia. (ready made ones)
·         Towels are very expensive. Even the most expensive ones at Woolworths and Edgars are cheap compared to Australia – the ones I saw in any case. Thus, purchase your stock and bring it with.  This includes beach towels.
·         I love doing Cross stitch (and some other needlework) and compared cotton, wool etc prices. This is not too bad and I am quite happy to replenish my stockpile in Australia.
·         Bicycles.  In shops such as Target and the Big W (they are like Game in SA) Bicycles were prices OK.  We recently purchased a good bicycle for my daughter from Pick n Pay for R800.  The same type of Bicycles was about R1000 in Target. Thus, I am sure you will be able to afford it.  I did not compare the serious bicycles from specialist stores.
·         Bicycle helmets. These are also well priced in Australia.  I will feel quite comfortable to buy our helmets there.
·         Purchase a trolley which you can use when you move, to stack boxes on. You are going to carry your own boxes around and having one of those heavy duty trolleys are always a good idea.

I hope these tips will help you or at least put you in some type of direction. 
I am sure we are going to wish we brought some stuff with and wish we left some stuff behind.  Hopefully the opportunity we had to go and compare prices etc will be worth our money and help us to diminish our regrets.
Please comment and give me more info if needed