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Posts Tagged ‘solo travel for women’

Leaving on a jet plane and I don’t know when I’ll be back again……as it turns out…I never did return – not permanently anyway.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

taken on the day I landed after my Spitfire flight on 26 April this year – seems apt for my journey

Today marks the 17th anniversary of my arrival in the Northern Hemisphere and the UK then Ireland for the first time.

All three happened on the same day in the space of a few hours.

I left South Africa on the 8th October 2001 bouncing with excitement and joy. At age 46, although I had travelled extensively throughout RSA and lived in any number of places, I had never left the borders of South Africa except for a brief weekend sojourn to Swaziland in my misspent youth.

I flew from South Africa on the evening of the 8th October landing in Zurich on the 9th. After an hour or so at Zurich airport where I had my first European pastry and hot chocolate and searched for the ‘red’ post box which turned out to be green LOL (a learning curve for sure), from there it was an emotional flight across Europe and the skies in which WW2 was fought. I am fascinated by the history of the 2nd WW and it gave me both the chills and a thrill that I was flying through the same airspace that our pilots flew all those decades ago…as a result I spent nearly the whole flight just crying….I couldn’t believe I was actually in the same airspace.

Soon, as we came in to land at London Airport I had my first view of the city I was to come to love so much; suddenly I was on UK soil. I could hardly believe it.

relocating to the uk, solo travel,

Lovely London – my soul city

A short nerve-wracking bus-ride later I took my first ever tube ride – first on the Jubilee line and then the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. I remember how terrified I was of getting lost, of not finding my way to the airport, and a total wreck with all the stories I had heard of how big Heathrow airport was….wasn’t. It was easy to navigate.

I remember as if it happened yesterday; as we exited the underground near Hounslow I looked out the window and fell in love…..with the chimney pots on the houses around the green. I am a huge fan of the film Mary Poppins and it looked to me just like a scene from the film….the trees and the green surrounded by 3-storey brick houses, their roofs adorned with chimney pots.

“I could live here!” I thought…..

And now I am….I first spent 6 months in Ireland with my darling sister and her husband (her 30th birthday was the reason for my visit),

and then after my visa expired 6 months later I came over to the UK to collate the paperwork I would need in order to apply for and obtain my ancestral visa (my grandfather had the good sense to be born in London (Battersea). After securing letters from agencies to say they could employ me, I flew back to South Africa in March 2002 and by 22nd April 2002 I was back in Ireland; ancestral visa in hand. After a few months of gallivanting in Ireland, I once again flew back to the UK and started working and living first as a resident and then a citizen of the country.

I have never looked back, never had even one second of home-sickness and never longed for the country or yearned to ‘go back’ with all that that signifies. If I have missed anything it would be certain foods like OUMA rusks, or peppermint crisp chocloate LOL

I have grown to love the UK so much, albeit not the politics (or some of the parties), and I have had so many amazing adventures, learned so much, written a couple of books and immersed myself into the very fabric of this country. The history is phenomenal and it’s like peeling back an onion…one layer reveals another.

I used my ancestral visa/SA passport to good effect and and travelled to a number of European countries and a few states in the USA over the next 15 years (and back to Ireland 9 times).

visit ireland, trinity college dublin

Sphere Within Sphere is a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, located at Trinity College, Dublin

I also travelled far and wide throughout the UK and have probably visited more places than many British-born people….certainly I’m sure more Domesday Book places.

I then applied for and obtained my British Citizenship.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

it’s my 17th anniversary!!! this is from the day I got my new passport as a UK citizen 2 years ago

My daughter followed me in 2003 and she too is now a British citizen and married to an amazing man with a baby on the way…..the first baby in our family to be born in the UK since my Grandfather was born in Battersea in 1890. Our little Peanut aka my first grandchild. I’m so in love with this baby already…my heart swells when I see this. 🙂

peanut is on the way, first grandchild, 3d scan of baby in the womb, granny in waiting

my beautiful grandchild. a 3D scan taken yesterday…

It seems perfectly apt, albeit coincidentally, that we got this scan photo on the same date 08/10, as what I left SA 17 years ago. Never did I think on that day back in 2001 that I would be a granny-in-waiting at this time 17 years later.

The UK has always felt like ‘home’ to me and I have felt more at ‘home’ here than I ever did anywhere in RSA….except possibly Cape Town which I’ve always said was my heart city. Well London is my soul city, and my heart has followed me to the UK.

I’ve had an extraordinary journey since arriving here in 2001 and although it hasn’t always been easy, that’s mostly been due to my own bad decisions on various life aspects. But I have never regretted my decision to return and to stay…..

So today is my 17th anniversary and I am still ‘home’.

And Ireland is still my 2nd favourite country in the world.

If you are interested here is a link to some of the place I have visited since my arrival. My goal is to still travel even more extensively and visit as many places as I possibly can – Project 101

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