Monday, February 09, 2009

Back in South Africa!

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock or on another planet for the last few months, our family has moved back to Sunny South Africa. Generally the phrase "for good", would be used here although I've no idea what new adventures might present themselves in the future. So for now I’ll stick with: We’re here for the foreseeable future. :-)

It all came as a quite unexpected result to what we thought was going to be a routine process in receiving our “indefinite leave to remain” in the UK.
The short version of the story is because we travel on South African passports, we need visas to both live and work in the UK (yes, 2 separate visas). This process can be extremely simple in many instances, but then turn rather complicated and nasty the minute anything out of the ordinary comes along.

Such was the case with us. From the onset our application posed all sorts of complicated issues, resulting in many months of frustrating to and fro between the UK Home Office (may they have sleepless nights) and our legal representatives (including, but not limited to, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats who tried to assist our case as he too believed we were being wronged in this instance).

Not to mention the exorbitant amounts of money we lost in the process no thanks to the Home Office (taking their money upfront before even looking at the application), our legal representatives (the first being the absolutely useless who never even submitted our application but still charged, and then us later changing to Breytenbachs who also charged up front and only managed to get slightly further down the line), plus all the extra bits and pieces which we were required to complete, and pay for, before filing the 1st application.

One such extra item was the absolutely hilarious process called: The Britishness Test! Buy books to learn ridiculous items such as “What day is Christmas day?” and “What is the patron saint of Scotland?” to the completely ludicrous ones such as “What is the percentage of minority groups in the London region?” and “How many seats are there in the Welsh assembly?” Then pay more money to write the test at a “registered office” around the back of beyond in a dodgy part of Hounslow. This entails sitting behind an ancient computer clicking multiple choice answers and walking away within 10 minutes with your “official Britishness certificate” printed off on some random outdated HP printer using standard Tesco cheap paper and blotchy printer ink!!!! (Please remind me, UK is a 1st World country right?)

The bottom line is... we’re back in SA and making the most it. We’ve moved into our house and slowly settling in although still not quite on our feet yet. One thing that has been quite amazing is the hospitality and friendship shown by family, friends, Parkour South African members and even complete strangers which has made us feel right at home and certainly keeps a smile on our faces!!
For all of you from other parts of the world, keep South Africa on your list of holiday destinations and make sure you drop by us to say “Howzit”* at some stage or the other.

Till then, and till my next update, I wish you all well and think of us as we pick up our standard SA suntans while gardening outside and relaxing on the patio drinking sundowners.

*Howzit: A very typical South African greeting. Which directly means: How is it going? Or how are you?, and carries little more weight than the regular: “Hi”. To which the standard response, if any is actually given, would generally be: “Lekker” which is the Afrikaans word for “Nice”, also meaning “Good”.

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