South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

I have updated this blog post, which is one of my most read.

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and has completed a Physics Degree at University in Galway and is now working in his dream job in the United Kingdom.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes. (Maybe even three since he has moved on)

You can read my post about my empty nest  here.

My information about the legalities and practicalities about moving to Ireland is a little out of date.  It is almost 15 years now.

I am delighted to say that there is a whole lot more information out there than there was when I did the move.

There is a wonderful Facebook Group run by South Africans who have made the move and I suggest that you join it and take a deep dive into the files.  There is so much information available and the people in the group are so helpful.

You can find the group here.

I do try to answer all the emails I receive but it isn’t always possible so apologies in advance.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

Pain is my Frenemy

 

Pain

Pain is my constant companion.  It is always with me and after all this time we have become quite well acquainted with each other.

I cannot think of a 24-hour period in the last few years where I have not been in pain.  Some days it is merely a twinge and a twitch, but most days it is a nagging constant.  It gnaws at me grinding me down until I am weary.

I sometimes wonder if there are tiny teeny creatures inside of my bones eating away and snagging my nerve endings until I have to stop and simply sit waiting for medication to kick in.

Each of us feel pain in a different way, and nobody can really know how you feel.

A frenemy (it is a real word), is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.  A combination of a friend and enemy.

Pain has become my frenemy because I cannot avoid it – it is closer to me than my partner, family and friends and although I don’t like it I have to learn to live with it.

The primary source of my pain is Arthritis in my hands.  In addition I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is also sometimes called the chronic pain disease.  Add Pernicious Anaemia a blood disorder that leads to neuropathic pain and you have a good cocktail.

This post is not about my pain, but rather my relationship with it.  It is part of my life now, and so I need to make a friend of it (or frenemy).

I am determined that my life will continue to be full despite my friendly enemy.

These are a few of the techniques I am using to deal with it.

 

  1. Distraction

I find that this is probably one of the best sources of pain relief.  The pain doesn’t go away, but as I absorb myself in other activities my mind begins to wander and I am able to deal with it better.

  1. Discipline

I am not always very disciplined but I have found that when I stick to a routine as far as using my splints, taking medication and rest, pain is easier to get along with

  1. Pain medication

Unless I am in a very bad way, I tend to take pain meds when I need them.  I am conscious of my overall health and try to limit what I do take.  Once again however, keeping pain at bay is all about being regular with medications and other pain management aids such as topical pain relief in the form of sprays, gels, Versatis plasters and more.

  1. Sleep

I used to be one of those people who boasted about getting on well with only 6 hours sleep a night.  A wise physiotherapist reminded me that the body heals while it sleeps.  I can honestly say that despite waking in the night in pain, the longer I sleep the better it is.

  1. Pacing

My pain is primarily in my hands and arms which makes things a little awkward.  What I have figured out is that I can do about 40 minutes with my hands without too much pain.  Then I rest – and return to my task a little later.  This has not only taught me patience but it also means that I get things done despite the pain.

My journey with my frenemy pain is exactly that – a journey of getting to know pain and to understand it.  To work with it and not against it.

Each person’s pain is specific to them.  If you have any tips of techniques on pain management I would love to hear about them.

A while ago I was interviewed on CRCFM a local radio station – some of what we discussed is very relevant to this post.  You can have a listen here.

Thanks for reading.

 

Kerry x

 

 

My Cold and Flu Survival Kit

flu survival kit blog

 

These are the things I always like to have at home just in case the dreaded flu strikes.

Flu season – that time of the year when we just know that the bugs are circulating.  Kids go back to school, a colleague starts sniffing and the air conditioning does the rest.  Sometimes it is just a sniffle but then again it could be full-blown flu.  Aches and pains and a seriously red nose.

There isn’t a quick fix for colds and flu, but there are a few things that I think are essential for getting through a dose.

  1. Good quality tissues – the ones that have balsam in them. It really does make a difference.  My advice is to have a stash of a few boxes hidden away just in case.
  2. Honey and lemon. Good local honey has all sorts of healing properties as does lemon.  I make up a drink of lemon, honey and hot water and keep it beside me.  It is antibacterial and really is very soothing and helps sooth a cough.
  3. Orange juice. I crave orange juice when I am sick.  It is like a glass of sunshine.  I am sure that the Vitamin C helps to heal and ward off further bugs, and the sugar gives you a bit of energy to get a few things done.
  4. A good book – you need to rest when you are sick. Rest really does help healing so give into an early night and go to bed with a good book.  You deserve it. I am currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington on my Kindle.
  5. Essentials oils. I love my essential oils and they are great when you struggling to breath.  My go to oils are eucalyptus, and peppermint.  I add a couple of drops to water in a burner and keep it beside me.  When my son was young I would dab a few drops on his pyjamas and send him off to bed breathing easier.  A drop of lavender will also help sleep.
  6. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. This is seriously magic stuff.  It fixes all sorts of things but can also go a long way towards preventing a red chapped nose – so often the side effect of a head cold.
  7. Your choice of decongenstant – my current favourite is Uniflu which works for me and doesn’t conflict with other medications I take. I have no medical qualifications but I do think that dealing with the symptoms helps.
  8. And finally tea. Honestly I always have tea in the house as I am addicted, but when I am blocked up I tend to reach for herbal infusions or my new favourite Solaris green tea chai.

Finally my advice is to be kind to yourself.  Taking time to rest and recharge is what your body is asking for.  Rest while you can.  Treat yourself to the chocolate biscuit with your tea. Say thank you for the TLC and get well soon.

 

Thanks for reading x

Kerry

 

 

Perfect Tomato Soup

 

Tomato SoupYummyLow CalHealthy (2)

A nice warm bowl of tomato soup is great on a cold winter night.

Tomatoes are one of my favourite foods.  I could eat tomatoes in any form every day and never get tired of them.

Thankfully they are really good for you and offer all sorts of health benefits.

This is a simple and quick recipe for a yummy creamy tomato soup with very few calories that is just perfect for a cold winter night.  I consider it a store cupboard staple as I almost always have all the ingredients in the house.

The recipe makes a good bit so you will have soup for lunches and even for the freezer.

 

Ingredients for tomato soup:

One red onion

2 sticks of celery

One large carrot

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tins of tomatoes

A little Italian seasoning (optional)

2 vegetable stock cubes

Water

 

Method:

Start by chopping up the onion, celery and carrot and soften in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Watch it carefully as you want the onion to go translucent, but not to brown.

Add a good dash of seasoning (if you prefer less spice add some oregano or marjoram).

Give it a good stir and then add 2 tins of tomatoes and 4 tins of water.  Add the vegetable stock cubes.

Turn it down low and leave it to simmer.  The longer the better as the flavours develop.  You know you are ready for the next stage when the carrots and celery and squishy.

(I have been known to whack it on high when I am in a hurry, but slower is better).

I blend my soup with a stick blender, but if you have a Vitamix or strong jug blender use that as it gets really smooth and creamy.  Let it cool for a little before blending as the last thing you want is splattered tomato soup all around the kitchen.

Reheat gently and serve.

I finished with a few drops of nutty pumpkin oil.

Thanks for reading and I hope you give the recipe a try.

 

Kerry x

 

The Wisdom of Winnie the Pooh

You are braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem, Smarter than you think,and loved more than you will every know

I have beautiful memories of reading the Winnie the Pooh books to my son.  Every Sunday morning was anticipated and the book would be taken down, the bookmark found, and the story would begin.

Although essentially children’s books, the stories of Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne have universal appeal.  They make us laugh, they make our heart’s sing and they also teach us life lessons.

Monday 18 January was Winnie the Pooh Day and the HuffPost Better Together featured a great article about this really special bear.  Please also remember to scroll down and you will see a cool little video with 6 facts about Winnie the Pooh that you might not have known.

The article which was written by Katherine Brooks, senior arts and culture editor for Huffington Post delves a little deeper into the origins of this special bear and his friends.

The quote I have chosen for my image and for this Wednesday’s quotation is really special to me.  I am using it as a bit of an affirmation right now as I go through a few hard changes in my life.

It wasn’t only Winnie the Pooh was inspired to make so many great statements, many of which are so relevant to today’s society.  The other characters have distinct personalities and are very quotable too.

Here are a few of my favourites:

“I wasn’t going to eat it – I was just going to taste it”

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

“Some people care too much.  I think it is called love.”

“Never underestimate the power of doing nothing.”

“ The harder you fall, the higher you bounce.” –  from a personal favourite Tigger

and for balance …

“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine” – from Eeyore.

I would love it if you would leave a comment and let me know your favourite Winnie the Pooh quote.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

You can be Fit without being Sporty

7km

I am going to participate in a 7km walk.

This may not seem a remarkable statement, but coming from the original couch potato it really is!

I grew up not really understanding the value of physical exercise. I suffered from asthma and breathing difficulties and although I realise now these were just excuses. I simply didn’t get exercise.

My hand eye co-ordination wasn’t good so I would regularly be in the group of the last to be picked for games and I think that this contributed to the belief that I wasn’t sporty and therefore not entitled to be fit.

There is a big difference between being sporty and being fit. I have really only discovered how good it feels to be fit in the last 5 years. I bought my first pair of trainers, and took the first steps towards a healthier future.

I have been walking for a while now, and always feel a bit envious when looking at the Facebook posts where people have completed 5km and 10km walks and runs. I promised myself that I would book my first 5km race this year.

I am going to do it – I will be fit enough!

I was sitting up at 7 in the morning last Sunday just wondering what I could do to give my life more direction, what goals I needed to set and I came across a link for a 7km (2km longer than a 5km) walk, right here in the heart of Galway.

Do it! Eeek! I did – I pressed the button and said yes. So this is how I will be spending Valentine’s day this year.

heart of galway

The walk/run (definitely walk in my case) is actually called the Heart of Galway Challenge is part of Project Impact. This initiative is presented in association with Pat Divilly and 56 Central – my favourite restaurant in Galway run by the fabulous Gill Carroll (I interviewed Gill last year).

The walk takes place along Galway’s most scenic route with lots of quirky challenges promised along the way. The money raised will be going to the Big Brother Big Sister charity – a fabulous youth mentoring programme.

I really like the idea behind this walk. 100% of the money raised will go to the charity with the specific aim of sending 100 teenagers and their mentors to an adventure centre.

I honestly wish that I had discovered the joy of fitness earlier in my life. It is never too late though, and I am committed to moving forward with my own fitness journey.

I will be honest in saying that I am a little apprehensive about the walk, but I am determined to do it. Thank you those who have already offered to sponsor me.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Make your own Magic

MakeyourownmagicYesterday I received a beautiful gift – this gorgeous magic wand in the photo!  Just a reminder that you can make your own magic.

My first instinct however was to wish that the wand could really magic things.  Swipe it over the bathroom and it will sparkle.  Another swoosh from fridge to cooker and dinner would appear.  Perhaps a trail of fairy dust across the scales and the kilograms would melt.

This isn’t real of course, but magic can happen.  We just have to make it ourselves.

Due to some personal circumstances, primarily health related, I have found myself with more time on my hands and my mind than I am used to.  Lots of time to think can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing – leading you to dwell on the negatives rather than the positives.  I am so inspired by a recent Pat Divilly seminar that I attended.  The seminar is linked to a Facebook group where you literally follow other people in the group who are making their own magic.  I find this very inspirational.

Getting this special magic wand was a great reminder that we can make our own magic. No matter what the circumstances, we all have the power in us to make magic happen.

So my Wednesday quote this week is simply that

Make your own Magic

Thank you for the magic wand – a little bit of sparkle goes a long way.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise – a Mantra I have never Forgotten

ultrapure rosewater toner

When I was about 13 my sister and I were sent to Matty Reid’s Finishing School in the holidays. It was a week-long course presented by a delightfully eccentric ex-model.

On the first day she swept into the classroom with a turban and a hat, but with such panache! I immediately found myself sitting up straighter and aspiring for sophistication.

Each day was dedicated to one subject – fashion, deportment (how to walk and how to get out of a car elegantly), accessories (I still have a drawer full of scarves as a result), make-up and beauty.

Cleanse, tone, moisturise ….

This pivotal week, was the first time I heard about the basic skin care routine, and it is something I have never forgotten. I remember raising my hand and asking what the value of toning was. Cleaning was easy enough to understand, as was moisturising, but what role did the toner play. A toner clarifies. It cleans away any residual oil and make-up and leaves your skin sparkling.

It was a long time ago, but this lesson has stayed with me and I always follow these 3 steps. As my knowledge of skin care and beauty has grown I have of course added to these steps with some great exfoliators, masks and serums but the basic routine has never changed.

The products have however. As I have got a bit older (mmm) I have found myself trying different products to find what suits my skin best. I have a dry mature skin and am also very conscious that wrinkles are knocking on the door.

I was delighted to try the Rose Water and Glycerine Hydrating and Harmonising Toner from Ultra Pure Laboratories. Rose is one of my favourite oils and the addition of the glycerine makes this almost a moisturising toner. There are two toners in the Rose Water range and I use both, one in the morning and one in the evening.

I use the Rose Water Hydrating and Balancing Toner in the morning which leaves my skin feeling fresh, and the Rose Water and Glycerine toner in the evening locking even more moisture before a generous coating of night cream.

An added benefit to these Ultra Pure products – the gorgeous aroma of Rose.  These fabulicious products are available at pharmacies throughout Ireland.

A quick thank you to the fabulous ladies at ITBWN who organised this collaboration.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry x

10 Areas of your Home to Tidy

10 Areas of your home to tidy

When I think of everything that needs a good tidy I sometimes find it overwhelming. It is however, something that needs to be done,  otherwise the clutter can become overwhelming itself.  Time to tidy up!

I have created this list both to inspire me and to keep me motivated. (I plan to do a lot of ticking off in the next few months). My word of the year is ‘detail’ and this is the type of detail I am starting with.

  1. Bedside locker (and drawers)

    My bedside locker is generally packed full of all sorts of things that I think I might need – tissues, mobile phone, chargers, water, books that I am reading/want to read/ have already read, hair ties, hair brushes – you get the idea. I even have some cute coasters for tea in bed. The only problem is that I can’t always find place for the tea. This is the first area to be hit!

  2. Mantlepiece

    Housewarming cards which get replaced by Christmas cards etc. When this get’s tidied I will save a spot for one Valentine’s card – but that is it. I actually quite like to change the decorations on my mantle piece as it really is an area that draws focus. My plan is one candle and a few key items. The clutter of incense, oil burners, matches and random bits and pieces will be banished.

  3. Hall Table

    I think I seriously need a coat rack, perhaps with a shelf. Perhaps a few more tidy tools. A place for everything from mail, gloves and hats, and keys. A good idea for me would be a waste bin – right at the door for junk mail, envelopes and the zillions of slips that seem to multiply in my handbag.

  4. Windowsills

    I tend to use my windowsills for storage, especially books. I am short of storage space in my home, but I do think that perhaps limiting what is allowed on the windowsills might be a good thing.

  5. The bathroom cupboard and make-up in general

    I love make-up and am can’t resist it.  I seem to have make-up clutter everywhere from make-up bags to the bathroom cupboard. It does tend to multiply and I think a cull and a clean-up is on order.  This might have to be a monthly task.

  6. The shower

    Hands up who has empty shampoo and shower gel bottles. Please tell me it isn’t only me?

    This is a quick clean out, but should make a big difference. I will limit myself to one shampoo, one shower gel, one conditioner and my two scrubs. Enough I think!

  7. That drawer!

    We all have one – quite often in the kitchen. The one that gets filled with miscellaneous keys of unknown origin, pens that no longer write, scraps of paper that were important at one time, business cards – you get the idea.  A simple blitz with a bin.

  8. The bulging folder of accounts that need filing

    With so much happening online it is important to keep record of some things in the old-fashioned way. A good friend advised me to set aside an hour or two a week for important financial things – very good advice. I have added filing to this time slot. A little behind right now, but yet another thing that can be ticked off.

  9. The linen cupboard

    It is so satisfying seeing the linen cupboard all neat with bedding sets paired up and cosy towels in a pile waiting to be used. Alas it only takes one morning when you need a towel from the bottom of the pile and it all comes tumbling down.

  10. The craft room/home office

    Now, I know that not everyone had a craft room, but if you do it is a big job. My craft room is also my study and it is chaotic. It is at the bottom of this list as it is such a big job, but it must be done.

I hope these tips might inspire you. Any other areas of the home you would like to add to the list?

Thanks for reading and I appreciate any suggestions!  Read more about my word ‘detail’ – here.

Kerry

New Year – New Word

Detail

Every year I choose a word which will be my focus for the 12 months ahead. I give it quite a lot of thought during December examining both the positives and negatives in my life.

The idea is to choose a word that will improve your life, and sometimes change isn’t easy, and change is necessary for improvement.

It is no good choosing a completely positive word (although that cannot be ruled out), it is more about choosing a word that will enhance your life, a word that when you reflect this time next year, you know has made you grow.

As I start my fifth ‘Word of the Year’, I am both cautious and excited about the word I choose. I know from experience that these words can be powerful.

When I first came up with the concept, I had no idea if it would work at all. I had simply hit a very dark period of my life and I know that something needed to change. Although I do love new year’s resolutions and try very hard to keep them, I knew I needed more.

The idea is really simple – choose a word that you feel might be the word for you and start by simply meditating on the word. My experience is that as I focus on the word it becomes part of my life. Of course you need to make some active decisions to make changes in your life – with your word as the focus.

So after the words – BALANCE, CHANGE, DISCIPLINE, and CREATE, what word did I choose for 2016. I chose DETAIL.

I am a big picture type of person. I think big – I see the big picture and am great at putting a good plan and strategy together (especially in my working life). However in order to make things happen you need to focus on detail. I know that I need to give more attention to detail in all areas of my life. I need to be neater, less messy, and when it comes to personal paperwork there is some attention to detail needed too. I always feel so much happier and in control when I know that the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed.

I don’t know about you, but I think that life is just lived at such a hectic pace these days that those little details are often overlooked.

This year I am committing myself to DETAIL. I am looking forward to making DETAIL a strong part of my life and ending the year with a little more organisation in my life.

If you would like to read some of my other ‘word of the year’ posts I have put a few links below:

All about writing a book on words

Getting my life into Balance

My first word of the year – Balance

Thanks for reading and please pop back for some ‘detailed’ updates.

Kerry x

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