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Life in England: Part 1

Apr 7, 2021

By Maxie Heppell

Our people in South Africa who throw out feelers so tentatively and discreetly touch my heart on a very personal level.

The Keelvol (“fed up”) Koekemoers kick off with an extensive account of everything bad in SA and a very explicit explanation that they are done with it.

The Versigtige (“careful”) Viljoens is investigating the matter in all seriousness. They ask very detailed questions about similarities and differences between countries, the financial impact, the adjustment shock.

The Skaam (“shy”) Swanepoels want to ask but don’t want anyone to know they are asking. And we know only too well how sensitive this issue is.

With this series, we would like to shed some light on life in England – how hard but also how comforting it can be. Our situation is, of course, unique, so if you would like to know more about any specific topic, feel free to ask.

Transport and other road stuff

The cost of transport is relative – depending on which form you use: bus transport is cheaper than the tube; the tube is cheaper than a taxi.

If you travel long distances between towns and cities, the bus is also cheaper than the overland (“trains”), but it can make quite a big difference if you consider your travel time.

Rush hour trains are, of course, always more expensive. If possible, it is better not to travel between 06:30 and 09:30 or between 15:30 and 18:30. I know that sounds impossible, but the days here begin much later. Our SAFFAS (South Africans Far from Africa) are probably always the first ones at the office.

Weekly, monthly and yearly tickets for the tube, train and bus are cheaper than buying every day.

Feel free to download the Trainline app. We live outside of London and use it regularly to check times and prices, and you can book online and buy as well if you want.

When we’re in London, we like to use the CityMapper app. Where are our days with the A-Z?

It is, of course, still available, if you prefer that. Feel free to peek here while waiting for your flight at OR Tambo.

For the value of the rand against the pound, we like to use our FNB app, but I find XE Currency also handy – just to know exactly what the damage would be in every currency in the world.

To drive in England, however, is a whole new ball game. Yes, we also drive on the left side of the road, but unfortunately, there is much more to it. The first time I got a hefty fine of £60
(R1 200) because I drove 5 m in a bus lane … Ouch! Some traffic rules and even road signs are also completely new to this Free Stater. But this is an interesting story for next time, so drop in again!

Almost-summer greetings


Also read: Life in England: Part 2

About the author

Maxie Heppell

Maxie Heppell lives with her husband Èmil in Newbury in the United Kingdom. Feel free to visit Maxie’s blog Genade is ’n dag lank


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