As explained before, I was ridiculously stressed out before I left for South Africa. Luckily I have a very loving and supportive husband who ensured that everything else in the house was taken care off, so it freed me up to work whenever I needed to. I don’t think he has any idea how much that helps!

Let’s go back to the day I was flying out: 22nd September, 4.00pm. I was packing the last of my things. And by ‘my things’ I actually mean ‘gifts for the children’! Lisa had brought a big box of gifts for Stormy that I was trying to squeeze in too. As I zipped up my suitcase …. the zip broke! I couldn’t believe it. My other suitcase was out of action because last time I flew back, they broke the lock off, and the whole zip, presumably to see whether there was anything worth stealing. (There wasn’t!) At the last minute, Tim and I had to rush down to Rackhams, the only shop in Altrincham which sell good quality bags. I chose one, spent too much money on it, and rushed home to repack. I finished just in time to leave for the airport.

The good news was that I was dead on my feet by the time I got to the airport. This meant that the flight was more bearable as I could sleep almost all the way. I had a small, slimy-looking man next to me, but realised that was far better than a large, nice man. The flight was choc-a-block full and cramped. My in-flight seat entertainment didn’t work, but I didn’t even care much. The iPod went on, earplugs went in, and I slept!

I had thought that my luggage had gone missing, because it just didn’t appear on the carousel. I was about to report it when I decided to do one full lap around the carousel. I noticed my bag on the opposite side next to the belt, on the floor. Some twit had obviously taken it off the belt, realised it wasn’t their bag, and couldn’t be bothered to put it back on the belt!

It was good to be greeted by my parents on the airport, especially when I was told by my mother that my dad thought I looked like a little girl with my short hair. A compliment for someone who will be turning 40 soon!

I spent 2 days in Pretoria. The highlight was of course my routine meal at Ocean Basket and spending time with my youngest niece, Storm. She is unbelievably cute! Luckily she and I bonded quite well. Previously she was too small to really remember me, but I do hope she’ll still remember me at Christmas, as she will be three in the new year.

Stormy loved the gifts I brought – especially the dress-up princess-dress (or queen dress as she likes to call it) that Aunty Lisa sent, was a big hit!

The most interesting statistic I can quote from that short stay, was that lunch at Tom’s Diner, which is attached to a bowling club, for 5 people including drinks, came to R150 (about £13)! I love it.

On the Friday, I left at the crack of dawn to drive down to Greytown to see my sister and family. The roads in Gauteng are currently all being dug up and worked on for the Football (Soccer) World Cup next year. The speed limit had been reduced to 80 km/h (about 50 mph), but there was not a single car that was driving at that speed. I was probably the slowest car on the highway, driving at about 90 km/h! I had forgotten how South Africans generally have little respect for the law, because things like driving laws aren’t really perceived to be ‘real laws’, like the laws against stealing, killing and the like. Even your driving causes a death, you probably won’t be successfully prosecuted.

Although there was one story on the news that had caused a bit of a stir. A man, who allegedly was late for work, had decided to use a closed lane on one of the motorways they were working on, and had run a man over, seriously injuring him. This man was arrested, and people ringing on the phone-in were condemning his irresponsible behaviour and agreed that it is right that he be arrested. I would put money on the fact that he won’t be successfully prosecuted …. Watch this space.

Back to my trip. I arrived in Greytown around lunch time and was warmly welcomed by Rochelle and the girls. Kyla and Jaimee had got so big! Kyla was turning into a real pre-teen, and Jaimee was no longer a ‘little girl’. The girls were clearly keen for me to unpack, because they know Aunty Liezl brings pressies … and I don’t think the selection disappointed.

It was so good to have some girlie-time with my sister. Whenever I see her again, I remember how much I actually miss her. I would love to live down the road from her where we could visit more often. But the reality is that that will probably never happen again, unless we move in together to keep each other company once we’re 88 and 85!

Saturday and Sunday were the only 2 sunny days I had while there. On one or two of the other days, the sun did make a brief appearance, but not enough for it to be classed as a sunny day. And of course then came the rain. Heavy rain. Rain so heavy that I felt compelled to video it to show Tim! And that is when I came to the conclusion that I am definitely a rain-maker…

The weekend passed quickly, and we didn’t do too much. Just chilled out. Monday we were off to Pietermaritzburg for shopping as Ouma and Oupa (my parents) had been very generous and Kyla and Jaimee had pockets full of money to spend. It was a very successful trip indeed. Both of them came home laden with bags. I had promised to buy Rochelle some decent running shoes, which we did find at Poobie Naidoo’s sport shop. She wasn’t too happy about them being accented in green, but hopefully the benefits will outweigh the aesthetics!

Tuesday was our pamper day! We were off to Indigo Fields in Nottingham Road. This time I didn’t forget any part of my bikini. The weather was still grim and cold, but in hindsight, it was really quite nice. It added to the atmosphere. Once we’d changed into our gowns, they brought us hooded ponchos to wear over the top to keep us warm. The final touch was a hot water bottle each.

The day was relaxing and one treatment led into the other. Indulgence is the name of the game there, and we hadn’t forgotten Rochelle’s friend, Kathy’s advice: “Eat and drink everything that is offered to you”. And so we did. It was fantastic, and we left the next morning having laughed and relaxed a lot.

We arrived back on Wednesday just before lunch, and realised that there wasn’t that much time left before I had to be off again. I had planned to drive back up on Friday morning early, which left only the rest of Wednesday and Thursday.

We rested, played games with the girls, did some “lang-arm sokkie” (type of 2-step dance you do to Afrikaans music) in the lounge, I helped the family with computer problems, and finally had to pack up again to leave. My visit had felt so short, but wonderfully fantastic. It was, as always, difficult to say goodbye, but at least this time it wasn’t for that long. Tim and I are planning to go back to South Africa for Christmas. Kyla had counted and within 11 weeks we would be back on the farm. In fact, in 10 weeks we would be back in South Africa, because we would go via Cape Town in December. And by now a week has passed. Before we know it, we will be packing again!

I visited my friend Sarah-Louise on the way back to Pretoria. She lives in one of South Africa’s security villages. There are 2 levels of security. You go through one boom gate into a gated area of the city, and then into a second secure estate where Sarah is called by phone before they would let you in. Sounds over the top, but the good thing about that is that their house is free of burglar bars and electric fencing that is the norm in Gauteng, as a result. Their house is huge – not that there are many bedrooms, but more that the spaces and rooms are enormous – especially by UK standards. It makes our big rooms look poky! But it is lovely. She has many plans to make it better suited to their family’s needs, but it doesn’t seem like they need to do it immediately. There is heaps of space for the kids outside – every kid’s dream. I couldn’t stay too long, but it was lovely to catch up.

My last 2 days were spent shopping, to fill up the case that had emptied out as the gifts were distributed, and spending time with the family, and particularly with Stormy.

The cutest thing Stormy said was: “When Jordan (her new baby sister) comes out of mummy’s tummy, it is going to come and live in Stormy’s tummy. Then Stormy’s tummy is going to be big and fat, just like …. Dad’s”!!!!!

Before I knew it, I was back on the plane on my way home. I was sad to leave, but very happy to come home to Tim and Dali (our very cute and loving cat).