May 28, 2020

Cape Town to London

Cape Town to London

It has been very warm this week, but I have not felt like I have had much energy or enthusiasm for things. It is not just the lockdown rules that are getting to me - honestly that has not been so bad - it is the limbo land and uncertainty of life right now, that is challenging.

I forced myself to go on a long walk on Tuesday and ended up going down Portobello road and through the side-streets of Notting Hill, one of my most favourite places. Although the market is not yet in full swing, some vegetable stores were up and open in Portobello road and many of the local food shops have opened properly, just limiting customers and providing hand sanitizer. I enjoyed getting to look inside Daylsford for the first time and the Notting Hill Fish shop was really busy and looked divine. I had to window shop the quirky antique shops, but it was all fun, especially taking photos of the colourful houses and doors, so common in Notting Hill. I love that you can find such quaint and unusual shops here. I saw a shop dedicated to old fashioned sewing machines and one that specialises only in door knobs! Things like this just don’t exist in South Africa as they would never be able to make a living. London is a city full of variety and endless possibilities. Every street offers something new and you can turn a corner and enter a different world.

Yesterday was a muggy day - warm, but overcast for short periods of time, until the sun appeared again. The girls and I went to the park for a picnic, enjoyed chatting, playing cards and eating our prawn sandwiches (one of my favourite things about the UK).  We had a discussion about some of the differences between living in South Africa and the UK and what they miss and what they love. (I think I will list the consensus below.) It was a good way to spend the better part of a day, especially one in lockdown, certainly beats starring at the TV or iPad. We always love to watch the interesting variety of dogs running around and I end up missing my own dog so much. With each country having its own set of lockdown rules still in place, I don’t know when he will be allowed or able to travel. Again, so much uncertainty. Anyway, here is a list of comparisons and things we miss...

Things about South Africa that we miss: (mainly food it seems)

  • Family
  • Margaritas with friends (this was just on my list!)
  • Milk tart
  • Peppermint crisp chocolate
  • Biltong (high on Amy's list)
  • Reasonably priced but good quality wine
  • Nick Naks

Things about London that we love/prefer:

  • Hyde Park (and being safe to walk in it)
  • Onken Cherry Yoghurt
  • Cheap Salmon and seafood
  • Fast and cheap internet access
  • Amazon Prime
  • The feeling of being free and alive

Some interesting differences:
Dogs - When I lived in London some twenty years ago it was really uncommon to see a dog - now the city has become incredibly dog friendly and their are dogs everywhere. You get a range but some very common breeds in SA are Labradors, Border Collies, Alsations, Jack Russells, Yorkshire Terriers. In London, I have seen lots of French Bull dogs, Caboodles, Whippets and Bichon Frise. Plus I saw a Chinese Crested dog and Mexican Hairless for the first time.

Food - One tends to braai a lot and live on meat and salad/veg in SA where as here their is more diversity. In London obviously a lot of people would normally eat out or get take aways( the only option now if you don’t like cooking). You can pretty much find anything you like available including Persian, Pakistanian, Lebanese etc which are not very common in SA. Another change since I last lived here, is the amount of vegan restaurants and products that are available. There are also a lot of organic options, which is something that is increasing in SA as well, due to the growing awareness globally of what we eat.

Groceries are about the same price wise, overall but I find some things more expensive here (fast food; alcohol) while high end products like salmon, prawns, berries are much cheaper. Veg, fruit and dairy are about the same; chicken and beef probably slightly cheaper here while most other meat is the same. (Apart from Vienna's which seem hard to come by and overpriced)