time to say no to Trailing Spouse, and reignite your passion and sparkle.
Moving house is part of expat life, whether its to move abroad, or because your landlord decides to sell. No matter how many times we do it, the chances are there will be some tears, and a lot of stress. But once you are all in - here's our top tips on creating your home.
1. Memories are important, the physical objects not so much.
There are a few items we will always pack with us where ever we move. Our dinning room table is the most important. This is where we have had our most precious family time, when we are sat around together, thats home for us.
Maybe you love your gardening tools, or your kids boots and umbrellas, make a feature of them, by adding a beautiful coat rack or hat stand in your entrance, so the whole family see them whenever they come in.
- What objects do you have that bring this same sense of home? Maybe is a cuckoo clock, particular children’s books?
2. Display your Memories, asap
You will be amazed how quickly a building becomes yours once your artwork, and photo’s are on the walls. Get them up asap, you can always move them around later.
3. Re-create your routines / habits
If you have your medicine’s in the same cupboard as your linen, and lightbulbs then recreate that in your new home. Try to keep similar things together, if you don’t have a shoe cupboard now, then make a similar cupboard in another room, containing the same items that used to be in your hallway.
If you are always loosing your keys and wallet, create a space for them as soon as you come through the door, a tray or small box works perfectly.
4. Get Inspired, search on Instagram, Pinterest, magazines, hotels, lodges.......
Get inspired by the local design and architecture. There are so many beautiful images online now, you can see how to make the best of your new home. For example in South Africa, you will spend most of your time outside and entertaining, so you will want to have nice patio furniture, whereas if you are living in Tokyo, you will want clever storage solutions.
5. Go "local"
Whilst I am a big fan of decluttering, buying a local piece of art, or homeware is such a lovely way to remind you of your previous homes and experiences. I still spend hours wondering through antique shops and interior design outlets, learning about particular features of african design.
6. Buy flowers
A bunch of fresh flowers, whether picked from the garden or brought from the florist just brings a smile to my face every time.
For more inspiration and to be connected to our team of Interior Designers to come give you advice at your home. Hire your own Personal Assistant who can arrange a recommended Interior Designer to come to your home and access our discounts with a range of local suppliers.
Its that time of year when Joburg and Pretoria turn purple. There is a saying amongst students that if you haven't started revising for your exams by the time the streets turn purple it's too late.
The Jacaranda's dont last all that long, the best time is usually the second or third weekend in October, just after the first rains have come at the start of summer.
Half day trips:
Park in Rosebank Mall, and then head out towards Tyrwhitt Avenue, and across Oxford Road into Melrose. Take a stroll around the avenue's before heading back along Jellicoe. Finish up with a drink or meal at the Keys Mile. If you are looking for views, we recommend Marble or Mesh Club (which is open to the public after 4pm), or the Milk Bar for great vibe.
Picnic in Emmarentia Park
Park in Emmarentia car park, just off Orange Road, and then stroll up Troon Road, up and over Barry Herzog, and into the beautiful Clovelly Road. You can stroll all around Greenside, before heading back into Emmerentia to pick up your picnic and head into the park. (If you have kids there is a great play area right by the entrance on Olifants Road.
Take a Heritage Stroll
Drive around the streets in parkview, before parking at the bottom of Westcliff Steps on Crescent Drive or the intersection of Wicklow Avenue and Westcliff Drive. The 210 steps are well worth the climb to take in a view across the whole of Johannesburg.
Westcliff is home to all the old "Randlords", its one of the oldest parts of the city. With its large properties with incredible views. It is also home to two outstanding (and over subscribed) schools; The Ridge (boys) and St Catherine’s (girls). The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation run wonderful guided walks.
Lunch @ Four Seasons Hotel - Westcliff
This is a must do at least once during your stay here. You can not beat the views from the terrace at this luxury hotel. But make sure you book, it is incredibly popular at this time of year. You may even want to go for a walk around the zoo in the morning, since its right opposite.
Pretoria is usually 3 degrees warmer than Joburg, as a result the Jacarandas bloom a few weeks earlier than they do in Joburg.
A great viewing spot is the Union Buildings, which you can get to via the Gautrain, take the Hatfield stop and then the H3 bus.
If driving, head to the Brooklyn Area, and drive along Pienaar Street and Murray Street, amongst others. For the White Jacaranda's drive along Herbert Baker Street, and then up into the Klapperkop Nature Reserve to get an ariel view.
For more info on 2Summers hunt for the White Jacaranda's Click here to read her post and see more beautiful photos.
The employment of household staff is complicated, both morally and practically, and it is sadly more common in South Africa than in other parts of the world due to the large social economic gap pervasive in the country. As a result it is likely that when you arrive you may have to make a choice about whether or not to employ staff and ultimately if you do make the choice to employ then how to do it.
Choosing a school for your child is one of the biggest decisions you will make (or it certainly seems that way at the time).
This search is particularly overwhelming when you aren’t sure about the academic calendars, curriculum or entrance criteria. Do you choose an International or Local school. Sadly you may not know anyone well enough yet to ask for a trusted opinion, and you don’t have much time to make a decision.
We all have different priorities and visions of what success should look like at school. To help you make sense of all the choices and decisions you need to make we collected advice from seasoned expats who have visited many schools in a variety of countries. Additionally we have taken advice from a British Independent Schools Inspector as to what we should be looking for and considering when selecting a school.
First and most important, whenever possible always arrange visits to the schools during a pre assignment trip, or when you first arrive. Glossy prospectuses are no substitute for a visit. The following points will help you to prepare for when you are able to visit in person. If you only take one bit of advice from this article, its to keep the following at the forefront of your mind:
“will my child be happy here”
Assessment of Learning
At the heart of an outstanding school the emphasis must be on their approach to learning. How do they view success? Is it very academic, and driven, or do they educate through a specific ethos or set of principles. Ultimately how will you know if your child is learning, and how does the school make this learning visible to the child, parent and teacher.
When we were at school, the curriculum focused on teaching us content and knowledge. Now we have Wikipedia for that. What’s more important is the interpretation of knowledge, debate, negotiating and influencing skills.
A school is only as good as its teachers. If you think back to your schooling, you don’t remember the facilities or the uniform, but those individual relationships with teachers that inspired and encouraged you. In order for teachers to continually motivate and engage with students they themselves need to be stimulated and inspired.
This is how the school operates, the schools mission is their promise to each child of what they can expect to get from attending that school.
Lots of schools have missions to create global citizens, or future leaders. But how do they walk the talk? Do you want a school that is preparing your child for the future, or do you want a school that is engaging and promoting their value right here and now embracing the joy of childhood and creativity?
Does the school reflect the values you subscribe to within your own home and family? If not, think again as you would not want to confuse your child.
School as part of the community
What role does the school play within the wider community? How are parents engaged within the school? Are parents seen as partners in the education process? What other partnerships does the school have? Do they engage experts from specific industries etc to play a role?
- As soon as you arrive - look around you, do you feel welcome and have a good feeling about the place? Don’t judge the school on its looks, it may have wonderful facilities but if the children aren’t taught in a positive way, then they won’t have the confidence to use them.
- How are the children interacting with one another, do they look happy? I once saw a school at break time and it was manic! There were 2 children in tears while the staff sat under a tree having their tea break. This school had the best reputation in the area but was not the one for my child.
- Try to actually see a lesson in progress, how does the teacher interact with the students?
- How is the classroom set up - does it promote independence (materials are accessible for children to go choose from)? Is the classroom well ordered or messy?
- What is on the walls? Are learning materials / art work so high up that the children can’t see their own work? Is the work individualised or have all the children (or teacher) cut out / painted the same thing?
- How does the teacher talk to the children? Is their language positive and encouraging in order to raise the children’s self-esteem or are they barking orders. Is there a “quiet hum” or a scared silence?
- Ask to meet the head teacher. How do they greet you? He/She are the biggest role model for the school. The children, staff and teachers will all be watching and taking their lead from this person. Actions are louder than words, how do they set the scene for the school?
- During your visit does the school spend its time telling you how wonderful it is and how privileged you would be to send your child here or is it more outward focused? How is it moving forward, updating, listening to others in order to improve?
Remember, there is no perfect school. There will always be things you don’t like which may be linked to cultural differences or standards but overall do you feel that the positives outweigh the negatives.
As a parent you are your child’s first and main teacher. Your own family version of success will have much more long term impact on your children than the school they attend.
In the end we all have different priorities, and you may well only be in the country for a short term. So make sure you choose the school that is best suited to each individual child, rather than the most popular.