Author: stellaathletics

Chairman’s Chirp

Hello fellow Stars

It’s hard to believe that we have had a year of no road races. Not many people would have predicted in early March 2020 that we would go into a lockdown and be in this situation 12 months later. With the COVID vaccination programme moving extremely slowly there is a long road ahead before we get back to normality.

Whilst some Clubs have pressed ahead with Virtual Races, these races have been run with limited numbers. There is a lot of concern that many clubs will not be able to survive another 6-10 months with either no races or limited economic activity at their premises. Stella AC is one of the Clubs that was fortunate enough to have had their 2020 race and the profit made on that race will sustain the club to and beyond the 2022 race. In terms of the 2021 race, our title Sponsor, Marshalls World of Sport, has agreed to defer their sponsorship to 2022. The 2021 race will however remain part of the Vitality Series, with a virtual race being run on 1 / 2 May. Solly M Sports will be sponsoring the event and all entries will receive a R 50 voucher for each of the KZN Vitality races entered. These vouchers can be redeemed with purchases at Solly M Sports. Runners will have a choice of 3 distances, namely 5km, 10km or 21km. All members are urged to support this race by spreading the word to their friends and family at other Clubs and to participate on either of those days. We would also like to encourage our members to run the other two events in the series, namely the Checkout Challenge on 15 / 16 May and Peace in Africa race on 29 / 30 May. All Discovery Vitality members will get additional Vitality points for completing the races.

Another worrying factor for many Clubs is the slow pace of membership renewals. As at the end of March only 35% of Stella AC members had renewed their membership. Members are urged to at least pay their R 360 annual Club membership. We understand that we are living in tough economic times and are happy to discuss a payment plan with those members who cannot afford to pay this fee in one payment.

With the Comrades Marathon cancelled most athletes are waiting to hear the final plans relating to the Virtual Comrades race on 13 June. Please watch this space as some interesting options are being discussed by the Stella leadership group. The options currently under discussion include various distance options being run on the Comrades route on either a point to point, or out and back basis. The aim of this approach is to give the novices an idea of what it’s like to run on the actual Comrades route. Once the final arrangements are made there will be a notice sent out to all members via all the available communication channels.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those members who have recently gone out of their way to make Stella great. We have seen some innovative Saturday runs that have drawn big crowds. This includes our visit to the Stainbank Reserve and the Gillies run with members of Bluff AC. The road captains will continue to plan runs that allow for a regular change of scenery. This certainly makes for interesting training and it has been fantastic to see so many people stay for coffee afterwards. We have also had a few smaller events at the Den that have boosted morale during these difficult times. It is welcoming to see members with so much passion for the sport also willing to go to great lengths to make the Club experience enjoyable. Please keep up the good work. The Leadership Team would welcome any suggestions that you may have to improve the Club
experience.

The Committee would like to thank all the businesses that support Stella AC in various ways during the year. The sponsors names are mentioned after each event and I urge members to please support these businesses in return. As many members may be aware, Peter Limbouris from Dirks Butchery passed away recently. The Committee would like to send their deepest condolences to his family. Peter was a good friend of Stella AC and will be sorely missed.

As we start to move towards Winter I urge all members to take extra care when out training. Please wear bright clothes and do not forget that vehicles will always have right of way. Please also train in groups. There has been a spate of recent muggings and I would hate one of our members to experience such a traumatic event. If training with a group on a Club night, please listen carefully to the instructions given to you by the road captains. Do not let the groups become too fragmented and allow members to be left running or walking on their own. Regroup as often as possible and if anyone is lagging behind please drop back and encourage them. Even though COVID has had a devastating effect on society and the sport that we love, I firmly believe that Stella AC is well positioned to get through this and become stronger than ever. We urge all members to continue to support the Club through this process. If everyone does their little bit,
we will flourish.

Happy running and please all stay safe.

Road Captain Rants

Its hard to believe we are in the second quarter of another crazy year. With lockdown restrictions lifting, we have been able to start running as a club again. This has been such a bonus to us as we can safely mingle and encourage each other along.

There has been a steady flow of people joining in on the runs, and we have tried to be a bit more creative, especially on our Saturday runs, where we have run at various locations for a change of scenery, and they have been well supported. Gerald van Wyk has joined the road captaincy team and it has been beneficial to all of us with some new meanders happening. Kevin Hendrikse will definitely get the title of “King of the Mountains” as you are guaranteed of a challenging route when he leads! So, between the team, we try and add to the running experience and cater for all to the best of our ability. We welcome any suggestions or tips, as we try make your training experience a
pleasurable one.

Winter is fast approaching, and we have seen a definite change in times with the sun disappearing earlier in the evenings or rising later in the mornings. The roads are not always well lit, so it is vitally important that we are visible to traffic. MIB’s (Men in Black) might look cool and have a slimming effect but it does not help in the dark where you become incognito! “Bright sparks” is the name of the game – wear light, white or bright luminous colours that make you stick out like a sore thumb. Lights on your head or shoes or safety belts are a good investment.

Running the pavements these days has also become a challenge with trenches been dug and rubble on the sidewalks. Please be careful as we are forced to use the roadsides. Single file when traffic approaches and if necessary, stop to allow cars to go past. Not all road users are considerate, so be aware of vehicles at all times. Just this week a cyclist was taken down by a speeding vehicle. We do not need casualties.

With not many races on the calendar, we have tried to have a few longer runs planned to keep us motivated. Comrades are having their virtual run again, and we will train towards this as a club. The options for a 45k, 21 and shorter will be made available and we will work towards having Stella ready by 13th June!

Keep plodding, keep moving! Running is amazing therapy with multiple benefits!


Running in the heat of Singapore

Hello fellow runners, my name is Marie Griffiths. I’m married to Steve and we have two daughters – Casey aged 16 and Jodi 14. With Steve being given an opportunity to work in Singapore, we moved in July 2018.

I joined Stella around 2001 after meeting Steve in 2000. He was a “well seasoned” runner and had been a member of Stella since 1995. We ran countless time trials, races, Marathons and Ultra Marathons proudly for Stella. Even after we moved house from Morningside to Kloof, we chose not to change clubs. Our hearts have always belonged to Stella. Steve and I ran Comrades and Two Oceans together in 2009.

Moving to Singapore was a very exciting time for us. We holidayed here as a family in 2016 before we moved and really enjoyed it. Steve travelled here for work over 50 times before we moved, so Singapore was like a second home to him.

Experiencing life in Asia is very different. Singapore has a strong influence of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Westerners, making for a mix of traditions and local customs. We recently celebrated the lunar Chinese New Year – 2021 is the Year of the OX. Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced gong she fa tsai) means Happy New Year in chinese.

This diversity of culture is also reflected in the many languages spoken here, including English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Casey and Jodi are studying Mandarin Chinese at school and both really enjoying the challenge. 

With a population of 6 million, Singapore is a small Country/City/Island, measuring 50 km from East to West and 27 km from North to South, with nearly 200 km of coastline. Despite its density and many high-rises, Singapore has an active greening policy, which has covered the island with tropical plants, paths and parks which makes it a pleasure for running. Some running highlights include waterfront running around the beautiful Marina Bay area, the extensive East and West coast parks along the ocean, the iconic Gardens by the Bay, the Mac Ritchie Reservoir and the Bukit Timah Reserve. With the sun rising around 7am and setting at 7pm all year round, many of Singapore’s running spots are well lit. The crime rate is low, so running alone at night or early morning is not a concern at all. Singapore’s location close to the equator makes for the hot, humid and tropical climate with occasional thunderstorms which cool things down…slightly.

Singapore has an excellent public transportation system. The best way to get around is the MRT system (which is a combination of trains, subways, and light rail) and the local buses. Taxis are more expensive but very convenient and available at any hour. We don’t have a car.

My first introduction to running in the ‘heat of Singapore’ was running the “Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon” in Dec 2016. I was training for my 9th consecutive Two Oceans the following April and when I found out the Singapore Marathon was being held the weekend we were visiting Singapore I thought it would be a great training run while sightseeing at the same time. 

I was very wrong ! The heat & humidity was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I walked more than expected, taking photo’s of the early morning city lights and eventually the sunrise to pass the km’s while I cooled down and sorted my head out. The marathon started at 4.30am to beat the heat (ha ha). I finished the race with my feet squelching with sweat in my shoes.

Similar to most overseas races, your time only starts and stops when you cross the start & finish line mats. There isn’t a big running club scene here like there is in SA and you don’t have to be part of a club to enter a race, so majority of the runners race in the race vest provided in your race pack. You do however see elite runners either racing or training as groups in club kit.

We get top quality race backpacks and vests which are part of your entry fee as well as a “finishers” T at the finish. The cut is tailored slightly differently for men and woman which is great so it’s not a one size fits all. Coke is not supplied along the route, only cups of 100 plus isotonic drink and water. To be honest, I’m not a great fan of running races here. I find them boring. There are very few spectators along the route to cheer you on (the races are held so early before the sun rises), you don’t know any of the other runners to chat with along with way, most have headphones so they wouldn’t hear you anyway and its dark so you don’t even get to enjoy the sights.

With nearly 3 years having passed since we moved here, my body has definitely acclimatised to the heat. The temperature gets up to between 37-40 deg C at certain parts of year,  so running in a vest instead of a t-shirt is a must ! Drinking water with sachets of rehydrate, wearing a cap and sunblock is a necessity. Unfortunately I have experienced severe dehydration which was not great so I am now very careful with keeping my electrolytes stable. After the marathon experience, the only distances I have entered have been 10 & 21k races. Further than 21 is just not enjoyable in this heat no matter how fit you are.

Park Runs however are very enjoyable and well attended. They are held every Sat morning at 7.30am in 4 different locations on the island. Steve and I ran our very first Park Run soon after we moved here.

Similar to the rest of the world though – due to COVID, parkrun’s and all road races have been cancelled. The only races available now are virtual. They are free to enter (unless you want to purchase the race t-shirt which gets posted to you).

These are great as you get motivated by entering the race and they can be run when and where it suits you within the specified date period. I enjoy running on my own so these suit me. I have just finished a 168km’s in 21 days race. I tackled it by running 8k’s each day. It was a huge challenge especially in this heat, but I felt really proud of myself for completing it.

When I’m not running virtual races, I tend to stick to 3-4 runs a week of about 5-8kms each run. This seems to keep me fit, keep my mind free but also not deplete me.

My daughters and I also entered and ran the virtual Comrades race last year. They ran 5k each and I ran 10. Comrades was such a big part of our lives when we lived in SA, so we felt proud to be participating in this virtual race. Unfortunately Steve was recovering from a hip replacement operation so he was unable to run with us, but he enjoyed cheering us on outside our house as we ran past.

In closing I would like to thank Sandy for asking me to share my story about our life and running in Singapore. I have really enjoyed reading all the expat stories and look forward to reading new ones too.

To all our Stella friends, we miss our time trial evenings/braai nights and send you all our love.

Yours in running

Marie

For The Love of Running

When you love running as much as I do, it is very difficult to rein yourself in when you need to!

2019 was where it all came together. I had completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon as well as the Cape Town Marathon, which was a highlight in my running career.  I had achieved two massive goals and nothing could go wrong….or so I thought!!!  At the end of that 2019 year I was enjoying a training run, a week prior to the DHS 10km. After the run I could feel a niggle in my right knee but didn’t want to overthink it although it didn’t seem to want to go away. 

The day of the DHS 10km arrived, I was still sore. My wife said rest, 10km is not worth an injury,  BUT I had to run. So off I went and unfortunately near the end as I entered the Crusaders ground my knee locked and it was over.  After lots of rest the swelling subsided but I still couldn’t run. I went to my specialist and had an MRI scan which confirmed I needed an op. 

It was a slow, long haul that for me felt like forever. All I wanted to do was hit the road but even a walk was too much.  After many motivational talks on my wife’s part, I listened and rested, took it slow and thankfully Stella began a beginners group which I started running with. It was the best thing I could have done.  It kept me in check and helped regain the strength I needed to finally get back to where I needed to be, to run again without pain. 

The moral of my long story is like running a marathon you need a plan, strength and endurance and this will help you get to the finish line, but life seems to throw curve balls all the time and you need a plan, strength and endurance to get through it as I had to do to get over my injury.  Always listen to your body, respect it and rest it when need be, for the love of running!

  – Gerald Van Wyk

Running in the Cayman Islands

After moving to Durban in 2018 I never imagined that a simple “Running Clubs Near Me” google search would lead me to such an amazing club. I felt very welcome and enjoyed every run – meeting new people almost every week and learning from the array of experienced runners the club had and still has at its disposal. I joined the club having never run more than 10kms and grew to a point where I was ready to enter for the 2020 Comrades Marathon. I loved the Gillies Saturday run and the morning weekday runs, with one of my highlights being getting the crown on the “Avenues” segment (sorry Tawanda!).

At the end of 2020 I moved to the sunny and tropical shores of the Cayman Islands. And being a running enthusiast, I had already bought my running gear and researched the running routes and races. After 2 weeks of quarantine I was ready to do my first run on the island – which turned out to be super hard as the heat and humidity was unbearable. I could not run more than 4kms. My second run was a disaster too; as after a wrong turn I found myself jogging on beach sand. I had to cancel my run and salvage whatever was left of my calves and quads.

As time passed by, I quickly climatized to the humidity and got familiar with the routes, and my runs got a lot better. I had to strategically position my runs either between 5 – 7AM or 6 – 8PM; hydrate constantly; and I was advised that I need to carry an electrolyte drink for all runs longer than an hour – and because of the sweating I was more susceptible to chafing. At the end of January, I laced up my trainers for a half marathon which I enjoyed – and I hope to do many more in this new territory.

There is a large running community on the island which made the runner in me settle in pretty quickly. I do however miss the “Go Stella” cheers from strangers during a race, and the relief you get when you see the club tent at the finish line. I hope that one day I can realize my dream of completing the Comrades in the Stella colours.

~ Mandla Mkhize

Catching up with the Greens

Dear Stella Family,

We arrived to a freezing cold London on the 10th of January having left a scorching hot Durban in our shorts and slops. We flew over Doha and a change of clothes was definitely required to be ready for the UK weather. We were collected by our taxi and dropped off at our friend’s home in London. Luckily we arrived before the UK government had introduced the new hotel quarantine regulations and therefore we had to isolate in our property for 10 days before we could go out and about. Luckily our friend’s had left an old exercise bike in the shed which we managed to revive and found some spinning class videos on YouTube. 

Needless to say, we were very excited to get out and about after our 10 day isolation. The UK is still under a hard lockdown so only essential shops are open i.e. grocery stores. No hairdressers unfortunately, but we could still get our tipple of choice.

Alistair’s Experience

I ventured out for my first run and I think the neighbours must have thought I had lost my marbles as I took off down the road in my South African flag print Funky Pants.  My second run was quite the experience as it started to sleet and then snow quite heavily when I was still 5 km’s from home. By the time I got back to the house there was a thick blanket of snow. I arrived home to the gleeful screeches of our two boys throwing snowballs at one another. I can also confirm that road running shoes are definitely not the right foot gear for snow running, it was a very slippery run home. 

Petra’s Experience

Running in the cold is definitely something to get used to, and coming from SA we had absolutely no gear to keep us warm. My first run out was in 0 degrees and I remember getting home and not being able to feel my legs or toes from the cold. I’ve had to layer up with as much as I can and use buffs around my head to keep my ears warm, but it still takes a good few km’s just to feel your hands and toes. Dodging the sneaky black ice has also been quite the experience and I’ve had a few near misses. It is safe to say that I will never complain about running in heat and humidity again!  

Running on my own has taken some getting used to and a really miss all the laughs, chit chats and motivation that comes with running in a group. We have both noticed what an effect heat has on your running ability/speed. Having taken about 30 seconds/km off our normal running time and it is definitely not down to fitness. Running is also really safe as there are sidewalks along all the roads so it is very rare that you need to run on the road. 

We’ve had some great runs through parks and open spaces and have enjoyed the change of scenery. However, we get quite homesick when seeing the routes and pictures being shared on the Stella WhatsApp groups and Strava. We miss those early morning sunrises along the Durban promenade and the coffee after our morning runs, but particularly miss the camaraderie that Stella had and how it brought people from all walks of life, ages and ethnic groups together! 

We look forward to joining a running club over here once the lockdown eases but it will be very difficult to match the many special friendships and bonds made over the years at Stella. 

Life of an Expat – Cindy Haddad

Grüezi Stella Stars!

The waaaaay I miss you guys…

For the love of running I agreed to write something in the hope that my story will inspire some of you who might be struggling physically or mentally and also just to give a glimpse of what it´s like running in different conditions.

Now an Expat living in Switzerland, I maintain my Proudly South African status with pride.  I must say, as much as it is a privilege to experience different countries and cultures, and it being a crucial factor to opening ones eyes and seeing the world from a different perspective, “you will never really truly have a sense of home until you leave home” – Unknown.  I have no greater pride than when I tell the Swiss about my country and our people. Having said that, the process of leaving my country was gut wrenching and although it gets a little easier every day, there are still days filled with emptiness and no sense of belonging and this is where my running gets me through every time!

Zechariah 4:10

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

I wanted to put this verse in because I think about it every time I feel that my insignificant 2k walk or seriously slow 10k run just to keep going is not going to amount to anything, I remind myself that it all ads up and as long as I keep going, then I am doing better than nothing.

So far my greatest achievement is that I have kept going.

Honestly, I have not done a lot of running since I arrived in Switzerland but enough to be able to share with you about some of my challenges, adjustments, and experiences.

Since I arrived in Switzerland in Summer, the temperatures were not a problem, but the change in altitude humbled me in the beginning to say the least. I knew there would be challenges adjusting to the higher altitude, but I did not know what to expect physically.

Interlaken is located some 566m above sea level compared to Durban´s 8m. That is a significant difference in altitude to adjust to. My first couple of runs was uncomfortable. I experienced altitude sickness for the first time, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and headaches.  Needless-to-say, I had to ease into it. It didn´t take long, but I just started with brisk walking and shorter, slower runs to strengthen my lungs and re-regulate my breathing. Once I adjusted to these conditions, running became a pleasure again. 

Then came my first Winter…I had been dreading it to be honest, not knowing what to expect physically and I worried about loosing fitness, thinking I would probably not run as regularly as what I am used to. And I didn´t, but again I eased into it slowly. 

I clearly did not have suitable gear for below zero temperatures. Until I could figure out what fabrics they use to combat the Winter bite, this is what I wore:

Long tights and sweatpants over that, a vest, long sleeve running shirt, a sweater, and a jacket, 3 pairs of socks (rather toit), gloves, a beanie, and a neck buff. My eyes watered from the sting of the cold air, although it is possible that I was crying, and my nose ran faster than me.  I still have no idea how I actually managed to run with all that clothing on. Also, running on snow and ice has been both scary and funny when you don´t have the correct footwear.  Finding shoes and grips suitable for icy conditions are crucial to prevent injury.  I have since adjusted quite well to the weather conditions and acquired suitable running gear which makes a big difference.  Now I love running in Winter.

I never minded running on my own but when I became part of the Stella family, I grew quite fond of training with my comrades and when I got to Switzerland I had to run alone and I still do for now. No, I can´t run with my Husband because I can´t keep up 😊 Being part of Stella made a big difference in my life and to my running. There are running clubs in the bigger towns and cities, but where we are, most people are pretty much each to their own. Perhaps I will start a little group when Aunty Rona gives us the thumbs up.

So, we keep going…because we are Stella Stars!!!

#stellaforlife

Winter running in Switzerland

by Alex Hadad

The title sounds great, the scenery is fantastic but getting out the front door remains a Durbanites biggest challenge. Running in winter is not for the faint hearted. I understand why many people prefer treadmills when temperatures fall below zero.

However, once you on the road, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Running alongside the rivers and lakes, between the snowcapped mountains is all worth it.

For winter running, some of the challenges include:

  1. Getting your layers right! It’s easy to pile on layers based on temperatures but what we need to consider is our bodies running temperature. Rule of thumb is normally add 10 degrees to accommodate your bodies temperature.
  2. Wearing the correct shoes, especially in icy conditions is critical. Specific winter shoes with special treads are available. We have invested in wrap around studs for icy conditions. However, get it wrong with your footing and you can potentially land on your ass!
  3. Running strides shorten due to slippery conditions. Balance is essential and looking at every step you take to ensure footing is secure.
  4. Hydration even in cold conditions. All the water fountains we use in summer are frozen or closed. We need to know where water is along the routes or have the option to run with a backpack.
  5. All the extras: beany or balaclava/buff, gloves and wind jacket. Be prepared for changing conditions.
  6. Understanding your body and performance. Bodies require more oxygen in colder conditions, but it’s also important to “read” your body and know how your lungs and muscles react to the colder conditions.

So, what makes running in winter special? Without a doubt the snow. There’s something magical about embracing a run in the cold and on snow.

Also having fresh snowflakes fall on your face is worth all the effort to get out and go for a run.

Running in winter tests your will power.  Without a doubt it takes plenty willpower to get out but once you on the road, it all systems go.

However, you cannot let the weather get to you, otherwise it can easily turn in a 3-4 month break.

What do we miss? Without the Stella and KZN runners. It’s not the same without the friendships and banter on the road. Generally, people don’t run in big groups. So its plenty solo running here.

What the 2021 plan? Hopefully races will happen this year. Plan to run Zurich marathon in April and then our local race, the Jungfrau marathon in September. For this one, it requires a lot hill training. The second half has crazy elevation changes. Total elevation gain is around 1’800m.

Last words? We live in challenging times. No matter where we are in the world, plenty uncertainty remains. Mental health is critical. So, let’s support and encourage each other. Whether your run or walk, get on the road and release those endorphins. Let’s come out of this pandemic stronger!

Life of an Expat – Darren Smith

by Darren Smith

I ran with Stella for 9 years before moving to Brisbane, Australia in 2019. My running career with Stella included 6 Comrades medals ( 2 Bill Rowans ), 2 Ultra marathons, 22 Marathons.

Starting running in a new country without a running club has been challenging. Being involved in a club gives you the support and the momentum to keep pushing your self and staying committed. This is where the challenge has come in as I struggled to keep my momentum going without anyone to keep me accountable. Needless to say I miss everyone at Stella.

I did give a running club a try here but the way the club works and the club culture was not the same. I am still open to trying other clubs here and always keep an eye open for others. However in the recent year I found a running in partner and used the time during Covid to work on our running as all gyms were closed. This was the boost and time I needed to build my motivation and my running fitness.

I’ve managed to improve my speed, fitness and found a routine that works for me. On a weekly basis I run 3-4 times a week and aim to reach 40kms a week. Thank you to my stella friends who have encouraged and supported me from a far.

Life of an Expat – Kim Bonorchis

by Kim Bonorchis

On 22 October 2019 I left South Africa to set up our new home in Hampshire, UK (south of England) with the plan of Clay following a few months later with all our belongings; which did not materialise due to Covid19, which changed all our lives around the world.

This solo journey has taught me a lot:- “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow”.

You are never too old to learn new ways:-
– filling your own petrol in the car (no petrol attendants)
– putting air in your car tyres (yes, you pay for the air)
– scraping ice off the windscreen of the car
– packing your own groceries

Learning new words:-

  • Braai = barbeque
  • Cell phone = mobile phone
  • Traffic/turning circle = roundabouts (some do have robots in the roundabout)
  • Robots = traffic lights
  • Freeway = motor way
  • Jersey = jumper
  • Pants = trousers
  • Underwear = pants
  • Sick = poorly
  • Geyser = boiler
  • Prestik = blue tac
  • Takkies = trainers
  • Tracksuit top = fleece
  • Jersey = pull over
  • SMS = text
  • Bond = mortgage
  • Pickup = bakkie
  • Globe = bulb
  • Hello = Hiya
  • ICE – you need to really pronounce the “I” or else they think you are saying something else.


How differently things work here:-

  • Council tax (SA rates/refuse) – apply online, receive a discount if you live on your own no matter how old you are and you do not pay a deposit to secure the account.
  • Electricity – choose your own supplier, submit your meter readings and receive the bill electronically that day or the following day (you do not pay a deposit to secure the account and can change supplier as often as you like).
  • Doctor – you register with the doctor where you live and are requested to come for a check up even though you are not sick, for FREE, to build a medical record.  All records and results are available online which you as the patient have access too.  Doctor sends you reminders for check- ups.
  • National Insurance is deducted from you payslip monthly which covers all medical expenses except reading glasses and if you opt for private dentist instead of the NHS dentist.  I have been to a Government Hospital (NHS) which for me was the same experience as a private hospital in SA.
  • This contributes also towards your government pension.
  • No bank charges on cheque account (able to have joint accounts)
  • Self checkout tills at the supermarkets.
  • You pack your own groceries and the cashiers are always friendly and enjoy having a chat with you.
  • Transport: buses and trains are frequent and on time.
  • APPs – use lots of APPS for various things and people love to shop online.
  • Parcels/deliveries are left on your doorstep at home or at the office (no fence around the property or driveway gate).
  • Daily delivery of post including receiving pamphlets from the Government about Covid19 or if there is going to be a disruption of electricity or water you will get a letter in the post with advanced warning.
  • Pay Road Tax online (like the license disk on SA cars), we do not display a disk on the windscreen as police log your registration into their tablets/cellphones to get details on the vehicle.
  • MOT: cars are checked annually for road worthiness (you can look up a car registration online to see the history of the car).
  • Drivers license, filled in a form at the Post Office and received my UK Drivers License in the post a week later.
  • Motorway, nobody driving in the emergency lanes, driving at the speed limit and give you gaps including the trucks.
  • Nobody hoots and there is no road rage.
  • Have not seen 1 tow truck only AA or RAC.
  • Pedestrians have right of way including cyclists in the numerous cycle lanes.
  • Abundance of parks and forests to walk in safely which are well kept and litter free.
  • Salaries are aligned to affordable cost of living (such a variety of affordable food at a variety of supermarkets and/or markets).
  • Customer service is absolutely amazing and all Government/council services work here.
  • Libraries are well stocked and you can read online via e-books for free together with magazines or newspapers instead of going into the libraries.


I live in Hampshire which has the New Forest and South Downs National Park, full of
villages and endless walks and cycle routes amongst the wild horses and ponies; together with a short drive to the beaches of sand or pebbles.  Hampshire has an abundance of history and
friendly folk you chat to along the walks.  London is a 1 hour train journey.

Besides having the freedom to walk safely and catch public transport I live in a country where you are not judged for what you look like, what you wear, what car you drive, who you socialise with, where you live, what job you do or company you work for; people here are very respectful of one another and trust each other. To be able to walk in the dark home after work from the train
Station and not look over my shoulder is an understatement.  To drive with my windows open and my handbag on my seat has given me hope of feeling safe and free to do so.  It took me a while to get used to no security gates, burglar bars, alarm, electric fences and parking my car where there is not driveway gate or high wall.  No matter where you live in the world there is always going to be crime but I for one, feel safe, relaxed, positive and content in our new home.

SA will always be home, full of scenic beauty with wonderful childhood memories.
I miss my family and friends but with todays technology I seem to talk more to them now than I did when I was in SA. UK does not have bad weather, it is about wearing the right clothes to accommodate the weather during the 4 distinctive seasons.  Autumn is my personal favourite with the amazing colours.  Summer days are very long, sunsets between 9.30pm and 10pm and experienced temperatures of 33 degrees in 2020.

My solo journey so far has changed my ways of spending weekends in SA of road cycling and seconding Clay on his runs to walking in the forests/beaches and even started doing Park Runs in the UK prior to Covid19.  Once Clay has arrived we will start mountain biking on weekends through the forests and he can do the trail runs.

Daily routine changes as work only starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm; you get told you have to take a lunch break; had to get used to that as in SA never took one.  I learnt to work a lot slower as that is how it is done here and everyone is so respectful to one another in the work environment. I still get asked if I am from Australia, New Zealand or Canada, besides South Africa (the land of the Safari as it is referred too by some; they are very oblivious to what is happening in SA).

This has been my solo journey so far and I am so very thankful, incredibly grateful and unbelievably blessed; may my STELLA STAR RUNNER, Clay (aka PAPA SMURF) start his marathon journey to me in 2021 to start our new beginnings.

Take care and stay safe,
Kim