Leafy Stellenbosch's wine making district
Leafy Stellenbosch's wine making district

This last week or so has been all about goodbyes. Goodbye to friends and acquaintances, goodbye to favourite haunts, goodbye to lovely, leafy Stellenbosch and the Cape.

Because this weekend, we'll be jumping in the car with our suitcases and making the 1,200km Great Trek through the heart of South Africa to Johannesburg, as so many have done before us.

Although I have as yet to see our new place as there simply wasn't time for me to haul my carcass up there, my one consolation, given my reluctance to leave our current home, is that at least it's in our desired location, Parkhurst.

I'm looking forward to being able to walk five minutes down the street from there to Fourth Avenue to have a cup of fruit tea, or a refreshing alcoholic beverage of an evening, instead of having to drive everywhere - or plan in advance to guarantee a tuk-tuk courtesy of the hard-working and enthusiastic guys at Tuk-Tuk Stellies, which finally opened its doors for business a couple of months ago.

And I'm also looking forward to seeing more of my Beloved who'll now be coming home to me every night rather than just on a Friday.

Although he may not be quite so enthusiastic after he's got a day's work behind him, I'm keen to use our new-found time together productively - we've talked about learning to horse-ride, for instance, which could be fun, and should help our latest proposed new healthy eating/fitness regimen as well.

But I'll miss my life in Stellenbosch too. I'll miss sitting out on our shady patio, gaining inspiration from my lovely white and purple garden and the canopy of trees beyond it, as I write my blog or edit content from the Vision AfriKa team, the educational charity for which I do voluntary work.

I'll miss my thrice-weekly routine of going to the gym in town, followed by a bit of food and life's-little-necessities shopping in the Eikestad Mall.

Moving on

And then there's my always-entertaining weekly Afrikaans lesson in the Food Lover's Market café and/or a wander around the genteel, oak-lined boulevards with their whitewashed buildings as I work down my to-do list.

I'll also miss our little weekend trips to beautiful and interesting places - to the coast for a spot of whale-watching, into Cape Town for a touch of urban fun, or to a wine farm for a fabulous Sunday lunch with stunning views over the countryside.

While that's not to say that Jozi won't have its own delights, it inevitably won't be the same - and nor should it be. Change happens for a reason and it's pointless getting bogged down in nostalgia. Life moves on.

Nonetheless, I'll look back at my time in Stellenbosch with pleasure - and with gratitude. It's been a time where I've learned a lot.

I've learned much more about South Africa's troubled history which, always lurking in the shadows, still seems so extant in many ways. I've learned some of the quirks and foibles of the country's many and varied cultures - and what "Africa time" really means.

At a more personal level, I've also learned to be less afraid. Less afraid of new encounters, less afraid of taking risks, less afraid, even, of my old bugbear, driving.

Because as life has opened up leaving my former stress-filled, work-filled, computer-filled days behind, I too have opened up, becoming happier and less anxious in the process.

The great secret, of course, will be remembering how to maintain this state of honeyed calm once I re-enter the workforce. Nevertheless, it's taken some effort to get here.

Still, quiet voice

It's not surprising really, but once your life slows down drastically and the potential-filled days stretch ahead to do with as you will, all that you're really left with is yourself and the still, quiet voice within.

And so it is that you hear it, perhaps even for the first time. But it doesn't always make for easy listening. In my case, it was all about self-criticism and duty, all the "I should/I ought/I really must do this and that" - an internal dialogue that had presumably been going on for years.

But I found it was making me miserable and so I stopped it. As simple as that. I just refused to listen and focused instead on doing something that I had a yen to do at that moment.

So rather than beat myself up because I wasn't working on the novel that I started years ago but never had time to complete, I wrote a children's book instead.

Rather than worry in case I wasn't doing enough regular journalism to keep my hand in, I developed an editorial strategy and became content editor for Vision AfriKa.

Which leads me to another salient point. If ever you find yourself moving to a foreign country minus a work visa, it's definitely worth at least having some idea of how you might like spend your time.

The danger is that life can start feeling pretty pointless pretty quickly if you have no routine and drift around without any positive idea of how to fill your days.

In my case though, I'm happy to say that, some 10 months on and bar finishing that novel, I've pretty much managed to do everything that I wanted to do. And, excitingly, given the amusements that our new locale should have to offer, we still have just over a year to go.


My South African Adventure: Exploring the Secret Side of the Cape

South African Adventure: Road Safety Statistics Close to Record Murder Rate [BLOG]

South African Adventure: Able Seamen and Endangered Penguins

South African Adventure: Moving to Johannesburg Poses a Daunting Challenge

South African Adventures: Floral Tributes Herald Rebirth of Spring [BLOG]

South African Adventure: That's Entertainment Cape Town-Style [BLOG]

South African Adventure: Cheese, Wine and Classic Vinyl Create the Perfect Market Combo

South African Adventure: NHS Model to Fix Healthcare Shambles [BLOG]

South African Adventure: Winter Wonderland in Hermanus

South African Adventure: Johannesburg, City of Gold without the Lustre [BLOG]

My South African Adventure: Paarl, The Town Where Nelson Mandela Walked to Freedom when Apartheid Died [BLOG]

My South African Adventure: The Legacy of the San Hunter-Gatherers [BLOG]

My South African Adventure: Lynedoch Eco-village Rolls Back Pain of Apartheid [BLOG]

My South African Adventure: How Living Abroad Brings out Green, Green Grass of Home [BLOG]

Cath Everett is a resting journalist who has written about business, technology and HR issues for over 20 years. She recently moved from the UK to South Africa with her husband