It’s been just over a week since arriving in the Kingdom. A friend asked me if it feels like home or if we are regretting it…and my response has to be that it feels like a new home, and I am definitely not regretting anything.

Of course, London is not Cape Town. We are not in Kansas anymore Toto! London is a much bigger city, a fascinating blend of old and new – much older than we have in CT and much newer (or at least more in-your-face modern). I’m not saying it’s better, but the differences are helping to keep me entertained and distracted from the spiraling black hole of missing friends and family that would suck me in if I let it. For now, at least.

One difference that has already occupied a good few hours of my time has been the grocery stores. I’ve been to Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s and a few little green grocers and have found myself lost in a sea of new products and branding that I don’t recognize. Choosing bread and milk has become a new challenge – which one is most likely to be the one we would want? Which yogurt cup will keep my kid satisfied and fill him up with the most goodness possible? These are the kinds of conundrums occupying my frazzled, fresh-off-the-plane brain while Husband battles the hordes of commuters in and out of London City.

Tea, thus far, is a problem child. I have not found one that matches Five Roses but to be fair I’ve only tried 2 unknown brands. It might take a while till I find my tea fix. But you know me – never been one to shy from a good shopping spree! Even if it is just a grocery store.

Figuring out the metric vs imperial system, and what is used when, is quite a difference. The only ‘pint’ I’ve managed to get my head around just yet is the kind made from apples and served in a glass…but more on that later.

Another difference, and I make no apologies for this, is the weather. Yes yes, of course I’m going to talk about the weather. It’s very English to talk about the weather.

Seriously. THIS WEATHER?! It’s going to take some getting used to. I’ve learnt that while a typically Capetownian week can include all 4 seasons, that phenomenon is much more pronounced here. Our first week in London had a beautifully clear sunny day where we actually got sunburnt (not sunburnt like African sunburnt – rose kissed like English sunburnt. It’s very sweet), an overcast ‘Cape Town Winter’ spitty day, a Joburg 4pm thunderstorm complete with lightning and downpours day, a hot and humid Durban day where the floors were sticky and the toilet paper turned limp…and everything in between. We even used the indoor heating one day! All in a week. I’ve very quickly learnt not to leave the house without a brolly no matter what the sky looks like, and that eating dinner at 10pm is totally normal (because it stays light so late that you think it’s only 7.30pm and then realize CRAP the kid was meant to be in bed 2 hours ago and no wonder he’s been acting up!)

The transport has been a welcome difference. Even though taking busses and trains felt slightly intimidating at first, that’s only because I’m not used to it. It’s been great – so convenient, fast and not too expensive. We aren’t traveling very far, so I find that in and around where we are staying has been very fairly priced. No car, no problem! I don’t think I’ll be rushing to re-create my old country road habits too soon and will enjoy the public transport as much as possible.

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The lovely huge open parks have been a welcoming carpet laid out for me when I feel that I’m missing my beloved Sea Point promenade, and I’ve taken walks with the littley as often as possible, finding ponds with ducklings and taking shoes off because ons is mos Suid Aaafrik’n.

A surprising difference has to be the fact that I’m not used to having windows with no burglar bars, and so when I leave a room, I can’t help feeling a little unsettled if the windows are left open. Fortunately we are on the second floor in our short-term rental, so I’m satiating my nerves by telling myself would-be criminals can’t scale walls that easily, but I’m certainly not ready to leave the house without shutting and bolting everything, or go to bed at night with the breeze free to flow in on us.

Besides, there are foxes here. FOXES! And I’ve seen one jump the garden wall, so doors stay firmly shut.

The foxes are adorable to watch (from my safe, second floor shut kitchen window) and I’ve managed to get a few photo’s after realizing that they come out at about the same time every evening, sniffling round the back yard for scraps. They must come out in the midnight hours too, because one got into the trash which I hadn’t secured properly in the wheely bin, and I had to rush down at 6.30am the following morning in my pj’s to pick up the debris and nappies strewn everywhere before any of the neighbours could complain. Lesson learnt!

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For all the differences there have been a few sames. First weekend, we had lunch with good friends visiting from SA who taught me to take a chance on a cider (and unknowingly instigated my new mission to find my favourite cider in England…which is no small or easy task as anyone who has ever visited the Island will know.) And on the second weekend we had a visit from good SA friends who have been living here for over 10 years now, and who taught us it’s ok to go out in the rain. So we did. For a lovely pub lunch. And we didn’t melt. Spending time with our familiar accented counterparts, drinking wine and cider and enjoying the general ambiance of food and friends made me feel more at home than anything else. And having my WhatsApp constantly pinging, 2 Skype dates with the old country, a phone call with my brother who has been local for a year already, and a few phone calls to good old MTN to try sort out my SA number (while my blood boils as I’m put on hold YET again or palmed off to another department YET again and still no one can do the migration from contract to pay-as-you-go…..gggrrrrrrr) has kept me feeling as homely as though I never left.

So here’s to all the firsts, all the differences, and ultimately all the sames in our new lives in our new homeland. Cheers! *with a big ol’ pint of cider*

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IMAGES: 1. Via PRINCESS SASSY PANTS & CO