1963 Tina Birse
Yes, I’m a Mayfield ex-pat. I was nearly seventeen when I left the girls school in 1964, with RSA’s in Shorthand, Typing, Maths and English. I worked in London as a Secretary for a few years then, in November 1969 after eight months of marriage, my husband and I emigrated to South Africa.
We joined a couple of friends who had married in July 1966 and emigrated to South Africa three months later. For the record, my husband and I were divorced in 1985. The couple who came out before us had divorced a few years earlier, and I am now married to my friends ex-husband. We are all still friends though!
I know a lot of folk went to Australia and Canada around that time and they were the more popular destinations. But I have no regrets whatsoever about coming to sunny South Africa. For the last 38 years this country has been my home and, quite frankly, I would never move. The country is vast and diverse. Our major cities, Johannesburg (where I now live), Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and East London are just like their contemporaries in other countries. They have stacks of shopping malls, business parks, industrial areas and suburbs with huge property developments. There are miles and miles of open country between cities, towns and dorps (villages), with tarred highways linking them. I think Britain can fit into South Africa five times, if I am not mistaken.
Our weather is glorious – warmth and sunshine all year round in the coastal areas, except Cape Town which has a very English climate with lots of cool and rain. Johannesburg gets very hot in the summer and can be absolutely freezing in the winter, but that is only for about six weeks maximum. Believe it or not, I do not own a coat. I just have a couple of jackets that I may wear three or four times each during our winter months. We get the most spectacular summer thunderstorms here on the Reef, where we are 6,000 feet above sea level. And the summer rainfall is brilliant for cooling us off in the middle of the summer season.
We have a rich farming community – cattle, sheep, pigs, maize, wheat etc. We also have some of the most magnificent beaches in the world around our coastline, which is vast. Plus of course we have rich mineral deposits like gold, diamonds, platinum, you name it – we have it. I mustn’t forget of course our world acclaimed Game Farms dotted all over the country with the Big Five (Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhinoceros) and multitudes of other animals – they are outstanding. They are a huge tourist attraction and many of them are beyond five Star quality. You have to see them to appreciate them, and with our present currency rate of exchange it’s extremely cheap for the rest of the World to come and visit.
Yes, we do have a crime problem; especially since the present Government came into power 13 years ago. But they are trying their hardest to combat the problem and we are confident that things will ‘come right’ on that score in the not too distant future. Meanwhile we have to be vigilant and most properties are secure and guarded against the riff-raff that spoil things for everyone. That is the only problem we have here right now. It makes us laugh when people from overseas ask if we have lions walking in our streets. No way, our major cities are much the same as all the major cities of the world. We may be at the arse end of the World geographically, but we are totally westernised. It is only when you go into the countryside that you can see the wonderful diversity of this incredible country. It is stunningly beautiful and well worth a visit. If anyone would like to know more then you are welcome to contact me.
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