Bristol is beautiful. I don’t know if the people who live here really understand just how beautiful this city is.

As a newcomer from South Africa I am blown away by the old buildings, the art gallery, the university, the parks and gardens.  So thank you Bristol, and thank you to all my new friends, I could not feel more welcome if I tried.

Onward ever onward

There are three guarantees in life.  Tax, change, and death.

This journal is mainly about change. I will pay the tax that I am obliged to pay and not begrudge Caesar what is due to Caesar. Death will find me. when it finds me. But until it does I will be elusive, fit, and as alive as a bee in a bottle.

At 81, and having moved a number of times in my life, from Pretoria to Kempton Park, back to Pretoria, back to Kempton Park, to Kensington in Johannesburg, high on the ridge, to Knysna, I was not daunted by the prospect of moving to Bristol in the UK. A slightly longer jump to a totally new environment and country, but just another move. Another change.

The transition from the idealistic dream of being a pastor and preaching the gospel to laying bricks and building homes, may seem extreme but in reality it is simply the manifestation of life. The nub of that being the fact that God laughs when we say we are planning to do whatever we are planning to do. In retrospect it seems that I was destined to build stuff.  Either houses, or additions to houses, or the complete rebuilding of houses, or businesses. A. lawnmower repair business,

Tipping in the UK

Let’s put it this way.

After particularly grim weather the evening before I made a point of putting up an Ad for Dad’s Garden & Landscaping company. This after delivering a pizza to their door in a howling gale. One that inched open ever so slowly to frame the smiling face a Dad’s very cute daughter handing me a two pound coin.

So to answer your question; are you expected to tip? No it is not expected.

But does it make a difference. Hell yes! It does. Tipping is not expected in the UK in the way it is in other countries. All staff in the UK, must by law, be paid at least the National Minimum Wage…wada…wada….wada

The south of England

Arundel rises out of the Sussex water meadows, turreted castle walls and the Catholic Cathedral dominating the skyline. Built on a steep hill, quaint bric-a-brac shops and tea rooms line the narrow streets.

Living in Arundel West Sussex

If you are thinking of moving to Arundel it is home to a small community. There are no large supermarkets, malls or chain stores.

It is a small country town.

There are two very good primary schools and St Philip Howard’s Catholic Secondary in Barnham. The town is on the London Victoria Line with easy access to Bighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and Chichester. Otherwise there is no public transport and a car is necessary.


Emsworth is a picturesque coastal village on the northern reaches of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Possible one of the most pleasant places to live in either Hampshire or West Sussex.  Either, because the County border lies slightly West of the village centre. With the result, some of us fall under Havant and the others in Chichester. So you might end up  in one or the other depending on where you end up.

Wine shops in West Sussex and Hampshire

It used to be a fishing village that was well known for local oysters and boat building in the early 1900’s and it has grown into a well- adjusted waterside village that has retained it’s charm. With a local harbour and marina that are protected by Hayling Island on one side and Thorney Island to the other it is still popular mooring with recreational sailors and local fisherman.

Emsworth Yacht Harbour, Hampshire the English South Coast

There is a quaint selection of small independent shops. Bakers, barbers, a hardware shop and two of the inevitable antique shops. As well as the local fish & chip takeaway, the village supports a variety of pubs, restaurants including 36 On the Quay, a recognised foodie destination.

There is a regular train service running from Portsmouth and Southampton through to Chichester with links to both London Waterloo, London Victoria and Brighton. The 700 bus also operates between Chichester and Portsmouth.

Getting a UK driving licence

You do not need an international driving permit to drive in the United Kingdom. Foreign driving licences are valid for up to a year after first arriving in the UK after which it is necessary to either exchange it or pass the DVSA’s UK driving test.

But if your original licence does not come with an English translation it will be useful in proving that the licence is valid.

As I understand it, to exchange your licence, if you qualify, you have five years to do this but can only continue to drive for the first twelve months.  Strictly speaking  you need to have been living in Great Britain for at least 185 days before being considered eligible as permanently resident. After which you can apply to exchange your old licence and replace it with a UK licence.

But in practice I have heard of many instances where people have managed to get their new licences earlier. An anomaly I wouldn’t take a chance on. In the UK you learn to queue patiently without question. You are expected to follow the rules and regulations which you deviate from at your own risk.

if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man or a ‘designated country’ you are eligible to exchange your licence without having to sit the DVSA’s UK driving test. Designated countries are considered to have similar standards and have an agreement with the UK. These include Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If you have an EU or EEA licence you can drive in the UK until agged  70 or your licence expires. If you’re aged 68 or over when you officially become a resident in Great Britain, you’ll be allowed to drive for 3 years. Once this time has passed, you will need to exchange your licence.

Prior to that however you are entitled to exchange your EU or EEA licence for a UK one at any time if you might wish.

If you have an EU licence that was exchanged for a licence from a non-EU country that is not on the list of designated countries it won’t be eligible to exchange and you will need to sit the DVSA’s test.

To start the process go to

You order form D1 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This will be posted to you

Complete the form and send it back with the prescribed fee, your old driving licence and the required documents.  A passport number for a valid UK passport is sufficient for identification purposes. Otherwise if you do not have a UK passport you must enclose an original identity document such as  a current and valid foreign passport,  a biometric residence permit (BRP) issued in the UK, a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) national identity card, a travel document

If you do not have an EU or EEA passport, you’ll need to send in a visa that proves you have permission to live in the UK.

Photocopies or laminated certificates won’t be accepted.

You should get your new licence within 3 weeks.

Rental Properties

Try looking for a commercial rental which comes with accommodation. It gets frustrating. You end up either looking for a business that comes with a lease or worse still trying to figure out how to buy the property.

What makes it frustrating is getting access to information and advise.

Getting answers to questions everyone has. The agents will refer you to their web site where you wade through what content you can find. But they are not there to give advice, to  answer difficult questions. They do the paper work. The difficult stuff.

It’s never simple and straight forward.  Particularly if you are new to the country.  Generally landlords will ask for six months rent in advance at the very least. Then there is a question of employment and references and credit checks and kids and pets are always a problem.

Bank holidays

It was not possible to miss the fact that there was something to celebrate this morning.

VE Day celebrations in the UK

The flags were out celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe.

Public holidays in the UK

Shop fronts draped with bunting sporting the Union Jack.

Bank holidays in the UK

Drab and neglected pubs, closed for the last couple of months due to the pandemic, transformed overnight. “Lest we forget”. But I do question the sentiments. Are we reflecting on the folly of war or glorifying the sacrifice made by so many?

Climbing roses in England

Despite which it was brilliant weather. Good to be alive.

Early morning walk Emsworth Hampshire

To reflect briefly,  to give thanks and hope our kids have enough sense to avoid the next one.

Victory in Europe day 8th May

The solemnity of the occasion marked by two minutes of silence at 11am. With the RAF and the Red Arrows staging fly pasts across the country and a ceremony being held at the Cenotaph.