The Bag Lady

Last Wednesday, January 9, was the first day of the new year for school learners and I once again felt positive when I visited three primary schools early that morning to take photographs of the Grade One children, who all seemed bright and eager to do their very best. Each year I always ask myself the same question. How can South Africa not flourish with youngsters such as these? It’s definitely for me, a great start to the year and certainly does me the world of good to see such positivity. Long may it reign!

SA vs UK

There’s absolutely no doubt about it. SA has fantastic weather, with many, many, more hours of sunshine. I was fortunate while on holiday though and apart from a couple of days of drizzle, it was cold, sunny and dry.

One thing which took a while to get used to was the very short days. During the winter months it’s going dark by 3.30pm and only light at 8am! I was ready for bed every evening by 7pm!

We have some great restaurants here. I’d even go as far as to say world class. And compared to the UK, eating out is still far cheaper here, even if you do earn pounds over there. At one restaurant in England for three with a shared starter, three main meals, two beers and bottle of wine, with a tip, was 87 pounds. That’s a massive R1 566. When we went out to a pub for drinks, a glass of wine was about six pounds, with the most expensive glass for eight pounds 60 pence. Yes, for a glass!

Bottles of wine in the supermarket ranged from about five to 12 pounds, so enjoying an evening at home with friends is a much cheaper option than a night out on the town.

HISTORIC: Taken from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

The shops are a buyers’ paradise, whether for food, clothing or furniture. The top food stores, in my opinion, are still Sainsbury’s, Mark’s and Spencer’s and Asda, with two great contenders, Aldi and Lidl, just behind. I would say food prices are cheaper over there on the whole, apart from meat which is more expensive.

I especially loved Next for their clothing and their furniture is gorgeous, with Mark’s and Spencer’s coming in second for furniture. Remember this is in my opinion. I’m sure there are many smaller furniture stores which sell great items.

One store I thought was fabulous was Home Sense. They sell everything and at greatly reduced prices. I wanted to buy so much but for obvious reasons (23kg baggage allowance) I could only purchase a few smaller items. If I lived there I’d be shopping there regularly.

I think the UK has far greater choices in everything but they do have far bigger buying power than SA. Their minimum wage makes it easier for many people to be able to afford a reasonable lifestyle, if not for luxury items, holidays, etc.

I couldn’t at first understand why hair and beauty salons prices are high compared to here, until my daughter reminded me they have to pay a minimum salary to everyone, irrelevant of what job they do.

Public transport was amazing. I used both buses and trains and they arrive on time, unless of course for a very good reason. I was flabbergasted the first time I caught a train. It was a small town station and exactly at the time the train was scheduled to arrive it came into the station. The same with the next three I caught. Oh, I tell a lie, one was running three minutes late. Not a problem though, it’s announced it’s going to be three minutes late. Pensioners travel for free on buses and trains, showing a card as they get on. Fantastic service!

Historically the UK has it all. We visited Edinburgh and were once again blown away by the historic architecture and the castle but saying that the whole of the UK boasts historic sights and buildings. A historians dream.

Could I live there? Yes, I think I could. I’d really miss family, friends and the sunshine but apart from that there’s nothing much else I’d miss.

Next week I’ll be back in the shops, so until then, shop till you drop!

Julie

For free daily local news in the south, visit our sister newspapers Alberton RecordComaro ChronicleSouthern Courier and Get it Joburg South Magazine.

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Julie Maule
Comaro Chronicle News Editor

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