Merry Christmas – 2008

Happy Christmas everyone…and a very very Merry New 2009…..

Where do I begin to describe our year, insane would be a really good word. The McManus’ finished 2007 in Jeffries Bay with family and enjoyed just chilling on the wonderful JBay beach, with daily walks and swims in the sea, what more could a busy heart wish for. Our walks concentrated around figuring out what and where we wanted to be in a year, 5 years and 10 years time. We were convinced that Joburg was no longer an option and that we needed to work out how to move away from the rush of the city for a quieter lifestyle.
Our discussions led to Steven resigning from 21st Century as a consultant in February and working full time on our website, which was fully launched by January 2008. However, once we found out that it usually takes up to 2 years to get a website up and running Steve decided to continue consulting but with the result that he was overrun with work almost immediately, he did not want to work 18 hours consulting again and stopped taken on any more work. During this time, he decided to have a look around and on one very quiet Sunday while reading the papers he came across an advert for a job in Doha, Qatar and the rest as is always said, is history. Steve went for an interview in May, June was spent selling things and packing the house, saying goodbye to all our wonderful family and friends and flying out to Doha on 1 July. We have now lived here for 5 months and have settled (at last) and are considering staying on for 10 years to make it really worth our while. If you read my blog or received any of my emails, you will know that I was not a happy chappy the first 2 months, mainly because our days were spent cleaning, cooking and as school only starts here on 1 September the kids were at home for July and August so we spent a lot of time doing homework and entertaining them. I did not have a driver’s license for about 6 weeks and therefore had to rely on Steven to take me everywhere, even grocery shopping. We all felt like prisoners, the kids had no friends and as it was holidays, there were no children in the compound we originally lived in for them to play with. Life for them was very boring, and they could not even play outside as it was soooooo very very hot, going up to 50 + degrees midday. Swimming was done at about 6pm when it was still sweltering, else life was spent inside trying to find things to do…..and when you come from a country where you spend so much time outside, it was quite a mission. But we survived and are finding life now quite pleasant. The kids play expat hockey every Monday, take tennis lessons at the health club twice a week and we go walking on the Corniche whenever possible. There are parks with jungle gyms and skate boarding ramps for the kids to play on and indoor play areas and ice-rinks for the hotter months. Sean is very keen to take ice-skating lessons and start playing ice-hockey. They have settled into their schools and Sean is friends with some SA children and Jess has made a wonderful little playmate from Wales, he is gorgeous. School itself is wonderful and they are very nurtured in their classes, there is only 1 class per year, Sean has 16 kids in his class and Jess 10. Their school work has improved and Jess is almost reading, she can read a few sight words already and adds up to 10. Sean is so much more confident and loves school. I must say as a family I think we have settled in nicely and have become quite a tight little unit helping out with housework, cooking and cleaning up.
Steve has settled in nicely at work and cannot believe how much easier Corporate life is compared to consulting, his comments are always, I should have done this years ago, I will never go back to consulting…..this is the life!! Teehee….
He is spending a lot more time with the family and I think once we have more of a full time maid, we will both be able to concentrate more on exercise and running some races in Europe and the States. The Two Oceans is still on the cards for Steve to run his 10th! I well, did the house “wife” huh!! Thing for a while, but just could not get into it at all…..surprise surprise!!! So I have now found a job being a Teaching Assistant at the school the kids go to and am looking at doing the Teacher training course from Sept next year, it is a 9 month intensive course and then I can teach full time. Watch this space.


Yay, we had some wonderful trips this year starting with Clarens at the end of January for Steven’s birthday. What a stunning weekend, relaxing, arty and beautiful. Two weeks later we were in Sondella with some of our favourite favourite friends and between us and the kids we had such a fun weekend. The kids were lucky enough to pet some animals in the rehab centre, go horse riding, cycling, game driving and chill out with some good food and wine! Check the photie of the kids from shortest to tallest…..have to do that again!
April saw us heading out to the Kruger, we first went to Magoeboeskloof, Limpopo and it is a beautiful part of the world. Between baobab trees and tea plantations, relaxing and enjoying the views, we took a slow drive to the Phalaborwa Gate and entered the Kruger from the middle of the park. We were lucky enough to see the big 5 and some little ones too. The kids were so good, watching out for animals and enjoying every moment of trying to spot the animals. How cool was it that we found wild dog… From there we stayed just outside of Nelspruit and visited the surrounding area for a few days. Harry’s pancakes are still the best, a bit sad was seeing how Pilgrims Rest is becoming over run and commercialized. But all in all a restful and fun holiday, we wanted to the kids to see the Kruger before we left, so how funny is it that we managed to book this last year already and left for Qatar in June….fate I think.
So our next trip was of course to move to Qatar, selling the house and moving away was incredibly emotional and hard. Hardest was saying goodbye to all our family and friends and telling Betty, many tears were shed and it felt at times my heart was being ripped out but we have survived!!!
Jess and I came back to SA in October for her to have a Grommit operation as we heard some really bad stories about people being operated on here and how a lot of the Middle Eastern doctors come to Qatar to get training on the poor blighters that allow them to operate. Was not going to let them touch my little girls ears!!! It was great to come home and see my wonderful family and wonderful friends. Aline spoilt me rotten with daily visits, chats and smokes and loads of help on the shopping front! Les, Paul, Debs and Dave spoilt me rotten too with just having me stay, partying and making me beautiful again !!! teehee….. Visiting Mom and Dad in JBay was so wonderful and Jess had a ball playing in the sand and sea with Grandad and Granny….. we miss you all so very very much!!! And then there was seeing all my other wonderful friends…. Mags, Col, Jo, Julie & Andi, Craige (who I am so happy is getting better!), Harry, Belinda, Barbara, Brenda and Ingrid…..oh gosh….love you all!!! So where to next, well we are off to Ireland and England in December for Xmas to be with Shirls and Adrian, Marco and Natalie in Limerick and we are hoping to see Alison, Sian and Harry in Brighton and Rogan & Lucinda in Bristol and perhaps Mark in Kinsale….maybe we will see some more friends living in London….but we are also excited about taking the kids to see all the favourite touristy places and some West end Shows….woohoo!!! More about that next year…..

And everything else!!

So other great fun this year, was having Shirley visit us in February, she popped across to have lazer surgery on her eyes and we figured that it would be great to celebrate the folks 50th wedding anniversary at the same time! So we planned a surprise party for them. Les and Paul flew them up and they kindly had the party at their house. Mom and Dad were so surprised, and enjoyed having family and friends to share the day with them (Anniversary is actually in April, but we pretended!!)

Our Gran, Great gran for the kids turned 92, what an amazing lady and if anyone ever asked who my role model in life was, it would be my Gran. One of the strongest women I have had the privilege of knowing and loving. Heather you are my saint when it comes to our Gran….love you all loads! The kids were also so happy to see Uncle Andrew before we left in July, Andrew you are greatly missed by them and hopefully we will get to see you July…..
Sean lost his 1st tooth in September just after he turned 8, it is meant to mean that he will have healthy strong teeth his whole life…yahoo. Ashley went to her Matric Farewell with Jordan, oh my gosh, can you believe it and she looked so gorgeously stunningly beautifully….. Debs and Dave were two very proud parents!
Ashley also Turned 18 and Robsy 13…..gosh girls are getting so big. Marco did a long trip to SA in Oct / Nov and according to FB had a great time. Nats, passed her first year and is already into year 2 with a vengeance, can’t wait to see you guys in December. Cam is becoming our sporty star and Lauren is moving into Grade 0 next year….it is so scary how quickly they are all growing up. Sean and Jess really miss Cam and Lauren so much and Jess loved being able to spend time with them both in October, Sean was terribly upset, but Steve made sure he was kept entertained and spoilt. Sean also got to celebrate his first Halloween and go trick and treating……

And that’s that for 2008