(start here)



What are you trying to do?” Jannik says the moment we are alone in our suite of rooms.

I don’t know what you mean.Outside has gone dark with the afternoon thunderstorm. If Pelimburg was a city of impossible times, MallenIve in summer is a pocket-watch. By three the clouds begin to gather low and black, rumbling ominously to each other as they convene, and within the hour, they release their downpour on the sweating city. A fat blob of rain splatters on the glass. Four o’clock, then.

Thishurting people, using them. It’s not like you.He walks closer, and the room shifts around him, growing small and close. Trapping me. “First Merril, and now her.”

I protected you,I say.Would you rather I stood back and watched you suffer?I can hear the tears in my voice, that thick sound of a female weakness for which my brother always mocked me. I swallow over and over, willing myself back to a calm state – a vacant, logical state.

Read More →

UK Ancestry Visa and the Mountains of Paperwork



Many years ago, The Boy and I discussed leaving South Africa (he had just been stabbed multiple times on the way home from watching the F1 at our local; I was home with a 3-month-old baby and four-year-old spawnlet). We looked at Australia and Canada, but it was a feeble and half-hearted sort of looking, and after a while the idea was placed on the back burner and we got on with our lives. We moved back to Cape Town, started over from scratch, moved around until we settled (very happily) in my lovely Muizenberg.

The idea came up again after The Boy discovered that several of his cousins had emigrated on the UK ancestry visa. We had known that his granny was UK-born, but it had never really registered as an option. So we thought – stay in Muizenberg forever, or try go overseas and see what happens?

Well, I hate the word forever, so we went for see what happens.

We checked out the info on and realised this was an actual real possibility. Though it did pain us to discover if we’d started this a few years back we would have missed that damn International Health Surcharge (at £200 per year of your visa, per person, it is a phenomenal amount of extra cash to add to your costs,especially with a family. Be warned.)

We began the lengthy process of organising all our paperwork. The Boy’s granny’s birth certificate was super-easy – we looked up her details online, applied, paid the ten quid, and had it in our hands within a matter of weeks.

The South African paperwork was not to be as simple or easy. Some stuff was relatively quick (and in fact, in the case of the Spawn’s passports, joyous – the passport staff at Cape Town Home Affairs were wonderful – efficient, friendly, helpful, and we had the passports in under a week.)

Applying for birth and marriage certificates was a whole other experience. Because of the discrepancy in information (some websites said unabridged certificates, others insisted unabridged were no good and they had to be vault copies) we decided to get both the unabridged and vault copies of all the relevant birth certificates to be on the safe side:

The Boy’s Mother’s, his own, and The Spawn’s.

We also needed the marriage certificates of his grandmother, and mother, and our own.

Thanks to what I believe was a Home Affairs system crash around 2002ish, some of those documents took close on a year to get, with us having to fill in multiple requests. In the case of Elder Spawn, we had to fill in paperwork for Late Registration of Birth twice, despite the fact that she had both her abridged birth certificate and her passport. So, fair warning if you have paperwork from that time period, as there could be major delays.

The Achieving of The Works of Paper took so long that I do believe most people thought we were joking about emigrating, but once we had everything in hand, we could finally take the next step.

TB certificates. Yes, the country that sent us all their consumptive wretches wants us to prove we’re not bringing the disease back to them… 😉

There is only one place in Cape Town you can get your required TB certification, and it’s in Parow shopping centre. The address is on the UK gov site, you can make the booking, and you’ll need about R1600, a passport photo, your passport, and proof of a UK address. We had booked The Boy into a hostel in Glasgow for a week, and paid a 10% deposit, and that proved fine.

The Boy would be going over first to scout and settle (we had already decided on Scotland for Reasons (Hogwarts)) and, armed with reams of paperwork, sufficient proof of funds (this varies, make sure you can support a single person for around 3 months on UK terms, this was pretty distressing for us as the rand was tanking and we were watching our possible pounds rapidly diminishing), six months of bank statements, proof that he had been applying for work (printouts from job application sites, and a letter from one recruitment agency stating that they had a client who was very interested in The Boy), his TB certificate, and a huge chunk of money to pay for the International Health Surcharge and UK Ancestry Visa fees (£1000 and £405 at time of writing), he filled in the online application form, paid all the fees, and made a booking with the Biometrics/Visa place in Green Point.

A week of anxious waiting and finally The Boy went in to hand over all his (triple checked) supporting paperwork, passport, and printed application, and have his fingerprinting etc done. The application was sent to Pretoria, and we had to deal with a whole lot more anxious fretting, but in 12 days he had an email telling him that a decision had been made.

They don’t tell you via email or phone if it’s a yes or no, but as soon as The Boy was able to pick up his papers, there it was – a lovely stamped entry visa. The entry visa is not the actual visa, but a 30 day time frame in which you can enter the UK, you can still be turned back at immigration. The actual visa is now a separate card you can carry in your wallet, called a biometric residence permit, and you pick it up when in the UK.

Naturally much joy was joyed, and hallulujahs rung.

Next, we had to get him over.



(start here)



Carien rises from the pale green couch as we file into the visitor’s parlour.

An icy rage sweeps over me, and my heart beats faster and faster. The rage dies as suddenly as it rose, and in its place I feel a faint green shimmer of hope. I quell it. Don’t fall for her, for her false innocence.What are you doing here?I say.How dare you–

Harun raises his hands.Felicita, stop.

Carien looks at all of us, her face a blank House mask. Her eyes widen at Jannik’s appearance; the fading bruises, and the blood still welling from his wounds. She seems genuinely flustered.Oh -I – Oh my, what happened?

Jannik snarls, and says nothing.

Read More →

Officially Official: Scotland, Prepare Yourself

It’s my husband’s birthday today (happy borning day, spousal unit!), and yesterday the universe gave him probably the best gift ever. It sure beat my hairbrush (what? he has lots of hair, he needs a detangling brush…).

The upshot of Awesome Present is we now know where we’re moving to. Some of you know we’ve been planning to emigrate, and now it’s official. In 2 weeks, The Boy will be in Dunfermline, Scotland, and before the end of this year, we will be joining him.

I am so excited about this new adventure, even if I’m freaking out a little about the cost, and leaving friends and family, and starting from scratch in a new country at age 39… Ha! But, I think it will be awesome, and I cannot wait to see my new home. 😀


Once we’re there this may become something of an immigrant’s blog as I track my experiences, so, fair warning.


(start here)



Another hour passes before Master Gillcrook sends us a messenger from the Guyin house. The Hob is crimson-faced and breathless when he arrives. I send for cider and bread for him while I read the note. It does not reveal much, merely that the meeting with Eline is over, and the house is safe to return to. I raise one eyebrow. For how long? Garret will have realized by now, surely. He will make a move soonopen or hidden.

We need to be prepared for either. I pull the bell to summon Master Twissel from his rooms. He arrives, smooth and unflustered even though it is the middle of the night.The servants need to be moved,I tell him. Even though we have just brought them all here and attempted to settle in. They’re going to be put out, but better that than caught in another fire.

Read More →

Auf Wiedersehen, Chooks

Wow, it’s getting closer and close to Leaving Day.


The chooks get rehomed on Sunday, which kinda slams home the reality that we are actually doing this.

May you enjoy your new free land, poultry-peeps. You have been good eggers.



The Lark

(start here)



Harun walks me to the small private coach I’ve hired and helps me in.Take them to your apartments, and I’ll send Master Gillcrook with news when it’s safe to move.” He is doing what I’m doing – talking as if the deed is done, that it is going to be as simple as walking into a garden and twisting a leaf from a branch.

My coachman already knows what we plan to do. We have had to bring a number of the servants into our confidence, but Sallow has proven himself a man of worth many times, with a closed mouth and sharp mind.

I don’t like that you’re putting yourself in danger, ma’am,” Sallow tells me when we draw up on a side street that leads to the close where House Eline’s manor commands the top of the circle.I could go for you–

And if you were caught, Master Sallow? What then? I can talk my way out of a misunderstanding. You would lose your hands sooner than the sharif could shout,Thief!’

Read More →

Water and Witch Houses and More Water

One day, someone is going to notice how often I drown my characters who don’t fit in (call it metaphorical, call it symbolic, call it my last wave, whatever), but until then I’ll keep writing them.

(And occasionally selling them – another story about drowning just sold, details when I am all contracted and sorted. But it’s a biggie and I am well-chuffed *grins*)

On that note, award-winning writer Diane Awerbuck reviewed Short Story Day Africa‘s Water anthology in the Sunday Times, and said nice things.

This picture was stolen From Rachel Zadok's twitter feed

This picture was stolen From Rachel Zadok’s twitter feed

She also said my story (about drowning, kinda) The Worme Bridge had nods to Bosman and Lovecraft, which started a conversation about Boscraft, which led to her dinging me for never promoting my work after I said I had written Fake Town Lovecraftian shorts before.

So, in case you didn’t know about my ventures into the dreaming, here’s the (utterly beautiful, art-filled) anthology I’m part of: Dreams From The Witch House, edited by Lynne Jamneck, and published by Dark Regions Press.


(start here)



Our coach rattles down the wide avenue that leads to House Eline’s manor. “I hate this.” Jannik is fiddling with his neck tie, re-knotting it over and over, though each time I can see no difference. There is a fine sheen of sweat at his temples.

My head hurts, panic that isn’t mine skitters under my skin. “Leave it,” I tell him. “You look fine.”

He lowers his eyelids and stares at me from under long dark eyelashes, his silence saying all the things he needs to. “I’m not particularly concerned about my appearance,” he says, finally.

“Then leave the Gris-damned neck-tie alone.”

Read More →


(start here)



My head feels bludgeoned in, but I help Jannik with the moving arrangements as best I can. Not that we have anything left to move. Our other holdings are occupied, and neither are suitable. The Grove Estate is too far south, out of the city and in the orange country downriver, and the house on Chantery street far too small. Besides, Eline’s men will know if we return to either of those. Jannik has said he will find us a place, and I believe him. Somehow, he will cover our tracks.

Read More →