The children and I settled into English country life and I began to think about finding our own accommodation. The children seemed to thrive on the healthy farm life-style but we couldn’t impose indefinitely.
I think we have a hidden gene that flashes the occasional vision of the perfect farm. Dad used to stop the car, get out and lean over farm gates, gazing with a smile on his face. He found much peace looking at fields of animals.
Nigel kept pigs. Their sty was not too far from the kitchen door, and it was not unusual when running round the corner into the house, to encounter a large muddy sow attempting to access the kitchen.
Sarah was a keen supporter of the Rare Breeds Society, and she kept a few rather beautiful- looking cows, luckily not too close to the house, because they had fearsome curved horns.
One of the most special gifts I have ever been given was a jumper from Sarah. She took the fleece from her Jacobs sheep, spun the wool, and knitted me the warmest jumper I have ever owned. I wore it for years until I had to compete with the moths.
I acquired an old pale blue Ford Cortina station wagon. It was a real old banger but I loved it. Unfortunately it wasn’t totally reliable and one day the bonnet flew up surprising us all while I was driving the children to school along the beautiful but windy coast road. But it all added to the excitement and the feeling of freedom.
The girls all joined the village Brownie pack, so while they were tying their knots and earning badges I took the boys over to visit their grandparents. In the evening. On my own. I felt so liberated.
But meanwhile, back in Johannesburg, Michael was not doing so well. He missed the children but would not consider coming to join us in England. When he gave me an ultimatum I had no fight left. I just wanted to get on with raising our children in a family environment, so I took them back to South Africa.
On the whole, most of our friends and family were relieved. It was neater. Nobody had to choose sides. It hurt me that so few people really cared how I felt or what were my reasons for returning. Leaving England again tore me up inside. I wished I could be like a geranium that would put out roots wherever it was planted.
We moved to the other side of Johannesburg, away from old associations and a lifestyle we could no longer afford. I feared meeting people who would judge me, little realising that mostly we judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else.
It was a tense few months, but we became used to the tension and built a relationship back, focussing rather more on the children than on each other.