A Day in My Expat Life – Pretoria

Welcome to the first in what I hope will become a new series showing the reality of expat life. Since I moved to South Africa, I know I have posted quite a lot about our travels – pictures of safaris and wildlife, sunshine and holidays. But of course there are just the edited highlights – the reality is that day-to-day life here isn’t that much more exciting than anywhere else (just with better weather). Forget cocktails on the beach and champagne receptions – this is what a normal 24 hours in a life overseas looks like. Starting with my own “normal” day here in South Africa I hope to share other photographic logs from expats around the world. If you would like to feature please get in touch – details at the end of the post.

DAY: Tuesday 17th May

Time: 07.00


Every day starts with tea – usually at the breakfast table after the kids have left for school and my husband to work. This gives me a few quiet moments to myself, when I catch up with the news on my BBC app and read any emails that have come in overnight.

Time: 08.00


After getting dressed, Cooper our miniature schnauzer puppy, knows it’s walk time. If he is lucky I meet up with friends and their dogs andΒ  take him to one of the few places in Pretoria where we can let them off the lead. Today though it was a walk round the block firmly attached to me to stop him running off and eating every dried frog/chicken bone on the path

Time: 09.00


I had an appointment in Johannesburg this morning so was leaving Cooper in the capable hands of our domestic helper Sarna. She comes to us twice a week and takes care of the washing, ironing and cleaning. I don’t know what we are going to do without her when we return to the UK.

Time: 09.30


You can easily drive to Johannesburg but I find the Gautrain a better alternative. Linking Pretoria with Joburg and Oliver Tambo airport, the trainline takes you right into the main shopping areas and is wonderfully clean, efficient and safe.

Time: 10.30


My meeting in Johannesburg was with Hannah who runs Translating Me, a business that helps expats settle into their new life. We had never met before but we had so much to talk about I don’t think we stopped nattering the whole time we were together. It helped that Hannah introduced me to this wonderful cafe, the Patisserie, which sells the most incredible macaroons. I will certainly be returning and bringing friends from Pretoria!

Time: midday


Back to the station to take me home – these two security guards were carrying on a conversation across the tracks. Their presence makes the station feel very safe.

Time: 13.00


On the way home I popped into our local supermarket, Woolworths. It is completely different from the chain that used to be Woolies in the UK – best known for it’s “pick n mix” sweets selection and selling records back in the day. This version of Woolworths is more or less the food part of Marks and Spencers, an upmarket British chain. According to Wikipedia, it is also not the same as the Australian version of Woolworths. Confused? I am! However I am very grateful that it exists as it is a great place to shop with a fantastic range – although prices have gone through the roof recently.

Time: 13.30


Checking out with a smile! Service is always great at Woolworths – I think they hand-pick the friendliest workers to employ.

Time: 14.00


Back home and gardener Lucas, who works on our compound and for us every Tuesday, has been helping keep Cooper entertained. I’m not sure what our local staff (including the guard at our gate) thought of him when we first got him as unfortunately many people here associate dogs with aggression as they are trained to guard homes. However Cooper seems to have won them all over and now they all seem to love him – until he steals something of theirs and hides it in the bushes!

Time: 14.30


Grabbing a sandwich I manage to get a bit of work done at my desk knowing the girls will soon be home from school.

Time: 16.00


And they’re back! One little boy is ALWAYS glad to see these two – although two or three times a week it’s a quick turnaround to horse-riding or swimming lessons. The girls have a long day as they leave at 6.45am and often are not home until 4pm or later if they have after-school activities. We all look forward to the weekends and holidays!

Time: 17.30


As it’s a tuesday, the girls have swimming lessons – they swim two or three times a week at the Universty of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre, one of the top training grounds for South African athletes in the country. Let’s hope some of that skill and competitiveness rubs off on them! Usually I drop them off and my husband picks them up on the way home from work, giving me time to prepare food for when they get home. Tonight it was the not-very-inspired pasta bolognese for tea.

Time: 20.30


And so the day ends with a sleeping puppy and a roaring log fire – our only heating system in the downstairs area of the house. The days may be bright and sunny but the nights at this time of the year are very chilly. Blankets are your friend!


If you would like to feature in A Day in My Expat Life please leave a comment below or email me at clara@expatpartnersurvival.com. All I need are around 10-12 pictures snapped as you go about your ordinary day, sent to me with captions, the date and approximate timings. I will do the rest! Please note: high quality pictures aren’t necessary, camera pics are fine as this makes it a lot easier to do πŸ™‚

13 thoughts on “A Day in My Expat Life – Pretoria

  1. I think people would fall asleep if they saw my average day. 8 am at the computer, 9 am at the computer, 10 am at the computer, 11 am at the computer, noon leftovers or sandwich at the computer, 1pm at the computer….are you following…? And this is in the glamorous French Riviera. Would you like my input?!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d love to contribute! But like you’ve said in recent posts, life eventually goes from exciting back to the mundane world of school drop offs, grocery shopping and after school activities! But let me know if you want posts from the NL!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very glad you found the patisserie! This is a lovely post as it shows the rhythm of your life. Like most people mine is pretty mundane 80% of the time. And then I share the exciting bits πŸ˜ƒ Thanks for sharing


  4. Pingback: Wanted – guest bloggers |

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