Sunday, December 11, 2005

Baked beans are heavy on Uranus

A short while ago I visited the National Space Centre. For some reason, it's located in Leicester.

Pretty fascinating. One of the highlights was this movie you could attend. The movie screen is dome-shaped, so you kinda sit in the screen, and it creates an sense of being immersed in the movie. Took a 20 minute journey to end end of the universe and back again. My friend Alex was almost nautious from the experience - how do you spell nor-shis??? Or nausious, or something.

There was this installation that illustrated how heavy beans were on different planets. Trust me, it's heavy on Uranus.

There were actual space shuttles and other space thingies, as well as a Dr Who exhibition. The coffee wasn't too bad either.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Did mention that it's really cold here. Check out these frozen spiderwebs. Looked pretty cool.

Oh and look at the snow on my car. Ironic that the only day I didn't carry my camera with me I see snow for the first time! Was quite magical seeing these light flakes of ice float to the ground. Then the novelty wears off and you long for some warmth again.

Even if it's not snowing, your car frosts over and have to wait for it to, quite literally, defrost before you leave for work. Mad...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Leicester on a Saturday

Just some snaps on a visit to the city of Leicester on a Saturday. Was bitterly cold - hence the frost all over the grass - looks like it was snowing! Took the bus, as traffic can be really bad. The pics show randon streets and the one with the fountain is the Town Square. Christmas spirit is in the air - more like sales galore - squeezing you for evey pound you have. The statues of the angels are in the town square. Sorry can't give you any info on them - they just looked pretty.

Motoring Heritage Museum Visit

Visited on 20 Nov.

Where I live

21 November 2005 - Frozen Fingers and Spiderwebs

Hello again. Thanks for visiting. Okay I know that I'm supposed to updating this bog quite regularly as it's supposed to let people who need cheap entertainment for free and have to much time on their hands, specifically YOU, to read the intimate personal life. No but seriously I'm far away from home and get homesick so it's good for you to visit. Will make sure to write something interesting and thoughtful every now and then. ;)

But the reality is that my life, from a very tumultuous existence a couple of months ago has turned a little mundane, well it's settled into a routine of sorts. It's a 8:30 to 5:30 job. Yes there are many hours in the day, but recently it's turned bitterly cold. No, not just nippy, but literally freezing - minus four degrees celsius. Yes in the mornings one has to literally scrape the ice coast off the windscreen in order to see. And no, you cannot use the water in your wipers to wash the ice away - it's frozen too! In this really bleak weather, one really doesn't have the motivation to get out and about. Well i don't anyway. It's just too much of a comforting thought to come home to my place which is very toasty inside. It's got effective central heating and insulation, so one is oblivious to the weather outside.

To put things into perspective - you know in Durban when it's so hot and your steering wheel heats up so much that you have to drive with the ends of your fingertips. Well now it's so cold that you can't hold the steering wheel. You have to touch it with your fingertips. Feels like your fingers in the deep freeze against the ice. No exaggeration. A colder winter than usual is expected - the coldest in over 10 years or something. Scary! Oh, look at the frozen spider-webs.

Okay enough about the weather. Haven't done much traveling just yet but will make sure to do some serious traveling now. Invested in a satellite navigation system so I can find my way to places, and a decent camera that takes pretty good pictures so I can document my travels visually.

Visited a Motoring Heritage museum yesterday, which documents British Motoring over the ages. Cars really aren't my thing, but it was very fascinating nevertheless. making good use of my camera I managed to snap up over 100 pictures in a couple of hours. It's really addictive.

That's it for now. Visit again soon.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Where I work

The place is called 'Checkland Kindleysides'.


One of the top design companies in the UK that specialise in retail interiors. The account that I work on is George as ASDA. It's the fashion label of the UK's biggest supermarket group, then arguably the biggest fashion line in the UK.

Similar to the work that I've done at TBWA Durban working on SPAR - retail. But still a challenge in many ways. Oh, this is the view from my desk - pic taken almost by mistake, so it's not a great one. Like most design agencies, it's a huge open-plan setup.

We have this jukebox system that's run through our web browser. Everybody get's 10 credits a day and gets to choose 10 songs that's played throughout the office. Quite democratic.

The place is 5mins drive away from home, so it's pretty convenient. When my car broke down, I had to walk to work a few mornings. Took me about 40mins. Was relaxing and got to discover parts of Syton which I could not have by car.

Also keeping me company was my iPod with 'Podcasts' which I downloaded throught iTunes. Podcasts are basically mp3 downloads of radio shows, so it's like radio shows with the convenience of listening to them whenever you want. Do yourself a favour and visit the apple website and download iTunes. Website is You'll love it. Oh, and it's free!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Then what happenned?

Well the very next day after writing that very mail I recieved the news that I had gotten the job in Leicester. I was kinda surreal that I had actually gotten a job. Having almost resigned to the fact that it may indeed take a very long time to happen, and getting the news the very next day was very unexpected.

I guess what Deepak Chopra says is true: 'To manifest anything in your life you have to want it really badly, then let go of your desire. Then it will come to you.' As strange and as new-agey as it may sound it certainly is true, and I have seen it happen many times.

So the next following weeks involved getting prepared for the job. Which meant learning new software (Illustrator and Indesign) which I had never used in South Africa, getting a place to stay, and buying a car - as the company is situated away from the central areas and inacccesable via public transport. And all those other bits and pieces that us grown-ups have to contend with like insurance, and breakdown cover - no wait i didn't get that - until i broke down - but that's another post...

Courses are pretty expensive, so ended up buying a laptop - an Apple of course. A nifty 12" Powerbook. Love it. Stylish and sleek - the Louis Vitton of laptops. Eventally bought a Ford Fiesta. The first car I saw - just seemed like a really good buy. Little did I know that just weeks later it was gonna break down with costly repairs. It's up and running now. Touch Wood.

A friend was kind as to drive me around for 13 hours looking for a place to stay in Leicester. Saw about 7 different places, but eventually moved into the first place that I saw! Area I live in is Syston, which is a little village just north of the city of leicester. It's a village. No doubt. Pretty small and quaint in the middle of no-where (kinda) surrounded by miles of farmland. They say one lives longer if one lives in the countryside. The small of compost and farm animals kinda grows on you - NOT!

It was kinda sad to leave Cambridge and all the people that I got to know, and the city itself which is really great. I was once again moving to a place where i literally didn't know even one person. Strange but exciting once more. I had a lot to look forward to. A fresh start - take 2......


Hello! Thankyou for taking the time to come and visit my blog. Thought I'd set this up so that you check out what's goin on inside my strange world. Feel free to drop by anytime. If you let me know in advance, I'll have a cup of coffee and some biscuits ready for you.

Oh, that's a pic of me on the left - in case you've forgotten in your old age. I'm on Table Mountain.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The ketchup

Remember that massive mail that I sent out a few weeks ago, here it is again... just in case you really bored! ;)

Greetings to all the wonderful people of South Africa.

First of all, apologies for only writing a decent email so late, also
keeping in touch so seldom, saying thanks for moral and financial
support etc. Many of you have send supportive sms's and emails and I
have (mainly) procrastinated on getting back to you. Time does indeed
go by very quickly and the weeks have flown by. It's a couple weeks
short of 3 months since I left the shores of SA. Due to the kind loan
of a laptop, I have some time to write a full run down, or an attempt
thereof. Previously my internet time was restricted to an hour or two
at a time, and usually involved a 25min bus ride and 10 min walk to
the only internet café in the city. Yes – it does sound quite third
world but things were far from that.

For most of my time here I was in Cambridge. It's a small (relative to
London) town north east of London. It's about 2 hours drive by bus
from London. It's a beautiful university town. The university owns and
controls most of the land, and they do an amazing job to make sure
that the historic aesthetic of the city remains intact. This
translates to a beautiful city that has no structures taller than 3
stories. There are churches and historical building that are hundreds
of years old. It's very picturesque with a beautiful meandering river.
'Cambridge' actually means 'Bridge over the river Cam'. Do a Google
and check it out.

After touching down at Heathrow (which after all the hype about how
difficult customs can be – was a walk in the park. I was ultra
paranoid about being deported for having Panados that looked like
Ecstacy or something stupid) I virtually got immediately onto a bus
headed for Cambridge. Reason for Cambridge was that I had a place to
stay and guaranteed part-time work. I stayed in the residence of a
company that specialised in agricultural work. There were ten, yes ten
of us living in this house. It was strange getting used to sharing a
house with virtual strangers. I shared a bedroom with Nischol (my
cousin), so that was okay. What was weird was sharing a bathroom and
kitchen with strangers. Took a bit of getting used to, but eventually
had a novelty to speaking to strangers from all over Europe e.g.,
Poland, Russia, Hungary. Many South Africans too – but none from
Durban. The room I shared was very small – well that's kinda an
understatement. Was about 3m x 2m. A midget couldn't swing a kitten.

Anyway…the type of work I did was stuff I would NEVER consider doing
in South Africa. It changed all the time and was everything from
weeding, sweeping, painting and cleaning. It did pay the rent and
transport was provided – so it provided a cushy and comfortable intro
to the UK, as opposed to being unemployed and destitute. Trust me –
I've heard some horror stories about people sleeping on streets etc.
Not exactly glamorous, but it's been an experience that has made me
appreciate the things that we take for granted. It'll give me
character, or so I would like to think. ;) The one good thing that I
needed from being with that company was that they organised a UK bank
account and a 'National Insurance Number which is necessary ,which can
be difficult to obtain by oneself.

During this time I was constantly applying for Graphic Design jobs –
mostly online at the internet café which as I said was a bit of a trek
to get there. Oh and public transport is super efficient, clean, and
always on time – just a bit pricey. Costs about R30 for a day city
pass. Internet time was per hour and time precious, so mainly time was
spent applying for jobs with little time to spare, so hence the reason
for being able to write long stories. The job market I have found very
difficult to break into. Whereas my job in SA was very varied with
different types of work from video to print, here agencies are very
specialised, and focus on a core function like annual reports or
packaging or retail interiors. I guess people are not sure what to
make of me. Maybe it is that there are so many talented individuals
looking for work than there are jobs available. Jobs advertised have
an average 60 applicants I'm told, and they are usually very specific
as to what they are looking for. I am shortlisted or am called to
interview for on average one in 50 jobs that I apply for. I have been
for only 5 interviews – taking me to different parts of the country.
The furthest was 5 hours away and required me to take three busses. I
end up being rather buss-lagged. I'm still waiting to hear on a couple
of jobs so who knows where I'll be living or working in the near
future. I've been to Brighton, Buckingham, Leicester and of course –
London for interviews. Expensive but necessary.

I've some really great people – some of who have been rather
understanding of my situation and have put me up in relatively
luxurious accommodation with a beautiful view of the River Cam – a far
cry form the shoebox I lived in when I first came here. I have in the
last month or so not been working for that agricultural company –
which has been the reason I have been able to commute cross-country
for job interviews. It has freed up my time. I guess I should enjoy
this free time. I'm really gone appreciate it once I have my full time
job. For example, I am currently in Brighton which is on the South
Coast of the UK. I've been relaxing here for a week now, staying in a
motor-home. Living on a campsite with dozens of people in tents and
all types of motor homes - itself has been an interesting experience
– seems to have it's own subculture. It works out much cheaper than a
hotel – with really no hurry to get back to civilization. Brighton in
a beach town and it is very reminiscent of Durban or similar towns on
the KZN South Coast. It's very touristy and has a thriving night life.
This past weekend were huge festivities with street parties for four
days in a row. I'm all partied out, and found refuge in coffee shops
and café's while all the noise goes on outside. Only so much alcohol
and thumping music one can take in a weekend. Must be getting old… ;)

Yes, three months and only a few days in London. Just as well I wasn't
there for all the bombings on the tube. I was there in the very spot
where one of the bombs went off. It was shocking but I did feel a
sense of distance from it all. It was more surreal than it was
jarring. Going back though after was a bit un-nerving. Also what I was
conscious of - that I fitted the profile of a suicide bomber –
complete with rucksack!

There is no doubt – cost of living here is definitely more expensive.
What's really scary was how our Rand shrinks twelve-fold. One really
becomes conscious of how you spend in the beginning – almost paranoid.
A macdonalds meal that would cost you R25 in SA, might cost you R60
here. A beer in a club might cost you R6. Here it costs R36!!!!!!!!!!
Accommodation here costs – depending on where you stay – between R500
and R1200 per WEEK! (that's to rent a room in a flat or a house) It's
okay once you earn in pounds, just plain scary before.

Just been for a freelance interview this afternoon in Brighton. May
have to buy a computer so I can freelance from home. Can be lucrative
as there are agencies that support freelancers, but I am still new to
it all and not sure what I prefer to do right now. Security of a full
time job sounds very appealing. Yes – it does take a while to get used
to things here. One thing I miss is curry – home cooked food. I hang
out with people who cook – for example salmon or chicken without any
spices or flavourings and my famous line is calling their food
'bland'. I have tried to cook curry myself but it's just not the same.
The last time I ate a decent curry was in Leicester which was 5 hours
away and took me 3 busses to get there. Savoured a paneer and chickpea
curry with a garlic naan. Sounds trivial, but was soooooooo welcome.
Also found a shop in Brighton pier that sold South African Products
like koeksister, biltong, romany creams, pronutro and fanta. Felt like
home for a few minutes. Sad I know… ;)

Okay…Manual labour, shoestring budgets and major uncertaintly about
future prospects aside – taking this plunge has resulted in having
really amazing experiences, seeing new places and meeting great
people. It's been one helluva rollercoaster of a journey and I have
absolutely no regrets.

I do miss home and all of you. It would be great to know what's been
happening back home. Do keep me informed and send me pics wont ya???
The pics that I've received so far have been great! Keep em coming…

Look forward to seeing what destiny has in store…

Till next time…lotsa luv.
Kamlan Munsamy
08 August 2005