At the beginning of December last year I left warm, sunny South Africa for less warm and less sunny England. It has been a wonderful experience exploring the country and getting to know new people!

I am in the UK for a little bit to spend time with family, explore the country, and explore some opportunities for CN&CO (and me) here. I have met a number of folks (a number of whom are South Africans living and working here) to talk about the landscape and any opportunities here.

We had the best time over Christmas and new year. I ate far more than I should, as many of us do kaFestive, and I just had a good time reconnecting with my family and meeting my new-born niece.

I also froze. I was a great source of laughter for my family as they sat in the house in t-shirts while I wore varying layers of clothing. In my attempts to acclimatise, I would start the day with just two layers of clothing on. Then I would throw on a scarf…then a hoodie…and sometimes even a beanie. The way I know I have adjusted is that I now look forward to days when the weather forecast is a warm 10 degrees. Yes, I said it. 10 degrees is now warm.

What has been interesting is chatting to and having meetings with SA folk here: some are wonderfully positive and full of energy about the opportunities here while others seem far more jaded. Personally, I prefer the more positive approach. There are great opportunities here and travelling is an incredible opportunity itself.

The English countryside is the stuff of novels. Literally. I experienced the dark brooding beauty of Emily Brontë’s Yorkshire moors; the greenery and ridges of the Peak District; and the hustle and bustle of London. I especially loved the people in Yorkshire; they are some of the warmest and most welcoming people I have met.

Christmas was such a magical time. I love how folks decorate their houses with fairy lights and varying other decorations. My cousin and I, one evening driving home, found the winner of our private house decorating competition. This house had fairy lights over every inch of it, mounted Christmas trees on the wall, a Santa in lights, and they had what looked like a projection of a Christmas movie on the outside of the house. Just wow!

A giant Christmas tree near the Sheffield Christmas market

Everything here was Christmassy and magical. Even food packaging was Christmas-themed!

Don’t even get me started on the excitement of the Christmas markets. The sun sets early here so you can walk through a Christmas market in the late afternoon with fairy lights twinkling through the darkness.

I really missed my SA family over Christmas but we were video calling daily and I was able to experience two New Year’s celebrations as I celebrated with SA and again two hours later. What a blessing!

It has been interesting working 2 hours behind Jo’burg and even further behind our clients in Mauritius and Kenya. I’m already quite a planner but I have had to step it up even more while I’m here.

I enjoyed working from a place called We Work. The concept is simple: it is a large office space offering varying types of space for rent. You can rent out large offices for your larger company; a small office for just you; or a hot desk. The shared spaces include meeting rooms, private pods for calls, an open desk area where you can use a hot desk, tea and coffee facilities, and other amenities. The membership is also monthly which is great for businesses looking for short-term space. I know we have similar spaces in South Africa but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite like this.

At CN&CO we work (see what I did there?) on a similar idea: all of our office space is shared and you sit and work where you find space. It works because we are all working from all over the world so we don’t need designated desks.

I have also discovered some really cool coffee shops and spaces from which to work. While I’m not a coffee drinker I have enjoyed some good warm cups of hot chocolate and tea. Much like in South Africa, but on a larger scale, folks are spending hours in coffee shops getting plenty of work done. It’s a phenomenon I read about some time ago: folks are wanting to be on our own getting our work done but we still want some kind of human contact so we’re not lonely and coffee shops give us that.

A message on the wall at Taylor Street Baristas

I love the public transport system here. It’s easy to use and can get you to most places if you plan your journey right. Yes, sometimes the trains are late or closed but there are usually enough trains that you can take a different route and walk a few extra blocks to get where you need to be. I would love to see a better public transport system in South Africa where all the public services are connected by one easy tap and go card and get you to more places more easily. Imagine if we could hop on a taxi and tap our card then take the fast train and tap that same card. It would be far easier for folks to commute further distances.

If you are in London and looking for some help with your communication, PR, and/or marketing drop me a mail at thabs@cnandco.com. I’d love to meet up with you and chat about how we can make magic together.