When I was preparing to leave South Africa to go travelling a couple of years ago, a lot of people asked me: When will you be back? My honest answer then was that I had no idea, it could be 6 months, I might never go back.

Today, on the second anniversary of arriving in London, that response has never been more true. Well, OK, obviously it’s been longer than 6 months!

Thanks to Jan Joubert, I spent 4 months working in a country pub in the village of Adstock, Buckingham,

The Old Thatched Inn
The Old Thatched Inn

England. At 42 years old, that was quite an adjustment from having your own 2 bedroomed flat with everything you need to a room with a shared toilet in the roof of a 13th century thatched pub. But pulling pints brings its own peace and I loved my stay there.

I took my fistful of pounds and I hit the road, very uncertain about how long my funds would last and whether I was going to be able to do the things I had planned or thought about. I cruised through Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic before stopping in Adelboden Switzerland where, thanks to Anika and Robi Hari I had another job. For 3 months I worked in a ski shop, renting skis and gear and servicing the gear when it came back.

This was all pretty much as advertised so far. I earned some money doing casual work, toured a bit, and then earned some more money. But at this point the plans changed quite a bit.

champagne
Champagne tasting, trains and more!

Instead of heading up to Moscow and jumping on the train to Vladivostok as planned, I took a train back to Amsterdam where I had met a very special woman. I have been here a year and a month now.

I am also doing something I never thought I would: teaching English. And loving it. I am also taking an indefinite sabbatical from writing and enjoying that too. I finally finished my gargantuan JOHANNESBURG novel. Re-wrote it 3 times and sent it off to agents, publishers and editors all over. The responses were all negative. I understand why. Regardless of its possible lack of literary merits, it’s a big, non-traditional kind of book from an unknown voice with a subject and intent that is not generally associated with that place. It can’t be sold as a political South African novel, nor as a wild life extravaganza. And besides, it may actually not be very good.

I started a new book. But I stopped. Writing had become like work and I was finding it hard to feel inspired. Actually it was impossible.

I have been working on a book in one way or another for basically every day since 2007. The first couple of weeks

Snow, Mountain, Sky
Snow, Mountain, Sky

of cold turkey were weird. But now it’s OK. Now I am happy to wait and see which way the pendulum will swing.

And then I woke up and realised that it had been nearly 2 years. And today it is two years. I still don’t know how long it will be until I return to South Africa. It still might be never. I also don’t know what’s going to happen this year really, except that I will teach more English. I will educate myself some. I will enjoy this good life I have here in Amsterdam.

There are a few things I would still like to be able to do. But to be honest, I didn’t get them right when I was in South Africa, and I doubt that I would be any more successful now. I did what I could under my own steam and hopefully that helped more than just a few of the people I met. But the bigger dreams from that I guess are just not going to happen.

Let’s talk again in another two years.

david chislett orange