Tammy Southby in Hogsback, South Africa
Tammy Southby in Hogsback, South Africa - "I love South Africa. I tried to leave once"

I love South Africa. I tried to leave once. I managed 10 months… writes Tammy Southby, the woman behind the best new South African blog on the block – Sunshine Simplicities.

We lived abroad in a beautiful, Victorian house in Chislehurst, Kent. One day a lady overheard my accent in the store. She commented that she had been living in London for 14 years and that the longing for South Africa never goes away. My heart ached.

My mantra at the time was ‘quantity over quality’. You know… live a long, safe life under grey skies.

But walking through the mall and knowing I was not going to bump into anybody I knew – it was so lonely and damn I missed the ample parking and easy way of life back home. The space. The family.

The sunny skies.

Ficksburg - Free State
Ficksburg – Free State
Tzamenkomst - Northern Cape
Tzamenkomst – Northern Cape

So, I chose ‘quality over quantity’ – and we came back home.

Fast forward 23 years and my now ex-husband is happily settled in Scotland. So is my daughter of 25. My son leaves in June. It’s crappy.

I am not the proverbial ostrich. And I don’t say that to mock the creature. I love ostriches.
I have the option to leave. But I choose to stay.

Yes, I live with armed response, 8-strand electric fencing. Reinforced security bars. I mean ‘Panic remote’ batteries are a permanent fixture on my shopping list, alongside bread and milk, oh and candles, of course. I have gates, so many gates – inside, outside. My keys are even colour-coded. I am afraid. We have all become accustomed to this fear. Angst.

But have you seen how beautiful our country is?

Kaaimans River - Western Cape
Kaaimans River – Western Cape
Kaaimans Railway Bridge - Western Cape 3
Kaaimans Railway Bridge – Western Cape

South Africa does a shitty job of marketing our country – to locals that is. There are countries, all over the world – in a similar state to our country. Crime, corruption, poverty.

Third world mostly.

Thing is, we pay thousands of rands to travel to these places. To post snapshots on social media – we go to the resorts, the tourist spots. The well-orchestrated, photo-ready places. And they are beautiful. Hell, I even took out a new credit card once, maxed it and went on holiday abroad. I love travelling.

So why am I saying all this? You see, I travel for work, a lot. My route zigzags across five provinces.

Gariep Dam - Free State
Gariep Dam – Free State

The days on the road can be long and lonely. And very often potholed to hell and gone.

I began to marvel at the beauty our country has to offer. Having travelled to many countries abroad,

Bethulie Bridge - Free State
Bethulie Bridge – Free State

I started questioning why we are always in such a hurry to put up with long haul flights and airport queues, to see all these beautiful places, when I have not seen even a crumb of what my own country has to offer. Heck I have not even been to the Kruger National Park!! Or the Drakensberg!!

So, I figured I would start a blog of sorts. One that focuses on happiness. Simple things. Share these beautiful places. Places that are within our reach.

My blog is only 6 weeks old but, oh my goodness – it is so rewarding. People reconnecting from their school days and sharing stories about their parents getting married in some of the old churches.

Reminiscing about families who lived in the valleys of now abandoned farms. Folk remembering road trips with their late partners.

Burgersdorp - Eastern Cape
Burgersdorp – Eastern Cape

Two ladies recently connected via a post of an old church. One lady mentioned her tap dancing teacher who had this beautiful little girl. Then the comment came “I am that little girl” and what followed were numerous exchanges of names and memories – it is so wonderful to see the beautifully memories that the images evoke.

Cathcartvale - Eastern Cape
Cathcartvale – Eastern Cape

I make a point of staying in accommodation owned and run by locals. I get to explore at the end of my workday, and early in the morning before breakfast. I pull over at the side of the road and take photos of windmills, long-winding, tree lined farm entrances, imposing mountains, breath taking sunsets. Abandoned buildings. And I marvel at this beautiful land I get to call home.

Bushmens River - Eastern Cape
Bushmens River – Eastern Cape

As South Africans we are engulfed by this tsunami of negativity hour upon hour, day after day.

We get caught up in the carefully choreographed news that mainstream media floods us with. The shock headlines, the sordid graphic details. It won’t go away, I know that. “Sensitive Content – This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing. See Photo.”

And we click on it – humans are curious like that. It’s in our nature.

But if we continue to only focus on the negative, then we only have negativity to give out.
So, I challenge myself to always try to find the sunshine, even when things are looking dark and gloomy, and I am not talking about loadshedding here. And I am not saying we must give up and just accept. I am saying we need to try and fill our headspace with positive energy too.

We can choose to celebrate the small wonders that exist around us, the small wonders that are so often over-shadowed by all the negative conversations that consume our daily lives.
I want to share all that is beautiful about our country. Simple little discoveries, hidden gems, adventures and exploring off the beaten track.

Hogsback - Eastern Cape
Hogsback – Eastern Cape

I want to be real. I want this blog to be real. And I believe we could all do with a little inspiration.

It’s about finding the sunshine in the simplest of things.

There really is beauty all around us.

Tammy from Sunshine Simplicities


Thaba Nchu - Free State
Thaba Nchu – Free State

Tammy’s website is coming soon!