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Andrea Zanin

Hello! My name is Andrea. I am a writer, wife, mother and dreamer; also the author of OurFiresideStories.com. I moved to London in 2006 to earn £s, travel, see bands and buy 24-up Dr Martens—which I did, and then ended up staying. I live in North London with my husband (also a Saffa) and five children. I love this grand old city but miss my home (at least, the version that exists in my head) and wish my children could say “lekker” like a South African—they do try. Oh, and I love to tell stories. Over and over…and over.

Mopane worms

By Andrea Zanin 27-09-23 18:07

I grew up in Limpopo. Fat Baobabs cast shade in dusty daytimes, giving way to drawling Acacia silhouettes and bright orange sunsets. Before the evenings succumbed to bright starry skies that expanded for eons, we went foraging. I’d tag along with the older kids and grownups as they headed into the bushveld on the prowl […]

The robber’s grave

By Andrea Zanin 24-08-23 17:00

The robber’s grave was turned the other way. A scarlet letter on the landscape. On our school trip to Pilgrim’s Rest in the Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga) we learnt about the gold rush, did some panning, bought some guinea fowl curios, saw the majestic Mac Mac, Horse Shoe and Bridal Veil Falls—but the robber’s grave. Legend […]

South African abroad: The immigrant's void...

South African abroad: Facing the void and sense of loss…

By Andrea Zanin 02-08-23 11:38

Not that many years ago – in fact, the day before the RWC 2019 final – I sat in my daughter’s school assembly wearing my Springbok rugby jersey (couldn’t resist taunting, just a little)… writes writer, wife, mother and dreamer ANDREA ZANIN, who now lives in the UK and is author of Our Fireside Stories.  […]

Carlton Sky Rink

Carlton Sky Rink (Johannesburg #1995)

By Andrea Zanin 08-08-23 18:12

If you fell on the ice, you had to make fists because some super-jock speed skater would almost certainly skate past you at that exact moment and chop your fingers off. An arm if you were super unlucky. Everybody said so. It happened to people who knew people. No, really. No matter. We were in. […]

That time the baboons ate our firelighters

By Andrea Zanin 23-05-23 21:11

We pile in the bakkie and hit the road to Kruger, stopping along the way to buy all our essentials – food (chips and rusks—the important stuff), firelighters for the braai, charcoal; the cooler box is in the back with meat and other bits and pieces in it. We’re ready. After some hours on the […]

If Trevor Noah can eat mopane worms…

By Andrea Zanin 09-05-23 17:49

Big, fat, yellow writhing blobs dropping off trees, carpeting the floor like a panoramic sea of black-speckled, custard-infused dog turd. Mopane trees…mopane worms. We were visiting my grandpa Ray at his plot in Ashburton, Natal. And it was raining caterpillars—thousands. No, millions. Look down and a worm could drop on your head, look up and you’d burst […]

A pineapple is never just a pineapple

By Andrea Zanin 23-05-23 20:53

When I was growing up my family took plenty of road trips, from Grahamstown to East London or King William’s Town (where my sister and I were at boarding school) or Port Alfred, Kent-on-Sea and Port Elizabeth. On those roads during pineapple season, would be African mamas, men, teenage girls, young boys, sometimes whole families […]

The license, the queue & the photocopy machine

By Andrea Zanin 11-04-23 22:59

If you’re over 60, on a Wednesday you have privilege of appointment to renew your driver’s license at the licensing department in Edenvale. My license was due to expire so I decided I would take up the offer… writes Clare Paterson. I devised the perfect plan… …the department opens at 9am and I had a […]

A toilet in the gamadoelas... Stories from South Africa

A toilet in the gramadoelas

By Andrea Zanin 30-03-23 21:32

My dad came to South Africa in his early twenties. As a British guy, he didn’t speak ‘die taal’ but as an electrical engineer employed on the power lines he worked with a lot of Afrikaans people—making life ripe for misunderstandings. Often, my dad worked out in the gramadoelas. At the end of one of […]

Parktown Prawn

Boesak, parsley and a parktown prawn

By Andrea Zanin 14-03-23 16:47

There’s nothing like a Parktown Prawn in the car on the way to school. “We’re going!”—mom bellows from the other side of the house. I lightning myself out of bed. Throw on my uniform (luckily, it’s summer—no tie), lurch for my school bag (praying I packed accurately the night before), will an apple into my […]

family on the beach in South Africa, memories and nostalgia

Remembering those beach holidays in South Africa

By Andrea Zanin 02-03-23 18:35

If there is one thing I love to remember about my childhood living in South Africa, it’s beach holidays… … waking up before the sun rose, bundling into the car and staring up at the night sky as we pulled out of the driveway, barely able to contain our excitement. Soon after leaving Joburg, we’d […]