Mélanie Johnsson


Stories from behind the scenes...

South Africa #1 • The first week


So there it is. I am in Cape Town… the Mother City as they call it here. It’s been eight days since we landed on South African soil and what a crazy week it has been! But let’s rewind a little bit and tell you all about how it began, shall we?

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Leaving Margate (only for a little bit)

Even though I will be back in 2019, I felt quite sad leaving this amazing town behind for the winter…I only moved to Margate back in March, after several years in London, and it felt like home straight away. It was so peaceful compared to hectic London. And it was by the sea! How perfect. I found the ideal flat there, a few minutes away from the beach, and it was obviously quite heart-breaking having to move out of it to travel to South Africa. But I know I’ll be back to England soon, and I will find another great place to live in…I’m more interested in experiences and travelling the world for now. So many adventures to be lived! On the subject of adventures…


Adventures ahead

I’ve always wanted to visit South Africa and Cape Town has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember…So when Mike first mentioned that he would like to teach kite surfing there, I was over the moon! Finally! The perfect opportunity for us to travel to South Africa and live there for six whole months. He just had to find a job there, and as for me, nothing really had to change. As a freelancer with clients all around the globe, I can work from anywhere, as long as I have my computer, my drawing tools, a phone and the internet!

So where are we exactly?

We found a flat in Big Bay, which is on the western coast of South Africa, and a thirty minutes drive from Cape Town. We both wanted to be by the sea, Mike, because he needed to be close to the Kite surfing school, me, because I don’t really like cities and just love being by the ocean. So Big Bay sounded perfect. We have everything we need around us, and we’re still pretty close to the city if we fancy going there to meet people or have some fun.

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It’s only been a week, but we already feel pretty settled in, it’s amazing! People are really lovely here. The food, the wine, the sun, the sea, the wind…Everything is perfect. Oh and also, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere now, which means we’ll soon get into Summer…Avoiding the British Winter, another dream come true! Chasing the sun forever and ever. So, Mike is teaching kite surfing here, and as for me, I’ll be working as usual, feeling more inspired than ever! What’s great about being by the beach is that I can work as much as I want and when I’m done, I just have to jump into a wetsuit and go to the beach to either surf of kite surf…It’s the best! I never had any issue with finding the motivation to sit down and work, I love what I do and I love it as much as anything else, so finding a balance is pretty easy for me.

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The first week

This first week in South Africa has been amazing but also slightly stressful at times. Mike and I have had to adjust to being in a new country, a new neighbourhood, a new home…Apart from the stress of having to settle somewhere new, South Africa has been wonderful so far. It’s diverse, colourful, full of energy, sunny, windy, fun and so much more. I’ve already spent as much time in the water as I have on land here, surfing and kite surfing in the ocean and lagoons in different shades of blues and greens (presumably shark infested…but I haven’t seen any shark yet!). On the other hand,I’ve already seen zebras, antelopes, ostriches and giraffes! I guess I’ve been lucky…as some locals saw them for the first time with me!

Work wise, I’ve finished a few exciting illustration projects that I will share soon. I also can’t wait to meet some lovely folks from Cape Town’s creative community. I’d like to collaborate more and take part in exciting projects with the people out here. These six months are going to be a blast!

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Here's a couple of pictures of me learning how to surf…Ha! I’ve got six months to improve…

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Hope you enjoyed reading about my first week in South Africa, I will try to share my adventures here as often as I can!

If you’re a local or if you’ve been to SA before, let me know in the comments below if you have any tips about Cape Town and around! I’d love to know what I should absolutely do, see and experience…

Mel x

Credit kite surfing and surfing pictures © Brent Robarts