Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mum's visit- in pictures

Mum has taken all of her photos back to Scotland with her (I should have taken copies!)-I think in every one of hers we are sipping wine or eating food! Sure signs of a great holiday!

Being Karen Blixon and a trip to a tea platation

Lunch at a trout farm and a visit from a hyrax

Facts of the day- 1. The closest lisving relative to the hyrax is the elephant.
2. The hyrax is born with its eyes open (!) and can climb straight away.
3. The hyrax is the only wild animal that's shrieks (similar to a car alarm...but less annoying!) are louder than my mum snoring! (Fact!) Love you Mum!

A mini safari

A great wee holiday - the next one can't come soon enough!

PS - I was reading the Culture section of an old weekend paper this morning and saw an advertisement for a bracelet that gives off electric shocks when the person wearing it snores. Not joking. Has anyone tried this??

Friday, February 24, 2012

What I've been reading lately

I am not yet involved in a book club in Nairobi (my friend and I are starting one soon!) and I miss my group in Kampala- but I just found a wee blog-book hop.

The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley.

(book cover)

Book description (from Amazon) -
Hartley, a frontline reporter who covered the atrocities of 1990s Africa, embarks on a journey to unlock the mysteries and secrets of his own family's 150-year-colonial legacy in Africa, and delivers a beautiful, sometimes harrowing memoir of intrepid young men cut down in their prime, of forbidden love and its fatal consequences, and of family and history, and the collision of cultures that defined them both.

My thoughts -
During the term time I find it hard to get into books, however I read this African memoir in a couple of weeks. It has always been on my list, as 'essential Africa reading' and it deserved its spot there.

Hartley jumps back and forth in time and countries, from his own recent history as a journalist, to that of his colonial family and to a discovery he made (diaries of a dear friend of his father's, Davey) and his journey into Davey's past in Arabia.

I didn't find Hartley a particularly likeable person, but his writing is beautiful, honest, powerful and at times (especially when he was in Rwanda) harrowing-I was in tears reading sections of The Zanzibar Chest. At first I was drawn more to the stories of Hartley's interesting colonial family history and his journey to Davey's past, opposed to the stories of Hartley's Africa, which were woven amongst them throughout. But  it was the latter, Hartley's experiences as a journalist in East Africa, that I ended up enjoying more. Stories of experiences showing the rawness of Africa, but written in a way that shows faith, not in a 'hopeless nation' kind of way. Africa is Hartley's home and heart. The only negative thing I have to say, is that I feel that he could have used his stories in this one book, to write a small handful.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is has journeyed to Africa or would like to, from the comfort of their bed.

The host

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Safari Tips

I am still pretty new to this 'safari-tour-guide' thing (!). You could say, that I am learning on-the-job.

So, for my mum's recent trip, I thought back to to what I had learnt on previous safaris in Uganda and gave handy hints to my special visitor!Yet, I still learnt lots.

More self-drive safari tips:
  • Buy a road map before the morning of your safari. Better yet, check the map you bought has your destination ON IT!
  • Even though it may not be the first time visit to Africa- remember to stop at every roadside market, and pot seller you pass-by, it is a photo opportunity after all. (The same goes with African Crap Craft stalls/markets!)
  • Put the customer at ease on all occasions whilst on safari, regarding the wildlife. (Remember, you yourself have been in similar situation...remember that sleeping lions story ...) and remind them that the hyena outside will NOT come into the tent.
  • Take ear plugs - some people snore...loudly. This will sadly cut out all wildlife noises, but do not worry, as most of the animals have, by then, ran in fear of their lives!
  • Even on short safaris remember to take Imodium with you. Nobody wants a sick guide! (Rookie mistake!)
  • Leave some days totally unplanned. The customer is on holiday and may just want to read in the sun. Don't fall into the over-planning pit! 

Soon, I may be ready to take the test for my guide badge!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Coming and Going

My mum has come and gone all too quickly. We drove north, just a few hours away, not far, but far enough to feel the changing winds and where a few raindrops teased the Earth.

Her plane took off last night and left me tossing and turning, trying to find sleep. It was too quiet. That is my excuse for driving into my gate this morning! I think it's valid.

But when the sun in Nairobi shone today, I thought about how lucky I am that I do get so many visitors, when I make the choice to live here. And for now, that is my choice.

I'll share some stories and photos from our 'girls-on-tour' adventure this week, once I have found my routine again.

PS- my music is playing loudly and the cottage will soon become too small again!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

sunny days

The days take a while to heat up, but by lunchtime I am blocking out the noise around me, dishing out the lunch in silence, the heat giving us all (not just me, surely!) a short temper.Trying not to take it out on those around me...but it's hard. By 4pm, all remaining energy has been sapped from me, but being 'on show' at the end of day car-park duty requires a bit of a smile, a wave and a word or two.

Friends and I talk of our time living in Kuwait, the smell of the heat and the burning hot steering wheel. It's 10 degrees Celsius cooler here, in Nairobi. But being British, we like to have a wee moan occasionally and the weather is the topic of conversation.

Another difference here to that of the heat in the Middle East, is that it cools down at night, right down. Cool enough to forget how hot it gets. So cool that in the mornings we spend break complaining that our toes are still cold and repeatedly reminding ourselves to leave a cardigan in school.

The red dust streets need watering, to make those on the school-run happier. More able to breathe and see where the school gates are. The idea of that waste does not sit well with a lot of people. Most of us are happy to wait until the rains find us. They have reached the coast and some parts of Tanzania. It won't be too long. Apparently, the rains may arrive as soon as Friday.

Ants cover my flat, in the search for a water. My taps run dry most of the time, so they are out of luck there, but they have found their way to the inside of my kettle and the toilet...clever leaders they have. 

Friday, February 10, 2012


I was so excited to have friends round for wine and cheese the other night, that I went to a lovely shop/bar in Nairobi beforehand to do some wine tasting! I found some lovely wines, including wine from this vineyard that I visited in South Africa last year.

I then went home and made little cards to match the cheese to the wine. Sadddoooo!

But all that didn't matter when my little cottage was filled with stories of love and life, laughter and a little bit of dancing!

PS-my friends all agreed that my little cottage belongs on a beach by the coast of Europe-rather than in a garden in Nairobi. it is tiny and wooden but it is cute nevertheless-my Mum and I will know eachother even better after her visit!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A zen safari

 I recently had a weekend full of yoga.

It was a great start to the year. We detoxed and worked on the mat. Had a few cooking lessons, leisurely meals (yes, we did eat...a little) and...a bit of safari.

We stayed in a tented camp, nestled into the bush of Nairobi National Park (can you spot the tents below?), fell asleep to the shrieking alarms of the hyraxes and woke to the loudest ever lion's roar. A peaceful change to that of security dogs barking  throughout the night.

It feels like I haven't been on my mat or exercised for ages. This week I have been feeling poorly, so am looking forward to feeling like 'me' again. Hopefully I'll be better by Friday, when my Mum arrives for a mini adventure. Yeahhhhhh!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homemade Oreos

I had Oreos for the first time when I lived in Kampala. They were the only biscuits that you could get from Shoprite that were not stale. And they tasted pretty good.

I found this recipe a while ago, so thought I would use the excuse of friends coming round to try them out.

They are so simple and much better than the ones in a box! For added goodness add a sprinkle of seasalt on the filling, before sandwiching the biscuits together (thank you Olivia for that tip!) The recipe made about a dozen sandwiched cookies. But next time I will make the biscuits thinner, so I would only use a 1/2 teaspoon of cookie dough for each ball.

PS-keep in the fridge-in a sealed box-then it is more difficult for you to eat them all in one day!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Some days are just meant for pots of tea in bed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A touchy subject

I had a moment of 'What am I doing?' the other day at the beauticians. It was that time of the month again, when the metal knife was used to smear on the burning hot wax. Clever!

This is what you get whe you pay 200 shillings (about 2 usd) for a wax. 
Classy lady!