Sunday, 23 September 2007

How different can things be

Hi Everyone,

well, the weather is definitely getting hotter and the rain has diminished, a good thing too if you could have seen the lake left in my compound last time it rained.

I am now living in one room in my 3 bed home, I have a huge compliment of builders, tillers, painters, woodworkers, electricians etc. last count there were 8 men working away to help get some sort of restorative programme for my house showing signs of at least having my sons room ready.

I have learnt a valuable lesson........ in Kenya the tools are supplied by the homeowner, the workers come with nothing. I found this out when I complained that every tool I had was being used by the men................ I was told this was the way, so they have to make do with my basic selection and they do.

I went shopping for a ladder in order to put light bulbs in my house, they do not exist. I watched with interest when some 'poles' were ordered and delivered (these are straight trunks of skinny trees) they were hacked and made into two ladders, one a tripod the other a rickety straight ladder. I personally got a friend to let me sit on his shoulders in desperation to get the bulbs in couldn't wait for the ladders.

There is no power tool in sight, other than my own private collection!! It is a health and safety nightmare but they don't seem to be bothered, walking on the roof to check it out, no ropes, hard hats nothing. The electrician told me it was good I asked him to make the plugs all double sockets as it revealed that none of the plugs were earthed!

I argued with the tiller who is doing my en suite, one wall was great three tile vertical drops on the next wall fine, other side of the toilet a total catastrophe. I had praised him on his work the day before and took it all back with a 'wow what are you doing?' 'Have you been on the beer??? ' The other side of the toilet was more than an inch out slanting in towards the loo. This meant that when the tiles were to come together - basically they wouldn't. He said it was fine and the house was not straight. Now, I know a bit about tiling and got out the only spirit level used in the whole job and put it on his base board. I informed him that there was no bubble and showed him the difference - he still insisted it was OK.

I sent a text to the foreman and told him to get himself over fast as I told tiller not to put anymore tiles on wall. Foreman walked into the room and said wow ........ glad he agreed, I would have removed the tiles and not paid the man....... after heated conversation the tiles were removed and replaced, although he has miss coloured tiles in the box and those are now suddenly all being used instead of the nice white ones. Rebellion.

Its not all bad, the plumber put in one toilet beautifully, the other he was told by me to remove and try again at least to get the cistern and bowl aligned........ I have also acquired a tap in the wall of my en suite that is about knee level, I questioned this and when the plumber came back to his job after 'illness' was told it was for me to do my clothes washing - I told them I had an outside tap for that and I wouldn't want to drag the washing all through the house to hang it outside, hand washing was hard enough without making in worse. I was then told that maybe I would like to wash clothes at night....... um....................... deep breath............, I told him I would use it to wash my feet when they were dirty!!! Its a foot tap! The sarcasm was lost in translation!!!! Well, I will keep the tap............... its a something.....?????

With all this happening I am still visiting Scann, the boys get all happy and mad when they see me and they are looking forward to me taking Paul-Simon to see them on Wednesday. I took Kim and Fat Cat to the vet the other day, this mean that I had to call Nick to pick me up from home with the dog, we went to Scann, where Kim played with the boys for a short while, while I rounded up Fat Cat who has been unwell. Kim lay sleeping on the floor of the cab while the cat on the other hand stayed in the box just until I had the door closed, I rallied the help of Joel who gave me the dog to come to the vet. Between us we managed to restrain the cat, watch the dog, jump out of the car at the vets, while Nick ran another errand for me, stood in the vet with the cat spitting and hissing at the Kim, she wasn't happy!

After Kim had her vaccinations and the cat had her anti rabbies jab and worming pill we ventured back into Nicks cab with hissing Fat Cat. Such a traumatic event...... for me, no animal carriers in site anywhere in Nakuru, I know I have looked, actually you cant even buy a dog collar or lead, they aren't into that here they do have chains though. Maybe I should open a shop!! We went straight back to my house to drop off the animals and I settled Fat Cat with Puka (little cat) they looked happy. When I got home Fat Cat had left home, no sight or sound of her since....... oh well, wasted journey, energy and money at the vet!! The boys were happy to have seen Kim though, I promised another visit, just wandering when .........and how!
I managed a Christmas wrapping paper printing event on Wednesday afternoon, wasn't toooooooooooooo BAD! Paul-Simon doesn't know but we are doing one this Wednesday with his help!!! he he he he he he he.

Today I went to Scann to do hair shaving before I came into town to the internet and last minute shopping for PS. At last the internet is working and I am able to sit and type this for you. I had promised one boy that I would pop in to Scann and trim his mop, I got 10 boys waiting in a q for me..... needless to say I couldn't leave them, so I shaved like a whirling dervish (Spelling probably not right) They wanted me to style so I told them to go to the hairdressers for that, I just SHAVE!

Ok guys I am probably boring you to tears, and I actually think I have already told you some of this info, or dreamt that I have, if repetition has occurred then put it down to age!!
Love to you all,

Happy Birthday to all those who are due birthdays

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Back from Beyond

Hi Everyone,

bet you all thought it was safe to read your emails and there was nothing from me clogging up the in-box…… well you were wrong!! I was just taking a break whilst sorting out the final stages of the house move, nothing like in the UK, its crazy. You physically have to go round all the offices, water, electric, council offices, solicitors, agents, in order to finalise the deal. I am pleased to say that on Tuesday, just before the heavens opened and my drive became a swamp, I moved into my house.

I have come to a huge conclusion…… the tenants who lived here NEVER cleaned, the place was disgusting, the walls which I had only seen in passing when visiting the house in semi darkness were filthy. I had to clean all the light switches before I turned on the lights as they were black with dirt. I think after they knew I was buying they didn’t care. I have found a couple of wet patches on the concrete floor which means that the builders will need to check the roof also now, another thing to add to their list.

Talking of builders……….yesterday 6 arrived on site, that is BEFORE any materials had been bought, which in itself is a long and interesting process. I went into town with the builder and the electrician, sounds simple, we went to the electrical shop and bought up new security lights, long life low energy bulbs, all the electrical things that are required for inside, only one single plug socket in each room so changing all to doubles, many light fitting broken so replacing, two showers. We bought and left all the items there waiting to be collected later. We then walked to the hardware store, not as we know it! The list of items needed was endless….. I cant begin to tell you……. My one problem is going to be selecting paint for the rooms, I cant bring home a colour chart and they don’t do match pots. I have to stand in the hardware store and decide on what I want, what a nightmare. I am used to spending weeks with sample colours deciding what I want, could be a problem.

What little furniture I have is all in my room so that the workmen can do their work…. Seemed like a good idea other than they are doing my en suite and started work BEFORE I got back from town. Apparently making sure everything is kept clean and tiding up before they leave is not on the agenda, I spent an hour last night sweeping and mopping up mud and cement left from the day’s activities, glad I have concrete floors and no carpet!

The shopping trip to get the majority of items didn’t quite work as planned…. We bought two toilets but forgot the cisterns, so no toilets last night had to use the pit latrine for the guard….. great that we had an alternative but door doesn’t close and no light….. sounds like what I am used to! I bought a basic square table to use in the kitchen as I was tired of cooking on the gas burner on the floor, does nothing for the back.

All in all I LOVE THE HOUSE, just cant wait till its finished and can enjoy it a little more. At the moment the garden is a builders yard, the garage a storage facility, reminds me a bit of Under the Tuscan Sun, those that have seen it will understand. At the end of yesterday I must admit I wanted to cry, but didn’t, I remembered the film instead and knew it would all come right. I am still visiting SCANN, unfortunately short but sweet trips. I squeeze in hair cuts, sewing and medical treatments while I am there and spend time chilling with the boys.

I have collected Kim (the puppy) and taken her home, the first day was spent mopping the floor and cleaning up after her, unfortunately living outside means she is not house trained……… nice. She is a good guard dog announcing everyone who arrives at the gate, we don’t have door bells here! I have also discovered that she thinks she is a cat, she proudly provided me with a mouse that she had caught yesterday, I will bring the cats home soon, but as they bully Kim thought I would let her settle in first to get a senior position in the home. I find Kim great company and she loves to play, I have promised the boys that I will take her back occasionally at the weekends to visit.

Today I am off to Scann, a lady who I think I have mentioned before, Cheryl Robinson (I stayed at here house near the Menengai Crater) and I are going to SCANN today to work with the boys to make Christmas wrapping paper. They decorate the paper with potato printing, stencils and finger painting and apparently it sells very well. I am preparing myself for a mad, exhausting and messy afternoon. It will be good to see Cheryl again it has been some time since I met up with her.

My Masai guard who lives in the ‘helps’ quarters is doing Ok, he is guard / shamba man, I keep him busy. Today he went out to buy some sharp arrows and a new bow, it is apparently an essential part of his kit and he will use it, scary………I am glad he is protecting me, between him and the dog I will be fine, actually it is a nice area although with all the rain I need to buy wellies as the roads are swamps. I will leave you all now as I need to get ready for my trip to SCANN! Love you all, take care.