Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas Preparations….. 09

Well, a manic time as always but not quite the same as things back home.  My mission was to complete the allocation of the donated clothes to the smaller boys at SCANN before Christmas so that I could send back to the Hawes Down School the photos and information.

I chose the day that the doctor had come to give the all clear medically to the 26 boys who had been circumcised as part of their cultural right of passage. Part of this ritual is that the boys have confinement for at least 2 weeks with no contact with any females, which was the reason why my job was delayed.  I called the doctor to come and give the boys the all clear as the next day was the party by the Coca Cola Roadshow courtesy of the Nairobi Bottlers and I wanted all the boys to be present.  As hoped they were all fine and very pleased to hear they were to be let out of the dormitory.  I allocated the clothes to the boys that most needed them – finally the months of sorting through the boys clothes doing the locker lists paid off! 

The boys were delighted with their gifts from the UK, and if I go by the last few visits to SCANN I don’t think some of the boys have taken the items off!!!   The fleeces and sweaters have come in so well as the weather has changed and it looks like the rainy season has come at last ….. only 5 months late. The mornings start cold and the evenings come in cold too with hot temperatures during the day with thunder and storms followed by heavy, heavy down pours.

The Coca Cola party was like none we had had before, they came with a bus and mini bus with staff and a very large articulated lorry used for outdoor events, with sound systems etc on board and its own stage. They erected a marquee for the smaller boys to sit under, a bouncy castle and face painting, the boys were in ecstasy.  The Team spent huge amounts of energy entertaining the boys, providing lunch, coaching the older boys in ‘safe’ issues, playing football, we played musical chairs, and had dance off competitions that we were all encouraged to take part, me included!  All in all a great day was had by all. The whole neighbourhood gathered outside the walls of SCANN hankering for part of the action and dancing to the music that was on offer.

I don’t know about everyone else but I definitely slept well that night.

Christmas was a low key event, with Yasmine away we postponed many of the activities.  Yasmine is receiving radio therapy in India following her surgery and Chemo therapy here in Nairobi, we are hoping to see her back in a month or so.

The day before Christmas Eve I was informed that there was a Youth Group from Nairobi who wanted to come and spend Christmas Day with the boys playing football, interacting with them and doing workshops.  I was despatched to the  Director of SCANN to get approval and make arrangements for extra supplies etc.

On Christmas Eve I was running round town trying to find items for two of the older boys as they had been missed off the list I was given for gifts supplied by the trustees. I ended up changing the offerings this year and opted that the older boys got body wash and deodorant, something that they do not readily get hold of here after all while at college and university they become more aware of what is considered acceptable on a personal hygiene level. The school boys got geometry sets and the youngest ones got colouring pencils and drawing books, along with everyone getting a bag of crisps, some biscuits and sweets.  This was all collated and bagged up Christmas Eve into carrier bags from the supermarket and I worked with Catherine and Anastasia to get their names written on each bag so it was easier to hand out the items.  I also ordered a carton of milk and an orange for each boy which were to be handed out during Christmas Day, I also needed to include the 20 visitors in this so they didn’t feel left out.

Christmas Day was another thing altogether I was called in the morning and asked to bring my camera as the Youth Group didn’t come with one.  When I arrived everyone was in the dining hall watching a DVD made about a missing Street Boy called Emmanual, I sat and watched what I could then disappeared to help in the kitchen.  When the movie was finished all the boys headed to the field opposite SCANN to either watch or take part in the football tournament, Youth Group against SCANN, I took many pictures and as hoped SCANN won!

We then gathered in the dining hall and together with some of the staff on duty we handed out the 'booty' bags to the boys along with their lunch, sodas and oranges.  I think everyone was happy although due to a miss-calculation on the catering side, the staff ended up with no food.  I personally think it may have had something to do with the fact that the 'visitors' had increased in number as they had phoned friends to join in the fun. I considered this to be a little impolite as the staff had worked very hard to ensure the day went well and we were working to the numbers they had given us of 20!

As the day was to be planned by the visitors I decided that after lunch my presence was not needed as everyone was busy, so I left and headed home to spend the rest of my time with my dog, Kim and cat Paka resting after the mad rush getting everyone else sorted.

Hoping you all had a lovely time and are not now regretting eating and drinking too much.  I am pleased to say that not a drop of alcohol passed my lips nor a piece of chocolate, must be a record!! Will make up for it at some stage I am sure.  I am also managing a good nights sleep as Henry my guard went home for Christmas and I gave him my cockerel, Colin as a gift to his family for Christmas.  Henry told me they would keep it as a pet, but I think that is Henry saving me from knowing that Colin went in the cooking pot, hope he was tasty.  I decided that Colin needed to go before my guests come so they can get some sleep.

Oh and for those that I told about the party Christmas Eve, that I was so looking forward to. I didn't go as we had a power cut which lasted for some hours and I decided that I didn't want to leave the house as an easy target with no guard, no security lights and no one at home.  I think everyone at Cafe Guava had a good time, will have to catch me next time.

Love and festive greetings to you all, attaching photos of the boys from the Coca Cola event (hope you get them OK)

Susannah aka Santa Claus

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas One and All

I am asked by many boys at SCANN to pass on the festive greetings to my family and friends back home in the cold UK.  It would be very remiss of me to do so without wishing it from me too.

I hope that this Christmas is spent with people you love, is peaceful and full of great spirit and that 2010 brings a Happy New Year promising peace, love, happiness and less hardship to everyone here in Kenya and home in the UK too.

My love and best wishes to you all. Take care of yourselves during the crazy weather you are having, I hope you all stay safe on any travels that you are planning.

Home is where you heart is and mine is a very big heart, I will be with all of you this Christmas...................xxxxxxxxx


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Housewarming at Last

Last week I promised Nick and family that they could come round for a meal to say thankyou for all the work he does for me when I am not around and I am unable to pay him for it.
I arranged with Sheila (his 'wife') that they come round on Saturday evening.  Nick on Saturday morning called to say his family was coming but he couldnt make it as he was busy driving round two Irish men who he was now committed to.  I had met these two men the day before when they were passing and Nick dropped in for a cup of tea and introductions.  I suggested to Nick that he ask them to come too as I was not too happy inviting Nicks family without him.
I went to SCANN saturday morning to do the clinic which was quite quick as not many patients..... I shot into town and went to the market (which is always open) it was closed, apparently the municipal council decrees that Jamhuri day is a an official closure day for the market.  I had planned on doing vegetable stew and rice with a pudding..... bit of a problem without veg! I ended up against my usual shopping trends at the supermarket and bought as little as I could get away with because compared to the market the prices are crazy and produce less fresh.
I lit the jiko at 12.30 and started preparing the food assisted by Henry who decided if he was to eat with us and join in he should at least help.  Now I got a call from Nick confirming that the Irish men were coming too, so I needed to add more rice (allowed for).  With two jikos fired up I started cooking, I think it was 5pm when I stopped and was ready to greet my guests, instead of the 4, plus the two irish men Henry and I, I ended up with another volunteer and Sheilas niece too.  We had just enough food to go round and the desert which I had used two packets to make the creme caramel ended up being a sharing desert, everyone was given a spon and took turns taking a spoonful, I called it a sharing pudding!
Things that I had not taken into account, the most I have cooked for is 6 and I dont have big enough dishes, bowls or saucepans to cater for this many, it took alot of gigging about to finally get dinner on the table, but I dont think anyone noticed and it would appear that a great time was had by all.  Even managed a dance too!
Sunday was a bit quiet though this allowed me to catch up on my sleep and washing.
Yesterday, I hired a car and went to visit Mama Sweetie and her brood of children.  I found that her children had gone to visit a relative leaving Mama Sweetie with the 5 smaller children that she is now taking charge of.  The orphanage building has stopped as the main builder has been unwell and nothing will be done without him, it is also now the Christmas season so everything would stop anyway as many people travel to their rural homes to spend the festive time with their families.  We had a lovely time, I took my laptop (charged) and let the children watch some childrens animated movies, they dont have electricity so this was a great treat for them.
I took along with me some ugali flour, bread, butter, cooking oil and a sack of oranges together with some of the clothes from Hawes Down School to provide them with some warm clothes for the cold nights.  The children thought, rightly so that it was Christmas, they loved the clothes (even though they were a little big) I am sure they will grow quickly.
I took many pictures and a couple of short movies to send back to the school in the UK.  The clothes for SCANN are still waiting to be given out as the boys they will fit have been circumcised, so it would be unfair to hand out some bits of clothes and they are unable to receive them and have photos at the same time.  I should be able to hand them out the begining of the week when their 3 weeks of confinement is over.
I hope you are all well and ready for Christmas, if you arent yet then you need to get your skates on.
The weather is still hot during the day and cold at night, Paka has taken to lying on me to keep me warm (Cat) regular fights with the mosquito net ensue and wake me up but it is worth the effort for the extra warmth!
Love to you all,
now I have had the housewarming, apparently my house is now blessed and protected..... I hope so!
I hope to be in touch again before Christmas but incase I get hijaked by Irish or aliens, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Rain Just When You Don't Want It


I know I complain when there is no rain and complain when there is.  Today was so hot and I left home early to get lots done at SCANN.  By 9am the sun was beating down and the earth was just piles of dusty dirt clinging to everything.  I had an early shower, hair included and decided to stop it getting too dusty put it into two plaits, looked just like a school girl.

I trip to SCANN ever eventful involved popping my head into a new internet cafe on the main road and finding it wasn't working then getting on a matatu who wanted to charge me 15bob instead of 10bob for where I alight.  He obviously decided it was better not to argue with me and just smiled and wished me a good day.  I avoided the group of young men who always give me a bit of hastle for 'breakfast' but never get any. Found a boda boda man and headed down the steep hill to SCANN.  When I got there it was cooler as always as it is surrounded by trees and in the shade, so temperature wise it was good workable temperature.

I got to work completing the forms that I was summarising and put the results on the computer, by this time it was getting towards lunchtime for the boys.  I sat in the dining room watching them eat their githerie (bean stew) and continued working.  Later I decided it was time to leave and headed to the computer room to put my paperwork away (so tired of carrying it there is so much and it is so heavy).  

I got caught by Kombo who wanted to go over the details for Christmas lunches etc, apparently my input was imperative.  It took about 30 minutes of discussion, when we had finished and I was about to leave the heavens opened, I was stuck at SCANN for an hour and a half.  Now today I had no sweater or jacket and definitely no umbrella, every other day I carry a sweater and a waterproof jacket, just my luck.

I sat with the boys in the computer room watching them completing new computer learning skills programs that have been provided by a college here in Kenya, they love them.  I waited patiently for the rain to cease, but it seemed to be here to stay, in a short period of less rain I ran to the office where Kombo was sorting out the clothes we are to give out for Christmas, I borrowed a Reebok jacket and legged it up the road.  

When I arrived in town I was walking along one of the small alleys to the main street, along the way there were two small children playing at scaring each other by roaring, watched on by their parents.  As I walked by I roared at them to join in, unfortunately the children were not amused and as I quickened my pace along I heard the children screaming in terror, I didn't think I was that scary.... obviously I am. There will be two more traumatised children who are scared of white people now!

I decided to sit in the internet and check my emails, still feeling guilty about the screaming children, but it is now warm and comforting to know that my friend Nick is free to collect me in about 30 minutes instead of fighting my way through the crowds to the matatu stage only to be crammed into the matatu for the bumpy journey home.    Don't you just love Kenya!

Love to you all, a rather damp and mouldy smelling Susannah

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy 8th December 2009

I am so sorry that it has been so long since I last wrote to you all, I bet you are getting bored with nothing else to read! No I haven't been busy writing Christmas cards, sorry not sending any this year......!

OK, I had a meeting with one of the Directors of SCANN who has given me various jobs, one of which to finish the job I started and another Kenyan volunteer took over which entailed logging all the clothes that the boys have in their locker. It would have been a good thing if the new volunteer had used the same format as I was following as it took a long time to establish how many different items of clothes each boys has. The list I have been given as the update has missed off many items making my life very difficult.... do I just go with her list as gospel or do I go back and fill in all the blanks giving myself double the work.

On that note I am still eagerly waiting to complete the above work so that I can give out the donations kindly given by Hawes Down School, but officially until I complete the work I am unable to establish who needs what. I can't wait to take photos and send them back to the school along with some letters.

In addition to this work which is gruelling paperwork, I am also given the job of arranging two parties over Christmas for the boys. These are not parties as we know it just additional items on the menu and if I feel good a dance party, which is crazy hectic especially as most of the staff are off and I am the only volunteer here at the moment. (At least last year I had Thomas to help).

Today we had a 'create our own Christmas decorations' session with two friends who came to help. It was a bit crazy lots of paint, glitter and glue but we had a great time, lots of stories and laughs. I am not sure many of the painted items will be recognised for what they are but they are all named and the boys are proud of their creations. I think more glitter was sprinkled on the boys than on the papers.

In addition to this I am behind on sending my emails and updating my blog, everything here takes so long, travelling to and from SCANN in the heat of the day, struggling along crowded 'pavements' (not as we know them) with bags of work and shopping, then fighting to get a seat on the matatu home when you have to share your seat with another person or sit in the gap between the seats and are still expected to pay full price....... I get exhausted but love it. No wonder I have no social life and fall into bed at 8pm to be awoken by the cockerel anytime from 2.30am!! He may well get eaten over Christmas before more guests arrive! If nothing else I NEED MY BEAUTY SLEEP!!

During the Christmas holidays there is no scheduled work done the boys are left without the tuition that they usually do during other holidays, so we play games, (outdoor and in). They watch movies, they loved the Jumanji and Night at the Museum that I came with, I am not sure how many times they have watched them. I have done no sewing yet as I haven't had the energy, but The Director has offered for me to have someone who does the sewing so I may just have to let them do so, as have little energy for anything else at the moment.

The water situation is fine now, no problem with hot showers, but the rain we had for a few days has now gone, the clouds build with the promise of a heavy fall but they move on elsewhere........ empty promises!

My house without Fatso is a great deal more relaxed, Kim enjoys time in the house when I am around and is great company. Paka is often a distraction when he comes running into the house with a bird in his mouth, Kim never quite knows what to do.... chase the cat or watch in horror as he eats the bird! So many feathers are left lying around for me to clear up, at least there are no gooey bits.

My love to you all at this run up to Christmas, hoping you have already done your shopping to avoid the rush.

Hot and sweaty in Nakuru,


Water, Water Everywhere... But Not in the Taps! - 18th November 2009

Jambo All,

Well so much seem to have happened and also nothing at all. I am busily keeping track of my ‘house guests’ Moses and Francis (the acrobats) whilst having drop-in visits from Sammy, Peter and a friend called Rono. People have heard that I am back in town and want to make sure I am Ok after my upsetting return to nothing last year.

I am being the hostess with the most’est and providing Ugali and Sukuma like a good Kenyan.

I visited Yasmin with Sammy, Moses and Francis on Sunday just before she left for Nairobi, she was due to have surgery on Monday, I haven’t heard the outcome yet, but hope it went OK. I was quite surprised to see how well Yasmin looked as in August when I left she was so weak and frail I thought it was the last I would see her. Apparently the reaction to the chemo therapy was extreme with her and affected her badly. I will let you know how she is doing when I know more. Yasmin will be in Nairobi for two weeks recuperating before she returns to Nakuru.

On a lighter note let me tell you a story, as you will already know my water situation is this, I get water via the mains pipe on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday supposedly, this water I pump into a large roof level water tank for use when there is no mains water supply. Now in theory this works Ok, there are problems when….

a) There is work being done anywhere in the vicinity.

b) There is an electric power cut this prevents the mains water being pumped from the borehole supply.

c) Someone forgets to flick the switch or

d) I am out and miss when the water is available.

e) No specific reason at all!

Usually these problems are not large ones as there is usually water in the storage tank. Last week however, Thursday to be exact I had no water supply and could not fill the storage tank, not a problem as we had water and just needed to top up which I would do on Sunday, or so I thought. My visitors Francis and Moses are rather meticulous with washing and wash everything in sight until is sparkles, so water is used in rather large supplies.

On Saturday I noticed a work team digging a large trench outside the property along the roadside, in approximately the same line as the water pipe. I presumed this was to supply the new property across the road from me with mains water, I jokingly sent my friendly water man a message to this effect saying that if there was no water on Sunday as a result I would not be happy!! I received no reply.

On Sunday, you guessed it….there was no water and the workmen as expected were no where to be seen (probably at church service). On Monday I notice another trench was being dug on the other side of the road and on walking into town I noticed that these trenches were in fact covering quite a distance and many people were out with jerry cans looking for water. Alarm bells started ringing and I went outside this morning and asked one of the workmen when were we to get water, he said it would be another week!

I left Francis and Moses in the house Tuesday morning and went to SCANN very early to take staff photos arriving there for 7.30am to make sure I caught the night staff before they left. I asked Francis and Moses to be careful with the water, on my return they said there was a problem and there was no water, I checked the tank and it was empty, I checked the mains and they were dry……….. I called my ‘friend’ at the water department and asked him if he had forgotten to tell me something important last time I spoke to him, as there was NO water. He said he would look into it and has been unavailable since!

I stood outside this yesterday morning looking at my wilting tomato plants and kale dreading having to water them…….. I needn’t have worried as there was no water.

When I found that there was no mains available I stood outside in a huff and did a rain dance asking for the heavy clouds to hesitate over Nakuru and drop rain!

About 2 hours later the heavens opened, I ran outside with every bucket and basin available and strategically placed them where they would collect the most water. I was relieved that I would be saved from watering the crops, however my pleasure was short lived when all the basins were being used outside and my roof started leaking inside. Nothing else to use but saucepans!

So much for having no water! Mind you this hasn’t helped the fact that I have only a litre of drinking water in my fridge and rainwater to wash and flush the loos with for possibly a week! I sent the boys out yesterday afternoon to buy me a large jerry can and a couple of supermarket bottles of water, they still hadn’t returned by 10pm but eventually arrived with water bottles as promised. Washing up sat overnight and was done this morning!

What I want to know is how difficult is it to put up fly posters to let people know what is going to happen so they can store water before they cut it off! They could even have printed it on the bottom of our last bill as this is obviously a large job that has been planned for a while. It isn’t as if water is readily available in the area!!

Ok that is my moan for now, at least it means that I won’t have to worry about washing and cleaning for a while, will think about that challenge when water arrives. More pressing is the fact that I didn’t shower night before last, no water to shower last night and haven’t washed my hair in 3 days, could be getting desperate enough to wander down to Hotel Mercia to use their facilities, basin washing is Ok but not sufficient.

My sleepless nights have been reduced by the fact that I have finally let Joe have Fatso. Whilst it was sad to see her go, things here are a lot more sedate, less jumping around and messing up cleanly put on clothes, she never did learn to keep her paws on the floor. Kim is settling into a routine of being around the house during the day when I am about, she is good company, and when I am out or at night she is on guard outside in the porch. I think that maybe the cockerel will be my next victim as he crows anything from 3am onwards but for him it will probably be someone’s cooking pot!

Just call me stinky from Nakuru!!

Love to you all, enjoy your turn of a tap!!!


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Paka's surprise n Joseph's story...

Hi Everyone,

Ok now I think this maybe a record but I managed to wash my hair with 1 litre of rain water, that is wash and condition, it doesn't particularly feel great but better than it was. The water was so black afterwards as my long hair hangs on to the dirt here and after so long without washing it was awful. I didn't waste the hair washinh water though, used it to flush the toilet, double wammie!

I haven’t had a lot to report recently, the water is still playing a disappearing act, according to the fundis working in the ‘road’ the pipes are being replaced over a very large area and until they are all done they won’t reconnect the water. Lucky us! I decided that even though my suppy of rain water was dwindling I really had to wash some clothes. I sparingly ensured these were things that I could not do without and left items like jeans and combats to be grubby, fact of life here.

So yesterday, I sat on the back step with my basin of rainwater, enjoying the peaceful afternoon and strange as it may seem the washing! I was disturbed by such a sudden commotion of something being knocked over and then bird’s shrill squarking together with the chickens and cockerel joining in. It transpired that paka (the cat) had caught a bird and was running into the house with it in its mouth. I hurriedly followed to shut all the doors preventing paka from taking the bird further into the house. I managed to confine them in the kitchen and then ushered paka outside again, bird still fluttering its wings in an attempt to get away, but paka was having nothing of it. I decided to let nature take its course as the bird was already badly damaged.

I went back to my washing leaving paka with earned prize sitting behind me on the opposite step. There developed a gathering of many types of birds who frequent my garden, they all perched around making a loud racket. The bird paka caught was a common starling which over here is quite brightly coloured petrol blue and green as opposed to our drab coloured ones in the UK. I was very surprised that the commotion went on for sometime and then all of a sudden the birds started dive-bombing paka who darted in my direction for cover, I was then also getting dive-bombed. I leapt away from my basin of washing and took cover and funnily enough, Kim the dog followed quickly behind me. I have never seen such a spectacle; it reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock’s movie ‘The Birds’, luckily however without the blood and gore, I didn’t loose any hair or eyeballs! The dive-bombing finally subsided and I resumed my washing and paka enjoyed the feast, however the birds still perched overhead making a great racket. Wouldn’t want to cross them again, next time I may not come off so lightly, I must admit I was so pleased that paka didn’t catch one of the tiny turquoise birds with red circles round their eyes, they are so lovely. After doing my washing I made use of the rinse water and washed the floors of the house, they needed it, the dust has started collecting again.

I have actually had a busy few days, trying to get young Joseph who I have met in town many times in the last year, into SCANN for the long Christmas holidays.

Joseph’s story isn’t unique here in Africa. Joseph’s mother Esther left Joseph and his sister Helen (then aged 8years and 1 years respectively) with their grandmother. After a year Esther still had not returned to claim her children. Aged and without means to continue supporting her grandchildren, their grandmother was finding things very difficult.

One day their grandmother told the children they were going on a trip to visit an ‘aunty’, in fact the grandmother brought the children to Nakuru from Olkalao and told them to wait for her in town, she failed to return.

Some well wishers from the nearby market took Joseph and Helen to the Children’s Officer. Helen was taken to a children’s home some distance away where she has been cared for since, she is now 6 years old.

Joseph was taken in by the headmaster of St Davis school in Bahati, where he is still housed and educated during the school terms, however during the holiday periods he has no family to go to so he stays in Nakuru town. He had been befriended by an older boy Vincent, who had been an orphan and was working as a night guard offering Joseph shelter in the doorway where he was working and watched over him at night. During the day Joseph relied on the kindness of well-wishers to provide him with food. Vincent has since changed jobs and now works during the day as a fruit vendor in town and whilst he now has a one room ‘house’ he can barely afford to feed himself, let alone take charge of Joseph.

Over the last year Joseph and I have had many conversations and spent free time together, after finding out his situation I discussed the possibility of help with SCANN and we have finally worked to keep him during the long Christmas holiday providing him with accommodation until he is due to go back on the 7th January. Joseph is a very intelligent boy who loves reading novels and works hard to keep his position as second in a class of 80 children.

I am hoping that as of Wednesday when Henry (my guard) is back I will be back to my regular attendance at SCANN, until then I am attending the clinic again today, but in the afternoon (as the doctor is busy being locum at another clinic in the morning) at least I got a lay-in!

Love and best wishes to you all,
Stinky Susannah, Nakuru, Kenya

Friday, 13 November 2009

Dust baths but they had water - 13th November 2009

Jambo Friends,
I think I must be jinxed as apparently Kenya has had substantial rain water in the last week and as soon as I arrive it dries up. I think it transferred back to the UK as I understand that there is plenty there....... SORRY!

It is now Friday and the week has gone so quickly, most of it has been spent with me cleaning and sorting the house and unpacking my things and organising. Henry has now gone home and I am busy attending the compound (garden) chickens, cat and dogs. I think that the dogs prefer the way Henry cooks their Ugali and meat as they don't seem to partial to mine, I wouldn't mind but it takes such a work up to light the jiko, boil the water, add the meat waste to make a soup, then to cook the ugali. How unappreciative they are!

On Tuesday we were scheduled to get our mains water but none arrived, I wasn't too worried as Henry had told me he had used the pump and filled the large storage tank on Sunday. After all the washing of the house, sheet covers, me showering, Moses and Francis also adding to the consumption I began to worry when no water arrived on Thursday either. I duly called 'my man at the water office' and asked if the designated days had changed. He ignored me and welcomed me back in the traditional Kenyan way of being sociable before business! I was told that the days hadn't changed but they had worked on one of the mains pipes so water would come at midday. He invited himself round for 'chai' but I told him that as I had just returned and had been waiting for water I had not been shopping so there was nothing in the house. He said he would then come for a glass of water, I said that this was why I was calling as there WAS NO WATER! He laughed and agreed it was a lost cause and maybe next time.... or maybe not!

At midday on the dot the water arrived but my pump would not pump...... Henry had the water storage drums still in his house and now locked so I had nothing to collect water in. I called my friendly electrician, Joe who works part time in the market with his mother. He came straight over..... 2 hours later..... by Kenyan time that is very quick. He re-primed the pump and helped me put up some lamp shades that I had come with, he is very tall and I have no steps so can't reach.

Francis and Moses are out of the house all day visiting friends and working with the boys at SCANN, they love passing on new skills to the boys, it's great to watch. They are good house guests, making sure they clean after themselves and help with cooking and washing up.

I am still struggling with the neighbour hood noises, I think that Colin the cockerel will have to go, join that with the fact that Fatso (dog) is on heat (obviously the jab I gave her didn't work) she is howling a good un! Joe since he first saw her constantly asks to have Fatso........... she may find a nice new home soon too. Kim has always been sedate and very good company and she listens and obeys, something that Fatso still has not got into her head.

I visited the boys at SCANN yesterday on the way to town, just a short visit, until Henry returns that will be all I can manage, as don't like leaving the house for long periods unmanned. The boys were so pleased to see me, I got lots of hugs and greetings, one boy Gideon saw me arrive and was waiting by the gates. He said you will make me cry, I asked him if it was because he had missed me so much, he said it was because Kimberley (my daughter) was not with me. Kimberley was hoping to come with me but due to medical problems will wait until January when she is feeling stronger. I told him that she was sad that she couldn't be here but would see him in January. I think he is crossing off the days.

Not a lot has changed, Kombo who was overall in charge and education head is now solely Officer in Charge we have a new member of staff who has moved to take over the education side of things. Catherine is unwell but still working with Typhoid and Anastasia is working strong still managing the doctors clinic in my absence. I hope to go tomorrow for clinic to say hi and see how things are doing. That reminds me one of the twins is feeling unwell so I suggested that he comes in tomorrow to see the doctor.

I bumped into Joseph in town, he found me where I usually stop for a waterhole at Guava cafe, Joseph is now 13 and his school is closed for the Christmas break. I had hoped that something had been sorted with him going to SCANN for the holidays but he said he had heard nothing. I will chase this as he is now staying with the security man again, luckily the security man has now got a room and he stays with him there, not really a suitable situation but will try to resolve soon. Joseph tells me that he has managed to remain 2nd in his class and his marks have improved although he didn't quite make 1st place. He was delighted with the story book that Kimberley chose for him and will let us know whether he liked it or not so we can get more.

Oh last night whilst cooking the dogs ugali outside it was growing dark and eventually I could hardly see, I went to put on the outside lights only to find that there was a power cut. I managed with the help of a candle and my phone to continue cooking the ugali and slop it into the dogs dishes to cool.

I then went inside and located and lit my candles, good job I came with some from UK, they last so much longer and smell lovely too! I had no idea what time the boys were coming back or how long the electricity would be off. I decided to continue cooking my dinner and a bit extra for the boys (just in case), not a small feat as it was rather dark. I had brought the animals in the house for company and so that they wouldn't bark and scare me with the slightest sound. They lay on the floor obviously knowing my plight, Paka was the only problem continually tripping me over by twisting round my ankles in the dark.

I managed to successfully cook and eat my dinner and then the boys called to say they were 5 mins away. I told them to call me when they were stood at my gate as there was no way I was standing outside in the total dark waiting for them to arrive. They duly did so and I went with the light from my phone and let them in, not realising that Fatso had slipped out at the same time. It wasn't until we were all in the house that I realised she was missing, I knew it was the only explanation, so I crept to the gate and called, no noise. Suddenly she flew through a bit of hedge and got stuck by the collar, she scared the living daylights out of me. I retrieved her, it was obviously too dark out there for her too.

We were without electricity for about 2 hours, but just when we were ready to sit and rest the lights came on and we managed to watch a DVD, a nice end to a stressful evening!

Ok will move on now as it is time to get home and check on the place, start cooking dinner and chill, did I say how hot it was!!!!!!

Love to you all, still trying to arrange to see Yasmin, hopefully this weekend, will keep you posted.

I send you all rays of sunshine.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

KENYA 4 - The Big Bird with bags has landed

just to let you all know that I have arrived safe and sound in Nakuru. The booking in at the airport went smoothly although I was wandering if there would be problems with the agreed extra bag that Virgin allowed me, but the guy at check-in didn't bat an eyelid. I thought there were problems at the gate as the seats were empty but we were told that there were only 120 people on board and we did as the pilot said and made use of the extra seats....... I grabbed the 4 seats in the centre of the plane, lifted the arms and managed to sleep stretched out all the way to Nairobi, well after we were fed and watered, so no movies for me!

Jenga (Nairobi trusted taxi friend) was waiting for me with a huge smile on his face (Nick was unable to pick me up as his mother had passed away and he was back in his rural home for the funeral). The ride back to Nakuru was hot, and as we arrived in Nakuru even hotter, if they have had rain in my absence you wouldn't have known!

Both Henry (my askari / guard) and the animals greeted me like a lost relative, the dogs moaned and howled at my return and haven't left my side since, the cat (minus whiskers, Henry decided as he had trimmed his whiskers he would do the cats...... I explained that they needed theirs!) keep tripping me up as he won't get out from between my feet.

The house once opened was a sight, there was so much dust everywhere, that once Jenga had hugged and left me for his return to Nairobi. Henry and I dumped the bags in my room and set to work with the hose and broom to wash away the layer of dust and dirt it on the floor, sweeping would have been so so messy. After Henry and I had done all the washing we changed, Henry, his brother and I headed to Bota Sola for a plate of chicken and chips and a soda, before we went on a basic food shop for me. I had nothing in the house as you can imagine, so had to get the necessaries, milk, coffee, bread, biddys (flora), loo roll! I slept like a log last night, I think before I hit the pillow, didn't even get to unpack, slept with everything lying on the bed.

Thinking we we had done a good job with the washing yesterday, this morning when everywhere was dry I realised that in fact we had done a poor job it had just left muddy streaks everywhere, so wash no. 2 was done today, together with curtains and nets.

About an hour after Jenga had left yesterday I realised that I was one small bag missing, and called Jenga, it was still in his car hidden by the black interior being a black bag and he was already half way back to Nairobi....... he agreed to take the bag to Mololine Shuttle for them to send with their driver after he packed it up, I was so worried as it had my passport in it etc. This afternoon I duly went and collected it Phew was I relieved although my name now is Susan Pamela!!

This morning I woke at various times with the new noises of the night, one of them being my cockerel Colin, need to buy him a watch or a gag. I eventually got up at 7 am walked round with the dogs then sat on the front step watching the slight breeze blowing in the trees thinking how warm it was and how hot it was going to get.....sipping my cup of coffee.

Greeting me has been something that has been going on since last night, I am not sure how people know I am back but my Kenyan phone hasn't stopped and this morning is no exception.

I had a call from the acrobats who are back from Tanzania, they wanted to come and say hi......... um actually they want to stay with me for a week until they head back to Tanzania. I have laid down rules, this time they help with food and jobs round the house, I can't afford to have open house, even for them.

I am looking forward to them providing me with material that I can copy and send home to hopefully promote them in the UK through my friend Simon, who is now joining us on this email list, together with the IKEA 'girls' who are visiting me in February and a nice lady called Mary who used to live in Kenya and now resides in Southampton. Greetings to you all.

Ok I have ventured into town to pick up some fruit and veg for provisions. Have told Moses and Francis (the acrobats) that they are cooking the Ugali tonight as I am out of practice!

Love to you all, finding the heat a little exhausting will take me a while to settle again. SCANN unfortunately will have to wait until the dust settles and only able to do short trips as Henry is off home for two weeks (a little longer than I would have hoped but after being stuck at mine for three months think he deserves it!)



Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Out of touch

Hi Everyone,

I have no phone at the moment due to it being accidently washed by the boys at Scann, at least its clean. Am working on getting repaired or replaced with a cheapie.

I am sorry it has been a while, things here are a bit low. I am not sure if I have told you that Yasmin, our Trustee in charge at Scann, is undergoing chemo therapy for breast cancer. She is on her second treatment and it really is taking its toll. The staff visited her at home on Friday and we took all the boys to see her on Sunday afternoon to do a very small performance.

Yasmin looked so frail that it really upset the boys, I had prepared myself for how Yasmin was but when the boys broke down it broke my heart. We are all trying to be positive and give her the strength to get through the treatment, she has a long long way to go, after the third treatment she is due for an op. Will keep you all posted.

Scann continues as normally as is possible, the show Edwina put on for Yasmin in her absence has been given to me and caused me a few problems in copying but tomorrow I should be able to go and visit Yasmin again and give her a copy to see at her leisure. The shamba here is growing like crazy not quite sure what I am going to do with everything planted although looking at it all it will be ready in August when I am away. We are looking to dry the maize and take it to be milled into flour for future months supplies. Fresh maize out here kills my teeth and digestion, its so hard.

The chickens have at last started to lay again, Henry keeps suggesting we let the hens sit on the eggs, but I am insisting that there is no way I can afford to feed more chicks, still busy with the last four, two went to the shamba man at Scann. I now have a new sewing machine which I have got up and running, a good job too as it was needed to make more poi for our trip to Yasmin's, it will come in so useful with all the split trousers and shirts that I have seen recently at SCANN.

My love to you all, anyone who wants to see the DVD and photos from the performance I will be sending a copy to Kimberley this week, hopefully with the Kenyan post she may receive it soon, just ask her for a viewing. Take care, and keep well, happy birthday to those that are celebrating this month, you know who you are.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Busy, busy, busy

Hi Everyone,

well there is lot to catch up on but just to let you know am so busy I don't know what to do with myself. I fall into bed and fall asleep before the bedside light is switched off, usually with book in hand unopened.

On Friday we had a show with the boys performing for a group of friends we invited to SCANN to display the new routines that Edwina had been working on with them, including a dance routine to Me and My Shadow, together with hats and canes. It was fabulous and the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but the piece de resistance was the poi performance with fire. I will try and send on some photos next time I am at the internet, fire poi is basically a metal chain with a swivel attached which is then fixed on to a small block at the end with a Kevlar wick wrapped around. The boys learn first with practice poi which are cloth and are weighted (here we used a small bean bag) they learn to spin and twirl the poi then the best ones moved on to learning with the fire poi (unlit) then eventually lit poi. The result was an amazing show in the dark with twirling fire. E

veryone was so impressed we managed to video the evening as the event was originally planned to help raise the spirits of Yasmin who is very sick at the moment and on Chemo therapy, but she was too sick to attend. She will receive a copy of the video though and hopefully enjoy it.

Yesterday was a holiday here Madaraka Day, (Independence Day), Edwina and I went to SCANN to entertain the boys with games and a dance off competition. We had a great time and I think the boys did too. Today I saw off Edwina, she is off to a performing arts place in Nairobi (Sarakasi) where my friend Jemo works (he is away in Norway at the moment) I managed to introduce Edwina to Sarakasi and she is going to be there training some of their performers with fire and in return learning some more skills to add to her list, she is hoping for trapeze or another such talent. From there she is visiting our acrobats who are performing Tanzania for a while hopefully getting in some scuba while she is there. She says she will return to Nakuru in July before she heads home in August, we'll see.... the beaches are a strong pull when you spend so much time away from them in Nakuru.

I also said bye to John who has changed his itinerary and is doing a circular safari with my friend Joseph from Mount Kenya, unfortunately, my lack of a visa has put a stop to me going on any of the safaris planned as I would have trouble getting in to the parks. Immigration has assured me that my lack of a visa is no problem, however I would feel a little safer knowing I have a stamp to prove that I am OK here!!!! Be patient they keep saying it is our paperwork problem. Um still not too comfortable, probably find I will be frog marched to the airport and deported as an undesirable.

Edwina and I spent a quiet weekend even though it was a holiday one, as last time we went out on a holiday weekend we spent most of the night breaking up skirmishes with the people we were with, far too much alcohol is consumed by all on these weekends and many many brawls are a result, we stayed in and watched 'girlie movies' on the laptop and ate chocolate. Catherine had travelled home to Nairobi to see her family. The house will be quiet back to Catherine and myself, Henry, the two dogs, paka, one cock, three chickens and 4 large chicks..... (I gave two chicks away to the old shamba man at SCANN he lost his to a virus and I cant afford to keep feeding these chickens!!!!)

My shamba is amazing, I think if I had time I could sit and watch the maize grow........ Henry who is no taller than I am disappeared this morning with his hoe to do some weeding, the only way I knew where he was was the maize moved more than the slight breeze that was blowing. I will be moving myself back into my room today as John has left me....... we had a move around so that John wouldn't have to share the bathroom facilities with so many girlies, I gave him my room with the en suite and I moved into Edwinas, Edwina in turn moved in to share the other room with Catherine, (who apparently snores!) I am much better although I didn't realise how much energy my chest infection had taken out of me.

I am now heading home from seeing off Edwina to do the hand washing of one Queen size bedding and a single bedding together with towels etc etc etc, wish me luck, by the end I hope that my back wont be crook!! This is what you get for being a jack of all trades and unable to employ someone to do it for you!!! Its good for the muscles and keeps me out of mischief. I hope you are all well and happy, I understand that the weather there is much improved, that's a good thing, it will bring more smiles to the UK!

I will love you and leave you. Hugs all round. Oh I am hoping to get a new sewing machine soon from my friend in Nairobi, he kept asking what would benefit the project and the sewing machine definitely would!!!!!!

(Typed in haste, please excuse typos and also if it doesn't make sense, need to get home while the sun is still shining to do the washing!!!!) BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Still here

Hi Everyone,
just to let you know and still alive and kicking in Kenya. My chest infection has only just cleared and needed steroid tablets to get rid, now I am sporting great muscles.... kidding. I am slowly increasing my energy levels, although two trips to Nairobi, one to collect John an ex colleague and friend from P&O days and to sort my visa.

Since I came in November 2008 I am still trying to sort out my visa, my tourist visa has now expired (don't tell anyone) but the immigration Manager says don't worry as they have the paperwork and it is their problem. Can't say that instills me with confidence as I got a call yesterday saying we need to resubmit the documents as they can't find them. I have decided after many trips to Nairobi to sort this out that I am not leaving until I have my visa approved and in my hand!

The house hold is fine, John has spent 4 days with us and has this morning set out on his 14 day safari to Masai Mara, Mount Kenya, the Lakes and then Samburu, rather him than me, it is very tiring.

At Scann on Friday evening Edwina is holding the show that she and the boys have put together so I am really excited as I haven't seen a lot of the preparations as have been at home. I have however helped with many of the small sewing requirements. Should be a good night. I was at Scann on Saturday helping in the clinic many of the boys are down with sore throats and malaria due to the change in the weather, but nothing serious there.

I managed to introduce Edwina to Sarakasi the performing arts establishment in Nairobi where my friend Jemo works, he is away in Norway, but his associate has agreed to take Edwina for a period of two weeks to train their acrobats etc with Poi and fire in return for her being taught additional circus skills. She is very excited.

On Sunday we took an impromptu visit to Crater, on the outskirts of Nakuru, it is a vast volcanic crater and beauty spot. I decided that as we had to take a taxi to get there we would take the dogs with us for a walk, um sounded like a good plan in my head. Now we had Edwina in the car to drop off en route, John, Henry (askari), myself and Nick driving, together with the two (large) dogs, Kim sat in the front with me and Fatso loitered between the seats but sat at the back. We arrived at Crater and the views were fantastic, but it became apparent that there was no way we would be able to descend from the top lip where we were as the sides were far to steep and the dogs would send us flying.

We walked round the rim instead well away from the edge, we were unable to let the dogs loose as either they would disappear over the edge while playing or one of them would run up to us and send us over the edge. We had a lovely walk and the dogs by the end were exhausted, (mind you I did use them as huskies to pull me back up the slope to the car. We will go back without the dogs and descend the crater which apparently takes two hours to get to the base and about 3 to climb back not quite ready for that.

Just to let you know if you are not already, Kimberley and her Grandmother managed to safely complete the jump from the plane yesterday, they are both apparently still buzzing with adrenaline and happy they were mad enough to do it. What next I ask!!!!!!!
Love to all, hope you are all well.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Still coughing

Hi Everyone,
just thought as I came into town for the doctors today that I would drop into the internet and send you a quick email (not something I am used to).

I haven't been to Scann all week and have been told by Edwina that the boys are missing me like crazy and keep asking for me, unfortunately it is a bad time as Yasmin who is in charge of the project has been having Chemo for newly diagnosed breast cancer, so me not being around either is making them worry more.

I am on medication for allergic bronchitis and pharyngitis (spelling kindly provided by my brother but forgotten by me!!) I keep having bad coughing fits that exhaust me and are brought on by talking, laughing, moving around and basically any form of exertion. SO staying at home seems like a good idea, am looking at joining them at Scann on Monday.

Edwina is busy putting together her show which should be fab and we hope to put it on when Yasmin is well enough to come to visit the project. I had a surprise visit (I think it was on Tuesday) from three of the acrobats who went to China then left Scann and have been performing in Tanzania. They are so good they are now getting people interested in booking them including Circ de Soleil (they were already working a contract in Tanzania but are looking to get back in touch when they are completed). The three boys came to visit and then said they were staying with me when I asked where they would be. They also had three friends with them, one boy who was joining their troupe. They were lovely and between Edwina and myself we managed to scrounge enough food to feed them all. It was a house full but we managed for the two days they were with us.

They performed various dance routines and acrobatic shows for us and Edwina showed them her performance with poi although there wasn't enough time to teach them. They made time to go to Scann and see their 'brothers' and perform for them too, they never forget where they came from and try to let the boys know that hard work does pay off in the end. I provided them with costumes that my good friend Doris had made for them and some DJ T-shirts for their hat juggling performances that they loved. I have been left as custodian for two huge suitcases full of their clothes that they want me to look after while they return to Tanzania to fulfill their contract. They all call me 'Mum' and it was an emotional parting when they left especially as they new I wasn't feeling too good, I managed to keep them awake all night coughing!!!!
Anyway, not a lot more to report.
Love to you all,

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sorry - War and Peace - Mombassa a freebie

Hi Everyone,

at last someone in Kenya has treated me!!!!! A surprise trip….. Mombassa , sun, sea and lots of sand! Tried to keep it short but you know me!

Faisal, an old acquaintance from 2006 suddenly appeared when we were out a couple of weeks ago. Since then he has been in touch quite a lot…. I think he has a thing for Edwina. He asked where we hadn’t been and what plans we had for the holiday weekend. Not difficult answers we hadn’t been to many places in Kenya and we had no plans for the weekend, we decided that Mombassa was top on the list of places that we would like to go to.

No sooner said than done, he arranged for a ‘business trip’ to coincide with the weekend. To our benefit he was driving down and took Catherine, Edwina and I with him. The preparation was mad, we bought Catherine a bikini from the matumba (second had stalls) got it washed and dried before we left, I had to locate my ‘holiday’ clothes including doing a bit of alteration to my bikinis which had grown baggy in the bottom as mine has reduced! The animals were provided food for and Henry was left in charge, I did have to get Joe my friendly electrician in to add a switch outside so Henry could turn on the security lights himself as all the switches are inside the house, this was completed as we loaded the car with our bags ready to leave.

Bags packed and loaded we left Nakuru at approx 7.30pm for a night drive down to the coast in the cool of the night and without a lot of traffic in order to make the most of the Friday and Saturday for the beach and the Faizals business transactions. En route he had arranged to collect a ‘new to him’ car in Nairobi this little rendezvous was interesting as we had to offload all our things out of one car into another in the dark in a petrol station…… looked dodgy if I have to say so myself.

We stopped a couple of times en route for required toilet stops, food and drink, a truck breakdown (his business), we arrived in Mombassa at 5.30am only a 10 hour drive and then started the hunt for somewhere to stay, this minor arrangement hadn’t been made as Faizal wasn’t sure where we wanted to be, we had no idea either, other than by the beach.

After many attempts of finding somewhere we could afford, ie v. cheap he called someone he knew who ran a chalet hotel resort and got us booked in and paid for. We checked out the room which had 4 beds and were told the 4th would be removed… we all sighed a sigh of relief….. were worried Faizal had planned on joining us but were wrong! We went straight to the supermarket and collected supplied of munchies, a 5 ltr bottle of water and fruit, we still had some scotch pancakes and chapattis that we had cooked for the trip.

Faizal left us at Alloha where we explored our surroundings…. At this point we found that we were right on the beach which was white sand as far as you could see. We went back to the room and put on out swimmers and headed to the beach for a well earned soak in the sea to relax our aching bodies from the drive.

Catherine is a non swimmer who has been no where near a pool or beach….. it took some convincing to get her to stand in the water let alone ‘play’ in it…. She was on a mission to learn to swim though……. We only had two days! After a couple of hours (it was now 11ish) we decided to go back to the room and nap as it was getting too hot and the beach boys had honed in on us as the beach was deserted.

We had a nap after fighting with the fans and the aircon, sleep was a struggle but what we got was definitely needed. We lounged around and read until the heat of the mid day had passed, we then went back to the beach, played and got Catherine practicing floating in the shallows (no mean feat). We were a constant attraction to the men selling rides on:- camels, sail boats, glass bottom boats, jet skis, sailboards and gigolo's, not to mention the ladies offering massage, fruit and henna tattoos.

Needless to say the tourism market has suffered badly and even Mombassa is suffering as an example we managed to get a ride for all three of us for an hour on a Dhow for 500ks total, we had been asked by most people for 1,500ks each as a starting price. The guys we went with were really nice and happy to take us when they found we were broke volunteers with lots of stories and no money, besides we told them that three ‘babes’ would help promote their boat. They were very decent and not in the slightest with other things on their agenda. It was a fabulous hour and we were sorry that it ended, even Catherine began to relax by the end of it and was smiling and happy. We had lots of long long long walks along the shallows, which were bath water temperature, the outside temp being 33degrees C by the cars readout. We were in heaven, this trip was a long dreamt of trip that I could never manage to afford to arrange.

Faizal picked us up in the evening we weren’t sure if we were eating or clubbing afterwards, we dressed up for the occasion and found that he took us to the ‘old town’ we wished he had told us as being so Muslim our dress code was definitely not suitable. We refused to get out of the car at the first place he pulled up at as it was full of women clad from head to toe in black burkas, there was NO WAY we would have got out of there alive, besides which we felt so disrespectful to their heavy requirement for good dress code, something that Faizal was oblivious to even though he is Muslim, his defence was that he was struck by the fact that we were so gorgeous he didn’t think.

He took us to another place that was a pavement food bar where he pre ordered the food and when it arrived it was a plate full of goat kabab, something that we all tried in vain to eat and none of us enjoyed other than FAIZAL……. When asked if they did salad or vegetables he said what chicken, none of us quite understood that, but, no they didn’t do either. We were still gawped at by all the other families who were sitting at the tables to the degree that we asked to leave as it was too uncomfortable to stay any longer. We then left and went on a FAIZAL challenge to find fresh coconuts to drink the milk, duly found we were given one each to down followed by a large slice of palm heart, neither of which sat well on top of the forced swallowing of the kebabs. We returned to our chalet with a reluctant FAIZAL who had been busy chewing Myrrah all evening, (a plant stem which is chewed by many men by the kilo bags in order to help them stay awake and functioning all night), he was ready to head to the nearest nightclub, we on the other hand were ready for a good sleep after a day at the beach, we won, he headed off to visit his relatives for a night of more Myrrah chewing.

Next morning (Saturday) we got up for an interesting breakfast…. Fawlty Towers re-run. We went for a long long walk again on the beach accompanied by many interested parties, how many camels can they get on a beach and how many times must you say you don’t want a trip to a lonely beach cove for ‘swimming for two’.

This was the day that we got our Dhow trip and walked along the beach for lunch at a fish b-b-q, Catherine and I had Coconut rice instead as the fish smelt so so so bad, but Edwina said it was fab! We also checked out a place called Pirates that we had been told did music and dancing in the evening. We wandered back to the room and slept ready for our evening of dancing to which we did invite Faizal along, he said he would join us later as he was busy.

We decided to dress down for this occasion after the reception we got the night before, we opened our treasured bottle of merlot that we had treated ourselves to in the supermarket, we preened ourselves, which in the heat was a total waste of time. I ended up with amazing ringlets due to the shower water being salt water but we were sweating buckets which had a detrimental effect on our appearances, makeup just slid. We decided it was dark and no one would notice, in traditional girls night out, don’t give a dam attitude.

The walk up the beach was interesting after dark there were NO beach boys for a start and all the hotels, bars and restaurants had their variety of lights illuminating the beach so we were never in total darkness, other than the spot that I found to answer a nature call. We arrived at Pirates some half an hour later wandered in and made ourselves at home in a prime seat by the door at the beach side of the building, we then joined the dancing throng, some short time later we realised that no one was over 21! We had come so early it was junior disco and no one had let us know, we joined in anyway.

We then ventured outside and danced in the sand and then the surf…… bad move dropped camera in the sea……oops! Kind of put a dampers on the evening cried loads at the foolishness of it all and the wine didn't help. Faizal came to pick us up at 11.30pm to go to another club but our spirits had plunged to an all time low because of the camera. We went home. Faizal went off to the club by himself and apparently spent a fab night chewing myrrah. Got up in the morning and with a clear head looked at the camera..... turned out to be Catherine's brothers camera, I was horrified and relieved all in one, pleased that I didn't lose mine but so so upset that I had dropped his camera and I also had to break the news to Catherine. I called her brother and told him later, better I did it than Catherine I think!

We checked out at 10am after breakfast and a walk on the beach, two hours later Faizal, after many phone calls, appeared to pick us up, he had been out until 7am and he was driving home or so we thought………. We went shopping en route for various items that he wanted for stocking his kitchen cupboards, things that I had no idea what they were called or how to cook them……… the places we went to to buy them were even more interesting and we were haggled by up to 6 people at a time for best buys and didn’t once leave the car to go in a shop! We on the other hand bought coconuts to give as gifts. We stocked up at supermarket for lunch things, and Faizal leapt out of the car to have a biryani en route that he had ordered, he left us in the car with the a/c going and engine running, which caused the alarm to go off and he was no where to be seen, we eventually managed to stop the alarm but had no engine or ac and were parked in full sunshine, Faizal appeared unperturbed a little while later and we set off home in daylight, so much for our early start, it was now 3pm.

We were rewarded by views of the landscape that we had missed when we came as it was night-time, unusual baobab trees that looked fabulous and brought back memories of a story I read as a child. The roadside villages and terrain with flat stretches of land with rolling hills surrounding it. We drove through the heat of the sun and then intermittent torrential rain which ran along the sides of the roads in deep fast running natural gullies of red soil, the vegetation looked so vivid green after the rains almost surreal in appearance against the Mombassa red soil and the blue skies.

The locals who were walking in the middle of no where were unperturbed by the heavy rains and just continued their journeys as if it were still sunshine, their destination the only thing on their minds. We arrived in Nairobi at about 9pm where Catherine met up with her brother, they went together to her mothers as she was unwell. We continued our journey also picking up Faizals brother to take him with us to Nakuru, we also managed to stop for Pizza (well needed) whilst waiting for him aprox 2 hours.

Edwina and I slept the last part of the journey got home about 12.30am, emptied the bags from the car, Faizal and his brother left, I said hi to the dogs and cat and dived into bed, with paka who was pleased to see me return even though I was exhausted.

The cough I have had for about 2 weeks is still with me and didn't get left in Mombassa as I had hoped, in actual fact it is worse than ever, I must be driving everyone crazy, I know it is me.
Mombassa mission had been accomplished and only spent 1,000ks (10 pounds roughly).

Monday, 27 April 2009

Naked Chef - maybe worth thinking about

It’s a damp, misty and cold morning here in Nakuru.

Well the stories from this week….

I think I reported that Fatso had made the great escape and was no where to be found, I printed posters and enquired via the neighbours but to no avail. Kim spent the week being pampered, spending time indoors in the evening until she was up for guard duty. On Sunday Henry went off to church on his bike and wasn’t due back until about 7pm, he appeared at 2pm with a lot of noise, he had found Kim in Free Area with a man who claimed to be her owner. Apparently a fight ensued and Henry won, Fatso didn’t look too happy after her adventure and Kim didn’t seem to be too happy that Fatso was back, her days of being spoilt were soon to come to an end, one dog in the house is OK two crazy ones impossible.

After our successful attempt at cooking bread in our Bush Oven we decided we wanted to go whole hog and cook a roast dinner. We invited Joe a friend who had done some electrical work for me on the house and were looking forward to a great feast. Not quite that easy…… I had the job of lighting the fire under the oven and taking charge outside……. regulating heat etc… Edwina was in the kitchen preparing the dinner for cooking. We had roast chicken, Mediterranean vegetables and had planned on roast potatoes (the ended up as creamed pots as they over boiled!).

So far so good, except I was a bit concerned with the colour of the sky, a decided grey/black colour was developing……. I hurriedly grabbed a long length of black plastic (Henry had used to cover the seed bed to hasten germination of the seeds), this together with the tall ladder and some clothes pegs. Now my plan was to use the washing line and the ladder to suspend the black plastic over the oven in order to ward off the rain. I was very pleased with the result as no sooner had I secured the cover that the heavens opened, I still managed to man the fire and cook the dinner until the plastic decided it had taken on too much water and sagged badly, this resulted in the ladder toppling towards the oven… I grabbed a long length of wood and quickly thrust upwards dislodging the large amount of water, unfortunately it headed my way and I was soaked from head to toe, the fire on the other had was still roaring away.

The area where I was standing and the oven was positioned was a lake and in order for me to go inside I had to wade ankle deep in water to the house. I had to peel off my soaking clothes and change before I could eat my dinner as I was so, so cold and very, very wet, maybe next time I just forget the clothes and become Kenya's first NAKED CHEF!

Dinner was a great success although minus roast pots and Joe who unfortunately, or fortunately couldn’t make it as he came down with malaria and was confined to bed (he went to great lengths to avoid our cooking!) its Ok though Henry had his share.

Earlier on Friday, Faisal, a friend of mine told me he was going to Nairobi and returning the same day, I asked him to pick up some rhubarb en route at the roadside fruit stalls, (for some reason it is unavailable in Nakuru but abundant in Nairobi). My first difficulty was explaining what rhubarb was to someone who had never seen it, that accomplished he promised to get me some. 11pm Friday night I got a phone call to go to my gate, he appeared from the boot of his car with 4 big bunches of rhubarb, my description worked!

On Saturday I prepared and stewed the rhubarb ready for freezing and the long awaited CRUMBLE! Edwina and I went to Scann prepared to cut hair and Edwina to work on dance routine. Our plans were scuppered as we arrived the boys were called into a prayer assembly for Yasmin Gilani (one of the Trustees who was due to go into hospital for an operation that day). We went in with them and the boys planned and took the assembly themselves, it was lovely, such a lot of singing. I watched the boy’s faces and wandered how come in England there isn’t the heart and soul belief that I was seeing here, they put so much into the prayers and singing that I ended up excusing myself as I was overcome with emotion. The day was not to be a constructive one for Edwina and myself, the boys were concerned for Yasmin and the day was put aside for thoughts of her.

Edwina and I left (I was still feeling drained from being so emotional) we got Nick to pick us up as I needed to stop off for shopping at Highway supermarket. We got home and had soup for dinner made with veg and the carcass of the chicken, it was comfort food, I was actually not feeling too good and decided that hadn’t helped the emotions. I headed to bed early as it was cold and damp.

Sunday, um didn’t see much of Sunday, I got up to the alarm to switch off the security lights at 5.30am as usual. Then at 7am got up to feed chickens and Kim, then went back to bed, slept on and off then on for the majority of the day as I just couldn’t stay awake. Edwina cooked chocolate brownies and crumble, I got up to make the fire for the oven and then went back to bed. At 2pm when Henry appeared with Fatso I forced myself out of bed, had some crumble and sat and watched two James Bond movies with Edwina.

The heavens opened last evening and I really didn’t think they would close again, you could almost feel the drops hitting the ground. It was a good day to spend in bed, a duvet day, (although don’t have a duvet) I don’t regret wasting it as I was still not feeling 100% I know that if I had tried to do anything I would have failed miserable and frustrated.

Today is another day, as I have said at the start it is very misty and damp, bright but not sunny, the sky is that white after rain colour. I looked out the window this morning and thought, this could be any day back in the UK, its UK weather. I am now off to get dressed as at the moment sitting on my bed typing this, Edwina has gone in early to meet up with a friend, I am heading to town to meet up with her and go to the post office and internet before I head to SCANN.

Wishing you all a good start to your week, mine can only get better.
I am attaching the recipe for the bread we made and hopefully some photos too.
Love to you all,



Part 1
½ cup of margarine
1 tsp salt
1 small potato
¾ cup of potato water (with the small potato mashed in it)
1/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs

Part 2
½ cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
2 heaped tsp yeast

Part 3
4&½ cups of strong white flour


Part 1
Boil a small potato. Mash it together with the water it was boiled in (¾ cup). Warm this water and pour of margarine, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 well beaten eggs.

Part 2
Mix lukewarm water, sugar and yeast, leave to soak for 10 minutes

Part 3
Mix parts 1 and 2. Add flour and knead well for about 5 minutes (at least 200 times!)
Leave to rise for about an hour and a half or until it has doubled in size.
Knead again and place into bread tins or make into rolls.
Pre heat oven to 180 C
When dough has risen put in the oven. Buns take about 10 minutes, loaves about 25.
When cooked brush with melted butter and put back in for a couple of minutes.

You can substitute milk for potato water. Eggs can be left out if making loaves.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Bush Oven Heaven

Well, what can I say

.... the bush oven whilst a rough home-made affair is a big big hit. We have had three batches of fabulous bread that is just Divine. We have even managed to cook pizza, although that was done through a rain storm so I got very wet bearing in mind the bush oven is outside!! We made sure that the pizza was dry when it came out as we covered it with an umbrella. Our next endeavour is to bake chocolate brownies, I don't think they will sit around too long.

The chicks are growing well and being a handful, they are eating me out of maize mash very quickly, so we are giving them scraps from the kitchen. Bad news, Fatso the dog went for an unscheduled walk yesterday and hasn't come home no idea where she is.

The boys with help from Edwina are working on a show to display their new found skills of poi and dancing, should be good but no time scale as to when it will be shown yet. I have been suffering for about a week now with a bad sore throat which won't leave me, but am putting it down to the cold weather at night, the days are still hot and then the downpours arrive in the afternoons and night time. I hope you are all well and managing during the hard economic times at home.

Love to you all,

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter Bunnies not...... chicks definitely

I hope Easter was a time for relaxing and lots of enjoyment.

I am pleased to announce I am the proud owner of 7 fluffy yellow chicks hatched on Easter Sunday,......ah.... The boys at SCANN are so pleased they all want to see them although I have explained that this is a bit of a hard job, they have to make do with pictures. They have acquired another kitten though which had a bit of a funny five minutes the other day.

Edwina is helping the boys to do a new dance routine and we put up numerous full length mirrors that had been donated and never used. The boys thought this was great as they could now practise and see their mistakes. Someone came in carrying the kitten and popped it down in front of the mirrors. It hissed and spat and arched its back and went all spikey, it stood there for ages just trying to out stare the 'other' kitten. The boys were in tears of laughter and found this so funny, it took someone to pick up the kitten for it to break its stare.

The boys are enjoying their time off school although they are still studying hard at SCANN to make sure they get good grades. The weather is cooler now and the rains are here so they will be visiting me a lot for meds in the clinic... something to look forward to ... colds and malaria... nice, we have just stocked up on meds so shouldn't be a problem. I am back sewing little by little hoping they don't notice and suddenly I get a truck load. I am working on getting a sewing machine from a friend in Kenya, he doesn't know it yet!!

Henry has been busy planting the shamba we have maize suddenly breaking the surface and racing to the sky, followed closely behind by beans. The kale and spinach is slowly growing and we are planning on planting potatoes in the next week. We had such a heavy down pour whilst I was in town yesterday that the wind had ensured the rain had poured in my open window and over half of my bed....... nice, I was just a little damp last night and chilly. Needless to say all is out hanging to dry today in the sunshine again until later in the afternoon.

My small water leak (in comparison to my sisters) has now been fixed. I sent a text this morning to 'my man at the water office' and within an hour he and 2 men were at my gate, I hadn't even had breakfast or showered yet. They could have said they were coming! They sized up the items needed and then sent Henry for them while they went off to do someone else's job, within 1 hour they had returned so luckily had Henry with the parts. They dug (after I removed my treasured tomato plants and marigolds) sorted pipes and connections were re made, they then replaced the pipes and roughly covered the area. This was after I was asked for lunch and drinks, I said I could provide drinks but as the leak was before the meter and was to their benefit to mend it lunch was not on offer, cheeky devils! Neither Henry or I were pleased with the mess but it was well worth it as they came so quickly to do the job...... sorry Nats, I know the trouble you have had, at least I have the main man and his mobile number, in the end it may cost me more than money...... may have to cook lunch!

The bush oven is nearly finished we just need to prepare the drum with a good fire to clean any of the residue contents to lower the chances of 'tainting' the food. Edwina is suffering with a chest infection and hacking cough so we are chilling a lot (after a busy weekend out on the town Saturday night, Sunday was spent with hangover!!)
Love to you all.
Take it you are all back to work now.
Susannah xxx