Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pictures, not words

Brain a little slow of late, so a small selection of photos from the past few weeks.

Hope you all had a great Christmas....



Zebras in the rain in the Ngorongoro Crater



The ruined church where we got married last year



The Serengeti



Zanzibar

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My year in brief(s)

To copy Mud and Tam I thought I'd take a look at my year so far. I know I promised you migration pics. Oh and sofa pics. All in good time my patient readers, I'm struggling to get them uploaded, downloaded whatever its called. So, while we wait for those....

January
See in the new year through bleary half drunk eyes from our hotel room in Saigon on honeymoon. Never seem to manage to see the new year in properly. Any other day I can (probably) stay up til dawn but the pressure on new years eve? naaa, always fall asleep like I've been knocked on the side of the head by Popeye with a big rubber mallet. I suppose all that booze doesn't help. So anyway, our grand plans of seeing the new year in lively and awake in the buzzing streets of Saigon was in reality viewed from our (very nice) hotel window, me asleep and drooling in the armchair and brand new husband trying to coax a wee bit of champagne down my throat. Can't fault the man for trying. Think he drank the lot himself in the end, good man.

Started off in Hong Kong and after Vietnam went on to Laos and Northern Thailand. Cooooool trip. Rode an elephant.

Come home mid Jan to a new life in a new town in a new country. Had moved a couple of months before to Tanzania from Zambia. Reality of this hits home.

Turn 32.

February
Explore this new place we've moved to. I volunteer for a few weeks with a local acrobat troupe made up of street kids.

March
Spend three weeks at Swahili school. Every day from 8 in the morning 'til 5 in the evening, plus homework. Feels like drinking water through a fire hydrant but I learn a lot and fast. A quick, secret trip to the UK visit the in-laws since they couldn't make it to our wedding in December. It snows.

April
Travel to Zambia. A two week visit to the Serengeti and surrounding areas looking to set up a Maasai speaking drama troupe. Amazing. See the migration, see lots of different Maasai dance troupes and a wedding (not sure how that happened!)

May
Go to Olduvai Gorge and see the origins of man. Amaaaazing. Go with a funny very knowledgeable man who always wears a bowler hat and who dug here many moons ago with Mary Leaky. He is full of gems and we stumble upon many old fossils just lying about. I fondly think back to my childhood dreams of wanting to be an archaeologist and realise that it would probably be quite boring and hot actually.

June
I start to blog. My life is changed forever. haha. not really. I go to Zambia to start Seka off on a new project. Spend the week living in the village way out in the sticks doing what I love best.

July
Spend some time with my mother who is having an exhibition in Nairobi. I go to the opening and she comes and hangs out with us here for a few weeks. We spend most of our time sitting in the fireplace.

August
Go to Zanzibar for the long weekend. Help out with some safari guide examining in the Serengeti. I get my bike.

September
My company is set up and work permit approved. Have a fun time being an extra on the BBC sitcom Taking the Flak (coming to screens near you in 2009!)

October
Train and form a drama troupe and create a play for a company that works with street kids. All in Swahili - challenging but fun.
Get a cat

November
Go to Zambia. Again. Create a new play and a radio drama. Catch up with everyone and bring back a year's worth of finances to go through. Yuk. Pick up my new passport with my new surname. I am now a different person.

December
More safari guide examining. In-laws arrive and we head out to the Serengeti and tomorrow to Zanzibar. So on that note dear friends. Have a fab festive time and see you on the other side.....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Off to check out some wildebeest and other status updates

I don’t spend hours on Facebook playing scrabble, poking people and sending them fish but I do like to update my status when I get a chance. I have had a bit of writer’s blogging block of late so I have made a deal with myself that at the very least I should write a Facebook style status report on my blog. Even if it’s just a sentence.

So. To bring you semi up to speed:

Sometime last week – Miranda reckons that Dr. Seuss is right: those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter

Yesterday's - Miranda is a leopard...not svelte...not powerful....not beautiful....not majestic....not rippling with muscles....not a supreme killer....but....spotty.

And today, Miranda is going to check out some wildebeest. Going to the Serengeti with the in-laws to see if we can catch the migration. Not literally, you understand, that would take much more time and equipment than we actually have. haha. So we'll be back on Wednesday with tall tales and lots of pictures.

A good weekend to ya'll

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sevens

The lovely mud has tagged me so here goes:

7 Things I Must Do Before My Parents Arrive

In my case 7 things I must do before my parents-in-law arrive. And they have already. On Tuesday.

I got married last year in December and at the last minute they couldn’t make it as mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and not allowed to travel. All clear now though and this is their first trip to visit us since we moved to Tanzania. So it is a Christmas visit as well as a trip to Zanzibar to see where we got married etc.

So 7 things I should have done before they came on Tuesday

1. Buy furniture (well, bought a small table, that’s as much as we could manage! Borrowed the rest)
2. Ask them to bring champagne duty free (done, yea!)
3. Book trip to Serengeti and Zanzibar (done)
4. House train the new kitten (ah, not yet. Is that actually possible?)
5. Print off wedding pictures (one year late but yes, done finally!)
6. Oh bollocks, thanks for reminding me – buy presents. Aaaah! (Not yet done)
7. Find a tree (not managed I have looked and looked. When I lived in the bush we’d just go and find a pretty piece of driftwood or cut down a small thorn tree and decorate it with different sprayed pods. But I can’t do that here in this wee town and can’t find anything appropriate. Someone at the nursery tried to sell me one but it was only about 30cm. Maybe in about 4 years it would have grown enough?)

7 Things I've been Doing Instead Of Preparing For Christmas

1. Playing with the kitten
2. Flitting off to Zambia for work
3. Trying to get back from Zambia despite canceled flights
4. Laughing hysterically
5. Hiding
6. Sitting in snarly fishing-line-tangled traffic
7. Swearing

7 Things I Can't Do This Christmas

1. Swear
2. Find a tree. See above!
3. Eat Turkey. We’ll be in Zanzibar eating lobster instead. Suits me fine!
4. Fight with the baboons. Woohoo!
5. See snow. Coz that would be a little worrying
6. Wear a silly hat. Please please don’t make me
7. Fart. I will of course but not in front of the in-laws!

7 Christmas Wishes

Ah you know, the usual. World peace, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. But second best:
1. That my friend Janine gets better
2. That my sis and her gorgeous beau have a happy happy life together. I get it now, I do
3. That we can all remember to laugh at ourselves a little more, even when the going gets tough
4. That we remember to stay positive and that things could be worse, they really could
5. That all those that have just been made redundant in my corner of the globe cope okay. And everywhere else in the world too
6. That next year is even better than last for all my blogging friends (including those I have yet to discover!)
7. That ‘that secret issue’ goes really well and relatively painlessly!

7 Things I Say As Christmas Approaches

1. Must buy presents
2. Must buy presents
3. Oooh we’re going to Zanzibar
4. Must buy presents
5. Zanzibar here we come!
6. Bollocks, what presents am I going to get people?
7. Ah whatever, I’ll think of something to get them. Maybe in Zanzibar

7 Celebrities I'd Invite For Christmas Dinner

Do I have to? I was hoping for a quiet ego-stress-free time. Okay let’s think.

1. Billy Connolly for the laughs and the accent
2. Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia. To play his guitar and tell us tales of Saddam Hussein
3. Bono so that he can discover Janelle and get her a recording contract
4. Mark Ramprakash. For the eye candy
5. Judy Dench - she seems nice and capable of helping with the hosting
6. Kristin Scott Thomas coz she seems really nice, doesn’t she?
7. And maybe a very quick appearance by George W just for entertainment value. Stir things up a little. I think he would be quite fun to throw into the mix. Not for long, mind

Do you think they’ll all get along?

7 Favourite Festive Foods

We’ve never been a massively traditional family, doing the whole Christmas thing in all it’s splendour. Partly I suppose because we lived in the bush where it was virtually impossible to get tomatoes let alone turkey and brandy butter and Christmas pudding and partly because my parents were hippies trying to shun all that stuff. And for that I thank them.

I got my first taste of real Christmas food though, when we got new managers in to the safari lodge where we lived. I must have been ten, I guess. Ginny was a genius, I have no idea how she did it but we had the whole Christmas shebang. For the guests at the lodge of course but there was no FHB for the first time ever!* Turkey, Christmas pudding (is that the one with the coin in?) everything. She even got Jeremiah the head waiter to dress up as Father Christmas and give out presents to all the staff’s kids. Who where absolutely numb with fear. They literally just stood there rooted to the spot and BELLOWED!

The point of this? Oh that I’m not really sure what proper festive food is. Things that always seem to be around at Christmas that I love:

Brandy butter. Number one. I might start having this every day of the year actually. On my toast in the morning.

Marzipan.

All that booze

Ah you know what, all of it. Bring it on.

7 Other Bloggers Who Can Play Festive Seven

1. Val
2. Tam
3. Dumdad
4. Family Affairs
5. Angela
6. Reya
7. Lori
(if you can be bothered)


*FHB Family Hold Back. Let the guests eat first. Not enough of that so can’t eat/drink it. My grandfather was horrified if we ever asked for a coke (not often!) He would describe in detail the 3 day journey that bottle of coke took to get here, all along the bumpy road, in a truck especially booked to bring the coke for the paying guests not us. True. I still see Chitumbi the barman with his serious frown saying “No coke staff”. To this day coke seems such a guilty luxury! Makes it taste so much better.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snakes Alive

A few years ago, as I was going into my house, I heard a clunking sound. So being a brave girl I went over to my aunt's house and asked her to come and investigate the sound with me. It was coming from the bathroom so we went in and looked around and couldn't see anything. It almost sounded like a plumbing clunk so I went to the sink and checked the taps. Right above the sink, nestled into the corner was a wee shelf. Just above head head height. Nothing untoward with the taps so we turned to leave, mystery unsolved. 

Then.

From that wee shelf nestled in the corner, launched a massive cobra. At our heads. It was just trying to escape the poor thing but it did land on our heads and I'm ashamed to admit I did shriek like a girl having her pigtails tugged.    

Then my uncle came and shot it to pieces. In my bathroom. Quite scary in itself!

Anyway, that's just background for you. 

A few months later I was working in the nearest town and had a hideous 4 hour commute on Monday mornings on a corrugated tin roof of a road. So I'd wake up at 3 in the morning and drive to Chipata. One such still morning - you know the silence at that dead dark time - I heard a clunk coming from the bath. The light switch was on the other side of the bathroom so as I scurried across to switch the light on I snuck a quick look in the bath. And through the filtered moonlight, in the bath, I saw a big shiny writhey black cobra.

So I went back up stairs. Woke up bleary eyed boyfriend. There's a cobra in the bath. Come on, hurry. Here, wear these glasses, its a spitting cobra. He confused. Just woken up, not sure what he's expected to do anyway (me neither actually but just needed a witness I guess). Go down the stairs. Be careful. Big cobra. Massive. Switch on the light.

And there.

In the bath.

In all it's glory.

A pair of socks.

Needless to say I've never lived that one down!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I might have thought it could have been a dove


"I might have thought it could have been a dove" is my all time favourite safari guide exam quote. I've just got back from another three days of examining new safari guides. It was...well much the same as last time. This quote is from years ago and although there have been many close contenders nothing has beaten it yet. I shall continue to search. 

I got my kitten back from Janelle yesterday who was looking after him while I was in Zambia. Is much bigger and still gorgeous. The kitten that is, not Janelle! I wish I could teach him how to make tea - wouldn't that be cool.  Right now he is sitting on the windowsill chattering at the birds who are freaking out and flitting above his head, just out of reach. Maybe they're not freaking out, maybe they're just tormenting him...

And I've just realised it's nearly Christmas - how did that happen? Having been in Zambia in the bush for the past three weeks you don't really notice, but now that I'm back in town suddenly there's shiny things everywhere and all the poor staff at Shoprite have to wear silly red Father Christmas hats, poor folk.

My in-laws are coming soon - oh-my-god-on-Tuesday and we have nothing for them to sit on or anything. Eeeeeee, I'd better get cracking and try to make the place a little more...umm... habitable. Is that a word? 

Ah, can't get the picture up. Maybe later.