Friday, December 14, 2012

Oh what's the point!

This seems to be the first time in months that I’ve actually had a moment to sit still and breathe. Sit still without having furiously pedaling the current of Things To Be Done. Without children clattering at my feet, tax returns needing to be done (still not done actually. I figure I’m already 6 months late, what difference does it make now. It does I know but….)

I can quickly, quietly and calmly


For all of 12 minutes.

I am heading to the wide plains of the Serengeti in an hour. Just for the weekend. My man has some work to do up there and we’ve managed to tag along for the ride. Can’t wait.

I’m starting school again in Jan. A postgrad degree to become a teacher. Gulp.

Oh look, that was less than 12 minutes. Child is clamouring again, can’t focus.

More soon! (If you believe that then…well…I dunno)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Floods and 9 month olds

A few years ago, just before we moved from Zambia, we had floods at home. I wrote about it here. My family lives on an ox-bow lagoon that floods every rainy season. And this particular year the water kept rising. And rising.

And rising.

And as the water started lapping at the front step we were amazed but thought it couldn’t possibly rise any further. But it did. It licked the front step and then seemed to think ’what the heck’ and came into the house, without so much as a ‘hodi, may I come in?’ And so we moved any mats and carpets we had and books low on the bookshelves up onto the coffee tables and thought ‘there, it won’t get any higher than that.

But it did.


It went from just covering our toes to ankle deep to mid calf deep. Once it started to reach the top of the coffee tables we moved everything up to the next level. Up onto the dining table went the books and everything else.

And still the water rose. Because of the crocodiles we’d have to boat from one house to the next to move everything up to the next level.


And I’m reminded about this again now that my son has started to crawl. When he was just a blob we could plonk him on the floor with a few toys and we’d all be happy.

But now.

Up to the coffee table go those glass lanterns. Up the fridge go the magnetic letters.

This worked for a few days.

And now he pulls himself up to standing on the coffee table. Up up up goes everything.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Non-existent Off Button

The thing about me is this. Once I start doing something, once I get something between my teeth I cannot stop. This is not necessarily a good thing.

If there is chocolate in the house I cannot rest until it has all been eaten up. Please secretly buy a bottle of nutella and hide it from me, I asked Mark the other day.

If I start a book I have to know that I have nothing else happening in my life at the time that can’t be neglected (my poor husband. My poor children…)

It was like that with my blog for a while. I wrote and wrote and wrote. As you can see the novelty wore off.

So I’ve had the first two series of Downton Abby that I borrowed from a friend waiting on my shelf. Waiting. Because I’ve been rehearsing and busy and not trusting myself with it. And now rehearsals are winding up, I’ve got a bit more free time. So the other day I thought “ah, just one episode” And now I cannot. Stop.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Random things - mostly kid related

Okay so I've been stalling at this blogging thing. I have so many little snippets of things I could write flitting about in my brain, but when I sit down and try to package them into clever witty little posts they just blow away like dry dandelions on a windy day (do you know how many attempts that was to spell dandelion? Oh dear!)

So I won't try and be witty and clever. I'll just write. Alright?

Sorting through the vaaast number of my kids' clothes the other day, I realised that I have not bought a single stitch of clothing for my second child. Or my first for that matter. Well, for Lara I may have bought about 4 or 5 items in her whole life. But Tom? Not even one! But look how many clothes they have!
Top shelf Tom, bottom shelf Lara - see how many blue things Tom has and how many pink things Lara has. It's a funny old world! And yes, the clothes are two deep, in case you can't see from there.

This is not to say I'm hugely popular or that my friends are ridiculously generous (actually they are!) just that there is a great hand-me-down system happening in this town. Maybe its the same everywhere in the world, but I love that almost all these clothes have gone through at least 3 different children, sometimes more. Every often someone will come up and say "oh, that used to be my son's t-shirt!" And usually that person is not the one who gave me the t-shirt. For example the other day Lara was wearing a pair of shoes that were given to me by Kim who got them from Joe who got them from a friend in the UK who got them from someone else. And I will pass them on to Mink. I love that! Another friend has a little crib that she got as a hand me down and has passed it on and every baby that has slept in it has had their name written on it - there were at least 60 names! Actually I can't remember how many names but I remember being staggered at the number!

So that's baby clothes, a terribly interesting topic.

And here is some art work by my extremely talented and awesome child, just gone 3. Or maybe I'm just biased, I dunno.


The top one is a hedgehog, the next one is me, and the bottom one is a nervous man. Why is he nervous? Because he just trod in the mud.  

And Invisible Theatre? Some of you have asked. Indeed. We're working on a nationwide children's rights campaign and I have 7 teams of actors - 3 per team - travelling on the major bus routes of the country. They pretend to be normal passengers and they have a loose script tat they follow. A discussion/argument about children's rights which drag all the other passengers into the debate. It's been very fiery and interesting and effective and fun. More on that soon.

So. There. That's it for now. Oh oh, haven't done the picture window for an age. Let me do that now.

Look how beeg that tree has got!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sun and fog

I feel that, if I squint my eyes and stare really hard, I can see light through the fog of double motherhood. The sun has come out and is slowly burning off the bleary blurryness. My daughter just turned three and my son 6 months. I have started doing a bit of exercise (a flurry of it actually. The first week excitement that's bound to wear off by Tuesday next week. My valiant declaration of 'I'll be in my pre-pregnancy clothes by the end of September' may well turn from shouting it out loud to sheepishly mumbling it from the corner of my mouth).

And although my boy still refuses to sleep much in the day at least he'll now happily go to other people without screaming the house down like the Big Bad Wolf. He has three teeth, no hair, he rarely cries (but when he does oooooh boy!) and he is an all round awesomely cute little heart melter. And his big sister is just as besotted as I am which I am truly grateful for.

I've been trying to keep operating normally but now I see that I have about 20 unfinished blog posts in my drafts folder, and most of the time I've been walking around with one hairy and one shaved leg. If I'm honest with myself I guess I've been struggling a bit, not majorly, but enough to keep me in a semi-zombie state. And I am lucky. I have help. And a supportive husband. And I haven't started work yet. I do not know how people manage without help, having to work etc. Maybe they don't, I dunno.

I was supposed to start rehearsal on a new play (4 of them actually!) on Monday but we've been a bit delayed. I'm hoping early August. While I saw away having babies the actors have been travelling around the country on all the major bus routes performing Invisible Theatre (did I tell you this already?) Its been going really well, so much so that we've been asked to continue. And add another element. I'm really excited about this.

And the Zambian actors are performing in Korea as we speak! Veryvery exciting. Oh to be a fly on the wall!

Bugger, gotta dash.......

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The First One

My labour with Lara only comes to me in snippets now.

I remember the early feelings, when it still just feels like period pains. And you are buzzy and euphoric and think “I can do this! This isn’t as bad as they say! Maybe I’m one of those few people for whom labour is not too sore. I know they say to rest it’ll take a while but I’m so EXCITED! I’m going to have a baby!”

Getting to the birthing centre at 3 in the morning after a night and a day and a night of dull ache growing into ow-this-is-actually-bloody-sore. Sitting on the red chaise lounge at the birthing centre reception and laughing. The marvelous midwife Xoli saying I can’t believe you’re in labour and you’re laughing!

That moment when she says yes you’re in labour but no you’re not dilated yet. Better go home, get some rest.

Coming in again at midday and only 1cm dilated. But deciding to stay anyway.

Time warps and stretches and concertinas like those funny mirrors you get at the fun fair. Hours seem like minutes, minutes seem like hours.

Lying on my side, Bradley style, putting into practice all those breathing techniques, going across the dambo, into the ebony forest, to a happy place, seeing Iwomba there. Thinking I have this under control as each tidal wave sucks me under with such a force I think I’m going to drown. Xoli saying you can scream if you think it would help. I try and my carefully constructed world unravels and spins away from me.

That moment when I think I really can’t do this anymore. Thinking they said in childbirth classes when you feel that then it’s nearly the end. But I am only 3 cm dilated and it is not even nearly the end.  Like you’ve peaked too early at a party you’ve been looking forward to for months. Except bloody sore!

Xoli saying we must walk. Its night time now. How long has it been night time? Xoli and Mark drag me across the parking lot like dead weight. I vomit on the shiny new tiled floor in reception. It feels like gravity is trying to suck me under the ground. I have forgotten how to walk.

I sit in the shower, hot water pounding on my lower back. It feels sooooo good! I laugh. I’m in there for an hour possibly. It feels like 5 minutes. Then I worry that I’ll use up all the hot water for all the other labouring mothers so I come out. Miranda, ever the service provider!

Saying to Mark “Stop whispering! Talk louder! Come over here, go over there, press my back! Don’t touch me! I want music. Turn that music off!”

Every few hours an internal exam and each time the crushing news that I’ve only progressed a centimeter.

My heart rate being as fast as the baby’s.

I can’t do this. I am not strong after all. What order do these snippets come in? I have no idea. They give me something to help me relax.

At some point they manually break my waters. When is this? Before the pethadine? After? And the oxytocin to speed things up. When was this? I have no idea.

The pethadine instantly makes me how I imagine a proper druggie must feel. Drooly and dozy and slooooooow. I vomit. I don’t like this feeling. We all sleep fitfully.

Except Mark who is like an owl on speed.

2 in the morning, I’ve been awake 2 days and almost 2 nights and been in labour for I dunno, ages. I am so so very tired. I am 9cm and not budging. Xoli says “I think we have to give you an hour or so. If nothing happens, it’ll have to be a C-section.” I am delighted. There is a way out! Joy of joys!! Not how I expected to feel when faced with this news! I am lying on the bed. Did I get pethadine again? Or is this when I got it? I have no idea. But time is still doing its warpy thing and then through the haze “Xoli I think I need to push” More of a question really. Hopeful. “If that’s what your body is telling you to do, then listen to it. Do what your body says” I try halfheartedly but its just wishful thinking.

And then, later “Oh, this is what the pushing urge is. Yes okay, I need to push”

A rush of activity. Filling the bath. Salt in. The water is much hotter than I expect. I am eased inelegantly into the bath. I feel euphoric. I am not scared of the pushing phase, I know I can do this.

Xoli giving me sips of energy drink saying you’ll need energy for this. Me being in no doubt that this part I can handle. I put my chin to my chest and puuuuuush. And again and again. I don’t know how long I do this for but it doesn’t seem long.

And then the burning. A moment of “wait, don’t push” as Xoli unwraps the cord from around the baby’s neck. A very sharp and sudden (but brief) pain that feels very different from everything else. This must be me tearing. And then out she slips like a slippery fish. And at once everything else is forgotten. Xoli saying “It’s a girl.” I remember so clearly that moment when I first see her, all cross and blue and slippery and my world opens up to the sky and lets in a clarity and a light I had never known to exist. Everything makes sense now. I feel complete.

Glancing across to the clock sitting on the edge of the bath 3am exactly.

Letting the water out the huge bath and delivering the placenta. So very perfectly red. The man jokes that it looks like there’s been a murder. He’s right.

The stitches they don’t hurt a bit.

We are shattered and exhausted but we stay up ‘til first light just staring at this baby. I feel like I’ve been shaken up into lots of different pieces but when the parts have all come back down to settle again they settle in a different order, making a new me, one I didn’t know existed but one that suits me so much better.

Monday, June 11, 2012

5 months ago...

(If birth stories bore you or gross you out you may want to skip this one!)

I wake up in the morning thinking, yes this must be it. Nothing major happens, a few period like cramps for most of the day. I text my midwife in the morning just to let her know. She texts me back to say “it’ll be like last time, slow at first but its coming tonight” I don’t believe a word!

My last labour took 32 hours by my count, but I think you start ‘counting’ earlier the first time round. This, I would have counted as the start with Lara, but this time, I know better than that.

So I have a hot bath (for exactly one hour my doula had told me to see what happens. If its ‘real’ labour it will kick in properly as soon as you step out the bath, otherwise it will slow down and you can go about your day). It slowed down. I went about my day. At about 6 that evening I text my doula and say “its fine, it’s a bit sore but nothing major. I’m going to have some supper and then I’ll call you after and give you an update. My mom says “What do you want for supper?” MEAT! Lots and lots of MEAT.


Half way through supper I’m not so keen on the idea any more but know I must force myself to eat. I need strength for the next 20 something hours of labour. Ha! Still not convinced this one will be quicker.

At about 8pm I call my doula and say “okay maybe you should start getting ready to come over. I know she lives an hour away. “I’m already on my way I’ll be there in ten minutes”

Which I’m grateful for.

Because things are starting to speed up now and its getting a wee bit intense.

Sue (she’s the doula) comes over with her box of potions and her birth ball. She’s a reflexologist and she massages my feet and every time a contraction comes on she talks me through them, breathes with me slowly and makes sure I roll my shoulders at end of each one so she can see how long they are and so that I can release the tension. She also puts a bottle of jasmine scent under my nose towards the end of each contraction. It takes me straight home to Luangwa, down by the river in front of Craig and Janelle’s old house. Walking down the hippo path with tangled jasmine bushes on each side; over the cracked cotton soil all pock marked with hippo footprints. The late afternoon light catching the branches of the winterthorn tree and making it hum with magic. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Sue is awesome but Mark is my rock. He knows exactly where to place the ball of his hand in the small of my back and PUSH. Sue is too slight to be effective here. Mark knows what to do from last time and he’s a star. (scared of getting crapped on by me again perhaps!) I’m better at this too the second time round. When I’m sitting on the sofa with Sue massaging my feet (it feels so goooood!) things slow riiight down. The contractions hiccup, the gaps between lengthen. It takes all my will but I know I absolutely have to get up and walk. Sit on the ball. Do something, keep moving.

And so I do. But Sue is concerned because every now and then there is a hiccup in my contractions. They are steady but every so often there’s a half a one. She thinks my uterus is tired. She is texting Xoli the awesome midwife saying we’ll need to come in to the birthing centre. Just in case.

I find myself thinking ‘oh great, this is going to be just like last time. I bet I’m not even dilated yet’. Out loud I say “I don’t think I can do this.” I don’t really mean it – I know I can – but I feel like feeling sorry for myself for a moment. Sue does ‘body talking’ (no I don’t know what that is either) and she does something or other to my head. A slight tap, a massage.

And then I say, “I feel like I need to poo.” I know it’s the baby coming but I won’t let myself hope it. Not yet. My contractions are only 30 seconds long, I’m due another whole day of this surely. The contractions still need to get to a minute or more. But each time the urge gets stronger and then I say, “I need to push”

Sue is still in the middle of her text to Xoli. The message keeps changing. First she’s saying “I think this may be slowing down” Now I imagine it says something like “get the F&$£@ in the car, this baby is coming”. Or something like that.

I make it to the kitchen. Contraction. “I don’t care what you say, I’m pushing”


Sue, ever practical, puts bin bags on my seat of the car just in case “don’t worry, it’s a hire car’ says my man drily.

Down the agonizingly bumpy driveway. Contraction. Push. I bellow like a buffalo stuck in the mud.

Out the gate. Contraction. Push. Bellow

On the road. Contraction. Push. Bellow

And so on. Luckily its only 8 minutes to the birthing centre.

And in between. Absolute euphoria. “WOOOHOOOO!” I yell out the window. Contraction. Push. Bellow

“I’M HAVING A BABY!” I yell at no-one. Contraction. Push. Bellow.

I cannot believe my luck. I really thought this was going to take 3 days. I am beside myself with relief and excitement.

It’s just past 2 in the morning. Mark is grinning in the dark next to me.

Get to the birthing centre. Step out the car. Contraction. Push. Bellow.

Waddle into the birthing suite. And a suite it is. All crisp white linen, big bath and downy pillows. The resident midwife asks me to pee on a stick. I say, “I’ll try but I think the baby’s head is in the way”. Mark has been here before. He knows how far along we are and what needs to be done. He starts running the bath.

When I can’t wee on the stick the resident midwife gets me to lie on the bed. “Oh yes you’re second staging” Yup. I ain’t no midwife but I could have told you that! A bustle of activity. Xoli comes in and everything comes together.

I get in the bath. Looking back at the pictures now I see how full the bath was for Lara’s birth. This one – the bare minimum, not enough time. One more push and there comes that tingle. Did I say tingle? Ring of fire. Xoli needs me to move so she can get to my bits. I can’t.
Xoli: you need to move
Me: I can’t. The baby is coming
Xoli: I know. You need to move NOW, so I can see you. NOW. She is firm. In control. A few strong hands maneuver the bellowing hippo into the right place. 

And out comes the head. Its not a swoosh all at once like Lara was. This one, his head comes out and his shoulders get a bit stuck. Nothing major and under Xoli’s steady hand she eases out his shoulders and out he comes into the water and out onto my chest. That moment of sheer dumfounded pride and love. Nothing will EVER hurt my baby. I will kill for this little guy. Oh look at his FEET!

Time at leaving house: 2.10 am, time he was born 2.34am.

He is all sqooshed and angry and purple and bloodshot and greasy and gorgeously mine.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pageants, Royal Barges and the like

The Zambezi floodplains from the sky

Watching the river pageant for the Queen’s Jubilee day before yesterday,  I sent my sister a text saying "are you watching the British Kuomboka" and just at that moment she was posting something similar on Facebook! We're funny like that sometimes.

Then the conversation on FB went like this:
Sister: That river pageant looks just like the Kuomboka
Me: Doesn't it tho?
Sister: Ja except the Lozis are feistier oarsmen
Me: say that again! And not afraid to get a bit more nekkid!

The Kuomboka Ceremony takes place in the Zambezi floodplains of western Zambia. The Lozi people live on these floodplains - which flood once a year anywhere between February and April. The land is so fertile that people have for centuries built mounds on the plains where they have established villages and planted gardens. Each year, however, the plains flood and the mounds become overrun with rats, snakes and insects escaping the rising water. And so the people too, are forced to move to higher ground. This is done in mighty stylish and dramatic fashion in the famous Ku-Omboka ceremony.

Kuomboka literally means 'to get out of the water'. The pageant celebrates the move of the King - the Litunga - from his palace in Lealui in the Barotse Floodplain to the fringes of the forest lands in Limulunga. It has been happening for over 300 years.

The king travels in a huge royal barge called the Nalikwana – the one with the black and white stripes and huge elephant on top. He travels with the royal family their staff and their belongings. The ears of the elephant can be moved from inside the barge and there is also a fire on board, the smoke from which indicates to the people that the king is alive and well.

The King’s wife is on a second barge – the one with the bird on top. The wings of the bird can also be moved up and down.

One website says
“The ceremony begins with the beating of the Maoma Royal War Drum to summon all the paddlers from various parts of Lozi land, 2 days before the actual journey. The sound of the Maoma can be head 15km away from Lealui. On the day of the Kuomboka, the Mutango(the oldest royal drum in the Lozi History) is played at Limbetelo, to announce that the Litunga is ready for the Journey to Limulunga.

The Litunga travels in the Nalikwanda(Royal Barge). It is usually paddled by 120 skillful men and is the first to start off with the Notila, Matende, Mbolyanga, Sabelele, Nalikena and hundreds of other boat following behind.

Once the Nalikwanda docks at Limulunga harbour, men wearing traditional kilts called Liziba perform the royal salute while women wearing their traditional attire called Misisi and Libaki dance and sing Limeka and Liimba which are strictly dances performed by women. The Litunga then disembarks from the Nalikwanda and goes to the royal pavillion called Lutatai.
The paddlers perform the warrior dance Lishoma and then make the royal salute.”

So basically you have the King’s awesome black and white barge, complete with elephant on top with flapping ears, smoke and reverberating drums. And behind him, in their boats – mostly little dugout canoes able to carry a couple of people and their meager belongings - are the rest of the population, all moving to higher ground. No one can overtake the king, only the scout boats. 

scout boat coming into the harbour

A few years ago my sister and I wrote a book on Traditional Zambian Ceremonies. Well, she did the writing I did the logistics. And we attended this ceremony in all its splendour. Wow. The photographer went up in a light aircraft to photograph the ceremony from above. My sister and I stayed on the water, following the Kalikwanda and all the other boats.

The Nalikwanda coming into the harbour with a scout boat

Looking through my pictures now I realize that half of them have been lost. I think I used two memory cards and when I saved them I replaced some of the pictures by mistake. No matter, I still have some. And some awesome memories of course. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Mother's Dilemma

Motherhood has made me into a fast eater and a slow driver.

We seem to eat in relay these days. "Okay, I'll quickly eat this and then I'll take the baby and you can eat". Or sometimes, once every different coloured moon, both babies are asleep at the same time, and you gobble down your meal like the smallest kid at boarding school knowing that one of them will wake up soon and those chips will not taste so good when your next chance rolls by in 3 hours time.

The driving slow thing is not out of concern for their safety. You're late. It's a known fact that it takes you eight times longer to get out the door with two children under 3 in tow. but no matter how early you start getting ready your 2 year old will hide the car keys/decide to walk to the car at a caterpillar's pace/have some drama with the playdoh and and your 4 month old will crap in his nappy/vomit on you just as you're stepping out the door. So you're driving faster than usual to make up the lost time with the playdoh incident when you glance in the rearview mirror and notice that one/both of them maaaay be dropping off to sleep. Oh bliss! Then you'll be able to leave them to sleep in the car and you can savour a moment eating your meal with no limpets attached. So you slow riiiiight down. You drive around the block. You're driving so slow you may stall at any moment. And you drive just once more around the block, because they really are nearly asleep. And one last time because aaaaany minute now. And then a car whizzez by hooting at you for driving so slow and now they're definitely not asleep. So you head back to your destination and as you pull up they're both asleep. Yessssss.

But because you're late the only parking available is where you can't see them if you leave them asleep in the car. So you have to decide. Do you wake them up or do you sit in the car and wait?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Grandfather Diaries IV

I've posted before extracts from my grandfather's journal of a 2 month walk he did in July to September 1945 when he worked for the game department in northern Rhodesia. I’ve written about it here and here and here .

My grandfather’s name was Norman Carr. He was born in 1912 in Chinde, what is now Mozambique, and grew up in Nyasaland (now Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). He is commonly known as one of the forefathers of conservation in Zambia and the founder of walking safaris. He was one of the first people to realise (and implement) - in the 1950’s - the now common practice that conservation cannot work without the local population benefiting from the wildlife in some way.

He lived in a time when men wore cravats, listened to the wireless, and where walking was still a common mode of transport (when he heard that World War II had broken out he walked 80 miles to try and sign up). In his own words:

On the third of September 1939, I was on patrol in Kambwiri's country in the Luangwa Valley. News of the outbreak of war did not reach me until nearly two weeks later. 

It was presented to me in a typical 'cleft stick' by a District Messenger sent out by the District Commissioner in Lundazi. As I was still on the strength of the King's African Rifle's Reserve in Nyasaland, I was misguided enough to think that my services were urgently required to defend the Empire. Without further thought and in spite of the fact that I had already done a long patrol that day starting at dawn and arriving at Msekeni's village after noon, where the DC's messenger caught up with me, I packed a haversack and prepared to trek to Lundazi, nearly eighty miles away, where I had left my motor vehicle a month ago....

So began one of the longest walks I have ever undertaken. With one of my best carriers as a pace-setter we started off walking continuously through the night and arrived at Lundazi Boma at noon the next day. Taking into account the twenty miles I had covered before Msekeni's, I must have accomplished a hundred mile trek in just over thirty hours. I have never before or since slept on my feet, but during that journey I found that for mile after weary mile I walked automatically in a subconscious daze, with no recollection of time or space.

I need not have troubled. It was an entirely wasted journey. For when I eventually reported to the Provincial Commissioner in Fort Jameson, I learned to my sorrow that I was not required for the moment and should return to work and await normal instructions; if I were needed I would be called up, like everyone else, through the usual channels.

Despite the telegrams I sent to military headquarters hoping to by-pass these orders, I could not persuade anyone that my services were sufficiently important for the War Office to call me up at once. One thing about living on your own in the bush for months on end is that you are in no doubt as to your own importance. It is surprising, therefore, and rather irritating to find that others also have their problems which take no account of yours. It is also rather salutary.

He wrote many books, including one called Return to the Wild, about the two lions he raised. The quote above is from The White Impala as is this one below, one of my faves:

I have sat in the shade of a magnificent evergreen trichelia on the banks of the Luangwa River and watched the impala come down to drink, materialising from the shadows one by one on the far bank as though by spontaneous creation; I have watched a skein of sacred ibis, in perfect arrow formation, flying down a river which the setting sun has turned to a shimmer of molten gold; I have seen a magnificent kudu bull on an anthill, silhouetted against a dawn sky; I have smelt the fragrant scent of the wild shrubs at sundown, when the world hesitates before handing over to the lords of darkness; I have lived with the night noises – the eerie plaintive call of the hyena, crying with the pathos of a lost soul in purgatory, and the music of the King of Beasts proclaiming his undisputed rule over his domain; I have seen a pure white impala.

All these and many more idyllic memories return to me and I cannot help but contrast them with the turmoil of Regent Street in the rush hour.

I know I have no regrets.

I was going to quote more from his journal but I think this is enough for now, don't you?

...although if you do want to read more I love this post of my sister's

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day

Me: It's mother's day today
Mark: Yes but which one do you want to go with, the US and South African one (today) or the British one?
Me: Well duh, both...

Happy mother's day to all you awesome people out there. And all you single mother? I am in awe of you every single day. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Contents of my Handbag

I very rarely have a handbag anymore - what mother does when you already lug a bag around for all the baby's shit (sometimes literally) which is usually huge (and oh so attractive!). So I used to just use the baby bag for the few things I needed - sunnies, wallet. But these days suddenly I seem to have acquired a handbag.... And I was looking for something last night, so emptied it - my word! Time to share with you, I think.  I've done this once before, not much has changed, except for a few more baby things!

Ladies and gentlemen, the contents of my handbag...

Bikini (you never know. Its been in there about 2 months and we're heading into winter now so...)
Cold and flu capsules
Angel mirror that my sister gave me

Kenyan sim card - was in Nairobi 2 weeks ago when our 3 month old son had to have a minor operation. Boy, haven't even told you guys about that yet!
Suncream, factor 15
3 odd children’s socks
1 multipurpose screwdriver (pink). Bought for my sister but she had one so I took it back!
3 hairbands
7 hairclips (that’s where they’ve all gone. I'm trying to grow out my hair.)
2 kiddies heart hairclips
1 pair of glasses
1 sunglasses case, empty
1 swiss army knife
2 old shopping lists
2 plasters
3 notebooks
1 bepanthen baby bum cream
1 antibacterial hand lotion
2 pens
2 rubber bands
pair of baby shoes
1 baby hat
1 baby t-shirt
1 small plastic tree
47 kenyan shillings
200 tz shillings
2 prepaid phone scratch cards (used)
1 piece of cardboard with phone number on (of actor who went mad)
1 skirt
1 nipple guard for breastfeeding (just had nipple thrush. Did you know there was such a thing? My god, but its sore! One website called it exquisitely painful... sounds about right! Anyway, the nipple guard didn't work...)
1 camera
1 phone

And there you have it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Home. What I miss, what I don't

I'm really missing home at the moment. Every now and then I stumble across a picture of the valley and feel my heart tug right out of my chest. So to remind myself:

Things I miss about home
The cicadas
Elephants walking silently past my window
Hippo sounds floating up from the river. Hippos chomping outside my window at night
Distant lion call
The smell of the potato bush in the early evening
The pockets of cold air in the long grass in winter
Reading animal tracks 
Smokey tea
Hot dry October heat
Sausage tree flowers
The small town camaraderie
Sundowners in the park
The carmine bee-eater colonies; crimson whipping out of holes in the riverbank like a flamenco dancer with a carmine scarf
The clear clear sky at night, all crunchy with stars
At this time of year, the ankle deep mud
My landrover
The August winds
Winterthorn trees
My mama, my uncle
The subtle change of season within the two obvious seasons (wet and dry!)
Having to drive six hours round trip to buy supplies 

Things I don't miss
The cicadas
The baboons. Jumping on my roof at dawn. The smell of baboon poo with the first rain. Breaking into my house and causing havoc
The politics with the chief
The streams of people at my door ever needing help
Taking twice as long to drive anywhere (outside the park) because you need to stop and give so many lifts 
Funerals. So much HIV
Hot dry October heat
The small town gossip
At this time of year the ankle deep mud. The mould, the mosquito bites that turn septic
The sideways rain that comes right in
Having to drive six hours round trip to buy supplies

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Time for some old pictures while, rarer than Tanzanite, I have a spare moment with both babies asleep. I have so much to say and I really really don't like neglecting this ol blog of mine but right now the reserves don't stretch that far. A two and a half year old and an eight week old - I'm sure you could market them to army training camps or something, to test people's stamina and ability to cope under duress.  Didn't someone do an experiment once with olympic athletes and two year olds - and the athletes couldn't keep up?

Aaaanyway. Crocodiles. I scroll through my album of old pictures looking for something that may be of interest and find these two.

The old foundations in the middle of our camp never got built on. They had dreams of being a house I guess but in the end but were only ever a sandpit for us kids, a training ring for Widdle the warthog, the origin of the name 'the ruins' for our camp (which confused many a baffled tourist) and, at one point, a home for my uncle's croc eggs. I'd spend hours watching those damn eggs, waiting for that squark-squeak of baby croc breaking through. Oh the excitement! And then I'd ever so gently help them out of the leathery egg and try to keep away from their pin-sharp teeth. I'd made one bite me once just to see. And never did that again!  

These baby crocs are fine, pretty cute, even. But when I was littler my small friend Salimu was washing clothes in ankle deep water in the river with his family and got taken from right under their noses. I can still hear the wailing of the women reverberating around camp. They shot the croc and found him inside, in three neat pieces. The croc was massive, laid out on the concrete slab behind the Chibembe kitchen with a big stick propping open its jaws.


Picture window

we've been having these major dust storms of late. hard to see from our window but normally you can see HILLS far and wide. rain's have started tho - so that should put and end to that for the next few months -  yay!