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.