Monday, October 30, 2006

Was it all a dream?

Essex? Kenya? frogs and squirrels? Lions and leopards?
Or am I dreaming that I've just spent 4 hours installing and downloading a new version of Norton anti virus? How could I have lost my product key? Silly me. Must have been dreaming or tidying up or something.
My general dreamlike state has been exacerbated by stopping off on the way home from Essex at Sava Centre. I expect there are bigger superstores in the country but it seemed much more than merely big enough, to me. Too big to see both ends at once from inside the middle anyway. Well it seemed a good idea at the time. I used to go there once a month and buy lots of stuff like cheese and loo roll which was supposed to be cheaper in bulk but by the time me and three children had succumbed to exhaustion and starvation from trudging round the store we had to revive ourselves with a meal in the cafe (restaurant as they laughingly call it) which I've no doubt we could afford after all the savings we'd made on our shopping. Eldest was particularly good at calculating savings we could make on his preferred foods (also a laughing matter).
Well it seemed a long way to trudge from one end of Sava centre to the other for a few odds and sods for dinner and a bit of milk so I made up for that by buying an iron. I believe I'm going to take up ironing. I've never doen it before because I think it's unnecessary and bad for your health. However I've recently realised that sewing and ironing are vices that could be undertaken in moderation without doing serious damage. As long as I only do it in the privacy of my own home etc etc. I'm sure it won't get out of hand if I'm careful. I bought a red woollie too. Very nice for £7. And this confirmed a suspicion I've had that during my incarceration in Essex, I've lost...well I don't know about weight cos I haven't weighed myself* but certainly I've lost a bit of bulk. something to do with eating small regular meals and sleeping at normal hours I think. Oh and not drinking very much. Yes that could be it. F-i-l's wine is mostly french and I like rich full bodied Aussie.**
Well, these are the books I read last week but one (further dreamlike stuff, travelling from Rome via Exmoor to various planets, worlds and space habitats and back to an imaginary Thibet-like place)

and these are the ones I read last week. (Geoff Ryman is a brilliant writer and Le Guin is possibly one of the best fantasy/SF novelists ever, along with Mary Gentle. All three have the rare and special ability to write not only original and compelling Fantasy/SF but also novels that stand out in any genre)

Frog and squirrel
And water put out for the birds. I always think neat, boxed-in, town gardens look better at night.
Returning to an earlier dream, after reluctantly leaving Treetops, we went via Thompsons Falls to salty Lake Nakuru (the minerals make the flamingoes pink) where we saw ...umm now I think this is a white rhino. The white rhinos have wide lips and their name is a corruption of 'wide mouthed rhino'. (tiny, in the distance is a Maribou stork and even tinier, a Thompson's Gazelle. And the band of pink on the lake is a sea of flamingoes) We also had lunch at Lake Nakuru surrounded by Jacaranda trees and bougainvillea.And there were a few thunderous rumblings and flashes. Which added considerably to the brief, first (and only) experience of being allowed OUT of the safari bus on the shores of the lake. David wanted to startle the flamingoes so we could see them in flight but I think he was simultaneously trying to avoid the attention of this buffalo. I have to say it seemed excessively exciting to be shown a leopard footprint on the way back to the bus and told it had been left there by the leopard, in person, earlier that day.

Now I have to go and do whatever I normally ought to be doing at this time of day...I wonder what that is? It's amazing how much less work one person makes than two.

*I have weighed myself and may have lost a couple of pounds. Odd. My trousers are loose?
**Father-in-Law is so much better that he's getting quite fed up with having us around all the time and in fact says, very firmly, that we needn't come back! I think he's had enough of being ill and being looked after :) Brilliant!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I had plans for today

And they involved going to bed about an hour ago and getting up very early tomorrow to revel in the glories of home before heading back to the internetless wilderness of Essex. Though I do plan to go to the park again in full daylight and see if there are still squirrels around. I took several pics of them the other day and it was so nearly dusk, they were all blurry.
This is a nice place around the back end of looks as though it's intended to be some sort of 'public amenity area' but has some nice dramatic bits.
And here is further proof that Braintree is crooked.
Um, well maybe I have time for a quick visit or three.

And one or two more memories.

This is Mount Kenya, seen from a great distance on the way to the Abedare Mountains.
We stayed one night at Treetops..famous because Queenie and PP went there on their honeymoon and heard the news that she had become HM while they were there! I bet they were really pissed off at having to leave Paradise and go home to do stately stuff in soggy old England!
Treetops was wonderful. It looks at first sight like a giant wooden fortress but inside it's like an enormous luxurious bird-watching hide. There are viewing platforms on the roof, open balconies facing the waterholes and picture windows in the bar. On the ground floor there are rooms with window slits looking out to the water holes so if you feel brave you can end up face to knee with an elephant in the middle of the night. We were greeted by stern admonitions on no account to go outside at any time for any reason..we could go anywhere inside the building but not outside please as we might get trampled or eaten.
We had buzzers in our rooms so that if any exciting animals came to the water hole in the night, we could leap out of bed and come and see. (4 buzzes for elephants, 3 for rhinos, 2 for leopards and 1 for hyenas).

I fell in love with this fire exit...not only could I see distant herds of buffalo but it was so beautiful.
I was also rather taken with the warthogs. Fabulously ugly and aggressively busy, they trotted briskly around when they weren't wallowing and exuded a 'don't try it Buster' sort of attitude.

And occasionally stopped for a good scratch.Irridescent birds at feeding time.
The whole place had a sort of reverent hush...there were animals at the water holes nearly all the time and going to bed at all seemed a waste of precious time. As dusk fell, dim lights came on and I was reminded, oddly enough, of a labour ward at night. A kind of dim, warm, reddish quietness punctuated by important events. Soft- footed purposeful surges of people murmuring in astonishment and delight.
We could see rather better than this but I'm afraid the animals didn't actually stand still for long :) I thought there was a hyena in the picture above but obviously he left while the camera was still busy!
The elephant, rhino and buffalo below were at the salt lick. There was a certain amount of not entirely polite rearrangement between them to accommodate varying personal space requirements. Rhino seemed to need the most distance and nobody cared much about the buffalo! Elephant and Rhino did a kind of slow motion dance around each other with buffalo as a centrepoint. This was taken from the roof.
We had to leave at 6.30 so I got up early and was splendidly rewarded with the rosy dawn touching the peak of Mount Kenya. Utter magic.

Hey Ho. Back to Braintree tomorrow.

Escape from deepest Essex

Not that I have anything against general. But I'm not happy in small god-forsaken towns where the neighbours can hear you breathing and catch you peeping out the door in hopes of having a quiet fag. I can't believe they're so backward they DON'T HAVE ANY PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS (except the library which is closed for two weeks or two months depending on who you's closed so I can't ask there). And they sell corned beef pasties which cause serious food poisoning in elderly and beloved Fathers in Law! Not currently my favourite place.***
On the other hand the neighbours are ever so kind and helpful, the sun sometimes shines and my husand grew up there (without, as far as I know, ever suffering severe food poisoning...which is possibly specific to corned beef pasties anyway). So it can't be all bad.

Anyway, thank you all again for your kind thoughts and vibes...obviously successful as Dad has finally improved quite noticeably. You can almost hear him when he speaks (for some time the faint, reedy whisper was almost totally inaudible) and he's started to explain exactly how he would like his steak casserole cooked. And to make lists in the morning of the delicacies he thinks he might be able to stomach. (3 prawns, cooked in a little melted butter with a spoonful of rice...half an inch of smoked haddock fillet with a spoonful of creamed potato). And the doctor told him not to worry about his diabetic diet so half a choc ice features regularly.

So I'm back for whole weekend of R&R and Barney is ministering and maybe I won't be stuck in Braintree for more than a month. I'm afraid there's no chance to do any extensive blogging or's very nice of you all to keep commenting in my absence and goodness, I do miss you all! I have to confess that I thought about visiting everyone tonight and then I thought but that'll take at least 2 or 3 hours. So I played with pictures instead because that would only 2 or 3 hours :( How many hours are there between now and Sunday?

Well I'll post some pictures and who knows, tomorrow may turn out to be another day :)

I couldn't believe this...amber, growing out of a pear tree. Well resin anyway. Give it a few million years though and it would make a nice pendant. In Braintree!!!
I'm a sucker for raindrops:)
Essex girls at the bus stop.
They built to last in those days...this house must have an elasticated frame.
The sun came out and so did the butterflies.

There are still one or two Africa pics to go...hope you're not getting bored :)

This is a Gerenuk which stands on its hind legs to browse off trees...for a very long time...20 minutes or so!
And this zebra made a pretty shape for me :) Cute or what :)
David stopped so we could take pics of elephants heading into the sunset..which they did.
And more zebra's looking pretty. The nearest one has been attacked by a lion, hence the mismatched stripes.
And this was one of the most delightful sights..a family of young cheetahs. there were five and they'd temporarily mislaid their mum. Shortly after this, they all ran around playing and then found mum. Little white safari vans drove frantically round a 100 yard area of scrub and brush trying to keep up and we caught glimpses of them vanishing. All except one who got left behind. But later was seen together with the family again. Utterly charming the lot of them.

***If anyone knows of an internet cafe or other means of getting on the internet in Braintree, please let me know! Before sunday ? Pretty please? with choc ice on.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


for your kind messages about Dad. He's getting better but slowly slowly...a nibble at a time!I'm home for an evening (having only packed enough for a couple of days when clearly much longer will be needed to get him on his feet again) so this is a very quick blog :)

I've just read Mr Golightly's holiday, by Sally Vickers. I don't know if I've recommended Miss Garnet's Angel by the same author before but if not, I hugely recommend both. She's firstly, a writer with word magic. You suddenly find yourself reading a sentence again just because it's a joy to read the way she puts it together. Also, her stories are totally original and charming. She has no fear of love or faith or tragedy and has no need to dress them up...they come unvarnished except for the simple beauty of her prose…very restful.

Ah well, off again in few minutes...

This sign tickled me!

Early one morning, Buffalo hoof prints outside the bedroom door

Childen waiting for the tourists in the Samburu village

Many hands make fire

and smoke

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's raining it's pouring...

It's not really, but I was thinking, it never rains but it pours.
It seems Baney's dad is suffering from a prolonged attack of food poisoning. A cause for serious concern as he's in his eighties and lost his wife last year. I'm off again to visit, check up and minister and will be unable to use a computer again for a day or two (though I may wander into town and brave an internet caff if I get desperate!).
So apologies to everyone...I haven't done much blog visiting since coming back from Kenya (as am wading through a mound of photos) and still won't for a while!

Leopard drinking
Leopard coming towards us (I suppose he can't help looking a bit menacing with those eyes)
Leopard going straight past us, round the back of our bus and inbetween the dozen or so other buses full of goggling safari-ers to amble away into the bush.
Akuna matata. (no problem)
And Kwaheri (goodbye)
And Tuonana badaye (see you later)

The Swahili language is beautiful.

Monday, October 09, 2006

So, how it went was, after a night in Nairobi the tour group was divided into sixes and piled into the Safari bus which would be ours for the duration (there we all are) and introduced to our driver...also for the duration...and there he is, David KamwetiThen we set off at 6.00 for the very long drive to Samburu Lodge, set in the middle of the Samburu Game Reserve. The tribespepople aren't allowed in the Game park, to discourage poaching and to minimise disturbance to the game. Sometimes the game comes to them though and they're supposed to report such visits and attendant losses of goats and cattle to the rangers. But usually they just kill the marauders and hope no one will notice there's a lion missing!

We stopped once or twice for tea, wee and shopping opportunities. The Curio shops as they were all called were in fact a cross between transport caff and tourist trap...a loo, a small seatingh area and coffee bar and a HUGE, cavernous shop full of wood and soapstone carvings. we had lunch at the wonderful Kentrout restaurant and lodge. Where after dinner we saw the pond where our dinners had been swimming till we ordered them! And the Billy goat posed nicely for us. (No goat curry on the menu thank heavens)

And colobus monkeys.The colobus are lovely with all that flowing white tail but on the ground they looked remarkably like a collection of little black and white Dougals. (from the Magic Roundabout if anyone remembers that :)

Kenyan roads are quite special. There are long stretches which are quite recognisably fairly main roads. there are long stretches which may once have been roads but appear to be unadopted. Overtaking or undertaking may involve leaving the road altogether (on either side) for quite long distances until there's a good slope for bounding and bouncing back onto the remnants of the tarmac. The tarmac is sometimes unbroken for 100 yards at a stretch....not often though.

There is a certain amount of dust causing the people at the front to yell "Dust" while swiftly shutting windows whenever there is over or undertaking or off-road adventuring and when other vehicle pass by. At this section, there were road signs warning drivers to use headlights in the can just see, if you look very hard, that there is an almost invisible lorry overtaking the totally invisible one behind the one in front. If you can't see it I promise you it's there! Coming straight at us out of the cloud of dust. I believe this was one point where we left the road for the ditch.

And there are roadworks occasionally...I liked the Kenyan version of cones. We also saw tree branches laid out as warning signs and occasionally a rock with a plastic bag over it to warn of a breakdown in the road.All the towns have very bumpy sleeping policemen...after a while I found that the point where David slowed down before bumping was the optimum moment for taking pictures through the window! Lots of misjudgement though..I have deleted a hundred or so pictures of various parts of the inside of the safari van and bits of blank sky and whirling undergrowth.
And tomorrow we arrive in the game park but tonight I have to clear up dinner :)