Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Self Contained"!

Driving into work this morning i came across a hand painted sign board that read :

"3 BR for rent.

I chuckled! It reminded me of when i was house hunting myself a few years back and where i learnt a few things about 's/contained'!
On translation the 's/contained' means 'self contained' and on reading back the ad on the sign board it seems quite sensible - a 3 bedroomed - house probably seeing as its self contained - and that's how i understood it!
Now little did i know as i searched through newspapers looking at houses which were NOT self contained - that i would be wondering outside into the garden in order to use the bathroom as it turns out if you're not self-contained - chances are there's a loo somewhere round the back (more than likely shared with many other houses on the compound - or perhaps in the immediate vicinity) and that the chance of their actually being a bathroom at all are minimal as a non-self contained bathroom is more than likely - get your water in a bucket and stand in a concrete room with a drain hole in one corner - and WASH!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The nightmare of living in Africa!

I don't know what it is about Africa and technology but they just don't gel!!
It may sound terribly colonial, pompous or whatever you like to call it, but you put technology in Africa and all you get is a complete nightmare of disasters.
In my company it seems no matter how many 'technicians' we employ to keep our machinery running no matter what we do the staff just break it anyway! Solid metal parts - guaranteed for a lifetime in any other part of the world - are snapped in 2 here. The totally 'unbreakable' just becomes the 'lasts a little longer than the usual'!!
It seems there is absolutely nothing that these people cannot destroy, it is unbelievable and makes me just want to scream!
Right now i would like to just hurl myself off the fridge freezer - but of course not even that's an option - as it's in for repair!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Con Artists!

Over the last 3 weeks or so i have been receiving emails about winning a fortune - Yea really!
The first email came in saying I'd won 900,000 Euros and all i needed to do is reply to the email to claim my money. Well i know these things are always fake but i was intrigued to see what happens next.
Anyway the usual - please give us your bank details and we'll transfer the money - well yes - i certainly have "Gullible" printed on my forehead - - -NOT! - so funnily enough i never replied to that one.
Well they obviously thought that i was still worth a shot so then they sent through another email saying if i didn't want to send my bank details that was no problem but i would need to send through 800 Euros or something so that they could do me a bankers cheque and post it to me! So again i never replied.
Well i tell you - there's no stopping them - someone then called me from Spain can you believe - so much for auto signatures on your email that give out your office numbers and all! (I really must switch that thing off!) - anyway some fellow called and said he needed the money transferred to him so that he could give me a bankers cheque. i told him i was not sending him anything and if he needed the money he could take it from my 'winnings' and send me the balance!! So then he got annoyed and told me that if i didn't wish to send the money through transfer then I'd better get on a plane to Spain within 24 hours and pick the cheque up in person because then it would cost me nothing and he put the phone down.
Anyhow i thought that was the end of it but oh no, the saga continues - 24 hours later i got an email to say that if i wasn't coming in person i should nominate a charity and they would contact them to give them the money for the transfer and give the charity the 900,000! Once again i ignored the messages. Yesterday i got a badly scanned copy of a Lloyd TSB credit card with my name on it which i was told was loaded with my money and today i got a further email to tell me to transfer 2000 Euros to some fellow in Spain in order to activate the card and another 400 or so so that they can post it to me!
Now come on - what planet do these people live on that they think I'll give them 2 bob?
Mind you - i suppose somebody must otherwise they wouldn't be so enthusiastic! I find it really sad that people like that exist in this world but it reminded me of one of the points on my 'As i mature' blog i posted a while back:
"As i mature i realise that no matter how nice you are some people will always be a...holes!"
My faith in humanity would be entirely lost i think if it wasn't for my son - he's always so jolly no matter what happens in his world.
he fell off his bike the other day and took all the skin off his elbow - but we were watching the 'Tour de France' and some poor fellow hit a dog and came off his bike and took all the skin off his elbow too - but that fellow got back on his bike - had a bit of a patch up at 45kph riding alongside the doctors car and went on to win the stage - so that cheered my son up no end realising that it happens to real professionals too!
- My faith is restored once more! How i love kids and the way they see life - we should all stay as kids and the world would be such a better place!!
Mind you - i read a brilliant little piece in the newspaper the other day telling of how an NGO has been set up that is giving away the new $100 laptops to disadvantaged school children in West Africa so they can get connected to the Internet and learn more about the world, and they got a bit of a fright when they found porn downloaded in more than one of the computers! So much for the digital age and the corruption of the innocent!

Friday, July 27, 2007

What's going on?

Just browsing the news stories for the region and came across this superb bit of info:

East African Standard (Nairobi)21 July 2007
Oldonyo Lengai mountain in Tanzania has finally erupted. This brings to an end the numerous earth tremors that have hit East Africa for the past week. The seismic waves responsible for the movements emanated from this point.
The powerful eruptions that occurred on Thursday from 10pm will, according to experts, reduce the underground activity that was responsible for the tremors. It will also restore calm in the region that had for the last one week been engulfed in fear and anxiety.

- Now please will someone fill me in with who the 'experts' are that say 'it brings to an end the numerous earth tremors ..'
- So what, pray tell me, do the 'experts' call the tremor we experienced last night - the biggest I've felt so far can i say.
AAAAAAARRGH! - Looks like no-one really has any idea what might happen next! Best i start getting more pro-active than holding my breath!

Tremors and security!

Last night as i sat watching the end of the local news the sofa i was sitting on began swaying. I thought i must be tired and should go to bed and then the weirdest thing happened. The whole house began swaying and the news presenters looked horrified - as they were getting what i was getting. My curtains were all moving side to side - not by much you understand - but enough that it was all pretty scary - and what did i do - after all those "What to do in an earthquake" articles we keep getting through the email every day - er . . . nothing that's what. I realised that i just sat completely still waiting to see what would happen next! So much for rolling off the sofa into the foetal position - as comes highly recommended from some fellow working at the UN in Nairobi!!

It was all jolly scary though. I was shaking for a while afterwards - wondering if it was more tremors or just me! When i did finally go to bed - every creak or groan i heard - whether it was the dogs shuffling about in their baskets or the normal sounds that go with having a mabati (iron sheet) roof on my house - i kept thinking "My God, this is it - the house is coming down!!" and what did i do with those thoughts ... er ... same thing ... nothing - just held my breath and waited to see what happened next!

I really think I'd better brush up on my earth tremor articles i feel!!

It's quite funny really - made me think - you never really know what you'll do in a situation like that until it actually happens to you. - Well it seems i now know what I'd do - Hold my breath and sit perfectly still! - Very useful!

When we were kids i remember so many conversations we used to have - what would you do if ... We generally spoke of what we'd do if someone broke into the house - a fairly common occurrence here sadly - generally with not too horrific consequences but sometimes awful things happened to people - and I'd like to say here - "Touch Wood" - nothing too horrific ever happened to me or my family - but it brings me back to - You'll never know until it actually happens - no matter what intentions you think you'll have.

In the last house i lived in - i went through a spate of break-ins in the last few months i was there - which made me move in a bit of a hurry. It started off with a gang coming in and tying up the night watchman and trying to get the wheels off my car. I never heard a thing and the dogs didn't make a sound - although the garage wasn't that far from my bedroom window. Luckily a car drove by and they panicked and all they got away with in the end of mine was my bicycle that was out in the garage - and they were welcome to that - as it always been a pretty crap bike - won by my father in one of many raffles he won prizes in.

Sadly though they took the watchman's mobile and what little money he had in his pockets - and after that they came back - once a week on average - and basically took almost everything the staff owned. They kept coming back and breaking down their doors and took even their bedsheets - it was awful. Why take from people who have so little in the first place - but sadly that is how it is here - they generally rob from the much less fortunate - as we all live in houses with great big bars on the windows - and now where i am - an electric fence all the way round the entire 10 acre compound.

One night they did cut the bars in my father's house which was at the other end of the plot to mine and he woke up and starting shouting and screaming which woke me and i called the 'Ultimate' people who came with armed police and chased them all away. (The 'Ultimate' guys are a bunch of guards in riot gear who travel round in a van and we all have 'panic buttons' in our houses in most rooms and if you press one of them the control room registers it and sends out the closest van to you). It was all pretty scary though with them throwing rocks through the window at my father - and him waving his baseball bat. - thank god, he didn't have a heart attack - all that excitement - think i might of!

Anyway i moved not long after that and here i sit in relative safety - i hope! My house is in the middle of the compound and i have the staff compound directly behind me - the landlord's house to one side and another tenants house to the other side of me. i always think - or hope more like - that if anyone ever got into this compound - god forbid - i would be the last house they came to - especially as i have the biggest dogs in the place so hopefully they'll have that little bit of info on board before they get in and leave us alone! Fingers crossed!

Anyway enough of all that negative thinking. I think if you live in Africa long enough - the best way to deal with these things is to be aware of them but not to worry about them too much!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

'Suicide Hour' in the tropics!

Yesterday morning i woke up angry - angry because i was fat, felt like crap and just .... er ... angry really! Actually i don't really know why but of course my son got it in the neck for the most minor incident, the dogs got it because i tripped over them and then their baskets and everyone in the office got it because ... er well ... they were in the office!
It was awful - i spent until lunchtime fuming - then decided i better leave the office and stop upsetting anyone any further so i went round the shops - bought my son some new shoes - through sheer guilt of course for my morning's outburst - then went to the book shop and bought an exercise for fatties book and the most perfect diet book called "The Hibernation Diet"! It professes to make you thin whilst you sleep, and the forward reads:
"If you wake up tomorrow morning and dreamt you'd got thinner during the night, you'd think 'Oh Yeah, great. If only!' BUT that's just what you could be doing with the Hibernation Diet!" -
Now how could i possibly resist buying that?!?
I also bought The Times for last Saturday which also cheered me up immensely as there was a special holiday puzzle section with 8 full pages of sudoku and the like - superb!!
Final highlight of the day was a little tidbit i picked up in the Times with the following warning found on a packet of earplugs - "These earplugs are non-toxic, but may interfere with breathing if caught in the windpipe!" - Now you don't say!!!!!
Anyway after such a generally rubbish start to the day, now approaching evening and thinking of settling down with the papers and my marvelous diet books, it made me think of a good friend and her kids and what we named 'Suicide Hour'!
Any mother should be able to relate to this time of day, every single day everywhere in the world, as early evening sets in, and kids get tired and whingy and no matter what you do or say general chaos usually breaks out in the house (that tends to include some incredibly loud screaming).
With one child it is generally controllable as if you can get food down their neck quick enough it tends to avert the extreme whinging BUT, after food, tends to turn the little blighters into bouncing beans until you can slot them into the bath and their beds!
With two plus children, it's a little tricky, as one will start the whinging - generally smack one of the others round the head - and the chorus begins! This one is not quite as easy to control as food can just cause further chaos as they'll start stealing from each others plates which only causes further screaming on board! - This is the classic 'Suicide Hour' when the best thing to do is get yourself some earplugs (trying of course your best not to get them stuck in your windpipe!!), open a bottle of wine, shout for the ayah (nanny/maid) and settle in with the paper! - That is what living in the tropics is all about - someone else to deal with the mundane daily nightmare - and I'd just like to say that if anyone out there who has a large family of kids - do the right thing and move out to a country where staff are part of our lives and are an absolute god send. If not - you'll be the one 'Suicide Hour' was named for and will be launching yourself off the fridge freezer come 6 o'clock this evening!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The croc man and friends.

Decided to get out of the big smoke for a couple of days as its so damn cold at this time of year and we headed for the coast. Thing is all it really did since we got there is rain! Anyway - shouldn't complain really - at least its fairly warm rain! Mind you - we've had given up club chukkas to sit in this grey drizzle - so i did have some times over the weekend where i wish perhaps we'd stayed home! However change of scene probably did us lots of good so i should be grateful for that.

Seeing as all its really did is rain for 90% of the day, some failed sandcastle attempts and a few games of noughts and crosses on the beach is all we really achieved - but we decided to put a little excitement into our Saturday afternoon and take a trip to the 'Crocodile Farm & Snake Park'!

Little did i know that it was run by some drunken stranger i met Friday night over dinner and he couldn't string a full sentence together!

Anyway turned out that sober he makes some kind of sense - i say 'some kind of sense' - as although he's perfectly literate today - what he has to say for himself is really quite 'off the wall'! He has hundreds of crocs as they mainly farm them for their skins. The bigger ones it seems are kept just for the happy tourists such as ourselves to admire but really i felt he had some kind of rapport with the big ones. He's named half of them - amongst which he has 'George Bush' - who had killed 4 people before he was caught, 'Lady Killer' - had killed some poor lady (funnily enough), Margaret Thatcher - who's was a portly one that was always picking a fight with the others and 'Saddam' - who had picked a fight with 'George Bush' and had come out of it with a broken jaw - so now lives with a bit of a squiff face!

There were snakes there - highly poisonous, semi-poisonous and supposedly harmless - puff adders, pythons and mambas for Africa - not my favourite - but my son thought it was all excellent entertainment and actually it's always great seeing snakes under glass - as they scare the living crap out of me any other way! I think they do shows in the hotels where they take some of the snakes and educate the tourists on which are dangerous and which not and what to look out for - probably wise as most hotels in the area have makuti (grass) roofs and the snakes love hanging out in there! There's also a famous rock python - who weighs about 15kg - that they wrap round your neck and let you hold - i of course opted for the 'no. no. you first' line - and didn't hold it at all! However that did nothing for the bravery of my son who kept insisting 'ladies first' - and because i wouldn't do it - he wouldn't either!

Anyway back to 'Mad Marc' - the 'drunken stranger' who owned the park. He had some brilliant stories - 'Marc the Hippo Killer' - 'Marc the snake catcher' - 'Marc the crocodile hunter'!

It turns out he does some work with the Kenya Wildlife Service and tracks down rogue hippos and crocs who go round the villages killing the locals and trashing their shambas (smallholdings)- in the case of the hippos. He has stories of paddling up rivers and snakes swallowing lizards twice their own size, deadly snakes caught in his neighbours kitchen and crocodiles in his own swimming pool!

Anyway 'Mad Marc' insisted we took some hippo meat back to town with us - great in stews and curries apparently - also a crocodile tail - although can't remember what gourmet delight we are to make that one into - but if we ever do I'll be sure to document it. I'm sure it'll be incredibly useful information for someone somewhere! - "What to do with a hippo leg and a croc tail that happens to look rather tasty down at the local butchers!"

Turns out his wife - a rather wild German woman with bright orange hair (- who on the night i originally met them - was even less coherent than her husband!) has the most beautiful pure bred Arab horses. She has a stallion, a mare and a 5 year old offspring who is the most beautiful horse i think I've ever seen. The young mare has never been ridden and has done nothing but hang out in her beautiful stables along with Mum and Dad - occasionally being led out with one of the others and occasionally escaping and running amok in the compound I'm sure! So that was an amazing treat - as we certainly don't see many Arab horses around these parts - ours are mainly thoroughbreds.

As we were leaving - and had of course already fallen in love with the beautiful large eyed long lashed 5 year old - they told us that they'd like to sell her! Well, now there's an offer it's going to be very hard to refuse! No idea what we could do with her - as i don't think she's any bigger than 14.1 or 14.2 hands - but she's just so lovely. We talked and talked about what we would do with her - came up with a bunch of ridiculous ideas - just for any excuse to keep her - the best scheme (thought out by me of course) - is to breed from her with a beautiful thoroughbred stallion and see if we can get the speed of the thoroughbred with the stamina and great legs of the Arab and make them into polo ponies! - Definitely worth a shot i reckon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Confusing day in the tropics!

Its really been a confusing day all round.

We've been getting earth tremors here for the last few days - there's been some kind of seismic activity across the border in Tanzania and we're getting the aftershocks. They are really quite minor - and quite weird. Yesterday i sat in a traffic jam and my car rocked from side to side! Today as i sat at my desk i shook and my PA sitting 5 feet away from me stayed perfectly still and didn't feel a thing!

Anyway i think they're still going on - one or two a day - and no-one seems to know how long they may last or if they'll get stronger or weaker. One of the geologists from the Nairobi Met Dept held a news conference yesterday at about 4.30pm and said that we'd had the last of them and they could only get weaker - and then - funnily enough - we got the strongest we have had so far at 10 past 5 with a 6.1 rating on the Richter scale - confirmed by some fellows in a met station in Texas, USA! Shows how competent they are here with these things!! Anyway - can't blame the fellows - turns out they don't actually own any equipment that works!! - Usual story I'm afraid in this part of the world.

I've had 4 emails so far warning us what to do in case of an earthquake, and the best thing is they all tell you something different. One email's 'TO DO' tells you exactly what the next one tells you 'NOT TO DO'! It's great. I'm just hoping - me and a few million others I'm sure - that basically these after shocks won't get any worse than they have been - a few cracks in the wall but nothing major - and meanwhile we keep our fingers crossed! One of the best 'TO DO' ideas we got through the email said that if it occurs when you're asleep- roll out of bed and curl up in a ball at the end of it! - Now work that one out!!

Meanwhile apart from the constant stress of worrying what or what not to do when the world shakes once more i got an email from a friend who works up the road at a school that borders the fence of the Nairobi game park. It just read; "Have you heard there's a couple of lions escaped from the park and heading our way. AAAAARRRGH!!"

I thought she'd probably had one cup of coffee too many BUT as it turned out a couple of lionesses came out onto the main road and lay amongst the cars! - Probably making the most of the heat of the tarmac as it's been so cold the last few days! Anyway rogue lions aren't really run of the mill things to deal with in our everyday world - although we live on the periphery of the park - there is a huge fence that usually keeps them all in. Turns out they got bored after a few hours and took themselves back to the park - after upsetting a few pedestrians and cyclists no doubt! Don't blame them for legging it back - the shocking traffic we have to deal with is enough to make anyone want to jump an 8 foot electric fence to escape back into the wilderness!!

Well better get back to practising for rolling off my bed in the middle of the night in my sleep!

AAAARRGGGHH -from me this time!
Was about to post this blog and got another tremor - it's really scary actually especially after seeing the news and the massive earthquakes that are going on in other parts of the world - and I'm not even in my bed yet to practise my roll!
Really must go! Wish us luck!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A bit of controversy

Something that's been in the papers quite a lot recently here and abroad is the new hip word (words actually) - "Food Miles".

An extract from a local paper here entitled "UK War against Kenya's horticulture" got me thinking. It reads as follows:

- "The British Soil Association last month launched what it called 'airfreight consultation' aimed at reducing or eliminating environmental impact of organic air freight......

Players in the industry have a chance to convince the British NGO that unilateral action against air freighted produce from Africa and other developing countries is ill-advised and will undermine the UN convention on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol that exempt them from responsibility of greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

The fact is that the UK and other developed countries are responsible for excess greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, causing intolerable effects on climate change in Africa and beyond. Frequent droughts and floods are attributed to global warming with attendant consequences such as food insecurity, famine and malnutrition....

But instead of the Soil Association aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions at home, it is coming to Africa to further hurt the victims of their profligate energy intensive lifestyles. How long will Africa suffer because of actions of others? Africa has no greenhouse gas emissions worth talking about. Africa is responsible for only three to four per cent of the global emissions.

This is symptomatic of our underdevelopment and for this the Climate Change Convention exempted us from cutting down emissions until we develop. If the British Soil Association does not target emission reductions in developed countries and instead exports the responsibility to poor countries, starting with the agricultural sector which employs 80 per cent of our population, then their objective is to protect their energy development at the expense of Africa.

For victims of climate change, the Associations 'feel good do nothing at home' is unacceptable. .....
Why target poor African farmers?"

This 'get green' policy seems that its all a scam to get people to support the British farmer! Perhaps its well placed really as the government in the UK seems to give out tons of cash for various reasons to support the local farmer - so by hammering the "Food Miles" debate - perhaps it means the government will have to give out less of their budget subsidising British farmers. (I once remember meeting some Brits who were farmers in the foot and mouth crisis and they told me that it was more economical to cull all their livestock than keep them alive during the crisis - even when they weren't in an area at risk - as they got more money per animal from the government by culling them than by keeping them and their farms going.

It seems quite a cynical view i suppose but countries such as ours have spent millions doing the right thing and getting the right certifications to certify all their products organic, etc. in order to be able to sell their produce in the EU and now after all that expense and heartache they are now trying to boycott our veg with the food miles thing and the 'support your local farmers market.'

I read one website where someone asked the question - "How would this food miles debate effect the 3rd world farmers" - and in typical English style the fellow answering totally avoided the question all together and went on about how buying local produce should be a personal choice, bla bla bla. - no answer whatsoever!

I am not against local farmers in the UK or anything like that but its all a little shallow as if you research further it turns out that in order to grow great organic veg like we do over here, in perfect conditions with gorgeous sunny days at high altitudes and amazingly fertile soils. In the UK everything has to be grown in fully heated greenhouses using loads of energy and emitting loads of greenhouse gases - so how does that help the green debate after all??

Anyway an interesting debate - we'll have to see which way it pans out.

By the way - we grow the most fantastic veg here - quite unlike the generally tasteless produce you get in the UK - so if you do get a chance to buy some - i would - it's well worth it!! But of course - I'm biased!

Monday, July 16, 2007

AS I MATURE ! - Thoughts for the day!

I got this email this morning and i had to share it!
It definitely brightened up my day with some home truths and a great laugh!
Click on the image to get to see it in full size!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Turned out to be a bad day - no matter how old or NOT you're looking.

Really sad day here. A horse snapped its Achilles tendon playing in club chukkas this afternoon. The poor thing was so panicked and every time it put its leg on the ground it freaked out and started bucking. It just couldn’t understand why it hurt so much and was trying to get away from its own leg.. It was just awful. Everyone around panicked and no-one seemed to want to go near the horse – even the syce (our grooms as they’re called) holding the horse didn’t know what to do and panicked himself. A few of us called for the vet – luckily there was one close by as there was a horse show going on next door and so they had a vet on stand by there so it wasn’t too long before he got there. But in the interim everyone seemed to just take a wide berth - even the owner. I felt so sorry for it – I went and talked gently to him and stroked his nose and slowly he calmed down but when the vet did arrive, he took one look at the horse, ran his hand down its leg and said “S**T!” – you kind of knew then there’d be no hope and I sadly left as I couldn’t stay there to watch it being shot. Sadly it’s the only thing to do in a situation like that – especially in this country where we don’t have horse hospitals or any fancy facilities – although I’m not really sure elsewhere in the world what they do with a horse with that kind of injury. I felt so guilty leaving there as no-one else seemed to want to talk gently and calm the horse but I couldn’t bear to see it die. I suppose that's why everyone took a wide berth. It's too awful to be there stroking it and talking to it - knowing that in the next few minutes it would be put down. It was just so awful it kind of makes you think – why do we do this to our animals but I suppose in anything – accidents happen and i suppose sometimes they are inevitable in those high stress situations like polo - especially when some people just push their horses unnecessarily hard.

The whole incident also put in perspective what I was going to blog about today – which was about how I’ve suddenly noticed how all my friends are looking so old! Sounds awful saying that but I’m not saying I’m not included in that 'looking old'!– it’s just I take the sensible precaution of having very few mirrors in my house and not looking into the few that I do have very frequently!! Actually when I get in the car in the morning and I reverse out of my drive, the first glance I usually get of myself is in the rear view mirror just as I’m about to leave the house – and it’s only then I realise I have no make up on and think how dreadful I look – so promptly rush back in for a bit of powder and lipstick!! I’ve never been big on make up so its not something I generally tend to remember in the mornings in my disorganisation of trying to get out of the house! But really – at our age – I’ve come to realise we all look pretty awful in the absence of make-up!

Actually i got kind of lucky recently - or unlucky as some saw it at the time! - but i got hit by a polo ball in the face about a month ago. It was whacked pretty hard - by a great 2.5 goaler - so it was travelling at some speed when my head stopped it. Anyhow it split the side of my eye open - which resulted in 5 stitches and a black eye that has only started to disappear in the last week or so BUT the fabulous part of it all is that i no longer have crows feet on the outside of the one eye as the scar from the stitches has flattened them all. - Cheaper than botox i reckon and let me realise that in most things in life which seem pretty bad luck at the time - something good comes out of it in the end!

- i only wish i could say the same for that beautiful horse today. I'm so so sorry for him and hope that he is now peacefully grazing in a better place - pain free.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Inadequacy, Mothers and Smoking!

Today i got invited to a friends for a casual supper. I'd said yes as i didn't really think about who would be there and just thought it'd be a bunch of kids and a few girls and it sounded like fun. i later found out that my friend from Uganda who i haven't seen for about 2 years - had company as they had all come en mass for the horse show this weekend and it turned out the 'company' was in the form of a girl who i knew in Uganda and was always so loud and brash and always seem to do her best to make me feel 2 inches tall and quite inadequate. - this was summed up really when i left Uganda and my husband and overnight she and he became the best of friends! - so i chickened out of the evening and bailed on supper! What i don't really know is how someone i hardly know can make me feel so pathetic! - I suppose that's insecurity for you! Also what i wasn't really sure of - is do i tell my friends why i bailed and hope they understand - or will they just feel sorry for me and I'll make myself into someone even more pathetic than i probably already am?

Had a great chat with a couple of girls this afternoon - you know one of those great 2 hour gossips where you put the world to right and discuss everything and anything that comes into your head? - Chick bonding i presume!?!

We got talking about our mothers and how - funnily enough - all 3 of us don't get on particularly well with our own! This led to us talking about how we hoped that none of our children would turn out like us and dislike their mothers quite so much! We hoped that we had learnt from our own relationships and wouldn't hopefully repeat their mistakes, but hey - who knows what tomorrow holds - but i do hope to god we all get it right!

One of the girls remembers her mother not taking any interest in anything she did or any game she wanted to or did play. As a consequence she has driven her eldest son 12 hours across the most god awful roads in order to let him take part in 2 weeks of full on horses. A polo clinic for 4 days followed by a 3 day horse show promptly followed by a week of pony club camp!! The other girl remembers her mother always putting her down when she tried to dress up in anything more appealing than a grotty t-shirt and a pair of jeans, so as a consequence, spends hours with her daughter buying her great clothes and dressing her up and making her look gorgeous. On my part, i remember never getting so much as a hug from my mother and i certainly never remember her ever utter the words "I love you", so of course i give my son loads of hugs and kisses at every opportunity and tell him i love him loads!

I do hope we all don't end up over doing it and bringing up a bunch of spoiled brats but a bunch of children who really feel wanted and cared for and most of all - love their mothers always!!

By the by, the government banned smoking today in all public places including the streets! No warning, no grand announcement - just a small column in the corner on the front page of the papers overshadowed by all the political wranglings that are taking over our lives for the next 6 months until we hold an election. Anyway it totally explains why the paper boy at the crossroads this morning launched himself on my bonnet with the papers thrust in the windscreen as i tried to run him over and thrust my cigarette out the window!! - Bless him - he was just trying to save me a 2,000 shilling fine!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The mundane

I haven't written for a few days now as my life seems so mundane and yet I'm so busy - one of my colleagues in the office said to me today that he can't wait to finish the project I'm working on so that I'll 'be normal' again!! I asked him what that meant and he told me i have a faraway look and don't concentrate on anything anyone says to me it seems!! - i always thought that was normal for me!

I've been reading some other blogs of women living in similar situations in similar places around East Africa - the only difference being they are all married with children and spend most of their lives as housewives with little housework! It seems it is a lonely life being a single mother in this part of the world. I always watch the British TV programmes on the satellite and it seems that if i lived in the UK i would be one of the norm - but here - I'm a little abnormal it seems!! Anyway we get by and not with a shabby life either - we really do have a good life in so many ways but i always worry that my son will suffer for having a father that only seems to pop up every couple of months or so for a few hours and then promptly disappears under the guise that he's 'travelling'! Funnily enough i once ran into him having a few drinks with his friends at 4pm on a Friday afternoon at a local mall - but hey i suppose it's some distance from his home - so perhaps 'travelling' he was!

I read a great article in the International Express at the weekend. It was all about the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (appropriately its acronym being BAAPS!) supporting a debate by the British Medical Council about the possibility of offering bra fitting on the NHS on the hope of cutting back on breast reduction operations as a study showed that all women with large breasts were wearing the wrong bra size! I was wondering if i could put forward a new study that should have trouser fitting put onto the NHS too as surely wearing trousers too tight and making your bum look too big is incredibly depressing as we all know and this could lead to lots of anti-depressants being given out and would also cost the NHS unnecessary money surely!! - it all seems very silly! I just wonder if it'll be included in my BUPA policy too! In this part of the world medical insurance costs us all a small fortune - but the alternative of being stuck without is unthinkable. Private hospitals in this part of the world are incredibly costly and the public ones would not even give a white person the time of day as all in Africa surmise that if you have a white skin you must also have money too!

Anyway enough nonsense. My son is on holiday and has been entertaining himself by wrapping up his toys and presenting them to me when i come home from work each day. The best note i received today read "Dear Mum I would like it if you don't shout all the time but i'm giving you this present because you're nice - well only a little bit! ps. i love you" - made me think anyway!!

Think i better go now before i start SHOUTING some more!!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Therapy for single mothers!

I entitled my mutterings today "Therapy for single mothers!" as i realise that this writing of thoughts is amazingly therapeutic. Although i hardly get time in life for a good old gossip with friends - putting all this down in writing - is almost as good as a great gossip i think!

Had my polo lesson with the South African master that i had mentioned. It was all going so well until he changed my stick for one with a smaller grip, shorter and less weight - and it all went to pot. I couldn't hit a thing and came away kind of disappointed. I'm sure he meant well but - funnily enough - the stick he gave me - light, short and small - he had made himself and was selling on, so i couldn't decide whether this was really the stick i should be using or he was just doing a sales pitch on me!! I suppose i shouldn't say things like that but i always seem to trust people implicitly and then get walked straight across, so its about time really i started to think a little more into things before i trust so implicitly!!

Apart from that we've had to deal with the dreaded speech day! Actually it wasn't too bad - we always get a great tea afterwards so its worth staying awake for that, and we had some celebs in the house! Well i say 'celebs' but actually they were all politicians - but that gives you definite celebrity status in our part of the world. I mean if you've ever read the Kenyan newspapers they might as well be called "OK" and "Hello" rather than "The Standard" and "The Nation" as every day's news is what each politician got up to yesterday and with who!! Actually the best bit about having celebs on board at a school function is all the flash government cars that we get to see with policeman and military men attached - all fully armed of course - which causes great excitement in the school hall! Actually we have so many kids from influential families - a few armed men watching their every move is probably just run of the mill for them and it's probably only people like me that love the drama of it all!

Anyway here we are again - the long 'summer' holidays!! As I'd mentioned another time, most of my friends are jetting off to their respective homelands in the next couple of days and won't be back for a month or two. The weather's freezing as always for this time of year, and meanwhile I'll be working all day everyday as usual, and trying my best to think of ingenious ways to stop my son watching the Disney Channel 12 hours a day! I definitely need to get my act together and take some time off work and go and do something for a couple of weeks with my son to make it a proper holiday, but as yet, nothing planned, so there's some food for thought for me!

My son's keen to go to Paris and climb the Eiffel Tower but perhaps a bit of a safari up-country is more likely to be on the cards as flights and visas are all going to be too much like hard work this late in my disorganised life! Mind you - there will be kids out there going up the Eiffel Tower who probably think a bit of a safari would be much more exciting anyway!! - I'll be sure to let my son know that!

OK now, more than enough rambling for one posting i think. Must go and do something useful - like put my son to bed! Till next time ...............

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Now here's the thing.
I'm a single mother of a small boy, Kenyan but of British descent, working full time, enclosed in a world of married couples with men who work and ladies who lunch - 99% expats! - i find it a little tricky to fit in!
Living this lifestyle for any of us here in the tropics is incredibly privileged for us as we have staff to take care of us and our children and our dogs and horses and we do not live in mud huts and swing from trees (which is what i was asked when i went to England to do my A Levels in a good old backward comprehensive school full of squaddie kids!)
I have grown up in Kenya and although have also travelled the globe a little i am back here now with my son in a very privileged private school (- that costs his father a small fortune every term that luckily is paid for as if not i think my son may join the ranks of the squaddie comprehensive kids - his father being Scottish and all!)
We live very comfortably in a small 3 bedroom house along with 7 other houses in a 10 acre compound surrounded by a huge electric fence! I have a couple of horses stabled there - one which i own and a second one that i lease from the local vet up the road - as i have ambitions of being a show jumper - and my horse is totally crazy and keeps dumping me on the floor- so i leased the second one as it seems to have a brain and has no problem jumping! I have also started playing some polo at the weekends - superb sport and absolutely love it. Have borrowed a few horses off a friend of mine - a couple of them are too young for anything but my level (the minus 2 brigade) and one is not quite right in the head and tends to boil over if ridden too fast for too long - so again perfect for the minus 2 brigade. Although i have only been playing since January i have had my jaw cracked by a horse standing on it and my eye split open by a speeding ball - i'm not sure if i'll ever upgrade past the minus 2's!
- So you see - live is not too bad really - in fact i am very lucky and should not be complaining here at all.
My only point is that living in a world of expats is hard at this time of year especially as they all go 'home' for the summer holidays and leave me here working my buns off and my son watching the Disney Channel and wishing for greener pastures!!
Anyway i really think that's enough complaining for my first posting - i do hope my thoughts are less depressing tomorrow!
There's an international polo coach in town so i'll be going for a quick lesson to see how its supposed to be done in the morning!
Catch you then!