Monday, March 14, 2011

A weekend of note

Can you remember what you did on the weekend of 12-13 March?  Gattina of Writer Cramps hosts this delightful meme; do pop into her blog for a visit if you wish.

Our weekend started on Thursday when we three ladies on camp took a trip up the mountain to El Doret. We had to replace a few appliances in the various houses. On the way up we came across two species of monkeys: the Blue Monkey, also known as the Diademed Monkey and another species which I will post about tomorrow. Both these monkey species were first sightings for me!
The Blue Monkey or Diademed Monkey which we saw on the way up the mountain to El Doret last Thursday

Among several items (iron, kettle, toaster and blender) which were replaced, we also got new saucepans and bathroom sets. We have have two bathrooms but opted for the set in my bathroom. Grant's bathroom has a freshly-washed slightly older bathroom mat! He says he's happy so who am I to argue? (lol!)

The new bath mat set in my bathroom

While in town, we also shopped for various text books at a School Depot shop in downtown El Doret. We bought English books, Science books and Math books for Grade two, three and four. While scanning the shelves for the English books (which Sue had asked me to find) I came across a Swahili-English Dictionary. For those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning, you will know that I love languages and while in Khartoum, I learnt Arabic. In fact, I used to practice my vocabulary by posting prime words on my blog. So on Thursday I picked up this book for myself. Unlike Khartoum where English is not widely spoken or understood, here in Kenya almost everyone  - especially the younger folk - speaks the Queen's favourite language! However, I decided it would not harm to know a few words in Swahili should I one day find myself in a remote village peopled by elderly Kenyans, I will be able to converse with them! To help me learn my new language, I'll probably add a Swahili word to my posts.

Self-explanatory image...

On Friday Stanley (my gardener)  received his safety boots. His size has been out of stock but now at least, Stan has the correct footwear to ensure safe and happy gardening!
Stanley poses wearing his new safety boots. He has his sandals (to my horror he'd been wearing those in the garden!) in the plastic shopping bag. Stanley has never worked in a garden before but getting on very well since starting with me on 3rd February

For those too, who followed my blog while I lived in South Africa, they will know that I love gardening. Mainly indigenous gardening. However, walking around the garden with Stanley last week discussing what we'd do the coming week, I spotted a derelict rose garden under the bedroom windows. I have noticed one and then another bloom on two different plants but not being interested in exotics, (and especially not roses) I didn't think anymore about them. However, I have decided to lift my own ban on not gardening with roses and will revamp the roses in my garden here in the valley. This week (starting this morning) Stanley and I will attend to each and every rose bush in this bed and two in the garden behind the house. Each bush needs its own bowl (hollowed out dam around the stem) and needs a lot more space than the other plants, which are encroaching on them, allow. I have a pair of secateurs and will be pruning vigorously while Stanley works at the base of each plant. As I don't have access to any commercial rose food, I will use as many homemade remedies as I can lay my hands on!  

The above photo gives an idea of the state of the rose bed in my garden. This morning Stanley and I will start on fixing the above problems. This is the "before" photo  - watch this space for future improvements!  

Not only did Grant bring Stanley's safety boots, he also bought me a large quantity of natural honey. His workshop supervisor, Tom apparently arranged the purchase. Thank you Tom. It is the best tasting honey and costs a fraction of the price of the commercial honey available in the city.

The total weight of the honey was 1.8kg for which Grant paid KES500/US$6.75. The sealed containers are included in the price

Apart from spending quite a while the garden watching birds on Saturday, and going on two bird outings with Grant this weekend, I also baked a banana bread and a loaf of white bread. I gave the white bread to the financial manager whose houselady always bakes us white rolls on a Wednesday.

Homebaked white bread and banana bread (I kept opening the oven door as I also baked half a dozen pita breads for lunch, therefore the larger loaves were a little cracked on top)

I also baked a carrot, apple and banana loaf... (A recipe I got from Nigella but adapted quite a bit. I added mashed bananas, toasted cashew nuts and raisins. Recipe to follow later)

Apple, carrot and banana loaf

On Saturday night we joined Nico, Sue and Johan at the Guest House to watch another game of Super 15 rugby. We also watched an exciting game of World Cup Cricket between South Africa and India. South Africa won at the death. Then we watched a Six Nations rugby game between Ireland and Wales. Wheatcliffe, the GH chef and Caro, his assistant served  a barbeque and salads in between the Super 15 Rugby and the Six Nations game.

Even though we had a barbeque the night before, it didn't stop Grant from making another one on Sunday! We used the new braai made from an old wheel rim and a movable grid on top

The new braai (barbeque) in the Hedges garden

Mrs E Orgut's general dealer store where Grant always shops

And once again, I just have to say how much I love blogging. Only yesterday I received a mail from an American lady now living in England. She 's an artist educator and was looking for  information on journalism for her class when she came across my blog. This is what her mail said:

Hi Jo,  I was a Peace Corps volunteer at Kimwarer Secondary School from 1986--88.  In fact, I met my husband who is English and was staying in one of the Florspar houses doing some development work there.  I would love to know more about how things are now.  The post office used to be run by Mama Orgut. It is a bit of paradise.... except for the snakes!

I mean, can you believe it? A lady who was involved in the Kimwarer Secondary School in the mid-eighties. A lady who met her English husband doing a project for the mining company and who  stayed in a house here on camp. Incredible! Grant knew the person she mentioned who ran the Post Office at that time. He took me down to the village so that I could take photos of Mrs Orgut's business now! Amazing! I LOVE blogging!

For more on what other people do over the weekend, click here.

The Swahili word for honey is asali ya nyuki (directly translated as "honey of the bee")


  1. Jo, you've been very busy and productive. Good for you! I'm especially glad that you will be reviving the rose garden as I happen to love roses. I know they will flourish under your care. How nice to that you "met" a lady who used to live and work where you are. The world is sometimes a small place ;-) BTW, I love the honey in Kenya and I always buy it from the street vendors though I think Grant got a better deal than I do. I don't mind as it is usually the village ladies who I am buying from. Have a great week ahead if I don't "talk" with you before then. Hugs. xx

  2. Hi Jo, I always enjoy reading about your busy weekend. I LOVED it... I'm so glad that you are doing so well there in East Africa... Thanks so much for sharing...

  3. How fun for you to work on a new garden, especially with a helper. And the local honey sounds delish.

    Blogging is a great way to make connections.

    Good luck with the new language.

  4. Yep, blogging has certainly helped shrink the world, Jo! And then there's something called serendipity, too :)

    Your baking looks yummy, as usual (it's just NOT fair of you to tempt us visually and not be able to offer us any!)

    Glad you had such a successful shopping trip - you'll be able to get plenty of practice in mastering Swahili from your gardener :) That's how I practised Xhosa as a child...speaking to our gardener. He'll gain from your extensive, hands-on knowledge of gardening and you can perfect your pronounciation with him :)

    I'm glad to hear you're going to love your rosebushes into life, Jo :) I know they'll reward you in kind!!!

    We watched Carte Blanche last evening, in which one of the features was the appalling state of some Eastern Cape schools...they could learn so much from the show-piece school where you are!!!

    Once again, a delightful post, Jo - it always feels as though we're right there alongside you!

  5. Great post and accompanying pictures Jo - I'm looking forward to reading more about the local monkey species - it's interesting that the one pictured is called a 'Blue Monkey' because here our Vervet Monkey is also known as the 'Blou Aap'

    Looking forward to learning some Swahili with you - one of the monkeys I take care of is named 'Tumbili' which, I believe, means 'monkey' in Swahili?

  6. Jambo Jo! The weather for the Argus cycle tour was good - cool with a bit of fog over the sea and getting quite chilly in the afternoon. Our nieghbour said it was one of the best.
    Your African travels get more and more interesting. Love reading it - and have told a British friend of ours who has just been visiting to look at it too as he is dead keen on birds and will love yours. Thanks and look forward to more African post from you xx

  7. You had a busy weekend. What a coincidence to hear from a blogger who used to be at your camp. I see you can't stop your green thumb from being activated,

  8. You must be excited about the roses! I had over 100 roses when I lived in San Diego. I wonder what color your roses will be? And your breads look great. I used to have a butane oven when I lived in southern Spain, and I quickly learned to leave the oven door open!

  9. That bread looks delicious!

  10. What a joyful post to read and the honey looks really yummy !
    Blogging is a wonderful hobby and you learn so much ! I am so happy that I dropped litteraly into it. What an amazing story with your American lady !
    I saw the "King's Speech" yesterday, what a emotional movie ! The best I have seen since a very long time !

  11. Hi Jo, I'm Kat from Malaysia has really shrunk the world! I love what you are doing with the roses. I love roses and have a few in my home here. They are difficult to breed though because Malaysia is quite hot - just like Kenya I think, though maybe not as dry.

  12. Great post, Jo!! I missed this one. The bath mats are very cool! I know that your rose bushes will flourish under your tender loving care.

    You are amazing in all the languages you know--awesome! Is Swahili similar at all to any other African languages?

    That honey looks fantastic and what a good price for all of that!

    And finally, how amazing to run across a woman who worked at the Kimarer Secondary School in the mid-eighties! I agree with you--I love blogging, too. I'm so glad I met you through Esther Garvi's blog!


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo