Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Male beauty

Beautiful Sunbird (male)

The Beautiful Sunbird is a slender-looking sunbird with a long thin tail, bright metallic-green upperparts and a red chest with yellow sides. He is a regular sighting here in the valley.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A major clean - out

On Monday morning I had a major spring-clean.  I have two stores (pantries/larders) in my house; one leads off the kitchen  and another off the passage leading to the bedrooms. In my kitchen store, I re-arranged all my flours, (I use whole-wheat flour, chapatti flour, brown bread flour, white flour and mandazi flour, which is like cake flour ). They were still in their packaging and I've been concerned about dudu's (weevils) and decanted all the flours into plastic containers. I also emptied the cat pellets into separate containers and marked them, In this household we have Ginger, an older cat with discerning tastes who prefers Whiskas for Senior Cats. Shadow who will only eat one type of kibbles, Fiskies, Ocean Fish Flavour and the baby, Ambrose, is still on Go Cat Kitten Complete! I also put my breakfast cereals into containers.  (I like a variety of Bran Flakes, Hi-Fibre Bran, Muesli anmd Oats)

Stanley sanded the sides of my sideboard drawers which have been sticking for the past seven months. So the dining table was piled with place mats, rubber snakes - which we used to try and scare the monkeys  hoping to keep them away from the fruit trees but it didn't work - and plug adaptors, batteries, cat medication matches and table linen. I tidied those drawers too.

The house-store in the passage is still piled with empty boxes, newspapers, shopping bags, Naomi’s plastic dishes for doing the laundry, containers of soap powder, pegs and our bathroom toiletries. It’s a mess and although I'd much rather sit at my computer or wander around the garden, camera in hand,  I need to complete this task today!
   
 Ambrose was fascinated by, and rather nervous of the rubber snake in the pile of goods from the sideboard draw. The cats caused the rumpled tablecloth and general disarray in this pile

 Gotcha!
 Stanley testing the drawers after sanding them

For more beautiful worlds out there, click here

Note: That's My World Tuesday, which was founded by Klaus Peter who passed away recently, has become Our World Tuesday. It's hosted by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.  Thank you ladies for continuing the meme in honour of Klaus.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trip to Nakuru

Believe it or not, two days after driving to Eldoret, we travelled in the other direction to Nakuru. Borries had to collect his new company vehicle; on Saturday, Grant, I took him to Nakuru to fetch it.
As usual when we travel to Nakuru from the valley, we cross the Equator

Once the documents had been signed, the dealership manager said he'd fill Borrie's vehicle with fuel and leave the keys with the guard. We went into town; Grant had to collect spares for the workshop and Borries collected meat for the guest house from Gilani's butchery.

Afterwards we popped upstairs to Gilani's Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant setting is beautiful, there are three cuisines (Chinese, Indian and Western). Grant and I ordered Indian while Borries had T-bone steak and chips.

Before the meal, each of us received a piping hot flannel to clean our hands. The waitron thought I was struggling to open the twisted cloth when in fact I was making faces with it!

Then it was time to return to the motor dealership where Borrie's brand-new vehicle was waiting outside the showroom. I convinced Grant to "hand over" the keys to Borries as the sale manager normally does.


Borries receives the keys to his new company vehicle from the "sales manager"!

On the way back to the valley, we crossed the Equator again!

When we overtook this taxi, I noticed that the interior was packed to capacity and beyond with passengers and luggage. No wonder a couple of people had to stand in the open sliding door and hang on

I've never travelled this highway on a Saturday and marvelled at the activity in every village lining the road. We also noticed many people dressed in their Sunday best and all walking in the same direction. At a small village called Emining, we saw a hall with a huge crowd of well-dressed people standing on the lawn. A few kilometers we came upon a long convoy of vehicles parked on the side of the road.

Wedding guests waiting for all to gather and make their way to the event in Emining, a few kilometers back
Pretty young girls, dressed for the occasion, stride along excitedly

Three children waiting for their parents to emerge from the house behind them, perhaps?

A few minutes later, we turned off onto the gravel road which leads into the valley, and after 26 bone-jarring, teeth-rattling kilometers, to the mine.


Stopping to stretch a leg, the men compare notes. Borrie's vehicle is exactly like Grant's and will be fitted with an identical canopy in due course

A pile of wood tells the no-win tale of Africa. Local people need wood for fuel or to make charcoal, and the earth needs it's forests and natural bush to be preserved

Borries riding along ahead

While in Nakuru, I stopped at the vendors' stalls in front of a supermarket. I bought two small plastic cars for KES150/US$2 each. On the way home, Grant and I looked out for two little boys on the side of the road. (There are always many children along the way, and only that morning had I seen a little boy pushing a plastic water bottle along in the sand. This gave me the idea to buy some toys)  Just before reaching home, we spotted two lads leading a small herd of cattle along the mine road. Grant stopped and I called them to my side of the car. As I handed a toy to the boy who'd arrived first, he grabbed it, clutched it to his chest and shouted: Eeeh-eeeh-eeeh! The other one came running around the vehicle and I handed him the second car. They were so excited with these bright new toys - probably the first time they'd ever received anything like this in their lives.

Two little boys clutch their new toys (Note boy on the left with car in his right hand)

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anywhere is a good place

For three cats to play!

These images are overexposed and grainy because I took them before the subjects stopped their activities, but I just had to share them!

Playing with Unca Ginger through the mosquito gauze

Hellooo, Shadow! You wanna play too?

Beautiful Tree-lined road

A part of the tarred road just before we turn onto the gravel which takes us back to the valley

For more beautiful scenes, click here

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another trip to Eldoret

Earlier this week, Grant, Borrie (mining manager) and I had to visit Immigrations at Home Affairs in Eldoret. I've just received my Dependant's status after six months of red tape; the men are here on work permit status but all three of us had to have other registeration finalized. 

Of course, driving to Eldoret always means a trip up the 24 km, rutted, windy mountain road with 24 hairpin bends! Of course, this also means that, lining the road, is thick bush filled with many species of birds. At the top, just before we join the tarred road, we pass the really big trees which have fortunately not yet felt the blow of the panga (long-bladed woodcutting knife). And when we reach these trees, we always see these specials of the forest: Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys and Blue Monkeys.

I uploaded this photo from my archives. Above is a Black-and-white Colobus Monkey

We spotted quite a large group of Colobus Monkeys first. As Borries had never seen them and was excitedly trying to focus his big camera with an 800mm lense into the bush, I stood next to him indicating their whereabouts. I have many photos of both types of monkeys but didn't get the opportunity to snap these.

Around the next corner we spotted one Blue Monkey in a tree to the left of the vehicle. This time I managed to get a few photos.

And just a few meters ahead was another Blue monkey in a tree with white flowers. It was browsing and eating the blossoms with great relish not at all concerned at the humans below taking photos.
I can never get enough of these very specail primates and am always so grateful that I see them regularly in our part of the world

We arrived in Eldoret and at the Home Affairs only to be turned away because we didn't have original copies of certain documents. We've made an appointment to return next week so I'll have more photos of another post about ANOTHER trip to Eldoret!

On the way out of town, the men were hungry so I directed them to Oasis Milk Bar which sold very tasty,very inexpensive take-aways. While they ordered hamburgers, I strolled around the picturesque area taking photos. Grant spotted a young cat lying in the garden, but on closer inspection saw it was dead. It looked as though it had been mauled by a dog or hit by a car.

I wandered off and spotted another kitten and photographed it.

A beautiful young kitten, the same size as our Ambrose and very obviously part of the litter the poor unfornate [dead] kitten belonged to. This one is still alive and well, and  in good conditioner, but for how long, I wonder?

Just after I snapped this kitten, he walked out into the main road beyond. For those readers who may think I'm overprotective of Ambrose, I'm not too keen on him being hit by one of the lorries which drive up the main road, outside camp  home or worse, being mauled by local dogs which prowl around the perimeters of our camp and whose footprints I've seen on in my garden recently!


Stanley asked us to look for a cell-phone casing as his screen was cracked. We found that the casings were so expensive and bought him a new phone instead

As it's rained regularly for the past three months, and the lane behind our house is always muddy, I've not been able always go out on my short run in the afternoon. Grant suggested we look at a mini-trampoline as a form of indoor exercise. One of the reasons I like to keep active, is to avoid, what is known as Twitchy Legs in bed at night. The formal name for this condition is Restless Legs Syndrome. When I arrived at the sports shop in Ya-ya centre while in Nairobi, I saw they had a sale. I spotted the trampoline I liked and it was marked down by 30%. I 'm enjoying this different form of exercise immensely and like the fact that there much less shock on my joints compared to running along a stony, rutted road. I also have no more Twitchy Legs at night. Bliss!
Ambrose kindly posed on the trampoline while I took the photo

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Another glorious sunrise over Keirio Valley

On Wednesday Grant and I stood on the veranda and watched the sunrise over the valley

Photo credit: Grant Hedges

For more beautiful skies, click here

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Never, ever give up



Are you feeling desperate today? Without hope and ready to give up?

Listen to the British statesman, Winston Churchill’s shortest and most striking speech he delivered at the famous Harrow school for boys: “Never give in. Never, never, never! In nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Listen also to the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 71:14-16: “I will never give up hope or stop praising you. All day long I will tell the wonderful things you do to save your people. But you have done much more than I could possibly know. I will praise you, LORD God, for your mighty deeds and your power to save.”

When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, let us make a concious decision to start praising God for the miracles and breakthroughs in our lives. And let us stand firm in the storm. Remember, nobody would ever have crossed the ocean if we were able to get out of the boat in the middle of the storm.
 
Source: Verse-a-day

Note: Apologies to those readers who tried to comment and couldn't. Thanks for letting me know. I had the "do not allow" on the comment options. It's fine now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sterling effort for a novice photographer

While out birding on Sunday, we spotted this little group of bee-eaters hawking for insects and then settling on a thorn tree. Grant commented that it would make a nice photo, so I passed him the his camera.

White-fronted Bee-eaters

Photo credit: Grant Hedges

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More cat escapades in the Valley

Yesterday morning while out in the garden with the cats, I kept a beady eye on Ambrose who dashes about and disappears from sight within a nano-second. While I watched, he raced up the baobab tree and climbed higher and higher.

Before I could do anything (don't know what I thought I could do!), he'd scaled the tree trunk, got onto  a high branch and sat there. No amount of coaxing him would make him budge.

I called Stanley who kindly climbed up the other side of the tree. He said he'd grab Ambrose and bring him down.

Above Ambrose is actually climbing UP the tree

What would I do without Stanley?



As often happens when you climb up a tree after a cat, the cat comes down!



After this shot, Ambrose fell less than a meter to the ground below and landed on his feet. I was there to scoop him up and...


...banish him to his room!

After Ambrose' tree-climbing episode, Shadow and I spent some quality time in the garden

A while later, Stanley and I walked to Chebutie shop a few hundred meters below the camp entrance. I wanted to buy airtime for my cell phone. I have a contract phone when in South Africa but here in the valley, I use the Pay-as-you-go system.
Stanley does the transaction for me

Customers wait while Stanley finishes at the counter. Note the lady on the left texting on her  phone. Cell phones are so much part of life today and no less here in a remote valley in Kenya
This little girl's mum told me she's three years old

Walking back up the hill to the camp chatting to Stanley and taking photos. What a way to start the week!

Back home we collected shrubs we've been nurturing to take up to Sue's house.
Stanley in the lane leading to Sue's house. The Guest House is just visible on the right

On the way back to our lane, we heard a parrot. Here Stanley, who's excellent at spotting birds, tries to find the bird in the tree. It had already flown off

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend of cat-training and International rugby

We arrived home from Nairobi (a six-hour trip, the last eighty minutes on a rutted, bone-jarring gravel road) early on Friday afternoon. Grant and Zephania (driver) unloaded our luggage and shopping and then they returned to the office. Feeling exhausted, I couldn't wait to get into a pair of shorts and flat shoes and begin to unpack.

This was not to be. Answering a knock on the front door revealed the refrigerator technician from Eldoret. I'd forgotten that I'd reported condensation inside my vegetable tray. So I had to empty the freezer compartment of the fridge and left the technician to correct the problem.

When I tested the hot tap in my bathroom, I found the water was ice-cold. Checking on the geyser (hot water system) in a cupboard in the passage, I found the unit was cold. So there I was (by now very tired, I may tell you) texting Grant with this triviality although I knew he was trying to complete his tasks before the end of the day. I also mailed Human Resources department and asked them to send an electrician as soon as possible. In African time, this could mean anything from half -an- hour to three days, LOL!

By now the refrigeration technician called me to the kitchen and explained in detail what he'd done to re-set my fridge. I thanked him, showed him out of the door, returned to the kitchen and repacked the freezer box.

Grant phoned me to ask exactly what was wrong with the geyser, and told me to switch it off and on again. I told him I'd done this to no effect and he said he'd see if they could send the electrician. In due course, Zephania arrived with the electrician who immediately checked the power source, the control dial and said he'd have to return in the morning. That meant a cold shower that night, and as we shower twice a day, early the next morning as well.

About fifteen minutes later, I opened the cupboard housing the errant geyser again, and, lo and behold, I heard the water bubbling gently inside.  I checked the hot water in my bathroom, and found it was quite hot.

Then I started to unpack the cooler box containing our meat order which we'd collected in Nakuru on the way through and the shopping bags of supplies that I'd bought in Nairobi. I unpacked our small suitcase and the small back-pack which we always use to transport my hairdryer and extra shoes for me and Grant.

By 5.45 when Grant arrived home, I'd been home for more than three hours and really needed that hot shower. He was thrilled to find that the geyser problem had corrected itself and said he'd cancel the electrician's visit the next day.

I personally was glad when the day ended and I could slip into my own bed in the quiet valley here at home!

The All-Blacks perform the fearsome Haka before the game

On Saturday evening Grant and I watched a much-publicised rugby match between the South African team, the Springboks and New Zealand's All Blacks. I downloaded the results from an Australian site on Sunday.  

SATURDAY'S clash between the Wallabies and All Blacks in Brisbane will decide the Tri-Nations title after a second-string New Zealand team lost 18-5 to the Springboks.

South Africa's resolute defence was hailed as the difference between the teams in this morning's Test in Port Elizabeth.

In their final match before next month's World Cup, the defending champions' forwards, in particular, turned in a powerful performance against a weakened All Blacks.

“South Africa played with a lot of physicality and passion,” said New Zealand coach Graham Henry. “They scrambled in defence very well. We created probably six opportunities to score and only converted one of them. That was frustrating.”

“I'll go to war with these guys,” said Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, adding that South Africa's victory was a just reward despite the fact that all their points came from the boot of fly-half Morne Steyn, who landed all five penalty goal attempts as well as a drop goal.

New Zealand scored the only try of the match, through centre Richard Kahui, but several times were stopped almost within touching distance of the try-line as South Africa tackled ferociously. Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

On Sunday Grant and I went birding as usual. We spotted a new waterbird at the dam and a sunbird feeding her young. More about that later this week.
After leaving the dam, I showed Grant the route which Sue, Ruth and I had travelled along when we had our picnic beside the river. We decided to come back and have a picnic some time
With all the rain we've had over the three-and-a-half months, the river is flowing so strongly that to get to the office, we now use the higher bridge above the low-level concrete bridge 
As usual I made lunch. This was the first weekend Grant and I were alone for a couple of months and we enjoyed it as usual. I made a very different dessert called Lemon Self-saucing  Pudding.
The very tasty Lemon Self-sourcing Pudding

Lemon Self-saucing Pudding
Serves 6

1 Cup Self-raising flour (or 1 Cup flour/1 tsp baking powder)
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Egg
40g Butter, melted
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 Tbs Cornflour
1 Tbs Custard powder
Icing sugar to dust (I forgot to dust the finished product!)

Set oven at 180 C
Combine flour and 1/4 of caster sugar
Add beaten egg, melted butter, milk and lemon rind
Beat well
Pour batter into greased oven dish
Combine cornflour, custard powder and remaining caster sugar
Sprinkle over the batter
Combine lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups water and pour over as well
Bake for 30-40 mins
Dust cooked dessert with icing sugar
Serve with cream or ice-cream

Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.