On Saturday I posted about our reunion with friends and old colleagues from the goldmines of Guinea, West Africa. After a wonderful weekend of reminiscing and visiting, Grant and I traveled to London by train. One thing in favour of the UK, is its transport system. Nowhere in Africa, including South Africa do we have buses, trains, taxis and tour buses as efficient as those in England.
Mid-morning on a Monday, the train was empty!
Within fifty minutes, we'd arrived at King's Cross station in London, walked out of the station and caught a taxi to our accommodation near Paddington station! It was Grant's first visit to London and also the first time he'd ridden in a London taxi. Being a blogger, I had to take a photo of the interior, didn't I?
Inside our London Taxi
Here I must just interject about luggage. It took me about thirty years and dozens of domestic matrimonial arguments to learn to travel light. On this trip, Grant and I each had a small carry-on case which we'd bought in Eldoret, Kenya last year. However, while on the Isle of Man, it was Grant who bought souvenir tee-shirts, jackets, caps, beanies and other memorabilia, as well as two new helmets for touring on our bike back in SA. In order to get this home, first to East Africa and ultimately to SA, he bought a largetog bag on wheels at Marks and Spencer. I stood by calmly and watched while he organized the packing as in the past I'd often been in trouble for buying gifts and curios and overloading the cases!
The small gold cases were compact and easy to maneuver compared to the large blue bag containing most of Grant's stuff bought on the Isle of Man!
Arriving in London brought us one day nearer to meeting a fellow blogger of mine. Gattina of Writer Cramps lives in Belgium and she and I have been blogger friends since the beginning of 2009. She is also a cat-lover so you can imagine the connection! As it's quite impossible for us South Africans while living in East Africa, to obtain a Schengen Visa, necessary to visit Europe, Gattina decided to come to London and see me! She and a friend booked to see a musical which included hotel accommodation. (we didn't , unfortunately!) Ironically their hotel was in the street behind ours in Sussex Gardens. We arranged to meet in a pub the next day.
Of course, I knew what Gattina looked like and as she and her friend, Dominique (whom I also "knew" from Gattina's blog) entered the pub, I recognized her instantly. Originally Grant had been a bit apprehensive about meeting one of "my" friends and originally said he thought he should wait at our hotel while I met with her. He needn't have worried! As we met, we all hugged and within minutes of sitting down, were chatting away like old friends - including my normally quiet husband!
Gattina, Jo and Dominique meet in London
The hour-and-a-half flew by and soon it was time to say goodbye but not before we'd invited Gattina and Dominique to visit us in South Africa.
Don't you all just LOVE blogging!
A wonderful week to everyone out there in Blogland!
While in the UK last month, we had a reunion with friends from days on the goldmines of Guinea, West Africa. Although the time was short, we managed to fit in all everything that had happened since 2006 and also had a great time reminiscing.
The weekend after we'd returned from IOM, we drove down to Wansford in the "shires" with Kevin and Jane, whom I posted about last month. There we met up with Peter and Amanda, Mick and Ronnie. I chided Ronnie as he arrived at the pub where we met without his wife, Morag. He apoligised and said that she was on duty at a retirement home where she does the clinic once a week!
Morag and I were inseparable on the gold mine site where we both worked. After hours we also exercised together in the camp's well-equipped gym, played golf together on the camp's unique four-hole golf course and spent every Saturday together at my home where I held motivational, health and slimming classes for the ladies of the camp.
Friends from the gold mines of Guinea, West Africa circa 2000-2006: Back row:Mick, Jane, Kevin, Grant (slightly hidden) and Ronnie. Front row: Moi, Peter (the Mine Director General, Ex Foreign Legion!) and his wife, Amanda
Grant and I spent the night with Peter and Amanda in their beautiful home on the Nene River. When I first arrived on the gold mine site, Lero, in 2001, Amanda was the only other woman there. She and I became firm friends, walking the three kilometers back from the office to the camp as exercise. She was the one who asked me to run a slimming club camp which; initially she was my only member! Later, as part of my job with the company, I held motivational and slimming and health classes for the dozen or so women who eventually lived on site with their husbands.
The next morning while Peter served us English tea, boiled eggs and toast, Ronnie arrived with Morag! What a lovely surprise. They sat down and joined us for breakfast and Morag, Amanda and I never stopped talking!
Amanda, Morag and Jo. Amanda and Morag live near each other and with their husbands, socialize often. However, this was the first time in five years that we three had met up again!
Amanda and Peter have a beautiful Labrador, Urquhart whom I met as a puppy in 2005! It was wonderful to see this beautiful gentle dog again although he is now eight years old.
Urquhart, Amanda and Peter's the beautiful chocolate Labrador
Mmm, I wonder who is boss in this house!
An hour later, Ronnie and Morag took me and Grant to the Peterborough Station where we boarded the train for London.
As it had done the whole weekend, the rain continued to pour down on Monday!
More about on stay in London soon. I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!
Once again this week Wessel came to my rescue and helped me with Internet issues. Thanks Wes!
Wessel and Grant
Wessel left site this morning for his rotation break. I thought I'd better do a post wishing him Bon Voyage (Safari njema) although he probably won't see this post. He has only one goal and that is to get home to his wife and children in South Africa.
While we were out birding on Sunday, Wessel took the shot of Grant's vehicle with the sun setting behind it
African sunset over the water(Photo: Wessel Prinsloo)
Once again, just before sunset on Sunday, Grant, Wessel (the client IT fundi who always helps me with Internet issues!) and I drove a short distance outside the mine for a bit of birding. We'd hardly set out when I spotted a Pied Kingfisher calling to its mate nearby. Grant stopped so that I could photograph it. When the bird turned around, I saw it was a female! It just had to be with all that chattering! (The female Pied Kingfisher has only one breast band which doesn't meet in the front. The male has two complete black bands)
I hope you're all having a wonderful week.
BTW, apologies: I forgot to mention that Wessel, sitting at a rear window in our vehicle, was in the best position to take photos of this kingfisher. So photos #2 and # 3 are his. Thanks Wes!
When I returned from holiday in June, one of the Guest House chefs had gone home to North Mara to attend a family funeral. He had only worked here for about ten days. He contacted the HR office from home and said he would not be returning to work. So we were back to one chef, James.
Within a few days Grant had located another chef, Paul. He interviewed him briefly and then sent him to my house here on camp to see what I thought of him. Paul is well over six feet tall but that's where his "greatness" ends. He is soft-spoken, humble and highly intelligent. Within a few minutes of speaking to him, I knew he'd be an asset to the staff.
And he is...
James, who's been with us for almost three months, does all the mzungu cooking: stews, meatloaves, roasts, pies and of course the vegetables. Paul is my curry chef and cooks food enjoyed by the Indian men here. All the food is served together in the dining room, (more about this later) so South Africans enjoy the Indian menu and vice versa!
James and Paul, the two Guest House chefs
Paul and James work well together. Here James (right) places the rice into a serving dish while Paul does the same with the curry
They each have their specialties already: James makes the tastiest roast meat and potatoes, his meatballs are juicy and moist and he is an expert at making fritters from left-over vegetables. I've taught him how to cook a variety of South African favorites like sweet potatoes in a sticky syrup, boerebeans (farmer's beans: green beans boiled up with potato, tomato, onion. After it's cooked you drain the water, add a knob of butter, mash it well and sprinkle with a dash of white pepper) carrots, peas and broccoli mixed, and cauliflower cheese.
Paul has taken over Salome's job of baking: mandazi (a very popular East African square-shaped donut), chapatis, pappadums, and American doughnuts that are to die for! Recently I taught him to make poorri (deep fried Indian bread) and I've also taught him how to make banana bread, treacle sponge pudding and banana fritters.
The carnivores at the club made short work of this tray of samoosas
On Saturday afternoon I asked him to make samoosas for dinner. I also wanted to take a tray of these very tasty treats to the club that night. Well, he excelled himself! His samoosas were crisp and although deep fried, they were not at all oily. The meat fillings were juicy and spicy. Everyone enjoyed Paul's samoosas!
The lovely card which friend, Penny sent in February to welcome me to Tanzania
As soon as we moved to Tanzania at the beginning of February this year, my dear friend, Penny asked for my mailing address. I sent it to her and she told me she'd posted a card to welcome me to my new country. As I'd received cards in the post while living in Kenya (from Penny and other blogging friends) and as they only took a week to ten days from Canada, USA and Europe to East Africa, I eagerly awaited my card! However, as the months went by with no sign of it, I had to accept that items via snail mail were just not going to reach us.
Then on Saturday Grant came home with an envelope! Yes, it was my card from Penny! Now wait for it: She posted in Vancouver on 24 February . It arrived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa on 9 March, exactly 14 days later. I'd queried my mail at our company HO in Dar on numerous occasions. Every time the facilitator/admin lady would ask the lady who does the company post and I'd get the same answer: "Hamna" (Swahili for "there is none")
I am thrilled that it did eventually arrive in Mwadui. Thank you, dearest Penny for the lovely picture on the front and the sweet words inside the card. Grant and I have deduced that perhaps eventually the mailing clerk in HO tidied out her desk and found my mail! Now I'm hoping that my card from Becky (USA) will turn up as surprisingly as this one did!
Farmlands just outside our hometown, Marquard, South Africa
As with any type of revolt situation and ensuing chaos, the rumours abound, the tabloids have a field day and ultimately no-one actually knows what originally started the "war".
However, in South Africa overcrowded townships situated on the outer borders of rural towns, are hotbeds of discontent, frustration and disappointment exacerbated by poverty and misery. Apart from lack of decent housing, power and water supplies, there are foreigners operating businesses inside the townships making trade difficult for local entrepreneurs. So not only is the gripe about almost non-existent amenities and services but the attacks are of a xenophobic nature as well. You can read more about this here.
Of course, the innocent are always caught in the cross - fire. Apparently the people have been allowed to return to work so hopefully things will soon revert to normal.
In the absence of the normal workers, the Mlungus and a few African employees pitch in and offload the grain feed for the cattle
Continuing with my post two days ago about the chaos and destruction in and around our hometown in South Africa, I want to thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers at this time. Apparently the area is in a state of limbo; most of the businesses in town are closed as people are not able leave their homes in the nearby township, Moemaneng to come to work. The elderly and infirm in town have been advised to stay in their homes or their apartments within the retirement center in town.
However, a business outside town, a large feedlot company has had to continue with or without workers. The mlungus* and a few trusty Africans who managed to escape intimidation, literally pitched in (no pun intended) and offloaded feed for the cattle and ultimately tended to the thousands of head of cattle on the ranch.
You can read about this company, Sparta Beef, here (Do go into the links provided to see how much Sparta does for the entire community of Marquard and Moemaneng) I hope you're all having a great weekend.
Note: *mlungu is the Sesotho/Zulu name for anyone not of African origin, albeit Asian, European or Middle-Eastern. In East Africa we foreigners are the mzungu. (both words pronounced with OO sounds - mloongoo and mzoongoo)
From top left to right: the remainder of the concrete islands in the main street; the rioters in front of the historic town hall which was trashed; middle two photos: shop windows and doors were smashed; more senseless destruction in the the streets; and an emergency vehicle rushes an injured shopkeeper to hospital in a town 34km away
The images above are of the [main] streets of our normally peaceful home town, Marquard, South Africa. What started as a strike on Monday, degenerated into a full-scale riot by mid-morning on Tuesday. I could have posted a news link of the cause of this upheaval, but suffice to say it's about the lack of essential services and gripes against the municipalities. Hundreds of youths and school children entered the town from the nearby township and literally trashed and smashed the buildings and streets of Marquard.
I'm adding a link of our beautiful, sleepy Free State town and ask that whoever feels so inclined, would pray for the residents of Marquard and the people of Moemaneng township where apparently the destruction and chaos is a lot worse. Emily our house lady and John our gardener live in Moemaneng; I've told them to stay in their homes and not venture into our town until things settle down. Our son, Angus, his wife, Amanda and their two young children, live in Marquard and of course, that is where our home is.
Here's hoping and praying that God will give wisdom to those in authority to resolve these issues that the masses' needs are met as they should be.
Thanks to those of you who are praying for our family, friends and house staff.
Today is the 94th birthday of South African's first democratic president, Nelson Mandela. Fighting for equality from the mid-forties, he was very active in the African National Congress, an illegal political party at the time. In 1963, he and ten other ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment for political offenses, including sabotage. Nelson Mandela remained in prison for 27 years.
While in prison, he continued to fight for justice for all and became a world-famous figure. Upon his release from jail in February 1990, was welcomed back by the world, and ultimately loved by white and black South Africans alike. You can read Nelson's mini-bio here
In 1963, 1993 (thanks Diane!) Mr Mandela and the last white SA president, FW de Klerk, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (see below)
Before I start on today's post, I'd like to thank you all for the very kind comments on my post yesterday. I also want to assure you all that I do regularly interact with other women. (Think blogging for one, LOL!) As soon as the young man at the club had taken the photo featured in my post, I picked up my phone and forwarded the image to my two friends who weren't there that night saying I was missing them! They responded immediately saying they missed me too and would be back soon!
Yesterday I also managed to get out of our camp, walk up to the client's camp and visit Tilla, the only other SA lady in town at the moment. We had tea and chatted non-stop for two hours! I do have Skype and e-mail and am in contact with many of you blogger friends, my sister in Spain and my sister-in-law in South Africa. I also have regular text message contact with my friend, Sonja, in Dar es Salaam, my dear friend, Sue in Kenya and a number of friends in South Africa.
On Sunday afternoon, for the second weekend in a row, Grant, Wessel (my IT friend who helps me with Internet issues) Marnitz, Grant's production manager and I drove out of camp into the bush. We left quite late and were rewarded with wildlife, BIRDS (YAY!) and a magnificent sunset.
One of the mongoose family that I spotted on the side of the road
Last week I posted photos of the buck; we saw a few again this weekend, but I wasn't able to get good photos. I also spotted a little family of banded mongoose (should that be "mongeese" ?) and Grant stopped so that I could get my first ever photo of this delightful little creature.
The lane of trees which lined the village housing a British community in years gone by
Once again we drove through the now non-existent village which I posted about on Sunday. My imaginations runs amok when I think of the families - apparently they were British - that lived here; the women, prettying up their houses to create homes and making gardens, of which I found evidence, (see photo below) while the men worked on the mine in nearby Mwadui!
A couple of bougainvillaea shrubs in this clearing, are proof that someone had a garden here in days gone by
We spotted many birds which I'll post about tomorrow and as we wended our way home, Marnitz saw a pair of Black-backed jackal. Grant had to reverse a long way back by which time the jackal had trotted off onto a side road. We followed them along this road but as the light was fading fast and taking photos through the windscreen, I only managed to get some unclear photos.
Black-backed jackal running along the road in front of the vehicle
The jackal in front, obviously unperturbed by our presence, stopped to lick its hind leg
And then it was time to capture the sunset. I've posted one of the photos and will post the others later this week on Skywatch Friday.
A glorious African sun setting behind an Acacia thorn
This post is linked to Our World Tuesday, a meme started by Klaus until his death last year and continued by Sylvia, Gattina, Arija, Lady Fi and Sandy. Thanks ladies! You can see follow this meme here
While the men watched rugby on telly (visible top right), and as I was the only lady present, I kept myself busy with handwork!
Recently blogger friend, Eileen asked if I was the only lady on camp. I am the only lady in our company. Every day of the week I see nine men, including my husband, for lunch and dinner or BBQ's. Over the weekends, the men watch rugby at the club with employees from the Client company. As there are two other South African ladies, Amanda and Tilla in that camp, (but only Amanda visits the club) as well as Ntsia, my lovely Tanzanian friend from private camp, this is some of the the only times I get to spend with other women!
However, on Saturday I was the only one... Amanda and her husband are in South Africa; Ntsia had work commitments and she and her husband just didn't make it. So there I was, keeping myself busy while the men watched telly. There were a couple of men who weren't watching the game so I had someone to chat to. In fact, one of the younger lads picked up my phone and photographed me, hence the rare photo of moi!
Last Sunday, Wessel, the Client's IT lad (who's helped me many times with my Internet problems!) took us to a new area and later a dam on the outskirts of Mwadui. Apparently many years ago this area housed an expat community. A thoughtful town planner had planted a lane of trees which, sixty years later are giants. The houses were built in between the trees. If you look closer, you can see the remains of building foundations (bottom left corner of photo)
The lane between the trees clearly visible
Not far from this area we stopped at a huge dam
As we drew closer inspection, we saw a selection of waterbirds enjoying the late afternoon sunshine as much as we were. Above is a family of White-faced duck with a Red-knobbed coot in the background
A White-faced duck glides between the water lilies while I clicked away happily
We drove back with the sun setting rapidly behind the African bush (my post on Friday) and were lucky enough to see a couple of buck near the road.
While we watched this little buck and it watched us in return, another buck appeared as from nowhere and skipped off into the bush
The buck which ran off behind the one in my photo before also stopped and stared at us; we stared back and I took a few photos. I think the top one is a female while this one is her mate
For more beautiful scenic posts around the world, click here
Grant's senior Production Manager, a South African called Thys,* celebrated his tenth year in Mwadui. Although in South Africa, people stay at one specific mine site between thirty and forty years, I've never before heard of an expat staying on one mine site outside SA. As you can imagine Thys has seen many people come and go on this mine. He's recorded their names in a diary and has promised to show me the list some time. He also has a plethora of stories, and we often hear a few of them when he joins us in our new shamba behind our house.
Thys wearing his team's jersey for the match featured on telly with Grant congratulating him on ten year's service
As we usually do on Saturday evenings, last week we congregated at the club for the men to watch rugby on the big screen. As a surprise, the Client had baked a cake for the occasion and at half time Grant called Thys away from his seat in front of the telly. We then presented him with the cake while Grant made an appropriate speech thanking him for his loyal service to the mining industry in general and the company in particular.
Moi, Thys, Grant, Marnitz from Caspian with the client's assistant manager, Kwet
A cake baked in honour of Thys' milestone
Later this week, we had a BBQ in the new shamba behind our house. This time it was to send Thys off on his three-week holiday in South Africa!
Later that evening, friends Ntsia and Rob jouned us for the BBQ which Marnitz had cooked
On Friday just before lunch, Grant phoned me to say we'd be having two extra guests for lunch. Our friend, Johan, from Keirio Valley, Kenya, is now working on a Tanzanian mine two hours south of our camp. He had just flown in from his leave in SA and as he has to pass our town on his way back to camp (well, within about 50 kms!) he and a collegue, Tinus decided to pop in and see us!
Many of my blogger friends will remember Johan as the guy who lived just down the lane from our house in Chebutie Camp in Kenya. He was there on "single status" which means although he's married, his wife and family are back in SA while he works away. It became a tradition for Grant and Johan (who support the same National team) to watch rugby together on Saturday nights and also for Johan to join us for Sunday dinner every week. It sure was good to see him again today!
Johan and Tinus joined us for lunch today!
I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.
* Note: the name Thys, pronounced "Tace", is short for Matthys, the Afrikaans version of Matthew.