Monday, February 14, 2011

A special weekend in Kimwarer Valley

Before I tell you about our weekend in East Africa, back in South Africa it's time to get the ole hiking boots and backpacks out again and head for the mountains. The rains have abated and a healthy hike is calling to you from Kwa-Zulu Natal .  For those readers who live in South Africa, do take a look at the link I'll supply below. This blog is written by my daughter-in-law, Debbie. John and Debbie offer hikes and day walks in the most beautiful part of our country, the majestic Natal Drakensberg. They also run a mission school for children in the area.
The two oldest Hedges grandchildren enfolded in a blessing...
 For those readers who are a little - um - far away, please do pop in and read all about the lifestyle John and Debbie and their children have adopted. You will be truly inspired and in turn,  they'll be thrilled to have a word of encouragement, affirmation and interest from you on the blog.  To visit John and Debbie Hedges, please click here .

Note: I wrote up this post earlier on Sunday afternoon. Unbeknown to me, Debbie kindly posted birthday wishes and linked to my blog at the same time. Thanks Debz. Bless you!

The house on the prairie where John and Debbie and their four beautiful children live

Back in EA: On Friday morning, while still lying in bed, I heard loud cawing from the back of the house. I dashed out there armed with my binoculars and camera. Sure enough there, in the giant rubber tree were two hornbills; ones we'd never seen before. Black-and-white casqued hornbills. This is a large, mainly black hornbill with a large white patch on the wings. It also has a large black and white casque. I took photos and I trust the one below is not too fuzzy. I struggled with the camera settings in the early morning light and also because I was focussing upwards and couldn't hold the camera perfectly still. I think you'll get the idea of what this bird looks like and how huge his casque is.  

The Black-and-white casqued hornbill outside our house on Friday morning

On Saturday I realised that life here in Kenya is all about discovering things which have been under your nose all along. Remember when I posted about the desk (which I thankfully am using right now - whoo-hoo) You can read about this amazing discovery here.

The stove in my kitchen with TWO doors: the top one is the grill and the lower one is the oven - I discovered this two weeks after using this stove daily. Read on...

Last weekend I baked a couple of loaves of bread. And as I mentioned in my post, I had to turn some knobs and dials to get the bread properly baked.  Note: I don't ever have a problem (read: flop) when I bake bread. This is not boasting. On the contrary: for anyone who's baked bread for as long as I have - which is since forever - there should be no flops. The loaves weren't flops, but I really struggled to get them crisp and browned evenly. This weekend Grant was preparing a tray of raw peanuts for roasting, which we love to snack on,  in the oven. He turned towards the stove and leaning down he opened a door at the bottom. Watching this, my jaw dropped. I only knew of one door and that was the top one. That's why my loaves didn't bake all the way around the first time. I was using the grill only and the heat from the oven (yes, I'd set the oven by a seperate dial) was coming through another layer. I even baked a batch of scones successfully last Sunday! Well, at least now I know I have an oven. I wonder what else I'll discover in the house?

This weekend I, once again, baked bread which turned out perfectly first time!


Sunday morning dawned bright and clear albeit very dry. We are at the end of winter and the wet season hasn't yet arrived.  Sunday was a very special day. It was my birthday. I was served tea in bed, which is no different from any other morning. Grant has brought me tea in bed for the past 39 years!

Later when I walked into the living area, dressed and ready for whatever excitement the day held, there was a beautifully iced cake, resplendent with four lighted candles and Happy Birthday Jo written on it. Grant, my sweetheart, had arranged with Wheatcliffe the guest house chef and Caro, his assistant to bake me a birthday cake. This had all been done on the quiet  and these dear people were thrilled to be in on the secret. They really excelled themselves with this surprise, don't you think?
Birthday cake organised by my dearest husband, baked and iced by the guest house chef, Wheatcliffe and assistant, Caro and enjoyed by yours truly!

Logging onto my computer, I was blessed by you all, my dear blog readers with birthday wishes and blessings. I also received Skype messages and e-mails from family and friends. Later in the day John and Debbie and Angus and Amanda and my sister-in-law, Celia phoned to wish me. I also received two beautiful e-cards from my sister, Rose in the UK. Thanks to all who remembered me on this day and for your kind wishes.

As we did last Sunday, we then drove to the mine-site (Grant to inspect machines) and then we drove further along into the African bush. To look for birds! Here I might add that I could do an seperate blog about the birds, wildlife and other interesting sights in Kenya. We have seen so many birds and I'm keeping my sister-in-law, Shelley Hedges, busy with identifying the ones that mystify us. She also reads my blog now which helps me make sure I have the facts straight.

Yesterday was no exception to the plethora of birdlife.  We spotted two new barbets: the Yellow-and-red Barbet and the d'Arnaud's Barbet. We also had a wonderful sighting of a couple of White-crested Turacos, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, White-headed buffalo weavers and many LBB's (little brown birds) that I enjoy spotting!  
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater seen on the side of the road

We returned home at about 11am and had tea and cake on the veranda.

Sunday always passes quietly and calmly in our house. I unearthed my knitting which I'd brought with me. The pattern has been folded in the same position for eighteen months; the first row's explanation is completely faded, so I'm still trying to get back in to the pattern. Grant sat nearby and read the latest Frederick Forsyth. I just love being the age I am and doing boring-to-others-but- together-with-my-husband-things!

Mid-afternoon we had the ubiquitous braai (barbeque) on the front lawn and afterwards while Grant napped on the sofa, I sat the computer and posted my blog!

Life sure is good..

For more on other people's weekends, click here.  Gattina of Writer Cramps kindly hosts this fun meme.


  1. So wonderful, Jo. I'm very happy for you.
    Luv, K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Happy Birthday, Jo. You look beautiful and it sounds like you had a wonderful day.


  3. A day many are only able to dream about.

  4. Happy belated birthday to you. What a lovely thing for your family to do. Love the rainbow photo.

  5. Once again, Jo - a most delightful post! And your birthday morning picture is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! You look stunning!

    The only complaint I have is that you've shown us a picture of your marvellous bread! That's just NOT fair! I am craving a huge slice and nothing else is going to satisfy my craving, I'm afraid! There's just nothing to beat a homebaked loaf and yours looks scrumptious! I, sadly, do not bake anymore at all, as we then have to eat what I've made and we're battling the bulge, unlike you!!!

    What a super surprise your birthday cake was! Hope you savoured every last crumb :) You most certainly can afford to...with your youthful, trim figure!

    Such glorious birds and the picture of your little grandchildren beneath the rainbow is just too gorgeous for words!

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  6. A very happy belayed birthday ! I am sorry that I missed it, but with these painters in the house, the mess and restricted blogging time, it's a little excuse. I am not good for hiking I don't like it and I never baked a bread in my whole life, yours looks wonderful btw !
    And your birthday cake looks very yummy, how nice from Grant and you look very nice too !!

  7. I am constantly amazed by the variety of birds you see. I think I would become a bonafide birdwatcher if I lived there. When Spring arrives here (in 4 months) we will get Robins, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and.....wild Turkeys.

  8. Sounds like you had a wonderful day Jo. I love the photos and especially the one with the rainbow. I also love the idea that your husband and house help organized a secret cake for you. Happy Birthday and Happy Valentine's Day!

  9. Happy birthday and I'm sure this new year will be packed full with adventurous posting for us all! Enjoy!

  10. What a sweet husband! The cake and you are beautiful! I really like the photo of 2 of your grandkids "under" a rainbow. It sounds like your birthday was filled with special things!

    Thank you so much for the jar of peppadews and the two magazines!!

    (((Hugs))) Pat


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