Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to succeed

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

African Paradise-flycatcher

 Previously I posted about the Paradise-flycatcher (above) seen in my garden. A distinctive and unmistakable bird, the male has a blue-black head with a bright blue bill and eye-ring. The back and tail are chestnut and underparts are grey.

This bird also appears in a white phase (above) and this is the first time I've seen this variation. Females do not show this form
Isn't he stunningly beautiful?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Around the camp in sixty minutes!

On Friday morning I walked up to the lane behind the Guest House to see if I could spot birds. Sue was wandering, camera in hand, down the lane from her house. We met in the middle and stood chatting. I told her I'd seen a stone path leading up out of the camp into the bush. She offered to take me on a tour around the outside of the camp perimeter. It took us over an hour to complete the circuit, after which we emerged, hot, dusty, dishevelled but thrilled with our walk, onto the main road which leads to the mine. There a privately-owned truck had overturned which Grant's loader later pulled out and sent on its way!

An overgrown area just above our lane. I climbed up this incline towards the Guest House and into the lane running  along it
The guest house, Sue's house and the mine owner's house line this lane. The mine owner lives in Canada and only makes periodic visits to the site

The path into the bush behind the perimeter fence which surrounds the camp

Sue leads the way through the bush

No, not a tree-hugger. Sue is patting (congratulating) and admiring this old giant for still being around !
We had quite a steep climb down into a dry ravine after which we climbed up towards bottom boundary of the camp. Sue had come out in flip-flops which weren't conducive to easy hiking!

Early on Friday morning this privately-owned truck went off the road into a ditch. Grant's loader was commissioned to pull it out. Before Grant would do this, the truck owner had to sign a letter which said they would pay for the hours the loader worked and that the mine was not responsible for any damage.  At first, the truck owner refused to sign and it took the safety officer about two hours to convince him. Eventually he signed and Grant sent his workshop manager, Tom in to pull the truck out!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

On the road again...

Can you remember what you did the weekend of 26-27th March 2011? Gattina from Writer Cramps hosts this fun meme.

My weekend started on Friday evening when Grant and I drove down to the dam after work, to view birds...what else? Once again, we saw many birds and I took many photos. One particular little bird fascinated me. It looked like a weaver, but a lot smaller. It was on its own building its nest in a thorn tree branch overhanging the road. Weavers are sociable birds and build in colonies. This weaver was building with plant tendrils instead of strips of palm fronds, which is normal here, so this was a different bird for us. I sent the photo to my sister-in-law, who identified it as a Little Weaver.

A Little Weaver building its nest with plant tendrils which looks very difficult to do

A peaceful scene of a small herd of cows. This one allowed me to pat her and take her photo!

This kid was with the cows, no nanny goat was visible and I thought he was too young to be alone but Grant told me I could not take him home!

On Saturday made spinach soup which was delicious. Recipe below 


• 2 tsp olive oil

• 2 cloves garlic

• 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

• 1 stalk celery, finely chopped

• 1 medium white potato, peeled and cubed

• 2 cups vegetable broth

• 2 cups fat-free milk

• 1 bunch fresh spinach leaves

• Freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in large saucepan . Sauté garlic, onion, celery and potato for 5 minutes.

vegetable broth and fat-free milk. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Cool slightly, then transfer soup to a blender, working in two batches if necessary.

Blend until smooth.

Serves 4

Many readers have asked why, when we live in Africa, the seasons are different between north and south. For instance, Southern Africa is at the beginning of autumn/fall and going into winter soon. Northern Africa is experiencing spring weather and it will soon be summer. The answer is simple: we live above the Equator and are technically in the Northern Hemisphere. Ironically, when we travel to Nairobi, we cross the Equator as Kenya straddles this line. And yes, last year we arrived in South Africa at the beginning of spring and enjoyed a wonderful summer in our home country. When we arrived in Kenya, East Africa at the end of January, winter - which means dry instead of cold weather - was drawing to a close. Now it's time for spring so we've had the best of both worlds this year.

Early on Sunday morning, we phoned our two grandddaughters for their birthdays. (I posted about this yesterday)

We travelled to Nairobi on Sunday for Grant and Johan (financial manager) to attend monthly business meetings so I spent Saturday morning making food for the road. This is called padkos in Afrikaans and consists of egg mayonaise sandwiches, cheese and tomato sandwiches, cheese puffs, meatballs and sausage. For a sweet treat, I buttered several slices of banana bread, (supplies of which I always have in the freezer)

Note: I apolgize for my post giving problems to my readerst today. I have re-posted it and have had to delett the previous one. Thos who commented, thanks for doing so, but I think the comments will be deleted as well .

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Eryn and Bethany

On 27th March 2003, our first grandchild, Eryn Elizabeth Hedges was born. What a tiny scrap she was at 2,7kg. A beautiful baby then and a beautiful little girl today. Eryn has the sweetest nature, loving and lovable, is totally unselfish and a diplomat to boot. Today at eight years old Eryn, is a bright young girl who loves the Lord with a faith stronger than many an adult.

In 2005, the gold mine I worked for in West Africa, flew our family to Guinea for a visit. Eryn, at only 18 months, accompanied her mom and dad and they all spent a week on the camp with us.

You can read more about our gorgeous children - I'm not biased, am I? - here

Eryn was 18 months old when she and her parents visited us in Guinea, West Africa in 2005

Because John and Debbie were watching birds in the bush beyond my garden, Eryn wanted to join in. I gave her a small pair binoculars which she turned around viewing the world from the outside in!

Eryn  and Joshua on their way to the hospital with their dad to see their mum and new baby sister!

On 27 March, 2009, Eryn received the best (her words) birthday present when her baby sister, Bethany Grace Hedges,  arrived on the same day

Eryn, six years old,  holding her newborn baby sister, Bethany who shares her birthday with her

Eryn, seven years and and ten months old,  holding Bethany, 22 months

Bethany Grace Hedges, two years old today.  Since birth she's attended home school with her older siblings, so she'll probably be a professor by the time she is eight!  
A beautiful, confident and happy little girl


Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged. Proverbs 17:6a

By the time this post is aired, we'll be on our way to Nairobi. Grant has monthly meetings to attend; I need a haircut and we all need groceries!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rose garden update

For those readers who know me, I don't normally garden with anything exotic, especially not roses. But arriving here in Kenya and working alongside Stanley in the garden, I noticed a bed of old, neglected roses. So I rose to the challenge and with Stanley we removed all the extra shrubs in this bed, I pruned each bush to within an inch of it's life (excuse the pun) dug in mulch, watered well and sat back. Then in rained. And rained. And rained. Amen! Within a week, there are bushes with new growth, tiny buds and bright green leaves.

A few days after tidying the old, neglected rose bed in my garden, this bush rewarded us with a bloom.
Isn't it the softest pink bloom ever? Please note that some of the leaves have been eaten by something (holes visible) and no, I will not be spraying the roses with pesticides or any chemical to eradicate the bugs. I will live and let live with my rose garden

New growth and strong young shoots appeared on the rose bushes within a week applying TLC !

While out birding on Tuesday evening (yes, we've started going into the bush after work to look for birds !), Grant dug out a few aloes for my garden. When in flower, these will afford the many sunbirds in my garden with precious nectar

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stormy skies over East Africa

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring has sprung - continued

Yesterday I meandered into the next door garden trying to photograph a little black-and-white bird which I'd seen flitting about in the wild fig tree. I managed to to take two photos when I heard a melodious call in the lane behind the house. For weeks, I've been trying to photograph the bird making this call so I crept down the lane, binoculars over my shoulder and camera ready.

Standing dead still and trying to focus on a [nother] bird in a tree high above me, I almost missed a smallish bird flying almost past my nose. I gently lowered the binoculars and waited. Sure enough the bird, a Robin-chat emerged from within a patch of scrub in the bank beside me and flew about 20 meters to a patch of Bromiliades in the same bank.

Only recently my sister-in-law, Shelley, reminded me to how to check whether birds are nesting in the garden and surrounds.

I quote: 

Keep your eyes open for any bird that you see carrying nesting material - remembering that often the material is so small that you can't see it, but you can normally tell by the awkward way that the bird flies -  or any bird consistently seen in the same area, or coming or going to the same place over and over again. That usually means that they are either gathering material or building in that area.  Usually if you sit still and don't walk around, the birds will resume their building.  If you are close to where they are building, they won't come and build, and will often drop the nesting material from their beak so that you don't see what they are doing!  They are very clever!  It would be good to find the nests and be able to photograph the bird on the nest or the eggs or chicks. 


And this is what I did. I sat down on a rock, adjusted my camera settings to photograph the bird in the shadows and I waited. It wasn't long and the bird returned with a wad of nesting material in its beak. I spent twenty minutes watching and snapping this bird at work.

It's a White-browed Robin-chat and very common in the area. However, it is a shy and skulking bird and not very easy to spot or capture on film. You hear its call early in the morning, a few times during the day, and again from sunset until dark. This particular Robin-chat has a call that sounds like: "figures-of-eight, figures-of-eight"

It loves to scrummage around in the leaf mould for food. Its diet includes insects, beetles and ants, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, and other small invertebrates. Fruits are also eaten.

These birds are  monogamous and territorial; they nest in a cavity in a tree or stump. Two to three eggs are laid and are incubated by the female for 12–17 days.

As suggested by my sister-in-law, I will carefully look if this nest is being used and try to get photos. (Watch this space!)

Take a look at a hard morning's work...

White-browed Robin-chat with nesting material in its beak

It flew back along the lane for about twenty meters, and over the bank into scrub where it collected nesting material
It landed on a different tree every time...

...looked around...
...before flying into its chosen nest area

White-browed Robin-chat, Chibutie, Kimwarer Kerio Valley, Kenya

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring has sprung

It's spring here in East Africa and the birds have either already built a nest and looking for a mate. Or they've found a mate and together are building their nest.

The male Black-headed Weaver (Village Weaver) displays above the nest he built.  The nest is just to the left, not visible in photo.  He is flicks his wings to try and attract a female to view his nest, perhaps approve and agree to breed with him

Another male Black-headed Weaver displaying while hanging on his newly built nest

Lesser Striped Swallows are plentiful in the valley. Now that it's rained and there is lots of mud around, they are busy building nests in the eaves of our homes. One pair, which is building on my front porch, keeps flying into the lounge and office by mistake. Here one of the birds rests on the pelmet above my desk

 Lesser Striped Swallow building its nest of mud above my front door. Isn't that an amazing balancing act? I took this photo through the netting on the pantry window

Riding down to the village centre to the fruit and vegetable market yesterday, I spotted starlings flying across the road with nesting material in their beaks. Crossing the low-level bridge to the office, I saw a Hamerkop, a largish water bird with a hammer-shaped head, pick up sticks and fly up the river.

When I returned to the camp, I saw a pair of Greater Blue-eared Starling land on my lawn, pick up dry grass and fly off again. They did this quite a few times during the morning. They flew  over my bottom boundary fence and into a large tree beyond my garden

For more on birds around the world, click here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Volunteer memories

Last Monday I posted about an e-mail I'd received from a lady who'd been a Peace Corps volunteer at Kimwarer Secondary School in the mid-eighties. That same day, Grant arranged for a driver to take me into the Kimwarer Centre (as the village is known) to show me where this lady had lived. The driver, Sephania, has been in the valley since forever and took me straight to the church, which he says was instrumental in starting the school, and the accommodation, where the volunteers lived. Any Peace Corps volunteers from the eighties who may read this post, please confirm whether this is, in fact,  true!

The Reformed Church East Africa, which Sephania, our company driver, says was instrumental in establishing Kimwarer Secondary School, in the mid-eighties

According to Sephania, this house to the left of the church, was occupied by the clergy at that time...

... and the cottage to the right of the church, was occupied by Peace Corps volunteer teachers. Today these abodes are rented out to the villagers

The Reformed Church East Africa

This building - now a private dwelling - used to be the Post Office in the eighties. It was run by Mama Orgut who has since passed away. Her brother has a general dealer in the next village called Orgut Shop

The school, established in 1983,  is situated across the river from the centre, so Sephania and I drove there. Note the letters R.C.E.A under the school badge

The approach road to the school

Sephania, the company driver, poses in front of the school gate

The school offices which are the same as they were in the eighties. The principal invited us in and we enjoyed tea and cakes in his office. He has only been with the school for the past two years but says that the Peace Corps were instrumental in building the girls hostel and the laboratory.  It felt absolutely surreal to sit in the school and think back almost thirty years when the Peace Corps were involved in this institute of learning

Building the laboratory was one of the many successful projects of the Peace Corps in the eighties. The present Headmaster says they are still appreciative of this facility

According to history, this little building was the school tuck shop in the eighties. Confirmation from Peace Corps volunteers will be appreciated

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