Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Herons, egrets, one ibis and two crocodiles!

Birding at the dam on Sunday delivered a selection of birds and other creatures. I have many photos (and a post or two) of herons, but felt I should post about the Grey Heron again. Visiting Eileen's blog this week, I saw a Great Blue Heron and thought how alike these  two birds are. You can see Eileen's interesting post about the Great Blue Heron and many other birds and creatures here.

Following are some of the birds we saw last Sunday here Kenya.

Grey Heron

Sacred Ibis
Cattle Egret warming themselves in the morning sun

Also enjoying the sunshine: the resident crocodiles

A close-up of ole "big-mouth"

And a peek down it's throat. (I love the reflection in the water)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

East Africa Classic Safari Rally

On Saturday the East African Rally came through the valley. Of course, as we're so remote with nothing happening much over the weekend, this event stimulated great excitement. It rained all night on Friday with no thought of easing up the next day. The company safety department barricaded the road at the intersection to the river and had a tractor and cable straps reader in case a car was swept off the bridge.

Continuous rain caused slush and slippery conditions for all

The tractor being parked in position in case of emergency. Doesn't Grant look strange wearing a jersey?With the incessant rain, the weather had turned very cold

The locals gathered at the cement (concrete) bridge below the mine offices to watch the cars coming through

A view of the raging river looking up towards the mountains

There were many Porche 911

 Datsuns, a Ford Caprice, several Ford Cortinas were the order of the day 
...and even a Mercedes

450 SLC!

There were no 4x4 vehicles, no quad bikes (four-wheelers), no trucks and no motorbikes allowed. This was a classic rally with cars from 1974 and older. The rally started on 18 November in Mombassa on the Kenyan Coast, spent three days in Tanzania, returned to Kenya driving for three days before their first rest day in Ambosile National Park. Next they worked their way up towards Naivasha and Nakuru eventually arriving in the Baringo district. At Karbenet they turned off into Keirio Valley and traversed the horrendous road to where we saw them cross the river. From there they rode past the mine offices, over the Moong River to Karbenet. Returning to Nakuru along the B4, they will arrive in Nairobi. There are more details my post is about the cars passing through the valley, so that's where I'll end!

Note: If you have time, do click on the links above. You'll be enchanted by the beautiful national parks, towns and valleys in Kenya.

A helicopter flew over the area before the first car arrived. It then flew off into the distance.

Later it returned and flew over us again

This time it landed in between the parked cars surrounded by trees. You can see it behind Grant's vehicle!
Later when it took off again, everyone ran towards it to get photos and videos, the cars momentarily forgotten!
Above is my photo of the helicopter rising up in between the cars and trees while our neighbour Borries loaded his video clip onto YouTube (below)

 He apologizes for the typo in the title, but the video is well worth watching!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Year end function for teachers

Last week we arranged and attended the annual dinner for the company school teachers and staff. The evening  started off with everyone relaxing on the veranda with snacks and sodas.

The teachers enjoy an evening at the Guest House with snacks and sodas for starters

I'd arranged with Caroline, Head Teacher to ask the ladies to dress traditionally. There are many different tribes  in Kenya each with their own traditional dress.  Of course, the ladies rose to occasion in fine style and had us Mzungus (foreigners) oohing and aahing over each outfit as the guests arrived. (We later asked the expat men to judge the outfits and handed out prizes for the top three)

Class 3 teacher, Abigail arrived looking like a queen. Isn't she just stunning? Readers might recognize the fascinator in her hair. She lent it to me for the year -end function last week. As we welcomed the guests at the front door, Grant greeted Abigail and told her she looked very beautiful. He also said he reconized the "feathers in her hair"!  PS Abigail was the exhausted teacher on my post here

After the snacks and soda, it was time for games. The first game we'd arranged was to blindfold the teachers and place a pencil and sheet of paper in their hands. They had to draw their own faces. Lots of giggles and comments as they proceeded to produce their self-portraits!
The contestants draw their own faces while blindfolded. Then we asked the men to judge the [hilarious] results. Prizes were given for first, second and third choices!

Next game was one they didn't know but soon caught onto: musical chairs. We'd arranged chairs on the lawn and with a mobile, Sharda controlled the music. There was so much laughing and jostling, that they couldn't hear the music. So it was down to me to holler: No! The music is still going or STOP, it's finished! Then there was a great rush to find the nearest chair. We didn't know the teachers were so competitive until they played musical chairs.

My camera didn't get good shots in the dark but I'm sure you get the idea! In the last photo on the left, you'll see how some of the men had already sat down while the music was on. So I'd have to get them to moving again, only to have Sharda stop the music and I'd  shout STOP again. Quite chaotic, but LOADS of fun!

Hereafter the teachers repaired to the easy chairs on the veranda for a breather and a couple of sodas. Sharda, I, the two chefs - Wheatcliffe and Caro - and helper, Elizabeth, (who'd all been watching the musical chairs) returned to the kitchen to continue with the preparation of dinner.

Things well under control in the kitchen, we returned to the veranda to ask the teachers if they were ready for the last game. Of course they were! This game involved the expat men as well. Handing out neckties to each of the ladies, and by means of a draw, they had to tie these onto the man they'd drawn. Easy? No, I think not! They were only allowed to use one hand. Try it. (I haven't yet, but it looks near impossible!)

Uh-oh Jane,  do I spy two hands making tying that tie onto Nick?

Deputy Head-teacher, Mr Mongushu (who kindly doubled as a woman) manages to tie the knot on Johan with one hand. Or did he? Where is Johan's right hand? The rules of this game, was basically no rules! Lol!
From l-r: Kempoi, company driver, Plant Manager and Sharda's husband, Kumar and Mr Mahe, a visiting engineer from India enjoying the tie-tying competition

After this fun game, the teachers formed groups and entertained us with ethnic song and dance. It's fascinating how the African will band together, and within minutes break into song, harmonizing, swaying and dancing in unison as if they'd been practising for weeks!
Art teacher, Mr Ogola (second from left) and his song group enjoying their performance

From l-r, Pre-primary school Head- teacher Monica, Std 5 teacher, Monica Yegon , Antonina, IT teacher and Kempoi really get into the swing of their song and dance!

Once all the prizes had been handed out and the teachers had had another short rest after their ethnic show, it was finally dinnertime. Wheatcliffe and Caro had excelled themselves as usual with a selection of barbequed meats, vegetable korma, chickpea and spinach with paneer cheese, roast potatoes, chapati, papadums, rice and salads. Silence reigned while everyone tucked into the delicious fare. For dessert Caro had made a zucchini and chocolate pudding, delicious fruit salad, both of which were served with ice-cream.

A successful evening was had by all!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mountain View

A view of the surrounding mountains from the mine road

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Miscalculating Ginger

This is not such a steady perch after all

I need to get down!



Phew ! Almost there. At least no-one noticed!

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pre-primary School Graduation Day

Two weeks ago I mentioned that we baked for and attended  a school function: the Pre-unit Graduation Day.  Here this school is often referred to as Baby School. The government desires that a child attends school from the age of three. The first year he/she is in nursery school, then intermediate then in the Pre-unit school from which he/she graduates to primary school (which is also referred to as "big" school!)

The day started off with entertainment by the little ones. The pigeons and a couple of chickens joined in the fun. One of the stalwart teachers had been on the premises since 5.30 organizing gazeboes, hanging decorations and was exhausted by the time the festivitities began!

Pat-a-cake, Three Blind Mice and Twinkle Twinkle little Star : songs known all over the world!

Receiving awards, being capped and gowned and listening to the guest speaker

At last it was time for treats!

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Blue African Sky

The blue sky over the Baby School graduation day which took place last week

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Yay, it's holiday!

Last Thursday the school had the year end function. Once again, we were invited. During the week, Sharda and I baked two large cakes and iced them. We also had frozen many of the cupcakes we'd baked for the previous function, so we defrosted and iced these as well.

All the school results were anounced and the children lined up for the parents and visitors to see how well they'd done. Naomi's little girl, (and our "progeny") Stacey, who joined the school in April this year, was also up there with the top students, having achieved 629/700 points. A vast improvement on the 480/700 mark she achieved in her first exam.

Stacey, (centre) smiles proudly as the Vice-head-teacher anounces her name and year-end result (While it's great to have these events outdoors, it's not always easy for the photographer to get good shots! Lol)

Several visitors were asked to hand out prizes.
Here Sharda congratulates a young student on her achievement

Johan hands out the awards to the Standard 7's

Grant congratulating a student on his achievement (Note the student's left hand under his right elbow. This is the African custom to show that he conceals no weapon and no malice is intended as he shakes your hand)

Aren't these two little visitors so cute, dressed in identical jerseys and jeans?

Head teacher, Caroline makes her speech imploring the parents to allow the children to rest over the holidays but not to forget about their books

Preparing the cake table
Teacher, Abigail lights the candles on the cake while Caroline, Sharda and I confer about something (can't remember what!)

When we'd  cut the cakes, Caro (Guest House chef, who's child was also present) and several teachers served the waiting children and parents.

In amongst the excitement and cheering , I was most impressed by the sedate manner in which the children and their parents waited for their share of the cakes and treats. I 've seldom seen such good manners in the Western world!

The children wait patiently to receive their cake and lollipops... did the parents

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

White-browed Coucal

On a misty, rainy day, in coastal areas, or if your home is surrounded by bush, like ours is, you're sure to hear the mournful, haunting bubbly sound of a coucal.

However, this common bird is also heard and seen most days here in the valley. Last Sunday we stopped to watch a flycatcher flitting around in the shrubs beside the road. As I focussed on this colourful bird, my screen picked up a larger, even more striking bird. I immediately shifted my focus onto a White-browed Coucal in a bush in the middle-distance.  

As we watched this bird gave its liquid, bubbling call and another White-browed Coucal replied from somewhere in the bush behind us. As I wanted to capture my subject in full cry - as it were - we sat and waited for the next call.

The White-browed Coucal ...

...listens for the reply to its original call...

...and replies to that call!

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