Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas in Mwadui, 2012

At last I'm able to sit down and write a post about our Christmas here in Mwadui, Tanzania. Along with Tilla Amanda and Nsia, we'd decided that we ladies would do the meats: I the turkey and glazed ham; between them they'd roast another chicken, a d-boned leg of lamb and a beef roll.

Fortunately I managed to secure a 6.5kg turkey and a 2kg smoked ham from the supermarket in Mwanza where I stock up on the monthly groceries for the Guest House. 

I began defrosting the turkey on Sunday and by Monday morning I was able to stuff the big bird with 1kg of pork sausages and other ingredients which make a delicious Christmas forcemeat. Storing it in the fridge, all  I could do that day was to pray that the power would not go off on Christmas day when I wanted to do the cooking. 

I set the alarm for 3.15am on Christmas day (so much for lying in on the only day off in the year, LOL!) and having arranged with the askari's to let me into the Guest House property, where I removed the turkey and placed it into the large oven. At one hour per kilo, I calculated that the turkey should be ready by 9.30am. I also took the ham from the fridge, brought it over home and placed it into my smaller oven. This only needed under two hours to bake.

Meanwhile Grant had also arisen and started on cutting the onions and green (sweet) peppers for the three bean salad . Then we started on making a traditional English trifle.

All the while we ran between our home and the Guest House across the road to check on the turkey. The men sleeping in the guest bedrooms told me later that they were pleasantly woken by the delicious aroma of roasting meat emitting from the kitchen!

By 9am when we'd opened and basted the turkey for the nth time, Grant gave the verdict that it was perfect. It didn't even need an open roasting to brown it, so we brought it across to our house. I put the finishing touches to the ham (cherries and pineapple rings with a apricot jam glaze) and we were ready to take all to the club at 11am. 

Meanwhile we each had a bite to eat (Grant made himself a slice of toast and Bovril, and I cooked myself a bowl of oats) and afterwards I clicked on a whole hour of Christmas carols by the boys' choir,  Kings College. Too beautiful for words! 

At 10h45, we'd showered and dressed and we loaded the food into the landcruiser. There was also an arrangement that each man had to buy a gift for a man and we four ladies had bought gifts for each other. 
 Amanda had set the tables beautifully and with the young men helping Grant to carry the food from our car, I was able to rest my weary legs and back! 
Soon everyone was posing for photos to send home to loved ones

 The three men in front row from left are all from different parts of India; Jung in orange shirt, is from the Phillipines and Juba, arms draped across their shoulders is from Yugoslavia 
 The ham, turkey, puddings, salad and a Black forest cake 
  Before lunch started, Grant thanked the client WDL for supplying the venue and all who helped with preparations 

The client, WDL only has South African expats while our company Caspian has a selection of nations under one roof: at the Christmas dinner we had an Arabian gentleman, Farouk, the plant general  manager; we have Juba, a Serb, a Phillipino, Indians from various parts of India, and two English South Africans (me and Grant) and Marnitz and Thys, two Afrikaans South Africans.

Rob, a South African Indian and Nsia,  a Tanzanian made up the rest of the party! Indeed a wonderful mix of people aged from 19 (Amanda and Andre's son, Zardo is visiting from SA) to 67, (Tilla) with five different religions and seven different nations represented! 

 Lunch started sometime around one-ish and as with all good celebration meals,  ended after 5pm when Amanda and I finally cleared away the plates and sorted out the leftover meat and salads. The men played golf on the lawn (practiced driving) they swam, they danced (alone !) to the music supplied by one of the young lads from WDL while the rest of us chatted up a storm. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely! 
Isn't this idyllic? 
As we carried the dishes to the car late that afternoon, I turned around and snapped this scene. I wanted to capture the moment forever

Today is the last day of 2012. Grant and I have had and overcome several challenges here in Tanzania. We've also been incredibly blessed with two new grandchildren, Abby Kate (born to younger son, Angus and daughter-in-law, Amanda in March) and Israel, born to older son John and daughter-in-law, Debbie in June. 

I also had the privilege of meeting fellow blogger, Gattina of Writer Cramps in London earlier this year. What a treat.  
Grant and I have enjoy good health and continue to do so, for which we thank God. 

So I now wish all my blogger-friends and all others reading this post,  wonderful, happy and healthy 2013. 




Sunday, December 30, 2012

Helping mum

Hi everyone, our mum has been away for ever so L O N G but is back now. Ginger and Shadow had a fight over who could get nearest to mum and Shadow bit her hand!  She had to go to hostipal for bitotics. Ewgh!  Shadow didn't mean to; he says thought he was going for Ginger's left ear when mum reached down to separate them and got in the way! 

Anyway, this week our yoomens kept talking about cooking Christmas dinner. (I wonder what's wrong with cat kibbles?) While no-one was watching I tried on my mum's apron. She says she's going to wear it when she prepares the turkey; what's a turkey? Anyway, I wrapped her apron around me and enjoyed having her scent all over my fur!  

I hope you all had a good week.
 Don't I look neat in this apron?

 For more pet posts around the world, click here

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The aliens have landed!

Imagine forty years ago if you woke up and saw this in your front garden...

Walking out of my house this morning I saw this "flying saucer" on the lawn

When I asked askari Edward about the sattelite dish, he said it belongs to Donatus who lives two doors down from us. Donatus, a supervisor in Grant's workforce, is on leave and last night the wabeshi / illegal diamond miners, who swarm through town at night,  tried to carry his sattelite dish away. As we and the Guest House opposite have askaris/gate guards, the two men on night shift, Mayunga and Zechariah carried the dish into the safety of our garden! 

To explain about the wabeshi, I need to go back a week. There are always illegal diamond miners all over the mine. They are the bain of the security team's life! They have always been around and the security have always chased them. However, a few days before Christmas I was sitting at my desk when I heard an explosion. (This is nothing new as we always hear when there is blasting on the mine which is only two streets away to the west.)   

A minute later I heard another explosion, except these were not like anything I'd ever heard before and I know that there is always only one blast on a given day. These sounded more like gun shots emitting from - in my imagination -  a HUGE gun, something the size of cannon. Each shot, coming frequently now, was also  accompanied by what sounded like a collective wailing from many voices.

I  dashed out into the street and saw Edward and gardener Mataluma  standing on an informal compost mound in the empty plot next door looking down the street. By screwing up my eyes, I managed to see people running out of town. All the while, booming shots rang out from as near as the memorial park beside the Guest House! Edward called to me to join them on the top of the heap where he told me that the security forces were chasing wabeshi from the pits. The shots fired were not real but some sort of pepper gas.

Since then it's been quite normal to awake suddenly in the middle of the night and then realize that what woke you was a shot which sounded as if it went off just outside the window! And as you turn over in bed, hoping to fall asleep again, you jerk involuntarily at another couple of bursts of "cannon-fire" and the accompanying wailing of voices.

As you can see, even though we live in a remote diamond mining town in northern Tanzania, there is never a dull moment!  

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.   

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sunrise over the Indian Ocean

 Ships in outer anchorage awaiting entry to the port at Dar Es Salaam, East Africa

For more glorious sky posts, click here

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back on Blogger!

Hello friends,  I am back on Blogger and back online. Not only did I travel from one country to another, I also had to get back into the swing of running the guest house (never mind unpacking, or resting, ha!). Come Sunday we had a 12-hour-long power outage - nothing new in these parts - so I didn't log onto my computer at all. 

However, on Monday when it seemed that the electricity would remain with us for a while (it did, it only went off for six hours this time - and that over lunch too!), I decided to sit down at my laptop and get back into blogging, replying to e-mails and so on.

Imagine my horror when my trusty Nokia Smartphone, which doubles as the perfect (and only) effective Internet modem I'm able to use here, suddenly my phone's settings died on me. Yip, that's it. It seized up completely. I could use my phone for phoning (doh), sending text messages, for CHAT's, applications, maps, shopping online, banking, the time and an alarm clock, and to take photos and videos. I just could not do ANYTHING that pertained to "settings": profile, themes, phone (the unit), connectivity etc.  I sent Wessel a frantic message where he is on holiday in South Africa and he suggested I turn the phone off, turn it on, and try again. (the experts call this re-booting)  Only thing is I couldn't turn the phone off! No matter how hard or long I depressed the power button, it would not budge. At once stage I even brought in a small screwdriver and then thought I should rather not, as I could ruin a perfectly good and pricy cell phone. In desperation I decided to allow the battery to run down, it would turn itself off and I could then "reboot" it. 

At midday yesterday, my phone started to show the message: "Battery Low". The second time I saw the message, I thought I'd try the power button once more. Imagine! It turned off the phone! I then turned it on again, connected it to my computer and voila! The USB connected icon showed on top. Phew! I was connected!

So here I am wishing you all a very Blessed Christmas season. We had a wonderful Christmas day here on camp which I will post about. Meanwhile I thought I'd post a few photos of the beautiful Christmas decorations in the Sea Cliff hotel, Dar Es Salaam, where Grant and I always stay over traveling to and from site. 
 The walkway between the hotel and one of its two restaurants

The sight that greets you as you step out of a lift onto your floor

 The stairs throughout the hotel

The nativity scene in the hotel reception 

 The hotel entrance  

And finally...

 Isn't this just the most idyllic scene ever?

May you all have a wonderful day and a really great time with family and friends in this holiday week.

Bless you all!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Sunset and sunrise over the Breede River

Sunset over the Breede River in the Southern Cape, South Africa

Sunrise the next day

The river mouth is visible in this photo

While  on holiday we spent a weekend with friends at their cottage on the Breede River, I took dozens of photos of the setting sun over the water and again the next morning of the sun rising over the same. I eventually settled for these which I hope you will like. 

For more beautiful skies around the world, click here

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Family time

We spent last weekend at a holiday resort near Bloemfontein. Angus, Amanda and their two little ones, Joel and Abby joined us. We had great fun watching little Joel on the trampoline, swings, slides and merry-go-around. He also played mini-golf (called putt-putt here) with his parents causing quite a bit of havoc swinging the club around quite dangerously! LOL! 
 Family fun at the holiday resort this weekend

On Tuesday, Grant and I set off at 4 am to visit his mother in Kwa-Zulu Natal. We had to leave Marquard at this unearthly hour to enable us to reach the old-age-home which is almost 500kms away. The traffic for the last twenty kilometers before Pietermaritzburg is always very congested and this day was no exception. To make matters worse, the rain pelted down from the time we crested the mountain called Van Reenen's Pass which is the border between the Free State and Kwa-zulu Natal

We eventually reached our destination at 10 to 10 to find mom-in-law waiting for us at the door! She immediately told us how unhappy she was in this home and insisted that we get her back to the home in Durban. *Note:* last year (2011) in September,  she told us she was bitterly unhappy in Durban and insisted we arrange for her to be moved to the present place in the Natal midlands.  We couldn't imagine why she'd want to go to this particular home as it is in a small town off the beaten track and miles from any of us. Grant and I are the only people - apart from Angus and Amanda who made a special trip to see her  last October  - who have managed to visit her there.

However, the upshot is that she will be more central for all of us to get to her, even though it now involves having to move her back to the home she didn't like a year ago! 
After leaving mom-in-law with the promise that we'd would arrange her move from this place back to Durban in the New Year, I phoned my brother Phillip for instructions to get to his new home  just off the national freeway. He was waiting at the electric gate to the farm where he now lives with his four-legged family. 
 My brother, Phillip's new home and pets in the Drakensberg environs

Do pop over to Phillip's blog here for an interesting read on a wide variety of subjects. Grant always says that Phillip is the best fly fisherman he knows and I say as a historian and recently self-taught photographer, there is much to keep your interest in his blog.

Once we said goodbye to Phillip, we headed up the freeway again. We were on our way to the Drakensberg to spend the night in a cottage with John, Debbie and their precious little family. 
  From the top: Elijah, Eryn and Bethany, Debbie and John with Israel and finally Joshua 

We had a wonderful time of family togetherness and tales of their life in Mozambique while enjoying a BBQ on the enclosed veranda of this cottage.  Next morning after coffee and rusks, we followed John and family in their Landcruiser up to their house on the hill. 
 Joshua and then Eryn show how their competence around Debbie's beautiful garden on the Pee Wee

I have tons more photos: I managed to photograph two types of Widowbirds (grass birds) in the Berg as well as a Rock Thrush which I will post about later. We are home in Marquard now again. I am catching up on medical aid claims, correspondence and instructing our gardeners about quite a large change I want to make. 

Then its final packing and preparing for our return to Tanzania after the weekend

Till later, bless you all.