Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wireless in Mwadui

Ever since moving to Mwadui Tanzania a year ago, I have lived in a void/hole/blank space as regards Internet connection. At the time I had days and weeks of frustration as I tried to access the Internet (not least to blog!) and to receive and send e-mails. Skype was not even an option. 

Our IT friend here on site, Wessel suggested I buy a specially designed mast,  which he'd mount onto the house roof and so be "in-line" with the Vodacom Tower which everyone connects to. He also said that the Nokia N8 Smartphone was much more effective than the dongle I was using. Back in South Africa in April, we duly bought the magic mast and the equally magic Smartphone and returned to Tanzania with it. Sure enough, after Wessel did all the necessary, I was able to connect to the Internet although it was still quite slow. Skype was still out of the question. 

In December, after nine months of reasonable Internet, albeit quite a few scares - and more frustration -  when my phone (a touch screen) froze and I didn't have Internet for about four days, Wessel once again told me he'd discovered and set up in his house a router. Now he was speaking my language (or rather I could understand his!) I have a router back home in SA and it works exceptionally well. He was in SA on leave at the moment, and after I'd transferred the required amount of the router to his bank, he ordered it for me.

In January he brought my new router back to Mwadui with him, set it up in my house and voila! I am now on 3G and life is good! Not only do I upload photos with ease and am able to publish my posts painlessly, I am also on Skype and can open You-tube within seconds.

The packaging showing the name and size of my router

The little magic box which has improved my Internet 100%

Thanks Wessel! 

I hope you're all having a wonderful week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Too tired to wait...

All this fuss about a birthday

A girl can only wait so long...

For more fun shots on Wordless Wednesday, click here

Photo credits: Amanda Hedges 

Happy Birthday Joel!

How time flies when you have grandchildren! It seems like just the other day that we were sitting up late one night at the end of January 2010... awaiting the birth of our second grandson. Grant and I were in Khartoum at the time and although we weren't in the clinic's waiting room with Amanda's parents, several of their church friends and her sister and brother-in-law, Angus kept us up to date via cell phone text messages. As he  announced the birth of their first-born, I sent a message back saying we'd like to call him. It was 12.30pm in South Africa. We called him, congratulated him and sent our love to Amanda. 

The next afternoon, Angus set up his laptop in Amanda's hospital room, and we could see out grandson for the first time. I've said this before, but say it again: how wonderful is technology?

I can't find any early photos of little Joel in my archives, as he was named, (I know they're there somewhere, I have records and photos of everything!) but found some really cute photos of him at seven months.
Joel. seven months

Waiting for my dinner!

Last year, I bought a Smart Phone and loaded the Application, Whatsapp. This free service allows me to communicate (called CHAT) with my friends and family and to send and receive photos instantly. I received  the photo below, of Joel in his dad's running shoes.
I can fill my dad's shoes (one day!)

Joel loves motorcycles. I wonder why? LOL! 

Joel is a confident little lad. He speaks English, Afrikaans and Sesotho; mostly a mixture of all three in one sentence!  

Since he could sit up and focus, he has loved buttons (as in on TV remote controls, keypads, cell phones, calculators) Both his parents have i-pads, ultra-books and Samsung Galaxy cell phones. Joel knows how to use each one and he is as careful as an adult with the gadgets. Two weeks ago I looked at my phone screen and saw a message from Angus' number which said "Hello Granny" I sent a CHAT back and a lively conversation ensued between me and little Joel (Admittedly, Angus was there to help him type, but Joel knows how to back-space, where the "x" is to delete a letter/ymbol and how to press send. He also knows how to take photos and with his father's help, sends them! Below is a photo he took of himself and sent to me at the time!
Two weeks ago, I received this photo on my phone with the accompanying message: Hello Granny!

Last night Amanda sent me a CHAT saying that they had a power outage in Marquard. She also sent this precious photo of little Joel, obviously fascinated by the candle!

Our birthday boy !

I can't wait to phone Joel at lunch time today and when I ask him how old he is, hear him saying: I'm FREE!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pretty Princesses

Two little Tanzanian girls in their mama's shop

For more of other people's worlds, click here

Monday, January 28, 2013

Strange Fungi in Mwadui

As I go to pottery classes in the Client's camp, I walk the short distance from home, enter their security gate and eventually arrive at the studio.

Last week, as I waited for the electric gate to open, I looked down and saw a clump of strange plants next to the road. When I returned from pottery two hours later, I stopped and photographed the phenomena. It looked like mushrooms but the plants were hard (wooden) to the touch. These plants (or growths) have emerged from the roots of a tree that was felled here a few weeks ago. 

 I've not found anyone who can shed any light on this, but of course, felt it's worthy of a post on my blog!

Strange wood-like growths around the roots of a recently felled tree

Although at first glance, these looked like giant mushrooms, they are actually hard to the touch and resemble a shiny, many-toned wood!

I hope you're all looking forward to a wonderful week.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Who me?

Couldn't be!


Wassat, mum? Oh I always clean myself so quickly. And this is the bathroom, not so?

 I think I'll pop onto the scale to see if I've gained weight

I'm the picture of innocence. I cannot be blamed for...


For more pet posts around the world, click here

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pottery classes going well

Since the first week in January I 've managed to attend both pottery classes during the week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and today I am at my second Saturday class for the year! 

Remember when I posted recently about how I did some successful birding and photographing on the first Saturday of the year, but had a disastrous potting experience? Well, dried and ready for baking, the bowl I made that day, doesn't look half bad. However, I have focused on the task in hand since then and managed to throw a large serving platter, two spoon rests and two fluted snack plates. Then, on Tuesday I made my first upright item...
A milk jug!

The "mucky" sponge in the handle (which, in itself, was a challenge to make) helps to keep the earlike- shape

 A close-up of my first jug!

 When I arrived on Thursday, Amanda told me that the jug had help up well during the first drying process. We then used a wire cheese-cutter to separate it from the wooden base and it's back on the shelf drying out some more! (Watch this space for more on "the jug")
This morning Amanda and I are working in the studio so who knows what I'll be creating next? I don't but I will post about it at a later date! 

I hope you're all having a wonderful Saturday wherever you are in the world. 

Hugs and blessings


Friday, January 25, 2013

Storms a - brewing

An evening storm clouds gathering over Mwadui last weekend. The result? 20mm of rain in an hour-and-a-half

For more spectacular skies, click here

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bicycles in Tanzania


 A bicycle

A baby

And a bleater!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


On Sunday Grant and I drove along the mine road looking for... you guessed it! Birds.  It was mid-afternoon and the sun was baking down on the earth so there weren't many birds about. However, not long into the drive, I called for him to "stop!", which he did and we watched a beautiful Silverbird on the power lines above us.

This bird is unmistakable with silvery-grey upper parts and rufous underparts. The first time I saw this bird was while my friend Sue and I were birding in the Kenyan bush. At the time I only managed to photograph it from the back. This time here in Tanzania, I managed to get several clear and satisfactory photos of this incredible little bird. 
 Silverbird; no prizes for guessing where it gets its name!

 The Silverbird is found in dry bush areas or acacia woodlands

The Silverbird is locally endemic. It hawks for insects in the air, but while we watched on Sunday, this bird swooped down onto the ground to capture insect prey. 
 The Silverbird's song is a sweet, thrush-like song 

For more birds around the world, please click to Wild Bird Wednesday which you can access by clicking the link. 

 I hope you're all having a great week. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Vet visits the Hedges Cats

I generally don't do a cat post during the week. I keep our cat-tails tales for Sundays. However, all three our kitties here in Tanzania needed their annual inoculations. The last time they'd been "done", was in Kenya on 21/01/2012. Ironically the vet arrived yesterday : 21/01/2013!

You may remember that during October last year I posted about taking Ginger and Ambrose to have their micro-chips inserted by a certain Dr Mawaluko . The trip to Mwanza was very stressful (for me!) so when the vet mentioned that he does house - calls, I told him I'd be making an appointment early in the new year. 

When I phoned him a couple of weeks ago, he said he has the anti-rabies shots, but not the other injection which I mentioned. It is a four-in-one inoculation called Fellocell 4 which guards the animal against - among other things - leukemia! I told Dr Mawaluko that I'd order the injections from South Africa and call him when they arrived. I phoned the vet in Bloemfontein Animal Hospital, and when I opened the conversation with "Good morning Dr Winkworth, it's Jo Hedges from Tanzania; I'm not sure whether you remember me? "  He said: Of course I remember you, Mrs Hedges,. You're the lady who brought a cat in from the Sudan to SA, from SA to Kenya and then onto Tanzania!" (Shadow, our fame precedes us, LOL!) On the other hand, I'm sure the vet  remembers me because the special blood test which Shadow needed  to enter Kenya two years ago, cost us R1000/US$115!

I asked him to book me three injections and that a friend would collect it for me. I then sent Wessel (my IT friend!) a message on his cell phone and asked him to fetch the meds from the vet's clinic. Last week when Wessel arrived on site after his Christmas holidays, he gave me the carefully wrapped parcel on a freezer pack! Yesterday I phoned Dr Mawaluko who said he's jumping onto a piki-piki/motorcycle taxi immediately and would see me "after two hours". (this in Africa-speak means: within two hours - or more - I will be there!) However, a half an hour later my phone rang again and Dr Mawaluko told me he was at the mine gate! (I found out afterwards that he was in Shinyanga when I phoned, which is only 34kms from Mwadui.) Grant's head of security fetched him on his motorcycle and delivered him to my house!

Meanwhile I'd placed each cat into their respective travel cages, an action which made me highly unpopular. Shadow and Ambrose sat down quietly and looked out with huge eyes. Ginger immediately started to complain, meowing loudly and then he tried to rip the water trough from the bottom of his cage!  I decided to do the deed on our enclosed veranda as there was not much place for the cats to get away if they broke from my grip. 

Once the vet had prepared the syringes, I took Ginger out of his cage and wrapped him in a towel. It took a firm hand to keep him from squirming out of his restraints, but I managed it. With the doctor leaning over me sitting on the bed, he injected first the Rabisin and then the four-in-one meds into Ginger's rather fat neck. I patted him, (the cat, not the vet)  opened the door leading into the lounge and Ginger dashed off to go and hide under my bed! 

Next,  I removed little Ambrose from his cage, got hold of his neck skin and held him down while the vet injected him. Although he (as are all three our cats) is petrified of strangers, especially men, he didn't even flinch when the needle went in under his skin. I patted his head, opened the lounge door and set him down. He walked onto the carpet and lay down! 

Then it was time to remove Shadow. Mmm. The vet asked me if he was vicious but I explained that Shadow is very highly strung and would bite if it meant he can get away! I managed to wrap him in the towel, got hold of his neck (I was shown a grip like the one a kittens mother uses to carry them, and while not at all painful, it literally makes the cat go limp). The doctor leaned over me and inserted the needle. Well, it was like a bomb exploding in my grip! Shadow jumped so violently and broke free. He dashed to the window ledge and glared at me! Talking softly to calm him down (while the vet cringed in the far corner!) I slowly advanced on him. He shot off like a bullet and this time, he frantically climbed the screen door leading into the lounge. Fortunately I managed to grip him again, held him down on the bed and the vet  made two quick plunges before Shadow escaped again. This time I opened the door and Shadow ran through to hide under my bed as well!

Thanking the vet, I invited him to sit down in my lounge and enter the details and labels (which you pull from the little vials) into the cats' passports. Once he'd signed the entry, he added his stamp and I was thrilled to see that he is the State Vet for the Shinyanga area. This means that when we do eventually leave Tanzania to go back home for good, I don't have to find the government vet to sign the umpteen official papers required by the strict customs control at the South African airport! He, in turn, kept saying he'd never seen anyone who was so organized and  whose cats were so well-cared for. I'd already told him that the veranda and the bed is for the cats and then showed him their cat-tree and the box of toys. I also took him through to the kitchen where I showed him each cat's bowl with cookies, the three freshly-replenished water bowls: one near the food, two in the diningroom and a fourth one in our bedroom,  as well as a dish of little dried fish, for nibbling in between. He seemed fascinated when I told him that my cats only eat from their bowls and do not share one bowl at all. When I showed him the cat's grocery cupboard filled with tins of cat-meat in jelly (my cats eat only "in-jelly" not "in-gravy" varieties), his eyes grew decidedly bigger. My reason for making all this obvious is that, as a professional man who deals with domestic animals in Africa daily, I'm hoping he will encourage the next pet-owner he meets up with to also care for their cats, dogs, cows, goats or poultry. I do know first -hand how people struggle to feed their children so how can you even care about a dumb animal, but they insist on having pets, so hopefully they will do everything they can to care for them!  (BTW I didn't get a chance to show him the royal life which the chickens on our yard have!)

So thanks to Dr Winkworth in Bloemfontein, our friend, Wessel and Dr Mawaluko from Mwanza,  the cats are up to date with their shots for another year! 

Ginger's gentlemanly manners fly out of the window when you cage him!

Ambrose and Shadow in their cages on the bed where I helped the vet to administer the shots

Dr Mawaluko updating the cats' passports 

I'm linking today's post to Our World Tuesday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Snail mail and blogging friends continued

Continuing my post about the Christmas cards I received last week, I would like to answer a few things from your comments.  

Becky, I met you through Kay from Alberta's blog when she posted about your first book. I clicked on your link and through your blog I've even been a Guest Blogger on Carole Kilgore's blog.

Kayyou did thank me for the card and you sent me a lovely newsy e-mail which I still need to reply toThank you for you continued encouragement in my writing and for the love you show for my cats!

Betsy, you e-mailed me and thanked me for my card and I know you sent me cards in 2011 and last year. However, the first one went to Kenya and I'm guessing that by the time it arrived at Grant's previous office, we'd already moved to Tanzania. I will mail you my Tanzania address in case you feel like sending me a card this year.  For anyone out there reading this post, if you've not yet visited Betsy's blog, do yourself a favor and do it now. Betsy has an amazing blog about her and hubby's travels, their beautiful home and garden in Tennessee and her backyard birds. Betsy is also one of the most phenomenal bloggers I have ever known; she has up to 65 comments per post! I was number 66 when I commented today. And I've seen this regularly on Betsy's blog.  Wow! Betsy. What a friend you are to all! 

Gattina,  I had a good chuckle when I saw your comment about bringing the card on foot to Tanzania and that you would have beaten the snail! Readers, if you've not been over to Gattina's blog, please pop over there and see for yourself what an interesting life she leads.

I met Penny,  Snap That,  through another blogger who lived in Tanzania (this blogger moved to South Africa and sadly doesn't blog anymore) Please do pop over to Penny's blog and read about her life in Canada, her home and her road trips to visit family members. But most of all, do go and read about the work Penny does in Kenya, East Africa. She is an amazingly caring lady who has made it her life's mission to help those less fortunate than herself. 

Penny has encouraged me to continue knitting and also has wonderful ideas on how to De-clutter your home and your life. I'm always fascinated how Penny sets goals for herself every year and by posting updates on what she's achieved, how this motivates her to persevere. Penny and I met in Nakuru, Kenya in 2011 and instantly "hit it off!"  

Penny and I share a love for the Lord Jesus and I know she prays for me often,  as I do for her. In fact, last year when I moved to Tanzania from my beloved Keirio Valley in Kenya to Tanzania last year Penny was one of my many blogger friends (Gattina, Kay, Pat, my sister Rose, among others)  who encouraged me while I tried to * adapt to my new life.*  Oh, BTW Penny, remember how your card welcoming me to Tanzania only arrived in July? Well, I firmly believe your Christmas card will find it's way to me sometime this year. I will let you know as soon as it does.  Thanks Penny, it's a real blessing to know you.
* Note: Having been an expat for more than thirty years, I [generally] don't have a problem adapting to wherever Grant's work takes us. Yet, I left my lovely home in the corner of Paradise in a valley within the Great Rift Valley and arrived to totally different and less-than-ideal situation in Tanzania!

My life in Keirio Valley consisted of sitting at my desk at a window gazing out onto - and writing about - my garden and the African bush beyond. In between, I'd creep around under the huge trees and along the lanes between the expat houses my binoculars around my neck and my camera at the ready spotting the bird bounty. I ticked more birds in one year in Kenya than I did in the five years since I started birding.  Several times a week, my dear friend, Sue and I would drive into the bush and then wander along remote paths photographing birds. We had a wonderful time and my life there was the best I have ever experienced.  

Here in Mwadui, I was inveigled into managing the company Guest House (for love, not money!) where I encountered many problems, the main one being the original staff. Of the six ladies working here at the time, four were sisters and had never had Mzungu/white/foreign supervision, let alone adhered to instructions! There were dozens of other issues but I've since, with the help and support of the big boss (Grant) managed to create order out of the chaos; a 90% change of personnel was necessary  imperative; and everything seems to be running smoothly now. As readers know, I post about the pleasant things in my life here; I don't use my blog to vent, but one day I will be writing all down in my memoirs! Ha!

OK. Enough for today! I've pasted my three Christmas cards (and Becky's business card) above my desk to remind me of them and all you other beautiful blogging friends out there. I hope you're all having a great week.

 My Christmas cards; note the little bookshelf filled with little books!