Thursday, October 31, 2013

Social functions a-plenty

In mid-October our company signed a seven-and-a-half year contract with the Client, and it fell to Grant to treat the employees to an evening of eats and refreshments.  New machines were already en route and it was up to Grant to convey the figures and facts to the 300 employees in his team. 

The first occasion was a Mongolian BBQ held for the [20] expats at the Guest House. As always, it went down very well  and after supper, Grant made his speech and thanked everyone for their contribution towards keeping the company profitable and helping to ensure that the contract was renewed. 

 The expat function held at the Guest House 

The next night - Saturday - it was the turn of all the workshop staff (several expats who get on very well with the Tanzanians, were there as well!), and the production people who work in teams of three shifts; this was the first shift that was off. The Guest House and other bachelor accommodation staff as well as Grant's administration staff was at this function.
 Top right and bottom left: Grant giving his speech with Touro translating. Bottom right, Grant's front-of-office lady (left), Nsia and Marina a housekeeper at the bachelors' accommodation. Standing is a lady operator (more about that below) 

When I first arrived in Africa (West Africa, 2000), I was surprised to see ladies driving the huge trucks and machines used in earth moving. Grant explained that once a woman is trained, she is indispensable for several reasons: she treats the machine with kid-gloves; she is never late for work; she is never absent and she is clear-headed (read sober) at all times. In short, she is serious about her job! 
 Top photos: the ladies (in mustard and blue dresses respectively) are both excellent machine operators in Thys' (Production manager) team. In the bottom right photo, Grant poses with a mechanic from the workshop
 Top right is Steve (new workshop foreman from the UK), Grant and Thys.  Bottom left Plant Manager, Johan chatting to people from his workshop: the man in navy is known as the Tire Man! 

Top photos: Grant and Johan with some of the workshop employees; bottom left:  Chefs Paulo and Michael assisted by local restaurant owner, Ailina serving dinner; bottom right: The people love chicken and chips and Grant made sure there were samosas to augment the meal too

Apart from being the official photographer, I enjoyed chatting to the people and the fact that I could dress up in my bling! 

On Tuesday we attended the third function, also at the Pool Bar. This time the askaris and about 60 pit and production employees (the next shift) were present. Moremi, the chief accountant was also there and was surprised that he and I had never met.  I mean, I deal with the Guest House finances and subsequent cash reconciliation every single week which Grant takes back to the office. So it was rather strange that we'd never actually met until now! 
 Mr Moremi,  (chief accountant) in the beige golf shirt and jeans is surrounded by pit operators. The young lad in the red shirt, sitting next to Moremi,  is Isaac who is one of my kitchen assistants here in our Guest House 

Our askaris: Fabian at No 8, down the road, Michael (in yellow shirt) our home askari, my gardener and the cats' favorite person and Zechariah, Guest House night guard

Grant delivers his speech with Touro translating. 

Michael gives me a big smile while waiting in the dinner queue. Directly behind him is another excellent operator driver, Lucy. Bottom right corner is Helena, second housekeeper for the bachelors' houses. The tall lad in the top right photo at the head of the queue, is Jackson, second assistant kitchen helper at the Guest House. 

Babu and Bibi looking rather serious at such a fun outing!

As you know, Grant had to visit the dentist in Mwanza on Thursday. Thys warned him to be back on time for the final function to be held at the Pool Bar again. The dentist was totally professional and before Grant knew it, he had extracted the offending tooth. Grant made another appointment for the first week of November so we'll be going to Mwanza for that. Meanwhile, we were back in Mwadui in good time to attend the occasion of treating the final production shift workers. 

The man second from left is Frank, one of our three company drivers. He is also, like the other three, a pit (machine) operator

 These three men were adamant that I know they work in production for Mr Thys and nowhere else! 

A few months ago, when the situation became vacant, Grant nominated Touro be promoted to Pit Supervisor. This was granted by HO and since then the positive improvement in the pit vibes and production, has been incredible. On Thursday night Touro showed his maturity and worthiness in this position. He asked Grant to use the next-in-charge pit boss, Aloise as interpreter!

 Grant's speech being interpreted by next-in-charge pit boss, Aloise

After a dinner of (you guessed it) chicken, chips and samosas, we left the Pool Bar to allow the rest of the employees to enjoy themselves.  
Me and Grant at the last function held on Thursday night

I've linked this post to Our World Tuesday which you can access by clicking here


Internet problems

Since Monday afternoon I experienced Internet problems. Although my connection tab told me that there was a connection, it kept showing it was fair to poor. I tried to upload my Tuesday post (quite a long one with many photos) and eventually gave up in despair. 

The next day I turned on my laptop again and had the same situation. I struggled through the day and didn't think to ask anyone as I'd heard that there was a problem with our local 3G towers. 

On Wednesday evening I asked our IT friend, Wessel if there was a problem with the Internet in town. He said no and asked why I asked. I told him what I was experiencing. When he asked me how long I'd had this problem and I said for more than two days, he reckoned I was very patient to struggle for so long without asking.  I assured him I tried everything without any positive results. So he said that he'd pop around to our home and have a look.

Like the true friend he is, Wessel and his young son, Wessie (diminutive name derived from Wessel) arrived at 7.30 last night. Wessel asked to see my WiFi which he set up in my spare room a year ago. There he discovered a faulty connection. He used pliers that I had in my cupboard and secured the wiring with tape. 


As he returned to my desk he checked the connection, tested my blog and asked me check on my e-mails (which had been hanging all this time!). All was perfect.

Once again, well done Wessel and thanks my friend.

So to all my blogger friends, thanks for your regular comments on my blog. I am back in blogland again and will visit your blogs soon.

I hope you're all having a great week.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Marquard Baby Show

Abby Hedges, first prize

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Double jointed kitty

Hi Bozo and all my mum's blog readers. It's Ambrose here. Once again our yoomens have gone out (they call it the club) and I was able to find very nice photos of me, Dad Ginger and Unca Shadow. My mum laughed while we were sleeping with our Mama Tiger yesterday. She took a photo of me saying I'm double - jointed. What is double-jointed? Mmm.
 Double-jointed left arm over the Mama Tiger's left arm! 
 All three kitties sleeping with Mama Tiger

 Unca Tigger and Dad Ginger are good friends and even share the cat tree now! 

 I keep watch from "our" veranda! 

For more cute Pet Posts, please click here


...and shadow

For more Shadow Shot Sunday theme shots, please click here


...and bike

...biker reflected in bike

For more Weekend Reflections, please click here

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The beautiful face of Africa

Over the past week, Grant has had four back-to-back functions with his expat and local staff members. More about these functions soon. 

Three of these parties were held at the local pool bar. I'd never been there except for the school-leavers' do which we held with the Client in August. Of course, with me attending these evenings,  Grant had a resident photographer (LOL!);  I spent part of each evening taking candid and posed shots of the guests. 

On the last night before the proceedings started in earnest, I managed to get a nice photo of Rosie, the barmaid. Rosie also attends to the club bar that we visit on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. (Remember, this is when Ambrose manages to hack into my laptop and do his posts!) 
 The beautiful Rosie wipes my glass before pouring me a soda water on ice with a slice of lemon!

Now, bar tender positions are generally held by women - always young and highly presentable women. Because of the nefarious nature of this job and the fact that the girls have to survive on tips from customers with which to augment their minimum wages, cause them to use "easier" means to survive.

While I cannot speak for all people, over the past year, I have watched Rosie's body language when she goes about her job. And I can almost vouch that she is a really decent girl. Not only does she clean the club during daylight hours after which she goes home and looks after her family, but she's also doing extra studies of an admin course. This beautiful lady wants to better herself and I applaud her for it. 

You go, Rosie! 

I hope you're all having a great weekend already.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sunrises and skies over South Africa

During our holiday in South Africa in September, after a week at home, catching up on family, friends and home life, Grant and I loaded the bike and set off on a tour. As usual I have my little Sony Point and Shoot camera in my leather waistcoat which enables me to take photos while on the back of the bike.

I have many photos of this trip and hope to post them soon. But for today's meme, I thought I'd share these "sky" photos with you.
Sunrise on the first day on tour, taken between our home town, Marquard and the nearest city, Bloemfontein

Sunrise on the last day of our tour, taken just outside Somerset East

I love mountain passes (well, Grant, like all bikers, does too!) But I love to take photos as the bike enters the beginning, I feel hear Grant drop a gear and then he's in his element. He never wants to stop but I've learned to keep my eyes peeled for the signpost at the top of the post depicted the name and height of the pass. And I keep clicking!
Ascending Carlton Heights Pass 

 I didn't straighten the skyline as this is how you "do" a mountain pass on a motorcycle

 Wow, I managed to get the board while we whizzed past! 

For more beautiful sky posts, please click here

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scary trip to Mwanza

Many readers will remember the many trips I made to the nearest (160km one way) town of Mwanza. I always used to do the grocery and market shopping for the Guest House. Fortunately, now Chef Paulo is taken to Shinyanga by Driver William where they do this with greater ease and for more rewards (I did it for the love of...)

However, as this post is aired, William will be driving me and Grant to Mwanza. This time it's for Grant to visit the dentist. He is very nervous of dentists and has postponed this visit for so long but now the time has come! I, of course, am going along to hold his hand. 

Once I've made sure that Grant is in the dentist's chair and being examined, William will take me a short distance across town to visit Dr Mawaluko. He forgot to stamp the kitten's vaccination certificate books last week and has promised to do it tomorrow. 

I also need to consult him about neutering/spaying several feral cats which my friend, Amanda is feeding in her garden. Every day I send left-over scraps from our Guest House kitchen to help her do this. But while it's kind to feed hungry strays, these  cats are getting stronger, tamer and more fertile by the day. So with the Client management's approval, we're going to try and solve this problem. (Watch this space!)

I hope you're all having a better day than Grant is!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Photo credit: Amanda Hedges

For more Wordless Wednesday, please click here

Thin pickings of birds last weekend

It was a hot windy morning when Grant and I went out birding last Saturday. Although we saw many birds (mainly waterbirds), the sun was high in the sky and I just couldn't get decent photos. (or perhaps I need to upgrade my camera, mmm?)

At the dam, we saw a large flock of pelicans on the opposite side but they were too far away for me to get them in focus. There was the normal variety of Spoonbills, Egrets, Herons, White-faced Duck and Red-knobbed Coots. But again, I just couldn't get any nice photos. However, a smallish flock of Sacred Ibis feeding in the middle-distance and their squiggly reflections in the water,  provided one photo.
Sacred Ibis with a couple of fuzzy-image duck in the foreground

Driving back along the road, a Grey-headed Kingfisher flew across our path and sat in a tree. I took photos of it, but the branches got in the way. 
Grey-headed Kingfisher partly obscured by branches 

As we were almost turning back onto the haul road which leads back to town, I saw a Grey-headed Kingfisher perched on the power lines next to the road.  I took several photos of this bird while it sat quite unperturbed by the strange presence some distance below it!
Grey-headed Kingfisher perched on the power line above our vehicle

For more bird posts, please do click here

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Living away from your home country means you miss your children and their children terribly. Fortunately for modern grandparents that we're able to keep in contact with family and receive photos of the little ones via Skype, e-mail, Whatsapp and Facebook. 

John, Debbie and their five beautiful children live in Mozambique for six weeks and then they return to their home in the Drakensberg for a six week break. Until recently John's leave cycle and Grant's overlapped so we could see them in SA. But in September we were just a week out and we missed seeing them. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to receive photos of the whole family on my cell phone this afternoon. 

John tells me that Eryn and Joshua have graduated to the next Std 3 and Std 1 respectively;  Bethany, who's four and three- year-old Elijah are following a step-by-step course on reading. All four the older children can read. There are no i-pads, e-books, electronic games, television or cell phones for these children. They're beautiful, well-behaved, (I'm the Gran, right! So I'm biased, right!), highly intelligent and very healthy outdoorsy children.

Joshua, Eryn, Israel, Bethany and Elijah

While the his siblings learn and play, one year old Israel - now walking - is exploring and learning in his own way.
He is just like his daddy!

What a cutey! 
 Debbie, wonderful mother to our grandchildren and support to John

All above photo credits: John Hedges

As if I wasn't spoiled enough, at the same time, our daughter-in-law Amanda (in Marquard, South Africa) sent me photos of Joel and Abby. 
 Joel, 3 3/4 years, and Abby who's a two and a half. Aren't they poppets?  (Photo: Amanda Hedges)

This is my special world, showing our seven beautiful grandchildren. For more of other people's worlds, please click here 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday lunch on the town

On Sunday, instead of going out birding (we did that on Saturday!), Grant took half a day off and we went to Shinyanga. We arrived in town at 10.30 and after popping in at the supermarket for a few items,  we stopped at  Kitchen Utensils and Appliances shop where I fed "my" cat, Joy which I've been caring for since arriving here. Before coming to me last Thursday, Dr Mawaluko visited this shop and administered a contraceptive injection to the cat. In retrospect, I wish I had known about this injection and I would have asked him to do the same for Honey which would have saved us spaying her and unwittingly causing her early death. *sigh* 

By 11am William dropped us off at Butiama Hotel and went off to the market to do a little shopping for me. Grant had arranged with the owner, Minas to have a snack lunch (the highlight of our trips to Shinyanga) there. Minas, an astute and successful businessman, is also tendering for catering for our Guest House. While Minas isn't a birder, like Jez, one of the other tender company managers, he's a very good friend of ours and we really enjoy visit in him. 

While we waited for the snacks, Minas showed us his disco which is undergoing major refurbishments. 
Grant and Minas in the disco which is WIP

Soon the snacks were ready, and Grant and I tucked in with gusto. We love Indian cuisine and Mina's chef turns out the best. I enjoyed the "bitings" (Mina's name for snacks) so much that I forgot to take photos. 

While we sat there and enjoyed the meal, company and surroundings, friends, Andre and Amanda arrived. Soon it was a jolly afternoon of chatting, laughing and eating (some more!)

I hope you're all having a great week so far.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mum's back! Life's good!

Good morning Bozo and all mum's blog readers; this is Ambrose after a L O N G time! 

Mum and her friends were at the pool last night (while dad and his friends watched people running around a BIG space with a funny-looking ball). So I managed to get onto her laptop and post again.
Mum and friends at the pool (Photo taken by Rosie the barmaid)

Mum posts reflections today, so I found a photo of water with light reflections.

 Light reflections through the water (Photo by Auntie Louise)

Of course, with the yoomens out of the way, I found another cat on mum's laptop. Mmm. She looks quite fat! And her name is Chappie. Because we haven't heard or smelled her here, she must live in another place. Mum always does a post with shadows (Hey? is that the same word as Unca Shadow?)
Mum and dad's other cat, Chappie in a faraway place

There is also a photo of Unca Shadow with a shadow on the wall. Whoo-hoo, I'm getting SO clever, I 'll be a good germalist soon!

Unca Shadow with a shadow on the wall behind him

The other day, a man came to visit on a motorbike. We've had this man (a aminal doctak) work on us too. But that was L O N G ago, so I've already forgotten the pain. This time he came to give Topsy and Tipsy a prashun. (What's a prashun?) They were very sleepy for two days so the house was peaceful. Now they're normal again but much more quieter than before. Perhaps mum will take me into their room to play again soon. 
Oh and I heard dad say their names have changed. Topsy is now Jess and Tipsy is Blackie.
 Jess and Blackie after their prashuns 
Oh yawn. I'm off to sleep on our day bed with Mama Chui/Tiger, Unca Shadow and Dad Ginger. Purrs to you all. 

Note: Real blog owner's insert: For more cute pet posts, please click here

This post is also linked to Weekend Reflections and Shadow Shot Sunday.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Successful op ends in tragedy

As I'd explained in my mid-week post, on Thursday the vet arrived to neuter our two [new] cats and spay the Guest House guard dog, Honey.
Dr Mawaluko, the vet arrived punctually at 8.30 am

Dr Mawaluko arrived punctually at 8.30 and I took him through to our large bathroom. Here I'd set up an operating table and already laid out the items I had for him to work with. Micro-chip and rabies inoculations; I will administer the second injections (against feline AIDS, feline Parvovirus/catflu, and leukemia next week.
The operating theater in my home with Dr Mawaluko setting out his instruments

Contrary to their normal boisterous behavior, the two kitties woke early and other than ask to come into our bedroom (they sleep in my bathroom until they can be properly integrated with the Tanzanian Trio) seemed to not even notice that the breakfast bowls were empty morning. They played around until 8am when Regina had freshened their boudoir and put them back in there to wait their turn on the operating table. 

By 9am the doctor was ready, and I fetched Topsy who still lay calmly in my arms when I placed him onto the table. The vet was ready with the anesthetic but as he plunged the needle into the cat, it was as if a bomb had gone off. The cat yowled and jumped onto the floor, trying to get through the closed door. As soon as he was a little calmer, I put him onto the table again and held him down while the vet plunged the needle in again. This time he dispensed a little of the drug before Topsy, loudly voicing his fear and discomfort, shot out of my arms and onto the floor again. Down there, he began to swing his head and lick his lips (a sure sign the anesthetic is taking effect) 

We waited for ten minutes and I lifted the cat onto the table again.The doctor had the Micro-chip ready and as he inserted the thick needle, he quickly depressed the plunger. Just as well: the chip was expelled and under the cat's skin and the cat's head dropped onto the table. He was out at last.
In the photo above, as Dr Mawaluko managed to insert the Micro-chip, Topsy fell asleep 

Or was he? 

I turned the cat onto its side and the doctor began to prep the area for the procedure. As he touched the cat, it screamed blue murder and jumped up; this time, literally falling onto the floor. 

I glanced at the bedside clock we'd set up on the windowsill near the table. It was 10.45,  the cat was still conscious and Dr Mawaluko and I were at our wits' end.  He kept saying he'd never come across a cat like this!

Once again I lifted Topsy gently onto the table and stroked his head. Within a few more minutes, his eyes glazed over and he seemed to finally be asleep. Before starting the little operation, the vet administered the rabies injection. This time Topsy lay quietly under anesthetic and didn't budge. 
 Out at last!

The doctor quickly got to work; with a snip here and a couple of stitches there (I had to hold the suture while he weaved it through the loops) he completed the job. As I swabbed the the area, I looked at the clock. Five minutes had elapsed! I took the cat through to my bedroom next door where the air conditioning and an overhead fan would keep the kitty cool while he slept. 
Back in the bathroom, I cleaned the table top, discarded swabs and prepared the surface for Tipsy's operation. As Tipsy weighed over five kilograms the doctor and I expected him to take even longer than Topsy (who weighs 4.6kg) to react to the anesthetic. However, although the little guy was very nervous of the smells and the strange man in the room, he was very calm as I held him on the table. The doctor administered the anesthetic and within ten minutes the cat was asleep and the doctor ready for the next step - inserting the Micro-chip. Then the vet administered the rabies shot and injected  the area in question with local anesthetic. He told me that if you don't do this, the animal will feel the pain through the haze and this heightens the stress levels unnecessarily. 

After almost two hours of trying to get Topsy to topple over, his brother Tipsy was a pleasure to treat

Ten minutes later I was swabbing the area of the procedure and took Tipsy through to the recovery room where I lay him down next to Topsy.
 Both cats rested in the cool, quiet recovery room after their procedures

Once I'd cleaned the operating table again, next I called Michael, trusted Askari and cat-carer to bring Honey the guard dog in through the back door. (The Tanzanian Trio were safely ensconced on the veranda behind the locked screen door.) Honey arrived in the bathroom as meek as a kitten and sat down on the floor while the vet administered the anesthetic. While we waited for it to take effect, I stroked her head, speaking softly to her.  

As soon as she was out, Michael lifted her onto the table and the vet administered pain killer shots. Then he looked at me and Michael (who stayed to help with Honey) and warned us to be prepared for the next step. He said once had made an incision and the animal's intestines were revealed, many people watching came over faint. I assured him I would be strong; Michael said it was no problem for him either.
Michael took over from me, stroking Honey's head while the anesthetic took effect

Honey on the operating table, under anesthetic and ready for the operation

At this stage of the post, I would have warned that the next photos (which I would have posted) were not for sensitive viewers. I took photos of the professional manner in which Dr Mawaluko successfully removed the fallopian tubes intact and subsequently closed the incision. He instructed me and Michael to gently swab the beautifully stitched wound. Then Michael lifted Honey in his arms and with me supporting her head, we took her across the short path to Johan's cottage in our enclosed garden. There we lay her on the floor under a fan with the screen door and open louvers opposite, providing further ventalation. Her breathing was regular and she was sleeping peacefully, albeit with her tongue still protruding!

While Michael cleaned the bathroom for me, removing the tables and emptying the waste basket, the doctor filled in the cats' vaccination certificates. He then issued me with two invoices, one for me regarding the cats which I settled immediately. The other invoice for the dog's spaying was made out to the company. Grant arrived to meet the doctor and took the invoice to the financial department. The doctor collected his money from them on the way out of town.

After Dr Mawaluko had enjoyed a meal of grilled chicken and rice, (which Paulo brought across from the Guest House), he and I walked across to the cottage to check on Honey. The doctor pronounced her well on the way to recovery. With a final check on the two cats who were also breathing regularly, I walked the doctor to the door. Michael had strapped his medical kit to the back of his motorcycle and with a wave Dr Mawaluko rode off out of the yard. 

The time was 2.30pm. We'd been on our feet, bending over the operation table for over five hours! During the afternoon, every fifteen minutes I made checks on the cats and then the dog. All was well. That night Grant and Johan had meetings with our HO CEO who'd flown in for two days. When Johan walked into the garden I called him from my back door, telling him that Honey (whom he loved) was asleep in his house and that she was doing well after a successful operation. 

I had placed a bowl of water near the door which, Johan told me (the next day),  she almost emptied at 10pm. Then she asked to go out, walked to the corner of the garden where she relieved herself. He said when she returned, although he was waiting with the door open, she lay down on the mat outside. The weather is beautifully warm and dry at the moment, so Johan left her and turned in himself. 

At 5am, I was in the kitchen making tea, when Johan called at the back door. His eyes were swollen and red and with a thick voice he told me that he'd woken up at 3 and went out to check on Honey. 

She was lying peacefully on the patio.

She was dead. 

So sadly, although her operation was technically a success, her system couldn't handle the shock and it shut down for good. 

The cats, on the other hand, have come through their ordeals well and seem to be fit and healthy. Grant has renamed them: Topsy is Jess (from Postman Pat's black-and-white cat) while Tipsy has become Blackie. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.


PS Michael was devastated when he arrived for work and I told him Honey had died; he kept saying : "but, Bibi, the operation went so well!"  He carried her out of my garden and gave her a decent burial in the empty plot next door. 

RIP dear sweet Honey