Thursday, 30 December 2010


Do you remember when 3.5 weeks of school holiday seemed like a lifetime stretching ahead of you?

We did pretty much exactly what the kids requested today. First stop, Masai Art Gallery and Cultural Heritage. Lots of African Art enjoyed (some of it at a run fast walk), huge wooden crocodiles duly admired, new cap bought for the Mancub, who definitely doesn't fit child small child sized ones any more, and then on to the coffee lodge - cappucino for Mama and lots of playing for the littlies. They do have one of the better playgrounds in town (including swings made cunningly from old tyres) and even a pool. Then, after heading home for a nap (Mancub), some swahili study (Mama) and a rest followed by a game of carcassonne (Kitty), we headed out to our fried N who has two small boys and a super pool, so back into our (damp) swimming things for another go.

A few pics of the kids here. I expect Mr B will post some of his birdy shots too at some point. He's having fun with his new camera - a joint Christmas and birthday present.

p.s. of COURSE I can still hula hoop - must install a censoring system for Mr B's posts.... especially the photos...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Post Christmas quiet...

Not much to report since Christmas - a few friends visiting, and few friends to visit and the odd swim. We have, however, discovered that sometime in the last week or so Kitty has just about taught herself to use a Hula-hoop successfully (love the arms!).

And that sometime in the last few years Mama has forgotten the same (love the hair!)...

(Personally, I never got the hang in the first place...) The countdown to Grannie and Grandad's arrival is well underway...

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope you've all had as much fun as us! Started about 6.30, so could be worse. Stockings in our bed:
Breakfast, dressed and more presents before church

Then on to Friends for lunch and general fun. Including puddings (though Bouganvillia not quite as flame resistant as Holly...). Yum!

On the way home the skys were clear and we could see Meru had a festive snowy topping, even though it was sweltering hot down in town!
 And we saw the party was just begining on the roundabout in town. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Online for Christmas?

We've been offline the last few days, but happily got hooked back up again about 5pm this afternoon, so unless status changes over night we will be online for Christmas and might have a chance to skype various folk... Any insomniacs could call us very early UK time, as we're three hours ahead... Otherwise we're off to friends for lunch and not sure when we'll be back, but by the time we do get back the kids might be rather tired. Still, worth a try in the afternoon some time. 
Meanwhile we've been busy bees with preparations for lots of things the last couple of days. Collecting and decorating Christmas trees:
 Finally finishing the nativity scene:

Making a Gingerbread house (though, tyipcal Tanzanian construction standard, collapse occurred about 24hrs later with the chimney pot (not featured) causing a roof collapse. Tastes good though...):
And then after Mama B made a surprisingly large vat of mincemeat on Tuesday, we made the snap decision yesterday to invite all those without prior Christmas Eve engagements to come over and help us eat mince pies, etc. Which, of course, inspired Mama B to further fits of baking this morning - more Florentines, and lots of yummy stuff... Which made for a very busy house this afternoon - nice to see not everyone is booked up right to the last minute! And all agreed the mince pies and things were yum! None left now at least...

Meanwhile I've also been enjoying the arrival of my birthday/Christmas present camera - first photos here for all to see (though you probably won't see any difference, given the low resolutions we usually print with anyway!). Only problem, Santa seemed not to notice that there was a memory card ordered with it, so we've only got the bult in memory available. All of 6 photos... Hopefully another santa may be prevailed upon to find a replacement at a suitable location before we head off on out next safari and want to take loads of pictures!

Oh, and the Mancub had fun with our Tanzanian special stockings

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

More weekend adventures

Kitty finished school on Friday, with Grandfather having only a few days left in Tanzania. So we picked her up, and after a nice lunch and swim near the school headed out into the heat - definitely the hottest day for some time. Arriving at Manyara Ranch the Mancub was somewhat distressed to learn that the open game viewer was out of action - shock horror. So the first highlight of our safari - an evening drive to the green side of the ranch (amazing how local the rainfall has been so far) for sundowners - was completed in my landrover.

The only place to view the sunset over Lake Manyara was, of course, the top of the car.
The next morning we took a drive around the ranch - highlight for the Mancub was, as ever, splashing through the river. This time there was even a trickle of water to throw stones in!
Then after lunch it was on to Tarangire where the zebra and wildebeest had just about gone - lots on the Ranch though, so we saw them there. Unusually our first evening drive was rather lacking in memorable highlights, though the waterbuck were very close

and a rainstorm provided some impressive rainbows to set off the fantastic Tarangire landscape. And after all that we enjoyed the best Pina Coladas we've yet found in Tanzania with the stunning view from the lodge again. Yumm!

Game was relatively scarce on our morning drive too - though the birds were good as ever, with well over 100 species reached before lunch including a nice black stork over the river. The tsetses were a bit of a pain though. And I managed to take a much longer route back to the lodge than I had intended... But we had lunch and the little ones enjoyed their usual highlight of a swim in the pool

before we headed out for a short drive in the evening, and managed to catch up with some sleeping lions without too much difficulty. The best game drive of the weekend was saved for yesterday morning though, when Mrs B decided that we should, afterall, take Grandfather to see Silale swamp. A trip I've previously done only on full days, with a packed lunch - it's a good 40-50kms drive, on dirt roads of varying quality. So we decided to only stop for particularly spectacular sightings on the way there and back. And so began our high-speed game viewing... First stop, a nice male lion on a ridge above us (the last of a group of six we were told), though he soon headed over the hill. Then some close buffalo

before the quintessential Tarangire mammal took over: hundreds and hundreds of elephant in an area of brilliant green grass and Terminalia woodland (I've just counted over 50 in this picture alone, but at the time I think I could see around 150). That slowed us down somewhat, as I tend to give elephants right of way when they want to cross the road. It's great being surrounded by them though, and none were particularly bothered by us, despite children being somewhat less quiet than ideal at times!
We reached the swamp, saw some birds, flowers
and termite mounts, turned around and wizzed back on the other side of the rver this time, which enabled Mama, in a fit of high-quality high-speed spotting, to locate three very large male lions sitting under a tree down by the river. Very impressive beasts they were too. But all too soon it was back to the lodge for a quick swim and eat, then the hot drive home, a quick shower and off to the airport to send Grandfather on his way. Hope he got back safely with all the snow up there... Now we're visitor free until the New Year and getting stuck into various pre-Christmas excitements: Mama B is currently singing Carols by candlelight, and Kitty (I hope) is enjoying that!

Friday, 17 December 2010


Last Music Makers session of the year about to begin. Then we're off to collect Kitty from her last day at school and head straight off to Manyara Ranch  for a night, Tarangire for 2 nights, and home Monday afternoon. Power permitting we'll post again on Monday night.

Weekendi njema!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas Cards!

Our second real, tangible, put-up-on-the-mantel-shelf-able Christmas card arrived in the post today. Hurrah!

Thankyou GAF and GUT and Basia for posting to us.

We've also been enjoying all the e-cards and letters, but haven't managed to reply to many of them yet - sorry!

Father Christmas and the 4th wise woman

So, today, big excitement, was Kitty's Christmas play and a party with a visit from Father Christmas.

The day started rather earlier than strictly neccesary as a certain visiting grandparent closed the toilet door with a resounding wallop and woke the kids at about 6.15. An exciting visitor outside the kitchen window provided the first excitement of the day. I'd estimate about 14cm across.

Grandfather, Kitty, the Mancub and I then piled into the car, picked up some school friends, and set off for the school assembly at 8.30.

There was time for a little excercise while costumes were being donned

For some this proved a bit much

And then we were into "The Fourth Wise Man", ecxept that it was actually a wise woman. Kitty narrated beautifully - a serious business

most of the time

Here is the wise woman, from Egypt

She isn't as rich as the wise men (obviously there were glass ceilings in wisdom careers in 1st century middle east) so she had to travel more slowly, on a donkey. She also gets held up along the way on several occasions, helping out lost sheep, travellers beaten up by thugs and lost and hungry children.

So, tragically, she arrives at the stable in bethlehem just 3 days too late and no one knows where the Holy Family have gone to so suddenly. Dejected she returns home to Egypt. Her son rushes out to greet her and tell her that a foreign family have unexpectedly taken up residence in their home....and so she gets to greet the new born King after all.

Which joyous news promted the 4th wise woman, the wise men, the angels, shepherds, inkeepers, sheep, lost children, narrator, Holy Family and all to burst into "Away in a Manger" and "Jingle Bells".

Phew. We needed a coffee after all that, so Grandfather, the Mancub and I headed off to the coffee lodge with my friend C and her two kids, including miracle baby Y, who seems as cheerful and active as ever

Revived, we headed back an hour later to join the Christmas party, complete with Father Christmas, who was very jolly and spoke with a strong Dutch accent. This one a great improvement on the Chritmas fair disappointment and Kitty was only too happy to chat to him

A wonderful morning.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Fun Fun Fun

We've been keeping Grandfather busy over the last few days, walking round our local area, taking him to see Colobus monkeys in the forest, walk round lake Duluti, sample the coffee and cake at the Blue Heron, swim at the local lodge... even an exciting shopping trip to buy groceries... well, he wanted to come... He's also had to be very sociable as first we had F - a Dutch PhD student - staying Sunday and Monday, before flying home to the Netherlands, and then last night a couple with a daughter the Mancub's age and a visiting brother of theirs came for dinner as they were in Arusha awaiting an early morning flight back home to Sri Lanka today. Today we headed out to the Blue Heron for coffee and to collect Mr B, who's car was being mended (again) but we got waylaid and ended up having coffee and blueberry muffins with some friends in the house we house-sat last year for three weeks. This evening will be the first we've had at home with him with no extra company (and I'm on the computer - how anti-social!)

This afternoon we fed the tame Eland at Mount Meru Game lodge

The Mancub's been keeping him busy while I do the school run - making dens, shooting the stomp rocket, running round the house etc. This morning he settled for some more relaxing reading. They got through a large pile of books.

 Tomorrow Grandfather gets to enjoy Kitty's school Christmas play, in which she is the narrator. They are doing "the fourth wise man", who is, in this version, a woman..... should be interesting. We'll also be gate-crashing her class party so that the Mancub can see Father Christmas again. Which reminds me, I better go and make some cakes for her to share. THe power has been off most days until evening recently, making baking (or cooking, ironing...) rather tricky.

But before I go, here are some shots that didn't make it into Mr B's blog on Monday...

cute baby gecko in the living room

The Mancub enjoying the pudlles in the garden (recognise the suit Mum? He juuuust fits into it, with a few safetly pins to hold it together where his tummy burst the zip...)

The Mancub investigating the tusk marks in the Elephant caves

and enjoying a carry up to inspect the upper ones too

and one Mr B wouldn't allow because it's out of focus. Grandfather not only brought presents but also chocolate! Here is the Mancub giving a chocolate crocodile the kiss of death...

Hmmm, bit heavy on the Mancub photos today. Will try to get some nice pics of Kitty in the play tomorrow.