Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ballet dress

It's amazing what you can find at Arusha's second hand textiles market if you are persistent. All set for ballet class 3 tomorrow (well, apart from shoes anyway...)

Friday, 27 January 2012

Christmas deliveries!

Mama B managed to collect our post today, and we were pleased to find a range of presents, Christmas and even (for Mr B) rather late birthday cards! The last couple of years we've managed a seond Christmas thanks to visitors arriving in the New Year, this time it had to be the usualy delayed post. But at least it things arrived! Thanks to all for sending things...
What a haul!

Talking of visitors, it's occurred to me that we've made no official announcement of our current plans the 2012 yet, so (just in case you're not aware anyway) we're currently planning to head back to UK at the end of June/early July when the school year ends here - and once I'll hopefully have been able to burn a bit of Serengeti. So, if you've been thinking it would be good to visit, or simply want one last return visit before we aren't here, you'd better try and come before June... There's lots of fun still to be had for anyone who wants to come, and we'd love to see you! No-one is currently booked in for a visits at all... Karibu Tanzania!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Yes, Kitty has finally started ballet class, having wanted to for years. Last week we made it to the opening session of a beginners class that's just started in Arusha. This week I took my camera. As yet Kitty has no ballet clothes but it doesn't bother her too much. I think there's only one pair of ballet shoes between the lot of them, and the first week several of them were in fairy outfits or similar. Maybe by the end of term they'll all be properly kitted out... or maybe not. Fortunately it doesn't seem to matter too much either to them or the ballet teacher. The relaxed attitude to a lot of issues is something I like about the community here!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Camping fun!

Mama keeping a close eye on kids at sunset...
Look carefully and you can see the tents...
It's been a while since we headed off into the bush with a car full of camping equipment, so we decided a couple of weeks ago that it was time it happened again. We invited a few folk, and in turn they suggested a different destination from our original idea - a new area we'd not been to before between here and Lake Natron, rather close to the Kenyan border. In the end it was a relatively select band of campers, but much fun was had by all.

Kitty being a lion

We set off on Friday afternoon, drove almost to the Kenyan border before hitting the dirt road and heading west into the hills. With the Mancub manning the GPS to find a spot on a sand river chosen in advance from Google Earth (check the spot: 2.707889S, 36.376861E) we soon found ourselves the perfect campsite and prayed that the rain would hold off. (Having seen how fast these river flood when the rain comes it wouldn't be a good camp site at times!) Rapid tent pitching and firewood gathering left time for tea before setting off up the river to find a suitable spot for sundowners, which also alloed us to find the nice fresh lion tracks in the river just up from our camp.

In a change from previous protocols we tried sticking the little ones to sleep in the back of the landrover - Kitty was fine with this, but the Mancub kept being woken by his big sister squashing him and ended up in the tent with us (where he spent most of the night patting Mama to check she was still there!). Both enjoyed playing in it during the day though! Other interuptions during the first night were the lion who decided that just as we were hitting the sack he'd start to call and every ten minutes or so he'd get a bit closer. Somehow Mama managed to sleep through the most impressive ones, being awake only for the first two, whilst I was lying there hoping that the kids would stay asleep despite the noise. Which, of course, ensured that 10 minutes after even I was impressed by how close he was getting the Mancub woke up and needed me to go out and get him. With no moon I had a good shine around with our little headtorch before hopping out of the tent... He was quiet after that, mind (in the morning we found is tracks about 100m away and he'd taken a detour through the bush to avoid us, I presume). And beside further Mancub calls unil we put him in with us the only other interruption was the sound of an earth bank collapsing next to one of the other tents - happily only showering them lightly...

Nice view - but you can't see how grumpy the kids were from behind!

Satuday we decided to climb one of the nearby rocky hills, hoping for a view of the plains and down to Oldonyo Lengai. We gradually lost the others until it was just a family adventure - but having scratched ourselves and scrambled up major cliffs pushing children before us we decided berhaps the others had the better idea in the ehat of the day! Still, it was a good view, even if we did decide against the final summit, and beautiful habitat to explore. The kids recovered quickly after lunch and more fun was had by all.

Sunday we set off looking for beasties down the sand river towards the swamp at the end and enjoyed lots of giraffe and gerenuk, but sadly none of the hoped for oryx - must have been somewhere else. It's great to be somewhere you can camp wild for a weekend and not see a single person but your company the whole time! The afternoon's entertainment was a quick trip across the Kenyan border to renew our visas before heading home to baths and showers. And no news of new babies (I think there's some sort of "Occupy Uterus" protest taking place)...
Can she beat Aunty Y to baby?!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Busy weekend

There has been much excitement and entertainment this weekend. Last week school started for Kitty and the Mancub, but thanks to a public holiday on Thursday and a training day for teachers on Friday the weekend arrived rather fast. A couple of fun days led up to the highlights of the weekend, with Saturday largely being spent at the horse trials (yep, you'd better believe it! They happen even in Arusha). We were all well educated about dressage and the like, even if we didn't manage to stick around long enough to see the 'proper' bits (according to Kitty, at least), when they were doing some show jumping... Still, educational and quite a social event too!

I think the clothes are probably better suited to UK...

The stables round the back were fun too!

And then this morning the children and I left Mama in bed (though, I confess she didn't sleep though our departure...) and headed off with a box of nets and assorted equipment to a friend's house out on the edge of town to introduce the children to the joys of bird ringing, hoping to catch a few migrants as well as the local colour. Kitty hasn't seen ringing for so long she'd completely forgotten what it was about and was extremely excited - to the point that when I woke her this morning she didn't complain at all, but got dressed in a great rush! The Mancub, it would seem, has never had the opportunity to get involved at all. Which shows just how many of my activities have been curtailed by the joys of immigration issues. None the less, this morning we were determined to set these things to rights and after watching the sun rise on our final approach we were soon sipping coffee, waiting for the rest of the crowds to arrive and the first birds to crash into our nets. Unsurprisingly, although the catch was rather less busy than it could have been, there was an awful lot of interest from an awful lot of children (and plenty of visiting adults too!).
"I think you'll find it's a Whitethroat..."

"Can I let it go?!" White-browed Scub Robin

Yellow Bishop

After the first couple of net rounds Kitty discovered that one of the party was busy making pancakes in the kitchen, and I lost them for a bit! The Mancub returned for more birds, but Kitty soon discovered a bookshelf and nipped out only for viewing pretty birds after that! And (strangely) despite saying yesterday that she really wanted to catch a lovebird, when we did eventually get one she didn't come out at all! The Mancub, meanwhile, was perfectly game to let it go, provided I guaranteed it didn't bite him (having already drawn blood for the poor ringer...). Much excitement all round!

The wary approach to lovebird extraction...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Home Truths

You can always rely on your children to build you up and encourage you.... Here are a few recent comments from Kitty...

from Kitty the fairy "I'm making a spell to turn you into a beautiful Mama!"

and while discussing my going away for 3.5 days to climb Mt Meru "We'll try to learn to like Daddy"

Monday, 2 January 2012

Portraits of an Uncle

Said goodbye sadly to wicked uncle J this morning as he flew home after a great week with us. The children adore him and we like him quite a lot too. He might not like me so much after he sees how many photos of him are in this blog. He he! Here are some of my favourite pics...
Returning to nature...
The leap of doom
Helping get stuck landrovers out of the mud in the middle of lion country is an activity we reserve especially for Uncle J's visits. He's an adrenaline junkie really. (Note that I took this picture from the saftey and comfort of the vehicle - after all, entertaining the children is really the hardest task...)
Good plank Mancub
Attack the Uncle!
See that waterfall? We stood at the top of that after viewing the elephant caves, where they've used their tusks to gouge out bits of rock to eat for the mineral content.
Maybe this isn't Uncle J? Sometimes these pics are hard to make out...