A Little Rural Contrast

By way of a complete change of scenery…

IMG_3741Bradbourne is a very small village, one of Parwich’s nearest neighbours, but by a geographical quirk it is technically Matlock, whilst we are Ashbourne, with  different telephone and postal codes so for some funny reason it seems further than it is.

Unusually, it is a ‘Thankful Village’, the only village in Derbyshire which suffered not a single casualty for soldiers fighting in either World War. Continue reading A Little Rural Contrast

Hello to Malawi

Our Final Episode

We are now in Malawi for a relaxing few days wind down beside Lake Malawi. We have had to a learn a whole new vocabulary  – no talk of Nyasaland or Lake Nyasa and the local currency, the Malawi Kwacha  – 1000MK equals about 70p I think so it has taken a while to realise that nothing costs quite as

imagemuch as it feels.

English is the Malawi national language, spoken with varying degrees of fluency. The people, like the Zambian, seem very courteous, friendly and essentially happy although apparently the AIDS problem is enormous. Continue reading Hello to Malawi

Farewell to Zambia

Another post which slipped through the internet less net, but which I actually wrote on Monday 29th June.

5.15 and as I sit by the Lion Camp infinity pool overlooking the vast almost dry river bed I already have been offerimageed, and happily accepted, a ‘sundowner’. John is away on a game drive with Paul our guide, hoping amongst other things to see Fish Eagles fishing.

The sun is indeed going down, leaving a wonderful almost violet tinge to everything. An elephant has just strolled past. Now all I can see is herds of Puku – a small Zambia deer –  and flocks of Guinea Fowl.

I feel sad to think we have already finished the Zambian part of our odyssey. It has been such a significant episode for me and what is lovely is that John seems to have enjoyed it as much too, entering with enthusiasm into everything, taking some absolutely wonderful photographs and loving being introduced to lots of interesting tropical bird life as well. He has been the perfect travel companion – if I may be permitted to embarrass him for one brief moment. Continue reading Farewell to Zambia

When John Met an Elephant

by John Sunday 28th June 2015

Up at 5 for 5.30 breakfast for a solo game drive with Hendrix in search of Fish Eagles. The search was somewhat foiled by the elephant incident.

Driving round a hairpin bend we were surprised to come face to face with an 8-year old tusker having a dust bath in the road.

Hendrix braked sharply and we came to a standstill, about ten metres away from the beast. After a somewhat nervous minute or two I asked Hendriix if it would be okay to take a photo.


I took two. Continue reading When John Met an Elephant

Struggling with Technology…

Technology has not been willing…Shiwa has No WiFi! I wrote this on Monday. today is Wednesday and we have been driven some way in the bush to Kapishya Springs where they do have access to the Internet, at the same time we are going to have a dip in the springs, and I shall have a massage!!!

Here goes  with some catch up posts… I daren’t upload a photo at this stage as the wifi here is expensive and not keen on uploading photos.

Dawn is breaking as I start this. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it tonight. We are waiting in the departure lounge at Lusaka airport, having got up at 4.15. Our flight to Kasama is in a Proflight aircraft, banned by the EU as being unfit for travel. Our insurance company, from whom we had to get approval, were very relaxed. they said if the pilots were happy to fly it was good enough for them, and certainly our fellow passengers look happy enough in spite of the early hour.

We have had an interesting but very short time in Lusaka, based at Lilayi. Our travel guide describes Lusaka as not the most interesting of modern towns. The centre certainly seemed chaotic when we were driven through on Saturday – swarming with people and very beaten up looking vehicles. As we drove along passers by kept suddenly streaking across the road without looking to left or right – I was glad not to be behind the wheel myself. At one stage an elderly minibus just sailed slowly into an incredibly smashed up looking somewhat bigger green van. The driver of the white van, smiled and laughed, threw up his hands in amused despair. The green van driver didn’t appear quite so amused, but quite accepting of the inevitable all the same.

On the other hand, the area where we were last night, where we used to live, was peaceful, green and attractive. What a contrast! Probably neither lot quite appreciate how the other half live. As a child I did not, and my memories of the centre of town are of a much quieter and more ordered place that at 18 I drove through quite happily. Maybe I was just braver then but I think perhaps not. Is m talking about a long time ago.

The Arrivals and Departures board is advertising flights to places that were truly tiny when I was young. Solwezi, where we lived for a time with six other European families now has an airport and at least one Five Star hotel!

A bit later:
What an adventure! Seven of us are aboard what feels like a toy aeroplane. One had to almost crouch to reach our seats – I had bumped my head quite hard before I realised this. The take off was extremely smooth and we are now soaring like a bird, not that far above ground so we have a clear view of what we are flying over.


We arrived in Zambia yesterday. It’s warmer, dryer and    lovely to be back. I expected to feel quite emotional when we arrived and I did, but going through immigration soon put paid to that. image

As Audley clients we were instantly swooshed into the Diplomat queue (this VIP business could become an awkward habit) and there we waited, and waited. The woman behind the desk was painstaking and her English faltering. She could not understand the American tourists ahead of us, nor could she grasp that we only needed a visa for Zambia and Malawi. After much head shaking and many sighs, she did at last provide us with a piece of paper with many scratchings out.  Let’s hope it will prove to be an acceptable visa!

The only funny interlude arose when she asked where we were going. ‘Lilayi?’ She asked disbelievingly, ‘I do not know Lilayi. What is that, please?’ 

‘A lodge which has an elephant orphanage’ John explained, hopefully helpfully. ‘Orphanage?!!’ she almost shrieked, glaring pointedly at a notice about the prevention of child trafficking. ‘Why you want orphanage?’ The explanations took another ten minutes or so, but eventually we got out, changed some Kwachas and set off with our driver for Lilayi.

Lilayi Lodge is a delightful lodge with about ten luxury rondavels (round huts) some few miles outside Lusaka. They do indeed run an elephant orphanage and this morning we had a most interesting session watching the elephant babies being fed, and being told about the challenges of trying to protect elephants from poachers and innocent local farmers who see them simply as a threat to their livelihoods which needs to be dealt with.

This afternoon we were driven round Lusaka so that I could try to discover where we lived and where I went to school, all those years ago. In many ways, and unsurprisingly, the city has grown out of all recognition but some things seemed much the same.

Lusaka Girls’ School looked little changed, nor did what used to be called the Secretariat where my father and many of his colleagues worked. This is now the Vice-President’s office, no less!

With the driver’s help we also found the last house we lived in, which  used to be called simply ‘the SNA’s (Secretary for Native Affairs which was my father’s last role) House, in Counsell Crescent, now Chisidza Crescent.

This is the photo at the top of the post. The (brick built) house has been painted bright yellow, considerably extended and is now a private hospital. The original  house itself was easily recognisable, and I could see what used to be my sister’s and my bedroom window. Little did I imagine all those 50+ years ago that I would be back gazing at it as an outsider. Unfortunately, today is Sunday and everywhere looked pretty shut up so we were not able to make contact with anyone.

Tomorrow morning at 5am we will be picked up for the next lap, ‘Africa House’. We are flying by small private aircraft to Kasama where I was born and where my mother was the only white patient for the full two weeks it was usual to keep new mothers in hospital. From there we are driven to Shiwa Ngandu.

More tomorrow… wifi and technology willing (that may well become the holiday’s refrain!). See you then.





Hopping up Africa

This post I wrote yesterday, but am rather behind with the posting. The photo was mine, not John’s, in case you are in any doubt…

We are hopping up Africa gradually: first the Cape’s Mediterranean climate, now the temperate grassland of where we are when now,1640metres above sea level, about 11/2 hours’ drive west of Johimageannesberg.

The Cape was wonderfully green and beautiful, quite lovely, Africa but not Africa. Since yesterday we have been staying with our friends, Peter and Etain Hewitt and are enjoying what seems much more African, and already more familiar, but it’s not the tropics yet.

Incidentally, it is winter here. Although the days are pleasantly hot the nights are perishing. (I’ll tell you some time about how cold we were at night in the cold season at school in Bulawayo). Last night there was a frost, and believe me, houses here are built for the much longer very hot summers, so the emphasis is on airy rather than cosy.

Tomorrow we cross the Tropic of Capricorn and enter the tropical Africa of my childhood!

Today we have had two trips through the bush around Etain and Pater’s house. They own a game park, and Peter took us on an extremely rough and stony Landrover drive to show us the sites and what animals we could spot Wildebeest, Zebra and a with two very young babies. They were all quite unbothered by the vehicle.

We heard much talk about snakes and only afterwards was it explained that one is most unlikely to spot any during the cold season.

Cape Town Catch Up

We have been beset by wifi and technical hitches, not all of our own making! For some reason I have failed to upload more than one photo at a time, and John has already taken 246. Hopefully we will meet some WordPress expert on our travels, although I suspect we may also need an Apple expert as it may also be an iPad issue.

I’ve written several posts which have simply evaporated into thin air, which is disappointing but probably inevitable on a trip like this. Cape Town and Joburg airports promise free wifi but this lasts for about ten minutes and anything not saved is lost… Let’s hope tonight we’ll have better luck.

So I have to resort to a boring summary. We have just had four memorably happy days in Cape Town, followed by two nights with some very good friends who live quite near Johannesburg.

Tonight we will be staying at the Lilayi Lodge just outside Lusaka, having decided that an elephant orphanage in the bush was infinitely preferable to the Ridgeway Hotel, my original instinctive choice because it used to be the hotel in the Lusaka in my youth but apparently now is very ‘international’ and anonymous, and could be anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, to look back briefly as we soar through the air from Joburg to Lusaka, Our South African time will be very different from our Zambia and finally Malawi stints. The whole South African emphasis was on seeing family and friends, the main person being my younger sister, Ruth, who as many of you know has been more or less paralysed since a severe stroke almost exactly three years ago.

Ruth and her husband, Tony, now live in a retirement village just outside Noordhoek. Tony had devoted himself totally to her care, helped by five carers, and it was absolutely wonderful to be able to spend some unhurried time with them every morning.

The rest of each day we spent having lunch and dinner and doing fun things with family and close friends, our friendship with them all stretches a long way back. The icing on the cake was staying in a truly lovely ‘beyond boutique’ (their words, not mine) B &B in Constantia, The Last Word, where we had been upgraded to a luxury suite, beautifully spacious, with its own swimming pool – which unfortunately was too cold to enjoy.

To top it all, the hotel laid on avvery splendid and helpful driver. We cannot recommend Fiona Huber enough and will happily pass on her contact details to anyone who might need a totally reliable and accommodating taxi driver – chauffeur might be a more appropriate .