A friend and fellow-author has recently been trotting across the world so she kindly agreed to pop over for a chat today. Jane Bwye! Come in and sit down. I have Rooibos tea specially prepared if you are still in Kenya mode and there are cakes from Pierre’s bakery as I didn’t have time to do them.
Sit yourself down and tell us about your travels. I’m all agog.
I love Rooibos tea – thank you Ailsa. And do you know – I never had one cup of it over the seven weeks of my stay in Africa. Did you feel my hell-kiss as I passed over you on my return flight? I even caught a glimpse of the eclipse out of the plan window that Friday!
It was very hot in Kenya, dusty and brown. They haven’t had any rain to speak of for over a year. But Nairobi is a buoyant, bustling city, with excellent roads – courtesy of Chinese investors – only the drivers need to brush up on their highway code. And, in typical African style, signposts are conspicuous by their absence. You have to go by gut instinct, and the position of the sun. Even then, I found myself going north instead of south more than once.
My youngest son, Dennis, lent me his car for the duration, and I soon got into the mode of looking all ways at once, darting into a minute opening and pushing my way, politely but very firmly, at junctions and roundabouts. I’m proud to say there was not one new scratch or bump when I handed the car back!
Immediately on arrival, I flew off to the coast, and guess what? There was an excellent review of my book in “Ndege”(meaning bird) the in-flight Magazine!
My eldest son Colin is spearheading a mine, Base Titanium, and he showed me round the impressive site, and their dedicated dock at Mombasa port from where they export minerals all over the world. I was so proud: the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave them a Corporate Citizenship Award.
After taking a breather in Nairobi for a couple of days, I braved the upcountry roads for a whistle-stop series of talks. Several times I had to stop the car as I couldn’t see beyond the bonnet for dust.
One of the highlights of my trip was a week in Kabubbu, a sprawling “village” in Uganda. You want to forget the European definition of village. This was haphazard dwelling places spread over an undefined area! The focus was a local non-governmental organisation which has over the past 14 years built a Primary and Secondary School, a Medical Centre and is developing a farm – sponsored by Quicken Trust in East Sussex. And recipients of this charity are now returning to the village as qualified teachers and nurses in a spirit of passing on the benefits they have received. It works!
But the crème de la crème of my holiday was ten glorious days alone in the bush, communing with nature from the luxury of my daughter Anthea’s weekend hideaway at Maanzoni, only about 20 miles south of Nairobi. I didn’t need to go to any game parks. Animals processed before me every morning past the dam at my doorstep – and back again in the evening. Not the “big five”, but I’ve seen those many times. The bird life was amazing and I was delighted to discover that I could remember most names. I bought Anthea a bird book and started a list with 72 sightings.
Wow! Slow down. I’m a stay-home body these days and my head is spinning.
So how has all this effected your writing? Have you had time to do much? I know your blog was fascinating with updates.
Yes!! – well … not all that much, I suppose. I sat on the verandah at Maanzoni, updating my diary of the holiday and adding about three chapters to my new novel, which has given me enough impetus, I hope, to keep going.
What is in the pipeline now? Have you come back to earth or are you still whizzing around in your brain, which happens to me often?
In the pipeline is the sequel to Breath of Africa. Grass Shoots is its working title. And my travels have provided me with much material to manipulate into a story of love, intrigue and endeavour, while exploring the many facets of charitable giving.
I know your heart is still in Africa, you’ve told me that. Do you think you’ll ever go back to live?
How I would love to go back and live in Kenya! I still regard it as home. However, as a friend wisely reminded me:
“Have you got a good medical insurance, Jane?”
“No,” I said. “Neither have I got a pension.”
And I’m not getting any younger. And my husband, with all his ailments, is comfortable living in Sussex. Besides, I probably would not have written a book, had I stayed in Kenya.
You may notice I’ve said nothing about security. To be honest, after the first few days it did not bother me. Life goes on, and the people of Kenya are vibrant; they look forward – rightly. How I wish the international media would keep their sensationalism and negativity within their own spheres!
Amen to that, Jane! I really do love the “eliminate the negative, concentrate on the positive” attitude. That was fascinating. I’ve never been to Africa at all but reading your book and listening to your travel stories has got me gasping to pack my bags. Let me pour you some more tea while you give us…