Sunday, 25 May 2014

Home and Away

It is hard to believe that we have only been back in the UK for just over a month. Some things seem pretty settled. The kids are all happy at their schools, Tim and I are back at work, the boys are back into the local cricket club and weekends are already filled by a gentle rhythm of cricket matches and bickering over undone homework.

We have started to catch up with friends and family, with have plans to do more of that over next few weeks. The house is also beginning to feel like home. Our tenants left it in great shape inside so there hasn't been much for us to do. The roses are out by the front door, window boxes are filled and bringing colour and we have chillies and lettuces growing on windowsills.

We have bought a few new things like wellies and raincoats to help the transition back and unpacked most of our stuff. And our store cupboards and fridge are slowly getting replenished, thanks in part to the latest master chef series which the kids have loved and which has inspired some great food over the last few weeks, including this white chocolate bowl with berries and meringue produced by Katie and Matthew last weekend.

But we are not quite there. Not least because the book cases, drawers and chests we need for the final unpacking are still at sea along with about half our stuff and appear to be getting further away from being delivered with every week that passes - some odd law of physics reserved for shipping? And although we are making progress we haven't yet found our new rhythm for the week, working out together how we will juggle work, school and life.

So we still have lots of reconnecting and settling to do. As we do that here in London, Kenya has been much in all our thoughts. Last week's news reporting on the security situation has been part of that. We are all relieved to know our Nairobi friends are safe and unharmed. The kids also really clocked the focus on Mombasa. As you will know from previous blogs (and probably one too many photos of crystal seas and palm trees) we love the Kenyan beach. And Matthew had a school trip to Mombasa just a couple of months ago. So that bit of the news really hit home and sparked a bit of bed time anxiety. Tim and I were also saddened to hear last week that the lovely housekeeper at our favourite beach house died suddenly a fortnight ago from viral pneumonia. She had looked after us all only a few weeks earlier, always smiling, staying calm under pressure, keen to learn new dishes for future guests and talking happily about her fiancé and wedding plans. Life in Africa is really really tough.

But it isn't just the bad news that keeps Kenya in our minds. A few of our Nairobi friends and colleagues have been passing through London this week and we have had tea and cakes and beer and curry together to help cement our efforts to stay in touch. It has been lovely. Facebook and emailing helps with that too but isn't the same as a relaxed chat round the kitchen table.

And of course there are the little daily reminders that keep linking our home and away lives.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Samburu - the pictures

samburu '14
You are invited to view anne's album. This album has 42 files.

The pictures to go with my April blog

Sunday, 4 May 2014

All change - part 2

If our first half of April was on the beach, the second half was all about getting back to the UK. We had a few days in Nairobi to finish our packing, tie up loose ends at work and (the hardest bit) say our goodbyes. There was inevitably more to do than we wanted. And it took longer. And we didn't get to spend time with everyone we wanted to. But we saw the cats settled in their new home, had BBQ suppers, drank and were merry with friends every evening, paid all our bills and got the big stuff sorted before we left. We were all sad as the mini bus laden with us and our bags pulled out of our compound for the last time.

But as we drove away, locking the car doors and with a security escort to get us to the airport, one of the boys observed that for all our security in Nairobi (high wall, electric and barbed wire fence, grills on all the doors and windows, 24 hour guard, padlocks, a lockable safe keep area upstairs, alarms, panic buttons) he feels safer in London where we have none of that. And the recent news from Kenya with explosions in Mombasa and Nairobi and where a couple of near neighbours have been burgled over the last two weekends suggests he had a point. So whilst we are all really missing our Nairobi friends, there are some bits of living in Kenya that we are less sad to say goodbye to.

Landing home for spring has also helped soften our return. The sky was blue and sun was shining as we arrived back at our London home. Even the fact that we returned in shifts wasn't a major problem. There wasn't room in the cab that I hastily booked by the pool in Nairobi the day before for all of us and our bags - yes 200kg really is a lot of luggage, a point I thought I'd made when booking! So I followed by tube. Our first chunk of freight arrived an hour after that. And friends and neighbours appeared to offer tea, fizz, flowers and to catch up on news. We felt very welcome.

We took a break from unpacking and sorting and reconnecting with London to spend a lovely Easter in Sussex catching up with cousins, looking for chocolate eggs in the lanes and enjoying the bluebells and lambs.

Sussex at Easter
You are invited to view anne's album. This album has 7 files.

And then it was time to take our chocolate haul back to London and focus on school and work, spending time with friends and starting to find our new rhythm of family life. So far so good.