Friday, 16 November 2007

A very Special day :)

Today the girl child turned 18!

No longer a child and legally an adult - how time seems to have flown by! Seems not so long ago she was still that little blond, pigtailed girl climbing trees, riding her little shetland pony and singing loudly in the bath :)

Now I look at her and see a beautiful young woman - kind and brave, generous and strong. I see a talented artist, a wicked sense of humour and a strength of character that makes me very proud to be her mother.

Most of all, I see this wonderful person that is my daughter!

Happy Birthday :)

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Yes! I saw The Tortoise!

It turns out that a friend of mine , who is a wildlife warden, has The Tortoise living a safe and comfortable life at her house until further notice. So....I not only saw The Tortoise but the tiny skeleton too! :)

Shame, poor thing came to her with the skull (only, very disappointing!) of some medium sized animal GLUED to its back. It was swathed in feathers and other black magical items and was obviously sent as a very important 'final warning' indeed! She tells me this is actually the third tortoise to have been used in this manner (she has them all in her garden) and that they all look as if they have come from the very same witchdoctor/traditional healer and that it is unlikely that the case will be solved as the police are rather scared and would prefer for it all to just go away.

She has promised copies of the pictures she took when the tortoise arrived so, as soon as I get them I will post them here for you.

Isn't it exciting to know a 'celebrity' ?

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Another day in the life...

So much to do, so little time to get it all done so it seems! The Jayne family are moving yet again, and this time it's to the other side of the world - not just a little further north in Africa!

The final decision has been made - we are moving to the UK and expect to be gone by January. It's been a tough decision but, I really do believe, the right decision for us at this time in our lives. The girl child is ready to start a new phase in her education and this means an Art College in the UK. The two boys are already settled over there and this mother feels a need to be with her whole family now - there are no more Jayne family members left here in Africa, so time to move.

I will still keep in touch with the happenings in Zambia and I will continue to post about them but there will also be a whole new exciting phase of my life starting - in Eastbourne, UK! One part of me is excitedly looking forward to the change in direction, the other is clinging rather apprehensively to the old.

Whatever the future brings, you can be sure I will share it with you here - on my blog :)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A tale of a tortoise and a pigeon...

Ndola family in bizarre find

By Times Reporter

NDOLA residents were yesterday shocked when they found a tortoise carrying a tiny unidentified animal skeleton and a letter demanding payment of over K38 million from a local businessman. The tortoise was discovered by some people going for work around 06:00 hours outside the gate of 7 President Avenue and carrying a letter addressed to the occupant of the house. The workers then decided to inform the occupants of the house and later Ndola Central police station about the tortoise which kept on moving around outside the black gate. Copperbelt Province police chief, Anthoniel Mutentwa said police were keeping the tortoise as further investigations were still being carried out.

“The letter is meant for a local businessman Mumena Mushinge written in a foreign language. As at now all I can say is that we have made efforts to get in touch with Mr Mushinge but he is out of town,” he said. Mr Mutentwa said police would finally decide the fate of the tortoise and the unidentified tiny animal skeleton after completing their investigations.

The letter which was written in Swahili a native language of Tanzania reminded Mr Mushinge to pay back the K38,480,000 debt as promised. The author of the letter did not put his name but only left his phone number, a number believed to be serviced by Vodacom in Tanzania.

A Times crew that rushed to the house found the workers and police officers guarding the house. At Central Police Station, Ndola district police chief, Stella Libongani and her men had a tough time to disperse the crowd, which besieged the station wanting to have a glimpse of the tortoise from an unnamed businessman from Sumbawanga in Tanzania. Part of the crowd outside the police station starting chanting ‘‘we want to see the tortoise! We want to see the tortoise! Give us chance to see the tortoise!”

Beautiful Zambia!

Night falls over the mighty Zambezi.
Gentle lapping water on the river bank.
The sky in hues of orange and gold,
plays tribute to the night

Thursday, 1 November 2007

And here I am again....a beggin and a pleadin :)

Remember, remember to VOTE in November! Gunpowder, treason and plot!

Well maybe that's a bit strong but please carry on voting oh faithful friends - as of today, the new count starts and this humble (ever so humble!) little blog stands yet another chance of getting into the Top 10 - BUT only with your very much appreciated help.


Now wouldn't that be SO cool? :)

SO - CLICK HERE TO VOTE
or you can use the handy dandy link , top left on my sidebar :)
THANKS!

For every time..... there is a Season....

And in Zambia, it is the rainy season! Well almost! We have had a few thundery showers in October which is a little early but has been very pleasant and has settled the dust a little at least. Just hope it doesn't portend a bad season - last year we had an enormous amount of rain, with even a few rivers flooding. There were days when I wondered if we would ever see the sun again - it was way too much!

So here's to the start of a normal rainy season, green grass and lots of mud!


Friday, 26 October 2007

VOTE FOR ME! please?

This morning I got an email telling me that I ONLY need 45 more votes to get into the Top10 on my Bloginterviewer interview :)

So here I am, a PLEADIN' and a BEGGIN'!


Thursday, 25 October 2007

That'll teach me to open my big mouth!

Even green water would be welcome! Today they switched off the water AGAIN! This time we have been threatened with two water free days - my only hope is that when it comes back again it may not be green?

My squirrels have been very unreliable again too. We have had two power cuts this week so far - each lasting about three hours and always just as I'm cooking dinner and/or as our favourite TV show is about to start! Memo to self - remember to buy more candles tomorrow!!

Gemma the Great Dane decided last night to eat the watch man! Hubby's away so I suspect she thought it was a good idea to remind him that she was on the job - I think I can safely say that he is suitably impressed with this idea and is quite happy to leave her to it! Poor man nearly had a heart attack and, I must admit, she took me by surprise too!

Otherwise life trundles along - it is incredibly hot as we wait, gasping, for the rains to start. Too hot to be very energetic so life is very slow at the moment. Everyone is in a generally bad mood and the drivers on the road are even worse than usual.

Just a normal October in Zambia :)

Hey Happy Cat!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

At last......something to brag about!

I had actually forgotten about this and then today, an email arrived announcing that my interview with Bloginterviewer was posted!

YAY!!!!!!

Please go and have a look, and if you feel this humble blog deserves it, give a THUMBS UP vote! :)

Here's the link - just CLICK!
http://bloginterviewer.com/education/coffee-anyone-jayne

Thank you friend of the blog!
:)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Going Green....

Green is the colour of my water supply,
in the morning and at night.
When I bath, I wash my hands.
When I turn on the tap.

Green is the colour of the bubbles in my kettle,
in the morning and at night.
When I boil it, when I pour it,
Down the drain.

Green is the colour of my despair,
in the morning and at night.
Each day hoping, each day praying,
But still no respite!

The deaf leading the deaf?

My wonderful husband of 23 years is hard of hearing! There, now I've said it :) It's been a progressive deafness over the years and I don't mean to imply that he is DEAF, just that he finds certain sounds harder to hear than others. Sometimes it can be rather annoying to us all and sometimes I have been just that teensiest, weensiest bit suspicious that this deafness can be selective at times?

This weekend we had a house guest, a slightly more deaf friend who was celebrating his 70th birthday. You can imagine the frustrations of trying to talk to TWO deaf men! But, even in these moments of great irritation comes a lighter moment that puts it all into perspective - we were all sitting in the lounge watching the World Cup Rugby, at least they were, I was tapping away on the laptop, trying VERY hard to ignore the blaringly loud TV, when the following conversation suddenly came to my notice:

Hubby " he gets right up my nose!"
Friend " need an angle grinder!"
Confused pause.....
Friend " have to grind them down"
Hubby "grind what?"
Friend "my toenails, need to grind them - too tough for clippers!"
Hubby "where did that come from? seems a bit random?"
Friend "you asked why I didn't cut my toenails!"
Hubby "I was saying so and so got right up my nose!"
Friend "why didn't you say so?"

At this point I was virtually rolling on the floor in laughter. I've had these sort of conversations before but normally as a participant, I haven't really seen the humour in them - this was hysterical - lol

Definitely a case of the deaf leading the deaf!


Thursday, 4 October 2007

Domesticated Bliss?

Today I put on my domesticated housewife hat and got on with sewing that bedcover I've been promising myself I would do for some time now. Actually it was rather fun! It is a thing of beauty (well I think so at least - lol) and makes such a difference to my bedroom that I wish I had just got off my butt and done it ages ago :)

My goodness the weather has turned so hot here now that the butter is even melting in the fridge - I do not lie! I have turned the fridge up from 2 to 4 and we'll see if that helps! Thank goodness for the aircon fitted in the lounge last year, I really don't think I would survive without it. The rest of the house is like an oven - walk into the kitchen and it's like walking into a wall of hot air. I turned the COLD tap on in the bathroom and got very hot water - so hot that I had to snatch my hand from under the tap! Makes me wonder why we don't make more use of solar power here in Zambia?

Speaking of power - seems we are in the middle of a fuel shortage/crisis! Being that I didn't need to put diesel in my car until yesterday (and the fact that I live in a bubble!), I was unaware of the problem until then. Apparently we have been short on petrol for the past week but the diesel shortage only started yesterday. So I got to sit in a que, wedged between some VERY big trucks, for about 30 minutes in the blazing sun - I can only hope the shortage is of a temporary and fleeting nature and that things will be back to normal before I need to fill up again - sigh!

On the plus side - no electricity and/or water cuts so far this week! See, there IS a silver lining - lol

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

A Momentous Hour! :)

2001 visitors to my humble blog!

Thank you each and every one for taking the time to be interested in what I have to say and for joining me for coffee and a chat.

Love you all :)

Monday, 1 October 2007

Beauty is in the mouth of the eater!

In my 'surfing' today I found the most amazing 'watermelon art'! Seems some people have the interest and enthusiasm to spend hours carving the most amazing shapes and pictures into watermelons. They really were quite something to behold but I couldn't help feeling a certain sadness to think that this art would soon rot and decay or be eaten! Why not find a more permanent place to express such beauty and skill? A bit like ice sculpture - how sad to see someone's labours of love just melting away to nothingness.

Today was our 'ladies coffee morning'. I'm not terribly sure why we feel the need to give things titles? I mean all we do is meet every Monday morning, drink coffee and eat chocolate cake. We gossip and bemoan the state of the world, children and life in general and commiserate with one another. It does actually make us feel better to realise that we are not alone in our woes so I suppose it does serve its purpose - just not sure why we don't just meet for a chat? Today we got onto the subject of favourite TV chefs - interesting to discover how we all have different views on this nail biting subject! Voted the most popular? Definitely Nigela Lawson! Now THAT I find strange to say the least! :)

The saga of Eric and the biting dog continues! The neighbour did finally produce a rabies certificate for ONE of his five dogs - it lost validity at the end of August! So Eric has had the first two rabies shots (generously paid for by the dog owner) but no-one told him he still needed another three! So I will obviously have to continue to chase this up - sigh!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

A dog's tale....

This is something I just had to share - today my gardener came to me complaining that one of my neighbours dogs had bitten him on his way home last night! Now Eric (the gardener!) lives on my property and had been out at the local shabeen (illegal 'pub' round the corner!) so was quite possibly a little worse for wear but, never-the-less, he should be able to walk up a public road without being attacked by a dog that belongs to someone who makes no effort to keep them on his own property. In fact since the man has no front fence, these dogs have been a menace ever since I moved into this house. They chase cars up and down the road and I've often seen them chasing the local chooks in a sort of half hearted manner but I never thought they were biters! Apparently they have already bitten several people - none have gone to the police however because they don't want to be bad neighbours! The mind boggles!

Eric, however, is made of sterner stuff! He was very passionate this morning and had only come to tell me that he was off to the local police post to make a formal complaint. I was very encouraging - rabies is a very serious problem in Zambia and it was very important to find out if these dogs have at least been vaccinated. I felt the police were better equipped to deal with the matter than I. So off he went - only to return about half an hour later with a 'letter' from the police informing me that in order for Eric to make a report, he needed to pay K10,000 for the form!! This princely sum is only the equivalent of about $2.50 but I mean, really!

Despite my irritation and incredulity, I gave him the cash and sent him back. Half an hour later he was back - this time with a police report form and a letter to say that he now needed to go to the Clinic to get an official report on the wound - cost? K10,000! I shook my head in amazement, handed out another K10,000 and sent him on his way. Meanwhile time is passing - a possible rabid bite needs to be treated rather quickly by a series of injections, the first should be given within the first two days - and we still haven't even discovered whether the dog has been vaccinated yet!

About an hour later, my cell phone rings! Yes, it is Eric! The clinic have sent him to the General Hospital and he needs K30,000! (SCREAM!!!!!) I jump in the car and rush down there, pay the money and leave him in the LONG que to see a doctor.

He still isn't back. We still don't know whether the dog has been vaccinated or not. I am out of pocket now by K70,000 - a considerable sum of money for a simple gardener to have lying around on the off chance that a dog might bite him! No wonder no-one has reported these dogs to the police before!

Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous in your life?

Monday, 24 September 2007

Thunder & Lightening.........very, very frightening....

Good Grief - it is RAINING!

Now you may think this a very ordinary thing to do but NOT in Zambia at this time of the year! The seriously hot season (October, fondly known as suicide month!) has not even started although it has been very hot and still the past two days. The sky is black, I can hear thunder rolling overhead and the wind is blowing the palm trees in the garden all over the place. The rain bucketed down quite briefly but it was hard, serious rain and, judging from the wind, is still out there somewhere!

This is a BAD thing for the country! I fear it heralds either a drought or far too much rain for the season ahead. It just isn't NORMAL for the time of year and I can see no good coming of it.


Who said global warming is a myth?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

The peace that Sunday brings

What a peaceful day it's been!

No builders banging about next door, no TV blaring and no girl child's rocky music playing loudly from the bedroom. Time for a pleasant lie in followed by a leisurely shower and a full on breakfast with all the trimmings. Even the furballs refrained from yapping at every little noise today and that damn cat from next door stayed at home and left my poor little kitties alone.

Yes - all was peace and goodwill today :)

(I believe the cricket semi-finals are only on tomorrow!)

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Did you sign my Guest Book before?

Remember all those problems I was having with my Guest Book? Well I finally gave in and started a new one - it's down there at the bottom of the page. I would be so very, very grateful if you would take the time to sign the new one :)

Thank you so much!

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Road Ahead....

As she stood by the open door she could hear the hammering of the workmen next door. Somewhere down the road a dog was barking and she heard a child crying in the distance. She walked through the door and down the path, dishcloth in hand and sniffed the brisk air. When she came to the bus stop, she climbed on board and sat by the window gazing mindlessly out as the bus drove past the corner shop and carried on out of the village.

She didn't remember how long she sat on that bus. Eventually it came to a final stop and she climbed off. She looked around and saw a strange place, unfamiliar and different. Across the street she saw a small boarding house and, feeling in her pocket for her purse, she slowly walked across the road.

That night as she lay in the small hard bed, the realisation of what she had done came over her. Here she was, a stranger in a strange place with no money, no clothes and no family nagging and demanding her time. A smile slowly spread over her face - free at last! Free to choose her own path and to follow her own dreams. In the morning, she quietly thought, I must look for a job and buy some new clothes!

One more river..............

Just a little bit down, a little depressed,
Feeling blue and a little bit stressed.
The weekend came, the weekend went,
It was, on the whole, another non-event.
Mondy morning, not much to report,
No better today, not even a thought.
Smile bravely on, put feelings aside,
Fight that urge to just run and hide.
Pick up the clothes, cook one more meal,
Wash all those dishes, no time to feel.
Ain't life a bitch when you're feeling so blue,
And inside you're screaming but no-one hears you?

It just aint cricket chaps!

Would someone please tell me who the moron was that invented cricket? I'd really like to know so that I can at least aim my invectives in the right direction!

Tis the cricket season again and, to add insult to injury, it appears the rugby season is in full swing too! My normally pleasant and quiet life has been shattered by the intrusion of all day cricket commentaries (seriously guys the MOST boring of ALL commentaries!) and the cheerful (supposedly?) sound of screaming rugby fans!

One has to ask.....do I care a continental which team is playing, winning, loosing or simply falling asleep mid match? Do I give a damn what the weather is doing, how beautiful/dark the clouds are, how good/bad/wet/dry the pitch is or how many 'overs' are done/left or existed in the first place?

The only 'over' I'm interested in is...........

WHEN IT'S 'OVER'! :(

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Virtual African Safari = THE BIG FIVE

ELEPHANT

LION

CHEETAH

LEOPARD

BUFFALO

WELCOME TO MY BACK YARD!

These beautiful pictures brought to you courtesy of: http://www.wildlife-pictures-online.com

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time....

Mistress Purdee Tat -mountain lion - on the front verandah

This past two weeks have been an interesting time in my house. It would seem that the old adage of 'if it can go wrong, it will do' has been following me round with a determination wonderful to be seen!

It all started when the long overdue painters finally arrived to paint the interior of the house. Since I have been waiting for close on a YEAR for this event to happen I was thrilled to finally see them and welcomed them with open arms. The very next day the kitchen geyser blew its top (literally) spewing boiling water over anyone stupid enough to try getting in or out of the back door! The end result? Painters lugging stepladders, paint, dust and dirt through the front door and all down my white tiled hall floor!

As one week dragged into two and we all tried to keep holding our breath to survive the paint fumes, the aircon unit decided to blow it's connection to the main board - possibly due to the new and improved geyser of higher voltage and the fact that the electrician had linked to two to the SAME circuit breaker in the main distribution board! A few days later the new geyser stopped providing hot water and was replaced - again!

Then came week three and the painters started on the kitchen. Lots of shiny white enamel paint and my kitchen turned up-side-down. No problem they said, it'll only be two days - hah! Five days later and I still have wet paint - Mistress Purdee Tat decided to help last night and jumped on the newly painted wet edging (a lovely mossy green!) and then tiptoed green paint all over the kitchen and down the passage with me in hot pursuit - turps and cloth in hand!

This morning the council promised water cut offs to do some maintenance work on the main pipes. But I was organised this time after TWO unexpected days without water last week and sent husband out to make SURE that the tap to the water tank was turned off so that the water didn't ooze back into the main supply like last time. He shut the tap, turned on the pump and was rewarded by a gusher! Good grief - ANOTHER leak from the very same pipe the plumber fixed last month - and in the very same place too! Result? Wet angry husband at 6am and no water into the house (because he'd had to switch the pump off) to have a hot shower. Hey ho!

But it's all part of the fun of living in Zambia. I couldn't imagine life any other way!

Am I a SAD person or what??

(Oh and the painters PROMISE to start work in the lounge next week - again!)


Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Dem bones, dem bones got ta move about....

MEDtropolis - Virtual Body

Click on this link and have some fun :)

Milton Keynes' Mysteriously Moving Concrete Cows!

In all my many visits to Milton Keynes I had yet to see those famous concrete cows that are the town's trademark so to speak. This year I was determined to rectify that and so the search for the mysterious Milton Keynes concrete cows commenced!

Apparently, due to the activities of vandals, the cows are moved from one secret location to another on a regular basis and it was pure luck that the First Born had recalled seeing them grazing quietly in an open field on his way home from work earlier in the week. So off we headed, peering expectantly out of the car window in anticipation. I'm not sure what I expected to see but, to be perfectly honest, it wasn't this!

So here you are......... I present to you those most famous of Concrete Cows! They are not very big, they are decidedly un-cow like and they have red spray paint all over them. I believe they were designed and made by a REAL artist! Hard to believe - but true!

I'll be interested to hear your comments? :)

Sunday, 2 September 2007

All painted out !

The new blog is looking fantastic - do hope you've managed to find the time to admire the decor :)

Surely a coincidence that I've also been painting the house at the same time? We're into week two and I am getting pretty fed up with tripping over tins of paint, ladders and painters every day. They are doing a sterling job but I really am tired of camping in my own home and choking on paint fumes! Some dang fool decided to do a rough plaster finish throughout the house so painting each room has turned into a marathon task and we have used nearly three times the normal amount of paint! Might have been faster to just re-plaster :(

I have a sick husband! I thought this was worthy of mention as I'm sure all you ladies out there have 'experience' of coping with a sick husband in the house? Poor man has caught the most nasty bout of flu and is incapable of walking from the chair in front of the TV to the kitchen and back. He can't manage to eat the beef stew cooked but has a yen for chicken soup and endless cups of tea - served, of course, by an adoring wife at regular intervals! Wouldn't mind quite so much running back and forth if I could be sure that I will get the same treatment when I go down with said bout of flu - however, I am nothing if not a realist!!!

Hey ho - Tuesday sees the return of the girl child to school to continue her education! I am devastated! I had fondly thought I might get a break from early morning nagging and pleading, afternoon fetching and carrying and all those general school time blues! She has decided that she is NOT ready to step out into the big world and go to college in the UK so she has decided to carry on a further year at this dread institution and do her 'A' level Art. I'm sure she's right in her decision but it is still a blow I'm afraid. Her school career so far has not been a particularly happy one for either of us :)

So - watch this space for my nervous breakdown! - LOL

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Popping in for a moment :)

Just popping in to tell you about my latest obsession! I am part of a new venture - a new Blog called the Roaring Forties. Tis a colaboration between a few of us 'over 40's' and we've all been hard at work setting it up and getting started.

So please come on over and check it out - we are rather proud of it :) There is a link down below - we are just a click away!

Not to worry - I will not be neglecting the Coffee Shop! I shall be right back once we've finished painting the new place.

See you there!

The Roaring Forties

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Woe is me......


I am undone!

Seems that when I found this wonderful little visitors book site - I neglected to read the directions properly? After filling in all the bits and bobs and cheerfully pushing the 'DONE' button, I discovered that it had posted in the main blog area of my Blog!

What to do? I don't want to delete it and start again and loose the valued visitors that have already signed it. Besides it looks quite nice tucked in there - very comfy and easy to access! Any one got an idea or two to make it permanent without loosing its developing character?

HELP!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

And just one more ponder before bed :)

I was just looking at my little site map on the right - amazing to see all those little red dots all over the world and to think that people from all sorts of strange and exotic places are reading MY blog!

What can I say but THANK YOU? :)

Hope you all enjoy my slightly off centre views of life in Zambia - I have great fun bringing them to you and promise to really get back on track now that my holiday malaise is over.

More coffee anyone?

Oh and I forgot to mention......

With all these ponderings on the weather and the winds of change - I decided it was time for my blog to get a 'face lift'!

Hope you like it - I'm still pondering it! Let you know when I've decided :)

The Winds of Change....

As I drove down the road today battling my way through the gusts of wind that flung leaves and dust at my car, it made me think of the changing seasons and the fact that we are coming into the 'oh god, is it EVER going to rain?' phase of the year again already! It hardly seems any time ago that I was waiting and gasping for a good down pour and asking everyone to do a rain dance for me! Then came the rains, the mud and a desperate longing for it all to stop and for the sun to come out again.

I have to wonder if we are ever happy with the weather? It's either too hot or too cold. It's raining too much or not enough... sun in or sun out? And I began to wonder - is there a perfect place on the earth where the weather is always just right? And if this magical place existed - would we still find SOMETHING to complain about?

Just thinking! :)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

What makes Zambian drivers so BAD!

Today I had a serious sense of humour failure - you could even refer to it as a dose of road rage I suppose!

Now I am a reasonable person and a considerate road user. I value my car, my life and the life of other road users so it makes me so MAD when I have to deal with road hogs and idiots every time I leave my driveway and venture forth into the madness that is called 'Driving in Zambia'! Today was a classic example of the selfish, thoughtless and inconsiderate behaviour of Mr Johnny Average on the Zambian roads that sent my blood pressure through the roof with my anger reaching about 8 on the Richter scale.

Coming back into Ndola (on the main through road) after a pleasant morning spent at the stables, the girl child and I were brought to a sudden and grinding halt at the small intersection entering the main road by the service station by a mini bus taxi pulling halfway across the road with a squealing of tyres and a smoking of brakes to stop and block the traffic to allow a procession of vehicles proceeding to the cemetery access. Although extremely annoying this is fairly normal practise in Zambia and while letting forth a few expletives, I came to a resigned halt to wait for the road to clear. A long que soon built up behind us and as the last car turned into the road and I began to move forward slowly, low and behold - another car pulled around on my left (we drive on the LEFT in Zambia!) and started to overtake by pushing past me and trying to force me to stop and let him through! Unfortunately the mini bus was still blocking half the road and I really had nowhere to go but straight or hit either the car illegally on my left or the min bus illegally stopped in the middle of the road!

I'm afraid I lost it completely. I swore like a trouper, I put my hand on the hooter and I continued to drive straight ahead forcing the car off the road and giving the mini bus driver more to think about than he had bargained for! For a moment I imagined I was driving a bulldozer and visions of pushing them all out of my way floated across my mind as the girl child shouted 'Mum!' in surprise and horror and the mini bus driver revved and wheelied forward. I have no idea what the car driver did as I watched him swerve to the side and almost fall into the ditch - a feeling of pure hatred raging through me!

What a wonderful feeling of triumph surged through me! Hah - take that you bastards! Don't MESS with ME you swine! The feeling lasted but a few moments before I came to my senses and thought about the possible outcome of my loss of control could have been. Road rage is a terrible thing to experience and, no matter what the provocation, is NEVER the answer.

So I am sorry I lost it but.... why can't drivers on the road just take a little time to think about other road users? Why do they assume that their needs on the road are greater than everyone elses? And why, oh why, does the licencing department give these morons licences without even the pretence of undertaking a driving test?

Friday, 3 August 2007

Our Scottish Adventure!

A rather tame crossing over the border - this is the only
sign that you are leaving England to start on
your adventure into the unknown!
Be there Dragons?

Real Scottish heather!

Perth

Leaving Perth - next stop Edinburgh

HELP!

Edinburgh Castle - in passing!

Part of our Quest for Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle - in passing again!

Beautiful building seen during
our Quest - no idea!


The cable car at Ben Nevis - from the top!

Going UP!

One of many fantastic views from
the train window

and another!

Mallaig harbour

Harry Potters Bridge!

First station stop on the line

View along the crest of the mountain ridge
south bank Lock Ness


A Scottish Kirk!

Just one of the many beautiful gardens
overflowing with flowers that we saw


One of the many delightful little villages
encountered along the way


Our Hotel - The Old Pines
View from the Dining Room

A view from the top of a mountain road


Lord of the Isles - The Jacobite Steam Engine

The main tearoom in Mallaig



Just one view in Inverness

Canal boat on the Loch Ness

Another view of part of Loch Ness


Once a year, come rain or shine, the great pilgrimage to the land of our forefathers takes place. It is a time of great planning with many decisions to be made as to which new part of the United Kingdom we will visit each year. The main purpose of this annual pilgrimage is to see the first born and middle sons - the first couple of weeks always being spent, therefore, in the surprisingly comfortable if rather modern town of Milton Keynes.

This year it was decided to visit Scotland. Not just 'tame' Scotland but the wild and untamed (sort of!) Scottish Highlands of Robert the Bruce and Bonnie Prince Charlie fame. A trip which was also to fulfill a long held dream of mine to go Nessie hunting along the banks of that most famous of all Scotland's lochs - Loch Ness! So having packed the girl child off to Rome with her brother and a few friends, the husband and I hired a car and set off to drive the 350 odd miles to a delightful little town called Spean Bridge - right in the heart of the Highlands and overlooked by the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

Leaving Milton Keynes at the crack of dawn, we took the M6 North as far as Glasgow before heading off along the 'scenic' route to Fort William and thence to Spean Bridge. Glasgow caused a bit of a problem as the navsat my oldest and most diligent son had set up for us decided that Glasgow was even more than it could handle and went into a major sulk just when we needed it most! After being told to 'cross the (non-existent) roundabout and take the third exit' one too many times, the husband had a complete sense of humour failure and ripped it from its moorings, to be stuffed in the glove box and not to see the light of day again until returned to its rightful owner!

I was handed a map (the BIGGEST I have ever seen!) and told to take over navigation - a very dangerous thing to do as I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever which was well proved when I managed, in some way I still do not understand, to send us backwards over a very large bridge and off to the airport! A simple 'You'll have to turn around dear and go back the other way' was met with a few very choice words as the simplicity of my suggestion turned into the reality of actually trying to turn around on a four lane highway and to find the right exit to the bridge to be under repair and closed with a diversion which seemed to take us all around Glasgow! Thankfully good relations were quickly restored as the beauty of the route took over and the road became less well traveled.

As you slowly climb further and further up into the mountains and the air gets fresher and sharper, a sense of the vast isolation of the place begins to creep over you. The mountains are enormous with only a few little cottages standing in the big open valleys below. Each bend in the road brings yet another amazing vista that just has to be photographed! Progress, while steady, was slow! Finally, you come down into a valley and drive along the very edge of an enormous stretch of water, the steep sides of the mountains falling into the deep water. As you wind your way along the edge of a loch, the sudden appearance of the brightly flowered garden of a little stone cottage nestling amongst some trees comes as a bit of a surprise before being lost again as you travel around another bend. Finally you drive into the coastal port of Fort William, a strange mixture of old and new - one of the first things to strike my eye being a large and ugly Macdonalds! Although still bearing the name 'Fort William', the fort itself no longer exists having been bulldozed just after the 2nd World War to make place for expansion and housing. A silly thing to have done and much resented by most of the Scotsmen that I chatted with!

Spean Bridge is only 7 miles further up the road. We stayed in a delightful little hotel called The Old Pines - it gave the impression of a rather sophisticated log cabin! Our room was spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated with a superb little bathroom and with a wonderful shower pressure of steaming hot water. A delight in every way! We were welcomed with offers of tea or coffee and freshly baked scones with homemade raspberry jam and clotted cream - absolutely delicious. Although being small, it was extremely comfortable in every way - the owner making every effort to make you feel very welcome.

Our first outing of the trip was a day's excursion on the Jacobite Steam Railway which runs from Fort William to Mallaig and back every day, a trip of some 80 miles of the most amazing vistas I've ever seen. One of its major advertising blurbs informs you that the tracks run over the bridge used in the Harry Potter movies - a rather disappointing concrete edifice that must have been well air-brushed for the movies we decided! Otherwise a charming experience as our 'little engine' puffed its way up and down the hills with a merry toot at the road crossings to finally draw into Mallaig Station - gateway to the Isle of Skye amongst others. From this small fishing village you can catch the Caledonian Ferry to the Isle which, I believe, is well worth a visit. Mallaig itself mainly consists of little tourist traps in the form of curio shops and cafe's - our excursion only allowed time for a bite of lunch and a little shopping before hopping back onto the train for the return trip. The railway itself is run by a few steam enthusiasts who sell maps and other mementos and raffle off a couple of bottles of good Scotch whisky on the train - all proceeds going towards running expenses. It was a pleasant and fun way to see the countryside - I've always had a soft spot for the old 'puffing billy'!

With a couple of hours to spare between dinner and our train trip, my hubby persuaded me to venture forth up the mountains on the Ben Nevis cable car. Being rather fearful of high places I had my doubts about the wisdom of this but it was well worth it. The cable car doesn't actually run up Ben Nevis itself but goes about two thirds of the way up the neighbouring mountain from where you can get some pretty stunning views below and look at the patches of snow still on Ben Nevis' peaks. I was astonished to see mountain bikes for hire - apparently some people actually take their bikes up in the cable car and RIDE them down! The rough path down is very steep and winding and full of rocks - I just can't imagine anyone being that daft! Sadly there was no-one on the way down whilst we were there but the lady in the curio shop (yes, even at the top of a mountain) assured me that people do this all the time. Bizarre!

The following day was put aside for a session of 'Nessie Spotting' as we planned a day trip along the south bank to Inverness, returning along the much more popular north bank and stopping in to see Urquart Castle (or its remains at least!). The drive along the south bank took us high into the mountains to start with - absolutely amazing views and not even a sheep in sight - then down to the loch's edge to drive along a tunnel of trees with views across the loch suddenly appearing between the trees when least expected. There was definitely an eerie feeling as we drove along a nearly deserted road under a canopy of green - if Nessie was anywhere about, I'm sure this was the place! Maybe looking back at me as I peered through the trees looking for her? All too soon we reached Inverness and, regrettably, the hoards of tourists that flock to Loch Ness every year. I was glad that we had followed our booking agents advice to go along the south bank which seems to be far less appealing to your average tourist than the much more developed north bank.

Inverness is a pretty little town with beautiful old buildings and and well kept flower gardens and was a pleasure to drive through. We decided to stop for lunch at a largish hotel overlooking the loch just outside the town. After lunch and a spot of souvenir shopping at the rather expensive shop in the lobby, we moved on to Urquart Castle - a fascinating look into the past and another chance to spend money! A bit further up the road we came across a 'Nessie Information Centre' and couldn't resist checking it out. It was great fun - it had been set up as a sort of 'interactive' walk through which we thought was rather clever and would be very appealing to children in particular. They showed videos and explained in fair detail the past sightings and hunts for the 'Monster' and gave various facts and figures - all very interesting stuff.

After a leisurely breakfast the following day, it was time to head back to Milton Keynes. We decided to take a different route via Edinburgh to catch up with the M1 South - in theory giving us a clear run all the way back. It was a lovely scenic drive down through the mountains into the lower, more gentle 'hills' below. Our route took us through Perth (the original!), very pretty and easy to negotiate, and then on to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh - amazing place and much bigger than I expected! It was here that even the hubby's directional skills (normally considerable I might add!) came completely unstuck! The place was hopping with humanity, cars and buses and we drove round and round in square circles trying to find access to the mighty Edinburgh Castle. As you can see from my pictures, we were only mildly successful - those were taken as we kept trundling down wrong turns and one way streets in a desperate attempt as tempers rose with the temperature in the car! After wasting a considerable amount of time we decided to get the hell out of the place and then spent even more time trying to do that too! I'm afraid my impressions of what is in reality a very beautiful city were rather marred by this frustrating experience.

Then it was back on the road, time now pressing after all the craziness in Edinburgh, for a pleasant but rushed drive down the coastline and back, eventually, across the border into England and a long, weary trip on an overcrowded motorway to Milton Keynes.

I loved the wildness and vastness of the Scottish Highlands. I loved the fresh air and the cleanliness of the country and I hope one day to return to do some more exploring!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Just a small taste of the Splendour that is Scotland!

I just wanted to show you a little of the grandiosity that is the Scottish Highlands to wet your appetites! I'm afraid I have so much 'catch up' work to do before I can spare the time to fully show you this amazing and glorious place - and I really do want to do our Scottish holiday full justice - so I will be back with more, I promise!

Until then - enjoy the beauty in this wild and untamed place.

Monday, 16 July 2007

See what happens when you go away - I've been tagged!

Not once, but twice!
So here goes :)

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.


2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

**********************************************************

1. I am a woman of all trades yet master of none.

2. I have a bizarre sense of humour.

3. I love all critters, including teenagers!

4. I'm not so fond of humanity however.

5. I love my pick-up truck.

6. I hate bigotry, double standards and loud drunks.

7. I love my BLOG :)

8. I am the coolest Mum in Ndola - hah!


And I am now TAGGING another eight people - will be back in a moment when I've found some that haven't been tagged already!

BRB :)

OK - I have returned! Tagging Alan, Deirdre, Jadey, Keith H, CD, Stephen, Kizzy and Erik


Saturday, 14 July 2007

And here we are in sunny ole England.....

At last - a spare moment to pop in and enjoy a quick cuppa with you all :)

Well we made it! The sun is shining, the airport was no more traumatic than usual, they didn't loose my suitcase and........ the shopping has commenced! So far the girl child and I have been fairly conservative in our shopping - only one trip to the enormous tack shop nearby so far! Today I did my stagger around the City Centre and Market pre-shop. I shall return on Monday for a PROPER shopping spree now that I have an idea of what I am looking for and what is available!

So stayed tuned in - I hope to get out there with the camera and try and get some 'snaps' and there is still my Scottish trip to come. I am really looking forward to that having never travelled that far North before.

Anyone out there for a coffee?

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

And we are back!

The girl child and Elvis doing their last training session
before we set off for the Lusaka Derby.

Well, despite all the drama, we made it to the show and back! The horses were loaded and on the road by 7am and they arrived in fit and healthy state some six hours later. It was a LONG and tedious trip but fairly uneventful, with only a short hold up at one road block where a rather officious police officer insisted on making us pay a 'live animal levy' - apparently something to do with taking livestock to the slaughter house! Despite our protestations that we had no intention of slaughtering our horses (at least not until AFTER the show, depending on their performance! lol) we still ended up paying so that we could get moving again. Sometimes here in Zambia it is just easier to comply!

Although not a particularly good show for the girl child, we still had fun. Unfortunately not riding your horse for six months tends to reflect on your performance in the ring, Elvis was rather piggy and took full advantage of the girl child's unfit state to mess around, getting the pair of them eliminated several times! All good experience never-the-less, and they did manage one clear round on the last day. Hopefully the next show will be better!

The car made it all the way there and back and can now go back to the garage to see if they can figure out how to get the central locking working again - it was a pain having to remember to check each door every time I locked it! Hopefully they won't break anything else in the process but that remains to be seen!

So now I have just one day left to sort out my packing for our holiday to the UK - just in time for a security lock down on all UK airports after the shocking car bomb incident at the Glasgow airport. No doubt this will cause endless delays at the other end but I'm beyond worrying. Just hope they don't loose my suitcase again!

So my next update will after I arrive in England - hello shopping spree! What better way to spend your time in a country that seems to be having the worst bout of rains and floods in years? We were planning to hire a car, maybe a boat would be a better investment?

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

And it didn't get any better today!

OK, so I figured things had to get better today - hah!

To be honest the day did start with promise, the girl child got out of bed on only the 2nd banging on the door and we did manage to get on the road to the stables before 8:30. The jumping lesson went well with Elvis making a supreme effort to concentrate and behave. The hubby phoned to say my car was repaired and ready to run and it was smiles all round.

Then I collected my car and discovered that now the central locking wasn't working - no problem, I can live without it for a few days! By the time I got the car home there was a mighty rattling and clunking coming from 'somewhere'! So it was back to the workshop, where they tightened everything they should have tightened the first time!

Then I got the phone call to say that the horse truck we are HIRING to move our horses had been double booked and so now would we mind loading our horses at 3am, in the dark and travel them 400kms on some of the most dangerous roads so that the other party wouldn't be inconvenienced! I shall not print my reply - it really is just too rude! I mean, really, do I CARE about the sensitivities of the 'other party'? I don't think so! So we have compromised on a 5:30am start, which means I shall have to be up and on the road to the stables at 4:30am!

And now I am sitting here typing this when I should be packing and sorting but I am just so fed up I don't know where to start! I think I may just go and soak in the bath!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Just another day in the life.....

Ever get that feeling that your life is just falling apart around you? This last week has been particularly challenging, what with the horse show coming up this weekend and our holiday starting the following week. So much to do and so much to go wrong!

It all started last November when I mistakenly left my horse trailer in the hubby's company workshop for 'repairs and maintenance' - to be ready in time for the start of the show season. Now in fact! It didn't need a lot doing to it - new tyres, the rims and hubs cleaning up and a few new studs fitting, a new piece of glass for the front window and a chain welded across the one back stall due to theft of the original! And here I am, the show is upon me and my trailer is still not ready. To top that off my car, which went in for a service, has developed several other interesting defects whilst in their care. It is now suffering from a burnt out alternator which is going to either cost US$2000 (YES, I did type that right!) from the dealer or $350 from the 'copy cat' little shop but will not be available until the day after I am supposed to be at the show, some 400km away!

Meanwhile the girl child has contracted an extremely painful ear infection and there is a desperate shortage of diesel in the country.

In the midst of all this chaos I am also trying to get organised for our annual trip to the UK, flying out the day after we get back from the show! There are re-entry visas to organise and travel insurance as well as packing, dog and cat food sufficient for a month and a multitude of small but irritating details to deal with.

I really must be mad and if I'm not now, I certainly will be by the end of next week!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

The World's Biggest Dog!

This is Hercules, officially the biggest dog in the world, the Guinness Book of Records has him down as weighing a massive 282 pounds with a 38 inch collar size! Believe it or not, he is a standard bred English Mastiff and his owner claims that he was never fed any special food, just normal doggy chow. Imagine meeting that when you knock at someone's door? All I can say is............... WOW!