Thursday, 21 August 2008

Gandalady goes a bit scary.

Snake dead.
K's bum cured (partially).
England tomorrow.
Switzerland in one week's time.

If that all sounds very focussed, it's because all day I have been VERY. FOCUSSED. on packing. So focussed that I can't really string a sentence together.

See you in two weeks.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Get me a stiff drink NOW

There is a snake on my property.

We've not met him in person, 'Mr Snake' (for I'm trying to pretend I am not screaming inside for the sake of the children), but we know where he lives - in a hole in the garage floor. He made us aware of his presence by leaving some of his skin behind. Sweet! If it weren't for Eva's beady eyes, I'd still be thinking it was a bit of plastic.

Rigid with fear, I called my mate K to tell her the momentous news. "Oh, it's probably only a mamba," she drawled dismissively. She didn't know you don't say things like only a mamba to someone as snakephobic as me. You say 'only a really large worm', the kind that sheds its skin, etc etc. "They don't attack anyone," she continued reassuringly. "It's the cobras you need to watch out for. They killed a 5 foot one outside my classroom the other day." Yay, cobras too.
Anyway, I thought mambas - the green, deadly poisonous ones - were aggressive snakes, that did attack. I also thought they lived in trees. Why the heck did it think it would be more comfortable in my garage/utility room? Damn snake.

Still, despite the icy cold terror gripping my heart (E keeps telling me it's fine, it's daylight, Mr Snake is sleeping), I don't like much the idea of killing him. I will never be a vegetarian, am pretty unsentimental about animals generally (K has some cute black Lab puppies that she is desperate for me to take and every week I say 'no'), but suffocating old snakey with parrafin seems pretty rough. But then one snake into a house full of toddlers doesn't go.

I've done the only acceptable thing in the circumstances and made it someone else's problem. The pest people come at 3.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

What I did on my summer holidays

Days 1-3 we went to the spectacular Mihingo Lodge , in Lake Mburo national park. Luxury safari tents with thatched rooves overlooking savannah as far as the eye can see. Even the loo has a full-length window, as the only other prying eyes will be antelope or if you're really lucky, leopards. (Hooneymooners take note: the most romantic place I've been in my entire life. Less romantic with small people in tow.) Gandaman got scared by a buffalo snorting at him on his after-dark walk, Gandagrandad had a close encounter with a crocodile, all of which added to the excitement.
5 stars.

Days 4-5 expectations dramatically curtailed with visit to here , which Gandagranny noted would be a good place to committ suicide. Dark, damp and gloomy, yellow water issuing from the taps, threadbare bedcovers - all at a trigger-pulling 200 bucks a night. After an hour waiting for our sad, tiny sandwiches to arrive, I got on my mobile to the smart place up the road to see if they had any cancellations. But when the manager got wind of our chagrin, the charm offensive he mounted was so effective - drinks bought, little sweets left on the threadbare bedcovers - we caved. The Gandagrandparents took it all in their stride. Throughout the holiday, as long as the Scrabble was close at hand they were pretty happy. On a more sinister note, our friends called us later to warn us not to pay by VISA at Malaria Lodge as this is where they'd had their identities stolen. So people, resist the urge.
No stars.

Days 5-9 a very welcome upturn in the shape of Ndali lodge. Built on a breathtakingly beautiful ridge between two crater lakes. Took some much-needed, child-free long walks. Visited the brilliant, v inspiring vanilla farm. Developed a nightly gin and tonic habit. Spent many hours in the swimming pool with Emma and Gloria. (E and G in fact would have happily spent the entire trip in a concrete bunker, as long as there was a swimming pool.)
4 and a half stars.

We had some pretty good animal spotting. Antelope (impala, topi, bush buck, water buck, but no eland.) Elephants (hard to miss and therefore always a winner with toddlers.) Hippos and crocs we have already mentioned. Hyenas, a personal favourite, and worth the 5.30 start. Lions, cool, but quite far away. Any attempted photos would have just shown grass. No leopards, though and everyone knows they are the coolest of all. Lots of lovely birds: I have a soft spot for Mr Blingin' here.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

To my mum and dad, with love xx

John: Hellowsy!

Angela: Hellowsy!

John: How is your good self?

Angela: Grand!

John: We're eating AFRICAN FOOD! This yellow stuff is called matoekey!

Angela: What?

John: MA-TOE-KEEEYY! It is like a LARGE BA-NAAA-NA! (dramatic pause) I say, did this chicken die of malnutrition?

Angela: What?

John: I think this chicken died of MAL-NUU-TRITION!!!

(much falling about with laughter from J and A)

Angela: I like the baked beans. Very tasty!

John: I say, Rob, will you order me a beer? Most kind.

(beer arrives. appreciative glugging.)

John: This Friday your mother and I will have been married forty-six years!! (looks at A.) Your good health, pet!

Angela: Your good health!

Back from safari

Hello again! I've just been on safari with my parents. It was a blast. Full disclosure in the pipeline, but after 10 days of bumpy roads and stalking big game, I need a shower to wash the tonne of dust off my person.

Gandaman and Gandagranny went chimp trekking and look what they saw!

The next day, they saw the whole family: