Alan comes and joins me and we sit together, not saying much, there is no need (thats not true all the time, I can talk the hind legs off a donkey if I have something I need to say, but Alan has taught me over the years to appreciate no talk, silence, listen) it is not rude not to talk just because you don’t have anything to say, instead of small talk for the sake of making a noise
Sitting on my chair lapping up the birth of the new day I, out of the blue thought, skies clear, can I see my beautiful lady too - Mt. Kenya. Shifting round in my chair a bit and oh WOW - my girl is almost totally clear, just the tip of her head under cover and a dawn sky behind her, I have never seen her like this - what an incredible moment and a smile as big as any you ever see on my face.
Mt. Kenya at dawn
Eighteen months ago my best friend took her life, and to date I have not shed a tear for her, not let her leave my heart. She was my next door neighbours daughter when we lived in Nanyuki, she 12 when I met her and I was 24. Alan has always loved German Shepherds as do I, the only proper dog in my book :) When we moved to Nanyuki (I was a British Citizen so could not work without a work permit) I pottered around filling my days with this and that. On the jungle grapevine I heard there was a lady who bred German Shepherds, oh how I would love to be able to buy one for Alan - but I have no money. What can I do? Well, one way was to put Alan on a diet, buy less food this way and save the housekeeping money. OK, I hear you say, his money is your money and it is but not really. This way it was money I was responsible for and if I could work a plan then in my eye it was my money, so the gift to Alan was from me not from himself. I went down to visit Peggy to find out how much a pedigree GSD was - oh dear, not possible. Then another thought, these are show dogs, breeders sell the runt of the litter which is no good for breeding or showing at a discount. I put the idea to Peggy, yes possible, but still to costly. Now we had a VHR recorder and there were not videos to hire in Nanyuki so I added that into the price, worked out a hire purchase agreement over several months and purchased Leichims Gemini, a long hair GSD runt of the litter - job done. I took this adorable ball of fluff home as a surprise for Alan and not one regret, she was the most beautiful girl is every way. We called her Mimi for short and those of you who know me in the crafty world now know the first reason I am called this, (the second is a became a grandmother almost 4 years ago and refused to used Granny, Grandma, Grandmother, Nana or any other name that made in instantly feel old - my body may be ageing but my head is stuck at around 24 - I searched the net for trendy granny names and found Mimi - yes that would be perfect lol). Mimi turned out to to be a long haired GSD complete with undercoat and I ventured into the dog showing stage of my life with Elizabeth who showed her mother’s dogs. Elizabeth, who I named Ewock and I started our journey through life at this point, I called her my little sister. Our journey is not one to tell here, but I will say she is the best friend I have ever had, a beautiful soul, an inspiration to me At the age of 17 she came to the UK and ended up staying, we were and still in my heart are, best friends, always will be, I carry her in my heart. Seeing Mt. Kenya this morning, at this moment in time, I finally said Au-Wiedersehen to my Ewock - not goodbye, we will meet again, someplace, sometime.
A blast from the past photo - I am the one bending down cuddling the GSD. This was the first dog show Mimi and I attended and we won Best Puppy in Show and something else because at the end of the day I had two silver cups. I was heartbreaking leaving Kenya and having to find homes for Mimi and her sidekick Dallas our Jack Russell plus the other animals we had as there was no way we could take them to the UK, the cost of air fairs and six months quarantine made this just something that had to be faced. Parting with pets this way - not a nice feeling at all, talk about betraying a friendship, breaking a trust - that is what it felt like to me and the guilt I carried for so many years afterwards. Nothing I could do about it, out of my control but that did not make it any easier.
Mimi and Jane at the GSD Dog Show in Nairobi (1983)
A quick breakfast and time to depart. Mo has to return to Nairobi today to do some work but Alan, Pete and I are off to the Masai Mara. The thought of a drive of about 14 hours is not very appealing and one change I am seeing in Kenya is the amount of small planes being used for scheduled flights between all the parks etc. Pete tells me his son and daughter in law who live in Nanyuki take the plane to Nairobi to go shopping and then back - one hour each way. I used to battle with the thought of shopping, a two and a half hour drive each way on roads full of potholes, fighting to find parking places, do shopping then return home, a hard day out and not one I ever relished but did once every couple of months or so. So, instead of a 14 hour drive to get to where we are going it is one hour and 10 minutes as the crow flies, so much easier. Apparently we have another flight to take after this one but it is only a 5 minute one. Such oddness!!!!!
You have to have a chuckle at some of the things you see in life.
Gazing out the window of the aeroplane I am horrified at what I am seeing, the destruction, the raping of the land is enough to rip your heart out. Here we have the Mara River
A little tired of seeing the raped landscape in the name of progress I divert my eyes to the pilot and co-pilot and nearly burst out laughing - one looked asleep the other resting and plane flying itself. The folks in front of me looked rather uneasy but I wonder, don’t all pilots do this (so long as the plane is equipped with auto-pilot), they just can’t be seen because of the locked door that separates them from us the passengers.
A couple of aerial shots, this is Lake - oh heck, don’t know the name but it is close to Lake Nakuru
And here we have Lake Nakuru, where all the flamingo are but I can’t see them from here.
When we left Kenya there was so much forest and I am horrified at what I am seeing from the air, the rape and destruction of the land in the name of progress is frightening. Don’t people realise what they are doing, are they so short sighted, please don’t tell me it is just greed!!
This is what large areas of Kenya were like 30 years ago
And now (these two photos were taken less than one minute apart but show you how the land is being turned into little farms, what we call shambas, just everywhere).
Finally at our destination, and yes there was a second flight that took approximately 6 minutes, a hop, a skip and a jump to the airfield we were scheduled to land at. Our car is waiting for us and a new guide, William will be with us while here. Pete knows William well, he has eyes like a hawk and knows how to read the landscape - exciting times.
5 minutes away from the airstrip, a lioness chomping away on an ostrich, an first for me, I have not see lion at the kill before.
Just round the corner from the lion was a herd of Topi - we commonly call the bruise bums :)
Ahhhhh - and the baby
When I first came to Kenya, Mum and I decide to go with our driver to the Equator - a fun thing to do. Alas John, our driver did not really know the way, we drove and drove. What seemed many hours later, along a murrum (red mud) road there was a big antelope (no idea what most of the animals were then as in West Africa where I originate from anything that moved was eaten haha). This big antelope turned out to be an Eland and he/she, from a standing position, jumped a fence that was about 8 foot high - wow, we were in awe. Here is my Eland today.
While in Lewa when we first arrived and on our first game drive we almost ran over a Serval Cat, it literally was 3 feet from the wheel of the car, hidden in the grass. Serval cats are not easy to see, such shy beauties of nature. Pete took off hunting for the secretive pussy but in the long grass it was impossible. After about 20 minutes of hopeful searching we gave up. Today, in the distance, William our Masai scout who has eyes like a hawk, saw something. There was discussion, quite a serious one between Pete and William as to which way to go, Pete had seen something else
. When William mentioned Serval there was only one option - go for it. Not expecting to see more than a flash, imagine our amazement when this stunning, shy, beautiful creature just sat there. We turned off the engine so he could settle and after about 10 minutes of us being very quiet we disappeared into the environment, the Serval had accepted us as part of the landscape and no threat. We stayed with him for about an hour and a half while he guarded a hole which must have had something to eat in it. This is a very special moment, a privilege to be accepted, another WOW memory.
Male Serval Cat
Don’t believe my smile - if you are a rodent I will eat you without a second thought :)
As the sun shone for one last time I managed to capture the Serval in the most beautiful light - no editing to this picture at all, this is what I saw
Time to leave the Serval to his mission and head back to camp. The sun is going to bed and we must shower, have dinner and then hit the sack. I am sure Pete has been sending out SMS messages to all the animals, in reality though we have very good guides and Pete who not only knows this world like the back of his hand but is so in tune with nature - his respect and calmness with the animals shines and I think the animals can sense we are no threat.
A pride of lions are camping the night not from from us today, they have had their dinner and with bellies fit to burst are enjoying the last moments of the evening sun. They had their kill, only two still chewing on eyeballs and ears now, the rest are lounging around and trying to get comfortable - yes, I call this a chillax moment
Now in Samburu the male lines don’t have much of a mane, too hot to carry a big furry collar. Here in the Mara it is a different story, there are male lions with wonderful manes of black and gold - the MGM factor. The light is almost gone now but to stumble on two male MGM lion taking it easy I had to risk a shot, a happy snap as I call it.
To follow tradition of ending the blog post where possible - here is a sunset to share with you - enjoy
OH - and an update, I have found the lost memory cards, lying at the very bottom of the case, no idea how they got there so I am blaming the fairies
. When I get a chance I will add the pics to the post which has them missing - happy times :) xxx