Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kenya Adventure - Day 18

So today is a really exciting day for me, not that all the other haven’t been, but today we are going back to Nanyuki, home. We are spending the night with Pete’s son and daughter in law, Glen and Michelle. Not to early a start, no point getting stuck in traffic so we set off around 9 a.m., did a couple of things then headed out of Nairobi. So, what differences did I see, well, back when I used to do this drive from Nairobi to Nanyuki, once out of the capital most of the road home was scrub and bush, with shambas (local farm plots) set back from the road and pretty much hidden, that has certainly changed, nearly the whole drive, all 200 km of it was one shamba after another, road side stalls by the tons, curior shops for tourists heading to The Ark, Treetops or Samburu dotted around, petrol stations and cafes. A couple of areas were still scrub and bush, small town like areas, such as Thika and Naro Mora which used to be just a few houses and a small shop are now big towns and still growing.

The first place I wanted to see was Thika, the Del-Monte Pineapple plantations. I used to stop here and a toto (child) would nip into the closest Del Monte field and pick a pineapple then sell it to me, a bit cheeky but they were the best pineapples around.

 Part of the Del Monte Plantation

Now the fields are all protected, watch towers around the edges so this practice must have cost them to much money, (it was pretty much common practice :) Now, where did I find the Del-Monte pineapples, ready processed into juice in a shop in the petrol station - progress yes but not as tasty!! hahahahaha

Continuing up the road, amazed at the lack of potholes, scanning to see what I could recognise, a bridge, a corner, the lay of the land. Well not much, my 30 year gap has mis-remembered images. I did recognise one corner where you looked down a valley and on the other side the hill slopes were terraced for growing tea, still there but very shabby, not the neat terraces I recall but more shambas.

The next place I waiting for was Pole Pole Hill (pronounced as poly-poly and translates to Slowly Slowly Hill), a long hill with a bend at the top before another climb. I have a story for you here :) There was a time we did not have a 4x4 here but a small, regular, four door Suzuki saloon car.

Pole Pole Hill (Slowly Slowly Hill) today (not changed <g>)

Alan and I were returning from Nairobi and the gear box went on the car. We were just approaching Pole Pole Hill, not good. No people around to help, no AA or RAC to call out, no towns or shambas around and it was getting dark. I found out at this time there is a big difference between mechanics and bush mechanics, engineers and bush engineers. It is all fine learning a craft using text book info and available parts but for the ‘bush’ person you really need to have ingenuity as well. How can we get home with a broken gear box. Alan had a few electric welding rods in the car, he jacked her up, got a couple of the rods and managed to pin the gear box together again, a very temporary measure and we only had 2nd and 4th gears working but it worked. Next problem, how to attack the hill, if we got stuck behind a lorry we could not make it, no 1st gear to change down to. Oh - we had reverse as well lol. Alan reversed the car as far back as we could to get a good run at Pole Pole Hill, building up as much speed as possible so we could get as far up the hill as we could before changing to 2nd gear for the final pull to the top. Luck was on our side, no lorries, a good speed, a brilliant driver - we made it - yes Alan you are one heck of a engineer :)

Not far to go now, got to turn off at to get to Nanyuki. Yes, I remember the turn off, we are there, only about 80km from Nanyuki. First place to go through is Naro Moro - this place used to be three wooden huts and that was about it. What a shock, a bustling town now, with matatu station, stalls, houses, flats - hundreds of times bigger than the last time we passed through.  To shocked at what I saw to take a photo - derrrrr.

So what is next on the road - Nanyuki Airstrip, now called Nanyuki Airport :) - the only upgrade is from airstrip to airport hahahahaha. It certainly looks different, the British Army have a bunch of stuff around, there are several buildings including a place to eat. In our day it was a couple of planes owned by locals and that was about it. You will have to forgive these photos, they were taken from the car as we drove past.

Only about 12 km to go, almost there, almost back home. What a strange feeling, yes things have changed, more people, more land turned into places of habituation but it still feels the same. What is Nanyuki going to be like. I do have a bit of an idea as a couple of my friends have visited here in the past couple of years and told me, I have even seen a couple of photos - yes I know I am in for a bit of a shock.

We can smell the coffee now and taste coffee, no stopping as we pass the equator, just a quick snap, I will do a proper one tomorrow.

We continued through Nanyuki trying to recognise the old shops etc. but I will tell you more about that tomorrow when we go for a run around. After lunch off to drop the luggage off at Glen and Michelle’s before taking Alan back to Nanyuki Cottage hospital so see Dr. Bhatt again for a eye check-up, good chance for a couple of pics too. We visited the Cottage Hospital several times for one thing and another, kids stuff, couple of minor operations and Alan’s dad passed away here too.

Lunch - feels five star - a new place for us and all so civilised, Nanyuki certainly is feeling like it has jumped from the 19th century directly to the 21st century. The place we ate at was Kongoni Camp, lovely menu but we opted for the simple option, cheeseburgers, tasty after not having any junk food for quite a while now. While being nosy and pottering around inside I had to have a chuckle to myself and go get my camera - the Scottish flag. Yes Nanyuki - home from home :)

WOW - what a change, the hospital is now linked to the University, has several outpatient buildings, emergence entrance, a new reception area, radiation treatment and more, so much bigger too. We even bumped into a couple of British Army folks running around.


The old building which is off to the side now connected to the main new building by a wing.

All done, Alan’s eye still mending and looks like it will take about another 3 weeks. Poor guy, having a bit of a hard time with his eye but at least healing is heading in the right direction.

The road to the Cottage Hospital is on the same road that Natasha and Nicole went to school. Actually Alan also went to this school when he lived here as a child. In Alan’s day it was called ‘The Beehive’, by the time our kids came along it was called ‘St. Christopher’s’ and now, as we drive past I see it is called ‘New St. Christopher’s’

Natasha going to school. I can’t find a photo of Nicole going to school for some reason but I can tell you she started here at the age of 2 1/2, four months later I was called into the office and informed she had to be 3 to be in school. OK, so I sneaked her in early lol. I asked them if it would now be sensible to remove her for 8 weeks until she turned 3 and they agreed there was not point so she stayed. Far better to be in school singing nursery rhymes, learning to be sociable, playing with friends than be stuck at home with just me for company don’t you think!!

Time for more coffee. Now when I was in Nanyuki there was only the Marina to go to, pretty grotty even then but you could get a coke or something. I used to meet up with some of the British Army lads when they were here on exercise for a coke and a chat. Now - well - not worth visiting, especially as there is a beautiful coffee shop and curio shop just up the street - fabulous lattes :) We bumped into Glen and Michelle again and later Michelle’s parents.

How could I resist popping into the shop lol - and you will never guess what I manage to buy - a shots glass. Oh I am over the moon, a shots glass from Nanyuki, awesome. Now I know there used to be the most brilliant butcher here in Nanyuki - Jack Wright, when Alan’s dad lived here and we were in Nairobi we used to drive up to visit but never returned to Nairobi without first visiting Jacks and getting a couple of kilos of his home made sausage. Jack was British Army during the WW2 and when he left he came to Nanyuki and set up a business. Jack, and Jim, Alan’s dad were good friends. I am curious to know what has happened to the shop so on a hunt. I know where it is located, I remember what it looked like but my eyes are not finding. OK got it, it is taller now, was only one story before and the sign was at eye level, the reason I couldn’t see the sign, it is now above the second floor - fun stuff.

One small difference - I see Jack Wright’s became a Ltd company in 1982 and also know now it is run by his son. Still familiar

One thing I can’t get over is the British Army. In our time they used to come out for maybe a six week training exercise and have their temporary camp between Lewa and Samburu. At weekends we sometimes went along for a BBQ with them, other weekends a couple used to come and stay with us in Nanyuki just for a bit of home life. We loved them visiting, they used to bring their ration packs with them - Murry Mints and other things we had not had for a while were a real treat. Now there is a permanent base in Nanyuki, they have taken over the Sportsman’s Arms as a place of recreation, have their own garbage collection etc. I am not sure how I feel about this, it does not gel in my head, so strange, so fish out of water. I guess Mt. Kenya, the Abedares to the east and Samburu to the north are good training grounds with their diverse habitat making Nanyuki a perfect central location. As far as I know the base has about 6000 troops on it, fully self contained. Now I am wondering if Nikki will get sent here on exercise, how cool would that be, to come back to where she spent the first three years of her life. We have already got this ready, in preparation in case she does and know she will be well looked after :) :) :) :) :)

Time now to return to Glen and Michelle’s and bed down for the night, oh to spend a night in Nanyuki. Michelle cooked the most beautiful meal, we chatted around the flames of the log fire, shared experiences, thought of the changes seen, where the future might go before eventually, with eyelids struggling to stay open decided bed was the place to be.


  1. Goodness - that is a right old 'blast from the past' isn't it ???!!! I can't imagine how strange that must feel and thank goodness Alan is such a genius car fixer !!! :-D

    Hope to see that Equator thingy later on :-D

    IKE xxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. What a day you had treasure. .....going home after so many years takes a lot of courage in my mind .....memories need to be 'resorted' which can be challenging. Mind you, isn't it interesting how coffee has become a universal language and coffee shops the place to meet and relax. Now that's language I so fully enjoy and understand.

    Oh how exciting to have a Nanyuki shot glass ..., , imagine that's the one to take pride of place in your ever increasing collection ....special memories indeed.

    Alan has always been a most wonderful driver and I'm most impressed to hear this story which I think has been prompted by where you are ...not heard before :-) I'm so pleased to hear that his eye is healing .....not a pleasant experience at all for him.

    I'm wondering if your house is still there or has that suffered in the name of progress too. . Nice to see that Jack Wright's reputation has reaped just deserts for all the hard work invested by Alan's Dad's friend. Are the produce still as yummy? Sad though that such a multi national company as Del Monte have intruded on the charm of the local community.

    Have so enjoyed your trip down memory lane today treasure. All my love always xxx ♥ ♥ ♥

  3. Hello Mimi - a bit late catching up ๐Ÿ˜. My father was a veterinary surgeon living in Nanyuki in the early 60’s. We lived in a house opposite the race course and polo ground on the road to the Mt Kenya Safari Club where as children we had many happy hours. I know I would not recognise it at all now! Jack Wright (the butcher) lent us his wonderful house on the coast. My email address is Please make contact if you ever get this message ๐Ÿ˜


Thank you for taking the time to comment, it means a great deal to me. Hoping you have happy crafting days ahead. Hugs Mimi