Cape Town

I’d heard the hype.  Everyone told me ‘You’ll love it!”.  Nevertheless, we postponed our original trip at Christmas and decided to visit Cape Town during School Spring holiday in March.  We only had 7 days available, but thought this was preferable to the two weeks we would have spent in South Africa at Christmas.

Cape Town

Cape Town

First view of Table Mountain

First view of Table Mountain

V& A Cape Town

V& A Cape Town

I think we may have been wrong about that.  It was wonderful – all the more so when you arrive there from Zambia. Still Africa, but the differences between the two are extreme. It felt like a wonderful treat, I could have happily stayed longer.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather, unfortunate timing for seeing whales but we saw dolphins in front of our hotel near the V&A Waterfront.

Can you spot the dolphins?

Can you spot the dolphins?

We started in Cape Town, and spent a couple of days there; we went surfing (or in my case, shark-spotting) in Muizenberg.  From there we drove down the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.




Jackass Penguins at Simon’s Town.


These penguins actually do sound like Jackasses braying, hence the name.

The weather was against us for a trip up Table Mountain, so we continued on our journey to Hermanus.


The Marine at Hermanus is an old-fashioned type of hotel; the restaurant Seafood At the Marine served THE BEST salmon I have ever had. Honestly. I’m not sure I can ever eat salmon again.

We took kayaks out from the old harbour and visited the young male fur seals that like to hang out among the kelp. I have no photos of them, unfortunately, as I have a history of falling out of sea kayaks, with my camera tucked inside my life jacket. I didn’t fall in this time (and probably won’t ever again) but as dry bags weren’t provided, I wasn’t prepared to risk it!

The kayaks set off from this gorgeous little old harbour. I loved it.

I missed out on swimming in the ‘sea-water’ swimming pool. I noticed it the first morning when I got up at sunrise to take pictures (See featured image at the top). There were some people, locals I assume, swimming at 6am, and I decided I would brave the chilly temperatures the following day. Unfortunately, it was EVEN chillier the next day and I chickened out. SONY DSC

After another couple of hours of surfing (or, in my case, flailing around on a body board in a wetsuit – attractive!), we headed north to Stellenbosch.

I appear to have failed to take photos of Stellenbosh, other than the walk we did to this waterfall. It was beautiful and we were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves.

Waterfall at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

Waterfall at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

The entire week passed by in a flash. We would love to go back, there was so much we didn’t have time to do and see.

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Dog with a blog



Good Evening All,

My name is Bailey: I am, what some would call, a Heinz 57 dog. Others might use the term ‘mongrel’, which frankly is a little insulting. One visitor rudely referred to me as a ‘garbage dog’, and now the family are all saying it.

The definition according to Wikipedia :

When breeds mix, their offspring manifest a wide variety of appearances; some resembling one breed closely, while others clearly exhibit features of both. However, as mixed breeds continue to interbreed, subsequent generations moderate toward a roughly similar appearance. They tend to be fawn or black and weigh about 18 kg (40 lb) and typically stand between 38 and 57 cm (15 and 23 inches) tall at the withers.

The truth is that I have an uncanny resemblance to every stray you might see by the roadside anywhere in Zambia. On further researching the subject, my adoptive mother has discovered that my people are all over Africa.

I am energetic, alert and love to play. Especially with the old cat my family already had when I got here, and the kitten they found in the bush before Christmas. For some reason they get really upset when I want to join in the chasing and fighting games.

Now, I am a very loving, loyal and soppy thing. I will sit by your feet, follow you everywhere and protect you. Unfortunately, I am a bit of a scaredy cat (pun intended) and I worry that anyone coming to the house is a “bad person”. So I want to nip the backs of their legs to chase them off.

Even more unfortunately, I thought a little boy (who, it turns out, only wanted to pat my head) was one of the bad guys and I snapped at him. My mum had hold of my collar because I had never been around small children before, so I didn’t actually bite him. Everyone got really upset about it anyway.

Other than that, I’m wonderful. I really don’t know what the fuss is about. Mum is worried because there aren’t any really good dog trainers here who deal with

aggressive behaviour

. Who knows what that means? She has been asking if I am a “ticking time bomb” – if you could see me with the family you too would wonder what the fuss is all about. She says she doesn’t want a dog she has to muzzle in public. What’s a muzzle? Can anyone help?


Here is a photo of me, and some of my people.

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January in Zambia


I have just discovered that this entry never made it onto the blog, so here it is with a few amendments.

I must say, on my return from the UK the warmth is quite pleasant here in Lusaka, but we seem to be getting around the same amount of rain as the South of England (much of which was under water over the Christmas/New Year period). The difference is that in Zambia the rain comes in heavy and explosive downpours, carried here by dramatic thunderstorms (which, incidentally, still terrifies our seven-year-old border collie even after 17 months of living here). Thankfully, my roof is now ‘sort of’ fixed. It no longer pours in onto the bed, and the puddles in the dining room are now little ones, not the lake that stretched across the whole of one wall. How long it will take for the men to come back and finish the job is anyone’s guess.

The temperature today is around 23°C/73°F, which is bearable in my opinion. Partly cloudy, but now the sun is out again, just minutes after a terrific heavy shower passed through.

All this rain means that the growing season is also in full swing, as illustrated by the head-height grass growing in many areas by the sides of the roads. It doesn’t mean, of course, that my vegetable garden is abundant. So far, having planted a bed of pumpkins and a more recent bed of butternut squash, neither has yielded a single vegetable, despite growing into giant plants with lots of leaves and plenty of flowers. Advice please, gardeners. Lack of bees? Oh, and some similar looking plants have grown up from my compost pile (clearly not a very effective compost pile). (Note 31st March: these are butternut squash which has produced one squash so far.)

The green beans have been good, I have some lettuce to harvest as and when needed, but tomatoes are still very small plants with no flowers, let alone fruit. Carrots are pathetic little roots with not terribly impressive leaves. So I have lettuce and green beans. Hmm.

There are two avocado trees which last year were a big disappointment but I am going to try putting the fruit in paper bags to ripen this year. Maybe they will be delicious…they look amazing. And the lemon tree appears to have died completely. It will need to be removed. I am very sad about this, as I bought special citrus tree fertiliser especially last year to try to save it.

One last comment: I am embarrassed to admit how disproportionately jealous I am of colleagues’ vegetable gardens. I’m really not a very effective ‘Barbara’ after all.

Categories: pumpkin, Vegetables, Zambia | Leave a comment

Kangaluwi: Proposed open pit mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park

I have neglected my Zambia blog lately, for  a myriad of reasons. Or should I say, excuses: busy at work; rainy season; no news on safaris or travel tips due to lack of recent travel within the country.  The list could go on.

I could cheat and direct you to read blogs about the Lower Zambezi by other writers such as Paul Steyn on the National Geographic website.   I could blog about my last visit to a safari camp, Potato Bush Camp in the Lower Zambezi.  Somehow, I have managed to miss writing about it, and it was arguably the best safari we have been on so far. Don’t worry, I still plan to share this with you. Those fellas at the top of the post were from our first visit to the Lower Zambezi.   Here is a little sneak preview from our last trip, but don’t worry: it wasn’t all elephants.  SONY DSC


An open cast mine. Photo copyright Wikimedia Commons
Borrowed from Africa Geographic website

However, before I launch into the joys of our last safari (and you will have to wait another day to hear all about that!),  I want to express my utter despair at the prospect of an open-pit copper mine being allowed in the Lower Zambezi National Park.  It could end up looking  something like this one.

In spite of rejection of this proposal back in September 2012 by ZEMA (Zambia Environmental Management Agency), the government’s Head of Ministry of Lands,  National Resources and Environmental Protection,  has overturned the earlier ruling which will allow an Australian company (operating under the name Zambezi Resources) to mine for copper in the middle of a National Park.  Another blog by Paul Steyn outlines the issues on the National Geographic website.  The site of the proposed mine is outlined in red below.

site of mine

According to Lusaka Times, Zambezi Resources were granted a conditional 25-year licence to mine in the area marked, an area of 245 square kilometres (or 409,200 hectares).   This conditional licence was issued in March 2011 on a subject to fulfilling certain conditions on an EIS (Environmental Impact Survey).  Some of conditions were not met, specifically that of taking adequate measures to protect the environment;  ZEMA rejected the proposal.  After the inevitable appeal by Zambezi Resources, the Minister of Land, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection over-ruled their decision and approved the request in January 2014.

An injunction was successfully filed with the Zambian High Court on 31st January 2014; Zambezi Resources actively refute this claim:

It was reported on a small number of websites that an injunction was granted in Zambia on Friday 31
January 2014, effectively halting any work at site. The Company has extensively investigated this
matter and is pleased to advise that there is nothing to substantiate the claim that an injunction was
granted. (

See the original document and their Zambia-targeted press release here.  

Nevertheless, it seems an injunction was indeed filed.  We await the outcome of this injunction; according to the Wall Street Journal, the hearing is scheduled for February 18th: next Tuesday.  I suspect Zambian Resources will not take a further rejection lying down.

There is a protest site on Facebook, and a petition requesting signatures at in an attempt to block the company from opening this mine. By all means, if you find the argument against the proposal convincing, please stop by these sites and add your voice.

 I found a blog on the Africa Geographic website, also written by Paul Steyn and published in September 2012 which gives an interesting perspective on the company outsourced to complete the Environmental Impact Assessment.  

The issue raises many questions: can a copper mine be truly ‘green’?  What impact will this project have on wildlife, local families, water sources, pollution, tourism? Why is this project being supported by some of the locals, ‘farmers’ and others? What are their expectations and are they realistic? How many jobs can Zambezi Resources honestly promise will be granted to local Zambian people? If Zambezi Resources did not meet the original conditions imposed by ZEMA, and are allowed to proceed, how can Zambia guarantee they will meet their environmental responsibilities? The methods of copper mining are not traditionally a low key, environmentally friendly affair.

Furthermore, a look at pollution at current and historic mining sites in Zambia does not paint an attractive picture: the town of Kabwe has been highly polluted for years after a history of lead mining, this year Mufulira residents are concerned over sulphur dioxide emissions (see Zambia Daily Mail).  The concerns for the environment as well as the health of local residents is not one that should be overlooked.

Time will tell if the ‘Powers That Be’ in Zambia will come to their senses and choose to protect this very treasured natural park as well as the health of their citizens.  Meanwhile let me share a little piece of it with you.


Lower Zambezi Valley
Photo courtesy of Africa Geographic

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CrossFit Zambia style

For anyone expecting a blog on Zambia, I am afraid this one might disappoint. I am going to be a bit self-indulgent today and discuss fitness.

I have decided to be ever so modern and hip, I have just joined my brand new local CrossFit box, named CrossFit Amaka. As far as I am aware, it is the first ever CrossFit box in Zambia (let alone Lusaka). The induction session (Base Camp) was on Saturday, and my first ‘official’ WOD (Workout Of the Day for you non-CrossFitters out there) was this morning.


Not me!

Not me!

On waking this morning, I thought my biggest problem was going to be my quads. Standing up and sitting down were very real challenges for me on Sunday. I felt a bit tight this morning but nothing tooooo unbearable. I foolishly thought I would work through it.

However, the WOD today focused on arms and upper body. I can’t remember the terminology, I think the pain has affected my brain. But let’s just say that washing my hair after the workout was more work than I’ve ever noticed before, I can’t comfortably raise my arms above elbow level, and driving to work, I was just glad it was mostly a straight road.

This is all just one hour after the class. What on EARTH am I going to do tomorrow?!!! I’ll tell you what – another WOD!

Just by the way, as I embark on this journey, I notice an article in Sunday’s Guardian: oh dear.  This one from July 2013 was a little more positive.

In for a penny…

Categories: fitness, altitude | 2 Comments

Weekend Jail

This article was in this morning’s paper.

So here’s the latest on Drink Driving laws here in Zambia. The solution, you see, is to have the convicted drunk drivers to surrender themselves every weekend to jail, released after sundown on Sunday night.

This system suggests

a) Drunk drivers aren’t really that guilty

b) They will probably be very happy to spend every weekend in jail, and will surrender themselves promptly at 18:30 on a Friday night… Perhaps after work? (Or after a pint or three first, you know how it is…)

c) Drunk Drivers don’t need rehabilitation

d) They will not re-offend during the week, everyone saves their binge drinking until Friday nights, right?

e) If the offenders don’t comply with the law, Zambia has a very good infrastructure and system to find these people and ensure they follow the conditions of their sentence.

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Is it really raining???


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Monday afternoon: 15:45

Incredible. It only takes two days of broken Internet (across the country, not only my house this time) for us to feel adrift and out of touch. We still have mobile phones and land lines…we really are only cut off from the World Wide Web. Furthermore, it hasn't even really been 48 hours – Sunday was more off than on, but my husband managed to FaceTime with his parents. Albeit with patchy, sometimes frozen pictures, and we apparently spoke like robots – but he made contact nonetheless.

At school today we had no Internet at all; not a problem for the lessons I teach, however communication between admin/management and teachers usually takes the form of emails. The campus is quite large, and it is possible to miss something important without that ubiquitous flow of emails that we are all so accustomed to in this modern society, even in Zambia. As I teach alone, I felt a bit isolated even though colleagues teach full classes of children either side of me. On the plus side, it was overcast and cooler today, which was a blessing after 38°C (100.4°F) with no breeze over the weekend.

IB Students with deadlines have had to make their groveling excuses to explain why bibliographies weren't uploaded on time, emails from colleagues ignored on a Sunday afternoon were still ignored by Monday night, as we procrastinated in opening attachments until the working week began. We all reply so heavily on these cyber tools in our everyday lives, the disruption when they are removed is enormous.

No one seems certain when normal Internet service (i.e. painfully slow) will resume.

I guess the time and date when I finally manage to publish this will give some indication…

Those of you who may think I must have dropped off the face of the earth (but weren't that worried because you didn't try the good old fashioned telephone!) – I haven't. I'm just experiencing Africa.

P.S. That wasn't too bad in the end!

P.P.S. Saturday's weather
And this morning:
There are wild rumours suggesting rain is on its way.


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Bats, blue pumpkins ‘n’ more

Our bats returned a few weeks ago, with a new friend. Earlier this week, we counted ten. Today there are only nine (one is just out of shot – obviously camera-shy). I have discovered that they are Wahlberg’s Epauletted Fruit Bats, and I guess they’re back because of the ripe fruit trees. I think they are rather lovely. We see them flying after dark and dipping down to drink from the pool.

We’re thinking about going to Kasanka for the Straw-coloured fruit bat migration in November, although the Biology teacher at school tells us that they’re rather ‘messy’ (droppings falling everywhere – watch this video and you can imagine) and he says as well as rabies, they can carry Ebola virus so… I am in two minds! It would be amazing to experience.

So, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a ‘Barbara Good’ – I refer back to my failed veggie patch and chicken fencing in the Isle of Man. (And if you’ve never seen The Good Life then shame on you, go and watch it immediately!). Here she is, at her most glamorous (and I mean that, most sincerely).

Photo credit

A few weeks ago I collected some seeds from a blue pumpkin, dried them out, popped them in some compost (along with egg boxes of basil seeds and ‘bush beans’), and low and behold they have sprouted! I have planted 6 pumpkin plant seedlings, leaving the others to sprout properly, and I also have two bush bean shoots sprouting as well. I haven’t ever had much luck growing vegetables from seeds, as I am sure you can tell. I am interested to see what I can grow – the conditions are perfect, and as long as I don’t forget to water…! The rainy season is still a long way off.

Just by the way, I hadn’t even heard of a blue pumpkin until I moved here. Is it just me? What a sheltered life I’ve led! Here is the ‘mother plant’ – she made a lovely soup and some pumpkin spiced muffins (which were much better than the beetroot ones I made last year. Obviously.

Our papaya tree is bearing ripe fruit (hence the bats!) so we might give them another try – in my opinion they taste a bit ‘vegetable-y’ for a fruit, but my mother says they’re tasty if you squeeze some lime juice over them and sprinkle with sugar. Don’t worry, I’ll leave some for my winged, inverted friends.

Below are my little pumpkin seedlings, planted alongside some not-very-successful strawberry plants, and the other picture shows my bush bean seedlings. I am ridiculously excited about growing my own vegetables.

I have some cucumber and tomato seeds, and mange tout are also on my list as soon as I can find some seeds. (You gardeners out there can probably tell me – harvesting seeds from shop-bought refrigerated mange tout probably won’t germinate – true or false?)

The earth really is that colour, and it gets everywhere.

N.B. I shall be buying a flat cap one day, to go with the wellies for my ‘Barbara’ makeover, but not in Zambia. Far too hot! (32°C/89.6°F today)

Categories: Bats, Vegetables, Zambia | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Wild Run!

No, no, don’t worry –   I didn’t partake of any running/jogging/out-in-the-hot-sun madness, but my darling husband and maybe 300 other nutters did, this morning starting at 6:30 am.

There is an annual event called Leopards Hill Run, in which you can choose to run 5 km (approx 3 miles), 10 km (6 miles), 21 km (13 miles or half marathon) or 42 km (the real McCoy, a full marathon).  I turned up near the end (supporters are just as important as the runners, you know) to cheer my hubby past the finish line, but I must admit did feel a tiny bit jealous and guilty that I didn’t run myself.

I have done some running in the past, (including a 20 km run if you don’t mind!), but I always find I end up with a very sore back, or my hip starts playing up, I hurt my Achilles quite recently. I’m really just not designed for running, that’s all I can conclude.  Either that or I have a very peculiar running style (think Phoebe from Friends, and you’ve probably got an accurate picture).

But these guys today all had a fabulous morning, running through the bush. Lucky runners saw impala and zebra (my husband missed the impala but spotted the zebra) and it just looked like they were having so much fun.

I’m considering entering the 5km run next year, as long as I can run in the build-up training period completely pain-free (and I am referring to mechanical, not muscular!).

Well done to all you runners (some of our primary pupils were running the 5 km, and I heard a rumour that one Grade 3 boy ran 10 km! I will investigate on Monday),  congratulations to all, I take my invisible hat off to you.


photo credit:

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