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twaffle

My 'Childish' Trip Report - 40 years late!

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madaboutcheetah

more amazing reading- Thanks a lot, Twaffle. Shall look out for, "Flames of Thika" - both book and dvd.

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Nyamera

This must be the best thread ever. I had no idea that there were topis in Nairobi NP at that time!

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twaffle

Karibu Nyamera. Are you back and how did it go?

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Nyamera

Asante. Unfortunately, I'm back and I'm trying to write a trip report.

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twaffle

Don't know where to put these but here are some photos of the start of the 1968 East African Rally. As you can imagine, Dad was quite interested!

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You can see that we weren't high in the social pecking order at the time … we're way at the back of the crowd. :)

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twaffle

Midway through 1968 we set off on our first trip to South Africa which had been off limits to travellers from Kenya due to apartheid. The rules must have been relaxed because we flew from Nairobi to Johannesburg.

This is the new highway into Jo'burg.

 

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Jo'burg from the railway station.

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From Jo’burg we caught a train to Durban. To my mind this was the best part of the trip as I think all children like trains.

Frosty landscape from the train.

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I had a photo of a Zulu and rickshaw but it won't load, sorry.

 

I don’t have fond memories of this trip to South Africa (with apologies to our South African members) as I found apartheid to be very confronting.

I know that life in Kenya was haphazard, untidy, dangerous, undoubtedly had undercurrents of racism from its’ colonial past (still has in some circles) and was a less than perfect place to live, but South Africa, for all its appearance of wealth and prosperity gave you legal permission to treat certain ethnic groups in an appalling manner. Everywhere we went there were signs saying who could go where, who was excluded. I felt like I was on the side of the bullies at school and it wasn’t pleasant. Like many injustices in the world, now and then, it is easier to accept them when they aren’t in your face.

 

We left Durban on board the Galileo Galilee for the trip across the Indian Ocean to Perth. I promptly fell madly in love with the Italian drummer from the band. He, thankfully, wasn’t interested in a 10 year old girl.

 

I would like to return to South Africa some time and do a self drive trip through the country.

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twaffle

I had a friend whose father owned racehorses. What fun we had. He would take us to the races where we were allowed into the restricted area where the horses were stabled. This made us feel very important. If you could reach over the betting counter, you were allowed to bet, so we did. We also went around looking for winning betting tickets on the ground which may have been discarded by mistake, although I don’t think we ever had success in this endeavour.

 

We met some famous people at the races. Twice I met Bing Crosby. I remember asking for his autograph because everyone else was and I remember him being VERY old (to my eye). He was friendly and chatted to us all. I don’t think I kept the autograph very long … I really wasn’t interested in those kinds of things.

 

Always on the way back from the races we would stop to buy a soft serve icecream cone … a #99 which had a chocolate bar sticking out of it.

 

I remember a trip we did one day to see one of the racehorses in the training stables. It was a long drive down the escarpment to a place near Lake Naivasha (I think it was actually at Thika so I am shaky on the actual location, sorry). The stables were reached through a stone wall. I remember it being a bit run down but there were horses there so I was happy. We children were introduced to a formidable, older woman who looked pretty stern, to my childish eye. She turned out to be Beryl Markham, aviator extraodinaire, writer of ‘West with the Night’ and lover of Denys Finch-Hatton (when he wasn’t busy with Karen Blixen, of course). I think I would have liked Denys, he sounded wild, adventurous and slightly dangerous.

 

 

The cover of one of the race books.

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One of the races showing Beryl Markham as trainer of Lot Seven. Lord and Lady Delamere owned many racehorses.

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This is a copy of the the promotional brochure showing Bing Crosby.

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I used to ride a pony called William at John Sprague's (one of the trainers) racing stables. I remember one day standing in the yard when a racehorse went galloping by, totally out of control. As the rider whizzed past me I could hear him yell "Jeesus Christ". I always thought that was the horse's name after that until one of the syces let me know how silly I was.

 

This is a rain swept view of the 'gallops' where John Sprague trained his horses.

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Game Warden

Wow and I was joking re Out of Africa. Twaffle it is like you are a part of Kenya's history. Any photos of you and Markham? Please retell some of her stories about Finch-Hatton.

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twaffle

Matt, I only wish I could. BUT

a ) I didn't know, at the time, that Beryl Markham (Mrs Markham to us children) was so famous

b ) Finch Hatton meant nothing to me because he hadn't morphed into Robert Redford. Now Robert Redford I would have remembered!

c ) History to me was about as interesting as homework.

 

Maybe my parents would have had better stories but I have left it too late, sadly, to get much sense out of them. I can tell some of the stories that I remember but only about things which interested me. So, I know we met Joy Adamson because I was besotted by the memory of Elsa … that was significant. I remember Beryl Markham because of the horses. I remember Rena Fenessy (exceptional artist of birds) because we had some of her paintings.

 

I am sorry but I am a sad disappointment to a hoarder of memorabilia such as yourself but I am doing my best! :(

 

I do think we should stick with the Griswald's Adventures on Safari don't you. :lol:

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Jan

I have a book called' The lives of Beryl Markham' Note 'lives'! Printed in 1993. It's by Errol Trzebinski. It's a

 

great read with some wonderful photos. Do try to get hold of it if you can, Twaffle and G.W. Those were the

 

days!! What a lady!

 

 

Jan

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twaffle

Amongst the many friends we made were a farming family on the shores of Lake Naivasha. We used to spend the occasional weekend with them and it was here that I first tasted homemade butter (the best, never tasted as good since) and homemade apricot jam made with dried apricots and fresh pineapple, also delicious. They also had this fantastic chip maker where you got a potato and pushed it through this press and out it would come, all in chip shapes.

 

The farmhouse had just the sort of room I would like to have. A large sitting room with ancient sofas filled with deep cushions. Nothing matched. The furniture had an old and loved feel about it and when you sat there you felt a calm come over you. I have followed suit in my house, nothing matches. I have different woods, different styles of furniture and it is very far from a display home.

 

Lake Naivasha was a beautiful lake and far from the over used water source which it is now.

 

The Australia & New Zealand picnic held at the Lawson's farm.

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A view from the farmhouse across Lake Naivasha towards the Mau Escarpment.

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An approaching storm from the Abedares.

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Some of the birdlife on the shores of Lake Naivasha including a spoonbill.

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twaffle

Another passion of my father’s was gemstones. To be precise, anything to do with rocks, fossils as well as more precious items which he would facet himself. I have a ring made from the first stone he faceted, a garnet.

 

Kenya was a wonderful place for gems and Dad went off with the Geographical Society on many trips looking for precious and semi precious stones. He dragged my brother and I along sometimes, I can’t imagine why. We ran around with the dog and then we were bored.

 

Not everything about these trips was boring though. We had an old VW Combi van and we would camp out in the bush with a small tent and the van.

 

My brother, friend and I with the campervan.

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Dad had a little camp gas stove and we made our bush meals on this. Just the three of us as my sister was in boarding school and my Mother wasn’t much into this sort of trip. Even though we weren’t in game parks, we came across plenty of animals. One of Dad’s friends was a man called Campbell Bridges who, in 1967 discovered the beautiful Tsavorite garnet. It was exciting times for sure and Dad's very diverse interests meant that we were always doing something different.

 

The Geol Society's camp at Loldaika Hills

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Our 'tent'! Note, my parents still have the 2 towels and the camp stretchers … they must be hoarders as well!

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A Geol Soc trip to Shimba Hills … the road through Shimba Hills.

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Looking from Shimba Hills towards the Indian Ocean.

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Club members heading into the forest for lunch.

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A distant view of sable antelope, Shimba Hills.

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An ostrich taken on one of the trips, don't know where.

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And the male trying to entice the female.

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Another Geological trip east of Meru.

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My brother and I at the campsite.

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Pat Kelly's hill.

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The old mining area. I think it may have been Aquamarine.

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View of the area.

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The road to Embu.

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Tea spot on the Ngong Hills

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Rainbow hits the Laikipia plains.

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twaffle

Another Geological trip, this time to Lake Magadi.

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Some views in the area.

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Crossing Lake Magadi from West to East.

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When I get back to scanning, it will be to journey to Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria.

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rickmck

Wow. Another great chapter and fabulous pics...

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Guest nyama
We had an old VW Combi van...
This brings back some good old memories...

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Atravelynn

Truly amazing stuff you have here, Twaffle! I'm up to Bing Crosby and Beryl Markham. West with the Night is one of my all time favorites. In fact, I was thinking about her book as I was reading some of your accounts, noting the similarities in your experiences and the style in which you recount them.

 

I can see why your favorite house was your favorite. I'd love visit it, but as you lament, there does not seem to be enough time to include places beyond the national parks. In the midst of all these warm memories and photos, your description of those terrible road accidents adds a realistic, somber tone. Your little dog looked like he had a very happy life prior to the leopard.

 

The photos are of really excellent quality and have held up very well. I wrote you need to show this to your kids, and since you mentioned that you would ask your parents some additional questions, I must add that you need to show this to them (and maybe your brother and sister as well). What a trip down memory lane for you. Treasure is the word that keeps coming to my mind.

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twaffle
I must add that you need to show this to them (and maybe your brother and sister as well)

 

Lynn, I am a bit nervous about showing the comments to my brother and sister as their memories will be so different. I often have arguments about 'events' which were so clear to me. Such as when my brother threw a plate at me and it broke against the piano. He tells it very differently and won't concede a point! But writing these memories will be good for me when I have dementia and also for my children when I have dementia! :rolleyes:

 

Thank you for the nice comments re Beryl Markham. The experts feel that her husband at the time (a professional writer) actually wrote her book, so I think I need a ghost writer as well. I am waiting for Tony to have some free time. :D

 

Today is good, I don't have too many slides left to scan and my son is home from school with a virus soooooo

he is scanning and I am paying him 30c a slide! Good deal I think.

 

I'll be quite glad when it is finished as I am frightened that I'll get distracted and leave it all in limbo, a bit like Game Warden's Northern Circuit. At least he is back posting now.

 

I'd like to hear some of Nyama's Kombi Van memories! :P

 

Thanks Rick, I'm almost finished! Whew! One problem, Dad's book with the slides all identified finishes about now, which leaves 2 boxes of slides with just some id on the box. One is ok as it is all safari stuff from Tanzania but I may have to leave some slides un-posted because I can't identify them. Such is life!

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twaffle

Sometimes I am asked what's the good part of living in Uganda/Kenya versus the bad. As I near the end of my journey I often think of these questions.

 

Good - every day seemed to bring adventures. Children want to have challenges and face dangers whilst feeling safe, even if it is just swinging from the monkey bars. My country today has warning signs about everything, it feels like a nanny state.

- I felt like a risk taker, even if I wasn't and I ended up with stories to tell that made me feel like an adventurer, even though I'm not.

- The country and animals and most of the people were magnificent, amazing and interesting.

- People stuck together because hardly anyone had extended families. You spent special occasions with friends because you wanted to, not family because you had to.

 

Bad - you missed out on growing up with Grandparents and extended family (yin and yang).

- You had to have injections all the time.

- Sometimes you felt the stress of some of the dangers being around you.

- When I was exiled to boarding school, I became an alien in the country I was growing up in, and I was an alien in my new country because I was strange and didn't fit in. 40 years later I am still an alien belonging to no country and it doesn't always feel so good.

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twaffle

We had three servants, Maina was our cook, Githetho the gardener and Mary our Ayah.

 

I loved Mary, she was a Baganda and came with us from Kampala. I used to sit with her outside her room and she would show me how to cook her special favorites (which weren't mine!) She was loving, kind and generous. When she would return from her leave in Uganda she always brought small presents for my brother and I. Sometimes an orange each, sometimes little hand made hankerchiefs. When I was sent to boarding school, Mary went back to Uganda. I wonder how she survived the Idi Amin years. I was quite a tom boy and only had one doll. This doll I named Mary and I used to feed it cornflakes through its’ open mouth. As it had a hollow inside, the cornflakes and milk made a nasty, smelly mess eventually.

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Githetho used to scare me a little. We never got to know him as well as the house servants but he had one skill which I came to rely on. He always could tell me when my parents would be returning from an outing. When I felt panicky because they weren’t home yet, he would say “they will return in half an hour” and they always did. Now I realise that not only was Githetho on African time, but so was I, so half an hour could have been any length of time.

 

Maina was wonderful. I remember one time when my brother and I had been up to some mischief, my mother gave us a good telling off. Later my mother told me that Maina came to her, drew himself up to his highest height and said ”Madam, you must not make war with the children”. When we left he went to work for friends of friends of ours and we would occasionally get letters saying how they had seen him at a dinner party and messages would pass back and forth.

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I remember hearing a discussion between adults that my father had been scolded by other expats because he decided to pay our servants more than the going rate because he thought the pay was too low. Good on him, I say.

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twaffle

This is a description of a Lake Baringo Geological trip by my father in a letter to me at Boarding School.

 

“A special excursion for the members of the Geological Club. We left Nairobi about 14.30 hrs and it rained almost all the way to Nakuru.

 

We have had very heavy rain by the way for the last 6 weeks with about 30 inches in this time.

 

We were hoping that the murram road to Lake Baringo from Nakuru would be in good order for we three were in the little Ford Escort. Bad luck was to come though, for heavy rain started just before we set out and after about 33 miles of very slippery roads there was a group of four of our cars finding it very difficult in the mud.

 

We stopped and put chains on the little Ford - last time was in Airolo in Switzerland but in the midst of all the mud one Mercedes finished in a ditch. From about 18.30 hrs to 21.00 hrs we tried to get it free but in the end we had to leave it and share the passengers among the other 3 cars.

 

We managed in the next 2 1/2 hours to reach to about 5 miles from the Lodge when Mr Skinner in a Landrover met us. Two earlier cars had been abandoned about here and so one of our remaining three was left and passengers went in the Landrover. We managed another difficult mile before the Landrover returned and then we left our little Ford about 4 miles from the Lodge. We were covered with mud and so after a wash, very late supper we were in bed about 2 a.m. Very, very tired.

 

After that the week-end was very pleasant with wonderful weather. Collected our car easily on the next morning and on Sunday early we visited the snake serum farm of the Leaky’s and looked at quite a few vipers, cobras and other nasty snakes.”

 

This is the road to Lake Baringo, taken on an earlier trip when it wasn't raining.

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The campsite.

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This a view of the area from one of the earlier 'beaches', 9000yrs ago.

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Part of Dad's work entailed travelling and training local people in various aspects of bitumen. Not only in Kenya, but Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Zambia, Ethiopia.

 

These photos are some taken during such trips.

Corn farm near Endebess.

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Ploughing demonstrations in the Eldoret Kitale area.

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Lunch by a river at the border with Uganda.

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twaffle

This is a view from our picnic spot on the Ngong Hills looking South East.

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This view is to the North over Nairobi towards Ol Donya Sabuk.

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twaffle

One of the Geological trips undertaken by my father was to Kondeo in Tanzania.

A quote from the UNESCO world heritage site rock art sites

 

The rock art sites at Kondoa are an exceptional testimony to the lives of hunter-gathers and agriculturalists who have lived in the area over several millennia, and reflect a unique variation of hunter-gather art from southern and central Africa and a unique form of agro-pastoralist paintings.

 

On the way to Kondoa.

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On the road, no specific location as I don't have the files for these slides.

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Rock paintings

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twaffle

The Geological Society climbed Mt Kenya and these photos show how beautiful it is up in the high country.

 

Towards Mt Kenya.

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Gathering before the climb.

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Entering the National Park.

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Well into the climb.

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Summit of Mt Kenya just visible.

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A small hut in a valley just below the peak.

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A glacier and small pool.

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More alpine vegetation.

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View from the Mountain.

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Back into the tall trees.

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madaboutcheetah

Twaffle,

 

Thanks for continuing this fabulous report!!! Awesome! Have you showed this report to any of your family? and what are their reactions/memories? What do your kids think of this if they've read it?

 

Would love to climb Mt.Kenya or Kili one day.......

 

Thanks,

Hari

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twaffle

Thanks Hari.

 

I haven't shown the family yet, thought I would wait until the end. Then I will have to make all the edits as they say "no, that was wrong, we went there a different time!".

 

You should climb Mt Kenya rather than Kili. More of a challenge, fewer tourists, more serious climbers and you still will get fantastic views, alpine vegetation and wildlife in the lower areas.

 

Then we could post your photos and have something to compare with.

 

I am just scanning the last few slides and then I am done! Thanks for hanging in there.

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