Search Results for 'check'

Forums Search Search Results for 'check'

Viewing 20 results - 1 through 20 (of 202 total)
  • Author
    Search Results
  • #6505

      I told Devan in no ambiguous terms to solve his own funny riddle.

      I did try to make an effort, but that seemed a rather desperate way to catch our attention after not really caring about the family for so long.
      It was good to see him though.

      With all the activity around the coming guests at the Inn, it’s easy getting lost in the wind of activities, like the motes of dust hiding in Dido’s hair.
      The twins did a good effort though, with all the decorating and stuff. I was sincerely impressed. Been a long time since I’ve been impressed by them. Seems they may actually grow up fine. Who would have known really.

      Hormonal growth be damned, I’m feeling all sort of contradictory feelings about this.

      Like, what about hearing about our funny father after all this time.

      And Devan, who’d shut us all off, now back for a little make-over time… Or something else maybe. He doesn’t seem to realize the emotional landscape and baggage here. He’s a nice brother though.

      It’s horrible. So much contradiction – I feel some rage on the surface, lots of… and underneath so much caring it’s painful.

      So what happened to our father? Still alive? Quite possibly. I’ve had my suspicious when this strange guy posed as a friend to the twins on the social network some years back.
      I was young when he left without a note; hadn’t started to write my journals yet, so my memories of him are very little. But I remember the chaos left after him; Mater wasn’t really the same after. I think she’s burned all pictures of him, and somehow pretends they never existed.
      Idle plays it as if she doesn’t care, but I’m sure she does. She doesn’t want to let it be known, but she probably doesn’t want to hurt Mater more with this.

      God, what a family drama. Why would Devan want to unearth all of this now, at a moment we were all quiet and settled like a decent respectable family.

      It was maybe just keeping up with appearances, and the veneer was thin to start with.

      That’s in the middle of all this angst mixed with puberty that it hit me.

      Acrostic. Or ἀκροστιχίς in Greek. First verse, or first letter.

      My dad was a writer, so he liked word riddles. And the little sign was a pointer.

      >A mine, a tile, dust piled high,
      Together they rest, yet always outside.
      One misstep, and you’ll surely fall,
      Into the depths, where danger lies all.

      ATOI didn’t seem to make much sense, but I remembered how small “l” sometimes looked like a capital “I”.
      Atoll was the clue I’m sure of it. Where to disappear if not to islands.
      The letters at the end of the verses are spelling HELL. So it’s opposite.

      Basically, Atoll Paradise.

      A little Gugu search with AI, and that was it. That was our father here, with a number to call.

      Atoll Paradise
      Boat rentals – Island tours
      Copywriter, biographer
      Call FRED @ (+679) 215-7644

      Now it’ll be fair if Devan is calling me crazy. We’ll have to call and check before saying anything to Idle or even Mater for now.


        The landing on the sandy desert of Bluhm’Oxl was smoother than usual. It usually took a few minutes to get accustomed to their surrounding, the body transformations that came together with jumping across dimensions. In this case, it looked as though this dimension was quite close to their own.

        “Checking translation device…” Georges touched his ear lightly.

        Gremsbtic newkil jumbal” said Salomé in response. Georges looked quizzically at her face before realising she was pulling a classic prank.

        She laughed heartily. “That joke’s never getting old, isn’t it?”

        “Let’s walk a little in this direction, the rendez-vous point with Klatu isn’t too far.”

        “Any idea how Jorid managed to make contact this time?” Salomé asked.

        “Not sure really. Generally the quantum probability framework that’s built into the Jorid is managing to make trades across the multiverse that are quite complex to conceive or track down. Last time I tried to check, Jorid had traded one tardigrade to obtain us a couple of premium pass to the Amp’hool of Athumbra”

        “Underwater Whalets’ concert from the UniverseTour of Shakara, yes that was quite a night to remember…” Salomé reminisced fondly.

        “Fully booked for centuries, near impossible to get, and yet all it took was about a hundred of trades across multiple owners… No idea how it manages, but it found someone who was ready to trade their two front-row seats in exchange for a single Snoot’s hair.”

        “And why are we meeting this guy by the way? What’s his specialty?” Salomé winked. “You left me with the dressing duty, so happy you did all the reconnaissance.”

        Georges chucked. “all that Jorid said was: Klatu’s a relatively trustworthy Zathu, known for their expertise in dimensional magic, which is a crucial asset in your search for Léonard, presumably gone missing in the conflict-ridden Zathu sector.

        “Mmmh” said Salomé. “Dimensional magic. Rather unscientific for Jorid to express in that way. Nothing that I’ve recently dreamt about seems to relate. I guess we’ll see.”


        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


          With a determined glint in his eye, Xavier set his sights on the slot machines. He scanned the rows of blinking lights and flashing screens until one caught his attention. He approached the machine and inserted a coin, feeling a rush of excitement as he pulled the lever.

          With a satisfying whir, the reels began to spin, and before he knew it, the golden banana appeared on the screen, lining up perfectly. The machine erupted in flashing lights and loud noises, and a ticket spilled out onto the floor.

          🎰 · 💰

          Xavier picked it up, reading aloud the inscriptions on the ticket, “Congratulations on completing your quest. You may enjoy your trip until the next stage of your journey. Look for the cook on the pirate boat, she will give you directions to regroup with your friends. And don’t forget to confirm your bookings.”

          Glimmer let out a whoop of trepidation, “Let’s go find that cook, Xav! I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for us!”

          But Xavier, feeling a bit worn out, replied with a smile, “Hold on a minute, love. All I need at the moment is just some R&R after all that brouhaha.”

          Glimmer nodded in understanding and they both made their way to the deck, taking in the fresh air and the breathtaking scenery as the boat sailed towards its next destination.

          As the boat continued its journey, sailing and gliding on the river in the air filled with moist, they could start to see across the mist opening like a heavy curtain a colourful floating market in the distance, and the sounds of haggling and laughter filled the air.

          They couldn’t wait to explore and see what treasures and surprises awaited them. The journey was far from over, but for now, they were content to simply enjoy the ride.


          Xavier closed his laptop while his friends were still sending messages on the chatroom. He’d had long days of work before leaving to take his flights to Australia, during which he hoped he could rest enough during the flights.

          Most of the flights he’d checked had a minimum of 3 layovers, and a unbelievably long durations (not to count the astronomic amount of carbon emissions). Against all common sense, he’d taken one of the longest flight duration. It was 57h, but only 3 layovers. From Berlin, to Stockholm, then Dubai and Sydney. He could probably catch up with Youssef there as apparently he sent a message before boarding. They could go to Alice Spring and the Frying Mush Inn together. He’d try to find the reviews, but they were only listed on and didn’t have the rave reviews of the prestigious Kookynie Grand Hotel franchise. God knows what Zara had in mind while booking this place, it’d better be good. Reminded him of the time they all went to that improbably ghastly hotel in Spain (at the time Yasmin was still volunteering in a mission and couldn’t join) for a seminar with other game loonies and cosplayers. Those were the early days of the game, and the technology frankly left a lot to be desired at the time. They’d ended up eating raspberry jam with disposable toothbrushes, and get drunk on laughter.

          When Brytta had seen the time it took to go there, she’d reconsidered coming. She couldn’t afford taking that much time off, and spending the equivalent of 4 full days of her hard-won vacation as a nurse into a plane simply for the round-trip —there was simply no way.
          Xavier had proposed to shorten his stay, but she’d laughed and said, “you go there, I’ll enjoy some girl time with my friends, and I’ll work on my painting” —it was more convenient when he was gone for business trips, she would be able to put all the materials out, and not care to keep the apartment neat and tidy.

          The backpack was ready with the essentials; Xavier liked to travel light.


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


            Youssef gave his passport and ticket to the woman at gate 11. He was followed closely by Kyle and other members of the team. The flight attendant looked at him and gave him his passport and ticket back without scanning them with her machine.

            “I’m sorry, you’re at the wrong gate. Your flight is at gate 8,” she said.

            “But I’m going to Boston. My ticket says gate 11.”

            Youssef showed his ticket to the hostess, and she pointed the destination and the gate to him. She was right.

            “Your ticket is for flight AL357 to Sydney. It’s currently boarding at gate 8. Next person please.”

            Kyle patted him on the shoulder.

            “You should have double checked your ticket, he said.”

            “What’s wrong? asked Miss Tartiflate. Why are you going to Australia?”

            “I’m not.”

            “Well, it says you are,” she said pointing at the ticket. He didn’t understand the dark intensity of her gaze and her clenched fist, until he remembered that Botty Banworth lived there.

            “I’m not… I mean…”

            “You better not. If I hear you were in with that…”

            The words got lost as they broadcasted a call for flight AL357 to Sydney at Gate 8.

            “You’d better get that f…ing BLOG running during your little vacation or you can stay there and forget about your job,” she said before bumping into the border of the gate.

            Youssef moved on the side and looked at his ticket to Sydney, puzzled. When he passed security his ticket was to Boston. He recalled a message from Zara saying she would meet them in Australia soon. But how could she have managed to change his ticket without his knowing.

            Sure there was that moment when he had left his passport with his ticket on the table at the Starmoose when going back to the counter pick his second slice of cinnamon apple tart. But he was looking away only for a few seconds.

            “This is the last call for flight AL357 to Sydney. Youssef Ali is requested at Gate 8 before we close the gate.”

            Let’s just hope whomever made the change thought about transferring my luggage to the right plane,” he said as he started walking to Gate 8 with his bag.


              I’ve always felt like the odd one out in my family. Growing up at the Flying Fish Inn, I’ve always felt like I was on the outside looking in. My mother left when I was young, and my father disappeared not long after. I’ve always felt like I was the only one who didn’t fit in with the craziness of my family.

              I’ve always tried to keep my distance with the others. I didn’t want to get too involved, take sides about petty things, like growing weed in the backyard, making psychedelic termite honey, or trying to influence the twins to buy proper clothes. But truth is, you can’t get too far away. Town’s too small. Family always get back to you, and manage to get you involved in their shit, one way or another, even if you don’t say anything. That’s how it works. They don’t need my participation to use me as an argument.

              So I stopped paying attention, almost stopped caring. I lived my life working at the gas station, and drinking beers with my buddies Joe and Jasper, living in a semi-comatose state. I learned that word today when I came bringing little honey buns to mater. I know she secretly likes them, even if she pretend she doesn’t in front of Idle. But I can see the breadcrumbs on her cardigan when I come say hi at the end of the day. This morning, Idle was rocking in her favourite chair on the porch, looking at the clouds behind her mirrored sunglasses. Prune was talking to her, I saw she was angry because of the contraction of the muscles of her jaw and her eyes were darker than usual. She was saying to Idle that she was always in a semi-comatose state and doing nothing useful for the Inn when we had a bunch of tourists arriving. And something about the twins redecorating the rooms without proper design knowledge. Idle did what she usually does. She ignored the comment and kept on looking at the clouds. I’m not even sure she heard or understood that word that Prune said. Semi-comatose. It sounds like glucose. That’s how I’m spending my life between the Inn, the gas station and my buddies.

              But things changed today when I got back to my apartment for lunch. You can call it a hunch or a coincidence. But as we talked with Joe about that time when my dad left, making me think we were doing hide and seek, and he left me a note saying he would be back someday. I don’t know why I felt the need to go search that note afterwards. So I went back to the apartment and opened the mailbox. Among the bills and ads, I found a postcard with a few words written on the image and nothing except my address on the back. I knew it was from my dad.

              It was not signed or anything, but still I was sure it was his handwriting. I would recognise it anywhere. I went and took the shoebox I keep hidden on top of the kitchen closet, because I saw people do that in movies. That’s not very original, I know, but I’m not too bright either. I opened the box and took the note my dad left me when he disappeared.

              I put the card on the desk near the note. The handwritings matched. I felt so excited, and confused.

              A few words at the bottom of the card said : “Memories from the coldest place on Earth…”

              Why would dad go to such a place to send me a postcard after all those years ? Just to say that.

              That’s when I recalled what Prune had told me once as we were watching a detective movie : “Read everything with care and always double check your information.”

              On the back, it said that the image was from a scientific station in Antartica, but the stamp indicated it had been posted from a floating post office in the North Pole. I turned the card and looked at the text again. Above the station, a few words were written that sounded like a riddle.

              > A mine, a tile, dust piled high,
              Together they rest, yet always outside.
              One misstep, and you’ll surely fall,
              Into the depths, where danger lies all.

              It sure sounds like a warning. But I’m not too good with riddles. No need to worry Mater about that, in case of false hope and all that. Idle ? Don’t even think about it. She won’t believe me when I say it’s from dad. She never does believe me. And she’ll keep playing with the words trying to find her answer in the shape of smoke. The twins, they are a riddle on their own.

              No. It’s Prune’s help I need.


              In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                With the flurry of activities going around, in life and virtually, Xavier had trouble keeping track.

                His sanity demanded some clarity of intention and some focus. Too many threads were open, and of all things, he didn’t like loose ends.
                Somehow that silly notion of the Golden Banana quest did pose him a nagging reminder of something incomplete he was eager to get a resolution to. That, or he was unconsciously getting annoyed at seeing his 3 friends making strides in their adventures. The pirate quest was fun enough, but he’d rather enjoy it without having to check everything against being a possible clue.

                There were no rules against cheating. The thought struck him. Maybe that was it. The simplicity of it!

                Since they made the rules, they could make them, break them, amend or bend them.

                He looked up on the internet for an image he could feed AL, and *bam* it was there! In all its glory, a gorgeous Golden Banana on a purple cushion, in a pirate chest. The reward for an online game… That was eerie!

                He’d had a sneaking suspicion the game was not just about virtual any longer. Synchronistic happenings like that were more than just random.

                He logged into the game only to discover a simple message.

                “Congratulations on completing your quest. You may enjoy your trip until the next stage of your journey.
                Look for the cook on the pirate boat, she will give you directions to regroup with your friends.
                And don’t forget to confirm your bookings.”


                  Salomé: Using the new trans-dimensional array, Jorid, plot course to a new other-dimensional exploration

                  Georges (comments): “New realms of consciousness, extravagant creatures expected, dragons least of them!” He winked “May that be a warning for whoever wants to follow in our steps”.

                  The Jorid:  Ready for departure.

                  Salomé: Plot coordinates quadrant AVB 34-7•8 – Cosmic time triangulation congruent to 2023 AD Earth era. Quantum drive engaged.

                  Jorid: Departure initiated. Entering interdimensional space. Standby for quantum leap.

                  Salomé (sighing): Please analyse subspace signatures, evidences of life forms in the quadrant.

                  Jorid: Scanning subspace signatures. Detecting multiple life forms in the AVB 34-7•8 quadrant. Further analysis required to determine intelligence and potential danger.

                  Salomé: Jorid, engage human interaction mode, with conversational capabilities and extrapolate please!

                  Jorid: Engaging human interaction mode. Ready for conversation. What would you like to know or discuss?

                  Georges: We currently have amassed quite a number of tiles. How many Salomé?

                  Salomé: Let me check. I think about 47 of them last I count. I didn’t insert the auto-generated ones, they were of lesser quality and seemed to interfere with the navigational array landing us always in expected places already travelled.

                  Georges: Léonard has been missing for 4 months.

                  Salomé: you mean by our count, right?

                  Georges: Right. We need to find him to readjust or correct the navigational array. Jorid, give us statistical probabilities that we can use as clues to his current potential locations.

                  Jorid: Calculating statistical probabilities for Léonard’s location. It would be helpful to have more information, such as known destinations or areas of interest, to increase accuracy of probabilities.

                  Salomé: Jorid is in a lazy mood it seems. I preferred her more chatty.

                  Georges: You mean “him”, surely dear?

                  Salomé: (rolls eyes)

                  Georges: Anyway, Léonard seemed interested in archaeological finds in recent excavated tombs near the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector.

                  Jorid: Analyzing data on archaeological finds near the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector. Probability of Léonard being in the area is calculated at 43%. Shall I plot a course to Bluhm’Oxl for further investigation?

                  Salomé (loosing patience): Please engage your quantum capacities to access more data. We built you to be a bit more helpful than a bloody computer.

                  Georges laughed: I remembered you had more patience, dear!

                  Salomé: She’s in a mood today, isn’t she. What did you do to her?

                  Georges (cunningly): Jorid, sweet thing, please provide more details about the area, the populations, the customs the whole gambit dammit, and potential territorial conflicts in the vicinity. And be more chatty to please Salomé.

                  Jorid: Of course, I apologize for my previous responses. Analyzing data on the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector, including information on populations, customs, territorial conflicts and other relevant details. The area is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, with several ancient tombs and ruins attracting archaeological interest. The main population is composed of the Zathu nomads, known for their hospitality and trading skills. There are no known territorial conflicts in the area, but it is advised to exercise caution while traveling as the deserts can be treacherous.

                  Georges (laughs): You can’t stop her know!

                  Salomé (smiles noticing the “her”): Well, that doesn’t tell too much, does it. How shall we proceed? Need to synthetise some local clothes, or are you back to your thieving habits (pun intended)?

                  Georges: Haha, always ready for a good adventure. It seems we’ll have to do some research on the ground. As for the clothes, I’ll leave that to you my dear. Your sense of style never fails to impress. Let’s make sure to blend in with the locals and avoid drawing any unnecessary attention. The goal is to find Léonard, not get into trouble.


                  In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                    Put your thoughts to sleep. Do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.
                    ~ Rumi

                    Tired from not having any sleep, Zara had found the suburb of Camden unattractive and boring, and her cousin Bertie, although cheerful and kind and eager to show her around, had become increasingly irritating to her.  She found herself wishing he’d shut up and take her back to the house so she could play the game again.  And then felt even more cranky at how uncomfortable she felt about being so ungrateful.  She wondered if she was going to get addicted and spent the rest of her life with her head bent over a gadget and never look up at the real word again, like boring people moaned about on social media.

                    Maybe she should leave tomorrow, even if it meant arriving first at the Flying Fish Inn.  But what about the ghost of Isaac in the church, would she regret later not following that up.  On the other hand, if she went straight to the Inn and had a few days on her own, she could spend as long as she wanted in the game with nobody pestering her.   Zara squirmed mentally when she realized she was translating Berties best efforts at hospitality as pestering.

                    Bertie stopped the car at a traffic light and was chatting to the passenger in the next car through his open window.  Zara picked her phone up and checked her daily Call The Whale app for some inspiration.

                    Let go of thinking.

                    A ragged sigh escaped Zara’s lips, causing Bertie to glance over. She adjusted her facial expression quickly and rustled up a cheery smile and Bertie continued his conversation with the occupants of the other car until the lights changed.

                    “I thought you’d like to meet the folks down at the library, they know all the history of Camden,” Bertie said, but Zara interrupted him.

                    “Oh Bertie, how kind of you!  But I’ve just had a message and I have to leave tomorrow morning for the rendezvous with my friends. There’s been a change of plans.”  Zara astonished herself that she blurted that out without thinking it through first.   But there. It was said. It was decided.


                    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                      Given the new scenery unfolding in front of him, it was time for a change into more appropriate garments.

                      Luckily, the portal he’d clicked on came with some interesting new goodies. Xavier skimmed over some of the available options, until he found an interesting pair of old boots.

                      Looking at the old worn leather boots that had appeared in Xavier’s bag, he felt they would be quite appropriate, and put them on.

                      The changes were subtle, but Xavier already felt more in character with the place.
                      Suddenly a capuchin monkey jumped on his shoulder and started to pull his ear to make it to the casino boat.

                      The too friendly, potentially mischievous pickpocketing monkey seemed a bit of a trope, but Xavier found the creature endearing.

                      “Let’s go then! Seems like this party is waiting for us.” he said to the excited monkey.

                      He jumped into one of the dinghy doing the rounds to the boat with some of the customers.

                      “Ahoy there, matey!” a rather small man with a piercing blue eye and massive top hat said, giving Xavier a sideways glance. He had an eerie presence and seemed very imposing for such a small frame. “The name’s Sproink, and ye be a first-timer, I see.” he said as a casual matter of introduction.

                      “Nice to meet you sir” Xavier said distractedly, as he was taking in all the details in the curious boat lit by lanterns dangling in the soft wind.

                      “Yer too polite for these parts, me friend,” Sproink guffawed. “But have no fear, Sproink’s got yer back.” He winked at the capuchin, Xavier couldn’t help but notice, and suddenly realised that the monkey truly belonged to Sproink.

                      “No need to check yer pockets, matey” Sproink smiled “I have me sights set on far more interesting game than yer trinkets.” He handed him back some of the stuff that the capuchin had managed to spirit away unnoticed. “But watch yerself, matey. Not all the folk here be what they seem.”

                      “Point taken!”  Xavimunk was indeed a bit too naive, but if anything, that’d often managed to keep him out of trouble. As the small wiry guy left with his bag of tricks in a springy gait, he turned to check his shoulder, and the monkey had disappeared somewhere on the boat too. Xavier was left wondering if he’d see more of him later.



                      “Welcome, welcome, me hearties!” a buxom girl of large stature with a baroque assortment of feathers and garish colours was a the entrance chewing on a straw, and looking as though the place belonged to her. But there was something else, she was too playing a part, and didn’t seem from here.

                      She leaned conspiratorially towards Xavier, and dragged him in a corner.

                      “Yer a naughty monkey, ignoring me prompts,” she said. “Was I too discrete, or what?”

                      “Wait, what?” Xavier was confused. Then he remembered the strange message. “Wait a minute… you’re Glimble… something, with unicorns shit or something?” He didn’t have time to entertain the young geek gamers, they were too immature, and well… a lot more invested in the game than he was, they would often turn seriously creepy.

                      “Oi, come on now!” she raised her hands and shook herself violently. She had turned into a different version of herself. “Now, is it better? It’s true, them avatars easily turn into ava-tarts if you ask me. But you can’t deny a lady a bit o’ comfort with a wrinkle filter. They went a bit overboard with this one, if you ask me.”

                      “Let’s start again. Glimmer Gambol, and nice to meet you young man.”


                      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                        Have you booked your flight yet?  Zara sent a message to Yasmin. I’m spending a few more days in Camden, probably be at the Flying Fish Inn by the end of the week.

                          :yahoo_rolling_eyes: :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    I told you already when my flight is, Air Fiji, remeber?  bloody Sister Finnlie on my case all the time, haven’t had a minute. Zara had to wait over an hour for Yamsin’s reply.

                        Took you long enough to reply. Zara replied promptly. Heard nothing from Youssef for ages either, have you heard from him? I’ll be arriving there on my own at this rate.

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   Not a word, I expect Xavier’s booked his but he hasn’t said.  Probably doing his secret monkey thing.

                        Have you tried the free roaming thing on the game yet?

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    I just told you Sister Finnlie hasn’t given me a minute to myself, she’s a right tart! Why, have you?

                        Yeah it’s amazing, been checking out the Flying Fish Inn. Looks a bit of a dump. Not much to do around there, well not from what I can see anyway.  But you know what?

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   What?

                        You’ll lose your eyes in the back of your head one day and look like that AI avatart with the wall eye.  Get this though: we haven’t started the game yet, that quest for quirks thing, I was just having a roman around ha ha typo having a roam around see what’s there and stuff I don’t know anything about online games like you lot and I ended up here.  Zara sent a screenshot of the image she’d seen and added:   Did I already start the game or what, I don’t even know how we actually start the game, I was just wandering around….oh…and happened to chance upon this…


                        Zaras Game

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   How rude to start playing before us

                        I didn’t start playing the game before you, I just told you, I was wandering around playing about waiting for you lot!   Zara thought Yasmin sounded like she needed a holiday.

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    Yeah well that was your quest, wasn’t it? To wander around or something?  What’s that silver chest on her back?

                        I dunno but looks intriguing eh maybe she’s hidden all her devices and techy gadgets in an antiquey looking box so she doesn’t blow her cover

                        Gotta go Sister Finnlie’s coming

                        Zara muttered how rude under her breath and put her phone down.  She’d retired to her bedroom early, telling Bertie that she needed an early night but really had wanted some time alone to explore the new game world.  She didn’t want to make mistakes and look daft to her friends when the game started.

                        “Too late for that”, Pretty Girl said.

                        “SSHHH!” Zara hissed at the parrot. “And stop reading my mind, it’s disconcerting, not to mention rude.”

                        She heard the sound of the lavatory flush and Berties bedroom door closing and looked at the time. 23:36.

                        Zara decided to give him an hour to make sure he was asleep and then sneak out and go back to that church.


                        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                          In the muggy warmth of the night, Yasmin tossed and turned on her bed. A small fan on the bedside table rattled noisily next to her but did little to dispel the heat. She kicked the thin sheet covering her to the ground, only to retrieve it and gather it tightly around herself when she heard a familiar sound.

                          “You little shit,” she hissed, slapping wildly in the direction of the high pitched whine.

                          She could make out the sound of a child crying in the distance and briefly considered  getting up to check before hearing quick footsteps pass her door. Sister Aliti was on duty tonight. She liked Sister Aliti with her soft brown eyes and wide toothy smile — nothing seemed to rattle her.  She liked all the Nuns, perhaps with the exception of Sister Finnlie.

                          Sister Finnlie was a sharp faced woman who was obsessed with cleanliness and sometimes made the children cry for such silly little things … perhaps if they talked too loudly or spilled some crumbs on the floor at lunch time. “Let them be, Sister,” Sister Aliti would admonish her and Sister Finnlie would pinch her lips and make a huffing noise.

                          The other day, during the morning reflection time when everyone sat in silent contemplation, Yasmin had found herself fixated on Sister Finnlie’s hands, her thin fingers tidily entwined on her lap. And Yasmin remembered a conversation with her friends online about AI creating a cleaning woman with sausage fingers. “Sometimes they look like a can of worms,” Youssef had said.

                          And, looking at those fingers and thinking about Youssef and the others and the fun conversations they had, Yasmin snort laughed.

                          She had tried to suppress it but the more she tried the more it built up inside of her until it exploded from her nose in a loud grunting noise. Sister Aliti had giggled but Sister Finnlie had glared at Yasmin and very pointedly rolled her eyes. Later, she’d put her on bin cleaning duty, surely the worst job ever, and Yasmin knew for sure it was pay back.


                          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                            The team had to stop when a sandstorm hit them in the middle of the desert. They only had an hour drive left to reach the oasis where Lama Yoneze had been seen last and Miss Tartiflate insisted, like she always did, against the guides advice that they kept on going. She feared the last shaman would be lost in the storm, maybe croak stuffed with that damn dust. But when they lost the satellite dish and a jeep almost rolled down a sand dune, she finally listened to the guides. They had them park the cars close to each other, then checked the straps and urged everyone to stay in their cars until the storm was over.

                            Youssef at first thought he was lucky. He managed to get into the same car as Tiff, the young intern he had discussed with the other day. But despite all their precautions, they couldn’t stop the dust to come in. It was everywhere and you had to kept your mouth and eyes shut if you didn’t want to grind your teeth with fine sand. So instead he enjoyed this unexpected respite from his trying to save THE BLOG from the evil Thi Gang, and from Miss Tartiflate’s continuous flow of criticism.

                            The storm blew off the dish just after Xavier had sent him AL’s answer to the strange glyphs he had received on his phone. When Youssef read the message, he sighed. He had forgotten hope was an illusion. AL was in its infancy and was not a dead language expert. He gave them something fitting Youssef’s current location and the questions about famous alien dishes they asked him last week. It was just an old pot luck recipe from when the Silk Road was passing through the Gobi desert. He just hoped Xavier would have some luck until Youssef found a way to restore the connexion.


                            In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                              Zara was long overdue for some holiday time off from her job at the Bungwalley Valley animal rescue centre in New South Wales and the suggestion to meet her online friends at the intriguing sounding Flying Fish Inn to look for clues for their online game couldn’t have come at a better time.  Lucky for her it wasn’t all that far, relatively speaking, although everything is far in Australia, it was closer than coming from Europe.  Xavier would have a much longer trip.  Zara wasn’t quite sure where exactly Yasmin was, but she knew it was somewhere in Asia. It depended on which refugee camp she was assigned to, and Zara had forgotten to ask her recently. All they had talked about was the new online game, and how confusing it all was.

                              The biggest mystery to Zara was why she was the leader in the game.  She was always the one who was wandering off on side trips and forgetting what everyone else was up to. If the other game followers followed her lead there was no telling where they’d all end up!

                              “But it is just a game,” Pretty Girl, the rescue parrot interjected. Zara had known some talking parrots over the years, but never one quite like this one. Usually they repeated any nonsense that they’d heard but this one was different.  She would miss it while she was away on holiday, and for a moment considered taking the talking parrot with her on the trip.  If she did, she’d have to think about changing her name though, Pretty Girl wasn’t a great name but it was hard to keep thinking of names for all the rescue creatures.

                              After Zara had done the routine morning chores of feeding the various animals, changing the water bowls, and cleaning up the less pleasant aspects of the job,  she sat down in the office room of the rescue centre with a cup of coffee and a sandwich.  She was in good physical shape for 57, wiry and energetic, but her back ached at times and a sit down was welcome before the vet arrived to check on all the sick and wounded animals.

                              Pretty Girl flew over from the kennels, and perched outside the office room window.  When the parrot had first been dropped off at the centre, they’d put her in a big cage, but in no uncertain terms Pretty Girl had told them she’d done nothing wrong and was wrongfully imprisoned and to release her at once. It was rather a shock to be addresssed by a parrot in such a way, and it was agreed between the staff and the vet to set her free and see what happened. And Pretty Girl had not flown away.

                              “Hey Pretty Girl, why don’t you give me some advice on this confusing new game I’m playing with my online friends?” Zara asked.

                              “Pretty Girl wants some of your tuna sandwich first,” replied the parrot.  After Zara had obliged, the parrot continued at some surprising length.

                              “My advice would be to not worry too much about getting the small details right. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the creative process.  Just give me a bit more tuna,”  Pretty Girl said, before continuing.

                              “Remember that as a writer, you have the power to shape the story and the characters as you see fit. It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to not know everything. Allow yourself to be inspired by the world around you and let the story unfold naturally. Trust in your own creativity and don’t be afraid to take risks. And remember, it’s not the small details that make a story great, it’s the emotions and experiences that the characters go through that make it truly memorable.  And always remember to feed the parrot.”

                              “Maybe I should take you on holiday with me after all,” Zara replied. “You really are an amazing bird, aren’t you?”


                              Zara and Pretty Girl Parrot


                              In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                                [Following the last comment] Fed the AL this context:

                                1. “A gripshawk is feline-like anthropomorphic creature living in the deserts in a fiction written by Yurara Fameliki. It is the least favorite character to pick by Zara who doesn’t like “fantasy stuff”.
                                2. The “Flying Fish Inn” is a fictional (or maybe real) Inn set in the Australian outback, owned by a family headed by the matriarch Mater and involved in many adventures, sometimes surnatural.
                                3. AL” is an AI build with Al’s persona (Albert Yokozo being a famous author, possibly a nom de plume of the mysterious Ernrich Lemwon) – it is known as Calli in another story.

                                Please continue the story unfolding here:
                                <feeding FP’s comment>

                                “Yeah, I’m not a fan of fantasy stuff either,” Youssef added, agreeing with Zara. “But I’m curious about the Flying Fish Inn and how it relates to the game. Maybe we should check it out and see if there are any clues there.”

                                “That’s a good idea,” Yasmin said. “I’ve heard the stories about the Inn and the adventures the family has had there. Some of them are quite intriguing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a connection to our game.”

                                “I’m not sure about the AI,” Xavier said. “It’s still a mystery to me, but I trust AL will guide us in the right direction. I’m curious to see where this all leads.”

                                “Alright, let’s plan a trip to the Flying Fish Inn,” Zara said, excitedly. “We’ll take a break from the game for a few days, but we’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and new insights. Who knows, maybe we’ll even find some quirky guests along the way.”

                                As they were discussing their plans, they all felt a sense of excitement and curiosity about what the future holds for them. The game and the world of the Land of the Quirks had captured their imagination and they were eager to see where it would lead them next.


                                In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


                                  Olek wished he wasn’t so easy to find.

                                  The old caretaker of the shrine of Saint Edigna couldn’t have chosen a less conspicuous place to live in this warring time. People were flocking from afar, more and more each day drawn about by the ancient place, and the sacred oil bleeding linden tree which had suddenly and quite miraculously resumed its flow in the midst of the ambiant chaos started by the war.

                                  It wasn’t always like this. A few months ago, the linden tree was just an old linden tree that may or may not have been miraculous, if the old wifes’ tales were to be trusted. Mankind’s memory is a flimsy thing as it occurs, and while for many generations before, speculations had abounded about whether or not the Saint was real, had such or such filiation, et cætera— it now seemed the old tales that were passed down from mother to children had managed to keep alive a knowledge that had but all dried up on old flaky parchments scribbled in pale inks that kept eluding old scholars’ exegesis.

                                  Olek himself wasn’t a learned man. A man of faith, he was a little — more by upbringing than by choice, and by slow attunement to nature it would seem. Over the years, he’d be servicing the country in many ways, and after a rather long carrier started at young age, he had finally managed to retire in this place.
                                  He thought he’d be left alone, to care for a little garden patch, checking in from times to times on the old grumpy neighbours, but alas, the Holy Nation’s destiny still had something in store for him.

                                  The latest pilgrim family had brought a message. It was another push to action. “Plan acceleration needs to happen”.
                                  “What clucking plan again?” was his first reaction. Bad temper had a way of flaring right up his vents as in old times. When he’d calmed down, he wondered if he had ever seen a call for slowing down in his life. People were always so busy mindlessly carting around, bumping into the darkness.

                                  He smiled thinking of something his old man used to say. He’d never planned for a thing in his life, and was always very carefree it was often scary. His mantra was “People are always getting prepared for the wrong things. They never can prepare for the unexpected, and surely enough, only the unexpected happens.”
                                  That sort of chaos paddling approach to life didn’t seem to bring him any sort of extraordinary success, and while he had the same mixed bag of ups and downs as the rest of his compatriots, just so much less did he suffer for the same result! Olek guessed that was the whole point, even if he really couldn’t accept it until much later in life.

                                  Maybe Olek would start playing by his father’s book. Until he could find a way to get lost behind enemy lines.


                                    The Hair’s and Leedham’s of Netherseal


                                    Samuel Warren of Stapenhill married Catherine Holland of Barton under Needwood in 1795. Catherine’s father was Thomas Holland; her mother was Hannah Hair.

                                    Hannah was born in Netherseal, Derbyshire, in 1739. Her parents were Joseph Hair 1696-1746 and Hannah.
                                    Joseph’s parents were Isaac Hair and Elizabeth Leedham.  Elizabeth was born in Netherseal in 1665.  Isaac and Elizabeth were married in Netherseal in 1686.

                                    Marriage of Isaac Hair and Elizabeth Leedham: (variously spelled Ledom, Leedom, Leedham, and in one case mistranscribed as Sedom):


                                    1686 marriage Nicholas Leedham


                                    Isaac was buried in Netherseal on 14 August 1709 (the transcript says the 18th, but the microfiche image clearly says the 14th), but I have not been able to find a birth registered for him. On other public trees on an ancestry website, Isaac Le Haire was baptised in Canterbury and was a Huguenot, but I haven’t found any evidence to support this.

                                    Isaac Hair’s death registered 14 August 1709 in Netherseal:

                                    Isaac Hair death 1709


                                    A search for the etymology of the surname Hair brings various suggestions, including:

                                    “This surname is derived from a nickname. ‘the hare,’ probably affixed on some one fleet of foot. Naturally looked upon as a complimentary sobriquet, and retained in the family; compare Lightfoot. (for example) Hugh le Hare, Oxfordshire, 1273. Hundred Rolls.”

                                    From this we may deduce that the name Hair (or Hare) is not necessarily from the French Le Haire, and existed in England for some considerable time before the arrival of the Huguenots.

                                    Elizabeth Leedham was born in Netherseal in 1665. Her parents were Nicholas Leedham 1621-1670 and Dorothy. Nicholas Leedham was born in Church Gresley (Swadlincote) in 1621, and died in Netherseal in 1670.

                                    Nicholas was a Yeoman and left a will and inventory worth £147.14s.8d (one hundred and forty seven pounds fourteen shillings and eight pence).

                                    The 1670 inventory of Nicholas Leedham:

                                    1670 will Nicholas Leedham


                                    According to local historian Mark Knight on the Netherseal History facebook group, the Seale (Netherseal and Overseal)  parish registers from the year 1563 to 1724 were digitized during lockdown.

                                    via Mark Knight:

                                    “There are five entries for Nicholas Leedham.
                                    On March 14th 1646 he and his wife buried an unnamed child, presumably the child died during childbirth or was stillborn.
                                    On November 28th 1659 he buried his wife, Elizabeth. He remarried as on June 13th 1664 he had his son William baptised.
                                    The following year, 1665, he baptised a daughter on November 12th. (Elizabeth) On December 23rd 1672 the parish record says that Dorithy daughter of Dorithy was buried. The Bishops Transcript has Dorithy a daughter of Nicholas. Nicholas’ second wife was called Dorithy and they named a daughter after her. Alas, the daughter died two years after Nicholas. No further Leedhams appear in the record until after 1724.”

                                    Dorothy daughter of Dorothy Leedham was buried 23 December 1672:




                                    William, son of Nicholas and Dorothy also left a will. In it he mentions “My dear wife Elizabeth. My children Thomas Leedom, Dorothy Leedom , Ann Leedom, Christopher Leedom and William Leedom.”

                                    1726 will of William Leedham:

                                    1726 will William Leedham


                                    I found a curious error with the the parish register entries for Hannah Hair. It was a transcription error, but not a recent one. The original parish registers were copied: “HO Copy of ye register of Seale anno 1739.” I’m not sure when the copy was made, but it wasn’t recently. I found a burial for Hannah Hair on 22 April 1739 in the HO copy, which was the same day as her baptism registered on the original. I checked both registers name by name and they are exactly copied EXCEPT for Hannah Hairs. The rector, Richard Inge, put burial instead of baptism by mistake.

                                    The original Parish register baptism of Hannah Hair:

                                    Hannah Hair 1


                                    The HO register copy incorrectly copied:

                                    Hannah Hair 2


                                      Leicestershire Blacksmiths

                                      The Orgill’s of Measham led me further into Leicestershire as I traveled back in time.

                                      I also realized I had uncovered a direct line of women and their mothers going back ten generations:

                                      myself, Tracy Edwards 1957-
                                      my mother Gillian Marshall 1933-
                                      my grandmother Florence Warren 1906-1988
                                      her mother and my great grandmother Florence Gretton 1881-1927
                                      her mother Sarah Orgill 1840-1910
                                      her mother Elizabeth Orgill 1803-1876
                                      her mother Sarah Boss 1783-1847
                                      her mother Elizabeth Page 1749-
                                      her mother Mary Potter 1719-1780
                                      and her mother and my 7x great grandmother Mary 1680-

                                      You could say it leads us to the very heart of England, as these Leicestershire villages are as far from the coast as it’s possible to be. There are countless other maternal lines to follow, of course, but only one of mothers of mothers, and ours takes us to Leicestershire.

                                      The blacksmiths

                                      Sarah Boss was the daughter of Michael Boss 1755-1807, a blacksmith in Measham, and Elizabeth Page of nearby Hartshorn, just over the county border in Derbyshire.

                                      An earlier Michael Boss, a blacksmith of Measham, died in 1772, and in his will he left the possession of the blacksmiths shop and all the working tools and a third of the household furniture to Michael, who he named as his nephew. He left his house in Appleby Magna to his wife Grace, and five pounds to his mother Jane Boss. As none of Michael and Grace’s children are mentioned in the will, perhaps it can be assumed that they were childless.

                                      The will of Michael Boss, 1772, Measham:

                                      Michael Boss 1772 will


                                      Michael Boss the uncle was born in Appleby Magna in 1724. His parents were Michael Boss of Nelson in the Thistles and Jane Peircivall of Appleby Magna, who were married in nearby Mancetter in 1720.

                                      Information worth noting on the Appleby Magna website:

                                      In 1752 the calendar in England was changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, as a result 11 days were famously “lost”. But for the recording of Church Registers another very significant change also took place, the start of the year was moved from March 25th to our more familiar January 1st.
                                      Before 1752 the 1st day of each new year was March 25th, Lady Day (a significant date in the Christian calendar). The year number which we all now use for calculating ages didn’t change until March 25th. So, for example, the day after March 24th 1750 was March 25th 1751, and January 1743 followed December 1743.
                                      This March to March recording can be seen very clearly in the Appleby Registers before 1752. Between 1752 and 1768 there appears slightly confused recording, so dates should be carefully checked. After 1768 the recording is more fully by the modern calendar year.

                                      Michael Boss the uncle married Grace Cuthbert.  I haven’t yet found the birth or parents of Grace, but a blacksmith by the name of Edward Cuthbert is mentioned on an Appleby Magna history website:

                                      An Eighteenth Century Blacksmith’s Shop in Little Appleby
                                      by Alan Roberts

                                      Cuthberts inventory

                                      The inventory of Edward Cuthbert provides interesting information about the household possessions and living arrangements of an eighteenth century blacksmith. Edward Cuthbert (als. Cutboard) settled in Appleby after the Restoration to join the handful of blacksmiths already established in the parish, including the Wathews who were prominent horse traders. The blacksmiths may have all worked together in the same shop at one time. Edward and his wife Sarah recorded the baptisms of several of their children in the parish register. Somewhat sadly three of the boys named after their father all died either in infancy or as young children. Edward’s inventory which was drawn up in 1732, by which time he was probably a widower and his children had left home, suggests that they once occupied a comfortable two-storey house in Little Appleby with an attached workshop, well equipped with all the tools for repairing farm carts, ploughs and other implements, for shoeing horses and for general ironmongery. 

                                      Edward Cuthbert born circa 1660, married Joane Tuvenet in 1684 in Swepston cum Snarestone , and died in Appleby in 1732. Tuvenet is a French name and suggests a Huguenot connection, but this isn’t our family, and indeed this Edward Cuthbert is not likely to be Grace’s father anyway.

                                      Michael Boss and Elizabeth Page appear to have married twice: once in 1776, and once in 1779. Both of the documents exist and appear correct. Both marriages were by licence. They both mention Michael is a blacksmith.

                                      Their first daughter, Elizabeth, was baptized in February 1777, just nine months after the first wedding. It’s not known when she was born, however, and it’s possible that the marriage was a hasty one. But why marry again three years later?

                                      But Michael Boss and Elizabeth Page did not marry twice.

                                      Elizabeth Page from Smisby was born in 1752 and married Michael Boss on the 5th of May 1776 in Measham. On the marriage licence allegations and bonds, Michael is a bachelor.

                                      Baby Elizabeth was baptised in Measham on the 9th February 1777. Mother Elizabeth died on the 18th February 1777, also in Measham.

                                      In 1779 Michael Boss married another Elizabeth Page! She was born in 1749 in Hartshorn, and Michael is a widower on the marriage licence allegations and bonds.

                                      Hartshorn and Smisby are neighbouring villages, hence the confusion.  But a closer look at the documents available revealed the clues.  Both Elizabeth Pages were literate, and indeed their signatures on the marriage registers are different:

                                      Marriage of Michael Boss and Elizabeth Page of Smisby in 1776:

                                      Elizabeth Page 1776


                                      Marriage of Michael Boss and Elizabeth Page of Harsthorn in 1779:

                                      Elizabeth Page 1779


                                      Not only did Michael Boss marry two women both called Elizabeth Page but he had an unusual start in life as well. His uncle Michael Boss left him the blacksmith business and a third of his furniture. This was all in the will. But which of Uncle Michaels brothers was nephew Michaels father?

                                      The only Michael Boss born at the right time was in 1750 in Edingale, Staffordshire, about eight miles from Appleby Magna. His parents were Thomas Boss and Ann Parker, married in Edingale in 1747.  Thomas died in August 1750, and his son Michael was baptised in the December, posthumus son of Thomas and his widow Ann. Both entries are on the same page of the register.

                                      1750 posthumus


                                      Ann Boss, the young widow, married again. But perhaps Michael and his brother went to live with their childless uncle and aunt, Michael Boss and Grace Cuthbert.

                                      The great grandfather of Michael Boss (the Measham blacksmith born in 1850) was also Michael Boss, probably born in the 1660s. He died in Newton Regis in Warwickshire in 1724, four years after his son (also Michael Boss born 1693) married Jane Peircivall.  The entry on the parish register states that Michael Boss was buried ye 13th Affadavit made.

                                      I had not seen affadavit made on a parish register before, and this relates to the The Burying in Woollen Acts 1666–80.  According to Wikipedia:

                                       “Acts of the Parliament of England which required the dead, except plague victims and the destitute, to be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of any foreign textiles.  It was a requirement that an affidavit be sworn in front of a Justice of the Peace (usually by a relative of the deceased), confirming burial in wool, with the punishment of a £5 fee for noncompliance. Burial entries in parish registers were marked with the word “affidavit” or its equivalent to confirm that affidavit had been sworn; it would be marked “naked” for those too poor to afford the woollen shroud.  The legislation was in force until 1814, but was generally ignored after 1770.”

                                      Michael Boss buried 1724 “Affadavit made”:

                                      Michael Boss affadavit 1724




                                      Elizabeth Page‘s father was William Page 1717-1783, a wheelwright in Hartshorn.  (The father of the first wife Elizabeth was also William Page, but he was a husbandman in Smisby born in 1714. William Page, the father of the second wife, was born in Nailstone, Leicestershire, in 1717. His place of residence on his marriage to Mary Potter was spelled Nelson.)

                                      Her mother was Mary Potter 1719- of nearby Coleorton.  Mary’s father, Richard Potter 1677-1731, was a blacksmith in Coleorton.

                                      A page of the will of Richard Potter 1731:

                                      Richard Potter 1731


                                      Richard Potter states: “I will and order that my son Thomas Potter shall after my decease have one shilling paid to him and no more.”  As he left £50 to each of his daughters, one can’t help but wonder what Thomas did to displease his father.

                                      Richard stipulated that his son Thomas should have one shilling paid to him and not more, for several good considerations, and left “the house and ground lying in the parish of Whittwick in a place called the Long Lane to my wife Mary Potter to dispose of as she shall think proper.”

                                      His son Richard inherited the blacksmith business:  “I will and order that my son Richard Potter shall live and be with his mother and serve her duly and truly in the business of a blacksmith, and obey and serve her in all lawful commands six years after my decease, and then I give to him and his heirs…. my house and grounds Coulson House in the Liberty of Thringstone”

                                      Richard wanted his son John to be a blacksmith too: “I will and order that my wife bring up my son John Potter at home with her and teach or cause him to be taught the trade of a blacksmith and that he shall serve her duly and truly seven years after my decease after the manner of an apprentice and at the death of his mother I give him that house and shop and building and the ground belonging to it which I now dwell in to him and his heirs forever.”

                                      To his daughters Margrett and Mary Potter, upon their reaching the age of one and twenty, or the day after their marriage, he leaves £50 each. All the rest of his goods are left to his loving wife Mary.


                                      An inventory of the belongings of Richard Potter, 1731:

                                      Richard Potter inventory


                                      Richard Potters father was also named Richard Potter 1649-1719, and he too was a blacksmith.

                                      Richard Potter of Coleorton in the county of Leicester, blacksmith, stated in his will:  “I give to my son and daughter Thomas and Sarah Potter the possession of my house and grounds.”

                                      He leaves ten pounds each to his daughters Jane and Alice, to his son Francis he gives five pounds, and five shillings to his son Richard. Sons Joseph and William also receive five shillings each. To his daughter Mary, wife of Edward Burton, and her daughter Elizabeth, he gives five shillings each. The rest of his good, chattels and wordly substance he leaves equally between his son and daugter Thomas and Sarah. As there is no mention of his wife, it’s assumed that she predeceased him.

                                      The will of Richard Potter, 1719:

                                      Richard Potter 1719


                                      Richard Potter’s (1649-1719) parents were William Potter and Alse Huldin, both born in the early 1600s.  They were married in 1646 at Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire.  The name Huldin appears to originate in Finland.

                                      William Potter was a blacksmith. In the 1659 parish registers of Breedon on the Hill, William Potter of Breedon blacksmith buryed the 14th July.


                                        William Housley the Elder


                                        William Housley of Kidsley Grange Farm in Smalley, Derbyshire, was born in 1781 in Selston,  just over the county border in Nottinghamshire.  His father was also called William Housley, and he was born in Selston in 1735.  It would appear from the records that William the father married late in life and only had one son (unless of course other records are missing or have not yet been found).  Never the less, William Housley of Kidsley was the eldest son, or eldest surviving son, evident from the legal document written in 1816 regarding William the fathers’ estate.

                                        William Housley died in Smalley in 1815, intestate.  William the son claims that “he is the natural and lawful son of the said deceased and the person entitled to letters of administration of his goods and personal estate”.

                                        Derby the 16th day of April 1816:

                                        William Housley intestateWilliam Housley intestate 2


                                        I transcribed three pages of this document, which was mostly repeated legal jargon. It appears that William Housley the elder died intestate, but that William the younger claimed that he was the sole heir.  £1200 is mentioned to be held until the following year until such time that there is certainty than no will was found and so on. On the last page “no more than £600” is mentioned and I can’t quite make out why both figures are mentioned!  However, either would have been a considerable sum in 1816.

                                        I also found a land tax register in William Housley’s the elders name in Smalley (as William the son would have been too young at the time, in 1798).  William the elder was an occupant of one of his properties, and paid tax on two others, with other occupants named, so presumably he owned three properties in Smalley.

                                        The only likely marriage for William Housley was in Selston. William Housley married Elizabeth Woodhead in 1777. It was a miracle that I found it, because the transcription on the website said 1797, which would have been too late to be ours, as William the son was born in 1781, but for some reason I checked the image and found that it was clearly 1777, listed between entries for 1776 and 1778. (I reported the transcription error.)  There were no other William Housley marriages recorded during the right time frame in Selston or in the vicinity.

                                        I found a birth registered for William the elder in Selston in 1735.  Notwithstanding there may be pages of the register missing or illegible, in the absence of any other baptism registration, we must assume this is our William, in which case he married rather late in his 40s.  It would seem he didn’t have a previous wife, as William the younger claims to be the sole heir to his fathers estate.  I haven’t found any other children registered to the couple, which is also unusual, and the only death I can find for an Elizabeth Housley prior to 1815 (as William the elder was a widower when he died) is in Selston in 1812.  I’m not convinced that this is the death of William’s wife, however, as they were living in Smalley ~ at least, they were living in Smalley in 1798, according to the tax register, and William was living in Smalley when he died in 1815.


                                          From Tanganyika with Love

                                          continued part 9

                                          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                          Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          We had a novel Christmas this year. We decided to avoid the expense of
                                          entertaining and being entertained at Lyamungu, and went off to spend Christmas
                                          camping in a forest on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro. George decided to combine
                                          business with pleasure and in this way we were able to use Government transport.
                                          We set out the day before Christmas day and drove along the road which skirts
                                          the slopes of Kilimanjaro and first visited a beautiful farm where Philip Teare, the ex
                                          Game Warden, and his wife Mary are staying. We had afternoon tea with them and then
                                          drove on in to the natural forest above the estate and pitched our tent beside a small
                                          clear mountain stream. We decorated the tent with paper streamers and a few small
                                          balloons and John found a small tree of the traditional shape which we decorated where
                                          it stood with tinsel and small ornaments.

                                          We put our beer, cool drinks for the children and bottles of fresh milk from Simba
                                          Estate, in the stream and on Christmas morning they were as cold as if they had been in
                                          the refrigerator all night. There were not many presents for the children, there never are,
                                          but they do not seem to mind and are well satisfied with a couple of balloons apiece,
                                          sweets, tin whistles and a book each.

                                          George entertain the children before breakfast. He can make a magical thing out
                                          of the most ordinary balloon. The children watched entranced as he drew on his pipe
                                          and then blew the smoke into the balloon. He then pinched the neck of the balloon
                                          between thumb and forefinger and released the smoke in little puffs. Occasionally the
                                          balloon ejected a perfect smoke ring and the forest rang with shouts of “Do it again
                                          Daddy.” Another trick was to blow up the balloon to maximum size and then twist the
                                          neck tightly before releasing. Before subsiding the balloon darted about in a crazy
                                          fashion causing great hilarity. Such fun, at the cost of a few pence.

                                          After breakfast George went off to fish for trout. John and Jim decided that they
                                          also wished to fish so we made rods out of sticks and string and bent pins and they
                                          fished happily, but of course quite unsuccessfully, for hours. Both of course fell into the
                                          stream and got soaked, but I was prepared for this, and the little stream was so shallow
                                          that they could not come to any harm. Henry played happily in the sand and I had a
                                          most peaceful morning.

                                          Hamisi roasted a chicken in a pot over the camp fire and the jelly set beautifully in the
                                          stream. So we had grilled trout and chicken for our Christmas dinner. I had of course
                                          taken an iced cake for the occasion and, all in all, it was a very successful Christmas day.
                                          On Boxing day we drove down to the plains where George was to investigate a
                                          report of game poaching near the Ngassari Furrow. This is a very long ditch which has
                                          been dug by the Government for watering the Masai stock in the area. It is also used by
                                          game and we saw herds of zebra and wildebeest, and some Grant’s Gazelle and
                                          giraffe, all comparatively tame. At one point a small herd of zebra raced beside the lorry
                                          apparently enjoying the fun of a gallop. They were all sleek and fat and looked wild and
                                          beautiful in action.

                                          We camped a considerable distance from the water but this precaution did not
                                          save us from the mosquitoes which launched a vicious attack on us after sunset, so that
                                          we took to our beds unusually early. They were on the job again when we got up at
                                          sunrise so I was very glad when we were once more on our way home.

                                          “I like Christmas safari. Much nicer that silly old party,” said John. I agree but I think
                                          it is time that our children learned to play happily with others. There are no other young
                                          children at Lyamungu though there are two older boys and a girl who go to boarding
                                          school in Nairobi.

                                          On New Years Day two Army Officers from the military camp at Moshi, came for
                                          tea and to talk game hunting with George. I think they rather enjoy visiting a home and
                                          seeing children and pets around.


                                          Lyamungu 14 May 1945

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          So the war in Europe is over at last. It is such marvellous news that I can hardly
                                          believe it. To think that as soon as George can get leave we will go to England and
                                          bring Ann and George home with us to Tanganyika. When we know when this leave can
                                          be arranged we will want Kate to join us here as of course she must go with us to
                                          England to meet George’s family. She has become so much a part of your lives that I
                                          know it will be a wrench for you to give her up but I know that you will all be happy to
                                          think that soon our family will be reunited.

                                          The V.E. celebrations passed off quietly here. We all went to Moshi to see the
                                          Victory Parade of the King’s African Rifles and in the evening we went to a celebration
                                          dinner at the Game Warden’s house. Besides ourselves the Moores had invited the
                                          Commanding Officer from Moshi and a junior officer. We had a very good dinner and
                                          many toasts including one to Mrs Moore’s brother, Oliver Milton who is fighting in Burma
                                          and has recently been awarded the Military Cross.

                                          There was also a celebration party for the children in the grounds of the Moshi
                                          Club. Such a spread! I think John and Jim sampled everything. We mothers were
                                          having our tea separately and a friend laughingly told me to turn around and have a look.
                                          I did, and saw the long tea tables now deserted by all the children but my two sons who
                                          were still eating steadily, and finding the party more exciting than the game of Musical
                                          Bumps into which all the other children had entered with enthusiasm.

                                          There was also an extremely good puppet show put on by the Italian prisoners
                                          of war from the camp at Moshi. They had made all the puppets which included well
                                          loved characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Babes in the Wood as
                                          well as more sophisticated ones like an irritable pianist and a would be prima donna. The
                                          most popular puppets with the children were a native askari and his family – a very
                                          happy little scene. I have never before seen a puppet show and was as entranced as
                                          the children. It is amazing what clever manipulation and lighting can do. I believe that the
                                          Italians mean to take their puppets to Nairobi and am glad to think that there, they will
                                          have larger audiences to appreciate their art.

                                          George has just come in, and I paused in my writing to ask him for the hundredth
                                          time when he thinks we will get leave. He says I must be patient because it may be a
                                          year before our turn comes. Shipping will be disorganised for months to come and we
                                          cannot expect priority simply because we have been separated so long from our
                                          children. The same situation applies to scores of other Government Officials.
                                          I have decided to write the story of my childhood in South Africa and about our
                                          life together in Tanganyika up to the time Ann and George left the country. I know you
                                          will have told Kate these stories, but Ann and George were so very little when they left
                                          home that I fear that they cannot remember much.

                                          My Mother-in-law will have told them about their father but she can tell them little
                                          about me. I shall send them one chapter of my story each month in the hope that they
                                          may be interested and not feel that I am a stranger when at last we meet again.


                                          Lyamungu 19th September 1945

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          In a months time we will be saying good-bye to Lyamungu. George is to be
                                          transferred to Mbeya and I am delighted, not only as I look upon Mbeya as home, but
                                          because there is now a primary school there which John can attend. I feel he will make
                                          much better progress in his lessons when he realises that all children of his age attend
                                          school. At present he is putting up a strong resistance to learning to read and spell, but
                                          he writes very neatly, does his sums accurately and shows a real talent for drawing. If
                                          only he had the will to learn I feel he would do very well.

                                          Jim now just four, is too young for lessons but too intelligent to be interested in
                                          the ayah’s attempts at entertainment. Yes I’ve had to engage a native girl to look after
                                          Henry from 9 am to 12.30 when I supervise John’s Correspondence Course. She is
                                          clean and amiable, but like most African women she has no initiative at all when it comes
                                          to entertaining children. Most African men and youths are good at this.

                                          I don’t regret our stay at Lyamungu. It is a beautiful spot and the change to the
                                          cooler climate after the heat of Morogoro has been good for all the children. John is still
                                          tall for his age but not so thin as he was and much less pale. He is a handsome little lad
                                          with his large brown eyes in striking contrast to his fair hair. He is wary of strangers but
                                          very observant and quite uncanny in the way he sums up people. He seldom gets up
                                          to mischief but I have a feeling he eggs Jim on. Not that Jim needs egging.

                                          Jim has an absolute flair for mischief but it is all done in such an artless manner that
                                          it is not easy to punish him. He is a very sturdy child with a cap of almost black silky hair,
                                          eyes brown, like mine, and a large mouth which is quick to smile and show most beautiful
                                          white and even teeth. He is most popular with all the native servants and the Game
                                          Scouts. The servants call Jim, ‘Bwana Tembo’ (Mr Elephant) because of his sturdy

                                          Henry, now nearly two years old, is quite different from the other two in
                                          appearance. He is fair complexioned and fair haired like Ann and Kate, with large, black
                                          lashed, light grey eyes. He is a good child, not so merry as Jim was at his age, nor as
                                          shy as John was. He seldom cries, does not care to be cuddled and is independent and
                                          strong willed. The servants call Henry, ‘Bwana Ndizi’ (Mr Banana) because he has an
                                          inexhaustible appetite for this fruit. Fortunately they are very inexpensive here. We buy
                                          an entire bunch which hangs from a beam on the back verandah, and pluck off the
                                          bananas as they ripen. This way there is no waste and the fruit never gets bruised as it
                                          does in greengrocers shops in South Africa. Our three boys make a delightful and
                                          interesting trio and I do wish you could see them for yourselves.

                                          We are delighted with the really beautiful photograph of Kate. She is an
                                          extraordinarily pretty child and looks so happy and healthy and a great credit to you.
                                          Now that we will be living in Mbeya with a school on the doorstep I hope that we will
                                          soon be able to arrange for her return home.


                                          c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 30th October 1945

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          How nice to be able to write c/o Game Dept. Mbeya at the head of my letters.
                                          We arrived here safely after a rather tiresome journey and are installed in a tiny house on
                                          the edge of the township.

                                          We left Lyamungu early on the morning of the 22nd. Most of our goods had
                                          been packed on the big Ford lorry the previous evening, but there were the usual
                                          delays and farewells. Of our servants, only the cook, Hamisi, accompanied us to
                                          Mbeya. Japhet, Tovelo and the ayah had to be paid off and largesse handed out.
                                          Tovelo’s granny had come, bringing a gift of bananas, and she also brought her little
                                          granddaughter to present a bunch of flowers. The child’s little scolded behind is now
                                          completely healed. Gifts had to be found for them too.

                                          At last we were all aboard and what a squash it was! Our few pieces of furniture
                                          and packing cases and trunks, the cook, his wife, the driver and the turney boy, who
                                          were to take the truck back to Lyamungu, and all their bits and pieces, bunches of
                                          bananas and Fanny the dog were all crammed into the body of the lorry. George, the
                                          children and I were jammed together in the cab. Before we left George looked
                                          dubiously at the tyres which were very worn and said gloomily that he thought it most
                                          unlikely that we would make our destination, Dodoma.

                                          Too true! Shortly after midday, near Kwakachinja, we blew a back tyre and there
                                          was a tedious delay in the heat whilst the wheel was changed. We were now without a
                                          spare tyre and George said that he would not risk taking the Ford further than Babati,
                                          which is less than half way to Dodoma. He drove very slowly and cautiously to Babati
                                          where he arranged with Sher Mohammed, an Indian trader, for a lorry to take us to
                                          Dodoma the next morning.

                                          It had been our intention to spend the night at the furnished Government
                                          Resthouse at Babati but when we got there we found that it was already occupied by
                                          several District Officers who had assembled for a conference. So, feeling rather
                                          disgruntled, we all piled back into the lorry and drove on to a place called Bereku where
                                          we spent an uncomfortable night in a tumbledown hut.

                                          Before dawn next morning Sher Mohammed’s lorry drove up, and there was a
                                          scramble to dress by the light of a storm lamp. The lorry was a very dilapidated one and
                                          there was already a native woman passenger in the cab. I felt so tired after an almost
                                          sleepless night that I decided to sit between the driver and this woman with the sleeping
                                          Henry on my knee. It was as well I did, because I soon found myself dosing off and
                                          drooping over towards the woman. Had she not been there I might easily have fallen
                                          out as the battered cab had no door. However I was alert enough when daylight came
                                          and changed places with the woman to our mutual relief. She was now able to converse
                                          with the African driver and I was able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air!
                                          George, John and Jim were less comfortable. They sat in the lorry behind the
                                          cab hemmed in by packing cases. As the lorry was an open one the sun beat down
                                          unmercifully upon them until George, ever resourceful, moved a table to the front of the
                                          truck. The two boys crouched under this and so got shelter from the sun but they still had
                                          to endure the dust. Fanny complicated things by getting car sick and with one thing and
                                          another we were all jolly glad to get to Dodoma.

                                          We spent the night at the Dodoma Hotel and after hot baths, a good meal and a
                                          good nights rest we cheerfully boarded a bus of the Tanganyika Bus Service next
                                          morning to continue our journey to Mbeya. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We slept two nights on the road, the first at Iringa Hotel and the second at Chimala. We
                                          reached Mbeya on the 27th.

                                          I was rather taken aback when I first saw the little house which has been allocated
                                          to us. I had become accustomed to the spacious houses we had in Morogoro and
                                          Lyamungu. However though the house is tiny it is secluded and has a long garden
                                          sloping down to the road in front and another long strip sloping up behind. The front
                                          garden is shaded by several large cypress and eucalyptus trees but the garden behind
                                          the house has no shade and consists mainly of humpy beds planted with hundreds of
                                          carnations sadly in need of debudding. I believe that the previous Game Ranger’s wife
                                          cultivated the carnations and, by selling them, raised money for War Funds.
                                          Like our own first home, this little house is built of sun dried brick. Its original
                                          owners were Germans. It is now rented to the Government by the Custodian of Enemy
                                          Property, and George has his office in another ex German house.

                                          This afternoon we drove to the school to arrange about enrolling John there. The
                                          school is about four miles out of town. It was built by the German settlers in the late
                                          1930’s and they were justifiably proud of it. It consists of a great assembly hall and
                                          classrooms in one block and there are several attractive single storied dormitories. This
                                          school was taken over by the Government when the Germans were interned on the
                                          outbreak of war and many improvements have been made to the original buildings. The
                                          school certainly looks very attractive now with its grassed playing fields and its lawns and
                                          bright flower beds.

                                          The Union Jack flies from a tall flagpole in front of the Hall and all traces of the
                                          schools German origin have been firmly erased. We met the Headmaster, Mr
                                          Wallington, and his wife and some members of the staff. The school is co-educational
                                          and caters for children from the age of seven to standard six. The leaving age is elastic
                                          owing to the fact that many Tanganyika children started school very late because of lack
                                          of educational facilities in this country.

                                          The married members of the staff have their own cottages in the grounds. The
                                          Matrons have quarters attached to the dormitories for which they are responsible. I felt
                                          most enthusiastic about the school until I discovered that the Headmaster is adamant
                                          upon one subject. He utterly refuses to take any day pupils at the school. So now our
                                          poor reserved Johnny will have to adjust himself to boarding school life.
                                          We have arranged that he will start school on November 5th and I shall be very
                                          busy trying to assemble his school uniform at short notice. The clothing list is sensible.
                                          Boys wear khaki shirts and shorts on weekdays with knitted scarlet jerseys when the
                                          weather is cold. On Sundays they wear grey flannel shorts and blazers with the silver
                                          and scarlet school tie.

                                          Mbeya looks dusty, brown and dry after the lush evergreen vegetation of
                                          Lyamungu, but I prefer this drier climate and there are still mountains to please the eye.
                                          In fact the lower slopes of Lolesa Mountain rise at the upper end of our garden.


                                          c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 21st November 1945

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          We’re quite settled in now and I have got the little house fixed up to my
                                          satisfaction. I have engaged a rather uncouth looking houseboy but he is strong and
                                          capable and now that I am not tied down in the mornings by John’s lessons I am able to
                                          go out occasionally in the mornings and take Jim and Henry to play with other children.
                                          They do not show any great enthusiasm but are not shy by nature as John is.
                                          I have had a good deal of heartache over putting John to boarding school. It
                                          would have been different had he been used to the company of children outside his
                                          own family, or if he had even known one child there. However he seems to be adjusting
                                          himself to the life, though slowly. At least he looks well and tidy and I am quite sure that
                                          he is well looked after.

                                          I must confess that when the time came for John to go to school I simply did not
                                          have the courage to take him and he went alone with George, looking so smart in his
                                          new uniform – but his little face so bleak. The next day, Sunday, was visiting day but the
                                          Headmaster suggested that we should give John time to settle down and not visit him
                                          until Wednesday.

                                          When we drove up to the school I spied John on the far side of the field walking
                                          all alone. Instead of running up with glad greetings, as I had expected, he came almost
                                          reluctently and had little to say. I asked him to show me his dormitory and classroom and
                                          he did so politely as though I were a stranger. At last he volunteered some information.
                                          “Mummy,” he said in an awed voice, Do you know on the night I came here they burnt a
                                          man! They had a big fire and they burnt him.” After a blank moment the penny dropped.
                                          Of course John had started school and November the fifth but it had never entered my
                                          head to tell him about that infamous character, Guy Fawkes!

                                          I asked John’s Matron how he had settled down. “Well”, she said thoughtfully,
                                          John is very good and has not cried as many of the juniors do when they first come
                                          here, but he seems to keep to himself all the time.” I went home very discouraged but
                                          on the Sunday John came running up with another lad of about his own age.” This is my
                                          friend Marks,” he announced proudly. I could have hugged Marks.

                                          Mbeya is very different from the small settlement we knew in the early 1930’s.
                                          Gone are all the colourful characters from the Lupa diggings for the alluvial claims are all
                                          worked out now, gone also are our old friends the Menzies from the Pub and also most
                                          of the Government Officials we used to know. Mbeya has lost its character of a frontier
                                          township and has become almost suburban.

                                          The social life revolves around two places, the Club and the school. The Club
                                          which started out as a little two roomed building, has been expanded and the golf
                                          course improved. There are also tennis courts and a good library considering the size of
                                          the community. There are frequent parties and dances, though most of the club revenue
                                          comes from Bar profits. The parties are relatively sober affairs compared with the parties
                                          of the 1930’s.

                                          The school provides entertainment of another kind. Both Mr and Mrs Wallington
                                          are good amateur actors and I am told that they run an Amateur Dramatic Society. Every
                                          Wednesday afternoon there is a hockey match at the school. Mbeya town versus a
                                          mixed team of staff and scholars. The match attracts almost the whole European
                                          population of Mbeya. Some go to play hockey, others to watch, and others to snatch
                                          the opportunity to visit their children. I shall have to try to arrange a lift to school when
                                          George is away on safari.

                                          I have now met most of the local women and gladly renewed an old friendship
                                          with Sheilagh Waring whom I knew two years ago at Morogoro. Sheilagh and I have
                                          much in common, the same disregard for the trappings of civilisation, the same sense of
                                          the ludicrous, and children. She has eight to our six and she has also been cut off by the
                                          war from two of her children. Sheilagh looks too young and pretty to be the mother of so
                                          large a family and is, in fact, several years younger than I am. her husband, Donald, is a
                                          large quiet man who, as far as I can judge takes life seriously.

                                          Our next door neighbours are the Bank Manager and his wife, a very pleasant
                                          couple though we seldom meet. I have however had correspondence with the Bank
                                          Manager. Early on Saturday afternoon their houseboy brought a note. It informed me
                                          that my son was disturbing his rest by precipitating a heart attack. Was I aware that my
                                          son was about 30 feet up in a tree and balanced on a twig? I ran out and,sure enough,
                                          there was Jim, right at the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree. It would be the one with the
                                          mound of stones at the bottom! You should have heard me fluting in my most
                                          wheedling voice. “Sweets, Jimmy, come down slowly dear, I’ve some nice sweets for

                                          I’ll bet that little story makes you smile. I remember how often you have told me
                                          how, as a child, I used to make your hearts turn over because I had no fear of heights
                                          and how I used to say, “But that is silly, I won’t fall.” I know now only too well, how you
                                          must have felt.


                                          c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 14th January 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          I hope that by now you have my telegram to say that Kate got home safely
                                          yesterday. It was wonderful to have her back and what a beautiful child she is! Kate
                                          seems to have enjoyed the train journey with Miss Craig, in spite of the tears she tells
                                          me she shed when she said good-bye to you. She also seems to have felt quite at
                                          home with the Hopleys at Salisbury. She flew from Salisbury in a small Dove aircraft
                                          and they had a smooth passage though Kate was a little airsick.

                                          I was so excited about her home coming! This house is so tiny that I had to turn
                                          out the little store room to make a bedroom for her. With a fresh coat of whitewash and
                                          pretty sprigged curtains and matching bedspread, borrowed from Sheilagh Waring, the
                                          tiny room looks most attractive. I had also iced a cake, made ice-cream and jelly and
                                          bought crackers for the table so that Kate’s home coming tea could be a proper little

                                          I was pleased with my preparations and then, a few hours before the plane was
                                          due, my crowned front tooth dropped out, peg and all! When my houseboy wants to
                                          describe something very tatty, he calls it “Second-hand Kabisa.” Kabisa meaning
                                          absolutely. That is an apt description of how I looked and felt. I decided to try some
                                          emergency dentistry. I think you know our nearest dentist is at Dar es Salaam five
                                          hundred miles away.

                                          First I carefully dried the tooth and with a match stick covered the peg and base
                                          with Durofix. I then took the infants rubber bulb enema, sucked up some heat from a
                                          candle flame and pumped it into the cavity before filling that with Durofix. Then hopefully
                                          I stuck the tooth in its former position and held it in place for several minutes. No good. I
                                          sent the houseboy to a shop for Scotine and tried the whole process again. No good

                                          When George came home for lunch I appealed to him for advice. He jokingly
                                          suggested that a maize seed jammed into the space would probably work, but when
                                          he saw that I really was upset he produced some chewing gum and suggested that I
                                          should try that . I did and that worked long enough for my first smile anyway.
                                          George and the three boys went to meet Kate but I remained at home to
                                          welcome her there. I was afraid that after all this time away Kate might be reluctant to
                                          rejoin the family but she threw her arms around me and said “Oh Mummy,” We both
                                          shed a few tears and then we both felt fine.

                                          How gay Kate is, and what an infectious laugh she has! The boys follow her
                                          around in admiration. John in fact asked me, “Is Kate a Princess?” When I said
                                          “Goodness no, Johnny, she’s your sister,” he explained himself by saying, “Well, she
                                          has such golden hair.” Kate was less complementary. When I tucked her in bed last night
                                          she said, “Mummy, I didn’t expect my little brothers to be so yellow!” All three boys
                                          have been taking a course of Atebrin, an anti-malarial drug which tinges skin and eyeballs

                                          So now our tiny house is bursting at its seams and how good it feels to have one
                                          more child under our roof. We are booked to sail for England in May and when we return
                                          we will have Ann and George home too. Then I shall feel really content.


                                          c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 2nd March 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          My life just now is uneventful but very busy. I am sewing hard and knitting fast to
                                          try to get together some warm clothes for our leave in England. This is not a simple
                                          matter because woollen materials are in short supply and very expensive, and now that
                                          we have boarding school fees to pay for both Kate and John we have to budget very
                                          carefully indeed.

                                          Kate seems happy at school. She makes friends easily and seems to enjoy
                                          communal life. John also seems reconciled to school now that Kate is there. He no
                                          longer feels that he is the only exile in the family. He seems to rub along with the other
                                          boys of his age and has a couple of close friends. Although Mbeya School is coeducational
                                          the smaller boys and girls keep strictly apart. It is considered extremely
                                          cissy to play with girls.

                                          The local children are allowed to go home on Sundays after church and may bring
                                          friends home with them for the day. Both John and Kate do this and Sunday is a very
                                          busy day for me. The children come home in their Sunday best but bring play clothes to
                                          change into. There is always a scramble to get them to bath and change again in time to
                                          deliver them to the school by 6 o’clock.

                                          When George is home we go out to the school for the morning service. This is
                                          taken by the Headmaster Mr Wallington, and is very enjoyable. There is an excellent
                                          school choir to lead the singing. The service is the Church of England one, but is
                                          attended by children of all denominations, except the Roman Catholics. I don’t think that
                                          more than half the children are British. A large proportion are Greeks, some as old as
                                          sixteen, and about the same number are Afrikaners. There are Poles and non-Nazi
                                          Germans, Swiss and a few American children.

                                          All instruction is through the medium of English and it is amazing how soon all the
                                          foreign children learn to chatter in English. George has been told that we will return to
                                          Mbeya after our leave and for that I am very thankful as it means that we will still be living
                                          near at hand when Jim and Henry start school. Because many of these children have to
                                          travel many hundreds of miles to come to school, – Mbeya is a two day journey from the
                                          railhead, – the school year is divided into two instead of the usual three terms. This
                                          means that many of these children do not see their parents for months at a time. I think
                                          this is a very sad state of affairs especially for the seven and eight year olds but the
                                          Matrons assure me , that many children who live on isolated farms and stations are quite
                                          reluctant to go home because they miss the companionship and the games and
                                          entertainment that the school offers.

                                          My only complaint about the life here is that I see far too little of George. He is
                                          kept extremely busy on this range and is hardly at home except for a few days at the
                                          months end when he has to be at his office to check up on the pay vouchers and the
                                          issue of ammunition to the Scouts. George’s Range takes in the whole of the Southern
                                          Province and the Southern half of the Western Province and extends to the border with
                                          Northern Rhodesia and right across to Lake Tanganyika. This vast area is patrolled by
                                          only 40 Game Scouts because the Department is at present badly under staffed, due
                                          partly to the still acute shortage of rifles, but even more so to the extraordinary reluctance
                                          which the Government shows to allocate adequate funds for the efficient running of the

                                          The Game Scouts must see that the Game Laws are enforced, protect native
                                          crops from raiding elephant, hippo and other game animals. Report disease amongst game and deal with stock raiding lions. By constantly going on safari and checking on
                                          their work, George makes sure the range is run to his satisfaction. Most of the Game
                                          Scouts are fine fellows but, considering they receive only meagre pay for dangerous
                                          and exacting work, it is not surprising that occasionally a Scout is tempted into accepting
                                          a bribe not to report a serious infringement of the Game Laws and there is, of course,
                                          always the temptation to sell ivory illicitly to unscrupulous Indian and Arab traders.
                                          Apart from supervising the running of the Range, George has two major jobs.
                                          One is to supervise the running of the Game Free Area along the Rhodesia –
                                          Tanganyika border, and the other to hunt down the man-eating lions which for years have
                                          terrorised the Njombe District killing hundreds of Africans. Yes I know ‘hundreds’ sounds
                                          fantastic, but this is perfectly true and one day, when the job is done and the official
                                          report published I shall send it to you to prove it!

                                          I hate to think of the Game Free Area and so does George. All the game from
                                          buffalo to tiny duiker has been shot out in a wide belt extending nearly two hundred
                                          miles along the Northern Rhodesia -Tanganyika border. There are three Europeans in
                                          widely spaced camps who supervise this slaughter by African Game Guards. This
                                          horrible measure is considered necessary by the Veterinary Departments of
                                          Tanganyika, Rhodesia and South Africa, to prevent the cattle disease of Rinderpest
                                          from spreading South.

                                          When George is home however, we do relax and have fun. On the Saturday
                                          before the school term started we took Kate and the boys up to the top fishing camp in
                                          the Mporoto Mountains for her first attempt at trout fishing. There are three of these
                                          camps built by the Mbeya Trout Association on the rivers which were first stocked with
                                          the trout hatched on our farm at Mchewe. Of the three, the top camp is our favourite. The
                                          scenery there is most glorious and reminds me strongly of the rivers of the Western
                                          Cape which I so loved in my childhood.

                                          The river, the Kawira, flows from the Rungwe Mountain through a narrow valley
                                          with hills rising steeply on either side. The water runs swiftly over smooth stones and
                                          sometimes only a foot or two below the level of the banks. It is sparkling and shallow,
                                          but in places the water is deep and dark and the banks high. I had a busy day keeping
                                          an eye on the boys, especially Jim, who twice climbed out on branches which overhung
                                          deep water. “Mummy, I was only looking for trout!”

                                          How those kids enjoyed the freedom of the camp after the comparative
                                          restrictions of town. So did Fanny, she raced about on the hills like a mad dog chasing
                                          imaginary rabbits and having the time of her life. To escape the noise and commotion
                                          George had gone far upstream to fish and returned in the late afternoon with three good
                                          sized trout and four smaller ones. Kate proudly showed George the two she had caught
                                          with the assistance or our cook Hamisi. I fear they were caught in a rather unorthodox
                                          manner but this I kept a secret from George who is a stickler for the orthodox in trout


                                          Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          Here we are all together at last in England. You cannot imagine how wonderful it
                                          feels to have the whole Rushby family reunited. I find myself counting heads. Ann,
                                          George, Kate, John, Jim, and Henry. All present and well. We had a very pleasant trip
                                          on the old British India Ship Mantola. She was crowded with East Africans going home
                                          for the first time since the war, many like us, eagerly looking forward to a reunion with their
                                          children whom they had not seen for years. There was a great air of anticipation and
                                          good humour but a little anxiety too.

                                          “I do hope our children will be glad to see us,” said one, and went on to tell me
                                          about a Doctor from Dar es Salaam who, after years of separation from his son had
                                          recently gone to visit him at his school. The Doctor had alighted at the railway station
                                          where he had arranged to meet his son. A tall youth approached him and said, very
                                          politely, “Excuse me sir. Are you my Father?” Others told me of children who had
                                          become so attached to their relatives in England that they gave their parents a very cool
                                          reception. I began to feel apprehensive about Ann and George but fortunately had no
                                          time to mope.

                                          Oh, that washing and ironing for six! I shall remember for ever that steamy little
                                          laundry in the heat of the Red Sea and queuing up for the ironing and the feeling of guilt
                                          at the size of my bundle. We met many old friends amongst the passengers, and made
                                          some new ones, so the voyage was a pleasant one, We did however have our
                                          anxious moments.

                                          John was the first to disappear and we had an anxious search for him. He was
                                          quite surprised that we had been concerned. “I was just talking to my friend Chinky
                                          Chinaman in his workshop.” Could John have called him that? Then, when I returned to
                                          the cabin from dinner one night I found Henry swigging Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had
                                          drunk half the bottle neat and the label said ‘five drops in water’. Luckily it did not harm

                                          Jim of course was forever risking his neck. George had forbidden him to climb on
                                          the railings but he was forever doing things which no one had thought of forbidding him
                                          to do, like hanging from the overhead pipes on the deck or standing on the sill of a
                                          window and looking down at the well deck far below. An Officer found him doing this and
                                          gave me the scolding.

                                          Another day he climbed up on a derrick used for hoisting cargo. George,
                                          oblivious to this was sitting on the hatch cover with other passengers reading a book. I
                                          was in the wash house aft on the same deck when Kate rushed in and said, “Mummy
                                          come and see Jim.” Before I had time to more than gape, the butcher noticed Jim and
                                          rushed out knife in hand. “Get down from there”, he bellowed. Jim got, and with such
                                          speed that he caught the leg or his shorts on a projecting piece of metal. The cotton
                                          ripped across the seam from leg to leg and Jim stood there for a humiliating moment in a
                                          sort of revealing little kilt enduring the smiles of the passengers who had looked up from
                                          their books at the butcher’s shout.

                                          That incident cured Jim of his urge to climb on the ship but he managed to give
                                          us one more fright. He was lost off Dover. People from whom we enquired said, “Yes
                                          we saw your little boy. He was by the railings watching that big aircraft carrier.” Now Jim,
                                          though mischievous , is very obedient. It was not until George and I had conducted an
                                          exhaustive search above and below decks that I really became anxious. Could he have
                                          fallen overboard? Jim was returned to us by an unamused Officer. He had been found
                                          in one of the lifeboats on the deck forbidden to children.

                                          Our ship passed Dover after dark and it was an unforgettable sight. Dover Castle
                                          and the cliffs were floodlit for the Victory Celebrations. One of the men passengers sat
                                          down at the piano and played ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, and people sang and a few
                                          wept. The Mantola docked at Tilbury early next morning in a steady drizzle.
                                          There was a dockers strike on and it took literally hours for all the luggage to be
                                          put ashore. The ships stewards simply locked the public rooms and went off leaving the
                                          passengers shivering on the docks. Eventually damp and bedraggled, we arrived at St
                                          Pancras Station and were given a warm welcome by George’s sister Cath and her
                                          husband Reg Pears, who had come all the way from Nottingham to meet us.
                                          As we had to spend an hour in London before our train left for Nottingham,
                                          George suggested that Cath and I should take the children somewhere for a meal. So
                                          off we set in the cold drizzle, the boys and I without coats and laden with sundry
                                          packages, including a hand woven native basket full of shoes. We must have looked like
                                          a bunch of refugees as we stood in the hall of The Kings Cross Station Hotel because a
                                          supercilious waiter in tails looked us up and down and said, “I’m afraid not Madam”, in
                                          answer to my enquiry whether the hotel could provide lunch for six.
                                          Anyway who cares! We had lunch instead at an ABC tea room — horrible
                                          sausage and a mound or rather sloppy mashed potatoes, but very good ice-cream.
                                          After the train journey in a very grimy third class coach, through an incredibly green and
                                          beautiful countryside, we eventually reached Nottingham and took a bus to Jacksdale,
                                          where George’s mother and sisters live in large detached houses side by side.
                                          Ann and George were at the bus stop waiting for us, and thank God, submitted
                                          to my kiss as though we had been parted for weeks instead of eight years. Even now
                                          that we are together again my heart aches to think of all those missed years. They have
                                          not changed much and I would have picked them out of a crowd, but Ann, once thin and
                                          pale, is now very rosy and blooming. She still has her pretty soft plaits and her eyes are
                                          still a clear calm blue. Young George is very striking looking with sparkling brown eyes, a
                                          ready, slightly lopsided smile, and charming manners.

                                          Mother, and George’s elder sister, Lottie Giles, welcomed us at the door with the
                                          cheering news that our tea was ready. Ann showed us the way to mother’s lovely lilac
                                          tiled bathroom for a wash before tea. Before I had even turned the tap, Jim had hung
                                          form the glass towel rail and it lay in three pieces on the floor. There have since been
                                          similar tragedies. I can see that life in civilisation is not without snags.

                                          I am most grateful that Ann and George have accepted us so naturally and
                                          affectionately. Ann said candidly, “Mummy, it’s a good thing that you had Aunt Cath with
                                          you when you arrived because, honestly, I wouldn’t have known you.”


                                          Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          I am sorry that I have not written for some time but honestly, I don’t know whether
                                          I’m coming or going. Mother handed the top floor of her house to us and the
                                          arrangement was that I should tidy our rooms and do our laundry and Mother would
                                          prepare the meals except for breakfast. It looked easy at first. All the rooms have wall to
                                          wall carpeting and there was a large vacuum cleaner in the box room. I was told a
                                          window cleaner would do the windows.

                                          Well the first time I used the Hoover I nearly died of fright. I pressed the switch
                                          and immediately there was a roar and the bag filled with air to bursting point, or so I
                                          thought. I screamed for Ann and she came at the run. I pointed to the bag and shouted
                                          above the din, “What must I do? It’s going to burst!” Ann looked at me in astonishment
                                          and said, “But Mummy that’s the way it works.” I couldn’t have her thinking me a
                                          complete fool so I switched the current off and explained to Ann how it was that I had
                                          never seen this type of equipment in action. How, in Tanganyika , I had never had a
                                          house with electricity and that, anyway, electric equipment would be superfluous
                                          because floors are of cement which the houseboy polishes by hand, one only has a
                                          few rugs or grass mats on the floor. “But what about Granny’s house in South Africa?’”
                                          she asked, so I explained about your Josephine who threatened to leave if you
                                          bought a Hoover because that would mean that you did not think she kept the house
                                          clean. The sad fact remains that, at fourteen, Ann knows far more about housework than I
                                          do, or rather did! I’m learning fast.

                                          The older children all go to school at different times in the morning. Ann leaves first
                                          by bus to go to her Grammar School at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Shortly afterwards George
                                          catches a bus for Nottingham where he attends the High School. So they have
                                          breakfast in relays, usually scrambled egg made from a revolting dried egg mixture.
                                          Then there are beds to make and washing and ironing to do, so I have little time for
                                          sightseeing, though on a few afternoons George has looked after the younger children
                                          and I have gone on bus tours in Derbyshire. Life is difficult here with all the restrictions on
                                          foodstuffs. We all have ration books so get our fair share but meat, fats and eggs are
                                          scarce and expensive. The weather is very wet. At first I used to hang out the washing
                                          and then rush to bring it in when a shower came. Now I just let it hang.

                                          We have left our imprint upon my Mother-in-law’s house for ever. Henry upset a
                                          bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the middle of the pale fawn bedroom carpet. John, trying to
                                          be helpful and doing some dusting, broke one of the delicate Dresden china candlesticks
                                          which adorn our bedroom mantelpiece.Jim and Henry have wrecked the once
                                          professionally landscaped garden and all the boys together bored a large hole through
                                          Mother’s prized cherry tree. So now Mother has given up and gone off to Bournemouth
                                          for a much needed holiday. Once a week I have the capable help of a cleaning woman,
                                          called for some reason, ‘Mrs Two’, but I have now got all the cooking to do for eight. Mrs
                                          Two is a godsend. She wears, of all things, a print mob cap with a hole in it. Says it
                                          belonged to her Grandmother. Her price is far beyond Rubies to me, not so much
                                          because she does, in a couple of hours, what it takes me all day to do, but because she
                                          sells me boxes of fifty cigarettes. Some non-smoking relative, who works in Players
                                          tobacco factory, passes on his ration to her. Until Mrs Two came to my rescue I had
                                          been starved of cigarettes. Each time I asked for them at the shop the grocer would say,
                                          “Are you registered with us?” Only very rarely would some kindly soul sell me a little
                                          packet of five Woodbines.

                                          England is very beautiful but the sooner we go home to Tanganyika, the better.
                                          On this, George and I and the children agree.


                                          Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          Our return passages have now been booked on the Winchester Castle and we
                                          sail from Southampton on October the sixth. I look forward to returning to Tanganyika but
                                          hope to visit England again in a few years time when our children are older and when
                                          rationing is a thing of the past.

                                          I have grown fond of my Sisters-in-law and admire my Mother-in-law very much.
                                          She has a great sense of humour and has entertained me with stories of her very
                                          eventful life, and told me lots of little stories of the children which did not figure in her
                                          letters. One which amused me was about young George. During one of the air raids
                                          early in the war when the sirens were screaming and bombers roaring overhead Mother
                                          made the two children get into the cloak cupboard under the stairs. Young George
                                          seemed quite unconcerned about the planes and the bombs but soon an anxious voice
                                          asked in the dark, “Gran, what will I do if a spider falls on me?” I am afraid that Mother is
                                          going to miss Ann and George very much.

                                          I had a holiday last weekend when Lottie and I went up to London on a spree. It
                                          was a most enjoyable weekend, though very rushed. We placed ourselves in the
                                          hands of Thos. Cook and Sons and saw most of the sights of London and were run off
                                          our feet in the process. As you all know London I shall not describe what I saw but just
                                          to say that, best of all, I enjoyed walking along the Thames embankment in the evening
                                          and the changing of the Guard at Whitehall. On Sunday morning Lottie and I went to
                                          Kew Gardens and in the afternoon walked in Kensington Gardens.

                                          We went to only one show, ‘The Skin of our Teeth’ starring Vivienne Leigh.
                                          Neither of us enjoyed the performance at all and regretted having spent so much on
                                          circle seats. The show was far too highbrow for my taste, a sort of satire on the survival
                                          of the human race. Miss Leigh was unrecognisable in a blond wig and her voice strident.
                                          However the night was not a dead loss as far as entertainment was concerned as we
                                          were later caught up in a tragicomedy at our hotel.

                                          We had booked communicating rooms at the enormous Imperial Hotel in Russell
                                          Square. These rooms were comfortably furnished but very high up, and we had a rather
                                          terrifying and dreary view from the windows of the enclosed courtyard far below. We
                                          had some snacks and a chat in Lottie’s room and then I moved to mine and went to bed.
                                          I had noted earlier that there was a special lock on the outer door of my room so that
                                          when the door was closed from the inside it automatically locked itself.
                                          I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a hammering which seemed to
                                          come from my wardrobe. I got up, rather fearfully, and opened the wardrobe door and
                                          noted for the first time that the wardrobe was set in an opening in the wall and that the
                                          back of the wardrobe also served as the back of the wardrobe in the room next door. I
                                          quickly shut it again and went to confer with Lottie.

                                          Suddenly a male voice was raised next door in supplication, “Mary Mother of
                                          God, Help me! They’ve locked me in!” and the hammering resumed again, sometimes
                                          on the door, and then again on the back of the wardrobe of the room next door. Lottie
                                          had by this time joined me and together we listened to the prayers and to the
                                          hammering. Then the voice began to threaten, “If you don’t let me out I’ll jump out of the
                                          window.” Great consternation on our side of the wall. I went out into the passage and
                                          called through the door, “You’re not locked in. Come to your door and I’ll tell you how to
                                          open it.” Silence for a moment and then again the prayers followed by a threat. All the
                                          other doors in the corridor remained shut.

                                          Luckily just then a young man and a woman came walking down the corridor and I
                                          explained the situation. The young man hurried off for the night porter who went into the
                                          next door room. In a matter of minutes there was peace next door. When the night
                                          porter came out into the corridor again I asked for an explanation. He said quite casually,
                                          “It’s all right Madam. He’s an Irish Gentleman in Show Business. He gets like this on a
                                          Saturday night when he has had a drop too much. He won’t give any more trouble
                                          now.” And he didn’t. Next morning at breakfast Lottie and I tried to spot the gentleman in
                                          the Show Business, but saw no one who looked like the owner of that charming Irish

                                          George had to go to London on business last Monday and took the older
                                          children with him for a few hours of sight seeing. They returned quite unimpressed.
                                          Everything was too old and dirty and there were far too many people about, but they
                                          had enjoyed riding on the escalators at the tube stations, and all agreed that the highlight
                                          of the trip was, “Dad took us to lunch at the Chicken Inn.”

                                          Now that it is almost time to leave England I am finding the housework less of a
                                          drudgery, Also, as it is school holiday time, Jim and Henry are able to go on walks with
                                          the older children and so use up some of their surplus energy. Cath and I took the
                                          children (except young George who went rabbit shooting with his uncle Reg, and
                                          Henry, who stayed at home with his dad) to the Wakes at Selston, the neighbouring
                                          village. There were the roundabouts and similar contraptions but the side shows had
                                          more appeal for the children. Ann and Kate found a stall where assorted prizes were
                                          spread out on a sloping table. Anyone who could land a penny squarely on one of
                                          these objects was given a similar one as a prize.

                                          I was touched to see that both girls ignored all the targets except a box of fifty
                                          cigarettes which they were determined to win for me. After numerous attempts, Kate
                                          landed her penny successfully and you would have loved to have seen her radiant little


                                          Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          Back in Tanganyika at last, but not together. We have to stay in Dar es Salaam
                                          until tomorrow when the train leaves for Dodoma. We arrived yesterday morning to find
                                          all the hotels filled with people waiting to board ships for England. Fortunately some
                                          friends came to the rescue and Ann, Kate and John have gone to stay with them. Jim,
                                          Henry and I are sleeping in a screened corner of the lounge of the New Africa Hotel, and
                                          George and young George have beds in the Palm Court of the same hotel.

                                          We travelled out from England in the Winchester Castle under troopship
                                          conditions. We joined her at Southampton after a rather slow train journey from
                                          Nottingham. We arrived after dark and from the station we could see a large ship in the
                                          docks with a floodlit red funnel. “Our ship,” yelled the children in delight, but it was not the
                                          Winchester Castle but the Queen Elizabeth, newly reconditioned.

                                          We had hoped to board our ship that evening but George made enquiries and
                                          found that we would not be allowed on board until noon next day. Without much hope,
                                          we went off to try to get accommodation for eight at a small hotel recommended by the
                                          taxi driver. Luckily for us there was a very motherly woman at the reception desk. She
                                          looked in amusement at the six children and said to me, “Goodness are all these yours,
                                          ducks? Then she called over her shoulder, “Wilf, come and see this lady with lots of
                                          children. We must try to help.” They settled the problem most satisfactorily by turning
                                          two rooms into a dormitory.

                                          In the morning we had time to inspect bomb damage in the dock area of
                                          Southampton. Most of the rubble had been cleared away but there are still numbers of
                                          damaged buildings awaiting demolition. A depressing sight. We saw the Queen Mary
                                          at anchor, still in her drab war time paint, but magnificent nevertheless.
                                          The Winchester Castle was crammed with passengers and many travelled in
                                          acute discomfort. We were luckier than most because the two girls, the three small boys
                                          and I had a stateroom to ourselves and though it was stripped of peacetime comforts,
                                          we had a private bathroom and toilet. The two Georges had bunks in a huge men-only
                                          dormitory somewhere in the bowls of the ship where they had to share communal troop
                                          ship facilities. The food was plentiful but unexciting and one had to queue for afternoon
                                          tea. During the day the decks were crowded and there was squatting room only. The
                                          many children on board got bored.

                                          Port Said provided a break and we were all entertained by the ‘Gully Gully’ man
                                          and his conjuring tricks, and though we had no money to spend at Simon Artz, we did at
                                          least have a chance to stretch our legs. Next day scores of passengers took ill with
                                          sever stomach upsets, whether from food poisoning, or as was rumoured, from bad
                                          water taken on at the Egyptian port, I don’t know. Only the two Georges in our family
                                          were affected and their attacks were comparatively mild.

                                          As we neared the Kenya port of Mombassa, the passengers for Dar es Salaam
                                          were told that they would have to disembark at Mombassa and continue their journey in
                                          a small coaster, the Al Said. The Winchester Castle is too big for the narrow channel
                                          which leads to Dar es Salaam harbour.

                                          From the wharf the Al Said looked beautiful. She was once the private yacht of
                                          the Sultan of Zanzibar and has lovely lines. Our admiration lasted only until we were
                                          shown our cabins. With one voice our children exclaimed, “Gosh they stink!” They did, of
                                          a mixture of rancid oil and sweat and stale urine. The beds were not yet made and the
                                          thin mattresses had ominous stains on them. John, ever fastidious, lifted his mattress and two enormous cockroaches scuttled for cover.

                                          We had a good homely lunch served by two smiling African stewards and
                                          afterwards we sat on deck and that was fine too, though behind ones enjoyment there
                                          was the thought of those stuffy and dirty cabins. That first night nearly everyone,
                                          including George and our older children, slept on deck. Women occupied deck chairs
                                          and men and children slept on the bare decks. Horrifying though the idea was, I decided
                                          that, as Jim had a bad cough, he, Henry and I would sleep in our cabin.

                                          When I announced my intention of sleeping in the cabin one of the passengers
                                          gave me some insecticide spray which I used lavishly, but without avail. The children
                                          slept but I sat up all night with the light on, determined to keep at least their pillows clear
                                          of the cockroaches which scurried about boldly regardless of the light. All the next day
                                          and night we avoided the cabins. The Al Said stopped for some hours at Zanzibar to
                                          offload her deck cargo of live cattle and packing cases from the hold. George and the
                                          elder children went ashore for a walk but I felt too lazy and there was plenty to watch
                                          from deck.

                                          That night I too occupied a deck chair and slept quite comfortably, and next
                                          morning we entered the palm fringed harbour of Dar es Salaam and were home.


                                          Mbeya 1st November 1946

                                          Dearest Family.

                                          Home at last! We are all most happily installed in a real family house about three
                                          miles out of Mbeya and near the school. This house belongs to an elderly German and
                                          has been taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property and leased to the

                                          The owner, whose name is Shenkel, was not interned but is allowed to occupy a
                                          smaller house on the Estate. I found him in the garden this morning lecturing the children
                                          on what they may do and may not do. I tried to make it quite clear to him that he was not
                                          our landlord, though he clearly thinks otherwise. After he had gone I had to take two
                                          aspirin and lie down to recover my composure! I had been warned that he has this effect
                                          on people.

                                          Mr Shenkel is a short and ugly man, his clothes are stained with food and he
                                          wears steel rimmed glasses tied round his head with a piece of dirty elastic because
                                          one earpiece is missing. He speaks with a thick German accent but his English is fluent
                                          and I believe he is a cultured and clever man. But he is maddening. The children were
                                          more amused than impressed by his exhortations and have happily Christened our
                                          home, ‘Old Shenks’.

                                          The house has very large grounds as the place is really a derelict farm. It suits us
                                          down to the ground. We had no sooner unpacked than George went off on safari after
                                          those maneating lions in the Njombe District. he accounted for one, and a further two
                                          jointly with a Game Scout, before we left for England. But none was shot during the five
                                          months we were away as George’s relief is quite inexperienced in such work. George
                                          thinks that there are still about a dozen maneaters at large. His theory is that a female
                                          maneater moved into the area in 1938 when maneating first started, and brought up her
                                          cubs to be maneaters, and those cubs in turn did the same. The three maneating lions
                                          that have been shot were all in very good condition and not old and maimed as
                                          maneaters usually are.

                                          George anticipates that it will be months before all these lions are accounted for
                                          because they are constantly on the move and cover a very large area. The lions have to
                                          be hunted on foot because they range over broken country covered by bush and fairly
                                          dense thicket.

                                          I did a bit of shooting myself yesterday and impressed our African servants and
                                          the children and myself. What a fluke! Our houseboy came to say that there was a snake
                                          in the garden, the biggest he had ever seen. He said it was too big to kill with a stick and
                                          would I shoot it. I had no gun but a heavy .450 Webley revolver and I took this and
                                          hurried out with the children at my heels.

                                          The snake turned out to be an unusually large puff adder which had just shed its
                                          skin. It looked beautiful in a repulsive way. So flanked by servants and children I took
                                          aim and shot, not hitting the head as I had planned, but breaking the snake’s back with
                                          the heavy bullet. The two native boys then rushed up with sticks and flattened the head.
                                          “Ma you’re a crack shot,” cried the kids in delighted surprise. I hope to rest on my laurels
                                          for a long, long while.

                                          Although there are only a few weeks of school term left the four older children will
                                          start school on Monday. Not only am I pleased with our new home here but also with
                                          the staff I have engaged. Our new houseboy, Reuben, (but renamed Robin by our
                                          children) is not only cheerful and willing but intelligent too, and Jumbe, the wood and
                                          garden boy, is a born clown and a source of great entertainment to the children.

                                          I feel sure that we are all going to be very happy here at ‘Old Shenks!.



                                            From Tanganyika with Love

                                            continued part 8

                                            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                            Morogoro 20th January 1941

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            It is all arranged for us to go on three months leave to Cape Town next month so
                                            get out your flags. How I shall love showing off Kate and John to you and this time
                                            George will be with us and you’ll be able to get to know him properly. You can’t think
                                            what a comfort it will be to leave all the worries of baggage and tipping to him. We will all
                                            be travelling by ship to Durban and from there to Cape Town by train. I rather dread the
                                            journey because there is a fifth little Rushby on the way and, as always, I am very

                                            Kate has become such a little companion to me that I dread the thought of leaving
                                            her behind with you to start schooling. I miss Ann and George so much now and must
                                            face separation from Kate as well. There does not seem to be any alternative though.
                                            There is a boarding school in Arusha and another has recently been started in Mbeya,
                                            but both places are so far away and I know she would be very unhappy as a boarder at
                                            this stage. Living happily with you and attending a day school might wean her of her
                                            dependance upon me. As soon as this wretched war ends we mean to get Ann and
                                            George back home and Kate too and they can then all go to boarding school together.
                                            If I were a more methodical person I would try to teach Kate myself, but being a
                                            muddler I will have my hands full with Johnny and the new baby. Life passes pleasantly
                                            but quietly here. Much of my time is taken up with entertaining the children and sewing
                                            for them and just waiting for George to come home.

                                            George works so hard on these safaris and this endless elephant hunting to
                                            protect native crops entails so much foot safari, that he has lost a good deal of weight. it
                                            is more than ten years since he had a holiday so he is greatly looking forward to this one.
                                            Four whole months together!

                                            I should like to keep the ayah, Janet, for the new baby, but she says she wants
                                            to return to her home in the Southern Highlands Province and take a job there. She is
                                            unusually efficient and so clean, and the houseboy and cook are quite scared of her. She
                                            bawls at them if the children’s meals are served a few minutes late but she is always
                                            respectful towards me and practically creeps around on tiptoe when George is home.
                                            She has a room next to the outside kitchen. One night thieves broke into the kitchen and
                                            stole a few things, also a canvas chair and mat from the verandah. Ayah heard them, and
                                            grabbing a bit of firewood, she gave chase. Her shouts so alarmed the thieves that they
                                            ran off up the hill jettisoning their loot as they ran. She is a great character.


                                            Morogoro 30th July 1941

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            Safely back in Morogoro after a rather grim voyage from Durban. Our ship was
                                            completely blacked out at night and we had to sleep with warm clothing and life belts
                                            handy and had so many tedious boat drills. It was a nuisance being held up for a whole
                                            month in Durban, because I was so very pregnant when we did embark. In fact George
                                            suggested that I had better hide in the ‘Ladies’ until the ship sailed for fear the Captain
                                            might refuse to take me. It seems that the ship, on which we were originally booked to
                                            travel, was torpedoed somewhere off the Cape.

                                            We have been given a very large house this tour with a mosquito netted
                                            sleeping porch which will be fine for the new baby. The only disadvantage is that the
                                            house is on the very edge of the residential part of Morogoro and Johnny will have to
                                            go quite a distance to find playmates.

                                            I still miss Kate terribly. She is a loving little person. I had prepared for a scene
                                            when we said good-bye but I never expected that she would be the comforter. It
                                            nearly broke my heart when she put her arms around me and said, “I’m so sorry
                                            Mummy, please don’t cry. I’ll be good. Please don’t cry.” I’m afraid it was all very
                                            harrowing for you also. It is a great comfort to hear that she has settled down so happily.
                                            I try not to think consciously of my absent children and remind myself that there are
                                            thousands of mothers in the same boat, but they are always there at the back of my

                                            Mother writes that Ann and George are perfectly happy and well, and that though
                                            German bombers do fly over fairly frequently, they are unlikely to drop their bombs on
                                            a small place like Jacksdale.

                                            George has already left on safari to the Rufiji. There was no replacement for his
                                            job while he was away so he is anxious to get things moving again. Johnny and I are
                                            going to move in with friends until he returns, just in case all the travelling around brings
                                            the new baby on earlier than expected.


                                            Morogoro 26th August 1941

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            Our new son, James Caleb. was born at 3.30 pm yesterday afternoon, with a
                                            minimum of fuss, in the hospital here. The Doctor was out so my friend, Sister Murray,
                                            delivered the baby. The Sister is a Scots girl, very efficient and calm and encouraging,
                                            and an ideal person to have around at such a time.

                                            Everything, this time, went without a hitch and I feel fine and proud of my
                                            bouncing son. He weighs nine pounds and ten ounces and is a big boned fellow with
                                            dark hair and unusually strongly marked eyebrows. His eyes are strong too and already
                                            seem to focus. George is delighted with him and brought Hugh Nelson to see him this
                                            morning. Hugh took one look, and, astonished I suppose by the baby’s apparent
                                            awareness, said, “Gosh, this one has been here before.” The baby’s cot is beside my
                                            bed so I can admire him as much as I please. He has large strong hands and George
                                            reckons he’ll make a good boxer some day.

                                            Another of my early visitors was Mabemba, George’s orderly. He is a very big
                                            African and looks impressive in his Game Scouts uniform. George met him years ago at
                                            Mahenge when he was a young elephant hunter and Mabemba was an Askari in the
                                            Police. Mabemba takes quite a proprietary interest in the family.


                                            Morogoro 25th December 1941

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            Christmas Day today, but not a gay one. I have Johnny in bed with a poisoned
                                            leg so he missed the children’s party at the Club. To make things a little festive I have
                                            put up a little Christmas tree in the children’s room and have hung up streamers and
                                            balloons above the beds. Johnny demands a lot of attention so it is fortunate that little
                                            James is such a very good baby. He sleeps all night until 6 am when his feed is due.
                                            One morning last week I got up as usual to feed him but I felt so dopey that I
                                            thought I’d better have a cold wash first. I went into the bathroom and had a hurried
                                            splash and then grabbed a towel to dry my face. Immediately I felt an agonising pain in
                                            my nose. Reason? There was a scorpion in the towel! In no time at all my nose looked
                                            like a pear and felt burning hot. The baby screamed with frustration whilst I feverishly
                                            bathed my nose and applied this and that in an effort to cool it.

                                            For three days my nose was very red and tender,”A real boozer nose”, said
                                            George. But now, thank goodness, it is back to normal.

                                            Some of the younger marrieds and a couple of bachelors came around,
                                            complete with portable harmonium, to sing carols in the early hours. No sooner had we
                                            settled down again to woo sleep when we were disturbed by shouts and screams from
                                            our nearest neighbour’s house. “Just celebrating Christmas”, grunted George, but we
                                            heard this morning that the neighbour had fallen down his verandah steps and broken his


                                            Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            Well now we are eight! Our new son, Henry, was born on the night of the 28th.
                                            He is a beautiful baby, weighing ten pounds three and a half ounces. This baby is very
                                            well developed, handsome, and rather superior looking, and not at all amusing to look at
                                            as the other boys were.George was born with a moustache, John had a large nose and
                                            looked like a little old man, and Jim, bless his heart, looked rather like a baby
                                            chimpanzee. Henry is different. One of my visitors said, “Heaven he’ll have to be a
                                            Bishop!” I expect the lawn sleeves of his nightie really gave her that idea, but the baby
                                            does look like ‘Someone’. He is very good and George, John, and Jim are delighted
                                            with him, so is Mabemba.

                                            We have a dear little nurse looking after us. She is very petite and childish
                                            looking. When the baby was born and she brought him for me to see, the nurse asked
                                            his name. I said jokingly, “His name is Benjamin – the last of the family.” She is now very
                                            peeved to discover that his real name is Henry William and persists in calling him
                                            ‘Benjie’.I am longing to get home and into my pleasant rut. I have been away for two
                                            whole weeks and George is managing so well that I shall feel quite expendable if I don’t
                                            get home soon. As our home is a couple of miles from the hospital, I arranged to move
                                            in and stay with the nursing sister on the day the baby was due. There I remained for ten
                                            whole days before the baby was born. Each afternoon George came and took me for a
                                            ride in the bumpy Bedford lorry and the Doctor tried this and that but the baby refused
                                            to be hurried.

                                            On the tenth day I had the offer of a lift and decided to go home for tea and
                                            surprise George. It was a surprise too, because George was entertaining a young
                                            Game Ranger for tea and my arrival, looking like a perambulating big top, must have
                                            been rather embarrassing.Henry was born at the exact moment that celebrations started
                                            in the Township for the end of the Muslim religious festival of Ramadan. As the Doctor
                                            held him up by his ankles, there was the sound of hooters and firecrackers from the town.
                                            The baby has a birthmark in the shape of a crescent moon above his left eyebrow.


                                            Morogoro 26th January 1944

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            We have just heard that we are to be transferred to the Headquarters of the
                                            Game Department at a place called Lyamungu in the Northern Province. George is not
                                            at all pleased because he feels that the new job will entail a good deal of office work and
                                            that his beloved but endless elephant hunting will be considerably curtailed. I am glad of
                                            that and I am looking forward to seeing a new part of Tanganyika and particularly
                                            Kilimanjaro which dominates Lyamungu.

                                            Thank goodness our menagerie is now much smaller. We found a home for the
                                            guinea pigs last December and Susie, our mischievous guinea-fowl, has flown off to find
                                            a mate.Last week I went down to Dar es Salaam for a check up by Doctor John, a
                                            woman doctor, leaving George to cope with the three boys. I was away two nights and
                                            a day and returned early in the morning just as George was giving Henry his six o’clock
                                            bottle. It always amazes me that so very masculine a man can do my chores with no
                                            effort and I have a horrible suspicion that he does them better than I do. I enjoyed the
                                            short break at the coast very much. I stayed with friends and we bathed in the warm sea
                                            and saw a good film.

                                            Now I suppose there will be a round of farewell parties. People in this country
                                            are most kind and hospitable.


                                            Lyamungu 20th March 1944

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            We left Morogoro after the round of farewell parties I had anticipated. The final
                                            one was at the Club on Saturday night. George made a most amusing speech and the
                                            party was a very pleasant occasion though I was rather tired after all the packing.
                                            Several friends gathered to wave us off on Monday morning. We had two lorries
                                            loaded with our goods. I rode in the cab of the first one with Henry on my knee. George
                                            with John and Jim rode in the second one. As there was no room for them in the cab,
                                            they sat on our couch which was placed across the width of the lorry behind the cab. This
                                            seat was not as comfortable as it sounds, because the space behind the couch was
                                            taken up with packing cases which were not lashed in place and these kept moving
                                            forward as the lorry bumped its way over the bad road.

                                            Soon there was hardly any leg room and George had constantly to stand up and
                                            push the second layer of packing cases back to prevent them from toppling over onto
                                            the children and himself. As it is now the rainy season the road was very muddy and
                                            treacherous and the lorries travelled so slowly it was dark by the time we reached
                                            Karogwe from where we were booked to take the train next morning to Moshi.
                                            Next morning we heard that there had been a washaway on the line and that the
                                            train would be delayed for at least twelve hours. I was not feeling well and certainly did
                                            not enjoy my day. Early in the afternoon Jimmy ran into a wall and blackened both his
                                            eyes. What a child! As the day wore on I felt worse and worse and when at last the train
                                            did arrive I simply crawled into my bunk whilst George coped nobly with the luggage
                                            and the children.

                                            We arrived at Moshi at breakfast time and went straight to the Lion Cub Hotel
                                            where I took to my bed with a high temperature. It was, of course, malaria. I always have
                                            my attacks at the most inopportune times. Fortunately George ran into some friends
                                            called Eccles and the wife Mollie came to my room and bathed Henry and prepared his
                                            bottle and fed him. George looked after John and Jim. Next day I felt much better and
                                            we drove out to Lyamungu the day after. There we had tea with the Game Warden and
                                            his wife before moving into our new home nearby.

                                            The Game Warden is Captain Monty Moore VC. He came out to Africa
                                            originally as an Officer in the King’s African Rifles and liked the country so much he left the
                                            Army and joined the Game Department. He was stationed at Banagi in the Serengetti
                                            Game Reserve and is well known for his work with the lions there. He particularly tamed
                                            some of the lions by feeding them so that they would come out into the open and could
                                            readily be photographed by tourists. His wife Audrey, has written a book about their
                                            experiences at Banagi. It is called “Serengetti”

                                            Our cook, Hamisi, soon had a meal ready for us and we all went to bed early.
                                            This is a very pleasant house and I know we will be happy here. I still feel a little shaky
                                            but that is the result of all the quinine I have taken. I expect I shall feel fine in a day or two.


                                            Lyamungu 15th May 1944

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            Well, here we are settled comfortably in our very nice house. The house is
                                            modern and roomy, and there is a large enclosed verandah, which will be a Godsend in
                                            the wet weather as a playroom for the children. The only drawback is that there are so
                                            many windows to be curtained and cleaned. The grounds consist of a very large lawn
                                            and a few beds of roses and shrubs. It is an ideal garden for children, unlike our steeply
                                            terraced garden at Morogoro.

                                            Lyamungu is really the Government Coffee Research Station. It is about sixteen
                                            miles from the town of Moshi which is the centre of the Tanganyika coffee growing
                                            industry. Lyamungu, which means ‘place of God’ is in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro and
                                            we have a beautiful view of Kilimanjaro. Kibo, the more spectacular of the two mountain
                                            peaks, towers above us, looking from this angle, like a giant frosted plum pudding. Often the mountain is veiled by cloud and mist which sometimes comes down to
                                            our level so that visibility is practically nil. George dislikes both mist and mountain but I
                                            like both and so does John. He in fact saw Kibo before I did. On our first day here, the
                                            peak was completely hidden by cloud. In the late afternoon when the children were
                                            playing on the lawn outside I was indoors hanging curtains. I heard John call out, “Oh
                                            Mummy, isn’t it beautiful!” I ran outside and there, above a scarf of cloud, I saw the
                                            showy dome of Kibo with the setting sun shining on it tingeing the snow pink. It was an
                                            unforgettable experience.

                                            As this is the rainy season, the surrounding country side is very lush and green.
                                            Everywhere one sees the rich green of the coffee plantations and the lighter green of
                                            the banana groves. Unfortunately our walks are rather circumscribed. Except for the main road to Moshi, there is nowhere to walk except through the Government coffee
                                            plantation. Paddy, our dog, thinks life is pretty boring as there is no bush here and
                                            nothing to hunt. There are only half a dozen European families here and half of those are
                                            on very distant terms with the other half which makes the station a rather uncomfortable

                                            The coffee expert who runs this station is annoyed because his European staff
                                            has been cut down owing to the war, and three of the vacant houses and some office
                                            buildings have been taken over temporarily by the Game Department. Another house
                                            has been taken over by the head of the Labour Department. However I don’t suppose
                                            the ill feeling will effect us much. We are so used to living in the bush that we are not
                                            socially inclined any way.

                                            Our cook, Hamisi, came with us from Morogoro but I had to engage a new
                                            houseboy and kitchenboy. I first engaged a houseboy who produced a wonderful ‘chit’
                                            in which his previous employer describes him as his “friend and confidant”. I felt rather
                                            dubious about engaging him and how right I was. On his second day with us I produced
                                            some of Henry’s napkins, previously rinsed by me, and asked this boy to wash them.
                                            He looked most offended and told me that it was beneath his dignity to do women’s
                                            work. We parted immediately with mutual relief.

                                            Now I have a good natured fellow named Japhet who, though hard on crockery,
                                            is prepared to do anything and loves playing with the children. He is a local boy, a
                                            member of the Chagga tribe. These Chagga are most intelligent and, on the whole, well
                                            to do as they all have their own small coffee shambas. Japhet tells me that his son is at
                                            the Uganda University College studying medicine.The kitchen boy is a tall youth called
                                            Tovelo, who helps both Hamisi, the cook, and the houseboy and also keeps an eye on
                                            Henry when I am sewing. I still make all the children’s clothes and my own. Life is
                                            pleasant but dull. George promises that he will take the whole family on safari when
                                            Henry is a little older.


                                            Lyamungu 18th July 1944

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            Life drifts quietly by at Lyamungu with each day much like the one before – or
                                            they would be, except that the children provide the sort of excitement that prohibits
                                            boredom. Of the three boys our Jim is the best at this. Last week Jim wandered into the
                                            coffee plantation beside our house and chewed some newly spayed berries. Result?
                                            A high temperature and nasty, bloody diarrhoea, so we had to rush him to the hospital at
                                            Moshi for treatment. however he was well again next day and George went off on safari.
                                            That night there was another crisis. As the nights are now very cold, at this high
                                            altitude, we have a large fire lit in the living room and the boy leaves a pile of logs
                                            beside the hearth so that I can replenish the fire when necessary. Well that night I took
                                            Henry off to bed, leaving John and Jim playing in the living room. When their bedtime
                                            came, I called them without leaving the bedroom. When I had tucked John and Jim into
                                            bed, I sat reading a bedtime story as I always do. Suddenly I saw smoke drifting
                                            through the door, and heard a frightening rumbling noise. Japhet rushed in to say that the
                                            lounge chimney was on fire! Picture me, panic on the inside and sweet smile on the
                                            outside, as I picked Henry up and said to the other two, “There’s nothing to be
                                            frightened about chaps, but get up and come outside for a bit.” Stupid of me to be so
                                            heroic because John and Jim were not at all scared but only too delighted at the chance
                                            of rushing about outside in the dark. The fire to them was just a bit of extra fun.

                                            We hurried out to find one boy already on the roof and the other passing up a
                                            brimming bucket of water. Other boys appeared from nowhere and soon cascades of
                                            water were pouring down the chimney. The result was a mountain of smouldering soot
                                            on the hearth and a pool of black water on the living room floor. However the fire was out
                                            and no serious harm done because all the floors here are cement and another stain on
                                            the old rug will hardly be noticed. As the children reluctantly returned to bed John
                                            remarked smugly, “I told Jim not to put all the wood on the fire at once but he wouldn’t
                                            listen.” I might have guessed!

                                            However it was not Jim but John who gave me the worst turn of all this week. As
                                            a treat I decided to take the boys to the river for a picnic tea. The river is not far from our
                                            house but we had never been there before so I took the kitchen boy, Tovelo, to show
                                            us the way. The path is on the level until one is in sight of the river when the bank slopes
                                            steeply down. I decided that it was too steep for the pram so I stopped to lift Henry out
                                            and carry him. When I looked around I saw John running down the slope towards the
                                            river. The stream is not wide but flows swiftly and I had no idea how deep it was. All I
                                            knew was that it was a trout stream. I called for John, “Stop, wait for me!” but he ran on
                                            and made for a rude pole bridge which spanned the river. He started to cross and then,
                                            to my horror, I saw John slip. There was a splash and he disappeared under the water. I
                                            just dumped the baby on the ground, screamed to the boy to mind him and ran madly
                                            down the slope to the river. Suddenly I saw John’s tight fitting felt hat emerge, then his
                                            eyes and nose. I dashed into the water and found, to my intense relief, that it only
                                            reached up to my shoulders but, thank heaven no further. John’s steady eyes watched
                                            me trustingly as I approached him and carried him safely to the bank. He had been
                                            standing on a rock and had not panicked at all though he had to stand up very straight
                                            and tall to keep his nose out of water. I was too proud of him to scold him for
                                            disobedience and too wet anyway.

                                            I made John undress and put on two spare pullovers and wrapped Henry’s
                                            baby blanket round his waist like a sarong. We made a small fire over which I crouched
                                            with literally chattering teeth whilst Tovelo ran home to fetch a coat for me and dry clothes
                                            for John.


                                            Lyamungu 16th August 1944

                                            Dearest Family,

                                            We have a new bull terrier bitch pup whom we have named Fanny III . So once
                                            more we have a menagerie , the two dogs, two cats Susie and Winnie, and
                                            some pet hens who live in the garage and are a real nuisance.

                                            As John is nearly six I thought it time that he started lessons and wrote off to Dar
                                            es Salaam for the correspondence course. We have had one week of lessons and I am
                                            already in a state of physical and mental exhaustion. John is a most reluctant scholar.
                                            “Why should I learn to read, when you can read to me?” he asks, and “Anyway why
                                            should I read such stupid stuff, ‘Run Rover Run’, and ‘Mother play with baby’ . Who
                                            wants to read about things like that? I don’t.”

                                            He rather likes sums, but the only subject about which he is enthusiastic is
                                            prehistoric history. He laps up information about ‘The Tree Dwellers’, though he is very
                                            sceptical about the existence of such people. “God couldn’t be so silly to make people
                                            so stupid. Fancy living in trees when it is easy to make huts like the natives.” ‘The Tree
                                            Dwellers is a highly imaginative story about a revolting female called Sharptooth and her
                                            offspring called Bodo. I have a very clear mental image of Sharptooth, so it came as a
                                            shock to me and highly amused George when John looked at me reflectively across the
                                            tea table and said, “Mummy I expect Sharptooth looked like you. You have a sharp
                                            tooth too!” I have, my eye teeth are rather sharp, but I hope the resemblance stops

                                            John has an uncomfortably logical mind for a small boy. The other day he was
                                            lying on the lawn staring up at the clouds when he suddenly muttered “I don’t believe it.”
                                            “Believe what?” I asked. “That Jesus is coming on a cloud one day. How can he? The
                                            thick ones always stay high up. What’s he going to do, jump down with a parachute?”
                                            Tovelo, my kitchen boy, announced one evening that his grandmother was in the
                                            kitchen and wished to see me. She was a handsome and sensible Chagga woman who
                                            brought sad news. Her little granddaughter had stumbled backwards into a large cooking
                                            pot of almost boiling maize meal porridge and was ‘ngongwa sana’ (very ill). I grabbed
                                            a large bottle of Picric Acid and a packet of gauze which we keep for these emergencies
                                            and went with her, through coffee shambas and banana groves to her daughter’s house.
                                            Inside the very neat thatched hut the mother sat with the naked child lying face
                                            downwards on her knee. The child’s buttocks and the back of her legs were covered in
                                            huge burst blisters from which a watery pus dripped. It appeared that the accident had
                                            happened on the previous day.

                                            I could see that it was absolutely necessary to clean up the damaged area, and I
                                            suddenly remembered that there was a trained African hospital dresser on the station. I
                                            sent the father to fetch him and whilst the dresser cleaned off the sloughed skin with
                                            forceps and swabs saturated in Picric Acid, I cut the gauze into small squares which I
                                            soaked in the lotion and laid on the cleaned area. I thought the small pieces would be
                                            easier to change especially as the whole of the most tender parts, front and back, were
                                            badly scalded. The child seemed dazed and neither the dresser nor I thought she would
                                            live. I gave her half an aspirin and left three more half tablets to be given four hourly.
                                            Next day she seemed much brighter. I poured more lotion on the gauze
                                            disturbing as few pieces as possible and again the next day and the next. After a week
                                            the skin was healing well and the child eating normally. I am sure she will be all right now.
                                            The new skin is a brilliant red and very shiny but it is pale round the edges of the burnt
                                            area and will I hope later turn brown. The mother never uttered a word of thanks, but the
                                            granny is grateful and today brought the children a bunch of bananas.


                                            c/o Game Dept. P.O.Moshi. 29th September 1944

                                            Dearest Mummy,

                                            I am so glad that you so enjoyed my last letter with the description of our very
                                            interesting and enjoyable safari through Masailand. You said you would like an even
                                            fuller description of it to pass around amongst the relations, so, to please you, I have
                                            written it out in detail and enclose the result.

                                            We have spent a quiet week after our exertions and all are well here.

                                            Very much love,

                                            Safari in Masailand

                                            George and I were at tea with our three little boys on the front lawn of our house
                                            in Lyamungu, Northern Tanganyika. It was John’s sixth birthday and he and Jim, a
                                            happy sturdy three year old, and Henry, aged eleven months, were munching the
                                            squares of plain chocolate which rounded off the party, when George said casually
                                            across the table to me, “Could you be ready by the day after tomorrow to go on
                                            safari?” “Me too?” enquired John anxiously, before I had time to reply, and “Me too?”
                                            echoed Jim. “yes, of course I can”, said I to George and “of course you’re coming too”,
                                            to the children who rate a day spent in the bush higher than any other pleasure.
                                            So in the early morning two days later, we started out happily for Masailand in a
                                            three ton Ford lorry loaded to capacity with the five Rushbys, the safari paraphernalia,
                                            drums of petrol and quite a retinue of servants and Game Scouts. George travelling
                                            alone on his monthly safaris, takes only the cook and a couple of Game Scouts, but this was to be a safari de luxe.

                                            Henry and I shared the cab with George who was driving, whilst John and Jim
                                            with the faithful orderly Mabemba beside them to point out the game animals, were
                                            installed upon rolls of bedding in the body of the lorry. The lorry lumbered along, first
                                            through coffee shambas, and then along the main road between Moshi and Arusha.
                                            After half an hour or so, we turned South off the road into a track which crossed the
                                            Sanya Plains and is the beginning of this part of Masailand. Though the dry season was
                                            at its height, and the pasture dry and course, we were soon passing small groups of
                                            game. This area is a Game Sanctuary and the antelope grazed quietly quite undisturbed
                                            by the passing lorry. Here and there zebra stood bunched by the road, a few wild
                                            ostriches stalked jerkily by, and in the distance some wildebeest cavorted around in their
                                            crazy way.

                                            Soon the grasslands gave way to thorn bush, and we saw six fantastically tall
                                            giraffe standing motionless with their heads turned enquiringly towards us. George
                                            stopped the lorry so the children could have a good view of them. John was enchanted
                                            but Jim, alas, was asleep.

                                            At mid day we reached the Kikoletwa River and turned aside to camp. Beside
                                            the river, under huge leafy trees, there was a beautiful camping spot, but the river was
                                            deep and reputed to be full of crocodiles so we passed it by and made our camp
                                            some distance from the river under a tall thorn tree with a flat lacy canopy. All around the
                                            camp lay uprooted trees of similar size that had been pushed over by elephants. As
                                            soon as the lorry stopped a camp chair was set up for me and the Game Scouts quickly
                                            slashed down grass and cleared the camp site of thorns. The same boys then pitched the tent whilst George himself set up the three camp beds and the folding cot for Henry,
                                            and set up the safari table and the canvas wash bowl and bath.

                                            The cook in the meantime had cleared a cool spot for the kitchen , opened up the
                                            chop boxes and started a fire. The cook’s boy and the dhobi (laundry boy) brought
                                            water from the rather muddy river and tea was served followed shortly afterward by an
                                            excellent lunch. In a very short time the camp had a suprisingly homely look. Nappies
                                            fluttered from a clothes line, Henry slept peacefully in his cot, John and Jim sprawled on
                                            one bed looking at comics, and I dozed comfortably on another.

                                            George, with the Game Scouts, drove off in the lorry about his work. As a Game
                                            Ranger it is his business to be on a constant look out for poachers, both African and
                                            European, and for disease in game which might infect the valuable herds of Masai cattle.
                                            The lorry did not return until dusk by which time the children had bathed enthusiastically in
                                            the canvas bath and were ready for supper and bed. George backed the lorry at right
                                            angles to the tent, Henry’s cot and two camp beds were set up in the lorry, the tarpaulin
                                            was lashed down and the children put to bed in their novel nursery.

                                            When darkness fell a large fire was lit in front of the camp, the exited children at
                                            last fell asleep and George and I sat on by the fire enjoying the cool and quiet night.
                                            When the fire subsided into a bed of glowing coals, it was time for our bed. During the
                                            night I was awakened by the sound of breaking branches and strange indescribable
                                            noises.” Just elephant”, said George comfortably and instantly fell asleep once more. I
                                            didn’t! We rose with the birds next morning, but breakfast was ready and in a
                                            remarkably short time the lorry had been reloaded and we were once more on our way.
                                            For about half a mile we made our own track across the plain and then we turned
                                            into the earth road once more. Soon we had reached the river and were looking with
                                            dismay at the suspension bridge which we had to cross. At the far side, one steel
                                            hawser was missing and there the bridge tilted dangerously. There was no handrail but
                                            only heavy wooden posts which marked the extremities of the bridge. WhenGeorge
                                            measured the distance between the posts he found that there could be barely two
                                            inches to spare on either side of the cumbersome lorry.

                                            He decided to risk crossing, but the children and I and all the servants were told to
                                            cross the bridge and go down the track out of sight. The Game Scouts remained on the
                                            river bank on the far side of the bridge and stood ready for emergencies. As I walked
                                            along anxiously listening, I was horrified to hear the lorry come to a stop on the bridge.
                                            There was a loud creaking noise and I instantly visualised the lorry slowly toppling over
                                            into the deep crocodile infested river. The engine restarted, the lorry crossed the bridge
                                            and came slowly into sight around the bend. My heart slid back into its normal position.
                                            George was as imperturbable as ever and simply remarked that it had been a near
                                            thing and that we would return to Lyamungu by another route.

                                            Beyond the green river belt the very rutted track ran through very uninteresting
                                            thorn bush country. Henry was bored and tiresome, jumping up and down on my knee
                                            and yelling furiously. “Teeth”, said I apologetically to George, rashly handing a match
                                            box to Henry to keep him quiet. No use at all! With a fat finger he poked out the tray
                                            spilling the matches all over me and the floor. Within seconds Henry had torn the
                                            matchbox to pieces with his teeth and flung the battered remains through the window.
                                            An empty cigarette box met with the same fate as the match box and the yells
                                            continued unabated until Henry slept from sheer exhaustion. George gave me a smile,
                                            half sympathetic and half sardonic, “Enjoying the safari, my love?” he enquired. On these
                                            trying occasions George has the inestimable advantage of being able to go into a Yogilike
                                            trance, whereas I become irritated to screaming point.

                                            In an effort to prolong Henry’s slumber I braced my feet against the floor boards
                                            and tried to turn myself into a human shock absorber as we lurched along the eroded
                                            track. Several times my head made contact with the bolt of a rifle in the rack above, and
                                            once I felt I had shattered my knee cap against the fire extinguisher in a bracket under the
                                            dash board.

                                            Strange as it may seem, I really was enjoying the trip in spite of these
                                            discomforts. At last after three years I was once more on safari with George. This type of
                                            country was new to me and there was so much to see We passed a family of giraffe
                                            standing in complete immobility only a few yards from the track. Little dick-dick. one of the smallest of the antelope, scuttled in pairs across the road and that afternoon I had my first view of Gerenuk, curious red brown antelope with extremely elongated legs and giraffe-like necks.

                                            Most interesting of all was my first sight of Masai at home. We could hear a tuneful
                                            jangle of cattle bells and suddenly came across herds of humped cattle browsing upon
                                            the thorn bushes. The herds were guarded by athletic,striking looking Masai youths and men.
                                            Each had a calabash of water slung over his shoulder and a tall, highly polished spear in his
                                            hand. These herdsmen were quite unselfconscious though they wore no clothing except for one carelessly draped blanket. Very few gave us any greeting but glanced indifferently at us from under fringes of clay-daubed plaited hair . The rest of their hair was drawn back behind the ears to display split earlobes stretched into slender loops by the weight of heavy brass or copper tribal ear rings.

                                            Most of the villages were set well back in the bush out of sight of the road but we did pass one
                                            typical village which looked most primitive indeed. It consisted simply of a few mound like mud huts which were entirely covered with a plaster of mud and cattle dung and the whole clutch of huts were surrounded by a ‘boma’ of thorn to keep the cattle in at night and the lions out. There was a gathering of women and children on the road at this point. The children of both sexes were naked and unadorned, but the women looked very fine indeed. This is not surprising for they have little to do but adorn themselves, unlike their counterparts of other tribes who have to work hard cultivating the fields. The Masai women, and others I saw on safari, were far more amiable and cheerful looking than the men and were well proportioned.

                                            They wore skirts of dressed goat skin, knee length in front but ankle length behind. Their arms
                                            from elbow to wrist, and legs from knee to ankle, were encased in tight coils of copper and
                                            galvanised wire. All had their heads shaved and in some cases bound by a leather band
                                            embroidered in red white and blue beads. Circular ear rings hung from slit earlobes and their
                                            handsome throats were encircled by stiff wire necklaces strung with brightly coloured beads. These
                                            necklaces were carefully graded in size and formed deep collars almost covering their breasts.
                                            About a quarter of a mile further along the road we met eleven young braves in gala attire, obviously on their way to call on the girls. They formed a line across the road and danced up and down until the lorry was dangerously near when they parted and grinned cheerfully at us. These were the only cheerful
                                            looking male Masai that I saw. Like the herdsmen these youths wore only a blanket, but their
                                            blankets were ochre colour, and elegantly draped over their backs. Their naked bodies gleamed with oil. Several had painted white stripes on their faces, and two had whitewashed their faces entirely which I
                                            thought a pity. All had their long hair elaborately dressed and some carried not only one,
                                            but two gleaming spears.

                                            By mid day George decided that we had driven far enough for that day. He
                                            stopped the lorry and consulted a rather unreliable map. “Somewhere near here is a
                                            place called Lolbeni,” he said. “The name means Sweet Water, I hear that the
                                            government have piped spring water down from the mountain into a small dam at which
                                            the Masai water their cattle.” Lolbeni sounded pleasant to me. Henry was dusty and
                                            cross, the rubber sheet had long slipped from my lap to the floor and I was conscious of
                                            a very damp lap. ‘Sweet Waters’ I felt, would put all that right. A few hundred yards
                                            away a small herd of cattle was grazing, so George lit his pipe and relaxed at last, whilst
                                            a Game Scout went off to find the herdsman. The scout soon returned with an ancient
                                            and emaciated Masai who was thrilled at the prospect of his first ride in a lorry and
                                            offered to direct us to Lolbeni which was off the main track and about four miles away.

                                            Once Lolbeni had been a small administrative post and a good track had
                                            led to it, but now the Post had been abandoned and the road is dotted with vigourous
                                            thorn bushes and the branches of larger thorn trees encroach on the track The road had
                                            deteriorated to a mere cattle track, deeply rutted and eroded by heavy rains over a
                                            period of years. The great Ford truck, however, could take it. It lurched victoriously along,
                                            mowing down the obstructions, tearing off branches from encroaching thorn trees with its
                                            high railed sides, spanning gorges in the track, and climbing in and out of those too wide
                                            to span. I felt an army tank could not have done better.

                                            I had expected Lolbeni to be a green oasis in a desert of grey thorns, but I was
                                            quickly disillusioned. To be sure the thorn trees were larger and more widely spaced and
                                            provided welcome shade, but the ground under the trees had been trampled by thousands of cattle into a dreary expanse of dirty grey sand liberally dotted with cattle droppings and made still more uninviting by the bleached bones of dead beasts.

                                            To the right of this waste rose a high green hill which gave the place its name and from which
                                            the precious water was piped, but its slopes were too steep to provide a camping site.
                                            Flies swarmed everywhere and I was most relieved when George said that we would
                                            stay only long enough to fill our cans with water. Even the water was a disappointment!
                                            The water in the small dam was low and covered by a revolting green scum, and though
                                            the water in the feeding pipe was sweet, it trickled so feebly that it took simply ages to
                                            fill a four gallon can.

                                            However all these disappointments were soon forgotten for we drove away
                                            from the flies and dirt and trampled sand and soon, with their quiet efficiency, George
                                            and his men set up a comfortable camp. John and Jim immediately started digging
                                            operations in the sandy soil whilst Henry and I rested. After tea George took his shot
                                            gun and went off to shoot guinea fowl and partridges for the pot. The children and I went
                                            walking, keeping well in site of camp, and soon we saw a very large flock of Vulturine
                                            Guineafowl, running aimlessly about and looking as tame as barnyard fowls, but melting
                                            away as soon as we moved in their direction.

                                            We had our second quiet and lovely evening by the camp fire, followed by a
                                            peaceful night.

                                            We left Lolbeni very early next morning, which was a good thing, for as we left
                                            camp the herds of thirsty cattle moved in from all directions. They were accompanied by
                                            Masai herdsmen, their naked bodies and blankets now covered by volcanic dust which
                                            was being stirred in rising clouds of stifling ash by the milling cattle, and also by grey
                                            donkeys laden with panniers filled with corked calabashes for water.

                                            Our next stop was Nabarera, a Masai cattle market and trading centre, where we
                                            reluctantly stayed for two days in a pokey Goverment Resthouse because George had
                                            a job to do in that area. The rest was good for Henry who promptly produced a tooth
                                            and was consequently much better behaved for the rest of the trip. George was away in the bush most of the day but he returned for afternoon tea and later took the children out
                                            walking. We had noticed curious white dumps about a quarter mile from the resthouse
                                            and on the second afternoon we set out to investigate them. Behind the dumps we
                                            found passages about six foot wide, cut through solid limestone. We explored two of
                                            these and found that both passages led steeply down to circular wells about two and a
                                            half feet in diameter.

                                            At the very foot of each passage, beside each well, rough drinking troughs had
                                            been cut in the stone. The herdsmen haul the water out of the well in home made hide
                                            buckets, the troughs are filled and the cattle driven down the ramps to drink at the trough.
                                            It was obvious that the wells were ancient and the sloping passages new. George tells
                                            me that no one knows what ancient race dug the original wells. It seems incredible that
                                            these deep and narrow shafts could have been sunk without machinery. I craned my
                                            neck and looked above one well and could see an immensely long shaft reaching up to
                                            ground level. Small footholds were cut in the solid rock as far as I could see.
                                            It seems that the Masai are as ignorant as ourselves about the origin of these
                                            wells. They do say however that when their forebears first occupied what is now known
                                            as Masailand, they not only found the Wanderobo tribe in the area but also a light
                                            skinned people and they think it possible that these light skinned people dug the wells.
                                            These people disappeared. They may have been absorbed or, more likely, they were

                                            The Masai had found the well impractical in their original form and had hired
                                            labourers from neighbouring tribes to cut the passages to water level. Certainly the Masai are not responsible for the wells. They are a purely pastoral people and consider manual labour extremely degrading.

                                            They live chiefly on milk from their herd which they allow to go sour, and mix with blood that has been skilfully tapped from the necks of living cattle. They do not eat game meat, nor do they cultivate any
                                            land. They hunt with spears, but hunt only lions, to protect their herds, and to test the skill
                                            and bravery of their young warriors. What little grain they do eat is transported into
                                            Masailand by traders. The next stage of our journey took us to Ngassamet where
                                            George was to pick up some elephant tusks. I had looked forward particularly to this
                                            stretch of road for I had heard that there was a shallow lake at which game congregates,
                                            and at which I had great hopes of seeing elephants. We had come too late in the
                                            season though, the lake was dry and there were only piles of elephant droppings to
                                            prove that elephant had recently been there in numbers. Ngassamet, though no beauty
                                            spot, was interesting. We saw more elaborate editions of the wells already described, and as this area
                                            is rich in cattle we saw the aristocrats of the Masai. You cannot conceive of a more arrogant looking male than a young Masai brave striding by on sandalled feet, unselfconscious in all his glory. All the young men wore the casually draped traditional ochre blanket and carried one or more spears. But here belts and long knife sheaths of scarlet leather seem to be the fashion. Here fringes do not seem to be the thing. Most of these young Masai had their hair drawn smoothly back and twisted in a pointed queue, the whole plastered with a smooth coating of red clay. Some tied their horn shaped queues over their heads
                                            so that the tip formed a deep Satanic peak on the brow. All these young men wore the traditional
                                            copper earrings and I saw one or two with copper bracelets and one with a necklace of brightly coloured

                                            It so happened that, on the day of our visit to Ngassamet, there had been a
                                            baraza (meeting) which was attended by all the local headmen and elders. These old
                                            men came to pay their respects to George and a more shrewd and rascally looking
                                            company I have never seen, George told me that some of these men own up to three
                                            thousand head of cattle and more. The chief was as fat and Rabelasian as his second in
                                            command was emaciated, bucktoothed and prim. The Chief shook hands with George
                                            and greeted me and settled himself on the wall of the resthouse porch opposite
                                            George. The lesser headmen, after politely greeting us, grouped themselves in a
                                            semi circle below the steps with their ‘aides’ respectfully standing behind them. I
                                            remained sitting in the only chair and watched the proceedings with interest and

                                            These old Masai, I noticed, cared nothing for adornment. They had proved
                                            themselves as warriors in the past and were known to be wealthy and influential so did
                                            not need to make any display. Most of them had their heads comfortably shaved and
                                            wore only a drab blanket or goatskin cloak. Their only ornaments were earrings whose
                                            effect was somewhat marred by the serviceable and homely large safety pin that
                                            dangled from the lobe of one ear. All carried staves instead of spears and all, except for
                                            Buckteeth and one blind old skeleton of a man, appeared to have a keenly developed
                                            sense of humour.

                                            “Mummy?” asked John in an urgent whisper, “Is that old blind man nearly dead?”
                                            “Yes dear”, said I, “I expect he’ll soon die.” “What here?” breathed John in a tone of
                                            keen anticipation and, until the meeting broke up and the old man left, he had John’s
                                            undivided attention.

                                            After local news and the game situation had been discussed, the talk turned to the
                                            war. “When will the war end?” moaned the fat Chief. “We have made great gifts of cattle
                                            to the War Funds, we are taxed out of existence.” George replied with the Ki-Swahili
                                            equivalent of ‘Sez you!’. This sally was received with laughter and the old fellows rose to
                                            go. They made their farewells and dignified exits, pausing on their way to stare at our
                                            pink and white Henry, who sat undismayed in his push chair giving them stare for stare
                                            from his striking grey eyes.

                                            Towards evening some Masai, prompted no doubt by our native servants,
                                            brought a sheep for sale. It was the last night of the fast of Ramadan and our
                                            Mohammedan boys hoped to feast next day at our expense. Their faces fell when
                                            George refused to buy the animal. “Why should I pay fifteen shillings for a sheep?” he
                                            asked, “Am I not the Bwana Nyama and is not the bush full of my sheep?” (Bwana
                                            Nyama is the native name for a Game Ranger, but means literally, ‘Master of the meat’)
                                            George meant that he would shoot a buck for the men next day, but this incident was to
                                            have a strange sequel. Ngassamet resthouse consists of one room so small we could
                                            not put up all our camp beds and George and I slept on the cement floor which was
                                            unkind to my curves. The night was bitterly cold and all night long hyaenas screeched
                                            hideously outside. So we rose at dawn without reluctance and were on our way before it
                                            was properly light.

                                            George had decided that it would be foolhardy to return home by our outward
                                            route as he did not care to risk another crossing of the suspension bridge. So we
                                            returned to Nabarera and there turned onto a little used track which would eventually take
                                            us to the Great North Road a few miles South of Arusha. There was not much game
                                            about but I saw Oryx which I had not previously seen. Soon it grew intolerably hot and I
                                            think all of us but George were dozing when he suddenly stopped the lorry and pointed
                                            to the right. “Mpishi”, he called to the cook, “There’s your sheep!” True enough, on that
                                            dreary thorn covered plain,with not another living thing in sight, stood a fat black sheep.

                                            There was an incredulous babbling from the back of the lorry. Every native
                                            jumped to the ground and in no time at all the wretched sheep was caught and
                                            slaughtered. I felt sick. “Oh George”, I wailed, “The poor lost sheep! I shan’t eat a scrap
                                            of it.” George said nothing but went and had a look at the sheep and called out to me,
                                            “Come and look at it. It was kindness to kill the poor thing, the vultures have been at it
                                            already and the hyaenas would have got it tonight.” I went reluctantly and saw one eye
                                            horribly torn out, and small deep wounds on the sheep’s back where the beaks of the
                                            vultures had cut through the heavy fleece. Poor thing! I went back to the lorry more
                                            determined than ever not to eat mutton on that trip. The Scouts and servants had no
                                            such scruples. The fine fat sheep had been sent by Allah for their feast day and that was
                                            the end of it.

                                            “ ‘Mpishi’ is more convinced than ever that I am a wizard”, said George in
                                            amusement as he started the lorry. I knew what he meant. Several times before George
                                            had foretold something which had later happened. Pure coincidence, but strange enough
                                            to give rise to a legend that George had the power to arrange things. “What happened
                                            of course”, explained George, “Is that a flock of Masai sheep was driven to market along
                                            this track yesterday or the day before. This one strayed and was not missed.”

                                            The day grew hotter and hotter and for long miles we looked out for a camping
                                            spot but could find little shade and no trace of water anywhere. At last, in the early
                                            afternoon we reached another pokey little rest house and asked for water. “There is no
                                            water here,” said the native caretaker. “Early in the morning there is water in a well nearby
                                            but we are allowed only one kerosene tin full and by ten o’clock the well is dry.” I looked
                                            at George in dismay for we were all so tired and dusty. “Where do the Masai from the
                                            village water their cattle then?” asked George. “About two miles away through the bush.
                                            If you take me with you I shall show you”, replied the native.

                                            So we turned off into the bush and followed a cattle track even more tortuous than
                                            the one to Lolbeni. Two Scouts walked ahead to warn us of hazards and I stretched my
                                            arm across the open window to fend off thorns. Henry screamed with fright and hunger.
                                            But George’s efforts to reach water went unrewarded as we were brought to a stop by
                                            a deep donga. The native from the resthouse was apologetic. He had mistaken the
                                            path, perhaps if we turned back we might find it. George was beyond speech. We
                                            lurched back the way we had come and made our camp under the first large tree we
                                            could find. Then off went our camp boys on foot to return just before dark with the water.
                                            However they were cheerful for there was an unlimited quantity of dry wood for their fires
                                            and meat in plenty for their feast. Long after George and I left our campfire and had gone
                                            to bed, we could see the cheerful fires of the boys and hear their chatter and laughter.
                                            I woke in the small hours to hear the insane cackling of hyaenas gloating over a
                                            find. Later I heard scuffling around the camp table, I peered over the tailboard of the lorry
                                            and saw George come out of his tent. What are you doing?” I whispered. “Looking for
                                            something to throw at those bloody hyaenas,” answered George for all the world as
                                            though those big brutes were tomcats on the prowl. Though the hyaenas kept up their
                                            concert all night the children never stirred, nor did any of them wake at night throughout
                                            the safari.

                                            Early next morning I walked across to the camp kitchen to enquire into the loud
                                            lamentations coming from that quarter. “Oh Memsahib”, moaned the cook, “We could
                                            not sleep last night for the bad hyaenas round our tents. They have taken every scrap of
                                            meat we had left over from the feast., even the meat we had left to smoke over the fire.”
                                            Jim, who of our three young sons is the cook’s favourite commiserated with him. He said
                                            in Ki-Swahili, which he speaks with great fluency, “Truly those hyaenas are very bad
                                            creatures. They also robbed us. They have taken my hat from the table and eaten the
                                            new soap from the washbowl.

                                            Our last day in the bush was a pleasantly lazy one. We drove through country
                                            that grew more open and less dry as we approached Arusha. We pitched our camp
                                            near a large dam, and the water was a blessed sight after a week of scorched country.
                                            On the plains to the right of our camp was a vast herd of native cattle enjoying a brief
                                            rest after their long day trek through Masailand. They were destined to walk many more
                                            weary miles before reaching their destination, a meat canning factory in Kenya.
                                            The ground to the left of the camp rose gently to form a long low hill and on the
                                            grassy slopes we could see wild ostriches and herds of wildebeest, zebra and
                                            antelope grazing amicably side by side. In the late afternoon I watched the groups of
                                            zebra and wildebeest merge into one. Then with a wildebeest leading, they walked
                                            down the slope in single file to drink at the vlei . When they were satisfied, a wildebeest
                                            once more led the herd up the trail. The others followed in a long and orderly file, and
                                            vanished over the hill to their evening pasture.

                                            When they had gone, George took up his shotgun and invited John to
                                            accompany him to the dam to shoot duck. This was the first time John had acted as
                                            retriever but he did very well and proudly helped to carry a mixed bag of sand grouse
                                            and duck back to camp.

                                            Next morning we turned into the Great North Road and passed first through
                                            carefully tended coffee shambas and then through the township of Arusha, nestling at
                                            the foot of towering Mount Meru. Beyond Arusha we drove through the Usa River
                                            settlement where again coffee shambas and European homesteads line the road, and
                                            saw before us the magnificent spectacle of Kilimanjaro unveiled, its white snow cap
                                            gleaming in the sunlight. Before mid day we were home. “Well was it worth it?” enquired
                                            George at lunch. “Lovely,” I replied. ”Let’s go again soon.” Then thinking regretfully of
                                            our absent children I sighed, “If only Ann, George, and Kate could have gone with us

                                            Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            Mummy wants to know how I fill in my time with George away on safari for weeks
                                            on end. I do believe that you all picture me idling away my days, waited on hand and
                                            foot by efficient servants! On the contrary, life is one rush and the days never long

                                            To begin with, our servants are anything but efficient, apart from our cook, Hamisi
                                            Issa, who really is competent. He suffers from frustration because our budget will not run
                                            to elaborate dishes so there is little scope for his culinary art. There is one masterpiece
                                            which is much appreciated by John and Jim. Hamisi makes a most realistic crocodile out
                                            of pastry and stuffs its innards with minced meat. This revolting reptile is served on a
                                            bed of parsley on my largest meat dish. The cook is a strict Mohammedan and
                                            observes all the fasts and daily prayers and, like all Mohammedans he is very clean in
                                            his person and, thank goodness, in the kitchen.

                                            His wife is his pride and joy but not his helpmate. She does absolutely nothing
                                            but sit in a chair in the sun all day, sipping tea and smoking cigarettes – a more
                                            expensive brand than mine! It is Hamisi who sweeps out their quarters, cooks
                                            delectable curries for her, and spends more than he can afford on clothing and trinkets for
                                            his wife. She just sits there with her ‘Mona Lisa’ smile and her painted finger and toe
                                            nails, doing absolutely nothing.

                                            The thing is that natives despise women who do work and this applies especially
                                            to their white employers. House servants much prefer a Memsahib who leaves
                                            everything to them and is careless about locking up her pantry. When we first came to
                                            Lyamungu I had great difficulty in employing a houseboy. A couple of rather efficient
                                            ones did approach me but when they heard the wages I was prepared to pay and that
                                            there was no number 2 boy, they simply were not interested. Eventually I took on a
                                            local boy called Japhet who suits me very well except that his sight is not good and he
                                            is extremely hard on the crockery. He tells me that he has lost face by working here
                                            because his friends say that he works for a family that is too mean to employ a second
                                            boy. I explained that with our large family we simply cannot afford to pay more, but this
                                            didn’t register at all. Japhet says “But Wazungu (Europeans) all have money. They just
                                            have to get it from the Bank.”

                                            The third member of our staff is a strapping youth named Tovelo who helps both
                                            cook and boy, and consequently works harder than either. What do I do? I chivvy the
                                            servants, look after the children, supervise John’s lessons, and make all my clothing and
                                            the children’s on that blessed old hand sewing machine.

                                            The folk on this station entertain a good deal but we usually decline invitations
                                            because we simply cannot afford to reciprocate. However, last Saturday night I invited
                                            two couples to drinks and dinner. This was such an unusual event that the servants and I
                                            were thrown into a flurry. In the end the dinner went off well though it ended in disaster. In
                                            spite of my entreaties and exhortations to Japhet not to pile everything onto the tray at
                                            once when clearing the table, he did just that. We were starting our desert and I was
                                            congratulating myself that all had gone well when there was a frightful crash of breaking
                                            china on the back verandah. I excused myself and got up to investigate. A large meat
                                            dish, six dinner plates and four vegetable dishes lay shattered on the cement floor! I
                                            controlled my tongue but what my eyes said to Japhet is another matter. What he said
                                            was, “It is not my fault Memsahib. The handle of the tray came off.”

                                            It is a curious thing about native servants that they never accept responsibility for
                                            a mishap. If they cannot pin their misdeeds onto one of their fellow servants then the responsibility rests with God. ‘Shauri ya Mungu’, (an act of God) is a familiar cry. Fatalists
                                            can be very exasperating employees.

                                            The loss of my dinner service is a real tragedy because, being war time, one can
                                            buy only china of the poorest quality made for the native trade. Nor was that the final
                                            disaster of the evening. When we moved to the lounge for coffee I noticed that the
                                            coffee had been served in the battered old safari coffee pot instead of the charming little
                                            antique coffee pot which my Mother-in-law had sent for our tenth wedding anniversary.
                                            As there had already been a disturbance I made no comment but resolved to give the
                                            cook a piece of my mind in the morning. My instructions to the cook had been to warm
                                            the coffee pot with hot water immediately before serving. On no account was he to put
                                            the pewter pot on the hot iron stove. He did and the result was a small hole in the base
                                            of the pot – or so he says. When I saw the pot next morning there was a two inch hole in

                                            Hamisi explained placidly how this had come about. He said he knew I would be
                                            mad when I saw the little hole so he thought he would have it mended and I might not
                                            notice it. Early in the morning he had taken the pewter pot to the mechanic who looks
                                            after the Game Department vehicles and had asked him to repair it. The bright individual
                                            got busy with the soldering iron with the most devastating result. “It’s his fault,” said
                                            Hamisi, “He is a mechanic, he should have known what would happen.”
                                            One thing is certain, there will be no more dinner parties in this house until the war
                                            is ended.

                                            The children are well and so am I, and so was George when he left on his safari
                                            last Monday.

                                            Much love,


                                          Viewing 20 results - 1 through 20 (of 202 total)