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      From Tanganyika with Love

      continued  ~ part 6

      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

      Mchewe 6th June 1937

      Dearest Family,

      Home again! We had an uneventful journey. Kate was as good as gold all the
      way. We stopped for an hour at Bulawayo where we had to change trains but
      everything was simplified for me by a very pleasant man whose wife shared my
      compartment. Not only did he see me through customs but he installed us in our new
      train and his wife turned up to see us off with magazines for me and fruit and sweets for
      Kate. Very, very kind, don’t you think?

      Kate and I shared the compartment with a very pretty and gentle girl called
      Clarice Simpson. She was very worried and upset because she was going home to
      Broken Hill in response to a telegram informing her that her young husband was
      dangerously ill from Blackwater Fever. She was very helpful with Kate whose
      cheerfulness helped Clarice, I think, though I, quite unintentionally was the biggest help
      at the end of our journey. Remember the partial dentures I had had made just before
      leaving Cape Town? I know I shall never get used to the ghastly things, I’ve had them
      two weeks now and they still wobble. Well this day I took them out and wrapped them
      in a handkerchief, but when we were packing up to leave the train I could find the
      handkerchief but no teeth! We searched high and low until the train had slowed down to
      enter Broken Hill station. Then Clarice, lying flat on the floor, spied the teeth in the dark
      corner under the bottom bunk. With much stretching she managed to retrieve the
      dentures covered in grime and fluff. My look of horror, when I saw them, made young
      Clarice laugh. She was met at the station by a very grave elderly couple. I do wonder
      how things turned out for her.

      I stayed overnight with Kate at the Great Northern Hotel, and we set off for
      Mbeya by plane early in the morning. One of our fellow passengers was a young
      mother with a three week old baby. How ideas have changed since Ann was born. This
      time we had a smooth passage and I was the only passenger to get airsick. Although
      there were other women passengers it was a man once again, who came up and
      offered to help. Kate went off with him amiably and he entertained her until we touched
      down at Mbeya.

      George was there to meet us with a wonderful surprise, a little red two seater
      Ford car. She is a bit battered and looks a bit odd because the boot has been
      converted into a large wooden box for carrying raw salt, but she goes like the wind.
      Where did George raise the cash to buy a car? Whilst we were away he found a small
      cave full of bat guano near a large cave which is worked by a man called Bob Sargent.
      As Sargent did not want any competition he bought the contents of the cave from
      George giving him the small car as part payment.

      It was lovely to return to our little home and find everything fresh and tidy and the
      garden full of colour. But it was heartbreaking to go into the bedroom and see George’s
      precious forgotten boots still standing by his empty bed.

      With much love,

      Mchewe 25th June 1937

      Dearest Family,

      Last Friday George took Kate and me in the little red Ford to visit Mr Sargent’s
      camp on the Songwe River which cuts the Mbeya-Mbosi road. Mr Sargent bought
      Hicky-Wood’s guano deposit and also our small cave and is making a good living out of
      selling the bat guano to the coffee farmers in this province. George went to try to interest
      him in a guano deposit near Kilwa in the Southern Province. Mr Sargent agreed to pay
      25 pounds to cover the cost of the car trip and pegging costs. George will make the trip
      to peg the claim and take samples for analysis. If the quality is sufficiently high, George
      and Mr Sargent will go into partnership. George will work the claim and ship out the
      guano from Kilwa which is on the coast of the Southern Province of Tanganyika. So now
      we are busy building castles in the air once more.

      On Saturday we went to Mbeya where George had to attend a meeting of the
      Trout Association. In the afternoon he played in a cricket match so Kate and I spent the
      whole day with the wife of the new Superintendent of Police. They have a very nice
      new house with lawns and a sunken rose garden. Kate had a lovely romp with Kit, her
      three year old son.

      Mrs Wolten also has two daughters by a previous marriage. The elder girl said to
      me, “Oh Mrs Rushby your husband is exactly like the strong silent type of man I
      expected to see in Africa but he is the only one I have seen. I think he looks exactly like
      those men in the ‘Barney’s Tobacco’ advertisements.”

      I went home with a huge pile of magazines to keep me entertained whilst
      George is away on the Kilwa trip.

      Lots of love,

      Mchewe 9th July 1937

      Dearest Family,

      George returned on Monday from his Kilwa safari. He had an entertaining
      tale to tell.

      Before he approached Mr Sargent about going shares in the Kilwa guano
      deposit he first approached a man on the Lupa who had done very well out of a small
      gold reef. This man, however said he was not interested so you can imagine how
      indignant George was when he started on his long trip, to find himself being trailed by
      this very man and a co-driver in a powerful Ford V8 truck. George stopped his car and
      had some heated things to say – awful threats I imagine as to what would happen to
      anyone who staked his claim. Then he climbed back into our ancient little two seater and
      went off like a bullet driving all day and most of the night. As the others took turns in
      driving you can imagine what a feat it was for George to arrive in Kilwa ahead of them.
      When they drove into Kilwa he met them with a bright smile and a bit of bluff –
      quite justifiable under the circumstances I think. He said, you chaps can have a rest now,
      you’re too late.” He then whipped off and pegged the claim. he brought some samples
      of guano back but until it has been analysed he will not know whether the guano will be
      an economic proposition or not. George is not very hopeful. He says there is a good
      deal of sand mixed with the guano and that much of it was damp.

      The trip was pretty eventful for Kianda, our houseboy. The little two seater car
      had been used by its previous owner for carting bags of course salt from his salt pans.
      For this purpose the dicky seat behind the cab had been removed, and a kind of box
      built into the boot of the car. George’s camp kit and provisions were packed into this
      open box and Kianda perched on top to keep an eye on the belongings. George
      travelled so fast on the rough road that at some point during the night Kianda was
      bumped off in the middle of the Game Reserve. George did not notice that he was
      missing until the next morning. He concluded, quite rightly as it happened, that Kianda
      would be picked up by the rival truck so he continued his journey and Kianda rejoined
      him at Kilwa.

      Believe it or not, the same thing happened on the way back but fortunately this
      time George noticed his absence. He stopped the car and had just started back on his
      tracks when Kianda came running down the road still clutching the unlighted storm lamp
      which he was holding in his hand when he fell. The glass was not even cracked.
      We are finding it difficult just now to buy native chickens and eggs. There has
      been an epidemic amongst the poultry and one hesitates to eat the survivors. I have a
      brine tub in which I preserve our surplus meat but I need the chickens for soup.
      I hope George will be home for some months. He has arranged to take a Mr
      Blackburn, a wealthy fruit farmer from Elgin, Cape, on a hunting safari during September
      and October and that should bring in some much needed cash. Lillian Eustace has
      invited Kate and me to spend the whole of October with her in Tukuyu.
      I am so glad that you so much enjoy having Ann and George with you. We miss
      them dreadfully. Kate is a pretty little girl and such a little madam. You should hear the
      imperious way in which she calls the kitchenboy for her meals. “Boy Brekkis, Boy Lunch,
      and Boy Eggy!” are her three calls for the day. She knows no Ki-Swahili.


      Mchewe 8th October 1937

      Dearest Family,

      I am rapidly becoming as superstitious as our African boys. They say the wild
      animals always know when George is away from home and come down to have their
      revenge on me because he has killed so many.

      I am being besieged at night by a most beastly leopard with a half grown cub. I
      have grown used to hearing leopards grunt as they hunt in the hills at night but never
      before have I had one roaming around literally under the windows. It has been so hot at
      night lately that I have been sleeping with my bedroom door open onto the verandah. I
      felt quite safe because the natives hereabouts are law-abiding and in any case I always
      have a boy armed with a club sleeping in the kitchen just ten yards away. As an added
      precaution I also have a loaded .45 calibre revolver on my bedside table, and Fanny
      our bullterrier, sleeps on the mat by my bed. I am also looking after Barney, a fine
      Airedale dog belonging to the Costers. He slept on a mat by the open bedroom door
      near a dimly burning storm lamp.

      As usual I went to sleep with an easy mind on Monday night, but was awakened
      in the early hours of Tuesday by the sound of a scuffle on the front verandah. The noise
      was followed by a scream of pain from Barney. I jumped out of bed and, grabbing the
      lamp with my left hand and the revolver in my right, I rushed outside just in time to see
      two animal figures roll over the edge of the verandah into the garden below. There they
      engaged in a terrific tug of war. Fortunately I was too concerned for Barney to be
      nervous. I quickly fired two shots from the revolver, which incidentally makes a noise like
      a cannon, and I must have startled the leopard for both animals, still locked together,
      disappeared over the edge of the terrace. I fired two more shots and in a few moments
      heard the leopard making a hurried exit through the dry leaves which lie thick under the
      wild fig tree just beyond the terrace. A few seconds later Barney appeared on the low
      terrace wall. I called his name but he made no move to come but stood with hanging
      head. In desperation I rushed out, felt blood on my hands when I touched him, so I
      picked him up bodily and carried him into the house. As I regained the verandah the boy
      appeared, club in hand, having been roused by the shots. He quickly grasped what had
      happened when he saw my blood saturated nightie. He fetched a bowl of water and a
      clean towel whilst I examined Barney’s wounds. These were severe, the worst being a
      gaping wound in his throat. I washed the gashes with a strong solution of pot permang
      and I am glad to say they are healing remarkably well though they are bound to leave
      scars. Fanny, very prudently, had taken no part in the fighting except for frenzied barking
      which she kept up all night. The shots had of course wakened Kate but she seemed
      more interested than alarmed and kept saying “Fanny bark bark, Mummy bang bang.
      Poor Barney lots of blood.”

      In the morning we inspected the tracks in the garden. There was a shallow furrow
      on the terrace where Barney and the leopard had dragged each other to and fro and
      claw marks on the trunk of the wild fig tree into which the leopard climbed after I fired the
      shots. The affair was of course a drama after the Africans’ hearts and several of our
      shamba boys called to see me next day to make sympathetic noises and discuss the

      I went to bed early that night hoping that the leopard had been scared off for
      good but I must confess I shut all windows and doors. Alas for my hopes of a restful
      night. I had hardly turned down the lamp when the leopard started its terrifying grunting
      just under the bedroom windows. If only she would sniff around quietly I should not
      mind, but the noise is ghastly, something like the first sickening notes of a braying
      donkey, amplified here by the hills and the gorge which is only a stones throw from the
      bedroom. Barney was too sick to bark but Fanny barked loud enough for two and the more
      frantic she became the hungrier the leopard sounded. Kate of course woke up and this
      time she was frightened though I assured her that the noise was just a donkey having
      fun. Neither of us slept until dawn when the leopard returned to the hills. When we
      examined the tracks next morning we found that the leopard had been accompanied by
      a fair sized cub and that together they had prowled around the house, kitchen, and out
      houses, visiting especially the places to which the dogs had been during the day.
      As I feel I cannot bear many more of these nights, I am sending a note to the
      District Commissioner, Mbeya by the messenger who takes this letter to the post,
      asking him to send a game scout or an armed policeman to deal with the leopard.
      So don’t worry, for by the time this reaches you I feel sure this particular trouble
      will be over.


      Mchewe 17th October 1937

      Dearest Family,

      More about the leopard I fear! My messenger returned from Mbeya to say that
      the District Officer was on safari so he had given the message to the Assistant District
      Officer who also apparently left on safari later without bothering to reply to my note, so
      there was nothing for me to do but to send for the village Nimrod and his muzzle loader
      and offer him a reward if he could frighten away or kill the leopard.

      The hunter, Laza, suggested that he should sleep at the house so I went to bed
      early leaving Laza and his two pals to make themselves comfortable on the living room
      floor by the fire. Laza was armed with a formidable looking muzzle loader, crammed I
      imagine with nuts and bolts and old rusty nails. One of his pals had a spear and the other
      a panga. This fellow was also in charge of the Petromax pressure lamp whose light was
      hidden under a packing case. I left the campaign entirely to Laza’s direction.
      As usual the leopard came at midnight stealing down from the direction of the
      kitchen and announcing its presence and position with its usual ghastly grunts. Suddenly
      pandemonium broke loose on the back verandah. I heard the roar of the muzzle loader
      followed by a vigourous tattoo beaten on an empty paraffin tin and I rushed out hoping
      to find the dead leopard. however nothing of the kind had happened except that the
      noise must have scared the beast because she did not return again that night. Next
      morning Laza solemnly informed me that, though he had shot many leopards in his day,
      this was no ordinary leopard but a “sheitani” (devil) and that as his gun was no good
      against witchcraft he thought he might as well retire from the hunt. Scared I bet, and I
      don’t blame him either.

      You can imagine my relief when a car rolled up that afternoon bringing Messers
      Stewart and Griffiths, two farmers who live about 15 miles away, between here and
      Mbeya. They had a note from the Assistant District Officer asking them to help me and
      they had come to set up a trap gun in the garden. That night the leopard sniffed all
      around the gun and I had the added strain of waiting for the bang and wondering what I
      should do if the beast were only wounded. I conjured up horrible visions of the two little
      totos trotting up the garden path with the early morning milk and being horribly mauled,
      but I needn’t have worried because the leopard was far too wily to be caught that way.
      Two more ghastly nights passed and then I had another visitor, a Dr Jackson of
      the Tsetse Department on safari in the District. He listened sympathetically to my story
      and left his shotgun and some SSG cartridges with me and instructed me to wait until the
      leopard was pretty close and blow its b—– head off. It was good of him to leave his
      gun. George always says there are three things a man should never lend, ‘His wife, his
      gun and his dog.’ (I think in that order!)I felt quite cheered by Dr Jackson’s visit and sent
      once again for Laza last night and arranged a real show down. In the afternoon I draped
      heavy blankets over the living room windows to shut out the light of the pressure lamp
      and the four of us, Laza and his two stooges and I waited up for the leopard. When we
      guessed by her grunts that she was somewhere between the kitchen and the back door
      we all rushed out, first the boy with the panga and the lamp, next Laza with his muzzle
      loader, then me with the shotgun followed closely by the boy with the spear. What a
      farce! The lamp was our undoing. We were blinded by the light and did not even
      glimpse the leopard which made off with a derisive grunt. Laza said smugly that he knew
      it was hopeless to try and now I feel tired and discouraged too.

      This morning I sent a runner to Mbeya to order the hotel taxi for tomorrow and I
      shall go to friends in Mbeya for a day or two and then on to Tukuyu where I shall stay
      with the Eustaces until George returns from Safari.


      Mchewe 18th November 1937

      My darling Ann,

      Here we are back in our own home and how lovely it is to have Daddy back from
      safari. Thank you very much for your letter. I hope by now you have got mine telling you
      how very much I liked the beautiful tray cloth you made for my birthday. I bet there are
      not many little girls of five who can embroider as well as you do, darling. The boy,
      Matafari, washes and irons it so carefully and it looks lovely on the tea tray.

      Daddy and I had some fun last night. I was in bed and Daddy was undressing
      when we heard a funny scratching noise on the roof. I thought it was the leopard. Daddy
      quickly loaded his shotgun and ran outside. He had only his shirt on and he looked so
      funny. I grabbed the loaded revolver from the cupboard and ran after Dad in my nightie
      but after all the rush it was only your cat, Winnie, though I don’t know how she managed
      to make such a noise. We felt so silly, we laughed and laughed.

      Kate talks a lot now but in such a funny way you would laugh to her her. She
      hears the houseboys call me Memsahib so sometimes instead of calling me Mummy
      she calls me “Oompaab”. She calls the bedroom a ‘bippon’ and her little behind she
      calls her ‘sittendump’. She loves to watch Mandawi’s cattle go home along the path
      behind the kitchen. Joseph your donkey, always leads the cows. He has a lazy life now.
      I am glad you had such fun on Guy Fawkes Day. You will be sad to leave
      Plumstead but I am sure you will like going to England on the big ship with granny Kate.
      I expect you will start school when you get to England and I am sure you will find that

      God bless my dear little girl. Lots of love from Daddy and Kate,
      and Mummy

      Mchewe 18th November 1937

      Hello George Darling,

      Thank you for your lovely drawing of Daddy shooting an elephant. Daddy says
      that the only thing is that you have drawn him a bit too handsome.

      I went onto the verandah a few minutes ago to pick a banana for Kate from the
      bunch hanging there and a big hornet flew out and stung my elbow! There are lots of
      them around now and those stinging flies too. Kate wears thick corduroy dungarees so
      that she will not get her fat little legs bitten. She is two years old now and is a real little
      pickle. She loves running out in the rain so I have ordered a pair of red Wellingtons and a
      tiny umbrella from a Nairobi shop for her Christmas present.

      Fanny’s puppies have their eyes open now and have very sharp little teeth.
      They love to nip each other. We are keeping the fiercest little one whom we call Paddy
      but are giving the others to friends. The coffee bushes are full of lovely white flowers
      and the bees and ants are very busy stealing their honey.

      Yesterday a troop of baboons came down the hill and Dad shot a big one to
      scare the others off. They are a nuisance because they steal the maize and potatoes
      from the native shambas and then there is not enough food for the totos.
      Dad and I are very proud of you for not making a fuss when you went to the
      dentist to have that tooth out.

      Bye bye, my fine little son.
      Three bags full of love from Kate, Dad and Mummy.

      Mchewe 12th February, 1938

      Dearest Family,

      here is some news that will please you. George has been offered and has
      accepted a job as Forester at Mbulu in the Northern Province of Tanganyika. George
      would have preferred a job as Game Ranger, but though the Game Warden, Philip
      Teare, is most anxious to have him in the Game Department, there is no vacancy at
      present. Anyway if one crops up later, George can always transfer from one
      Government Department to another. Poor George, he hates the idea of taking a job. He
      says that hitherto he has always been his own master and he detests the thought of
      being pushed around by anyone.

      Now however he has no choice. Our capitol is almost exhausted and the coffee
      market shows no signs of improving. With three children and another on the way, he
      feels he simply must have a fixed income. I shall be sad to leave this little farm. I love
      our little home and we have been so very happy here, but my heart rejoices at the
      thought of overseas leave every thirty months. Now we shall be able to fetch Ann and
      George from England and in three years time we will all be together in Tanganyika once

      There is no sale for farms so we will just shut the house and keep on a very small
      labour force just to keep the farm from going derelict. We are eating our hens but will
      take our two dogs, Fanny and Paddy with us.

      One thing I shall be glad to leave is that leopard. She still comes grunting around
      at night but not as badly as she did before. I do not mind at all when George is here but
      until George was accepted for this forestry job I was afraid he might go back to the
      Diggings and I should once more be left alone to be cursed by the leopard’s attentions.
      Knowing how much I dreaded this George was most anxious to shoot the leopard and
      for weeks he kept his shotgun and a powerful torch handy at night.

      One night last week we woke to hear it grunting near the kitchen. We got up very
      quietly and whilst George loaded the shotgun with SSG, I took the torch and got the
      heavy revolver from the cupboard. We crept out onto the dark verandah where George
      whispered to me to not switch on the torch until he had located the leopard. It was pitch
      black outside so all he could do was listen intently. And then of course I spoilt all his
      plans. I trod on the dog’s tin bowl and made a terrific clatter! George ordered me to
      switch on the light but it was too late and the leopard vanished into the long grass of the
      Kalonga, grunting derisively, or so it sounded.

      She never comes into the clearing now but grunts from the hillside just above it.


      Mbulu 18th March, 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Journeys end at last. here we are at Mbulu, installed in our new quarters which are
      as different as they possibly could be from our own cosy little home at Mchewe. We
      live now, my dears, in one wing of a sort of ‘Beau Geste’ fort but I’ll tell you more about
      it in my next letter. We only arrived yesterday and have not had time to look around.
      This letter will tell you just about our trip from Mbeya.

      We left the farm in our little red Ford two seater with all our portable goods and
      chattels plus two native servants and the two dogs. Before driving off, George took one
      look at the flattened springs and declared that he would be surprised if we reached
      Mbeya without a breakdown and that we would never make Mbulu with the car so

      However luck was with us. We reached Mbeya without mishap and at one of the
      local garages saw a sturdy used Ford V8 boxbody car for sale. The garage agreed to
      take our small car as part payment and George drew on our little remaining capitol for the
      rest. We spent that night in the house of the Forest Officer and next morning set out in
      comfort for the Northern Province of Tanganyika.

      I had done the journey from Dodoma to Mbeya seven years before so was
      familiar with the scenery but the road was much improved and the old pole bridges had
      been replaced by modern steel ones. Kate was as good as gold all the way. We
      avoided hotels and camped by the road and she found this great fun.
      The road beyond Dodoma was new to me and very interesting country, flat and
      dry and dusty, as little rain falls there. The trees are mostly thorn trees but here and there
      one sees a giant baobab, weird trees with fantastically thick trunks and fat squat branches
      with meagre foliage. The inhabitants of this area I found interesting though. They are
      called Wagogo and are a primitive people who ape the Masai in dress and customs
      though they are much inferior to the Masai in physique. They are also great herders of
      cattle which, rather surprisingly, appear to thrive in that dry area.

      The scenery alters greatly as one nears Babati, which one approaches by a high
      escarpment from which one has a wonderful view of the Rift Valley. Babati township
      appears to be just a small group of Indian shops and shabby native houses, but I
      believe there are some good farms in the area. Though the little township is squalid,
      there is a beautiful lake and grand mountains to please the eye. We stopped only long
      enough to fill up with petrol and buy some foodstuffs. Beyond Babati there is a tsetse
      fly belt and George warned our two native servants to see that no tsetse flies settled on
      the dogs.

      We stopped for the night in a little rest house on the road about 80 miles from
      Arusha where we were to spend a few days with the Forest Officer before going on to
      Mbulu. I enjoyed this section of the road very much because it runs across wide plains
      which are bounded on the West by the blue mountains of the Rift Valley wall. Here for
      the first time I saw the Masai on their home ground guarding their vast herds of cattle. I
      also saw their strange primitive hovels called Manyattas, with their thorn walled cattle
      bomas and lots of plains game – giraffe, wildebeest, ostriches and antelope. Kate was
      wildly excited and entranced with the game especially the giraffe which stood gazing
      curiously and unafraid of us, often within a few yards of the road.

      Finally we came across the greatest thrill of all, my first view of Mt Meru the extinct
      volcano about 16,000 feet high which towers over Arusha township. The approach to
      Arusha is through flourishing coffee plantations very different alas from our farm at Mchewe. George says that at Arusha coffee growing is still a paying proposition
      because here the yield of berry per acre is much higher than in the Southern highlands
      and here in the North the farmers have not such heavy transport costs as the railway runs
      from Arusha to the port at Tanga.

      We stayed overnight at a rather second rate hotel but the food was good and we
      had hot baths and a good nights rest. Next day Tom Lewis the Forest Officer, fetched
      us and we spent a few days camping in a tent in the Lewis’ garden having meals at their
      home. Both Tom and Lillian Lewis were most friendly. Tom lewis explained to George
      what his work in the Mbulu District was to be, and they took us camping in a Forest
      Reserve where Lillian and her small son David and Kate and I had a lovely lazy time
      amidst beautiful surroundings. Before we left for Mbulu, Lillian took me shopping to buy
      material for curtains for our new home. She described the Forest House at Mbulu to me
      and it sounded delightful but alas, when we reached Mbulu we discovered that the
      Assistant District Officer had moved into the Forest House and we were directed to the
      Fort or Boma. The night before we left Arusha for Mbulu it rained very heavily and the
      road was very treacherous and slippery due to the surface being of ‘black cotton’ soil
      which has the appearance and consistency of chocolate blancmange, after rain. To get to
      Mbulu we had to drive back in the direction of Dodoma for some 70 miles and then turn
      to the right and drive across plains to the Great Rift Valley Wall. The views from this
      escarpment road which climbs this wall are magnificent. At one point one looks down
      upon Lake Manyara with its brilliant white beaches of soda.

      The drive was a most trying one for George. We had no chains for the wheels
      and several times we stuck in the mud and our two houseboys had to put grass and
      branches under the wheels to stop them from spinning. Quite early on in the afternoon
      George gave up all hope of reaching Mbulu that day and planned to spend the night in
      a little bush rest camp at Karatu. However at one point it looked as though we would not
      even reach this resthouse for late afternoon found us properly bogged down in a mess
      of mud at the bottom of a long and very steep hill. In spite of frantic efforts on the part of
      George and the two boys, all now very wet and muddy, the heavy car remained stuck.
      Suddenly five Masai men appeared through the bushes beside the road. They
      were all tall and angular and rather terrifying looking to me. Each wore only a blanket
      knotted over one shoulder and all were armed with spears. They lined up by the side of
      the road and just looked – not hostile but simply aloof and supercilious. George greeted
      them and said in Ki-Swahili, “Help to push and I will reward you.” But they said nothing,
      just drawing back imperceptibly to register disgust at the mere idea of manual labour.
      Their expressions said quite clearly “A Masai is a warrior and does not soil his hands.”
      George then did something which startled them I think, as much as me. He
      plucked their spears from their hands one by one and flung them into the back of the
      boxbody. “Now push!” he said, “And when we are safely out of the mud you shall have
      your spears back.” To my utter astonishment the Masai seemed to applaud George’s
      action. I think they admire courage in a man more than anything else. They pushed with a
      will and soon we were roaring up the long steep slope. “I can’t stop here” quoth George
      as up and up we went. The Masai were in mad pursuit with their blankets streaming
      behind. They took a very steep path which was a shortcut to the top. They are certainly
      amazing athletes and reached the top at the same time as the car. Their route of course
      was shorter but much more steep, yet they came up without any sign of fatigue to claim
      their spears and the money which George handed out with a friendly grin. The Masai
      took the whole episode in good heart and we parted on the most friendly terms.

      After a rather chilly night in the three walled shack, we started on the last lap of our
      journey yesterday morning in bright weather and made the trip to Mbulu without incident.


      Mbulu 24th March, 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Mbulu is an attractive station but living in this rather romantic looking fort has many
      disadvantages. Our quarters make up one side of the fort which is built up around a
      hollow square. The buildings are single storied but very tall in the German manner and
      there is a tower on one corner from which the Union Jack flies. The tower room is our
      sitting room, and one has very fine views from the windows of the rolling country side.
      However to reach this room one has to climb a steep flight of cement steps from the
      court yard. Another disadvantage of this tower room is that there is a swarm of bees in
      the roof and the stray ones drift down through holes in the ceiling and buzz angrily
      against the window panes or fly around in a most menacing manner.

      Ours are the only private quarters in the Fort. Two other sides of the Fort are
      used as offices, storerooms and court room and the fourth side is simply a thick wall with
      battlements and loopholes and a huge iron shod double door of enormous thickness
      which is always barred at sunset when the flag is hauled down. Two Police Askari always
      remain in the Fort on guard at night. The effect from outside the whitewashed fort is very
      romantic but inside it is hardly homely and how I miss my garden at Mchewe and the
      grass and trees.

      We have no privacy downstairs because our windows overlook the bare
      courtyard which is filled with Africans patiently waiting to be admitted to the courtroom as
      witnesses or spectators. The outside windows which overlook the valley are heavily
      barred. I can only think that the Germans who built this fort must have been very scared
      of the local natives.

      Our rooms are hardly cosy and are furnished with typical heavy German pieces.
      We have a vast bleak bedroom, a dining room and an enormous gloomy kitchen in
      which meals for the German garrison were cooked. At night this kitchen is alive with
      gigantic rats but fortunately they do not seem to care for the other rooms. To crown
      everything owls hoot and screech at night on the roof.

      On our first day here I wandered outside the fort walls with Kate and came upon a
      neatly fenced plot enclosing the graves of about fifteen South African soldiers killed by
      the Germans in the 1914-18 war. I understand that at least one of theses soldiers died in
      the courtyard here. The story goes, that during the period in the Great War when this fort
      was occupied by a troop of South African Horse, a German named Siedtendorf
      appeared at the great barred door at night and asked to speak to the officer in command
      of the Troop. The officer complied with this request and the small shutter in the door was
      opened so that he could speak with the German. The German, however, had not come
      to speak. When he saw the exposed face of the officer, he fired, killing him, and
      escaped into the dark night. I had this tale on good authority but cannot vouch for it. I do
      know though, that there are two bullet holes in the door beside the shutter. An unhappy
      story to think about when George is away, as he is now, and the moonlight throws queer
      shadows in the court yard and the owls hoot.

      However though I find our quarters depressing, I like Mbulu itself very much. It is
      rolling country, treeless except for the plantations of the Forestry Dept. The land is very
      fertile in the watered valleys but the grass on hills and plains is cropped to the roots by
      the far too numerous cattle and goats. There are very few Europeans on the station, only
      Mr Duncan, the District Officer, whose wife and children recently left for England, the
      Assistant District Officer and his wife, a bachelor Veterinary Officer, a Road Foreman and
      ourselves, and down in the village a German with an American wife and an elderly
      Irishman whom I have not met. The Government officials have a communal vegetable
      garden in the valley below the fort which keeps us well supplied with green stuff. 

      Most afternoons George, Kate and I go for walks after tea. On Fridays there is a
      little ceremony here outside the fort. In the late afternoon a little procession of small
      native schoolboys, headed by a drum and penny whistle band come marching up the
      road to a tune which sounds like ‘Two lovely black eyes”. They form up below our tower
      and as the flag is lowered for the day they play ‘God save the King’, and then march off
      again. It is quite a cheerful little ceremony.

      The local Africans are a skinny lot and, I should say, a poor tribe. They protect
      themselves against the cold by wrapping themselves in cotton blankets or a strip of
      unbleached sheeting. This they drape over their heads, almost covering their faces and
      the rest is wrapped closely round their bodies in the manner of a shroud. A most
      depressing fashion. They live in very primitive comfortless houses. They simply make a
      hollow in the hillside and build a front wall of wattle and daub. Into this rude shelter at night
      go cattle and goats, men, women, and children.

      Mbulu village has the usual mud brick and wattle dukas and wattle and daub
      houses. The chief trader is a Goan who keeps a surprisingly good variety of tinned
      foodstuffs and also sells hardware and soft goods.

      The Europeans here have been friendly but as you will have noted there are
      only two other women on station and no children at all to be companions for Kate.


      Mbulu 20th June 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Here we are on Safari with George at Babati where we are occupying a rest
      house on the slopes of Ufiome Mountain. The slopes are a Forest Reserve and
      George is supervising the clearing of firebreaks in preparation for the dry weather. He
      goes off after a very early breakfast and returns home in the late afternoon so Kate and I
      have long lazy days.

      Babati is a pleasant spot and the resthouse is quite comfortable. It is about a mile
      from the village which is just the usual collection of small mud brick and corrugated iron
      Indian Dukas. There are a few settlers in the area growing coffee, or going in for mixed
      farming but I don’t think they are doing very well. The farm adjoining the rest house is
      owned by Lord Lovelace but is run by a manager.

      George says he gets enough exercise clambering about all day on the mountain,
      so Kate and I do our walking in the mornings when George is busy, and we all relax in
      the evenings when George returns from his field work. Kate’s favourite walk is to the big
      block of mtama (sorghum) shambas lower down the hill. There are huge swarms of tiny
      grain eating birds around waiting the chance to plunder the mtama, so the crops are
      watched from sunrise to sunset.

      Crude observation platforms have been erected for this purpose in the centre of
      each field and the women and the young boys of the family concerned, take it in turn to
      occupy the platform and scare the birds. Each watcher has a sling and uses clods of
      earth for ammunition. The clod is placed in the centre of the sling which is then whirled
      around at arms length. Suddenly one end of the sling is released and the clod of earth
      flies out and shatters against the mtama stalks. The sling makes a loud whip like crack and
      the noise is quite startling and very effective in keeping the birds at a safe distance.


      Karatu 3rd July 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Still on safari you see! We left Babati ten days ago and passed through Mbulu
      on our way to this spot. We slept out of doors one night beside Lake Tiawa about eight
      miles from Mbulu. It was a peaceful spot and we enjoyed watching the reflection of the
      sunset on the lake and the waterhens and duck and pelicans settling down for the night.
      However it turned piercingly cold after sunset so we had an early supper and then all
      three of us lay down to sleep in the back of the boxbody (station wagon). It was a tight
      fit and a real case of ‘When Dad turns, we all turn.’

      Here at Karatu we are living in a grass hut with only three walls. It is rather sweet
      and looks like the setting for a Nativity Play. Kate and I share the only camp bed and
      George and the dogs sleep on the floor. The air here is very fresh and exhilarating and
      we all feel very fit. George is occupied all day supervising the cutting of firebreaks
      around existing plantations and the forest reserve of indigenous trees. Our camp is on
      the hillside and below us lie the fertile wheat lands of European farmers.

      They are mostly Afrikaners, the descendants of the Boer families who were
      invited by the Germans to settle here after the Boer War. Most of them are pro-British
      now and a few have called in here to chat to George about big game hunting. George
      gets on extremely well with them and recently attended a wedding where he had a
      lively time dancing at the reception. He likes the older people best as most are great
      individualists. One fine old man, surnamed von Rooyen, visited our camp. He is a Boer
      of the General Smuts type with spare figure and bearded face. George tells me he is a
      real patriarch with an enormous family – mainly sons. This old farmer fought against the
      British throughout the Boer War under General Smuts and again against the British in the
      German East Africa campaign when he was a scout and right hand man to Von Lettow. It
      is said that Von Lettow was able to stay in the field until the end of the Great War
      because he listened to the advise given to him by von Rooyen. However his dislike for
      the British does not extend to George as they have a mutual interest in big game

      Kate loves being on safari. She is now so accustomed to having me as her nurse
      and constant companion that I do not know how she will react to paid help. I shall have to
      get someone to look after her during my confinement in the little German Red Cross
      hospital at Oldeani.

      George has obtained permission from the District Commissioner, for Kate and
      me to occupy the Government Rest House at Oldeani from the end of July until the end
      of August when my baby is due. He will have to carry on with his field work but will join
      us at weekends whenever possible.


      Karatu 12th July 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Not long now before we leave this camp. We have greatly enjoyed our stay
      here in spite of the very chilly earl mornings and the nights when we sit around in heavy
      overcoats until our early bed time.

      Last Sunday I persuaded George to take Kate and me to the famous Ngoro-
      Ngoro Crater. He was not very keen to do so because the road is very bumpy for
      anyone in my interesting condition but I feel so fit that I was most anxious to take this
      opportunity of seeing the enormous crater. We may never be in this vicinity again and in
      any case safari will not be so simple with a small baby.

      What a wonderful trip it was! The road winds up a steep escarpment from which
      one gets a glorious birds eye view of the plains of the Great Rift Valley far, far below.
      The crater is immense. There is a road which skirts the rim in places and one has quite
      startling views of the floor of the crater about two thousand feet below.

      A camp for tourists has just been built in a clearing in the virgin forest. It is most
      picturesque as the camp buildings are very neatly constructed log cabins with very high
      pitched thatched roofs. We spent about an hour sitting on the grass near the edge of the
      crater enjoying the sunshine and the sharp air and really awe inspiring view. Far below us
      in the middle of the crater was a small lake and we could see large herds of game
      animals grazing there but they were too far away to be impressive, even seen through
      George’s field glasses. Most appeared to be wildebeest and zebra but I also picked
      out buffalo. Much more exciting was my first close view of a wild elephant. George
      pointed him out to me as we approached the rest camp on the inward journey. He
      stood quietly under a tree near the road and did not seem to be disturbed by the car
      though he rolled a wary eye in our direction. On our return journey we saw him again at
      almost uncomfortably close quarters. We rounded a sharp corner and there stood the
      elephant, facing us and slap in the middle of the road. He was busily engaged giving
      himself a dust bath but spared time to give us an irritable look. Fortunately we were on a
      slight slope so George quickly switched off the engine and backed the car quietly round
      the corner. He got out of the car and loaded his rifle, just in case! But after he had finished
      his toilet the elephant moved off the road and we took our chance and passed without

      One notices the steepness of the Ngoro-Ngoro road more on the downward
      journey than on the way up. The road is cut into the side of the mountain so that one has
      a steep slope on one hand and a sheer drop on the other. George told me that a lorry
      coming down the mountain was once charged from behind by a rhino. On feeling and
      hearing the bash from behind the panic stricken driver drove off down the mountain as
      fast as he dared and never paused until he reached level ground at the bottom of the
      mountain. There was no sign of the rhino so the driver got out to examine his lorry and
      found the rhino horn embedded in the wooden tail end of the lorry. The horn had been
      wrenched right off!

      Happily no excitement of that kind happened to us. I have yet to see a rhino.


      Oldeani. 19th July 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Greetings from a lady in waiting! Kate and I have settled down comfortably in the
      new, solidly built Government Rest House which comprises one large living room and
      one large office with a connecting door. Outside there is a kitchen and a boys quarter.
      There are no resident Government officials here at Oldeani so the office is in use only
      when the District Officer from Mbulu makes his monthly visit. However a large Union
      Jack flies from a flagpole in the front of the building as a gentle reminder to the entirely
      German population of Oldeani that Tanganyika is now under British rule.

      There is quite a large community of German settlers here, most of whom are
      engaged in coffee farming. George has visited several of the farms in connection with his
      forestry work and says the coffee plantations look very promising indeed. There are also
      a few German traders in the village and there is a large boarding school for German
      children and also a very pleasant little hospital where I have arranged to have the baby.
      Right next door to the Rest House is a General Dealers Store run by a couple named
      Schnabbe. The shop is stocked with drapery, hardware, china and foodstuffs all
      imported from Germany and of very good quality. The Schnabbes also sell local farm
      produce, beautiful fresh vegetables, eggs and pure rich milk and farm butter. Our meat
      comes from a German butchery and it is a great treat to get clean, well cut meat. The
      sausages also are marvellous and in great variety.

      The butcher is an entertaining character. When he called round looking for custom I
      expected him to break out in a yodel any minute, as it was obvious from a glance that
      the Alps are his natural background. From under a green Tyrollean hat with feather,
      blooms a round beefy face with sparkling small eyes and such widely spaced teeth that
      one inevitably thinks of a garden rake. Enormous beefy thighs bulge from greasy
      lederhosen which are supported by the traditional embroidered braces. So far the
      butcher is the only cheery German, male or female, whom I have seen, and I have met
      most of the locals at the Schnabbe’s shop. Most of the men seem to have cultivated
      the grim Hitler look. They are all fanatical Nazis and one is usually greeted by a raised
      hand and Heil Hitler! All very theatrical. I always feel like crying in ringing tones ‘God
      Save the King’ or even ‘St George for England’. However the men are all very correct
      and courteous and the women friendly. The women all admire Kate and cry, “Ag, das
      kleine Englander.” She really is a picture with her rosy cheeks and huge grey eyes and
      golden curls. Kate is having a wonderful time playing with Manfried, the Scnabbe’s small
      son. Neither understands a word said by the other but that doesn’t seem to worry them.

      Before he left on safari, George took me to hospital for an examination by the
      nurse, Sister Marianne. She has not been long in the country and knows very little
      English but is determined to learn and carried on an animated, if rather quaint,
      conversation with frequent references to a pocket dictionary. She says I am not to worry
      because there is not doctor here. She is a very experienced midwife and anyway in an
      emergency could call on the old retired Veterinary Surgeon for assistance.
      I asked sister Marianne whether she knew of any German woman or girl who
      would look after Kate whilst I am in hospital and today a very top drawer German,
      bearing a strong likeness to ‘Little Willie’, called and offered the services of his niece who
      is here on a visit from Germany. I was rather taken aback and said, “Oh no Baron, your
      niece would not be the type I had in mind. I’m afraid I cannot pay much for a companion.”
      However the Baron was not to be discouraged. He told me that his niece is seventeen
      but looks twenty, that she is well educated and will make a cheerful companion. Her
      father wishes her to learn to speak English fluently and that is why the Baron wished her
      to come to me as a house daughter. As to pay, a couple of pounds a month for pocket
      money and her keep was all he had in mind. So with some misgivings I agreed to take
      the niece on as a companion as from 1st August.


      Oldeani. 10th August 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Never a dull moment since my young companion arrived. She is a striking looking
      girl with a tall boyish figure and very short and very fine dark hair which she wears
      severely slicked back. She wears tweeds, no make up but has shiny rosy cheeks and
      perfect teeth – she also,inevitably, has a man friend and I have an uncomfortable
      suspicion that it is because of him that she was planted upon me. Upon second
      thoughts though, maybe it was because of her excessive vitality, or even because of
      her healthy appetite! The Baroness, I hear is in poor health and I can imagine that such
      abundant health and spirit must have been quite overpowering. The name is Ingeborg,
      but she is called Mouche, which I believe means Mouse. Someone in her family must
      have a sense of humour.

      Her English only needed practice and she now chatters fluently so that I know her
      background and views on life. Mouche’s father is a personal friend of Goering. He was
      once a big noise in the German Airforce but is now connected with the car industry and
      travels frequently and intensively in Europe and America on business. Mouche showed
      me some snap shots of her family and I must say they look prosperous and charming.
      Mouche tells me that her father wants her to learn to speak English fluently so that
      she can get a job with some British diplomat in Cairo. I had immediate thought that I
      might be nursing a future Mata Hari in my bosom, but this was immediately extinguished
      when Mouche remarked that her father would like her to marry an Englishman. However
      it seems that the mere idea revolts her. “Englishmen are degenerates who swill whisky
      all day.” I pointed out that she had met George, who was a true blue Englishman, but
      was nevertheless a fine physical specimen and certainly didn’t drink all day. Mouche
      replied that George is not an Englishman but a hunter, as though that set him apart.
      Mouche is an ardent Hitler fan and an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth
      Movement. The house resounds with Hitler youth songs and when she is not singing,
      her gramophone is playing very stirring marching songs. I cannot understand a word,
      which is perhaps as well. Every day she does the most strenuous exercises watched
      with envy by me as my proportions are now those of a circus Big Top. Mouche eats a
      fantastic amount of meat and I feel it is a blessing that she is much admired by our
      Tyrollean butcher who now delivers our meat in person and adds as a token of his
      admiration some extra sausages for Mouche.

      I must confess I find her stimulating company as George is on safari most of the
      time and my evenings otherwise would be lonely. I am a little worried though about
      leaving Kate here with Mouche when I go to hospital. The dogs and Kate have not taken
      to her. I am trying to prepare Kate for the separation but she says, “She’s not my
      mummy. You are my dear mummy, and I want you, I want you.” George has got
      permission from the Provincial Forestry Officer to spend the last week of August here at
      the Rest House with me and I only hope that the baby will be born during that time.
      Kate adores her dad and will be perfectly happy to remain here with him.

      One final paragraph about Mouche. I thought all German girls were domesticated
      but not Mouche. I have Kesho-Kutwa here with me as cook and I have engaged a local
      boy to do the laundry. I however expected Mouche would take over making the
      puddings and pastry but she informed me that she can only bake a chocolate cake and
      absolutely nothing else. She said brightly however that she would do the mending. As
      there is none for her to do, she has rescued a large worn handkerchief of George’s and
      sits with her feet up listening to stirring gramophone records whilst she mends the
      handkerchief with exquisite darning.


      Oldeani. 20th August 1938

      Dearest Family,

      Just after I had posted my last letter I received what George calls a demi official
      letter from the District Officer informing me that I would have to move out of the Rest
      House for a few days as the Governor and his hangers on would be visiting Oldeani
      and would require the Rest House. Fortunately George happened to be here for a few
      hours and he arranged for Kate and Mouche and me to spend a few days at the
      German School as borders. So here I am at the school having a pleasant and restful
      time and much entertained by all the goings on.

      The school buildings were built with funds from Germany and the school is run on
      the lines of a contemporary German school. I think the school gets a grant from the
      Tanganyika Government towards running expenses, but I am not sure. The school hall is
      dominated by a more than life sized oil painting of Adolf Hitler which, at present, is
      flanked on one side by the German Flag and on the other by the Union Jack. I cannot
      help feeling that the latter was put up today for the Governor’s visit today.
      The teachers are very amiable. We all meet at mealtimes, and though few of the
      teachers speak English, the ones who do are anxious to chatter. The headmaster is a
      scholarly man but obviously anti-British. He says he cannot understand why so many
      South Africans are loyal to Britain – or rather to England. “They conquered your country
      didn’t they?” I said that that had never occurred to me and that anyway I was mainly of
      Scots descent and that loyalty to the crown was natural to me. “But the English
      conquered the Scots and yet you are loyal to England. That I cannot understand.” “Well I
      love England,” said I firmly, ”and so do all British South Africans.” Since then we have
      stuck to English literature. Shakespeare, Lord Byron and Galsworthy seem to be the
      favourites and all, thank goodness, make safe topics for conversation.
      Mouche is in her element but Kate and I do not enjoy the food which is typically
      German and consists largely of masses of fat pork and sauerkraut and unfamiliar soups. I
      feel sure that the soup at lunch today had blobs of lemon curd in it! I also find most
      disconcerting the way that everyone looks at me and says, “Bon appetite”, with much
      smiling and nodding so I have to fight down my nausea and make a show of enjoying
      the meals.

      The teacher whose room adjoins mine is a pleasant woman and I take my
      afternoon tea with her. She, like all the teachers, has a large framed photo of Hitler on her
      wall flanked by bracket vases of fresh flowers. One simply can’t get away from the man!
      Even in the dormitories each child has a picture of Hitler above the bed. Hitler accepting
      flowers from a small girl, or patting a small boy on the head. Even the children use the
      greeting ‘Heil Hitler’. These German children seem unnaturally prim when compared with
      my cheerful ex-pupils in South Africa but some of them are certainly very lovely to look

      Tomorrow Mouche, Kate and I return to our quarters in the Rest House and in a
      few days George will join us for a week.


      Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

      Dearest Family,

      You will all be delighted to hear that we have a second son, whom we have
      named John. He is a darling, so quaint and good. He looks just like a little old man with a
      high bald forehead fringed around the edges with a light brown fluff. George and I call
      him Johnny Jo because he has a tiny round mouth and a rather big nose and reminds us
      of A.A.Milne’s ‘Jonathan Jo has a mouth like an O’ , but Kate calls him, ‘My brother John’.
      George was not here when he was born on September 5th, just two minutes
      before midnight. He left on safari on the morning of the 4th and, of course, that very night
      the labour pains started. Fortunately Kate was in bed asleep so Mouche walked with
      me up the hill to the hospital where I was cheerfully received by Sister Marianne who
      had everything ready for the confinement. I was lucky to have such an experienced
      midwife because this was a breech birth and sister had to manage single handed. As
      there was no doctor present I was not allowed even a sniff of anaesthetic. Sister slaved
      away by the light of a pressure lamp endeavouring to turn the baby having first shoved
      an inverted baby bath under my hips to raise them.

      What a performance! Sister Marianne was very much afraid that she might not be
      able to save the baby and great was our relief when at last she managed to haul him out
      by the feet. One slap and the baby began to cry without any further attention so Sister
      wrapped him up in a blanket and took Johnny to her room for the night. I got very little
      sleep but was so thankful to have the ordeal over that I did not mind even though I
      heard a hyaena cackling and calling under my window in a most evil way.
      When Sister brought Johnny to me in the early morning I stared in astonishment.
      Instead of dressing him in one of his soft Viyella nighties, she had dressed him in a short
      sleeved vest of knitted cotton with a cotton cloth swayed around his waist sarong
      fashion. When I protested, “But Sister why is the baby not dressed in his own clothes?”
      She answered firmly, “I find it is not allowed. A baby’s clotheses must be boiled and I
      cannot boil clotheses of wool therefore your baby must wear the clotheses of the Red

      It was the same with the bedding. Poor Johnny lies all day in a deep wicker
      basket with a detachable calico lining. There is no pillow under his head but a vast kind of
      calico covered pillow is his only covering. There is nothing at all cosy and soft round my
      poor baby. I said crossly to the Sister, “As every thing must be so sterile, I wonder you
      don’t boil me too.” This she ignored.

      When my message reached George he dashed back to visit us. Sister took him
      first to see the baby and George was astonished to see the baby basket covered by a
      sheet. “She has the poor little kid covered up like a bloody parrot,” he told me. So I
      asked him to go at once to buy a square of mosquito netting to replace the sheet.
      Kate is quite a problem. She behaves like an Angel when she is here in my
      room but is rebellious when Sister shoos her out. She says she “Hates the Nanny”
      which is what she calls Mouche. Unfortunately it seems that she woke before midnight
      on the night Johnny Jo was born to find me gone and Mouche in my bed. According to
      Mouche, Kate wept all night and certainly when she visited me in the early morning
      Kate’s face was puffy with crying and she clung to me crying “Oh my dear mummy, why
      did you go away?” over and over again. Sister Marianne was touched and suggested
      that Mouche and Kate should come to the hospital as boarders as I am the only patient
      at present and there is plenty of room. Luckily Kate does not seem at all jealous of the
      baby and it is a great relief to have here here under my eye.



        From Tanganyika with Love

        continued  ~ part 5

        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

        Chunya 16th December 1936

        Dearest Family,

        Since last I wrote I have visited Chunya and met several of the diggers wives.
        On the whole I have been greatly disappointed because there is nothing very colourful
        about either township or women. I suppose I was really expecting something more like
        the goldrush towns and women I have so often seen on the cinema screen.
        Chunya consists of just the usual sun-dried brick Indian shops though there are
        one or two double storied buildings. Most of the life in the place centres on the
        Goldfields Hotel but we did not call there. From the store opposite I could hear sounds
        of revelry though it was very early in the afternoon. I saw only one sight which was quite
        new to me, some elegantly dressed African women, with high heels and lipsticked
        mouths teetered by on their way to the silk store. “Native Tarts,” said George in answer
        to my enquiry.

        Several women have called on me and when I say ‘called’ I mean called. I have
        grown so used to going without stockings and wearing home made dresses that it was
        quite a shock to me to entertain these ladies dressed to the nines in smart frocks, silk
        stockings and high heeled shoes, handbags, makeup and whatnot. I feel like some
        female Rip van Winkle. Most of the women have a smart line in conversation and their
        talk and views on life would make your nice straight hair curl Mummy. They make me feel
        very unsophisticated and dowdy but George says he has a weakness for such types
        and I am to stay exactly as I am. I still do not use any makeup. George says ‘It’s all right
        for them. They need it poor things, you don’t.” Which, though flattering, is hardly true.
        I prefer the men visitors, though they also are quite unlike what I had expected
        diggers to be. Those whom George brings home are all well educated and well
        groomed and I enjoy listening to their discussion of the world situation, sport and books.
        They are extremely polite to me and gentle with the children though I believe that after a
        few drinks at the pub tempers often run high. There were great arguments on the night
        following the abdication of Edward VIII. Not that the diggers were particularly attached to
        him as a person, but these men are all great individualists and believe in freedom of
        choice. George, rather to my surprise, strongly supported Edward. I did not.

        Many of the diggers have wireless sets and so we keep up to date with the
        news. I seldom leave camp. I have my hands full with the three children during the day
        and, even though Janey is a reliable ayah, I would not care to leave the children at night
        in these grass roofed huts. Having experienced that fire on the farm, I know just how
        unlikely it would be that the children would be rescued in time in case of fire. The other
        women on the diggings think I’m crazy. They leave their children almost entirely to ayahs
        and I must confess that the children I have seen look very well and happy. The thing is
        that I simply would not enjoy parties at the hotel or club, miles away from the children
        and I much prefer to stay at home with a book.

        I love hearing all about the parties from George who likes an occasional ‘boose
        up’ with the boys and is terribly popular with everyone – not only the British but with the
        Germans, Scandinavians and even the Afrikaans types. One Afrikaans woman said “Jou
        man is ‘n man, al is hy ‘n Engelsman.” Another more sophisticated woman said, “George
        is a handsome devil. Aren’t you scared to let him run around on his own?” – but I’m not. I
        usually wait up for George with sandwiches and something hot to drink and that way I
        get all the news red hot.

        There is very little gold coming in. The rains have just started and digging is
        temporarily at a standstill. It is too wet for dry blowing and not yet enough water for
        panning and sluicing. As this camp is some considerable distance from the claims, all I see of the process is the weighing of the daily taking of gold dust and tiny nuggets.
        Unless our luck changes I do not think we will stay on here after John Molteno returns.
        George does not care for the life and prefers a more constructive occupation.
        Ann and young George still search optimistically for gold. We were all saddened
        last week by the death of Fanny, our bull terrier. She went down to the shopping centre
        with us and we were standing on the verandah of a store when a lorry passed with its
        canvas cover flapping. This excited Fanny who rushed out into the street and the back
        wheel of the lorry passed right over her, killing her instantly. Ann was very shocked so I
        soothed her by telling her that Fanny had gone to Heaven. When I went to bed that
        night I found Ann still awake and she asked anxiously, “Mummy, do you think God
        remembered to give Fanny her bone tonight?”

        Much love to all,

        Itewe, Chunya 23rd December 1936

        Dearest Family,

        Your Christmas parcel arrived this morning. Thank you very much for all the
        clothing for all of us and for the lovely toys for the children. George means to go hunting
        for a young buffalo this afternoon so that we will have some fresh beef for Christmas for
        ourselves and our boys and enough for friends too.

        I had a fright this morning. Ann and Georgie were, as usual, searching for gold
        whilst I sat sewing in the living room with Kate toddling around. She wandered through
        the curtained doorway into the store and I heard her playing with the paraffin pump. At
        first it did not bother me because I knew the tin was empty but after ten minutes or so I
        became irritated by the noise and went to stop her. Imagine my horror when I drew the
        curtain aside and saw my fat little toddler fiddling happily with the pump whilst, curled up
        behind the tin and clearly visible to me lay the largest puffadder I have ever seen.
        Luckily I acted instinctively and scooped Kate up from behind and darted back into the
        living room without disturbing the snake. The houseboy and cook rushed in with sticks
        and killed the snake and then turned the whole storeroom upside down to make sure
        there were no more.

        I have met some more picturesque characters since I last wrote. One is a man
        called Bishop whom George has known for many years having first met him in the
        Congo. I believe he was originally a sailor but for many years he has wandered around
        Central Africa trying his hand at trading, prospecting, a bit of elephant hunting and ivory
        poaching. He is now keeping himself by doing ‘Sign Writing”. Bish is a gentle and
        dignified personality. When we visited his camp he carefully dusted a seat for me and
        called me ‘Marm’, quite ye olde world. The only thing is he did spit.

        Another spitter is the Frenchman in a neighbouring camp. He is in bed with bad
        rheumatism and George has been going across twice a day to help him and cheer him
        up. Once when George was out on the claim I went across to the Frenchman’s camp in
        response to an SOS, but I think he was just lonely. He showed me snapshots of his
        two daughters, lovely girls and extremely smart, and he chatted away telling me his life
        history. He punctuated his remarks by spitting to right and left of the bed, everywhere in
        fact, except actually at me.

        George took me and the children to visit a couple called Bert and Hilda Farham.
        They have a small gold reef which is worked by a very ‘Heath Robinson’ type of
        machinery designed and erected by Bert who is reputed to be a clever engineer though
        eccentric. He is rather a handsome man who always looks very spruce and neat and
        wears a Captain Kettle beard. Hilda is from Johannesburg and quite a character. She
        has a most generous figure and literally masses of beetroot red hair, but she also has a
        warm deep voice and a most generous disposition. The Farhams have built
        themselves a more permanent camp than most. They have a brick cottage with proper
        doors and windows and have made it attractive with furniture contrived from petrol
        boxes. They have no children but Hilda lavishes a great deal of affection on a pet
        monkey. Sometimes they do quite well out of their gold and then they have a terrific
        celebration at the Club or Pub and Hilda has an orgy of shopping. At other times they
        are completely broke but Hilda takes disasters as well as triumphs all in her stride. She
        says, “My dear, when we’re broke we just live on tea and cigarettes.”

        I have met a young woman whom I would like as a friend. She has a dear little
        baby, but unfortunately she has a very wet husband who is also a dreadful bore. I can’t
        imagine George taking me to their camp very often. When they came to visit us George
        just sat and smoked and said,”Oh really?” to any remark this man made until I felt quite
        hysterical. George looks very young and fit and the children are lively and well too. I ,
        however, am definitely showing signs of wear and tear though George says,
        “Nonsense, to me you look the same as you always did.” This I may say, I do not
        regard as a compliment to the young Eleanor.

        Anyway, even though our future looks somewhat unsettled, we are all together
        and very happy.

        With love,

        Itewe, Chunya 30th December 1936

        Dearest Family,

        We had a very cheery Christmas. The children loved the toys and are so proud
        of their new clothes. They wore them when we went to Christmas lunch to the
        Cresswell-Georges. The C-Gs have been doing pretty well lately and they have a
        comfortable brick house and a large wireless set. The living room was gaily decorated
        with bought garlands and streamers and balloons. We had an excellent lunch cooked by
        our ex cook Abel who now works for the Cresswell-Georges. We had turkey with
        trimmings and plum pudding followed by nuts and raisons and chocolates and sweets
        galore. There was also a large variety of drinks including champagne!

        There were presents for all of us and, in addition, Georgie and Ann each got a
        large tin of chocolates. Kate was much admired. She was a picture in her new party frock
        with her bright hair and rosy cheeks. There were other guests beside ourselves and
        they were already there having drinks when we arrived. Someone said “What a lovely
        child!” “Yes” said George with pride, “She’s a Marie Stopes baby.” “Truby King!” said I
        quickly and firmly, but too late to stop the roar of laughter.

        Our children played amicably with the C-G’s three, but young George was
        unusually quiet and surprised me by bringing me his unopened tin of chocolates to keep
        for him. Normally he is a glutton for sweets. I might have guessed he was sickening for
        something. That night he vomited and had diarrhoea and has had an upset tummy and a
        slight temperature ever since.

        Janey is also ill. She says she has malaria and has taken to her bed. I am dosing
        her with quinine and hope she will soon be better as I badly need her help. Not only is
        young George off his food and peevish but Kate has a cold and Ann sore eyes and
        they all want love and attention. To complicate things it has been raining heavily and I
        must entertain the children indoors.


        Itewe, Chunya 19th January 1937

        Dearest Family,

        So sorry I have not written before but we have been in the wars and I have had neither
        the time nor the heart to write. However the worst is now over. Young George and
        Janey are both recovering from Typhoid Fever. The doctor had Janey moved to the
        native hospital at Chunya but I nursed young George here in the camp.

        As I told you young George’s tummy trouble started on Christmas day. At first I
        thought it was only a protracted bilious attack due to eating too much unaccustomed rich
        food and treated him accordingly but when his temperature persisted I thought that the
        trouble might be malaria and kept him in bed and increased the daily dose of quinine.
        He ate less and less as the days passed and on New Years Day he seemed very
        weak and his stomach tender to the touch.

        George fetched the doctor who examined small George and said he had a very
        large liver due no doubt to malaria. He gave the child injections of emertine and quinine
        and told me to give young George frequent and copious drinks of water and bi-carb of
        soda. This was more easily said than done. Young George refused to drink this mixture
        and vomited up the lime juice and water the doctor had suggested as an alternative.
        The doctor called every day and gave George further injections and advised me
        to give him frequent sips of water from a spoon. After three days the child was very
        weak and weepy but Dr Spiers still thought he had malaria. During those anxious days I
        also worried about Janey who appeared to be getting worse rather that better and on
        January the 3rd I asked the doctor to look at her. The next thing I knew, the doctor had
        put Janey in his car and driven her off to hospital. When he called next morning he
        looked very grave and said he wished to talk to my husband. I said that George was out
        on the claim but if what he wished to say concerned young George’s condition he might
        just as well tell me.

        With a good deal of reluctance Dr Spiers then told me that Janey showed all the
        symptoms of Typhoid Fever and that he was very much afraid that young George had
        contracted it from her. He added that George should be taken to the Mbeya Hospital
        where he could have the professional nursing so necessary in typhoid cases. I said “Oh
        no,I’d never allow that. The child had never been away from his family before and it
        would frighten him to death to be sick and alone amongst strangers.” Also I was sure that
        the fifty mile drive over the mountains in his weak condition would harm him more than
        my amateur nursing would. The doctor returned to the camp that afternoon to urge
        George to send our son to hospital but George staunchly supported my argument that
        young George would stand a much better chance of recovery if we nursed him at home.
        I must say Dr Spiers took our refusal very well and gave young George every attention
        coming twice a day to see him.

        For some days the child was very ill. He could not keep down any food or liquid
        in any quantity so all day long, and when he woke at night, I gave him a few drops of
        water at a time from a teaspoon. His only nourishment came from sucking Macintosh’s
        toffees. Young George sweated copiously especially at night when it was difficult to
        change his clothes and sponge him in the draughty room with the rain teeming down
        outside. I think I told you that the bedroom is a sort of shed with only openings in the wall
        for windows and doors, and with one wall built only a couple of feet high leaving a six
        foot gap for air and light. The roof leaked and the damp air blew in but somehow young
        George pulled through.

        Only when he was really on the mend did the doctor tell us that whilst he had
        been attending George, he had also been called in to attend to another little boy of the same age who also had typhoid. He had been called in too late and the other little boy,
        an only child, had died. Young George, thank God, is convalescent now, though still on a
        milk diet. He is cheerful enough when he has company but very peevish when left
        alone. Poor little lad, he is all hair, eyes, and teeth, or as Ann says” Georgie is all ribs ribs
        now-a-days Mummy.” He shares my room, Ann and Kate are together in the little room.
        Anyway the doctor says he should be up and around in about a week or ten days time.
        We were all inoculated against typhoid on the day the doctor made the diagnosis
        so it is unlikely that any of us will develop it. Dr Spiers was most impressed by Ann’s
        unconcern when she was inoculated. She looks gentle and timid but has always been
        very brave. Funny thing when young George was very ill he used to wail if I left the
        room, but now that he is convalescent he greatly prefers his dad’s company. So now I
        have been able to take the girls for walks in the late afternoons whilst big George
        entertains small George. This he does with the minimum of effort, either he gets out
        cartons of ammunition with which young George builds endless forts, or else he just sits
        beside the bed and cleans one of his guns whilst small George watches with absorbed

        The Doctor tells us that Janey is also now convalescent. He says that exhusband
        Abel has been most attentive and appeared daily at the hospital with a tray of
        food that made his, the doctor’s, mouth water. All I dare say, pinched from Mrs

        I’ll write again soon. Lots of love to all,

        Chunya 29th January 1937

        Dearest Family,

        Georgie is up and about but still tires very easily. At first his legs were so weak
        that George used to carry him around on his shoulders. The doctor says that what the
        child really needs is a long holiday out of the Tropics so that Mrs Thomas’ offer, to pay all
        our fares to Cape Town as well as lending us her seaside cottage for a month, came as
        a Godsend. Luckily my passport is in order. When George was in Mbeya he booked
        seats for the children and me on the first available plane. We will fly to Broken Hill and go
        on to Cape Town from there by train.

        Ann and George are wildly thrilled at the idea of flying but I am not. I remember
        only too well how airsick I was on the old Hannibal when I flew home with the baby Ann.
        I am longing to see you all and it will be heaven to give the children their first seaside

        I mean to return with Kate after three months but, if you will have him, I shall leave
        George behind with you for a year. You said you would all be delighted to have Ann so
        I do hope you will also be happy to have young George. Together they are no trouble
        at all. They amuse themselves and are very independent and loveable.
        George and I have discussed the matter taking into consideration the letters from
        you and George’s Mother on the subject. If you keep Ann and George for a year, my
        mother-in-law will go to Cape Town next year and fetch them. They will live in England
        with her until they are fit enough to return to the Tropics. After the children and I have left
        on this holiday, George will be able to move around and look for a job that will pay
        sufficiently to enable us to go to England in a few years time to fetch our children home.
        We both feel very sad at the prospect of this parting but the children’s health
        comes before any other consideration. I hope Kate will stand up better to the Tropics.
        She is plump and rosy and could not look more bonny if she lived in a temperate

        We should be with you in three weeks time!

        Very much love,

        Broken Hill, N Rhodesia 11th February 1937

        Dearest Family,

        Well here we are safe and sound at the Great Northern Hotel, Broken Hill, all
        ready to board the South bound train tonight.

        We were still on the diggings on Ann’s birthday, February 8th, when George had
        a letter from Mbeya to say that our seats were booked on the plane leaving Mbeya on
        the 10th! What a rush we had packing up. Ann was in bed with malaria so we just
        bundled her up in blankets and set out in John Molteno’s car for the farm. We arrived that
        night and spent the next day on the farm sorting things out. Ann and George wanted to
        take so many of their treasures and it was difficult for them to make a small selection. In
        the end young George’s most treasured possession, his sturdy little boots, were left

        Before leaving home on the morning of the tenth I took some snaps of Ann and
        young George in the garden and one of them with their father. He looked so sad. After
        putting us on the plane, George planned to go to the fishing camp for a day or two
        before returning to the empty house on the farm.

        John Molteno returned from the Cape by plane just before we took off, so he
        will take over the running of his claims once more. I told John that I dreaded the plane trip
        on account of air sickness so he gave me two pills which I took then and there. Oh dear!
        How I wished later that I had not done so. We had an extremely bumpy trip and
        everyone on the plane was sick except for small George who loved every moment.
        Poor Ann had a dreadful time but coped very well and never complained. I did not
        actually puke until shortly before we landed at Broken Hill but felt dreadfully ill all the way.
        Kate remained rosy and cheerful almost to the end. She sat on my lap throughout the
        trip because, being under age, she travelled as baggage and was not entitled to a seat.
        Shortly before we reached Broken Hill a smartly dressed youngish man came up
        to me and said, “You look so poorly, please let me take the baby, I have children of my
        own and know how to handle them.” Kate made no protest and off they went to the
        back of the plane whilst I tried to relax and concentrate on not getting sick. However,
        within five minutes the man was back. Kate had been thoroughly sick all over his collar
        and jacket.

        I took Kate back on my lap and then was violently sick myself, so much so that
        when we touched down at Broken Hill I was unable to speak to the Immigration Officer.
        He was so kind. He sat beside me until I got my diaphragm under control and then
        drove me up to the hotel in his own car.

        We soon recovered of course and ate a hearty dinner. This morning after
        breakfast I sallied out to look for a Bank where I could exchange some money into
        Rhodesian and South African currency and for the Post Office so that I could telegraph
        to George and to you. What a picnic that trip was! It was a terribly hot day and there was
        no shade. By the time we had done our chores, the children were hot, and cross, and
        tired and so indeed was I. As I had no push chair for Kate I had to carry her and she is
        pretty heavy for eighteen months. George, who is still not strong, clung to my free arm
        whilst Ann complained bitterly that no one was helping her.

        Eventually Ann simply sat down on the pavement and declared that she could
        not go another step, whereupon George of course decided that he also had reached his
        limit and sat down too. Neither pleading no threats would move them so I had to resort
        to bribery and had to promise that when we reached the hotel they could have cool
        drinks and ice-cream. This promise got the children moving once more but I am determined that nothing will induce me to stir again until the taxi arrives to take us to the

        This letter will go by air and will reach you before we do. How I am longing for
        journeys end.

        With love to you all,

        Leaving home 10th February 1937,  George Gilman Rushby with Ann and Georgie (Mike) Rushby:

        George Rushby Ann and Georgie

        We had a very warm welcome to the family home at Plumstead Cape Town.
        After ten days with my family we moved to Hout Bay where Mrs Thomas lent us her
        delightful seaside cottage. She also provided us with two excellent maids so I had
        nothing to do but rest and play on the beach with the children.

        After a month at the sea George had fully recovered his health though not his
        former gay spirits. After another six months with my parents I set off for home with Kate,
        leaving Ann and George in my parent’s home under the care of my elder sister,

        One or two incidents during that visit remain clearly in my memory. Our children
        had never met elderly people and were astonished at the manifestations of age. One
        morning an elderly lady came around to collect church dues. She was thin and stooped
        and Ann surveyed her with awe. She turned to me with a puzzled expression and
        asked in her clear voice, “Mummy, why has that old lady got a moustache – oh and a
        beard?’ The old lady in question was very annoyed indeed and said, “What a rude little
        girl.” Ann could not understand this, she said, “But Mummy, I only said she had a
        moustache and a beard and she has.” So I explained as best I could that when people
        have defects of this kind they are hurt if anyone mentions them.

        A few days later a strange young woman came to tea. I had been told that she
        had a most disfiguring birthmark on her cheek and warned Ann that she must not
        comment on it. Alas! with the kindest intentions Ann once again caused me acute
        embarrassment. The young woman was hardly seated when Ann went up to her and
        gently patted the disfiguring mark saying sweetly, “Oh, I do like this horrible mark on your

        I remember also the afternoon when Kate and George were christened. My
        mother had given George a white silk shirt for the occasion and he wore it with intense
        pride. Kate was baptised first without incident except that she was lost in admiration of a
        gold bracelet given her that day by her Godmother and exclaimed happily, “My
        bangle, look my bangle,” throughout the ceremony. When George’s turn came the
        clergyman held his head over the font and poured water on George’s forehead. Some
        splashed on his shirt and George protested angrily, “Mum, he has wet my shirt!” over
        and over again whilst I led him hurriedly outside.

        My last memory of all is at the railway station. The time had come for Kate and
        me to get into our compartment. My sisters stood on the platform with Ann and George.
        Ann was resigned to our going, George was not so, at the last moment Sylvia, my
        younger sister, took him off to see the engine. The whistle blew and I said good-bye to
        my gallant little Ann. “Mummy”, she said urgently to me, “Don’t forget to wave to

        And so I waved good-bye to my children, never dreaming that a war would
        intervene and it would be eight long years before I saw them again.


          From Tanganyika with Love

          continued  ~ part 4

          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

          Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Life is very quiet just now. Our neighbours have left and I miss them all especially
          Joni who was always a great bearer of news. We also grew fond of his Swedish
          brother-in-law Max, whose loud ‘Hodi’ always brought a glad ‘Karibu’ from us. His wife,
          Marion, I saw less often. She is not strong and seldom went visiting but has always
          been friendly and kind and ready to share her books with me.

          Ann’s birthday is looming ahead and I am getting dreadfully anxious that her
          parcels do not arrive in time. I am delighted that you were able to get a good head for
          her doll, dad, but horrified to hear that it was so expensive. You would love your
          ‘Charming Ann’. She is a most responsible little soul and seems to have outgrown her
          mischievous ways. A pity in a way, I don’t want her to grow too serious. You should see
          how thoroughly Ann baths and towels herself. She is anxious to do Georgie and Kate
          as well.

          I did not mean to teach Ann to write until after her fifth birthday but she has taught
          herself by copying the large print in newspaper headlines. She would draw a letter and
          ask me the name and now I find that at four Ann knows the whole alphabet. The front
          cement steps is her favourite writing spot. She uses bits of white clay we use here for

          Coffee prices are still very low and a lot of planters here and at Mbosi are in a
          mess as they can no longer raise mortgages on their farms or get advances from the
          Bank against their crops. We hear many are leaving their farms to try their luck on the

          George is getting fed up too. The snails are back on the shamba and doing
          frightful damage. Talk of the plagues of Egypt! Once more they are being collected in
          piles and bashed into pulp. The stench on the shamba is frightful! The greybeards in the
          village tell George that the local Chief has put a curse on the farm because he is angry
          that the Government granted George a small extension to the farm two years ago! As
          the Chief was consulted at the time and was agreeable this talk of a curse is nonsense
          but goes to show how the uneducated African put all disasters down to witchcraft.

          With much love,

          Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Ann’s birthday yesterday was not quite the gay occasion we had hoped. The
          seventh was mail day so we sent a runner for the mail, hoping against hope that your
          parcel containing the dolls head had arrived. The runner left for Mbeya at dawn but, as it
          was a very wet day, he did not return with the mail bag until after dark by which time Ann
          was fast asleep. My heart sank when I saw the parcel which contained the dolls new
          head. It was squashed quite flat. I shed a few tears over that shattered head, broken
          quite beyond repair, and George felt as bad about it as I did. The other parcel arrived in
          good shape and Ann loves her little sewing set, especially the thimble, and the nursery
          rhymes are a great success.

          Ann woke early yesterday and began to open her parcels. She said “But
          Mummy, didn’t Barbara’s new head come?” So I had to show her the fragments.
          Instead of shedding the flood of tears I expected, Ann just lifted the glass eyes in her
          hand and said in a tight little voice “Oh poor Barbara.” George saved the situation. as
          usual, by saying in a normal voice,”Come on Ann, get up and lets play your new
          records.” So we had music and sweets before breakfast. Later I removed Barbara’s
          faded old blond wig and gummed on the glossy new brown one and Ann seems quite

          Last night, after the children were tucked up in bed, we discussed our financial
          situation. The coffee trees that have survived the plagues of borer beetle, mealie bugs
          and snails look strong and fine, but George says it will be years before we make a living
          out of the farm. He says he will simply have to make some money and he is leaving for
          the Lupa on Saturday to have a look around on the Diggings. If he does decide to peg
          a claim and work it he will put up a wattle and daub hut and the children and I will join him
          there. But until such time as he strikes gold I shall have to remain here on the farm and
          ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

          Now don’t go and waste pity on me. Women all over the country are having to
          stay at home whilst their husbands search for a livelihood. I am better off than most
          because I have a comfortable little home and loyal servants and we still have enough
          capitol to keep the wolf from the door. Anyway this is the rainy season and hardly the
          best time to drag three small children around the sodden countryside on prospecting

          So I’ll stay here at home and hold thumbs that George makes a lucky strike.

          Heaps of love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Well, George has gone but here we are quite safe and cosy. Kate is asleep and
          Ann and Georgie are sprawled on the couch taking it in turns to enumerate the things
          God has made. Every now and again Ann bothers me with an awkward question. “Did
          God make spiders? Well what for? Did he make weeds? Isn’t He silly, mummy? She is
          becoming a very practical person. She sews surprisingly well for a four year old and has
          twice made cakes in the past week, very sweet and liberally coloured with cochineal and
          much appreciated by Georgie.

          I have been without George for a fortnight and have adapted myself to my new
          life. The children are great company during the day and I have arranged my evenings so
          that they do not seem long. I am determined that when George comes home he will find
          a transformed wife. I read an article entitled ‘Are you the girl he married?’ in a magazine
          last week and took a good look in the mirror and decided that I certainly was not! Hair dry,
          skin dry, and I fear, a faint shadow on the upper lip. So now I have blown the whole of
          your Christmas Money Order on an order to a chemist in Dar es Salaam for hair tonic,
          face cream and hair remover and am anxiously awaiting the parcel.

          In the meantime, after tucking the children into bed at night, I skip on the verandah
          and do the series of exercises recommended in the magazine article. After this exertion I
          have a leisurely bath followed by a light supper and then read or write letters to pass
          the time until Kate’s ten o’clock feed. I have arranged for Janey to sleep in the house.
          She comes in at 9.30 pm and makes up her bed on the living room floor by the fire.

          The days are by no means uneventful. The day before yesterday the biggest
          troop of monkeys I have ever seen came fooling around in the trees and on the grass
          only a few yards from the house. These monkeys were the common grey monkeys
          with black faces. They came in all sizes and were most entertaining to watch. Ann and
          Georgie had a great time copying their antics and pulling faces at the monkeys through
          the bedroom windows which I hastily closed.

          Thomas, our headman, came running up and told me that this troop of monkeys
          had just raided his maize shamba and asked me to shoot some of them. I would not of
          course do this. I still cannot bear to kill any animal, but I fired a couple of shots in the air
          and the monkeys just melted away. It was fantastic, one moment they were there and
          the next they were not. Ann and Georgie thought I had been very unkind to frighten the
          poor monkeys but honestly, when I saw what they had done to my flower garden, I
          almost wished I had hardened my heart and shot one or two.

          The children are all well but Ann gave me a nasty fright last week. I left Ann and
          Georgie at breakfast whilst I fed Fanny, our bull terrier on the back verandah. Suddenly I
          heard a crash and rushed inside to find Ann’s chair lying on its back and Ann beside it on
          the floor perfectly still and with a paper white face. I shouted for Janey to bring water and
          laid Ann flat on the couch and bathed her head and hands. Soon she sat up with a wan
          smile and said “I nearly knocked my head off that time, didn’t I.” She must have been
          standing on the chair and leaning against the back. Our brick floors are so terribly hard that
          she might have been seriously hurt.

          However she was none the worse for the fall, but Heavens, what an anxiety kids

          Lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

          Dearest Family,

          It was marvellous of you to send another money order to replace the one I spent
          on cosmetics. With this one I intend to order boots for both children as a protection from
          snake bite, though from my experience this past week the threat seems to be to the
          head rather than the feet. I was sitting on the couch giving Kate her morning milk from a
          cup when a long thin snake fell through the reed ceiling and landed with a thud just behind
          the couch. I shouted “Nyoka, Nyoka!” (Snake,Snake!) and the houseboy rushed in with
          a stick and killed the snake. I then held the cup to Kate’s mouth again but I suppose in
          my agitation I tipped it too much because the baby choked badly. She gasped for
          breath. I quickly gave her a sharp smack on the back and a stream of milk gushed
          through her mouth and nostrils and over me. Janey took Kate from me and carried her
          out into the fresh air on the verandah and as I anxiously followed her through the door,
          another long snake fell from the top of the wall just missing me by an inch or so. Luckily
          the houseboy still had the stick handy and dispatched this snake also.

          The snakes were a pair of ‘boomslangs’, not nice at all, and all day long I have
          had shamba boys coming along to touch hands and say “Poli Memsahib” – “Sorry
          madam”, meaning of course ‘Sorry you had a fright.’

          Apart from that one hectic morning this has been a quiet week. Before George
          left for the Lupa he paid off most of the farm hands as we can now only afford a few
          labourers for the essential work such as keeping the weeds down in the coffee shamba.
          There is now no one to keep the grass on the farm roads cut so we cannot use the pram
          when we go on our afternoon walks. Instead Janey carries Kate in a sling on her back.
          Janey is a very clean slim woman, and her clothes are always spotless, so Kate keeps
          cool and comfortable. Ann and Georgie always wear thick overalls on our walks as a
          protection against thorns and possible snakes. We usually make our way to the
          Mchewe River where Ann and Georgie paddle in the clear cold water and collect shiny

          The cosmetics parcel duly arrived by post from Dar es Salaam so now I fill the
          evenings between supper and bed time attending to my face! The much advertised
          cream is pink and thick and feels revolting. I smooth it on before bedtime and keep it on
          all night. Just imagine if George could see me! The advertisements promise me a skin
          like a rose in six weeks. What a surprise there is in store for George!

          You will have been wondering what has happened to George. Well on the Lupa
          he heard rumours of a new gold strike somewhere in the Sumbawanga District. A couple
          of hundred miles from here I think, though I am not sure where it is and have no one to
          ask. You look it up on the map and tell me. John Molteno is also interested in this and
          anxious to have it confirmed so he and George have come to an agreement. John
          Molteno provided the porters for the journey together with prospecting tools and
          supplies but as he cannot leave his claims, or his gold buying business, George is to go
          on foot to the area of the rumoured gold strike and, if the strike looks promising will peg
          claims in both their names.

          The rainy season is now at its height and the whole countryside is under water. All
          roads leading to the area are closed to traffic and, as there are few Europeans who
          would attempt the journey on foot, George proposes to get a head start on them by
          making this uncomfortable safari. I have just had my first letter from George since he left
          on this prospecting trip. It took ages to reach me because it was sent by runner to
          Abercorn in Northern Rhodesia, then on by lorry to Mpika where it was put on a plane
          for Mbeya. George writes the most charming letters which console me a little upon our
          all too frequent separations.

          His letter was cheerful and optimistic, though reading between the lines I should
          say he had a grim time. He has reached Sumbawanga after ‘a hell of a trip’, to find that
          the rumoured strike was at Mpanda and he had a few more days of foot safari ahead.
          He had found the trip from the Lupa even wetter than he had expected. The party had
          three days of wading through swamps sometimes waist deep in water. Of his sixteen
          porters, four deserted an the second day out and five others have had malaria and so
          been unable to carry their loads. He himself is ‘thin but very fit’, and he sounds full of
          beans and writes gaily of the marvellous holiday we will have if he has any decent luck! I
          simply must get that mink and diamonds complexion.

          The frustrating thing is that I cannot write back as I have no idea where George is

          With heaps of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

          Dearest Family,
          How kind you are. Another parcel from home. Although we are very short
          of labourers I sent a special runner to fetch it as Ann simply couldn’t bear the suspense
          of waiting to see Brenda, “My new little girl with plaits.” Thank goodness Brenda is
          unbreakable. I could not have born another tragedy. She really is an exquisite little doll
          and has hardly been out of Ann’s arms since arrival. She showed Brenda proudly to all
          the staff. The kitchen boy’s face was a study. His eyes fairly came out on sticks when he
          saw the dolls eyes not only opening and shutting, but moving from side to side in that
          incredibly lifelike way. Georgie loves his little model cars which he carries around all day
          and puts under his pillow at night.

          As for me, I am enchanted by my very smart new frock. Janey was so lavish with
          her compliments when I tried the frock on, that in a burst of generosity I gave her that
          rather tartish satin and lace trousseau nighty, and she was positively enthralled. She
          wore it that very night when she appeared as usual to doss down by the fire.
          By the way it was Janey’s turn to have a fright this week. She was in the
          bathroom washing the children’s clothes in an outsize hand basin when it happened. As
          she took Georgie’s overalls from the laundry basket a large centipede ran up her bare
          arm. Luckily she managed to knock the centipede off into the hot water in the hand basin.
          It was a brute, about six inches long of viciousness with a nasty sting. The locals say that
          the bite is much worse than a scorpions so Janey had a lucky escape.

          Kate cut her first two teeth yesterday and will, I hope, sleep better now. I don’t
          feel that pink skin food is getting a fair trial with all those broken nights. There is certainly
          no sign yet of ‘The skin he loves to touch”. Kate, I may say, is rosy and blooming. She
          can pull herself upright providing she has something solid to hold on to. She is so plump
          I have horrible visions of future bow legs so I push her down, but she always bobs up

          Both Ann and Georgie are mad on books. Their favourites are ‘Barbar and
          Celeste” and, of all things, ‘Struvel Peter’ . They listen with absolute relish to the sad tale
          of Harriet who played with matches.

          I have kept a laugh for the end. I am hoping that it will not be long before George
          comes home and thought it was time to take the next step towards glamour, so last
          Wednesday after lunch I settled the children on their beds and prepared to remove the ,
          to me, obvious down on my upper lip. (George always loyally says that he can’t see
          any.) Well I got out the tube of stuff and carefully followed the directions. I smoothed a
          coating on my upper lip. All this was watched with great interest by the children, including
          the baby, who stood up in her cot for a better view. Having no watch, I had propped
          the bedroom door open so that I could time the operation by the cuckoo clock in the
          living room. All the children’s surprised comments fell on deaf ears. I would neither talk
          nor smile for fear of cracking the hair remover which had set hard. The set time was up
          and I was just about to rinse the remover off when Kate slipped, knocking her head on
          the corner of the cot. I rushed to the rescue and precious seconds ticked off whilst I
          pacified her.

          So, my dears, when I rinsed my lip, not only the plaster and the hair came away
          but the skin as well and now I really did have a Ronald Coleman moustache – a crimson
          one. I bathed it, I creamed it, powdered it but all to no avail. Within half an hour my lip
          had swollen until I looked like one of those Duckbilled West African women. Ann’s
          comments, “Oh Mummy, you do look funny. Georgie, doesn’t Mummy look funny?”
          didn’t help to soothe me and the last straw was that just then there was the sound of a car drawing up outside – the first car I had heard for months. Anyway, thank heaven, it
          was not George, but the representative of a firm which sells agricultural machinery and
          farm implements, looking for orders. He had come from Dar es Salaam and had not
          heard that all the planters from this district had left their farms. Hospitality demanded that I
          should appear and offer tea. I did not mind this man because he was a complete
          stranger and fat, middle aged and comfortable. So I gave him tea, though I didn’t
          attempt to drink any myself, and told him the whole sad tale.

          Fortunately much of the swelling had gone next day and only a brown dryness
          remained. I find myself actually hoping that George is delayed a bit longer. Of one thing
          I am sure. If ever I grow a moustache again, it stays!

          Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,

          Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Sound the trumpets, beat the drums. George is home again. The safari, I am sad
          to say, was a complete washout in more ways than one. Anyway it was lovely to be
          together again and we don’t yet talk about the future. The home coming was not at all as
          I had planned it. I expected George to return in our old A.C. car which gives ample
          warning of its arrival. I had meant to wear my new frock and make myself as glamourous
          as possible, with our beautiful babe on one arm and our other jewels by my side.
          This however is what actually happened. Last Saturday morning at about 2 am , I
          thought I heard someone whispering my name. I sat up in bed, still half asleep, and
          there was George at the window. He was thin and unshaven and the tiredest looking
          man I have ever seen. The car had bogged down twenty miles back along the old Lupa
          Track, but as George had had no food at all that day, he decided to walk home in the
          bright moonlight.

          This is where I should have served up a tasty hot meal but alas, there was only
          the heal of a loaf and no milk because, before going to bed I had given the remaining
          milk to the dog. However George seemed too hungry to care what he ate. He made a
          meal off a tin of bully, a box of crustless cheese and the bread washed down with cup
          after cup of black tea. Though George was tired we talked for hours and it was dawn
          before we settled down to sleep.

          During those hours of talk George described his nightmarish journey. He started
          up the flooded Rukwa Valley and there were days of wading through swamp and mud
          and several swollen rivers to cross. George is a strong swimmer and the porters who
          were recruited in that area, could also swim. There remained the problem of the stores
          and of Kianda the houseboy who cannot swim. For these they made rough pole rafts
          which they pulled across the rivers with ropes. Kianda told me later that he hopes never
          to make such a journey again. He swears that the raft was submerged most of the time
          and that he was dragged through the rivers underwater! You should see the state of
          George’s clothes which were packed in a supposedly water tight uniform trunk. The
          whole lot are mud stained and mouldy.

          To make matters more trying for George he was obliged to live mostly on
          porters rations, rice and groundnut oil which he detests. As all the district roads were
          closed the little Indian Sores in the remote villages he passed had been unable to
          replenish their stocks of European groceries. George would have been thinner had it not
          been for two Roman Catholic missions enroute where he had good meals and dry
          nights. The Fathers are always wonderfully hospitable to wayfarers irrespective of
          whether or not they are Roman Catholics. George of course is not a Catholic. One finds
          the Roman Catholic missions right out in the ‘Blue’ and often on spots unhealthy to
          Europeans. Most of the Fathers are German or Dutch but they all speak a little English
          and in any case one can always fall back on Ki-Swahili.

          George reached his destination all right but it soon became apparent that reports
          of the richness of the strike had been greatly exaggerated. George had decided that
          prospects were brighter on the Lupa than on the new strike so he returned to the Lupa
          by the way he had come and, having returned the borrowed equipment decided to
          make his way home by the shortest route, the old and now rarely used road which
          passes by the bottom of our farm.

          The old A.C. had been left for safe keeping at the Roman Catholic Galala
          Mission 40 miles away, on George’s outward journey, and in this old car George, and
          the houseboy Kianda , started for home. The road was indescribably awful. There were long stretches that were simply one big puddle, in others all the soil had been washed
          away leaving the road like a rocky river bed. There were also patches where the tall
          grass had sprung up head high in the middle of the road,
          The going was slow because often the car bogged down because George had
          no wheel chains and he and Kianda had the wearisome business of digging her out. It
          was just growing dark when the old A.C. settled down determinedly in the mud for the
          last time. They could not budge her and they were still twenty miles from home. George
          decided to walk home in the moonlight to fetch help leaving Kianda in charge of the car
          and its contents and with George’s shot gun to use if necessary in self defence. Kianda
          was reluctant to stay but also not prepared to go for help whilst George remained with
          the car as lions are plentiful in that area. So George set out unarmed in the moonlight.
          Once he stopped to avoid a pride of lion coming down the road but he circled safely
          around them and came home without any further alarms.

          Kianda said he had a dreadful night in the car, “With lions roaming around the car
          like cattle.” Anyway the lions did not take any notice of the car or of Kianda, and the next
          day George walked back with all our farm boys and dug and pushed the car out of the
          mud. He brought car and Kianda back without further trouble but the labourers on their
          way home were treed by the lions.

          The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

          Lots and lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Young George’s third birthday passed off very well yesterday. It started early in
          the morning when he brought his pillow slip of presents to our bed. Kate was already
          there and Ann soon joined us. Young George liked all the presents you sent, especially
          the trumpet. It has hardly left his lips since and he is getting quite smart about the finger

          We had quite a party. Ann and I decorated the table with Christmas tree tinsel
          and hung a bunch of balloons above it. Ann also decorated young George’s chair with
          roses and phlox from the garden. I had made and iced a fruit cake but Ann begged to
          make a plain pink cake. She made it entirely by herself though I stood by to see that
          she measured the ingredients correctly. When the cake was baked I mixed some soft
          icing in a jug and she poured it carefully over the cake smoothing the gaps with her

          During the party we had the gramophone playing and we pulled crackers and
          wore paper hats and altogether had a good time. I forgot for a while that George is
          leaving again for the Lupa tomorrow for an indefinite time. He was marvellous at making
          young George’s party a gay one. You will have noticed the change from Georgie to
          young George. Our son declares that he now wants to be called George, “Like Dad”.
          He an Ann are a devoted couple and I am glad that there is only a fourteen
          months difference in their ages. They play together extremely well and are very
          independent which is just as well for little Kate now demands a lot of my attention. My
          garden is a real cottage garden and looks very gay and colourful. There are hollyhocks
          and Snapdragons, marigolds and phlox and of course the roses and carnations which, as
          you know, are my favourites. The coffee shamba does not look so good because the
          small labour force, which is all we can afford, cannot cope with all the weeds. You have
          no idea how things grow during the wet season in the tropics.

          Nothing alarming ever seems to happen when George is home, so I’m afraid this
          letter is rather dull. I wanted you to know though, that largely due to all your gifts of toys
          and sweets, Georgie’s 3rd birthday party went with a bang.

          Your very affectionate,

          Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

          Dearest Family,

          I am sorry to hear that Mummy worries about me so much. “Poor Eleanor”,
          indeed! I have a quite exceptional husband, three lovely children, a dear little home and
          we are all well.It is true that I am in rather a rut but what else can we do? George comes
          home whenever he can and what excitement there is when he does come. He cannot
          give me any warning because he has to take advantage of chance lifts from the Diggings
          to Mbeya, but now that he is prospecting nearer home he usually comes walking over
          the hills. About 50 miles of rough going. Really and truly I am all right. Although our diet is
          monotonous we have plenty to eat. Eggs and milk are cheap and fruit plentiful and I
          have a good cook so can devote all my time to the children. I think it is because they are
          my constant companions that Ann and Georgie are so grown up for their years.
          I have no ayah at present because Janey has been suffering form rheumatism
          and has gone home for one of her periodic rests. I manage very well without her except
          in the matter of the afternoon walks. The outward journey is all right. George had all the
          grass cut on his last visit so I am able to push the pram whilst Ann, George and Fanny
          the dog run ahead. It is the uphill return trip that is so trying. Our walk back is always the
          same, down the hill to the river where the children love to play and then along the car
          road to the vegetable garden. I never did venture further since the day I saw a leopard
          jump on a calf. I did not tell you at the time as I thought you might worry. The cattle were
          grazing on a small knoll just off our land but near enough for me to have a clear view.
          Suddenly the cattle scattered in all directions and we heard the shouts of the herd boys
          and saw – or rather had the fleeting impression- of a large animal jumping on a calf. I
          heard the herd boy shout “Chui, Chui!” (leopard) and believe me, we turned in our
          tracks and made for home. To hasten things I picked up two sticks and told the children
          that they were horses and they should ride them home which they did with
          commendable speed.

          Ann no longer rides Joseph. He became increasingly bad tempered and a
          nuisance besides. He took to rolling all over my flower beds though I had never seen
          him roll anywhere else. Then one day he kicked Ann in the chest, not very hard but
          enough to send her flying. Now George has given him to the native who sells milk to us
          and he seems quite happy grazing with the cattle.

          With love to you all,

          Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Since I last wrote George has been home and we had a lovely time as usual.
          Whilst he was here the District Commissioner and his wife called. Mr Pollock told
          George that there is to be a big bush clearing scheme in some part of the Mbeya
          District to drive out Tsetse Fly. The game in the area will have to be exterminated and
          there will probably be a job for George shooting out the buffalo. The pay would be
          good but George says it is a beastly job. Although he is a professional hunter, he hates

          Mrs P’s real reason for visiting the farm was to invite me to stay at her home in
          Mbeya whilst she and her husband are away in Tukuyu. Her English nanny and her small
          daughter will remain in Mbeya and she thought it might be a pleasant change for us and
          a rest for me as of course Nanny will do the housekeeping. I accepted the invitation and I
          think I will go on from there to Tukuyu and visit my friend Lillian Eustace for a fortnight.
          She has given us an open invitation to visit her at any time.

          I had a letter from Dr Eckhardt last week, telling me that at a meeting of all the
          German Settlers from Mbeya, Tukuyu and Mbosi it had been decided to raise funds to
          build a school at Mbeya. They want the British Settlers to co-operate in this and would
          be glad of a subscription from us. I replied to say that I was unable to afford a
          subscription at present but would probably be applying for a teaching job.
          The Eckhardts are the leaders of the German community here and are ardent
          Nazis. For this reason they are unpopular with the British community but he is the only
          doctor here and I must say they have been very decent to us. Both of them admire
          George. George has still not had any luck on the Lupa and until he makes a really
          promising strike it is unlikely that the children and I will join him. There is no fresh milk there
          and vegetables and fruit are imported from Mbeya and Iringa and are very expensive.
          George says “You wouldn’t be happy on the diggings anyway with a lot of whores and
          their bastards!”

          Time ticks away very pleasantly here. Young George and Kate are blooming
          and I keep well. Only Ann does not look well. She is growing too fast and is listless and
          pale. If I do go to Mbeya next week I shall take her to the doctor to be overhauled.
          We do not go for our afternoon walks now that George has returned to the Lupa.
          That leopard has been around again and has killed Tubbage that cowardly Alsatian. We
          gave him to the village headman some months ago. There is no danger to us from the
          leopard but I am terrified it might get Fanny, who is an excellent little watchdog and
          dearly loved by all of us. Yesterday I sent a note to the Boma asking for a trap gun and
          today the farm boys are building a trap with logs.

          I had a mishap this morning in the garden. I blundered into a nest of hornets and
          got two stings in the left arm above the elbow. Very painful at the time and the place is
          still red and swollen.

          Much love to you all,

          Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Well here we are at Mbeya, comfortably installed in the District Commissioner’s
          house. It is one of two oldest houses in Mbeya and is a charming gabled place with tiled
          roof. The garden is perfectly beautiful. I am enjoying the change very much. Nanny
          Baxter is very entertaining. She has a vast fund of highly entertaining tales of the goings
          on amongst the British Aristocracy, gleaned it seems over the nursery teacup in many a
          Stately Home. Ann and Georgie are enjoying the company of other children.
          People are very kind about inviting us out to tea and I gladly accept these
          invitations but I have turned down invitations to dinner and one to a dance at the hotel. It
          is no fun to go out at night without George. There are several grass widows at the pub
          whose husbands are at the diggings. They have no inhibitions about parties.
          I did have one night and day here with George, he got the chance of a lift and
          knowing that we were staying here he thought the chance too good to miss. He was
          also anxious to hear the Doctor’s verdict on Ann. I took Ann to hospital on my second
          day here. Dr Eckhardt said there was nothing specifically wrong but that Ann is a highly
          sensitive type with whom the tropics does not agree. He advised that Ann should
          spend a year in a more temperate climate and that the sooner she goes the better. I felt
          very discouraged to hear this and was most relieved when George turned up
          unexpectedly that evening. He phoo-hood Dr Eckhardt’s recommendation and next
          morning called in Dr Aitkin, the Government Doctor from Chunya and who happened to
          be in Mbeya.

          Unfortunately Dr Aitkin not only confirmed Dr Eckhardt’s opinion but said that he
          thought Ann should stay out of the tropics until she had passed adolescence. I just don’t
          know what to do about Ann. She is a darling child, very sensitive and gentle and a
          lovely companion to me. Also she and young George are inseparable and I just cannot
          picture one without the other. I know that you would be glad to have Ann but how could
          we bear to part with her?

          Your worried but affectionate,

          Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

          Dearest Family,

          As you see we have moved to Tukuyu and we are having a lovely time with
          Lillian Eustace. She gave us such a warm welcome and has put herself out to give us
          every comfort. She is a most capable housekeeper and I find her such a comfortable
          companion because we have the same outlook in life. Both of us are strictly one man
          women and that is rare here. She has a two year old son, Billy, who is enchanted with
          our rolly polly Kate and there are other children on the station with whom Ann and
          Georgie can play. Lillian engaged a temporary ayah for me so I am having a good rest.
          All the children look well and Ann in particular seems to have benefited by the
          change to a cooler climate. She has a good colour and looks so well that people all
          exclaim when I tell them, that two doctors have advised us to send Ann out of the
          country. Perhaps after all, this holiday in Tukuyu will set her up.

          We had a trying journey from Mbeya to Tukuyu in the Post Lorry. The three
          children and I were squeezed together on the front seat between the African driver on
          one side and a vast German on the other. Both men smoked incessantly – the driver
          cigarettes, and the German cheroots. The cab was clouded with a blue haze. Not only
          that! I suddenly felt a smarting sensation on my right thigh. The driver’s cigarette had
          burnt a hole right through that new checked linen frock you sent me last month.
          I had Kate on my lap all the way but Ann and Georgie had to stand against the
          windscreen all the way. The fat German offered to take Ann on his lap but she gave him
          a very cold “No thank you.” Nor did I blame her. I would have greatly enjoyed the drive
          under less crowded conditions. The scenery is gorgeous. One drives through very high
          country crossing lovely clear streams and at one point through rain forest. As it was I
          counted the miles and how thankful I was to see the end of the journey.
          In the days when Tanganyika belonged to the Germans, Tukuyu was the
          administrative centre for the whole of the Southern Highlands Province. The old German
          Fort is still in use as Government offices and there are many fine trees which were
          planted by the Germans. There is a large prosperous native population in this area.
          They go in chiefly for coffee and for bananas which form the basis of their diet.
          There are five British married couples here and Lillian and I go out to tea most
          mornings. In the afternoon there is tennis or golf. The gardens here are beautiful because
          there is rain or at least drizzle all the year round. There are even hedge roses bordering
          some of the district roads. When one walks across the emerald green golf course or
          through the Boma gardens, it is hard to realise that this gentle place is Tropical Africa.
          ‘Such a green and pleasant land’, but I think I prefer our corner of Tanganyika.

          Much love,

          Mchewe. 12th November 1936

          Dearest Family,

          We had a lovely holiday but it is so nice to be home again, especially as Laza,
          the local Nimrod, shot that leopard whilst we were away (with his muzzleloader gun). He
          was justly proud of himself, and I gave him a tip so that he could buy some native beer
          for a celebration. I have never seen one of theses parties but can hear the drums and
          sounds of merrymaking, especially on moonlight nights.

          Our house looks so fresh and uncluttered. Whilst I was away, the boys
          whitewashed the house and my houseboy had washed all the curtains, bedspreads,
          and loose covers and watered the garden. If only George were here it would be

          Ann looked so bonny at Tukuyu that I took her to the Government Doctor there
          hoping that he would find her perfectly healthy, but alas he endorsed the finding of the
          other two doctors so, when an opportunity offers, I think I shall have to send Ann down
          to you for a long holiday from the Tropics. Mother-in-law has offered to fetch her next
          year but England seems so far away. With you she will at least be on the same

          I left the children for the first time ever, except for my stay in hospital when Kate
          was born, to go on an outing to Lake Masoko in the Tukuyu district, with four friends.
          Masoko is a beautiful, almost circular crater lake and very very deep. A detachment of
          the King’s African Rifles are stationed there and occupy the old German barracks
          overlooking the lake.

          We drove to Masoko by car and spent the afternoon there as guests of two
          British Army Officers. We had a good tea and the others went bathing in the lake but i
          could not as I did not have a costume. The Lake was as beautiful as I had been lead to
          imagine and our hosts were pleasant but I began to grow anxious as the afternoon
          advanced and my friends showed no signs of leaving. I was in agonies when they
          accepted an invitation to stay for a sundowner. We had this in the old German beer
          garden overlooking the Lake. It was beautiful but what did I care. I had promised the
          children that I would be home to give them their supper and put them to bed. When I
          did at length return to Lillian’s house I found the situation as I had expected. Ann, with her
          imagination had come to the conclusion that I never would return. She had sobbed
          herself into a state of exhaustion. Kate was screaming in sympathy and George 2 was
          very truculent. He wouldn’t even speak to me. Poor Lillian had had a trying time.
          We did not return to Mbeya by the Mail Lorry. Bill and Lillian drove us across to
          Mbeya in their new Ford V8 car. The children chattered happily in the back of the car
          eating chocolate and bananas all the way. I might have known what would happen! Ann
          was dreadfully and messily car sick.

          I engaged the Mbeya Hotel taxi to drive us out to the farm the same afternoon
          and I expect it will be a long time before we leave the farm again.

          Lots and lots of love to all,

          Chunya 27th November 1936

          Dearest Family,

          You will be surprised to hear that we are all together now on the Lupa goldfields.
          I have still not recovered from my own astonishment at being here. Until last Saturday
          night I never dreamed of this move. At about ten o’clock I was crouched in the inglenook
          blowing on the embers to make a fire so that I could heat some milk for Kate who is
          cutting teeth and was very restless. Suddenly I heard a car outside. I knew it must be
          George and rushed outside storm lamp in hand. Sure enough, there was George
          standing by a strange car, and beaming all over his face. “Something for you my love,”
          he said placing a little bundle in my hand. It was a knotted handkerchief and inside was a
          fine gold nugget.

          George had that fire going in no time, Kate was given the milk and half an aspirin
          and settles down to sleep, whilst George and I sat around for an hour chatting over our
          tea. He told me that he had borrowed the car from John Molteno and had come to fetch
          me and the children to join him on the diggings for a while. It seems that John, who has a
          camp at Itewe, a couple of miles outside the township of Chunya, the new
          Administrative Centre of the diggings, was off to the Cape to visit his family for a few
          months. John had asked George to run his claims in his absence and had given us the
          loan of his camp and his car.

          George had found the nugget on his own claim but he is not too elated because
          he says that one good month on the diggings is often followed by several months of
          dead loss. However, I feel hopeful, we have had such a run of bad luck that surely it is
          time for the tide to change. George spent Sunday going over the farm with Thomas, the
          headman, and giving him instructions about future work whilst I packed clothes and
          kitchen equipment. I have brought our ex-kitchenboy Kesho Kutwa with me as cook and
          also Janey, who heard that we were off to the Lupa and came to offer her services once
          more as ayah. Janey’s ex-husband Abel is now cook to one of the more successful
          diggers and I think she is hoping to team up with him again.

          The trip over the Mbeya-Chunya pass was new to me and I enjoyed it very
          much indeed. The road winds over the mountains along a very high escarpment and
          one looks down on the vast Usangu flats stretching far away to the horizon. At the
          highest point the road rises to about 7000 feet, and this was too much for Ann who was
          leaning against the back of my seat. She was very thoroughly sick, all over my hair.
          This camp of John Molteno’s is very comfortable. It consists of two wattle and
          daub buildings built end to end in a clearing in the miombo bush. The main building
          consists of a large living room, a store and an office, and the other of one large bedroom
          and a small one separated by an area for bathing. Both buildings are thatched. There are
          no doors, and there are no windows, but these are not necessary because one wall of
          each building is built up only a couple of feet leaving a six foot space for light and air. As
          this is the dry season the weather is pleasant. The air is fresh and dry but not nearly so
          hot as I expected.

          Water is a problem and must be carried long distances in kerosene tins.
          vegetables and fresh butter are brought in a van from Iringa and Mbeya Districts about
          once a fortnight. I have not yet visited Chunya but I believe it is as good a shopping
          centre as Mbeya so we will be able to buy all the non perishable food stuffs we need.
          What I do miss is the fresh milk. The children are accustomed to drinking at least a pint of
          milk each per day but they do not care for the tinned variety.

          Ann and young George love being here. The camp is surrounded by old
          prospecting trenches and they spend hours each day searching for gold in the heaps of gravel. Sometimes they find quartz pitted with little spots of glitter and they bring them
          to me in great excitement. Alas it is only Mica. We have two neighbours. The one is a
          bearded Frenchman and the other an Australian. I have not yet met any women.
          George looks very sunburnt and extremely fit and the children also look well.
          George and I have decided that we will keep Ann with us until my Mother-in-law comes
          out next year. George says that in spite of what the doctors have said, he thinks that the
          shock to Ann of being separated from her family will do her more harm than good. She
          and young George are inseparable and George thinks it would be best if both
          George and Ann return to England with my Mother-in-law for a couple of years. I try not
          to think at all about the breaking up of the family.

          Much love to all,



            From Tanganyika with Love

            continued  ~ part 3

            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

            Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

            Dearest Family,

            I am feeling much better now that I am five months pregnant and have quite got
            my appetite back. Once again I go out with “the Mchewe Hunt” which is what George
            calls the procession made up of the donkey boy and donkey with Ann confidently riding
            astride, me beside the donkey with Georgie behind riding the stick which he much
            prefers to the donkey. The Alsatian pup, whom Ann for some unknown reason named
            ‘Tubbage’, and the two cats bring up the rear though sometimes Tubbage rushes
            ahead and nearly knocks me off my feet. He is not the loveable pet that Kelly was.
            It is just as well that I have recovered my health because my mother-in-law has
            decided to fly out from England to look after Ann and George when I am in hospital. I am
            very grateful for there is no one lse to whom I can turn. Kath Hickson-Wood is seldom on
            their farm because Hicky is working a guano claim and is making quite a good thing out of
            selling bat guano to the coffee farmers at Mbosi. They camp out at the claim, a series of
            caves in the hills across the valley and visit the farm only occasionally. Anne Molteno is
            off to Cape Town to have her baby at her mothers home and there are no women in
            Mbeya I know well. The few women are Government Officials wives and they come
            and go. I make so few trips to the little town that there is no chance to get on really
            friendly terms with them.

            Janey, the ayah, is turning into a treasure. She washes and irons well and keeps
            the children’s clothes cupboard beautifully neat. Ann and George however are still
            reluctant to go for walks with her. They find her dull because, like all African ayahs, she
            has no imagination and cannot play with them. She should however be able to help with
            the baby. Ann is very excited about the new baby. She so loves all little things.
            Yesterday she went into ecstasies over ten newly hatched chicks.

            She wants a little sister and perhaps it would be a good thing. Georgie is so very
            active and full of mischief that I feel another wild little boy might be more than I can
            manage. Although Ann is older, it is Georgie who always thinks up the mischief. They
            have just been having a fight. Georgie with the cooks umbrella versus Ann with her frilly
            pink sunshade with the inevitable result that the sunshade now has four broken ribs.
            Any way I never feel lonely now during the long hours George is busy on the
            shamba. The children keep me on my toes and I have plenty of sewing to do for the
            baby. George is very good about amusing the children before their bedtime and on
            Sundays. In the afternoons when it is not wet I take Ann and Georgie for a walk down
            the hill. George meets us at the bottom and helps me on the homeward journey. He
            grabs one child in each hand by the slack of their dungarees and they do a sort of giant
            stride up the hill, half walking half riding.

            Very much love,

            Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

            Dearest Family,

            A great flap here. We had a letter yesterday to say that mother-in-law will be
            arriving in four days time! George is very amused at my frantic efforts at spring cleaning
            but he has told me before that she is very house proud so I feel I must make the best
            of what we have.

            George is very busy building a store for the coffee which will soon be ripening.
            This time he is doing the bricklaying himself. It is quite a big building on the far end of the
            farm and close to the river. He is also making trays of chicken wire nailed to wooden
            frames with cheap calico stretched over the wire.

            Mother will have to sleep in the verandah room which leads off the bedroom
            which we share with the children. George will have to sleep in the outside spare room as
            there is no door between the bedroom and the verandah room. I am sewing frantically
            to make rose coloured curtains and bedspread out of material mother-in-law sent for
            Christmas and will have to make a curtain for the doorway. The kitchen badly needs
            whitewashing but George says he cannot spare the labour so I hope mother won’t look.
            To complicate matters, George has been invited to lunch with the Governor on the day
            of Mother’s arrival. After lunch they are to visit the newly stocked trout streams in the
            Mporotos. I hope he gets back to Mbeya in good time to meet mother’s plane.
            Ann has been off colour for a week. She looks very pale and her pretty fair hair,
            normally so shiny, is dull and lifeless. It is such a pity that mother should see her like this
            because first impressions do count so much and I am looking to the children to attract
            attention from me. I am the size of a circus tent and hardly a dream daughter-in-law.
            Georgie, thank goodness, is blooming but he has suddenly developed a disgusting
            habit of spitting on the floor in the manner of the natives. I feel he might say “Gran, look
            how far I can spit and give an enthusiastic demonstration.

            Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

            your loving but anxious,

            Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

            Dearest Family,

            Mother-in-law duly arrived in the District Commissioner’s car. George did not dare
            to use the A.C. as she is being very temperamental just now. They also brought the
            mail bag which contained a parcel of lovely baby clothes from you. Thank you very
            much. Mother-in-law is very put out because the large parcel she posted by surface
            mail has not yet arrived.

            Mother arrived looking very smart in an ankle length afternoon frock of golden
            brown crepe and smart hat, and wearing some very good rings. She is a very
            handsome woman with the very fair complexion that goes with red hair. The hair, once
            Titan, must now be grey but it has been very successfully tinted and set. I of course,
            was shapeless in a cotton maternity frock and no credit to you. However, so far, motherin-
            law has been uncritical and friendly and charmed with the children who have taken to
            her. Mother does not think that the children resemble me in any way. Ann resembles her
            family the Purdys and Georgie is a Morley, her mother’s family. She says they had the
            same dark eyes and rather full mouths. I say feebly, “But Georgie has my colouring”, but
            mother won’t hear of it. So now you know! Ann is a Purdy and Georgie a Morley.
            Perhaps number three will be a Leslie.

            What a scramble I had getting ready for mother. Her little room really looks pretty
            and fresh, but the locally woven grass mats arrived only minutes before mother did. I
            also frantically overhauled our clothes and it a good thing that I did so because mother
            has been going through all the cupboards looking for mending. Mother is kept so busy
            in her own home that I think she finds time hangs on her hands here. She is very good at
            entertaining the children and has even tried her hand at picking coffee a couple of times.
            Mother cannot get used to the native boy servants but likes Janey, so Janey keeps her
            room in order. Mother prefers to wash and iron her own clothes.

            I almost lost our cook through mother’s surplus energy! Abel our previous cook
            took a new wife last month and, as the new wife, and Janey the old, were daggers
            drawn, Abel moved off to a job on the Lupa leaving Janey and her daughter here.
            The new cook is capable, but he is a fearsome looking individual called Alfani. He has a
            thick fuzz of hair which he wears long, sometimes hidden by a dingy turban, and he
            wears big brass earrings. I think he must be part Somali because he has a hawk nose
            and a real Brigand look. His kitchen is never really clean but he is an excellent cook and
            as cooks are hard to come by here I just keep away from the kitchen. Not so mother!
            A few days after her arrival she suggested kindly that I should lie down after lunch
            so I rested with the children whilst mother, unknown to me, went out to the kitchen and
            not only scrubbed the table and shelves but took the old iron stove to pieces and
            cleaned that. Unfortunately in her zeal she poked a hole through the stove pipe.
            Had I known of these activities I would have foreseen the cook’s reaction when
            he returned that evening to cook the supper. he was furious and wished to leave on the
            spot and demanded his wages forthwith. The old Memsahib had insulted him by
            scrubbing his already spotless kitchen and had broken his stove and made it impossible
            for him to cook. This tirade was accompanied by such waving of hands and rolling of
            eyes that I longed to sack him on the spot. However I dared not as I might not get
            another cook for weeks. So I smoothed him down and he patched up the stove pipe
            with a bit of tin and some wire and produced a good meal. I am wondering what
            transformations will be worked when I am in hospital.

            Our food is really good but mother just pecks at it. No wonder really, because
            she has had some shocks. One day she found the kitchen boy diligently scrubbing the box lavatory seat with a scrubbing brush which he dipped into one of my best large
            saucepans! No one can foresee what these boys will do. In these remote areas house
            servants are usually recruited from the ranks of the very primitive farm labourers, who first
            come to the farm as naked savages, and their notions of hygiene simply don’t exist.
            One day I said to mother in George’s presence “When we were newly married,
            mother, George used to brag about your cooking and say that you would run a home
            like this yourself with perhaps one ‘toto’. Mother replied tartly, “That was very bad of
            George and not true. If my husband had brought me out here I would not have stayed a
            month. I think you manage very well.” Which reply made me warm to mother a lot.
            To complicate things we have a new pup, a little white bull terrier bitch whom
            George has named Fanny. She is tiny and not yet house trained but seems a plucky
            and attractive little animal though there is no denying that she does look like a piglet.

            Very much love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

            Dearest Family,

            Here I am in hospital, comfortably in bed with our new daughter in her basket
            beside me. She is a lovely little thing, very plump and cuddly and pink and white and
            her head is covered with tiny curls the colour of Golden Syrup. We meant to call her
            Margery Kate, after our Marj and my mother-in-law whose name is Catherine.
            I am enjoying the rest, knowing that George and mother will be coping
            successfully on the farm. My room is full of flowers, particularly with the roses and
            carnations which grow so well here. Kate was not due until August 5th but the doctor
            wanted me to come in good time in view of my tiresome early pregnancy.

            For weeks beforehand George had tinkered with the A.C. and we started for
            Mbeya gaily enough on the twenty ninth, however, after going like a dream for a couple
            of miles, she simply collapsed from exhaustion at the foot of a hill and all the efforts of
            the farm boys who had been sent ahead for such an emergency failed to start her. So
            George sent back to the farm for the machila and I sat in the shade of a tree, wondering
            what would happen if I had the baby there and then, whilst George went on tinkering
            with the car. Suddenly she sprang into life and we roared up that hill and all the way into
            Mbeya. The doctor welcomed us pleasantly and we had tea with his family before I
            settled into my room. Later he examined me and said that it was unlikely that the baby
            would be born for several days. The new and efficient German nurse said, “Thank
            goodness for that.” There was a man in hospital dying from a stomach cancer and she
            had not had a decent nights sleep for three nights.

            Kate however had other plans. I woke in the early morning with labour pains but
            anxious not to disturb the nurse, I lay and read or tried to read a book, hoping that I
            would not have to call the nurse until daybreak. However at four a.m., I went out into the
            wind which was howling along the open verandah and knocked on the nurse’s door. She
            got up and very crossly informed me that I was imagining things and should get back to
            bed at once. She said “It cannot be so. The Doctor has said it.” I said “Of course it is,”
            and then and there the water broke and clinched my argument. She then went into a flat
            spin. “But the bed is not ready and my instruments are not ready,” and she flew around
            to rectify this and also sent an African orderly to call the doctor. I paced the floor saying
            warningly “Hurry up with that bed. I am going to have the baby now!” She shrieked
            “Take off your dressing gown.” But I was passed caring. I flung myself on the bed and
            there was Kate. The nurse had done all that was necessary by the time the doctor

            A funny thing was, that whilst Kate was being born on the bed, a black cat had
            kittens under it! The doctor was furious with the nurse but the poor thing must have crept
            in out of the cold wind when I went to call the nurse. A happy omen I feel for the baby’s
            future. George had no anxiety this time. He stayed at the hospital with me until ten
            o’clock when he went down to the hotel to sleep and he received the news in a note
            from me with his early morning tea. He went to the farm next morning but will return on
            the sixth to fetch me home.

            I do feel so happy. A very special husband and three lovely children. What
            more could anyone possibly want.

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

            Dearest Family,

            Well here we are back at home and all is very well. The new baby is very placid
            and so pretty. Mother is delighted with her and Ann loved her at sight but Georgie is not
            so sure. At first he said, “Your baby is no good. Chuck her in the kalonga.” The kalonga
            being the ravine beside the house , where, I regret to say, much of the kitchen refuse is
            dumped. he is very jealous when I carry Kate around or feed her but is ready to admire
            her when she is lying alone in her basket.

            George walked all the way from the farm to fetch us home. He hired a car and
            native driver from the hotel, but drove us home himself going with such care over ruts
            and bumps. We had a great welcome from mother who had had the whole house
            spring cleaned. However George loyally says it looks just as nice when I am in charge.
            Mother obviously, had had more than enough of the back of beyond and
            decided to stay on only one week after my return home. She had gone into the kitchen
            one day just in time to see the houseboy scooping the custard he had spilt on the table
            back into the jug with the side of his hand. No doubt it would have been served up
            without a word. On another occasion she had walked in on the cook’s daily ablutions. He
            was standing in a small bowl of water in the centre of the kitchen, absolutely naked,
            enjoying a slipper bath. She left last Wednesday and gave us a big laugh before she
            left. She never got over her horror of eating food prepared by our cook and used to
            push it around her plate. Well, when the time came for mother to leave for the plane, she
            put on the very smart frock in which she had arrived, and then came into the sitting room
            exclaiming in dismay “Just look what has happened, I must have lost a stone!’ We
            looked, and sure enough, the dress which had been ankle deep before, now touched
            the floor. “Good show mother.” said George unfeelingly. “You ought to be jolly grateful,
            you needed to lose weight and it would have cost you the earth at a beauty parlour to
            get that sylph-like figure.”

            When mother left she took, in a perforated matchbox, one of the frilly mantis that
            live on our roses. She means to keep it in a goldfish bowl in her dining room at home.
            Georgie and Ann filled another matchbox with dead flies for food for the mantis on the

            Now that mother has left, Georgie and Ann attach themselves to me and firmly
            refuse to have anything to do with the ayah,Janey. She in any case now wishes to have
            a rest. Mother tipped her well and gave her several cotton frocks so I suspect she wants
            to go back to her hometown in Northern Rhodesia to show off a bit.
            Georgie has just sidled up with a very roguish look. He asked “You like your
            baby?” I said “Yes indeed I do.” He said “I’ll prick your baby with a velly big thorn.”

            Who would be a mother!

            Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

            Dearest Family,

            I have been rather in the wars with toothache and as there is still no dentist at
            Mbeya to do the fillings, I had to have four molars extracted at the hospital. George
            says it is fascinating to watch me at mealtimes these days because there is such a gleam
            of satisfaction in my eye when I do manage to get two teeth to meet on a mouthful.
            About those scissors Marj sent Ann. It was not such a good idea. First she cut off tufts of
            George’s hair so that he now looks like a bad case of ringworm and then she cut a scalp
            lock, a whole fist full of her own shining hair, which George so loves. George scolded
            Ann and she burst into floods of tears. Such a thing as a scolding from her darling daddy
            had never happened before. George immediately made a long drooping moustache
            out of the shorn lock and soon had her smiling again. George is always very gentle with
            Ann. One has to be , because she is frightfully sensitive to criticism.

            I am kept pretty busy these days, Janey has left and my houseboy has been ill
            with pneumonia. I now have to wash all the children’s things and my own, (the cook does
            George’s clothes) and look after the three children. Believe me, I can hardly keep awake
            for Kate’s ten o’clock feed.

            I do hope I shall get some new servants next month because I also got George
            to give notice to the cook. I intercepted him last week as he was storming down the hill
            with my large kitchen knife in his hand. “Where are you going with my knife?” I asked.
            “I’m going to kill a man!” said Alfani, rolling his eyes and looking extremely ferocious. “He
            has taken my wife.” “Not with my knife”, said I reaching for it. So off Alfani went, bent on
            vengeance and I returned the knife to the kitchen. Dinner was served and I made no
            enquiries but I feel that I need someone more restful in the kitchen than our brigand

            George has been working on the car and has now fitted yet another radiator. This
            is a lorry one and much too tall to be covered by the A.C.’s elegant bonnet which is
            secured by an old strap. The poor old A.C. now looks like an ancient shoe with a turned
            up toe. It only needs me in it with the children to make a fine illustration to the old rhyme!
            Ann and Georgie are going through a climbing phase. They practically live in
            trees. I rushed out this morning to investigate loud screams and found Georgie hanging
            from a fork in a tree by one ankle, whilst Ann stood below on tiptoe with hands stretched
            upwards to support his head.

            Do I sound as though I have straws in my hair? I have.
            Lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

            Dearest Family,

            Thank goodness! I have a new ayah name Mary. I had heard that there was a
            good ayah out of work at Tukuyu 60 miles away so sent a messenger to fetch her. She
            arrived after dark wearing a bright dress and a cheerful smile and looked very suitable by
            the light of a storm lamp. I was horrified next morning to see her in daylight. She was
            dressed all in black and had a rather sinister look. She reminds me rather of your old maid
            Candace who overheard me laughing a few days before Ann was born and croaked
            “Yes , Miss Eleanor, today you laugh but next week you might be dead.” Remember
            how livid you were, dad?

            I think Mary has the same grim philosophy. Ann took one look at her and said,
            “What a horrible old lady, mummy.” Georgie just said “Go away”, both in English and Ki-
            Swahili. Anyway Mary’s references are good so I shall keep her on to help with Kate
            who is thriving and bonny and placid.

            Thank you for the offer of toys for Christmas but, if you don’t mind, I’d rather have
            some clothing for the children. Ann is quite contented with her dolls Barbara and Yvonne.
            Barbara’s once beautiful face is now pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle having come
            into contact with Georgie’s ever busy hammer. However Ann says she will love her for
            ever and she doesn’t want another doll. Yvonne’s hay day is over too. She
            disappeared for weeks and we think Fanny, the pup, was the culprit. Ann discovered
            Yvonne one morning in some long wet weeds. Poor Yvonne is now a ghost of her
            former self. All the sophisticated make up was washed off her papier-mâché face and
            her hair is decidedly bedraggled, but Ann was radiant as she tucked her back into bed
            and Yvonne is as precious to Ann as she ever was.

            Georgie simply does not care for toys. His paint box, hammer and the trenching
            hoe George gave him for his second birthday are all he wants or needs. Both children
            love books but I sometimes wonder whether they stimulate Ann’s imagination too much.
            The characters all become friends of hers and she makes up stories about them to tell
            Georgie. She adores that illustrated children’s Bible Mummy sent her but you would be
            astonished at the yarns she spins about “me and my friend Jesus.” She also will call
            Moses “Old Noses”, and looking at a picture of Jacob’s dream, with the shining angels
            on the ladder between heaven and earth, she said “Georgie, if you see an angel, don’t
            touch it, it’s hot.”


            Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

            Dearest Family,

            I take back the disparaging things I said about my new Ayah, because she has
            proved her worth in an unexpected way. On Wednesday morning I settled Kate in he
            cot after her ten o’clock feed and sat sewing at the dining room table with Ann and
            Georgie opposite me, both absorbed in painting pictures in identical seed catalogues.
            Suddenly there was a terrific bang on the back door, followed by an even heavier blow.
            The door was just behind me and I got up and opened it. There, almost filling the door
            frame, stood a huge native with staring eyes and his teeth showing in a mad grimace. In
            his hand he held a rolled umbrella by the ferrule, the shaft I noticed was unusually long
            and thick and the handle was a big round knob.

            I was terrified as you can imagine, especially as, through the gap under the
            native’s raised arm, I could see the new cook and the kitchen boy running away down to
            the shamba! I hastily tried to shut and lock the door but the man just brushed me aside.
            For a moment he stood over me with the umbrella raised as though to strike. Rather
            fortunately, I now think, I was too petrified to say a word. The children never moved but
            Tubbage, the Alsatian, got up and jumped out of the window!

            Then the native turned away and still with the same fixed stare and grimace,
            began to attack the furniture with his umbrella. Tables and chairs were overturned and
            books and ornaments scattered on the floor. When the madman had his back turned and
            was busily bashing the couch, I slipped round the dining room table, took Ann and
            Georgie by the hand and fled through the front door to the garage where I hid the
            children in the car. All this took several minutes because naturally the children were
            terrified. I was worried to death about the baby left alone in the bedroom and as soon
            as I had Ann and Georgie settled I ran back to the house.

            I reached the now open front door just as Kianda the houseboy opened the back
            door of the lounge. He had been away at the river washing clothes but, on hearing of the
            madman from the kitchen boy he had armed himself with a stout stick and very pluckily,
            because he is not a robust boy, had returned to the house to eject the intruder. He
            rushed to attack immediately and I heard a terrific exchange of blows behind me as I
            opened our bedroom door. You can imagine what my feelings were when I was
            confronted by an empty cot! Just then there was an uproar inside as all the farm
            labourers armed with hoes and pangas and sticks, streamed into the living room from the
            shamba whence they had been summoned by the cook. In no time at all the huge
            native was hustled out of the house, flung down the front steps, and securely tied up
            with strips of cloth.

            In the lull that followed I heard a frightened voice calling from the bathroom.
            ”Memsahib is that you? The child is here with me.” I hastily opened the bathroom door
            to find Mary couched in a corner by the bath, shielding Kate with her body. Mary had
            seen the big native enter the house and her first thought had been for her charge. I
            thanked her and promised her a reward for her loyalty, and quickly returned to the garage
            to reassure Ann and Georgie. I met George who looked white and exhausted as well
            he might having run up hill all the way from the coffee store. The kitchen boy had led him
            to expect the worst and he was most relieved to find us all unhurt if a bit shaken.
            We returned to the house by the back way whilst George went to the front and
            ordered our labourers to take their prisoner and lock him up in the store. George then
            discussed the whole affair with his Headman and all the labourers after which he reported
            to me. “The boys say that the bastard is an ex-Askari from Nyasaland. He is not mad as
            you thought but he smokes bhang and has these attacks. I suppose I should take him to
            Mbeya and have him up in court. But if I do that you’ll have to give evidence and that will be a nuisance as the car won’t go and there is also the baby to consider.”

            Eventually we decided to leave the man to sleep off the effects of the Bhang
            until evening when he would be tried before an impromptu court consisting of George,
            the local Jumbe(Headman) and village Elders, and our own farm boys and any other
            interested spectators. It was not long before I knew the verdict because I heard the
            sound of lashes. I was not sorry at all because I felt the man deserved his punishment
            and so did all the Africans. They love children and despise anyone who harms or
            frightens them. With great enthusiasm they frog-marched him off our land, and I sincerely
            hope that that is the last we see or him. Ann and Georgie don’t seem to brood over this
            affair at all. The man was naughty and he was spanked, a quite reasonable state of
            affairs. This morning they hid away in the small thatched chicken house. This is a little brick
            building about four feet square which Ann covets as a dolls house. They came back
            covered in stick fleas which I had to remove with paraffin. My hens are laying well but
            they all have the ‘gapes’! I wouldn’t run a chicken farm for anything, hens are such fussy,
            squawking things.

            Now don’t go worrying about my experience with the native. Such things
            happen only once in a lifetime. We are all very well and happy, and life, apart from the
            children’s pranks is very tranquil.

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

            Dearest Family,

            The hot winds have dried up the shamba alarmingly and we hope every day for
            rain. The prices for coffee, on the London market, continue to be low and the local
            planters are very depressed. Coffee grows well enough here but we are over 400
            miles from the railway and transport to the railhead by lorry is very expensive. Then, as
            there is no East African Marketing Board, the coffee must be shipped to England for
            sale. Unless the coffee fetches at least 90 pounds a ton it simply doesn’t pay to grow it.
            When we started planting in 1931 coffee was fetching as much as 115 pounds a ton but
            prices this year were between 45 and 55 pounds. We have practically exhausted our
            capitol and so have all our neighbours. The Hickson -Woods have been keeping their
            pot boiling by selling bat guano to the coffee farmers at Mbosi but now everyone is
            broke and there is not a market for fertilisers. They are offering their farm for sale at a very
            low price.

            Major Jones has got a job working on the district roads and Max Coster talks of
            returning to his work as a geologist. George says he will have to go gold digging on the
            Lupa unless there is a big improvement in the market. Luckily we can live quite cheaply
            here. We have a good vegetable garden, milk is cheap and we have plenty of fruit.
            There are mulberries, pawpaws, grenadillas, peaches, and wine berries. The wine
            berries are very pretty but insipid though Ann and Georgie love them. Each morning,
            before breakfast, the old garden boy brings berries for Ann and Georgie. With a thorn
            the old man pins a large leaf from a wild fig tree into a cone which he fills with scarlet wine
            berries. There is always a cone for each child and they wait eagerly outside for the daily
            ceremony of presentation.

            The rats are being a nuisance again. Both our cats, Skinny Winnie and Blackboy
            disappeared a few weeks ago. We think they made a meal for a leopard. I wrote last
            week to our grocer at Mbalizi asking him whether he could let us have a couple of kittens
            as I have often seen cats in his store. The messenger returned with a nailed down box.
            The kitchen boy was called to prize up the lid and the children stood by in eager
            anticipation. Out jumped two snarling and spitting creatures. One rushed into the kalonga
            and the other into the house and before they were captured they had drawn blood from
            several boys. I told the boys to replace the cats in the box as I intended to return them
            forthwith. They had the colouring, stripes and dispositions of wild cats and I certainly
            didn’t want them as pets, but before the boys could replace the lid the cats escaped
            once more into the undergrowth in the kalonga. George fetched his shotgun and said he
            would shoot the cats on sight or they would kill our chickens. This was more easily said
            than done because the cats could not be found. However during the night the cats
            climbed up into the loft af the house and we could hear them moving around on the reed

            I said to George,”Oh leave the poor things. At least they might frighten the rats
            away.” That afternoon as we were having tea a thin stream of liquid filtered through the
            ceiling on George’s head. Oh dear!!! That of course was the end. Some raw meat was
            put on the lawn for bait and yesterday George shot both cats.

            I regret to end with the sad story of Mary, heroine in my last letter and outcast in
            this. She came to work quite drunk two days running and I simply had to get rid of her. I
            have heard since from Kath Wood that Mary lost her last job at Tukuyu for the same
            reason. She was ayah to twin girls and one day set their pram on fire.

            So once again my hands are more than full with three lively children. I did say
            didn’t I, when Ann was born that I wanted six children?

            Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

            Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

            Dearest Family,

            To set your minds at rest I must tell you that the native who so frightened me and
            the children is now in jail for attacking a Greek at Mbalizi. I hear he is to be sent back to
            Rhodesia when he has finished his sentence.

            Yesterday we had one of our rare trips to Mbeya. George managed to get a couple of
            second hand tyres for the old car and had again got her to work so we are celebrating our
            wedding anniversary by going on an outing. I wore the green and fawn striped silk dress
            mother bought me and the hat and shoes you sent for my birthday and felt like a million
            dollars, for a change. The children all wore new clothes too and I felt very proud of them.
            Ann is still very fair and with her refined little features and straight silky hair she
            looks like Alice in Wonderland. Georgie is dark and sturdy and looks best in khaki shirt
            and shorts and sun helmet. Kate is a pink and gold baby and looks good enough to eat.
            We went straight to the hotel at Mbeya and had the usual warm welcome from
            Ken and Aunty May Menzies. Aunty May wears her hair cut short like a mans and
            usually wears shirt and tie and riding breeches and boots. She always looks ready to go
            on safari at a moments notice as indeed she is. She is often called out to a case of illness
            at some remote spot.

            There were lots of people at the hotel from farms in the district and from the
            diggings. I met women I had not seen for four years. One, a Mrs Masters from Tukuyu,
            said in the lounge, “My God! Last time I saw you , you were just a girl and here you are
            now with two children.” To which I replied with pride, “There is another one in a pram on
            the verandah if you care to look!” Great hilarity in the lounge. The people from the
            diggings seem to have plenty of money to throw around. There was a big party on the
            go in the bar.

            One of our shamba boys died last Friday and all his fellow workers and our
            house boys had the day off to attend the funeral. From what I can gather the local
            funerals are quite cheery affairs. The corpse is dressed in his best clothes and laid
            outside his hut and all who are interested may view the body and pay their respects.
            The heir then calls upon anyone who had a grudge against the dead man to say his say
            and thereafter hold his tongue forever. Then all the friends pay tribute to the dead man
            after which he is buried to the accompaniment of what sounds from a distance, very
            cheerful keening.

            Most of our workmen are pagans though there is a Lutheran Mission nearby and
            a big Roman Catholic Mission in the area too. My present cook, however, claims to be
            a Christian. He certainly went to a mission school and can read and write and also sing
            hymns in Ki-Swahili. When I first engaged him I used to find a large open Bible
            prominently displayed on the kitchen table. The cook is middle aged and arrived here
            with a sensible matronly wife. To my surprise one day he brought along a young girl,
            very plump and giggly and announced proudly that she was his new wife, I said,”But I
            thought you were a Christian Jeremiah? Christians don’t have two wives.” To which he
            replied, “Oh Memsahib, God won’t mind. He knows an African needs two wives – one
            to go with him when he goes away to work and one to stay behind at home to cultivate
            the shamba.

            Needles to say, it is the old wife who has gone to till the family plot.

            With love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

            Dearest Family,

            The drought has broken with a bang. We had a heavy storm in the hills behind
            the house. Hail fell thick and fast. So nice for all the tiny new berries on the coffee! The
            kids loved the excitement and three times Ann and Georgie ran out for a shower under
            the eaves and had to be changed. After the third time I was fed up and made them both
            lie on their beds whilst George and I had lunch in peace. I told Ann to keep the
            casement shut as otherwise the rain would drive in on her bed. Half way through lunch I
            heard delighted squeals from Georgie and went into the bedroom to investigate. Ann
            was standing on the outer sill in the rain but had shut the window as ordered. “Well
            Mummy , you didn’t say I mustn’t stand on the window sill, and I did shut the window.”
            George is working so hard on the farm. I have a horrible feeling however that it is
            what the Africans call ‘Kazi buri’ (waste of effort) as there seems no chance of the price of
            coffee improving as long as this world depression continues. The worry is that our capitol
            is nearly exhausted. Food is becoming difficult now that our neighbours have left. I used
            to buy delicious butter from Kath Hickson-Wood and an African butcher used to kill a
            beast once a week. Now that we are his only European customers he very rarely kills
            anything larger than a goat, and though we do eat goat, believe me it is not from choice.
            We have of course got plenty to eat, but our diet is very monotonous. I was
            delighted when George shot a large bushbuck last week. What we could not use I cut
            into strips and the salted strips are now hanging in the open garage to dry.

            With love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

            Dearest Family,

            We have had a lot of rain and the countryside is lovely and green. Last week
            George went to Mbeya taking Ann with him. This was a big adventure for Ann because
            never before had she been anywhere without me. She was in a most blissful state as
            she drove off in the old car clutching a little basket containing sandwiches and half a bottle
            of milk. She looked so pretty in a new blue frock and with her tiny plaits tied with
            matching blue ribbons. When Ann is animated she looks charming because her normally
            pale cheeks become rosy and she shows her pretty dimples.

            As I am still without an ayah I rather looked forward to a quiet morning with only
            Georgie and Margery Kate to care for, but Georgie found it dull without Ann and wanted
            to be entertained and even the normally placid baby was peevish. Then in mid morning
            the rain came down in torrents, the result of a cloudburst in the hills directly behind our
            house. The ravine next to our house was a terrifying sight. It appeared to be a great
            muddy, roaring waterfall reaching from the very top of the hill to a point about 30 yards
            behind our house and then the stream rushed on down the gorge in an angry brown
            flood. The roar of the water was so great that we had to yell at one another to be heard.
            By lunch time the rain had stopped and I anxiously awaited the return of Ann and
            George. They returned on foot, drenched and hungry at about 2.30pm . George had
            had to abandon the car on the main road as the Mchewe River had overflowed and
            turned the road into a muddy lake. The lower part of the shamba had also been flooded
            and the water receded leaving branches and driftwood amongst the coffee. This was my
            first experience of a real tropical storm. I am afraid that after the battering the coffee has
            had there is little hope of a decent crop next year.

            Anyway Christmas is coming so we don’t dwell on these mishaps. The children
            have already chosen their tree from amongst the young cypresses in the vegetable
            garden. We all send our love and hope that you too will have a Happy Christmas.


            Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

            Dearest Family,

            I’ve been in the wars with my staff. The cook has been away ill for ten days but is
            back today though shaky and full of self pity. The houseboy, who really has been a brick
            during the cooks absence has now taken to his bed and I feel like taking to Mine! The
            children however have the Christmas spirit and are making weird and wonderful paper
            decorations. George’s contribution was to have the house whitewashed throughout and
            it looks beautifully fresh.

            My best bit of news is that my old ayah Janey has been to see me and would
            like to start working here again on Jan 1st. We are all very well. We meant to give
            ourselves an outing to Mbeya as a Christmas treat but here there is an outbreak of
            enteric fever there so will now not go. We have had two visitors from the Diggings this
            week. The children see so few strangers that they were fascinated and hung around
            staring. Ann sat down on the arm of the couch beside one and studied his profile.
            Suddenly she announced in her clear voice, “Mummy do you know, this man has got
            wax in his ears!” Very awkward pause in the conversation. By the way when I was
            cleaning out little Kate’s ears with a swab of cotton wool a few days ago, Ann asked
            “Mummy, do bees have wax in their ears? Well, where do you get beeswax from

            I meant to keep your Christmas parcel unopened until Christmas Eve but could
            not resist peeping today. What lovely things! Ann so loves pretties and will be
            delighted with her frocks. My dress is just right and I love Georgie’s manly little flannel
            shorts and blue shirt. We have bought them each a watering can. I suppose I shall
            regret this later. One of your most welcome gifts is the album of nursery rhyme records. I
            am so fed up with those that we have. Both children love singing. I put a record on the
            gramophone geared to slow and off they go . Georgie sings more slowly than Ann but
            much more tunefully. Ann sings in a flat monotone but Georgie with great expression.
            You ought to hear him render ‘Sing a song of sixpence’. He cannot pronounce an R or
            an S. Mother has sent a large home made Christmas pudding and a fine Christmas
            cake and George will shoot some partridges for Christmas dinner.
            Think of us as I shall certainly think of you.

            Your very loving,

            Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

            Dearest Family,

            Christmas was fun! The tree looked very gay with its load of tinsel, candles and
            red crackers and the coloured balloons you sent. All the children got plenty of toys
            thanks to Grandparents and Aunts. George made Ann a large doll’s bed and I made
            some elegant bedding, Barbara, the big doll is now permanently bed ridden. Her poor
            shattered head has come all unstuck and though I have pieced it together again it is a sad
            sight. If you have not yet chosen a present for her birthday next month would you
            please get a new head from the Handy House. I enclose measurements. Ann does so
            love the doll. She always calls her, “My little girl”, and she keeps the doll’s bed beside
            her own and never fails to kiss her goodnight.

            We had no guests for Christmas this year but we were quite festive. Ann
            decorated the dinner table with small pink roses and forget-me-knots and tinsel and the
            crackers from the tree. It was a wet day but we played the new records and both
            George and I worked hard to make it a really happy day for the children. The children
            were hugely delighted when George made himself a revolting set of false teeth out of
            plasticine and a moustache and beard of paper straw from a chocolate box. “Oh Daddy
            you look exactly like Father Christmas!” cried an enthralled Ann. Before bedtime we lit
            all the candles on the tree and sang ‘Away in a Manger’, and then we opened the box of
            starlights you sent and Ann and Georgie had their first experience of fireworks.
            After the children went to bed things deteriorated. First George went for his bath
            and found and killed a large black snake in the bathroom. It must have been in the
            bathroom when I bathed the children earlier in the evening. Then I developed bad
            toothache which kept me awake all night and was agonising next day. Unfortunately the
            bridge between the farm and Mbeya had been washed away and the water was too
            deep for the car to ford until the 30th when at last I was able to take my poor swollen
            face to Mbeya. There is now a young German woman dentist working at the hospital.
            She pulled out the offending molar which had a large abscess attached to it.
            Whilst the dentist attended to me, Ann and Georgie played happily with the
            doctor’s children. I wish they could play more often with other children. Dr Eckhardt was
            very pleased with Margery Kate who at seven months weighs 17 lbs and has lovely
            rosy cheeks. He admired Ann and told her that she looked just like a German girl. “No I
            don’t”, cried Ann indignantly, “I’m English!”

            We were caught in a rain storm going home and as the old car still has no
            windscreen or side curtains we all got soaked except for the baby who was snugly
            wrapped in my raincoat. The kids thought it great fun. Ann is growing up fast now. She
            likes to ‘help mummy’. She is a perfectionist at four years old which is rather trying. She
            gets so discouraged when things do not turn out as well as she means them to. Sewing
            is constantly being unpicked and paintings torn up. She is a very sensitive child.
            Georgie is quite different. He is a man of action, but not silent. He talks incessantly
            but lisps and stumbles over some words. At one time Ann and Georgie often
            conversed in Ki-Swahili but they now scorn to do so. If either forgets and uses a Swahili
            word, the other points a scornful finger and shouts “You black toto”.

            With love to all,


              From Tanganyika with Love


              With thanks to Mike Rushby.

              Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

              Dearest Family,

              You say that you would like to know more about our neighbours. Well there is
              not much to tell. Kath Wood is very good about coming over to see me. I admire her
              very much because she is so capable as well as being attractive. She speaks very
              fluent Ki-Swahili and I envy her the way she can carry on a long conversation with the
              natives. I am very slow in learning the language possibly because Lamek and the
              houseboy both speak basic English.

              I have very little to do with the Africans apart from the house servants, but I do
              run a sort of clinic for the wives and children of our employees. The children suffer chiefly
              from sore eyes and worms, and the older ones often have bad ulcers on their legs. All
              farmers keep a stock of drugs and bandages.

              George also does a bit of surgery and last month sewed up the sole of the foot
              of a boy who had trodden on the blade of a panga, a sort of sword the Africans use for
              hacking down bush. He made an excellent job of it. George tells me that the Africans
              have wonderful powers of recuperation. Once in his bachelor days, one of his men was
              disembowelled by an elephant. George washed his “guts” in a weak solution of
              pot.permang, put them back in the cavity and sewed up the torn flesh and he

              But to get back to the neighbours. We see less of Hicky Wood than of Kath.
              Hicky can be charming but is often moody as I believe Irishmen often are.
              Major Jones is now at home on his shamba, which he leaves from time to time
              for temporary jobs on the district roads. He walks across fairly regularly and we are
              always glad to see him for he is a great bearer of news. In this part of Africa there is no
              knocking or ringing of doorbells. Front doors are always left open and visitors always
              welcome. When a visitor approaches a house he shouts “Hodi”, and the owner of the
              house yells “Karibu”, which I believe means “Come near” or approach, and tea is
              produced in a matter of minutes no matter what hour of the day it is.
              The road that passes all our farms is the only road to the Gold Diggings and
              diggers often drop in on the Woods and Major Jones and bring news of the Goldfields.
              This news is sometimes about gold but quite often about whose wife is living with
              whom. This is a great country for gossip.

              Major Jones now has his brother Llewyllen living with him. I drove across with
              George to be introduced to him. Llewyllen’s health is poor and he looks much older than
              his years and very like the portrait of Trader Horn. He has the same emaciated features,
              burning eyes and long beard. He is proud of his Welsh tenor voice and often bursts into

              Both brothers are excellent conversationalists and George enjoys walking over
              sometimes on a Sunday for a bit of masculine company. The other day when George
              walked across to visit the Joneses, he found both brothers in the shamba and Llew in a
              great rage. They had been stooping to inspect a water furrow when Llew backed into a
              hornets nest. One furious hornet stung him on the seat and another on the back of his
              neck. Llew leapt forward and somehow his false teeth shot out into the furrow and were
              carried along by the water. When George arrived Llew had retrieved his teeth but
              George swears that, in the commotion, the heavy leather leggings, which Llew always
              wears, had swivelled around on his thin legs and were calves to the front.
              George has heard that Major Jones is to sell pert of his land to his Swedish brother-in-law, Max Coster, so we will soon have another couple in the neighbourhood.

              I’ve had a bit of a pantomime here on the farm. On the day we went to Tukuyu,
              all our washing was stolen from the clothes line and also our new charcoal iron. George
              reported the matter to the police and they sent out a plain clothes policeman. He wears
              the long white Arab gown called a Kanzu much in vogue here amongst the African elite
              but, alas for secrecy, huge black police boots protrude from beneath the Kanzu and, to
              add to this revealing clue, the askari springs to attention and salutes each time I pass by.
              Not much hope of finding out the identity of the thief I fear.

              George’s furrow was entirely successful and we now have water running behind
              the kitchen. Our drinking water we get from a lovely little spring on the farm. We boil and
              filter it for safety’s sake. I don’t think that is necessary. The furrow water is used for
              washing pots and pans and for bath water.

              Lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

              Dearest Family,

              I think it is about time I told you that we are going to have a baby. We are both
              thrilled about it. I have not seen a Doctor but feel very well and you are not to worry. I
              looked it up in my handbook for wives and reckon that the baby is due about February
              8th. next year.

              The announcement came from George, not me! I had been feeling queasy for
              days and was waiting for the right moment to tell George. You know. Soft lights and
              music etc. However when I was listlessly poking my food around one lunch time
              George enquired calmly, “When are you going to tell me about the baby?” Not at all
              according to the book! The problem is where to have the baby. February is a very wet
              month and the nearest Doctor is over 50 miles away at Tukuyu. I cannot go to stay at
              Tukuyu because there is no European accommodation at the hospital, no hotel and no
              friend with whom I could stay.

              George thinks I should go South to you but Capetown is so very far away and I
              love my little home here. Also George says he could not come all the way down with
              me as he simply must stay here and get the farm on its feet. He would drive me as far
              as the railway in Northern Rhodesia. It is a difficult decision to take. Write and tell me what
              you think.

              The days tick by quietly here. The servants are very willing but have to be
              supervised and even then a crisis can occur. Last Saturday I was feeling squeamish and
              decided not to have lunch. I lay reading on the couch whilst George sat down to a
              solitary curry lunch. Suddenly he gave an exclamation and pushed back his chair. I
              jumped up to see what was wrong and there, on his plate, gleaming in the curry gravy
              were small bits of broken glass. I hurried to the kitchen to confront Lamek with the plate.
              He explained that he had dropped the new and expensive bottle of curry powder on
              the brick floor of the kitchen. He did not tell me as he thought I would make a “shauri” so
              he simply scooped up the curry powder, removed the larger pieces of glass and used
              part of the powder for seasoning the lunch.

              The weather is getting warmer now. It was very cold in June and July and we had
              fires in the daytime as well as at night. Now that much of the land has been cleared we
              are able to go for pleasant walks in the weekends. My favourite spot is a waterfall on the
              Mchewe River just on the boundary of our land. There is a delightful little pool below the
              waterfall and one day George intends to stock it with trout.

              Now that there are more Europeans around to buy meat the natives find it worth
              their while to kill an occasional beast. Every now and again a native arrives with a large
              bowl of freshly killed beef for sale. One has no way of knowing whether the animal was
              healthy and the meat is often still warm and very bloody. I hated handling it at first but am
              becoming accustomed to it now and have even started a brine tub. There is no other
              way of keeping meat here and it can only be kept in its raw state for a few hours before
              going bad. One of the delicacies is the hump which all African cattle have. When corned
              it is like the best brisket.

              See what a housewife I am becoming.
              With much love,

              Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

              Dearest Family,

              I have grown to love the life here and am sad to think I shall be leaving
              Tanganyika soon for several months. Yes I am coming down to have the baby in the
              bosom of the family. George thinks it best and so does the doctor. I didn’t mention it
              before but I have never recovered fully from the effects of that bad bout of malaria and
              so I have been persuaded to leave George and our home and go to the Cape, in the
              hope that I shall come back here as fit as when I first arrived in the country plus a really
              healthy and bouncing baby. I am torn two ways, I long to see you all – but how I would
              love to stay on here.

              George will drive me down to Northern Rhodesia in early October to catch a
              South bound train. I’ll telegraph the date of departure when I know it myself. The road is
              very, very bad and the car has been giving a good deal of trouble so, though the baby
              is not due until early February, George thinks it best to get the journey over soon as
              possible, for the rains break in November and the the roads will then be impassable. It
              may take us five or six days to reach Broken Hill as we will take it slowly. I am looking
              forward to the drive through new country and to camping out at night.
              Our days pass quietly by. George is out on the shamba most of the day. He
              goes out before breakfast on weekdays and spends most of the day working with the
              men – not only supervising but actually working with his hands and beating the labourers
              at their own jobs. He comes to the house for meals and tea breaks. I potter around the
              house and garden, sew, mend and read. Lamek continues to be a treasure. he turns out
              some surprising dishes. One of his specialities is stuffed chicken. He carefully skins the
              chicken removing all bones. He then minces all the chicken meat and adds minced onion
              and potatoes. He then stuffs the chicken skin with the minced meat and carefully sews it
              together again. The resulting dish is very filling because the boned chicken is twice the
              size of a normal one. It lies on its back as round as a football with bloated legs in the air.
              Rather repulsive to look at but Lamek is most proud of his accomplishment.
              The other day he produced another of his masterpieces – a cooked tortoise. It
              was served on a dish covered with parsley and crouched there sans shell but, only too
              obviously, a tortoise. I took one look and fled with heaving diaphragm, but George said
              it tasted quite good. He tells me that he has had queerer dishes produced by former
              cooks. He says that once in his hunting days his cook served up a skinned baby
              monkey with its hands folded on its breast. He says it would take a cannibal to eat that

              And now for something sad. Poor old Llew died quite suddenly and it was a sad
              shock to this tiny community. We went across to the funeral and it was a very simple and
              dignified affair. Llew was buried on Joni’s farm in a grave dug by the farm boys. The
              body was wrapped in a blanket and bound to some boards and lowered into the
              ground. There was no service. The men just said “Good-bye Llew.” and “Sleep well
              Llew”, and things like that. Then Joni and his brother-in-law Max, and George shovelled
              soil over the body after which the grave was filled in by Joni’s shamba boys. It was a
              lovely bright afternoon and I thought how simple and sensible a funeral it was.
              I hope you will be glad to have me home. I bet Dad will be holding thumbs that
              the baby will be a girl.

              Very much love,

              “There are no letters to my family during the period of Sept. 1931 to June 1932
              because during these months I was living with my parents and sister in a suburb of
              Cape Town. I had hoped to return to Tanganyika by air with my baby soon after her
              birth in Feb.1932 but the doctor would not permit this.

              A month before my baby was born, a company called Imperial Airways, had
              started the first passenger service between South Africa and England. One of the night
              stops was at Mbeya near my husband’s coffee farm, and it was my intention to take the
              train to Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia and to fly from there to Mbeya with my month
              old baby. In those days however, commercial flying was still a novelty and the doctor
              was not sure that flying at a high altitude might not have an adverse effect upon a young

              He strongly advised me to wait until the baby was four months old and I did this
              though the long wait was very trying to my husband alone on our farm in Tanganyika,
              and to me, cherished though I was in my old home.

              My story, covering those nine long months is soon told. My husband drove me
              down from Mbeya to Broken Hill in NorthernRhodesia. The journey was tedious as the
              weather was very hot and dry and the road sandy and rutted, very different from the
              Great North road as it is today. The wooden wheel spokes of the car became so dry
              that they rattled and George had to bind wet rags around them. We had several
              punctures and with one thing and another I was lucky to catch the train.
              My parents were at Cape Town station to welcome me and I stayed
              comfortably with them, living very quietly, until my baby was born. She arrived exactly
              on the appointed day, Feb.8th.

              I wrote to my husband “Our Charmian Ann is a darling baby. She is very fair and
              rather pale and has the most exquisite hands, with long tapering fingers. Daddy
              absolutely dotes on her and so would you, if you were here. I can’t bear to think that you
              are so terribly far away. Although Ann was born exactly on the day, I was taken quite by
              surprise. It was awfully hot on the night before, and before going to bed I had a fancy for
              some water melon. The result was that when I woke in the early morning with labour
              pains and vomiting I thought it was just an attack of indigestion due to eating too much
              melon. The result was that I did not wake Marjorie until the pains were pretty frequent.
              She called our next door neighbour who, in his pyjamas, drove me to the nursing home
              at breakneck speed. The Matron was very peeved that I had left things so late but all
              went well and by nine o’clock, Mother, positively twittering with delight, was allowed to
              see me and her first granddaughter . She told me that poor Dad was in such a state of
              nerves that he was sick amongst the grapevines. He says that he could not bear to go
              through such an anxious time again, — so we will have to have our next eleven in

              The next four months passed rapidly as my time was taken up by the demands
              of my new baby. Dr. Trudy King’s method of rearing babies was then the vogue and I
              stuck fanatically to all the rules he laid down, to the intense exasperation of my parents
              who longed to cuddle the child.

              As the time of departure drew near my parents became more and more reluctant
              to allow me to face the journey alone with their adored grandchild, so my brother,
              Graham, very generously offered to escort us on the train to Broken Hill where he could
              put us on the plane for Mbeya.

              Eleanor Rushby


              Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

              Dearest Family,

              You’ll be glad to know that we arrived quite safe and sound and very, very
              happy to be home.The train Journey was uneventful. Ann slept nearly all the way.
              Graham was very kind and saw to everything. He even sat with the baby whilst I went
              to meals in the dining car.

              We were met at Broken Hill by the Thoms who had arranged accommodation for
              us at the hotel for the night. They also drove us to the aerodrome in the morning where
              the Airways agent told us that Ann is the first baby to travel by air on this section of the
              Cape to England route. The plane trip was very bumpy indeed especially between
              Broken Hill and Mpika. Everyone was ill including poor little Ann who sicked up her milk
              all over the front of my new coat. I arrived at Mbeya looking a sorry caricature of Radiant
              Motherhood. I must have been pale green and the baby was snow white. Under the
              circumstances it was a good thing that George did not meet us. We were met instead
              by Ken Menzies, the owner of the Mbeya Hotel where we spent the night. Ken was
              most fatherly and kind and a good nights rest restored Ann and me to our usual robust

              Mbeya has greatly changed. The hotel is now finished and can accommodate
              fifty guests. It consists of a large main building housing a large bar and dining room and
              offices and a number of small cottage bedrooms. It even has electric light. There are
              several buildings out at the aerodrome and private houses going up in Mbeya.
              After breakfast Ken Menzies drove us out to the farm where we had a warm
              welcome from George, who looks well but rather thin. The house was spotless and the
              new cook, Abel, had made light scones for tea. George had prepared all sorts of lovely
              surprises. There is a new reed ceiling in the living room and a new dresser gay with
              willow pattern plates which he had ordered from England. There is also a writing table
              and a square table by the door for visitors hats. More personal is a lovely model ship
              which George assembled from one of those Hobbie’s kits. It puts the finishing touch to
              the rather old world air of our living room.

              In the bedroom there is a large double bed which George made himself. It has
              strips of old car tyres nailed to a frame which makes a fine springy mattress and on top
              of this is a thick mattress of kapok.In the kitchen there is a good wood stove which
              George salvaged from a Mission dump. It looks a bit battered but works very well. The
              new cook is excellent. The only blight is that he will wear rubber soled tennis shoes and
              they smell awful. I daren’t hurt his feelings by pointing this out though. Opposite the
              kitchen is a new laundry building containing a forty gallon hot water drum and a sink for
              washing up. Lovely!

              George has been working very hard. He now has forty acres of coffee seedlings
              planted out and has also found time to plant a rose garden and fruit trees. There are
              orange and peach trees, tree tomatoes, paw paws, guavas and berries. He absolutely
              adores Ann who has been very good and does not seem at all unsettled by the long

              It is absolutely heavenly to be back and I shall be happier than ever now that I
              have a baby to play with during the long hours when George is busy on the farm,
              Thank you for all your love and care during the many months I was with you. Ann
              sends a special bubble for granddad.

              Your very loving,

              Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

              Dearest Family,

              Ann at five months is enchanting. She is a very good baby, smiles readily and is
              gaining weight steadily. She doesn’t sleep much during the day but that does not
              matter, because, apart from washing her little things, I have nothing to do but attend to
              her. She sleeps very well at night which is a blessing as George has to get up very
              early to start work on the shamba and needs a good nights rest.
              My nights are not so good, because we are having a plague of rats which frisk
              around in the bedroom at night. Great big ones that come up out of the long grass in the
              gorge beside the house and make cosy homes on our reed ceiling and in the thatch of
              the roof.

              We always have a night light burning so that, if necessary, I can attend to Ann
              with a minimum of fuss, and the things I see in that dim light! There are gaps between
              the reeds and one night I heard, plop! and there, before my horrified gaze, lay a newly
              born hairless baby rat on the floor by the bed, plop, plop! and there lay two more.
              Quite dead, poor things – but what a careless mother.

              I have also seen rats scampering around on the tops of the mosquito nets and
              sometimes we have them on our bed. They have a lovely game. They swarm down
              the cord from which the mosquito net is suspended, leap onto the bed and onto the
              floor. We do not have our net down now the cold season is here and there are few

              Last week a rat crept under Ann’s net which hung to the floor and bit her little
              finger, so now I tuck the net in under the mattress though it makes it difficult for me to
              attend to her at night. We shall have to get a cat somewhere. Ann’s pram has not yet
              arrived so George carries her when we go walking – to her great content.
              The native women around here are most interested in Ann. They come to see
              her, bearing small gifts, and usually bring a child or two with them. They admire my child
              and I admire theirs and there is an exchange of gifts. They produce a couple of eggs or
              a few bananas or perhaps a skinny fowl and I hand over sugar, salt or soap as they
              value these commodities. The most lavish gift went to the wife of Thomas our headman,
              who produced twin daughters in the same week as I had Ann.

              Our neighbours have all been across to welcome me back and to admire the
              baby. These include Marion Coster who came out to join her husband whilst I was in
              South Africa. The two Hickson-Wood children came over on a fat old white donkey.
              They made a pretty picture sitting astride, one behind the other – Maureen with her arms
              around small Michael’s waist. A native toto led the donkey and the children’ s ayah
              walked beside it.

              It is quite cold here now but the sun is bright and the air dry. The whole
              countryside is beautifully green and we are a very happy little family.

              Lots and lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

              Dearest Family,

              George has been very unwell for the past week. He had a nasty gash on his
              knee which went septic. He had a swelling in the groin and a high temperature and could
              not sleep at night for the pain in his leg. Ann was very wakeful too during the same
              period, I think she is teething. I luckily have kept fit though rather harassed. Yesterday the
              leg looked so inflamed that George decided to open up the wound himself. he made
              quite a big cut in exactly the right place. You should have seen the blackish puss
              pouring out.

              After he had thoroughly cleaned the wound George sewed it up himself. he has
              the proper surgical needles and gut. He held the cut together with his left hand and
              pushed the needle through the flesh with his right. I pulled the needle out and passed it
              to George for the next stitch. I doubt whether a surgeon could have made a neater job
              of it. He is still confined to the couch but today his temperature is normal. Some

              The previous week was hectic in another way. We had a visit from lions! George
              and I were having supper about 8.30 on Tuesday night when the back verandah was
              suddenly invaded by women and children from the servants quarters behind the kitchen.
              They were all yelling “Simba, Simba.” – simba means lions. The door opened suddenly
              and the houseboy rushed in to say that there were lions at the huts. George got up
              swiftly, fetched gun and ammunition from the bedroom and with the houseboy carrying
              the lamp, went off to investigate. I remained at the table, carrying on with my supper as I
              felt a pioneer’s wife should! Suddenly something big leapt through the open window
              behind me. You can imagine what I thought! I know now that it is quite true to say one’s
              hair rises when one is scared. However it was only Kelly, our huge Irish wolfhound,
              taking cover.

              George returned quite soon to say that apparently the commotion made by the
              women and children had frightened the lions off. He found their tracks in the soft earth
              round the huts and a bag of maize that had been playfully torn open but the lions had
              moved on.

              Next day we heard that they had moved to Hickson-Wood’s shamba. Hicky
              came across to say that the lions had jumped over the wall of his cattle boma and killed
              both his white Muskat riding donkeys.
              He and a friend sat up all next night over the remains but the lions did not return to
              the kill.

              Apart from the little set back last week, Ann is blooming. She has a cap of very
              fine fair hair and clear blue eyes under straight brow. She also has lovely dimples in both
              cheeks. We are very proud of her.

              Our neighbours are picking coffee but the crops are small and the price is low. I
              am amazed that they are so optimistic about the future. No one in these parts ever
              seems to grouse though all are living on capital. They all say “Well if the worst happens
              we can always go up to the Lupa Diggings.”

              Don’t worry about us, we have enough to tide us over for some time yet.

              Much love to all,

              Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

              Dearest Family,

              News! News! I’m going to have another baby. George and I are delighted and I
              hope it will be a boy this time. I shall be able to have him at Mbeya because things are
              rapidly changing here. Several German families have moved to Mbeya including a
              German doctor who means to build a hospital there. I expect he will make a very good
              living because there must now be some hundreds of Europeans within a hundred miles
              radius of Mbeya. The Europeans are mostly British or German but there are also
              Greeks and, I believe, several other nationalities are represented on the Lupa Diggings.
              Ann is blooming and developing according to the Book except that she has no
              teeth yet! Kath Hickson-Wood has given her a very nice high chair and now she has
              breakfast and lunch at the table with us. Everything within reach goes on the floor to her
              amusement and my exasperation!

              You ask whether we have any Church of England missionaries in our part. No we
              haven’t though there are Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions. I have never even
              heard of a visiting Church of England Clergyman to these parts though there are babies
              in plenty who have not been baptised. Jolly good thing I had Ann Christened down

              The R.C. priests in this area are called White Fathers. They all have beards and
              wear white cassocks and sun helmets. One, called Father Keiling, calls around frequently.
              Though none of us in this area is Catholic we take it in turn to put him up for the night. The
              Catholic Fathers in their turn are most hospitable to travellers regardless of their beliefs.
              Rather a sad thing has happened. Lucas our old chicken-boy is dead. I shall miss
              his toothy smile. George went to the funeral and fired two farewell shots from his rifle
              over the grave – a gesture much appreciated by the locals. Lucas in his day was a good

              Several of the locals own muzzle loading guns but the majority hunt with dogs
              and spears. The dogs wear bells which make an attractive jingle but I cannot bear the
              idea of small antelope being run down until they are exhausted before being clubbed of
              stabbed to death. We seldom eat venison as George does not care to shoot buck.
              Recently though, he shot an eland and Abel rendered down the fat which is excellent for
              cooking and very like beef fat.

              Much love to all,

              Mchewe Estate. P.O.Mbeya 21st November 1932

              Dearest Family,

              George has gone off to the Lupa for a week with John Molteno. John came up
              here with the idea of buying a coffee farm but he has changed his mind and now thinks of
              staking some claims on the diggings and also setting up as a gold buyer.

              Did I tell you about his arrival here? John and George did some elephant hunting
              together in French Equatorial Africa and when John heard that George had married and
              settled in Tanganyika, he also decided to come up here. He drove up from Cape Town
              in a Baby Austin and arrived just as our labourers were going home for the day. The little
              car stopped half way up our hill and John got out to investigate. You should have heard
              the astonished exclamations when John got out – all 6 ft 5 ins. of him! He towered over
              the little car and even to me it seemed impossible for him to have made the long
              journey in so tiny a car.

              Kath Wood has been over several times lately. She is slim and looks so right in
              the shirt and corduroy slacks she almost always wears. She was here yesterday when
              the shamba boy, digging in the front garden, unearthed a large earthenware cooking pot,
              sealed at the top. I was greatly excited and had an instant mental image of fabulous
              wealth. We made the boy bring the pot carefully on to the verandah and opened it in
              happy anticipation. What do you think was inside? Nothing but a grinning skull! Such a
              treat for a pregnant female.

              We have a tree growing here that had lovely straight branches covered by a
              smooth bark. I got the garden boy to cut several of these branches of a uniform size,
              peeled off the bark and have made Ann a playpen with the poles which are much like
              broom sticks. Now I can leave her unattended when I do my chores. The other morning
              after breakfast I put Ann in her playpen on the verandah and gave her a piece of toast
              and honey to keep her quiet whilst I laundered a few of her things. When I looked out a
              little later I was horrified to see a number of bees buzzing around her head whilst she
              placidly concentrated on her toast. I made a rapid foray and rescued her but I still don’t
              know whether that was the thing to do.

              We all send our love,

              Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

              Dearest Family,

              Here I am, installed at the very new hospital, built by Dr Eckhardt, awaiting the
              arrival of the new baby. George has gone back to the farm on foot but will walk in again
              to spend the weekend with us. Ann is with me and enjoys the novelty of playing with
              other children. The Eckhardts have two, a pretty little girl of two and a half and a very fair
              roly poly boy of Ann’s age. Ann at fourteen months is very active. She is quite a little girl
              now with lovely dimples. She walks well but is backward in teething.

              George, Ann and I had a couple of days together at the hotel before I moved in
              here and several of the local women visited me and have promised to visit me in
              hospital. The trip from farm to town was very entertaining if not very comfortable. There
              is ten miles of very rough road between our farm and Utengule Mission and beyond the
              Mission there is a fair thirteen or fourteen mile road to Mbeya.

              As we have no car now the doctor’s wife offered to drive us from the Mission to
              Mbeya but she would not risk her car on the road between the Mission and our farm.
              The upshot was that I rode in the Hickson-Woods machila for that ten mile stretch. The
              machila is a canopied hammock, slung from a bamboo pole, in which I reclined, not too
              comfortably in my unwieldy state, with Ann beside me or sometime straddling me. Four
              of our farm boys carried the machila on their shoulders, two fore and two aft. The relief
              bearers walked on either side. There must have been a dozen in all and they sang a sort
              of sea shanty song as they walked. One man would sing a verse and the others took up
              the chorus. They often improvise as they go. They moaned about my weight (at least
              George said so! I don’t follow Ki-Swahili well yet) and expressed the hope that I would
              have a son and that George would reward them handsomely.

              George and Kelly, the dog, followed close behind the machila and behind
              George came Abel our cook and his wife and small daughter Annalie, all in their best
              attire. The cook wore a palm beach suit, large Terai hat and sunglasses and two colour
              shoes and quite lent a tone to the proceedings! Right at the back came the rag tag and
              bobtail who joined the procession just for fun.

              Mrs Eckhardt was already awaiting us at the Mission when we arrived and we had
              an uneventful trip to the Mbeya Hotel.

              During my last week at the farm I felt very tired and engaged the cook’s small
              daughter, Annalie, to amuse Ann for an hour after lunch so that I could have a rest. They
              played in the small verandah room which adjoins our bedroom and where I keep all my
              sewing materials. One afternoon I was startled by a scream from Ann. I rushed to the
              room and found Ann with blood steaming from her cheek. Annalie knelt beside her,
              looking startled and frightened, with my embroidery scissors in her hand. She had cut off
              half of the long curling golden lashes on one of Ann’s eyelids and, in trying to finish the
              job, had cut off a triangular flap of skin off Ann’s cheek bone.

              I called Abel, the cook, and demanded that he should chastise his daughter there and
              then and I soon heard loud shrieks from behind the kitchen. He spanked her with a
              bamboo switch but I am sure not as well as she deserved. Africans are very tolerant
              towards their children though I have seen husbands and wives fighting furiously.
              I feel very well but long to have the confinement over.

              Very much love,

              Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

              Dearest Family,

              Little George arrived at 7.30 pm on Saturday evening 29 th. April. George was
              with me at the time as he had walked in from the farm for news, and what a wonderful bit
              of luck that was. The doctor was away on a case on the Diggings and I was bathing Ann
              with George looking on, when the pains started. George dried Ann and gave her
              supper and put her to bed. Afterwards he sat on the steps outside my room and a
              great comfort it was to know that he was there.

              The confinement was short but pretty hectic. The Doctor returned to the Hospital
              just in time to deliver the baby. He is a grand little boy, beautifully proportioned. The
              doctor says he has never seen a better formed baby. He is however rather funny
              looking just now as his head is, very temporarily, egg shaped. He has a shock of black
              silky hair like a gollywog and believe it or not, he has a slight black moustache.
              George came in, looked at the baby, looked at me, and we both burst out
              laughing. The doctor was shocked and said so. He has no sense of humour and couldn’t
              understand that we, though bursting with pride in our son, could never the less laugh at

              Friends in Mbeya have sent me the most gorgeous flowers and my room is
              transformed with delphiniums, roses and carnations. The room would be very austere
              without the flowers. Curtains, bedspread and enamelware, walls and ceiling are all
              snowy white.

              George hired a car and took Ann home next day. I have little George for
              company during the day but he is removed at night. I am longing to get him home and
              away from the German nurse who feeds him on black tea when he cries. She insists that
              tea is a medicine and good for him.

              Much love from a proud mother of two.

              Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

              Dearest Family,

              We are all together at home again and how lovely it feels. Even the house
              servants seem pleased. The boy had decorated the lounge with sprays of
              bougainvillaea and Abel had backed one of his good sponge cakes.

              Ann looked fat and rosy but at first was only moderately interested in me and the
              new baby but she soon thawed. George is good with her and will continue to dress Ann
              in the mornings and put her to bed until I am satisfied with Georgie.

              He, poor mite, has a nasty rash on face and neck. I am sure it is just due to that
              tea the nurse used to give him at night. He has lost his moustache and is fast loosing his
              wild black hair and emerging as quite a handsome babe. He is a very masculine looking
              infant with much more strongly marked eyebrows and a larger nose that Ann had. He is
              very good and lies quietly in his basket even when awake.

              George has been making a hatching box for brown trout ova and has set it up in
              a small clear stream fed by a spring in readiness for the ova which is expected from
              South Africa by next weeks plane. Some keen fishermen from Mbeya and the District
              have clubbed together to buy the ova. The fingerlings are later to be transferred to
              streams in Mbeya and Tukuyu Districts.

              I shall now have my hands full with the two babies and will not have much time for the
              garden, or I fear, for writing very long letters. Remember though, that no matter how
              large my family becomes, I shall always love you as much as ever.

              Your affectionate,

              Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

              Dearest Family,

              The four of us are all well but alas we have lost our dear Kelly. He was rather a
              silly dog really, although he grew so big he retained all his puppy ways but we were all
              very fond of him, especially George because Kelly attached himself to George whilst I
              was away having Ann and from that time on he was George’s shadow. I think he had
              some form of biliary fever. He died stretched out on the living room couch late last night,
              with George sitting beside him so that he would not feel alone.

              The children are growing fast. Georgie is a darling. He now has a fluff of pale
              brown hair and his eyes are large and dark brown. Ann is very plump and fair.
              We have had several visitors lately. Apart from neighbours, a car load of diggers
              arrived one night and John Molteno and his bride were here. She is a very attractive girl
              but, I should say, more suited to life in civilisation than in this back of beyond. She has
              gone out to the diggings with her husband and will have to walk a good stretch of the fifty
              or so miles.

              The diggers had to sleep in the living room on the couch and on hastily erected
              camp beds. They arrived late at night and left after breakfast next day. One had half a
              beard, the other side of his face had been forcibly shaved in the bar the night before.

              your affectionate,

              Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

              Dearest Family,

              George is away on safari with two Indian Army officers. The money he will get for
              his services will be very welcome because this coffee growing is a slow business, and
              our capitol is rapidly melting away. The job of acting as White Hunter was unexpected
              or George would not have taken on the job of hatching the ova which duly arrived from
              South Africa.

              George and the District Commissioner, David Pollock, went to meet the plane
              by which the ova had been consigned but the pilot knew nothing about the package. It
              came to light in the mail bag with the parcels! However the ova came to no harm. David
              Pollock and George brought the parcel to the farm and carefully transferred the ova to
              the hatching box. It was interesting to watch the tiny fry hatch out – a process which took
              several days. Many died in the process and George removed the dead by sucking
              them up in a glass tube.

              When hatched, the tiny fry were fed on ant eggs collected by the boys. I had to
              take over the job of feeding and removing the dead when George left on safari. The fry
              have to be fed every four hours, like the baby, so each time I have fed Georgie. I hurry
              down to feed the trout.

              The children are very good but keep me busy. Ann can now say several words
              and understands more. She adores Georgie. I long to show them off to you.

              Very much love

              Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

              Dear Family,

              All just over flu. George and Ann were very poorly. I did not fare so badly and
              Georgie came off best. He is on a bottle now.

              There was some excitement here last Wednesday morning. At 6.30 am. I called
              for boiling water to make Georgie’s food. No water arrived but muffled shouting and the
              sound of blows came from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found a fierce fight in
              progress between the house boy and the kitchen boy. In my efforts to make them stop
              fighting I went too close and got a sharp bang on the mouth with the edge of an
              enamelled plate the kitchen boy was using as a weapon. My teeth cut my lip inside and
              the plate cut it outside and blood flowed from mouth to chin. The boys were petrified.
              By the time I had fed Georgie the lip was stiff and swollen. George went in wrath
              to the kitchen and by breakfast time both house boy and kitchen boy had swollen faces
              too. Since then I have a kettle of boiling water to hand almost before the words are out
              of my mouth. I must say that the fight was because the house boy had clouted the
              kitchen boy for keeping me waiting! In this land of piece work it is the job of the kitchen
              boy to light the fire and boil the kettle but the houseboy’s job to carry the kettle to me.
              I have seen little of Kath Wood or Marion Coster for the past two months. Major
              Jones is the neighbour who calls most regularly. He has a wireless set and calls on all of
              us to keep us up to date with world as well as local news. He often brings oranges for
              Ann who adores him. He is a very nice person but no oil painting and makes no effort to
              entertain Ann but she thinks he is fine. Perhaps his monocle appeals to her.

              George has bought a six foot long galvanised bath which is a great improvement
              on the smaller oval one we have used until now. The smaller one had grown battered
              from much use and leaks like a sieve. Fortunately our bathroom has a cement floor,
              because one had to fill the bath to the brim and then bath extremely quickly to avoid
              being left high and dry.

              Lots and lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 1st December 1933

              Dearest Family,

              Ann has not been well. We think she has had malaria. She has grown a good
              deal lately and looks much thinner and rather pale. Georgie is thriving and has such
              sparkling brown eyes and a ready smile. He and Ann make a charming pair, one so fair
              and the other dark.

              The Moltenos’ spent a few days here and took Georgie and me to Mbeya so
              that Georgie could be vaccinated. However it was an unsatisfactory trip because the
              doctor had no vaccine.

              George went to the Lupa with the Moltenos and returned to the farm in their Baby
              Austin which they have lent to us for a week. This was to enable me to go to Mbeya to
              have a couple of teeth filled by a visiting dentist.

              We went to Mbeya in the car on Saturday. It was quite a squash with the four of
              us on the front seat of the tiny car. Once George grabbed the babies foot instead of the
              gear knob! We had Georgie vaccinated at the hospital and then went to the hotel where
              the dentist was installed. Mr Dare, the dentist, had few instruments and they were very
              tarnished. I sat uncomfortably on a kitchen chair whilst he tinkered with my teeth. He filled
              three but two of the fillings came out that night. This meant another trip to Mbeya in the
              Baby Austin but this time they seem all right.

              The weather is very hot and dry and the garden a mess. We are having trouble
              with the young coffee trees too. Cut worms are killing off seedlings in the nursery and
              there is a borer beetle in the planted out coffee.

              George bought a large grey donkey from some wandering Masai and we hope
              the children will enjoy riding it later on.

              Very much love,

              Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

              Dearest Family,

              You will be sorry to hear that little Ann has been very ill, indeed we were terribly
              afraid that we were going to lose her. She enjoyed her birthday on the 8th. All the toys
              you, and her English granny, sent were unwrapped with such delight. However next
              day she seemed listless and a bit feverish so I tucked her up in bed after lunch. I dosed
              her with quinine and aspirin and she slept fitfully. At about eleven o’clock I was
              awakened by a strange little cry. I turned up the night light and was horrified to see that
              Ann was in a convulsion. I awakened George who, as always in an emergency, was
              perfectly calm and practical. He filled the small bath with very warm water and emersed
              Ann in it, placing a cold wet cloth on her head. We then wrapped her in blankets and
              gave her an enema and she settled down to sleep. A few hours later we had the same
              thing over again.

              At first light we sent a runner to Mbeya to fetch the doctor but waited all day in
              vain and in the evening the runner returned to say that the doctor had gone to a case on
              the diggings. Ann had been feverish all day with two or three convulsions. Neither
              George or I wished to leave the bedroom, but there was Georgie to consider, and in
              the afternoon I took him out in the garden for a while whilst George sat with Ann.
              That night we both sat up all night and again Ann had those wretched attacks of
              convulsions. George and I were worn out with anxiety by the time the doctor arrived the
              next afternoon. Ann had not been able to keep down any quinine and had had only
              small sips of water since the onset of the attack.

              The doctor at once diagnosed the trouble as malaria aggravated by teething.
              George held Ann whilst the Doctor gave her an injection. At the first attempt the needle
              bent into a bow, George was furious! The second attempt worked and after a few hours
              Ann’s temperature dropped and though she was ill for two days afterwards she is now
              up and about. She has also cut the last of her baby teeth, thank God. She looks thin and
              white, but should soon pick up. It has all been a great strain to both of us. Georgie
              behaved like an angel throughout. He played happily in his cot and did not seem to
              sense any tension as people say, babies do. Our baby was cheerful and not at all

              This is the rainy season and it is a good thing that some work has been done on
              our road or the doctor might not have got through.

              Much love to all,

              Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

              Dearest Family,

              We are all well now, thank goodness, but last week Georgie gave us such a
              fright. I was sitting on the verandah, busy with some sewing and not watching Ann and
              Georgie, who were trying to reach a bunch of bananas which hung on a rope from a
              beam of the verandah. Suddenly I heard a crash, Georgie had fallen backward over the
              edge of the verandah and hit the back of his head on the edge of the brick furrow which
              carries away the rainwater. He lay flat on his back with his arms spread out and did not
              move or cry. When I picked him up he gave a little whimper, I carried him to his cot and
              bathed his face and soon he began sitting up and appeared quite normal. The trouble
              began after he had vomited up his lunch. He began to whimper and bang his head
              against the cot.

              George and I were very worried because we have no transport so we could not
              take Georgie to the doctor and we could not bear to go through again what we had gone
              through with Ann earlier in the year. Then, in the late afternoon, a miracle happened. Two
              men George hardly knew, and complete strangers to me, called in on their way from the
              diggings to Mbeya and they kindly drove Georgie and me to the hospital. The Doctor
              allowed me to stay with Georgie and we spent five days there. Luckily he responded to
              treatment and is now as alive as ever. Children do put years on one!

              There is nothing much else to report. We have a new vegetable garden which is
              doing well but the earth here is strange. Gardens seem to do well for two years but by
              that time the soil is exhausted and one must move the garden somewhere else. The
              coffee looks well but it will be another year before we can expect even a few bags of
              coffee and prices are still low. Anyway by next year George should have some good
              return for all his hard work.

              Lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

              Dearest Family,

              George is home from his White Hunting safari looking very sunburnt and well.
              The elderly American, who was his client this time, called in here at the farm to meet me
              and the children. It is amazing what spirit these old lads have! This one looked as though
              he should be thinking in terms of slippers and an armchair but no, he thinks in terms of
              high powered rifles with telescopic sights.

              It is lovely being together again and the children are delighted to have their Dad
              home. Things are always exciting when George is around. The day after his return
              George said at breakfast, “We can’t go on like this. You and the kids never get off the
              shamba. We’ll simply have to get a car.” You should have heard the excitement. “Get a
              car Daddy?’” cried Ann jumping in her chair so that her plaits bounced. “Get a car
              Daddy?” echoed Georgie his brown eyes sparkling. “A car,” said I startled, “However
              can we afford one?”

              “Well,” said George, “on my way back from Safari I heard that a car is to be sold
              this week at the Tukuyu Court, diseased estate or bankruptcy or something, I might get it
              cheap and it is an A.C.” The name meant nothing to me, but George explained that an
              A.C. is first cousin to a Rolls Royce.

              So off he went to the sale and next day the children and I listened all afternoon for
              the sound of an approaching car. We had many false alarms but, towards evening we
              heard what appeared to be the roar of an aeroplane engine. It was the A.C. roaring her
              way up our steep hill with a long plume of steam waving gaily above her radiator.
              Out jumped my beaming husband and in no time at all, he was showing off her
              points to an admiring family. Her lines are faultless and seats though worn are most
              comfortable. She has a most elegant air so what does it matter that the radiator leaks like
              a sieve, her exhaust pipe has broken off, her tyres are worn almost to the canvas and
              she has no windscreen. She goes, and she cost only five pounds.

              Next afternoon George, the kids and I piled into the car and drove along the road
              on lookout for guinea fowl. All went well on the outward journey but on the homeward
              one the poor A.C. simply gasped and died. So I carried the shot gun and George
              carried both children and we trailed sadly home. This morning George went with a bunch
              of farmhands and brought her home. Truly temperamental, she came home literally
              under her own steam.

              George now plans to get a second hand engine and radiator for her but it won’t
              be an A.C. engine. I think she is the only one of her kind in the country.
              I am delighted to hear, dad, that you are sending a bridle for Joseph for
              Christmas. I am busy making a saddle out of an old piece of tent canvas stuffed with
              kapok, some webbing and some old rug straps. A car and a riding donkey! We’re
              definitely carriage folk now.

              Lots of love to all,

              Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

              Dearest Family,

              Thank you for the wonderful Christmas parcel. My frock is a splendid fit. George
              declares that no one can knit socks like Mummy and the children love their toys and new

              Joseph, the donkey, took his bit with an air of bored resignation and Ann now
              rides proudly on his back. Joseph is a big strong animal with the looks and disposition of
              a mule. he will not go at all unless a native ‘toto’ walks before him and when he does go
              he wears a pained expression as though he were carrying fourteen stone instead of
              Ann’s fly weight. I walk beside the donkey carrying Georgie and our cat, ‘Skinny Winnie’,
              follows behind. Quite a cavalcade. The other day I got so exasperated with Joseph that
              I took Ann off and I got on. Joseph tottered a few paces and sat down! to the huge
              delight of our farm labourers who were going home from work. Anyway, one good thing,
              the donkey is so lazy that there is little chance of him bolting with Ann.

              The Moltenos spent Christmas with us and left for the Lupa Diggings yesterday.
              They arrived on the 22nd. with gifts for the children and chocolates and beer. That very
              afternoon George and John Molteno left for Ivuna, near Lake Ruckwa, to shoot some
              guinea fowl and perhaps a goose for our Christmas dinner. We expected the menfolk
              back on Christmas Eve and Anne and I spent a busy day making mince pies and
              sausage rolls. Why I don’t know, because I am sure Abel could have made them better.
              We decorated the Christmas tree and sat up very late but no husbands turned up.
              Christmas day passed but still no husbands came. Anne, like me, is expecting a baby
              and we both felt pretty forlorn and cross. Anne was certain that they had been caught up
              in a party somewhere and had forgotten all about us and I must say when Boxing Day
              went by and still George and John did not show up I felt ready to agree with her.
              They turned up towards evening and explained that on the homeward trip the car
              had bogged down in the mud and that they had spent a miserable Christmas. Anne
              refused to believe their story so George, to prove their case, got the game bag and
              tipped the contents on to the dining room table. Out fell several guinea fowl, long past
              being edible, followed by a large goose so high that it was green and blue where all the
              feathers had rotted off.

              The stench was too much for two pregnant girls. I shot out of the front door
              closely followed by Anne and we were both sick in the garden.

              I could not face food that evening but Anne is made of stronger stuff and ate her
              belated Christmas dinner with relish.

              I am looking forward enormously to having Marjorie here with us. She will be able
              to carry back to you an eyewitness account of our home and way of life.

              Much love to you all,

              Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

              Dearest Family,

              You cannot imagine how lovely it is to have Marjorie here. She came just in time
              because I have had pernicious vomiting and have lost a great deal of weight and she
              took charge of the children and made me spend three days in hospital having treatment.
              George took me to the hospital on the afternoon of New Years Eve and decided
              to spend the night at the hotel and join in the New Years Eve celebrations. I had several
              visitors at the hospital that evening and George actually managed to get some imported
              grapes for me. He returned to the farm next morning and fetched me from the hospital
              four days later. Of course the old A.C. just had to play up. About half way home the
              back axle gave in and we had to send a passing native some miles back to a place
              called Mbalizi to hire a lorry from a Greek trader to tow us home to the farm.
              The children looked well and were full of beans. I think Marjorie was thankful to
              hand them over to me. She is delighted with Ann’s motherly little ways but Georgie she
              calls “a really wild child”. He isn’t, just has such an astonishing amount of energy and is
              always up to mischief. Marjorie brought us all lovely presents. I am so thrilled with my
              sewing machine. It may be an old model but it sews marvellously. We now have an
              Alsatian pup as well as Joseph the donkey and the two cats.

              Marjorie had a midnight encounter with Joseph which gave her quite a shock but
              we had a good laugh about it next day. Some months ago George replaced our wattle
              and daub outside pit lavatory by a substantial brick one, so large that Joseph is being
              temporarily stabled in it at night. We neglected to warn Marj about this and one night,
              storm lamp in hand, she opened the door and Joseph walked out braying his thanks.
              I am afraid Marjorie is having a quiet time, a shame when the journey from Cape
              Town is so expensive. The doctor has told me to rest as much as I can, so it is
              impossible for us to take Marj on sight seeing trips.

              I hate to think that she will be leaving in ten days time.

              Much love,

              Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

              Dearest Family,

              You must be able to visualise our life here quite well now that Marj is back and
              has no doubt filled in all the details I forget to mention in my letters. What a journey we
              had in the A.C. when we took her to the plane. George, the children and I sat in front and
              Marj sat behind with numerous four gallon tins of water for the insatiable radiator. It was
              raining and the canvas hood was up but part of the side flaps are missing and as there is
              no glass in the windscreen the rain blew in on us. George got fed up with constantly
              removing the hot radiator cap so simply stuffed a bit of rag in instead. When enough
              steam had built up in the radiator behind the rag it blew out and we started all over again.
              The car still roars like an aeroplane engine and yet has little power so that George sent
              gangs of boys to the steep hills between the farm and the Mission to give us a push if
              necessary. Fortunately this time it was not, and the boys cheered us on our way. We
              needed their help on the homeward journey however.

              George has now bought an old Chev engine which he means to install before I
              have to go to hospital to have my new baby. It will be quite an engineering feet as
              George has few tools.

              I am sorry to say that I am still not well, something to do with kidneys or bladder.
              George bought me some pills from one of the several small shops which have opened
              in Mbeya and Ann is most interested in the result. She said seriously to Kath Wood,
              “Oh my Mummy is a very clever Mummy. She can do blue wee and green wee as well
              as yellow wee.” I simply can no longer manage the children without help and have
              engaged the cook’s wife, Janey, to help. The children are by no means thrilled. I plead in
              vain that I am not well enough to go for walks. Ann says firmly, “Ann doesn’t want to go
              for a walk. Ann will look after you.” Funny, though she speaks well for a three year old,
              she never uses the first person. Georgie say he would much rather walk with
              Keshokutwa, the kitchen boy. His name by the way, means day-after-tomorrow and it
              suits him down to the ground, Kath Wood walks over sometimes with offers of help and Ann will gladly go walking with her but Georgie won’t. He on the other hand will walk with Anne Molteno
              and Ann won’t. They are obstinate kids. Ann has developed a very fertile imagination.
              She has probably been looking at too many of those nice women’s magazines you
              sent. A few days ago she said, “You are sick Mummy, but Ann’s got another Mummy.
              She’s not sick, and my other mummy (very smugly) has lovely golden hair”. This
              morning’ not ten minutes after I had dressed her, she came in with her frock wet and
              muddy. I said in exasperation, “Oh Ann, you are naughty.” To which she instantly
              returned, “My other Mummy doesn’t think I am naughty. She thinks I am very nice.” It
              strikes me I shall have to get better soon so that I can be gay once more and compete
              with that phantom golden haired paragon.

              We had a very heavy storm over the farm last week. There was heavy rain with
              hail which stripped some of the coffee trees and the Mchewe River flooded and the
              water swept through the lower part of the shamba. After the water had receded George
              picked up a fine young trout which had been stranded. This was one of some he had
              put into the river when Georgie was a few months old.

              The trials of a coffee farmer are legion. We now have a plague of snails. They
              ring bark the young trees and leave trails of slime on the glossy leaves. All the ring
              barked trees will have to be cut right back and this is heartbreaking as they are bearing
              berries for the first time. The snails are collected by native children, piled upon the
              ground and bashed to a pulp which gives off a sickening stench. I am sorry for the local
              Africans. Locusts ate up their maize and now they are losing their bean crop to the snails.

              Lots of love, Eleanor


                From Tanganyika with Love

                With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                • “The letters of Eleanor Dunbar Leslie to her parents and her sister in South Africa
                  concerning her life with George Gilman Rushby of Tanganyika, and the trials and
                  joys of bringing up a family in pioneering conditions.

                These letters were transcribed from copies of letters typed by Eleanor Rushby from
                the originals which were in the estate of Marjorie Leslie, Eleanor’s sister. Eleanor
                kept no diary of her life in Tanganyika, so these letters were the living record of an
                important part of her life.

                Having walked across Africa from the East coast to Ubangi Shauri Chad
                in French Equatorial Africa, hunting elephant all the way, George Rushby
                made his way down the Congo to Leopoldville. He then caught a ship to
                Europe and had a holiday in Brussels and Paris before visiting his family
                in England. He developed blackwater fever and was extremely ill for a
                while. When he recovered he went to London to arrange his return to

                Whilst staying at the Overseas Club he met Eileen Graham who had come
                to England from Cape Town to study music. On hearing that George was
                sailing for Cape Town she arranged to introduce him to her friend
                Eleanor Dunbar Leslie. “You’ll need someone lively to show you around,”
                she said. “She’s as smart as paint, a keen mountaineer, a very good school
                teacher, and she’s attractive. You can’t miss her, because her father is a
                well known Cape Town Magistrate. And,” she added “I’ve already written
                and told her what ship you are arriving on.”

                Eleanor duly met the ship. She and George immediately fell in love.
                Within thirty six hours he had proposed marriage and was accepted
                despite the misgivings of her parents. As she was under contract to her
                High School, she remained in South Africa for several months whilst
                George headed for Tanganyika looking for a farm where he could build
                their home.

                These details are a summary of chapter thirteen of the Biography of
                George Gilman Rushby ‘The Hunter is Death “ by T.V.Bulpin.


                Dearest Marj,
                Terrifically exciting news! I’ve just become engaged to an Englishman whom I
                met last Monday. The result is a family upheaval which you will have no difficulty in

                The Aunts think it all highly romantic and cry in delight “Now isn’t that just like our
                El!” Mummy says she doesn’t know what to think, that anyway I was always a harum
                scarum and she rather expected something like this to happen. However I know that
                she thinks George highly attractive. “Such a nice smile and gentle manner, and such
                good hands“ she murmurs appreciatively. “But WHY AN ELEPHANT HUNTER?” she
                ends in a wail, as though elephant hunting was an unmentionable profession.
                Anyway I don’t think so. Anyone can marry a bank clerk or a lawyer or even a
                millionaire – but whoever heard of anyone marrying anyone as exciting as an elephant
                hunter? I’m thrilled to bits.

                Daddy also takes a dim view of George’s profession, and of George himself as
                a husband for me. He says that I am so impulsive and have such wild enthusiasms that I
                need someone conservative and steady to give me some serenity and some ballast.
                Dad says George is a handsome fellow and a good enough chap he is sure, but
                he is obviously a man of the world and hints darkly at a possible PAST. George says
                he has nothing of the kind and anyway I’m the first girl he has asked to marry him. I don’t
                care anyway, I’d gladly marry him tomorrow, but Dad has other ideas.

                He sat in his armchair to deliver his verdict, wearing the same look he must wear
                on the bench. If we marry, and he doesn’t think it would be a good thing, George must
                buy a comfortable house for me in Central Africa where I can stay safely when he goes
                hunting. I interrupted to say “But I’m going too”, but dad snubbed me saying that in no
                time at all I’ll have a family and one can’t go dragging babies around in the African Bush.”
                George takes his lectures with surprising calm. He says he can see Dad’s point of
                view much better than I can. He told the parents today that he plans to buy a small
                coffee farm in the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika and will build a cosy cottage which
                will be a proper home for both of us, and that he will only hunt occasionally to keep the
                pot boiling.

                Mummy, of course, just had to spill the beans. She said to George, “I suppose
                you know that Eleanor knows very little about house keeping and can’t cook at all.” a fact
                that I was keeping a dark secret. But George just said, “Oh she won’t have to work. The
                boys do all that sort of thing. She can lie on a couch all day and read if she likes.” Well
                you always did say that I was a “Lily of the field,” and what a good thing! If I were one of
                those terribly capable women I’d probably die of frustration because it seems that
                African house boys feel that they have lost face if their Memsahibs do anything but the
                most gracious chores.

                George is absolutely marvellous. He is strong and gentle and awfully good
                looking too. He is about 5 ft 10 ins tall and very broad. He wears his curly brown hair cut
                very short and has a close clipped moustache. He has strongly marked eyebrows and
                very striking blue eyes which sometimes turn grey or green. His teeth are strong and
                even and he has a quiet voice.

                I expect all this sounds too good to be true, but come home quickly and see for
                yourself. George is off to East Africa in three weeks time to buy our farm. I shall follow as
                soon as he has bought it and we will be married in Dar es Salaam.

                Dad has taken George for a walk “to get to know him” and that’s why I have time
                to write such a long screed. They should be back any minute now and I must fly and
                apply a bit of glamour.

                Much love my dear,
                your jubilant

                S.S.Timavo. Durban. 28th.October. 1930.

                Dearest Family,
                Thank you for the lovely send off. I do wish you were all on board with me and
                could come and dance with me at my wedding. We are having a very comfortable
                voyage. There were only four of the passengers as far as Durban, all of them women,
                but I believe we are taking on more here. I have a most comfortable deck cabin to
                myself and the use of a sumptuous bathroom. No one is interested in deck games and I
                am having a lazy time, just sunbathing and reading.

                I sit at the Captain’s table and the meals are delicious – beautifully served. The
                butter for instance, is moulded into sprays of roses, most exquisitely done, and as for
                the ice-cream, I’ve never tasted anything like them.

                The meals are continental type and we have hors d’oeuvre in a great variety
                served on large round trays. The Italians souse theirs with oil, Ugh! We also of course
                get lots of spaghetti which I have some difficulty in eating. However this presents no
                problem to the Chief Engineer who sits opposite to me. He simply rolls it around his
                fork and somehow the spaghetti flows effortlessly from fork to mouth exactly like an
                ascending escalator. Wine is served at lunch and dinner – very mild and pleasant stuff.
                Of the women passengers the one i liked best was a young German widow
                from South west Africa who left the ship at East London to marry a man she had never
                met. She told me he owned a drapers shop and she was very happy at the prospect
                of starting a new life, as her previous marriage had ended tragically with the death of her
                husband and only child in an accident.

                I was most interested to see the bridegroom and stood at the rail beside the gay
                young widow when we docked at East London. I picked him out, without any difficulty,
                from the small group on the quay. He was a tall thin man in a smart grey suit and with a
                grey hat perched primly on his head. You can always tell from hats can’t you? I wasn’t
                surprised to see, when this German raised his head, that he looked just like the Kaiser’s
                “Little Willie”. Long thin nose and cold grey eyes and no smile of welcome on his tight
                mouth for the cheery little body beside me. I quite expected him to jerk his thumb and
                stalk off, expecting her to trot at his heel.

                However she went off blithely enough. Next day before the ship sailed, she
                was back and I saw her talking to the Captain. She began to cry and soon after the
                Captain patted her on the shoulder and escorted her to the gangway. Later the Captain
                told me that the girl had come to ask him to allow her to work her passage back to
                Germany where she had some relations. She had married the man the day before but
                she disliked him because he had deceived her by pretending that he owned a shop
                whereas he was only a window dresser. Bad show for both.

                The Captain and the Chief Engineer are the only officers who mix socially with
                the passengers. The captain seems rather a melancholy type with, I should say, no
                sense of humour. He speaks fair English with an American accent. He tells me that he
                was on the San Francisco run during Prohibition years in America and saw many Film
                Stars chiefly “under the influence” as they used to flock on board to drink. The Chief
                Engineer is big and fat and cheerful. His English is anything but fluent but he makes up
                for it in mime.

                I visited the relations and friends at Port Elizabeth and East London, and here at
                Durban. I stayed with the Trotters and Swans and enjoyed myself very much at both
                places. I have collected numerous wedding presents, china and cutlery, coffee
                percolator and ornaments, and where I shall pack all these things I don’t know. Everyone has been terribly kind and I feel extremely well and happy.

                At the start of the voyage I had a bit of bad luck. You will remember that a
                perfectly foul South Easter was blowing. Some men were busy working on a deck
                engine and I stopped to watch and a tiny fragment of steel blew into my eye. There is
                no doctor on board so the stewardess put some oil into the eye and bandaged it up.
                The eye grew more and more painful and inflamed and when when we reached Port
                Elizabeth the Captain asked the Port Doctor to look at it. The Doctor said it was a job for
                an eye specialist and telephoned from the ship to make an appointment. Luckily for me,
                Vincent Tofts turned up at the ship just then and took me off to the specialist and waited
                whilst he extracted the fragment with a giant magnet. The specialist said that I was very
                lucky as the thing just missed the pupil of my eye so my sight will not be affected. I was
                temporarily blinded by the Belladona the eye-man put in my eye so he fitted me with a
                pair of black goggles and Vincent escorted me back to the ship. Don’t worry the eye is
                now as good as ever and George will not have to take a one-eyed bride for better or

                I have one worry and that is that the ship is going to be very much overdue by
                the time we reach Dar es Salaam. She is taking on a big wool cargo and we were held
                up for three days in East london and have been here in Durban for five days.
                Today is the ninth Anniversary of the Fascist Movement and the ship was
                dressed with bunting and flags. I must now go and dress for the gala dinner.

                Bless you all,

                S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

                Dearest Family,

                Nearly there now. We called in at Lourenco Marques, Beira, Mozambique and
                Port Amelia. I was the only one of the original passengers left after Durban but there we
                took on a Mrs Croxford and her mother and two men passengers. Mrs C must have
                something, certainly not looks. She has a flat figure, heavily mascared eyes and crooked
                mouth thickly coated with lipstick. But her rather sweet old mother-black-pearls-type tells
                me they are worn out travelling around the world trying to shake off an admirer who
                pursues Mrs C everywhere.

                The one male passenger is very quiet and pleasant. The old lady tells me that he
                has recently lost his wife. The other passenger is a horribly bumptious type.
                I had my hair beautifully shingled at Lourenco Marques, but what an experience it
                was. Before we docked I asked the Captain whether he knew of a hairdresser, but he
                said he did not and would have to ask the agent when he came aboard. The agent was
                a very suave Asian. He said “Sure he did” and offered to take me in his car. I rather
                doubtfully agreed — such a swarthy gentleman — and was driven, not to a hairdressing
                establishment, but to his office. Then he spoke to someone on the telephone and in no
                time at all a most dago-y type arrived carrying a little black bag. He was all patent
                leather, hair, and flashing smile, and greeted me like an old and valued friend.
                Before I had collected my scattered wits tthe Agent had flung open a door and
                ushered me through, and I found myself seated before an ornate mirror in what was only
                too obviously a bedroom. It was a bedroom with a difference though. The unmade bed
                had no legs but hung from the ceiling on brass chains.

                The agent beamingly shut the door behind him and I was left with my imagination
                and the afore mentioned oily hairdresser. He however was very business like. Before I
                could say knife he had shingled my hair with a cut throat razor and then, before I could
                protest, had smothered my neck in stinking pink powder applied with an enormous and
                filthy swansdown powder puff. He held up a mirror for me to admire his handiwork but I
                was aware only of the enormous bed reflected in it, and hurriedly murmuring “very nice,
                very nice” I made my escape to the outer office where, to my relief, I found the Chief
                Engineer who escorted me back to the ship.

                In the afternoon Mrs Coxford and the old lady and I hired a taxi and went to the
                Polana Hotel for tea. Very swish but I like our Cape Peninsula beaches better.
                At Lorenco Marques we took on more passengers. The Governor of
                Portuguese Nyasaland and his wife and baby son. He was a large middle aged man,
                very friendly and unassuming and spoke perfect English. His wife was German and
                exquisite, as fragile looking and with the delicate colouring of a Dresden figurine. She
                looked about 18 but she told me she was 28 and showed me photographs of two
                other sons – hefty youngsters, whom she had left behind in Portugal and was missing
                very much.

                It was frightfully hot at Beira and as I had no money left I did not go up to the
                town, but Mrs Croxford and I spent a pleasant hour on the beach under the Casurina

                The Governor and his wife left the ship at Mozambique. He looked very
                imposing in his starched uniform and she more Dresden Sheperdish than ever in a
                flowered frock. There was a guard of honour and all the trimmings. They bade me a warm farewell and invited George and me to stay at any time.

                The German ship “Watussi” was anchored in the Bay and I decided to visit her
                and try and have my hair washed and set. I had no sooner stepped on board when a
                lady came up to me and said “Surely you are Beeba Leslie.” It was Mrs Egan and she
                had Molly with her. Considering Mrs Egan had not seen me since I was five I think it was
                jolly clever of her to recognise me. Molly is charming and was most friendly. She fixed
                things with the hairdresser and sat with me until the job was done. Afterwards I had tea
                with them.

                Port Amelia was our last stop. In fact the only person to go ashore was Mr
                Taylor, the unpleasant man, and he returned at sunset very drunk indeed.
                We reached Port Amelia on the 3rd – my birthday. The boat had anchored by
                the time I was dressed and when I went on deck I saw several row boats cluttered
                around the gangway and in them were natives with cages of wild birds for sale. Such tiny
                crowded cages. I was furious, you know me. I bought three cages, carried them out on
                to the open deck and released the birds. I expected them to fly to the land but they flew
                straight up into the rigging.

                The quiet male passenger wandered up and asked me what I was doing. I said
                “I’m giving myself a birthday treat, I hate to see caged birds.” So next thing there he
                was buying birds which he presented to me with “Happy Birthday.” I gladly set those
                birds free too and they joined the others in the rigging.

                Then a grinning steward came up with three more cages. “For the lady with
                compliments of the Captain.” They lost no time in joining their friends.
                It had given me so much pleasure to free the birds that I was only a little
                discouraged when the quiet man said thoughtfully “This should encourage those bird
                catchers you know, they are sold out. When evening came and we were due to sail I
                was sure those birds would fly home, but no, they are still there and they will probably
                remain until we dock at Dar es Salaam.

                During the morning the Captain came up and asked me what my Christian name
                is. He looked as grave as ever and I couldn’t think why it should interest him but said “the
                name is Eleanor.” That night at dinner there was a large iced cake in the centre of the
                table with “HELENA” in a delicate wreath of pink icing roses on the top. We had
                champagne and everyone congratulated me and wished me good luck in my marriage.
                A very nice gesture don’t you think. The unpleasant character had not put in an
                appearance at dinner which made the party all the nicer

                I sat up rather late in the lounge reading a book and by the time I went to bed
                there was not a soul around. I bathed and changed into my nighty,walked into my cabin,
                shed my dressing gown, and pottered around. When I was ready for bed I put out my
                hand to draw the curtains back and a hand grasped my wrist. It was that wretched
                creature outside my window on the deck, still very drunk. Luckily I was wearing that
                heavy lilac silk nighty. I was livid. “Let go at once”, I said, but he only grinned stupidly.
                “I’m not hurting you” he said, “only looking”. “I’ll ring for the steward” said I, and by
                stretching I managed to press the bell with my free hand. I rang and rang but no one
                came and he just giggled. Then I said furiously, “Remember this name, George
                Rushby, he is a fine boxer and he hates specimens like you. When he meets me at Dar
                es Salaam I shall tell him about this and I bet you will be sorry.” However he still held on
                so I turned and knocked hard on the adjoining wall which divided my cabin from Mrs
                Croxfords. Soon Mrs Croxford and the old lady appeared in dressing gowns . This
                seemed to amuse the drunk even more though he let go my wrist. So whilst the old
                lady stayed with me, Mrs C fetched the quiet passenger who soon hustled him off. He has kept out of my way ever since. However I still mean to tell George because I feel
                the fellow got off far too lightly. I reported the matter to the Captain but he just remarked
                that he always knew the man was low class because he never wears a jacket to meals.
                This is my last night on board and we again had free champagne and I was given
                some tooled leather work by the Captain and a pair of good paste earrings by the old
                lady. I have invited them and Mrs Croxford, the Chief Engineer, and the quiet
                passenger to the wedding.

                This may be my last night as Eleanor Leslie and I have spent this long while
                writing to you just as a little token of my affection and gratitude for all the years of your
                love and care. I shall post this letter on the ship and must turn now and get some beauty
                sleep. We have been told that we shall be in Dar es Salaam by 9 am. I am so excited
                that I shall not sleep.

                Very much love, and just for fun I’ll sign my full name for the last time.
                with my “bes respeks”,

                Eleanor Leslie.

                Eleanor and George Rushby:

                Eleanor and George Rushby

                Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

                Dearest Family,

                I’m writing this in the bedroom whilst George is out buying a tin trunk in which to
                pack all our wedding presents. I expect he will be gone a long time because he has
                gone out with Hicky Wood and, though our wedding was four days ago, it’s still an
                excuse for a party. People are all very cheery and friendly here.
                I am wearing only pants and slip but am still hot. One swelters here in the
                mornings, but a fresh sea breeze blows in the late afternoons and then Dar es Salaam is

                We arrived in Dar es Salaam harbour very early on Friday morning (7 th Nov).
                The previous night the Captain had said we might not reach Dar. until 9 am, and certainly
                no one would be allowed on board before 8 am. So I dawdled on the deck in my
                dressing gown and watched the green coastline and the islands slipping by. I stood on
                the deck outside my cabin and was not aware that I was looking out at the wrong side of
                the landlocked harbour. Quite unknown to me George and some friends, the Hickson
                Woods, were standing on the Gymkhana Beach on the opposite side of the channel
                anxiously scanning the ship for a sign of me. George says he had a horrible idea I had
                missed the ship. Blissfully unconscious of his anxiety I wandered into the bathroom
                prepared for a good soak. The anchor went down when I was in the bath and suddenly
                there was a sharp wrap on the door and I heard Mrs Croxford say “There’s a man in a
                boat outside. He is looking out for someone and I’m sure it’s your George. I flung on
                some clothes and rushed on deck with tousled hair and bare feet and it was George.
                We had a marvellous reunion. George was wearing shorts and bush shirt and
                looked just like the strong silent types one reads about in novels. I finished dressing then
                George helped me bundle all the wedding presents I had collected en route into my
                travelling rug and we went into the bar lounge to join the Hickson Woods. They are the
                couple from whom George bought the land which is to be our coffee farm Hicky-Wood
                was laughing when we joined them. he said he had called a chap to bring a couple of
                beers thinking he was the steward but it turned out to be the Captain. He does wear
                such a very plain uniform that I suppose it was easy to make the mistake, but Hicky
                says he was not amused.

                Anyway as the H-W’s are to be our neighbours I’d better describe them. Kath
                Wood is very attractive, dark Irish, with curly black hair and big brown eyes. She was
                married before to Viv Lumb a great friend of George’s who died some years ago of
                blackwater fever. They had one little girl, Maureen, and Kath and Hicky have a small son
                of three called Michael. Hicky is slightly below average height and very neat and dapper
                though well built. He is a great one for a party and good fun but George says he can be
                bad tempered.

                Anyway we all filed off the ship and Hicky and Cath went on to the hotel whilst
                George and I went through customs. Passing the customs was easy. Everyone
                seemed to know George and that it was his wedding day and I just sailed through,
                except for the little matter of the rug coming undone when George and I had to scramble
                on the floor for candlesticks and fruit knives and a wooden nut bowl.
                Outside the customs shed we were mobbed by a crowd of jabbering Africans
                offering their services as porters, and soon my luggage was piled in one rickshaw whilst
                George and I climbed into another and we were born smoothly away on rubber shod
                wheels to the Splendid Hotel. The motion was pleasing enough but it seemed weird to
                be pulled along by one human being whilst another pushed behind.  We turned up a street called Acacia Avenue which, as its name implies, is lined
                with flamboyant acacia trees now in the full glory of scarlet and gold. The rickshaw
                stopped before the Splendid Hotel and I was taken upstairs into a pleasant room which
                had its own private balcony overlooking the busy street.

                Here George broke the news that we were to be married in less than an hours
                time. He would have to dash off and change and then go straight to the church. I would
                be quite all right, Kath would be looking in and friends would fetch me.
                I started to dress and soon there was a tap at the door and Mrs Hickson-Wood
                came in with my bouquet. It was a lovely bunch of carnations and frangipani with lots of
                asparagus fern and it went well with my primrose yellow frock. She admired my frock
                and Leghorn hat and told me that her little girl Maureen was to be my flower girl. Then
                she too left for the church.

                I was fully dressed when there was another knock on the door and I opened it to
                be confronted by a Police Officer in a starched white uniform. I’m McCallum”, he said,
                “I’ve come to drive you to the church.” Downstairs he introduced me to a big man in a
                tussore silk suit. “This is Dr Shicore”, said McCallum, “He is going to give you away.”
                Honestly, I felt exactly like Alice in Wonderland. Wouldn’t have been at all surprised if
                the White Rabbit had popped up and said he was going to be my page.

                I walked out of the hotel and across the pavement in a dream and there, by the
                curb, was a big dark blue police car decorated with white ribbons and with a tall African
                Police Ascari holding the door open for me. I had hardly time to wonder what next when
                the car drew up before a tall German looking church. It was in fact the Lutheran Church in
                the days when Tanganyika was German East Africa.

                Mrs Hickson-Wood, very smart in mushroom coloured georgette and lace, and
                her small daughter were waiting in the porch, so in we went. I was glad to notice my
                friends from the boat sitting behind George’s friends who were all complete strangers to
                me. The aisle seemed very long but at last I reached George waiting in the chancel with
                Hicky-Wood, looking unfamiliar in a smart tussore suit. However this feeling of unreality
                passed when he turned his head and smiled at me.

                In the vestry after the ceremony I was kissed affectionately by several complete
                strangers and I felt happy and accepted by George’s friends. Outside the church,
                standing apart from the rest of the guests, the Italian Captain and Chief Engineer were
                waiting. They came up and kissed my hand, and murmured felicitations, but regretted
                they could not spare the time to come to the reception. Really it was just as well
                because they would not have fitted in at all well.

                Dr Shircore is the Director of Medical Services and he had very kindly lent his
                large house for the reception. It was quite a party. The guests were mainly men with a
                small sprinkling of wives. Champagne corks popped and there was an enormous cake
                and soon voices were raised in song. The chief one was ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’
                and I shall remember it for ever.

                The party was still in full swing when George and I left. The old lady from the ship
                enjoyed it hugely. She came in an all black outfit with a corsage of artificial Lily-of-the-
                Valley. Later I saw one of the men wearing the corsage in his buttonhole and the old
                lady was wearing a carnation.

                When George and I got back to the hotel,I found that my luggage had been
                moved to George’s room by his cook Lamek, who was squatting on his haunches and
                clapped his hands in greeting. My dears, you should see Lamek – exactly like a
                chimpanzee – receding forehead, wide flat nose, and long lip, and such splayed feet. It was quite a strain not to laugh, especially when he produced a gift for me. I have not yet
                discovered where he acquired it. It was a faded mauve straw toque of the kind worn by
                Queen Mary. I asked George to tell Lamek that I was touched by his generosity but felt
                that I could not accept his gift. He did not mind at all especially as George gave him a
                generous tip there and then.

                I changed into a cotton frock and shady straw hat and George changed into shorts
                and bush shirt once more. We then sneaked into the dining room for lunch avoiding our
                wedding guests who were carrying on the party in the lounge.

                After lunch we rejoined them and they all came down to the jetty to wave goodbye
                as we set out by motor launch for Honeymoon Island. I enjoyed the launch trip very
                much. The sea was calm and very blue and the palm fringed beaches of Dar es Salaam
                are as romantic as any bride could wish. There are small coral islands dotted around the
                Bay of which Honeymoon Island is the loveliest. I believe at one time it bore the less
                romantic name of Quarantine Island. Near the Island, in the shallows, the sea is brilliant
                green and I saw two pink jellyfish drifting by.

                There is no jetty on the island so the boat was stopped in shallow water and
                George carried me ashore. I was enchanted with the Island and in no hurry to go to the
                bungalow, so George and I took our bathing costumes from our suitcases and sent the
                luggage up to the house together with a box of provisions.

                We bathed and lazed on the beach and suddenly it was sunset and it began to
                get dark. We walked up the beach to the bungalow and began to unpack the stores,
                tea, sugar, condensed milk, bread and butter, sardines and a large tin of ham. There
                were also cups and saucers and plates and cutlery.

                We decided to have an early meal and George called out to the caretaker, “Boy
                letta chai”. Thereupon the ‘boy’ materialised and jabbered to George in Ki-Swaheli. It
                appeared he had no utensil in which to boil water. George, ever resourceful, removed
                the ham from the tin and gave him that. We had our tea all right but next day the ham
                was bad.

                Then came bed time. I took a hurricane lamp in one hand and my suitcase in the
                other and wandered into the bedroom whilst George vanished into the bathroom. To
                my astonishment I saw two perfectly bare iron bedsteads – no mattress or pillows. We
                had brought sheets and mosquito nets but, believe me, they are a poor substitute for a

                Anyway I arrayed myself in my pale yellow satin nightie and sat gingerly down
                on the iron edge of the bed to await my groom who eventually appeared in a
                handsome suit of silk pyjamas. His expression, as he took in the situation, was too much
                for me and I burst out laughing and so did he.

                Somewhere in the small hours I woke up. The breeze had dropped and the
                room was unbearably stuffy. I felt as dry as a bone. The lamp had been turned very
                low and had gone out, but I remembered seeing a water tank in the yard and I decided
                to go out in the dark and drink from the tap. In the dark I could not find my slippers so I
                slipped my feet into George’s shoes, picked up his matches and groped my way out
                of the room. I found the tank all right and with one hand on the tap and one cupped for
                water I stooped to drink. Just then I heard a scratchy noise and sensed movements
                around my feet. I struck a match and oh horrors! found that the damp spot on which I was
                standing was alive with white crabs. In my hurry to escape I took a clumsy step, put
                George’s big toe on the hem of my nightie and down I went on top of the crabs. I need
                hardly say that George was awakened by an appalling shriek and came rushing to my
                aid like a knight of old.  Anyway, alarms and excursions not withstanding, we had a wonderful weekend on the island and I was sorry to return to the heat of Dar es Salaam, though the evenings
                here are lovely and it is heavenly driving along the coast road by car or in a rickshaw.
                I was surprised to find so many Indians here. Most of the shops, large and small,
                seem to be owned by Indians and the place teems with them. The women wear
                colourful saris and their hair in long black plaits reaching to their waists. Many wear baggy
                trousers of silk or satin. They give a carnival air to the sea front towards sunset.
                This long letter has been written in instalments throughout the day. My first break
                was when I heard the sound of a band and rushed to the balcony in time to see The
                Kings African Rifles band and Askaris march down the Avenue on their way to an
                Armistice Memorial Service. They looked magnificent.

                I must end on a note of most primitive pride. George returned from his shopping
                expedition and beamingly informed me that he had thrashed the man who annoyed me
                on the ship. I felt extremely delighted and pressed for details. George told me that
                when he went out shopping he noticed to his surprise that the ‘Timavo” was still in the
                harbour. He went across to the Agents office and there saw a man who answered to the
                description I had given. George said to him “Is your name Taylor?”, and when he said
                “yes”, George said “Well my name is George Rushby”, whereupon he hit Taylor on the
                jaw so that he sailed over the counter and down the other side. Very satisfactory, I feel.
                With much love to all.

                Your cave woman

                Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

                Dearest Family,

                Well here we are at our Country Seat, Mchewe Estate. (pronounced
                Mn,-che’-we) but I will start at the beginning of our journey and describe the farm later.
                We left the hotel at Dar es Salaam for the station in a taxi crowded with baggage
                and at the last moment Keith Wood ran out with the unwrapped bottom layer of our
                wedding cake. It remained in its naked state from there to here travelling for two days in
                the train on the luggage rack, four days in the car on my knee, reposing at night on the
                roof of the car exposed to the winds of Heaven, and now rests beside me in the tent
                looking like an old old tombstone. We have no tin large enough to hold it and one
                simply can’t throw away ones wedding cake so, as George does not eat cake, I can see
                myself eating wedding cake for tea for months to come, ants permitting.

                We travelled up by train from Dar to Dodoma, first through the lush vegetation of
                the coastal belt to Morogoro, then through sisal plantations now very overgrown with
                weeds owing to the slump in prices, and then on to the arid area around Dodoma. This
                part of the country is very dry at this time of the year and not unlike parts of our Karoo.
                The train journey was comfortable enough but slow as the engines here are fed with
                wood and not coal as in South Africa.

                Dodoma is the nearest point on the railway to Mbeya so we left the train there to
                continue our journey by road. We arrived at the one and only hotel in the early hours and
                whilst someone went to rout out the night watchman the rest of us sat on the dismal
                verandah amongst a litter of broken glass. Some bright spark remarked on the obvious –
                that there had been a party the night before.

                When we were shown to a room I thought I rather preferred the verandah,
                because the beds had not yet been made up and there was a bucket of vomit beside
                the old fashioned washstand. However George soon got the boys to clean up the
                room and I fell asleep to be awakened by George with an invitation to come and see
                our car before breakfast.

                Yes, we have our own car. It is a Chev, with what is called a box body. That
                means that sides, roof and doors are made by a local Indian carpenter. There is just the
                one front seat with a kapok mattress on it. The tools are kept in a sort of cupboard fixed
                to the side so there is a big space for carrying “safari kit” behind the cab seat.
                Lamek, who had travelled up on the same train, appeared after breakfast, and
                helped George to pack all our luggage into the back of the car. Besides our suitcases
                there was a huge bedroll, kitchen utensils and a box of provisions, tins of petrol and
                water and all Lamek’s bits and pieces which included three chickens in a wicker cage and
                an enormous bunch of bananas about 3 ft long.

                When all theses things were packed there remained only a small space between
                goods and ceiling and into this Lamek squeezed. He lay on his back with his horny feet a
                mere inch or so from the back of my head. In this way we travelled 400 miles over
                bumpy earth roads and crude pole bridges, but whenever we stopped for a meal
                Lamek wriggled out and, like Aladdin’s genie, produced good meals in no time at all.
                In the afternoon we reached a large river called the Ruaha. Workmen were busy
                building a large bridge across it but it is not yet ready so we crossed by a ford below
                the bridge. George told me that the river was full of crocodiles but though I looked hard, I
                did not see any. This is also elephant country but I did not see any of those either, only
                piles of droppings on the road. I must tell you that the natives around these parts are called Wahehe and the river is Ruaha – enough to make a cat laugh. We saw some Wahehe out hunting with spears
                and bows and arrows. They live in long low houses with the tiniest shuttered windows
                and rounded roofs covered with earth.

                Near the river we also saw a few Masai herding cattle. They are rather terrifying to
                look at – tall, angular, and very aloof. They wear nothing but a blanket knotted on one
                shoulder, concealing nothing, and all carried one or two spears.
                The road climbs steeply on the far side of the Ruaha and one has the most
                tremendous views over the plains. We spent our first night up there in the high country.
                Everything was taken out of the car, the bed roll opened up and George and I slept
                comfortably in the back of the car whilst Lamek, rolled in a blanket, slept soundly by a
                small fire nearby. Next morning we reached our first township, Iringa, and put up at the
                Colonist Hotel. We had a comfortable room in the annex overlooking the golf course.
                our room had its own little dressing room which was also the bathroom because, when
                ordered to do so, the room boy carried in an oval galvanised bath and filled it with hot
                water which he carried in a four gallon petrol tin.

                When we crossed to the main building for lunch, George was immediately hailed
                by several men who wanted to meet the bride. I was paid some handsome
                compliments but was not sure whether they were sincere or the result of a nice alcoholic
                glow. Anyhow every one was very friendly.

                After lunch I went back to the bedroom leaving George chatting away. I waited and
                waited – no George. I got awfully tired of waiting and thought I’d give him a fright so I
                walked out onto the deserted golf course and hid behind some large boulders. Soon I
                saw George returning to the room and the boy followed with a tea tray. Ah, now the hue
                and cry will start, thought I, but no, no George appeared nor could I hear any despairing
                cry. When sunset came I trailed crossly back to our hotel room where George lay
                innocently asleep on his bed, hands folded on his chest like a crusader on his tomb. In a
                moment he opened his eyes, smiled sleepily and said kindly, “Did you have a nice walk
                my love?” So of course I couldn’t play the neglected wife as he obviously didn’t think
                me one and we had a very pleasant dinner and party in the hotel that evening.
                Next day we continued our journey but turned aside to visit the farm of a sprightly
                old man named St.Leger Seaton whom George had known for many years, so it was
                after dark before George decided that we had covered our quota of miles for the day.
                Whilst he and Lamek unpacked I wandered off to a stream to cool my hot feet which had
                baked all day on the floor boards of the car. In the rather dim moonlight I sat down on the
                grassy bank and gratefully dabbled my feet in the cold water. A few minutes later I
                started up with a shriek – I had the sensation of red hot pins being dug into all my most
                sensitive parts. I started clawing my clothes off and, by the time George came to the
                rescue with the lamp, I was practically in the nude. “Only Siafu ants,” said George calmly.
                Take off all your clothes and get right in the water.” So I had a bathe whilst George
                picked the ants off my clothes by the light of the lamp turned very low for modesty’s
                sake. Siafu ants are beastly things. They are black ants with outsized heads and
                pinchers. I shall be very, very careful where I sit in future.

                The next day was even hotter. There was no great variety in the scenery. Most
                of the country was covered by a tree called Miombo, which is very ordinary when the
                foliage is a mature deep green, but when in new leaf the trees look absolutely beautiful
                as the leaves,surprisingly, are soft pastel shades of red and yellow.

                Once again we turned aside from the main road to visit one of George’s friends.
                This man Major Hugh Jones MC, has a farm only a few miles from ours but just now he is supervising the making of an airstrip. Major Jones is quite a character. He is below
                average height and skinny with an almost bald head and one nearly blind eye into which
                he screws a monocle. He is a cultured person and will, I am sure, make an interesting
                neighbour. George and Major Jones’ friends call him ‘Joni’ but he is generally known in
                this country as ‘Ropesoles’ – as he is partial to that type of footwear.
                We passed through Mbeya township after dark so I have no idea what the place
                is like. The last 100 miles of our journey was very dusty and the last 15 miles extremely
                bumpy. The road is used so little that in some places we had to plow our way through
                long grass and I was delighted when at last George turned into a side road and said
                “This is our place.” We drove along the bank of the Mchewe River, then up a hill and
                stopped at a tent which was pitched beside the half built walls of our new home. We
                were expected so there was hot water for baths and after a supper of tinned food and
                good hot tea, I climbed thankfully into bed.

                Next morning I was awakened by the chattering of the African workmen and was
                soon out to inspect the new surroundings. Our farm was once part of Hickson Wood’s
                land and is separated from theirs by a river. Our houses cannot be more than a few
                hundred yards apart as the crow flies but as both are built on the slopes of a long range
                of high hills, and one can only cross the river at the foot of the slopes, it will be quite a
                safari to go visiting on foot . Most of our land is covered with shoulder high grass but it
                has been partly cleared of trees and scrub. Down by the river George has made a long
                coffee nursery and a large vegetable garden but both coffee and vegetable seedlings
                are too small to be of use.

                George has spared all the trees that will make good shade for the coffee later on.
                There are several huge wild fig trees as big as oaks but with smooth silvery-green trunks
                and branches and there are lots of acacia thorn trees with flat tops like Japanese sun
                shades. I’ve seen lovely birds in the fig trees, Louries with bright plumage and crested
                heads, and Blue Rollers, and in the grasslands there are widow birds with incredibly long
                black tail feathers.

                There are monkeys too and horrible but fascinating tree lizards with blue bodies
                and orange heads. There are so many, many things to tell you but they must wait for
                another time as James, the house boy, has been to say “Bafu tiari” and if I don’t go at
                once, the bath will be cold.

                I am very very happy and terribly interested in this new life so please don’t
                worry about me.

                Much love to you all,

                Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

                Dearest Family,

                I’ve lots of time to write letters just now because George is busy supervising the
                building of the house from early morning to late afternoon – with a break for lunch of

                On our second day here our tent was moved from the house site to a small
                clearing further down the slope of our hill. Next to it the labourers built a ‘banda’ , which is
                a three sided grass hut with thatched roof – much cooler than the tent in this weather.
                There is also a little grass lav. so you see we have every convenience. I spend most of
                my day in the banda reading or writing letters. Occasionally I wander up to the house site
                and watch the building, but mostly I just sit.

                I did try exploring once. I wandered down a narrow path towards the river. I
                thought I might paddle and explore the river a little but I came round a bend and there,
                facing me, was a crocodile. At least for a moment I thought it was and my adrenaline
                glands got very busy indeed. But it was only an enormous monitor lizard, four or five
                feet long. It must have been as scared as I was because it turned and rushed off through
                the grass. I turned and walked hastily back to the camp and as I passed the house site I
                saw some boys killing a large puff adder. Now I do my walking in the evenings with
                George. Nothing alarming ever seems to happen when he is around.

                It is interesting to watch the boys making bricks for the house. They make a pile
                of mud which they trample with their feet until it is the right consistency. Then they fill
                wooden moulds with the clayey mud, and press it down well and turn out beautiful shiny,
                dark brown bricks which are laid out in rows and covered with grass to bake slowly in the

                Most of the materials for the building are right here at hand. The walls will be sun
                dried bricks and there is a white clay which will make a good whitewash for the inside
                walls. The chimney and walls will be of burnt brick and tiles and George is now busy
                building a kiln for this purpose. Poles for the roof are being cut in the hills behind the
                house and every day women come along with large bundles of thatching grass on their
                heads. Our windows are modern steel casement ones and the doors have been made
                at a mission in the district. George does some of the bricklaying himself. The other
                bricklayer is an African from Northern Rhodesia called Pedro. It makes me perspire just
                to look at Pedro who wears an overcoat all day in the very hot sun.
                Lamek continues to please. He turns out excellent meals, chicken soup followed
                by roast chicken, vegetables from the Hickson-Woods garden and a steamed pudding
                or fruit to wind up the meal. I enjoy the chicken but George is fed up with it and longs for
                good red meat. The chickens are only about as large as a partridge but then they cost
                only sixpence each.

                I had my first visit to Mbeya two days ago. I put on my very best trousseau frock
                for the occasion- that yellow striped silk one – and wore my wedding hat. George didn’t
                comment, but I saw later that I was dreadfully overdressed.
                Mbeya at the moment is a very small settlement consisting of a bundle of small
                Indian shops – Dukas they call them, which stock European tinned foods and native soft
                goods which seem to be mainly of Japanese origin. There is a one storied Government
                office called the Boma and two attractive gabled houses of burnt brick which house the
                District Officer and his Assistant. Both these houses have lovely gardens but i saw them
                only from the outside as we did not call. After buying our stores George said “Lets go to the pub, I want you to meet Mrs Menzies.” Well the pub turned out to be just three or four grass rondavels on a bare
                plot. The proprietor, Ken Menzies, came out to welcome us. I took to him at once
                because he has the same bush sandy eyebrows as you have Dad. He told me that
                unfortunately his wife is away at the coast, and then he ushered me through the door
                saying “Here’s George with his bride.” then followed the Iringa welcome all over again,
                only more so, because the room was full of diggers from the Lupa Goldfields about fifty
                miles away.

                Champagne corks popped as I shook hands all around and George was
                clapped on the back. I could see he was a favourite with everyone and I tried not to be
                gauche and let him down. These men were all most kind and most appeared to be men
                of more than average education. However several were unshaven and looked as
                though they had slept in their clothes as I suppose they had. When they have a little luck
                on the diggings they come in here to Menzies pub and spend the lot. George says
                they bring their gold dust and small nuggets in tobacco tins or Kruschen salts jars and
                hand them over to Ken Menzies saying “Tell me when I’ve spent the lot.” Ken then
                weighs the gold and estimates its value and does exactly what the digger wants.
                However the Diggers get good value for their money because besides the drink
                they get companionship and good food and nursing if they need it. Mrs Menzies is a
                trained nurse and most kind and capable from what I was told. There is no doctor or
                hospital here so her experience as a nursing sister is invaluable.
                We had lunch at the Hotel and afterwards I poured tea as I was the only female
                present. Once the shyness had worn off I rather enjoyed myself.

                Now to end off I must tell you a funny story of how I found out that George likes
                his women to be feminine. You will remember those dashing black silk pyjamas Aunt
                Mary gave me, with flowered “happy coat” to match. Well last night I thought I’d give
                George a treat and when the boy called me for my bath I left George in the ‘banda’
                reading the London Times. After my bath I put on my Japanese pyjamas and coat,
                peered into the shaving mirror which hangs from the tent pole and brushed my hair until it
                shone. I must confess that with my fringe and shingled hair I thought I made quite a
                glamourous Japanese girl. I walked coyly across to the ‘banda’. Alas no compliment.
                George just glanced up from the Times and went on reading.
                He was away rather a long time when it came to his turn to bath. I glanced up
                when he came back and had a slight concussion. George, if you please, was arrayed in
                my very best pale yellow satin nightie. The one with the lace and ribbon sash and little
                bows on the shoulder. I knew exactly what he meant to convey. I was not to wear the
                trousers in the family. I seethed inwardly, but pretending not to notice, I said calmly “shall
                I call for food?” In this garb George sat down to dinner and it says a great deal for African
                phlegm that the boy did not drop the dishes.

                We conversed politely about this and that, and then, as usual, George went off
                to bed. I appeared to be engrossed in my book and did not stir. When I went to the
                tent some time later George lay fast asleep still in my nightie, though all I could see of it
                was the little ribbon bows looking farcically out of place on his broad shoulders.
                This morning neither of us mentioned the incident, George was up and dressed
                by the time I woke up but I have been smiling all day to think what a ridiculous picture
                we made at dinner. So farewell to pyjamas and hey for ribbons and bows.

                Your loving

                Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

                Dearest Family,

                A mere shadow of her former buxom self lifts a languid pen to write to you. I’m
                convalescing after my first and I hope my last attack of malaria. It was a beastly
                experience but all is now well and I am eating like a horse and will soon regain my

                I took ill on the evening of the day I wrote my last letter to you. It started with a
                splitting headache and fits of shivering. The symptoms were all too familiar to George
                who got me into bed and filled me up with quinine. He then piled on all the available
                blankets and packed me in hot water bottles. I thought I’d explode and said so and
                George said just to lie still and I’d soon break into a good sweat. However nothing of the
                kind happened and next day my temperature was 105 degrees. Instead of feeling
                miserable as I had done at the onset, I now felt very merry and most chatty. George
                now tells me I sang the most bawdy songs but I hardly think it likely. Do you?
                You cannot imagine how tenderly George nursed me, not only that day but
                throughout the whole eight days I was ill. As we do not employ any African house
                women, and there are no white women in the neighbourhood at present to whom we
                could appeal for help, George had to do everything for me. It was unbearably hot in the
                tent so George decided to move me across to the Hickson-Woods vacant house. They
                have not yet returned from the coast.

                George decided I was too weak to make the trip in the car so he sent a
                messenger over to the Woods’ house for their Machila. A Machila is a canopied canvas
                hammock slung from a bamboo pole and carried by four bearers. The Machila duly
                arrived and I attempted to walk to it, clinging to George’s arm, but collapsed in a faint so
                the trip was postponed to the next morning when I felt rather better. Being carried by
                Machila is quite pleasant but I was in no shape to enjoy anything and got thankfully into
                bed in the Hickson-Woods large, cool and rather dark bedroom. My condition did not
                improve and George decided to send a runner for the Government Doctor at Tukuyu
                about 60 miles away. Two days later Dr Theis arrived by car and gave me two
                injections of quinine which reduced the fever. However I still felt very weak and had to
                spend a further four days in bed.

                We have now decided to stay on here until the Hickson-Woods return by which
                time our own house should be ready. George goes off each morning and does not
                return until late afternoon. However don’t think “poor Eleanor” because I am very
                comfortable here and there are lots of books to read and the days seem to pass very

                The Hickson-Wood’s house was built by Major Jones and I believe the one on
                his shamba is just like it. It is a square red brick building with a wide verandah all around
                and, rather astonishingly, a conical thatched roof. There is a beautiful view from the front
                of the house and a nice flower garden. The coffee shamba is lower down on the hill.
                Mrs Wood’s first husband, George’s friend Vi Lumb, is buried in the flower
                garden. He died of blackwater fever about five years ago. I’m told that before her
                second marriage Kath lived here alone with her little daughter, Maureen, and ran the farm
                entirely on her own. She must be quite a person. I bet she didn’t go and get malaria
                within a few weeks of her marriage.

                The native tribe around here are called Wasafwa. They are pretty primitive but
                seem amiable people. Most of the men, when they start work, wear nothing but some
                kind of sheet of unbleached calico wrapped round their waists and hanging to mid calf. As soon as they have drawn their wages they go off to a duka and buy a pair of khaki
                shorts for five or six shillings. Their women folk wear very short beaded skirts. I think the
                base is goat skin but have never got close enough for a good look. They are very shy.
                I hear from George that they have started on the roof of our house but I have not
                seen it myself since the day I was carried here by Machila. My letters by the way go to
                the Post Office by runner. George’s farm labourers take it in turn to act in this capacity.
                The mail bag is given to them on Friday afternoon and by Saturday evening they are
                back with our very welcome mail.

                Very much love,

                Mbeya 23rd December 1930

                Dearest Family,

                George drove to Mbeya for stores last week and met Col. Sherwood-Kelly VC.
                who has been sent by the Government to Mbeya as Game Ranger. His job will be to
                protect native crops from raiding elephants and hippo etc., and to protect game from
                poachers. He has had no training for this so he has asked George to go with him on his
                first elephant safari to show him the ropes.

                George likes Col. Kelly and was quite willing to go on safari but not willing to
                leave me alone on the farm as I am still rather shaky after malaria. So it was arranged that
                I should go to Mbeya and stay with Mrs Harmer, the wife of the newly appointed Lands
                and Mines Officer, whose husband was away on safari.

                So here I am in Mbeya staying in the Harmers temporary wattle and daub
                house. Unfortunately I had a relapse of the malaria and stayed in bed for three days with
                a temperature. Poor Mrs Harmer had her hands full because in the room next to mine
                she was nursing a digger with blackwater fever. I could hear his delirious babble through
                the thin wall – very distressing. He died poor fellow , and leaves a wife and seven

                I feel better than I have done for weeks and this afternoon I walked down to the
                store. There are great signs of activity and people say that Mbeya will grow rapidly now
                owing to the boom on the gold fields and also to the fact that a large aerodrome is to be
                built here. Mbeya is to be a night stop on the proposed air service between England
                and South Africa. I seem to be the last of the pioneers. If all these schemes come about
                Mbeya will become quite suburban.

                26th December 1930

                George, Col. Kelly and Mr Harmer all returned to Mbeya on Christmas Eve and
                it was decided that we should stay and have midday Christmas dinner with the
                Harmers. Col. Kelly and the Assistant District Commissioner came too and it was quite a
                festive occasion, We left Mbeya in the early afternoon and had our evening meal here at
                Hickson-Wood’s farm. I wore my wedding dress.

                I went across to our house in the car this morning. George usually walks across to
                save petrol which is very expensive here. He takes a short cut and wades through the
                river. The distance by road is very much longer than the short cut. The men are now
                thatching the roof of our cottage and it looks charming. It consists of a very large living
                room-dinning room with a large inglenook fireplace at one end. The bedroom is a large
                square room with a smaller verandah room adjoining it. There is a wide verandah in the
                front, from which one has a glorious view over a wide valley to the Livingstone
                Mountains on the horizon. Bathroom and storeroom are on the back verandah and the
                kitchen is some distance behind the house to minimise the risk of fire.

                You can imagine how much I am looking forward to moving in. We have some
                furniture which was made by an Indian carpenter at Iringa, refrectory dining table and
                chairs, some small tables and two armchairs and two cupboards and a meatsafe. Other
                things like bookshelves and extra cupboards we will have to make ourselves. George
                has also bought a portable gramophone and records which will be a boon.
                We also have an Irish wolfhound puppy, a skinny little chap with enormous feet
                who keeps me company all day whilst George is across at our farm working on the

                Lots and lots of love,

                Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

                Dearest Family,

                Alas, I have lost my little companion. The Doctor called in here on Boxing night
                and ran over and killed Paddy, our pup. It was not his fault but I was very distressed
                about it and George has promised to try and get another pup from the same litter.
                The Hickson-Woods returned home on the 29th December so we decided to
                move across to our nearly finished house on the 1st January. Hicky Wood decided that
                we needed something special to mark the occasion so he went off and killed a sucking
                pig behind the kitchen. The piglet’s screams were terrible and I felt that I would not be
                able to touch any dinner. Lamek cooked and served sucking pig up in the traditional way
                but it was high and quite literally, it stank. Our first meal in our own home was not a

                However next day all was forgotten and I had something useful to do. George
                hung doors and I held the tools and I also planted rose cuttings I had brought from
                Mbeya and sowed several boxes with seeds.

                Dad asked me about the other farms in the area. I haven’t visited any but there
                are five besides ours. One belongs to the Lutheran Mission at Utengule, a few miles
                from here. The others all belong to British owners. Nearest to Mbeya, at the foot of a
                very high peak which gives Mbeya its name, are two farms, one belonging to a South
                African mining engineer named Griffiths, the other to I.G.Stewart who was an officer in the
                Kings African Rifles. Stewart has a young woman called Queenie living with him. We are
                some miles further along the range of hills and are some 23 miles from Mbeya by road.
                The Mchewe River divides our land from the Hickson-Woods and beyond their farm is
                Major Jones.

                All these people have been away from their farms for some time but have now
                returned so we will have some neighbours in future. However although the houses are
                not far apart as the crow flies, they are all built high in the foothills and it is impossible to
                connect the houses because of the rivers and gorges in between. One has to drive right
                down to the main road and then up again so I do not suppose we will go visiting very
                often as the roads are very bumpy and eroded and petrol is so expensive that we all
                save it for occasional trips to Mbeya.

                The rains are on and George has started to plant out some coffee seedlings. The
                rains here are strange. One can hear the rain coming as it moves like a curtain along the
                range of hills. It comes suddenly, pours for a little while and passes on and the sun
                shines again.

                I do like it here and I wish you could see or dear little home.

                Your loving,

                Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

                Dearest Family,

                Everything is now running very smoothly in our home. Lamek continues to
                produce palatable meals and makes wonderful bread which he bakes in a four gallon
                petrol tin as we have no stove yet. He puts wood coals on the brick floor of the kitchen,
                lays the tin lengh-wise on the coals and heaps more on top. The bread tins are then put
                in the petrol tin, which has one end cut away, and the open end is covered by a flat
                piece of tin held in place by a brick. Cakes are also backed in this make-shift oven and I
                have never known Lamek to have a failure yet.

                Lamek has a helper, known as the ‘mpishi boy’ , who does most of the hard
                work, cleans pots and pans and chops the firewood etc. Another of the mpishi boy’s
                chores is to kill the two chickens we eat each day. The chickens run wild during the day
                but are herded into a small chicken house at night. One of the kitchen boy’s first duties is
                to let the chickens out first thing in the early morning. Some time after breakfast it dawns
                on Lamek that he will need a chicken for lunch. he informs the kitchen boy who selects a
                chicken and starts to chase it in which he is enthusiastically joined by our new Irish
                wolfhound pup, Kelly. Together they race after the frantic fowl, over the flower beds and
                around the house until finally the chicken collapses from sheer exhaustion. The kitchen
                boy then hands it over to Lamek who murders it with the kitchen knife and then pops the
                corpse into boiling water so the feathers can be stripped off with ease.

                I pointed out in vain, that it would be far simpler if the doomed chickens were kept
                in the chicken house in the mornings when the others were let out and also that the correct
                way to pluck chickens is when they are dry. Lamek just smiled kindly and said that that
                may be so in Europe but that his way is the African way and none of his previous
                Memsahibs has complained.

                My houseboy, named James, is clean and capable in the house and also a
                good ‘dhobi’ or washboy. He takes the washing down to the river and probably
                pounds it with stones, but I prefer not to look. The ironing is done with a charcoal iron
                only we have no charcoal and he uses bits of wood from the kitchen fire but so far there
                has not been a mishap.

                It gets dark here soon after sunset and then George lights the oil lamps and we
                have tea and toast in front of the log fire which burns brightly in our inglenook. This is my
                favourite hour of the day. Later George goes for his bath. I have mine in the mornings
                and we have dinner at half past eight. Then we talk a bit and read a bit and sometimes
                play the gramophone. I expect it all sounds pretty unexciting but it doesn’t seem so to

                Very much love,

                Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

                Dearest Family,

                It is still raining here and the countryside looks very lush and green, very different
                from the Mbeya district I first knew, when plains and hills were covered in long brown
                grass – very course stuff that grows shoulder high.

                Most of the labourers are hill men and one can see little patches of cultivation in
                the hills. Others live in small villages near by, each consisting of a cluster of thatched huts
                and a few maize fields and perhaps a patch of bananas. We do not have labour lines on
                the farm because our men all live within easy walking distance. Each worker has a labour
                card with thirty little squares on it. One of these squares is crossed off for each days work
                and when all thirty are marked in this way the labourer draws his pay and hies himself off
                to the nearest small store and blows the lot. The card system is necessary because
                these Africans are by no means slaves to work. They work only when they feel like it or
                when someone in the family requires a new garment, or when they need a few shillings
                to pay their annual tax. Their fields, chickens and goats provide them with the food they
                need but they draw rations of maize meal beans and salt. Only our headman is on a
                salary. His name is Thomas and he looks exactly like the statues of Julius Caesar, the
                same bald head and muscular neck and sardonic expression. He comes from Northern
                Rhodesia and is more intelligent than the locals.

                We still live mainly on chickens. We have a boy whose job it is to scour the
                countryside for reasonable fat ones. His name is Lucas and he is quite a character. He
                has such long horse teeth that he does not seem able to close his mouth and wears a
                perpetual amiable smile. He brings his chickens in beehive shaped wicker baskets
                which are suspended on a pole which Lucas carries on his shoulder.

                We buy our groceries in bulk from Mbeya, our vegetables come from our
                garden by the river and our butter from Kath Wood. Our fresh milk we buy from the
                natives. It is brought each morning by three little totos each carrying one bottle on his
                shaven head. Did I tell you that the local Wasafwa file their teeth to points. These kids
                grin at one with their little sharks teeth – quite an “all-ready-to-eat-you-with-my-dear” look.
                A few nights ago a message arrived from Kath Wood to say that Queenie
                Stewart was very ill and would George drive her across to the Doctor at Tukuyu. I
                wanted George to wait until morning because it was pouring with rain, and the mountain
                road to Tukuyu is tricky even in dry weather, but he said it is dangerous to delay with any
                kind of fever in Africa and he would have to start at once. So off he drove in the rain and I
                did not see him again until the following night.

                George said that it had been a nightmare trip. Queenie had a high temperature
                and it was lucky that Kath was able to go to attend to her. George needed all his
                attention on the road which was officially closed to traffic, and very slippery, and in some
                places badly eroded. In some places the decking of bridges had been removed and
                George had to get out in the rain and replace it. As he had nothing with which to fasten
                the decking to the runners it was a dangerous undertaking to cross the bridges especially
                as the rivers are now in flood and flowing strongly. However they reached Tukuyu safely
                and it was just as well they went because the Doctor diagnosed Queenies illness as
                Spirillium Tick Fever which is a very nasty illness indeed.


                Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

                Dear Family,

                I’m feeling fit and very happy though a bit lonely sometimes because George
                spends much of his time away in the hills cutting a furrow miles long to bring water to the
                house and to the upper part of the shamba so that he will be able to irrigate the coffee
                during the dry season.

                It will be quite an engineering feat when it is done as George only has makeshift
                surveying instruments. He has mounted an ordinary cheap spirit level on an old camera
                tripod and has tacked two gramophone needles into the spirit level to give him a line.
                The other day part of a bank gave way and practically buried two of George’s labourers
                but they were quickly rescued and no harm was done. However he will not let them
                work unless he is there to supervise.

                I keep busy so that the days pass quickly enough. I am delighted with the
                material you sent me for curtains and loose covers and have hired a hand sewing
                machine from Pedro-of-the-overcoat and am rattling away all day. The machine is an
                ancient German one and when I say rattle, I mean rattle. It is a most cumbersome, heavy
                affair of I should say, the same vintage as George Stevenson’s Rocket locomotive.
                Anyway it sews and I am pleased with my efforts. We made a couch ourselves out of a
                native bed, a mattress and some planks but all this is hidden under the chintz cover and
                it looks quite the genuine bought article. I have some diversions too. Small black faced
                monkeys sit in the trees outside our bedroom window and they are most entertaining to
                watch. They are very mischievous though. When I went out into the garden this morning
                before breakfast I found that the monkeys had pulled up all my carnations. There they
                lay, roots in the air and whether they will take again I don’t know.

                I like the monkeys but hate the big mountain baboons that come and hang
                around our chicken house. I am terrified that they will tear our pup into bits because he is
                a plucky young thing and will rush out to bark at the baboons.

                George usually returns for the weekends but last time he did not because he had
                a touch of malaria. He sent a boy down for the mail and some fresh bread. Old Lucas
                arrived with chickens just as the messenger was setting off with mail and bread in a
                haversack on his back. I thought it might be a good idea to send a chicken to George so
                I selected a spry young rooster which I handed to the messenger. He, however,
                complained that he needed both hands for climbing. I then had one of my bright ideas
                and, putting a layer of newspaper over the bread, I tucked the rooster into the haversack
                and buckled down the flap so only his head protruded.

                I thought no more about it until two days later when the messenger again
                appeared for fresh bread. He brought a rather terse note from George saying that the
                previous bread was uneatable as the rooster had eaten some of it and messed on the
                rest. Ah me!

                The previous weekend the Hickson-Woods, Stewarts and ourselves, went
                across to Tukuyu to attend a dance at the club there. the dance was very pleasant. All
                the men wore dinner jackets and the ladies wore long frocks. As there were about
                twenty men and only seven ladies we women danced every dance whilst the surplus
                men got into a huddle around the bar. George and I spent the night with the Agricultural
                Officer, Mr Eustace, and I met his fiancee, Lillian Austin from South Africa, to whom I took
                a great liking. She is Governess to the children of Major Masters who has a farm in the
                Tukuyu district.

                On the Sunday morning we had a look at the township. The Boma was an old German one and was once fortified as the Africans in this district are a very warlike tribe.
                They are fine looking people. The men wear sort of togas and bands of cloth around
                their heads and look like Roman Senators, but the women go naked except for a belt
                from which two broad straps hang down, one in front and another behind. Not a graceful
                garb I assure you.

                We also spent a pleasant hour in the Botanical Gardens, laid out during the last
                war by the District Commissioner, Major Wells, with German prisoner of war labour.
                There are beautiful lawns and beds of roses and other flowers and shady palm lined
                walks and banana groves. The gardens are terraced with flights of brick steps connecting
                the different levels and there is a large artificial pond with little islands in it. I believe Major
                Wells designed the lake to resemble in miniature, the Lakes of Killarney.
                I enjoyed the trip very much. We got home at 8 pm to find the front door locked
                and the kitchen boy fast asleep on my newly covered couch! I hastily retreated to the
                bedroom whilst George handled the situation.



                  The Buxton Marshalls

                  and the DNA Match

                  Several years before I started researching the family tree, a friend treated me to a DNA test just for fun. The ethnicity estimates were surprising (and still don’t make much sense): I am apparently 58% Scandinavian, 37% English, and a little Iberian, North African, and even a bit Nigerian! My ancestry according to genealogical research is almost 100% Midlands English for the past three hundred years.

                  Not long after doing the DNA test, I was contacted via the website by Jim Perkins, who had noticed my Marshall name on the DNA match. Jim’s grandfather was James Marshall, my great grandfather William Marshall’s brother. Jim told me he had done his family tree years before the advent of online genealogy. Jim didn’t have a photo of James, but we had several photos with “William Marshall’s brother” written on the back.

                  Jim sent me a photo of his uncle, the man he was named after. The photo shows Charles James Marshall in his army uniform. He escaped Dunkirk in 1940 by swimming out to a destroyer, apparently an excellent swimmer. Sadly he was killed, aged 25 and unmarried, on Sep 2 1942 at the Battle of Alma-Halfa in North Africa. Jim was born exactly one year later.

                  Jim and I became friends on Facebook. In 2021 a relative kindly informed me that Jim had died. I’ve since been in contact with his sister Marilyn.  Jim’s grandfather James Marshall was the eldest of John and Emma’s children, born in 1873. James daughter with his first wife Martha, Hilda, married James Perkins, Jim and Marilyn’s parents. Charles James Marshall who died in North Africa was James son by a second marriage.  James was a railway engine fireman on the 1911 census, and a retired rail driver on the 1939 census.

                  Charles James Marshall 1917-1942 died at the Battle of Alma-Halfa in North Africa:

                  photo thanks to Jim Perkins

                  Charles James Marshall


                  Anna Marshall, born in 1875, was a dressmaker and never married. She was still living with her parents John and Emma in Buxton on the 1921 census. One the 1939 census she was still single at the age of 66, and was living with John J Marshall born 1916. Perhaps a nephew?

                  Annie Marshall 1939


                  John Marshall was born in 1877. Buxton is a spa town with many hotels, and John was the 2nd porter living in at the Crescent Hotel on the 1901 census, although he married later that year. In the 1911 census John was married with three children and living in Fairfield, Buxton, and his occupation was Hotel Porter and Boots.  John and Alice had four children, although one son died in infancy, leaving two sons and a daughter, Lily.

                  My great grandfather William Marshall was born in 1878, and Edward Marshall was born in 1880. According to the family stories, one of William’s brothers was chief of police in Lincolnshire, and two of the family photos say on the back “Frank Marshall, chief of police Lincolnshire”. But it wasn’t Frank, it was Edward, and it wasn’t Lincolnshire, it was Lancashire.

                  The records show that Edward Marshall was a hotel porter at the Pulteney Hotel in Bath, Somerset, in 1901. Presumably he started working in hotels in Buxton prior to that. James married Florence in Bath in 1903, and their first four children were born in Bath. By 1911 the family were living in Salmesbury, near Blackburn Lancashire, and Edward was a police constable. On the 1939 census, James was a retired police inspector, still living in Lancashire. Florence and Edward had eight children.

                  It became clear that the two photographs we have that were labeled “Frank Marshall Chief of police” were in fact Edward, when I noticed that both photos were taken by a photographer in Bath. They were correctly labeled as the policeman, but we had the name wrong.

                  Edward and Florence Marshall, Bath, Somerset:

                  Edward Marshall, Bath


                  Sarah Marshall was born in 1882 and died two years later.

                  Nellie Marshall was born in 1885 and I have not yet found a marriage or death for her.

                  Harry Marshall was John and Emma’s next child, born in 1887. On the 1911 census Harry is 24 years old, and  lives at home with his parents and sister Ann. His occupation is a barman in a hotel. I haven’t yet found any further records for Harry.

                  Frank Marshall was the youngest, born in 1889. In 1911 Frank was living at the George Hotel in Buxton, employed as a boot boy. Also listed as live in staff at the hotel was Lily Moss, a kitchenmaid.

                  Frank Marshall

                  In 1913 Frank and Lily were married, and in 1914 their first child Millicent Rose was born. On the 1921 census Frank, Lily, William Rose and one other (presumably Millicent Rose) were living in Hartington Upper Quarter, Buxton.

                  The George Hotel, Buxton:

                  George Hotel Buxton


                  One of the photos says on the back “Jack Marshall, brother of William Marshall, WW1”:

                  Jack Marshall

                  Another photo that says on the back “William Marshalls brother”:

                  WM brother 1

                  Another “William Marshalls brother”:

                  WM b 2

                  And another “William Marshalls brother”:

                  wm b 3

                  Unlabeled but clearly a Marshall:

                  wmb 4

                  The last photo is clearly a Marshall, but I haven’t yet found a Burnley connection with any of the Marshall brothers.


                    My Grandparents Kitchen

                    My grandmother used to have golden syrup in her larder, hanging on the white plastic coated storage rack that was screwed to the inside of the larder door. Mostly the larder door was left propped open with an old flat iron, so you could see the Heinz ketchup and home made picallilli (she made a particularly good picallili), the Worcester sauce and the jar of pickled onions, as you sat at the kitchen table.

                    If you were sitting to the right of the kitchen table you could see an assortment of mismatched crockery, cups and bowls, shoe cleaning brushes, and at the back, tiny tins of baked beans and big ones of plum tomatoes,  and normal sized tins of vegetable and mushroom soup.  Underneath the little shelves that housed the tins was a blue plastic washing up bowl with a few onions, some in, some out of the yellow string bag they came home from the expensive little village supermarket in.

                    There was much more to the left in the awkward triangular shape under the stairs, but you couldn’t see under there from your seat at the kitchen table.  You could see the shelf above the larder door which held an ugly china teapot of graceless modern lines, gazed with metallic silver which was wearing off in places. Beside the teapot sat a serving bowl, squat and shapely with little handles, like a flattened Greek urn, in white and reddish brown with flecks of faded gilt. A plain white teapot completed the trio, a large cylindrical one with neat vertical ridges and grooves.

                    There were two fridges under the high shallow wooden wall cupboard.  A waist high bulbous old green one with a big handle that pulled out with a clunk, and a chest high sleek white one with a small freezer at the top with a door of its own.  On the top of the fridges were biscuit and cracker tins, big black keys, pencils and brittle yellow notepads, rubber bands and aspirin value packs and a bottle of Brufen.  There was a battered old maroon spectacle case and a whicker letter rack, letters crammed in and fanning over the top.  There was always a pile of glossy advertising pamphlets and flyers on top of the fridges, of the sort that were best put straight into the tiny pedal bin.

                    My grandmother never lined the pedal bin with a used plastic bag, nor with a specially designed plastic bin liner. The bin was so small that the flip top lid was often gaping, resting on a mound of cauliflower greens and soup tins.  Behind the pedal bin, but on the outer aspect of the kitchen wall, was the big black dustbin with the rubbery lid. More often than not, the lid was thrust upwards. If Thursday when the dustbin men came was several days away, you’d wish you hadn’t put those newspapers in, or those old shoes!  You stood in the softly drizzling rain in your slippers, the rubbery sheild of a lid in your left hand and the overflowing pedal bin in the other.  The contents of the pedal bin are not going to fit into the dustbin.  You sigh, put the pedal bin and the dustbin lid down, and roll up your sleeves ~ carefully, because you’ve poked your fingers into a porridge covered teabag.  You grab the sides of the protruding black sack and heave. All being well,  the contents should settle and you should have several inches more of plastic bag above the rim of the dustbin.  Unless of course it’s a poor quality plastic bag in which case your fingernail will go through and a horizontal slash will appear just below rubbish level.  Eventually you upend the pedal bin and scrape the cigarette ash covered potato peelings into the dustbin with your fingers. By now the fibres of your Shetland wool jumper are heavy with damp, just like the fuzzy split ends that curl round your pale frowning brow.  You may push back your hair with your forearm causing the moisture to bead and trickle down your face, as you turn the brass doorknob with your palm and wrist, tea leaves and cigarette ash clinging unpleasantly to your fingers.

                    The pedal bin needs rinsing in the kitchen sink, but the sink is full of mismatched saucepans, some new in shades of harvest gold, some battered and mishapen in stainless steel and aluminium, bits of mashed potato stuck to them like concrete pebbledash. There is a pale pink octagonally ovoid shallow serving dish and a little grey soup bowl with a handle like a miniature pottery saucepan decorated with kitcheny motifs.

                    The water for the coffee bubbles in a suacepan on the cream enamelled gas cooker. My grandmother never used a kettle, although I do remember a heavy flame orange one. The little pan for boiling water had a lip for easy pouring and a black plastic handle.

                    The steam has caused the condensation on the window over the sink to race in rivulets down to the fablon coated windowsill.  The yellow gingham curtains hang limply, the left one tucked behind the back of the cooker.

                    You put the pedal bin back it it’s place below the tea towel holder, and rinse your mucky fingers under the tap. The gas water heater on the wall above you roars into life just as you turn the tap off, and disappointed, subsides.

                    As you lean over to turn the cooker knob, the heat from the oven warms your arm. The gas oven was almost always on, the oven door open with clean tea towels and sometimes large white pants folded over it to air.

                    The oven wasn’t the only heat in my grandparents kitchen. There was an electric bar fire near the red formica table which used to burn your legs. The kitchen table was extended by means of a flap at each side. When I was small I wasn’t allowed to snap the hinge underneath shut as my grandmother had pinched the skin of her palm once.

                    The electric fire was plugged into the same socket as the radio. The radio took a minute or two to warm up when you switched it on, a bulky thing with sharp seventies edges and a reddish wood effect veneer and big knobs.  The light for my grandfathers workshop behind the garage (where he made dentures) was plugged into the same socket, which had a big heavy white three way adaptor in. The plug for the washing machine was hooked by means of a bit of string onto a nail or hook so that it didn’t fall down behing the washing machine when it wasn’t plugged in. Everything was unplugged when it wasn’t in use.  Sometimes there was a shrivelled Christmas cactus on top of the radio, but it couldn’t hide the adaptor and all those plugs.

                    Above the washing machine was a rhomboid wooden wall cupboard with sliding frsoted glass doors.  It was painted creamy gold, the colour of a nicotine stained pub ceiling, and held packets of Paxo stuffing and little jars of Bovril and Marmite, packets of Bisto and a jar of improbably red Maraschino cherries.

                    The nicotine coloured cupboard on the opposite wall had half a dozen large hooks screwed under the bottom shelf. A variety of mugs and cups hung there when they weren’t in the bowl waiting to be washed up. Those cupboard doors seemed flimsy for their size, and the thin beading on the edge of one door had come unstuck at the bottom and snapped back if you caught it with your sleeve.  The doors fastened with a little click in the centre, and the bottom of the door reverberated slightly as you yanked it open. There were always crumbs in the cupboard from the numerous packets of bisucits and crackers and there was always an Allbran packet with the top folded over to squeeze it onto the shelf. The sugar bowl was in there, sticky grains like sandpaper among the biscuit crumbs.

                    Half of one of the shelves was devoted to medicines: grave looking bottles of codeine linctus with no nonsense labels,  brown glass bottles with pills for rheumatism and angina.  Often you would find a large bottle, nearly full, of Brewers yeast or vitamin supplements with a dollar price tag, souvenirs of the familys last visit.  Above the medicines you’d find a faded packet of Napolitana pasta bows or a dusty packet of muesli. My grandparents never used them but she left them in the cupboard. Perhaps the dollar price tags and foreign foods reminded her of her children.

                    If there had been a recent visit you would see monstrous jars of Sanka and Maxwell House coffee in there too, but they always used the coffee.  They liked evaporated milk in their coffee, and used tins and tins of “evap” as they called it. They would pour it over tinned fruit, or rhubard crumble or stewed apples.

                    When there was just the two of them, or when I was there as well, they’d eat at the kitchen table. The table would be covered in a white embroidered cloth and the food served in mismatched serving dishes. The cutlery was large and bent, the knife handles in varying shades of bone. My grandfathers favourite fork had the tip of each prong bent in a different direction. He reckoned it was more efficient that way to spear his meat.  He often used to chew his meat and then spit it out onto the side of his plate. Not in company, of course.  I can understand why he did that, not having eaten meat myself for so long. You could chew a piece of meat for several hours and still have a stringy lump between your cheek and your teeth.

                    My grandfather would always have a bowl of Allbran with some Froment wheat germ for his breakfast, while reading the Daily Mail at the kitchen table.  He never worse slippers, always shoes indoors,  and always wore a tie.  He had lots of ties but always wore a plain maroon one.  His shirts were always cream and buttoned at throat and cuff, and eventually started wearing shirts without detachable collars. He wore greeny grey trousers and a cardigan of the same shade most of the time, the same colour as a damp English garden.

                    The same colour as the slimy green wooden clothes pegs that I threw away and replaced with mauve and fuschia pink plastic ones.  “They’re a bit bright for up the garden, aren’t they,” he said.  He was right. I should have ignored the green peg stains on the laundry.  An English garden should be shades of moss and grassy green, rich umber soil and brick red walls weighed down with an atmosphere of dense and heavy greyish white.

                    After Grandma died and Mop had retired (I always called him Mop, nobody knows why) at 10:00am precisely Mop would  have a cup of instant coffee with evap. At lunch, a bowl of tinned vegetable soup in his special soup bowl, and a couple of Krackawheat crackers and a lump of mature Cheddar. It was a job these days to find a tasty cheddar, he’d say.

                    When he was working, and he worked until well into his seventies, he took sandwiches. Every day he had the same sandwich filling: a combination of cheese, peanut butter and marmite.  It was an unusal choice for an otherwise conventional man.  He loved my grandmothers cooking, which wasn’t brilliant but was never awful. She was always generous with the cheese in cheese sauces and the meat in meat pies. She overcooked the cauliflower, but everyone did then. She made her gravy in the roasting pan, and made onion sauce, bread sauce, parsley sauce and chestnut stuffing.  She had her own version of cosmopolitan favourites, and called her quiche a quiche when everyone was still calling it egg and bacon pie. She used to like Auntie Daphne’s ratatouille, rather exotic back then, and pronounced it Ratta Twa.  She made pizza unlike any other, with shortcrust pastry smeared with tomato puree from a tube, sprinkled with oregano and great slabs of cheddar.

                    The roast was always overdone. “We like our meat well done” she’d say. She’d walk up the garden to get fresh mint for the mint sauce and would announce with pride “these runner beans are out of the garding”. They always grew vegetables at the top of the garden, behind the lawn and the silver birch tree.  There was always a pudding: a slice of almond tart (always with home made pastry), a crumble or stewed fruit. Topped with evap, of course.


                      Bakewell Not Eyam

                      The Elton Marshalls

                      Some years ago I read a book about Eyam, the Derbyshire village devastated by the plague in 1665, and about how the villagers quarantined themselves to prevent further spread. It was quite a story. Each year on ‘Plague Sunday’, at the end of August, residents of Eyam mark the bubonic plague epidemic that devastated their small rural community in the years 1665–6. They wear the traditional costume of the day and attend a memorial service to remember how half the village sacrificed themselves to avoid spreading the disease further.

                      My 4X great grandfather James Marshall married Ann Newton in 1792 in Elton. On a number of other people’s trees on an online ancestry site, Ann Newton was from Eyam.  Wouldn’t that have been interesting, to find ancestors from Eyam, perhaps going back to the days of the plague. Perhaps that is what the people who put Ann Newton’s birthplace as Eyam thought, without a proper look at the records.

                      But I didn’t think Ann Newton was from Eyam. I found she was from Over Haddon, near Bakewell ~ much closer to Elton than Eyam. On the marriage register, it says that James was from Elton parish, and she was from Darley parish. Her birth in 1770 says Bakewell, which was the registration district for the villages of Over Haddon and Darley. Her parents were George Newton and Dorothy Wipperley of Over Haddon,which is incidentally very near to Nether Haddon, and Haddon Hall. I visited Haddon Hall many years ago, as well as Chatsworth (and much preferred Haddon Hall).

                      I looked in the Eyam registers for Ann Newton, and found a couple of them around the time frame, but the men they married were not James Marshall.

                      Ann died in 1806 in Elton (a small village just outside Matlock) at the age of 36 within days of her newborn twins, Ann and James.  James and Ann had two sets of twins.  John and Mary were twins as well, but Mary died in 1799 at the age of three.

                      1796 baptism of twins John and Mary of James and Ann Marshall

                      Marshall baptism


                      Ann’s husband James died 42 years later at the age of eighty,  in Elton in 1848. It was noted in the parish register that he was for years parish clerk.

                      James Marshall


                      On the 1851 census John Marshall born in 1796, the son of James Marshall the parish clerk, was a lead miner occupying six acres in Elton, Derbyshire.

                      His son, also John, was registered on the census as a lead miner at just eight years old.


                      The mining of lead was the most important industry in the Peak district of Derbyshire from Roman times until the 19th century – with only agriculture being more important for the livelihood of local people. The height of lead mining in Derbyshire came in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the evidence is still visible today – most obviously in the form of lines of hillocks from the more than 25,000 mineshafts which once existed.

                      Peak District Mines Historical Society

                      Smelting, or extracting the lead from the ore by melting it, was carried out in a small open hearth. Lead was cast in layers as each batch of ore was smelted; the blocks of lead thus produced were referred to as “pigs”. Examples of early smelting-hearths found within the county were stone lined, with one side open facing the prevailing wind to create the draught needed. The hilltops of the Matlocks would have provided very suitable conditions.

                      The miner used a tool called a mattock or a pick, and hammers and iron wedges in harder veins, to loosen the ore. They threw the ore onto ridges on each side of the vein, going deeper where the ore proved richer.

                      Many mines were very shallow and, once opened, proved too poor to develop. Benjamin Bryan cited the example of “Ember Hill, on the shoulder of Masson, above Matlock Bath” where there are hollows in the surface showing where there had been fruitless searches for lead.

                      There were small buildings, called “coes”, near each mine shaft which were used for tool storage, to provide shelter and as places for changing into working clothes. It was here that the lead was smelted and stored until ready for sale.

                      Lead is, of course, very poisonous. As miners washed lead-bearing material, great care was taken with the washing vats, which had to be covered. If cattle accidentally drank the poisoned water they would die from something called “belland”.

                      Cornish and Welsh miners introduced the practice of buddling for ore into Derbyshire about 1747.  Buddling involved washing the heaps of rubbish in the slag heaps,  the process of separating the very small particles from the dirt and spar with which they are mixed, by means of a small stream of water. This method of extraction was a major pollutant, affecting farmers and their animals (poisoned by Belland from drinking the waste water), the brooks and streams and even the River Derwent.

                      Women also worked in the mines. An unattributed account from 1829, says: “The head is much enwrapped, and the features nearly hidden in a muffling of handkerchiefs, over which is put a man’s hat, in the manner of the paysannes of Wales”. He also describes their gowns, usually red, as being “tucked up round the waist in a sort of bag, and set off by a bright green petticoat”. They also wore a man’s grey or dark blue coat and shoes with 3″ thick soles that were tied round with cords. The 1829 writer called them “complete harridans!”

                      Lead Mining in Matlock & Matlock Bath, The Andrews Pages

                      John’s wife Margaret died at the age of 42 in 1847.  I don’t know the cause of death, but perhaps it was lead poisoning.  John’s son John, despite a very early start in the lead mine, became a carter and lived to the ripe old age of 88.

                      The Pig of Lead pub, 1904:

                      The Pig of Lead 1904


                      The earliest Marshall I’ve found so far is Charles, born in 1742. Charles married Rebecca Knowles, 1775-1823.  I don’t know what his occupation was but when he died in 1819 he left a not inconsiderable sum to his wife.

                      1819 Charles Marshall probate:

                      Charles Marshall Probate



                      There are still Marshall’s living in Elton and Matlock, not our immediate known family, but probably distantly related.  I asked a Matlock group on facebook:

                      “…there are Marshall’s still in the village. There are certainly families who live here who have done generation after generation & have many memories & stories to tell. Visit The Duke on a Friday night…”

                      The Duke, Elton:

                      Duke Elton


                        William Housley’s Will and the Court Case

                        William Housley died in 1848, but his widow Ellen didn’t die until 1872.  The court case was in 1873.  Details about the court case are archived at the National Archives at Kew,  in London, but are not available online. They can be viewed in person, but that hasn’t been possible thus far.  However, there are a great many references to it in the letters.

                        William Housley’s first wife was Mary Carrington 1787-1813.  They had three children, Mary Anne, Elizabeth and William. When Mary died, William married Mary’s sister Ellen, not in their own parish church at Smalley but in Ashbourne.  Although not uncommon for a widower to marry a deceased wife’s sister, it wasn’t legal.  This point is mentioned in one of the letters.

                        One of the pages of William Housley’s will:

                        William Housleys Will


                        An excerpt from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:

                        A comment in a letter from Joseph (August 6, 1873) indicated that William was married twice and that his wives were sisters: “What do you think that I believe that Mary Ann is trying to make our father’s will of no account as she says that my father’s marriage with our mother was not lawful he marrying two sisters. What do you think of her? I have heard my mother say something about paying a fine at the time of the marriage to make it legal.” Markwell and Saul in The A-Z Guide to Tracing Ancestors in Britain explain that marriage to a deceased wife’s sister was not permissible under Canon law as the relationship was within the prohibited degrees. However, such marriages did take place–usually well away from the couple’s home area. Up to 1835 such marriages were not void but were voidable by legal action. Few such actions were instituted but the risk was always there.

                        Joseph wrote that when Emma was married, Ellen “broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby didn’t agree with her so she left again leaving her things behind and came to live with John in the new house where she died.” Ellen was listed with John’s household in the 1871 census. 
                        In May 1872, the Ilkeston Pioneer carried this notice: “Mr. Hopkins will sell by auction on Saturday next the eleventh of May 1872 the whole of the useful furniture, sewing machine, etc. nearly new on the premises of the late Mrs. Housley at Smalley near Heanor in the county of Derby. Sale at one o’clock in the afternoon.”

                        There were hard feelings between Mary Ann and Ellen and her children. Anne wrote: “If you remember we were not very friendly when you left. They never came and nothing was too bad for Mary Ann to say of Mother and me, but when Robert died Mother sent for her to the funeral but she did not think well to come so we took no more notice. She would not allow her children to come either.”
                        Mary Ann was still living in May 1872. Joseph implied that she and her brother, Will “intend making a bit of bother about the settlement of the bit of property” left by their mother. The 1871 census listed Mary Ann’s occupation as “income from houses.”

                        In July 1872, Joseph introduced Ruth’s husband: “No doubt he is a bad lot. He is one of the Heath’s of Stanley Common a miller and he lives at Smalley Mill” (Ruth Heath was Mary Anne Housley’s daughter)
                        In 1873 Joseph wrote, “He is nothing but a land shark both Heath and his wife and his wife is the worst of the two. You will think these is hard words but they are true dear brother.” The solicitor, Abraham John Flint, was not at all pleased with Heath’s obstruction of the settlement of the estate. He wrote on June 30, 1873: “Heath agreed at first and then because I would not pay his expenses he refused and has since instructed another solicitor for his wife and Mrs. Weston who have been opposing us to the utmost. I am concerned for all parties interested except these two….The judge severely censured Heath for his conduct and wanted to make an order for sale there and then but Heath’s council would not consent….” In June 1875, the solicitor wrote: “Heath bid for the property but it fetched more money than he could give for it. He has been rather quieter lately.”

                        In May 1872, Joseph wrote: “For what do you think, John has sold his share and he has acted very bad since his wife died and at the same time he sold all his furniture. You may guess I have never seen him but once since poor mother’s funeral and he is gone now no one knows where.”

                        In 1876, the solicitor wrote to George: “Have you heard of John Housley? He is entitled to Robert’s share and I want him to claim it.”

                        Anne intended that one third of the inheritance coming to her from her father and her grandfather, William Carrington, be divided between her four nieces: Sam’s three daughters and John’s daughter Elizabeth.
                        In the same letter (December 15, 1872), Joseph wrote:
                        “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that”

                        However, Samuel was still alive was on the 1871 census in Henley in Arden, and no record of his death can be found. Samuel’s brother in law said he was dead: we do not know why he lied, or perhaps the brothers were lying to keep his share, or another possibility is that Samuel himself told his brother in law to tell them that he was dead. I am inclined to think it was the latter.

                        Excerpts from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters continued:

                        Charles went to Australia in 1851, and was last heard from in January 1853. According to the solicitor, who wrote to George on June 3, 1874, Charles had received advances on the settlement of their parent’s estate. “Your promissory note with the two signed by your brother Charles for 20 pounds he received from his father and 20 pounds he received from his mother are now in the possession of the court.”

                        In December 1872, Joseph wrote: “I’m told that Charles two daughters has wrote to Smalley post office making inquiries about his share….” In January 1876, the solicitor wrote: “Charles Housley’s children have claimed their father’s share.”

                        In the Adelaide Observer 28 Aug 1875

                        HOUSLEY – wanted information
                        as to the Death, Will, or Intestacy, and
                        Children of Charles Housley, formerly of
                        Smalley, Derbyshire, England, who died at
                        Geelong or Creewick Creek Diggings, Victoria
                        August, 1855. His children will hear of something to their advantage by communicating with
                        Mr. A J. Flint, solicitor, Derby, England.
                        June 16,1875.

                        The Diggers & Diggings of Victoria in 1855. Drawn on Stone by S.T. Gill:

                        Victoria Diggings, Australie


                        The court case:

                         Kerry v Housley.
                        Documents: Bill, demurrer.
                        Plaintiffs: Samuel Kerry and Joseph Housley.
                        Defendants: William Housley, Joseph Housley (deleted), Edwin Welch Harvey, Eleanor Harvey (deleted), Ernest Harvey infant, William Stafford, Elizabeth Stafford his wife, Mary Ann Housley, George Purdy and Catherine Purdy his wife, Elizabeth Housley, Mary Ann Weston widow and William Heath and Ruth Heath his wife (deleted).
                        Provincial solicitor employed in Derbyshire.
                        Date: 1873

                        From the Narrative on the Letters:

                        The solicitor wrote on May 23, 1874: “Lately I have not written because I was not certain of your address and because I doubted I had much interesting news to tell you.” Later, Joseph wrote concerning the problems settling the estate, “You see dear brother there is only me here on our side and I cannot do much. I wish you were here to help me a bit and if you think of going for another summer trip this turn you might as well run over here.”

                        In March 1873, Joseph wrote: “You ask me what I think of you coming to England. I think as you have given the trustee power to sign for you I think you could do no good but I should like to see you once again for all that. I can’t say whether there would be anything amiss if you did come as you say it would be throwing good money after bad.”

                        In September 1872 Joseph wrote; “My wife is anxious to come. I hope it will suit her health for she is not over strong.” Elsewhere Joseph wrote that Harriet was “middling sometimes. She is subject to sick headaches. It knocks her up completely when they come on.” In December 1872 Joseph wrote, “Now dear brother about us coming to America you know we shall have to wait until this affair is settled and if it is not settled and thrown into Chancery I’m afraid we shall have to stay in England for I shall never be able to save money enough to bring me out and my family but I hope of better things.”
                        On July 19, 1875 Abraham Flint (the solicitor) wrote: “Joseph Housley has removed from Smalley and is working on some new foundry buildings at Little Chester near Derby. He lives at a village called Little Eaton near Derby. If you address your letter to him as Joseph Housley, carpenter, Little Eaton near Derby that will no doubt find him.”

                        In his last letter (February 11, 1874), Joseph sounded very discouraged and wrote that Harriet’s parents were very poorly and both had been “in bed for a long time.” In addition, Harriet and the children had been ill.
                        The move to Little Eaton may indicate that Joseph received his settlement because in August, 1873, he wrote: “I think this is bad news enough and bad luck too, but I have had little else since I came to live at Kiddsley cottages but perhaps it is all for the best if one could only think so. I have begun to think there will be no chance for us coming over to you for I am afraid there will not be so much left as will bring us out without it is settled very shortly but I don’t intend leaving this house until it is settled either one way or the other. ”

                        Joseph’s letters were much concerned with the settling of their mother’s estate. In 1854, Anne wrote, “As for my mother coming (to America) I think not at all likely. She is tied here with her property.” A solicitor, Abraham John Flint of 42 Full Street Derby, was engaged by John following the death of their mother. On June 30, 1873 the solicitor wrote: “Dear sir, On the death of your mother I was consulted by your brother John. I acted for him with reference to the sale and division of your father’s property at Smalley. Mr. Kerry was very unwilling to act as trustee being over 73 years of age but owing to the will being a badly drawn one we could not appoint another trustee in his place nor could the property be sold without a decree of chancery. Therefore Mr. Kerry consented and after a great deal of trouble with Heath who has opposed us all throughout whenever matters did not suit him, we found the title deeds and offered the property for sale by public auction on the 15th of July last. Heath could not find his purchase money without mortaging his property the solicitor which the mortgagee employed refused to accept Mr. Kerry’s title and owing to another defect in the will we could not compel them.”

                        In July 1872, Joseph wrote, “I do not know whether you can remember who the trustee was to my father’s will. It was Thomas Watson and Samuel Kerry of Smalley Green. Mr. Watson is dead (died a fortnight before mother) so Mr. Kerry has had to manage the affair.”

                        On Dec. 15, 1972, Joseph wrote, “Now about this property affair. It seems as far off of being settled as ever it was….” and in the following March wrote: “I think we are as far off as ever and farther I think.”

                        Concerning the property which was auctioned on July 15, 1872 and brought 700 pounds, Joseph wrote: “It was sold in five lots for building land and this man Heath bought up four lots–that is the big house, the croft and the cottages. The croft was made into two lots besides the piece belonging to the big house and the cottages and gardens was another lot and the little intake was another. William Richardson bought that.” Elsewhere Richardson’s purchase was described as “the little croft against Smith’s lane.” Smith’s Lane was probably named for their neighbor Daniel Smith, Mrs. Davy’s father.
                        But in December 1872, Joseph wrote that they had not received any money because “Mr. Heath is raising all kinds of objections to the will–something being worded wrong in the will.” In March 1873, Joseph “clarified” matters in this way: “His objection was that one trustee could not convey the property that his signature was not guarantee sufficient as it states in the will that both trustees has to sign the conveyance hence this bother.”
                        Joseph indicated that six shares were to come out of the 700 pounds besides Will’s 20 pounds. Children were to come in for the parents shares if dead. The solicitor wrote in 1873, “This of course refers to the Kidsley property in which you take a one seventh share and which if the property sells well may realize you about 60-80 pounds.” In March 1873 Joseph wrote: “You have an equal share with the rest in both lots of property, but I am afraid there will be but very little for any of us.”

                        The other “lot of property” was “property in Smalley left under another will.” On July 17, 1872, Joseph wrote: “It was left by my grandfather Carrington and Uncle Richard is trustee. He seems very backward in bringing the property to a sale but I saw him and told him that I for one expect him to proceed with it.” George seemed to have difficulty understanding that there were two pieces of property so Joseph explained further: “It was left by my grandfather Carrington not by our father and Uncle Richard is the trustee for it but the will does not give him power to sell without the signatures of the parties concerned.” In June 1873 the solicitor Abraham John Flint asked: “Nothing has been done about the other property at Smalley at present. It wants attention and the other parties have asked me to attend to it. Do you authorize me to see to it for you as well?”
                        After Ellen’s death, the rent was divided between Joseph, Will, Mary Ann and Mr. Heath who bought John’s share and was married to Mary Ann’s daughter, Ruth. Joseph said that Mr. Heath paid 40 pounds for John’s share and that John had drawn 110 pounds in advance. The solicitor said Heath said he paid 60. The solicitor said that Heath was trying to buy the shares of those at home to get control of the property and would have defied the absent ones to get anything.
                        In September 1872 Joseph wrote that the lawyer said the trustee cannot sell the property at the bottom of Smalley without the signatures of all parties concerned in it and it will have to go through chancery court which will be a great expense. He advised Joseph to sell his share and Joseph advised George to do the same.

                        George sent a “portrait” so that it could be established that it was really him–still living and due a share. Joseph wrote (July 1872): “the trustee was quite willing to (acknowledge you) for the portrait I think is a very good one.” Several letters later in response to an inquiry from George, Joseph wrote: “The trustee recognized you in a minute…I have not shown it to Mary Ann for we are not on good terms….Parties that I have shown it to own you again but they say it is a deal like John. It is something like him, but I think is more like myself.”
                        In September 1872 Joseph wrote that the lawyer required all of their ages and they would have to pay “succession duty”. Joseph requested that George send a list of birth dates.

                        On May 23, 1874, the solicitor wrote: “I have been offered 240 pounds for the three cottages and the little house. They sold for 200 pounds at the last sale and then I was offered 700 pounds for the whole lot except Richardson’s Heanor piece for which he is still willing to give 58 pounds. Thus you see that the value of the estate has very materially increased since the last sale so that this delay has been beneficial to your interests than other-wise. Coal has become much dearer and they suppose there is coal under this estate. There are many enquiries about it and I believe it will realize 800 pounds or more which increase will more than cover all expenses.” Eventually the solicitor wrote that the property had been sold for 916 pounds and George would take a one-ninth share.

                        January 14, 1876:  “I am very sorry to hear of your lameness and illness but I trust that you are now better. This matter as I informed you had to stand over until December since when all the costs and expenses have been taxed and passed by the court and I am expecting to receive the order for these this next week, then we have to pay the legacy duty and them divide the residue which I doubt won’t come to very much amongst so many of you. But you will hear from me towards the end of the month or early next month when I shall have to send you the papers to sign for your share. I can’t tell you how much it will be at present as I shall have to deduct your share with the others of the first sale made of the property before it went to court.
                        Wishing you a Happy New Year, I am Dear Sir, Yours truly
                        Abram J. Flint”

                        September 15, 1876 (the last letter)
                        “I duly received your power of attorney which appears to have been properly executed on Thursday last and I sent it on to my London agent, Mr. Henry Lyvell, who happens just now to be away for his annual vacation and will not return for 14 or 20 days and as his signature is required by the Paymaster General before he will pay out your share, it must consequently stand over and await his return home. It shall however receive immediate attention as soon as he returns and I hope to be able to send your checque for the balance very shortly.”

                        1874 in chancery:

                        Housley Estate Sale


                          Ben Warren

                          Derby County and England football legend who died aged 37 penniless and ‘insane’


                          Ben Warren

                          Ben Warren 1879 – 1917  was Samuel Warren’s (my great grandfather) cousin.

                          From the Derby Telegraph:

                          Just 17 months after earning his 22nd England cap, against Scotland at Everton on April 1, 1911, he was certified insane. What triggered his decline was no more than a knock on the knee while playing for Chelsea against Clapton Orient.

                          The knee would not heal and the longer he was out, the more he fretted about how he’d feed his wife and four children. In those days, if you didn’t play, there was no pay. 

                          …..he had developed “brain fever” and this mild-mannered man had “become very strange and, at times, violent”. The coverage reflected his celebrity status.

                          On December 15, 1911, as Rick Glanvill records in his Official Biography of Chelsea FC: “He was admitted to a private clinic in Nottingham, suffering from acute mania, delusions that he was being poisoned and hallucinations of hearing and vision.”

                          He received another blow in February, 1912, when his mother, Emily, died. She had congestion of the lungs and caught influenza, her condition not helped, it was believed, by worrying about Ben.

                          She had good reason: her famous son would soon be admitted to the unfortunately named Derby County Lunatic Asylum.

                          Ben Warren Madman


                          As Britain sleepwalked towards the First World War, Ben’s condition deteriorated. Glanvill writes: “His case notes from what would be a five-year stay, catalogue a devastating decline in which he is at various times described as incoherent, restless, destructive, ‘stuporose’ and ‘a danger to himself’.’”

                          photo: Football 27th April 1914. A souvenir programme for the testimonial game for Chelsea and England’s Ben Warren, (pictured) who had been declared insane and sent to a lunatic asylum. The game was a select XI for the North playing a select XI from The South proceeds going to Warren’s family.

                          Ben Warren 1914


                          In September, that decline reached a new and pitiable low. The following is an abridged account of what The Courier called “an amazing incident” that took place on September 4.

                          “Spotted by a group of men while walking down Derby Road in Nottingham, a man was acting strangely, smoking a cigarette and had nothing on but a collar and tie.

                          “He jumped about the pavement and roadway, as though playing an imaginary game of football. When approached, he told them he was going to Trent Bridge to play in a match and had to be there by 3.30.”

                          Eventually he was taken to a police station and recognised by a reporter as England’s erstwhile right-half. What made the story even harder to digest was that Ben had escaped from the asylum and walked the 20 miles to Nottingham apparently unnoticed.

                          He had played at “Trent Bridge” many times – at least on Nottingham Forest’s adjacent City Ground.

                          As a shocked nation came to terms with the desperate plight of one of its finest footballers, some papers suggested his career was not yet over. And his relatives claimed that he had been suffering from nothing more than a severe nervous breakdown.

                          He would never be the same again – as a player or a man. He wasn’t even a shadow of the weird “footballer” who had walked 20 miles to Nottingham.

                          Then, he had nothing on, now he just had nothing – least of all self-respect. He ripped sheets into shreds and attempted suicide, saying: “I’m no use to anyone – and ought to be out of the way.”

                          “A year before his suicide attempt in 1916 the ominous symptom of ‘dry cough’ had been noted. Two months after it, in October 1916, the unmistakable signs of tuberculosis were noted and his enfeebled body rapidly succumbed.

                          At 11.30pm on 15 January 1917, international footballer Ben Warren was found dead by a night attendant.

                          He was 37 and when they buried him the records described him as a “pauper’.”

                          However you look at it, it is the salutary tale of a footballer worrying about money. And it began with a knock on the knee.

                          On 14th November 2021, Gill Castle posted on the Newhall and Swadlincote group:

                          I would like to thank Colin Smith and everyone who supported him in getting my great grandfather’s grave restored (Ben Warren who played for Derby, Chelsea and England)

                          The month before, Colin Smith posted:

                          My Ben Warren Journey is nearly complete.
                          It started two years ago when I was sent a family wedding photograph asking if I recognised anyone. My Great Great Grandmother was on there. But soon found out it was the wedding of Ben’s brother Robert to my 1st cousin twice removed, Eveline in 1910.
                          I researched Ben and his football career and found his resting place in St Johns Newhall, all overgrown and in a poor state with the large cross all broken off. I stood there and decided he needed to new memorial & headstone. He was our local hero, playing Internationally for England 22 times. He needs to be remembered.
                          After seeking family permission and Council approval, I had a quote from Art Stone Memorials, Burton on Trent to undertake the work. Fundraising then started and the memorial ordered.
                          Covid came along and slowed the process of getting materials etc. But we have eventually reached the final installation today.
                          I am deeply humbled for everyone who donated in January this year to support me and finally a massive thank you to everyone, local people, football supporters of Newhall, Derby County & Chelsea and football clubs for their donations.
                          Ben will now be remembered more easily when anyone walks through St Johns and see this beautiful memorial just off the pathway.
                          Finally a huge thank you for Art Stone Memorials Team in everything they have done from the first day I approached them. The team have worked endlessly on this project to provide this for Ben and his family as a lasting memorial. Thank you again Alex, Pat, Matt & Owen for everything. Means a lot to me.
                          The final chapter is when we have a dedication service at the grave side in a few weeks time,
                          Ben was born in The Thorntree Inn Newhall South Derbyshire and lived locally all his life.
                          He played local football for Swadlincote, Newhall Town and Newhall Swifts until Derby County signed Ben in May 1898. He made 242 appearances and scored 19 goals at Derby County.
                          28th July 1908 Chelsea won the bidding beating Leicester Fosse & Manchester City bids.
                          Ben also made 22 appearance’s for England including the 1908 First Overseas tour playing Austria twice, Hungary and Bohemia all in a week.
                          28 October 1911 Ben Injured his knee and never played football again
                          Ben is often compared with Steven Gerard for his style of play and team ethic in the modern era.
                          Herbert Chapman ( Player & Manager ) comments “ Warren was a human steam engine who played through 90 minutes with intimidating strength and speed”.
                          Charles Buchan comments “I am certain that a better half back could not be found, Part of the Best England X1 of all time”
                          Chelsea allowed Ben to live in Sunnyside Newhall, he used to run 5 miles every day round Bretby Park and had his own gym at home. He was compared to the likes of a Homing Pigeon, as he always came back to Newhall after his football matches.
                          Ben married Minnie Staley 21st October 1902 at Emmanuel Church Swadlincote and had four children, Harry, Lillian, Maurice & Grenville. Harry went on to be Manager at Coventry & Southend following his father in his own career as football Manager.
                          After Ben’s football career ended in 1911 his health deteriorated until his passing at Derby Pastures Hospital aged 37yrs
                          Ben’s youngest son, Grenville passed away 22nd May 1929 and is interred together in St John’s Newhall with his Father
                          His wife, Minnie’s ashes are also with Ben & Grenville.
                          Thank you again everyone.
                          RIP Ben Warren, our local Newhall Hero. You are remembered.

                          Ben Warren grave


                          Ben Warren GraveBen Warren Grave



                          The following stories started with a single question.

                          Who was Catherine Housley’s mother?

                          But one question leads to another, and another, and so this book will never be finished.  This is the first in a collection of stories of a family history research project, not a complete family history.  There will always be more questions and more searches, and each new find presents more questions.

                          A list of names and dates is only moderately interesting, and doesn’t mean much unless you get to know the characters along the way.   For example, a cousin on my fathers side has already done a great deal of thorough and accurate family research. I copied one branch of the family onto my tree, going back to the 1500’s, but lost interest in it after about an hour or so, because I didn’t feel I knew any of the individuals.

                          Parish registers, the census every ten years, birth, death and marriage certificates can tell you so much, but they can’t tell you why.  They don’t tell you why parents chose the names they did for their children, or why they moved, or why they married in another town.  They don’t tell you why a person lived in another household, or for how long. The census every ten years doesn’t tell you what people were doing in the intervening years, and in the case of the UK and the hundred year privacy rule, we can’t even use those for the past century.  The first census was in 1831 in England, prior to that all we have are parish registers. An astonishing amount of them have survived and have been transcribed and are one way or another available to see, both transcriptions and microfiche images.  Not all of them survived, however. Sometimes the writing has faded to white, sometimes pages are missing, and in some case the entire register is lost or damaged.

                          Sometimes if you are lucky, you may find mention of an ancestor in an obscure little local history book or a journal or diary.  Wills, court cases, and newspaper archives often provide interesting information. Town memories and history groups on social media are another excellent source of information, from old photographs of the area, old maps, local history, and of course, distantly related relatives still living in the area.  Local history societies can be useful, and some if not all are very helpful.

                          If you’re very lucky indeed, you might find a distant relative in another country whose grandparents saved and transcribed bundles of old letters found in the attic, from the family in England to the brother who emigrated, written in the 1800s.  More on this later, as it merits its own chapter as the most exciting find so far.

                          The social history of the time and place is important and provides many clues as to why people moved and why the family professions and occupations changed over generations.  The Enclosures Act and the Industrial Revolution in England created difficulties for rural farmers, factories replaced cottage industries, and the sons of land owning farmers became shop keepers and miners in the local towns.  For the most part (at least in my own research) people didn’t move around much unless there was a reason.  There are no reasons mentioned in the various registers, records and documents, but with a little reading of social history you can sometimes make a good guess.  Samuel Housley, for example, a plumber, probably moved from rural Derbyshire to urban Wolverhampton, when there was a big project to install indoor plumbing to areas of the city in the early 1800s.  Derbyshire nailmakers were offered a job and a house if they moved to Wolverhampton a generation earlier.

                          Occasionally a couple would marry in another parish, although usually they married in their own. Again, there was often a reason.  William Housley and Ellen Carrington married in Ashbourne, not in Smalley.  In this case, William’s first wife was Mary Carrington, Ellen’s sister.  It was not uncommon for a man to marry a deceased wife’s sister, but it wasn’t strictly speaking legal.  This caused some problems later when William died, as the children of the first wife contested the will, on the grounds of the second marriage being illegal.

                          Needless to say, there are always questions remaining, and often a fresh pair of eyes can help find a vital piece of information that has escaped you.  In one case, I’d been looking for the death of a widow, Mary Anne Gilman, and had failed to notice that she remarried at a late age. Her death was easy to find, once I searched for it with her second husbands name.

                          This brings me to the topic of maternal family lines. One tends to think of their lineage with the focus on paternal surnames, but very quickly the number of surnames increases, and all of the maternal lines are directly related as much as the paternal name.  This is of course obvious, if you start from the beginning with yourself and work back.  In other words, there is not much point in simply looking for your fathers name hundreds of years ago because there are hundreds of other names that are equally your own family ancestors. And in my case, although not intentionally, I’ve investigated far more maternal lines than paternal.

                          This book, which I hope will be the first of several, will concentrate on my mothers family: The story so far that started with the portrait of Catherine Housley’s mother.

                          Elizabeth Brookes


                          This painting, now in my mothers house, used to hang over the piano in the home of her grandparents.   It says on the back “Catherine Housley’s mother, Smalley”.

                          The portrait of Catherine Housley’s mother can be seen above the piano. Back row Ronald Marshall, my grandfathers brother, William Marshall, my great grandfather, Mary Ann Gilman Purdy Marshall in the middle, my great grandmother, with her daughters Dorothy on the left and Phyllis on the right, at the Marshall’s house on Love Lane in Stourbridge.




                          The Search for Samuel Housley

                          As soon as the search for Catherine Housley’s mother was resolved, achieved by ordering a paper copy of her birth certificate, the search for Catherine Housley’s father commenced. We know he was born in Smalley in 1816, son of William Housley and Ellen Carrington, and that he married Elizabeth Brookes in Wolverhampton in 1844. He was a plumber and glazier. His three daughters born between 1845 and 1849 were born in Smalley. Elizabeth died in 1849 of consumption, but Samuel didn’t register her death. A 20 year old neighbour called Aaron Wadkinson did.

                          Elizabeth death


                          Where was Samuel?

                          On the 1851 census, two of Samuel’s daughters were listed as inmates in the Belper Workhouse, and the third, 2 year old Catherine, was listed as living with John Benniston and his family in nearby Heanor.  Benniston was a framework knitter.

                          Where was Samuel?

                          A long search through the microfiche workhouse registers provided an answer. The reason for Elizabeth and Mary Anne’s admission in June 1850 was given as “father in prison”. In May 1850, Samuel Housley was sentenced to one month hard labour at Derby Gaol for failing to maintain his three children. What happened to those little girls in the year after their mothers death, before their father was sentenced, and they entered the workhouse? Where did Catherine go, a six week old baby? We have yet to find out.

                          Samuel Housley 1850


                          And where was Samuel Housley in 1851? He hasn’t appeared on any census.

                          According to the Belper workhouse registers, Mary Anne was discharged on trial as a servant February 1860. She was readmitted a month later in March 1860, the reason given: unwell.

                          Belper Workhouse:

                          Belper Workhouse

                          Eventually, Mary Anne and Elizabeth were discharged, in April 1860, with an aunt and uncle. The workhouse register doesn’t name the aunt and uncle. One can only wonder why it took them so long.
                          On the 1861 census, Elizabeth, 16 years old, is a servant in St Peters, Derby, and Mary Anne, 15 years old, is a servant in St Werburghs, Derby.

                          But where was Samuel?

                          After some considerable searching, we found him, despite a mistranscription of his name, on the 1861 census, living as a lodger and plumber in Darlaston, Walsall.
                          Eventually we found him on a 1871 census living as a lodger at the George and Dragon in Henley in Arden. The age is not exactly right, but close enough, he is listed as an unmarried painter, also close enough, and his birth is listed as Kidsley, Derbyshire. He was born at Kidsley Grange Farm. We can assume that he was probably alive in 1872, the year his mother died, and the following year, 1873, during the Kerry vs Housley court case.

                          Samuel Housley 1871


                          I found some living Housley descendants in USA. Samuel Housley’s brother George emigrated there in 1851. The Housley’s in USA found letters in the attic, from the family in Smalley ~ written between 1851 and 1870s. They sent me a “Narrative on the Letters” with many letter excerpts.

                          The Housley family were embroiled in a complicated will and court case in the early 1870s. In December 15, 1872, Joseph (Samuel’s brother) wrote to George:

                          “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that….His daughter and her husband went to Birmingham and also to Sutton Coldfield that is where he married his wife from and found out his wife’s brother. It appears he has been there and at Birmingham ever since he went away but ever fond of drink.”

                          No record of Samuel Housley’s death can be found for the Birmingham Union in 1869 or thereabouts.

                          But if he was alive in 1871 in Henley In Arden…..
                          Did Samuel tell his wife’s brother to tell them he was dead? Or did the brothers say he was dead so they could have his share?

                          We still haven’t found a death for Samuel Housley.




                            “I’m not ‘aving this treatment, Mavis, I’ve booked meself in for the spirit chew all mender tations session instead. No need to loook at me like that, our Mavis, I aint going all new agey on yer, just thought I’d give it a try and see if it relaxes me a bit.”

                            “Relaxes yer? Yer int done a stroke of work in years, whatcher on about?” Sha said, nudging Mavis in the ribs and cackling.

                            “It’s not all about the body, y’ know!” Glor replied, feeling the futility of trying to make them understand the importance of it to her, or the significance in the wider picture.

                            “I’m listening,” a melodious voice whispered behind her.  Andrew Anderson smiled and looked deep into her squinting eyes as she turned to face him (the sun was going down behind him and it was very hard to see, much to her chagrin).

                            “Tell me more, Glor, what’s the score, Glor, I want to know more…”

                            Gloria, who knees had momentarily turned to jelly, reeled backwards at this surprising change in the conversation, and lost her balance due to her temporarily affected knees.  Instinctively she reached out and grabbed Mr Anderson’s arm, and managed to avoid falling to the ground.

                            She retracted her arm slowly as an increasingly baffled look spread across her face.

                            Why did his arm feel so peculiar? It felt like a shop mannequin, unyielding, different somehow.  Creepy somehow. Glor mumbled, “Sure, later,” and quickly caught up with her friends.

                            “Hey, You’ll never guess what, wait til I tell yer..” Glor started to tell them about Mr Anderson and then stopped. Would it be futile? Would they understand what she was trying to say?

                            “I’m listening,” a melodious voice whispered in her ear.

                            “Not bloody you again! You stalking me, or what?”  Visibly rattled, Gloria rushed over to her friends, wondering why every time that weirdo whispered in her ear, she had somehow fallen back and had to catch up again.

                            She’d have to inform her friends of the danger, but would they listen? They were falling for him and wouldn’t be easily discouraged.  They’d be lured to the yacht and not want to escape. The fools! What could she do?

                            “I’m listening,” the melodious voice whispered.


                              “No, listen,” Sophie whispered, “I’ve heard some things about this place. We have to escape.”

                              “What ‘ave you ‘eard?” asked Glor.

                              “SSSHH!! not so loud,” Sophie looked around nervously.  “I can’t tell you now, you’ll have to trust me. We have to escape, and the sooner the better.  Tonight.”

                              “I can’t come tonight, I’m ‘aving me nails done in the morning,” Glor said.

                              “If you don’t leave tonight, they’ll probably pull all your nails out with pliers in the morning, don’t you see?”

                              “Oh I say,” Glor shuddered, “Don’t say things like that,  it makes me toes curl up just thinking about it.”

                              “Trust me,” insisted Sophie.  “Tell your friends ~ quietly mind! ~ to pack a small bundle of things ~ small, mind! ~ just a change of clothes and a bit of food, and meet me in the lavatory by the back door at 3 am sharp.”

                              Glor started at her for a minute and then said, “Oh alright then. Why not. Getting a bit boring here anyway. I could do with an adventure. I’ll tell Mavis and Sha.”

                              Sophie sighed with relief. It had been easier than she expected.

                              “OY MAVIS! Come over ‘ere, I got summat to tell yer!” Glor shouted.

                              “SSHHHH” hissed Sophie, horrified. “Be discreet for god’s sake!”


                                The philodendron leaf was so large that on it’s trajectory towards Finnley it caught a bottle a Bhum on the edge of the desk, causing it to topple onto the floor.

                                “Now look what you’ve done, you clumsy thing!” exclaimed Liz.  “That was a gift from Godfrey!”

                                “Don’t worry, he’ll never know,” replied Finnley, picking up the pieces.  “And don’t shout at me, after my, you know…”

                                Liz softened and said gently, “Well speaking of brushes, dear, you’d be better cleaning that up with a dustpan and brush, or you might cut yourself.”


                                  They found me and locked me up again but I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later. I don’t mind though, I can always plot an escape when I’m ready but the fact is, I was tired after awhile. I needed a rest and so here I am. The weather’s awful so I may as well rest up here for a bit longer. They gave me a shot, too, so I don’t have to wear a mask anymore. Unless I want to wear it as a disguise of course, so I’ll keep a couple for when I escape again.

                                  They gave me a computer to keep me amused and showed me how to do the daftest things I’d never want to do and I thought, what a load of rubbish, just give me a good book, but then this charming little angel of a helper appeared as if by magic and showed me how to do a family tree on this machine.  Well! I had no idea such pursuits could be so engrossing, it’s like being the heroine in a detective novel, like writing your own book in a way.

                                  I got off on a sidetrack with the search for one woman in particular and got I tell you I got so sucked inside the story I spent a fortnight in a small village in the north midlands two centuries ago that I had to shake me head to get back to the present for the necessary daily functions. I feel like I could write a book about that fortnight. Two hundred years explored in a fortnight in the search for CH’s mother.

                                  I could write a book on the maternal line and how patriarchy has failed us in the search for our ancestry and blood lines. The changing names, the census status, lack of individual occupation but a mother knows for sure who her children are. And yet we follow paternal lines because the names are easier, but mothers know for sure which child is theirs whereas men can not be as sure as that.  Barking up the wrong tree is easy done.

                                  I can’t start writing any of these books at the moment because I’m still trying to find out who won the SK&JH vs ALL the rest of the H family court case in 1873.  It seems the youngest son (who was an overseer with questionable accounts) was left out of the will. The executor of the will was his co plaintiff in the court case, a neighbouring land owner, and the whole rest of the family were the defendants.  It’s gripping, there are so many twists and turns. This might give us a clue why CH grew up in the B’s house instead of her own. Why did CH’s mothers keep the boys and send two girls to live with another family? How did we end up with the oil painting of CH’s mother? It’s a mystery and I’m having a whale of a time.

                                  Another good thing about my little adventure and then this new hobby is how, as you may have noticed, I’m not half as daft as I was when I was withering away in that place with nothing to do. I mean I know I’m withering away and not going anywhere again now,  but on the other hand I’ve just had a fortnights holiday in the nineteenth century, which is more than many can say, even if they’ve been allowed out.


                                    Nora commented favourably on the view, relieved to have been given a clue about what she was supposed to have noticed.  It was a splendid panorama, and Will seemed pleased with her response.  She asked if it was possible to see the old smugglers path from their vantage point, and he pointed to a dirt road in the valley below that disappeared from view behind a stand of eucalyptus trees.  Will indicated a tiny white speck of an old farm ruin, and said the smugglers path went over the hill behind it.

                                    Shading her eyes from the sun, Nora peered into the distance beyond the hill, wondering how far it was to Clara’s grandfathers house. Of course she knew it was 25 kilometers or so, but wasn’t sure how many hills behind that one, or if the path veered off at some point in another direction.

                                    Wondering where Clara was reminded Nora that her friend would be waiting for her, and quite possibly worrying that she hadn’t yet arrived.  She sighed, making her mind up to leave first thing the next morning.  She didn’t mention this to Will though, and wondered briefly why she hesitated.  Something about the violent sweep of his arm when she asked about her phone had made her uneasy, such a contrast to his usual easy going grins.

                                    Then she reminded herself that she had only just met him, and barely knew anything about him at all, despite all the stories they’d shared.  When she thought about it, none of the stories had given her any information ~ they had mostly been anecdotes that had a similarity to her own, and although pleasant, were inconsequential.  And she kept forgetting to ask him about all the statues at his place.

                                    Wishing she could at least send a text message to Clara, Nora remembered the remote viewing practice they’d done together over the years, and realized she could at least attempt a telepathic communication. Then later, if Clara gave her a hard time about not staying in contact, she could always act surprised and say, Why, didn’t you get the message?

                                    She found a flat stone to sit on, and focused on the smugglers path below. Then she closed her eyes and said clearly in her mind, “I’ll be there tomorrow evening, Clara. All is well. I am safe.”

                                    She opened her eyes and saw that Will had started to head back down the path.  “Come on!” he called, “Time for lunch!”


                                      Clara breathed a sigh of relief when she saw VanGogh running towards her; in the moonlight he looked like a pale ghost.

                                      “Where’ve you been eh?” she asked as he nuzzled her excitedly. She crouched down to pat him. “And what’s this?” A piece of paper folded into quarters had been tucked into VanGogh’s collar. Clara stood upright and looked uneasily around the garden; a small wind made the leaves rustle and the deep shadows stirred. Clara shivered.

                                      “Clara?” called Bob from the door.

                                      “It’s okay Grandpa, I found him. We’re coming in now.”

                                      In the warm light of the kitchen, Clara showed Bob the piece of paper. “It’s a map, but I don’t know those place names.”

                                      “And it was stuffed into his collar you say?” Bob frowned. “That’s very strange indeed. Who’d of done that?”

                                      Clara shook her head. “It wasn’t Mr Willets because I saw him drive off. But why didn’t VanGogh bark? He always barks when someone comes on the property.”

                                      “You really should tell her about the note,” said Jane. She was perched on the kitchen bench. VanGogh pricked his ears up and wagged his tail as he looked towards her. Bob couldn’t figure out if the dog could see Jane or just somehow sensed her there. He nodded.

                                      “What?” asked Clara.

                                      “There’s something I should tell you, Clara. It’s about that box you found.”


                                        “You know, April … I’ve never felt myself suited to work. Never found my …” June screwed up her face in concentration. “… special calling.”

                                        “Can’t we sit down over there for a minute? My feet are bloody killing me.” April nodded towards a park bench; she didn’t have much patience today for June and her philosophising, after all, wasn’t it June’s fault they were in this mess? “It’s too bad we can’t even afford the bus fare,” she grumbled as she settled herself on the wooden seat.

                                        “Not too much further,” said June plonking down next to her.

                                        April bent down to take off her socks and sneakers and massaged her grateful feet in the damp grass. “Think I’ve got a blister. And I’d kill for a cuppa tea. I do hope Finnley has kept on top of things.”

                                        June snorted. “Not bloody likely. Anyway, while we’ve been walking I’ve been thinking … what if we sue?”

                                        April yawned noisily without bothering to put a hand over her mouth—she knew June hated that. “Who is Sue? Does she have money?”

                                        “No, you idiot, not, who Sue. I mean what if we sue for money? Sue the president for wrongdoings which have been done to us.”

                                        “Oh!” April perked up. “There’s certainly been plenty of wrongdoings!”

                                        June smiled smugly. “Exactly.”


                                          Everyone seems happy about the rain, and I don’t blame them. I’m not daft, I know we need rain but it’s not so easy when you don’t have a home.  But I am nothing if not stalwart and stoic, resourceful and adaptable, and I found a good way to keep warm and dry during the downpours.  It’s amazing how much heat an animal gives off, so I camp down in stables or kennels when it’s cold and wet.  It can get a bit smelly, but it’s warm and dry and when my clothes are damp and stinking I just throw them all away and get some new ones out of the recycling bins. Just to clarify, I find the new clothes first before throwing the ones I’m wearing away. I’m not daft, I know walking around naked would catch attention and I try to stay under the radar. Nobody really notices smelly old ladies wandering around these days anyway, but naked would be another matter.

                                          There’s a stable I really like just outside of town, lots of nice deep clean straw. There’s a white horse in there that knows me now and the gentle whicker of recognition when she sees me warms my heart. I don’t stay there any two nights running though.  One thing I’ve learned is don’t do anything too regular, keep it random and varied.  I don’t want anyone plotting my movements and interfering with me in any way.

                                          There’s not much to do in a stable when it rains for days and nights on end but remember things, so I may as well write them down. I’m never quite sure if the things I remember are my memories or someone elses, a past life of my own perhaps, or another person entirely.  I used to worry a bit about that, but not anymore. Nobody cares and there’s nobody to flag my memories as false, and if there was, I wouldn’t care if they did.

                                          Anyway, the other day while I was nestled in a pile of sweet hay listening to the thunder, I recalled that day when someone offered me a fortune for that old mirror I’d bought at the flea market. I know I hadn’t paid much for it, because I never did pay much for anything. Never have done.  I bought it because it was unusual (hideous is what everyone said about it, but people have got very strangely ordinary taste, I’ve found) and because it was cheap enough that I could buy it without over thinking the whole thing.  At the end of the day you can’t beat the magic of spontaneity, it out performs long winded assessment every time.

                                          So this man was a friend of a friend who happened to visit and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse so of course I sold the mirror to him. He was so delighted about it that I’d have given him the mirror for nothing if I knew he wanted it that much, but I’m not daft, I took the money.  I found out later that he’d won the lottery, so I never felt guilty about it.

                                          Well, after he’d gone I sat there looking at this pile of money in my hands and knew exactly what I was going to do. But first I had to find them.  They’d moved again and we’d lost contact but I knew I’d find a way. And I did.  They’d given up all hope of ever getting that money back that I’d borrowed, but they said the timing was perfect, couldn’t have been better, they said. It wouldn’t have meant all that much to them if I’d paid it back right away, they said, because they didn’t need it then as much as they did when they finally got it back.

                                          They were strange times back then, and one thing after another was happening all over the world, what with the strange weather, and all the pandemics and refugees.  Hard to keep food on the table, let alone make plans or pay debts back.  But debt is a funny thing. I felt stung when I realized they didn’t think I intended to pay them back but the fact was, I couldn’t do it at the time. And I wanted it to be a magical perfect timing surprise when I did.  I suppose in a way I wanted it to be like it was when they loaned me the money. I remember I wept at the kindness of it.  Well I didn’t want them to weep necessarily, but I wanted it to mean something wonderful, somehow.  And timing is everything and you can’t plan that kind of thing, not really.

                                          It was a happy ending in the end though, I gave them the whole amount I got for that old mirror, which was considerably more than the loan.

                                          The rain has stopped now and the sun is shining. My damp clothes are steaming and probably much smellier than I think. Time to find a recycling bin and a fresh new look.

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