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    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


      Zara took dozens of screenshots of the many etchings and drawings, as her game character paused to do the same.  She had lost sight of the two figures up ahead, and remembered she probably should have been following them.

      The tunnel came to a four way junction. There were drawings on the walls and floors of all of them, and a dim light coming from a distance in each. One was more brightly lit than the others, and Zara chose to explore that one first.  Presently a side room appeared, with green tiles on the floor similar to the one at the mine entrance. Daylight shone though a small window, and a diagram was drawn onto the wall.

      Zara toyed with the idea of simply climbing out through the window while there was still a chance to get out of the mine.  She knew she was lost and would not be able to find her way out the way she came. It was tempting, but she just took a screenshot.  Maybe when she looked at them later she’d be able to work out how to retrace her steps.

      Zara room of tiles windowAfter recording the image of the room of tiles, Zara continued along the tunnel. The light shining from the little window in the tile room faded as she progressed, and she found herself once again in near darkness.  She came to a fork.  Both ways were equally gloomy, but a faint blue light enticed her to take the right hand tunnel.

      So many forks and side tunnels, I am surely completely lost now! And not one of these supposed maps is helping, I can’t decipher any of them. Another etching on the wall caught her eye, and Zara forgot about being lost.

      Zara stopped to look at what appeared to be a map on the tunnel wall, but it was unfathomable at this stage. She recorded it for future reference, and then looked around, unsure whether to continue on this path or retrace her stops back to the four way junction.  And then she saw him in an alcove.

      Osnas 2

      Osnas! This time Zara did say it out loud, and just as the frog faced stewardess was passing with her cart piled with used cups and cans and empty packets.  I swear she just winked at me!  Zara did a double take, but the cart and the woman had passed, collecting more rubbish.

      With a little smile, Zara noticed that the mask Osnas was wearing was one of those paper pandemic masks.  She had expected something a bit more Venice carnival when the prompt mentioned that he always wore a mask, not one of those.  She hoped the clue in this case wasn’t the mask, as she had avoided the plague successfully so far and didn’t want to be late to that particular party,  but the square green thing on his cart resembled the tile at the mine entrance.  What do I do now though? I still don’t know what any of these things mean.  Approach him and see if he speaks I suppose.

      “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching Alice Springs, please fasten your seatbelts and switch off all your devices ready for landing.  We hope you have enjoyed your flight.”


      In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


        “Calm yourself, Egbert, and sit down. And be quiet! I can barely hear myself think with your frantic gibbering and flailing around,” Olga said, closing her eyes.  “I need to think.”

        Egbert clutched the eiderdown on either side of his bony trembling knees and clamped his remaining teeth together, drawing ragged whistling breaths in an attempt to calm himself.  Olga was right, he needed to calm down. Besides the unfortunate effects of the letter on his habitual tremor, he felt sure his blood pressure had risen alarmingly.  He dared not become so ill that he needed medical assistance, not with the state of the hospitals these days. He’d be lucky to survive the plague ridden wards.

        What had become of him! He imagined his younger self looking on with horror, appalled at his feeble body and shattered mind.  Imagine becoming so desperate that he wanted to fight to stay in this godforsaken dump, what had become of him! If only he knew of somewhere else to go, somewhere safe and pleasant, somewhere that smelled sweetly of meadows and honesuckle and freshly baked cherry pies, with the snorting of pigs in the yard…

        But wait, that was Olga snoring. Useless old bag had fallen asleep! For the first time since Viktor had died he felt close to tears. What a sad sorry pathetic old man he’d become, desperately counting on a old woman to save him.

        “Stop sniveling, Egbert, and go and pack a bag.” Olga had woken up from her momentary but illuminating lapse.    “Don’t bring too much, we may have much walking to do. I hear the buses and trains are in a shambles and full of refugees. We don’t want to get herded up with them.”

        Astonished, Egbert asked where they were going.

        “To see Rosa. My cousins father in laws neice. Don’t look at me like that, immediate family are seldom the ones who help.  The distant ones are another matter.  And be honest Egbert,” Olga said with a piercing look, “Do we really want to stay here? You may think you do, but it’s the fear of change, that’s all. Change feels like too much bother, doesn’t it?”

        Egbert nodded sadly, his eyes fixed on the stain on the grey carpet.

        Olga leaned forward and took his hand gently. “Egbert, look at me.” He raised his head and looked into her eyes. He’d never seen a sparkle in her faded blue eyes before.  “I still have another adventure in me. How about you?”


          Lincolnshire Families


          Thanks to the 1851 census, we know that William Eaton was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire. He was baptised on 29 November 1768 at St Wulfram’s church; his father was William Eaton and his mother Elizabeth.

          St Wulfram’s in Grantham painted by JMW Turner in 1797:

          St Wulframs


          I found a marriage for a William Eaton and Elizabeth Rose in the city of Lincoln in 1761, but it seemed unlikely as they were both of that parish, and with no discernable links to either Grantham or Nottingham.

          But there were two marriages registered for William Eaton and Elizabeth Rose: one in Lincoln in 1761 and one in Hawkesworth Nottinghamshire in 1767, the year before William junior was baptised in Grantham. Hawkesworth is between Grantham and Nottingham, and this seemed much more likely.

          Elizabeth’s name is spelled Rose on her marriage records, but spelled Rouse on her baptism. It’s not unusual for spelling variations to occur, as the majority of people were illiterate and whoever was recording the event wrote what it sounded like.

          Elizabeth Rouse was baptised on 26th December 1746 in Gunby St Nicholas (there is another Gunby in Lincolnshire), a short distance from Grantham. Her father was Richard Rouse; her mother Cave Pindar. Cave is a curious name and I wondered if it had been mistranscribed, but it appears to be correct and clearly says Cave on several records.

          Richard Rouse married Cave Pindar 21 July 1744 in South Witham, not far from Grantham.

          Richard was born in 1716 in North Witham. His father was William Rouse; his mothers name was Jane.

          Cave Pindar was born in 1719 in Gunby St Nicholas, near Grantham. Her father was William Pindar, but sadly her mothers name is not recorded in the parish baptism register. However a marriage was registered between William Pindar and Elizabeth Holmes in Gunby St Nicholas in October 1712.

          William Pindar buried a daughter Cave on 2 April 1719 and baptised a daughter Cave on 6 Oct 1719:

          Cave Pindar


          Elizabeth Holmes was baptised in Gunby St Nicholas on 6th December 1691. Her father was John Holmes; her mother Margaret Hod.

          Margaret Hod would have been born circa 1650 to 1670 and I haven’t yet found a baptism record for her. According to several other public trees on an ancestry website, she was born in 1654 in Essenheim, Germany. This was surprising! According to these trees, her father was Johannes Hod (Blodt|Hoth) (1609–1677) and her mother was Maria Appolonia Witters (1620–1656).

          I did not think it very likely that a young woman born in Germany would appear in Gunby St Nicholas in the late 1600’s, and did a search for Hod’s in and around Grantham. Indeed there were Hod’s living in the area as far back as the 1500’s, (a Robert Hod was baptised in Grantham in 1552), and no doubt before, but the parish records only go so far back. I think it’s much more likely that her parents were local, and that the page with her baptism recorded on the registers is missing.

          Of the many reasons why parish registers or some of the pages would be destroyed or lost, this is another possibility. Lincolnshire is on the east coast of England:

          “All of England suffered from a “monster” storm in November of 1703 that killed a reported 8,000 people. Seaside villages suffered greatly and their church and civil records may have been lost.”

          A Margeret Hod, widow, died in Gunby St Nicholas in 1691, the same year that Elizabeth Holmes was born. Elizabeth’s mother was Margaret Hod. Perhaps the widow who died was Margaret Hod’s mother? I did wonder if Margaret Hod had died shortly after her daughter’s birth, and that her husband had died sometime between the conception and birth of his child. The Black Death or Plague swept through Lincolnshire in 1680 through 1690; such an eventually would be possible. But Margaret’s name would have been registered as Holmes, not Hod.

          Cave Pindar’s father William was born in Swinstead, Lincolnshire, also near to Grantham, on the 28th December, 1690, and he died in Gunby St Nicholas in 1756. William’s father is recorded as Thomas Pinder; his mother Elizabeth.

          GUNBY: The village name derives from a “farmstead or village of a man called Gunni”, from the Old Scandinavian person name, and ‘by’, a farmstead, village or settlement.
          Gunby Grade II listed Anglican church is dedicated to St Nicholas. Of 15th-century origin, it was rebuilt by Richard Coad in 1869, although the Perpendicular tower remained.

          Gunby St Nicholas


            Leicestershire Blacksmiths

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

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

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

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

            The blacksmiths

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

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

            The will of Michael Boss, 1772, Measham:

            Michael Boss 1772 will


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

            Information worth noting on the Appleby Magna website:

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

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

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

            Cuthberts inventory

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

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

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

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

            But Michael Boss and Elizabeth Page did not marry twice.

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

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

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

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

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

            Elizabeth Page 1776


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

            Elizabeth Page 1779


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

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

            1750 posthumus


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

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

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

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

            Michael Boss buried 1724 “Affadavit made”:

            Michael Boss affadavit 1724




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

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

            A page of the will of Richard Potter 1731:

            Richard Potter 1731


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

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

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

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

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


            An inventory of the belongings of Richard Potter, 1731:

            Richard Potter inventory


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

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

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

            The will of Richard Potter, 1719:

            Richard Potter 1719


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

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


              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


                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


                  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


                    George Gilman Rushby: The Cousin Who Went To Africa

                    The portrait of the woman has “mother of Catherine Housley, Smalley” written on the back, and one of the family photographs has “Francis Purdy” written on the back. My first internet search was “Catherine Housley Smalley Francis Purdy”. Easily found was the family tree of George (Mike) Rushby, on one of the genealogy websites. It seemed that it must be our family, but the African lion hunter seemed unlikely until my mother recalled her father had said that he had a cousin who went to Africa. I also noticed that the lion hunter’s middle name was Gilman ~ the name that Catherine Housley’s daughter ~ my great grandmother, Mary Ann Gilman Purdy ~ adopted, from her aunt and uncle who brought her up.

                    I tried to contact George (Mike) Rushby via the ancestry website, but got no reply. I searched for his name on Facebook and found a photo of a wildfire in a place called Wardell, in Australia, and he was credited with taking the photograph. A comment on the photo, which was a few years old, got no response, so I found a Wardell Community group on Facebook, and joined it. A very small place, population some 700 or so, and I had an immediate response on the group to my question. They knew Mike, exchanged messages, and we were able to start emailing. I was in the chair at the dentist having an exceptionally long canine root canal at the time that I got the message with his email address, and at that moment the song Down in Africa started playing.

                    Mike said it was clever of me to track him down which amused me, coming from the son of an elephant and lion hunter.  He didn’t know why his father’s middle name was Gilman, and was not aware that Catherine Housley’s sister married a Gilman.

                    Mike Rushby kindly gave me permission to include his family history research in my book.  This is the story of my grandfather George Marshall’s cousin.  A detailed account of George Gilman Rushby’s years in Africa can be found in another chapter called From Tanganyika With Love; the letters Eleanor wrote to her family.

                    George Gilman Rushby:

                    George Gilman Rushby


                    The story of George Gilman Rushby 1900-1969, as told by his son Mike:

                    George Gilman Rushby:
                    Elephant hunter,poacher, prospector, farmer, forestry officer, game ranger, husband to Eleanor, and father of 6 children who now live around the world.

                    George Gilman Rushby was born in Nottingham on 28 Feb 1900 the son of Catherine Purdy and John Henry Payling Rushby. But John Henry died when his son was only one and a half years old, and George shunned his drunken bullying stepfather Frank Freer and was brought up by Gypsies who taught him how to fight and took him on regular poaching trips. His love of adventure and his ability to hunt were nurtured at an early stage of his life.
                    The family moved to Eastwood, where his mother Catherine owned and managed The Three Tuns Inn, but when his stepfather died in mysterious circumstances, his mother married a wealthy bookmaker named Gregory Simpson. He could afford to send George to Worksop College and to Rugby School. This was excellent schooling for George, but the boarding school environment, and the lack of a stable home life, contributed to his desire to go out in the world and do his own thing. When he finished school his first job was as a trainee electrician with Oaks & Co at Pye Bridge. He also worked part time as a motor cycle mechanic and as a professional boxer to raise the money for a voyage to South Africa.

                    In May 1920 George arrived in Durban destitute and, like many others, living on the beach and dependant upon the Salvation Army for a daily meal. However he soon got work as an electrical mechanic, and after a couple of months had earned enough money to make the next move North. He went to Lourenco Marques where he was appointed shift engineer for the town’s power station. However he was still restless and left the comfort of Lourenco Marques for Beira in August 1921.

                    Beira was the start point of the new railway being built from the coast to Nyasaland. George became a professional hunter providing essential meat for the gangs of construction workers building the railway. He was a self employed contractor with his own support crew of African men and began to build up a satisfactory business. However, following an incident where he had to shoot and kill a man who attacked him with a spear in middle of the night whilst he was sleeping, George left the lower Zambezi and took a paddle steamer to Nyasaland (Malawi). On his arrival in Karongo he was encouraged to shoot elephant which had reached plague proportions in the area – wrecking African homes and crops, and threatening the lives of those who opposed them.

                    His next move was to travel by canoe the five hundred kilometre length of Lake Nyasa to Tanganyika, where he hunted for a while in the Lake Rukwa area, before walking through Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) to the Congo. Hunting his way he overachieved his quota of ivory resulting in his being charged with trespass, the confiscation of his rifles, and a fine of one thousand francs. He hunted his way through the Congo to Leopoldville then on to the Portuguese enclave, near the mouth of the mighty river, where he worked as a barman in a rough and tough bar until he received a message that his old friend Lumb had found gold at Lupa near Chunya. George set sail on the next boat for Antwerp in Belgium, then crossed to England and spent a few weeks with his family in Jacksdale before returning by sea to Dar es Salaam. Arriving at the gold fields he pegged his claim and almost immediately went down with blackwater fever – an illness that used to kill three out of four within a week.

                    When he recovered from his fever, George exchanged his gold lease for a double barrelled .577 elephant rifle and took out a special elephant control licence with the Tanganyika Government. He then headed for the Congo again and poached elephant in Northern Rhodesia from a base in the Congo. He was known by the Africans as “iNyathi”, or the Buffalo, because he was the most dangerous in the long grass. After a profitable hunting expedition in his favourite hunting ground of the Kilombera River he returned to the Congo via Dar es Salaam and Mombassa. He was after the Kabalo district elephant, but hunting was restricted, so he set up his base in The Central African Republic at a place called Obo on the Congo tributary named the M’bomu River. From there he could make poaching raids into the Congo and the Upper Nile regions of the Sudan. He hunted there for two and a half years. He seldom came across other Europeans; hunters kept their own districts and guarded their own territories. But they respected one another and he made good and lasting friendships with members of that small select band of adventurers.

                    Leaving for Europe via the Congo, George enjoyed a short holiday in Jacksdale with his mother. On his return trip to East Africa he met his future bride in Cape Town. She was 24 year old Eleanor Dunbar Leslie; a high school teacher and daughter of a magistrate who spent her spare time mountaineering, racing ocean yachts, and riding horses. After a whirlwind romance, they were betrothed within 36 hours.

                    On 25 July 1930 George landed back in Dar es Salaam. He went directly to the Mbeya district to find a home. For one hundred pounds he purchased the Waizneker’s farm on the banks of the Mntshewe Stream. Eleanor, who had been delayed due to her contract as a teacher, followed in November. Her ship docked in Dar es Salaam on 7 Nov 1930, and they were married that day. At Mchewe Estate, their newly acquired farm, they lived in a tent whilst George with some help built their first home – a lovely mud-brick cottage with a thatched roof. George and Eleanor set about developing a coffee plantation out of a bush block. It was a very happy time for them. There was no electricity, no radio, and no telephone. Newspapers came from London every two months. There were a couple of neighbours within twenty miles, but visitors were seldom seen. The farm was a haven for wild life including snakes, monkeys and leopards. Eleanor had to go South all the way to Capetown for the birth of her first child Ann, but with the onset of civilisation, their first son George was born at a new German Mission hospital that had opened in Mbeya.

                    Occasionally George had to leave the farm in Eleanor’s care whilst he went off hunting to make his living. Having run the coffee plantation for five years with considerable establishment costs and as yet no return, George reluctantly started taking paying clients on hunting safaris as a “white hunter”. This was an occupation George didn’t enjoy. but it brought him an income in the days when social security didn’t exist. Taking wealthy clients on hunting trips to kill animals for trophies and for pleasure didn’t amuse George who hunted for a business and for a way of life. When one of George’s trackers was killed by a leopard that had been wounded by a careless client, George was particularly upset.
                    The coffee plantation was approaching the time of its first harvest when it was suddenly attacked by plagues of borer beetles and ring barking snails. At the same time severe hail storms shredded the crop. The pressure of the need for an income forced George back to the Lupa gold fields. He was unlucky in his gold discoveries, but luck came in a different form when he was offered a job with the Forestry Department. The offer had been made in recognition of his initiation and management of Tanganyika’s rainbow trout project. George spent most of his short time with the Forestry Department encouraging the indigenous people to conserve their native forests.

                    In November 1938 he transferred to the Game Department as Ranger for the Eastern Province of Tanganyika, and over several years was based at Nzasa near Dar es Salaam, at the old German town of Morogoro, and at lovely Lyamungu on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Then the call came for him to be transferred to Mbeya in the Southern Province for there was a serious problem in the Njombe district, and George was selected by the Department as the only man who could possibly fix the problem.

                    Over a period of several years, people were being attacked and killed by marauding man-eating lions. In the Wagingombe area alone 230 people were listed as having been killed. In the Njombe district, which covered an area about 200 km by 300 km some 1500 people had been killed. Not only was the rural population being decimated, but the morale of the survivors was so low, that many of them believed that the lions were not real. Many thought that evil witch doctors were controlling the lions, or that lion-men were changing form to kill their enemies. Indeed some wichdoctors took advantage of the disarray to settle scores and to kill for reward.

                    By hunting down and killing the man-eaters, and by showing the flesh and blood to the doubting tribes people, George was able to instil some confidence into the villagers. However the Africans attributed the return of peace and safety, not to the efforts of George Rushby, but to the reinstallation of their deposed chief Matamula Mangera who had previously been stood down for corruption. It was Matamula , in their eyes, who had called off the lions.

                    Soon after this adventure, George was appointed Deputy Game Warden for Tanganyika, and was based in Arusha. He retired in 1956 to the Njombe district where he developed a coffee plantation, and was one of the first in Tanganyika to plant tea as a major crop. However he sensed a swing in the political fortunes of his beloved Tanganyika, and so sold the plantation and settled in a cottage high on a hill overlooking the Navel Base at Simonstown in the Cape. It was whilst he was there that TV Bulpin wrote his biography “The Hunter is Death” and George wrote his book “No More The Tusker”. He died in the Cape, and his youngest son Henry scattered his ashes at the Southern most tip of Africa where the currents of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet .

                    George Gilman Rushby:


                      Aunt Idle:

                      You can’t blame me for not updating my diary because bugger all has happened all year.  Borders closed, no tourists allowed in.  How are bespoke bijou boutique establishments like ours supposed to survive?  But we’re still here. Somehow we’ve managed to keep the wolf from the door, but only just barely.  I get a bit muddled up these days and can’t remember the dates. Sometimes I find myself living in the past for weeks on end: things change so little around her that it’s easy to do. But what does it matter anyway?

                      Mater went into a sulk the likes of which I hope never to see again, when her 100th birthday party was cancelled. I thought she might give up the will to live, but oh no. She’s determined now to have a 110th birthday party now.  She says the bloody pandemic ought to be over by then.  I hope she’s right. She changes her health food and exercise regimes as often as she changes her knickers. Well more often than that, probably, she doesn’t bother much with personal hygiene.  She says the germs keep her immune system in good shape.  I think the smell of her would keep any plague ridden body well away from her, but whatever works, I always say.  At least she isn’t sulking anymore, she’s grimly stoic now and tediously determined to outlive me.

                      I had some worrying news through the telepathic grapevine about the twins and Pan, they’d gotten into the clutches of a strange cult over there.  I’ve got a feeling they weren’t really sucked into it though, I think they needed to use it as a cover, or to keep themselves safe.  I say cult but it was huge, took over the entire country and even started spreading to other countries. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with.  I knew they shouldn’t have gone there.  There’s been a peculiar blockage with the telepathic messages for ages now.  It’s a worry, but what can I do.   I keep sending them messages, but get nothing in return.

                      Ah, well. We carry on as best we can. What I wouldn’t give for an unexpected visitor to brighten things up a bit. Fat chance of that.


                        I don’t know how long it’s been since I ran away but I wish I’d done it years ago. I’m having a whale of a time. Every day is different and always new people to talk to.  Boggles my mind to think how long I spent sitting in the same place seeing the same two or three faces day in day out.  I miss my old comfy chair sometimes, though. That’s one thing that’s hard to find, a nice recliner to kick back and snooze in.  You can find things to sit on, but not with arms and a backrest.

                        I discovered a good trick for getting a bit of a lie down, though, especially when it rains.  I go and sit in an emergency ward waiting room and start doubling over saying I’m in pain, and they let me lie on a trolley.   If I fall asleep quietly they tend to forget me, they’re that busy rushing all over the place, and then when I wake up I just sneak out.  Always make full use of the bathroom facilities before I go and if I wander around a bit I can usually find one with a shower as well.  Usually find some useful odds and ends on the carts the staff push around, and then I’m on my way, rested, showered, toileted and ready to roll.

                        I always wear a mask though, I don’t take unnecessary risks.  And I only take unused syringes to trade with the junkies.  I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I’d passed the plague on to anyone vulnerable.


                        In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                          “It’s Thursday today,” remarked Star.

                          “Special subject the bloody obvious?” Tara replied rudely.   “You should be on Mastermind.”

                          “Well, we were wondering what we were going to do to pass the time until Thursday, and here we are. It’s Thursday!”

                          “Are you losing your marbles?”

                          “Actually it’s you losing your memory,” Star sighed.  “Remember the case?”

                          “What case?”

                          “The case we were working on!”

                          “Oh, that case! Well you can hardly expect me to remember that when it’s been such a strange week!” Tara was starting to get tearful and agitated.

                          “Look, Tara, the tests came back negative. You can stop worrying about it now.  We can go back to normal now and carry on. And just in time for the rendezvous at the cafe on Main Street.” Star patted Tara’s arm encouragingly.  “And what timing! If the results hadn’t come back yet, or we’d tested positive, we wouldn’t have been able to go to the cafe.”

                          “Well we could have gone and just not said anything about the tests,” sniffed Tara.  “Everyone else seems to be doing what they want regardless.”

                          “Yes, but we’re not as morally bankrupt as them,” retorted Star.

                          Tara giggled. “But we used to work for Madame Limonella.”

                          “That’s an entirely different kind of morals,” Star replied, but chose not to pursue the issue. She was relieved to see Tara’s mood lighten.  “What are you going to wear to the cafe?”

                          “Is it a fancy dress party? I could wear my plague doctor outfit.”

                          Star rolled her eyes. “No! We have to dress appropriately, something subtle and serious.  A dark suit perhaps.”

                          “Oh like my Ace of Spades T shirt?”

                          This is going nowhere fast, Star thought, but then had a revelation.  A moment later, she had forgotten what the revelation was when the door burst open.

                          “Ta Da!” shouted Rosamund, entering the office with two middle aged ladies in tow.  “I nabbed them both, they were lurking in the queue for the food bank! And I single handedly brought then back.  Can we talk about my bonus now?”

                          Both Tara and Star were frowning at the two unfamiliar ladies. “Yes but who are these two middle aged ladies?”

                          One of the ladies piped up, “She said you’d be taking us out for afternoon tea at a nice cafe!”

                          The other one added, “We haven’t eaten for days, we’re starving!”

                          “But neither of you is April!” exclaimed Tara.

                          The first middle aged lady said, “Oh no dear, it’s September. I’m quite sure of that.”


                            Well. I did it. I made my escape. I had to! Nobody came for three days and I’d run out of biscuits. Thank the lord my hip wasn’t playing up. I decided not to take anything with me, figuring I could just steal things off washing lines when I wanted a change of clothes.  I’ve always hated carrying heavy bags.  I reckoned it would look less conspicuous, too. Just an old dear popping out for digestive perambulation. Nobody suspects old dears of anything, not unless they’re dragging a suitcase round, and I had no intention of doing that. I did put a couple of spare masks in my pocket though, you can’t be too careful these days. And it would help with the disguise.  I didn’t want any do gooders trying to catch me and take me back to that place.

                            I had the presence of mind to wear good stout walking shoes and not my pink feather mules, even though it was a wrench to say goodbye to them.  I used to love to see them peeping out from under my bath robe. One day I might strike lucky and find another pair.

                            I’ve been eating like a king, better than ever!  I accidentally coughed on someones burger one day, and they dropped it and ran away, and I thought to myself, well there’s an idea. I stuck to random snacks in the street at first and then one day I fancied a Chinese so I thought, well why not give it a try.   Coughed all over his brown bag of prawn crackers as he walked out of the restaurant and he put the whole takeaway in the nearest bin. Piping hot meal for six! Even had that expensive crispy duck!

                            Tonight I fancy sushi.  Wish I’d thought of this trick years ago, I said to myself the other day, then my other self said, yeah but it wouldn’t have worked so well before the plague.

                            Not having much luck with the washing lines though, lazy sods either not doing any laundry or putting it all in the dryer. Weeks of sunny weather as well, the lazy bastards.  Lazy and wasteful!  You should see the clothes they throw in the clothes bank bins!  If the bins are full you can get your arm in and pull out the ones on the top.  I change outfits a dozen times a day some days if I’m in the mood.   I do sometimes get an urge to keep something if I like it but I’m sticking to my guns and being ruthless about not carrying anything with me.


                              Aunt Idle:

                              I’ll admit Mater did well with the get back into shape programme, despite my skepticism.  She did hone her muscles a bit, but she was still harping on about wanting plastic surgery.  I probably shouldn’t have asked her if she was showing off her biceps or her bingo wings the other day, because that started her off again. I tried to make it up by complimenting her thigh muscles, but spoiled it by saying it was a shame the skin hung down past her kneecaps. Bert said maybe she could hold the skin up with some suspenders and made me spit my eucalyptus tea out and nearly choke to death. Mater was all set to take offence until she saw me choking, and then she started laughing too. I’m smiling remembering it, because we all saw the funny side then and couldn’t stop laughing for ages. God knows we needed a good laugh.

                              I’d had another one of those telepathic chats with Corrie the day before. If I’d known those silly girls were going to navigate their way here via that route I’d have said something, but I never thought they’d be so daft.  There’s me envisioning a pleasant drift through the Mediterranean, and an unexpected sail across an immense shallow lake that had appeared in the middle east with crystal clear waters and a sandy bottom (I could picture it all, I tell you) and then an invitingly tropical trip along the Indian coast with ports of call at virgin new coastlines  ~ but no, they’d gone the other way.  Across the Atlantic. And now they were fighting off bandits every step of the way and having to go miles out of their way to avoid plague ridden slums.  They hadn’t even made their way past the eastern seaboard yet, despite it being considerably narrower now.

                              They lost Pan for days in one of those half submerged coastal cities, rife with lawless floating shanties.  I hope my impressions are wrong, I do really, but it seemed like he’d been kidnapped for a barbecue.  Tender and juicy.

                              His ability to stay submerged under the water for so long saved him, that and Corrie’s ability to stay in telepathic contact with him.

                              They left the coastline and headed south after that and didn’t head back towards land for awhile but when they did, they found the lagoons and inlets were infested with alligators and some kind of water pig. Not sure if I picked that up right, but seems like the hogs had escaped from the farms during the Great Floods and taken to the water. Pan was forbidden to waterlark in these waters and had to stay confined to the raft.

                              I don’t know if they’ll get here in time for Mater’s birthday. Might be my hundredth birthday by the time they get here at this rate.


                              In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


                                Sometimes whales
                                managed taste
                                whispered guess
                                line care tell

                                Plague walk
                                funny treatment
                                pop himself
                                hilda loo

                                Breath added
                                free knew


                                  Barron wasn’t one to let a call for help unanswered.

                                  Yes, Barron, not the wee prodigee from the Beige House that he enjoyed possessing, but the demon summoned from Hell.
                                  It had all been a big misunderstanding, as they all say in the end. He, for one, would have thought the ride more fun. He usually wasn’t summoned for anything short of an apocalypse. That’s what the big elite cabale had promised him.

                                  Oh well, maybe he shouldn’t have eaten them in their sleep. He couldn’t say no to the fresh taste of unrepentant sharks and sinners. Since then, he’d been a bit stuck with the big Lump. He would have thought he’d be more competent at the whole Armageddon thing.

                                  Back in the past, now that was something, the Crusades, the plague and all. So much fun. Gilles de Rais, well, he took it too far, blaming monsters for his own horrendous sins. Nowadays, people didn’t really need direction, did they? They were all too happy to ride barrelling out of control towards chaos and certain death. His job was done, he would be a legend down there, and still he felt like a fraud.

                                  So what could he do? His plan for eternal holidays in Mexico while starting a cartel war had been sadly derailed. His mercurial and weirdo nannies had disappeared leaving him alone. Plus, the voodoo witch he met during their escape had been on his ass the whole time, he’d seen the eye she’d given him. Wouldn’t mess around with that one; can’t possess people against their will and risk a merciless lawyer from Heavens, can we. Heavens’ lawyers were the nastiest of pains.

                                  He was about to abandon all hope when he’d heard the pleas from the French maid and her child. Well, she sounded too whimsical and high maintenance. But it gave him an idea. With all the death around, there were plenty of near dead people to possess who wouldn’t mind a last ride,… and funny bargains to be made.


                                    Fanella was frantic, trying to think of a way to escape with her baby.  The atmosphere in this city was unbearable at the best of times, and especially in this house, but now it was excruciating. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the plague that was terrorizing people, it was the way the people were reacting that was so alarming.  They were howling like wolves, a sure sign of lunacy since time immemorial. The sound of it made her blood run cold.

                                    Nobody had seen the president for over a week and rumours were rife. Many said that he’d died, and they were keeping it secret to avoid civil unrest.  An office junior was continuing his tweets to the nation, using a random predictive text algorithm. Nobody had noticed. That wasn’t strictly true of course as many had commented that the messages now made marginally more sense.

                                    Fanella could sense the swelling chaos in the air, both inside the house and beyond, in the city and in the nation. Everyone was losing their minds. She had to escape.

                                    She consulted the U Chong:

                                     (Chin / Jin) : Progress / Advance. It represents Prospering, as well as Progress. It is symbolic of meeting the great man.

                                    The great man! Of course! Lazuli Galore would come to rescue her! But how would he know where to find her? Would he be able to travel freely? He’d find a way, surely! But how would he know she needed help? It was so complicated. So hard to know what to do!

                                    But first things first. Fanella crept down to the kitchen, in the dead  of the night while everyone was tucked up in their beds with their fitful nightmares, and filled a rucksack with provisions. Then she crept up the back stairs to her hideout in the attic of the west wing.  The baby was still sleeping soundly. Fanella lay down and pulled a blanket round them both. Maybe the answer would come in a dream. If not, she’d think about it again tomorrow.


                                    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


                                      Voice town welcome virus suddenly
                                      Dusty complete plague flew trail
                                      Fell party change attention crying
                                      Walk move drama married experiment
                                      Arthur baby showed deal stress
                                      Rose legs aren luckily doctor
                                      Resumed worn shaman spotted focused
                                      Throwing cool arona giant secretive
                                      Considering cave mangled pearl offer
                                      Mystery powder


                                        Life around the woods had changed in a strange way since the appearance of the beaver fever. It was called after some theory from where it came from. Some said patient zero was a trapper far off in the woods who caught an infected beaver and sold its fur to the market. The fur then contaminated the coat maker and then the clients who tried on that coat, hence leading to contamination nests in the entire realm. The beaver fever took time to incubate, so when people first noticed the trapper wasn’t coming back, it was too late.

                                        That’s not such a bad thing to live a little recluse in the woods, thought Eleri. She usually was restless and lately had been wandering off into town and into the countryside looking for things to paint with her tar black pigment. It is a new phase of experimentation, she had said to Glynis who had been wondering if she could include more variety to her palette. I’m looking to capture the contrasting soul of what I’m painting.

                                        Don’t you mean contrasted? asked Glynis.

                                        Do I? Whatever, I’m experimenting.

                                        Glynis knew better than to argue with Eleri, and Eleri knew better than trying to make words fit the world. It was better to make the world fit her words. How could you explain that to someone? So she assumed people understood.

                                        With the curfew, though, it had first become harder. Then she had found a way by painting her own garments tar black and to complete her attire, she had asked Fox. He had also found a hobby and with a sharp knife and a log he could make you a mask so vivid to look alike anything you asked. Eleri had asked him for a crow and had painted it tar black. She looked like those doctors during the plague a few centuries back and dressed like that people certainly respected the safety distance promulgated by Leroway’s decree.

                                        That man seemed hard to get rid off, especially in time such as those. Eleri suspected that Leroway was not the man she knew and once courted her. She needed to get close to investigate. Her new attire, if it might not help with the investigation at least would help embolden her and stave off boredom.


                                          The evening helper said she was very sorry to tell me that my niece wouldn’t be able to make it this week, as she’d been on holiday and got quarantined.  You needn’t be sorry about that, I told her, I don’t know who she is anyway.  Not that I’m ungrateful, it’s very kind of her to come and visit me.  She tells me all about people I’ve never heard of, and I pretend to take an interest. I’m polite you see, brought up that way.

                                          Then she said, you’ll have to go easy on the toilet paper, it’s all sold out. Panic buying, she said.

                                          That’s what happens when people start shitting themselves with fear, I said, and she tutted at me as if I was a seven year old, the cheeky young whippersnapper.  And how shall I go easy on it, shall I crap outside behind the flat topped bushes under my window? Wipe my arse on a leaf?

                                          Don’t be daft, you’d fall over, she replied crisply. She had a point.  My hip’s still playing me up, so my plans to escape are on hold. Not much point in it with all this quarantine nonsense going on anyway.   I might get rounded up and put in a tent by a faceless moron in a hazmat suit.  I must say the plague doctors outfits were much more stylish.  And there was no panic buying of loo rolls in those days either.

                                          I don’t know what the world’s coming to. A handful of people with a cough and everyone loses their minds.  Then again, when the plague came, everyone lost their minds too. Not over toilet paper though.  We didn’t start losing our minds until the carts started rolling past every night full of the bodies.  No paper masks in those days either, we wound scarves around our faces because of the stench.

                                          The worst thing was being locked in the house when the kitchen maid came down with it.  All of us, all of the nine children, my wife and her mother, the cook and the maids, all of us untouched, all but that one kitchen maid.  If only they’d taken her away, the rest of us might not have perished.  Not having enough food did us in, we were weakened with starvation. Shut in the house for weeks, with no escape.  Nothing to do but feast on the fears, like a smothering cloud. Like as not, we just gave up, and said, plague, carry me off, I can bear no more. I know after the youngest 6 children and the oldest boy died, I had no will to live.  I died before the wife did and felt a bit guilty about that, leaving her to face the rest of it alone.  She wasn’t happy about that, and who can blame her.

                                          One thing for sure, it wasn’t running out of blasted toilet paper that was worrying me.


                                            They keep calling me Belinda, I don’t know why.  They’re all nice enough, the ones who come and bring my meals and keep the place tidy, so don’t make a fuss when they do. If I’m honest, I don’t always remember their names either.

                                            Today they had white paper face masks on, which seems a bit rude if you ask me. I asked the morning one, do I smell or something? and she said, no, it’s the bolona virus, hadn’t I seen it on the news?   My dear, I said, if you only knew how many times I’ve died of the plague!  She laughed at me and said don’t you worry, you’re not dying of the plague, as if I didn’t know that. They sound patronizing at times but they do it to cover up how dense they are, some of these helpers.

                                            The plague was long a-coming to our parish, I said, ignoring her remark, and when it did come, there was no parish in or about London where it raged with such violence.  By the time the cart came for you to dump you in the pit, you were glad to be out of it, I tell you.

                                            She gave me a funny look and reminded me to eat my toast.

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