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      Premise is set:

      Olga, Egbert and Obadiah are key protagonists in an adventure of elderly people escaping their nursing home of Oocrane (with Maryechka, Obadiah’s grand-daughter, in tow). They start traveling together and helping each other in a war-torn country, and as they travel, they connect with other characters.
      Tone is light-hearted and warm, with at times some bitter-sweet irony, and it unfolds into a surprisingly enthralling saga, with some down-to-earth mysteries, adding up to a satisfying open-ended conclusion that brings some deep life learning about healing the past, accepting the present and living life to its potential.

      A potential plot structure begins to develop henceforth:

      Chapter 2: The Journey Begins

      Departure from the Nursing Home

      Olga and Egbert make their way out the front gate with Obadiah, who has decided to join them on their journey, and they set out on the road together.
      Maryechka, Obadiah’s granddaughter, decides to come along as well out of concern about the elders’, and the group sets off towards an unknown destination.

      A Stop at the Market

      The group stops at a bustling market in the town and begins to gather supplies for their journey.
      Olga and Egbert haggle with vendors over prices, while Obadiah and Maryechka explore the market and gather food for the road.
      The group encounters a strange man selling mysterious trinkets and potions, who tries to sell them a “luck” charm.

      An Unexpected Detour

      The group encounters a roadblock on their path and are forced to take a detour through a dense forest.
      They encounter a group of bandits on the road, who demand their supplies and valuables.
      Olga, Egbert, and Obadiah band together to outwit the bandits and escape, while Maryechka uses her wits to distract them.

      A Close Call with a Wild Beast

      The group comes across a dangerous wild animal on the road, who threatens to attack them.
      Obadiah uses his quick thinking to distract the beast, while Egbert and Olga come up with a plan to trap it.
      Maryechka uses her bravery to lure the beast into a trap, saving the group from certain danger.

      A Night Under the Stars

      The group sets up camp for the night, exhausted from their journey so far.
      They sit around a campfire, sharing stories and reminiscing about their pasts.
      As they gaze up at the stars, they reflect on the challenges they have faced so far and the journey ahead of them. They go to bed, filled with hope and a sense of camaraderie, ready for whatever comes next.


      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


        The progress on the quest in the Land of the Quirks was too tantalizing; Xavier made himself a quick sandwich and jumped back on it during his lunch break.

        The jungle had an oppressing quality… Maybe it has to do with the shrieks of the apes tearing the silence apart.   

        It was time for a slight adjustment of his avatar.

        Xavimunk opened his bag of tricks, something that the wise owl had suggested he looked into. Few items from the AIorium Emporium had been supplied. They tended to shift and disappear if you didn’t focus, but his intention was set on the task at hand. At the bottom of the bag, there was a small vial with a golden liquid with a tag written in ornate handwriting “MJ remix: for when words elude and shapes confuse at your own peril”.

        He gulped the potion without thinking too much. He felt himself shrink, and his arms elongate a little. There, he thought. Imp-munk’s more suited to the mission. Hope the effects will be temporary…

        As Xavier mustered the courage to enter through the front gate, monkeys started to become silent. He couldn’t say if it was an ominous sign, or maybe an effect of his adaptation. The temple’s light inside was gorgeous, but nothing seemed to be there.

        He gestured around, to make the menu appear. He looked again at the instructions on his screen overlay:

        As for possible characters to engage, you may come across a sly fox who claims to know the location of the fruit but will only reveal it in exchange for a favor, or a brave adventurer who has been searching for the Golden Banana for years and may be willing to team up with you.

        Suddenly a loud monkey honking noise came from outside, distracting him.

        What the?… Had to be one of Zara’s remixes. He saw the three dots bleeping on the screen.

        Here’s the Banana bus, hope it helps! Envoy! bugger Enjoy!

        Yep… With the distinct typo-heavy accent, definitely Zara’s style. Strange idea that AL designated her as the leader… He’d have to roll with it.

        Suddenly, as the Banana bus parked in front of the Temple, a horde of Italien speaking tourists started to flock in and snap pictures around. The monkeys didn’t know what to do and seemed to build growing and noisy interest in their assortiment of colorful shoes, flip-flops, boots and all.


        Focus, thought Xavimunk… What did the wise owl say? Look for a guide…
        Only the huge colorful bus seemed to take the space now… But wait… what if?

        He walked to the parking spot under the shades of the huge banyan tree next to the temple’s entrance, under which the bus driver had parked it. The driver was still there, napping under a newspaper, his legs on the wheel.
        “Whatcha lookin’ at?” he said chewing his gum loudly. “Never seen a fox drive a banana bus before?”
        Xavier smiled. “Any chance you can guide me to the location of the Golden Banana?”
        “For a price… maybe.” The fox had jumped closely and was considering the strange avatar from head to toe.
        “Ain’t no usual stuff that got you into this? Got any left? That would be a nice price.”
        “As it happens…” Xavier smiled.

        The quest seemed back on track. Xavier looked at the time. Blimmey! already late again. And I promised Brytta to get some Chinese snacks for dinner.


          Please suggest a creative, a little ghostic but mostly uplifting plot outline for the continuation of the story of Twilight in her travels to join the freak circus and become famous for her craft on the west coast

          — The Far-West saga — In 1850s, in a probable reality of South America, we get acquainted with Twilight (Twi) and her brothers Jo and Elroy. They have a precious blue bull in their possession, coveted by Ogrean, the kingpin of the town. Hopefully for them, Ogrean is arrested (temporarily) by Ted Marshall, the sheriff for his possible trafficking. Notably, Ogrean is possibly involved in some of the crystal skulls discoveries, during his travel to New Honduras. Twi who was dancing in the saloon of Madame Butterbutt, the town’s hallucinogenic toads-to-lick dispenser (insert some other romantic subplots involving the other dancer etc.) decides to go traveling in a freakus (freak show/circus). She is now close to the West Coast, where she hopes to succeed in her writing and other artistic skills.

          As Twilight (Twi) travels with the freak circus, she faces many challenges and obstacles on her journey to the West Coast. Despite the difficulties, she remains determined to make a name for herself as a writer and artist.

          As she travels through small towns and larger cities, she begins to realize that the world is much bigger than she ever imagined. She meets a diverse group of people, some of whom are kind and supportive, while others are cruel and dismissive of her dreams.

          Despite the negative reactions she receives from some people, Twi persists and begins to gain a reputation as a talented writer and performer. As she gains more experience and confidence, she starts to incorporate her own unique style into her performances, which sets her apart from the other performers in the circus.

          As she approaches the West Coast, she begins to feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. She has heard that the West Coast is a place of endless possibilities, where creative minds can thrive. She is determined to make her mark and become famous for her craft.

          As she settles in the west, she finds herself surrounded by artists and writers like herself, who inspire her to push herself even further. She begins to gain a following and her writing is widely read. She discovers that her talent is not only limited to writing, but she also has a natural talent for other art forms as well.

          Eventually, Twi’s reputation as a talented artist and writer precedes her and she becomes a sought-after performer in the West Coast, and her creative work is being showcased in galleries and theaters. As she continues to achieve success in her career, she begins to realize that the West Coast is not just a place of endless possibilities but also the place where she belongs, and the place where her dreams come true.

          Throughout her journey, she also keeps in touch with her brothers, Jo and Elroy, who now run the farm and take care of the blue bull. They tell her that the bull, now named Blue-Dream, became a legend in the village and they get a good price for its breeding.

          As the story continues, she finds herself also involved in some adventures and exciting subplots, like discovering a secret underground cave filled with precious crystals and some interesting characters, like the enigmatic sheriff Ted Marshall who always cross her path, and the mysterious Ogrean who seems to have a connection to her past and the bull.

          The End.


          In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


            Most of the pilgims, if one could call them that, flocked to the linden tree in cars, although some came on motorbikes and bicycles. Olek was grateful that they hadn’t started arriving by the bus load, like Italian tourists.  But his cousin Ursula was happy with this strange new turn of events.

            Her shabby hotel on the outskirts of town had never been so busy and she was already planning to refurbish the premises and evict the decrepit and motley assortment of aged permanent residents who had just about kept her head above water, financially speaking, for the last twenty years. She could charge much more per night to these new tourists, who were smartly dressed and modern and didn’t argue about the price of a room.  They did complain about the damp stained wallpaper though and the threadbare bedding.  Ursula reckoned she could charge even more for the rooms if she redecorated, and had an idea to approach her nephew Boris the bank manager for a business loan.

            But first she had to evict the old timers. It wasn’t her problem, she reminded herself, if they had nowhere else to go. After all, plenty of charitable aid money was flying around these days, they could easily just join up with some fleeing refugees.  She’d even sent some of her old dresses to the collection agency. They may have been forty years old and smelled of moth balls, but they were well made and the refugees would surely be grateful.

            Ursula wasn’t looking forward to telling them. No, not at all!  She rather liked some of them and was dreading their reaction.  You are a business woman, Ursula, she told herself, and you have to look after your own interests!   But still she quailed at the thought of knocking on their doors, or announcing it in the communal dining room at supper. Then she had an idea. She’d type up some letters instead, and sign them as if they came from her new business manager.  When the residents approached her about the letter she would smile sadly and shrug, saying it wasn’t her decision and that she was terribly sorry but her hands were tied.


              The Housley Letters 

              From Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters.


              William Housley (1781-1848) and Ellen Carrington were married on May 30, 1814 at St. Oswald’s church in Ashbourne. William died in 1848 at the age of 67 of “disease of lungs and general debility”. Ellen died in 1872.

              Marriage of William Housley and Ellen Carrington in Ashbourne in 1814:

              William and Ellen Marriage


              Parish records show three children for William and his first wife, Mary, Ellens’ sister, who were married December 29, 1806: Mary Ann, christened in 1808 and mentioned frequently in the letters; Elizabeth, christened in 1810, but never mentioned in any letters; and William, born in 1812, probably referred to as Will in the letters. Mary died in 1813.

              William and Ellen had ten children: John, Samuel, Edward, Anne, Charles, George, Joseph, Robert, Emma, and Joseph. The first Joseph died at the age of four, and the last son was also named Joseph. Anne never married, Charles emigrated to Australia in 1851, and George to USA, also in 1851. The letters are to George, from his sisters and brothers in England.

              The following are excerpts of those letters, including excerpts of Barbara Housley’s “Narrative on Historic Letters”. They are grouped according to who they refer to, rather than chronological order.


              ELLEN HOUSLEY 1795-1872

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

              Ellen’s family was evidently rather prominant in Smalley. Two Carringtons (John and William) served on the Parish Council in 1794. Parish records are full of Carrington marriages and christenings; census records confirm many of the family groupings.

              In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “Mother looks as well as ever and was told by a lady the other day that she looked handsome.” Later she wrote: “Mother is as stout as ever although she sometimes complains of not being able to do as she used to.”


              Mary’s children:

              MARY ANN HOUSLEY  1808-1878

              There were hard feelings between Mary Ann and Ellen and her children. Anne wrote: “If you remember we were not very friendly when you left. They never came and nothing was too bad for Mary Ann to say of Mother and me, but when Robert died Mother sent for her to the funeral but she did not think well to come so we took no more notice. She would not allow her children to come either.”

              Mary Ann was unlucky in love! In Anne’s second letter she wrote: “William Carrington is paying Mary Ann great attention. He is living in London but they write to each other….We expect it will be a match.” Apparantly the courtship was stormy for in 1855, Emma wrote: “Mary Ann’s wedding with William Carrington has dropped through after she had prepared everything, dresses and all for the occassion.” Then in 1856, Emma wrote: “William Carrington and Mary Ann are separated. They wore him out with their nonsense.” Whether they ever married is unclear. Joseph wrote in 1872: “Mary Ann was married but her husband has left her. She is in very poor health. She has one daughter and they are living with their mother at Smalley.”

              Regarding William Carrington, Emma supplied this bit of news: “His sister, Mrs. Lily, has eloped with a married man. Is she not a nice person!”


              WILLIAM HOUSLEY JR. 1812-1890

              According to a letter from Anne, Will’s two sons and daughter were sent to learn dancing so they would be “fit for any society.” Will’s wife was Dorothy Palfry. They were married in Denby on October 20, 1836 when Will was 24. According to the 1851 census, Will and Dorothy had three sons: Alfred 14, Edwin 12, and William 10. All three boys were born in Denby.

              In his letter of May 30, 1872, after just bemoaning that all of his brothers and sisters are gone except Sam and John, Joseph added: “Will is living still.” In another 1872 letter Joseph wrote, “Will is living at Heanor yet and carrying on his cattle dealing.” The 1871 census listed Will, 59, and his son William, 30, of Lascoe Road, Heanor, as cattle dealers.


              Ellen’s children:

              JOHN HOUSLEY  1815-1893

              John married Sarah Baggally in Morely in 1838. They had at least six children. Elizabeth (born 2 May 1838) was “out service” in 1854. In her “third year out,Elizabeth was described by Anne as “a very nice steady girl but quite a woman in appearance.” One of her positions was with a Mrs. Frearson in Heanor. Emma wrote in 1856: Elizabeth is still at Mrs. Frearson. She is such a fine stout girl you would not know her.” Joseph wrote in 1872 that Elizabeth was in service with Mrs. Eliza Sitwell at Derby. (About 1850, Miss Eliza Wilmot-Sitwell provided for a small porch with a handsome Norman doorway at the west end of the St. John the Baptist parish church in Smalley.)

              According to Elizabeth’s birth certificate and the 1841 census, John was a butcher. By 1851, the household included a nurse and a servant, and John was listed as a “victular.” Anne wrote in February 1854, John has left the Public House a year and a half ago. He is living where Plumbs (Ann Plumb witnessed William’s death certificate with her mark) did and Thomas Allen has the land. He has been working at James Eley’s all winter.” In 1861, Ellen lived with John and Sarah and the three boys.

              John sold his share in the inheritance from their mother and disappeared after her death. (He died in Doncaster, Yorkshire, in 1893.) At that time Charles, the youngest would have been 21. Indeed, Joseph wrote in July 1872: John’s children are all grown up”.

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

              In February 1874 Joseph wrote: “You want to know what made John go away. Well, I will give you one reason. I think I told you that when his wife died he persuaded me to leave Derby and come to live with him. Well so we did and dear Harriet to keep his house. Well he insulted my wife and offered things to her that was not proper and my dear wife had the power to resist his unmanly conduct. I did not think he could of served me such a dirty trick so that is one thing dear brother. He could not look me in the face when we met. Then after we left him he got a woman in the house and I suppose they lived as man and wife. She caught the small pox and died and there he was by himself like some wild man. Well dear brother I could not go to him again after he had served me and mine as he had and I believe he was greatly in debt too so that he sold his share out of the property and when he received the money at Belper he went away and has never been seen by any of us since but I have heard of him being at Sheffield enquiring for Sam Caldwell. You will remember him. He worked in the Nag’s Head yard but I have heard nothing no more of him.”

              A mention of a John Housley of Heanor in the Nottinghma Journal 1875.  I don’t know for sure if the John mentioned here is the brother John who Joseph describes above as behaving improperly to his wife. John Housley had a son Joseph, born in 1840, and John’s wife Sarah died in 1870.

              John Housley


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


              SAMUEL HOUSLEY 1816-

              Sam married Elizabeth Brookes of Sutton Coldfield, and they had three daughters: Elizabeth, Mary Anne and Catherine.  Elizabeth his wife died in 1849, a few months after Samuel’s father William died in 1848. The particular circumstances relating to these individuals have been discussed in previous chapters; the following are letter excerpts relating to them.

              Death of William Housley 15 Dec 1848, and Elizabeth Housley 5 April 1849, Smalley:

              Housley Deaths


              Joseph wrote in December 1872: “I saw one of Sam’s daughters, the youngest Kate, you would remember her a baby I dare say. She is very comfortably married.”

              In the same letter (December 15, 1872), Joseph wrote:  “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that….His daughter and her husband went to Brimingham and also to Sutton Coldfield that is where he married his wife from and found out his wife’s brother. It appears he has been there and at Birmingham ever since he went away but ever fond of drink.”

              (Sam, however, was still alive in 1871, living as a lodger at the George and Dragon Inn, Henley in Arden. And no trace of Sam has been found since. It would appear that Sam did not want to be found.)


              EDWARD HOUSLEY 1819-1843

              Edward died before George left for USA in 1851, and as such there is no mention of him in the letters.


              ANNE HOUSLEY 1821-1856

              Anne wrote two letters to her brother George between February 1854 and her death in 1856. Apparently she suffered from a lung disease for she wrote: “I can say you will be surprised I am still living and better but still cough and spit a deal. Can do nothing but sit and sew.” According to the 1851 census, Anne, then 29, was a seamstress. Their friend, Mrs. Davy, wrote in March 1856: “This I send in a box to my Brother….The pincushion cover and pen wiper are Anne’s work–are for thy wife. She would have made it up had she been able.” Anne was not living at home at the time of the 1841 census. She would have been 19 or 20 and perhaps was “out service.”

              In her second letter Anne wrote: “It is a great trouble now for me to write…as the body weakens so does the mind often. I have been very weak all summer. That I continue is a wonder to all and to spit so much although much better than when you left home.” She also wrote: “You know I had a desire for America years ago. Were I in health and strength, it would be the land of my adoption.”

              In November 1855, Emma wrote, “Anne has been very ill all summer and has not been able to write or do anything.” Their neighbor Mrs. Davy wrote on March 21, 1856: “I fear Anne will not be long without a change.” In a black-edged letter the following June, Emma wrote: “I need not tell you how happy she was and how calmly and peacefully she died. She only kept in bed two days.”

              Certainly Anne was a woman of deep faith and strong religious convictions. When she wrote that they were hoping to hear of Charles’ success on the gold fields she added: “But I would rather hear of him having sought and found the Pearl of great price than all the gold Australia can produce, (For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?).” Then she asked George: “I should like to learn how it was you were first led to seek pardon and a savior. I do feel truly rejoiced to hear you have been led to seek and find this Pearl through the workings of the Holy Spirit and I do pray that He who has begun this good work in each of us may fulfill it and carry it on even unto the end and I can never doubt the willingness of Jesus who laid down his life for us. He who said whoever that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”

              Anne’s will was probated October 14, 1856. Mr. William Davy of Kidsley Park appeared for the family. Her estate was valued at under £20. Emma was to receive fancy needlework, a four post bedstead, feather bed and bedding, a mahogany chest of drawers, plates, linen and china. Emma was also to receive Anne’s writing desk. There was a condition that Ellen would have use of these items until her death.

              The money that Anne was to receive from her grandfather, William Carrington, and her father, William Housley was to be distributed one third to Joseph, one third to Emma, and one third to be divided between her four neices: John’s daughter Elizabeth, 18, and Sam’s daughters Elizabeth, 10, Mary Ann, 9 and Catharine, age 7 to be paid by the trustees as they think “most useful and proper.” Emma Lyon and Elizabeth Davy were the witnesses.

              The Carrington Farm:

              Carringtons Farm


              CHARLES HOUSLEY 1823-1855

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

              Charles and George were probably quite close friends. Anne wrote in 1854: “Charles inquired very particularly in both his letters after you.”

              According to Anne, Charles and a friend married two sisters. He and his father-in-law had a farm where they had 130 cows and 60 pigs. Whatever the trade he learned in England, he never worked at it once he reached Australia. While it does not seem that Charles went to Australia because gold had been discovered there, he was soon caught up in “gold fever”. Anne wrote: “I dare say you have heard of the immense gold fields of Australia discovered about the time he went. Thousands have since then emigrated to Australia, both high and low. Such accounts we heard in the papers of people amassing fortunes we could not believe. I asked him when I wrote if it was true. He said this was no exaggeration for people were making their fortune daily and he intended going to the diggings in six weeks for he could stay away no longer so that we are hoping to hear of his success if he is alive.”

              In March 1856, Mrs. Davy wrote: “I am sorry to tell thee they have had a letter from Charles’s wife giving account of Charles’s death of 6 months consumption at the Victoria diggings. He has left 2 children a boy and a girl William and Ellen.” In June of the same year in a black edged letter, Emma wrote: “I think Mrs. Davy mentioned Charles’s death in her note. His wife wrote to us. They have two children Helen and William. Poor dear little things. How much I should like to see them all. She writes very affectionately.”

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


              GEORGE HOUSLEY 1824-1877

              George emigrated to the United states in 1851, arriving in July. The solicitor Abraham John Flint referred in a letter to a 15-pound advance which was made to George on June 9, 1851. This certainly was connected to his journey. George settled along the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The letters from the solicitor were addressed to: Lahaska Post Office, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

              George married Sarah Ann Hill on May 6, 1854 in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In her first letter (February 1854), Anne wrote: “We want to know who and what is this Miss Hill you name in your letter. What age is she? Send us all the particulars but I would advise you not to get married until you have sufficient to make a comfortable home.”

              Upon learning of George’s marriage, Anne wrote: “I hope dear brother you may be happy with your wife….I hope you will be as a son to her parents. Mother unites with me in kind love to you both and to your father and mother with best wishes for your health and happiness.” In 1872 (December) Joseph wrote: “I am sorry to hear that sister’s father is so ill. It is what we must all come to some time and hope we shall meet where there is no more trouble.”

              Emma wrote in 1855, “We write in love to your wife and yourself and you must write soon and tell us whether there is a little nephew or niece and what you call them.” In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “We want to see dear Sarah Ann and the dear little boy. We were much pleased with the “bit of news” you sent.” The bit of news was the birth of John Eley Housley, January 11, 1855. Emma concluded her letter “Give our very kindest love to dear sister and dearest Johnnie.”

              In September 1872, Joseph wrote, “I was very sorry to hear that John your oldest had met with such a sad accident but I hope he is got alright again by this time.” In the same letter, Joseph asked: “Now I want to know what sort of a town you are living in or village. How far is it from New York? Now send me all particulars if you please.”

              In March 1873 Harriet asked Sarah Ann: “And will you please send me all the news at the place and what it is like for it seems to me that it is a wild place but you must tell me what it is like….”.  The question of whether she was referring to Bucks County, Pennsylvania or some other place is raised in Joseph’s letter of the same week.
              On March 17, 1873, Joseph wrote: “I was surprised to hear that you had gone so far away west. Now dear brother what ever are you doing there so far away from home and family–looking out for something better I suppose.”

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

              Apparently, George had indicated he might return to England for a visit in 1856. Emma wrote concerning the portrait of their mother which had been sent to George: “I hope you like mother’s portrait. I did not see it but I suppose it was not quite perfect about the eyes….Joseph and I intend having ours taken for you when you come over….Do come over before very long.”

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

              On June 10, 1875, the solicitor wrote: “I have been expecting to hear from you for some time past. Please let me hear what you are doing and where you are living and how I must send you your money.” George’s big news at that time was that on May 3, 1875, he had become a naturalized citizen “renouncing and abjuring all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state and sovereignity whatsoever, and particularly to Victoria Queen of Great Britain of whom he was before a subject.”


              ROBERT HOUSLEY 1832-1851

              In 1854, Anne wrote: “Poor Robert. He died in August after you left he broke a blood vessel in the lung.”
              From Joseph’s first letter we learn that Robert was 19 when he died: “Dear brother there have been a great many changes in the family since you left us. All is gone except myself and John and Sam–we have heard nothing of him since he left. Robert died first when he was 19 years of age. Then Anne and Charles too died in Australia and then a number of years elapsed before anyone else. Then John lost his wife, then Emma, and last poor dear mother died last January on the 11th.”

              Anne described Robert’s death in this way: “He had thrown up blood many times before in the spring but the last attack weakened him that he only lived a fortnight after. He died at Derby. Mother was with him. Although he suffered much he never uttered a murmur or regret and always a smile on his face for everyone that saw him. He will be regretted by all that knew him”.

              Robert died a resident of St. Peter’s Parish, Derby, but was buried in Smalley on August 16, 1851.
              Apparently Robert was apprenticed to be a joiner for, according to Anne, Joseph took his place: “Joseph wanted to be a joiner. We thought we could do no better than let him take Robert’s place which he did the October after and is there still.”

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


              EMMA HOUSLEY 1836-1871

              Emma was not mentioned in Anne’s first letter. In the second, Anne wrote that Emma was living at Spondon with two ladies in her “third situation,” and added, “She is grown a bouncing woman.” Anne described her sister well. Emma wrote in her first letter (November 12, 1855): “I must tell you that I am just 21 and we had my pudding last Sunday. I wish I could send you a piece.”

              From Emma’s letters we learn that she was living in Derby from May until November 1855 with Mr. Haywood, an iron merchant. She explained, “He has failed and I have been obliged to leave,” adding, “I expect going to a new situation very soon. It is at Belper.” In 1851 records, William Haywood, age 22, was listed as an iron foundry worker. In the 1857 Derby Directory, James and George were listed as iron and brass founders and ironmongers with an address at 9 Market Place, Derby.

              In June 1856, Emma wrote from “The Cedars, Ashbourne Road” where she was working for Mr. Handysides.
              While she was working for Mr. Handysides, Emma wrote: “Mother is thinking of coming to live at Derby. That will be nice for Joseph and I.”

              Friargate and Ashbourne Road were located in St. Werburgh’s Parish. (In fact, St. Werburgh’s vicarage was at 185 Surrey Street. This clue led to the discovery of the record of Emma’s marriage on May 6, 1858, to Edwin Welch Harvey, son of Samuel Harvey in St. Werburgh’s.)

              In 1872, Joseph wrote: “Our sister Emma, she died at Derby at her own home for she was married. She has left two young children behind. The husband was the son of the man that I went apprentice to and has caused a great deal of trouble to our family and I believe hastened poor Mother’s death….”.   Joseph added that he believed Emma’s “complaint” was consumption and that she was sick a good bit. Joseph wrote: “Mother was living with John when I came home (from Ascension Island around 1867? or to Smalley from Derby around 1870?) for when Emma was married she broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby did not agree with her so she had to leave it again but left all her things there.”

              Emma Housley and Edwin Welch Harvey wedding, 1858:

              Emma Housley wedding


              JOSEPH HOUSLEY 1838-1893

              We first hear of Joseph in a letter from Anne to George in 1854. “Joseph wanted to be a joiner. We thought we could do no better than let him take Robert’s place which he did the October after (probably 1851) and is there still. He is grown as tall as you I think quite a man.” Emma concurred in her first letter: “He is quite a man in his appearance and quite as tall as you.”

              From Emma we learn in 1855: “Joseph has left Mr. Harvey. He had not work to employ him. So mother thought he had better leave his indenture and be at liberty at once than wait for Harvey to be a bankrupt. He has got a very good place of work now and is very steady.” In June of 1856, Emma wrote “Joseph and I intend to have our portraits taken for you when you come over….Mother is thinking of coming to Derby. That will be nice for Joseph and I. Joseph is very hearty I am happy to say.”

              According to Joseph’s letters, he was married to Harriet Ballard. Joseph described their miraculous reunion in this way: “I must tell you that I have been abroad myself to the Island of Ascension. (Elsewhere he wrote that he was on the island when the American civil war broke out). I went as a Royal Marine and worked at my trade and saved a bit of money–enough to buy my discharge and enough to get married with but while I was out on the island who should I meet with there but my dear wife’s sister. (On two occasions Joseph and Harriet sent George the name and address of Harriet’s sister, Mrs. Brooks, in Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania, but it is not clear whether this was the same sister.) She was lady’s maid to the captain’s wife. Though I had never seen her before we got to know each other somehow so from that me and my wife recommenced our correspondence and you may be sure I wanted to get home to her. But as soon as I did get home that is to England I was not long before I was married and I have not regretted yet for we are very comfortable as well as circumstances will allow for I am only a journeyman joiner.”

              Proudly, Joseph wrote: “My little family consists of three nice children–John, Joseph and Susy Annie.” On her birth certificate, Susy Ann’s birthdate is listed as 1871. Parish records list a Lucy Annie christened in 1873. The boys were born in Derby, John in 1868 and Joseph in 1869. In his second letter, Joseph repeated: “I have got three nice children, a good wife and I often think is more than I have deserved.” On August 6, 1873, Joseph and Harriet wrote: “We both thank you dear sister for the pieces of money you sent for the children. I don’t know as I have ever see any before.” Joseph ended another letter: “Now I must close with our kindest love to you all and kisses from the children.”

              In Harriet’s letter to Sarah Ann (March 19, 1873), she promised: “I will send you myself and as soon as the weather gets warm as I can take the children to Derby, I will have them taken and send them, but it is too cold yet for we have had a very cold winter and a great deal of rain.” At this time, the children were all under 6 and the baby was not yet two.

              In March 1873 Joseph wrote: “I have been working down at Heanor gate there is a joiner shop there where Kings used to live I have been working there this winter and part of last summer but the wages is very low but it is near home that is one comfort.” (Heanor Gate is about 1/4 mile from Kidsley Grange. There was a school and industrial park there in 1988.) At this time Joseph and his family were living in “the big house–in Old Betty Hanson’s house.” The address in the 1871 census was Smalley Lane.

              A glimpse into Joseph’s personality is revealed by this remark to George in an 1872 letter: “Many thanks for your portrait and will send ours when we can get them taken for I never had but one taken and that was in my old clothes and dear Harriet is not willing to part with that. I tell her she ought to be satisfied with the original.”

              On one occasion Joseph and Harriet both sent seeds. (Marks are still visible on the paper.) Joseph sent “the best cow cabbage seed in the country–Robinson Champion,” and Harriet sent red cabbage–Shaw’s Improved Red. Possibly cow cabbage was also known as ox cabbage: “I hope you will have some good cabbages for the Ox cabbage takes all the prizes here. I suppose you will be taking the prizes out there with them.” Joseph wrote that he would put the name of the seeds by each “but I should think that will not matter. You will tell the difference when they come up.”

              George apparently would have liked Joseph to come to him as early as 1854. Anne wrote: “As to his coming to you that must be left for the present.” In 1872, Joseph wrote: “I have been thinking of making a move from here for some time before I heard from you for it is living from hand to mouth and never certain of a job long either.” Joseph then made plans to come to the United States in the spring of 1873. “For I intend all being well leaving England in the spring. Many thanks for your kind offer but I hope we shall be able to get a comfortable place before we have been out long.” Joseph promised to bring some things George wanted and asked: “What sort of things would be the best to bring out there for I don’t want to bring a lot that is useless.” Joseph’s plans are confirmed in a letter from the solicitor May 23, 1874: “I trust you are prospering and in good health. Joseph seems desirous of coming out to you when this is settled.”

              George must have been reminiscing about gooseberries (Heanor has an annual gooseberry show–one was held July 28, 1872) and Joseph promised to bring cuttings when they came: “Dear Brother, I could not get the gooseberries for they was all gathered when I received your letter but we shall be able to get some seed out the first chance and I shall try to bring some cuttings out along.” In the same letter that he sent the cabbage seeds Joseph wrote: “I have got some gooseberries drying this year for you. They are very fine ones but I have only four as yet but I was promised some more when they were ripe.” In another letter Joseph sent gooseberry seeds and wrote their names: Victoria, Gharibaldi and Globe.

              In September 1872 Joseph wrote; “My wife is anxious to come. I hope it will suit her health for she is not over strong.” Elsewhere Joseph wrote that Harriet was “middling sometimes. She is subject to sick headaches. It knocks her up completely when they come on.” In December 1872 Joseph wrote, “Now dear brother about us coming to America you know we shall have to wait until this affair is settled and if it is not settled and thrown into Chancery I’m afraid we shall have to stay in England for I shall never be able to save money enough to bring me out and my family but I hope of better things.”

              On July 19, 1875 Abraham Flint (the solicitor) wrote: “Joseph Housley has removed from Smalley and is working on some new foundry buildings at Little Chester near Derby. He lives at a village called Little Eaton near Derby. If you address your letter to him as Joseph Housley, carpenter, Little Eaton near Derby that will no doubt find him.”

              George did not save any letters from Joseph after 1874, hopefully he did reach him at Little Eaton. Joseph and his family are not listed in either Little Eaton or Derby on the 1881 census.

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

              Joseph Housley and the Kiddsley cottages:

              Joseph Housley


                From Tanganyika with Love

                continued part 9

                With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                Lyamungu 14 May 1945

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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


                Lyamungu 19th September 1945

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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


                Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                Mbeya 1st November 1946

                Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



                  From Tanganyika with Love

                  continued  ~ part 4

                  With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                  Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                  With much love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                  Heaps of love to all,

                  Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Lots of love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  With heaps of love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,

                  Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

                  Lots and lots of love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                  Your very affectionate,

                  Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

                  With love to you all,

                  Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                  Much love to you all,

                  Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

                  Your worried but affectionate,

                  Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

                  Much love,

                  Mchewe. 12th November 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Lots and lots of love to all,

                  Chunya 27th November 1936

                  Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Much love to all,



                    From Tanganyika with Love

                    continued  ~ part 3

                    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                    Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                    Very much love,

                    Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                    Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

                    your loving but anxious,

                    Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                    Very much love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                    Lots and lots of love,

                    Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                    Who would be a mother!

                    Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                    Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                    Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    Lots and lots of love,

                    Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

                    Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    With love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

                    With love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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


                    Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                    Your very loving,

                    Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

                    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                    With love to all,


                      From Tanganyika with Love


                      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                      Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Lots of love,

                      Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                      Very much love,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Eleanor Rushby


                      Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Your very loving,

                      Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Lots and lots of love,

                      Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Much love to all,

                      Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                      Much love to all,

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

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                      We all send our love,

                      Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Very much love,

                      Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                      Much love from a proud mother of two.

                      Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                      Your affectionate,

                      Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                      your affectionate,

                      Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                      Very much love

                      Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

                      Dear Family,

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

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

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

                      Lots and lots of love,

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

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Very much love,

                      Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                      Much love to all,

                      Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                      Lots of love,

                      Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Lots of love to all,

                      Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Much love to you all,

                      Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                      Much love,

                      Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                      Lots of love, Eleanor


                        From Tanganyika with Love

                        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Much love my dear,
                        your jubilant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Bless you all,

                        S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Eleanor Leslie.

                        Eleanor and George Rushby:

                        Eleanor and George Rushby

                        Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Your cave woman

                        Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Much love to you all,

                        Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Your loving

                        Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Very much love,

                        Mbeya 23rd December 1930

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                        26th December 1930

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

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

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

                        Lots and lots of love,

                        Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Your loving,

                        Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                        Very much love,

                        Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                        Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

                        Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



                          My Grandparents Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                            The Housley Letters

                            We discovered that one of Samuel’s brothers, George Housley 1826-1877,  emigrated to America in 1851, to Solebury, in Pennsylvania. Another brother, Charles 1823-1856, emigrated to Australia at the same time.

                            I wrote to the Solebury Historical Society to ask them if they had any information on the Housleys there. About a month later I had a very helpful and detailed reply from them.

                            There were Housley people in Solebury Township and nearby communities from 1854 to at least 1973, perhaps 1985. George Housley immigrated in 1851, arriving in New York from London in July 1851 on the ship “Senator”. George was in Solebury by 1854, when he is listed on the tax roles for the Township He didn’t own land at that time. Housley family members mostly lived in the Lumberville area, a village in Solebury, or in nearby Buckingham or Wrightstown. The second wife of Howard (aka Harry) Housley was Elsa (aka Elsie) R. Heed, the daughter of the Lumberville Postmaster. Elsie was the proprietor of the Lumberville General Store from 1939 to 1973, and may have continued to live in Lumberville until her death in 1985. The Lumberville General Store was, and still is, a focal point of the community. The store was also the official Post Office at one time, hence the connection between Elsie’s father as Postmaster, and Elsie herself as the proprietor of the store. The Post Office function at Lumberville has been reduced now to a bank of cluster mailboxes, and official U.S. Postal functions are now in Point Pleasant, PA a few miles north of Lumberville.
                            We’ve attached a pdf of the Housley people buried in Carversville Cemetery, which is in the town next to Lumberville, and is still in Solebury Township. We hope this list will confirm that these are your relatives.

                            It doesn’t seem that any Housley people still live in the area. Some of George’s descendents moved to Wilkes-Barre, PA and Flemington, NJ. One descendent, Barbara Housley, lived in nearby Doylestown, PA, which is the county seat for Bucks County. She actually visited Solebury Township Historical Society looking for Housley relatives, and it would have been nice to connect you with her. Unfortunately she died in 2018. Her obituary is attached in case you want to follow up with the nieces and great nieces who are listed.

                            Lumberville General Store, Pennsylvania, Elsie Housley:



                            I noticed the name of Barbara’s brother Howard Housley in her obituary, and found him on facebook.  I knew it was the right Howard Housley as I recognized Barbara’s photograph in his friends list as the same photo in the obituary.  Howard didn’t reply initially to a friend request from a stranger, so I found his daughter Laura on facebook and sent her a message.  She replied, spoke to her father, and we exchanged email addresses and were able to start a correspondence.  I simply could not believe my luck when Howard sent me a 17 page file of Barbara’s Narrative on the Letters with numerous letter excerpts interspersed with her own research compiled on a six month trip to England.

                            The letters were written to George between 1851 and the 1870s, from the Housley family in Smalley.

                            Narrative of Historic Letters ~ Barbara Housley.
                            In February 1991, I took a picture of my 16 month old niece Laura Ann Housley standing near the tombstones of her great-great-great-grandparents, George and Sarah Ann Hill Housley. The occassion was the funeral of another Sarah Housley, Sarah Lord Housley, wife of Albert Kilmer Housley, youngest son of John Eley Housley (George and Sarah Ann’s first born). Laura Ann’s great-grandfather (my grandfather) was another George, John Eley’s first born. It was Aunt Sarah who brought my mother, Lois, a packet of papers which she had found in the attic. Mom spent hours transcribing the letters which had been written first horizontally and then vertically to save paper. What began to emerge was a priceless glimpse into the lives and concerns of Housleys who lived and died over a century ago. All of the letters ended with the phrase “And believe me ever my dear brother, your affectionate….”
                            The greeting and opening remarks of each of the letters are included in a list below. The sentence structure and speech patterns have not been altered however spelling and some punctuation has been corrected. Some typical idiosyncrasies were: as for has, were for where and vice versa, no capitals at the beginnings of sentences, occasional commas and dashes but almost no periods. Emma appears to be the best educated of the three Housley letter-writers. Sister-in-law Harriet does not appear to be as well educated as any of the others. Since their mother did not write but apparently was in good health, it must be assumed that she could not.
                            The people discussed and described in the following pages are for the most part known to be the family and friends of the Housleys of Smalley, Derbyshire, England. However, practically every page brings conjectures about the significance of persons who are mentioned in the letters and information about persons whose names seem to be significant but who have not yet been established as actual members of the family.

                            To say this was a priceless addition to the family research is an understatement. I have since, with Howard’s permission, sent the file to the Derby Records Office for their family history section.  We are hoping that Howard will find the actual letters in among the boxes he has of his sisters belongings.  Some of the letters mention photographs that were sent. Perhaps some will be found.


                              The Photographer

                              Dorothy Mary Marshall

                              1907 – 1983


                              Without doubt we have Dorothy Tooby to thank for the abundance of priceless photographs of the Marshall family.

                              Dorothy Tooby with her father William Marshall, photo by Charles Tooby:

                              Dorothy Tooby William Marshall


                              Dorothy Marshall was born in 1907 in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire. She married Charles Tooby in 1932.  They had no children, and they both had a lifelong interest in photography. Dorothy won many prizes and some of her work is in the Birmingham Archives.  I recall her saying once that men didn’t like it when a woman won the prize, although I don’t think she was referring to Charles!  They always seemed to be a very close couple.

                              Dorothy in a 1934 Jaguar SS1. The company was originally known as Swallow Sidecar Company, became SS Cars Ltd in 1934, and Jaguar Cars Ltd in 1945. This car is mentioned in a James Bond book by Ian Fleming.

                              Dorothy Tooby 1934 Jaguar SS1


                              When I was aged four or so, Dorothy and Charles lived next door to us on High Park Avenue in Wollaston.  Dorothy and Charles spent a lot of time with Dorothy’s brother Geoff’s five sons when they were children.  And of course, they took many photographs of them.

                              Bryan, Geoff Marshall, Chris, John, Bobby in the middle, and Jimmy at the front.

                              Geoff Marshall and boys


                              Bobby, photo by Dorothy Tooby

                              Bobby Marshall


                              Bobby was one of Geoff and Mary’s sons.  He was also my first husband, my mothers cousin. He was born in 1954 and died in 2021, not long after I’d resumed contact with his brother Bryan, who emigrated to USA in the 1970’s.


                                Finnley walked in front of Liz in a designer full body bathing suit and a mask on, poured some powder in the pool which turned the green into blue instantaneously and dived head first in the goo.

                                ‘What are you doing?’ asked Liz, horrified.

                                ‘Don’t you know the price of  a session at the Blue Algae Therapy Health Center?’ Finnley asked, her voice muffled by the mask.

                                ‘Why the full bathing suit then?’

                                ‘It’s a permanent blue dye for leather.’


                                  I hope all this social media as they call it stands the test of time because little things like this are priceless and so few and far between, and someday someone wants to know a little thing like this to paint a picture in their mind.  I don’t know if this is one of ours as they say but but he was there too and could even have been one of you or another one of me, the possibilities are endless and the charm of the random snippet is boundless.

                                  “The gallery stairs were honeycombed on
                                  each side by old Jonathan Beniston’s spiked
                                  crutches, and although Jonathan could not
                                  read, he considered himself a valuable
                                  addition to the choir, contributing a sort of
                                  drone bass accompaniment to the melodies. after the style of a bagpipe ” chanter.”

                                  Here’s another one I want to include in my book:

                                  Mr. Joseph Moss, formerly a framework knitter of Woodhouse Lane, for several years kept a Diary of the principal events and incidents in the locality: a most commendable undertaking. It is much to be regretted that so few attempt anything of the kind, so useful, and always interest- ing. Besides the registration of marriages and funerals, we have notices of storms, removals, accidents, sales, robberies, police captures, festivities, re-openings of churches, and many other matters. His record begins in 1855, ^^d ends in 1881, Mr. Moss was a violinist of some ability, and was in great demand at all rural festivities. He was a good singer, and sang (inter alia) ” The Beggar’s Ramble ” with his own local variations^ in good style, and usually with much eclat. The following are a few extracts from his Diary : —

                                  ” — July. Restoration of Horsley Church. New weathercock placed on spire by Charles, son of Mr. Anthony Kerry, the builder, on the 31st. A few days later, the south arches of the nave fell down, bringing with it the roofs of nave and south aisle. The pillar next the tower had been under- mined by the making of a grave, and as soon as the gravestone over it was moved the column began to settle : a loud shout was made, and the workmen had only just time to scamper out of the building before the roof and top windows and all came down.”


                                    Clara wiggled her wooly fair isle toes in front of the log fire.  She was glad she’d brought her thick socks ~ the temperature had dropped and snow was forecast.  Good job we got that box out before the ground froze, she said to her grandfather.  He made an indecipherable harumphing noise by way of reply and asked her if she’d found out anything yet about the inscriptions.

                                    “No,” Clara sighed, “Not a thing. I’ll probably find it when I stop looking.”

                                    Bob raised an eyebrow and said nothing. She’d always had a funny way of looking at things.  Years ago he’d come to the conclusion that he’d never really fathom how her mind worked, and he’d accepted it. Now, though, he felt a little uneasy.

                                    “Oh look, Grandpa!  How fitting! It’s the daily random quote from The Daily Wail.  Listen to this:  “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift; that’s why it’s called The Present.”  What a perfect sync!”

                                    “Oh aye, it’s a  grand sink, glad you like it! It was about time I had a new one.  It was a wrench to part with the old one, after seeing your grandma standing over it for all those years, but it was half price in the sale, and I thought, why not Bob, be a devil. One last new sink before I kick the bucket. I was fed up with that bucket under the old sink, I can tell you!”

                                    Clara blinked, and then smiled at the old man, leaning over to squeeze his arm. “It’s a great sink, Grandpa.”


                                    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                                      “Will you look at these prices!” exclaimed one of the middle aged ladies.

                                      Privately, Tara called them the miserable old bag and the crazy old witch, or Mob and Cow for ease of reference. Anyway, it was Mob who was banging on about the prices.

                                      “Feel free to take yourself somewhere cheaper to eat,” she snarled.

                                      “Oh, no, that’s okay, as long as you’re happy paying these outrageous prices.”

                                      Cow cackled. “I’ve not eaten for a month so bugger the prices! Not that I need to eat, airs good enough for me seeing as I have special powers. Still, a raspberry bun wouldn’t go amiss. Thank you, Ladies!”

                                      Star sighed heavily and glanced reproachfully at Rosamund.

                                      “Sorry, I were trying to help,” she said with a shrug.

                                      Tara scanned the room. The only other people in the cafe were an elderly gentleman reading the newspaper and a bedraggled mother with two noisy snot-bags in tow. Tara shuddered and turned her attention to the elderly man. “Those deep wrinkles and wasted muscles look genuine,” she whispered to Star. “There’s nobody here who could possibly be Vince French. I’m going to go and keep watch by the door.”

                                      “Good thinking,” said Star, after covertly checking her Lemoon quote of the day app on her phone; she realised uneasily she was increasingly relying on it for guidance. “There’s a sunny seat over there; I’ll grab a coffee and look inconspicuous by doing nothing. I don’t want to blow our cover.”

                                      Tara glared at her. “I saw you checking your app! What did the oracle say?”

                                      “Oh, just some crazy stuff.” She laughed nervously. “There is some kind of peace in not feelign like there’s anythign to do.

                                      “Well that’s not going to get us far, is it now?”


                                        “Wake up Glo, you don’t want to miss Cryoga class,” said Sharon. She tore open the curtains, letting in the merciless mid morning light.

                                        “Oh Sha, can’t I sleep a little more? My head’s still dizzy after that cryo gin treatment. All those shots, I don’t remember what I did afterward.”

                                        “You tried to seduce that young Canadian boy. I can tell, his lady wasn’t very pleased. If she could make voodoo dolls you’d be in big trouble.”

                                        “Ah! Shouldn’t be so far from that acupuncture treatment in Bali when you didn’t want to pay the price. Remember your face afterwards? I bet that girl had used those needles on sick pangolins without cleaning’em.”

                                        “It hurt. But never had my face skin so tight in my life!” Sha cackled.

                                        “And lips so big you could replace Anjelyna Jawlee in Lara Crop.”

                                        “Don’t make me laugh so hard Glo. Not in the morning before I went to the loo.” said Sha trotting to the bathroom.

                                        “Where’s Mavis?” asked Glo who noticed the third bed empty.

                                        “She’s already up. Wanted to take a walk on the beach with the cows, she said. You better don’t invite us, I said.”

                                        They put on their tight yogarments, a beach hat and left for the class.

                                        “I don’t like walking in the sand like that,” said Glo. “With or without shoes, the sand come in between your toes. I could still have eaten something, my stomach sounds like a whale during mating season.”

                                        “They sent a message this morning. It said: ‘Come, Fast’.”

                                        When they arrived at the practice room, they wondered if they took a wrong turn. Maybe the cryoga class was in another bungalow.

                                        “Why all those tables and milk bottles?” asked Glo.

                                        They went to see the lady with the beehive hair that looked like a teacher.

                                        “Sorry, young’un,” said Sha. “Wasn’t that supposed to be cryoga class?”

                                        “Oh! no,” said the teacher. “It’s cryogurt class today. How to make your own yogurt ice cream and apply it on your body to flatten out tight those wrinkles.”


                                        In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                                          “Y’were in a cult?” breaking the odd silence, Rosamund left her mouth gaping between messaging-styled sentences and chewing of gum. “What kind of cult?” she said, resuming the noisy chewing.

                                          Tara rolled her eyes, thinking how she just needed another baby-sitting now. There was a case to crack, and it was their first client. She went for her favorite subtly make-a-ton approach. “Oh yeah, right. Abso-lu-tely. A damn strange cult at that.” Then, when she got her hooked well, she went for the elusive-slightly-patronizing approach. She was good like that. “But I think you’re too young for the crazy details, might have you wet your bed at night.”

                                          She immediately regretted her last sentence.

                                          Changing the topic, Tara asked. “What kind of cult indeed. That’s the damn bloody question we forgot to ask!”

                                          Rosamund put a cocky smirk on her lips and mouthed “amateurs”. Could have been the chewing, Tara couldn’t tell. She was myopic but refused to wear corrective eyewear, so she had to strain at times, which gave her a funny wrinkled look.

                                          Star, who’d just been back from her shopping at Jiborium’s emporium was drenched head to toe and interrupted the exciting conversation.

                                          “I’ve got us all we need for our invertigastion.”

                                          “she means investigationTara knew better than to correct the verbal typos Star couldn’t help but utter by the minute, but it was more a knee-jerk response than anything else.

                                          “Did you find clues too in the clue department?”

                                          “As a matter of fact, I did. Got us that well-worn out book at a bargain price. Have a look.”


                                            “Well, where were we?” Jerk took the articles where he left them when he got up to check the price on one lacking a barcode.
                                            The blip blip resumed, with the impatient twitching lady pouncing on the items as soon as they passed the scanning, to cram them into her compostable bag.

                                            Days were stretching in ennui, and he started to feel like an android. At least, the rhythmical blips and “Have a good day, thank you for your purchase” were now part of his muscle memory, and didn’t require much paying attention to.

                                            He’d renewed the yearly fee to maintain his group website yesterday, but he wasn’t sure why he did it. There were still the occasional posts on the groups he was managing, but the buzz had died already. People had moved to other things, autumn for one. Really, what was the point of maintaining it for 3 posts a week (and those were good weeks, of course not counting the spam).

                                            There was fun occasionally, but more often than not, there were harangues.
                                            He wondered what archetype he was in his life story; maybe he was just a background character, and that was fine, so long as he wasn’t just a supporting cast to another megalomaniac politician.

                                            The apartment blocks were he was living were awfully quiet. His neighbours were still in travel, he wondered how they could afford it. Lucinda was completely immersed in her writing courses, and Fabio was still around amazingly – Lucinda didn’t look like she could even care of herself, so a dog… Meanwhile, the town council was envisaging a “refresh” of their neighborhood, but he had strong suspicion it was another real-estate development scheme. Only time would tell. He wasn’t in a rush to jump to the conclusion of an expropriation drama —leave that to Luce.

                                            Friday would have been her 60th brithday (funny typo he thought). Their dead friend’s birthday would still crop up in his calendar, and he liked that they were still these connections at least. Did she move on, he wondered. Sometimes her energy felt present, and Lucinda would argue she was helping her in her writing endeavours. He himself wasn’t sure, those synchronicities were nice enough without the emphatic spiritualist extrapolations.

                                            “Happy birthday Granola.” he said.


                                            Another crack appeared on the red crystal into which Granola was stuck for what felt like ages.

                                            “About time!” she said. “I wonder if they have all forgotten about me now.”

                                            She looked closely at the crack. There was an opening, invisible, the size of an atom. But maybe, just maybe, it was just enough for her to squeeze in. She leaned in and focused on the little dot to escape.

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