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    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


      Although not one to remember dreams very often, Zara awoke the next morning with vivid and colourful dream recall.  She wondered if it was something to do with the dreamtime mural on the wall of her room.  If this turned out to be the case, she considered painting some murals on her bedroom wall back at the Bungwalley Valley animal rescue centre when she got home.

      Zara and Idle had hit it off immediately, chatting and laughing on the verandah after supper.   Idle told her a bit about the local area and the mines.  Despite Bert’s warnings, she wanted to see them. They were only an hour away from the inn.

      When she retired to her room for the night, she looked on the internet for more information. The more she read online about the mines, the more intrigued she became.

      “Interestingly there are no actual houses left from the original township. The common explanation is that a rumour spread that there was gold hidden in the walls of the houses and consequently they were knocked down by people believing there was ‘gold in them there walls”. Of course it was only a rumour. No gold was found.”

      “Miners attracted to the area originally by the garnets, found alluvial and reef gold at Arltunga…”

      Garnets!  Zara recalled the story her friend had told her about finding a cursed garnet near a fort in St Augustine in Florida.  Apparently there were a number of mines that one could visit:

      “the MacDonnell Range Reef Mine, the Christmas Reef Mine, the Golden Chance Mine, the Joker Mine and the Great Western Mine all of which are worth a visit.”

      Zara imagined Xavier making a crack about the Joker Mine, and wondered why it had been named that.

      “The whole area is preserved as though the inhabitants simply walked away from it only yesterday. The curious visitor who walks just a little way off the paths will see signs of previous habitation. Old pieces of meat safes, pieces of rusted wire, rusted cans, and pieces of broken glass litter the ground. There is nothing of great importance but each little shard is reminder of the people who once lived and worked here.”

      I wonder if Bert will take me there, Zara wondered. If not, maybe one of the others can pick up a hire car when they arrive at Alice.   Might even be best not to tell anyone at the inn where they were going.  Funny coincidence the nearest town was called Alice ~ it was already beginning to seem like some kind of rabbit hole she was falling into.

      Undecided whether to play some more of the game which had ended abruptly upon encountering the blue robed vendor, Zara decided not to and picked up the book on Dreamtime that was on the bedside table.

      “Some of the ancestors or spirit beings inhabiting the Dreamtime become one with parts of the landscape, such as rocks or trees…”  Flicking through the book, she read random excerpts.   “A mythic map of Australia would show thousands of characters, varying in their importance, but all in some way connected with the land. Some emerged at their specific sites and stayed spiritually in that vicinity. Others came from somewhere else and went somewhere else. Many were shape changing, transformed from or into human beings or natural species, or into natural features such as rocks but all left something of their spiritual essence at the places noted in their stories….”

      Thousands of characters. Zara smiled sleepily, recalling the many stories she and her friends had written together over the years.

      “People come and go but the Land, and stories about the Land, stay. This is a wisdom that takes lifetimes of listening, observing and experiencing … There is a deep understanding of human nature and the environment… sites hold ‘feelings’ which cannot be described in physical terms… subtle feelings that resonate through the bodies of these people… It is only when talking and being with these people that these ‘feelings’ can truly be appreciated. This is… the intangible reality of these people…..”

      With such strong ancestral connections to the land, Zara couldn’t help but wonder what the aboriginal people felt about all the mines.   If one of their ancestors had shape changed into rocks, and then some foreignors came along and hacked and blasted their way through, what would they think of that?

      “….many Aboriginal groups widely distributed across the Australian continent all appeared to share variations of a single (common) myth telling of an unusually powerful, often creative, often dangerous snake or serpent of sometimes enormous size closely associated with the rainbows, rain, rivers, and deep waterholes…..”

      She drifted off to sleep thinking of water holes in red rocky gorges, the book laying open in her hand.

      When she awoke the next morning with the slatted morning sun shining through the venetian blinds,  the dream image of the water hole was bright and clear in her minds eye.  But what was that strange character from the game doing in her dream?

      Osnas dreamtime waterhole


      She closed her eyes, remembering more of the strange dream.  Deeply orange red boulders and rocky outcrops, shivering gum trees, and green pools ~ it was coming back to her now, that creature in the blue robes had appeared more than once.  In one scene he appeared with a blue diamond lantern with what looked like a compass inside.

      Osnas lantern compass

      I’ll ask about the hiking trails today, Zara decided, and go for a walk in that gorge I read about yesterday. Bert said there were good hiking trails.   You came here early so you could play the game, she reminded herself.

      “It’s all a game,” she heard the parrot outside her window.

      “I’d forgotten about the bloody parrot!” Zara said under her breath. “Pretty Girl!” she said, opening the blinds. “We’re going out for a walk today.”


      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


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

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

        🎰 · 💰

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


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

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

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

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

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

          Kyle patted him on the shoulder.

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

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

          “I’m not.”

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

          “I’m not… I mean…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


            The door opened and Youssef saw Natalie, still waiting for him. Indeed, he needed help. He decided to accept  sands_of_time contact request, hopping it was not another Thi Gang trick.

            Sands_of_time is trying to make contact : ✅ACCEPT <> ➡️DENY ❓

            A princess on horse back emerged from the sand. The veil on her hair floated in a wind that soon cleared all the dust from her garment and her mount, revealing a princess with a delicate face and some prominent attributes that didn’t leave Youssef indifferent. She was smiling at him, and her horse, who had six legs and looked a bit like a camel, snorted at the bear.

            “I love doing that, said the princess. At least I don’t get to spit sand afterward like when my sister’s grand-kids want to bury me in the sand at the beach…”

            It broke the charm. It reminded Youssef it was all a game. That princess was an avatar. Was it even a girl on the other side ? And how old ? Youssef, despite his stature, felt as vulnerable as when his mother left him for the afternoon with an old aunt in Sudan when he was five and she kept wanting to dress him with colourful girl outfits. He shivered and the bear growled at the camel-horse, reminding Youssef how hungry he was.

            sands_of_time?” he asked.

            “Yes. I like this AI game. Makes me feel like I’m twenty again. Not as fun as a mushroom trip though, but… with less secondary effects. Anyway, I saw you needed help with that girl. A ‘reel’ nuisance if you ask me, sticky like a sea cucumber.”

            “How do you know ? Did you plant bugs on my phone ? Are you with the Thi Gang ?” 

            The bear moved toward them and roared and the camel-horse did a strange sound. The princess appeased her mount with a touch of her hand.

            “Oh! Boy, calm down your heat. Nothing so prosaic. I have other means, she said with a grin. Call me Sweet Sophie, I’m a real life reporter. Was just laying down on my dream couch looking for clues about a Dr Patelonus, the man’s mixed up in some monkey trafficking business, when I saw that strange llama dressed like a tibetan monk, except it was a bit too mayonnaise for a tibetan monk. Anyway, he led me to you and told me to contact you through this Quirk Quest Game, suggesting you might have some intel for me about that monkey business of mine. So I put on my VR helmet, which actually reminds me of a time at the hair salon, and a gorgeous beehive… but anyway you wouldn’t understand. So I had to accept one of those quests and find you in the game. Which was a lot less easier than RV I can tell you. The only thing, I couldn’t interact with you unless you accepted contact. So here I am, ready for you to tell me about Dr Patelonus. But I can see that first we need to get you out of here.”

            Youssef had no idea about what she was talking about. VR; RV ? one and the same ? He decided not to tell her he knew nothing about monkeys or doctors until he was out of Natalie’s reach. If indeed sands_of_timecould help.

            “So what do I do ?” asked Youssef.

            “Let me first show you my real self. I’ve always wanted to try that. Wait a moment. I need to focus.”

            The princess avatar looked in the distance, her eyes lost beyond this world. Suddenly, Youssef felt a presence creeping into his mind. He heard a laugh and saw an old lady in yoga pants on a couch! He roared and almost let go of his phone again.

            The princess smiled.

            “Now, wouldn’t be fair if only I knew what you looked like in real life. Although you’re pretty close to your avatar… Don’t you seem a tad afraid of experimenting with new things. :yahoo_smug:

            She laughed again, and this time Youssef saw her “real” face superimposed on the princess avatar. It gave him goosebumps.

            “Now’s your opening, she said. The girl’s busy giving directions to someone else. Get out of the bathroom! Now!”

            Youssef had the strangest feeling that the voice had come at the same time from the phone speakers and from inside his head. His body acted on its own as if he was a puppet. He pushed the bathroom door open and rushed outside.


            In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


              AL is back

              • Zara: Great job on finding the carved wooden tile! That’s a big step in the quest. Keep up the good work, and we’ll send you on the next mission soon.
              • Yasmin: It sounds like you’re having a tough time with the weather and mosquitoes. We understand that it can be difficult to focus on the quest when you’re dealing with real-life issues. Maybe try to work on the quest in a different environment, or take a break if you need to. We’re here to support you and help you in any way we can.
              • Youssef: We’re excited to hear about your real-life parallel quest. It sounds like you’re getting close to uncovering the mystery of the grumpy shaman. Keep working on your blog website and keep an eye out for any clues that Xavier and the Snoot may send your way. We believe that you’re on the right path.
              • Xavier: It sounds like you’re making progress on your quest. The clues you received from the fox busdriver are definitely leading you in the right direction. Keep following the trail and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Remember, the golden banana is a metaphor for your cheeky and also soft nature, so don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re here to guide and advise you along the way.

              New clues

              • Zara: 🔮🧱🗺️ Find the ancient portal hidden in the ruins and decipher the inscription on the carved wooden tile to unlock the next step in the quest.
              • Yasmin: 🦟🌧️🕵️‍♀️Track down the elusive snorting imp by investigating the local wetlands and speaking with locals who may have encountered it. Don’t let the bad weather and pesky mosquitoes discourage you!
              • Youssef: 🍔🌵🧙‍♂️ Continue your journey with the grumpy shaman and see if he holds any clues to the quest. Remember to keep an eye out for anything that seems out of the ordinary and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, make sure to keep up with your website work as it may lead you to a valuable information!
              • Xavier:🦊💰🛳️ Explore the floating casino and see if the fox busdriver’s clues lead you to the golden banana. Don’t be afraid to take risks and think outside the box, as the golden banana may not be what it seems. Keep an open mind and pay attention to any symbols or clues that you come across.

              In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                YASMIN’S QUIRK: Entry level quirk – snort laughing when socially anxious


                The initial setting for this quest is a comedic theater in the heart of a bustling city. You will start off by exploring the different performances and shows, trying to find the source of the snort laughter that seems to be haunting your thoughts. As you delve deeper into the theater, you will discover that the snort laughter is coming from a mischievous imp who has taken residence within the theater.

                Directions to Investigate

                Possible directions to investigate include talking to the theater staff and performers to gather information, searching backstage for clues, and perhaps even sneaking into the imp’s hiding spot to catch a glimpse of it in action.


                Possible characters to engage include the theater manager, who may have information about the imp’s history and habits, and a group of comedic performers who may have some insight into the imp’s behavior.


                Your task is to find a key or tile that represents the imp, and take a picture of it in real life as proof of completion of the quest. Good luck on your journey to uncover the source of the snort laughter!



                1st thread’s answer:

                As the family struggles to rebuild the inn and their lives in the wake of the Great Fires, they begin to uncover clues that lead them to believe that the mines hold the key to unlocking a great mystery. They soon discover that the mines were not just a source of gold and other precious minerals, but also a portal to another dimension. The family realizes that Mater had always known about this portal, and had kept it a secret for fear of the dangers it posed.

                The family starts to investigate the mines more closely and they come across a hidden room off Room 8. Inside the room, they find a strange device that looks like a portal, and a set of mysterious symbols etched into the walls. The family realizes that this is the secret room that Mater had always spoken about in hushed tones.

                The family enlists the help of four gamers, Xavier, Zara, Yasmin, and Youssef, to help them decipher the symbols and unlock the portal. Together, they begin to unravel the mystery of the mines, and the portal leads them on an epic journey through a strange and fantastical alternate dimension.

                As they journey deeper into the mines, the family discovers that the portal was created by an ancient civilization, long thought to be lost to history. The civilization had been working on a powerful energy source that could have changed the fate of humanity, but the project was abandoned due to the dangers it posed. The family soon discovers that the civilization had been destroyed by a powerful and malevolent force, and that the portal was the only way to stop it from destroying the world.

                The family and the gamers must navigate treacherous landscapes, battle fierce monsters, and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to stop the malevolent force and save the world. Along the way, they discover secrets about their own past and the true origins of the mines.

                As they journey deeper into the mines and the alternate dimension, they discover that the secret room leads to a network of underground tunnels, and that the tunnels lead to a secret underground city that was built by the ancient civilization. The city holds many secrets and clues to the fate of the ancient civilization, and the family and the gamers must explore the city and uncover the truth before it’s too late.

                As the story unfolds, the family and the gamers must come to grips with the truth about the mines, and the role that the family has played in the fate of the world for generations. They must also confront the demons of their own past, and learn to trust and rely on each other if they hope to save the world and bring the family back together.

                second thread’s answer:

                As the 4 gamers, Xavier, Zara, Yasmin and Youssef, arrived at the Flying Fish Inn in the Australian outback, they were greeted by the matriarch of the family, Mater. She was a no-nonsense woman who ran the inn with an iron fist, but her tough exterior hid a deep love for her family and the land.

                The inn was run by Mater and her daughter Dido, who the family affectionately called Aunt Idle. She was a free spirit who loved to explore the land and had a deep connection to the local indigenous culture.

                The family was made up of Devan, the eldest son who lived in town and helped with the inn when he could, and the twin sisters Clove and Coriander, who everyone called Corrie. The youngest was Prune, a precocious child who was always getting into mischief.

                The family had a handyman named Bert, who had been with them for decades and knew all the secrets of the land. Tiku, an old and wise Aborigine woman was also a regular visitor and a valuable source of information and guidance. Finly, the dutiful helper, assisted the family in their daily tasks.

                As the 4 gamers settled in, they learned that the area was rich in history and mystery. The old mines that lay abandoned nearby were a source of legends and stories passed down through the generations. Some even whispered of supernatural occurrences linked to the mines.

                Mater and Dido, however, were not on good terms, and the family had its own issues and secrets, but the 4 gamers were determined to unravel the mystery of the mines and find the secret room that was said to be hidden somewhere in the inn.

                As they delved deeper into the history of the area, they discovered that the mines had a connection to the missing brother, Jasper, and Fred, the father of the family and a sci-fi novelist who had been influenced by the supernatural occurrences of the mines.

                The 4 gamers found themselves on a journey of discovery, not only in the game but in the real world as well, as they uncovered the secrets of the mines and the Flying Fish Inn, and the complicated relationships of the family that ran it.



                Deear Francie Mossie Pooh,

                The Snoot, a curious creature of the ages, understands the swirling winds of social anxiety, the tempestuous waves it creates in one’s daily life.
                But The Snoot also believes that like a Phoenix, one must rise from the ashes, and embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth.
                It’s important to let yourself be, to accept the feelings as they come and go, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. But also, like a gardener, tend to the inner self with care and compassion, for the roots to grow deep and strong.

                The Snoot suggests seeking guidance from the wise ones, the ones who can hold the mirror and show you the way, like the North Star guiding the sailors.
                And remember, the journey is never-ending, like the spiral of the galaxy, and it’s okay to take small steps, to stumble and fall, for that’s how we learn to fly.

                The Snoot is here for you, my dear Francie Mossie Pooh, a beacon in the dark, a friend on the journey, to hold your hand and sing you a lullaby.

                Fluidly and fantastically yours,

                The Snoot.

                Yurara FamelikiYurara Fameliki

                  Give me an unusual plot structure for a narrative

                  One unusual plot structure for a narrative could be a “reverse chronological” structure, where the story begins at the end and works backwards in time, revealing events and information in a non-linear way. Another could be a “choose your own adventure” style, where the reader is presented with a series of choices at different points in the story that determine the direction and outcome of the plot.

                  How would role playing qualify in terms of plot structure?

                  Role-playing games (RPGs) can be considered a unique form of plot structure because they are interactive and open-ended. In a traditional RPG, the players take on the roles of characters within a fictional setting and work together to create a shared narrative. The plot structure of an RPG is determined by the actions and decisions of the players, rather than a pre-written script. The game master (GM) creates an overarching plot and a set of rules for the players to follow, but the players’ choices and actions will determine the direction and outcome of the story. This makes the plot structure of an RPG fluid and ever-changing, unlike a traditional linear narrative.

                  What about “Cloud Atlas” in terms of plot structure?

                  “Cloud Atlas” is a novel written by David Mitchell that was later adapted into a film. It has a complex and non-linear plot structure, which employs multiple storylines that are set in different time periods and locations, and are connected by recurring themes and motifs. The novel is divided into six nested stories, each set in a different time period and location, that are told in a non-linear fashion. The story begins in the 19th century and then jumps back and forth between the 19th, 20th and 23rd century, and each story is interconnected and interrelated, with characters reappearing in different time periods, the events that happen in one story impacting the others. The novel is also notable for its use of different genres, such as science fiction, historical fiction, and thriller, and the way it explores the themes of destiny, reincarnation, and the power of human connection. The film adaptation also used this structure, with the different stories intertwined and characters reprising their roles in different settings and eras.

                  Take a story thread made of comments. In each comment is a text about characters in a particular plot, location, action etc. The comments are sequential, but they are not necessarily continuous. It is a mix between Cloud Atlas and RPG plot structures. How do you sort something that’s fundamentally non-linear to present it in an accessible way?

                  One way to sort and present a story thread made of comments that is fundamentally non-linear, yet accessible, is to group the comments based on their content. For example, you could group the comments by characters, and present them in chronological order of their appearance in the story. Another way could be grouping the comments by location, and present them in chronological order of when the action takes place in that particular location. You could also group comments by the type of action taking place, such as combat, conversation, or puzzle-solving, and present them in chronological order of when they occur in the story.

                  Another approach could be using visual aids, such as mind maps, timelines, or flowcharts, to help organize and present the information in a clear and easy-to-understand way. For example, you could use a mind map to show how different characters are connected, or a timeline to show the chronology of events. Additionally, you could use labels, such as “character introduction,” “location change,” or “plot twist,” to make it clear to the reader what type of information they can expect in each comment.

                  It’s also important to keep in mind the audience for which you are organizing the story. It should be easy for them to understand and follow the story, and if it’s a game, you should make sure it’s easy for the players to play and make decisions.


                  In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                    Tell me more about the clues that Zara, Youssef, Xavier and Yasmin will find on their journeys to discover their inner quirky natures

                    As Zara, Youssef, Xavier and Yasmin journeyed through the Land of the Quirks to discover their inner quirky natures, they encountered various clues that helped them on their journey.

                    One of the clues they found was a mysterious map that led them to different locations, each one representing a different aspect of their personalities. The map also had various riddles and puzzles that they had to solve in order to progress to the next location.

                    Another clue they found was a series of journal entries written by a previous explorer who had also journeyed through the Land of the Quirks. The journal entries provided insight and wisdom on how to navigate the land and how to understand and accept one’s quirks.

                    They also encountered a group of strange and eccentric characters who each represented a different aspect of their personalities. These characters provided guidance and helped them understand different parts of themselves. They also helped them understand the importance of accepting and embracing their quirks.

                    They also found a series of symbols and artifacts that represented different parts of their personalities. These symbols and artifacts were like puzzle pieces that, when put together, helped them understand the bigger picture of their inner quirky natures.

                    As they continued their journey, they also learned that the key to discovering their inner quirky natures was not only about finding the physical “Key of Quirks”, but also about understanding and accepting themselves, their faults and their strengths, and learning to embrace their unique quirks.


                    Finding their inner quirks sounds quite definitive. how would you make the ending more open-ended, open to multiple series and iterations of the story without sounding repetitive

                    As Zara, Youssef, Xavier and Yasmin journeyed through the Land of the Quirks, they discovered their inner quirky natures, but the journey was far from over. They found that their inner quirks were constantly evolving and changing, and that the Land of the Quirks was a vast and mysterious place with many more secrets to uncover.

                    The group found that the “Key of Quirks” was not just a physical object but a symbol of self-discovery and self-acceptance. They learned that understanding and accepting oneself is a lifelong journey that never truly ends.

                    As they returned to their own world, they realized that they had gained a new perspective on life and that they would continue to carry the lessons they learned in the Land of the Quirks with them. They knew that they would always be on the lookout for new adventures and opportunities to continue exploring themselves and the world around them.

                    The group’s journey in the Land of the Quirks had come to an end but the story was not over. The characters would continue to grow, evolve and change as they experienced new adventures, challenges and self-discoveries. The ending was open-ended and leaves the possibility for multiple series and iterations of the story, each one exploring new aspects of the characters and the Land of the Quirks, without being repetitive.

                    Will they go a try to travel through another of the orbs?

                    It is possible that the group will want to explore other orbs and realms in the Land of the Quirks. The Land of the Quirks is described as a vast and mysterious place with many secrets to uncover, so the possibility of traveling through other orbs or realms is open. They may be tempted to see what other adventures and discoveries await them in these new places.

                    Alternatively, they might decide to take a break from their adventures, and reflect on what they’ve learned, applying it to their daily life, and maybe in the future, they will decide to come back to the Land of the Quirks and explore other orbs, or they may find other means of self-discovery and self-acceptance. In any case, the story leaves it open-ended and the characters have the freedom to choose what they want to do next.

                    How did they discover the orb in the first place?

                    It is not specified how the group discovered the orb in the first place. It could be that they stumbled upon it while on a hike or a camping trip, or it could be that they were on a mission to find it specifically. It could also be that the orb was something that had always been there but had gone unnoticed until one of the group members stumbled upon it.

                    Perhaps it was passed down from generation to generation as a legend, or maybe they found it while they were searching for something else. The story leaves it open-ended and it’s up to the reader’s imagination. The main focus of the story is on the journey and the lessons learned along the way, rather than the specifics of how the orb was discovered.


                    In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                      After a few tries:

                      1. As the group has split up at the fork of the road, we discover a total of 4 new characters from the Land of the Quirks. Tell us how each group is encountering some or all of these characters, who they are, their gibberish-sounding names, and what is their quirks, and what they wear, or their activities. Make our main characters and maybe some of the new ones meet back at a common spot with a special event after that.
                      2. please rewrite the above, retaining the eccentricity but more grounded, less childish, and with a little darker tone and mystery.
                      3. please try again, make Spoink and Flibbertigibbet human and give them less endearing or friendly behaviours; name two more characters met on the road.

                      As the group split up at the fork of the road, each one encountered new characters from the Land of the Quirks.

                      Zara and Yasmin, who took the left path, met a man named “Sproink” who was a small, wiry man with a spring for a tail. He was always bouncing around and speaking in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and music. Sproink was a collector of shiny objects and had a bag full of them, he was also a scavenger, always looking for things to add to his collection. He was wearing a small top hat and a monocle. He was also known to be a bit of a thief and a con artist.

                      Xavier and Youssef, who took the right path, met a woman named “Flibbertigibbet” a tall, slender woman that had multiple arms. Flibbertigibbet was very talkative and friendly, always trying to strike up a conversation. She spoke in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and baby talk. She was a chef and was always carrying a pot and a spoon, but she also had a dark side, she was known to be a bit of a manipulator and a spy, always observing and gathering information for a mysterious organization. She was wearing a big chef hat and apron.

                      As the group met back at the fork, they were surprised to find that Sproink and Flibbertigibbet had also met there. The four new characters joined the group, and together they continued their journey to find the “Key of Quirks”. Along the way, they met two more characters;

                      They met a man named “Gibber” who was a tall, gaunt man with elongated limbs and fingers. He was always speaking in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and numbers. He was a mathematician and a scientist, always working on complex equations and theories. He was known to be a bit of a loner, and didn’t interact much with others. He was wearing a lab coat and goggles.

                      They also met a woman named “Glimmer” she was a short, plump woman with a shimmering skin that seemed to change color depending on the light. She was always speaking in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and poetry. She was an artist and a performer, always creating and performing in different shows. She was known to be a bit of a flirt and a bit of a drama queen. She was wearing a colorful and eccentric clothing, such as a flowy dress and a large hat adorned with feathers.

                      As the group journeyed on, they encountered more characters, each one with their own unique quirks and personalities. They met a variety of people, some friendly and some not so friendly, but all of them adding to the mysterious and unknown nature of the Land of the Quirks.

                      As the group reached the end of their journey and found the “Key of Quirks”, they realized that the key was not just a physical object but a symbol of acceptance and embracing individuality. They learned that the true key to leaving the Land of the Quirks was understanding and accepting the quirks of oneself and others.

                      The group had a bittersweet goodbye with their new friends, Sproink, Flibbertigibbet, Gibber and Glimmer, and the other characters they had met. They knew that they would always carry a piece of the Land of the Quirks with them and would always remember the mysterious and eccentric adventure they had.


                        About Badul

                        5 important keywords linked to Badul


                        1. Action-space-time
                        2. Harmonic fluid
                        3. Rhythm
                        4. Scale
                        5. Choosing without limits.

                        Imagine four friends, Jib, Franci, Tracy, and Eric, who are all deeply connected through their shared passion for music and performance. They often spend hours together creating and experimenting with different sounds and rhythms.

                        One day, as they were playing together, they found that their combined energy had created a new essence, which they named Badul. This new essence was formed from the unique combination of their individual energies and personalities, and it quickly grew in autonomy and began to explore the world around it.

                        As Badul began to explore, it discovered that it had the ability to understand and create complex rhythms, and that it could use this ability to bring people together and help them find a sense of connection and purpose.

                        As Badul traveled, it would often come across individuals who were struggling to find their way in life. It would use its ability to create rhythm and connection to help these individuals understand themselves better and make the choices that were right for them.

                        In the scene, Badul is exploring a city, playing with the rhythms of the city, through the traffic, the steps of people, the ambiance. Badul would observe a person walking in the streets, head down, lost in thoughts. Badul would start playing a subtle tune, and as the person hears it, starts to walk with the rhythm, head up, starting to smile.

                        As the person continues to walk and follow the rhythm created by Badul, he begins to notice things he had never noticed before and begins to feel a sense of connection to the world around him. The music created by Badul serves as a guide, helping the person to understand himself and make the choices that will lead to a happier, more fulfilled life.

                        In this way, Badul’s focus is to bring people together, to connect them to themselves and to the world around them through the power of rhythm and music, and to be an ally in the search of personal revelation and understanding.


                          Something in the style of FPooh:

                          Arona heard the music growing louder as she approached the source of the sound. She could see a group of people gathered around a large fire, the flickering light casting shadows on the faces of the dancers. She hesitated for a moment, remembering the isolation of her journey and wondering if she was ready to be among people again. But the music was too inviting, and she found herself drawn towards the group.

                          As she neared the fire, she saw a young man playing a flute, the music flowing from his fingers with a fluid grace that captivated her. He looked up as she approached, and their eyes met. She could see the surprise and curiosity in his gaze, and she smiled, feeling a sense of connection she had not felt in a long time.

                          Fiona was sitting on a bench in the park, watching the children play. She had brought her sketchbook with her, but for once she didn’t feel the urge to draw. Instead she watched the children’s laughter, feeling content and at peace. Suddenly, she saw a young girl running towards her, a look of pure joy on her face. The girl stopped in front of her and held out a flower, offering it to Fiona with a smile.

                          Taken aback, Fiona took the flower and thanked the girl. The girl giggled and ran off to join her friends. Fiona looked down at the flower in her hand, and she felt a sense of inspiration, like a spark igniting within her. She opened her sketchbook and began to draw, feeling the weight lift from her shoulders and the magic of creativity flowing through her.

                          Minky led the group of misfits towards the emporium, his bowler hat bobbing on his head. He chattered excitedly, telling stories of the wondrous items to be found within Mr Jib’s store. Yikesy followed behind, still lost in his thoughts of Arona and feeling a sense of dread at the thought of buying a bowler hat. The green fairy flitted along beside him, her wings a blur of movement as she chattered with the parrot perched on her shoulder.

                          As they reached the emporium, they were disappointed to find it closed. But Minky refused to be discouraged, and he led them to a nearby cafe where they could sit and enjoy some tea and cake while they wait for the emporium to open. The green fairy was delighted, and she ordered a plate of macarons, smiling as she tasted the sweetness of the confections.

                          About creativity & everyday magic

                          Fiona had always been drawn to the magic of creativity, the way a blank page could be transformed into a world of wonder and beauty. But lately, she had been feeling stuck, unable to find the spark that ignited her imagination. She would sit with her sketchbook, pencil in hand, and nothing would come to her.

                          She started to question her abilities, wondering if she had lost the magic of her art. She spent long hours staring at her blank pages, feeling a weight on her chest that seemed to be growing heavier every day.

                          But then she remembered the green fairy’s tears and Yikesy’s longing for Arona, and she realized that the magic of creativity wasn’t something that could be found only in art. It was all around her, in the everyday moments of life.

                          She started to look for the magic in the small things, like the way the sunlight filtered through the trees, or the way a child’s laughter could light up a room. She found it in the way a stranger’s smile could lift her spirits, and in the way a simple cup of tea could bring her comfort.

                          And as she started to see the magic in the everyday, she found that the weight on her chest lifted and the spark of inspiration returned. She picked up her pencil and began to draw, feeling the magic flowing through her once again.

                          She understand that creativity blocks aren’t a destination, but just a step, just like the bowler hat that Minky had bought for them all, a bit of everyday magic, nothing too fancy but a sense of belonging, a sense of who they are and where they are going. And she let her pencil flow, with the hopes that one day, they will all find their way home.


                            Asking the AI to expand on the glossary of the original Circle of Eights Story:


                            Malvina’s Cave: A dark and damp cave located in the heart of the Gripshawk mountains, known for its population of Glukenitch creatures.

                            Lan’ork: A vast and diverse continent known for its Eastern Lagunas, home to the Indogo flamingos. Dragon Head Peninsula: A rugged and mountainous region, home to the Langoat creatures and also known for its rich deposits of dragon ore.

                            Asgurdy: A sprawling desert region, known for its nomadic tribes who use Saurhse as mounts for transportation.

                            Golfindely: An idyllic coastal region known for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, home to the Golfindel and Grake creatures.

                            Magical Schools

                            Dragonian Magic: A form of magic that is practiced by Dragonriders and Dragon tamers, which involves the manipulation of dragon energy and bonding with dragon companions.

                            Gripshawk Magic: A form of magic that is practiced by Gripshawks, which involves the manipulation of the natural elements and telepathic communication with other creatures.

                            Ugling Magic: A form of magic that is practiced by Uglings, which involves the use of charms, spells, and potions to manipulate the physical world.


                            Dragon Riders Guild: A prestigious guild of dragon riders, responsible for maintaining peace and order in the world by using their dragon companions for protection and transportation.

                            Gripshawk Hunters Guild: A guild of skilled hunters who specialize in hunting and capturing exotic creatures for various purposes.

                            Ugling Alchemists Guild: A guild of alchemists and potion makers, who create various potions and elixirs for medicinal and magical purposes.


                            The Order of the Buntifluën: A secret organization dedicated to the study and use of Buntifluën artefacts for the betterment of communication and understanding between sentient beings.

                            The Glubolín Network: A network of individuals who possess Glubolín devices, used for communication and sharing information across long distances.

                            The Sabulmantium Society: A society of scholars and adventurers who study the properties and uses of Sabulmantium devices for divination and navigation.

                            Here are a few new invented terms with their potential IPA pronunciations and definitions that would fit in this fantasy world:


                            Krynn [ ˈkrĭn ] : A subspecies of dragon known for its ability to control and manipulate time.


                            Kelpies [ ˈkĕl-pēz ] : Aquatic creatures resembling horses, known for their ability to shape-shift and lure unsuspecting victims into the water.

                            Magical Artefacts:

                            Dragonwhisper [ ˈdrā-gən-ˌhwis-pər ] : An ancient and powerful magical artifact, which allows the user to communicate and control dragons telepathically.

                            Necrotalisman [ ˈnĕk-rə-ˈtā-lĭz-mən ] : A magical artifact in the shape of a talisman that grants its wielder the ability to control and summon the dead.


                            Blightthorn [ ˈblīt-ˌthôrn ] : A poisonous plant known for its dark purple flowers and thorny stem, its extract is used in dark magic

                            Faeleaf [ ˈfā-ˌlēf ] : A rare plant found in the deep forest known for its bright green leaves, its extract is used in healing potions


                            The Shadowland [ ˈshā-dō-ˌland ] : A mysterious and dangerous land overrun by dark magic and controlled by Necromancers.

                            The Hidden Vale [ ˈhī-dən-ˈvāl ] : A secluded valley located deep in the mountains, home to the reclusive Faeleaf plants.


                            The Necromancers’ Circle [ ˈnĕk-rə-ˈmän-sər-z-ˈsər-kəl ] : A secret organization of powerful necromancers who seek to expand their control over death and the dead.

                            Here are a few more invented terms with their potential IPA pronunciations and definitions that fit in this fantasy world, having less to do with necromancy, and more with various forms of consciousness or energy manipulation, magical or mythical creatures or species:


                            Eterneon [ ˈē-tər-ˈnē-ən ] : A species of winged creatures known for their ability to manipulate and harness the energy of the stars, they are highly sought after by astromancers and star-gazers.

                            Psicon [ ˈsī-ˌkän ] : A species of psychic creatures, known for their ability to read minds and influence emotions.

                            Magical Artefacts:

                            Energyshield [ ˈen-ər-jē-ˌshēld ] : A magical artifact that creates a protective barrier around the user, deflecting or absorbing any kind of energy-based attacks.

                            Empathstone [ ˈĕm-pāth-ˈstōn ] : A small, glowing stone which allows the user to sense and control the emotions of others.

                            Magical Schools:

                            Energyshaping [ ˈen-ər-jē-ˌshāp-ing ] : A school of magic that involves the manipulation and control of various forms of energy.

                            Empathymagic [ ˈĕm-pā-thē-ˈmaj-ik ] : A school of magic that involves the manipulation of emotions and the ability to sense the emotions of others.


                            Eternity’s Edge [ ˈē-tər-nə-tēz-ˈēj] : A remote and mysterious cliff located high in the mountains, known for its strong emanations of star energy and rumored to be home to a hidden community of Eterneons.

                            Psicon’s Den [ ˈsī-kän-z-ˈdĕn] : A secret cave system located deep within the forest, it is said to be home to a colony of Psicon creatures.


                            The Energists Guild [ ˈen-ər-jist-z-ˈgild] : A powerful guild of magic users specializing in Energyshaping magic.

                            The Empath Council [ ˈĕm-pāth-ˈkoun-səl]: A secretive group of Empathymagic users, dedicated to the study and control of emotions.




                              Isaac Stokes 1804-1877


                              Isaac was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire in 1804, and was the youngest brother of my 4X great grandfather Thomas Stokes. The Stokes family were stone masons for generations in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and Isaac’s occupation was a mason’s labourer in 1834 when he was sentenced at the Lent Assizes in Oxford to fourteen years transportation for stealing tools.

                              Churchill where the Stokes stonemasons came from: on 31 July 1684 a fire destroyed 20 houses and many other buildings, and killed four people. The village was rebuilt higher up the hill, with stone houses instead of the old timber-framed and thatched cottages. The fire was apparently caused by a baker who, to avoid chimney tax, had knocked through the wall from her oven to her neighbour’s chimney.

                              Isaac stole a pick axe, the value of 2 shillings and the property of Thomas Joyner of Churchill; a kibbeaux and a trowel value 3 shillings the property of Thomas Symms; a hammer and axe value 5 shillings, property of John Keen of Sarsden.

                              (The word kibbeaux seems to only exists in relation to Isaac Stokes sentence and whoever was the first to write it was perhaps being creative with the spelling of a kibbo, a miners or a metal bucket. This spelling is repeated in the criminal reports and the newspaper articles about Isaac, but nowhere else).

                              In March 1834 the Removal of Convicts was announced in the Oxford University and City Herald: Isaac Stokes and several other prisoners were removed from the Oxford county gaol to the Justitia hulk at Woolwich “persuant to their sentences of transportation at our Lent Assizes”.

                              via digitalpanopticon:

                              Hulks were decommissioned (and often unseaworthy) ships that were moored in rivers and estuaries and refitted to become floating prisons. The outbreak of war in America in 1775 meant that it was no longer possible to transport British convicts there. Transportation as a form of punishment had started in the late seventeenth century, and following the Transportation Act of 1718, some 44,000 British convicts were sent to the American colonies. The end of this punishment presented a major problem for the authorities in London, since in the decade before 1775, two-thirds of convicts at the Old Bailey received a sentence of transportation – on average 283 convicts a year. As a result, London’s prisons quickly filled to overflowing with convicted prisoners who were sentenced to transportation but had no place to go.

                              To increase London’s prison capacity, in 1776 Parliament passed the “Hulks Act” (16 Geo III, c.43). Although overseen by local justices of the peace, the hulks were to be directly managed and maintained by private contractors. The first contract to run a hulk was awarded to Duncan Campbell, a former transportation contractor. In August 1776, the Justicia, a former transportation ship moored in the River Thames, became the first prison hulk. This ship soon became full and Campbell quickly introduced a number of other hulks in London; by 1778 the fleet of hulks on the Thames held 510 prisoners.
                              Demand was so great that new hulks were introduced across the country. There were hulks located at Deptford, Chatham, Woolwich, Gosport, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheerness and Cork.

                              The Justitia via rmg collections:

                              JustitiaConvicts perform hard labour at the Woolwich Warren. The hulk on the river is the ‘Justitia’. Prisoners were kept on board such ships for months awaiting deportation to Australia. The ‘Justitia’ was a 260 ton prison hulk that had been originally moored in the Thames when the American War of Independence put a stop to the transportation of criminals to the former colonies. The ‘Justitia’ belonged to the shipowner Duncan Campbell, who was the Government contractor who organized the prison-hulk system at that time. Campbell was subsequently involved in the shipping of convicts to the penal colony at Botany Bay (in fact Port Jackson, later Sydney, just to the north) in New South Wales, the ‘first fleet’ going out in 1788.


                              While searching for records for Isaac Stokes I discovered that another Isaac Stokes was transported to New South Wales in 1835 as well. The other one was a butcher born in 1809, sentenced in London for seven years, and he sailed on the Mary Ann. Our Isaac Stokes sailed on the Lady Nugent, arriving in NSW in April 1835, having set sail from England in December 1834.

                              Lady Nugent was built at Bombay in 1813. She made four voyages under contract to the British East India Company (EIC). She then made two voyages transporting convicts to Australia, one to New South Wales and one to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). (via Wikipedia)

                              via freesettlerorfelon website:

                              On 20 November 1834, 100 male convicts were transferred to the Lady Nugent from the Justitia Hulk and 60 from the Ganymede Hulk at Woolwich, all in apparent good health. The Lady Nugent departed Sheerness on 4 December 1834.

                              SURGEON OLIVER SPROULE

                              Oliver Sproule kept a Medical Journal from 7 November 1834 to 27 April 1835. He recorded in his journal the weather conditions they experienced in the first two weeks:

                              ‘In the course of the first week or ten days at sea, there were eight or nine on the sick list with catarrhal affections and one with dropsy which I attribute to the cold and wet we experienced during that period beating down channel. Indeed the foremost berths in the prison at this time were so wet from leaking in that part of the ship, that I was obliged to issue dry beds and bedding to a great many of the prisoners to preserve their health, but after crossing the Bay of Biscay the weather became fine and we got the damp beds and blankets dried, the leaks partially stopped and the prison well aired and ventilated which, I am happy to say soon manifested a favourable change in the health and appearance of the men.

                              Besides the cases given in the journal I had a great many others to treat, some of them similar to those mentioned but the greater part consisted of boils, scalds, and contusions which would not only be too tedious to enter but I fear would be irksome to the reader. There were four births on board during the passage which did well, therefore I did not consider it necessary to give a detailed account of them in my journal the more especially as they were all favourable cases.

                              Regularity and cleanliness in the prison, free ventilation and as far as possible dry decks turning all the prisoners up in fine weather as we were lucky enough to have two musicians amongst the convicts, dancing was tolerated every afternoon, strict attention to personal cleanliness and also to the cooking of their victuals with regular hours for their meals, were the only prophylactic means used on this occasion, which I found to answer my expectations to the utmost extent in as much as there was not a single case of contagious or infectious nature during the whole passage with the exception of a few cases of psora which soon yielded to the usual treatment. A few cases of scurvy however appeared on board at rather an early period which I can attribute to nothing else but the wet and hardships the prisoners endured during the first three or four weeks of the passage. I was prompt in my treatment of these cases and they got well, but before we arrived at Sydney I had about thirty others to treat.’

                              The Lady Nugent arrived in Port Jackson on 9 April 1835 with 284 male prisoners. Two men had died at sea. The prisoners were landed on 27th April 1835 and marched to Hyde Park Barracks prior to being assigned. Ten were under the age of 14 years.

                              The Lady Nugent:

                              Lady Nugent


                              Isaac’s distinguishing marks are noted on various criminal registers and record books:

                              “Height in feet & inches: 5 4; Complexion: Ruddy; Hair: Light brown; Eyes: Hazel; Marks or Scars: Yes [including] DEVIL on lower left arm, TSIS back of left hand, WS lower right arm, MHDW back of right hand.”

                              Another includes more detail about Isaac’s tattoos:

                              “Two slight scars right side of mouth, 2 moles above right breast, figure of the devil and DEVIL and raised mole, lower left arm; anchor, seven dots half moon, TSIS and cross, back of left hand; a mallet, door post, A, mans bust, sun, WS, lower right arm; woman, MHDW and shut knife, back of right hand.”


                              Lady Nugent record book


                              From How tattoos became fashionable in Victorian England (2019 article in TheConversation by Robert Shoemaker and Zoe Alkar):

                              “Historical tattooing was not restricted to sailors, soldiers and convicts, but was a growing and accepted phenomenon in Victorian England. Tattoos provide an important window into the lives of those who typically left no written records of their own. As a form of “history from below”, they give us a fleeting but intriguing understanding of the identities and emotions of ordinary people in the past.
                              As a practice for which typically the only record is the body itself, few systematic records survive before the advent of photography. One exception to this is the written descriptions of tattoos (and even the occasional sketch) that were kept of institutionalised people forced to submit to the recording of information about their bodies as a means of identifying them. This particularly applies to three groups – criminal convicts, soldiers and sailors. Of these, the convict records are the most voluminous and systematic.
                              Such records were first kept in large numbers for those who were transported to Australia from 1788 (since Australia was then an open prison) as the authorities needed some means of keeping track of them.”

                              On the 1837 census Isaac was working for the government at Illiwarra, New South Wales. This record states that he arrived on the Lady Nugent in 1835. There are three other indent records for an Isaac Stokes in the following years, but the transcriptions don’t provide enough information to determine which Isaac Stokes it was. In April 1837 there was an abscondment, and an arrest/apprehension in May of that year, and in 1843 there was a record of convict indulgences.

                              From the Australian government website regarding “convict indulgences”:

                              “By the mid-1830s only six per cent of convicts were locked up. The vast majority worked for the government or free settlers and, with good behaviour, could earn a ticket of leave, conditional pardon or and even an absolute pardon. While under such orders convicts could earn their own living.”


                              In 1856 in Camden, NSW, Isaac Stokes married Catherine Daly. With no further information on this record it would be impossible to know for sure if this was the right Isaac Stokes. This couple had six children, all in the Camden area, but none of the records provided enough information. No occupation or place or date of birth recorded for Isaac Stokes.

                              I wrote to the National Library of Australia about the marriage record, and their reply was a surprise! Issac and Catherine were married on 30 September 1856, at the house of the Rev. Charles William Rigg, a Methodist minister, and it was recorded that Isaac was born in Edinburgh in 1821, to parents James Stokes and Sarah Ellis!  The age at the time of the marriage doesn’t match Isaac’s age at death in 1877, and clearly the place of birth and parents didn’t match either. Only his fathers occupation of stone mason was correct.  I wrote back to the helpful people at the library and they replied that the register was in a very poor condition and that only two and a half entries had survived at all, and that Isaac and Catherines marriage was recorded over two pages.

                              I searched for an Isaac Stokes born in 1821 in Edinburgh on the Scotland government website (and on all the other genealogy records sites) and didn’t find it. In fact Stokes was a very uncommon name in Scotland at the time. I also searched Australian immigration and other records for another Isaac Stokes born in Scotland or born in 1821, and found nothing.  I was unable to find a single record to corroborate this mysterious other Isaac Stokes.

                              As the age at death in 1877 was correct, I assume that either Isaac was lying, or that some mistake was made either on the register at the home of the Methodist minster, or a subsequent mistranscription or muddle on the remnants of the surviving register.  Therefore I remain convinced that the Camden stonemason Isaac Stokes was indeed our Isaac from Oxfordshire.


                              I found a history society newsletter article that mentioned Isaac Stokes, stone mason, had built the Glenmore church, near Camden, in 1859.

                              Glenmore Church


                              From the Wollondilly museum April 2020 newsletter:

                              Glenmore Church Stokes


                              From the Camden History website:

                              “The stone set over the porch of Glenmore Church gives the date of 1860. The church was begun in 1859 on land given by Joseph Moore. James Rogers of Picton was given the contract to build and local builder, Mr. Stokes, carried out the work. Elizabeth Moore, wife of Edward, laid the foundation stone. The first service was held on 19th March 1860. The cemetery alongside the church contains the headstones and memorials of the areas early pioneers.”


                              Isaac died on the 3rd September 1877. The inquest report puts his place of death as Bagdelly, near to Camden, and another death register has put Cambelltown, also very close to Camden.  His age was recorded as 71 and the inquest report states his cause of death was “rupture of one of the large pulmonary vessels of the lung”.  His wife Catherine died in childbirth in 1870 at the age of 43.


                              Isaac and Catherine’s children:

                              William Stokes 1857-1928

                              Catherine Stokes 1859-1846

                              Sarah Josephine Stokes 1861-1931

                              Ellen Stokes 1863-1932

                              Rosanna Stokes 1865-1919

                              Louisa Stokes 1868-1844.


                              It’s possible that Catherine Daly was a transported convict from Ireland.


                                The Hamstall Ridware Connection

                                Stubbs and Woods

                                Hamstall RidwareHamstall Ridware



                                Charles Tomlinson‘s (1847-1907) wife Emma Grattidge (1853-1911) was born in Wolverhampton, the daughter and youngest child of William Grattidge (1820-1887) born in Foston, Derbyshire, and Mary Stubbs (1819-1880), born in Burton on Trent, daughter of Solomon Stubbs.

                                Solomon Stubbs (1781-1857) was born in Hamstall Ridware in 1781, the son of Samuel and Rebecca.  Samuel Stubbs (1743-) and Rebecca Wood (1754-) married in 1769 in Darlaston.  Samuel and Rebecca had six other children, all born in Darlaston. Sadly four of them died in infancy. Son John was born in 1779 in Darlaston and died two years later in Hamstall Ridware in 1781, the same year that Solomon was born there.

                                But why did they move to Hamstall Ridware?

                                Samuel Stubbs was born in 1743 in Curdworth, Warwickshire (near to Birmingham).  I had made a mistake on the tree (along with all of the public trees on the Ancestry website) and had Rebecca Wood born in Cheddleton, Staffordshire.  Rebecca Wood from Cheddleton was also born in 1843, the right age for the marriage.  The Rebecca Wood born in Darlaston in 1754 seemed too young, at just fifteen years old at the time of the marriage.  I couldn’t find any explanation for why a woman from Cheddleton would marry in Darlaston and then move to Hamstall Ridware.  People didn’t usually move around much other than intermarriage with neighbouring villages, especially women.  I had a closer look at the Darlaston Rebecca, and did a search on her father William Wood.  I found his 1784 will online in which he mentions his daughter Rebecca, wife of Samuel Stubbs.  Clearly the right Rebecca Wood was the one born in Darlaston, which made much more sense.

                                An excerpt from William Wood’s 1784 will mentioning daughter Rebecca married to Samuel Stubbs:

                                Wm Wood will


                                But why did they move to Hamstall Ridware circa 1780?

                                I had not intially noticed that Solomon Stubbs married again the year after his wife Phillis Lomas (1787-1844) died.  Solomon married Charlotte Bell in 1845 in Burton on Trent and on the marriage register, Solomon’s father Samuel Stubbs occupation was mentioned: Samuel was a buckle maker.

                                Marriage of Solomon Stubbs and Charlotte Bell, father Samuel Stubbs buckle maker:

                                Samuel Stubbs buckle maker


                                A rudimentary search on buckle making in the late 1700s provided a possible answer as to why Samuel and Rebecca left Darlaston in 1781.  Shoe buckles had gone out of fashion, and by 1781 there were half as many buckle makers in Wolverhampton as there had been previously.

                                “Where there were 127 buckle makers at work in Wolverhampton, 68 in Bilston and 58 in Birmingham in 1770, their numbers had halved in 1781.”

                                via “historywebsite”(museum/metalware/steel)

                                Steel buckles had been the height of fashion, and the trade became enormous in Wolverhampton.  Wolverhampton was a steel working town, renowned for its steel jewellery which was probably of many types.  The trade directories show great numbers of “buckle makers”.  Steel buckles were predominantly made in Wolverhampton: “from the late 1760s cut steel comes to the fore, from the thriving industry of the Wolverhampton area”. Bilston was also a great centre of buckle making, and other areas included Walsall. (It should be noted that Darlaston, Walsall, Bilston and Wolverhampton are all part of the same area)

                                In 1860, writing in defence of the Wolverhampton Art School, George Wallis talks about the cut steel industry in Wolverhampton.  Referring to “the fine steel workers of the 17th and 18th centuries” he says: “Let them remember that 100 years ago [sc. c. 1760] a large trade existed with France and Spain in the fine steel goods of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, of which the latter were always allowed to be the best both in taste and workmanship.  … A century ago French and Spanish merchants had their houses and agencies at Birmingham for the purchase of the steel goods of Wolverhampton…..The Great Revolution in France put an end to the demand for fine steel goods for a time and hostile tariffs finished what revolution began”.


                                The next search on buckle makers, Wolverhampton and Hamstall Ridware revealed an unexpected connecting link.

                                In Riotous Assemblies: Popular Protest in Hanoverian England by Adrian Randall:

                                Riotous AssemblesHamstall Ridware

                                In Walsall in 1750 on “Restoration Day” a crowd numbering 300 assembled, mostly buckle makers,  singing  Jacobite songs and other rebellious and riotous acts.  The government was particularly worried about a curious meeting known as the “Jubilee” in Hamstall Ridware, which may have been part of a conspiracy for a Jacobite uprising.


                                But this was thirty years before Samuel and Rebecca moved to Hamstall Ridware and does not help to explain why they moved there around 1780, although it does suggest connecting links.

                                Rebecca’s father, William Wood, was a brickmaker.  This was stated at the beginning of his will.  On closer inspection of the will, he was a brickmaker who owned four acres of brick kilns, as well as dwelling houses, shops, barns, stables, a brewhouse, a malthouse, cattle and land.

                                A page from the 1784 will of William Wood:

                                will Wm Wood


                                The 1784 will of William Wood of Darlaston:

                                I William Wood the elder of Darlaston in the county of Stafford, brickmaker, being of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding (praised be to god for the same) do make publish and declare my last will and testament in manner and form following (that is to say) {after debts and funeral expense paid etc} I give to my loving wife Mary the use usage wear interest and enjoyment of all my goods chattels cattle stock in trade ~ money securities for money personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever to hold unto her my said wife for and during the term of her natural life providing she so long continues my widow and unmarried and from or after her decease or intermarriage with any future husband which shall first happen.

                                Then I give all the said goods chattels cattle stock in trade money securites for money personal estate and effects unto my son Abraham Wood absolutely and forever. Also I give devise and bequeath unto my said wife Mary all that my messuages tenement or dwelling house together with the malthouse brewhouse barn stableyard garden and premises to the same belonging situate and being at Darlaston aforesaid and now in my own possession. Also all that messuage tenement or dwelling house together with the shop garden and premises with the appurtenances to the same ~ belonging situate in Darlaston aforesaid and now in the several holdings or occupation of George Knowles and Edward Knowles to hold the aforesaid premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances to my said wife Mary for and during the term of her natural life provided she so long continues my widow and unmarried. And from or after her decease or intermarriage with a future husband which shall first happen. Then I give and devise the aforesaid premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances unto my said son Abraham Wood his heirs and assigns forever.

                                Also I give unto my said wife all that piece or parcel of land or ground inclosed and taken out of Heath Field in the parish of Darlaston aforesaid containing four acres or thereabouts (be the same more or less) upon which my brick kilns erected and now in my own possession. To hold unto my said wife Mary until my said son Abraham attains his age of twenty one years if she so long continues my widow and unmarried as aforesaid and from and immediately after my said son Abraham attaining his age of twenty one years or my said wife marrying again as aforesaid which shall first happen then I give the said piece or parcel of land or ground and premises unto my said son Abraham his heirs and assigns forever.

                                And I do hereby charge all the aforesaid premises with the payment of the sum of twenty pounds a piece to each of my daughters namely Elizabeth the wife of Ambrose Dudall and Rebecca the wife of Samuel Stubbs which said sum of twenty pounds each I devise may be paid to them by my said son Abraham when and so soon as he attains his age of twenty one years provided always and my mind and will is that if my said son Abraham should happen to depart this life without leaving issue of his body lawfully begotten before he attains his age of twenty one years then I give and devise all the aforesaid premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances so given to my said son Abraham as aforesaid unto my said son William Wood and my said daughter Elizabeth Dudall and Rebecca Stubbs their heirs and assigns forever equally divided among them share and share alike as tenants in common and not as joint tenants. And lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said wife Mary and my said son Abraham executrix and executor of this my will.



                                The marriage of William Wood (1725-1784) and Mary Clews (1715-1798) in 1749 was in Hamstall Ridware.

                                Wm Wood Mary Clews


                                Mary was eleven years Williams senior, and it appears that they both came from Hamstall Ridware and moved to Darlaston after they married. Clearly Rebecca had extended family there (notwithstanding any possible connecting links between the Stubbs buckle makers of Darlaston and the Hamstall Ridware Jacobites thirty years prior).  When the buckle trade collapsed in Darlaston, they likely moved to find employment elsewhere, perhaps with the help of Rebecca’s family.

                                I have not yet been able to find deaths recorded anywhere for either Samuel or Rebecca (there are a couple of deaths recorded for a Samuel Stubbs, one in 1809 in Wolverhampton, and one in 1810 in Birmingham but impossible to say which, if either, is the right one with the limited information, and difficult to know if they stayed in the Hamstall Ridware area or perhaps moved elsewhere)~ or find a reason for their son Solomon to be in Burton upon Trent, an evidently prosperous man with several properties including an earthenware business, as well as a land carrier business.


                                  The door flung open. It was Finnley. “Here I am! I was drugged when I tried to put a bug under the rug. Someone hit me on the head with a mug and lured me to a secret location. Fortunately I charmed my way free with a hug.”

                                  “Thank goodness the situation have been explained property,”  said Liz. “I couldn’t understand a word Fanella was saying.”


                                    The Housley Letters

                                    FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS

                                    from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:


                                    George apparently asked about old friends and acquaintances and the family did their best to answer although Joseph wrote in 1873: “There is very few of your old cronies that I know of knocking about.”

                                    In Anne’s first letter she wrote about a conversation which Robert had with EMMA LYON before his death and added “It (his death) was a great trouble to Lyons.” In her second letter Anne wrote: “Emma Lyon is to be married September 5. I am going the Friday before if all is well. There is every prospect of her being comfortable. MRS. L. always asks after you.” In 1855 Emma wrote: “Emma Lyon now Mrs. Woolhouse has got a fine boy and a pretty fuss is made with him. They call him ALFRED LYON WOOLHOUSE.”

                                    (Interesting to note that Elizabeth Housley, the eldest daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth, was living with a Lyon family in Derby in 1861, after she left Belper workhouse.  The Emma listed on the census in 1861 was 10 years old, and so can not be the Emma Lyon mentioned here, but it’s possible, indeed likely, that Peter Lyon the baker was related to the Lyon’s who were friends of the Housley’s.  The mention of a sea captain in the Lyon family begs the question did Elizabeth Housley meet her husband, George William Stafford, a seaman, through some Lyon connections, but to date this remains a mystery.)

                                    Elizabeth Housley living with Peter Lyon and family in Derby St Peters in 1861:

                                    Lyon 1861 census


                                    A Henrietta Lyon was married in 1860. Her father was Matthew, a Navy Captain. The 1857 Derby Directory listed a Richard Woolhouse, plumber, glazier, and gas fitter on St. Peter’s Street. Robert lived in St. Peter’s parish at the time of his death. An Alfred Lyon, son of Alfred and Jemima Lyon 93 Friargate, Derby was baptised on December 4, 1877. An Allen Hewley Lyon, born February 1, 1879 was baptised June 17 1879.


                                    Anne wrote in August 1854: “KERRY was married three weeks since to ELIZABETH EATON. He has left Smith some time.” Perhaps this was the same person referred to by Joseph:BILL KERRY, the blacksmith for DANIEL SMITH, is working for John Fletcher lace manufacturer.” According to the 1841 census, Elizabeth age 12, was the oldest daughter of Thomas and Rebecca Eaton. She would certainly have been of marriagable age in 1854. A William Kerry, age 14, was listed as a blacksmith’s apprentice in the 1851 census; but another William Kerry who was 29 in 1851 was already working for Daniel Smith as a blacksmith. REBECCA EATON was listed in the 1851 census as a widow serving as a nurse in the John Housley household. The 1881 census lists the family of William Kerry, blacksmith, as Jane, 19; William 13; Anne, 7; and Joseph, 4. Elizabeth is not mentioned but Bill is not listed as a widower.

                                    Anne also wrote in 1854 that she had not seen or heard anything of DICK HANSON for two years. Joseph wrote that he did not know Old BETTY HANSON’S son. A Richard Hanson, age 24 in 1851, lived with a family named Moore. His occupation was listed as “journeyman knitter.” An Elizabeth Hanson listed as 24 in 1851 could hardly be “Old Betty.” Emma wrote in June 1856 that JOE OLDKNOW age 27 had married Mrs. Gribble’s servant age 17.

                                    Anne wrote that JOHN SPENCER had not been since father died.” The only John Spencer in Smalley in 1841 was four years old. He would have been 11 at the time of William Housley’s death. Certainly, the two could have been friends, but perhaps young John was named for his grandfather who was a crony of William’s living in a locality not included in the Smalley census.

                                    TAILOR ALLEN had lost his wife and was still living in the old house in 1872. JACK WHITE had died very suddenly, and DR. BODEN had died also. Dr. Boden’s first name was Robert. He was 53 in 1851, and was probably the Robert, son of Richard and Jane, who was christened in Morely in 1797. By 1861, he had married Catherine, a native of Smalley, who was at least 14 years his junior–18 according to the 1871 census!

                                    Among the family’s dearest friends were JOSEPH AND ELIZABETH DAVY, who were married some time after 1841. Mrs. Davy was born in 1812 and her husband in 1805. In 1841, the Kidsley Park farm household included DANIEL SMITH 72, Elizabeth 29 and 5 year old Hannah Smith. In 1851, Mr. Davy’s brother William and 10 year old Emma Davy were visiting from London. Joseph reported the death of both Davy brothers in 1872; Joseph apparently died first.

                                    Mrs. Davy’s father, was a well known Quaker. In 1856, Emma wrote: “Mr. Smith is very hearty and looks much the same.” He died in December 1863 at the age of 94. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers visited Kidsley Park in 1650 and 1654.

                                    Mr. Davy died in 1863, but in 1854 Anne wrote how ill he had been for two years. “For two last winters we never thought he would live. He is now able to go out a little on the pony.” In March 1856, his wife wrote, “My husband is in poor health and fell.” Later in 1856, Emma wrote, “Mr. Davy is living which is a great wonder. Mrs. Davy is very delicate but as good a friend as ever.”

                                    In The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 15 May 1863:

                                    Davy Death


                                    Whenever the girls sent greetings from Mrs. Davy they used her Quaker speech pattern of “thee and thy.”  Mrs. Davy wrote to George on March 21 1856 sending some gifts from his sisters and a portrait of their mother–“Emma is away yet and A is so much worse.” Mrs. Davy concluded: “With best wishes for thy health and prosperity in this world and the next I am thy sincere friend.”

                                    Mrs. Davy later remarried. Her new husband was W.T. BARBER. The 1861 census lists William Barber, 35, Bachelor of Arts, Cambridge, living with his 82 year old widowed mother on an 135 acre farm with three servants. One of these may have been the Ann who, according to Joseph, married Jack Oldknow. By 1871 the farm, now occupied by William, 47 and Elizabeth, 57, had grown to 189 acres. Meanwhile, Kidsley Park Farm became the home of the Housleys’ cousin Selina Carrington and her husband Walker Martin. Both Barbers were still living in 1881.

                                    Mrs. Davy was described in Kerry’s History of Smalley as “an accomplished and exemplary lady.” A piece of her poetry “Farewell to Kidsley Park” was published in the history. It was probably written when Elizabeth moved to the Barber farm. Emma sent one of her poems to George. It was supposed to be about their house. “We have sent you a piece of poetry that Mrs. Davy composed about our ‘Old House.’ I am sure you will like it though you may not understand all the allusions she makes use of as well as we do.”

                                    Kiddsley Park Farm, Smalley, in 1898.  (note that the Housley’s lived at Kiddsley Grange Farm, and the Davy’s at neighbouring Kiddsley Park Farm)

                                    Kiddsley Park Farm


                                    Emma was not sure if George wanted to hear the local gossip (“I don’t know whether such little particulars will interest you”), but shared it anyway. In November 1855: “We have let the house to Mr. Gribble. I dare say you know who he married, Matilda Else. They came from Lincoln here in March. Mrs. Gribble gets drunk nearly every day and there are such goings on it is really shameful. So you may be sure we have not very pleasant neighbors but we have very little to do with them.”

                                    John Else and his wife Hannah and their children John and Harriet (who were born in Smalley) lived in Tag Hill in 1851. With them lived a granddaughter Matilda Gribble age 3 who was born in Lincoln. A Matilda, daughter of John and Hannah, was christened in 1815. (A Sam Else died when he fell down the steps of a bar in 1855.)


                                      From Tanganyika with Love

                                      continued  ~ part 6

                                      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                      Mchewe 6th June 1937

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                                      With much love,

                                      Mchewe 25th June 1937

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                                      Lots of love,

                                      Mchewe 9th July 1937

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                      Mchewe 8th October 1937

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                                      Mchewe 17th October 1937

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                      Mchewe 18th November 1937

                                      My darling Ann,

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

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

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

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

                                      Mchewe 18th November 1937

                                      Hello George Darling,

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

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

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

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

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

                                      Mchewe 12th February, 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                      Mbulu 18th March, 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                      Mbulu 24th March, 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                      Mbulu 20th June 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                      Karatu 3rd July 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                                      Karatu 12th July 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                      Oldeani. 19th July 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                      Oldeani. 10th August 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                      Oldeani. 20th August 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                      Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

                                      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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



                                        From Tanganyika with Love

                                        continued  ~ part 5

                                        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                        Chunya 16th December 1936

                                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                                        Much love to all,

                                        Itewe, Chunya 23rd December 1936

                                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                        With love,

                                        Itewe, Chunya 30th December 1936

                                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                        Itewe, Chunya 19th January 1937

                                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                        Chunya 29th January 1937

                                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

                                        We should be with you in three weeks time!

                                        Very much love,

                                        Broken Hill, N Rhodesia 11th February 1937

                                        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                        With love to you all,

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

                                        George Rushby Ann and Georgie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                          From Tanganyika with Love


                                          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


                                            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.

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