Travels with myself – 4 Kenya

2nd June 2007
A grand day out! We left Voi and drove back towards Nairobi before turning left into Tsavo West National Park. The scenery is quite different from Tsavo East, with mountains, valleys and vast plains. Eventually we had a fantastic view of Mount Kilimanjaro rising out of the clouds with snow on the top (Sadly the photo doesn’t do it justice).


After a long drive through the Park we arrived at Mzima Springs.  The source of the water flowing into the Springs is in mountains to the north and it flows underground for about 50kms before emerging at this waterhole.  As the water flows away from the springs it is collected in pipes in order to provide Mombasa and east coast towns with fresh water.

















I also climbed down into a viewing chamber built into the river bank. I watched fishes swim by, but was somewhat disappointed that the hippos had cancelled their “Dance of the Hours” performance. Afterwards we drove off to a local lodge for lunch. It was on high ground and had a fantastic view across a huge valley. The long drive back took us through a rhino sanctuary within the park. The 36 rhinos were free to wander across hundreds of square kilometres, so it was no surprise that we didn’t see a single one! In fact it was rather lucky as I was asleep for most of the drive home.

3rd June 2007
It was a grey and cloudy morning when we set off to visit Lugard’s Falls, which is still inside Tsavo East.  It rained on and off all the time and most animals were staying well under cover.  The falls were formed when the Galana river was forced through volcanic rock, carving a path narrower than its own width and creating a number of waterfalls.  The patterns in the volcanic rock were fascinating.




















Below the Falls, where the river widens again, we saw hippos bathing and a large number of crocodiles, which shot into the river all together.  We could see more crocodiles lying on a rock, eating what appeared to be a buffalo carcase.  As we drove back, the rain poured down but our driver, always on the lookout for wildlife, spotted two lions with black tipped ears a fair distance from the road.  We watched them for some time and were joined by other jeeps until, eventually, someone realised that these were not lions but termite mounds!!  Our poor driver was teased mercilessly by his colleagues.

In the afternoon we had a talk from the Assistant Head of the Kenya Wildlife Service. He spoke about a new programme of funding which would be used to protect wildlife.  Also, he spoke of the Kenyan government’s fight to persuade Botswana and South Africa from legalising the sale of ivory in order to control their elephant population, while Kenya was still struggling to build its own.  In fact, in 2007 Kenya called for a 20 year moratorium on ivory sales.  Just this year (2019), some southern African countries have been trying to get the ban lifted.  At the same time it is estimated that about 30,000 – 38,000 elephants are killed illegally each year across Africa.



Elephants visited “our” waterhole each evening


Travels with myself – 4 Kenya

31st May 2007 – 1st June 2007
There is no time for a sleep in when you go on a game drive holiday! Animals are at their busiest from first light until mid-morning when the heat drives most of them to find shelter. So, by 6:30 we were on our way into the park.  Tsavo East is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres. It opened in April 1948 (nearly as old as me!).  The buses had their side flaps rolled up and the roof rolled back (although we were told not to stand up with our heads out of the roof unless given permission by the driver).  As in all places of potential danger, the driver’s voice was law!

On that first visit; on my first visit to a really wild place, I was amazed by just how many different animals we saw.  There were dik-dik, gerenuk, giraffe, impala, waterbuck and a pride of lions! A herd of elephants crossed the road just behind us and, although we stopped to gaze in awe, our driver had to keep his eye on the matriarch because she was very nervous and flapping her ears. We arrived back around 8:30 and then it was off into the bush for our breakfast, which seemed very exciting. I made my first visit to the pool and the water was perishing! During lunch we were visited by a herd of elephants which came down very close to the waterhole. After another spell by the pool it was time for the afternoon game drive from 4pm until dusk at around 6:30. There were more new animals this time – buffalo, zebra, ostrich, mongooses (who were living in a pile of stones near the road), warthog, hartebeast and elland. On arriving back I noticed the waterhole was again being visited by a huge herd of elephants.

On the red, red road 
Nervous mother, nervous passengers!


























What I didn’t know at the time I’m but I’ve learnt since because I’m such a passionate viewer of nature programmes, is that the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully reintegrated over 100 orphaned elephants, raised at their centre in Nairobi, back into the wild herds of Tsavo National Park. More than 25 calves have been born to orphaned elephants which are now living back in the wild.

And this was the pattern of the days when we stayed close to Tsavo East. Sometimes we saw lots of animals, sometimes not so many. They don’t come out to order! I filled the time between the game drives with visits to the pool, reading or going for a massage which was very cheap (about £5) and very good!


Impala, which are sometimes known (rather unkindly, though for obvious reasons), as “nature’s McDonalds”!

Travels with myself – 4 Kenya

28th – 30th May 2007
We were lucky enough to already have a television in 1954 when Zoo Quest with David Attenborough arrived on our screens. From the start I was a fan and, as I grew up, I began to dream of being his assistant and going on his travels with him. I think I was a little bit in love with him. But in those days I would have had to be a very determined girl to make that come true and perhaps I wasn’t very determined. Still, I never gave up on the dream to travel and in 2007 I was on my way to one of the places that I had visited many times by way of the nature programmes I’ve watched over the years.

There’s something to be said for setting off on a Monday. My work was finished, I had a clean house and I was packed in plenty of time. The flight was without incident, other than seeing Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond in Casino Royale.

We landed in Nairobi early in the morning but, by the time we left Jomo Kenyatta airport, the rush hour was in full swing and we had a very slow journey to the Jacaranda Hotel. Our first view of wildlife were the marabou storks perching on the trees by the roadside. Our tour manager said that we could go on two trips that day but I was so tired that I decided to go to bed instead. I always regret that I missed a visit to the famous David Sheldrick elephant orphanage. It wasn’t quite as famous as it is now and I didn’t really know what I was missing. In the afternoon I went to the Karen Blixen Museum which is situated in the house where she used to live. It’s not a big museum but it contains a lot of the original furniture and pictures together with some items from the set of “Out of Africa”. The house is set in beautiful grounds which cover many acres.


After tour of the house we were taken to a nearby giraffe conservation and breeding centre. There were giraffes there of different ages and they were all very friendly. You can feed them and they carefully take the food from your hands with their soft, gentle tongues. Back at the hotel we spent the evening getting to know each other.



This was another Saga holiday (my third) and was my first and only singles holiday specifically for people who travelled alone. There were fourteen of us altogether, twelve women and just two men. I’ve never had any problems finding people to chat to or or share a seat with on the coach, so I’m not sure why I chose this particular holiday. Perhaps it was just going at the right time.

We were woken up next morning at 6:00 ready to get on our way for 7:30. We were spread between three minibuses which we were going to use all week for our game drives. We were on our way to a game lodge in a small town called Voi, on the edge of Tsavo East National Park. It took 7 hours to drive there. Some of the roads were horrendous and bumpy but we eventually reached a stretch of new road running between the Tsavo West and Tsavo East national parks. Here we saw zebra feeding near the roadside and a troop of baboons.

When we arrived at the game lodge, we were met by dancers and given a cooling, fruit drink. After lunch it was pouring with rain! The evening passed with a “welcome cocktail party”, while we sat above the waterhole, which was reached by a pier built from the lodge’s main building. We only saw birds that night, although we were to have many much larger visitors on other evenings.

A Year in Nepal: Chapter 4 There’s a One Eyed Yellow Idol ….

This is the final chapter – so far- of this blog I’m sharing because of my interest in Nepal.

Buddha walks into a wine bar ...

This is likely to be the final post in chapters released from our part written book, A Year In Nepal, in which we sought feedback to help us with the remaining chapters. Here’s the fourth chapter, regarding Religion in Nepal: (You should start from previous chapters published so far here Our Book, A Year in Nepal)

Chapter 4


“There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu, There’s a little marble cross below the town;
There’s a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew, And the Yellow God forever gazes down.”

The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God! I knew this poem as a schoolboy, and never dreamed I would marry someone from Kathmandu, visit Nepal many times, walk amongst monasteries and temples, and become a Buddhist myself. These are not the sort of things that happen to…

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Those who can, teach – 3

I remember my aunt telling me a story aabout someone in my family who saw Charlotte Brontë walking to church on her wedding day. I had spoken about it with my cousin, while we were doing the family research together and we were never sure whether we should believe it. But now we know that it was at least possible.

My great grandmother, Sybil, was a schoolmistress at the National School in Haworth in 1854, the year that Charlotte was married to Arthur Bell Nicholls. The school was started by Charlotte’s father Rev Patrick Brontë and subsequently overseen by the Rev Nicholls.

James was appointed Headmaster by Rev Nicholls in 1855. Sadly, by the time he arrived Charlotte had already died of hyperemsis gravidurum (extreme sickness during pregnancy).

We don’t yet know whether James and Sybil came to this school straight from their training colleges or if either of them had a spell teaching elsewhere. They were both listed in the 1857 Post Office directory of Haworth. Sybil was still listed by her maiden name, although they did marry during that year. Anyway, during the space between the 1851 and the 1861 census they had both arrived in Haworth married and moved on.

We’re trying to fill in some gaps with the help of the Brontë Society and another small charity which looks after the old school room. James went on to have a long career teaching in schools around Bradford and I am going to research that at the City Archives and Central Library.

After that short return to the family story, it’s time for more travels. Finally, at the age of 60, I was heading off to do something that had been my dream for over 50 years!

A Year in Nepal: Chapter 3 A Tale of Three Cities

I’m enjoying reading this blog, which is being posted every Wednesday. It reminds me of my visit in 2012 but with the added benefit of hearing from someone who has experienced and learned so much more.

Buddha walks into a wine bar ...

“A Year in Nepal” is a book I have been writing since the beginning of this year, 2019. I’d got to my 6th chapter and somehow ran out of steam, lots of ideas, content, adventures, but just couldn’t continue or explain it! I let it sit there for two months, and despite encouragement from friends in Kathmandu, nothing! So, I’ve decided to try something completely different. Every week, Wednesday’s, I’ll post one of my chapters for comment, feedback good or bad, it will all be absorbed. If there’s silence, that tells me something too. Let me ask everyone stopping by here for help, do please comment, reblog, Facebook it, etc etc., all will be accepted, acknowledged, replied to. Here’s the third chapter, regarding some history of Nepal: (You should start from previous chapters published here Our Book, A Year in Nepal)

Chapter 3



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Those who can, teach – 2

My great grandmother Sybil was also a teacher. We already knew that she met my great grandfather James when they were both teaching at a school in West Yorkshire but I did wonder how she had got into teaching and whether she was qualified to any national standard. In the previous post I wrote how James did his teacher training at the short-lived Kneller Hall Training College. I wonder how a young man, from a family of mill workers, who started his own career as a power loom weaver in Cheshire, came to be in Twickenham studying to be a teacher. I was even more surprised to find (according to the 1851 Census) that Sybil had moved away from her native Nottingham and was living in Kings Road, Chelsea at the age of 19!

Her name was on a list of young girls, together with a Lady Superintendent named Mrs Harries, who were all living at the same address “Whitelands”. A quick Google search identified the address as “Whitelands College”, one of the earliest colleges offering formal teacher training for young ladies and still flourishing as part of Roehampton University.

I have the History and Heritage Advisor of the University of Roehampton and the Archivist of Whitelands College to thank for the following information including Sybil’s college records.

Whitelands College was founded in 1841 by the National Society, and had its history in the desire of both the Church of England and the state to provide education for children of the working classes, in which England, apparently, lagged far behind many other European countries. It was not the first teacher training college in England, nor was it the first church of England training college. It was part of a growing number of colleges aimed at training teachers who would provide a reasonable standard of education for poor children.

Sybil arrived at the age of 18 in 1849. At that time the college was led and managed by Rev Harry Baber. He was joined in 1850 by Mrs Harries, the Lady Superintendent and shortly after by Miss Gillott, the first Governess. The subjects which the students learned to teach were some basic knowledge of history, geography, natural history and English grammar, with a heavy emphasis on religious studies, singing and all aspects of housekeeping!

This is the entry for Sybil in the College Record:

“Born at Snenton near Nottingham. Her father is a coal merchant & responsible for her payments. Educated for about 10 years in various private schools & afterwards engaged in teaching in a private school for a short time. Has been confirmed & is a communicant.”

I presume that Sybil left the college in 1851, after two years of study. I next know of her whereabouts in 1854!

All will be revealed (and it has a literary connection)………….