Friday, March 30, 2012

What I've been reading lately

I ordered this book using some Amazon vouchers (most useful gift, by the way!) and by the time it arrived I had forgotten that I wanted to read it. I think it must have been recommended to me by someone. (Whoever it was, thank you!)
Anyhow-I haven't been able to concentrate or relax or sit very still recently and this book eased me into holiday mode.

The synopsis (from Amazon)-
1968. The year Paris takes to the streets. The year Martin Luther King loses his life for a dream. The year Eleanor Maud Portman is born.

Young Elly's world is shaped by those who inhabit it: her loving but maddeningly distractible parents; a best friend who smells of chips and knows exotic words like 'slag'; an ageing fop who tapdances his way into her home, a Shirley Bassey impersonator who trails close behind; lastly, of course, a rabbit called God. In a childhood peppered with moments both ordinary and extraordinary, Elly's one constant is her brother Joe.

Twenty years on, Elly and Joe are fully grown and as close as they ever were. Until, that is, one bright morning when a single, earth-shattering event threatens to destroy their bond forever.

Spanning four decades and moving between suburban Essex, the wild coast of Cornwall and the streets of New York, this is a story about childhood, eccentricity, the darker side of love and sex, the pull and power of family ties, loss and life. More than anything, it's a story about love in all its forms.

What I say (from me)-
At the start I thought the narrative would annoy me. It is written in first person and we first meet Elly at the very start of her life. But actually, I loved the way it was written through Elly. Even as a child she is witty and wise. I also liked the disjointed sentences and thoughts.
A lot happens in this book, but not many events are written about in detail. The writer skims over actions and lets the audience make up the rest. But again, I liked this. It is not too 'busy' to make it unbelievable. It is just the most memorable parts of a life, pulled together in 320 pages. The characters and relationships in this book were funny, real and loving. Some of the plot was obvious from the start; the continual mention of New York and the Twin Towers gave a little too much away, but then the story twists and turns until it finds its way home at the end.
I find film adaptations of books are never satisfying, but I keep thinking that this would be great on screen. I would definitely go to see it.

Thanks Heather for hosting the book club.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The misadventures of a single, white female

I never talk about my blog. I love reading comments. But if someone talks about it I find I get rather embarrassed. 

The realisation that someone I know, a friend, read the rubbish I wrote about my visit to the Cheese Farm....or whatever it was.

But it is flattering all the same.  That is how I felt the other day, when conversation over shisha surprisingly turned to my blog. (You sweet, sweet lady!)

I then think: I should write more. I should use spell check spend more time on my posts. I should have more of a focus. Maybe I should write about my experiences of an International jet setter teacher.

But all I really want to tell you, is, that in the past day I have tried two new (to me) restaurants. Eaten crab with a bib on at Seven(...well...eaten my be a bit of an overstatement...I cracked and poked and dug...but did not each much!), I met the most well behaved and beautiful baby, Iseult at Osteria, where we finished our meal with ice-cream...well her mum and I. The best ice-cream in Nairobi. Thankfully it is a long drive from where I live, otherwise I would be there everyday this holiday!

Not very productive, or very exciting or very adventurous is it?

My eyes are not as fresh as they first were. Life in Africa has now become the norm for me. A fantastic norm, don't get me wrong, but I no longer do a double take at the women carrying a heavy load of eucalyptus on the busy road or get uptight at the mutatu driver that feels the need to undertake me. Africa has struck a chord inside, but I forget to appreciate it at times. I feel though, that no matter where I go to next, whenever that will be, I will always be drawn back to Africa, even just to smell it through words in a novel. (You know- that dusty, burnt rubbish smell! Only joking!)

Amazing as Africa is, and I think it is, it is expensive here. The cost of living, like other parts of East Africa, has risen so much that the 'good life' is not so easily attainable. Even many white Kenyans, with their rusty Landies and Bata boots, now head to the Middle East to earn a living so that they can repair their coffee machine (well...that bit I obviously made up...but you know what I mean!)

So-my blog has drifted. I am going to try again to see things a new. To write about life like I'll go tomorrow. To journal my experiences, so that they are on paper, for me to read and remember in the future, so that I have somewhere to travel back to, if I need to.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Current guilty pleasure: Breakfast out. Today I even went without the morning run...I am on holiday after all!

Current blogging about: The 'w' thing...which I have tried very hard NOT to do.

Current fashion trend: Haaa! I am sporting a new hair that is my current trend.

Current drink: I am staying off, water.

Current food: Charcoal chrackers- can't decide if I like them, or I eat them just becuase they are supposed to be good for me!

Current playlist –Need new music! Have not found away to keep my Christmas music on my itunes, without them playing when I press 'shuffle'.Can I 'hide' them somehow?

Currently reading - Old copies of Runner's World magazines and Ahdaf Soueif's 'The Map of Love', which I really can't get into.

Current TV Show –I've been watching The Tudors. I borrowed the second series from a friend, never having seen it before. Hooked. And....Modern Family. Again, never heard of it before my friend lent me the 3 series, but the gay couple in it crack me up...and I am starting to love Phil (it took a while!).

Current excitement – The holidays! I'm off to Uganda to catch-up with friends and have time out.

Current bane of my existence - Work. Really-do I have to go?

Current wish list – A flat tummy...without having to work out.

Current websiteLewa Marathon website 

Currently delaying - Making decisions about my professional development...

Current Mood - Stressed

What are you currently into?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The University of Life

It's the holidays. I have three wonderfully long weeks off work. (Oh-apart from having to go in on Monday for meetings and to do ALL the things I haven't.)

It has been a mad term at the 'w' place. I don't want to moan, everyone gets busy, but this term has to have flashed by without me noticing, because I have had no time to do so. At the moment, I keep saying, 'I love Kenya. I just don't have time to enjoy it.'

I recently read an article that pointed out that I may not be 'too busy', I probably just have my priorities wrong. So, for the past two weeks, I have been trying to align them. Of course the 'w' thing is a priority, but I want it to be only that if it a positive aspect in my life. So, to balance this I have been trying to increase my running (and have organised a team for the Lewa half marathon in June) and...wait for it...I have been going to courses at the Brahma Kumaris University.

There. I said it.

If you don't know much about the Brahma Kumaris, you may think it is a cult that will suck me in, then get me to donate all my worldly goods to them...(good luck there Sisters!), but hey, this is completely different to the Catholic church!! (ohhh-shameful!) Until recently, I myself knew NOTHING about the organisation, so I don't blame you for thinking these things. (And honestly, I had a moment the other day, before I began my evening's meditation, that I was sitting in a dark building in Nairobi, with a women dressed in white and nobody knew where I scream would not be heard...duh duh duh! I have obviously lived to tell the tale!)

 The organisation is not religious based, but really focuses on finding our soul's true power and being, Peace. "Yes, hello! I'll have some of that!" I said as I pushed the old women in front of me in the line, out of the way!

For me, although it is not religious based, it has been a bit like going to church. My group has become more comfortable in the past few sessions and our discussions are becoming more meaningful and interesting. The Sisters that guide us on these sessions are the most wonderfully positive people and the energy in the building is amazing; you quickly feel part of  a community.

My life has not transformed over the past couple of weeks. If anything, it has been more stressful than ever. The 'w' thing, a mans hand in my car window, professional development and end of termtitus. But, going to the University has meant I schedule and prioritise that time for me. A quiet, very private time, which has helped me stay positive (for about 5 minutes every morning!) and calm in my everyday life. 

Although, on the downside, I have had no time to go food shopping, so haven't had an evening meal at home for 8 days. (But, this may mean I will fit into my dress for the Irish ball!!! See-look at me go with this positivity thing!!!!)

Over the next few weeks, I am planning on spending more time on getting my priorities back in order. Which means, for me, spending some quality time with friends.Overdue emails sent. Phone calls to the Bank (no, not you Dad!) Some long, slow runs. Yoga sessions. Downton Abbey nights.  Meals out. And late night shisha. I am off to Uganda in just over a week  and looking forward to seeing more friends then.

Om Shanti.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


It's hard to blog when you spend all your time working. It's great to take a break from the routine at school, a little visit to 'India' for the day was just what was needed.

I'm on holiday next week-horrraaay! You will hear more from me then. 
Om shanti.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Savouring the Moment

Food senses if you are rushing it. It won't be rushed, folding needs time, you stir slowly and generally food tastes better if you cook it whilst you are holding a glass of wine and listening to Madeleine Peyroux or Norah Jones, which slows down this process even more. Rushed food is dirty fuel. It will burn to spite you, to remind you to slow down.

These cakes though, can take lots of beating and you can chop the hell out of the chocolate for the chunks. You can basically dump it all together and they still turn out well. Just slow down to eat them, savour each chunky chocolate bite you find.

They are now a firm favourite with my friends that I gift them to, so that I don't eat them all for breakfast! And yes, I have posted this recipe before... that is how good they are!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A cheesy day

I visited a small cheese farm on the weekend.We all got dressed-up for the day...

and looked rather glamorous...don't you think?

 So, there was cheese...

 and more cheese...

and champagne to celebrate a friend's birthday. (I kept thinking that my great friend Jo would have loved it-as there was also plenty of butter and salt on the table!Bonus!)

It was a lovely day, but I had the worst sleep that night...!

I am now trying to think of a way I can live out of the city, with a garden that spills into the valleys and space for some guinea fowl to roam. Any ideas?

Friday, March 2, 2012

What I've been reading lately

I had heard a lot about Bossypants, Tina's Fey's autobiography, around the Christmas period and wanted to pick it up. I'm sure most have you have read it by now, but I only spotted it on my friend's bookshelf the other week, so borrowed it for a weekend read. Turns out you only need a morning to read it.

Book description (from Amazon...doesn't tell you much!)
Tina Fey is one of the world's greatest comic writers and performers. Bossy Pants is her first book.

My thoughts -
Bossypants is a perfect, light 'term time' read, but, I am glad I just borrowed it, as it is not a book that I am likely to re-read. I know of Tina Fey through her famous Sarah Palin impersonations. However, I have never seen 30 Rock and this meant that the latter part of her book had less meaning for me. By the end of her book, I felt she was just filling in pages when she wrote down parts of scripts used in episodes. I did however enjoy her stories of her childhood and years working at the YMCA. I have to say, I didn't laugh out loud once though. I think she tired quite hard and I was a bit bored of her negative outlook on herself...(mm-did you see how great he looked at the Oscars!) Saying all that, it was an enjoyable Saturday morning read and I will for sure hunt own a copy of 30 Rock to find out what she was talking about!

What are you reading at the moment? Any recommendations?

This is a book club blog link-Heather is hosting it.