01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: About the Nannies and the Landcruiser 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

About the Nannies and the Landcruiser


Our burglar alarm is being tweaked at the moment and I am nearly having heart failure every five minutes as the siren is wailing on and off just outside my window. We are currently experiencing one false alarm per night and it has to stop. When the siren starts sounding in the night we sit bolt upright in bed, heart in mouths. We check the time (12am, 2am, 4am etc) then the phone rings. It’s the security company control room checking in and confirming that a patrol car is on its way. My husband has a naked chat from the window to our night watchmen to see what the trouble is (hopefully nothing), then count down the minutes until the patrol car arrives (the all important response time). Four or six burly men with truncheons and helmets pile out of a tiny pickup and the dogs go wild. They kindly check the perimeter of the house, confirm all is well and drive away. We are then supposed to pop back to sleep but instead have a wakeful time, hypersensitive to any sound from the garden or the road. Sometimes cars backfire or transformers blow up, or the power is off and we are in pitch blackness and very occasionally you do hear a gunshot or two.

On a happier note, I should confirm that I did get my suitcase back after just three weeks. It had been mixed up with the lost bags of another airline but is home safe and sound now, what a relief! It was slightly damp in places but otherwise was delivered completely in tact. I have heard that the lost luggage room in Heathrow stinks to high heaven because of food packed in the bags. During the dark days of not having my bag, just contemplating how to replace all those clothes and shoes was so disheartening. I realised that shopping is hard work and the contents of that suitcase represented many man hours, trudging up high streets and checking through clothes rails not to mention trying on and cramped changing rooms. I had made a comprehensive list of what had been inside from memory, and was pleased by my accuracy. However, I had missed out quite a few ‘low priority’ things that were in the case, but belonged to the children.

I also wanted to quickly fill readers in on the 2 nannies in the address and the 1 landcruiser: The two nannies mentioned are Gladys and Florence without whom I would be certain to have many more grey hairs and wrinkles. My friends and I spend many hours speculating how is must be to bring up children ‘single handed’ in England and unanimously agree that it sounds like a nightmare. We do this while drinking coffee or having a long lunch, always secure in the knowledge that our precious offspring are being watched every moment by a fleet of nannies or ayahs. Gladys and/or Florence are on hand from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and a half day on Saturday to wash, clean and care for the children, which they kindly do unconditionally. I’m not working, so running the house is a bit of a team effort but I think I have the heady role of team manager who likes the odd tea break (often). Sunday is a day off for Gladys and Florence, where I do the washing up and where our parenting skills are put into the spotlight. As much as possible we go out for the day to the club for swimming, or to the national park for a picnic. The jury is still out as to whether ‘Sunday off’ is a good idea or not.

The landcruiser is our holy grail of cars. It has taken seven years to upgrade ourselves up to VX level. From Suzuki Vitara, to ancient Landrover ‘Santana’, to Toyota Landcruiser I, then II, to Landrover Discovery and on up to a Toyota VX landcruiser. It’s an old car (1993) and cost a small fortune as car prices in Kenya are astronomical thanks to import taxes. What you spend £5,000 on here you could pick up for £150 in the back of Exchange and Mart in England. The landcruiser cost a lot more than that, but its sheer size and strength makes it the vehicle of choice. Chelsea tractors might get a lot of flak in London, but it’s reassuring to have a big strong car in Nairobi when you see the pileups on the side of the road. A four wheel drive vehicle is almost compulsory kit when negotiating pot holes and flooding and that’s just within Nairobi, never mind off road driving in game parks. The rules of the road here are governed by; ‘he who has the biggest car and loudest horn, wins!’ Air conditioning that works is also important, a winch and a tow bar are handy. At last the epic drive that always accompanies a holiday in Kenya, can be in relative comfort and safety (hopefully).

The ‘intruder’ alarm man says there is actually nothing wrong with the system, but he’s adjusted its sensitivity. I am not reassured.

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