01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Make do and mend 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Make do and mend

The last week has been busy. I tentatively tell you what has been going on, as when I do this there will inevitably be a caustic comment in my inbox about how terribly mundane my life is - but what the hell... Time has been filled by the following:

1. Making party bags from stiff recycled wrapping paper and staples - I don't know what prompted that rather ill advised brain wave, probably just an urge to show off. My middle daughter had a birthday party at home at the weekend. I was still icing the cake when the first guests arrived. We had booked a very nice entertainment guy who was to arrive with games to capture the imaginations of 20 children, only he forgot to bring any games and instead of the promised tug of war rope and face paints said 'I have it all up here' tapping his head. We negotiated around this small crisis by sending out a third party to pick up his things from wherever he had left them and in the end it was all a great success, if a bit frenetic. My barbeque lunch idea was fine until I panicked over my food poisoning track record and so burned all the chicken legs and sausages to a charcoal crisp.

The party was followed by a visit from the ex-nightwatchman and his bright son who are in need of their monthly money for food and rent. Their predicament was humbling as usual.

2. Selecting a new shower, tiles and bathroom basin in the Industrial area. We had to do this since our downstairs bathroom has been hacked to pieces due to a drain blockage. The sourcing of parts took hours and hours and lots of chin scratching. I never knew that it was possible to spend £2,000 on bathroom fittings?! We managed to spend a lot less but my eyes were opened!

3. Searching for gas. There has been a domestic gas shortage. We buy cylinders and apparently Kenya ran out of the chemical you put in them to make the gas smell. First one of our bottles ran out and it took a week to get a new one, then our second spluttered out just as the last party guests were leaving. I feel I have spent the last ten days driving around Nairobi with a gas bottle jammed into the passenger foot well, begging for gas. It was a great opportunity for independent traders to hike up their prices for the rare commodity. Some were charging 1,000 (£8.50) Kenya shillings extra per bottle.

4. Sourcing fabric for the kindergarten ballet troop Christmas concert costumes. I did this, got a splitting headache in the process and now have to hem 15 pieces of multicoloured fabric and now have to hem then put little bits of elastic on each. The ballet teacher is talking about sequins but I am pretending not to hear her!

5. Painting props for my friend's 40th 'Desperate Housewives' birthday party, a life size white pillared portico and American style post box. I keep teasing her that she has gone all 'bridal' on me over organising her party. She's reluctantly admitted it's true. She has bought a new dress and won't show it until her husband until the 'big night'.

6. Mending sheets and pillow cases. Our wedding sheets and pillowcases are officially ten years old now. While I was machining a double sheet that had worn thin then almost split from end to end I wondered, does anyone actually mend bed sheets these days?

7. Writing and receiving reviews of opening chapters for fiction novels and short stories 'www.youwriteon.com'. Getting a review on your own work is gut wrenching but lovely when they are complimentary. I also really enjoy reviewing the work of others. If, by any chance, you are curious and would like to read my two opening novel chapters then log onto the 'youwriteon' website and search for 'africaexpat' for a novel entitled Africa Expat Wives Club. Or maybe I should just post it up here - I'm not sure I dare.

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