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I almost cannot believe it. Today, the house is quiet.

Apologies for total failure to write. The reason? I’ve had both of my sisters out to stay with their respective husbands and kids in close succession (there was change-over on xmas day – just enough time to wrap presents & change sheets between guests). For the past month solid, the house has been noisy and busy with never less than 5 children screaming at one time (okay, I exaggerate). It has been full-on, all consuming and above all, fun.  We must have worked our way through a truck load of food between us and my husband put in curiously long hours at the office but today the mattresses on the floor will be stowed away, the kids are finally back in school and I look forward to a more sedate second half of January. Perhaps time to get my head down and think about New Year resolutions etc.

My eldest daughter arrived back from school with a violin yesterday. Oh cripes. Worse, the new violin teacher apparently wants ME to accompany her to her lessons! My sense of elation at new found freedom is already slipping away. Taking up violin is odd since we've had years of near physical fights to get said daughter to practise the piano (she plans to drop piano once she has done her Grade 1 in June).  In fact, her level of resistance to my bribery and coaxing to work at piano has been legendary.  Last term her head of music said,
'I think she should find another instrument.  Watching her struggle at this year's tea time concert was difficult.  In fact, I feel quite strongly about this.  She should try something else before it's too late.'
Smarting; my own memories of piano playing for seven years flooded back, as did the words in my school report which symbolized the final nail in the coffin of my musical career,
'She works hard ...... but has no natural talent.'

So why the violin? I hear you ask. Answer; because my daughter (and the head of music) wore me down and, needless to say, it subsequently turns out that her best friend is taking violin up too. With prospect of the ‘vile-din’ ringing in my ears at home (add this to the middle daughter’s drum playing) and school exams looming, I fear that realistically, we may be in for a shocking January. Even though we optimistically brought all the school books home in December, holiday revision was nil.

The youngest (5) is currently in a state of utter confusion/panic at the prospect of moving on to her big school, while at the same time doggedly exploring the concept that school might be optional.

‘Do I have to go to school?’ she asks.

My husband says, ‘yes.’

‘But what if I’m sick?’

‘Well, you’d have be sick, sick, sick all through the night and then MAYBE you would get ONE day off school.’

This morning she went to kindergarten for her second day dressed the big school’s uniform of shirt and tie that she has stolen from her sisters' drawers, paired with scruffy jeans. I tried to tell her,

‘you don’t have to wear that until SEPTEMBER.’ But no use. She won’t listen.
'You will BOIL in those clothes.'  Still nothing.

‘Are you going to wear a tie Daddy?’ she asks holding one of his ties in her hand. ‘Like me?’

‘Alright then.’ Says my husband who prefers to avoid the tie where at all possible. ‘I’ll put on a tie.’

In the car this morning she said;

‘What if bring all my books home Mummy and just do the work with you?’

‘But I am not a teacher darling.’ I said – a note of undisguised desperation in my voice. I had been really looking forward to my quiet morning. Then I wheeled out my favourite line,

‘If we were in England and I didn’t send you to school, the police would have to put me in prison.’

Frown.



During this holidays we had two very successful day trips to the Nairobi National Park. On both occasions (after the usual stress of preparing the expansive picnic) we headed in to the park at around lunchtime. We were dismayed to find that the quiet picnic spot under the JKIA flight path that we normally get to ourselves, is currently under KWS renovation and drastic expansion. It always used to be known as the 'secret' picnic spot, though most people I know have been there.  A half finished loo block is now rather a blot on the landscape and trees and bush have been replaced by large bins, water tanks and metal picnic tables. Anyhow, we did see lion on both visits (a lion on a kill, a lion in the road, a pride of 5 lion on a hill top), as well as rhino, buffalo and lots of plains game.  'Budget safari!' my brother-in-law said, delighted.

On both occasions we were in two cars. On the second visit, at the baboon cliffs viewing point, my sister and I decided to stay in the car while kids and husbands ventured out. When the children in our car left our rear doors open, afraid of baboons, my sister and I gingerly shut them and thank goodness, because in front of our eyes and quick as a flash, a huge male baboon made a beeline for an open door in my husband’s car and clambered in.  Utterly incensed, my husband slams the door of the car, shutting the huge brute in, thinking it might panic once trapped and serve it right, but as the beast leapt about the interior, I watched as my husband had second thoughts and flung the door open instead. There was a lot of shouting from my husband and some wide open mouthed disbelief amongst the children and other adults. Eventually the baboon screamed out of the car like a scalded cat, empty handed.   Even counting the lion, it was the most enjoyable game viewing that my sister and I had had all day.

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