SO... we are taking our lives in our hands going to a Kenya Wildlife Service self catering banda this weekend. I actually should be packing, shopping and cooking right this minute. Florence, who does quite a lot of cooking in our house (especially things that can be made in advance) has been highly inconveniently ill this week, so the sense of panic in my bones has been rising. Luckily a friend of mine saved the day yesterday by suggesting I order some ready-made cooked stews from a lovely cafe in Nanyuki called Barney's. Pure genius! I put my order in last night - no idea what it's going to cost and actually, at this point, don't care?! Today I need to remember to make an easter cake and pack easter eggs - to avoid crushing disappointment on Sunday. Even though I have now written this down, there is a real chance that I'll still forget.
It occured to me that there should really be a packing list, at least for planning food - for these Kenya weekends/weeks away as so often you are miles from any shop, might not even have a phone reception and invariably arrive to realise you have left half a dozen absolutely necessary items at home (Calpol for the kids, shampoo, ear drops, chargers, an umbrella).
A friend of mine who arrived in Kenya a year ago told me that she fell into a state of panic at the prospect of a week away where she would have to organise her own food without the help of a handy Woolworths (SA) or Marks and Spencer (UK) type of place where you could buy ready-made convenience food. She appealed to a mutual friend of ours who is the proverbial Domestic Goddess (the DG even makes her own jam and harvests her own honey from a hive in her garden). The DG very kindly drew up a menu plan for the friend for the entire week, including kids meals. Our friend dutifully followed it word for word.
'The DG should publish that menu plan and charge for it.' My friend said, 'It absolutely saved my life!'
I tend to shun too much forward planning and do things in a blind panic once darkness has fallen. It's not an approach that I'd recommend. I realised this when we gatecrashed another friend's Masai Mara safari. Her organisational skills highlighted the fact that mine were woefulling inadequate - thought had evidently been put in on her part, and time. To give you an idea, her kids had torches (batteries working), she had a portable dvd player to entertain them during evenings while we had grown-up supper, plus a cool box full of sundowner drinks and snacks (crisps, biltong etc) and thermos coffee mugs and biscuits for early morning drives - so civilised! We had a blast - riding on their generosity! (see previous post entitled 'Masai Mara' 27/10/10)
Briefly - we did have a 'beach list' for picnics in Dar es Salaam when we lived down there. On the list were things like; beach chairs, mat/picnic blanket, drinking water, sandwiches, boiled eggs, hot water for tea, coffee, milk, suncream, towels, armbands, ball, dog bowl, dog water, first aid kit/sting cream for jelly fish ..... It took us about three years to get around to compiling the list. The idea was to stick it onto the fridge but problem was that whenever we went for a picnic (this was actually just about every single weekend) we never knew where the wretched list was. Hot and flustered rows invariably ensued between my husband and I in the tropical heat and driving to the beach was then in furious silence.
For a while I carried around my own mini first aid kit. When a Mum sent out an appeal that a small child needed calpol, arnica or sting cream in an emergency, I'd excitedly shout out that I had some. I'd then shuffle around in my handbag for ages, only to discover that whatever was required in that instance, was the one thing that I didn't have. This happened to me yesterday when my daughter got stung by a bee. Hopeless.
My problem is attitude. Rather than taking pride in being organised or aspiring to be a Domestic Goddess, I'm surly and resentful about how much work is involved and the fact that as the matriach, I must take on the mantle of preparedness, all on my own. I'm my own worst enemy. On that note, I'd better sign off. A million things to do!