|Karen Blixen's former house in Nairobi|
|Karen Blixen's bedroom|
Although many of those 1930s characters who lived in Kenya were pretty dissolute and not very much to be admired, I still think it’s a shame that many 1930s colonial buildings are gradually being eradicated; either left to fall into ruin in the countryside or being sacrificed in the face of Nairobi’s aggressive building boom where any square acreage is being cleared for offices, apartments or town house complexes. You do still see the odd old house on a half acre plot, with quirky low tiled roofs tucked behind Chiromo road (one of these used to belong to Ewart Grogan), cowering beneath the spectre of road construction work going on around Museum Hill on a massive scale – but these are few and far between. While progress is undoubtedly a good thing, a peep into the past is also fun. The Macmillan library in the centre of town is still very much on my wish list of places to visit – but I’m not sure what I’d find if I tried going there today. (Do let me know if you have been there anyone?)
Anyway, in the holidays, we went in search of Finch Hatton’s grave. Fortunately my husband had already passed by there on one of his boys motorbike forays, so he knew roughly where it was located and also knew that the road around the foot of the Ngong Hills had been recently graded (smoothed out). My mum who was visiting from England was dead keen to go find the grave – she’s an absolute hound for any kind of local history, so we decided to visit the grave then follow up with a picnic on the Ngong Hills on New Year’s Day. To be honest I was also keen. I love the Meryl Streep/Robert Redford film and remember clearly weeping buckets during the funeral scene at the end.
|Sign to Denys Finch Hatton's grave/memorial|
In fact, it was only a 5 minute walk from the bigger road. When we reached the top and turned in to the farm, there was a lady to greet us wearing in a blue woollen hat and knee length skirt. She said that she lived there with her granny and personally tends and manages the grave site – (as well as charging 300 shillings entry per adult).
|Secret garden, entrance to the memorial today|
|Lions on Denys Finch Hatton's Ngong Hills grave (from the movie)|
Suggested Nairobi tour ideas for history buffs:
The National Museum on Museum Hill (suggested reading; ‘A guide to the Birds of East Africa.’ A novel by Nicholas Grayson . The museum still organise bird watching walks and lectures)
The Railway Museum (see the actual carriage where a man was pulled to his death by a lion in Tsavo on the lunatic express) – previous post: Down at the Station - man eating lions of Tsavo
Karen Blixen Museum (full of atmosphere – try and visit low season when there are fewer coach loads of tourists)
Finch Hatton’s Grave – if you are up for an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Follow the road out of Ngong town (recently tarmacked), that runs along the base of the Ngong hills toward Baridi Corner. You will see the sign (photographed above) to Finch Hatton's Grave. Cash payment for entry.
The Norfolk/Stanley hotels. The Stanley was famous for it's Thorn Tree bar as a main meeting place for settlers and safari guides. The oldest hotel, the Norfolk, famous for its Long Bar.