01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Entertaining out of doors 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Entertaining out of doors


Nothing much to report this end except that re: gardening; I keep buying non indigenous hydrangeas, jasmine, honeysuckle, roses etc. out of pure sentimentality for England. It’s raining now so hopefully everything should bed in ok. The herb garden is progressing thanks to my neighbour’s gardener Joyce who kindly brought me some marjoram (which I’m not sure how to use cooking wise?) and some parsley, mint, lemon grass and thyme (I’m wondering what to give her by way of thanks - a tin of biscuits?). I bought some succulents for the dry beds under the guest room windows, but they look pathetically small and far too spread out.

Yesterday was my middle daughter’s birthday and the rain didn’t make staging her outdoor party very easy. All children’s birthday parties here are held in the garden and there’s often a bouncy castle and (if we are pushing the boat out) our beloved troop of local children’s entertainers, who us Mums would pay in gold bars if we could as their valuable contribution means that there’s no need for excruciating party games such as musical bumps. As is usual at this time of year (short rains) we were mopping the bouncy castle dry after a short downpour, but I heartlessly insisted on marauding kids staying outside for the duration. Food is scattered about and children and Mum’s graze all afternoon with the hostess (i.e. me, or Gladys, or Florence) dashing in and out with constant refills of hot water for tea. Accompanying ayahs, drivers and entertainers get cups of tea and fairy cakes too. Once again I spectacularly omitted to offer any Mum’s a glass of white wine at the end of the afternoon, due to being distracted by cake cutting and party bag allocation, which was highly remiss and quite a faux pas as a rewarding glass of white wine and soda water is always welcome. Mums in England must surely tear their hair out with winter birthday parties having to be held inside the house (shock, horror – inside?!!) – once again, I really don’t know how they do it without suffering from a nervous breakdown!

I have noticed that people who live in Kenya always have a blind faith in staging any kind of entertainment outside, whatever time of year and whatever the weather. You can understand why, as luckily enough the climate in Nairobi is mild(ish) all the year round. Rainfall tends to be regarded an unfortunate inconvenience that happens only occasionally, so not considered sufficient reason to brave hosting parties inside. At night, functions are held on verandas or in tents outside and by 11pm/midnight the temperature dips (after all we are living at an altitude of 5500ft). I am often approaching hypothermic whilst inappropriately dressed in skimpy eveningwear and find myself on arrival home in desperate need of either a hot bath or the necessary pulling on of seven jumpers before I am able to stagger into bed. Those who have lived here long enough have learned through bitter experience of standing about in tents or on lawns and sensibly don a uniform of jeans and a fleece jumper or wrap/pashmina to all evening parties whatever the dress code. They know that it’s better to be prepared when outside and at the mercy of the elements.

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