Tag Archives: camping

A New Year’s look at How You Found Me

New year, new month and time for a new look at the search engines. How in earth did you find me?

 

the inside of an art museum in London

Well it has been a long time, my friend, too long in fact. I am not fond of going too long without access to some fine oil on canvas, but I live in the desert so what can you do? If you are heading to London and want to look inside an art museum I suggest you go to the National Gallery for starters. You will see all the great classics and get an ace view of Trafalgar Square from the balcony. Then pop next door to the National Portrait Gallery for some real treats; look for photography, oil, sculptures and even neon portraits of people both famous and unknown. If you go to the Tate Modern (and I think you must) then try and take a taxi on the Thames for a change. You get a great view and it’s much nicer than the stuffy Tube.

escaping camp

Now this is a good one. Those of you who have been hanging around 3limes for some time know that I am a reluctant camper and yet did more than my fair share of camping in Uganda. If you are looking to escape camp I suggest you find a lovely hotel nearby. Failing that you can simulate an escape with my no fail easy camping tips:

Take a Duvet, not a sleeping bag.

Take a comfortable rolled mattress and not a thin rubber mat.

Take your own feather pillow

Employ your children to put up the tent while you sip wine

Take a cooler full of wine

And Champagne

Make tasty sun downer treats beforehand. Sushi works well.

Plan a meal that is easy and fun to make. No one wants to cook for hours when camping.

Take a head lamp so that you can use your hands in the dark and still see.

Always pee before you sleep and stop drinking two hours before bed so that you don’t need to creep behind the tent and risk scary night creatures in the middle of the night

Take a Pashmina

Go with an open mind

Only camp for one night and then head to your nearest luxury hotel for soft beds and a warm shower.

It is worth it, really.

And by the way…I am yet to try it but I hear that Desert Camping in Bahrain is quite the thing. Apparently they have large canvas tents, air-conditioning, servant’s quarters and 42 “ Plasma TVs! Now what kind of camping is that, I ask?

sheet metal gates for industrial facility

Really? You typed that in and found 3limes? I must be doing something wrong.

i have 2 girls for my birthday

People I do not make this stuff up. Now I have two girls too, but certainly not for my birthday. If that is the sort of birthday present you are after, you have come to the wrong place Sir! ( And Happy Birthday and good luck to you.)

wooden name letters decorated in snow

 

Lovely image! Not sure I really understand how you arrived here in the blog of sunny climes, however. You see it has been 5 years since I last saw snow. That is a long time, according to my daughters way too long. They fear they may have forgotten how to ski. I must admit, I had a pang for snow the other night, the soft white fluffy variety that one could ski on and admire shimmering like crystal under a lone lamp post. Not the brown, thick variety that gets stuck in the car tires. That is called Snow Poo and is great fun to kick off with a solid snow boot. Anyway, I can imagine your twinkling home, nestled in the heavy snow laden forest; the wooden family name touched ever so slightly with a dusty cover of snow, telling your friends and neighbours they have arrived. Happy Winter to you from the Sandy Desert Isle.

where can i buy chloroform in kampala Uganda

Again, what have I done to call you forth to my humble blog? Why do you think I would know such a thing? I am going to presume that you are putting an injured goat out of its misery, a sad, limping goat who has been hit by a renegade Boda Boda driver. No more.

white powder on prunes

Welcome! It is lovely to have you visit, albeit briefly as I am sure that you have long disappeared after your fruitless search for the white power on prunes. It does so happen that I have an idea of what you are searching for. A long long time ago, back when I was a wee child living in Hong Long, ( era: 1974-1979) I used to eat these sour yet sweet, chewy, dusty prunes, topped with some white power, presumably sugar. I can still remember the taste and have been searching for them ever since. I have no idea what they are called but I can still taste the sweet and sour chewy delight when I remember them.

Another sensual memory from those early Hong Kong days is the tiny green plant, like ground cover or  grass, that would close quickly but gently when touched with a small finger. I was charmed by them as a child and file them with the sweet and sour prunes in my memory cupboard of childhood thoughts. I did find them again in Trinidad. We had them in our garden and I was thrilled to sit on the ground and play with those tiny plants that grew shy and closed with my touch. Of course Handsome thought I was quite mad when he turned around and found me on my knees touching the grass.

 

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Sleeping in a tent, sunrises and back to school.

 

What a lovely break! My trip to Kenya was a fabulous and inspiring time, the course both proved I was on the right track and at the same time educated and inspired me to go further in my teaching. It was the first face to face course I have taken and hopefully not the last. I think it is imperative that teachers develop professionally, especially if it gives us specific tools to help our students improve.

 

A startling coincidence and proof of a very small world found me at morning tea on the first day of the course. Sitting beside me was the author of an African blog that I read. You should too. She is a teacher,mother, wife, writer and musician and to top it all off a blogger too! And she has lived in Africa all her life. Check her out here.

 

And then I returned and was immediately swept off my feet and into a tent. Camping for two nights beside a most peaceful lake. I cannot stress enough how much I dislike sleeping in a tent. It is claustrophobic, uncomfortable and on this occasion freezing cold, forcing my entire body to cramp up in the position of one who is trying desperately hard to stay warm.

 

However, despite no sleep and fuming with the injustice of a night spent in a tent with fellow campers happily snoring all around me , I must admit that breakfast cooked over an open fire with the sun rising over a lake as still as a mirror is pure magic.  I had two sunrise breakfasts this weekend, and two nights of star gazing. With great company and happy children frolicking in the lake what more could a camper want? Other than a soft bed and a warm duvet.

 

Plus let me not fail to mention that our friends camp in style. We had sushi, Champagne and hot chocolate made from melted Ghiradelli chocolate squares. All well and good.

 

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Two nights camping in Tsavo

Camping. I am not a camper, many of you might have realized this by now. I sort of wish I was, you know, the sort of person to embrace the whole sleeping in a tent, cooking over an open fire, brushing my teeth in the dark and spitting onto the ground. I wish I was that sort of girl, in some ways. Maybe if I had been raised a camper and pitched tents as a child, as my children now do I would not only love it but know what to do. As it is I am not in my element. But I am proud to say that I did it and survived it and threw myself whole heartedly into the experience. I know many people who would never leave the comfort of their 5 star lodges to camp within earshot of munching elephants and roaring lions and bouncing, barking baboons. But I did and while I would have preferred one rather than two nights, the whole camping thing was okay. It was part of the journey and made me feel rather hard core, really. I had a metaphorical hand patting my back most of the time and if I come across as a someone with more princess tendencies than I should have, well welcome to my world. This is who I am. The noises at night were freaky and the cooking and cleaning and finding supplies from the many bags and boxes was a trifle tiresome but when, sitting on my camping chair and reading my book under a tree, I looked up and saw an elephant walking through the camp site I felt the magic. These are not things that happen from the comfort of a lodge swimming pool.

Handsome Husband is convinced that he felt a trunk pressing through the thin walls of our tent and considering that in total we saw 6 elephants in our camp it is entirely possible. Or perhaps it was that last whisky by the camp fire?

On our first morning we crawled out of our tent at 6 am just as dawn was cracking through the clouds and went out on a pyjama safari. Since it was so early we were treated to a splendid animal showing. A tiny baby elephant still uncertain on his legs and cowering in the comfort of his mother’s trunk could be seen close to the path we drove on. Minutes later two cheeters, slinked past, the sun bouncing off their spots. We saw lions resting after a busy night hunting and a proud male lying beneath a tree surveying the view and his female pride walking below his lofty perch. We were the outsiders driving through their kingdom and I could have watched for hours.

When we got back to the camp for coffee and eggs cooked over an open fire we felt the thrill of being so close to wildness. And then we stopped to read, draw, chat and listen to the hot silence.

The drive to Watamu was long and hot and made slightly more painful by the hour we spent attending to the flat tire. But 6 hours later when we finally saw the sea we all whopped for joy and felt like mini heroes who had conquered the road.

The drive from start to finish took us through an extraordinary variety of landscapes, some lush and green, some hilly, some rocky and some dry and dusty. The coast was blisteringly hot, the palms were dusted with red dirt in places and only when we actually approached the beach did we feel the cool respite of a sea breeze.

At the end of this long road, non paved and thick with dust we had no idea what was in store. We expected a luxurious villa, complete with canapes by the pool for our New Year’s Eve dinner. We had high hopes of soft billowing mosquito nets in rooms over looking the sea, open showers and soft sand dipping into a turquoise sea. We were led to believe both by the gorgeous web site and the encouraging emails from the owner that we would be treated to a true 5 star experience. This would be the prize at the end of two days camping. This would be worth the many dollars we were spending on our three nights at the beach. This would literally be the golden pot at the end of the dusty road.

How wrong we were.

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Where have I been? On Mars?

( Photo:Trooper walks to school)

Yes I know I have been quiet. Things at Camp Hormone however have been busy and that has been stealing my attention and time away from all the fun over here at 3limes.

So what else has been going on? I know one of you is interested because I got a concerned email.

Trooper has turned into a sports fiend. Once a week she wakes up at an ungodly hour, before it is even light, and heads out to jump into a cold cold pool to do laps. From where did this girl appear? Handsome Husband has gallantly taken it upon himself to do early morning swim drives. As he so nostalgically put it:  “If I was in Canada I might have to be up and driving to Hockey! At least I am not standing in a cold rink holding bad Tim’s coffee.”  Well put, I thought. Then in the afternoons she can be found chasing a ball around a soccer pitch. I, being the unsupportive mother who has little faith in her football abilities rudely posed the following questions:

“Did you foot actually touch the ball?”

“And did your foot actually move the ball?”

It appears she is rather good. So she has obviously not inherited my attitude towards school field hockey: A great excuse to stand around and gossip.

Saturday she spent the entire day pool side representing her school at a meet. Each morning she walks to school.

I look at her, shake my head in wonder and think envious thoughts about her new found love of exercise.

Princess is quickly growing out of her name. There is nothing Princess about her at the moment, save her bright pink bedroom wall. Having returned from her class camping trip she has decided that she is a bona fide camper and wants to start a camping club at school. Apparently two nights in a tent was not sufficient. She has told me, in her sweetest voice that she thinks she could easily manage two weeks.

Again, there has been more head shaking and bemused looks of wonder. Where do these children come from?

I, on the other hand, have been staying well away from tents, cold pools and soccer fields. I am still walking the dangerous path to school every day and I have seen enough on those walks to fill a blog post. One will be forthcoming. Instead I have been spending my time either buried in essays or streaming the first few episodes of season 7 of House, Grey’s and Entourage.  Over here we need our fill of American Culture, just to remind us that we are all on the same planet. Sometimes I feel as if I were on Mars.

With campers and exercise bandits.

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Tales from the park

I live for my holidays. The best thing about living here in Uganda is the fabulous opportunity to travel and each long weekend or school break we head off to explore somewhere new. At some point this voracious appetite for travel might need to be slightly curbed simply to preserve the fragile nature of our bank balance.  In the meantime I day dream constantly about escaping from Kampala and spend some serious time planning and researching the next place I want to explore.

We had driven past Lake Mburu on the way out West but had never stopped there to explore. The park is famous for its Zebra population and aside from Kidepo, a park in the far North East, is the only place where one can find Zebras in Uganda. It is also the only place where the Impala roam. There are no elephants or giraffes and in fact this is one of the unique and possibly frustrating things about the nature of Ugandan parks; only Kidepo has all the animals.

This does not bother me one little bit. I would rather go on a game drive in Uganda with fewer animals and be alone with 8 elephants or 12 Zebra than be surrounded by 40 safari vehicles in a busy park in Kenya. Believe me, I am looking forward to going to the Serengeti, but Ugandan parks have their own quiet charm and I love them for it.

While we packed Trooper and Princess of to the camp site for two nights Handsome Husband and I spent some much needed quality time alone. If marriage is like a garden then we took this opportunity to do some weeding.  I find weeding in the presence of Impala and Zebra, with a splendid view of a lake a most pleasant occupation. The lounge area of the lodge was very relaxing with plenty of space to read, talk and even nap. The tent/rooms however were overpriced and basic and I must be something really delicious since despite sleeping in the same bed as my husband I was the only one who came away devoured by bed bugs. Yes again.

The third night was spent in a space far more divine. Mihingo Lodge is one of the most impressive and special places to stay in Uganda and we certainly lapped up the luxury beside the infinity pool or in our room that closely resembled sleeping in a tree house.  I was so impressed by the attention to detail in this lodge and I realized that having stayed in a fair number of places in Uganda I now have plenty of material to compare. Lodge reviews will be coming within the next few weeks.

The most amazing thing about the past few days was the opportunity to horse ride with Zebras. In my mind this was the equivalent of scuba diving on land. We were literally riding amongst the Impala, Waterbuck, Cranes and Zebras and they mingled with us without a care in the world. Despite the fact that Princess was thrown from her pony at one point (she clambered back on like the brave girl she is) this experience was a true highlight of my time in Uganda so far.

Both Trooper and Princess have proven to be true campers. Even I, half way through a burning bug bitten and frustrating night trapped in my room in the pitch dark was longing for a camping tent. Yes, I might have to consider the camping option for those nights when the 5 star lodge is just not possible. I am beginning to sense that camping is far better than a bug ridden mattresses in subpar and over priced accommodation.

These past few days were a much needed respite from school, the shoe box and Kampala and a wonderful get-away with good friends. I find it hard to believe that in one month the school year will be over and I will be packing for London!

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Confessions of a Princess in Africa

Yet another mini vacation opportunity presents itself. We have a long weekend coming up in June and I cannot wait to get out of Kampala, pick up my camera and find something other than musicals, dead dogs and casinos to write about.  A four day weekend is too short to go to Queen Elizabeth Park and although just perfect for Murchison, having been there quite recently, I am eager to try somewhere new. So we need to look within a 4-5 hour radius of Kampala. Sipi Falls is perfect, but again we have done that. Jinja is best left for a simple weekend break and although a flight to Mombassa could work, it is rather expensive.  There is a place called Lake Mburo and whispers have been made about a trip out there.

But.

I am not a camper, I have said this many times before. I thought that camping on the Delta for New Year’s Eve, under a full moon; totally exposed with the thrill of animals nearby was a highlight of my life as far as experiences goes. But it was an exception, and certainly not the beginning of any love affair between me and a tent.  However we have very good friends who are very serious campers. They have all the kit, including means of cooking and washing and living in the great outdoors unaided by any luxury and they want us to become campers too.

So tell me. Why can’t I just bite the tented bullet and sleep in a tent, feel mucky, eat food cooked and later washed up over a campfire?  If the world is divided into those that camp and those that do not (and in my opinion I see two very distinct groups amongst the people I know) then I am in the latter group and this is not something I can change. You really need to love the experience and while I respect and even admire those that embrace the tenting life, I just don’t get it.  I find it uncomfortable. This goes deeper than it seems and I cannot suddenly slip on a new skin and become something I am not.  Is there any shame in admitting that I am a bit Princess along with my inner Trooper?

One of my friends said, “But it is so comfortable! Just like camping in Canada with on site showers!”

I replied that I had never camped in Canada. With the greatest respect, we come from different worlds.

So we now have a quandary as our 4 day break swiftly approaches and I am being regarded as a stubborn and odd bird. I am looked at despairingly, as a spoilt girl who ought to know and do better.

I must mention that both Princess and Trooper simply adore camping. Perhaps that is the clue. I never once camped as a child and perhaps it is now too late?

Perhaps they can sleep in a tent while I flourish in a Lodge?

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There are Super Campers and then there is me.

We were in Sipi with three other families so each night at dinner we were 15. The children ranged in age from 10 to 15 with only 3 boys yet they were all in sync and ran about like fair nymphs of the forest. Two of the families brought their tents and camped, one being the family I have previously referred to as The Super Campers. Well now I have met two Super Campers. They both arrived and strenuously put up tents, blew up mattresses, arranged tables and chairs, unpacked mini stoves, kettles and thankfully wine, cashews and olives.  While I was ordering hot water for tea and hot chocolate, there they were boiling water and playing with stackable pots.

It was a remarkable thing to see from someone who is definitely not a camper. I couldn’t fathom why someone would go the trouble of camping when there were perfectly decent Bandas merely feet away. They tried to convert me with the largesse of their tent and the comfort they felt, but I could see no comfort in sleeping like a row of sardines with my daughter’s elbow in my face. I guess it takes all sorts and I know that I am on the side of the non campers, unless I am in a place where one must camp by necessity, as we did in Murchison.

However, Trooper and Princess think Camping is a GREAT idea and why are we so boring sleeping on beds??

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