A Time In Africa – part one #memoirs #africa #Safari

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In 1988, I had turned 30, been married 4 years and been a partner in my law firm 12 months. The Textiliste and I had undertaken a rather crazy project of refurbishing a house in Herne Hill, South London which, when we moved in, in January 1985, was an utter heap. By mid 1988 therefore we needed a holiday that didn’t involved plaster dust and Nitro Mors (which has to be singularly the most unpleasant substance I’ve yet to bring into contact with my skin, with the possible exception of shaking Tony Blair’s hand).

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How do you choose your holidays? Is it by setting out criteria – sunshine, food, culture, must speak a language that doesn’t involve clicks, somewhere that doesn’t have more than 15 deadly poisonous mammals? We are influenced by what we see and, especially, read. For instance our on going love affair with all things Scottish and especially the Highlands and Islands comes directly from watching the film Local Hero.. cue music…

Sorry, very self indulgent, but Mark Knopfler is brilliant…

About this time, we had seen a TV adaptation of Elspeth Huxley’s autobiography, ‘The Flames Trees of Thika’ a beautifully written story of her childhood in Kenya, up there with Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa which came out on 1985 as film with Redford and Streep.

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a flame tree

Reading both books told us exactly where we needed to go. East Africa and specifically Kenya and Tanzania.

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The Falls at Thika – we came to them later in our trip…

I managed to blag my way to three weeks holiday, as did the Textiliste – I’m not sure either of us really know how – and in late September 1988 we boarded a British Airways flight to Dar Es Salaam, via Nairobi.

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The Crater

As it happeend the Aga Khan’s family was travelling in the front bit and there was the most enormous kerfuffle when they got off in Kenya. Lots of flunkies bowing and scrapping; enough to make you Republican, I always think.

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Anyway, we arrived safely, were met by our guide and driver who, I think, was called Moses or Jesus or some such Biblical name. He was a cheery fellow who saw us to a hotel, for a night’s kip before we headed for the Ngoro-ngoro crater and our first taste of wildlife.

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The crater is an extinct volcano and the wildlife in it, we were told, had been trapped there so it had developed somewhat separately from that living on the rest of the massive savannas that make up the Masai Mara and Serengeti game reserves.

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At least that’s what I recall nearly 30 years on. Could be rubbish and, frankly, if you care enough to question it, there’s always Wiki…

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It was spectacular. Today it would be phones but back then we had this rather splendid camera recommended by the Archaeologist.

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It had lenses you changed and dials and numbers and SLRs and all sorts. I hadn’t  clue, if I’m honest but the Textiliste had researched it and we took some part way decent pictures, courtesy of her guidance.

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In fact by the end of week one, I had listened to her instructions often enough to be confident in my own guidance. Back then, it seemed natural to pass on my new found knowledge; now I realise it is gratuitous mansplaining. And thus we men are educated in the error of our ways…

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The one downside to life in the crater was the rather fragile nature of the power supply at the hotel. Twice it collapsed completely for 24 hours rendering the cooking non existent and the toilets unusable.  We had treated ourselves but, at that point, camping appeared to have been a better option.

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We had a ball. Well apart from the picnic where a kite took my cheese roll right out of my hand. Moses laughed and explained how lucky I was that the wretched bird hadn’t taken a bit of me at the same time. Of course I immediately saw the funny side…

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But of course, it was the wildlife and the extraordinary scenery that made this trip. Here are a few images.

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Next time: The Serengeti and Treetops

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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53 Responses to A Time In Africa – part one #memoirs #africa #Safari

  1. floridaborne says:

    The pictures set the atmosphere. I loved the giraffe eating something at the 2nd story balcony.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s fun to visit places you’ve seen in films or read about. Complete the story and makes the real experience have a long connection

    Liked by 1 person

  3. trifflepudling says:

    That’s a lovely little article and the picture of the hippos and the one of the single lion are very good. Local Hero is one of my favourite films but now it makes me rather sad, not sure why! It’s funny what compels you to choose particular places to holiday in, isn’t it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ps Had forgotten about our friend Nitromors! Nightmares more like….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats to the Textiliste

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Smith says:

    Great pictures – she taught you well. Sounds like an amazing holiday and I look forward to visiting the Serengeti with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ritu says:

    Wonderful photos!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, The Flame Trees of Thika and Out of Africa….. How I drooled over both for years. Best promotional material ever as far as I’m concerned. I finally went in the late 90s and it was like seeing in technicolor for the first time. Came home already planning the next trip. Not been back since 2007 (when the Mothership, bless them, allowed me 3 weeks holiday for my honeymoon). Now wondering what is the minimum optimal age for taking children on safari….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    Fabulous photos and prose!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What an outstanding post. Thanks for taking us there !

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Anabel Marsh says:

    Excellent pictures – still vibrantly coloured after all those years.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. lucciagray says:

    Beautiful picture. It must have been a memorable visit.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I read ‘The Flame Trees of Thika’ back in the 60’s i believe – that book had a profound effect on me, I have never forgotten it. I didn’t know there was a movie, I feel somewhat deflated to think I missed out on that! Love that photo of the lion looking at you above the grass and the giraffe! Those are the kinds of memories that just get better with time aren’t they 🙂 .

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Wonderful pictures. I was living in Nairobi at that time and spent many a happy hour at Treetops, in the Mara and Tsavo game parks and the Serengeti. Our daughter, who grew up there, is going back to climb Kilimanjaro in just a couple of weeks, taking her husband who will have his first taste of sub-Saharan Africa. Look forward to your next post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Fab.. Maybe we saw you! I still have some soap stone carvings from a market in Nairobi. Do you remember the snake zoo? It was full of mambas and puff adders and so on and the glass of some viperiums were cracked!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I never went there, sounds potentially dangerous! But did go to the natural history museum many times which was full of all sorts of curiosities. We also lived in Zambia for about twelve years, saw plenty of snakes there (in the wild) mambas, both black and green, puff adders and cobras but they tended to avoid human habitation which was great! More worrying were the hunting spiders which were venemous and liked to get into the house. Ah! Happy days!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        So much nature!! Wow though those memories. Thanks for sharing Wendy

        Liked by 1 person

  15. jan says:

    I’ve never been to Africa and somehow I don’t think I ever will – but it’s an interesting continent. I look forward to your stories!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Eileen says:

    Haven’t been, but have had my heart set on taking a balloon safari in Kenya. A nephew spent a year piloting one of those. It sounds possible for those of us with rickety parts. I enjoyed the photos and look forward to more. My son climbed Kilimanjaro and went on a safari some years ago. And my grandson and his wife just got back. A rhinoceros charged their jeep. Don’t know how they avoided damage. She was panicking and he was taking photos, which I hope to see. Thanks for taking me with you in the comfort of my house with heat and air and water. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh, my goodness. So close and personal. And the photos are mouthwatering. Someone had listened well and managed to capture fantastic photos. What an adventure. What an opportunity Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. The photos set the climate. I cherished the giraffe eating something at the second story overhang…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Annika Perry says:

    Geoff, this is a glorious post, sweeping in scope and scenery – I loved the Flame Trees of Thika and great to find someone who remembers it so well and with love. What a fantastic trip you had, the photos have that awesome nostalgic atmosphere and the wildlife was abundant and SO close. I look forward to part 2!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. restlessjo says:

    Nice memories, Geoff 🙂 Well, apart from shaking Blair by the hand, that is!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Lovely places and pictures! Staying in touch, for more wildlife photos! Following!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Ribeira de Algibre | restlessjo

  23. Pingback: A Time in Africa – Part Three #nairobi #Africa #safari | TanGental

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