Nervous About Eating in Africa?


Well, I don’t have a choice because I’ve lived here all my life. Nevertheless it’s quite scary that cholera has broken out in Zambia and listeriosis is an issue in South Africa. It brings up the necessary questions about where our food comes from, how it’s handled, the sanitation levels in restaurants and, importantly, personal hygiene. Governments should also be responsible for assisting people in rural areas with access to anti-bacterial soap and clean water sources; rather avoiding the current scenario of bathing, doing laundry and having a good old dump in rivers. *gag*  But that’s a first world fantasy I’m having…



I’ve seen Norwalk virus break out on a Princess Cruise ship and within 24 hours we were on orange alert. No one was allowed to dish up their own food, all public areas (including the spa where I worked) were sprayed with a noxious anti-bacterial substance which required us to wear masks when spraying it, and the situation was sorted out in three days.

In Thailand in 2013, half of the hotel guests where we were staying in Phuket and myself were affected by the most horrid gastric affliction I’ve ever experienced. I was woman down for 24 hours and it felt as though my body was attempting to eject my intestines after everything else had been voided. Since then I’ve learned to be a bit more cautious about buffets, and always take hand sanitizer along on holiday and use it frequently.


Damn! I blame this on the well-fingered croissants on the breakfast buffet.



Black Friday Hype


The global madness that is Black Friday came to Kitwe for the first time this year. What all the hype is for, I have no idea.  Every jolly retailer hopped on the bandwagon with Black Friday posters and advertising and I’m guessing two thirds of the entire population was at Mukuba Mall first thing on Friday morning.


As if the front of Shoprite wasn’t busy enough, they had to heap their insipid cordial special by the tills too.

I was flabbergasted to pull into a parking lot so crowded that I had to park on the fa-a-a-ar side of things. I had no appointments booked for the day, simply wished to do some grocery shopping and did not expect the mall to be as chaotic as the day it first opened. ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I don’t have anything else to be doing and I need stuff for the weekend.’ I walked into Shoprite and the first thing that hit me was not one single available trolley. Every single one of their mostly shitty trolleys were in use, even the ones with frozen wheels; very entertaining to watch people determinedly dragging them about. I walked back out into the parking lot to trolley hunt and was lucky to bump into a security guard returning a trolley, and more amazing still, the wheels functioned.


Inside was utter chaos. The front side of the aisles were blocked by queues, the back side of the aisles were blocked by people waiting with trolleys for the forager of the family to return with goods and doddery shoppers struggling with stuck trolley wheels. It was like shopping in hell, and only slightly cooler. Quite honestly, the prices were pretty much what they always are and so the whole hysterical shopping mania didn’t make any sense. I wavered as to whether I should just give up on my mission and go home, but then I had obtained 3 bags of tomato flavoured Fritos which the hubby loves and which I only spot on the shelves about every six months or so. It’s one of those Rare Finds in Shitwe, which people from civilization cannot relate to. Summoning up my last bit of determination I left my precious trolley half laden in the vinegar and salad dressing aisle (clearly the least popular judging by the lack of foot traffic) and elbowed my way down aisles for the last few items which I carried in my arms back to the trolley.

I got lucky queuing as well, making a beeline for the opposite end of where the queues were at their craziest and managed to make it to about fifth in a queue. Being nudged and bumped and asked to move a few times, I was in the queue less than half an hour which was less time than I had expected. As I exited the shop I was approached by a lady who said, “Madam, when you are finished with that trolley, may I please have it?”

“Well, of course, but I’m parked on the fa-a-a-ar side,” I replied, waving my hand in the general direction of the fa-a-a-ar parking lot. “It’s a long walk.”

“No matter,” she shrugged and followed me all the way to my car.

I don’t know if the rumours of fights over trolleys were true or not, but I wouldn’t say unimaginable. Next year on Black Friday, I resolve to stock up on Thursday and stay home.


Mehms, Mimis, Meems and Possibly The Most Disturbing Show on TV


I had to tell Graeme about this meme that I had found browsing online, because I thought it was quite funny in a sad because it’s true sort of way.


“What did you call it?” Graeme asked.

“A mehm,” I replied.

“It’s not mehm,” he said. “It’s mimi.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, mehm is definitely not right. Mimi sounds better.”

I pondered this. Perhaps his pronunciation Me!Me! would be correct, given the online narcissistic carrying-ons of vapid, navel-gazing millennials who feel compelled to post selfies of themselves simply because they applied makeup before going out.

When in doubt, phone a friend. “I think it’s pronounced meems, but I’m not really sure,” replied Gordon. Yip, he was right, confirmed by Google. But hey, say it however you prefer and put it down to your own artistic interpretation.

I never thought there could be anything on TV more whacked than those Kardashian cows, WAGS, Real Housewives of Bimbodom etc…but now there is. Having watched some home improvement show which had ended, I was channel flipping and found a preview so disturbing I had to rewind it and show it to the hubby, who was equally horrified.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel of reality TV, you can now watch the “secret life of 4, 5 and 6 year olds”. The drama! The heartbreak! The agony of falling off the jungle gym or watching your bestie bond with someone else! OMG! Waah!

Frikkin seriously now, it’s not secret if it’s on TV. Secondly, don’t kid yourself – this crap is going to be just as scripted (albeit in watch-Sparky-run vocab) as Survivor. Poor kiddos. And thirdly who the FUCK would watch this shit? No, really. Think about this. I wouldn’t. Creepy bus drivers who play with little girls’ hair definitely would. Closet paedophiles would make a homemade calendar of the stars of the show. People in old age homes who haven’t seen their grandchildren in twenty years and send them birthday cards featuring bunnies and/or kittens for their thirtieth just might watch it. Witches who live in gingerbread houses would watch this drivel for sure, salivating madly at the thought of how sweet and succulent those little lambs would taste. Now there’s something I’d like to see on TV. The No Longer Secret Lives of Witches Who Live in Gingerbread Houses. Bring it on.

The Last Week of October


The month I spent at “home” with my folks in Boksburg went by in a flash. The hubby joined me for the last two weeks and his only birthday wish was a burger at Burger King. I tried the onion rings but found them overcooked and they have this odd crunch to the crust which reminds me of polenta but in a bad way. The chips suck. There’s no vegetarian option. In my mind, MacDonalds is a way better junk food fix, but at least Graeme got to enjoy his Burger King patty.


More impressive were the cocktails we had at News Cafe, really the best place to get expensively tipsy. menu-and-drinks

We returned to Kitwe on Independence Day (24 October) and were actually amazed at how quiet the flight and the roads were. Doubtless after lunch the traffic cops must have downed their speeding cams and gone to join the celebrations.

In one week we had mercilessly hot weather (well, it is suicide month), one fantastic storm and huge downpour of 54,5 mm which included a three hour power out courtesy of Zesco shoddy maintenance (with every first storm of the year). Three days later the outlet pipe from our water tank decided she was a rusted up old biddy and popped a few holes so there was water gushing all over the vegetable garden and no water until the plumber sorted things the next day. At the same time the plumber was sorting out the pipe, a Zesco team rocked up to replace the cable they had installed three months ago because “it was the wrong cable, it was meant for somewhere else and now we have the smaller one for here.” Graeme looked like he was about to pop a litter of kittens but thankfully the job was done in under two hours and power restored. Now we’ve just been having Karate Kid “Power on, Power off” sessions about twice a day for fifteen minutes to an hour; the joys of life in Shitwe.

On the bright side, we now have Builder’s Warehouse which has been the talk of the town ever since they started construction on it a few months back. Topics of conversation with strangers or people you have no affinity for would concentrate on the weather, and the progress of Builder’s Warehouse. They cleverly opened the day after pay day and were swamped. I will go have a look later this month when they have managed to restock the gardening department.




Pretoria Botanical Gardens


I have visited Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg twice back in 2009 and 2012. So when I saw the Pretoria Botanical Gardens featured on a gardening show on the Home Channel I was like, “Hey, why haven’t I checked that out?” My pal Bea and I set out on Sunday and had a lovely day. It would be super if someone labelled the plants and trees so you know what you’re looking at, but it was beautiful all the same.


Never a Dull Day in Jozi


On Thursday afternoon I arrived at OR Tambo airport where my dad collected me and handed me the car keys to drive us home. As I was exiting onto the highway I was gobsmacked to see six police vehicles along the road. “What the heck?” Immediately I glanced at my speedometer to check I wasn’t over the speed limit, but they weren’t traffic cops.

“Didn’t you hear about the hijacking of a bus of Dutch tourists?” my dad asked. “So now they’re stepping up security around the airport.” One would have thought they would have done that already, given the heist that happened just a few months ago.



And now to lighten the mood, some of the funny things that happen on typically South African roads…

Farmer’s Day Market


Whenever there is something new happening in Kitwe, it’s always worth a look-see, since it’s a seriously dead-beat town. The farmer’s day market last weekend was a nice little outing and proved to be well-supported in spite of the oppressive heat that baked the cricket field where the intrepid stall owners were plying their trades.

The food and beverage scene could have done with a little more variety but we waited fifteen minutes for the single bar lady on duty to bring us our gin and tonics; having confused the order somewhat she gave us double gins and I certainly felt a wonky (super cheap date, I know). The pancake lady sprinkled sugar absentmindedly over our pancakes whilst nattering away to us, then looked down at what she was doing and added another sprinkle of sugar for good measure. Picture myself and Les afterwards unrolling our pancakes and trying to scrape some of the sugar off…

It was a pleasant day for all and I hope it will happen again next year.


The Zombie-From-The-Swamps Water Tank


I’ve struggled with chronic eczema on my hands since 2014, but for some reason only here in Kitwe. “It must be the water!” I declared, exasperated beyond belief. Sure, reading online the health experts recommend cutting out refined carbs, caffeine, alcohol and all else that make life joyful; but I wasn’t about to blame my favourite vices for my Kitwean affliction when I super-indulge in them when I’m in Boksburg and yet it still magically clears up there. Especially in the last three months I’ve suffered so much that eventually last weekend the hubby climbed up the ladder to check out our water tank.


Note: About ninety percent of expat houses in Kitwe have water tanks since the council/municipal water isn’t continuously supplied. Particularly in dry season, council water may only be supplied from 5pm – 6am, that sort of thing. In Zambia there is no hard and fast rule or regularity about anything.

He: Ohmigod, no wonder you have irritated skin – there’s an inch of green slime all over the inside of the tank. *Dashes out to Supasave and chucks eight bottles of Jik bleach into tank*

Okay, that wasn’t too sparky of him either because we had water that reeked of bleach for three days and I had to worry whether the garden would survive being watered with diluted bleach (so far I think I’ve only lost a pawpaw tree).  This morning he got stuck in with a scrubbing brush, a mixture of Handy Andy, vinegar, baking soda, dishwashing soap and a final spray of hydrogen peroxide.


The post-bleaching pre-super scrub pic




Hey, I was showering in a tincture of that shit for years! *gag*


Still not sparkly clean but a helluva improvement

I can only think things will get better from here on!

Fat Cakes



Famously an Afrikaans South African dish, vetkoek (directly translated as “fat cake”) is a round of bread dough left to rise, then deep fried and filled with whatever you fancy. Not something you’d want to eat every day of the week, but I do enjoy popping in once a week or so for a quick junk-food fix. The Fat Cake Place in Kitwe has been open for almost a year and offers fillings of chicken and mushroom (my usual), curried mince, bobotie (a spicy Cape mince dish sweetened with sultanas), steak and kidney,  and even beef cheese patty.

I’m sure there must be vetkoek in other parts of the world, known by different names 🙂

The 2017 Penny Farthing Day



It happens once a year on a farm just outside of Kitwe that cyclists, joggers and walkers gather for a day out. This year I took part in the seven kilometre walk, since discovering how competitive the average cyclist is (whilst I’m a lollygagger who loves to take in the scenery).


The path on the left is the safer option, whilst the one on the right offers thrill-seeking cyclists the option of a sheer drop which would send you ramping onto a bridge (or just wiping out in an epic fashion).


On a noisy events day the wildlife has been chased off, but usually impala and zebra are sighted on the smaller regular Saturday rides and walks. Many trees have boxes hanging from them which house beehives.