Musings of a Mouse, September 2020
Rocky Hollow, Laikipia.
The grass is gloriously green, with so much leaf on the trees, bees in every hive, and 10 happy horses in the paddock.
Definitely a year with a difference, what a bizarre time we have all had. So much loss and so much gain. But all things considered, most of Africa has been lucky considering this pandemic.
Charlie, Sofia and I have been in Laikipia since March, the longest time we have spent together since before Fia went to boarding school 17 years ago! What an unexpected bonus that has been. Milo has been in Nairobi and worked so hard to keep all our delayed safaris on track. We feel incredibly lucky that so many people have simply postponed their safaris and we can't wait to start again.
So as to keep the staff busy, and our Masai landlords in the Mara happy, we sent down a luxury camp to our Mara Campsite for August and September. It has been filled with family, friends and residents. For the first time in years, our reluctant safari-going girls, Milla and Sofia, chose to go and see the wildebeest migration, when not so many other tourists were around. Milo needed no encouragement having gone mad while stuck in Nairobi during lock down. The wildebeest did us proud and crossed the Mara river, leaping into the water and scrabbling up the steep sides of the other bank. There was a very good gin and tonic time had in camp when they crossed the Talek right in front of the mess tent. We watched a lioness, who was so full she could only just run, take down a wildebeest that she managed to push up against a patch of riverine forests, the poor creature changed his mind and ran back, straight into her waiting jaws!
I had a big birthday this year and simply can't believe how old I am! A delightful present came in the form of a day with Offbeat Riding Safaris in the Mara, gifted to me by Cindy Voorspuy. Fia, her boyfriend Monty and I rode across the plains and found lion, leopard and elephant, all from horseback, not to mention a good, dusty gallop with a swaying tower of giraffes.
One of the unfortunate side effects of the pandemic and its impact on tourism has been a decrease in funding for wildlife. This in turn has led to an increase in meat poaching. Hungry neighbours do not make good game wardens. Hopefully this will change once safaris pick up and all returns to how it should be.
Our house progresses slowly but surely, and Charlie is working with just a few carpenters and masons. It really is going to be a magical place to live. I have so enjoyed learning about furniture restoration, the grading of sandpaper and oil/ water-based wood stains. Paints, varnishes and finishes! A whole new education for me. I have also had a great distraction in the form of the horses moving here. We brought up our Nairobi horses and have been given some from extremely kind friends. To top it off we have two little three-year-old who we are in the process of schooling. They are feisty little Ethiopian ponies and I am going to teach one of them to pull my grandmother's pony trap, which originally came to Kenya in 1920, so it seems fitting it should be put back into service again.
Charlie, Milo and I look forward to being back on safari and getting the national parks, reserves and conservancies back into business. We do hope some of you will come and join us soon.