My dear Mouse and Charlie,
Adjectives fail! We feel that we have found a long-lost branch of our family ensconced, improbably given our own origins, in a realm ruled by wildlife more than by man, in a corner of the world where nature is still accorded its due respect. The McConnells have become, after 18 days together, very dear to us both as friends and as guardians and curators of that amazing gift of nature, the unspoiled mountains, lakes, streams and savannahs of Kenya with all of its teeming creatures.
You both have perfected the magical art of infecting others with your enthusiasm. Our journeys twice a day in those wonderfully practical vehicles out amongst the myriads of wildebeest, giraffes, warthogs, elephants, orryx and gazelles, in search of the more elusive creatures on hoof and wing, were full of the promise of adventure and the excitement of discovery. You both have the uncanny ability to excite interest in every minutest aspect of the world around us.
Thank you for the great gift of your country and our new-found friendship, of your fabulous children and your staff and your friends in such places as Lolldaiga and Deloraine, as well as our charming pilot, Tom. Thank you for the brilliant orchestration of our travels and the places where we came to roost. The pace was perfect; the choices of driving, flying and walking could not have been better; the campsites were magnificent.
Dear Charlie, Mouse and Children
How far away Kenya is now, but when I close my eyes, I am back in Shaba or the Mara…. I can smell breakfast cooking, the ‘salt’? Squares being harvested in Magado crater, the lovely stench of dead buffalo being consumed by a lion, the sweet smell of Holy Smokes’ furry ears. I can feel the morning sun warming my knees in the Land Cruiser as we bounce along over rocks on our next adventure. I can feel the camel’s soft muzzle all over my face as he tries to figure out what I am. I can hear the evening roar of close lions, the crackle of camp fire, the gurgle of the Uaso Nyiro river, the crunch of the red oat grass being shaken, then eaten by elephants. The extraordinary taste of exquisite meals served with love and care; the many tastes of Africa... A twig toothbrush, dust, heat, then the sights. Too many to itemise, but surely a cheetah’s golden eye inches from my own will be ingrained in my memory for the rest of my life! The weaver bird nests against the steely-blue sky. The Laragai “sitting room”! and views from the top... Mt. Kenya, flying over the “moors”... (I must go there one day!) the pink sunset sky reflected in the Uaso Nyiro River, the blue of the superb starling, the amazing colours of the lilac breasted roller. I could go on and on, but maybe maybe the best memory of all is of our happy times together all 10 of us with you once again.
Bob and I cannot thank you both enough for everything you did to make this trip so special.
Until the next time one, Sarah and Bob
As we sat around our campfire that first night, toasting our arrival, the full moon sliding into an inky sky, fireflies drifting along the riverbank, listening to the call of nightjars, one could almost dream that nothing had changed in the past 40 years. Our hosts, Charlie McConnell, one of the founders of Tana Delta Camp, and his wife, Mouse, were natural inheritors of the Out of Africa gene — the kind of glamorous Kenyan adventure-types who can fry a full English on a Land Rover engine, and ride their horses through the cocktail bar of the Muthaiga Club when they’ve had one too many. Their three children, Milla, Milo and Fia, on half-term from a grey English winter, were clearly relieved to be back in the bush and regaled us with a lifetime of close calls with wild animals.
Excerpt from an article in The Sunday Times Travel Section, by Isabella Tree
I cannot thank you and Charlie enough for making one of my life dreams come true and for filling my heart and mind with incredible memories of happy and enlightening times on safari in Kenya. From the amazing animals and landscape to your expert guidance, staff, food and camping accommodations, the safari exceeded all of my expectations!
The wonderful farewell cocktail party and dinner at your lovely home was the perfect way to end our Kenyan travels. Every meal we ate was phenomenal. When you’re ready, I will fund and help with the creation and publishing of “Cooking Under Canvas with Mouse”—just let me know. The world and I need your recipes! I hope you and your family are doing well. All of the Tabors and Jack Furr are missing you!
(Making millet with Africa on my mind.)