Tuesday, June 15, 2010


She’s often there in my mind’s eye when I awake.  I see her sleepily sneaking into our room, stretching towards our bed, arms held aloft, waiting to be lifted into our warm embrace.  Her little legs kicking out behind her, baby smells, ruffled hair, cupids bow and her daddy’s eyes.  Other times she’s there in the kitchen, sitting crossed legged on the work surface sucking a mango.  I catch a giggle, I catch my heart skipping a beat.  As we walk the dogs across the golf course I imagine her little hands clasped in ours as we swing her high into the setting sun.

On the nights and days when Chris is away her small shadow darts and crosses the floor in swift movements and I feel her watching me from behind a door smiling. My longing for our daughter, for the life that should have been continues to strike me across the cheek like the strong hand of a spurned lover – with purpose and with intent.   Ella, who passed this life into the next 22 months ago, seared her mark onto my heart and not a single day passes without my soul aching for her beautiful being.

The mountain we began to climb in the face of her death was too colossal, too imposing and too damn difficult to be anything but overwhelming.  I truly believe it could have gone either way, we could have torn each other apart, or we could have fought tooth and nail to get ourselves onto that ladder.  And fought we did, physically and mentally Chris and I dragged each other up.  With the determination we have for each others survival, along with the support from family and friends we’re over half way there - some days we’re very nearly at the top and on others we slide wearily back down.

I believe life’s like that on every level and Ella’s being has carved us into who we are, regardless of whether we reach the summit or not.  Some days I like what I see in us both, on others I struggle with this new identity.  We are parents, but we are without our baby.  We held our tiny daughter, but our arms are empty.  We experienced the profound emotions that come with the excitement of starting a family only to have them severed within the blink of an eye.  We held onto a rope of intense hope so tightly that we nearly suffocated and we felt a pain so great that the world crashed down around our ears.

Overcome The Devils With A Thing Called Love - Bob Marley

Ella gave us the strength to fight our demons with a thing called love and with the passing of each day that love becomes stronger.  I imagine her asleep in the room where I’m sat on the sofa typing - the room we use as a snug where the walls are covered in paintings and African prints.  Her shadow is forever present and for that I’m thankful that her spirit lives on, if only I could reach out and hold you, my baby, my child, my daughter, my life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Avoid Laziness in Your Youth

A great friend felt it appropriate to give this to me one Christmas, along with an African printed pinny.

I cursed her then and I curse her still.

I have it hanging above my desk and I contine to ignore it religiously.

Monday, June 7, 2010

One man's rubbish is another man's fortune

This morning we gave away an old roof rack that we've had propped against a wall for an age and a half. It left our place strapped on the back of a bicycle taxi (known as a boda-boda) pushed by a guy called Ronald who was wearing fantastic shoes.

Apparently it's going to have some legs welded onto the bottom of the base and voila, a bed. Our guess? It's going to be sold for scrap and someone, somewhere is going to make a few bob regardless of the sleeping arrangements....
4x4 shoes

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mysterious Smell

For the past 3 weeks a horrendous smell has been winding it's way out of the bath plug hole after every use.  It smells like an old town skip that's had nothing but cabbage, cat litter and grease throw into it.  The bath is an oddity, only the cold tap works - it's been like that ever since we moved in five years ago - so we only ever shower, the head of which looms above the bath.  Ironically the shower is forever hot, apart from when it's scalding hot.  At this point we gingerly flick the plug switch for a cold shower. 

DID YOU SAY PLUG SWITCH??  Yes, the shower is beautifully plugged into the socket above the sink.  We tend to shower whilst wearing rubber.  A few years ago I discussed the dilemma with our landlord, I explained that the fuse kept blowing, that it was dangerous, that there was a brilliant possibility of us electrocuting ourselves....he raised an eyebrow and said all women should only ever shower for 30 seconds.  We left it at that.

Having discussed the smell of the plug hole with a friend she said Jeyes cleaning fluid would swiftly devour whatever is was that had died in the depths of our plug hole.  Jeyes fluid was nowhere to be found.  Instead a friend's elderly mother recommended tipping into the hole, half a cup of baking powder followed by a cup of white vinegar.  You must immediately block up the bath overflow and replace the plug.  Leave for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes pour in boiling water and replace the plug. 

I did all of the above to perfection.  However the baking powder wouldn't pour properly, the vinegar on contact with the powder bubbled, the plug was too small, scraps of newspaper dangled out of the holes in the overflow and I raced off to collect the kettle.  Half a litre of boiling water later and I expected the bath to explode.  It didn't and for the past 3 hours I've felt a little short changed.

Chris has no knowledge of what I've done hence I'm waiting for him to be the first to test it out.  He may never make it out of the bathroom alive, in which case this could throw the problem regarding the smell right out of the water!?!

Our electrifying shower - rubber boots optional

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Posting of Nerves

I would imagine some people feel like this upon posting their first comment into the wide blue yonder…slightly nervous, embarrassed and idiotic, because right now I know I do.

What on earth makes us want to shout out into the void and announce our daily dealings - especially to an innocent public who don't know me one iota from a bar of soap - perhaps it’s the idea of being slightly anonymous? Fortunately there are thousands of bloggers with plenty of admirers out there, shamefully I follow just two and have been inspired one - one that's beautifully written by someone I love.

My husband and I hurtled headlong into a nightmare on the 4th September 2008 when I gave birth prematurely to our baby daughter, Ella. We never thought we would be able to survive her loss and with it the pain, the hurt and the anger that followed, but with the passing of each day we began to recover. We look back now and realise that for us time wasn't the great healer, we've just slowly learnt to live with the pain of a broken heart.

Living in Africa has both helped and hindered us. Life and death regularly go hand in hand, but here it's seen in vivid detail. Death floats like an umbrella over the heads of most local families and far too many babies die in infancy. The average life expectancy of a Ugandan adult is 51 years of age.  Out of the way clinics often don't stock the simplest of drugs and witch doctors continue to scratch a living.

But as with any symbiotic relationship, life after death unfurls like a flower. Families rebuild their lives, children go to school, crops have to be tendered, gardens need to be dug and the diligence of a proud people reigns true. It hasn’t always made us feel any better, there’s nothing worse than the comment, ‘there are plenty of people worse off than you’, but living where we do sometimes helps us to stay on an even keel.

I say all of this, but on Sunday night after we’d had a big fat argument Chris punched a door with his right hand and broke two bones.......so much for the even keel! Living on this knife edge isn't easy, but we both know that whatever side we fall, we fall together.

Thanks for the ear cyberspace, I’ll bend it again soon.