Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year - may it be a good one!!

Visit to Hillwood

Hillwood Farm is owned and operated by a branch of the Fisher family, Walter Fisher being the missionary doctor who founded Kalene Mission Hospital in the late 1800s. The Fisher family story is well documented and makes fascinating reading. The journey here seemed long and somewhat tedious – in the early days they trekked 1500 miles to the Angolan coast to catch a boat for home!

Hillwood has supplied the Mission with meat and dairy produce since the early 20’s when Walter and Anna’s second son ffolliott (yep that was his name and no it doesn’t have a capital f!) returned home from the war and started farming. His son Paul, a courtly old gentleman, still has a reasonably active part in the governance but the day to day running is now in the hands of Paul’s son Pete and his wife Lynne, helped by their 2 sons when home from school/uni. It’s quite a dynasty! Pete and Lynne sent out a general invitation to the Mission for games and afternoon tea last Sun. Fi, Nikki and I went with the Reeds and eventually there were 22 of us, including Fisher cousins from ‘next door’ for soccer, volleyball in the pool and a sumptuous afternoon tea on the terrace.

That would have been a great afternoon just by itself but was topped by a private game drive! Nchila Game reserve forms part of the farm and although it was closed for the season to the hoi-polloi the animals hadn’t left! Pete took a carload of us on what was supposed to be a quick 30min drive but was more like 1’30” – he is such an enthusiast! They don’t have any large mammals but we saw about 9 different species of antelope/deer including wildebeest, oribi and the rare sitatunga, a couple of warthogs and some vervet monkeys. About the only animals that didn’t oblige were the zebras. Unfortunately I only have my little camera with me so have a lot of shots of grass with brown or black blobs in the distance! We also saw the bushcamp – closed also but very tempting with individual chalets, gourmet meals in the chota, spa under the stars by the animal feeding station, etc. (I guess Fynn could always have a bone out on the grass when we’re in the spa at Iona!!)

All in all it was a fascinating afternoon and the Reeds didn’t seem to mind not getting home til 8pm with 4 pretty tired children. When we got back to the house after the game drive they were all ensconced in front of a video and a fire!! It was raining but I still haven’t acclimatized that’s for sure.

We only have 3 more days before Fi and I fly down to Lusaka to begin our holiday. I’m ready to go – I’ll finish the nursing manual that I’ve been proofing and reformatting today and am still working with Kirrilee in preparation for her starting school next week but if I was to be here any longer I’d need a bit more structure. Fi and I had a long talk yesterday to a young teacher who wants to start a nursery school for the hospital staff kids and hopefully long-term patients. He hopes to get underway next week and it would have been good to have been involved in that but never mind. It’s frustrating not having any transport – the community does get a bit claustrophobic – but I came on the understanding that I would just fit in and it’s been fine. I just don’t quite fit the long-skirted spinster model – tee hee! ;-)

Last night we toasted marshmallows over a bonfire with the Reeds, and various other mission folk. It was very pleasant but as today it’s just an ordinary day no-one stayed up to see 09 in! Fi and Nikki are at work and I’d really better get going too…..

Happy New Year one and all :-)

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