The Art of Self-Exploration by Tazim Elkington

Posted on November 2nd, 2017
Categories: News

As we discuss exploration and its myriad faces in all and every aspect of life, discovering and learning are the direct outcomes of any new encounter we choose. Suffice to say that we have evolved to a place where the need/want and requirement to go within is now becoming a big part of our culture. What does it really mean to begin the journey inward to the self? It is an Art that begs demystifying as there are so many forms and methods that offer the possibility of self-exploration.

What is the necessity for doing this? Why is it no longer acceptable to exist on auto-pilot? The responses to these questions are simple; we cannot afford to live a mediocre, conditioned, imposed life anymore. As the world evolves at an exponential rate through technology, art, business, globalization and beyond; we must take responsibility of where we each operate from to accelerate the momentum and evolve consciously. These are not just words on a page and a woo-woo way of thinking. This is a reality that requires individual commitment towards the higher and collective good for humanity at its most primordial and advanced levels.

Each one of us is made from the same stuff and what differentiate us are the realities we create in our mind. These are translated through our five sensory perceptions added to the sixth most important sense – the mind. This beautiful place in our brain that is the storage converter of all our experiences and input endeavors to seek its own truth continuously. How incredible is it that we now understand that being conscious can boomerang and multiply the process?

As we seek a better understanding of the sixth and infinitely most important sense, the mind, we create a pathway down the road less traveled. Our five senses, as important as they are, unbridled can cause absolute distraction and in many cases destruction. They keep us engaged in everything outside of us. The needs to taste, smell, hear, see and touch are pleasure centers that keep us wanting more and more. There is rarely an ‘enough’ or a ‘stop’ sign as we perfect the external input that temporarily satisfy our beings. We ‘feed’ each of the senses with all that we possibly can to avoid disillusions and dissatisfaction internally.

Taking into account that the mind is the hardware, how and what do we feed our minds? Do we take stock of what it has been fed? An alternative perspective would be to consider the parallels of the mind with the digestive system. When we eat, there is the digestion process and the body takes what it needs for the various components for physical growth and wellbeing. Then it eliminates what it does not need.
With our minds we keep eating everything and how do we eliminate that which does not contribute to our personal growth and evolution?
The process of self-exploration is therefore not only a necessity but a dire need to create a ground of wellbeing within ourselves. There are various ways in which to begin the process. Questioning what you believe is a great space to start. Everything that we have ever experienced has emotions tied to each experience. We either want more of that which makes us happy so we keep trying to recreate those experiences and do our best to avoid the emotions that cause distress. Why is then that we have more of what we don’t want and less of what we want? It’s the emotional entanglement that keeps us suspicious and entrenched in our pasts and creates the war between what we want and what we don’t.

Meditation, a secular non-religious practice of going inwards in silence, creates the space for us to unwind and de-stress. This gives the mind the possibility to go within and start eliminating daily stresses as well as de-layering the cognitive way we operate. This is one of the key elements to creating a quiet and restful space in the mind. In the complexity of 14 hour days and instant 24/7 downloads as well as constant activity where do you find the space for the mind to be mindful?

Tazim Elkington – The Indian Black Butterfly!

Paradigm Shifter, Trainer, Writer, Speaker, Hypnotherapist, Poet and Qreator of the ‘Q Factor’

Checkout my website: www.tazim.net – Video: A proud Kenyan woman

Mobile: +254-714-434-574

Truth is when what people think, say and do are in harmony!

 

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The Book Club   –   Claire Minns

Posted on October 24th, 2017
Categories: News

So many books, so little time”. Frank Zappa.

One of the first recorded book clubs or societies, as they were referred to then, was formed in 1868 called Sorosis – not to be confused with cirrhosis, an affliction that could be quite apposite after attending too many modern day book clubs! However, I digress.

Sorosis was founded by a female columnist, Jane Cunningham when she and some of her colleagues were barred from a New York press event honouring Charles Dickens. Consequently, inspired by Sorosis, women across America began to form similar literary societies.

Jump to the Nineties, 1996 to be precise and we witness the advent of the Television Book club famously started by Oprah Winfrey where she selected on air, a book each month for viewers to read.

Following on in her footsteps, at the beginning of the Noughties, well known daytime presenters Richard and Judy in the UK also started a book club – the rest, as they say is history.

Today, women are no longer barred from many events or places except gentlemen’s clubs such as Whites of London and Kenya Fly Fishers Club’s annual bread chucking competition, sorry, dinner at the Muthaiga Club.

Instead we meet because of a sense of comradeship, love of reading and yes, if we’re honest, a spot of imbibing.

My husband still mistakes our book club for a wine club. As one male jokester quipped “My wife joined a book club. They primarily read wine labels”.

Nevertheless, aside from indulging in a glass or two and convivial bonding, one of the principal advantages of the book club is being introduced to a book you wouldn’t have ever dreamed of choosing.

One such book was recently foisted on us. It was about North Korea which didn’t sound too enticing. But it was. An engrossing, albeit harrowing read that has stuck with me. It’s called The Orphan Masters Son by Adam Johnson and incidentally, won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 2013. I would never have found this gem without my book club.

There are various modus operandi for book clubs. The most common usually involves around six to eight members who try to meet once a month. Each member takes turns to choose a book to be read and discussed at the next mutually agreed date. If the book choice was a success we discuss it for at least 20 minutes or so before turning our attention to other vital issues such as whose child got into the first team, or which Ottolenghi recipe is most favoured! If the book choice has bombed then it might just command a few minutes maximum of our deserving deliberations – cruel, but fair. Whoever chooses the book buys them for their group.

Receiving a pristine new book each month is a real treat. To feel that wonderful anticipation of a riveting read, after glancing the glowing reviews on the back cover.

Usually I rely on a Kindle to satisfy my reading addiction, mainly due to the ease with which you can acquire any book when there isn’t a Waterstones nearby! In contrast, it’s a pleasure to have a physical book that once read, you can then put proudly on your bookshelf.

I leave you with a quotation from the late, great Groucho Marx:

Outside of the dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read!”

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Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt October – November

Posted on October 11th, 2017
Categories: News

  YES!

The powers that be at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport have totally re-organised their parking regime with effect from 1st September. It all (well almost all) makes sense. You’ll re-call my whinge about the brand new multi-storey car park at the airport in the last edition, which was reserved for staff only. Well that’s changed. I hope in some small way that my whinge might have made a difference. There I go blowing my own trumpet, now where did that turn of phrase come from?

The term in its present form is 19th century. Anthony Trollope, in his work Australia and New Zealand, 1873 observed: “In the colonies… when a gentleman sounds his own trumpet he ‘blows.’” That is clearly commenting on what must already have been a well-known phrase, although there aren’t known printed citations to support that from before 1873. The use of ‘blows’ is interesting too, as that matches the current US use as a slang term to describe anything bad or worthless.

 I do go on….

The multi-story car park is now for the exclusive use of us mere mortals, all 4 levels and 1,253 parking slots. Hallelujah! Some other parking lots have already been closed, to include the long-term and staff parking between terminals 1B and 1D.

The central square parking lots will close on 30th September (interestingly 120 parking slots here were reserved for Kenya Airways staff – no wonder it was full most of the time). The parking lots near terminal two are now for staff and taxis only.

Parking in front of the multi-storey car park usually reserved for the red number plate brigade and the self-importants is now closed; except for emergency vehicles.

New drop off and pick-up areas for all terminals have been introduced and are limited to a maximum of five minutes – no parking or waiting permitted. In other words you have to be actively picking or dropping and nothing else.

Mingi thanks to the Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director/CEO Jonny Andersen and his team. It seems our international gateway to the world is at last heading towards its true potential.

While I have his attention one last whinge, why are the escalators post immigration clearance at departures been out of order for the past nine-months?

The pride of Africa – Kenya Airways has been in the news a lot lately, from creditors being coerced into converting debt into equity to finally gaining clearance for direct flights from Nairobi to the US. Although I have my doubts whether this long thin route would be profitable in the mid term. Perhaps KQ’s Skyteam partner Delta Airlines will launch the service it had previously announced from the US. Never the less these flights will be music to the ears of Kenya’s tourism industry as it will to our business community.

Their new Polish CEO is bringing in a management team from his own village which is a little disconcerting. There surely are lots of bright young Kenyans out there, that if considered would shine.

I’ve been doing a lot of travelling, perhaps too much of late. A couple of trips to the UK, some train travel which was nice for a change – and enduring some pretty awful weather on both trips.

Next up is a trip to India, which I was in two minds about until the last minute. Coming from Kenya you require both yellow fever a polio inoculations, I didn’t have the later and was time barred as you have to have had the inoculation 60-days prior to departure.

Armed with a little grease money I went to try my luck at a hospital of note in the city, in an attempt to get the shot back-dated. I saved myself the embarrassment when I was cheerfully told that I couldn’t have the shot (it’s a sugar cube actually), as I was over 65 years old. Another hallelujah moment – not being over 65 but not requiring the shot.

I’ll be visiting Delhi for a couple of days, I’m fascinated by the British architect Edward Lutyens who designed a host of government buildings in New Delhi to include the India Gate, the Jaipur Column, the National Archives of India, Baroda House, Raipath (‘Kings Way’ an east-west ceremonial boulevard), Rashtrapathi Bhavan (the former Viceroys home, now the residence of the President of India) and Janpath (‘Peoples Way’ the main north-south road through New Delhi). I’m looking forward to seeing them.

He is rumoured to have designed a number of buildings in Nairobi, but I can find no conclusive evidence that this is fact.

Then it’s onto Chandigarh in the far north of the Punjab before continuing onto Kasauli a former hill station in the foothills of the Himalaya’s to stay in a wonderfully named house called ‘Windsong’. It belongs to an American Sikh friend of mine – we are both trustees of a global benevolent fund and will be joined by our leader who is from Norway. There is work to be done and no doubt there will be time to enjoy the sights and sounds of this part of India.

Then it’s onto Hyderabad for the Skål World Congress where Mombasa will be confirmed as the venue for its 2018 World Congress. Kenya in the limelight again.

Hurrah!

For the latest edition of Travel News, click here: http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

October-November Cover 2017

 

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Why MEN should do Pilates as well! – By Your Trainer Karina

Posted on October 5th, 2017
Categories: News

Why MEN should do Pilates as well!

What is it with men? Every time I talk to one about Pilates I get that funny smile, like I am not quite taken seriously….. and then the comment: “oh, that is that special training for women” or even better “for pregnant women”. Guys – Pilates is for men too!!! In fact, it was created by a man – Joseph Pilates!

Over the years quite a few men have found their way into my studio, either for mat classes or to work with me one on one on the Pilates machines, and were always very surprised at how hard it can be. Most of them left the studio drenched in sweat!

So what is Pilates? Pilates is a full body workout that focuses on the Core. (And to kill another myth while I am at it: your core-strength has nothing to do with the number of sit-ups you can do!) Every exercise is performed with a maximum of control, with focus on every muscle that is working and steady breathing. The wonderful thing about Pilates is that it can be taken from beginner’s level to a very advanced and challenging level. Some of the world`s best male Athletes have discovered the benefits of Pilates for their athletic performance. Here are some reasons that will hopefully get you started as well:

Core Strength

As you work through the movements or hold certain positions, a lot of control and stabilization is required which comes from your core. Hello Six-pack!

Discover new muscles

During a Pilates workout you`ll work a lot of the smaller muscles, which usually do not get a lot of attention during general workouts. The increased strength in those “under-used” muscles can reduce your risk of injuries. Furthermore, your posture will improve and your body will be more aligned.

Flexibility

Men are usually less flexible than women, but that does not mean that has to stay that way. “Strengthen and lengthen” – increase your range of motion which will make you more subtle, and not just for your exercise routines!

Body Consciousness

Pilates will bring a new awareness to your body which you will benefit from in your other workouts. Do not just focus on the amount of weight you can lift – in Pilates you will have to slow down to isolate specific muscle groups and feel the effect it has on them.

Stress Reduction

As I said before, Pilates asks you to slow down. Focus on your inhale and exhale – stay within your body and leave the stress of your everyday life outside. You will leave the studio feeling the workout and at the same time relaxed, centred and elongated.

Pilates is a workout you can always fit in, no matter how tired you are. It will make you stronger for your runs, get rid of your back pain or compliment some high impact sports. Give it a try. I look forward to seeing you at my studio.

Your Trainer Karina Hübsch

 

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School’s back in – by Africa Expat Wives Club

Posted on September 19th, 2017
Categories: News

School’s back in. Spare a thought for the newbie mums…

New mum Nicola has 1,000 questions but most important is that the kids are settled.

It’s a sunny, clear morning as Nicola and her daughter cross the spacious school campus to reach the classroom. Bye Mummy,” Emma says, giving her mum a squeeze, “perhaps you’ll find some friends today too?

Emma’s form tutor steps out of the classroom, gestures for Emma to come inside and gives Nicola an indulgent grin. “New mums tea this morning is it?” Nicola blushes as Emma skips happily into her brand new classroom, immediately joining a chatter of happy children who are gathered around an interactive history display. “It’s in the main hall. Don’t miss the samosas by the way!” The teacher says kindly.

Nicola takes a breath as the school bell rings. The family’s arrival in Nairobi from the UK during the summer holidays presented a fairly steep learning curve for Nicola.  First she had to get a handle on the slightly erratic local driving and then learn to navigate her way around the neighbourhood. The children had fed giraffes, watched baby elephants being bottle fed and picnicked inside the national park but what they were all looking forward to most was the start of school.

Nicola and the kids had had a full tour around the campus during the holidays. They loved the outdoorsy feel of the school with big, bright classrooms and once on the school mailing list, Nicola had received a flurry of breezy, information packed messages reassuring her that her children would be in safe hands.  Meanwhile, settling into home life was more of a challenge. Nicola had been happy to accept a slightly dilapidated rental property for the sake of a sizeable garden but had not anticipated fine dust like cocoa powder that got everywhere, frequent power outages and a property manager who refused to pick up his phone to sort out the dodgy electrics.

A week into starting school and while Nicola’s children have settled in to their new lives like ducks to water, Nicola is feeling slightly bereft.  She’s looking forward to the opportunity to meet some fellow mums; not least in order to find out which teabags to buy, why some supermarkets are poorly stocked and ask how anyone manages without plastic bags.  Not to mention the million questions she has about drinking water, house staff and recommendations for a good exercise class or hairdresser.

Nicola enters the hall and is welcomed by the registrar. They start chatting about where Nicola is from and how her children are adjusting to the new school. Another woman, Cathy, walks in. She’s an old Nairobi hand and can’t help herself from chipping in. “Oh hello, are you new?” Cathy says, eyeing up Nicola’s name badge.

Yes,” says Nicola, “well, we’ve been here for a month now.

Oh brilliant, I’ve been here for nearly seven years. You’re going to love it. I’m not new but my second child has just joined so I thought I’d come along for the tea.  I know most of the teachers and they’re all great. So how are you finding it?

Good,” says Nicola, “the children love it but it’s been a bit harder for me.” She’s about to launch into her raft of questions when she’s interrupted by the Head Teacher tapping a microphone.

We are delighted to have your children at Hillcrest and I know that they will all be very happy.” The Head Teacher says. Nicola grins at Cathy. She’s glad that she’s found such a good fit for her kids. It’s certainly one less thing to worry about.

*Hillcrest International Schoolswhich includes Early Years, Primary and Secondary campuses is one of a group of high quality, British curriculum schools in Nairobi.

For more information on Nairobi schools, click here:  Moving here? What to expect from Nairobi schools.

*sponsored content

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Tazim Elkington – The Indian Black Butterfly!

Posted on September 11th, 2017
Categories: News

Paradigm Shifter, Trainer, Writer, Speaker, Hypnotherapist, Poet and Qreator of the ‘Q Factor’

“Truth is when what people think, say and do are in harmony!”

Tazim is the embodiment or living example of an inspiring and authentic life being lived. The talented “paradigm shifter” is credited to motivating, stimulating and encouraging many groups and individuals in society today with her unconventional strategies to living a more fulfilled and rewarding life. I recently attended a Roatary Club Lavington talk given by Tazim – it was incredible how the crowd started off with a level of apprehension and by the end, Tazim could not get away! We even tried a small hypnosis relaxation process – which left some sleepy, others amazed and most curious!

With her natural global and local appeal, Tazim has a gift for connecting with people from all ethnicities, ages, creeds, and sees every human being as the individual and unique human being they are. This is a woman who has a powerful presence, in the boardroom, in the village, slum or any social gathering. Her presence speaks the right to freedom, balance, peace, joy and endless application of fulfilled potentiality.

She’s a natural and trained public speaker, a mother and a grandmother, and has learnt a variety of methodologies and concepts over the years. These have propelled her to create her very own unique transformational systems that break the limitation and boundaries that restrict individual freedoms. Tazim’s words go straight to the heart and resonate with every human being. She is a ‘figure and personality on the move’.

Tazim however is known for her gift of writing her collection of pros entitled “Song of the Soul”. Her work is an expression and connection to the inner self. Deep, real, meaningful and enquiring. Extracts of her work have previously been published weekly in the Standard newspaper under the title ’Just a thought’ by Tazim Elkington. Tazim graciously suggested that we load these up onto our Word of Mouth page – go and have a look!

Tazim began helping people shift paradigms by applying lessons she had learnt from her own life. She has a very strong and almost psychic instinctual understanding of the human spirit. She works with organizations to support them in finding their balance and vision. Her letters of reference from corporates and individuals are so personal and impressive, to have made those connections,   truly shows her ability to understand each and every individuals needs. She works with individuals in order to help them understand their power and accept the gifts of life.

She works with communities to help them realize their common ground and build a fulfilled and sustainable future for all concerned. She creates customized presentations, concepts and suggestions to suit specific needs. She typically uses a combination of many philosophies in her work resulting in her own unique healing and progressive techniques that can be applied to any situation.

The Indian Black butterfly is all about revolutionary social change one person at a time. From one-on-one interactions, workshops, seminars and various unconventional methods to reaching and creating lasting change and fulfillment that is impactful and sustainable. The “Q” factor is literally infectious and can be applied on a personal, relational, professional and organizational level to a collective scale. The methods are distinct, unconventional and unique in nature and unlike any self-help, personal development, organizational change you have ever read, experienced or heard of. The Indian Black Butterfly is constantly changing and evolving to meet new and current emerging circumstances. Tazim seeks to educate and elevate the experience we have of living meaningful lives and achieving desired goals. The Indian Black Butterfly is fearless, accountable, quantifiable, colourful, clear, de-layering, quick, current, applicable, simple, effective, long lasting and most importantly REAL.

Take action for an unparalleled journey of self-discovery, awareness and achievement. Wow – what a breath of fresh air, an inspiration and amazing lady!

For more information, please contact Tazim on phone: +254714434574 or email: [email protected] or visit her website www.tazim.net.

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Irene Auma – an inspirational lady bringing yoga to the slums

Posted on August 30th, 2017
Categories: News

 

“I believe in contributing to the wellness of all beings across the world by using the transformative power of yoga”

 

Irene Auma is a Certified Baptiste Instructor and graduate of the first team of Africa Yoga Project. She has additional certifications in teaching kids yoga with Next Generation Yoga and Yoga for the Special  Child.  Irene believes in contributing to the wellness of all beings across the world by using the transformative power of yoga. She feels everybody should practise yoga because it heals many wounds and promotes unity, connection and being of service around the world. The Slums in Nairobi can be lacking of possibility potential.  By bringing yoga into the Slum communities, we have brought in new possibilities for many. The most important thing yoga has taught Irene is standing for the possibility of each of her students and serving her community. Irene believes doing yoga together in the community motivates her and she can not give up. Her motto is: “I stand on hope”.

  Irene has some very impressive qualifications and experience, as listed below:

QUALIFICATIONS:
Baron Baptiste Yoga Teacher Training Level 1 (2009, Diani, Kenya) Baron Baptiste’s Leadership Workshop (2010, Nairobi, Kenya)
Baron Baptiste Yoga Teacher Training Level 2 (2013, Tulum, Mexico) Next Generation Yoga Teacher Training For Kids (2013, Nairobi, Kenya) Yoga For The Special Child Training (2014, Nairobi, Kenya)
Baron Baptiste Yoga Teacher Training Level 3 (2015, New York, USA) Yoga Behind Bars Teacher Training (2016, Seattle, USA)
Prison Yoga Project Teacher Training (2016, Maryland, USA)

EXPERTISE:
Vinyasa and Power Yoga
Private instruction and group classes
Yoga for children and Yoga for the Special Child Pre-natal Yoga

EXPERIENCE:
Africa Yoga Project Resident Instructor: Guiding groups of new and experienced yoga practitioners at the Shine Yoga Centre.

Community Yoga Instructor
Teaching community groups of various backgrounds (corporate, prisons, schools)

Private Power & Vinyasa Instructor Guiding individuals on proper alignment and growing their personal practice.

Private specialist Instructor Conducting Pre-natal Yoga sessions for mothers and yoga with children.

Pop-up Yoga Classes
Teaching fun and entry level classes at malls, festivals and various other spaces.

CONTACT Irene on 0720383725 or e-mail: [email protected]

Testimonials:

“I have studied yoga on 3 continents and Irene is the most outstanding yoga teacher I have ever encountered”.

“She teaches with radiant energy”.

 

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Escaping The Norm – By Tazim Elkington

Posted on August 16th, 2017
Categories: News

It is comforting when one looks back at life and feels they escaped from situations that could have been daunting, dangerous or disruptive. It is far from comforting when one thinks of lost opportunities, relationships gone awry, so-called bad choices or miscarried ventures. How we view our experiences is based on the courage and resilience we have built along the way. It is easier to blame others or the circumstances to escape from accepting life as it is.

Many believe that money creates a hassle-free life. Others believe religion is the saving grace. Some believe that life happens and they have no choice and others believe we are in complete control of our destinies. Then there are those wise ones who know that unless one takes responsibility for every experience, emotion, thought, action and outcome there can be no freedom in this life.

Escapism is the theme of the 21st century with many finding comfort in various belief systems and others in addictions. However, a lot of people are beginning to question their existence and reasons for being on this planet.

Escaping from our realties is about dodging the truth about ourselves. More often than not I hear many say ‘I hate being alone’ or ‘I cannot sit down for a moment’ or ‘ I don’t know what it means to STOP’
We have forgotten how to ‘be’ and instead of human ‘beings’ we have become human ‘doings’
This takes away from what we are placed here on earth for. Life is fleeting and we have the opportunity within this small window to really live our lives. Instead the need for distraction is becoming uncannily foreign to our natural state of being and becoming the norm of our existence.

Marketers are the epitome of escapism. They know how to manipulate, convince and divert the minds of the masses. From the latest designs on billboards, a flashy car, monetary promises to losing weight, finding the right partner and the list goes on. One does not need to look far to find a reason or need to escape as we are surrounded by whatever takes our whim.

The problem is society does not accept strong individuals with their own views because they do not follow like sheep. They want sheep that will stay in their flocks, not question authority and therefore be controlled and serve obediently. However, those who question authority and the “order” of things, those retain their dynamic individuality are like the lions who walk alone.

Lions are free from conditioning and move freely conscious of their true identity without having to look for anything outside themselves to find comfort. The truth is everyone is born a lion but conditioned to think like a sheep. Lions don’t need to escape the truth of themselves, they are free within.

Here’s my challenge to you, what can you do to awaken the sleeping lion within? Can you escape the so called norm’s today to a quieter, more centered place inside calling out to you? Can you hear the lion’s roar as it asks you to come home to yourself?

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Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt – August/September 2017

Posted on August 13th, 2017
Categories: News

 I was going to start this editions rumble with tales of my travels to Europe over their summer months, but more about that later.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – Kenya’s window to the world has done it again. It’s hard to believe but here goes. Parking for their customers has always been at a premium, with ALL car parks being continually full, so much so that the great and the good usually travel by taxi to and from the airport.

The multi-storey car park opposite the new international arrivals terminal 1E, never opened as planned, as it became itself the international arrivals terminal after the fire that destroyed the original international arrivals building. I hope I haven’t lost you. Now that terminal 1E is up and running I noticed that work had started to convert it back to what it was originally intended to be.

I was told it was open, so I decided to use it – and found it open for business – but sadly not for me, the customer. It seems that it is for staff only. There is not a sign anywhere that states ‘Staff Parking Only.’ How bloody ridiculous can you get – staff first customers second, it’s like those reserved parking bays in town reserved for bank and insurance big wigs and the like.

This is what Sam Walton the founder of Walmart had to say about ‘customers first’ “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

 There is a parking ticket payment device in the multi-storey, but I was told that staff do not pay, they enter with staff cards.

Surprising how many ‘staff’ have Range Rovers, Land Cruisers and the like – equally surprising there were no red number plates which I might have expected.

I was offered the option of trying to find parking outside the termini one’s or alternatively going to the large (but full) parking opposite terminal two, which is a 10-minute slog back to the airport proper. There is a shuttle bus, but it seems unreliable and is often out of order.

For the record I parked in the multi-storey. I magically produced a decades old business card from my days when I was with Air Canada, that and a crushed note did the biz.

Going back to the customer first scenario, I notice that both British Airways and Etihad here in Nairobi have closed their offices to their customers, people to people comms it seems are no longer important. Phone if you are lucky enough to get through or email are the only alternatives.

The former ‘world’s favourite airline’ made ‘putting people first’ at the centre of its culture – sadly all now gone to shareholder value – the customer be damned.

Of course customer second is all our fault, the travellers of the world – our demand is such that service standards and cost cutting by the worlds airlines goes not unnoticed but if the price is right – who cares we buy.

That’s how the airlines see it, so giving you more for less is not going to happen. Instead look for less as the new more.

ABBA as we all know was a great Swedish group, made even more famous by the play and movie ‘Mama Mia’ – in the UK ABBA has another meaning ‘Anyone But British Airways’.

We flew to the UK via Muscat with Oman Air; you might remember I won two tickets at their Nairobi press launch. What a great little airline, with all the high standards of its Gulf neighbours. I’m told their fares are über competitive and you get a standard of service not experienced on most European airlines. The connections from Nairobi to Europe are not ideal but not impossible, but if you are going east you’d be wise to enquire.

We’d never been to Manchester (an Oman Air destination) so decided to stay a few days and explore the city – I did my research, and found not a lot to do. We asked the taxi driver from the airport what there was to do ‘Not much’ he replied. But went on to tell us that Manchester had the largest shopping centre in Europe The Trafford Centre and you could also visit the football stadiums. We did neither, instead exploring the city centre its restaurants, watering holes and lots of people watching.

Flying to the south of France with easyJet was a new experience, low cost check, customer service levels as expected cheap and cheerful but perfectly acceptable, sardines yes but not as bad as I’d expected.

The way they turn-a-round their flights is amazing, departing passenger are stacked in the airbridge to the yet to arrive aircraft – just so they are ready to board in an instant. Once the aircraft arrives the passengers disembark onto the tarmac. The airbridge with all of us in it is then connected to the aircraft and we are boarded – this all in 10-minutes. They have it down to an art form.

Like most European airlines you can buy food and drink onboard. We bought before we boarded, however the onboard menu looked enticing and the gent over the aisle ordered a hot bacon butty which looked delicious. I felt like Mr. Bean staring at his food, and wanting to stick my finger into it to see I it was indeed hot. As you’d expect I restrained myself.

We stayed in an apartment in the foothills of the Alps inland from the French Riviera in a small hill village called Biot. The food was excellent and more than reasonable, the wine – well let me tell you that we set a price limit of €2 a bottle, not at restaurants obviously, but from the local dhuka’s. Many bottles were consumed with only one that didn’t meet our expectations, however low they might have been. The weather in July was brutal getting up to 36C and evidently it was a little crowded but I didn’t really notice. Best time to visit May/June or September/October. We’ll be back sooner rather than later.

So much more to tell….like a bunch of bankers and the government now the major shareholders of our national airline – do they have a clue – I think not. Please prove me wrong!!.

For the latest edition of Travel News, click on the link below:

http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

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Jean Gilchrist – The Story of a Legend

Posted on July 27th, 2017
Categories: News

Jean Gilchrist: “We’re still just scratching the surface.”

life spent dedicated to animals yields a lot of lessons. The first that comes to mind for Jean Gilchrist is that you have to take the bad with the good.

Among the bad: The horrific slaughter methods that she has been documenting in Kenya for decades in an effort to change them. Studying a recent photo of roped camels about to be killed, she notes, “Some of them are crying.”

Next: The public’s indifference. “In a developing country where there are an awful lot of human problems, people are apt to think that animals and their welfare aren’t important.”

And then there is her organization’s bank account balance – a drop in a sea of need. “It’s very hand to mouth, this place,” Gilchrist says of the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals in Nairobi, where she began as a volunteer in the late 1970s.

But there is also so much good, like the transformations she’s seen among the KSPCA’s rescues, several of whom are asleep in her office. “These are my dogs,” she says as she goes around the room introducing them. Charlie, who is curled up under a desk, was found on the side of the road. He had been adopted but the family brought him back, terrified and shaking. Gilchrist had just lost a similar looking companion whom she’d loved dearly.

“I took it as a sort of omen,” she says, so she kept him. “It only took him a few days to feel he was OK, but he’s still a nervous dog.”

A native of Scotland, Gilchrist has spent the past four-plus decades in Africa. With cropped grey hair and wire-framed glasses, she is humble, unassuming, friendly and soft-spoken – at least until her cause is better served by raising her voice.

When the topic is the treatment of animals, Gilchrist admits that her normally quiet demeanour is quickly forgotten.

“I do get attention,” she says.

Her title at the KSPCA is director of animal welfare, but in practice she does a bit of everything, as does the organization. Most of its funding – all from donations – goes to its rescue and sheltering operation, which includes dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, and pigs, with an average of about 200 individuals in residence at any given time. Some come from abusive owners while others come off the streets. The KSPCA also runs spay/neuter campaigns, investigates and responds to cruelty and abandonment cases, and educates school children about animal welfare, along with its efforts in Kenyan slaughterhouses.

At the center of it all is Gilchrist, who embraces the moniker her work has earned her here: the madwoman of animals.

She says her interest in animal welfare has always been there, ingrained like an instinct. She recalls her first rescue, an injured mouse who she tried to save from a cat when she was a little girl. She took it home and nursed it, but it died the next day.

“I’ve always had this – taking in things that needed help.”

She first came to Africa with her husband, who was a surgeon and “bush doctor,” initially in Tanzania. Eventually they moved with their two young children to Kenya, where Gilchrist’s husband served as a flying doctor aboard air ambulances.

Gilchrist found her own place after a feral cat who’d been living on the roof of their rental house had kittens. Afraid the babies would fall, Gilchrist looked to the KSPCA, started around 1910 by women who gave water to oxen carrying goods into Nairobi.

The KSPCA loaned Gilchrist a trap so she could bring in the cat family. She soon started volunteering, and after about a decade, in 1986, when a field officer position opened, Gilchrist took it.

She quickly began going to slaughterhouses, using advocacy, training, and what she calls her Scottish temper to promote less horrific killing methods.

Despite her inclinations, it’s work she says she’d never imagined for herself, and 30 years later, she’s seen both exciting progress and heartbreaking regression.

Slaughterhouses are going up everywhere now and they’re not using humane killing. They’re bashing, stabbing, putting them down and cutting their throats. And it’s got to stop.

“It’s all dissolving,” Gilchrist laments. “Slaughterhouses are going up everywhere now and they’re not using humane killing. They’re bashing, stabbing, putting them down and cutting their throats. And it’s got to stop.”

She adds, “We’re still just scratching the surface.”

In addition to slaughterhouses, Gilchrist is a regular at animal-related conferences and workshops, always with her thermos of tea and often the only voice speaking for Kenya’s domestic animals, rather than wildlife, which receives far more attention.

Kate Chumo of Africa Network for Animal Welfare praises Gilchrist for the inroads she has made promoting adoption among Kenyans and changing people’s perceptions of dogs and cats. Chumo also notes that Gilchrist isn’t one to mince words.

“Kenyans are very practical people,” Gilchrist says. “It’s a matter of, ‘What can the animal do for me? And if it can’t and I have no use for it anymore, it’s not a big deal.’ So I have to keep saying, ‘We’ve got to consider the animals. They’re not just here for use and abuse.’ So I do get quite vocal.”

 

Rescued donkeys at the KSPCA

Sadly, it is often government veterinarians whom Gilchrist  finds herself reminding, prodding them to adhere to their Hippocratic Oath. Indeed, the KSPCA has been instrumental in progress against strychnine, a painful poison that the government’s veterinary department was using widely to control Kenya’s street dog population.

Gilchrist’s preferred tool for changing minds is the education of school children. The KSPCA both hosts groups and makes visits to schools, which Gilchrist believes is making slow but steady headway against the public indifference she spends so much time fighting.

In the meantime, there is the organization’s rescue work.

“So many animals need help,” Gilchrist says. “If you just concentrate on education, what happens to the 40 donkeys that were dumped in town?”

What gets her through? “Curry and beer,” she jokes.

The KSPCA is a “minimum-kill” operation, meaning it only euthanizes animals who are very old, very sick or whose “character has been too destroyed” by the trauma they’ve endured. The organization vets adopters and checks in on adoptees where it can.

And rather than small, individual cages, animals in its care are kept in groups, and are let out in rotation to romp and sniff during the day.

“We find they’re much happier running about and being free,” Gilchrist says. “The same with cats. People say cats can’t be together, but they can.”

As heartening as many of their rescues are, Gilchrist acknowledges that her life’s work is often wrenching.

“It’s not nice,” she says. What gets her through? “Curry and beer,” she jokes.

More seriously, she says photography and walks in the evenings with Charlie and her other dogs. And, of course, the progress she’s been a part of. During her time at the KSPCA, it has grown from three employees to today’s two dozen. “We have expanded a lot,” she says. “We’re doing a lot more work now.”

In recognition of her contributions, the queen of England in 2009 awarded Gilchrist an MBE, or Member of the British Empire.

“Completely out of my element,” she says of the Buckingham Palace ceremony.

That’s not to say that the award hasn’t been useful, especially with authorities. “When you’re writing letters to people and being official and you can write MBE, it does help.”

Jean Gilchrist with a rescued pig at the KSPCA

As for the KSPCA’s future, Gilchrist dreams of a fundraising committee that might generate reliable income for stronger education and investigative programs and some improvements at the shelter.

She also hopes to find someone to step into her shoes, as she knows she can’t work forever.

“We do our best with what we’ve got,” she says.

She also hopes to find someone to step into her shoes, as she knows she can’t work forever.

Although she’s never really wanted to leave Kenya, she sees Scotland as the prudent choice for retirement.

“I’ve still got enough energy, I think, to last another year.”

When Gilchrist does finally go, she knows this much: Her dogs will go with her.

“Everybody says I’m mad, but I can’t leave them behind,” she says.

“They’re family.”

Learn more about the KSPCA and support their work to protect animals.

 

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Some handy election period tips

Posted on July 24th, 2017
Categories: News

Despite the spelling mistake (awereness), and in the hopes that we don’t need any of these precautions, there is some practical information worth considering here.

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Sasaab Fitness & Nutrition Weekend 2017 – by Your Trainer Karina

Posted on July 20th, 2017
Categories: News

Sasaab – I love, love, love this place. I know you probably heard me say that about a 1000 times, but it is my favourite place in Kenya. I am a huge fan of the Samburu in general, but Sasaab is just tranquility, luxury and beauty – everything in one place. So it is no surprise that I am looking forward to May each year, when it is time for our annual Fitness Weekend there.

This year all participants were either clients of mine or friends or some very loyal Fitness-Weekend-lovers. It was a great and fun group – dare I say the best Fitness weekend ever.

I got to Wilson airport early, as I do like greeting all participants in person. Jean and Barrie were faster though this time. It was lovely seeing them again. It was their fourth Fitness weekend with me and I appreciate that so much. Also Jean`s and Barrie`s attitude really does describe the motto for the Fitness weekends…. `Everybody as good as they can´.

All other guests slowly arrived as well and we were warming up to each other.

Day 1

We made it! Finally back here and I can feel – despite it being a work weekend for me – how the Nairobi stress is melting away. We were welcomed warmly by Nicki and Scott (the new camp managers) and the wonderful staff and went straight to lunch.

We had a beef, butternut & chickpea salad, a spinach, beetroot & walnut salad, a roasted aubergine & olive salad and courgetti with avocado, sundried tomatoes & toasted seeds. Delicious as always when our nutritional therapist, Heather Cuthbert, is in the kitchen.

In the afternoon we started our exercises with a Aqua Tone & Cardio in the pool. My personal highlight of the first day is the Pilates class in a dry riverbed. The scenery and the colours are just amazing – with only the sky above you.

The dinner table was set on the newly extended deck. All the candles around us made it look so special. And we dress for the occasion as well. As we are running around in Active Wear most of the day, I think it is nice to dress up a bit for dinner – and everybody does.

After the meal, with healthy Banoffee pies for dessert, everybody turned in for the night.

I love falling asleep with the noises of the bush and the river close by.

Day 2

It was in the very early morning hours; I was already up, when I heard the leopard making its typical noise. I was not sure at first, as I am really not a bush-specialist, but it was confirmed later by Scott, that I did hear right.

We met at the swimming pool, as the first activities of the day were Sun salutations, followed by a Bush run or walk. We split into two groups and went off with a guide each. There is no better start to the day. After a nice stretch in the morning sun and a quick shower we were all looking forward to breakfast on the deck. Our healthy Sasaab breakfast usually contains a delicious granola muesli made by Heather with fresh yogurt or cashew nut milk, buckwheat pancakes with roasted bananas, gluten free bread and some nut butters as well as a choice of eggs with avocado and tomato.

After Breakfast it was time for our cooking demonstration. Heather showed us how to make a Thai salad, avocado mayonnaise and some salted caramel and superfood chocolates.

It was time to get active again. FitChair was on the program – a not very strenuous exercise program, but a routine that is easy for all age groups.

Nina, one of our clients and our camera women, was turning 40 today. It is a big day and I was told by her sister in Nairobi to make it a special day. I think, so far, we were doing quite well. But the best was yet to come. In the afternoon we started our walk to the Sundowner rock – approximately 45min to an hour. The 360 degree views are breath-taking. Nina continued filming the scenery, Khaled did a very impressive headstand while Nikki and I did relatively boring tree or warrior poses. But in the end everything looks great on top of that spectacular rock.

  

Finally it was time to open a bottle of bubbly. Heather and I both decided that we had to make a concession. You can´t have a 40th birthday without a few drops of champagne. We really just had half a glass each.

Back to the cars now and we were heading to the final big surprise of the day. At the foot of a massive rock wall was a beautiful, big log-fire set up. The rock was illuminated and the stars above us……… getting a bit carried away again. We were greeted by Nicki and Scott and walked through the set-up of our bush dinner. The table was set with white linen, beautiful candles and white ostrich feathers – it felt like we were at a wedding. It was truly special and I have not seen anything like it before. So, thank you Nina that you had your 40th Birthday with us at Sasaab and we all were able to enjoy the magic.

Day 3

An early morning game drive was on the program, which meant leaving the camp by 6am. One car was enough, as not everybody wanted to come. We drove directly to our usual riverbed for our Bush-HIIT session. I had planned two separate sessions: one for Jean and Barrie, which would work them, but not kill them, and one for the rest of the group. We had a lot of fun and worked up a proper sweat.

In the meantime Daniel and Jacob set up our breakfast and prepared eggs. And so we just sat there, enjoyed our breakfast and the bush and waited for some animals to pass by…..

What we did not know at that point, an Elephant family was hiding in the bushes, waiting for us to leave. So 3-4min after we left, we looked back to our exercise/breakfast spot and saw them making their way to the river. It is just so special to watch those beautiful giants.

In time for lunch we were back at the camp and Heather had prepared the most amazing cauliflower bagels with cashew cheese & smoked salmon.

For the afternoon we would stay in the camp and do another water aerobics class followed by Circuit training in the Gym in the late afternoon. Yes, this camp has a Gym!

We had some time to rest and to shower before meeting for another delicious healthy meal on the deck

 Day 4

Leaving day. I don´t know how the others were feeling, but it always makes me sad.

We still had a Pilates class scheduled as well as a hands-on cooking class. To save time we did the Pilates class on the pool deck. The moon was still above us, and it was just beautiful, not sure why I didn´t use this spot before.

After our breakfast we all went packing and the staff prepared the dining room for our cooking session. Chocolate truffles! Best of all we could take them with us.

In the meantime Safarilink had agreed (with some pushing) to pick us up from the Sasaab airstrip, which meant we did not have to rush out of camp. It is much nicer to enjoy the last hour in peace and quietness instead of sitting in a bumpy car for an extra hour and a half.

See you latest next year! I can´t wait. May the time fly by quickly.

Yours,

Karina Walsh

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JW SEAGON – YOUR TRUSTED ONE STOP INSURANCE SHOP

Posted on July 12th, 2017
Categories: News

Helping clients protect the things they care about

For 30 years, JW Seagon has helped people across Africa and beyond protect the things they care about by partnering with leading insurers in offering a trusted one-stop-shop solution across health, life, home, travel, finance and business insurance needs.

Our global partnerships

JW Seagon works with insurance brands all over the world, including Allianz, CIGNA, AETNA, Bupa, Prudential and ICEA Lion, amongst many others, to provide clients with the right cover for their needs. Because of the company’s close partnerships with many international insurers, JW Seagon has access to a wide range of products that suit both individuals and groups, and across a range of sectors, including travel insurance and business insurance. JW Seagon also provides ‘special risks’ insurance for extreme circumstances.

Customer Service

First-class customer service and experienced staff are some of JW Seagon’s strongest assets, and the company takes pride in ensuring that their clients receive exactly the type of cover that they need, while providing them with the utmost care and attention. With more than 40 employees across four countries, including expert advisors and experienced administrators, JW Seagon offers support before, during and after the policy is set up.

The insurance broker is also committed to giving back to the community and environment, and in the past year, the company has supported charities including AMREF, The Tsavo Trust and Big Life Foundation with donations going towards wildlife conservation.

At A Glance

  • Clients across Africa and beyond
  • Partnerships with the world’s leading insurers
  • Offices in Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius and the UK
  • Specialised solutions for the travel and tourism sector
  • First class customer service

Please ring us on +254 (0) 709 455 000 or email [email protected] for more information.

https://www.facebook.com/jwseagon/

https://twitter.com/jwseagon

https://www.instagram.com/jwseagon/

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TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings

Posted on June 27th, 2017
Categories: News

 Travel advisories are the bane of most developing nations, Kenya being no exception. Always viewed from inside the countries as ‘over-the-top’ with no clear vision and a way to pump the danger allowances for embassy staff based in said country. Viewed by the cretins that impose these advisories it is simply a way of protecting their citizens and making them aware of the dangers they perceive exist in said country. If they didn’t tell and something terrible happened they would be held to book, an I-told-you-so is a much better way of protecting ones rear-end.

None of this is news I know, but leads to my next story.

‘The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU. It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa’. (source The Independent)

This is no pithy travel advisory, this is very serious business. The numbers are staggering. 27.4 million American tourists visited Europe in 2016, with a spend in the billions of dollars (source statista). The US Visa Waiver Program for EU citizens is now expected to be scrapped in retaliation, which will negatively impact the impressive numbers of EU tourists visiting the US. Already down 12% (source forbes.com) affected mostly by uncertainty from the many Trump pronouncements on travel restrictions.

Add to this the laptop, electronic device ban from certain countries into the US (and less so into the UK) – which are now strongly tipped to be expanded to ALL flights into the US from wherever, in the very near future. Note: Flights from the US are not affected.

Some airlines such as Qatar Airways, Turkish, Emirates and Etihad offer an array of options to satisfy your electronic device ban withdrawals. Some supply replacement laptops or tablets on departure to all passengers, some just to premium passengers. Watching movies ho-hum. ‘How you can you get bored on our flights’ said one enthusiastic airline rep. We have over 300 movies onboard.’

You do indeed, but a lot are rubbish I replied. The never-say-die rep then said ‘Out of 300 surely you can find a few.’ Let me try I replied, maybe a free ticket to wherever might be an idea, so I can see for myself. Waiting for the phone to ring is a tedious task, but I live in hope.

What’s this world coming to?

We Kenyans need visas to almost everywhere so we are used to the application and demeaning vetting regime that goes with it. The visa application process is an undignified exercise, questions-questions and then even more meaningless questions. Bank statements and certificates of good conduct. ‘Do you want to live in my country?’ ‘No, I love Kenya, my life, my family are here.’ They are never convinced.

I can just imagine all these so-called first worlder’s applying for visas, something most of them have never done, they will tire and stay home, or hopefully visit Kenya where our visa regime for westerners is slick with not that many questions asked.

A local hotel group just sent me an email of their availability in the period June – August and I was surprised almost staggered to see most dates in the Mara sold out, ditto northern Kenya. At the coast it was a very different story. The best beaches in the world lie idle, devoid of any tourists.

You’ll have noticed in the News section of this edition Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Tourism telling all the movers and shakers of the UK’s tourism industry, that Kenya’s tourism marketing budget has increased three-fold to US$15 million per annum. I’m yet to see any evidence of this spend in our key source markets. Iko wapi?

This edition is all about lots of news and far to many book reviews I’ll agree, and only one real meaty story and it’s not even about Kenya. Seems that with the northern summer tourism boom (I use those word advisably) means there is no room at the inn for our team of writers, to well, write great stories about the very best of Kenya.

We’ll work around that going forward.

Uganda is taking advantage, that’s what that meaty article is about, in attempting to lure Kenyans to visit Uganda during our election period.

Looks pretty tempting to me, at anytime of the year for that matter.

The airport map shown earlier in this edition, has only one real change, that of the multi-story car park that became an international arrivals terminal after the fire, now getting its life back. I’m not sure if is open as we speak, but from what I saw last week it is pretty close to it. Which will no doubt relieve a lot of the parking issues at JKIA.

For the latest edition of Travel News, please click here http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

 

 

 

 

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Looking for Alice? Look no further!

Posted on June 21st, 2017
Categories: News

Originally written in 1865 by mathematician Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a tale of a young girl falling down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by cryptic and crazy creatures; the story has survived many decades and seen many adaptations. This year, The Academy of Dance and Art are proud to present Nairobi with ‘Looking for Alice‘! Follow the running rabbit and hop, skip and jump your way into our Wonderland…filled with curious curtsying cats, lizards leaping over ladders, tiny twirling teapots, collections of contracting caterpillars and beware of the rotten Red Queen! Let’s look for Alice and help her find herself!

The show is not all ballet – it comprises of musical theatre and gymnastics and there is also singing, showcasing all aspects of Performing Arts.  The wonderful Davina Leonard will be the narrator. This promises to be a superb show – enjoy!

 

 

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Finding your own happy by Africa Expat Wives Club

Posted on June 20th, 2017
Categories: News

 Expat life. Finding your own happy…

Expat life uproots and unsettles us. Friendships prove to be transient as people move on and it hurts that family are far away. As migrants, we often question if and when to go ‘home’ but in the meantime, it’s important to be happy.

Life can throw out more than a few curve balls. You may not be exactly where you thought you’d be, or doing what you had imagined and your circumstances may not sit well with you at a given time but whatever the situation, it’s important to find your own happy.

Horrific events in London over the past weeks put day-to-day life in sharp focus and remind me of the dreadful Westgate mall attack here in Nairobi in 2013. During the aftermath of Westgate we heard of threats of terror attacks weekly, even daily, mostly via anonymous SMS/text messages that were circulating like wildfire. Don’t go to the mall, don’t sit in traffic jams, school buses will targeted, attacks are imminent. You barely wanted to hear the news for fear of hearing of the next atrocity in Kenya (the Garissa University attack etc). Life changed. Shopping centres are now surrounded by steel rings. We have our car doors and boots opened and our handbags searched when popping in to do our weekly supermarket shop.

There’s a certain amount of added risk related to living in Nairobi anyway with the common threat of armed break-ins or carjacking, meaning that going out after dark (particularly alone) takes an extra dose of courage, but this shouldn’t cow us into submission. The disparity of wealth is still heart-breaking and I haven’t even got onto ill health!

Just last week, our house helper got ill with bronchitis, the chap who was once our askari contacted us to say he had TB and needed help urgently, food prices have skyrocketed for basic commodities which is affecting people badly (there is still no maize flour in the shops) and the prospect of yet another presidential election on August 8th doesn’t bode well. Still deeply scarred from the 2007 election crisis in Kenya, we’ve already seen land related troubles brewing in Laikipia. Apparently rippling discontent comes with the territory around election time but we keep hopeful of a peaceful outcome.

A lot of the above has not affected me directly but it does make me feel fortunate. I’m the lazy type who likes to get swept along by life so have to remind myself to appreciate each day (rather than, as an expat, worrying and second guessing what future might lie in store). So in this spirit, I signed up for an evening art course (we giggle, muddle and drink wine – our teacher is very patient), I go to the gym regularly and relish having coffee with friends (even when there’s work waiting at home). I sit in the sun when it peeps out just for 5 minutes to soak up some rays (it’s cold season here so a bit overcast) and I thank goodness that the family is all well. We need to find our own ‘happy’ in the small things. Who knows what life might throw at us next?

Check out other interesting articles on http://africaexpatwivesclub.com/

  • Returning Home – BBC, The Why Factor. Interesting discussion on the migrants’ yearn to go home that is almost built into our DNA, the ‘myth of return’ (or intending to return but not quite making it), plus the reality of returning home. 30%-50% of migrants do go home.
  • Be useful. Be kind.” Advice from Barack Obama.
  • Have 3 types of hobbies: 1 to make you money, 1 to keep you in shape, and one that allows you to be creative.
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FROM THE MOUTHPIECE

Posted on May 16th, 2017
Categories: News

FROM THE MOUTHPIECE – ON HOUSES AND HOUSE HUNTING

It is 2006. Our lovely Landlord has tragically passed away and the family offer us first refusal to buy the 3 bed bungalow we are renting on ¾ acres in Kileleshwa. The asking price is Ksh 5 million. Ridiculous, huff my boyfriend and I, why would we ever spend such a ludicrous sum on an old house? Hindsight is a marvelous thing – pre marriage and school we could have stretched to buying the property – these days it is a large block of flats, and whoever sold the land to the developer never needed to rent again. But not armed with said marvelous hindsight, we set out house hunting.

 House #1. “Hello, is this James?” “Yes madam this is James”. “James I saw you advertise a 3 bedroomed house for rent in Lavington for Ksh 80,000 p.m. Is it still available?” “Yes madam when do you want to see it?” “James can you tell me where in Lavington this house is?” “It is, ah, it is near the Police Station.” “Which Police Station?” “James Gichuru, it is just there on Manyani Rd East”. “Ok great lets go see it”. James and myself eventually find each other at a shopping centre parking lot, he is only 45 minutes late, and we set off. Another 20 minutes later: “James, where the h*#k is this property, we are nearly in Kangemi?!”

House #3 “Hi Peter can I view the 3 bed property you have in Lavington?” “Yes madam”. “Can we meet at 4 pm?” Yes madam but kindly you must pick me”. “Where are you Peter?” “I am in town”.

House #8 “David you are meant to be showing me a 3 bed bungalow for Ksh 75,000 p.m. Why have we seen a 4 bed double story house for Ksh 110,000 p.m. and a hovel I wouldn’t put my dogs in for Ksh 60,000??”

House #14 “Adam, I told you I need a property which is available NOW. There are people here. There are removals boxes here. I think these people have only just moved in!” “Sorry madam the landlord didn’t tell me the house has gone”.

House #23 “Michael, WHERE ARE THE KEYS?? I did not come here to admire the garden!!!”

House #34 “John, you clearly are not an agent for this property, seeing as the Askari won’t even let us in the gate”.

We end up living in a massive 5 bedroomed double story mansion in Karen, way out of budget and desired geographical location. Our Economic Housing Group dining table for 6 looks strangely out of place in the dining room, which is the size of a ballroom, and I can only afford curtains for the bedrooms. At least we have a home – for now.

If you would like avoid similar experiences, contact us for a list of reliable estate agents who won’t lead you down the garden path, literally!

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David Delivers at Nothing Like It

Posted on April 18th, 2017
Categories: News

I was lucky to be given the opportunity to try out the new Stylist at Nothing Like it Salon & Spa in Hardy last week. David is young, trendy, and above all, terribly nice. Do not let his “quirky” English fool you – David knows what he’s doing, especially in the cutting department. My haircut took 45 minutes with absolute attention to detail and a lovely end result. David’s talents go above and beyond hair styling though – he is also a tattoo artist, does fabulous nail art, and gives an amazing Vietnamese foot massage! I left the Salon 3 1/2 hours later with great highlights, a funky new haircut, and feeling like a million bucks!

 Photo of happy customer with David

The two branches of Nothing Like It (Karen Shopping Centre above KPS and 2nd floor Hardy Shopping Centre) offer comprehensive hair and beauty treatments for ladies, gentlemen and children. From Theravine facials and hot stone massages to waxing and gel manicures, you will find it all in these two classy establishments, along with a complimentary glass of wine on a Friday.

Relax, unwind, be pampered – there is Nothing Like It!

Book your appointment on 0721 834577 / 0734 860775 Karen Spa, or 0726 543977 / 0737 599695 Hardy Spa.

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TCB’S Miscellaneous Ramblings

Posted on April 4th, 2017
Categories: News

 Everyone keeps asking me about the state of play in Kenya tourism. As a born optimist I tend not listen to stories of gloom and doom but instead look for the bright light at the end of the tunnel. I’m now told reliably there is no bright light. One of the best coasts in the world with its award winning beaches lies virtually empty. With the beaches empty, the hotels struggle to survive. Kenya’s coast is or was all about mass tourism, with large numbers of package holidaymakers arriving on charter flights from Europe directly into Mombasa. Today few still operate, even those that do, with vastly reduced capacity. Our safari destinations to the best game parks and reserves in the world are bereft of tourists. In times of plenty particularly during the migration, deals can still be had, something not previously experienced. Resident rates abound. Local so-called domestic tourism is growing but at a very slow pace, it need impetus driven by the Kenya Tourist Board. Today not tomorrow. Conference tourism if it can be called that is propping up the Kenyan hotel industry. But it is exceptionally price sensitive, with unbelievable deals to be had. From a tourism perspective Kenya is simply not on any western countries radar right now. We are simply not front-of-face, an oft repeated retort to my saying I’m from Kenya is “That’s not a very safe place is it?’ The simple answer to that is that it is a safe travel destination. We need to change perceptions such as this and this is all about promoting the destination and not simply relying on National Geographic or Animal Planet to generate interest. Our tourist board with its new leader needs to start dishing-the-dosh, with advertising and marketing campaigns across our proven source markets. There was talk some years ago of combining all that is Kenya into a shop-front; in for example London, New York and so on. Come in for a tea or coffee; see what Kenya has to offer from a broad range of perspectives to include obviously tourism. A public-private partnership enterprise. What happened to that? Like another prominent promoter of tourism to Kenya, I choose to remain optimistic – but I’d like a little help from my government. Promote, promote, promote – it is the only way to turn the tide. One of the great promoters of Kenya tourism was recently photographed onboard a flight from London wearing a surgical mask. The ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ came to mind. He had this to say on a recent FaceBook post: I flew back to Nairobi last night. Some airlines, including British Airways, are now spraying passengers with insecticide on flights INTO Nairobi as well as out. The sprays contain toxic chemicals. Phenothrin or synthetic pyrethroids, which are neurotoxins are routinely used for “disinsection”. Reported symptoms after breathing in the spray include acute respiratory and sinus problems, rash/ hives, headache, and anaphylactic shock, as well as chronic immune, respiratory, and neurological problems. With little ventilation and in such a closed space, spraying pesticides on airplanes while passengers are still on board does not seem a good idea, particularly for sensitive groups like children, pregnant mothers, and the wazee like me! A friend of his added to the post: There is no evidence justifying this very superficial fumigation process. It used to be done in Australia, now discontinued. Suggest a campaign of class action or similar vs. airlines doing this. Very toxic and entirely unnecessary. Masks will not help with skin contact and these chemicals/fumigants require activated charcoal respirators, not ‘masks’. Now that’s a worrying story for all of us. A response to our last edition asked the question why we made no mention of the situation in Laikipia with illegal herders invading ranches and game conservancies. Sometimes violently, loss of life followed, An inept government response which was a longtime coming hardly stemmed the tide. Ironically it was the international press that brought this situation to the top of our governments to-do list. It must be pretty embarrassing to be told by a reporter in London that you have a problem just down the road. Onward & upward…..

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http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

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Top 10 things you learn when you move to Kenya

Posted on February 8th, 2017
Categories: News

Unfamiliar with Kenyan Cowboys? No idea where to live in Nairobi and clueless about the local slang? Here are some top tips for expats

rhinos kenya

On every safari, trip to the coast or evening in, there is a frantic rush to make a cocktail and watch that famous African sunset with awe Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP
Having lived in several different countries growing up, with family roots stretching back to England, I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world but Kenya. It’s a country that captures you when you arrive and never really leaves you. I have seen countless friends come and go: those whose families work for the UN, NGOs and embassies who can only stay as long as their posting allows, new families and budding entrepreneurs. I have watched as they try to adapt to the country, seen their exasperation as things happen very slowly and I have seen them never want to leave when the time comes.

Although Kenya is a great place to live, I’m the first to admit that it’s not the easiest country to get to grips with. It’s a huge learning curve, but embrace the cultural differences and you will soon find yourself calling everyone brother or sister.

Here, in my opinion, are the top lessons you will learn from living here:

It’s not always a sunny paradise

Having lived for a time in Limuru, one of the coldest parts, I have walked around in full ski gear complete with gloves and hat. But don’t worry – torrential rain only happens in the rainy season.

Having a work / life balance really is possible

Many people who move to Kenya go with the sole reason of setting up their own business, my family included. And why wouldn’t you? There is plenty of opportunity, the economy is on the up (being the strongest and largest in East Africa) and there are people everywhere willing to help and invest. Make sure you do your background research before going into business with anyone – just to be on the safe side.

Moving to Kenya will make you very aware of the importance of wildlife conservation (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Your sense of humour will increase tenfold

Trust me – after hours of haggling to get the best price for your vegetables, only to get home and watch your local pishi (cook) have hysterics over how much you paid for them, the laughter will start. You’ll also need a sense of humour if you expect something to be done by a certain deadline, as you will probably find yourself still waiting six months later.

You will become a beach snob

Whether you find yourself in Diani, Watamu, Kilifi, Malindi or Lamu, you will be ankle deep in soft white sand with palm trees and empty beaches surrounding you. And the best thing? You can fly there in an hour from Nairobi. After spending weeks on the Kenyan coast, an all-inclusive package deal to Malaga will never seem appealing again.

You will start to refer to yourself as Kenyan, regardless of what it says on your passport

The Kenyans themselves will have this effect on you; they are a very gentle, kind and helpful race of people. Kenya is still very tribal in its ways, with certain tribes living and dominating certain areas, and the longer you live there the easier it will be to spot the differences.

You’ll also be introduced to a rare breed of people called the KCs (standing for Kenyan Citizens but they call themselves Kenyan Cowboys). They are Caucasians who have been born and brought up in Kenya and are usually of British decent. If you are unsure of how to spot one of these strange and mysterious humans, they spend their days wondering around in flip-flops, kikoy trousers (very brightly coloured) and will always have a Tusker (Kenyan beer) in their hand.

Expats in Africa earn most, but work world’s longest hours

Expat stereotypes: Jack the Kenyan Cowboy

Expat in Kenya: my school run along the road to nowhere

You will realise just how important conservation is

If you don’t like animals then perhaps this country isn’t for you. Yes you’ll have cats and dogs roaming around but chances are you’ll also find yourself with a troop of monkeys or a family of bush babies setting up home in your garden. But more than that, you are living in the country which is home to some of the world’s most amazing animals who sadly are under threat.

You are either a Land Rover or a Land Cruiser person

This is non-negotiable and people will look at you suspiciously if you say you have no preference (imagine your reaction if someone said that they were neither here nor there when it comes to Marmite – preposterous). The reason for this is simple: safaris. There is an ongoing debate as to which car is better to take bundu bashing (off-road driving). So if I were you, I would pick a car and defend it to your death, you will be respected for it. Personally I’m all for the Land Cruisers.

Where you live in the capital, Nairobi is directly related to your social circle (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

The meaning of the words jua kali

Unfortunately there is no direct translation for this in English; in a nutshell it’s the general term used for work done on the side of the road by manual labour. A prime example of this would be if something goes wrong with your car and you are miles from anywhere save a tiny African village in the distance. Chances are there is someone there who will be able to fix your car, albeit temporarily.

Where you choose to live as an expat directly relates to your social circle

There are two obvious choices of living areas as an expat settling in Nairobi: Karen or Westlands. Karen is usually where you find the old-timers and the families who have been around for years, whereas Westlands boasts a more diverse community being the area of choice for the United Nations and the American Embassy. I would personally pick Westlands, but then again I am a little biased as I live there.

Sundowners are a way of life

On every safari, trip to the coast or evening in, there is a frantic rush to make either the staple Kenyan cocktail called a dawa (Swahili for medicine, although the main ingredient is vodka) or grab a cold beer from the fridge and dash outside to watch that famous African sunset.

Whether you decide to come out here for work, family or fancy a challenge, the country has an enormous amount to offer you. Although you will no doubt be frustrated time and time again over the way the country works, more often than not you will just take a deep breath, have a little chuckle to yourself and start to plan your next trip to the coast.

Amy Shaw runs the lifestyle blog Global PawPrints (globalpawprints.blogspot.co.uk)

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