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Archive for the ‘Afrika – Africa’ Category

Leaving Scorpio Villas

On May 23rd, I left Scorpio villas by car heading for the airport of Mombasa. The trip took more or less three hours and during these boring hours I was thinking of all nice people I had met at Scorpio, the wonderful couple who own the place – Sara and Simone Mancini, their lovely children – Lorenzo, Luca and little Chiara, Anderson who was responsible for my bungalow, the man who looked after the pool and Andy the barman. Patrick Kalume from Aberdeen and Marian and Frank Swift from London. I will miss all of them.

 

 

Flying back to Europe

From Mombasa to Nairobi it took one hour to fly and then I had to sit at the airport in Nairobi for many hours to wait for the flight to Zurich, which took seven hours. Early in the morning on the 24th, I arrived in Switzerland and it was easy to find the terminal where I had to wait for the connection to Prague. That flight took one hour and at 9.30 I was in Prague.

It was in Prague we had started our voyage in December 2010 and it was in Prague that we finished the first five months of 2011.

 

Early morning, the 24th of May

We had booked a room in a hotel with the name Kampa, which is located in Kampa Park in the heart of Prague. I was very tired when I arrived and was therefore grateful when I was offered a room almost immediately so I could sleep because I had not slept at all during the flight, which took place during the night.

 

Kampa hotel has a lovely location in Kampa Park

When I woke up late in the afternoon Anders had arrived and he was sitting outside in the garden waiting for me to wake up and we had a couple of beers and discussed what to do during the week we were going to spend in Prague. The location of hotel Kampa is excellent, namely in Kampa park and the weather was lovely, warm and sunny and all flowers and trees were blossoming and the beer was as good as it always is in Prague. What more could we wish? Kampa Park enclosed here.

 

 

  

 

Holesovice market

Seven days pass quickly. We went to the market in Holesovice by tram because we had to buy a new luggage. After a lot of travelling two luggages had been completely worn out. We had a nice meal in an Asian restaurant at the market and we stayed there for a couple of hours. We also found a luggage that we both liked and at the airport on our way home we left the old luggage empty to somebody who wants it.

 

The pub “U Cerneho Vola”

A visit to the pub U Cerneho Vola is a must when in Prague so we took tram number 22 to get there. The pub is situated close to the Prague castle and to the Swedish Embassy. You can see a photo of us when we were sitting at the pub. I have written about this pub earlier in my blog.

 

 

Meeting a good friend

We also met our good friend Anna Cerna in Prague and we went with her to have lunch in a very nice restaurant in Kampa Park by the name of Nostitz and the food was really nice there. We had asparagus with hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon and thereafter we ordered hot raspberries with ice cream and we had a nice Czech wine with this lovely food and it was really fine to meet Anna again and to listen to what she had been doing during the last year and to hear about her four grandchildren – two boys and two girls – and her two daughters.

 

“Kachna” – duck and Apfelstrudel for lunch

Every day we went to different places like another pub by the name “U Pinkasu” at the Jungmannova square and we went to have lunch in a small restaurant close to Vaclavske Namesti. The restaurant has the same name as the street where it is located – “Provacnicka” and it is in the proper centre of Prague. They have lovely food there and we had “kachna” which is duck in Czech. It is served with red or white cabbage and most people have it with dumplings but we prefer potatoes. We had “Apfelstrudel” and coffee with cherry wine after the main dish and could hardly move from the table when we had finished our meal. The portions are very big and generous.

 

Malteske namesti is a beautiful square in Mala Strana

One day we went for a walk in Mala Strana around Malteske Namesti, which is a beautiful square with many small restaurants and cafés and another day we want to Namesti Republiky, and then we walked back to our hotel, which took us forty minutes or more. At the old town square it was hardly possible to walk because there were big groups of tourists who had come to Prague for sightseeing and all of them visit the same places so sometimes it is very crowded in the centre of the town and most of the time I try to avoid these herds of people because I have already visited the places they are visiting and I would never join a big group like that led by a guide anyhow. I would feel like a sheep led by a shepherd.

 

Back home the 30th of May

Time passes quickly when you are having a good time and soon it was Monday and time for us to go back home and in the evening of May 30th we landed at the airport of Copenhagen and then we took a train to Lund and came home at around seven. We were met by our grandchild Philippa who helped us to carry our luggage and for the first time in five months I slept in my own bed and enjoyed it. Our bed is big, cosy and comfortable.

 

The market place in Lund

The next morning I took out my bike and cycled to the market where I bought asparagus and strawberries and baby potatoes and then I cycled back home and cooked a lovely meal. I also bought heering, something we always miss when we are somewhere else. The heering we eat with raw onions and it is delicious, especially if it is served with sour creme. Now it is very nice weather here, warm and sunny and people are outside most of the time and enjoy the company of friends and relatives. It is nice to be able to cycle around in a green town with many parks and a nice market place where we can buy all the vegetables and fruits of the season.

 

Future travel – going to Berlin to meet a friend

We have found all our things and unpacked everything and are slowly adapting to this kind of life, but soon I shall be leaving for Berlin, where I am going to visit my friend Mechthild Flohr who lives in Potsdam and I am very much looking forward to meet her and will stay with her for a week. The distance from here to Berlin is only 300 kilometres so it takes less than an hour to arrive there by flight. In Potsdam I will visit a famous castle by the name of “Sans souci”, in German “Ohne Sorgen” and it was built by Federic II of Prussia in the 18th century during the period which is called “The enlightment”. Voltaire used to spend a lot of time at the court of Federic II and is supposed to have said that German is a language for soldiers and horses. However, I do not agree.

 

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Shella 20th of April 2011

A review of “The Africa House” by Christina Lamb

“In the last decade of the British Empire Stewart Gore-Browne built himself a feudal paradise in Northern Rhodesia, a sprawling country estate modelled on the finest homes of England, complete with uniform servants, daily muster parades, rose gardens and lavish dinners finished off with vintage port in the library.”

At the café close to the Internet centre at Shella I saw a pile of books for sale. One of them was Karen Blixen’s book about her African farm, and another one was a biography about the life of Stewart Gore-Browne which I bought and started to read at the very spot and I continued reading for two days and have now finished the book. When you read something which you find interesting it is difficult to finish the book because you know that you will miss it, and that is the case with an excellent book like this. It is like being separated from a good friend living far away.

This book fascinated me immediately. I read on the back of it that Christina Lamb is a British foreign correspondent, who has visited and lived both in Africa, Asia and South America. She has built her story about Gore-Browne on literature but mainly on archive studies, letters and interviews with relatives and other people who were close to the main character like workers at the estate. And she has indeed succeeded in getting very close to Gordon-Browne and his family members. In the introduction she writes:

“The date etched on the heavy oak front door was 1923, but the house looked much older, it’s sloping tiled roof and arched terraces battered by the African sun and rains. A magnificent three-storey pink bricked mansion, with a tower in the centre, a reed tiled roof, and a line of elegant arches supporting a first-floor terrace from which a Union Jack fluttered limply. Rising behind it, a granite hill provided a dramatic backdrop. Part Tuscan manor house, part grand English ancestral home, and all completely unexpected and out of place in this remote corner of the African bush. Surely, only a madman or a megalomaniac could have built such a place.”

In the introduction the writer continues to tell the readers how she first got to know about the house and how she came to visit the place in the company of one of the grandchildren of Stewart Gore-Browne.

The story is about a man with a vision and his vision is to build a home at a beautiful place in northern Rhodesia, close to a lake full of crocodiles by the name of Shiwa Ngandu, which means Lake of the Royal Crocodiles. Even Mr. Livingstone had visited this place “and one of these very crocodiles had devoured Livingstone’s little dog Chitane…”

Gore-Browne was born at the end of the 19th century and came to northern Rhodesia as a young man and that was when his dream about a manor was born. He participated in WWI and thereafter he returned to Africa. He came from an aristocratic family and had been studying at one of the expensive British schools for boys, Harrow. He was not a rich man, but quite well off because of his aunt Ethel. The lady was his father’s sister and ever since he was a boy he had a very close relation to this relative, who was twenty years older than him and married to a much older man. The couple lived at a very big estate in England. There is no doubt that she was not only wealthy but also very beautiful with hair of the same colour as strawberries. Whenever Gore-Browne was short of money she sent him what he needed and she helped him through her whole life. She died when she was over 90 and Stewart Gore-Browne was present at this sad occasion to say good-bye to her.

This aunt was the love of Stewart Gore-Browne and he always hoped that the two of them one day would live together. Almost daily he sat down in his library and wrote a letter to his aunt. But when he had settled down and started to build Shiwa – the name of the manor – life took another turn. When visiting England in the beginning of his 40s he met Lorna, a school girl of 19 and the daughter of his first love in life, a girl who had left him to get married to another man. Mother and daughter had the same name and Lorna was an orphan because both her father and mother had died so she was living with different relatives whereof many were unwilling to care for her. Despite the 25 years of difference of age the couple got married and Lorna went to live at Shiwa and in a few years time they had two girls. Lorna Katherine and Angela.

Lamb describes the marriage as unhappy and soon Lorna goes back to England to study agriculture. She leaves her children behind and creates a life of her own. After some time she returns to Shiva but leaves again and finally Stewart Gore-Browne agrees to a divorce.

The biography is about a great personality, about a man who is passionate and determined, with visions – not only for himself and his family but also for the country where he lives, for the people of Africa and their future.

The book is very fascinating and it is difficult to stop reading. However, it is not an “Easy reader” – on the contrary – I would say, because there are many names of animals, flowers, trees that one might not know. 

The book describes also how that part of northern Rhodesia became Zambia, how the people of the country came to power, the struggle for independence and how Kenneth Kaunda became the first president of Zambia.

I read the “Afterwords” and noted that one of the grandchildren of Gore-Browne has taken over Shiwa which was abandoned for ten years or more and today it is a hotel with safaris as main attraction. At the same time it is run as a farm like once upon a time.

If you want to read a real good book I sincerely recommend you to try to find “The Africa house” written by Christina Lamb. You will not regret it.

 

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