28 February 2015

Three R's

Reading, Relaxing, Rejuvenating
After my safari in Selous and sightseeing here it was time for some serious chilling out. Echo Beach was bliss, a truly idyllic setting. My bungalow was surrounded by hibiscus and bougainvillea shrubs, soft white sand, and close to the pool and beach. Opening the curtains every morning to see the pool and azure ocean was breathtaking.



                                  Relaxing is hard work!
                                  Did I want to swim in the pool or the beautifully warm ocean?
                                  What time to have lunch?
                                  Nodding off whilst reading and forgetting what I had read!
                                  I coped well though!! :-)  



The owners Sue and Andrew were lovely, attentive but not obtrusive, as were the staff, nothing 
was too much trouble. Everyone who stayed there felt like family instead of a visitor.


The food was absolutely gorgeous, worthy of a couple of Michelin stars. Local fresh ingredients 
were used and the menu was changed daily. I think I tried everything during my stay!


25 February 2015

The Rock

Having read an article about this iconic restaurant I was excited to be going there for lunch. The restaurant, 
former fisherman's post, is located on a rock on the edge of the Indian Ocean at Michanvi, Pingwe beach, Zanzibar.


It can be reached on foot at low tide, or by boat at high tide.



It's spectacular, unfortunately the same could not be said for the food. My 
chocolate dessert was good but my lobster was overcooked and poorly presented 
on a plate of chips with tired looking meagre salad, and one dish was lukewarm.


It's a beautiful setting though with superb views. I'm glad I went just for the experience. 


23 February 2015

Colobus Monkeys

Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar is home to the very pretty Red Colobus Monkey. I don't usually like monkeys, but these were very calm, no dive bombing or stealing from us, they were content and very well behaved.
It is also home to Blue Sykes' Monkeys, Bush Pigs, Aders Duiker Antelopes, Elephant Shrews, Chameleons and numerous butterflies. 


Mum and Baby

A pretty coat

Animals do relaxing so well


Tiny Elephant Shrew


21 February 2015

Prison Island

The island was purchased by the British First Minister of Zanzibar in 1893 and a prison complex was constructed. No prisoners were ever housed there though, instead it was used as a quarantine station for yellow fever patients. More recently it has become a government owned tourist resort housing a collection of endangered Aldabra Giant Tortoises which were originally a gift from the British Governor of the Seychelles.
The island offers plenty of activities - after working up an appetite visiting the tortoises, swimming or snorkelling, you can have lunch at the cafe or restaurant, then relax sunbathing.

Going over to the island



The island is fringed with a beautiful coral reef and has an exquisite white beach.




My guide




The beautiful sparkling waters are so clear you can see your shadow



Jambo, it means hello. 
A beautiful place to spend a few hours or a whole day.



19 February 2015

Stone Town

It may not have a particularly romantic name but its setting in a crystalline azure sea with white beaches and coralline reefs conjurs up a dreamy image. Stone Town is the heart and soul of the spice island of Zanzibar. It is a magical place of winding alleys, mosques and bustling bazaars. Many grand buildings reflect the Arab, Indian, African and European influences. Stone Town was recently and deservedly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It is also the birthplace of Freddie Mercury


Open air theatre in The Old Fort 



Museum


The Anglican Christchurch Cathedral, site of the former slave market



In the grounds of the Cathedral are some sculptures of chained slaves, and inside are rooms where they were held. 
It was distressing imagining what those desolate souls had to endure, especially the children



I love old colonial buildings


The markets are brilliant, selling everything - meat, fish, bread, fruit and veg, all manner of groceries,
sweets, household items and of course a plethora of delectable spices



After lunch my guide introduced me to my next guide who 
took me over to Prison Island, my next blog, coming soon.

17 February 2015

Zanzibar

I just don't like winter, so in the absence of the warmth and sunshine I long for, I'm going to recall a gorgeous holiday I had in Zanzibar in 2013. It was actually a safari holiday with a week on the beach at the end. The safari was in Tanzania visiting the Selous National Park. It was my first safari and whilst I was disappointed with not seeing many animals it was a good introduction to a safari holiday. The camp was outside the National Park and therefore we didn't enter until about 9 and had to leave before sunset, both times of day when animals are most active. My next safari was inside a park (more about that later). At Selous I stayed at the Selous Riverside Safari Camp, a lovely camp with excellent accomodation and very good attentive (without being in the way) staff. At the end of the safari I flew over to Zanzibar to stay at the beautiful Echo Beach hotel http://www.echobeachhotel.com
My first view of Zanzibar

My bungalow was lovely 







15 February 2015

Snowflakes


Another cake that is ideal for a winter occasion, 
red and cream and sparkly gold snowflakes. Simple and effective.


The lady who requested this cake didn't want marzipan and 
royal icing, which makes the best base for decorating a cake, 
so this was done with butter cream, which isn't as easy.

Another of my daughters beautiful creations. 
Check out many more at http://www.amandamacleod.co.uk 


12 February 2015

Valentine's Day


 My Valentine's Table has items of sentimental value and things that I like.

Ah Valentine's Day, I remember what it was like to be wooed by an unknown admirer! The thrill of seeing an envelope (or two or more!) on the mat, on my desk at work or under the car's windscreen wiper, and then trying to work out who the sender was.
One that always comes to mind was soon after my divorce (yeah) I joined a drama group. Myself and a friend who was also in the group received cards from the same guy with the same message inside, it was a long time ago so I can’t remember it word for word but it was something along the lines of “Months have passed since I was down your way, still looking as beautiful as ever, my heart was warmed by the sight of your smile” and signed from “Your itinerant admirer” We set to work to unmask him.
Turned out it was a guy who had left the group and the town to live a simple life travelling the canals on his barge - how sweet. By the time we had worked it out he had moved on and we never saw him again - how sad. One or two fell by the wayside and remain anonymous to this day.


The pearls belonged to my mother  

I like Valentine's day and used to celebrate it, but not by pandering to the over priced seasonal retailers. We used to buy something delicious from M&S, a bottle of bubbly and have a romantic night in.  
The tradition of Valentine’s Day is thought to be Roman in origin. A popular theory from the biographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. It is said that during his imprisonment he healed the daughter of his jailer, and that before his execution he wrote her a farewell letter and signed it "Your Valentine".



By 1601 St. Valentine’s Day appears to be an established part of English tradition, as William Shakespeare makes mention of it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet: To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.
In 1797, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was first published. This contained gems of sentimental rhymes and ditties for those young gentlemen who were so much in love as to not be able to think clearly enough to compose their own verse.  Ahh bless.


Although the Royal Mail Service had been made available to the public since 1635, it was not until the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840 that the postal service became affordable to most people, making the sending of anonymous Valentine’s Day cards possible. All over the country printers started to mass-produce the cards we have today, complete with pre-prepared verses and pretty pictures. That said, the anonymity aspect of being able to send a Valentine's Day card was also responsible for introducing daring and racy verse to the prudish Victorians! And oh boy were those Victorians prudish. It is thought that long table cloths became fashionable in that era because the Victorians insisted that table legs had to be covered up for fear that a shapely leg would stimulate erotic feelings!! Probably just a myth, but nevertheless a quirky idea.




In 1847 this quaint English tradition was introduced into America and the rest, as they say, is history…In the US alone, approximately 190 million valentine cards are now sent each year; worldwide the figure is estimated to be closer to 1 billion. And then of course the www has provided the opportunity for millions of people to create and send their own messages.

Happy Valentine’s Day

8 February 2015

That Pesky Cat

Now and again when Rufus is in the front lounge he does an eerie bark, a sort of cross between a bark and a howl, I know it’s Rufus and I know why. Our neighbour’s cat often sits on the wall outside the front window.

Can you see that Pesky cat Buster

I’ve owned cats and dogs and although dogs are my favourite I really admire the cleverness of cats. I love the way they can always find a warm, dry, comfortable place to sleep, my little cat could recognise the sound of my car and would come bounding down the side path meowing to greet me when I arrived home from work, but most of all I admire the way they know how to get one over on a dog! Many years ago I had a Doberman but that little cat was the boss and boy did she tease him. I had an armchair in the corner of my dining room, she would wind him up to chase her and then run behind the chair. Poor Max, he fell for it every time, he would charge after her and get wedged between the chair and the wall!


Need a sit down now.

















It's not me, I stopped barking ages ago.


So the cat just sits on the wall, I'm sure she can hear our dogs barking and she knows they can't get to her, it drives them mad, more so Rufus, I think Buster is used to it now!


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