Monthly Archives: June 2017

Who Shot Kukki Gallman?

I dreamed of africa

I have just finished re-reading (for probably the 6th or 7th time) one of my all-time favourite books, “I Dreamed of Africa” by Kukki Gallman and posted a review on my other site Books and More Books.

Having finished the review and posted it, I decided to see what the world was saying about Kukki Gallman now.  And horrors – I read in the Guardian UK, that she was shot on a Sunday morning in April,

We are told that on that Sunday morning, April 23,  she was keen to inspect the ruins of Mukutan Retreat, her luxury tourist lodge, which had been set ablaze the day before. She drove there, accompanied by armed Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers and one of her scouts, to find total devastation. As she said, “Ash hung in the air like snowflakes.”

Many years of living with the threat of encroachment, poachers and occasional violence had taught her caution, so the visit was brief and, as she always did, Gallmann left by a different dirt track to the one she had driven in on.

Reaching the higher plains she found a felled tree blocking the route. The Rangers had finished moving the trunk when her scout called out to her, telling her there were three people approaching, but before she could turn to look the shooting started and she was hit in the lower abdomen as she sat in her Land Cruiser. She was hit again and three more shots hit the car before the Rangers chased away the ambushers.

Following the shooting, she spent a fortnight in hospital before being discharged to convalesce in her house in Nairobi. But she says she is not yet truly home.

She longs for Ol Ari Nyiro, “The Place of Dark Springs”, an 88,000-acre nature reserve in Kenya’s central highlands overlooking the Great Rift Valley, where her husband and son are buried.  In recent months this quiet, peaceful reserve has become embroiled in a violent struggle between the private landowners and the semi-nomadic herders. But though her wounds from the shooting are grievous she is determined to go back and fight.

“As soon as I’m allowed I will go back,” she says. Her doctors tell her that she is not yet strong enough and security officers advise her it is not yet safe, but “in my heart, I’m there,” she says.”

This is a different photo.
Not one of a trophy hunter having killed a defenceless animal but
one of a distraught Kukki with a killed elephant.


Sad story: Gallmann with an elephant killed by poachers on her land. Photograph: AFP

In earlier times, I followed Kukki and her daughter in their conservation quest and now feel sorrow for this woman who has faced sorrow in the loss of her husband and son and now could lose her beloved home or even her life.

Get well soon Kukki and go back to your home in the hopes that peace will return once again.

And always, Zig has a quote –

“It’s not how far you fall,
but how high you bounce that counts.”
― Zig Ziglar Author, salesman and
Motivational speaker 1926-2012



Well, Guess What?

In March encouraged by a couple of my blogging friends, I decided to continue the story of Maisie Benton-Smythe and her friends.  And guess what – after making that promise and writing a post I completely forgot; that is until April 7 when I did, in fact, continue the story, in this post.



But procrastination is still alive and well here.  So without making any more promises, I am now continuing the story.



After Julia left to prepare for dinner with her fiancé, Maisie phoned Juliet.  After discussing their daughter and goddaughter for a few minutes, and agreeing that she was infuriating, they then said they had more pressing things to discuss.

“I think you should call Charles and ask him to come for lunch tomorrow.  It might also be a good idea for Hector to come too.” Offered Juliet.

And so it was agreed.  Maisie made the call and the invitation to lunch was accepted.  Sir Charles also offered to relay the invitation to Sir Hector, who he had no doubt, would accept.  Maisie filled n some more details for Sir Charles in the hope that further investigation would prove the man a fraud.

Sir Charles also suggested that Reggie be at the lunch too and with no idea that Reggie had moved out, added that she could discuss this with Reggie tonight.  Then Reggie, knowing all she knew, could call Sir Charles and some plan of action might be derived.

Maisie rang off and spoke to Juliet “We shall have to get together again before lunch.  Would you please call Imogen and ask her to lunch?  In the meantime, I’ll call Reggie but I don’t know how to broke the subject with him.  He will be furious but at least he will have time to settle down and think the problem through before he meets Charles and Hector at lunch tomorrow.”

Juliet readily agreed to call Imogen but thought it best if they didn’t attend lunch.  Reggie would not like to discuss these matters in front of Maisie’s friends, although he would know soon enough that they knew all about the claims too.

“Alright then, let’s go to that little tearoom in the High Street.  Shall we say 11 am?” with which they ended the conversation and each went off to make the next telephone call.

Maisie was not looking forward to calling her husband.  She knew that he would be angry that an unknown man would be making these claims.  She asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and Tonic and thought it best if she called Sir Reggie before he left for dinner and ask him to come to the house on a matter of some urgency.  She knew he would accept what she had to tell him better in a face to face conversation rather than a telephone call.

Sir Reggie was not at all keen to come to the house to meet with Maisie, but after she stressed that it was an urgent family matter, he reluctantly agreed.

After dinner, Maisie took her bath and then waited in her small sitting room forSir Percy to arrive.  This he did rather later than agreed and having had rather more to drink than she would have liked.

However, he poured himself a rather large whisky and got straight to the point.

“Now what is it, old girl?  You have me quite worried.  What family matter can it be?”

So, Maisie told him about the swarthy gent in the Panama hat, how he had come calling and been sent away while Sir Charles and his friend Sir Hector made some enquiries about him.  She handed him Fotheringham’s card.

She then went on to tell him what Sir Charles had discovered and then told him about Fotheringham’s claims.

“But that’s preposterous” yelled Reggie.  “How does he expect to get away with such nonsense.  We know the Earl would never have had any truck with a native woman.  The man is a charlatan and should be hounded out of the country.”

In time he settled down and in a more subdued tone asked Maisie what had she done.

She explained that Fotheringham had been sent off for a couple of days and that she had asked Sir Charles and Sir Hector to meet them for lunch the next day.  This would give them time for Sir Charles to look further into this matter and also to plan how to deal with it.

Pouring himself another stiff whisky, he said he would spend the night there sleeping in his dressing room and they could discuss this further in the morning over breakfast.  “And I suppose those two friends of yours know all about this as well,” he said.  “Why can you never keep anything to yourself?”

Maisie was quite pleased when he took himself off.  She felt she had handled it as well as she could and that the hours between now and breakfast would give him further time to cool down and seriously think how to deal with this matter.

It was now too late to call Juliet and so she would tell her what transpired with Reggie when they met for coffee the following morning.


To be continued…





A New Kid on the Block

Today I came across a very new blogger.  Well at this time she has posted two blogs.  Today’s post really resonated with me.

Those of you who know me, know I have a real ‘thing’ about how today’s young are mollycoddled, wrapped in cotton wool and hardly ever left to their own devices outside in the fresh air.  Go over to Heidi’s blog here.  Please do.  Remember when we first started on this blogging journey, writing our posts and wondering if anyone was ever going to read much less follow us.

And this came up because Darlene Foster posted this today.   Darlene was a farm kid from out back Canada (sorry Darlene can’t remember where) and so she particularly liked this and shared it with us.  Thanks, Darlene.  We townie’s love reading such things.

And one of my favourite farmer bloggers is Cecilia.  She is a New Zealander residing in the US and running a small farm.  Currently, she is caring for Waimoana, or Wai for short a pot belly pig rescued from a farmer in Kentucky.  This poor pig has been treated so badly and Ce is doing her best to help him recover.  Here’s the link to the first introduction to Wai.  Each day Ce posts on his recovery.  Oh, it’s so slow but it is happening.  We all have our fingers crossed for Wai.

And another blogger Patricia at Patricia’s Place today mused on being grateful for kindness.  and of course, that took me back to this time last year when I was recovering from my big adventure aka accident and I had to learn to accept the kindness offered by everyone.  It is often easier to give than to receive and one has to learn to receive graciously the kindness offered.

And today, my sister of choice Chris at Bridges Burning caught my attention with the title of her post ““J.K. Rowling thinks of Harry Potter series as an ex-lover.”  She talked about headlines and how they can draw you into an item and how sometimes, they disappoint.

And another of my sisters of choice Dor at  Virginia Views talked about the To Do List and how even though we are retired many items just don’t get done.  Oh, at least she has Bill to cover for her.  How often during those busy, busy years did I think of what I would do when I had the time.

At the start of my blogging journey,  I wrote about the busy years and now, once again life has taken a 360-degree turn and things have changed. It is interesting to look back to June 20, 2011, and see how things have changed.

And so the musing of this elderly woman in far away New Zealand comes to an end for another day.


“And as the water continues in its downhill rush over rocks
and the thoughts continue to tumble around in my brain
with no defined pattern or path,
they eventually find and settle into a safe place
and the void is suddenly filled
and my mind is active once again.”
Judith Baxter, sister, mother, grandmother
blogger, and friend
1938 –


And the winner is…

The world knows about our almost unstoppable rugby team, the All Blacks.  In a test against the British and Irish Lions on June 24, they won and another Test is set for Saturday.

And we have had golf stars – Lydia Koh the youngest ever No 1,  Sir Bob Charles who has won numerous titles over a 50-year playing life and Michael Campbell who won the US Open.  Dame Susan Devoy dominated the squash world for many years and now..

Team NZ1

Since June 17th this elderly New Zealand woman, along with most of the rest of the inhabitants of our country, have been transfixed by the sailing going on off the coast of Bermuda.  And today, for the third time, New Zealand won the America’s Cup.  It was a really fantastic win.  Team New Zealand beat Oracle, the USA team by 7-1.  So no doubt who the winner was.

Well done Peter Burling and Team New Zealand.  We look forward to the welcome home, with the ‘auld mug’ safely here again.

End of bragging, for today at least.  No promises for not more to come.

A Day in the Country

Several months ago there was a rash of comment in the media about Biddy a cheesemaker who produced farmhouse cheeses in what was considered to be not the correct environment.  In fact, MPI (the Ministry of Primary Industries) threatened to close her down.  She is only one of three farmhouse cheesemakers in New Zealand and with the help of friends, customers and cheese lovers, they all fought back and now with many restrictions they are all back in business with many added regulations that impose a financial burden on these small artisans.

Anyway, while visiting a friend who owns and runs a small lifestyle block, 4.48 hectares on which she raises cows and sheep and has a magnificent vegetable garden, we watched a TV programme on Biddy the Cheesemaker and there and then decided to visit her.

Well, eventually this week, we made the journey.  A bright sunny winter’s day saw us leave reasonably early (9 am) to travel the 120 kms to Cwmglyn, Biddy’s farm.

Well, we started with coffee and shopping in Greytown a delightful small town in the Wairarapa full of delightful shops – antiques, coffee, and many clothes retailers but no large retail outlets.  What a joy.

So, after perusing the shops and each making a purchase, and enjoying lunch we set off to the wide blue yonder – Eketahuna.

eketahuna a

It really is a long way from civilisation as I know it.  Fields, followed by fields, followed by fields.


After twisting and turning through the countryside we came across a sign for CWMGLYN, the farm.  As we had prearranged our visit for 2 pm, we arrived on time and after wandering around the farm for a bit found our hosts.  Biddy and her husband Colin initially meant to grow trees on their small block but when Biddy was given a cow several years ago, she decided to milk her and the whole cheesemaking story was begun.


She has only four cows and the one in the photo with this townie is called Nellie.  Nellie decided that I was a friend and she was particularly interested in my iPad.

All cheese produced is named for the cow from whom the milk came and we tasted Nellie’s cheese.  Delicious.


We then went on to look at the husband’s joy – The Middleton Model Railway.  Apparently, this is one of the largest model railways in the country, and what a joy it was.  We spent some time making the trains go but as Colin was otherwise engaged at the time, we didn’t see all of the clever things he can do with his ‘toys’.

So after saying goodbye to Nellie and her friends, and buying some farmhouse cheese we made the way back home.  For me, it was a totally different day and one I enjoyed tremendously.  We are now going to see if there are any other artisan businesses we can visit.






























Grief Revisited

Like a thief in the night
Grief slinks silently back into my life
Disturbing the peace I have fought so hard for
It is like a fractious child demanding attention
And as the mother with her child, I give in
And am taken back to the beginning
When days were so long and nights even longer.
When I thought there was no way out of this slough of despair
And I am once again immobilised by it.
But I have been here before
Many times since that April night
And I know I can climb out
And once again put grief back where it belongs
Until the next time.
Judith Baxter, Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Blogger and Friend

Yesterday I had a long talk with a neighbour,  His partner of 15 years literally dropped dead in a restaurant a couple of weeks ago.  He had suffered from heart problems since an early age and apparently had an enlarged heart.  The death was quick and painless for which my neighbour was very thankful.


Lake Tekapo where Natu died

Drew, the neighbour, put the link to the video of the funeral on my laptop and I heard him singing. Drew is an Opera singer and to hear him sing If You Go Away to the love of his life brought tears to my eyes.  I have heard many singers sing this song, but none with the feeling of Drew.

And then I went off to the Hospice for a few hours.  Here again, I was faced with death, but they were all expected deaths, none so sudden as Natu’s.

So of course, all this and particularly the Hospice brought back that day in 2015 when my Late Love, The Architect, died.

But today is another day.  Nothing changes; the grief for both of my loves lies just below the surface, ready to spring to life at any time.  But I am stronger than I was and can face the days without either of my loves.

“Where you used to be there, is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime
and falling into at night.
I miss you like hell.”
Edna StVincent Millay.

Thanks for reading.  Today I am back to being my usual cheerful self.  As we say “PollyAnna is alive and well and living in Wellington, New Zealand.”




















Where Did The Years Go?

Sunday, June 11, 1967.  7.40am NZ1 landed at Auckland International Airport. Among the passengers were my 2 children and me.  We had a very nice flight from Los Angeles where we had visited with my sister before heading  further south to meet up with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman)

My DYS had been transferred to New Zealand for two years.  We knew little or nothing about this country.  We didn’t learn about the far-flung corner of the British Commonwealth although I now know that New Zealand children were taught about England at school.  I imagined that some of the 3million plus sheep would be wandering down the main street of Auckland to meet us, and in all, in spite of the literature given to us by New Zealand House in London, my impression was that we were going to a wild west type of life.

All those years ago not many people were travelling and certainly not with two small children in tow.  The staff on board and most of the passengers were great with the children.  One elderly couple (well they seemed elderly to me although in retrospect they probably were in their late 50s early 60s) offered to keep an eye on them while I slept. And the children had the run of the plane;  they could go anywhere and were even taken into the cockpit.  My 4-year-old son,  there and then, decided he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up.

It was winter and raining when we landed in this far off land.  The DYS had been here for a few weeks and had made a couple of friends or rather at that time they were acquaintances who later became friends.  But I knew nobody.

DYS had arranged our accommodation in one of the only reasonable hotels available at the time.  Oh, New Zealand was a very different place then.

On arriving here we found it was not as wild as we had imagined.  No sheep wandering down Queen Street (the main thoroughfare in Auckland), the natives were friendly and what’s more, they spoke our language

We did find some of the customs strange.  Late night shopping on Friday until 10 pm and then absolutely everything shut down until Monday morning.  Bread could be purchased at the local store but no clothes or shoe shops, hairdressers or other shops were open.  All very strange to this newcomer.

I do remember that gas was 33 cents a litre and cigarettes 33 cents for a pack of 20.

Another thing that was very odd was that the licensing laws had every pub closing at 6 pm.  Apparently, most men would leave their offices at 5 pm to dash to the nearest pub to get a drink or two or three, before closing time.  This changed shortly after we arrived but it was apparently well established.

The proximity of the beaches, easy, laid back way of living and all being together made up for any strange things we had to deal with and we all thrived in this new land.

And today June 11 is the 50th  anniversary of the day the children and I first arrived in New Zealand.  We have left it for a time, as a family and the children separately and me for a time after Robert died, but we have all returned and claim New Zealand as home.

NZ flag

“If I should die think only this of me:
that there’s some corner of a foreign field
that is forever England.
There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped,
made aware; gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam.
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home”
Rupert Brooke.  1887-1915.

PS     Rupert Brooks was known for his boyish good looks,
which were said to have prompted the Irish poet  WB Yeats
to describe him as “the handsomest young man in England”










































































Are You My Mother?

Do you remember way back in January 2011 I started a series on Sandy and her adopted daughter?  At my writing course, I submitted the opening chapter with some slight modifications and among the suggestions made, was to write it in the first person.  So here it is, covering some of her thought and feelings during the unexpected pregnancy and now.


As usual, I had a quick look through the emails before starting into the day. Also, as usual, there were several trying to sell me something and so these were all deleted without opening. But there was one that jumped out at me. The subject line read ‘Are You My Mother?’ and for whatever reason, I didn’t send this one to the deleted box.

Without even opening the email I was transported back to a particularly hard time in my life. It was the 1960s – hedonistic time, no responsibilities, Mary Quant, Elvis, fun and free love, with no thoughts given to tomorrow.

I left home at 16, just as soon as I could. I felt locked into my parents’ world. Father took the 7.52 each morning to Paddington and returned on the 5.47 pm. Moher’s Day was filled with good deeds; raising money for poor children, arranging the flowers in church, whist drives or bridge, and book clubs. It was so boring and I couldn’t wait to get away.

I arrived in London where I met up with a friend who had space in her flat for me. Jobs were plentiful and very soon, I was enjoying this good life. That is until a few days after my 17th birthday when I realised I hadn’t had a period for a couple of months. A visit to the doctor confirmed it, I was pregnant. Because of the life we lived, I didn’t know who was the father. The pill was not freely available then. So what was I to do?

Maybe somebody knew of a way to get rid of the unwanted child. I had heard there were people who would perform this operation for cash. But I had no cash and didn’t know anybody from whom I could borrow some and most of all I didn’t know who amongst my friends and acquaintances would know where to find such people.

The alternative was crawling back to my parents. Mother would be ashamed and less than supportive and father would retreat into his study and let mother deal with the situation. No that really wasn’t an alternative.

I passed the church each day on the way to and from work. And that day, walking home after the doctor’s visit I saw the door was open and for the first time in many years, I found myself inside a church. I sat down in a pew at the back and quietly thought about my situation. How could I deal with it all alone?

A quiet voice intruded into my chaotic thoughts “You are troubled, my child. Perhaps I could help?” The speaker was an elderly clergyman who had noticed me sitting at the back of the church, deep in thought. His quiet voice interrupted my thoughts and I burst into tears. I then told him my problems. I had no family to turn to, no money and few friends and I was pregnant.

But of course, the clergyman had heard this tale many times. Young people thinking they were invincible and convinced that nothing bad could happen to them. He told me of a home for unmarried mothers where I could stay until the child was born. I would have to work while I was there in the laundry, kitchen or the garden until my time to give birth was close. I didn’t much like the idea of institutionalised living but really did I have a choice? No, the option being put forward by this clergyman was the better of the two.

The clergyman left me and then returned saying the home was a short walk from the church and so reluctantly I left the sanctuary and the peace it offered me. During the walk, the priest talked quietly “The home is run by the Anglican Sisters of the Community of St John. They will look after you and they will help you make a decision on whether or not to have the baby adopted when the time comes.” “Oh no, “I said. “There is no question of my keeping the child. It will have to be adopted.” We stopped in front of a two storey house that looked no different from the other family homes on the street. There was nothing proclaiming its role and obviously, those involved in running the home did so quietly. On any other day I would have passed it as just another family home.

He rang the bell and the door was quickly opened by a smiling older woman who embraced me and welcomed me to their home. The house was quiet and comforting. In the background was the sound of a baby crying but it didn’t disturb the peace I felt in this house. The priest left me then and I never saw him again.

One day, after the birth of my daughter, I went to the church to thank him but he was no longer there. He had been transferred to a parish miles away.

Life in the home was not hard. I had heard awful stories of the way some people treated unmarried mothers, but the sisters were kind and caring. They didn’t preach to us although we were expected to attend prayers morning and night and to say grace before each meal.

The sisters wore their uniform of long tabards and white wimples, girdles, and caps at all times. This made them very visible in the streets and they were often called upon to help in the community. When they were in the House they still wore their uniforms but without the caps and with aprons to protect their uniforms.

At the beginning of my stay I was placed in the laundry to wash sheets and towels etc. not only for the Home but also for the community as this was a way in which the sisters supplemented funds. it was quite hard and Sister Margret-Angela who was in charge of the laundry was a hard task master. When I was moved from the washing to the ironing area, she would check each piece before it was put into the basket for delivery to its owner. But she was also very quick to notice if any one of the women was in pain or in need of some help.

Then, later on, I was put to work in the kitchen. The meals were simple but planned for women about to give birth. Here I learned the basics of cooking that hadn’t been taught either at school or at home. Mother always had help and she didn’t want me disturbing the running of her house by talking to the help. And here I developed a love for cooking. I found a peace in preparing the vegetables and following the simple recipes put forward. This really has served me well in later life.

And then one day, when I wasn’t really expecting it, Mother Nature took control. Within a short time, I was rushed from the kitchen to the Maternity ward where what seemed like an eternity later, my baby daughter was delivered. I got to hold her for a short time before she was taken away from me and put with the other babies.

Sister Christine came to talk to the mothers individually shortly after they had given birth. She was kind and caring, and in no way tried to influence my decision. But I just knew that I was in no position to care for a child alone and the best option for my lovely baby girl was for her to be adopted.

The process was quick and although I was not involved I was told that baby had been adopted by two loving people who were unable to have children of their own. I had to work hard to stop crying when I was told that my baby was on the way to their home.

I left the home and put the birth of my daughter into the back of my mind.
Later, I met and married Greg and subsequently had a son Ian, whom I love dearly but through the years I had often thought of this daughter. Where she was and how she was living. Was she in a loving family home? Did she have siblings? What was she doing now that she had finished school? So many unanswered questions. But my experiences in those months spent in the care of the caring sister who ran the home convinced me that the couple would have been properly vetted and I just knew they would give my daughter a good home.

Greg, now my ex-husband had been told of the adoption but we had never shared the information with our son agreeing that he need never know.

Still not having opened the email, I went to bed with a million thoughts dancing around my brain. When I awoke the next morning I had no answers and was no closer to making a decision on opening the email.

I presumed that as she had written to me, she would want to meet me. What if we met and we took an instant dislike to each other; then old wounds would have been opened for nothing. What if it was a trick and how had this woman tracked me down anyway.?

But what to do? I remembered having met an ex-Nun at the Women’s Resource Centre when I dropped off some clothes that no longer fit. I’d had a long talk with her and discussed maybe volunteering at the Centre. Perhaps she would be a person to whom I could talk. I quickly finished breakfast and set off for the Women’s Centre before I could change my mind.



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