Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blogs & Babies

If you are a frequent visitor to this blog & find yourself asking,
"But where are the baby stories?", please let me explain ...
New Life rightly restricts access to information about (and 
photos of) the children in its care to the general public, including publicly accessible websites & blogs (like this one).
To a restricted readership (e.g., our e-newsletters to family & 
friends), we are free to share stories & photos that we are not 
free to post on this blog.
Hope that helps to explain why our blog is more family focussed?
But just for those who like baby photos (who doesn't?), here's 
my "baby" holding our baby grand-daughter, Harry!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cuisenaire Cat

If you know Gerro at all, you'll know he's crazy about wild cats.
And craziest of all about cheetahs.
Lean and keen, I think he sees himself in them.
Well, the other day he was very busy with his Cuisenaire rods (see
Assumed he was working on some simple arithmetic.
But upon investigation ...
He'd conjured up yet another cat.
A cheetah.  Of course.
Flying along at full throttle.
What else?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cheetah's Chums

Just look at my two fearless African sons.
Cuddling up with a big, bad Kenyan cat.
You "wooden" believe it, if you hadn't seen it for yourself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big Cheese

Charlie (aka Charlotte), one of Farrah's good friends back in Scotland, asked her what she was missing most about Old Blighty now that she's living out here in Kenya.
Her answer?  Cheese.
A few days later, courtesy of man in FedEx van, came a colossal kilo (2.2 lbs in real money) of gourmet Gorgonzola.
Charlie's belated birthday (and early Christmas) gift to Farrah.
Now who's the big cheese?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kitengela's Queen

And finally ...
Kitengela's quirky queen (for the day) outside Kitengela's quirky cottage.
The Brothers Grimm could have designed it.
And Farrah would have happily moved into it.
There and then.
She'd never expected to find a home that would so perfectly express her own personality.
Before this!

Kitengela's Car

So if Kitengela's cow is on your right as you approach the place, what's on your left?
Answer: a car.
Nothing so unusual there, you say.
Except the way it's parked, of course!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kitengela's Cow

In case you thought I was exaggerating Kitengela's quirkiness, just look at what you meet on the dirt track heading into it.
A colossal cow.
Made from flattened beer cans.
Fastened to a massive, free-standing metal frame.
Farrah's idea of fun.
With a capital F-U-N.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Farrah's Friend

Why were we at Kitengela Glass?
Well, it was all part of Farrah's 19th birthday celebrations.
Could not believe our luck, finding such a quirky place - so close to home - for our extremely quirky daughter's day out.
She loved it.
The place is full of strange things.
The big metal gorilla - holding hands with my dotty daughter - being one of the least odd.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Lauren's Lookalike

Talking of Lauren (we were, weren't we?) ...
I visited Kitengela Glass just outside Nairobi a few weeks ago.
Wandering around, I suddenly happened upon this stained glass window - and found myself arrested by it.
If my oldest daughter wasn't the model for this piece, then there is somebody else, spookily similar to her, out there somewhere.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Any Excuse

As I write this, Susanna's chatting on the phone.
To our oldest daughter Lauren.
And Lauren's son (my grandson!) Lucas.
Just the excuse I needed to post this photo.
I love it & have been waiting for the slightest excuse to share it with all of you.
Just found it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Down To Earth

And here is Michael again.
But with his feet very firmly on the ground this time.
Just to prove that he doesn't spend all his time in mid-air.
Michael and I are 2 of just 10 men who work here permanently.
Most days we all take our lunch together in the workshop.
And once a week (on Tuesday) we study the Bible together.
We have just finished a study on Marriage & Sexual Morality.
I've learned a lot about African traditions & customs from my fellow team members.
Wonder what we'll study next?


We have a great team of groundsmen here.
This one is Michael.
Well and truly off the ground at this point.
Having climbed a ladder & walked along a ledge to water the plants outside our bedroom window.
Clearly, a very balanced person.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Muddy Madam

Farrah and I got caught in a downpour the other evening.
This was the state of Farrah's legs by the time we got home.
There is a dirt track between us and our local shops, which can quickly turn into a mud track.
As you can see.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sue's Sojourn

Our good friend, Sue Begg, just passed through here.
On her way from NE Scotland to her beloved Lamu.
I think this is her 5th trip to the "medieval" island - so far.
Sue's helping out for 3 weeks at the New Life Centre there.
Thanks, Sue!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Breaking & Baking

Before leaving Uplands, I was given the honour of being one of five men who officially broke the ground at the site of Abigail's next project ...
a brand new bakery.
All of us were asked to break the ground in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Thanks to a Kiswahili song we sing at church that my boys and I love, I was able to reach into my memory banks and break the ground in the name of ...
"Baba" and "Yesu" and "Roho".

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh, Happy Day

One of the biggest smiles on the day belonged to Keziah.
With her mum, she had moved into a new home in another village previously built by Abigail Ministries.
She had come to join in the joy of the newest villagers.
Her smile sums up the day beautifully.

Shena's Villagers

At one point in the celebrations, all the villagers sang together.
Here are two of the "new" neighbours, in full voice.
Songs.  Prayers.  Laughter.  Tears.  All in one day.
A real "wish you could be here" moment.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Shena's Village

Our friends, Roger & Shena, first came to Kenya in 2001 for a "once in a lifetime" retirement holiday.
But God had other ideas.
They lost their hearts to the people here & wanted to find ways to help the poorest.
So began Abigail Ministries -
They return to Kenya 2 or 3 times a year and we joined them a few days ago in Uplands, as they opened a new village.
Re-housing 12 desperately poor families, previously living in ramshackle homes under a railway track.
This is Shena welcoming the families into their new homes.
Leave you to imagine the celebrations!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mama Monkey

Remember how Levi & Gerro used to dress up in their tiger & cheetah costumes and race along on all fours?
Well, they did it here the other day, going round the grounds, prowling & pouncing.
Until some of the toddlers got scared.
But since then the toddlers themselves can be seen scampering around on all fours.
Except they call themselves monkeys.
And they call me "Mama Monkey"! :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hello, Hairy

In the New Life garden is a gazebo.
And in the gazebo is a kids' slide.
And on the slide the other day instead of a kid was ...
a great, big, hairy monster.
Maybe not a monster.
Just a very hairy, creepy-crawly caterpillar.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coaching Kids

Of course, it's not just our boys that are football crazy out here.
It's a continent-wide obsession.
And even more so since the World Cup in South Africa.
New Life runs soccer programmes at its rural schools.
Want to get involved in one?
Just drop me a line.

Pitch Perfect

Just in case you doubted our boys' obsession with the "beautiful game", here's the cake Susanna made Levi for his 9th birthday.
The "goalies" were particularly tasty!
Fancy a slice?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lunch On The Lawn

And if you're a New Life housekeeper, surrounded by such beautiful gardens, where better to take your lunch than ...
on the lawn?

Bethel's Backyard

We have two homes in Nakuru, a short distance apart.
Both are family homes for older children who have not (yet) been adopted, just like The Ark here in Nairobi.
I visited the Nakuru homes for the first time yesterday.
The home for the oldest kids is called Bethel.
It was very quiet when I called, because they were all at school.
So here are some very tranquil views of the beautiful gardens.
As you can see, the groundsmen take real pride in their work.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mr Fix-It

You'll be relieved to hear I'm not the person responsible for the upkeep of New Life's properties.
That job falls to our very own head "fundi" (the Kenyan word for a "Mr Fix-It) ... Edward.
This is Edward at New Life Home, Nakuru earlier today.
First thing this morning, Edward, Clive & I made the two hour drive to Nakuru together.
But Clive & I returned this afternoon, leaving Edward behind for the next few days - a man on a mission.
He's got a new reception area to build, furniture to fix, property to paint, etc., etc.
A real man, as my kids would say, not like their own father!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Red Devils, Baggies, Wolves & Black Cats

Each family member here "adopted" a Barclays Premier League football team to support this season.
My glory-hunting sons pounced on Manchester United.
My choice was easy too, given my soft spot for under-dogs & my own family's origins ... it's West Bromwich Albion for me.
Farrah faithfully followed my West Midlands lead and went for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Susanna, whose family originates from Ireland & the English south coast (and who does not seem to be taking this as seriously as the rest of us) settled for ... Sunderland?
Our local cafe, Hong's, had a big plasma screen installed just before the World Cup.
And most weekends you will find four of us (I'll leave you to guess who the missing fifth member is) goggle-eyed in front of the "box", cheering on our respective teams.
Come on, you Baggies!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paparazzi Paparazzi-ed

It's come to my attention that in all of dad's "blogging" - so far - he's completely excluded all photos of himself.
So, to set the record straight & to get him back for constantly invading the privacy of the rest of the family ...
here is a recent shot I took of him in our back garden.
Just look at that crop of silver whiskers sprouting from his chin.
And those "laughter lines" have now surely crossed the line into just plain old wrinkles?
Luckily, he has a daughter that will always look after him.
Cherry's a good girl! ;-)

Friday, September 17, 2010


A very special lady celebrated her birthday last Sunday ...
our very own "Matron Mary".
Susanna got out our best bone china, baked some of her legendary scones, bought jam & cream, and worked her magic.
Mary, Clive & CJ were then invited over for cream tea.
Awfully civilised!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

David's Day Out

Our other main driver here is David.
He got to drive the day The Ark kids went to Naivasha National Park.
And helped to look after them once they all got there.
He was a particularly happy man that day, because he had never visited Hell's Gate before.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tutors Galore

I was very keen to get a holiday tutor for The Ark kids.
And we had barely uttered a prayer for one, before God sent us three.
Teachers Millicent, Armstrong & Patrick all helped with the terrifying tower of holiday homework.
Questions like: “Conduct an interview with people from different ethnic backgrounds and discuss their views on parenting, political persuasion, religious and moral beliefs”.
And that was just one small part of the work for the 9 year olds!
See why I felt an urgent desire to engage some outside help?

Ark Antics

I have been busy with The Ark, the family home for 10 older kids who have not been adopted (yet).
All of August was a school holiday.
I set up some day trips for them & they had a whale of a time.
The kids went to the Animal Orphanage, the Giraffe Centre & Nairobi Arboretum.
But most excitingly, gorge walking at Hell's Gate in Naivasha National Park.

Back At Braeside

Boys now back at Braeside after 8 weeks of school holiday.
They left here very happy on the morning of their first day back.
No, I'm not making this up.
And they came home just as happy - if not more so - later the same day.
Whoever it is out there praying for these boys, please don't stop!
Susanna & I found ourselves imagining that they were still around.
We would head off to check how they were doing, and then remember that they weren't here.
Think Terry Wogan called them "senior moments".

Monday, September 13, 2010

Joseph's Joke

Another Nairobi team member who made the trip out to Nyeri was our main driver, Joseph.
So called, he tells me, because he was born on Christmas Day.
Joseph is married with a wife and young son.
But assures me they are called Olivia and Bonladic - not Mary and Jesus!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kyeni's Chum

Farrah came along to Nyeri for the Open Day too.
And promptly found herself appointed the "official" New Life photographer.
This is a shot she snapped of Kyeni (pronounced "Chenny"), our Public Relations Officer, holding Gabriel's son, Laurence.
I love the far away look in Laurence's eyes.
Maybe watching his dad's funky dance moves?

Gabriel's Grin

This is Gabriel.
Together with his wife Monica, he leads New Life Home - Nyeri.
The home just marked its 4th anniversary with its first ever "Open Day".
The former mayor, the district councillor, and many others were all present.
But most encouragingly, lots of kids adopted in the last 4 years with their "new" parents.
No wonder Gabriel has a smile that could light up the whole of Africa!
A few of us made the 2-plus hours' drive from Nairobi to join in the fun.
Just wish I could dance as well as my Kenyan friends!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Let There Be White

Susanna is still the practical partner in our relationship.
The other day, she positively leapt at the chance to grab a paint brush, jump on a stool & start brightening up the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) here.
The ICU was sufficiently low on numbers at the time to allow the "mini residents" to be temporarily transferred to another unit across the corridor.
How did Susanna know that 5 days later we would admit 13 babies in just 2 days?
And the ICU would once again be back to full capacity?
She must have a hot line to heaven!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Natty Neckwear

From the age of 10, I've looked for quirky clothes that matched my own quirky personality.
So I've fallen in love with Africa's vivid colours & pulsating patterns.
This scarf is a recent proud purchase.

My Sloppy Sister

... and this is another one.

My Silly Sister

I was in bed and Farrah came in - with mum's camera.
She sat down on my bed & started showing me some pictures that mum had taken.
Then she took a few pictures of me & her together.
This is one of them.

Jane's Joy

This is Jane, our Special Care Unit Supervisor, who's served here at New Life since it first opened its doors, 16 years ago.
She's standing between Mirjam (13) & Elia (12), two babies she cared for prior to their adoption, back in those early days.
Mirjam & Elia turned up a few days ago with their Swiss parents, Roland & Christine, to re-visit their first home and to spend some time looking after some of the current "New Lifers".
Jane was delighted to see her "babies" so grown up.