Aug 14, 2012 - General    17 Comments

Our new house

It is fairly easy to romanticize the idea of an African house… for example by painting a picture of Karen Blixen’s house in your head, and then putting yourself on the porch in a rocking chair, listening to a gramophone beside your very own Denis Finch-Hatton! It is also very easy to do the opposite and conjure up images of a dark, dusty hut filled with more bugs than you can shake a stick at.

Well, we have moved into our new house, and although there is no gramophone, it is closer to my romanticized version than my nightmare one. After only two nights here, I know it is one of those houses that I will remember fondly forever.

Our house is about a 5-minute walk from the main hospital building. It is a detached red-brick house set on a lovely patch of land with a reed fence marking the perimeter. I have lived in London for the past 10 years, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with London, having a garden/balcony/roof terrace is very desirable and very hard to find, so it feels quite special to now have a beautiful garden of my own.



Inside the house, there are two good-sized bedrooms, a living room, a separate kitchen and a bathroom. The bathroom is lovely and bright, which greatly assists in showing up how yellow and stained the bathtub is! Will and I are shower people. Unfortunately, the bathroom lacks a fitted shower and comes only with one of those unsatisfying ‘shower’ attachments that you fit over the taps. At least there is hot water. Besides, I keep telling myself that is unlikely that Karen Blixen had a power shower.

In London, I complained about the dust that coats every surface. London dust needs to take notes from Katete dust, because this dust means business! The house was filthy when we moved in. I didn’t have any cleaning stuff at first other than Dettol wipes. So I ended up using an old rag and a bar of soap and literally soaping every surface! Then one of the medical students kindly loaned me some Mr. Muscle and I re-went over everything. Despite the soap, Mr. Muscle and my muscles, a red layer of dust persists.

Happily, I haven’t needed any Dyroach yet. I found one dead cockroach under the bed, and there was a small frog living in the toilet when I first opened the lid, but that is all so far!

Despite our best efforts to stock up in Lusaka, there is a lot of stuff lacking here – for example, there are no mirrors (maybe after a year in Zambia that will be a good thing!). In addition, we do not have any pans, any bins, a kettle, and the list goes on!

Not to worry… We can make do without creature comforts, improvise with what we do have, and hopefully enjoy a more simple approach to life… Plus we have the porch and garden to help draw a smile, our little patch of Africa for a year.


  • This sounds like it is going to be a wonderful year of new experiences and adventures…. what a wonderful opportunity! I would love to have the chance to get my trail cams out in that garden… who knows what you would get!

  • Dearest Natsku,
    So glad to see you’re your usual active self and have written several posts already! You haven’t mentioned the temperature at all yet – is it hot, super-hot..? xx

  • I wish you and Will a great stay in Zambia. So far I have really enjoyed your each written word on Zambian stay.

    All the best, Enjoy n Have fun !!

  • An amazing house by the looks of the pictures. Good shelter is the starting point, everything else will come in time; you will make it your home. I’m very excited for your adventure!

  • What a wonderful attitude you have! And conjuring up Karen Blixen was brilliant. In every challenging situation, we have a choice…make the best of it or grumble. Not that grumbling isn’t allowed, but I’m so happy to hear that you are starting out on the foot of “make the best of it.”
    And actually, there are many days when I wish I didn’t have a mirror! You’re so lucky! Ha.
    Love the image of the frog living in the toilet…a member of the Wind in the Willows, perhaps? Maybe that’s taking it too far (smile).
    Thanks for the pictures, too, as I am a very visual person. I’m looking forward to photos from Will, as well.
    Speaking of garden, will you be able to grow any food of your own? Or is it too dry?

  • Nice house! Where is the frog now?

  • Stumbled across your blog whilst avoiding work and it’s absolutely brilliant! Love your writing style and very much look forward to reading about your adventures.

    All the best!

  • Gosh, thanks for all the lovely comments!
    To answer a few queries…
    1) The frog went and hid in the u-bend when we opened the lid. I fear the first flush sent him into the sewer, but we’re optimistic that he may survive down there.
    2) Growing our own food – one of my colleagues here has informed me that she managed to grow lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkins and a butternut squash, so I’m hopeful… I’m sure it will make its own blog post if I succeed in cultivating something!
    3) The weather – it’s coming out of ‘winter’, but it’s about 28 – 30 degrees celcius and sunny every day, with temperatures dipping into the teens at night. It’s only going to get hotter and hotter from now on until the rainy season in December, and it’s already fairly hot!
    Keep the comments coming, I love hearing from you all!

  • Amazing what you youngsters have the daring and adventure to do, all so different when we were your age.
    Look forward to reading what adventures you and Will get up to in
    the next 12 months.

  • Your house looks lovely, not what I would have expected at all! I hope you have a wonderful adventure during your year in Zambia! A world away from psychiatry at hillingdon! I heard about your travels plans from Michelle F. when we worked together at the Woodlands. Looking forward to reading more xx

  • I have followed your husband’s photography for years and am thrilled to find your blog. You both are living the dream of many…. I think what you are both doing is admirable and wonderful, and I look forward to following the journey. Be safe and enjoy the adventure!

  • THAT’s hospital accommodation?! English hospitals take note….!!!

    PS loving the blogs already x

  • Remember to treasure each moment there. It will be special and before you know it, it will all be over. You might even ask yourselves after a year, mmm, should we spend another year here.

    I always found those words of Karen Blixen to be very very sad. “I HAD a farm in Africa”. Past tense. I’m sure she really missed it once back in her icy cold old house in the north. Out of Africa is also the only movie that has made me cry every time I watch it. I burst into tears when they fly over the African landscape. It’s just so beautiful that I cant help myself (don’t tell my mates)

    Also remember that that ‘luxury’ house you are in is better than what a lot of locals are living in. You are blessed. The bugs will come and go, the memories will last forever.

    Enjoy Mamma Africa……

  • I’m just a little photographer from Seattle who’s never had the pleasure of meeting you but I’ve really been enjoying reading about your new adventures. You’re an excellent writer even making dust sound exciting 🙂 Wanted to say hi and congrats on getting settled in. Looking forward to hearing more updates soon 🙂


  • Enjoy settling into your new home. Such an exciting adventure. I can’t say I envy you the frog in the toilet. There is a frog that lives in one of the toilets at my parents farm in outback Australia and I just can’t bring myself to use it when I’m there (not very country of me I know!!)
    Good luck with navigating your new daily challenges and cultivating your vege garden.

  • I’m so happy to hear that you’re settling in well and your place looks great in the pictures! Much nicer than Oli’s 1 bed flat in Clapham that’s for sure! Ha! I’m sure you’ll make it really cosy and you’ll be able to source some cooking pans and other bits from somewhere! Otherwise..just do what they do in the movies and tie your daily catch onto a stick with some rope and roast it over a bonfire.

    Oli and I just returned from our US road trip which was awesome! I’ll send you a facebook update about it as this is a blog about your adventures, not mine!

    Big hugs to you both xxx

  • […] been keeping myself busy! August was taken up with buying a capable 4×4 and moving into our new house in Katete. Once set-up I was then able to get on with the important task of photographing some […]