Lovely Luffa

Last year my naive experiment of growing a luffa plant (in the relative cool of Kent) from a seed shaped in the sunshine of sub-Saharan Africa, came to a leaf-withered, sorry-looking nothing (despite having survived a nasty accident with a bike). I was sad. After receiving a lesson in luffas from Bettie in Malawi, I had planted … More Lovely Luffa

Luffa plant needs wine

I know this is a reasonably big glass of wine. It is much required. Vino’clock came knocking on my door this evening, with some urgency, after my precious Malawian luffa plant was ridden into at (what appeared to be similar to) supersonic speed by one of my cherubic children on a bike. Recently replanted after its happy … More Luffa plant needs wine

Luffa Leaves

There is no doubt that Bettie was right: luffa plants are easy to grow – even in the cooler climes of Kent. See today’s happy and unexpected proof … Two small curls of fresh green leaves, one not yet fully unfurled from the poor soil that has nourished it. My careless chucking of seeds in a random pot has … More Luffa Leaves

Smoke in Bettie’s Eyes

Bettie’s skirt skims the flames as she steps past a steaming pot that is balanced on three blackened stones. She reaches for a wooden spoon, then turns and fans the fire as she skates by again. Giggling at my gasp for her safety, Bettie crouches to prod the sizzling potatoes, and is engulfed by swirls of smoke. She emerges, repeatedly wiping her eyes, and admits … More Smoke in Bettie’s Eyes

Footballs, Solar Power and the Hub

Could you fashion a football as good as this? Charles’ nimble-fingered technique takes a little time and effort, and is fuelled by a passion for the Beautiful Game – a love shared by countless boys and girls running the length and breadth of Africa. Useful finds of shards of bark, scraps of old blankets or scrunched up newspaper can be used for the core, but this compact … More Footballs, Solar Power and the Hub

Sandals in Malawi

My trusty sandals are showing signs of wear. Here they sit nestled in warm Spanish sand, feeling quite at home as they watch bathers dip their toes in the Mediterranean’s turquoise sea. In a few days their soles will touch the red earth of an African village, dashing flurries of ochre as they explore a rural primary school … More Sandals in Malawi

Malawi Beckons

What do I know of Africa? A short week-long visit to a primary school in the Kasungu district of Malawi is all that I can claim. But it was full of newness, strangeness and warmth, and left a colourful mish-mash of impressions that crowded my head when I arrived home (just in time for the awkward excesses of Christmas). That was … More Malawi Beckons