Latest from the blog

20.04.2011 - Mali – Home

Our time in Africa was short now; in a few months we would be back in Europe, back in the UK, back home. Read more..

Out and about in Nairobi

August 2nd, 2010

So here we are sitting in Nairobi having stayed longer than expected due to various factors out of our control.

We’ve now been on the road for just over four months, 127days to be precise and it’s given us the chance to do some sums. In case it floats anyone’s boat the total mileage for the trip is now 7,600 miles and during our trip around Lake Turkana our fuel consumption registered 19mpg. A little on the low side for a Land Rover but not too bad considering we were fully loaded and offroad. During that period of self sufficiency and carrying all our own fuel, we completed a total of 666miles –a coincidence that it’s 666 on the road to Hel??

Since our last blog we’ve been sightseeing, and completed some unexpected work on the car.


First stop on the tourism agenda was the highly recommended Nairobi Giraffe Centre. Here we were able to see these amazing animals up close from a gantry, feeding them by hand and even receiving a kiss if you kept the food between your lips. Amazingly gentle animals, though they were impartial to a small headbutt if you stood there for too long without feeding them.

Whilst he was there Carl did spot a rare big tall thing with a ginger beard wandering around wanting food and giving out kisses, rumours that this was Tom are presently unfounded.


From the giraffes, the next day it was to the Elephants. Unfortunately about 100 Scout who are in Kenya for the World Scout Moot had the same idea, so the normally tranquil centre was packed to the rafters meaning Carl had to resort to standing on a rock to see the Elephants. No such problems for George or Tom there however. All the Elephants there were babies rescued from all manner of situations which would have undoubtedly led to their demise were it not for human intervention. The programme stipulates that after a couple of years of care all will be released back into the wild.

It was great to see they little fellas bumbling around, charging into each other, spraying each other with water and throwing mud everywhere, adorable little things and a lovely centre doing good work to support the East African Elephant population.


Sightseeing day three took us to the Nairobi Safari walk, a centre beside the Nairobi National Park which was rumoured to house all sorts of rare African animals. It certainly did have some rare animals (check out the photo of the Pygmy Hippos), but with a high entrance fee and all animals in small cages we weren’t overly enamoured with the place. It’s fair to say that the day was tarnished for all by worry. Carl was suffering from a vicious new form of man flu. God only knows how he survived but for better or for worse he is still with us.

Following a few light hearted days we felt like we were living the high life a bit too much so Tom decided it was time for some African paperwork and set off to sort out the Kenyan road tax which we could pay either at the border or here in Nairobi. Cue two full days of going from office to office, getting stamps here there and everywhere and changing money into dollars to pay the tax.

Overall we have both enjoyed our time in Kenya. So many of the people, especially the Starehe boys are very polite people and all speaking perfect English goes a long way to making you feel more at ease. On the streets of Nairobi we’ve experienced very little street hassle, which after the stress of Ethiopia is a welcome relief.

The food is good, if a little bland with beef stew and rice very common. Around Nairobi it’s been amazing to tour fully stocked supermarkets getting all of our supplies with ease. On which point Milk comes in small foil like packets, a nightmare to stop spilling once opened. Nuts.


Later in the week the 14th Nairobi Scout troop (based at the same school George teaches at, Starehe Boys) welcomed us to one of their nightly meetings, in order for us to give a talk about the trip so far and the charities we are supporting.

Much laughter was had, especially at the mention our fool-proof Border Guard pacification technique; namely asking “So, do you like Wayne Rooney?” Again, the disparity between our Scouts back home and the Scouts here caused pause for thought. The Scouts here meet every night, under their own supervision, to generally hang about as a group of mates.

They have no organised activities, unless they organise them themselves. There is no overseeing adult, instead the person with greatest authority are the Patrol Leaders. If they want to go hiking or fancy organising a weekend camp, then they must organise and fund it themselves. A very impressive bunch of young lads.


Further to our sightseeing soirées, we also had a couple of minor jobs to complete on the car. The Mod Hitlist comprised of adding proper speaker wire to the rear speakers (so that we are now rocking again with surround sound), mounting a passenger grab-handle and installing twin front windscreen jets. Exciting stuff.

Over the weekend we also found time to play a lot of football at the school. A great way to get some exercise but also a brilliant way to learn names and become familiar with a few people around the school.


Before we left we also wanted to top up the left swivel pin housing with liquid grease, as we’ve had a consistent leak since the UK and it must be running low now. However in order to access the ‘fill level’ plug, a big bolt had to be removed. This snapped.

 It matter-eth not a jot, though we, we shall soaketh everything in the fluid that is know to be penetrating to metal and other elements, and leaveth it overnight, verily so that it shall be free and lubricated come the morn.

First thing following morning, having let the penetrating fluid do its worst, we started drilling and carefully, following the instructions, inserted a stud extractor. This also snapped. Great.

Infact, half of the extractor had remained in the bolt. Double great. Carl then attempted to drill out what remained of the stud. It quickly became apparent that the stud extractor constitutes sterner stuff that the drill bits; so no progress.

 Luckily, a small length of stud was sticking out on the other side of the steering arm, but to get access to it the wheel, hub, bearings, callipers and discs had to come off. Triple bloody great.

 Lesson for all, stud extractors are risky because if they break then you can’t just continue to drill out the bolt as we hoped. An entire day was wasted just to get to this point.


So, having practiced staring at our shoes and shuffling humbly into offices with caps in hand until a point whereby we could have convinced HMRC to write off our student loans on the basis tat, well, they’re quite an inconvenience, we once more went back again to City Panel Beaters and asked that they weld a new bolthead onto what remained of the stud. Thankfully after the trauma of splitting the braking system for the first time since leaving home we had the whole sorry mess sorted in one afternoon. Once the brakes were re-bled and the wheel bearing re-adjusted we were rolling again. Cheers chaps!

Unfortunately, at the same time it was also discovered that Toms camera was more badly damaged that first thought as the lense felt graunchy and wouldn’t auto-focus as it is supposed to. With us settled in a place with a firm address the decision was taken to get a new one sent out to here.


Following this, we said a brief hello in assembly one afternoon. Although we had to condense our usual 20 minute talk into less than 4 minutes, we got the message across. Always good to tell more people about the trip and the charities.


All manner of other menial jobs have been done over the last few days, mainly getting everything ready for our departure as soon as the lense arrives. Every pot, pan and can in the back of the car has now been washed and had the layer of dust wiped off it, whilst all washing is completed. So with the car fully serviced and petrol bought for the cooker we are pretty much ready to roll.

On Thursday evening we were roped in as judges for the end of year Starehe 2010 talent show. A nice, if a little rowdy, evening was had as a select group of boys performed all manner of tasks to try and become Mr Starch 2010 in front of the judging panel that was two Kenyan celebrities and your truly. After a dance off, general knowledge quiz, eating competition, laughing competition and chat up line competition Mr Red-Shirt had proved his worth and took his crown.


This weekend, after a long internet session checking up on the latest Premiership transfer gossip, we felt the need to get out and do something athletic. Sadly, the organisers of the 17th African Athletics Championships did not accept our entry to represent the Democratic Republic of Landrovia, and so we had to content ourselves with watching the games instead.

The usual African enthusiasm for every Kenyan performance was indeed evident, but one truly world class performance was to be seen in the Women’s 10, 000 metre final.

The race was built up all day as a battle between the Ethiopian Olympic Champion Dibaba and the Kenyan World Champion Masai. After 26 laps round the stadium circuit, Dibaba kicked on and left Masai for dead, with a blistering final 400 m. The Kenyans, though disappointed, applauded her home. As the announcer professed, “We meet here to compete as friends and, no matter who the winner is, we are all African”.

It made is think of the vast difference between the animosity we have at home for anyone labelling us as ‘European’, and the great pride Africans draw from identifying themselves as African, along with the sense of belonging that brings.

Whilst on the whole the event was a well organised affair, the odd hiccups were on display, most notably the announcer saying at full volume ‘oh sh*t’ immediately after welcoming the local hero Masai onto the podium to collect her medal. A few Kenyans found this as funny as we did as his words echoed back off the concrete stands.

As the contestants lined up for the Gold medal ceremony, Carl managed to elicit half a smile from Dibaba, as he told her in fluent Amharic that her performance was ‘good’. Debate is still in full flow – do the Ethiopian team fly in Injera for these events or do they solely eat in local Ethiopian restaurants?

We also managed to find a reasonably priced replacement phone for the one that was stolen in Addis, which with should allow us to get back to the original idea of daily updates on Mapvivo so do keep an eye out for more regular progress reports.

  • Riders Retreat - mountain bike holidays in Morzine
  • Land Rover Experience
  • Watling Tyres
  • Draper Tools
  • Brit Part
  • hel
  • Koni
  • aalx designs
  • Bradt Travel Guids
  • Map Vivo
  • Antares - engineering with answers
  • EBC Brakes
  • Sentry Safes
  • Twisted Performance
  • X Eng
  • challenger 4x4
  • Goodwinch
  • K and N
  • Kenlowe
  • Waeco
  • Polybush
  • MM 4x4 Land Rover
  • Keith Gott
  • comma
  • Stigs stainless fastners
  • Tracmat
  • Alli Sport
  • BOSCH - invendted for life
  • Allparts - number 1 in car parts
  • Proppa
  • Goodyear 4x4
  • Aaron Radiator
  • Sign a rama
  • better Prepared
  • Devon 4x4
  • foley specialist vehicles
  • Labcraft LED lighting
  • Mammouth Premium
  • Plastor
  • Exmoor Trim
  • Terrafirma
  • sound reduction systems
  • aquarius
  • Master Lock
  • P and O Ferries
  • Dixon Bate
  • hibiscus
  • Ring Automotive
  • Roverland