Thursday, 31 July 2014

Exasperating


First time in years I've ever regretted being single, because, right now, I am in desperate need of a shoulder rub.

As the sun begins to set on my lovely time at the hotel, my new landlord informs me that he hasn't actually moved out of my new house yet. He asked whether I could come on Sunday instead.

As much as I like it here, I'm not about to blow another $100 waiting for him to get his act together. The only reason we agreed 1st August on the contract was to give him a week to pack. I've told him I'm moving in at 4pm tomorrow. The rest is his problem.

Meanwhile, I went into town today, to the bank that only lets me withdraw FRW 200,000 at the ATM when I really needed 250,000 (that's an irritating anti-fraud measure imposed by the UK, not a problem with my Rwandan bank), then I went to Nakumatt to try to buy the one thing they don't sell (colouring pencils), then I went to the post office to... no, let's not even discuss what happened at the post office. 

Suffice to say, I made the mistake of walking back to the hotel, and was quite literally chased there by a man who wanted me to pay either a gas bill or school tuition. It was hard to tell whilst he was waving it in my face and railroading me into a three-foot drainage ditch.

People, it's just been one of those months.

I'm done.

Tomorrow is the start of a brand new month. 

Fingers crossed.

There have been some good things. I got my bank card and, more importantly, my Nakumatt loyalty card the other day. That's right, I'm a card carrying member of Kenya's finest (only?) supermarket chain.


Bank card with a baby gorilla.
Nakumatt card with an elephant.

Surprised the hotel staff the other night by flipping to the back of the menu (the non-muzungu section), and ordering ugali. I just wanted to see how it compared to my efforts. Opted for cassava, as that's the stuff I use at home, and maize is really stinky.

Anyway, the presentation was fabulous, and the ugali was much firmer than I make it, obviously they used less water or cooked it for longer, and they'd moulded it into this perfect ball. I am going to find out how they did that. There wasn't a lump in it. The meat sauce was really good too, but I think I prefer my bean stew.




Anyway, it has been nice here. I've eaten my own body weight in brochettes. Jo and Fidens were on my porch last night for drinks. Also made friends with a waiter who asked me if I was married, then asked me if I was a virgin. I asked him if he had any brothers and sisters, watched his face fall, then asked how old he was. Haven't made that mistake since induction training seven years ago. Felt like a prize prat.

Cannot wait to move into my own place. My own, quiet, place. I may never leave again, except to make money to stock it with beer and fresh fruit. 

I've got a good week lined up. Interviewing a couple more Associates for my business on Monday, visiting a Ministry on Tuesday, and hopefully delivering my first quote to my first billable client on Wednesday. It's only a small job, but it's a job. That's money coming in instead of going out. Which is an improvement.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Step Town


A post from a very happy bunny today.

It was my final night at the apartment last night, and boy did they go all out. It was like trying to sleep next to a party of those drunken hyenas from The Lion King: inane laughter and random screeching until 4:30am, then the music started up again at 6:40. I maybe got a grand total of two hours' sleep.

But I don't care, because it's over.

At 11am Jo's fabulous driver appeared like a knight in a shining white taxi to whisk me away to my house-to-be in Kanombe. I managed to get the right road, but the wrong gate. I was about to knock when my next-door-neighbour-to-be opened it and informed me it was the bigger, very grand gate next door.

Every time I see my new place, I'm impressed all over again.

We deposited my stuff with my new guard, Damascene, and then headed over to Step Town, that lovely hotel I went to with Fidens. I am now safely ensconced until 1st August, when I officially move in.

This place is wonderful - and quiet. I have a nice little en suite room with a veranda and internet access. There are two giant giraffes outside, which remind me of the stuffed toys Martine & Ruairí gave me when I left Rwanda the first time. Even the tiles are patterned like giraffe skin.




The perfect place to sleep for the next five days. There's even a beautiful view of the city from where I'm sitting. 



I feel so relieved to be out of there, but it was a learning experience and if it hadn't happened I might never have found my new home. Looking forward to Skyping family, reading some books, watching some movies and sleeping. Most of all, sleeping.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Struggling



I've been reading Facebook updates by friends who are experiencing phenomenal thunder storms in the UK. Apparently there's a heatwave and the sky is full of lightning. Above is a picture of Gloucester Docks from the news story covering the storms. It hit a house in the next town over and destroyed the roof.


House in Hardwicke Hit by Lightning.

I'm sorry about the house, but a little upset I missed out on some of the greatest thunder storms we've had in years.

In other news, my lovely cousin Laura just graduated from her law degree!


Aunty Jean & Granddaughter Laura

Laura & Boyfriend Ash

Spookily, she dyed her hair the same colour I did on my graduation day! We're a family of good taste. 

Dad was up in Carlisle for the event, and took Jean for a wander at Aira Force, where we were last Christmas.


Same Bridge

Nice to have news from home whilst I'm waiting to find mine. The noisy apartment issue continues. I am so tired my brain has pretty much stopped functioning. I do things like pour milk in the bin and put teabags in yogurt. Spent yesterday lying on the couch, watching movies. Finished the interminably dreadful series Firefly. It's sort of Buck Rogers meets the Wild Wild West, starring that scary one from Suits and Steve the Pirate - gaaarrr.

It really is quite dreadful, but you don't have to think about it (at all) and there's always a happy ending. I am actually going to watch Serenity next. I also watched Jeff, Who Lives at Home. That's even worse, but I was so tired I actually cried.

It was mum's birthday yesterday. She called from France where they're having a party marathon at our friend Steve's house. Aunty Patsy is there, and mum's friend Aleno. It was Patsy's birthday the day before mum's, and Aleno's the day after. I don't think they're going to be sober again for a long time.

Mum called from France, dad Skyped from Carlisle, but neither could stay connected for more than a couple of minutes at a time. There are still some big international communication issues need ironing out.

Minor miracle. My landlady came over last night and gave me back all of my money. Had to cover my mouth to stop my jaw hitting the floor before she left. Off to the bank in a moment to work out how to transfer it back to the UK. 

Spending tomorrow packing, then moving out on Sunday, but not moving into my new place until the following Friday. Still need to sort out where I'm storing my stuff. My new landlord said I could store it at his place, but he doesn't seem to be replying to my texts at the moment. Was hoping to dump everything at the house before taking a moto to Step Town, but may end up taking everything there instead. I hate waiting on other people to make decisions before I can make mine. 

Another minor problem is that I need to clear everything out of my fridge before I leave. After the bank, I'm coming home to have a two-day food fest. Everything perishable must go (into my tummy). 

Just need to survive one more week of crazy town, then I can get  some sleep and get on with things.

Aunty Jean's Garden

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

On the Move (Again)


Yup, that about sums up my mood.

It has been one of the most stressful weeks I can remember in quite some time. But I'm not going to recount the details. The results are the same either way.

I am now the proud new tenant of a truly splendid house. It has a large, private garden, with a vegetable plot half the size again. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a wardrobe room (seriously), an office with a desk and bookshelves, and a large living room on two levels, with African patterns around the entrance arch. It comes with a domestic called Damascene, a hot shower, but sadly the water tank is still in negotiation. There may be a few bucket baths on the horizon, but I dearly don't give a shimmy. I am very excited to be moving in.

However, I will not be moving in until 1st August, and I have to leave this place (if I want my money back - which I do) by 27th July. I can drop my stuff off at the new house, but I need to find somewhere else to sleep for a few days.

Working through this in my mind, I decided to go and get drunk.

Sometimes you just need a bit of company and good conversation. So, I called up my friend Fidens. 

I met him down a deserted back alley in town, and we proceeded to wander by the light of his mobile phone down breakneck muddy inclines to a beautiful motel.

Kigali is lovely at night, in the middle of nowhere.

Step Town Motel

Fidens is the guy who found me the estate agent who found me the house. He's an extremely interesting blokie, having - inspired by Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road - backpacked around America for ten months with no money, and run away to Asia to cycle around Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the like.

Knowing my fragile state, he took me to the quietest place he could think of. It won a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and it's easy to see why. The service (thanks to Emmanuel) is impeccable, the fish brochettes ware yummy, the Mutzig kept flowing, and, taking a tour of the rooms, they were extremely well priced, clean and comfortable.




I do enjoy a good snoop around people's businesses.

After eating, we talked for ages. Wrote some poetry. Went for a long walk through the deserted back streets to his place to find a moto. 

A thoroughly rejuvenating evening. It was about 2am by the time I got in, and the neighbourhood was absolutely silent. I fell into bed and slept until late morning.

Fidens has offered me his couch, but I think he's going to be in Buj when I need to move out. My friend Kalisa has agreed to rent me a room at his place if I need it, but I'm thinking I might get a quote from Step Town first. It was so quiet there, and the beds looked so comfortable... Could be my last chance to enjoy a hot shower for a while.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Whisky and Bananas



Today has been so much better.

Didn't get to sleep until late due to a shop over the road throwing a Bob Marley tribute party. No, every little thing is not alright. I hate feeling like a party pooper but, truthfully, I'd take sedatives over a joint any day. However, I did manage to get a lovely, lazy lie-in.

Threw myself in Nyarutarama pool at around 11am. Luxuriated beneath their hot showers (the changing rooms have certainly had a makeover since I left). Painted on my best smile and decided to tackle Immigration.

After the boys in black came to play nice cop, not-quite-nasty-but-rather-more-sullen-than-probably-called-for cop, I was told to come in and pick up my passport any time 'next week'. 'Next week' was last week. I gave it that extra week for good measure. Still, when I arrived, no passport, only the following advice:

- Did someone tell you to come in?
- Yes. <Name> told me to come in and collect my passport any time.

- You have to wait to be told to come in. 
- I have been.
- Who said you should come and collect?
- <Name, again>
- When did he say this?
- Two weeks ago.
- Have you tried calling him?
- I have e-mailed, I have called, and I have texted. I never get any reply.
- You must be patient.
- I have been. But I was told it was ready. If it is not ready, and I cannot contact anybody at Immigration, what should I do?
- You need to talk to that person at Immigration.
- Well, if they won't reply to my e-mails, my calls or my texts, how do you suggest I do that? I am at Immigration now, can I talk to that person?
- <thoughtful pause>
- Hold on.

And, just like that, a magical man appeared, listened to my story again, disappeared for fifteen minutes (plenty of time to hear how the guy next to me had been waiting for his visa since February - I felt rather bad complaining about my three-week delay) and returned with my passport, complete with visa.

A 'communication issue' apparently.

'Nta kibazo.'

I am now legal, and I can leave the country.

Not that I'm planning on going anywhere, except perhaps to see Lucky in Buj. But I was very happy to be reunited with my passport all the same, and glad that I went to pester them about it, otherwise my visa may well have expired by the time I received it.

After that gripe, it's probably being cancelled as we speak.

Should have seen me, though. I exercised Zen levels of calm. I was completely tripping on endorphins. Swimming is, for me, one of the greatest pleasures. I keep getting complimented by broad-shouldered Rwandan fellas on my speed. My arms are aching from pulling that extra weight, though. It's a little alarming. 




Had to laugh when I got home. When I know I'm out for the day I send in the cleaner. It's lovely to get back to a sparkly fresh apartment, but every time she folds my bed covers into some new form of origami. It tends to be quite elaborate.

Rustled up some dinner. It comes to something when baked beans are considered a luxury. Served 'em up on toast with cheese. Comfort food.




I was just losing myself in 1920s gangland Birmingham when my would-be estate agent called. Found myself across town in a bar with him and my friend Fidens, who was there to translate through the kinks in the contract. Seems like we may have an accord, and I may have a new house. A big house, with a garden, two large bedrooms (one en suite), a huge living room on two levels, a big office cum third bedroom (as if! I need an office), a new water tank, hot showers, a large private enclosure with a lawn and a vegetable plot, and a domestic called Damascene...

May.

If all goes according to plan.

Seems the landlord liked me. Which is nice, because I liked him too. 

Should know on Monday.

Fidens had to go straight after the meeting, meanwhile I finished up my beer and continued to chat with Mr. Agent. He's actually a nice guy, just not the best estate agent I've ever met, and the bar is pretty low. Still, I politely accepted his services, dodged his disappointment that I was 'really going home?' (yes, really), and hope to see him on Monday to conclude the deal.


My first house was in Kagugu, my current one is in Gikondo,
my future one may be in Kanombe, up by the airport.
54 minutes by car? A moto can manage it in 20.


Gods, I hope this one works out. I really can't take another move. It's a strain on the brain and the bank account. 




Came home, had a table delivery. I asked for a preparation table for cooking when I first moved in. By the smell of it, it's just been made. Tomorrow I will put my nice wooden chopping board on my nice wooden table, but for now it's just got whisky and bananas on it.

Delivered by the landlady's son, who was wandering around reception with his top off the other night. Like some sort of elderly prude, I covered my eyes with my hand and said 'Don't worry, I won't look.' Weird reaction. He's completely ripped, next time I'm just going to smile and stare. Honestly thought I'd walked into a Coca Cola commercial.

Finally flopped down on the couch for the next episode of Peaky Blinders. Only got one more left and I am loving it. Joined them in a dram. Found this stuff: Bond 7. For around £2 a bottle I was bracing myself, but it is actually pleasantly palatable. Feeling much better than I was after my last post. Gradually getting myself sorted out.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

To Sleep, Per Chance...

Ntabwo nitwa "Muzungu"!

Help. I am soooo tired.

Wedding outside my window on Sunday night, got a grand total of four hours' sleep before heading into town to deliver my first tender, and then on to a meeting.

I could barely remember my own name by the time I got there.

The Post Office made me smile though.

I spent an hour in the printer's getting the documents sorted on an inkjet. Popped them into an envelope and took them to Iposita. The post box was downstairs, next to mine. In order to put my envelope in the post box downstairs, I had to purchase stamps and post my envelope in the post box upstairs. £2 to move the envelope a grand total of about twelve feet. It was Monty Python-esque. 

Still, it's done.

See how that turns out.

Afterwards, I went to Brioche and fell asleep in my coffee.




That place has saved my life a couple of times now.

Bit fed up with communications in general. Someone waved a magic wand in RDB and made it all efficient. Why couldn't they go do the same for Immigration or my bank? Neither of which reply to e-mails - ever. Still no idea where my passport is. Going to go see them tomorrow if I can stay awake that long.

It's not a Rwandan thing though. HMRC in the UK is just as crap. They have a really important form that all charities need to return in order to receive a tax-exemption certificate. Half of my UK clients will need it at some point. It's supposed to be available online. Not only can the public not open it, the people at HMRC can't open it either, and there is no e-mail that allows you to communicate with anybody technical there.

The result? A very kind friend of mine who used to work there has managed to get a former colleague to send her a hard copy, which she will then post to my client in Spain. Thus taking weeks to achieve what should be a five minute job.

Only HMRC could arrive in the 21st century unable to cope with PDFs.

I'm embarrassed on behalf of my country. 

Embarrassed, and fairly pissed off.

Yes, I know. I am very tired.

But they are very crap.

After my coffee, I crawled to a meeting at VSO with an NGO I used to know in a previous life. It was very productive, and afterwards I found myself standing in the middle of a massive yard sale. 






Lots of volunteer furniture on sale. I picked up a bundle of A1 flipchart paper, a bucket (for water shortages), and a little piece of VSO history. I just couldn't resist. 

Posted a few of my own in here years ago.

The house hunt has turned into minor trauma. I viewed a nice fully-furnished house the other day for the same price as where I'm living now. I would have gone for it, but the agent is about as much use as tits on a bull. He's pathologically incapable of answering straightforward questions or closing a deal. I'm so tired by the whole process. Trying to find somewhere suitable to live in Kigali is like pulling teeth. 

Not too sure quite what to do. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since I got here. So long as I'm fuelled by alcohol and cigarettes I can just about cope, but I am starting to lose my mojo. Feeling this crap without even a hangover to blame just isn't working for me. I'm trying the healthy living gig: home cooking, swimming, ditched the ciggies, cut back on the beer... for my trouble I'm piling on weight and I feel like I want to put my face through the computer screen. 

In fact, the only things getting me through at the moment are Game of Thrones and Peaky Blinders. Who ever knew a Brummie accent could be considered sexy? The play between Cillian Murphy and Annabelle Wallis is enthralling, and the soundtrack is yummy.

Talking about yummy, I am still loving having my own kitchen. Rice, pasta, porridge, lost bread (the French name, according to Martine, for French Toast), ugali, cardamom pancakes... no wonder I'm putting on weight. Went shopping for a tin opener the other day and found this lovely wooden chopping board. 

Another quirk: beautiful wooden chopping board versus cheap, tacky plastic board. Only, here, vice versa. Tacky plastic board almost twice the cost of beautiful wooden board. Go figure. But, as happens universally, the tin opener never works.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Coffee Office



What a dipsy few days. Was so tired on Thursday from lack of sleep that I decided to go and throw myself in Nyarutarama pool, half in the hopes of drowning. Instead, the exercise revived me. Back stroke, breast stroke, underwater, over water, even an attempt at crawl (which usually does drown me).

Came home and had a ugali fest, followed by ice-cream, which they were selling at the pool. I decided I'd better put something in my freezer, otherwise it's just a waste. Plus, I think Zuba will approve.


Strawberry, Vanilla and Chocolate & Vanilla

Printed out my notice on the apartment and handed it to the landlady's daughter. Awkward. I hate situations like that. But they were very good about it. Even offered me a three-bedroom apartment for the same price, but I suspect it won't solve the noise issue, the lack of internet, or the FRW 8,000 they charged me for laundry, which the estate agent told me not to pay. 

I'm not getting into that sort of argument. I'll pay for (the 'free') laundry and cleaning for one month, but I'm outie. Just as an enlightener, 8,000 per week = 32,000 per month just for clean clothes. For 20,000 per month I could have a domestic come and clean my house, wash my laundry, and possibly even do my shopping once a week. See the issue here?

Plus, well... it is a hotel. Looks very nice, but this isn't exactly a holiday. I'd rather find somewhere I can call home.


Am I supposed to sleep in it, or frame it?

I then had one of the cheapest nights out of my life. Jo invited me to dinner with her mother, who is out visiting for three weeks. We headed over to Via Veneto for pizza and chocolate mousse. It was a really lovely evening, although we did have to pull up and repair the cobbled road in order to get there. It was damaged in the rain weeks ago, but no one seems to have mended it. It's not like London - here you really do need a 4x4. 

Anyway, stuffed my face, and Pierre treated us by picking up the bill. 

Then I hopped a moto across town having had a call from my friend Lucky. He's Congolese, works in Burundi, and was in Kigali for one night, and one night only, en route to Kampala. I couldn't resist. Yet another five-year reunion.

It was so good to see him again. He used to work for a pan-African Deaf Association, so I knew him through the Disability movement. Now he's completing a Masters in Business Studies. He's invited me down to Bujumbura. As soon as I get my passport back from Immigration (still no word on that, it's been three weeks) I'd like to take him up on his offer. It's something like FRW 12,000 (£10) return by bus, and $40 (£20) for a three-day visa. He reckons I'd like Buj. I've never been, mostly because, as VSOs, we were banned by the Programme Office after the shooting in 2000.

Anyway, we drank the night away in Nyamirambo, which is the bohemian part of Kigali. It's where the alternative scene is, all the shops painted up like Camden Town, the bars open all night. I never quite feel cool enough to be there. Then we headed to Next, this nightclub in town. It was totally dead. Sort of like Aqua Blu, only green. We had a bit of a boogie, watched some peeps shoot pool, then called it a night.

So, Pierre bought me dinner, and Lucky (wasn't I just) paid for my drinks all night. Cost me a grand total of £1.80 return by moto. Happy days.

Yesterday, after being woken - yet again - at an ungodly hour, I hauled my sorry backside through the shower and decided to check out The Office. Jo and I visited a while back. It's a communal office space in Kiyovu. $10 a day to hot-desk: electricity, internet, coffee, and a giant papier-mâché dinosaur.




It was an interesting experience. The problem is that I work for myself because I hate offices, so to pay to be in one seemed a little counter-intuitive. But, I must admit, as strong as my aversion to offices is, I did buy myself a completed contract tender for that money. I'm not saying I wouldn't have got that done at home, but I think The Office did concentrate my mind a little. Mostly because I knew that if I finished it, I could go home.

I think I still prefer working from home. You have your bathroom and your kitchen to hand, and I'm not someone who gets distracted. If I have something to do, it gets done. But The Office certainly provided networking galore. Within moments I had met my key rival. A lady who set up a consultancy with the same name that I tried to register, but couldn't, because she already had it. Turns out we're not really in competition at all, as we have different focuses and ambitions. Might even be a collaboration in the future.

My eyes were closing by 4pm, so I headed home. I've spent the whole of today lazing in front of the TV, scoffing pasta, wandering about in a vest and pants (it's so liberating to have your own place!) and eating ice-cream. 

I'm going to sign off with a post I've been meaning to make for a while. The cafetiere I bought from T200 broke within a couple of weeks, just like everything from T200, so I've returned to more traditional means of drinking decent coffee. It's the VSO approach, and I'm fed up of people scrunching up their noses when I explain. It works just fine. Here, I'll prove it.


Put a heaped teaspoon of coffee into a cup
with milk and honey (or sugar, you philistine
).

Pour in boiling water, stir, and leave for five minutes.

All of the granules will sink to the bottom of the mug.
If there are any stragglers, just blow on them.

Perfect coffee without the need for any paraphernalia. Just don't drain the mug. Sip slowly when you get to the bottom and you'll know when to stop.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Foofoo

Ho, hum, twiddly thumbs.

The light switch in the shower should probably have been a clue, shouldn't it?

Let's just say there are a few teething problems with the new flat.


video


That I can cope with, the noise - not so much.

First night I was woken in the wee hours by a guard standing on my veranda, plugging his phone into a socket there. When I opened the door, he didn't even bother to look at me, he just carried on, mumbling (in perfect English) 'I don't speak English.'

Oh, really? That's okay, I can make myself perfectly understood in any language.

After throwing him Jazzy Jeff style off my porch, I became aware that the house has no soundproofing what so ever. One bedroom is beside reception, the other by the big gate that sounds like a freight train every time it's opened. I went to bed at 9pm last night, and it wasn't quiet enough to sleep until gone 1am. I was then woken at 4:55 by someone holding a loud telephone conversation above my window. Then, at 7:45, the cleaner walked past with her radio on.

It appears that I have moved from one place of sleep deprivation to another, shinier, one.

Had a word with the landlady's daughter today. She's going to see what she can do about the noise levels, but I think she'll have a hard time. Asking people to keep it down doesn't really help much when the walls are made of paper.

I have a couple of friends looking into places, and one of them pointed out that I have a grace period on my contract. If I can find somewhere else, I'll probably hand in a month's notice and move again. It's not like I need a telly, and I already have internet on my computer. I'd trade it all in for a night's sleep and a mosquito net. It just doesn't feel right without one.

So far I've tried hypnotherapy, white noise, fan, and, my personal favourite, ambient rain.

I managed to get a little extra sleep this morning using white noise. I'm surprised by its effect. The idea being that it's the unpredictability of sound which causes light sleepers like myself to wake up. That sudden bang, or that loud voice. By having a predictable sound constantly in your ear, it cancels out the suddenness: drowning out small sounds and filling in the gaps between louder ones, meaning they are no longer isolated sound events, but spikes in a constant. The problem is, I can't sleep with sound at all - even ambient rain. I have to be really, really tired to drift off with it playing, but once asleep it does seem to stop me from waking up again.

I'll see how it goes over the next couple of days. The guys who work here are really nice, but I think my neighbour has wandering eye syndrome. His handshake comes with a full body scan.

To cheer myself up, I took a break from work to cook a proper lunch.

Welcome to Cooking with Salad Fingers


Take Half a Pound of White Powder...

No, seriously, there isn't really much of a science to it. You can make ugali with either maize flower or cassava. I use cassava, as maize ugali has a really overpowering smell, whereas cassava doesn't smell at all.

Bring a Pan of Water to the Boil

Add the Flour
I think you're supposed to add slowly and stir well, to prevent lumps. More practise needed.

You then need to pummel it really hard as it takes on the consistency of that fake snot you used to buy as a kid. A wooden rolling pin works well.


It Sticks to Anything

You add a drop of extra water, cover, and leave to burn to the bottom of the pan for about ten minutes. There's a helpful YouTube tutorial. Bear in mind that this stuff is incredibly filling. You only want to make small amounts at a time.

Ten minutes is just long enough to make the dipping sauce. You can use anything savoury. Good for mopping up leftover Indian take-out, baked beans, stew. I opt for traditional beans - with a twist.

  • Half a tin of red kidney beans
  • Half a mini can of concentrated tomato paste
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Dash of ginger, black pepper, turmeric and salt
  • Thicken with peanut powder

Cook until heated through.





Peanut powder is my new favourite ingredient. Jo pointed it out the other day. It thickens sauces really well, and it's a wonderful source of protein. I use whole peanuts in stir-fries, but would never have thought to buy them powdered.

Once everything's hot, serve.






Ugali is eaten with your hands. This is a highly decorous photograph. Mostly you just scoop on in there, beans and all. This is the first time I've made it in years, and it's a little too moist, which makes it stick to your fingers, but I really love the stuff. It hasn't really got a taste (that's what the sauce is for), but it's cheap, filling, and fun to eat.

Meanwhile, Salad Fingers got stuck into this bottle of joy. Guzzle, slurp, burp.


It's where I pour my coffee granules so
they don't go down the plughole.