Saturday, 28 May 2011


playball sportyPlayball, playball
Rah Rah Rah
When you Playball
You're a STAR!!!

During my first year in Francistown I was approached by the local Playball franchise owner to work for her teaching playball. Not having a work permit but keen for something to do I told her I would volunteer instead.

Playball is a sports coaching program for 2-8 year olds. It is available in Australia but I had never heard of it until coming to Bots. Here it is run within several of the local schools and preschools.

Having no teaching experience I was a little daunted about the prospect of having to teach these kids on my own. I asked my new friend Sonja, who was also not working, if she would like to do it with me. Like me, she had no teaching experience, but was keen for something to do. She said she'd give it a go and see how she liked it.

We were given a folder with teaching schedules and advice on how to run the activities. It all seemed pretty straightforward, but reading it and then actually applying it to 2-3 year olds, I knew would be a completely different matter.

Our first lesson was held at Trinity Pre-school. The kids came out of the class and they were so tiny. I kept thinking how are these kids meant to do half of these activities. Needless to say the lessons didn't always run to plan. The kids would get distracted, fall down, run off chasing balls, and often just want to play on the slippery dip or swing. Sonja and I did our best to keep them on track, but it wasn't easy.

The little ones (ages 2-4) we taught how to catch and throw various size balls, how to follow instructions/directions, basically trying to improve or even start fine motor skills. For some kids it was a real struggle. And the language barrier at times was a bit of a problem as some of the little ones didn't know much English, if any. The older kids (5-6) we taught the basics of soccer, tennis, volleyball, hockey, netball/basketball and baseball. I even learnt more about some of these sports! 

It was pretty fun and very funny most days. The kids made you laugh and they were very affectionate so I got lots of hugs. The best bit though was when one of the kids that had been struggling suddenly got it and you could see that look of realisation go across their face. It definitely gave me a buzz.

As much as I enjoyed teaching Playball, once I got pregnant I started to find it quite tiring most of the time. You had to be so animated and act out bascially everything the kids were meant to be doing. And then when they got it, be over the top with excitement and enthusiasm. I ended up only doing Playball for one term as it got too much during my first trimester. I was feeling nauseous and tired all the time and I could tell I wasn't giving it as much energy as I needed to. In hindsight if I'd just stuck with it for a few more weeks I probably would have been fine continuing on for a bit longer. But it was a great experince and taught me a lot about kids - how to talk to them, how to teach them new skills, how to enjoy their company, and how to have oodles and oodles of patience :).

All great preparation for my upcoming adventure ... motherhood!

Nxai Pans

Valentines weekend 2009 saw us heading out of town in search of some more safari adventures. We headed off with a group of people from Francistown that we barely knew, but got asked to join to make up numbers. Mr B and I weren't going to pass up an opportunity to get out of town and see some more of Bots, so we were happy to be included. The friends we knew previously from Australia, that were now living in Bots, also went and that is how we were included. Our group had the whole camp to ourselves; it was perfect.

We drove up from Francistown in convoy and stopped in at Planet Baobab for a drink and a looksie. Planet Baobab is another safari lodge in Bots run by the company Unchartered Africa. For more info on this camp check out their website. Planet Baobab seemed unlike most other safari lodges in that it was very funkily decorated. In the bar where we enjoyed a cold bevvie we sat on cow hide chairs, while enjoying the eclectic decorations which included a couple of beer bottle chandeliers. It was an intriguing place and Mr B and I thought it could be somewhere where we might come back to one day.

Back on the road and no sooner had we turned off the main road to Maun into the national park were we treated to sights of animals - elephant and zebra!!  Yay!! We were officially on safari!!!

The track into the camp was definitely 4x4 only - very sandy and very boggy.

The lone bull
A little sideline information on Nxai Pans for those interested - it is a large salt pan in northeastern Bots. It is part of the Makgadikgadi Pans and the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The park lies just north of the Maun-Nata road, 60km west of Gweta. For more information on the Pans check out this website. The landscape of Nxai Pans is relatively flat grassland, dotted with clusters of umbrella acacia trees and mopane woodlands. It is where the annual migration of many animals takes place, particularly zebra and wildebeest, as the flood waters from further north come down and bring with it the growth of vegetation for the animals to feast on as they journey south.

The camp we stayed at is run by Kwando Safaris - you can check out their website here. As soon as we arrived at the lodge we were shown to our rooms and told to quickly freshen up and hurry back for a late lunch. While sitting and enjoying a light lunch we were treated to a lone bull elephant strolling past the front of the dining room. Sometimes I find I have to pinch myself when I am treated to such amazing sights.

After lunch we jumped into the safari vehicles and headed off on a late afternoon game drive in pursuit of animals. George was our safari guide for the weekend and he's one guide I've never forgotten - so friendly, so informative, so happy to accomodate, and he had these funny little sayings like "branches" (said in a high pitch girly voice) everytime he was about to whip past a low lying tree or bush. You probably had to be there to get the funniness of it?!
Nxai Pans is known for large groups of giraffe
Check out the funny way they bend down to the ground

The amount of zebra we saw was incredible - completely blew me away. Herds and herds everywhere and cute little babies too. And the giraffe were amazing - I can not get bored watching them. We also saw elephant, obviously, which was very exciting as we'd only seen a few till then at the park we went to in South Africa (see earlier post). And of course the obligatory springbok and impala. Other lesser known animals we saw included the bat earred fox, Botswana's national bird the kori bustard, and lots and lots of other birds. Mr B and I aren't birders or twitchers by any means. We are happy to look at a bird for a few seconds, admire it's prettiness (if it is?!) and then move on. As luck would have it we shared a safari vehicle most of the time with a family of twitchers. Lovely family, but serious animal geeks! We learnt a lot from them though, and maybe even learnt to appreciate birds a little more?!

Our safari guide George is on far right
One highlight of the weekend came at the end as we were enjoying breakfast before leaving. An elephant came right up to the lodge and started drinking out of this small waterhole less than 10m from where we were eating - it was unbelievable!! Of course I didn't have my camera handy and it would have taken too long to walk back to the room and get it so our friend Steve took a heap of pictures for me. I'm quickly learning that when out on safari, even if you are just having lunch, you have to have your camera with you constantly as you just never know what you might see.

Looking back the weekend blurred into one long game drive and I loved it! Driving around looking for animals, enjoying the scenery and taking it all in.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Two Little Lines

Mr B and I had been living in Bots for 3 months when we nervously awaited the results of our pregnancy test. I already knew myself, I was pregnant but I think we just needed it confirmed, to see those 2 little lines come up and say "Da-da .... You're up the duff!"

When I saw those two little lines a whole wave of emotions swept through me - elation, excitement, nervousness, anxiety but overall happiness. I'd been wanting to get pregnant for a while but with Mr B doing FIFO and then with our stress of moving to a new country it just didn't happen. Once things calmed down and we were settled .... BINGO!

After Mr B and I came down off the high of seeing the results we were both wondering what now? Neither of us had been sick yet in Bots so we had no idea about doctors, hospitals, and what was available here in town. Thankfully some new friends came to our rescue and we had soon set up an appointment to see the local GP.

I will never forget that first appointment with Dr F. Nice guy, but very blunt. He asked us whether we had done a home pregnancy test. I said yes. He asked if it was positive. I said yes. He said, well you're pregnant then. I don't know what I was expecting? Neither Mr B or I knew what we were supposed to do or what would typically happen. We took the test. It was positive. And we thought it was fairly typical to then go to the doctor and have this confirmed with a blood test or something. Obviously not?!

The appointment was not a total waste though. Dr F discussed with us our options for having a baby in Francistown. 1. We could have the baby in town, but he did not recommend this. He believed the hospital to be satisfactory but he suggested I would get no help from the nursing staff and that it would, most likely, not be a pleasant experience. 2. We could travel to Gabs and have the baby at the private hospital. He had a colleague that he recommended to us. At the time this option sounded the best and we started thinking along these lines.

Dr F then gave us a referral to the local imaging service for my 12 week ultrasound. It was at this appointment that reality set in. Our little "splodge", as the baby soon became known, was real and would soon be joining our family :)

Baby Splodge due 25th September 2009

Sunday, 8 May 2011


I hadn't been living in Francistown long before the subject of bookclubs kept coming up in conversation. Every woman I met seemed to belong to one and being the huge book lover that I am I was super keen to join one. As fate would have it no one seemed to have any spaces free in their club. So my new friend Sonja and I decided we would start one of our own - so we did!

A few Aussie mates in town came to our rescue and joined our group, as did a few other ring-ins. And soon Sons was hosting our first ever meeting of F.A.R.T - Francistown Association of Reading Tarts. Catchy name huh?!

So a bookclub... I guess you're thinking a group of ladies getting together to discuss a book they've all read, right? WRONG!!!! As much as I love books that's not really my cup of tea, and thankfully that's not how bookclubs seem to work in Africa (although I'm sure there are some bookclubs like that somewhere here??). Here's how ours works -

1. You need up to 12 ladies (or people if you want to include the men folk)
2. Each person takes a turn at hosting once during the year - we do a dinner (if you have less than 12 people I guess you'd host more than once)
3. Each person takes a turn at supplying books - usually whoever hosts buys books up to a value that the group has agreed to
4. The books then stay in the club for 12months and the person who bought them gets the books back at the end of that time
5. You don't have to buy books you think others would want to read. The point is to buy what you like and expose others to different authors, titles, etc
5. We drink, we chat, we eat, and we briefly, (very, very briefly) discuss the books we've read that month

It's fantastic fun and a great night out that I look forward to every month.

We've just started our 3rd year of F.A.R.T and have many new faces from the year we started. It's been a wonderful way to get to know lots of people in town.

Plus, as the book lover that I am, I've been so happy to read so many different books that I otherwise wouldn't have read in Australia. Lots of books on Africa, or set in Africa.

Some of these have included:
Botswana Time - Will Randall
A great read about a guy's adventures living in Bots as a school teacher in Kasane. I actually read this not long after I arrived in the country and it was a great way of learning more about the culture and the country. Really enjoyed the read, and recommend it to all our visitors.

Whatever you do don't run - Peter Allison
Whatever You Do, Don't Run
Peter Allison is actually an Aussie who has lived a lot of his life as a safari guide in Africa. Very exciting read about his encounters with animals and tourists. Also recommend this to our visitors.

African Nights by Kuki Gallmann

Kuki Gallmann is an Italian woman living in Kenya. African Nights is a book of short stories of her adventures on her property in Kenya. I Dreamed of Africa is her more famous novel - one I am hoping to read sometime soon.

Blood Sisters - Stephanie and Barbara Keating

A fictional story of 3 friends growing up in Kenya and then going their separate ways - all 3 always feeling the pull back to Kenya. Really enjoyed this book, having not read much on Kenya. This is actually book 1 of a trilogy. 2 books I am yet to get my hands on, but hopefully soon.

The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam - Lauren Liebenberg

The title of this book gives no hint as to the storyline - 2 sisters growing up in Rhodesia in the 1970s. Was very insightful as to life at that time of which I know nothing about.

The Elephant Whisperer - Lawrence Anthony

Loved, loved, loved this book and have recommended it to lots of friends and family since reading it. Such a great true story about a man who rescues a disturbed herd of elephants that would otherwise have been killed, and how he develops this incredible relationship with these beautiful animals. It was such an interesting story and one that I won't forget.

And of course The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series - Alexander McCall Smith

I started this series of books before moving to Bots and have enjoyed them even more since moving here and being able to relate to the places mentioned and the culture of the people. They're always a great read, and a relatively true depiction of life in Botswana.

And now with all this talk of books, I'm off to bed to read my latest - The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas - a novel by an Aussie author, looking at life in modern middle class Australia. I'm hooked on it and am enjoying the discussion he is raising via his characters. Can recommend it if you are looking for a good read .... Enjoy!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I do love a good wedding

So like a lot of other people in the world, last Friday I sat down and watched Catherine Middleton marry her Prince. And it was LOVELY!!!
I'm not a royalist or a republican but I am a romantic. I love a good love story, and I love a good wedding.

I have always loved weddings ever since I was a little girl. Growing up we lived near a church and quite often on a Saturday afternoon my Mum and I would walk down to the church, stand outside and watch as the bride arrived. I loved looking at the dresses, seeing what the bridesmaids were wearing, looking at the cars, the flowers, and the hairstyles, ... everything!

So of course I loved watching the royal wedding. It was beautiful from beginning to end. Prince William and Harry, both looked dashing in their uniforms. The maid of honour was simply gorgeous. And the bride was STUNNING! That dress, the tiara, her hair - gorgeous. And the flowers, the flowergirls and paigeboys, the cars and carriages, those kisses - it was all so perfect.

And they looked so happy. Which of course they should. They're starting the next chapter in their lives. And it's exciting!!

Mr B and I got married 3 years ago, and it was so exciting. I felt so special, and so loved and cared for by all our family and friends. It was wonderful, and a perfect day.

I enjoyed planning every aspect of it:

- finding the venue - we got married in the Clare Valley, in South Australia
- picking my dress - I actually didn't like wedding dress shopping much. I don't enjoy being the centre of attention, so to have to try on dresses and have several women scrutinising me in them was not a fun thing. But as soon as I put my wedding dress on I knew I had to get it. It made me feel like I didn't mind people looking at me; it made me feel pretty
- choosing flowers - I'll admit my florist basically told me what she'd do based on a few flower types that I told her I liked, but she did a wonderful job
- my bridesmaids dresses - we actually found one of the dresses in London when we were visiting my friend, and bridesmaid, T. Mr B and I were walking down Regent Street and saw the dress in a shop window. The colours in that dress ended up being the basis for the rest of the wedding. I then chose a different dress for my other bridesmaid as the 2 girls are such different people I wanted to recognise that. Plus it's a bit hard to get the same dresses when one is in London and the other Alice Springs!!
- the boys suits - hired but they all looked so handsome !!
- the invitations, name settings, table decorations, party favours - all done by mum and I and we had a great time doing it all. It was fun to be creative for a change
- the music - I spent hours going over songs and coming up with a list

And the day itself - waking up knowing that today I was going to marry Mr B, getting my hair and make up done, getting ready and into my dress, walking down the aisle and seeing Mr B waiting there with a big smile just for me, promising to love him and take care of him for the rest of my life, being celebrated by our family and friends, sharing some lovely moments with good friends at the reception, going back to our room as man and wife, and waking up the next day knowing that I was now Mrs B.

It was no royal wedding of course, but it was mine. It was the best day of my life ...
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