It’s Monday 7th January 2008 and let’s smell the flowers

It’s Monday 7th January 2008 and let’s smell the flowers

Boffins – what does the word mean? When I google the word all sorts of definitions come up. But the over riding one is the definition we know. Slang for scientist, person with huge knowledge of a subject….and then Wikipedia goes on to say…. “portrayals of boffins emphasize … their eccentric genius…”. Well we have had one of Zambia’s most important “boffins” staying with us this week….Mike Bingham.

Mike BinghamAmmocharis tinneana

A genius, but I will add he has managed to avoid being eccentric! Mike’s subject is firstly plants of which he is a walking encyclodepia and with that comes the most extraordinary knowledge of everything that affects the plants – from soil types to insects. It is fascinating to talk to him. There are lots of Latin names thrown into the conversations that, other than the most common trees and plants, go right over my head. But I am a “generalist”, a “jack of all trades” and so to spend time with a truly expert “specialist” is quite a treat.

Holarrhena pubescensNymphaea nouchali

I hope that these “boffins” are not a dying breed. It is essential to have them recording our environment in every detail. After many of his walks in the area he comes back saying that he has found another species that is not recorded in this area. It shows you how little has been scientifically recorded here.

Siphonochilus kirkii

When he is here I find myself focusing on plants and of course this is the time of year for flowers. The mopane woodland and the open “dambos” are the main areas for these flowers (and are also often the boggy places!). The mopane is in new leaf so you get a sense of an amazing bright green backdrop, with the dark trunks and growing out of a carpet of scattered flowers. And of course you see journeys of giraffe wandering through.

Simon and Pterodiscus elliottiiJourney of Giraffe

And talking about boffins…..Marko, our new chef, turns out to be a piano player of note. I have a piano as I play, at a very basic level I might add, but Marko was delighted. Rex, the piano tuner from Lusaka has been up and it is now sounding wonderful. We had a “soiree” evening with an hour of Chopin and I was so inspired I am planning for the Musical Society of Lusaka to come up for a weekend – including a Marko concert!


This time of year the rains have brought out creepy crawlies of all descriptions. I have to admit the moth photo was taken in 2004 but it was taken 16th January. What a corker. And Robin found this spider. It impressed us all (12 cms!)


I am off to the UK next weekend. I am going to have my knees (both!) replaced and will not be back for two months. I am told it will not be an easy couple of months but I don’t mind. I simply cannot wait to be “dancing on the tables” again after many years of painful walking. So…..a long goodbye from me this week! Have a great couple of months.

All the best

Hello, just a short note from the Kawaza School Fund …

At the beginning of the year not only are we busy with young and fit game, flowers, and a few muddy puddles here and there, but also the Kawaza School Fund. The school year starts in January, and we choose the sponsored students for 2008. This involves figuring out which students are sponsored, where they are going, paying for school fees, uniforms and school supplies. As this was my first time, I think it took me slightly longer than usual. But it ended up being quite a lot of fun, with a few gentle encouragements for the students to keep up the good work. David Mwewa, Maxwell Chila (head & vice head from Kawaza) and my Dad were there to help me!

KawazaSponsored  StudentsKawaza School Fund Students

We have sponsored 8 new students – the top four girls and boys from Nsefu and Kawaza Schools as well as student’s from last year. For all those people who have sponsored a student I will be sending out updates later this week and if anyone is interested in finding out more information about our sponsorship programme, please email me.

That’s all for this week! But never fear – we’ll be back next monday!

Cheers and tally ho (trying to keep up with Conor and his sign offs)


Ele chasing lions

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