Advent Party

A lovely gathering of friends old and new on Saturday to start celebrating the Advent season. SILTY had travelled down from The North to spend the weekend with us and was a great help. We had about 20-25 people over between 5pm and 11pm (somehow spacing themselves appropriately so that there was always enough room on the sofas!).
For the record (my memory, if nothing else), nibbles were as follows:
Crudites (peppers, cucumber, carrot) and dips (moutable and houmus made by The Husband)
Sausage rolls (thank you Mr. Sainsburys)
Sticky sausages (honey, sesame and soy sauce)
Potato cakes with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and dill
Cheeseboard with home-made chutneys (south seas chutney, mango chutney, fruity chutney, onion marmalade, chilli pepper jam)
Cinnamon grape pickle
Mince pies
Marshmallows covered in chocolate
Wedding cake (albeit with no marzipan or icing)
Mulled wine pootling away on the hob.

I did try twice to make popcorn (Nigella, as are the sausages and fantastic potato cakes) but only succeeded in burning it, so ’twas not to be this time.

Hurrah! Christmas is a-coming. Next week – carols at church – double hurrah!


Uganda – Kabale and Rwasesi

We left the White Horse at a reasonable hour and walked down the hill to the main road in Kabale (see picture below) having left a quantity of washing at the hotel to collect after our trips to Rwasesi and Lake Bunyonyi.

TheDrain went off to Stanbic Bank to change travellers cheques (a process which took the best part of an hour, as each cheque needed to be individually photocopied, money counted twice by hand and twice by machine, all under the supervision of a second teller), Feeble and I went to find postcards.

As we were in the Post Office, Joram (a friend of one of F’s Uganda friends) happened to be passing and popped in (a pleasantly random occurrence).
Benon arrived in his car, saw that changing traveller’s cheques was taking quite some time and went off to collect Trust, Brave and Pearl from Kabale Primary School where they are boarding. When they came back, we all piled into the back of the car and went to Rwasesi (about 22km away).

Passing along the road we stopped to buy some vegetables from roadside stalls. We also passed the site of a coach crash. Apparently 2 people died as the coach came off the road (travelling too fast in the dark at 5am it seems). Dangers on the road are marked out by placing branches in the road as markers.

The next day and a half in Rwasesi was really special. Lots of sitting on the verandah, watching the world go by (and the world going by watching us). A very nice location to read some of the books which I had brought with me, or scribble over my printouts of Judges.

Benon, Judith and family were extremely hospitable – enormous quantities of food at regular (and slightly too frequent?) intervals – main meals included matoke, spaghetti, rice, Irish (i.e. normal, as opposed to sweet) potatoes, chicken, ‘soup’ (chicken stock-ish), cauliflower and courgettes, pineapple for afters. Breakfast and breaks comprised chapattis, omelettes, home-made popcorn, bananas, roast groundnuts.
The children were very happy to be at home and enjoyed the food a lot (normally posho and beans/rice and beans every day). Main meals were rounded off with a small drop of (lethal!) Cypriot Altar wine. Lots of Ugandan tea and chai (kind of hot milk with tea leaves). I even managed a couple of cups of weak black tea. Hot water and hot milk stored in thermos flasks and brought to the table as required.

Benon and Judith have a very posh house by local standards – they have electric lighting, a landline telephone (mobiles far more common in Africa apparently), a courtyard out the back leading to the kitchen (wood fires), and the long drop (two – one for adults and one for children) which has a concrete floor, and a couple of bricks on which to stand. Water is not too far away – about 200m, and is used very carefully. Thus, a real treat to have jerry cans of hot and cool water with which to wash in the morning. The house has a very clever irrigation system which channels all the waste water from the kitchen / wash room / rainwater round the house and down into the field where they grow their food.

On Weds, due to the recent rain, Benon decided that a trip to Kamuronko (where F worked in 2000) was not feasible as the road would be too slippy/muddy (a very, very steep hill), so instead, we walked into Rwasesi village to look at the church. As we walked up the hill, we passed a couple of young children at the water tap (“How-are-you?” “I-am-fine.How-are-you?” – much giggling). After visiting the church we stopped off at the Primary School to visit the headmaster and sign the visitor’s book. The headmaster’s office is decorated with lots of (mostly) handmade posters (the dangers of AIDS/school leaving exam results going back to 1970/photos of all the school children with their roll numbers – looking slightly like criminal mugshots). The school year starts in January, so Trust (currently in P6) is about to take her final exams in Kabale PS, which will determine how good a school she can get into. She may need to travel as far as Mbarara (2 hours drive) to go to a good school.

(Poster in the room outside the headmaster’s office: No smoking, drinking alcohol, x, y, z, sex abuse or telling lies allowed in this school. Not sure whether to be disturbed or amused by the order. Probably a little of both).

After dinner on Tuesday, the children treated us to a display of singing and Bakiga dancing. Video of one of the songs below (the dancing is currently too large a file size to upload – will try to tweak)

Here chicken chicken (or ‘Ooh!, get you, Delia!)

A little bit of experimentation in the kitchen paid off this evening.
When I went shopping at the weekend I bought a couple of poussin(s?) as they were on 2 for £3.50 in Sainsbugs (as my colleague is wont to refer to the grocers). My initial thought was that I might be able to put them in the slow cooker and therefore achieve roast dinner in between church meetings on Sundays.
Anyhow – I shall call what I cooked – ‘Honey glazed citrus roast poussin with spring vegetables’ and this is how I made it.
1. Stuff poussin with lemon cut into halves.
2. Drizzle lemon olive oil over poussin.
3. Drizzle honey over poussin and smear all over with a spoon.
4. Scatter mixed herbs over poussin.
5. Place poussin on vegetables (one red onion, one onion, one stalk of celery) which have been chopped up and placed in dish and drizzled with lemon olive oil.
6. Put in oven at about 200 degrees C for about an hour – turn halfway through and drizzle the underside with the olive oil and herbs.
7. Serve with green beans.
Lovely – when the poussin came out of the oven it was so moist it practically fell apart.
So nice to cook properly.