I hear the smooth slight twang of an Irish accent coming up the stairs and the babbling of a baby: Lydia, Chris and baby Estie have arrived on the their way home from their 3 month stay in South Sudan. We are so excited – we have been looking forward to have the Mitton’s stay since we arrived. They have had a very busy and tough time after working in Juba, teaching for 3 months with Estie, a non-sleeping 9 month old! (That’s hard enough in the comforts of the UK but in 40°C heat and communal living space that demands serious respect!).
They come up the 3 flights of steps looking exhausted and covered in vomit. It seems the journey from the airport took it’s toll on Estie and she decided to share her lunch with her Mum and Dad and the taxi’s upholstery.
As the week has gone on Lucas and Estie have had great fun – she is not quite walking but he tries to take her by the hand and lead her to the toys. Lucas soon realises that Estie is not on her feet so he begins to crawl after her. They talk, chat, giggle, and shriek!
Estie wakes at 3.30am and will not be convinced to go back to sleep (somehow they have survived doing this for months). When they’ve not been catching up on much needed sleep we help them load up on good wholesome food and coffee (a necessity with non sleeping babies!). Lucas is actually much better now that he only wakes up 2 or 3 times a night and will settle quickly. For us this is a miracle and we are very happy!
*Slit Lamp Update*
Andrew is non-stop in phone calls and emails trying to arrange the slit lamp through customs (it’s a very long complicated, laborious procedure with different answers and different suggestions depending which official you speak to). Currently we are awaiting an agency in London to inspect the slit lamp and produce an importation certificate. Once this is issued it can be collected and put on the next plane. Hopefully the inspection will take place this Monday (17th) and the certificate issued by Wednesday. It might just be possible it will be sent to us this week, we will have to wait and see.
We’ve really enjoying being with close friends and have managed to have some fun including a trek up the Menegai crater and two trips to the local Ethiopian restaurant (so yummy and they eat a rice sourdough pancake like bread that takes 4 days to be made from start to finish!). Chris, Andrew and Stew enjoyed some “bromance” watching the football at Oyster Shell Restaurant with some beers and the now staple fish masala with turbo naan. Chris was not let down by the masala despite the preceding hype and we were brought back a couple of portions to enjoy on their return.
After we sort the slit lamp (and we pray it will be with us before Christmas) we have to organise our visas and residency. We didn’t think this would be a problem, but it turns out to work as a volunteer here we will have to pay £2000 each per year for a visa! We are looking at other options… Anyway, for now we are playing some classic Christmas tunes sat around our Rosemary Christmas tree enjoying home made mince pies and mulled wine (I stashed a couple of sachets in a luggage when we moved out).
This recipe is from Holly Bell (Great British Bake Off Runner Up 2011)
Ingredients to make 24
– 250g plain flour
– 50g icing sugar
– 125g butter
– zest of one orange
– 1 large egg
– 411g jar of mincemeat
– 120g soft butter
– 30g icing sugar
– 100g plain flour
– 20g cornflour
– half tsp cinnamon
– pinch of nutmeg
1. Add flour and icing sugar into your bowl, chop cold butter into 1cm cubes and add with the orange peel, rub with your finger tips until it becomes a fine breadcrumb consistency.
2. Add the egg and mix in with a blunt knife.
3. Cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. In the meantime make the biscuit dough mince pie topping.
5. To make the dough mix the very soft butter with the icing sugar in your mixer with the flat beater. Mix until really light and fluffy – about 4 minutes. Then add all of the other biscuit dough ingredients and mix again until combined and fluffy.
6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop in the fridge.
7. Roll the pastry onto a floured work surface to about 3mm thick and cut rounds out using a pastry cutter. Pop into your non-stick bun tray then place a teaspoon of the mincemeat into each pastry case.
8. Roll the biscuit dough to about 0.5cm thick on a floured surface and cut into desired shape or use a cutter. (I used a holly leaf cutter, another stashed item when we moved!).
9. Holly placed them in the fridge for 10mins at this point but with 48 to make for the Mittons and the team and one tray, they were in and out the oven quickly!
10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for about 15 – 20 minutes until just starting to brown at the edges.
11. Enjoy warm with a mulled wine, good friends and some christmas classic tunes!
We sampled the “Chef’s Special Desert” in a lodge nearby. It turns out the pastry chef was experimenting – what arrived was chicken string, pineapple, green beans, deep fried bread cubes and tomato. Not quite the pastries we are used too!