I listen to our Christmas songs and dance around with Lucas, it is fun and momentarily I forget the ache in my chest.
I’ve made mince pies a couple of times now, we have even enjoyed eating them with hot mulled wine, the rosemary “Christmas Tree” is up and we are counting down to Christmas with our homemade advent calendar. The sun shines most of the time and I’ve found a worthy replacement to my apple addiction – pineapples. I barely remember what wearing a jumper feels like but if I’m honest it feels like we have been pretending it is Christmas.
The ache is relived by regular baking, a daily run or hypothermic swim – must be the endorphin release! I am incredibly thankful I am with my two beautiful boys but I can’t shake off this feeling.
We said goodbye to Lyds Chris and Estie at the beginning of the week, we had had such a wonderful time with them, immediately we missed them and Lucas kept on asking for “bebe Estie”… sooo cute! Part of me wished I was returning to the grey, wet (very wet from what we hear) and cold England, Christmas seems to have this pull to bring me to be with all the family.
My emotions have been on overdrive. I think it is because I can not hide from life around me. We are living alongside people with only the most basic amounts to eat and standard of living that is hard to accept as normal. My emotions swirl between feeling deep hurt at a world that seems so unfair and equally humbled by how much we have (health, family, education to name a few). The problems just seem too big, when will it end? I’m not sure what to do with all these feelings but for now I just quietly process them and try to be open and real. Maybe it’s the delay with the slit lamp and not having started the 100 village countdown… I try and remind myself why we have come here and however small what we are doing is, we can at least make a difference for some people and we will try and do it right, even if it doesn’t all work out at least I know we have tried.
The slit lamp….!!!! It has been a very complicated process but in short it has successfully undergone an inspection (yay!) in London which means it won’t have to go through the same process here on Kenyan time and at a cost of £2000! Crazy import rules! It’s now packed up with its numerous certificates and countless documents and has a seat (probably won’t actually get a seat) booked on a British Airways flight tomorrow, the 23rd, so it may just be in Kenya for Christmas! We hope!! There will still be some time before we can get our hands on it here though.
The study team are great and have been so patient. We ran another teaching session this week including simulating glaucoma and loss of visual field by wearing two empty toilet rolls, one held up to each eye, lots of fun. They all clumsily bumped in to one another and got a real appreciation of what it would be like to lose vision from glaucoma.
I made mince pies for some festive cheer and we gave out laminated training certificates with a little Christmas pressie of almond and mango biscotti.
We were warmed to hear from one of the study team that despite the project not having started yet we have strengthened our relationships with them. No one directly tells you how they are feeling but always through a third party. A very sweet third party shared with us that they are all really enjoying the baking and that we value them enough to make the effort. There have also been comments that they feel valued at being part of the team and treated as equals. I think they expected Andrew to fulfil the doctor role (they are used to being told what to do and publicly embarrassed if they make mistakes) and play the hierarchy game but as this has not materialised they are all contributing more and slowly being more open with us. The new year looks positive.
We hope you are all enjoying the festive cheer, we are inside our third floor apartment, particularly when the music starts, Lucas is one star at dancing to Christmas cheesy classics!
Recipe – Almond and Mango Biscotti
350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
coarsely grated zest of 1orange
85g dried mango
100g whole almonds
1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
2. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, spice and sugar in a large bowl, then mix well.
4. Stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture starts forming clumps, then bring the dough together with your hands – it will seem dry at first but keep kneading until no floury patches remain. Add the fruit and nuts, then work them in until evenly distributed.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 pieces.
6. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a sausage about 30cm long.
7. Place 2 on each tray, well spaced apart. Bake for 25-30 mins until the dough has risen and spread and feels firm. It should still look pale.
8. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack for a few mins until cool enough to handle, then turn down the oven to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1.
9. Using a bread knife, cut into slices about 1cm thick on the diagonal, then lay the slices flat on the baking sheets.
10. Bake for another 15 mins, turn over, then bake again for another 15 mins until dry and golden. Tip onto a wire rack to cool completely.
11. Store in an airtight tin for up to one month.
Lucas having fun on the roof
Lucas trying to fix the broken slit lamp…