I hear the chugging of the generator outside a marquee tent, with the sun shining strongly I almost expect to see children throwing themselves across a bouncy castle. Lucas peeps round the marquee door ‘da dee’ Andrew is sat on one side of the glimmering slit lamp and an elderly lady is sat the other. Andrew moves the joystick with ease as he examines the ladies eyes. Lucas greets and high fives the team members who barely have a moment to spare. Faith is putting eye drops in to the lady on the right, there are 4 rows of chairs, not quite in rows because of the slightly uneven grass, with friends and family of the team all willing and excited guinea pigs for our final practice before the 100 village count down! To my left are three team members: Hellen, Maryann and Jedidah at the registration table signing everyone in and assigning them a study number. A lady smiles at me whom I don’t recognise but has a faint familiarity, she greets Lucas as if she knows him, she is the mother of two of the team members (twins) and of our close friends from Nakuru whom we met in January, it’s lovely to meet her and join all the dots. It really is just wonderful to see all the planning in action. Lucas wriggles and squirms ‘ka ka’ he has seen a chicken so we dart off to say hello!
I have made some simple biscuits a Czech gingerbread (with no treacle as difficult to get here) and very easy to make over 50 for all the team members and the family/patients for today, everyone seems very hungry so they must have been working hard!
Andrew: My blood sugar must be low, it is hot and I’ve been examining patients for four hours now without a break, the slit lamp is familiar and perfect (the team members have been advised to treat it like a baby!), I must be having hallucinations, I hear “Da Da, Da Deeee!” being shouted across the marquee, Lucas has the attention of everyone. I feel so proud seeing him and Mama Lucas stood there dishing out golden biscuits – a much needed sugar hit is here.
The team have excelled, two of the younger members, Cosmas and Joel loaded all the heavy equipment in to the van early in the morning and I was so impressed to see everyone set up their stations ready to start. We had a few hitches getting everything working from the petrol generator but after a couple of hours of struggle we were well on the way.
It was great to have a final “dress rehearsal”, we were all exhausted by the end of the day and no doubt I would have collapsed had the biscuits not arrived, but at last, I think, we are ready.
Our advance team will go out next week and prepare the patients and venues for 2 of the 100 locations. It will be a big challenge locating the patients from 5 years ago, some of whom will have moved away, others may have died and some will be unavailable. It is a challenge we are ready for.
Next week the count down begins…
Czech Gingerbread Biscuits
from Richard Bertinet ‘Crust’ book (my chistmas present sendtfrom our parents!)
425g plain flour
100g icing sugar
125g butter, softened
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with a pinch salt for the glaze
- Preheat oven to 160°C and prepare two baking trays with silicon mats or baking parchment.
- Put all the ingredients except the egg wash in a mixing bowl and mix until a dough is formed. Cover with a baking cloth and leave to rest at room temperature for 15-20mins.
- Lightly sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out the dough to 5mm thick, then cut out biscuits whatever shape you like depending on what cutters you have.
- Place the cut shapes on the baking sheets and brush the eggwash over each one, then using a fork or knife score patterns into the top of the biscuit.
- Bake for about 18minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely or if you are like me and the only wire rack you have is in the oven I place them on a clean folded tea cloth to let them air and crisp up at the base.
- Eat with a ‘cuppa brew’ as our Yorkshire friend would say! Or in a tent whilst hugging a slit lamp!