I lie still watching through the open, heavy canvas door, enjoying the stillness of the vast expanse that is the 12km crater visible through the gently swaying trees. We are in a single roomed canvas tent housed inside an African thatch which gently creeks in the breeze. My two boys are asleep either side of me.
‘Splash, splash’ Lucas hysterically giggles as we sit on the side of the small swimming pool kicking our legs. The girl throws him a rubber duck filled with water which he delightfully squeezes allowing the water to run down himself as he continues his infectious giggling with ‘wee, wee’. We have had our first night away in the 3 months we have been here and it was just lovely.
Lucas’ head is drooped over my right arm in a darkened room as I sit and stare at the big old cream machine. Its droning sound reminds me of a CT scanner. There are piles of old film reels in the outlet tray. The droning continues when another one slowly appears, it gently curls and drops into the collection container, our passport photos are ready.
It’s 90 days since we arrived and we are renewing our visas whilst awaiting our residency to be processed. We are also applying for an ‘alien card’! Yes its official we are aliens, they have every finger print to prove it and we look like we have been underneath a car all day with our black oily fingers! The ‘alien card’ is basically an official document you can carry around instead of your passport.
Stood at the till unloading the trolley of fresh mangoes, passion fruits and more flour we turn round to find Lucas has helped himself to a bright pink packet of “Butterfly Extra Ribbed” condoms and placed them in the old mans shopping basket who is waiting behind us. Thankfully the old man had a good sense of humour!
The tarts have been a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a little while, I made them up last night so I hope I get the measurements right for you. The hardest bit is not to eat all the mango you have just chopped up, it is just so juicy. The second hardest bit was whether to add cinnamon and a very small pinch of cardamom. My tip is add it very very slowly (pole pole they say here) so the flavour does not over power everything, a hint is lovely and brings the flavours out.
Andrew: I’m sat in a dark room looking at eyes at 16 times magnification. It is raining outside and for a brief moment I forget I’m not in England. A chicken clucks in the clinic waiting area and I’m soon reminded of where I am. As I take a breather and step out of the darkness I witness the lush green surroundings and am told that the neighbouring Baruti primary school recently had a lion visit. We are a long way from the NHS… Thankfully no wild animals visited the clinic today.
Mango and passion fruit lemon tartlets
Ingredients: Makes 18
350g plain flour
80g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks large
Grated rind of one lemon
Two tsp cold water
Two mangos cut into small squares Three passion fruit scopped out of rind
Tbsp Lemon juice
Pinch of cinnamon
Very small pinch cardamom, careful!
Add a pinch of salt to some of the left over egg white for the egg wash.
1. Add the prepared mango, passion fruit and lemon juice to a pan and gently bring to the boil, allow to become soft and add the spices being very careful not to add to much, add them bit by bit and check the flavour yourself.
2. To prepare the pastry weigh out the flour and the icing sugar, cut the cold butter into about 1cm cubes and rub into the dry ingredients until breadcrumbs are formed. Add the egg and the water and using a knife cut and mix the dough together until it naturally comes together.
3. Place the ball of dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30mins.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
5. Remove from the fridge, sprinkle a little flour on the work top and roll out to approx 4mm thick. Cut using your bigger round cutter the bases and place each into the muffin or cake tin, lightly press the corners in. Using a fort lightly pierce the dough in each tartlet. Tear a small square of baking parchment for each tartlet and place in the base of the pastry dough covered with some dried beans or baking balls. Place in the oven for 5 mins.
6. Remove from the oven and remove the baking parchment and dried beans. Fill each tartlet with the mango filling, not too much to avoid it spilling out the side.
7. Cut the small circles out to fit the top of each tartlet and brush with egg wash to stick to the pastry bases. Once stuck to each tartlet pierce the top of each one to let the steam escape. Brush each with the egg wash.
8. Place into the oven and bake until golden brown.
9. Enjoy with a cuppa!
Some photos from our weekend away: