Custard Slices, “pee pee” and a bakery…


“Mummy more pee pee please” I can not stop myself from giggling uncontrollably as Lucas stands, covered in bubbles, in his big plastic tub we improvise as a bath. Having completed an impressive fountain of wee he looks down and wonders why it has stopped!


I peer behind the sofa looking for the old green balloon, instead I am greeted with a slightly crusty poo! Lucas is following me and sees it too “phoo, phoo” he points as though he forgot to mention it earlier! Having wiped up so many pee pees and regularly sprayed down the tiles in antibacterial, Lucas now pees on the floor then goes to find a cloth and spray. I think it’s official toilet training is not working for now!! Ahh well it was worth a try! We will try again in a few months!

Lucas is really starting to speak now and it’s fascinating what he recognises and associates, if we go near the national park gate he is looking intently to find the baboons saying ‘Boone, Boone’ he still absolutely loves tuk tuks, as soon as they drive off  he looks disappointed and says “tuk tuk gone”. His “no” is very well developed with head shaking to boot. His “yes” is far less committal with a slight nod and a “hmm” is as much as we can get out of him.

In between the toilet training and listening to Lucas beginning to beautifully express himself an idea started brewing a few months back… To open a community bakery where all profits go back into in to eye care and an emphasis on creating healthy, high-quality but affordable baked goods made by local mothers. We’ve seen so many women struggling to make enough money to provide for themselves and their kids, the staple diet is high in carbohydrates with little variation providing them with little nutritional benefit. In brief, after discussing the initial idea with people at the Real Bread Campaign where I worked before moving to Kenya, it seems to be evolving in to a genuine possibility.  Through the Real Bread Campaign, artisan bakers in the UK have contacted us and offered and provided so many good ideas and excellent advice that we introduced the idea to our good Kenyan friends with a lot of business experience. They loved the idea and suddenly we find ourselves looking at possible facilities and land.  Nakuru, our home town, was described as a sleepy town but over the past few years that has been changing and there is a lot of expansion and more industry.  With the national park on its doorstep it has many tourists and hotels/lodges.  For this to work it has to be a sustainable business so here we are in the midst of beginning to budget set up costs, market research and really put plans together to see if it’s going to work.  We have been given some really helpful contacts both here and in the UK so I’ve gone a little email crazy when Lucas has his morning sleep!…to be continued!

After a few very welcome notes that the Comic Relief Great British Bake off was on I set about watching it on You Tube (BBC iPlayer doesn’t work here!). Admittedly it takes 30 minutes to buffer 2-3mins worth of video so it is pretty stop-start but I enjoyed the technical challenge, custard slices, and as I’ve never made them before I thought I’d have a go! If I’m honest I don’t really like this sort of pastry much I’m not a fan of the white icing and they are not nutritious at all but they are fun to make even if very sweet. As you can see from the photo the crème patisserie didn’t quite go to plan, unfortunately I had a few interruptions involving antibacterial spray and a cloth, but it still tasted good!


There is a scratching and squeaking noise above my head. I look up from the slit-lamp and catch something moving in the roof. I look at one of the others with a face that says, “What was that?”

“It is probably a rat, or some other creature”

“Oh?” I reply slightly unnerved

“They sometimes jump on your head but not always”

Great! I’m going to have to take my chances as there is a queue of study patients waiting to be seen and word has got out that we are in town so we have a queue of people with eye complaints waiting to be seen.

It gets to 3pm and I haven’t been able to make contact with Madeleine all day (she pulled her back last night, too much mopping up pee I think, and was barely able to move this morning) as there has been no mobile phone coverage. I decided to take a breather and go for a short wander to see if I can pick up some signal. I leave the compound that neighbours a primary school and am mobbed by children with calls of “Mzungo, mzungo, how are you?” They then fall to the ground in hysterics when I acknowledge them. I have a sense of what the baboons must feel like in the national parks.

In total today we saw 42 patients, 29 of them study patients which is our best yet in terms of identifying patients from 5 years ago. Next week we will travel further than we have so far and will go to three different villages.

Patients awaiting registration


Our equipment van and team van parked outside our examination centre


Slit-lamp, Retinal Camera, autorefractor and Visual Field Analyser all in use


Where else would you have a bongo as an eye drop table?


The team breaks for lunch and Custard Slices!



Recipe – Custard Slices

Taken from Paul Hollywood’s BBC Recipe as used in the Comic Relief Bake Off


For the rough puff pastry
  • 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200g/7oz butter, chilled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
  • 140-160ml/5-5½fl oz water
For the crème pâtissière
  • 500ml/18fl oz milk 
  • 1 vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
  • 100g/3½oz castaer sugar 
  • 4 free-range eggs, yolks only
  • 40g/1½oz cornflour
  • 40g/1½oz butter
For the icing
  • 200g/7oz icing sugar
  • 5 tsp water
  • 50g/2oz dark chocolate, melted


  1. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt together. Rub in a third of the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then roughly rub in the remaining butter, leaving large lumps.
  2. Add the water a little at a time until the pastry just binds together (you may not need all the water).
  3. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a narrow rectangle about 2.5cm/1in thick.
  4. With the pastry vertically in front of you fold the bottom third of the pastry up onto the middle third then the top third down onto the other thirds. This is called a turn.
  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes
  6. Take out of fridge and with a rolling pin roll out again into a narrow rectangle and repeat the turn as before.
  7. Chill again and repeat the rolling and turning once more, so a total of three times. Wrap the pastry in cling film and return to the fridge to rest.
  8. While the pastry is resting, make the crème pâtissière. Pour the milk into a pan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.
  9. Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.
  10. Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the pan.
  11. Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.
  12. Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.
  13. Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.
  14. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
  15. Divide the pastry into two equal pieces and roll out both pieces to 20cm/8in square and 5mm/¼in thick. Then place each pastry sheet onto the lined baking trays, and chill for 10-15 minutes.
  16. Bake the pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
  17. While the pastry bakes, line a deep 23cm/9in square baking tray with foil with plenty of extra foil at the sides. The extra foil allows you to lift out the assembled slices.
  18. Place one pastry sheet in bottom of the lined baking tray. (Reserve the prettiest piece for the top.)
  19. Spread the crème pâtissière evenly onto the pastry in the baking tray before placing other piece of pastry, on top. Refrigerate while making the icing.
  20. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in cold water until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  21. Transfer the melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle, and set aside to firm up slightly.
  22. Take the custard slice from the fridge and spread the icing over the top layer of pastry.
  23. Using the piping bag, draw ten parallel lines along the top of the icing in one direction. Using a tooth pick, pull parallel lines about 2.5cm/1in across the melted chocolate and icing in alternating directions to create a feathered effect.
  24. Place the slice back into the fridge to set.
  25. Cut the finished vanilla slice into eight pieces.
  26. Using the foil carefully lift the portioned vanilla slices out of the tray and place onto a serving platter.

Lucas opted for some healthy fruit instead