Bonfire Cakes in the Mau Forest with a film crew…


Today we have Reuters film crew joining us in the field to make a short news documentary. We have done our best to be organised and have cleared it with the village chiefs, patients and the Ministry of Health to ensure everyone is on board.  Reuters have a very wide appeal and their footage is picked up all over the world so we wanted to facilitate the visit as best we could. We are a little late leaving our meeting point in town (we have a two and a half hour drive ahead of us in to the depths of the Mau Forest), just as I’m about to jump in the bus to set off I get a phone call from Madeleine. “Do you have the house keys?” I feel my back pocket and they are all there. Oops. Kat has spares but is already on her way to the forest. Quick on my feet I tell Madeleine where another hidden spare is kept in the flat. She stays on the phone and runs to get it from our bedroom. I hear it in the lock ( a smug look on my face at this point – what a good husband I am). “You’re not going to believe this” Madeleine says with a substantial hint of panic in her voice. “The key works to lock the door but not open it!”

Madeleine and Lucas are locked in the flat and I’m not due back for 14 hours. The smug look no longer on my face I run to the roadside and see a man sat on a revving motorbike about to pull out of the junction. Before he has chance to say anything I jump on the back and ask him to take me to my home as quickly as possible. He was in fact a motorbike taxi and this is what they do all day but I like to sound a little more dangerous and heroic than I actually am. Within less than ten minutes I’ve managed to unlock the flat, give Madeleine the keys and receive a confused look from Lucas who has no idea what is going on. “Daddy not working?”

With the early morning excitement behind us I was hopeful that everything else would run smoothly. We eventually arrived (two of the team vomited on route from car sickness, nothing a bit of tarmac could have prevented) and set up. The film crew were excellent, they manoeuvred around us and silently collected footage. Everyone was self conscious but doing their best to remain natural. My first patient of the day sat down at the slit lamp to be examined, I tapped on the power, in the way I have been for months and always grateful to have such a good machine after the saga of getting the project started over a year ago. For the first time EVER, it didn’t work. The power came on and there was no light. Oh dear. After ten minutes of tinkering and checking all the connections I have it working again. The crew see me getting back in position to examine someone and move over to start filming. This time, I flick the switch and it works! Less than a second later, it goes dark again, this time the power fails and the rain starts to crash down on the corrugated iron roof and leaks through the holes. Although this kind of happening is not unusual, the timing wasn’t great. The crew soon picked up on why using Peek would overcome so many of the barriers that are faced when trying to deliver eye care in an environment where the usual infrastructure doesn’t exist.

Eventually the long day is complete and we head home one the long journey back to Nakuru, more vomiting on the way back too…


Finally its complete, we have the 54 page document ….the business plan for Jamii Bakery, my head is full of break-even analyses and marketing strategies with location, location, location whizzing around my head.  We all worked hard on this, although very much aware of the fluid nature of this plan and the need for it to constantly evolve it has been important to get it all down on paper.  We have a generous Kenyan donor for the land and the building for the bakery and have been patiently waiting for the parcel of land to process to begin building. However the process of buying land in Kenya has many hurdles, checks and steps to ensure a “clean” piece. Fortunately our friend on the case is meticulous and has been through the many checks necessary on multiple occasions before.  After planning out the dates for the remaining clusters we have until the beginning of April 2014 living in Kenya.  Although we will be coming back on short term visits to Kenya, we want to get things going before we leave,  however we don’t want to unwisely rush things or cut corners but to be as efficient as possible with the time remaining.  The ongoing land processing and advise from our visiting bakery consultant has led us to think of other ways to launch Jamii Bakery.  Our plans now are to start smaller with a central simple bakery and no cafe, we plan to open booths in target population areas, one by one offering a selection of baked goods, fresh fruit smoothies, Kenyan tea and proper coffee.  We plan to commence the pilot outreach healthy living workshops in December. These will provide education on eating and lifestyle choices accompanied by a practical lesson in baking using a charcoal stove (Jiko). More on this later…


Recipe -Banana Choc and Marshmallow Bonfire Cakes

These cakes, like fireworks are full of surprises. You bight through the sweet marshmallow and the smell instantly makes you think of bonfires. Next you hit a soft banana cake with a hidden piece of melted chocolate in the centre. The taste being like chocolate filled bananas roasted on the BBQ or open fire. A real treat but not too often!



Banana cake:

3 medium eggs

160g light muscovado sugar

250g grated butternut squash

1 tbsp vanilla extract

50g white rice flour or plain white flour

100g ground almonds or 100g ground cashew nuts

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

150g chopped banana

12 chunks plain chocolate


Marshmallow icing:

6 egg whites

300g sugar

½ tsp cream tartar

2tsp vanilla extract



Popping candy or grated crystallized ginger or other crunch or spice



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Prepare the muffin cases.
  2. Whisk the eggs, sugar until four times its volume, then beat in the grated butternut squash and vanilla extract.
  3. Whisk in the dry ingredients followed by the chopped banana.
  4. Fill each muffin case with mixture then just before baking place a chunk of chocolate on the top of each one.
  5. Bake for 15-20mins.
  6. Whilst in the oven make the marshmallow icing.  Place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer over a simmering pan of water.  Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Remove from the simmering pan and whisk for a further 5 minutes.  It should be very stiff and is now ready to pipe.
  8. When the cakes are removed from the oven, let them cool on a wire rack then pipe the icing and finish with a sprinkle of your topping.  I guess if you would like to go one step further for bonfire night this would be the time to get the blow torch out and toast the tops.  Unfortunately we don’t have one in our Kenyan home!

Registering today’s patients in the Mau Forest


Patiently waiting before the rains come


Reuters film crew




As some of you know we have just landed back in the UK but with the recent craziness we are a little behind on the blogs but we will catch up soon!

Lucas “Why is it dark? Its raining in England” (!)


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