So it’s been raining here in Nairobi. Are we still debating whether this really is El Nino? I don’t think so. Heavy downpours we are used to during rainy season but continual rain all day? This is the kind of English weather that I had completely forgotten about. We’ve had days at home, most notably ‘Pope Day’, where we haven’t even managed to summon up the energy to go out. (The poor crowds that got up at 3am to get a good spot to see the Pope. Everyone was drenched). During recent Sundays and public holiday days I’ve not managed to dress properly but instead lurched from computer screen, to kettle, to fridge and finally collapsed in front of the TV. Frankly, it’s been pathetic.
Many rainy days at weekends equate for us to staying home or venturing out to consume food, so, as an antidote to this, I’ve had a little think of what you can do in sheeting rain to make your day a little more meaningful.
- Get your Bake on. Why not? You have nothing but time? However, for idiots like me with only an electric oven, this is dependent on whether you have power, as we all know that rain brings power outages. For the first time in what seemed like years, yesterday I invited some girlfriends over for lunch. Guess what? At 9am exactly the power cuts out. I finally get through to Kenya Power on the phone at around 10am – after 15 minutes on hold they confirm it, it’s a scheduled outage in my area. Electricity will be back at 5pm. So now I’m faced with the dilemma; I have 3 hours shop and re-plan the menu then produce a meal for 5 friends or I can phone a friend (with a gas oven). So 11.30am saw me beetling over to a friend’s house 2kms away with a lined pastry case, some cheese, eggs, cooked fish, leeks and cream in a cool bag and a tray of what I hoped would soon be roasted vegetables balanced on or around the passenger seat. You will be relieved to know that it all worked out. I returned home at just minutes to 1pm at the same time of the arrival of my first guest. #Only in Africa.
- Garden. Rainy season here translates as ‘stick it in the ground and it will grow’. This could be the perfect time to go mad and plant a veg patch, buy some pots for pretty pot plants, put in a new hedge. I am the most hopeless gardener. I wondered out loud to my mum who was staying, ‘why don’t we do more with our garden?’ She replied, quick as a flash, ‘lack of interest’. And yet the little things you do do can make you so happy. Take the pot bound lemon tree that is fruiting it’s little heart out at the moment. It’s a source of great pride and all of my lunch guests admired it!
- Get crafty. It’s so easy to give advice, but to actually do something creative? That’s a different matter. I guess that it involves a little planning and who ever plans to have a rainy day? But for now at least we must accept that the weather is what it is and plan some indoor stuff to do. I actually enjoy sewing and painting, but do I ever get around to it? Perhaps I would if I worked on a little inspiration, bought fabric or a canvas, got brushes or a sewing box organised. Could be fun?
- Go outside. Believe it or not, people in the northern hemisphere go out in all weathers. It seems crazy to you or I but the key to getting outside on a rainy day is your kit (ie clothes that are designed for just such weathers). I haven’t owned a raincoat for 13 years now but fortunately my husband has a couple of spares. Wellies (ideally without cracks or holes) are invaluable. The advantage is that in Nairobi, it’s never actually cold. I have to admit that we embarked on a dog walk last Sunday and I’ve never been quite so drenched after 20 minutes. The rain was dripping off our eyelashes and dribbling down our necks. Our kids were blown away that they were being forced to walk in the rain. One fell apart and the other got all ‘expedition mode’ on us saying ‘it’s not that bad, we’ll get through it’. Even the dogs looked fed up. But still, getting out and drenched goes some way to justify that slobby collapse in front of the TV with popcorn later.