Monday, 23 December 2013


17th - 20th Dec 2013

Officers  and staff at Battledore Farm Officers' Mess. Back row: Ray, Boss 1, Self, GD. Centre: Israel,  Evanesse, Mary, Martin ( house staff ). Front: Tom, Mrs Perkins, Mrs Potter, Sam.

There seems to be a continual change-over of guests and residents at Battledore ( Temperance ) Farm. On our arrival, as well as our distinguished host and the Gap Year students, Tom and Sam, there was  our host's sister Judy. She was here, other than for a fun family visit, to help with the accounts. Judy is married to an American rocket scientist. Yes, they really do exist! Judy also proved to be an amazingly good cook. She had to go home on day 5 ( when I was in Jo'burg ). Sam has now left to go back to the family estate and then on to Oz to witness the forthcoming disaster in the 4th Ashes Test. We have been joined by Ray from Cape Town, an old friend and fellow Cresta riding buddy of our host.

My shoulder is pain free but I was told to keep it in this very upmarket sling ( left ) for a few days which has rather restricted my motor-biking and ability to do the washing up.                                                                     
The place is covered in large and very ancient anthills. All have been levelled on the actual plantation except this one on which Ray is standing ( right ). It is a useful vantage point from which to survey the farm and the tops of the banana trees below which it is impossible to see the workers sleeping; something which they tend to do in the absence of a 'boss' in visual contact. This anthill has been the cause of some casualties. It looks fairly innocuous but the sides are steep and slippery. One unfortunate visitor  lost control going down  and whacked his head against a bunch of bananas. The bananas won and visitor went to the clinic for repairs.
Ray came down very cautiously and just arriving at the bottom we congratulated him on a successful descent. He took one more pace and went arse over tit to general amusement.

The area here, the Copper Belt, is totally devoid of wild animals; not even a rabbit. If I was expecting to view herds of wildebeest sweeping across the plains, elephants browsing amongst the trees, lions basking in the sun or even a poxy warthog, I was going to be seriously disappointed. Apparently all wildlife was eaten years ago.
There is however an abundance of flys, mosquitos and other nasty voracious  insects which provides the manufacturers of Doom spray and mosquito nets a good income.
Excellent game reserves exist elsewhere in this vast underpopulated country.

Right: The local village. Somewhat basic. The women till their little patches of maize, the children look after any domestic animals ( I have seen a few goats ) and the men........well they tend to sit and think, or sometimes just sit.

The local population in the Copper Belt speak Bemba which, of course, by now I am fluent in. I can say "good morning" and "goodbye". Actually nearly everyone speaks English. Our host knows a few more robust native words to 'encourage' his workforce. Talking of which, they are mostly very basically educated, very smiley and friendly, but have a rather limited work ethic and have an innate ability to operate to destruction any form of machinery. As an example, a tractor with an overheating problem will, despite warning lights and emitting a painful noise,  be driven on until the engine seizes. This can be rather frustrating and expensive. They are also immune to 'incentives'. The concept of working harder and learning to carry out tasks more efficiently to produce bigger crops, get bonuses and save money is alien. Indeed, after pay day, the tendency is for most of them not to reappear for work until they have spent their pay. Sometimes I wonder how a profitable sized crop is harvested, but somehow it is. I was not surprised to see that our host has a blood pressure machine and takes 'dried frog pills' or somesuch to control his stress levels. I, most certainly, could not manage this job which seems to involve a perpetual series of crises, unpredictablities and disasters. They say Africa is not for wimps, and I would now strongly agree with that. There are, however, many ex-pat Zimbabweans ( some of whom had lost their farms there ), Aussies, South Africans and a few Brits working, or more likely running, the copper mines, construction companies and farming enterprises. They are a tough and hard-working breed.

Left: An array of anthills on a barren field. They are due to be levelled when the dry season arrives and will provide a very fertile topsoil.

We took Sam to Ndola airport. The airport buildings are a collection of past their sell-by date Nissan huts, and a few sheds made out of what look like old packing cases. Right: The departures/arrivals hall. Note the rather large ( traditionally built ) police lady sitting cradling her AK 47. Even Heathrow looks glamorous in comparison.

Left: Sam and Ray sitting in the VIP lounge at the airport with  farewell beers ( at $4 a pop! ). The local current is the Kwatcha. About 9 Kwatcha to the £. In fact most things are very expensive in Zambia, especially food and wine, because they are imported. The farm domestic shopping bills are humungous, possibly grossly inflated by the amount of wine drunk.

Architecture in the town of Ndola is basic and functional and certainly wouldn't win any prizes for aesthetic appearance. Every building is roofed in corrugated iron. All the private houses have corrugated iron roofs so are noisy places to live in during the violent daily thunderstorms. I am told that, during the country's existence as Northern Rhodesia, there were many attractive villas and houses. Some still exist but are screened from view by tall spike, wire or glass topped walls. It is quite a bustling town with a fairly shambolic atmosphere and the locals appear very friendly and helpful.

There is a golf course, a 'Boat Club' ( but no boats ) and  an impressive football stadium ( right ) built by the Chinese. I am told that the Zambian national football team is one of the best in Africa.

A well appointed shopping Mall, the Jacaranda, near the airport, contains a decent variety of modern shops and includes a well stocked 'Pick and Pay' supermarket. Shops in town are a bit more basic.
I was impressed by a marvellously chaotic looking hardware shop, Reekay's, run by Indians, which supplies a seemingly unlimited selection of building materials, tools and any gizmo you can think of. You want a 3" tapered spurling ratchet with a brass bevelled nurdling fork attachment, and they will find it.

The Ndola City Council goes to great lengths to advertise it's determination to improve the town and work honestly and conscientiously to better the lives of it's citizens. This hoarding, showing the mayor in all his finery, is an example ( if you can read it )

There has been much 'socialising' at the farm which has somewhat curtailed my blog production. I will be here for Christmas before moving on to do a bit of sight-seeing further south.

1 comment:

  1. whats your contact numbers please
    i am looking for banana Seedlings