Zambian memories

My mum, sister, our home help, Sam, my younger brother and me on the steps of our bungalow.
Outside our bungalow in Zambia.

It’s my birthday this week – October 3rd, to be precise. As the end of September approached and my birthday month was on the horizon, it led me to thinking of all the places I’ve lived and worked in my life: England, Argentina, Canada and (during the earlier part of my childhood) Zambia, Africa. My parents, three siblings and I lived there for 3 years, or so, where my father worked in the copper mines. We lived in a small bungalow in a mining town, and some of my earliest memories were of ochre, dusty sunsets and the scent of geraniums on a warm evening breeze.

At night, we would spend time on the veranda with friends and neighbours. The adults would sit talking and laughing, and the seesaw sound of crickets was a constant backdrop to the conversation and jokes. The cooking smells of one dish or another would fill the house, welcoming all who entered.

These times were among the happiest in my life. They were the times I felt the most content, when I was enveloped in the warmth of the African climate. I didn’t have a care in the world back then and was part of a true community. My younger brother and I would play outside, in the pot-holed streets, along with all the other children from the ex-pat families. We never ventured too far from the house and were always within hearing distance when our mother would call for us to come back inside for dinner.

It’s good to reflect on one’s life every now and then. It’s a way of keeping those memories alive and a part of who we are. As you can see, I even found some old photos of our time in Zambia.

One of my earlier birthdays, in Africa. My brother, Michael, my younger brother, Mark, me and my sister Bernadette.
One of my earlier birthdays, in Zambia.

My Tangled Bank

Okay, it’s not quite the famed hillock of lush vegetation that inspired Charles Darwin, but it’s the closest thing I have in way of a view from my home office. Given time, I’ll eventually get around to cutting away the ivy that’s slowly growing across the window in my office upstairs. In the meantime, it does provide me with a somewhat limited view of nature; in this case a beautiful green dragonfly, which had settled on one of the leaves this bright and sunny morning.

I managed to fish out my camera from the depths of a drawer, to take a snapshot before the winged predator flew away in search of Sunday brunch.

Night of the Macaroons

One of our friends from England didn’t believe there were such things as raccoons in Toronto, when she visited us in 2007. When she finally did catch a glimpse of one through the window one dark and rainy night in November, she squealed with delight and (in her excited state) immediately nicknamed them “macaroons”.

Well, now that summer is here and we’re spending a bit of time in the back yard, we’re starting to see more of them and they ain’t too shy! Here’s a video we took of two youngsters going for a walkabout on our fence – just for you, Louise!

Stained glass


We moved into an old Victorian row house in September, 2007, having lived in a loft condo since moving to Toronto in 2004. The loft experience was great and we made lots of good friends in what was, to us, a new city. Still, we missed the floorspace and instant access to the outside that a house provides, so we took a plunge into the market to see what was available and eventually bought the home we’re in now.

We were told by our agent that the house had heritage status and, after doing some reasearch into the Heritage Toronto Plaque program we discovered that, for a fee, we could apply for a brass plaque on the outside of the house to designate its status.

Well, being the keeners that we are, we did so and, after waiting six months, found out today that our application was approved. Which means we’ll be having the plaque installed sometime in May.

We’re quite happy about this, especially since we’re trying to maintain that old Victorian feel of the place by installing two stained glass panels in the entranceway, ones that match the old, existing stained glass window in the living room. El Franco went to night classes at a studio to learn how to make these windows and the fruit of his labour was in evidence earlier this week, after a glazier came and fitted the two new panels in the door.

Here’s a picture of his handiwork, post-installation.