The minute I started reading The Poet’s Wife I fell in love with Rebecca’s writing, she has a way of drawing you into each scene with her beautifully crafted sentences. I can’t wait for the gorgeously titled The Girl and The Sunbird to be released on 17th June. After learning a bit more about Rebecca I confess to being a little bit in love with her life. She’s super busy so I really appreciate the time she spent sharing a typical day.
I live in Nairobi which many people are surprised to hear rests at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet above sea level, so the mornings are almost always cold and fresh. I tend to start my day with a little yoga before a rushed breakfast, feeding our animals (three chickens, a cat and a dog) and frantic getting-ready to take my three children to school, aged 10, 8 and 5. For the first 3 years of living in Nairobi we had to drive there, but we recently moved house, so now we are able to walk to school which feels like a real luxury. Whether we are traipsing through mud in the rainy season, or just marveling at the odd chameleon or chongololo crossing the road (millipede – our first word in Swahili!) or a mousebird flying overhead, we love being able to stretch our legs in the morning.
When I get back, I make myself a strong coffee (I’m not a great morning person and need quite a lot of help waking up!) and check my emails. My five year old son finishes school at lunchtime so I have the mornings to myself. I go for a run or do a yoga class (yes, I love yoga!) and then get down to writing, editing or researching, depending on what stage I’m at with my work in progress.
Power cuts are frequent here in Nairobi and can last for anything between five minutes and – the worst we’ve ever had – three days! As you can imagine, we get through a lot of candles…If my laptop runs out of power, I head to the nearest café where I have to fight for space at a table where many others in my area are also charging phones or computers. There is often a water issue as well. We have a big tank at the side of the house and it is filled with rainwater, but if it hasn’t rained for some time, it gets used up quickly and we need to contact somebody to tank the water in for us. If we don’t…well, there’s no water for cooking, cleaning or washing! These challenges used to drive me to distraction in the early days but now I’m used to them – this is Nairobi life!
I also run an after-school creative writing club for children, a story time session for pre-schoolers and volunteer at a girls’ vocational centre where we do creative, life and motivational writing activities. So as well as working on my novel or blog, I am often involved in preparing for these sessions.
The afternoons I spend with my little boy doing library duty at my kids’ school (I set up the library there last year), going to the market, playing games or trying to get him interested enough in an activity so I can continue with my work! My girls finish school at 3.15, and then it’s the normal after-school round of driving them to various activities. The traffic in Nairobi is horrendous so we do everything as locally as possible.
As we’re close to the equator, it gets dark at the same time year round here, at about 6.30pm. Like the mornings, the evenings are chilly so it’s all hot dinners, hot baths etc and sometimes sitting outside at night at the weekends round the fire wrapped in blankets, also to protect us from the blood-guzzling mosquitos (non-malarial here, thankfully.) My husband Andy (whose job in the water and sanitation sector brought us here from London three years ago) gets back before darkness falls. He mostly cycles to and from work because it takes him either half an hour to cycle or – wait for it – up to two hours to drive because of the delightful traffic here (People moan about the traffic here in the exact same way that my fellow Brits moan about the weather!).
By the time we have fed the children, scraped the infamous deep red Nairobi mud off them, helped with homework and music practice, read stories and coaxed them into bed, it’s not exactly rock n roll round at our place. But I always finish my day with searching the cupboard for the dwindling supply of chocolate we always bring back from the UK and then settling down with some books before conking out!
It’s been an amazing, inspirational experience living here in Nairobi. It won’t last forever, so I am always reminding myself to make the most of each and every day of it. Yes, even during a three-day power cut! After all, it’s the perfect excuse to have candlelit meals, get out the under-used guitar and really talk…
Thanks so much Rebecca for sharing.