Duck Salad – Ras Mbisi Style


I made this at New Year for the first time in 3 years, it was a staple starter on my menus at RML and very popular.  This time we had it as a stand alone meal and it was lovely.  This isn’t really a recipe, more a list of ingredients…

1 Duck
2 Star Anise
1 Bayleaf
1 Lime

First take your duck (note, you can just use duck legs, 2 would be enough for 3 people as a main course).  Put the duck into a pan of water just enough to cover, add 2 star anise and a bayleaf and bring to the boil, once boiling reduce heat to a simmer for 40 minutes.  Meanwhile heat the oven on high and prep your veg. After 40 minutes remove the duck from the water, pat dry with kitchen towel  and transfer to a roasting tin, roast for 40 minutes, you should now have a perfectly cooked crispy skinned duck.  Pull all the meat off and shred (easiest to do this with 2 forks), squeeze lime juice over it.

Salad List

Romaine Lettuce – shredded
Handful of mint – chopped
Handful of coriander – chopped
Chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion,
Pomegranate seeds

Mix the salad with juice of two limes & a tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, scatter the duck on top and then scatter with pomegranate seeds. Eat.




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Mince Pie Pastry


1 lb Self raising Flour
8 oz Trex
4 oz caster sugar
1 egg

zest of 2 clementines
little water with a squeeze of clementine juice

2 jars mincemeat.

Rub fat into flour and sugar until resembling fine breadcrumbs. Lightly beat the egg, and mix in with a knife adding a little water. Resulting paste should be smooth and soft and very pliable. No need to rest in fridge.

Roll out thinly, you will need plenty of flour as the pastry is quite sticky – this is correct as it will ‘thicken’ slightly when cooking.

Line your mince pie tins with the pastry (greased with trex), we used a pallett knife and place a spoonful of mince in each, place on pastry tops and seal gently with finger tips (no added liquid necessary). Be careful, this pastry is soft to work with.

Cook at appx 180/90c until lightly golden. (Appx 20 – 25 mins, but will depend on your oven).

Leave pies in tins to cool for a few minutes and then place a wire rack on top and tip over – tap the bottoms of each pie and they will slip out. (Don’t attempt to hook out with a knife – they will break!) Then you can turn them up the right way to cool.

Sprinkle with a little sugar if preferred.

This pasty will be crisp, yet crumbly – keeps and freezes exceptionally well and my Grannies pies were legendary – she was asked to make 100’s each year for the WI

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Rising from the ashes

Phoenix-like? maybe?  Ras Mbisi is no more, sadly the entire lodge burnt to the ground at the beginning of November, the owner/manager has left the country and staff haven’t been paid since October, they are now jobless in an area with no jobs, at all.  I’ve had one after another contact me on facebook for a reference because the most recent employer won’t issue references.  I’m not going to lie, I am highly skeptical of ‘accidental’ fires.  Especially when I consider the ethics of those involved, if you can hack into personal emails & private messages or stab someone in the back who rescued you and your belongings and fed and housed you for 2 years then you are capable of anything really.

Mind you the fact that re-building has been taken off the table makes me wonder about the insurance, none? won’t pay out? paid out but cutting losses?  Who knows, and finally I can say, who cares…. Ras Mbisi’s burning down seems to have done what ‘selling up*’ didn’t – it’s given closure, it’s gone.

It’s sad that our ‘legacy’ has gone, but I think we can move on now and that can only be good.


  • We were forced into selling up by our landlord and our water sports manager who connived together behind our backs exchanging info on our precarious financials (recession, getting through said recession took everything we had, we were ‘just’ getting on our feet again)
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The Referendum

Or, the biggest decision of our generation.  Yet most people still don’t know how they are going to vote.  Both campaigns have been horrific, both sides lie and manipulate.

Anyone who knows me, who sees my FB posts knows that I believe staying IN is the right choice, just as they can tell you which political party I support.  I don’t buy the English stance of politics being private, not for me.  What others do is their own affair, but I will shout loud and clear.  Not because I think everyone should agree with me, not because I want people to change their beliefs, not because I think I have all the answers, but because I do believe in standing up for what I believe.

The OUT or BREXIT supporters would have all the undecided believe that the Remainers don’t understand that the EU is a faceless unelected, bureaucratic machine.  That it sometimes overrides our Governments laws – the reality is that SOME things should be beyond politics and government ideology.  Workers rights, freedom of movement, human rights, things like that, because otherwise we just bounce between Tory and Labour governments changing/tinkering with our rights, we need to know that we can have paid holiday, maternity leave, paternity leave, the right to not be discriminated against if we are female, black, gay, transgender, poor, rich, somewhere inbetween.

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Why I won’t be pigeon holed

Or why I no longer care what other people think.

The business failed.  It actually didn’t, it’s still going, we sold it.  Yes, we were forced into it but that has turned into a good thing, not so much for the people who forced us into it, but for us.

When we made the leap to create Ras Mbisi a lot of people told us we were mad, wrong, stupid to even dream about it.  These people are over the moon that we came back ‘with your tails between your legs’, and yes initially we were very low.  Yet we created an amazing place from scratch in a very difficult remote place, we had (a lot) 5 star Tripadvisor reviews.  What we had realised was;  We didn’t have enough capital to grow the business and it wasn’t big enough to get a loan in Africa to grow it.  Now, today we’d be able to set up a crowdfunder and things could be very different, but having limped through the recession (worldwide recession 9 months after opening), the piracy in the Indian Ocean, Election fears, you name it, loans were hard to come by and we just had no way of raising the necessary cash.  Better then to sell and get out.  So we did.

Problem was it paralysed us for a while, OK so we were (are) both working, kids are in school (so proud of how they handled going from being free range home schooled bush kids to settling down to UK school life without becoming part of the herd), but something was missing, we weren’t free, we’d just slotted back into what we knew, working for the man, being one (two) of the beige army, except we aren’t.  I have never believed that our generation would have a safety net like our parents, those pensions will not be there when we retire.  So the idea that we should just work hard and sit tight letting our lives pass by does not resonate with me.  At 46 it seems a bit late to start something new I’m told, really?  Really?  Fuck off.

What did I learn from building and running the Lodge?

  • That Jon and I worked really well together
  • That I was good at social media and not a bad writer
  • That I was good at and enjoyed public speaking – this was from working with E frontiers
  • That my recipes and menus were really, really liked
  • That we were good at managing on very little
  • That we were good at living in isolation without going insane
  • That we were open to meeting all kinds of people
  • That some people are just truly unpleasant and unhappy and nothing you can do will please them, you can only try.  If you try and they are still unhappy, move on or they will infect you.

So, what am I doing now?  I’m diversifying – watch this space…

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Lifestyle changes

2014 was to be the year of me, by this I mean doing something that I have never done in my entire life, being selfish/putting myself and my needs first.  I’ve not been doing too well….

I grew up in a family where the order of importance was, my younger brother (he was one of twins and his twin died of cot death at 3 months of age, he was also a severe asthmatic), my Dads parents and his sisters, my Dads work (we lived all over the world as my Dad was a Diplomat), both my parents would put each other in at this point as priority in each others lives, my Dads music (he played in bands in whatever country we were posted to), both my parents sport, everything else, and then me.  I’m not bleating poor me at this, it’s just how it was, as a result I grew up to be a people pleaser, something I hate myself for as I became too good at playing the victim and being passive aggressive in order to have anything how I wanted it.  Obviously nothing achieved in this way can be enjoyed and so I spent a large amount of time miserable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some joyous times, I have a fantastic marriage, wonderful kids etc etc.  But I am very bad at looking after me, there isn’t time, headspace, energy to do so.  So I thought enough, this year I will put myself first, say no when I don’t want to do things, say yes to the things I do want to do, lose weight, get healthy.  We are now over halfway through 2014 and what have I achieved?  Not a lot would be the answer.

I have:

Stopped drinking alcohol on a daily basis, consumption is now at about 4 units a week, most weeks less.

Stopped smoking, to be fair I stopped almost 2 years ago having got to the point where I was smoking 60 a day and blaming it on stress (there was a lot but it’s no excuse), but I kept on having the odd one, not any more.

So those are good, but I haven’t managed to fit in regular exercise, and as for losing weight pah!  We eat a healthy diet, no one else in the family gains weight apart from me!  The only thing that works is not eating, which isn’t sustainable for long, so I lose a bit, then start gaining again, I am fed up with it!  So, tomorrow I start couch to 5k, let’s see how I do hmm…..

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Is it just me…..

Anyone else notice a general lack of tolerance of others, extreme judgementalism (i know it’s not a word –  for the pendants), a me me me mentality these days?  It seems to be pretty universal rather than just a few isolated weirdo’s.  From the single 30-something women who see nothing wrong in targeting married men with children because they are ready to have kids and sod the existing family, to those that regard anyone who has re-produced as stupid and selfish because children might interfere with the child-frees right to have nothing in the way of their having a good time (on a plane, in a restaurant etc – this is on sight of children rather than said children having actually misbehaved in anyway).  People getting annoyed and self-righteous about smokers sitting at outside pub/restaurant/cafe tables and SMOKING, people daring to believe in god/going to church (fyi I gave up smoking 2 years ago and I’ve never been a church goer/don’t believe in god – I’m just tolerant of others).  Oh and how about those that are sooo special that they are always late, why is your time more important than mine?


I really would love to know, what makes these people believe they are so special that everyone should do things their way?  Oh and fyi ladies, when a man marries his mistress, a vacancy occurs – leopards don’t change spots and you are not so special that it won’t happen to you.



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It’s been a while…

Things have been happening, many, many things.  First up, I got my husband back, the lodge is sold and my beloved Jonny is back with us.  Living apart for 18 months having spent the preceding 7 years or so living in each others pockets 24/7 was to be blunt fucking terrible.  That said, the terrible way in which the buyers behaved during the sale did not make losing our blood sweat and tears business easy.  But hey, karma, karma WILL get them (with a little help 🙂 ) I won’t go into the duplicity shown by my so-called oldest ‘friend’.

In other news, we’re moving onwards and upwards, loving living here in our new home, loving having electricity and  water when I want it, loving living close to town, loving my hotchpotch of a lifestyle, working for ‘the man’ (JLR), and buying and selling vintage crockery and homewares.  Loving seeing my girls blossom at school (and in particular loving having proved people wrong when it comes to the years of homeschooling).  Most of all appreciating every single day how lucky we are, we lived our dream (and got out before TZ really becomes a hellhole – esp for tourism those new taxes are gonna HURT)and we are a united family, none of those that trod on us have that, none of them are capable of holding down a relationship because they must always come first no matter the cost, it’s going to be a long, cold, sad and lonely old age my ‘friends’.

I can’t tell you just how bitter I was at first, but I’ve brushed myself down and got on with it, and so far, I’m winning.

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Trying new things


Daughters have become somewhat enamoured with Macarons recently, well pretty colours, sweet and did I mention the pretty colours?  Have you seen the price of those things???? So, I decided to try making them.  Whoop!! Look at those babies, and voted by the kids as ‘better than shop bought’ (damn sight cheaper too)

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Cheap Food

I’ve wittered on about saving money on food shopping, prices going up out of the blue but in an about face I now need to talk about what should cost.  Cheap food is generally cheap for a reason, I don’t buy value or basics meat and fish, ever.  If I can’t afford quality meat and fish, we go without.  Thankfully my children aren’t fussy about eating vegetables!!  To put it simply, we eat less but better meat.  We eat a lot of veggie bakes, pasta dishes, risottos, homemade veggie burgers, sandwiches for school packed lunches are tuna mayo or good cheddar grated and mixed with onion, herbs and mayo (and yes, I make my own mayo, from good eggs).  I’m not perfect, sometimes we give in and have that takeaway with meat/fish of unknown provenance – but we try not to, and actually eating this way is cheaper, and you really appreciate the meat or fish when you do have it

Are we happy to buy poor quality meat? As long as it’s cheap, the public doesn’t  complain. But how much water is in that mince? And the addition of brine and meat extracts to chicken and other meats — is that okay with you?  That fish stocks are low and yet the demand for fish rapidly disappearing from our oceans is growing, should we not be trying to eat lesser known but plentiful fish, or sustainably farmed fish?

One of my big dreams is to organise food raves – remember raves? 90s ‘parties’, but with amazing locally, sustainably sourced and produced food,  served up at source, so on farms, beaches, in fish markets, village halls and the like with lots of dancing and laughter thrown in – I think it could be fab.

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