Your Memoirs – “Piggy in the Muddle”

Long before lockdown I was used to aloneness. I was divorced 29 years ago so have had lots of practice. But even during the years of my marriage there were countless lonely, lockdown days… quelling frustration and boredom, trying to fill endless time in foreign places where friends were few and opportunities limited.

Two of those years were spent on a remote hillside upcountry in Tanzania. Thanks to a British funded roads project, sixteen engineers and their families were learning to live a quasi pioneering life… having ‘bucket showers’ for weeks on end until we got hot water courtesy of a clever system called a Tanganyika Boiler, having to boil and filter drinking water, learning to bake edible bread and shopping for vegetables in the local thatched-hut market.

We even cut up a pig we bought from a local farmer (we thought we were just getting “some pork”!) Our only tools were a hammer, saw and screwdriver… and a Readers Digest cook book illustrating different cuts of meat. We tried to follow this but gave up after several hours and just clumsily hacked away. That pig’s spare ribs however were the biggest and best we’d ever had!

Inevitably those new experiences became my ‘new normal’… but when I realised that, without fail, my husband’s Land Rover was going to be the last one to kick up the familiar orange trail of homeward dust every evening, I had to accept the aloneness of long, slow days… days with no newspapers, radio or television, and when letters home and back again took three weeks or more…

…But I also realised that it was a unique opportunity to value the importance of small things… to marvel at the beauty of nature… to revel in an oasis far from the clanging of ‘real’ life…

But mostly I appreciated the local people… industrious, hard working people forging out a life from their vegetable patches (shambas) and making do. They taught me much about how little you need to enjoy life…

We seldom need the finer things… just good health… and a freshly baked edible loaf…

Submitted by Ann Seed, 67, Edinburgh

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