Author: Ann Patras

I was born and raised a L*O*N*G time ago in Burton on Trent, England where my parents ran the family's busy corner grocery store and later a pub. I moved with my husband and 3 kids to Africa in 1989 where we lived for 32 years. We had many new, strange, exciting, frightening, weird, silly, sad, happy and amazing experiences during that time. After many years of procrastinating and moving to Spain in 2011 I completed the first book in my 'Africa Series' "Into Africa with 3 kids, 13 crates and a husband", in 2014. This only recounted the first year of our family’s somewhat unusual life in Africa. My second book, "More Into Africa with 3 kids, some dogs and a husband" which covers three further years, was released in 2016. I am currently in the mess of writing the third. I love writing about our daft experiences and hopefully making people laugh in the process. Finally, I am absolutely thrilled to to bits to tell you that INTO AFRICA received the Silver Award in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2016, (non-fiction category) in the UK.

Jeepers Creepers

SOUTH AFRICA, Sunday 14th Feb 2010

You’ve heard of something being as interesting as watching grass grow?

One Thursday evening Leon came round for supper.  While we were waiting for the roast, we decided to have a game of cards.

Waiting for him out on the patio, whilst he was buggering about with something inside, I was sitting looking at nothing in particular, when I thought I saw a slight movement – of a plant.

Now you might ask, “What’s so unusual in that?  They are not exactly solid as concrete or contained in a hermetically sealed, breeze-free tank, but grow wild and rampant in your garden.”

Ah, Yes.  BUT it was a totally windless evening.  Not the slightest hint of even a breath of wind was to be felt.

Then, you might remark “There must have been an insect or even a very small lizard crawling up it’s nether regions.”  But “No”, I would reply, “I checked all over and around it”.  There were no foreign bodies to be found lurking anywhere upon it.

It was moving entirely by itself.

SH!T, I thought, the Triffids have landed.

Actually it was the tendril of a Morning Glory plant which has chosen to infiltrate the bougainvillea bush just outside my patio.  This particular tendril had grown its way around the white, plastered pillar which supports my patio roof, so it was all on its little ownsome, and thus clearly definable.

About 30cm (or about a foot to the unmetricised) of tendril leant against the pillar.  Until it started to move – away from the pillar towards where I was seated on the patio.

I rubbed my eyes and looked again, but as I stared at it, sure as eggs is eggs and the Pope’s a Catholic, I could physically see it growing.

I thought “Sod me”, or words to that effect, and after checking it out for a few more minutes, called Leon to come and witness this amazing phenomenon, cos even surer than eggs is eggs and the Pope’s a German (at the time of the incident) Catholic, no-one would believe me if I told them about this, without having a witness.

I said to him,

“Leon, just stand perfectly still and watch that plant, and tell me if you can see anything unusual about it.”  After less than a minutes, he said “Bloody Hell, it’s MOVING”.

We continued to watch until after about seven or eight minutes the end of the tendril had moved a couple of inches away from the pillar.

I went and called Ziggy to see it too, but in his own particular idiom he told me to go away.

Leon and I were transfixed by this marvel and only when it was too dark, did we realise that we should have been videoing this close encounter with nature.  But I did manage to take a couple of photos showing its progress.

When I first saw it, the tendril was flat up against, and halfway across, the pillar, as in photo 1.  It then started to move towards me until it was eventually about six inches away from the wall (photos 2 & 3).

In the final picture it had turned and was making its way back to where it had originally come from.

creeper-1

Creeper 1

creeper-2

Creeper 2

creeper-3

Creeper 3

creeper-4

Creeper 4

By this time we had realised that it wasn’t so much ‘growing’ as moving round.  Spookyyyy.

But to watch it in action was like seeing one of those documentary programs where they speed up the film.   Albeit this was somewhat slower, but it was LIVE.

Watching grass grow definitely has nothing on watching a creeper creep!

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PHOTOGRAPHS – MORE INTO AFRICA with 3 Kids, some Dogs and a Husband

Here are a few more photographs taken during the three years covered by More Into Africa.  Sorry the quality isn’t too good on some of them, time has taken its toll.

Brad, ready for his first day at Big School, Lechwe Primary 6 Sept 1981.

Brad, ready for his first day at Big School, Lechwe Primary 6 Sept 1981.

The trio, on Brad's first day at Lechwe Primary. Would you look at the size of those school cases Vicki and Leon have!

The trio, on Brad’s first day at Lechwe Primary. Would you look at the size of those school cases Vicki and Leon have!

Brad on the slipway at Kafue River. Until I found this photo I hadn't realised he'd got so close to the water's edge! SCAREY!

Brad on the slipway at Kafue River. Until I found this photo I hadn’t realised he’d got so close to the water’s edge! SCAREY!

Leon, also o the Kafue River slipway.

Leon, also o the Kafue River slipway.

Doris with Vicki, Leon and Brad at the Theatre Club, December 1981.

Doris with Vicki, Leon and Brad at the Theatre Club, December 1981.

Our "Queen Mother", though I can't imagine the real one would have struck a pose like that! (Looks like she's doing the 'I'm a Little Teapot' nursery rhyme!)

Our “Queen Mother”, though I can’t imagine the real one would have struck a pose like that! (Looks like she’s doing the ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ nursery rhyme!)

Sitting on the wall that Vicki nearly tumbled onto.

Sitting on the wall that Vicki nearly tumbled onto.

The Boss. Pensive, tired or nursing a hang-over?

The Boss. Pensive, tired or nursing a hang-over?

Mother and Daughter, November 1982.

Mother and Daughter, November 1982.

A trip around the garden in the company bakkie.

A trip around the garden in the company bakkie.

Kitwe Little Theatre swimming pool. The shallow end is on the left.

Kitwe Little Theatre swimming pool. The shallow end is on the left.

Sister Ann in Hamlet, 1983

Sister Ann in Hamlet, 1983

Part of the cast of the Olde Time Music Hall, October 1983. Just look at that brazen bint in the centre!!

Part of the cast of the Olde Time Music Hall, October 1983. Just look at that brazen bint in the centre!!

Lizzie Land Rover when we first bought her in July 1983.  Sorry for the poor colour quality here.  She REALLY was pale yellow.

Lizzie Land Rover when we first bought her in July 1983. Sorry for the poor colour quality here. She REALLY was pale yellow.

Bass at 8 weeks old. Yes, I did say EIGHT weeks!! And Vicki with Sally.

Bass at 8 weeks old. Yes, I did say EIGHT weeks!! And Vicki with Sally.

Vicki ad baby Bass. March 1983.

Vicki ad baby Bass. March 1983.

Coke being pestered by Bass.

Coke being pestered by Bass.

Had enough of puppies!

Had enough of puppies!

Bass a little older, but still with razor sharp teeth, as can be seen from Vicki's pained expression when she got nipped!

Bass a little older, but still with razor sharp teeth, as can be seen from Vicki’s pained expression when she got nipped!

All the dogs - July 1983.

All the dogs – July 1983.

Mwande Crescent with it's long awaited swimming pool.

Mwande Crescent with it’s long awaited swimming pool.

Leon and Vicki with Clarence.

Leon and Vicki with Clarence.

Brad being 'dressed up' for his role as a shepherd in the '83 Christmas concert. I think his beard came unstuck!

Brad being ‘dressed up’ for his role as a shepherd in the ’83 Christmas concert. I think his beard came unstuck!

All three ready for Lechwe.

All three ready for Lechwe.

Private Brad, US Army. Christmas 1983.

Private Brad, US Army. Christmas 1983.

Vicki, Christmas 1983

Vicki, Christmas 1983

Super Spaceman, Christmas 1983

Super Spaceman, Christmas 1983

Christmas dress-ups. 1983.

Christmas dress-ups. 1983.

L - R. Karen & Christopher Heath, Jenny Coote, Miari & Ken Cummins. Standing at the bar John McConkey with his dad Mac seated at the bar on the left.

L – R. Karen & Christopher Heath, Jenny Coote, Miari & Ken Cummins. Standing at the bar John McConkey with his dad Mac seated at the bar on the left.

Vicki with Sarah Coote.

Vicki with Sarah Coote.

Brad, Richard Coote and Alistair Cummins.

Brad, Richard Coote and Alistair Cummins.

The Big Catch! Vicki, Sarah, Brad, Alistair and Leon. And, of course, FISH.

The Big Catch! Vicki, Sarah, Brad, Alistair and Leon. And, of course, FISH.

Brothers.

Brothers.

Coca Cola concentrate bottle used for the Milk Run. It held 5 litres.

Coca Cola concentrate bottle used for the Milk Run. It held 5 litres.

Vicki and Leon's sixth birthday cakes, to share with classmates at Lechwe Primary.

Vicki and Leon’s sixth birthday cakes, to share with classmates at Lechwe Primary.

The 'practice put-up' of our new continental tent.

The ‘practice put-up’ of our new continental tent.

Mulungushi Dam camp-site.

Mulungushi Dam camp-site.

The camp kitchen, Mulungushi. Ken, Ziggy and Miari.

The camp kitchen, Mulungushi. Ken, Ziggy and Miari.

Ken in relaxed mode.

Ken in relaxed mode.

Brad on the dam's edge.

Brad on the dam’s edge.

Me, attempting fishing Can't remember if I caught anything.

Me, attempting fishing Can’t remember if I caught anything.

Vicki and Leon, Sports Day at Lechwe. 1984.

Vicki and Leon, Sports Day at Lechwe. 1984.

Lechwe Primary first official School Photo, June 1984.

Lechwe Primary first official School Photo, June 1984.

With Nancy and Mev at Itezhi-tezhi hot springs at Kafue National Park. Some wit had rammed a pipe into the ground to cause a water-spout.

With Nancy and Mev at Itezhi-tezhi hot springs at Kafue National Park. Some wit had rammed a pipe into the ground to cause a water-spout.

David Shepherd Lodge, Kafue National Park.

David Shepherd Lodge, Kafue National Park.

David Shepherd Lodge, Kafue National Park.

David Shepherd Lodge, Kafue National Park.

Interested parties at Leon's Prize Giving. Richard Coote's legs, Brad, Leon's teacher who's name escapes me, Sarah, Vicki, Leon, Me, Karen with Christopher, Lynne Quarmby, her neice Charlotte, in green I don't know, Lynn's step-daughter Hilary with Lynn's daughter Laura, Jane Hales and my Dad and Mum.

Interested parties at Leon’s Prize Giving. Richard Coote’s legs, Brad, Leon’s teacher who’s name escapes me, Sarah, Vicki, Leon, Me, Karen with Christopher, Lynne Quarmby, her neice Charlotte, in green I don’t know, Lynn’s step-daughter Hilary with Lynn’s daughter Laura, Jane Hales and my Dad and Mum.

Proud family

Proud Mum and Dad

More proud family.

Proud Grandparents.

 

I’m in the Spotlight on Sunday

Hi Folks,

Do you remember me telling you about a fantastic FB Group I belong to called We Love Memoirs? It was put together by two British authors living here in Spain in order to introduce people who enjoy reading memoirs to authors who write them. It is truly the friendliest group on FB.

Well, next Sunday, 12 June,  I am going to be in the hot seat on a weekly slot they call Spotlight Sunday, where any WLM members can ask me questions about ANYTHING. I must confess that I have done it before and it was great fun, but with the release of More Into Africa they want to put me on the stand again for the benefit of members who have joined more recently.

If you’d like to participate in this crazy question/answer session or even just read what others have asked, and see my answers, all you need to do is join WLM.

You can visit the page yourself and apply, or post post a message on my Facebook and I’ll put your name forward.  Here are the links either way.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/welovememoirs/?__mref=message

 

https://www.facebook.com/ann.patrasauthor?ref=ts&fref=ts

PHOTOGRAPHS – INTO AFRICA with 3 kids,13 crates and a husband

View of the front of the Little House, which was home for our first two months in Kitwe.

View of the front of the Little House, which was home for our first two months in Kitwe.

Vicki, Leon & Nina

Vicki, Leon & Nina

Under protection?

Under protection?

Brad's grooming session with Nina.

Brad’s grooming session with Nina.

Here you can see just how thin Nina was when we first arrived at the Little House.  It's a miracle she survived the tick fever.  She was a wonderful dog.

Here you can see just how thin Nina was when we first arrived at the Little House. It’s a miracle she survived the tick fever. She was a wonderful dog.

Budding Golfers

Budding Golfers

Brad's 4th Birthday Party

Brad’s 4th Birthday Party

Birthday Bike

Birthday Bike

The Big House, 1

The Big House, 1

The Big House, 2

The Big House, 2

Watermelon Man Nov 1980

Watermelon Man Nov 1980

Brad with puppy Coke

Brad with puppy Coke

Leon, Brad and Vicki with Nanny (my mum Nancy).

Leon, Brad and Vicki with Nanny (my mum Nancy). Leon was holding a frog in his left hand, poor thing. 

3rd BD MM Hats 81

The Mr Men party hats Nancy and I spent hours making.

Vicki & Leon 3rd Birthday.1

Vicki & Leon 3rd Birthday.1

3rd Birthday twins

3rd Birthday twins

Three kids in a wheel-barrow, and don't forget the dog!

Three kids in a wheel-barrow, and don’t forget the dog!

Transport in Motion

Transport in Motion

A blue headed lizard

A blue headed lizard

Beside the climbing tree

Beside the climbing tree

Beside the climbing tree

Beside the climbing tree

Braaimaster Ziggy

Braaimaster Ziggy

One of my favourite oldies with the kids.

One of my favourite oldies with the kids.

When we returned to England at the end of our first year.  With my mum and dad (Nancy & Mev), and I'm holding my Goddaughter, Kelly.

When we returned to England at the end of our first year. With my mum and dad (Nancy & Mev), and I’m holding my Goddaughter, Kelly.

I’m sorry there aren’t more pics, but the quality of the film  has proved that many of our photographs just haven’t stood the test of time as well as they might.

I’ve done it again.

If you look in the drop-down menu of Crazy Ramblings you will see that I described, at quite some length, the degree of my General Stupidity when it came to setting up this blog.

I eventually managed to sort myself out, though dog knows how.  Unfortunately I must have blogged myself out with that because I then didn’t touch it for months, as you will no doubt have realised.

Then, with the rapidly approaching release of my second book, I thought it was time I put a few finishing touches to the trivia about my first book.  You may have noticed that I posted copies of the sketches which appeared in the paperback version of Into Africa.  This was chiefly for the benefit of those who bought the Kindle version of the book, as that edition only contained a few.  It took almost as much effort for me to draw those few miserable sketches  as it did to write the entire book, so I didn’t see why anyone should be denied the pleasure of my exquisite masterpieces.

However, when I posted them in their rightful place, I also made a rather rash promise that I would also add some photographs of the family during that era too.

Last night I decided it was time I honoured that promise, and set to with gusto.

Well, I had gusto to start with, but I’m afraid it rather blew itself out as the daylight hours faded and I still battled on, trying to tart-up faded and jaded photographs using the modern technology offered by Photoshop.  When I came to transfer them to the storage facility which sits in the annals of this blog, I couldn’t find where I had saved the nice, bright, shiny versions on my computer.  But I battled on.

I finally tracked them down and carefully transferred them here, all in chronological order so as not to confuse you, my dear readers, only to find as I checked through the batch, that I had missed one out.  It was one I particularly liked, of my mum with the kids, so I searched it out and added it in.  But it wasn’t in quite the right order.

Despite vigorously searching the help notes on WordPress I could find no way to edit this gallery of fine art.  So I said to myself,

“Ann,” I said “it is now half past one in the morning and you are perhaps no longer at your sharpest, so why don’t you call it a day?”

I went on,

“Have yourself a good night’s sleep then when you’re bright and fresh in the morning (ha, ha, ha) you can look at it with fresh eyes and a clear head.”

Personally I think that was expecting a bit much from me, but I heeded my advice and shut up shop.

So now you’re expecting me to tell you how easy it was for me to sort it all out perfectly and guide you to the right spot to view those Patrases of the past, aren’t you?  TOUGH!   Because I have just spent three quarters of an hour trying to find the bloody Gallery where these photos were saved as a draft and ….  gone!  Zippo.  Zilch.  Zero.  Nil.  Nada. Nix. Naught.  Bugger All !!!  Can I find a Gallery?  Can I thump!

So I shall gently close this laptop, as opposed to throwing it into the pool, and quietly leave the subject until I am of a more relaxed and placid state of mind.    Hrrrmmmm.

Hasta luego.

PS.  In case you haven’t seen them yet, you’ll find the sketches carefully hidden in the Africa Series drop-down menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROOF I’M AN IDIOT – THE BIG TRIP VII – AND NEXT UP MONARCH

This is from my friend Lucinda’s blog. She is a brilliant author.   She has written several books already, three excellent memoirs, and a series of great novels set in Africa.  Another novel is a Highly Politically Incorrect, incredibly funny look at what really goes on in Never-Never Land.   She has a sense of humour wickedly similar to mine.  Need I say more…?  Check her out!

lucinda E Clarke

Just as you think you’ve got a handle on things life smacks you in the face. Last week I was so proud of myself. I wrote my blog in Word on the Sunday to free up my half day ‘me time’ on the Monday. I found all the pictures and popped them into the media box – so now all I had to do was quickly cut and paste and I’d be writing Amie 3.

Now if you are about to ask why I didn’t do the whole thing and then press publish on Monday, well I’ve yet to work that one out. The last time I tried it, it went live immediately.

So, all completed nice and early, pressed publish and then remembered that I’d not added the categories and tags. No problem I thought, I’ll just pop back and edit it. So I did and then I sent…

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