Waiting for the rain that never comes – and for the elections to be over

Kenya After two years of no rain, all colour has drained from the landscape on the farm so that by the time we boarded the bush plane to leave in the bright sun it was as if we were all snow blind. From the air the highlands were waterless and dead until we descended over Kenya’s north shore and the world went green. My late mother’s garden at the beach house swirls with bougainvillea, gardenia, frangipani and allamanda. Green ingots of baobab leaves hang wetly down over green grass and wild flowers which spill down to the high tide mark. We walk among clouds of butterflies with lilac-breasted rollers and

Why a church in Jerusalem is the model for all family-owned holiday homes

Malindi, the Indian Ocean When I lived in Jerusalem a long time ago, I often visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the Catholics, the Greeks, the Syrians and Armenians had their separate territories within the sacred complex of Christ’s Calvary, tomb and Resurrection. (The Ethiopian priests were all unfairly banished to the roof.) Every year, one of the denominations would say: ‘The ceiling is blackened by candle smoke — we should clean it.’ And all the other denominations would say: ‘Noooo — this is a terrible idea. It should not be done.’ The next year, another of the denominations would also say: ‘The ceiling is blackened by smoke,

With tourists absent, the teeming marine life has returned to the sea off Malindi

Malindi, Kenya Beneath the Indian Ocean’s surface, I wondered if the pandemic had turned out to be a good thing after all. I swam among corals blooming more colourfully and with more diversity of reef fishes than on any dive I can recall since my childhood. On the high-tide line in front of our beach house on Kenya’s north coast, sandpiper feet and the claws of ghost crabs are becoming entangled in discarded blue face masks. This year, the tourists are mostly absent and the seafront nightclubs, restricted by curfew, are silent. But out here among the coral gardens, the teeming marine life, flaring with psychedelic colours, hints how swiftly