Kenya and Somalia.

In Kenya, I was employed by John Mowlem Construction Company at the main depot in Dandora which is on the outskirts of Nairobi, about 25 mins from the centre of the city. We lived in a camp of about 12 houses which was immediately opposite the depot, about 1 or 2 kms after Dandora railway station. At the railway station there was a sign saying "Dandora - elevation 6,500 ft", which made it very cool in the summer and also reduced the mosquito problem.

In 1978 and 1979 I did a lot of work in Mombasa and in Somalia, travelling up to Somalia in the company's light aircraft. Sometimes travelling once a month to visit the Juba Sugar Project where Mowlem were working together with Wimpey of the UK and also to the Kismayo Port, where we had a lot of equipment.

Kenya was probably the best and easiest place to live up to now. There was a security problem, but definitely not as serious as it was to become later. Most of the expats kept dogs in Kenya and we had an English Springer Spaniel "Florence" and a Rottweiler "Cassie". Sometimes when we were living upcountry we were in temporary accommodation in the bush. Cassie always considered that she was in charge of the property, until one day in Tana River, she was confronted by a troop of baboons in the garden!

In Tana River we were putting a dam around a power station, and in the early morning we regularly had to evict the hippos that used to sleep on the sand and aggregate at the concrete plant.

JJ was born in Nairobi in 1981. Life in Kenya in the late 70's early 80's was still fairly comfortable for an expat. There was the security situation and there were occasional frustrations with shortages of some foods, but generally it was pretty comfortable.

One drawback we had was the area that we lived in was famous for snakes and we frequently had cobras and puff adders in the garden. On one particular Sunday afternoon the houseboys collected 7 serious snakes in the camp. These were cobras which were sometimes 5 inches thick and nearly 6ft long.

We spent a full year living in Mombasa, we had a house on the south coast just at the Likoni ferry terminal. We had retained the house in Nairobi and when it came time to move back I drove up with the dogs and JJ travelled with Sue and her maid on the Mombasa to Nairobi Lunatic Express. Not many incidents of lions pulling travellers out of their carriages these days but still an interesting and exciting way to travel.

We enjoyed Kenya, but in 1982 the economic situation started to deteriorate so much that it was clear it was time to move on. We left in mid 1982 and went to work for Balfour Beatty Construction Company in the Gambia in West Africa.

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