Dan: A Munchkin in Africa

Taking my seven-month-old daughter halfway around the world, to a country stuffed full of biting insects and dangerous animals, has thankfully not been as difficult as I’d feared. In fact, Alice seems to have blossomed in this equatorial sunshine.

Her reddish hair has grown distinctly blond. She eats four times as much as she did back home, and is almost twice the size. Not only that, but her developmental milestones are now whizzing past at a frightening pace. “Ba-ba-ba!” and “da-da-da!” are now everyday utterances. She can stand for herself (although she still needs something to hang onto) and can even pull herself to standing using whatever furniture presents itself. Admittedly, her preferred mode of locomotion remains the sideways roll, but this is a skill in which she’s now a pro. She can reach the edge of a bed in seconds, and will roll off any sofa given the slightest chance. Even in a high-chair she causes chaos – she loves to destroy anything on a dining table she can get her hands on. Plates and wine glasses are a particular favourite.

Despite the heat, the dust, the pot-holes and the oversized speed bumps, Alice’s first safari – to Fort Portal, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Lake Mburo – was a wonderful experience (for all of us). Although I doubt she will remember much of it, Alice enjoyed almost every minute. Watching the sunrise over Lake Kyaninga, with Alice sleeping in my arms, on our veranda together after a particularly turbulent night, is a memory that will stay with me, and one I’ll share with her when she’s older.

So far, so very good. Already Alice has fallen in love with:


Not the beer but our new nanny. Originally hired as a part-time cleaner, it was clear from the start that Alice and Stella would be firm friends. While Grania has been at the hospital, and I have been hard at work for Skype, Stella has been valiantly taking care of our little munchkin.

Swimming pools

This water baby can’t get enough of them!

Mosquito nets

Sit her on a bed inside a net and she’s transfixed.

Avocadoes, bananas and pineapples

Mash up some of the green, white and yellow goodness and she’s in messy heaven. (But will she become a fruit snob when she returns to the land of Tesco and Sainsbury’s?)

Pork joints (Ugandan barbeque restaurants)

The dark din from cheap speakers pumping out raucous African reggae sends her instantly to the land of milk dreams, conveniently allowing mum and dad to replenish themselves with Nile Special beer and muchomo (barbequed pork).

What Alice doesn’t like:

  • Wildlife –set out on a game drive with this munchkin and you will see no game, just a Bugaboo child-seat boiling over with grief, scaring away the animals with high-noted wails an opera singer would kill for.
  • Sun hats – a vicious form of head torture invented by nasty parents to stop pasty-faced children enjoying the sun.

So in summary: this munchkin loves Africa. It’s good to be back.

3 Responses to “Dan: A Munchkin in Africa”

  • Hi Dan and Grania! I love reading your post on your return to Africa! Its an amazing time for you all! I can almost second everything you write about Alice’s developments! I know we have only been in Africa for 10 days and also have the luxery of Kieron’s mum and dad’s folk’s house to stay in but Eoghan is in heaven! He too has been eating loads and has just sprouted since his time here. he has learnt to sit up from lying down here, crawled for the first time and also too HATES sun hats and cried for food hysterically unaware that there was about twenty giraffes to his left hand side whilst driving through Pillansburg! I hope the rest of the time you have there is as memorable and hopefully catch up with you guys in London soon! Love and hugs to you both and Alice! xx

  • Wonderful to read your accounts Dan and Grania! Nothing is ever boring for you two! I mean for your return, you made sure there’s this half-Dan, half-Grania althogether different person with you to make the experience different! I hope my ticket comes any minute now and I got to see your munchkin before you take off! xxx

  • What a wonderful surprise to see the return of the flipside coin and the star of the show – beautiful Alice. How fantastic that she has adapted so well to Africa – your adventures has made me all emotional – love m X

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