There’s No Place Like Home

They say that ‘home is where the heart is’. Which is total nonsense because my heart FIRMLY belongs to London and yet I find myself far, far away.

However, despite my patriotic sense of loyalty, our new home in sunny Senegal is slowly taking shape. I thought I would share a few photos with you all so you can visualise me tearing about the place, after the twins.

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This little corner makes me think of home; a foggy London painting and a tray full of scotch.

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Essentials for ocean front viewing – a good panama and some trusty binoculars.

Waking up on that first morning, it was clear that the hubs had done a pretty fabulous job. In just two weeks before we arrived, (while also leading a major business operation #proudwife), he had unpacked every single box, laid out the furniture in a sensible and stylish way, had curtains made AND hung, set up the girls nursery, made their beds and hung mosquito nets, made our bed and the guest bed, sorted out wifi and cable, bought a tv, white goods, a steriliser… need I go on? The man knows how to get things done!

But a woman’s touch is an essential thing. And so on that very first day my mother and I, made our way through to downtown Dakar, to a shop called Orca. Balde is driving, and seems totally oblivious to our stunned expressions as we weave through Dakar’s backstreets.  We probably had the wide-eyed stares of the bunnies in Watership Down before they legged it across the M4.  Meanwhile outside we spot babies on the backs of incredibly dressed women, balancing enormous bowls of fruit, or eggs, or rice on their heads. Market stalls selling weird and wonderful things. A man soldering bbqs out of corrugated metal with old chimneys fixed to the top (literally stood in shorts and a t-shirt, soldering mask and a load of scap metal), while kids played nearby. And all the while there are mopeds whizzing past, taxi drivers with a death wish, goats and chickens running amok – it was fabulously chaotic.

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We picked up the teak sideboard from Orca. The sunny seascape is my favourite painting from home but it looks more at peace here than in London; an original steal from Chiswick Auction House.

We arrive at Orca and our car is searched underneath, in the boot, and glovebox by some serious looking security; something I am now getting more used to. The building stands amidst this mayhem of activity and basically looks a bit like ‘The Office’ in Slough, but with more sunshine on it and a big Killer Whale hanging off the side.

But you should never judge a sausage by its skin! Once inside, Orca is beyond incredible. You would all be obsessed. Imagine the love child of West Elm and The Conran Shop, but with everything you could ever ever ever possibly need for your home – and more. Set over seven floors, you have a constant battle with your conscience whilst browsing.

No Jo, you do not need a giant apple sculpture.

You have absolutely NO need for a fire pit in Africa.

That ottoman with the hidden ice bucket is a gimmick you will never use!

Anyway I digress.
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Every discerning traveller needs a well stocked bar. This little treasure came from The Old Cinema antique shop in Chiswick and is an original from the 1940s – very Mad Men!

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I clearly have a thing for seascapes. It was painted in the 1940s but I LOVE the modern use of colour.

Mum and I make our way to the fourth floor to start the spending spree. We’re making headway and I go to find the ‘garçon’ to start negotiations. That’s when we notice that the lights have been turned out. The staff have gone. And the glass doors between us, the lifts and the fire escape have been locked. We are locked in with the babies, running low on formula, and there is no way out. Cue frantic call to Balde, who tells us that we mustn’t worry, everyone has left for lunch and a siesta but they will be back to let us out in two and half hours. Errrrrm. Sorry?

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Architecturally the stairs are very cool, however will eventually need some major twin-proofing.

I thought my French was pretty rusty, but the words ‘no, we need to be let out immediately’ formed very clearly in my mind at that moment. Forty minutes later, after a call to head of security and then another call to the store manager who had gone for lunchtime prayer with the keys in his back pocket, and we were released via the tradesmen’s entrance.
Who knew furniture shopping could be so exciting!
After a retail therapy cooling-off period, we returned the next day and agreed a very fair deal on a solid wood dining table and chairs, three console tables, a teak sideboard, two steamer chairs, a rug, two bar stools, three drinks tables and various household necessities. It was a fabulous haul.
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The girls cots are now draped in mosquito nets to keep bites and malaria at bay.

And while my beloved ‘Big Smoke’ and Londoner soulmates feel oh so far away, our apartment here is beginning to feel more familiar.

Oh, and I am about to fill the ‘margarita drawer’ – so for now, home is where the cocktails are.

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2 Comments

    • March 17, 2017 / 8:31 am

      Thank you Rose. It’s an original G Plan I bought on eBay for £20. We had it recovered by The Chairman and Son in London xxx

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