Winter has really come to Surrey with a vengeance - one night last week the temperature here dropped to minus 9 degrees. I am sure I was not the only villager who was longing for some warm Zimbabwean sunshine.
Surprisingly the cold weather does not seem to bother the flock of Ring necked or Rose necked Parakeets that we have in large numbers here in Whiteley Village. Though originally from the Himalayas, there are now estimated to be over 50,000 living in the UK, mostly in the Thames area. It is thought that originally a single pair of breeding parakeets were released or escaped in the mid 1990s - a more exotic theory is that Jimi Hendrix released a pair in Carnaby Street in the 1960s.
The now feral birds are often seen hanging upside down on our bird feeders comically screeching at the other wild birds as they compete for the peanuts & sunflower seeds.
However in a local pet shop here, one would have to pay upwards of £185 for a captive bred Ring necked Parakeet!
On receiving Christmas cards in December from friends in Zimbabwe, I couldn't help noticing that one set of Zimbabwean stamps for 2014 depicted donkeys with wooden yokes on their necks pulling a "sledge" - possibly the powers that be, did not realise that both are against the law in Zimbabwe?.
Recently VAWZ veterinarians in Zimbabwe had asked VAWZ UK if we could source some Artery Forceps for their current spaying campaign in the rural areas.
One of our Trustees ex Zimbabwean vet Rob Reynolds, contacted me to say that he would donate some as a "Christmas present" to VAWZ.
He has now generously donated 30 pairs of these forceps, so I am trying to find someone returning to Zimbabwe who could take the parcel back for us, or even just a few forceps at a time? - please contact me if you know someone coming back who could help as they are urgently needed - (they will take up very little room in a suitcase!).
Thank you to Margaret Cavill & Sharron Tiffen, both whom have taken items for VAWZ back to Zimbabwe for us - much appreciated.
VAWZ UK has also recently received donations from John & Leonie Cullen, John is a vet from South Africa now living in the UK, & has recently retired from working with Defra here, & also from Sarah Blunden - donations such as these, ensure that the lives of animals in Zimbabwe are improved & that the important work of VAWZ continues.
Whilst on that subject Mel Hood who heads VAWZ, has asked me to remind the public that cases of cruelty or abuse of animals should be reported to them.
Two more ex Zim folk living here in Whiteley Village are, Eric & Lorraine Litster who left Zimbabwe in 2007. For many years Eric taught Engineering Drawing & other allied building subjects at several schools including Fletcher High in Gweru, Mzingwane in Essexvale, Prince Edward School & finally at the Polytechnic in Harare.
His favourite pastimes were Ballroom Dancing at the Joan Turner School of Dancing where he apparently excelled, winning many medals, & also bowls which he played at Milton Park Bowling Club.
Lorraine (nee Emmanuel) also a teacher, taught at Nettleton School in Cranborne, was Headmistress of Waterfalls Infant School, then Headmistress at John McChlery in Hillside, finally I am sure many Harare residents will remember her as the Head of St Giles School for the Disabled.
Lorraine also played bowls in Zimbabwe for over 40 years, representing the club at District & National level - she says she hopes that some of the "old" bowlers may still remember her?
Not prepared to totally retire yet, Lorraine does a sterling job as the Librarian for the Village Library.
The friends that we left behind, some of them lifelong, are never very far from our thoughts, and as another year begins we hope and pray for some really meaningful changes for our beloved Zimbabwe.