A couple of years ago, another life, another story, I lived in a gorgeous little picture-perfect village in the North of England.

A quiet hamlet with rolling undulating acres of fields surrounding us, an Evergreen forest walk just behind our home with farms and pony paddocks in all directions…this was home. I remember the tiny crumbling country pub, the Griffins Head, built around an ancient well, that i I feel still holds so many memories of my long happy Sunday lunches with friends, the fun loving owners with whom we made dear friends, and the many ales that were drunk in happiness and also in times of sorrow. In this small country pub we celebrated my son’s birth in great revelry, our English friends claiming the right of the ‘wetting of the baby’s head,’ we rejoiced friends arriving and cried over friends departing. This village and its surrounds was the realms of my everyday life.

Though it was so far from my life and home in Africa, it is when I lived in this quaint little village that my journey of Taste Safari actually began. It was a balmy sublime summer evening and I was typically sitting around with some of my closest friends. All us working girls, chilling out, and it was my turn that week to cook. It was something that we all agreed, whether anyone could cook or not (although everyone always managed a fantastic dinner!) that each one of us would take a turn so there was always something new to look forward to every time. My friends were always generous in their compliments, and it was such a joy to cook for them. That night I decided to treat the girls to an Epicurian feast, and halfway through devouring a Caramelised, coconut and almond-stuffed aubergine, my friend Helen stopped, raised her glass, looked directly at me and said ‘Sandy, seriously, you need to write a cookery book.’ I laughed and, of course, brushed it off, although somehow, that moment stays clear as crystal in my mind today.

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That night, I lay awake, trying to coax myself to sleep. I thought of home, I thought of my life in England, my amazing friends and all the memories I had of growing up in such an incredibly beautiful country. I had so many stories to tell and so much to share with the world. I had grown up on such gastronomic luxury…Could I possibly write a cookery book? A memoir filled with recipes, describing my adventures and exploration of the Kenya I love so deeply. My tossing and turning got the better for me, so pulling my laptop onto my lap and curling the duvet closer, I started to type. I typed and typed, and the words flowed,  my deepest memories melting like smooth, decadent, luscious chocolate onto the screen. It was unbelievable how much I had to describe, the emotions firing up slowly in me and then swirling into such excitement and pure and utter happiness. I hadn’t felt so excited about something in a long time. The writing didn’t stop, and any moment I had in between my long working hours, I wrote. I wrote on the train on the way up to Edinburgh, on a flight to Milan, on the tube in between meetings. It was such an enormous relief and in so many ways a huge comfort to write about my childhood, and I could just feel the sense of warmth of my mother’s kitchen and the large, raucous family gatherings.

A few years later, the book was almost finished, and we made the decision to return to Africa, to the Kenya of my dreams. It was such a wonderful thought that I could have a chance to give my children a similar childhood to mine. The safaris and sun-filled holidays on the beach. The weather! Beautiful, endless days of sunshine and big gardens for the children to play in. I was home, and this is where my dream of turning Taste Safari into something real and alive has happened…I am enjoying cooking more than ever. I am travelling and exploring food sensations all over Africa and beyond. I am truly living my dream.

Welcome into my world, and I hope my writing brings you laughter, escape and, more than anything, a sense of adventure to cook, to travel and to believe that the true source of happiness is always, always chasing your dreams.

Sandy Thethy

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