Camber Sands

LIFE IN BOTSWANA: Chubby Mermaids

The first time I asked for directions in Gaborone, the answer I received went something like this: It’s easy – go straight until you get to the robots, then go left. Go straight again until you get to the Barclays circle, then take a right.

Errrrrr……yes, apparently, I did hear correctly. Should I ask a third time? Probably not – smile and wave until out of sight and employ 100% reliable, go-to problem solving strategy – call my new best friend, Maria.

Robots = Traffic lights (Not R2D2, slightly disappointed.)

Circle = Round-a-bout (duuuur!)

Okay, but what about the Barclays bit?

Oh, that’s just because there used to be a Barclays Bank next to that round-a-bout and Barclays is still written in massive letters on the roof.




Maria was fantastic, Maria knew everything – even where you could buy nice cheeses and speciality meats, I loved her, so when she said Fi, you’re a model maker, do you think you could make me some mermaids for my daughter’s birthday cupcakes?

My answer – YES!

I soon found out that mermaids are fiddlier than I had imagined… as was the medium of cake fondant, particularly troublesome in forty-degree heat. 

Some-time later I was sort of pleased with the result. Yup, kind of ‘Ariel’ sitting on a rock – certainly little-mermaid enough to please a four-year-old, I thought to myself. 

I carefully placed the svelte disney princesses into the fridge, perched upon upturned glasses, thinking they would set.

Oh, sweet cheeses, instead of setting, they morphed into the totally un-politically correct fat slags, out of Viz.They had probably come to life as soon as my back was turned and had snaffled all the beer, before slouching around in drunken stupors.

What was I going to say to Maria?

The party was tomorrow, it was majorly stressful, in a first world problem kind of a way.

No matter what I did to try and make those mermaids into Ariel, it was never going to happen. They actually just kept getting worse, so in the end I called Maria, distraught, and fessed up. Surely, they can’t be that bad, she said?

Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words…

I heard the ping as she received the image. Well, typical Maria, after a short silence, followed by quite a lot of laughing (thank God!) she came up with the perfect solution – why not make a lying-down Ariel? Because then she wouldn’t have to sit up, which clearly, she was struggling to do right now. And perhaps one mermaid would make more of a statement, don’t you think? 

Then maybe she would make some octopuses and crabs, to keep her company…

… And that’s what friends are for X


*Note For cake fondant to hold it’s shape, the addition of gum-paste, or CFC – is apparently called for. Well, I’ve got one word for that – HINDSIGHT!

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