Progress – sort of

30 07 2013

I was left with no option; my next door neighbours have moved taking the UHF link with them so now I am the proud owner of a WiMax link that in theory gives me 1Mbit/s broadband. It was probably just fortuitous that one of the bigger ISPs in Zimbabwe, ZOL (that’s Zimbabwe OnLine to you South Africans) has splashed out on a lot of fibre optic cable and declared a price war by uncapping all internet subscriptions albeit at the not-so-fast 1Mbit/s. The technician who installed the hardware admitted that ZOL had probably got the fibre cheap as elsewhere in the world the trend is for 4G wireless links. But who am I to complain? I am pretty sure it’s not really 1Mbit/s but so far it hasn’t been too bad and yes, I can actually watch low res YouTube videos without them stopping to fill the buffer.

A tractor sets up for a demonstration

A tractor sets up for a demonstration

On the way back to work I came across this tractor setting up for a demonstration for an upcoming field day. The implement looks fairly standard for this part of the world but the tractor is certainly high-class. I wouldn’t know what it would cost but like most things in Zim it would not be cheap. Even less certain is how it would pay for itself in our dismal economy or even who could get a loan to buy one. An awful lot of farmers in this country are on farms for which they don’t have title deeds so they have no effective collateral to get a loan – not that the banks are accepting title deeds as there is no guarantee that they could even sell or hold onto a repossessed farm.

That could all change in tomorrow’s general election. We could get a new government that is interested in property rights, human rights and just about any other rights one can think of. Unlike the election of 2008 which the incumbent government lost but still managed to hold onto power, this one has been relatively free of violence. So far. Sort of progress I guess but no-one is saying that there is not going to be a massive re-adjustment of the result.

The perfect cup of coffee

22 06 2013

This is my Moka Express coffee maker.

Made to last - a VERY long time!

Made to last – a VERY long time!

It has been around as long as I can remember. As a child I was forever lifting the lid to see if the coffee was coming out of the central spout. I also remember that my parents didn’t seem to use it very much, perhaps it didn’t make enough coffee so it was replaced by a percolator which made a lot more and was also interesting for a six year-old as it made interesting noises and splashed coffee against a clear glass top. And made awful coffee.

My little, very old espresso “machine” (can it be a real machine without moving parts?) to my mind makes very good coffee. No, it probably isn’t perfect, and in the morning I don’t have time for making the perfect cup but it is important that I have good coffee to start the day. NO, INSTANT WILL NOT DO and we do still have one good brand of local coffee called Farfell produced here which I keep well stocked up.

Anyway, the filter thingy that holds the coffee was looking like it had come to the end of it’s life, the gasket I’d replaced with a silicone one of my own imperfect design and the handle – well, nothing one couldn’t fix with a bit of epoxy and a paper clip!

We are famous for making do in Zimbabwe but now it’s the era of the internet so I set about seeing if spares were to be had. Oh delight! They still have spares for my 6 cup (I get just one mug out of it) Moka Express made by the original Bialetti company! Yes, there a loads of new designs in stainless steel and different colours to boot but my old aluminium version is still there.

For some reason Amazon won’t ship direct to Zim but my long-suffering postal master in the UK (brother and sister-in-law) divert the package to me and the Moka Express is almost back to new (wrong handle).

And the coffee tastes just as good as ever!