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Tesco Dave and Harrods

December 4, 2011

What would Christmas be without M and S? well the simple answer is Chrita. There are a number of collections of beach traders on the beach here at Watamu in Kenya, where I have just three days left before returning to the tender embrace of the south of France. They enjoy giving themselves famous names and the claiming to be the official Kenyan outlet for, amongst others, Harrods, Peter Jones, Fortnum and Mason (didn’t know they had shops?) Debenhams and of course Marks and Spencers. The most believable though was the guy who rushed out from beneath his roughly thatched open fronted establishment claiming to be the local Tesco’s. He was more convincing because he was proudly displaying his Tesco’s staff badge with his name; Tesco Dave.

I have a picture of the type of establishment purporting to be the local branches of these exalted names which is my first photo of the day. They have any number of bargains  on offer and in fact I think I am going back to Harrods in the morning to get that carved ebony giraffe which was on offer at 500 Kenyan shillings, about £3.50 at today’s exchange rates according to the best forex provider Currencies Direct. It is amazing how much cheaper Harrods Kenya is that Harrods Knightsbridge.

Harrods, Kenya next door to the Kenyan Tesco

The shopping in these outlets has been a revelation. I have been lucky enough to buy Oakley sunglasses for under £2 and even some Nike shades for around £1.50, both pairs originals, at least that is what Tesco Dave told me they were. There was a few more top quality outlets just below Mapangos, our venue for lunch yesterday, in the next beach just past the headland to the north of Medina Palms.

Mapangos is set in a beautiful horseshoe bay of white sand with two large islands in the mouth, the biggest of which is accessible by paddling over at low tide. I took this picture from the pool area looking out on to the Indian Ocean. My chosen repast of lobster linguine was divine as was its price, some £6. Catering mostly for the Italian ex pat community and holiday makers, pizza and pasta loomed large, but every restaurant we have been to has also had fantastic seafood available.

Mapengos at Turtle Bay, Watamu

After lunch a dip in the warm Indian Ocean preceded early evening cocktails, eschewed myself in favour a gin and tonic of the highest quality. I suspect that neither the Gordons gin nor the Schweppes tonics had been sourced from Tesco Dave.

Last night, dinner at Alhamra under the stars watching the anvil shaped clouds hovering on the horizon expel the occasional flash of lightning. Another culinary triumph of the most delicious fish caked in a ginger sauce unaided by the distant storm, this time sadly without being offered black pudding for desert as we had on the previous evening.

Today, being Sunday, we are being prepared for a special treat, a Sunday lunch in the finest African tradition. We have not been told where it will be or what it entails, but if our hosts are excited about it, then so am I, because none of the meals, vistas or venues that they have shown us since we arrived in Africa about a week ago has been anything other than exceptional. I expect to be enjoying writing about today’s experience in tomorrows column.

We still have a few tasks to perform before flying to Nairobi on Tuesday, we have to go turtle watching, to collect my lime green hand made matching golf shorts and shirt made from the local material, and of course I must tap up all my long haul BA pilot frinds to ensure our return is also the subject of an upgrade.

Chris France

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