Sandy, our wonderful old Land Rover, joined our family a slow five weeks after we arrived in Botswana. She pulled us over countless deep sandy roads, made it safely across wet pans and through some tyre-sucking 'black cotton' mud.
About six months after we arrived, a neighbourhood cat had a litter of kittens, of which only one survived. By the time he was as big as his mother, another litter of four had arrived. Only then did the cats really enter our lives, when Mummy disappeared when the kittens were tiny and we thought that was the end. She limped in at the eleventh hour, but I was not allowed to keep six cats. It broke my heart to have to give away any of the gorgeous balls of fur, but Alan and the neighbours were adamant. Mummy and three little kittens - Monate (Sweetie), Tubs and Little Ginger - had to go off to the Botswana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (or in this case, 'prevention of cruelty to neighbours'). The couple downstairs kept the Big Brother - BB as we knew him - and we kept the fiesty little kitten, KT, short for Katsentle - our possibly made up Setswana word for 'pretty cat'.
ABOVE RIGHT: Sandy on the route north from Savute, in the Chobe National Park.
LEFT: Trying to take a photo of four kittens and their mother brought new meaning to the phrase "hard as herding cats". Mummy's ears betray her bemusement with my efforts.
RIGHT: KT a few days old
BELOW LEFT: Kittens can get anywhere.