So Long

So. This is it.

In two days I will climb into the car and drive out of the Outpost for the last time.

It will be odd to think I no longer live here. And the decision to go, when it came, was sudden so that the packing and planning and collapsing of a life into boxes has consumed me. Until now, when there is a moment to sit with a mug of tea, Pili at my feet, and reflect as I gaze across a garden which is bushy tailed and bright eyed so that it will be sad to leave it: the lawn is green and lush; the frangipani voluptuous and the flamboyant bowed low, low with the weight of fiery blossom.

It is difficult to know what to say. How to concertina five years into five hundred words. I have hissed and spat and sworn and flailed. I have laughed and danced and learned. I have telescoped my view to render manageable sometimes overwhelming horizons. I have had time (sometimes too much time) to stop and smell the roses (metaphorically speaking, of course, no roses here). And now – where I’m going – I won’t have the luxury of a slippery commodity which slides too fast in the real world but had a tendency to plod in the Outpost so that I occasionally felt certain my watch must have stopped.  I will be reminded – where I am going – that Time is precious.

The Outpost has changed in the years I have been here. It’s had its edges knocked off; it’s softer, a gentler place to be. Some of that is because outside influence has moulded it thus. Some of that is because I have changed. The Outpost has taught me some stern lessons and lent the time, the opportunity, the excuse, the sanity preserving need to expand to fill the swallowing space that surrounded me. I will never, ever regret the – almost – five years that this has been home. In my most graceless moments I never imagined that lucky is how I’d feel for having lived here. But lucky I have been.

Without the Outpost I’d never have had the chance to teach Hat, have her glorious, uplifting, sunshine company for three years at home instead of incarcerated at school; I might never have had the liberating justification to stick two fingers up to convention; I’d never have the seen the places I’ve seen, travelled the long, lean, lonely miles with just tea and Ant for company, precious road trips together to talk and plan and dream. I’d never have written as many words or made my foray into glass (nor, granted, patronised Elastoplast to the extent I have).   Without the time my solitariness has afforded me I’d never have had the hours I needed at a time my big kids needed me to have those hours, across the ether, to research what they needed researching because they – in their faster paced world – didn’t have those hours, that time. I’d never have learned about the sex lives of chimps without that (such is the dictate of an anth/arch undergrad).

My life isn’t an extraordinary one. But, for the Outpost, it has been less Ordinary.

Without it, I wouldn’t have felt the compulsion, the need, to write, to rant, to describe the minutae to fill the space, to whisper in cyberspace that which was sometimes hard to say out loud (not least because talking to myself might have endorsed the madness the isolation sometimes nudged me towards).

In short, without the Outpost, I wouldn’t have begun to blog.

I thank you all for accompanying me – championing me – on this journey.

With love

rm x


50 Responses to “So Long”

  1. MsCaroline Says:

    I’m so surprised, I went back to see if I’d missed you mentioning this earlier! I hope your leaving the Outpost doesn’t mean the end of your blogging, even if time does move faster wherever you are going. I have loved reading all that you’ve shared about your family as well as the glimpses you’ve given us into the incredible and exotic beauty all about you.


  2. Kit Says:

    Thank you for sharing your Outpost life and journeys – I’ve enjoyed reading about it. i also hope you’ll keep the blog going from wherever you are going to.

  3. S Says:

    I’ve so enjoyed reading about your adventures. I too hope you keep on blogging, wherever you end up. Good luck.

  4. Potty Mummy Says:

    Best of luck with the move and I hope this won’t be your last post? x

  5. Almost American Says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I hope the move goes well and that you continue to blog from where ever it is you are moving.I am sure you will have equally interesting stories to tell us.

  6. D. Says:

    Oh dear. I am an admirer of your writing, your honesty. I sit in my suburban kitchen, my children flung to the far corners, my external vista so differ from yours but our internal landscapes so often overlapping. Thank you for your blog. Your words and perspective have been such a gift.

  7. mary Says:

    I have enjoyed your writing so much, having had a similar life for two years in central Africa with two children and a husband who was frequently away. Your words about the slowing of time reminded me of days when it was difficult to recall what I actually did and so, so very different to our life now in a busy Asian city working busily in the “real world” and having time moving too fast.
    Good luck with your move and I look forward to reading more of your experiences.

  8. Mud Says:

    I’ve loved every post. But please don’t ‘go’ go…..

  9. tash Says:

    There’s a life lesson to be learned here. I’m so pleased that now, finally, as you take stock, you can recognise the worth of the Outpost. We’ve all been witness to the changes You’ve undergone. The battles You’ve fought and won. The challenges You’ve met. And – I bet I’m not alone when I say – I’ve learned from you. And laughed with you, and mourned with you. So now a new chapter lies ahead. But you won’t leave us all wondering will you? About what happens next – the new path you’re striking out on, the projects you’ll occupy yourself with. The progress of You, the kids? We’ll still need to know.

    As Mud says… Don’t ‘go’ go… just move, and still be there for us


  10. R. Sherman Says:

    Let me echo the wish that this doesn’t mean an end to your writing for your loyal readership.

    Regardless, of course, I wish you and yours the very best.


  11. Bush Mummy Says:

    Keep writing… wherever you lay your hat.

    BM x

  12. nuttycow Says:

    Where are you off to? As all your other commenters say, please don’t “go” go. We’d miss your blog.


  13. robyn Says:

    wow-surprise for you, surprise for us. Take us with you- hope it is a wonderful place you are going to-time might be precious, but write anyway.

  14. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    Wow…where are you going I wonder? As others said, please don’t stop blogging. I’ve so enjoyed your posts, whether about the Outpost or anything else.

  15. Linda Says:

    I have to join in as well…I have so enjoyed reading your posts and I hope that it will not come to an abrupt end. I wish you luck in what ever you do, but please don’t leave me hanging out there wondering what has happened. I know you don’t know me, I know our friendship is one sided, but please don’t just leave me….

  16. Christine Says:

    Please put a link to wherever you do go, so we can find you!

  17. daisyfae Says:

    Having just spent time with a young woman trying to assimilate into a large city after 2 years in South Africa, living without plumbing? i would be most interested in reading about your reverse adventure – and like others have already said, i hope you keep writing.

    i have enjoyed your words, and your generous gift to those of us who live rather ordinary lives. best wishes to you and your family through and beyond this transition!

  18. Cheryl Cato Says:

    I join with my fellow bloggers in saying how very much I have enjoyed your posts. It has been a pleasure to accompany you on your stay at the Outpost. Hopefully you will continue to blog. Please let us all know how you are when you get settled for your new adventure. Best wishes to you & your family, Reluctant Memsahib.

  19. Rob Says:

    Best of luck in your travels and new adventures in paradise. Keep up the blogging and the glass though.

  20. Addy Says:

    Oh no, I have enjoyed reading your blog so much and at times felt I was there, your descriptions were so real. Where are you off to? Returning to the UK or staying in Africa?

  21. wellfedfred Says:

    I’ve so loved your writing! Wherever you go, I know you will have adventures, and I hope you’ll choose to share them with us.

  22. guineapigmum Says:

    Oh please don’t stop blogging, wherever you go. I’ve so enjoyed your posts. I read on Hat’s brief foray into blogging (found because she left me a comment) that you might be moving so it’s not such a surprise. Good luck and keep writing for us all from your new abode!

  23. Iota Says:

    Please tell us where you’re going. Please.

    I’ve been in the Midwest almost exactly 5 years. My experience parallels yours. So different, but similar too. You have so often written what I was feeling, though in such a different context.

    I’ll miss the photos of the endless skies and the vast horizons, the flora and fauna.They’ve been beautiful and inspiring.

  24. Ursula Says:

    I’m sure I’m only one of many readers who has never posted before but has enjoyed every word of your beautifully descriptive writing.
    I add my thanks for the entertainment and my name to those who would love to know what your new life is going to be (as someone who has also moved and adapted to multiple different cultures, your stories strike familiar chords). I will console myself in the meantime, reading those posts which pre-date me finding your blog.

    I wonder if you knew of this move at the time of your last road trip out and about, and think about that weird ‘pre-nostalgia’ feeling you will have experienced, if so.

    Wishing all the very best in your new life, wherever it may be.
    Ursula in Cadiz, Spain

  25. doglover Says:

    As an (almost) silent reader of your blog, I am shaken by your sudden departure and shall miss your writings with their inspired marvellous and poetic descriptions if you don’t start blogging again from your new home. It would be nice for all of us at least to know what country you are going to and what you will be doing. I wish you the very best and thank you for all the genuine pleasure you have given.

  26. mapesburyMum Says:

    Its kind of sad in a way to say goodbye to a place I never visited – what great happy memories you’re going to take with you – I expect too that in years to come you will just have wonderful happy memories. good luck to your new life of life in the fast lane – look forward to hearing all about it! – how nice to be looking forward to a complete new adventure….

  27. Mr Farty Says:

    I, too, would love to hear of your continuing adventures and how they contrast with your time in the Outpost. Don’t leave us hanging.

  28. teamgloria Says:


    life changes in an instant!

    do hope you blog from wherever life takes you next.

    in the meantime, sending a virtual wave of the kerchief as you drive away from the Outpost and into a new horizon.

    sending best of luck and a vast pot of tea at your destination so you may rest and recuperate and and plan the next moment or two, in time.

    hello across the seas of the interweb.

    _teamgloria x

  29. ann Says:

    Well RM, the end of an era. Like DogLover I have enjoyed reading about your adventures in that foreign, distant land.

    I can’t imagine what catastrophic events led to this decision. Maybe you just had a “f..k it, I’ve had enough of this” moment, maybe not. Whatever, if you ever find yourself in my part of the world please drop in. Set a while. You know, I’m not so far from Kat’s school and you have my email address.

    It would be great if you continued your blog. I and, I’m sure, many, many others will be concerned about your health and welfare and would like the reassurance that you are OK. Take care.

  30. Carol Says:

    Wow! What a following you have – you can’t leave them all in suspense about where you are going – and you simply can’t stop blogging! So I look forward to reading your next post when you have settled in (and taken out your camera). Take care – safe travels.

  31. Elaine Says:

    Oh I DO hope you keep blogging. I only found your blog in the summer and spent hours reading it, enjoying all the ups and downs of your life in the Outpost, and before. I hope you find time to blog from where you are now when you are settled in.

  32. kathleen7 Says:

    I hope we continue to hear from you. Would miss your musings. I have really enjoyed reading about your life. You have a way with words. Good luck whatever and where ever you go. I feel we have become friends through this blog, so I wish you well.

  33. Livvy U Says:

    I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one to be surprised! Oh RM, interesting, brave writer woman! It sounds like you need to see the end of a chapter in order to re-group and start another. And of course you will go on writing, I just hope it’ll be for all of us to share in, too. I wish you much joy, Livvy

  34. Muddling Along Says:

    As others have said what a surprise and a hope that this isn’t the end of your writing

    Good luck with the next chapter

  35. Dumdad Says:

    Good luck!

  36. Jon Storey Says:

    Good luck for the future, where ever it takes you.

  37. Karen SP Says:

    I haven’t been reading your blog for a month or two – and what a surprise today… Sad surprise. I hope you’ll be back soon. Your writing is so extraordinarily vibrant and compelling – you have a gift. I send you all the best for the future, and will keep checking the blog and enjoying re-reading many many wonderful entries xx Karen SP (my first and only comment was in January 2008)

  38. ali la loca Says:

    All the best in your next place you call home. I lived in Mozambique for nearly five years and it, too, got me blogging. Please don’t stop!

  39. robyn Says:

    so…where are you?

  40. nomadicsue Says:

    Oh Reluctant Memsahib, I have so so enjoyed reading your blog whilst living in another African outpost.I found it reassuring to see it wasn’t just me missing children and another life, and yes I have now realised just what I had abroad. But, I am now HOME and very very happy to be here despite the weather! Please keep blogging as I’ll wonder where you are.

  41. Paradise Says:

    I too have loved yr blog & resonated with so much of what you experienced mentally & emotionally as I lived abroad in different types of outpost for the last 5 1/2 yrs. Since moving back to the UK I have fought agst the busyness of life & tried (in vain at times) to carve out time for blogging. I, too, learnt so much & grew so much from my overseas experience though many were tough lessons to learn, forged in the furnace of loneliness

  42. Lost in TZ Says:

    I don’t read blogs and I never leave comments. Yours is the only blog I’ve ever followed. My family lived in a similar place and, while we were there, you were an inspiration. You photographed and documented the remarkable and beautiful bits of an ordinary (and simultaneously extraordinary) ex-patriot life. You reminded us how lucky we were to have that experience. Thanks and good luck. I do hope you keep writing.

  43. Family Affairs Says:

    WHERE ARE YOU GOING???? Obviously the good thing about the blog is that you just wrap it up, chuck it in the back and take it with you……Lx

  44. actuallymummy Says:

    Oh no! And I only just found you!!

  45. QldDeb Says:

    Good luck, I’ll miss your posts, I’ve been quietly following your blog for a couple of years now.

    Hope we hear from you again soon.

  46. Shiny Says:

    Me too, a silent (but avid) reader. Mud’s a clever one, I think her comment put it best… Don’t ‘go’ go. Or, at this point in my rather belated response, perhaps it’d be better to say: Come back! Please? You’re (obviously) loved. And missed! xx

  47. Catrina Says:

    Where are you now? I have been following your blog for a couple of years. I miss not reading it now. Please come back soon.

    My internet has not been working properly which is why I have missed you leaving. Now new provider will keep me up and running.

    But whatever happens all the best in whatever you get up to

  48. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you. Thank you all – for reading, for following, for encouraging the next installment. Sorry. I couldn’t shut up …

  49. Cher Says:

    Thank you for allowing us to walk alongside you and share in your adventures, your happiness and sadness. It has been a pleasure to share and I hope it continues.

    Thank you

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