African Approaches

You can’t miss the Belle Grove farmhouse (aka Dragon House) on site. If you consider this  a tad quixotic, how about the story of Jo & Nick’s other self-build,  an equally mad place in Arusha, Tanzania as  told in African Approaches: Roads to a Far-Off Place pub. 2012.

“Now that I have read ‘African Approaches’ I feel I understand a little of the history of your lives and Belle Grove Farm – your book deserves to be a TV series   –   great characters, stories and places”

“African Approaches is a warm, entertaining and well-written account of some of Jo & Nick’s adventures. I read it before I came  and it definitely enhances the whole experience.”

Explanation: As mentioned under Site History, for many years we operated Trans-Africa expeditions involving an annual (later, twice-yearly) expedition overland all the way from the workshop at Westhall to South Africa. Each trip took at least five months,  cooking on wood fires and camping all the way. This developed into a full-on safari business. Toward the end of the 1990’s we bought a plot of land on the slopes of Mt Meru :- Mt Kilimanjaro to the east and Serengeti National Park to the west. The book follows the unique challenges of constructing the idiosyncratic ‘Samaki House’, as well as many trans-African adventures that, in hindsight, seem quite mad!

We quit the Trans Africa business in 2005 but maintain a link with Tanzania through our house mentioned above.

Well-known author Tahir Shah ( has provided an endorsement for the cover & other unsolicited reviews on Amazon include :

“I really recommend this book for its insights, humour, colour, personality, and for the author’s wonderful writing style”

“For those who “travel” through the pages of a book, African Approaches is a genuine experience”

“This is one of those books that from the off just grabs you, you feel instantly the heat of Africa, the people and the animals…”

“Immensely readable”

“The stories and dramas are told with enormous empathy, with great wit.”

“For arm chair travellers think Bruce Chatwin crossed with Peter Hopkirk and transposed to Africa”.

Read Giselle’s book review >

If interested in purchasing a copy at £12 + postage, please email

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