Hardback by Merlin Unwin, £16.99
If you’re interested in animals and adventure then look no further than Promises to Keep – A British Vet in Africa.
Penned by Scots vet Hugh Cran, who spent several years working in the north-east before embarking on his African adventure, this memoir of his life working in post-colonial Kenya is both amusing and informative.
Cran has mastered how to describe the stunning African landscape and the strange and wonderful characters he has worked with for the past 45 years.
He gives an insight into life working as a vet of all trades in the east African country, which became independent in 1963. From dealing with domestic pets to sedating, catching and treating wild animals, Cran describes with humour the trials and tribulations of his daily job.
We follow him travelling across large areas of the country from his base in Nakuru, driving along often impassable roads to treat the horses and cattle of European expats.
And he wasn’t treating them for the usual ailments Scots livestock and horse keepers would be familiar with, but instead weird and wonderful
diseases with long and complicated names.
It’s not all humour though, as Cran spends a chunk of the book describing the outbreak and fast spread of rabies. It makes for scary reading to think infected animals were attacking humans, who without the vital rabies vaccine, were left to die several weeks later.
We also get an insight into the strange, and often corrupt, dealings of official bodies who were regularly asking for bribes from foreign incomes like Cran and co.
As well as hearing about his work as a vet, Cran gives a run down he met his wife Berna and their first date climbing up a rather unclimbable mountain, as well as the later arrival of their three daughters Rona, Sophie and Kim.
In all, this is an extremely moving, and often laugh out loud, depiction of a fascinating life in rural Kenya.