Erin Allan contacted me about Toto Knits, the brand of ethically made knitwear for children that she founded in Nairobi. A good occasion to discover how it is to live in the capital of Kenya. I learned that Nina loves art- especially drawing and recycled/found crafts and that Tor professes to love snakes but jumps a mile whenever he sees one (“which is as we want it with many deadly species found locally in Kenya” adds Erin). 

Tor and Nina

What do you want to be when you grow up Tor: A Herpetologist Nina: Maths Teacher

What makes you laugh Tor: When my little cat follows me, If I walk slow, he’ll walk slow and when I run he runs with me! Nina: When The Vicar (our cat) tickles me.

What makes you sad or angry Tor: When Mummy is not nice to me. Nina: When I lose my tooth and I write a note to the Tooth Fairy and I don’t get money. (She got the money!)

Your favourite films and book Tor: My Bird Book (East African Birds) Nina: Movie – Smurfs and Book – BFG by Roald Dahl

Your favourite animal Tor: Baby Hyrax and Zebra Nina: Baby Hyrax, Zebra, Giraffe and Cats

The best holidays you ever had Tor: When we went to the Dinosaur Museum and Space Centre in Belgium Nina: Going to the Coast (in Kenya) at Christmas and swimming

A place that you would dream to visit Both– England at Christmas in the snow!

Your favorite outfit Tor: Stripey Hoodie Nina: Flamenco Dress

The next item you would be happy to get Tor: A snake book Nina: Diamonds (I have no idea where THAT came from!)

Something you did recently that you really loved Both– Treasure Hunt Birthday party in the Primate Forest near our house. The best part was finding the buried treasure at the end and getting the party bags inside!

If you had a magic wand, what would you do with it right now? Tor: Make our baby hyrax come back alive (Sparky met an unnatural demise earlier this year…) Nina: Make us know what babies are saying when they can’t talk


Your favourite children’s brands I love H&M’s organic line for a quick fix- and a reminder of what’s happening fashion wise outside of Africa! And of course Toto Knits!

Your favourite children’s stores There are not many high quality children’s lines available in Kenya but when we go to London or San Francisco we buy for the rest of the year. I love Barley and Birch for simple organic basics and H&M as well

What do you buy online? We don’t really shop online as packages don’t always make it through the post coming into the country and if they do they often charge a huge duty

A website that inspires you I love as there are so many underprivileged children in Africa and I love seeing how well international adoptions can work. I get teary just looking at it

Lastest item you added to your children’s wardrobe I bought two gorgeous raincoats in France. They have buttons instead of snaps and look very European. We went to a medieval horse festival that day and it rained so we needed the coats and I will always remember being saved by our new purchases and then the sun coming out brilliantly

Most precious item you bought for your child We bought an antique doll house for my daughter at a local auction and a few days later a friend of the family saw it and it had been hers when she was a child!

Best gift you gave for a child’s B-day My son wanted a ‘blue house’ for his third birthday and our neighbours were moving and selling their wendy house. It was blue and my son thought we had planned it!

Items that are hard to find In Kenya? Anything that hasn’t ‘fallen off the back of a truck’ it seems sometimes! Things have got a lot better in the past few years locally in terms of shopping but that’s relative! We are very resourceful and people here are very good at passing things on (children’s books, clothes, etc.). I find compared to my friends who live in developed countries we can really do without so many things although that being said, we stock up when we go abroad

Favourite pieces in your children’s wardrobe For Nina- A little ballet skirt made by Toto Knits – it’s soft and comfortable and can be worn alone or over leggings- Nina’s staple! For Tor – his little ‘skater’ shoes and converse sneakers with no laces

The book on your bedside table Petal Blood- a book that was banned in Kenya –presumably because it hit too close to a nerve at the time. I’ve reads loads of books from European perspectives on Kenya’s post independence struggles and this is the first I’ve read from a Kenyan perspective

A film that you saw recently and that staid with you Sprout- a beautifully told story about a little boy in South African boarding school

The film that you love to see with the whole family I’m a sucker for Charlotte’s Web and Mary Poppins. Not sure the husband would sit through either one!

The ideal place for a family summer holiday San Francisco- my home town. For mostly nostalgic reasons but also because it has something for everyone on every level