This was far from reality. Nothing the emigrant wife had experienced previously could help her adjust to her changed circumstances in the colony. ‘Housekeeping’ took on a new dimension: multi-tasking would be a more accurate term.
Eliza Feilden, who came to Natal with her husband in 1852 left us a detailed account of her ‘African home’.* Originally written as letters to her family in England, she later compiled them into one volume, illustrated with her own sketches:
‘I am learning to become a Jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I bake very good bread (in an outdoor oven), mix a capital meat pie … the oven part is the worst. A bake-pan is placed over a fire of wood in our oven and wood is put on the lid. This fire has to be constantly watched … to keep it at the right temperature or your loaf gets burnt to a cinder in the lower crust half an inch thick, and your pie-crust is sodden when the meat is baked hard. The lessons I am learning in cookery, however, will never come amiss.’