Monthly Archives: February 2014

What you leave behind.

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One of the biggest challenges we face in the coming months is what we’re actually going to need in Mwanza and what we will leave behind in the UK. We will be provided with a furnished house in Africa, which will be great – though this will be basic and will need to be added to. Some items will need to be sourced locally. Apparently even though it might seem difficult on first impressions, you can get just about anything if you look hard or wait long enough. Even so some items which are cheap in the UK will be expensive in Tanzania.

Deciding exactly which items to keep and which to sell / give away is going to be a conundrum. Anita and I have always had a tendency to hoard and in common with most people in the West we have probably had an excess. One look in my wardrobe tells a story.

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We’ve not been extravagant by western standards but we have far too many clothes. I have loads of Vinyl which I never play (though some has been converted to mp3), an old video recorder and a DVD player – that’s just one cupboard. We will really need to trim down the quantities – some clothes will never be worn so it should be easier but then there’s sentimental value.

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How many versions of Monopoly and Scrabble do you need? We have loads.
Then there’s the book-case.

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Anita was into scrapbooking for a long time and we have so many albums which would fill our luggage allowance. These will probably be digitised.

When it comes to DVD’s there’s a lot to filter out. Probably keeping the box sets and the series but even so…

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Apparently there are no copyright laws in Tanzania so downloading is common practice. Added to which there is a community library among the expats.

So what to take and what to leave behind?

This weekend we’re making an inventory of everything we have. A long job that needs doing. Wish us luck!

From Milton Keynes to Mwanza

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When we leave we will obviously be flying. Looking to squeeze all our remaining possessions into all the bags we can take and still keep to luggage limits. The next few weeks and months will be spent disposing of much of our possessions via eBay, car boot sales, jumble sales, charity shops etc. This will be a challenge but one we must continue to work through……..

On a lighter note believe it or not there is a website which plans out a road route for you should you wish to take it.

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I must stress we won’t be doing this but nonetheless…..

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They even provide road directions.

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I would not recommend this route given the 11 countries and the areas of unrest through which you would have to travel. Let alone the petrol for the 10000km trip over 6 days (non stop!)

UK –> France –> Spain –> Algeria –> Niger –> Nigeria –> Cameroon –> Chad –> Central African Republic –> Democratic Republic of Congo –> Rwanda –> Tanzania

Only for the truly adventurous I imagine. 🙂

A thousand views :-)

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Wow! I started this blog 12 days ago and in that time we’ve had over a 1000 views from all over the planet.

Thanks for taking an interest in our ramblings. It’s very encouraging. Some may recognise who they are, based on the country. Interestingly people have viewed us from every continent apart from South America.
We’ve also been followed by some interesting people and (to be honest) some more unusual ones.

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This blogging lark is quite addictive you know. 😀

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Mwanza, Tanzania’s almost undiscovered city on Lake Victoria

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Some interesting Mwanza insights ATC News by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome MWANZA THE (ALMOST) UNDISCOVERED CITY ON LAKE VICTORIA (Mwanza, Tanzanias Lake Victoria lake side city / source: ExoticExpeditionsTanzania.com) Even for East Africans, Mwanza has an exotic ring to … Continue reading

Speaking the Lingo!!

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Thought it was about time I (Anita) had a go at ‘blogging’ so here goes…

20+ years ago I was living in Malawi and was speaking and teaching in the local language ‘Chichewa’.

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Teaching a health prevention class
“Mwana ku mwana” (Child to child),
in a rural Malawian village (1992)

In Tanzania, it seems that another Bantu language ‘Kiswahili’ (ie Swahili) is spoken.  “Great :), having learned one it can’t be that hard to learn a 2nd one surely!”, I naively thought, until I started studying a Learn Swahili book and then the confusion set in.  I thought the way to approach it would be comparing the 2 languages but I ended up getting very muddled, there seem to be more noun classes (though I haven’t counted them) and some of the words have very different meanings eg the ‘na’ prefix in Chichewa indicates the past, but in Swahili it means the present!!

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Me, teaching a health lesson

So I went to plan B which has been to forget the Chichewa and learn Swahili using an audio language learning programme.  It takes just 30 mins a day, and today will be lesson 10.  This seems to be working much better and I now know how to order 2 beers and say useful phrases such as “I would like to buy something” “Where would you like to eat?” and “I want a cup of tea/coffee with you”.  This way the Chichewa knowledge seems to be helping as some nouns are similar eg the word for house is “nyumba” in Chichewa and “nyumbani” in Swahili.  Of course the test will be when I try it out with someone who can actually speak Kiswahili!!

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Hopefully once I’ve gone through the oral lessons, I can then go back to the book and it’ll then make more sense – well that’s the plan!!!

Not forgetting Swahili Bubble Bath 🙂 (edit – Graham) and your cousin Helen!!

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Venezuela, here is my voice.

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Originally posted on bvgonzal:
A very close SU friend from Venezuela told me one of her friends from home was murdered today. I have been preparing for some days to write this post, and I have asked many fellow SU…

Changes

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Back home after a busy working day today.
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In a sense today was more about life in the present rather than life in the future. Getting up at ridiculous o’clock for morning commute, travelling in the light (for a change), then assessing, planning, carrying out break duties and bus duties, sorting out emails, meeting with colleagues, drinking filter coffee! The usual daily mundanity of the routine of a teacher/ Head of Faculty. It is strange to think that some this well practiced routine will soon be changing – not the tasks themselves but the location and the routine, and definitely the commute where a 50 minute car journey will be replaced by a 10 minute walk!

I am still very excited about this change and what it will mean,
it is difficult to concentrate on the present when the future looms large ahead, but I need to. Tomorrow night is Year 9 options evening, a new experience for me as ICT has hitherto been a core subject. My team and I will be aiming to recruit as many as we can to both ICT and Computing. It is strange that I will not be teaching them, whilst thousands of miles away, in Mwanza, other students have been or will be making a similar choice, students I have yet to meet – such the nature of change!

More changes.You may have noticed the countdown (T minus ??? ) has gone up. It’s not a time warp as the date for flying has moved back. This still to be confirmed and complicates things a little as my sister in law’s (Fiona’s) sister (Janet) gets married on the same day – meaning it probably will not be possible to be seen off by family sadly 😦
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So the new date for flying will be the 23rd August – which will be after Matthew’s GCSE results which will be good 🙂 Hopefully good for him too!

I keep promising not to post and wasn’t going to today but who knows what will grab me next?

A Day of Rest and Reflection

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Not much to do today so taking a rest. Chilling out watching the Lion King – we’ve not seen it in ages – but it seemed a good time to watch it.
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We have caught up with family too – it was good to see Mel and the cousins this afternoon and to good chat

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We are resolving to make more opportunities to catch up with family and friends. Bex in particular had some excellent quality time with good friends from church.

The morning was spent at St Mary’s where the sermon deliver by Emlyn was right on target and confirmed in us that we were making the right choice. The image of Moses stretching out his staff across the Red Sea and not knowing what was about to happen was very powerful. We had done excellent chats with folk after the service and feel encourage. Thanks to Emma and David; John and Sue; Gill and Rosemary in particular.

For those who remain troubled by our choices we appreciate your care and concern, though we remain resolved.

On the preparation front yesterday we eventually got around to clearing the lounge cupboards – more to dump and sell. Anita is planning an eBay frenzy in coming days as well as using local methods to advertise items.

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Back to work tomorrow – probably a break in blogging for a few days too.

Until next time!

Decisions Decisions

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For those who have followed this blog for the past week, you may know we have deliberated long and hard about whether to let or sell our house while out of the country. After a long of discussion and prayer, visits by three Estate Agents and three letting agents (actually one did both), a lot of ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ we have come to a decision.

We have decided to sell!

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Anita shared with me a story the other day. There are three times in her life when she had a very strong feeling about something that would on the surface seem somewhat ridiculous, but later….:

  • Once at the age of 7 she was coming home from school and heard a sort of voice in her head saying “One day you’ll be working with people in Africa!” …. then some 14 years later, she went to Malawi with Emmanuel International, for 2 years teaching children preventative health (1992-3).
  • A second occasion in  early 1994, she was walking down the stairs in my house having only recently met me, when she had a very strong thought in her head that “One day you will live in this house!“, she thought that was a bit mad as she’d only just met me, but the following year… we got married and she moved into my house!
  • The last occasion is one she had never shared with anyone until now:  As a child she accompanied her parents with friends who were emigrating to Australia, whilst at the airport waving them off, she had a very strong feeling that when she grew up, she would also emigrate with her family somewhere …. and now 30+ years later, we will be selling up and moving to Tanzania this summer, wow!!!

Whether and when we return to the UK may be something which will be revealed in time but for now we are going with the flow. As Christians we believe God is in this and that He will be with us in all that we do. For some of you that may seem barmy – but there it is.

We are really grateful for all the support and help of both family and friends over the past few weeks.

It’s been a whirlwind but we are both remarkably calm about this and both in agreement.

Juggling

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There are so many preparations it’s sometimes difficult to decide what to do. It’s a bit of a juggle.

Yesterday we had valuations on the house which are encouraging, however we play things in the future. The market is moving apparently which means it’s to the advantage of sellers. Even so the rental market is holding its own – so there are plenty of tenants wanting properties.

The car is a bit of an issue as (in a different world) we bought new in the Autumn. We’ve probably lost money. We could have done with keeping the old one which was on a three-year lease expiring in May. It can’t be helped, but it’s annoying.

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Once in Mwanza we would ideally like a car as with a family of 4 it might be a challenge otherwise. Cars tend to be much older, a little pricier than UK equivalent, but hold or gain in value apparently. We need to be able to fund this and many other things in the coming months.

Also yesterday, I spent some time filling in Forms – though some of this was impossible to do (needing clarification) and a need for new passports (see below)

The kids need new passports and we need to get those sorted today. A bit of a chore as we can’t find Bekah’s. The replacement needs us to get her identity certified which was luckily accomplished due to seeing friends yesterday one of whom is a teacher (funny that!). Also Matt has changed so much since he was 7, that he needs to have an authorised photo too! We are seeing the same friend this afternoon (thanks Rowena!).

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On other fronts we are looking to see what injections we will need and have therefore booked appointments at the local health centre and with a MASDA clinic. Luckily for me (Graham) I had a number of injections for Cambodia / Vietnam which should cover much of what’s needed.

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The Head at Isamilo has helpfully sent a couple of links to international Churches in Mwanza ( Newcastle
Christian Life Centre and Mwanza International Community Church) and I have looked at their websites and Facebook pages. They both look fine and we will be wanting something which has a western flavour and with a good youth program with a good mix of expats and nationals. On first glance these both look fine – surreal that one is a branch of a Newcastle church. We will need to do some more research.

On the clear out front Anita is working on the Lounge and Bedroom cupboards (a bigger job than it sounds) and compiling a list of ‘must haves’ for Mwanza.

The kids both have paper rounds and the weather is sunny and dry (a rarity in recent months).

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Even so I have a pile of marking to do (it’s electronic,  it’s actually a virtual pile! ;-D ). Nonetheless I must stop tinkering and get on with it.

For now life in UK has to continue too!

Forms, Forms, Forms

T minus 184 I hate filling in forms, but whenever changes occur in life forms must be completed. Applying for a job in a foreign country does create a lot of paperwork. Today I have received a whole bunch of forms relating to immigration and work permits and application forms for the children. Where’s that black ballpoint?

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The Day After

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A busy day of clearing yesterday focussing mainly on the kids bedrooms.

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It was all bit overwhelming at times.

However it is now done and we have clean and tidy rooms ahead of today’s visit by the valuer.

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The bin men will have their work cut out today but it’s all been worth it.

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Dropping Mum back today and then the rest of Half Term has to be devoted to school work. So the loft will have to wait!

For now the Garage is full – but tidy and ready for a Car Boot in the coming weeks.

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Caldecotte vs Victoria

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One of the attractions locally is living close to Caldecotte Lake where I have had many a good run or walk over the years.

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On an entirely different scale will be Lake Victoria – the second largest lake in the world. Mwanza sits on the lake’s southern shores, just 2 degrees south of the equator in the North West of Tanzania. The lake and the altitude (at over 1000m on a par with the top of Snowdon) means it’s slightly cooler than the plains below at a relatively cool 28-30 degrees C. Unfortunately the presence of diseases such as Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) mean there’s no swimming but there are some spectacular sunsets apparently. For now I shall have to settle for the sunsets over Caldecotte.

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Garage, Shed and Kitchen

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A good morning and another trip to the dump leaves the garage a lot clearer. That which remains will go to a car boot sale – we’re currently looking at 23rd March – so stay tuned.

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The afternoon it’s the turn of the shed.

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Inside Anita has started on the Kitchen clutter

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Meanwhile looking to get house valued – regardless of renting and selling. This is booked for Wed. Once we know we can form up a decision either way.

We’ve now had application forms for the kids at Isamilo. This will be a formality (we hope) but still needs to be done.

Let the Clearance Begin

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Today is the start of Half Term and the start of the long process of clearing the accumulated detritus of 26 years in my own house (and 16 in this one). We have been ruthless! Anita in the bathroom clearing out numerous bottles of lotions and potions some of which are years old – including some small bottles of aftershave which I will miss 😦 . I on the other hand started on the Garage (with Mum who is down for the weekend). Several trips to the dump later we have made inroads – though there is a long way to go.

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More garage tomorrow and then the loft – that is going to take a long time – some of the stuff came straight from the loft of our previous house 16 years ago and has not seen the light of day since.

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It may seem a long time until we go – but a holiday week like this is a golden opportunity to get started. Certainly we are considering the options as to whether to rent or sell and may need to leave the house  before the summer depending on the best option.

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Wow!

190 Days to departure. (T minus 190)

What a fortnight!
Wow seems to be the most used word, as I have let the world know of my new job.
Two weeks ago I hadn’t yet applied for the Head of ICT at Isamilo International School. Within 4 days I’d had a Skype interview and a job offer. Now we’re off to Mwanza in Tanzania this August. There’s a lot to do as we disentangle ourselves from the UK. This blog will chart our progress and life in Mwanza from August. It’s going to be an adventure. Wow!

East Africa