Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mwanza Garden Chronicles : Birdlife

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Our garden has a large number of established trees as well as several bushes. Accordingly there are many birds all exotic which frequent the garden. Some I recognise, most I don’t – I must get a guidebook to East African birds!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue in Focus

I have struggled with this week’s photo challenge on Dialogue – but here is my submission

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Bougainvillea against Mango or Mango against Bougainvillea?

Dancing Rocks

T + 8

This afternoon we were taken on a walk to the dancing rocks. Mwanza is strewn with large boulders, some precariously (so it seems). The walk took a couple of hours and gave us great views of the rocks and Lake Victoria. If you are ever in the area this is a definite “must see”.



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Mwanza Garden Chronicles: Plants

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Our house has a large garden. There are a number of exotic plants which I don’t recognise (and a bougainvillea which I do). Compound (14).JPG

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There is also a great variety of bird life which I will chronicle another time.

Living the Ex-Patriate Life

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We left the UK a week ago. It’s amazing to think how much has happened this week. I have yet to start teaching but have had three days of induction and two INSET days.
We have discovered our new home town and enjoyed socialising with our fellow expats. We have enjoyed the view from the top of The Gold Crest Hotel (and the beers too!), we have admired the view from the Isamilo Lodge Hotel, we have relaxed by the lake at Tunza Lodge and watched the sun go down.
After a hard day at school, instead of the long drive home it was a short walk to the swimming pool for a refreshing dip.
IMG_8610.JPGToday we hired house workers these young women (there are two) are employed to clean the house, do the washing and ironing, wash up, boil milk (to pasteurise it), boil water (to sterilise it) and go to market on occasions (they can get a better price than we). All this sounds very colonial, but it provides good employment and spreads our relative wealth.
Anita has enrolled on a language school and will be improving her Kiswahili (she’s already good). The children are making friends and as we speak have gone off with a new friend to a local hotel for a meal and a bit of socialising.
School starts Monday, so maybe things will become more normal, but we’re definitely enjoying the expatriate life so far.



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Lake Victoria

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Today we had our first full INSET day so a full day in work. The usual round of meetings. Strangely I may be 3000 miles away across the globe, but many of the issues and discussions are very similar to those in the UK. The principal difference being the size of school.

Tonight we traveled to Lake Victoria – to Tunza Lodge where we had a meal and a drink watching the sun going down. The Lake is so large it seems to be a sea. It even had waves. It was a nice way to end the day.

Internet – Connected to the World

A blog from someone close to home


Tanzanimage Blog 1

So after forever (it seems) my family have purchased dongles in the city of Mwanza to be used in Tanzania. This will enable me to access social networks like I have done when I lived in the UK. However it will also enable me to start blogging which I have been interested in since my dad started his blog. The internet can also enable me to talk to family and friends which I have left in the UK. This is good because it allows me to not lose contact. So hopefully the internet will stay reliable so I can blog more. But until then, Bye.


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Life Without

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We are getting used to living without. Our house is great but Tanzanian life is laid back and even though water filters have been requested and chased up there are still none. Other things are missing; no broom or dust pan, no plug for the bath or sink; no waste bin; no bath mat; no laundry basket.
This afternoon we have been into Mwanza and raided the shop for some of these essentials. We carried back (we have no car) a number of items but need to return tomorrow for more Having said this, we have now got two extra desks for the kids to word at and the electric hot plate on the otherwise gas cooker is now wired in.
In spite of all of this we are surprisingly getting used to living without a number of things; no TV (for the moment); no car; a more limited diet (much less meat).
Many of these are quite healthy. Part of me wonders if we will need a TV package at all – we have a host of DVD’s and access to the internet ( I knew about MK Dons v Man U as it was happening courtesy of Facebook). As for a car, we are debating whether we need one – there is a lot to be said for the health benefits of walking and local transport seems good. We are going to see, certainly in the short term there is no reason and it’s helping us to explore the city.
Compared to the vast majority of our neighbours we are immensely well off and it is churlish to complain. We do really need those water filters though!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

A submission to this weeks photo challenge – Fray

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The frayed edges of the Mouse Bird’s tail; the frayes crown on it’s head; the frayed leaves of the tree in our new garden in which it sits.

Taken in our new garden in Mwanza, Tanzania.



T + 4

We have had our first two days of Induction at Isamilo School. The first day involved a relaxed tour of the school which is set in pleasant surroundings. With a role of less than 300 overall the school is smaller than a single year group at my previous school. Both primary and secondary are sited on the same plot and there are classrooms (named after a prominent figure in that field of study) for each subject but usually only one. However, there are two ICT rooms Gates on the Primary Side and Babbage on the Secondary. Both have a reasonable number of computers for the class sizes which I believe number in the region of 15 students.














We followed the tour with a lunch at Isamilo Lodge Hotel. The food was excellent but the service was painfully slow – it felt like almost two hours for food, but it was a good chance to chat with new colleagues and to find out about the place.
The view from the verandah at the hotel is amazing.

Today we have had a health and safety chat and this afternoon we have a trip into town to sort connectivity 🙂

Out of Touch

T + 3

I am sitting waiting for the kettle to boil. I am listening to the amazing mix of bird song – from the familiar cockerels, doves and sparrows (there are sparrows here though subtly different – still sparrows) and the unusual cries and warbles that make this place exotic.

Last night, the remaining new colleagues arrived (due to a family wedding we had come a day early so that family could see us off). Their flight had been worse than ours due to problems at Heathrow; surprisingly the weak link in the whole journey. After a shared Pizza at our place – organised by the school they all retired to bed and we settled down to watch a DVD. We have managed to connect the PS3 to the TV and were nearly all the way through Mission Impossible when there was a Power cut. It was late so we turned in.

I am used to being able to share these impressions immediately and enjoy the feedback via WordPress or Facebook or other social media. Therefore it’s strange to think that I don’t actually know when this will be posted. The generosity of neighbours has allowed us a little connectivity and I have been able to send short emails and post something – but I don’t want to take advantage.
On the schedule tomorrow is a trip to town to sort out connectivity so hopefully we can be more connected soon, but for now we’re out of touch.

Mwanza Market Morning Mooch

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We woke up late after a good night sleep, woken only briefly by the amazing dawn chorus at about 6:30. Along with recognisable doves – there were also stranger songs – yet to be identified. The bird life is amazing here. When I can I will get some pictures.
Rob and Naomi had offered to take us around the local fruit and veg market which operates every Sunday morning. Luckily we had eaten a quick breakfast and were ready. On
Our way out we also met our neighbours (Rachel and Stéfane) fellow teachers who offered us an opportunity to use the internet to contact home.Everyone has been so generous,
The market reminded Anita of Malaŵi me of The Gambia as well the ones of Cambodia Vietnam. Piles of fruit and veg on blankets on the ground – bartering prices and being tough customers. Generally being white = being rich and so we attracted much attention. Lots of choice, so we were able to get some good bargains which went into a lunchtime stir fry. I loved the colour and hustle bustle if the place. Not a place to take a camera though so no pics. We also visited a local supermarket where you can pick
up other items such as solid “washing up liquid” which goes much further apparently.

After lunch of Stir Fried Veg and Rice followed by Watermelon it was onward with unpacking which still continues as I write – so I’d better get back to it. Looking forward to the end of this pack / unpack business!




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We arrived in Mwanza late afternoon – all our luggage survived and made it to Mwanza.

We were met by Vicky (Reception
teacher), Naomi (Head of Sixth Form) and Rob (husband of Naomi). Luckily Rob was driving a big truck and there was enough room in it and Vicky’s car to fit our mountain of luggage.
After a lot of wrangling with the porters (who had been very helpful but expected an enormous tip for the work they had done), we were driven across town to our new home. We were shown around the property

Our new house is so spacious – it’s the largest I’ve ever lived in. We have a good sized lounge with an arch through to a fining area and a further archway through to the kitchen; it’s quite open plan. It is basically but comfortably furnished. The walls are whitewashed and there is a concrete floor. The dark wood furnishings set it all off nicely. We have started populating the walls with pictures from home and other items. Beyond the lounge there is a large lobby with various rooms leading off including three bedrooms, a toilet and a separate bathroom, as wells as a large store cupboard. We have a large garden beyond a verandah which leads off the lounge in the opposite direction. All doors and windows are shuttered with mosquito mesh, the glazing is slatted a allowing free flow of air. For now the house is full of cases and partially unpacked items – hence the lack of photos.

Over a cuppa talked about the area and the school. Our kind hosts offered to take us out for dinner and so after a shower (hot!) we headed out to the Isamilo Lodge Hotel for a curry. It was a lovely evening and a real kindness as we as yet have no Schillings.

We returned late and resolved to spend time unpacking tomorrow.

Dar Rush

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Not sure when this will be posted but ….. We have just left Dar Es Salaam after the most rushed transfer possible. Just hoping all the many bags made it Continue reading


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So we are finally on our way. After a long check-in process – we had only a very little time with family before we were off. It was sad to say goodbye and we will miss them and all we have known in the UK. IMG_8550.JPGIMG_8552.JPG



After a delay of nearly 1 and a half hours we took of from Heathrow. As predicted we were well over our luggage limit but we are here in Africa, though not yet at our destination.
Very British weather to greet us on arrival. Raining and 16C 😦 I won’t say where we are yet on this blog so FB Friends don’t say yet. I’ll save that for a future blog (security and all that!).

Bon Voyage, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

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Different languages, different ways of saying farewell.

French – Bon Voyage

Translates as “Good Journey”.

We are going on a journey, to a far flung place. We believe it will be good, for us as a family and hopefully the place we will go.

German – Auf Wiedersehen

Translates as “Until We Meet Again”.

Two years is a long time but we will be back in two years to see our friends and family. We hope this new life will stretch longer into the future but we will be back in two years.

English – Goodbye

Literally means “God be with you”.

We believe that God has been in this and will continue to be with us as we start out on this new adventure.

So in all these senses of goodbye we are heading out to Tanzania. We hope you can join us on this blog too!

By the way the word for Goodbye in Kiswahili is Kwaheri ( with luck!)


T Zero (TZ)

After 198 days, we reach the day we have been looking forward to, T ZERO, TZ for short which is the two digit code for Tanzania 😉

In the past six months this blog has been viewed over 23000 times, we have made 385 posts and garnered over 1000 comments with visitors from 140 countries. Thanks for following our journey.

The first post was Wow! And the same is true today Wow!

Today some last minute stuffing of suitcases, a trip to the airport some sad goodbyes and then we’ll be off.

By tonight we will be away from the UK; all sorting, clearing, selling, dumping, packing over!

The journey from Milton Keynes to Mwanza will have been complete by tomorrow. The next phase will begin and the blog will follow our lives abroad.

I have completed a goal to blog each day until departure. I hope to produce some scheduled blog posts to tide us over the weekend, but posting from Africa will almost certainly reduce but we hope to share our experiences in a new place, our new home – Mwanza Tanzania.



We’re Back!

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Fittingly we are back in Milton Keynes for our last full day. It is familiar as if we haven’t left, but yet strange to think that we won’t see this place again for a few years. We’re here to collect Matt’s GCSE Results. However we are using the opportunity to catch up with friends one last time, visit my daughter’s old guinea pigs at other friends. We also have a last round of injections and some last minute purchases. However, just at the moment I ‘m enjoying a (last?) coffee at Costa.
Leaving here today will be bitter – sweet, but we will leave with fond memories. Goodbye MK.

What a Car-ry On?

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Today I have been in possession of three cars.
The first was our own trusty Citroen which departed these shores at 5pm 😦 IMG_8035.JPG
At 11am we picked up a hire car – a Vauxhall Zafira from a local AVIS. Fortunately I took out a policy which covered all damage and repairs. Within 3 hours I needed it as I left the house to find that one of the tyres was flat as the proverbial pancake. A phone call lead to a conversation with the AA where they were convinced there was no spare and I who had checked said there was. Eventually a nice man from the AA came to fix (I had far more pressing things to do and having paid £30 per day for the cover I was going to get my money’s worth). Unfortunately the tyre was one of those temporary jobs which only let you go a certain speed and shouldn’t be used for long journeys. Do we needed a new car. Because the Oxford branch don’t take phone calls, a lengthy phone call with AVIS ensued, in which I spoke with Barcelona? (unhelpful) and Swindon (helpful). This resulted in a replacement vehicle, an Audi Estate. The local office were very helpful face to face, so it was a good ending to a stressful day!
So we return to MK tomorrow for our day trip to collect injections and GCSE results (but not necessarily in that order), visit Guinea Pigs and friends( possibly in that order!), do last minute shopping. Thankfully in a car which can go more than 50mph.

What’s Missing?

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Here’s a clue