Monthly Archives: November 2014


Maybe because it’s we’re far from the UK. Maybe the surreal weather. Maybe just because it’s a quiet weekend but we decided to put our decorations up. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge : Converging Animals

A submission to this Week’s new Photo Challenge – Converge. These images from Serengeti where huge aggregations of animals converge as well as family groups.

Picking Up The Post

There is no postal delivery here in Mwanza, no postman (or woman), no early morning deliveries.
All mail arrives at the Central Post Office where it is collected by the school twice weekly. Letters for the whole family arrive in my pigeon hole at work.
IMG_9616.JPGParcels must be collected in person with a slip, in the same way we do in the UK when mail is oversized or is underpaid. Here all parcels must be collected and it’s not a swift process. I am here on a Saturday afternoon (the post office is open later here) and having stood around for 15 minutes and still waiting I have sat on a step and started writing this blog piece. Thee is a long queue of others also waiting. I am here to pick up a mystery package addressed to Anita and though this blog piece is at an end my wait is not.


Post Script
Two parcels arrived after a further 5 minute wait – so only 40 mins waiting!!

Weekly Photo Challenge : Converge

A submission to this Week’s new Photo Challenge – Converge. These images taken on the Causeway to the Ile de Noirmontier in the Vendée in France – taken back in 2007. There are the converging lines of the causeway and the converging of the sea and the land as the road is submerged twice daily.


It will soon be Christmas and we will, as usual start decorating the house on Advent Sunday. This year we are restricted to our Christmas Lights from home – packed in our cases when we came over. We will need to source some Christmas Decorations locally – perhaps using foliage as a fellow resident has done to manufacture an advent wreath.

Today, however I discovered some Poinsettia growing on the compound. Not the tiny shrubs we see in the UK but a great big bush on the compound. We will need to take a sprig or too, or maybe even find a bush to plant from the local garden centre.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular In Vietnam

A late submission to this week’s photo challenge- Angular

Various Images from Vietnam from July 2013. These images contain angles of various kinds.

Computer Mouse

There’s a mouse in my computer room! Actually there are lots of mice in my computer room but I don’t mean this type.IMG_9601.JPGI mean this type!

So far I have not seen it but it has left evidence.

IMG_9600.JPGThe problem is that mice eat through cables and this one lives near the switch box (basically allowing the computers in my room and other classrooms access to the network and the Internet beyond!) So trouble is coming if we don’t dispose of the rodent.

So we’re setting traps. There’s only one type mouse I want to see in my classroom and it isn’t this.


I think I must be acclimatising. Tonight I’m in long sleeves and long trousers after a dull wet day in Mwanza. It feels cool although I’ve been in short sleeves all day. Looking at the weather forecast it is 25°C outside with a real feel of 24°C. In the UK I’d be in shorts for certain. I’d hate to think how I’d feel if I were back in the 9°C of Milton Keynes. It’s amazing how our bodies adapt!




This morning we had a lot of rain. We were woken by an enormous thunder clap and the rain fell in torrents for an hour or so.
The resultant rains left an aftermath on the roads and paths. The roads and paths here are mainly mud and sand so they turn into rivers washing away the surface and forming ridges.

For reference here is a walk to school in time before the rains.

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A Month to Go

A month to day it will be Christmas and in 5 weeks time the year will be done. Where has all the time gone? Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular

This week’s submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge (Angular)

Phnom Penh (12)

The buildings of Phnom Penh with their angular roof tops.

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Busy Day ….. Sleepless Night

Life here can be hectic. After a great night on Friday at the Charity Quiz (We so nearly won but we’re pipped by one point!), I was hardly home yesterday. The day begun with a trip to see Saturday school at 10am. An hour there and a wander through the grounds above the school, was followed by a visit to the birding house An 12noon for their Open Day and a chance to meet their parents. After a shared meal it was off to rejoin the rest of the family who were going to a shared barbecue at 2pm. There we stayed chatting and eating until 7:30 when we crossed the road to the Teacher Flats to celebrate a colleagues birthday on the roof. Another couple of ours of chat and celebration before returning home at 10pm a full 12 hours out. Great fun but I’m not sure I’d cope if every Saturday was full on like that!

Post Script
Returning to the compound we found that nearby there was a Disco /Party blaring out loud music and thumping base. Sadly this continued through the night only stopped at 8am by the scheduled Power Cut. Rarely have I been so grateful for the loss of electricity.

Upper School

Since there is an extremely loud disco going on nearby and I’m highly unlikely to get any sleep soon another blog post.
Today has been a hectic day with a variety of social activities to fill up 12 hours from 10 ’til 10 of which more another time.
After Saturday School I did have an hour before the Border Patent’s Visiting Day Lunch. So I decided to do something Inhad never managed to do so far and explore the school grounds. In particular those parts on the hill. Our school is built on a hill and above the pool area there is a Cricket Area and above that a Netball Court. On the other side above the football pitch there are Tennis Courts and a Squash Court. Then a wild area of trees and scrub which lead up to a water tank on top of the hill. This wild area was remarkably peaceful and gave some great views of the Lake. Loads of butterflies too. A great place to sit for half an hour or so.





Saturday School

After over three months here Anita and I thought it about time we visited Saturday School.
This is a charitable outreach by the school into the local community providing free education to local children. Each Saturday Morning the school opens it’s gates for two hours to provide lessons in a range of subjects including English, ICT, Art as well as sports such as Swimming, Football, Basketball.
These activities are mostly run by students who plan and deliver the lessons assisted by a very few teachers. The students seem to enjoy the classes and most come back week by week to do things that otherwise they would possibly never get to do.IMG_9514.JPG







Anita and Bex are back at the clinic for a follow up check, both have had UTI.
IMG_9499.JPGThere is a general consensus in the staff room that whenever you’re ill you get diagnosed with one or both of two things: Malaria and UTI (urinary tract infection). Moreover this is the doctor’s get out clause when he / she can’t admit they don’t know. Hence there is a widespread distrust of the doctors here.

I think that our early experience with the doctors probably bears this out. Nonetheless our second visit to a different and more respected clinic whilst debunking Malaria (along with Amoebic Infection) concurred with the UTI diagnosis.

A more sceptical colleague was dismissive of this too, but I’d like to suggest here why UTI might be more common than we would suppose. The rationale here is not mine but those of a UK trained Kenyan doctor whom Anita recently met. It make sense to me from my (albeit non-Biological) Science background and can be summarised as follows:

  1. It’s hot here – so we sweat a lot.
  2. We don’t drink enough water.
  3. We don’t go for a wee (pee) often enough.

The result is the urine is more concentrated and sits in the bladder for longer. This gives any bugs longer to get established before being passed. Hence we are more prone to infection aka UTI.

We can’t deal with the first point – it’s not going to get much colder – ever! So perspiration is not going to stop!

We have to tackle the second by drinking more, which will affect the third.

The problem is that water here cannot be drunk from the tap (not without risking further diseases). It comes either in a bottle (1.5L for 1000TzS) or else must be boiled, cooled and filtered prior to drinking. It’s a a bit of a palaver, but must be done.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement on Top of a Mountain

There is nothing more satisfying than looking down from the top of a Mountain or Hill after a climb. The mountains in the Britain are small by world standards (we live here in Tanzania at an altitude higher than anywhere in England, Wales or Ireland). Nonetheless here are some views from the tops of Hills or Mountains – as examples of achievements for this week’s photo challenge.


Don’t Go into Town : Riots and Tear Gas

The following is a message which appeared on the Notice board at lunchtime today,

Don’t Go into Town : Riots and Tear Gas!

Certainly nothing I would ever have expected to see on in the Staff Room in Thame or in Milton Keynes.

We had heard the shots go off in the lesson before lunch, unaware what it was at the time.

This sounds quite alarming – and it was at the time. In a sense it’s all part  and parcel of living in a developing country. To put your minds at rest the disturbance was miles from the school which is sighted in Isamilo (a suburb of Mwanza). Furthermore it turned out to be quite localised. A colleague returning from town had been unaware of any issues taking place at all.

My main concern was Anita who had been due to be in town today – it turns out she saw nothing and only heard about it on her return to the compound from Gold Crest (thankfully in a Taxi).


The events in question occurred on streets near some of the shops close to the Traffic Lights, where police were evicting the unlicensed street traders from their ‘pitches’. This was due to complaints by the shops over lost trade and an enforcement order by the council.  The eviction prompted protests by those affected and this was dispersed by tear gas. I am sure for those affected this was not a pleasant experience and we were right to be warned but it was not on the scale of the London Riots of a few years back.

Personally I have some sympathy with the traders – poor people trying to earn a crust by some means. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

In spite of this I am not worried about going into town. We are well warned when these things happen, the grapevine tends to do its job well. Mwanza and Tanzania remain relatively safe places to be with suitable precautions.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement in the Garden

A submission to this week’s photo challenge – achievement.

In the Spring/ Summer of 2003 as part of a plan to tidy up our previous garden, after the building of a conservatory. I embarked on building a deck with the help of my father in law. Following some preliminary digging and levelling by Anita and I as well as my own dad.This has to be one of my greatest achievements and the deck was much used over the next 11 years. I am especially proud of the trellis-work which was completed by me alone. The photos originally appeared in my blog post Damson & Ash.

10 Facts for Bob Geldof

Great comments – do read, Witty yet cutting!

Back to Nature

Realising that I haven’t posted any pictures from the garden I thought I’d share a few of the more recent pictures. Whether it’s the imminent start of the rainy season or the fruiting mango tree but recently we have started to find monkeys on the compound. These have driven the local birds into a frenzy along with the guard dog who has had something other than mongooses to chase.

Other than this we have had a few new birds including an Spotted Thrush of some kind and another Thrush-like bird (identity unknown).