Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Nile

Today we have been in Jinja. This is a town on the Northern Edge of Lake Victoria and the site famous for being the source of the River Nile. The longest river in Africa. Located by the famous explorer John Speke. Although claimed to be the source, in truth it is the point from which the Nile leaves Lake Victoria and takes the name “Nile”. From here it flows to South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt, flowing out into the Mediterranean Sea. Since the Lake recieved water from further South, the true source is the Kagera River which begins in either Rwanda or Burundi. If this is counted then the Nile is actually longer then the Amazon and therefore the longest river in the world.


Whether it is the true source or not. Jinja is a fantastic place to visit. The town is pretty with the air of a stereotypical American Town (think Back to the Future). The buildings are brightly painted, and some have an Art Deco feel. We stopped for coffee at the Source.

We also discovered a Commonwealth War Cemetry where soldiers from Uganda who fought in WWII are buried.


This evening we took a Sunset Cruise along the River. Sadly the iPhone ran out of power so just one pics for now.

We had a great time and though it was cloudy we still had a good sunset. We sailed up and down the Nile and observed the birdlife – cormorants, egrets, weavers and kingfishers as well as fish eagles were seen.

Amazingly, we spotted some work colleagues also in Jinja. Karl, Paul, Julian and His son were kayaking on the river just as we were leaving.

We followed up our cruise meeting up for a drink in town with guys. A good way to end the day.

A Tale of Two Cities

This afternoon we ventured into Kampala. Our purpose to get a SIM for Uganda and to see a bit of Western Civilisation – maybe even go to the Cinema. We took the local taxi (Matatu) equivalent to a Dala Dala in Tanzania and were deposited in Central Kampala. After 7 months in Mwanza it was a bit of a shock. It was so busy, so many people so many cars,  hundreds of Matatu and even more Boda Boda (motorbikes) equivalent to Piki Pikis in Mwanza.       

there were hundreds of little shops and  dozens of Shopping Arcades akin to Agoras in back MK – but not exactly what we were looking for. This was very much the centre for local Ugandans, very crowded. Think about Oxford Street in London on Christmas Eve  and treble it. We sorted out SIMS for the phones, then got directions to the Cinema. This was in a different part of town and might have been a different city, though it wasn’t. It was in the aptly named Oasis Shopping Mal. Here it felt like a drop of the West in the middle of Africa. A modern Supermarket (Nakamat), coffee shops, a multiplex cinema. We had not realised how much we had missed such things.  


We finished the afternoon with a film – Insurgent (from the Divergent series) in 3D and a free Pepsi to boot. We were the only ones in the cinema – if fact the film had just started so they stopped it and started again. We had a great time, then it was back out into the traffic of Kampala and off to our hostel.

Imaginary Lines

We humans have divided up our world into blocks and boxes. Some of these are geographically defined, mountains  rivers and oceans make for obvious boundaries. Some are derived by ethnicity or tribe, possibly dictated by the latter. Still  others are purely imaginary lines in the sand. 

Today we will cross two such lines – although one is mathematically derived, the other is a line of whom and fancy, dreamt up (no doubt in a foreign country).

Our first imaginary line is the Tanzania/Uganda border a straight line running West to East from the DRC to Kenya, crossing Lake Victoria. A strange border which completely ignores any geography. You have to wonder how it was derived, what negotiations took place to decide it or what randomness decided it. Almost certainly it runs parallel to the second imaginary line we will cross.

Our second line is geographically more significant, although just as imaginary and takes no account of natural features. This is the equator. Today we will move from the Southern Hemisphere back into the Northern Hemisphere for the first time in over 7 months. Last time we crossed this line we were 30000 ft in the air, today we will be on the ground. Hopefully we will be able to stop and straddle this imaginary line.

The last such line I straddled was the Prime Meridian at Grenwich when we visted Grenwich back in 2013. This line, even more whimsical separates East and West, it’s a linear crossed many times without a thought as we travelled from Milton Keynes to Harlow to see my brother. It is commemorated at Grenwich and had historical significance as it was first used as a way of measuring time globally at a time when this had been impossible to do so. The Grenwich Meridian runs North South from Pole to Pole. All times in the world are derived from Grenwich Meriian Time (GMT). Here in Tanzania we are GMT+3. 

Fir Trees and Bananas

Think of  fir trees and probably like me imagine the cold temperate forests of Northern Europe or Canada. You probably don’t imagine a hot equatorial climate. Yet here on the western shores of Lake Victoria there are plantations of fir trees alongside banana trees. Both seem to grow equally well.  An incongruity, a juxtaposition of unlikely neighbours.      





Weekly Photo Challenge : Ephemeral Dragonfly /Damselfly

A submission to the new Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

Dragonflies (and there relations Damselflies) are to me the epitomy of ephemeral. They are such short lived creatures on land, living most of their lives underwater as larvae.  They emerge from the water on one afternoon and emerge from their chrysalises. One dry they flit from place to place so fast it is difficult to capture.Here are some shots of Dragonflies over the years.


Bukoba Bound

Today we leave Mwanza. Our journey takes to Bukoba. This town on the western edge of Lake Victoria used to be an overnight ferry ride, now due to mechanical failure the ferry does not run, so it’s a lengthy bus journey from Mwanza, this is the first of many bus journeys which will take us out of Tanzania over the equator and into Uganda. 

It was an early rise for an 8:30am bus, sadly our booked bus was broken down. Although our tickets were transferable, the next bus on offer looked old and decrepit, with scratched down the side and rather overcrowded. Our original bus had been chosen for being more modern and of British origin, we had allocated seats near the front. We eventually got onto a second bus which looked more modern, although our seats were now near the back. It’s going to be a long drive.

For now Bukoba awaits us. This town founded in 1890 seems pleasant enough but offers a tourist little more than an overnight stop. Images from Bukoba will follow if time permits and images worthy.

Weekly Photo Challenge : Ephemeral Picture

A submission to the new Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral.

Sometimes you take a photograph which is so ephemeral that a second later it would not exist. Such is it is with a photo I took on a recent trip to Rubondo. The focus of the image was the hippo dead centre.

Rubondo 20 Feb (205)-1


It was definitely the star of the show. However, the Waterbuck which ‘photo-bombed’ the picture as it darted left is what makes this shot truly ephemeral. Within a few seconds it was gone, and the hippo remained chewing the grass.

Rubondo 20 Feb (208)

Pepper, Fudge, Licorice, Ginger and Treacle

No not a recipe for some strange concoction, but the names for the cat and the kittens she had a month ago. We have developed a tradition of naming our pets after items of food. This began in the UK when our daughter had Guinea Pigs (Cinnamon, Muffin, Saffron, Jelly Bean and Biscuit). It carried on with Pepper, and although we won’t be keeping them, continues with Pepper’s kittens.

The cat, Pepper, was a kitten herself when we found her stuck up a tree at school in September. 

In truth I didn’t want a pet, but no one claimed her and no one else wanted her. Having said that, if I had to have a pet, a cat is fairly high up the list and definitely above a dog. The independence of a cat means they look after themselves a lot.

We did not imagine a cat could be made pregnant at only six months old, but that is exactly what happened to Pepper.

A month ago she gave birth to four kittens. She has been a good mother and four weeks on all are doing well and there is no runt. Like most babies, they didn’t do much at first, but now in the last few days they gave begun running around, they are in to everything. I have to admit they are cute.


In four weeks from now we will be looking to give them away to good homes and ensuring Pepper is not able to have more kittens. For now we will enjoy the antics of Licorice, Treacle, Fudge and Ginger.

A Fan of the Future?

Our Fan can predict the future – honestly! We keep it on each night to keep us cool and to provide white noise which blocks out the sounds of the night.

However we have notice that our fan can predict the future. Just before a power cut for about 30 seconds, our fan revs up to a much higher speed, then the power cut begins. This has happened several times now.

A predictive fan? Well most likely there is a power surge ahead of the power cut. Last night this coincided with a thunder storm. The rains albeit in there early stages have started. The power cuts continue daily, and the fan predicts every one with accuracy.  

Weekly Photo Challenge : Ephemeral Dawn

A submission to the new Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral.

Sunrises and Sunsets are by their very nature ephemeral as the light changes fast. This submission focuses not on the sun itself but the light it emits.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh Morning Dew

A submission to the Weekly Photo challenge :Fresh. Morning Dew taken in our old garden back in the UK. I haven’t seen dew here in Tanzania it’s probably too hot.


Zanzibar Retrospective: Stone Town

In the run up to our Easter Holiday (Vacation) trip to Uganda I wanted to try and complete the remaining Zanzibar Retrospectives so here is Stone Town. We stayed here for three days at the end of our time in Zanzibar.

Dhow Palace Hotel

Our base in the city – complete with it’s own pool built in the centre of the hotel courtyard. We were staying in Room 101 which was an ominous room if you know your literary references – but it was a simple but clean room with air con. wifi and a mosquito net which is all you really needed, plus a small balcony overlooking the pool. Food was rather basic and we only ate breakfast there which was not that great to be honest. The location was absolutely fine and a stones throw from the sea front and the centre of town.

Stone Town Streets

Stone Town is unlike anything else in Tanzania – an old city with a maze of streets. Buildings with ornate doors. Old Forts, Persian Baths, Palaces and Mosques and Churches. The place is aged and a little decrepit – in need of a face lift but intriguing nonetheless.

Sea Front and Forodhani Gardens

The sea front views are superb and a walk along thee front leads to Forodhani Gardens where all manner of goods are sold.

Sultans and Slavery

Zanzibar was a sultanate until the end of the 19th Century. Ruled by Oman the island was sadly a centre of Slavery for East Africa until Britain intervened and forced the Sultan to end it, on the back of reports by David Livingston (explorer) among others. The old slave market was built over and a church erected. There are still memorials to those who suffered.

The Sultan’s Palace was also a place to visit whilst in Stone Town

Stunning Sunsets

The place to go in the evening for a Sundowner is Africa House. We went all three nights in Stone Town and saw some great sunsets – though never caught the sun on the horizon.

Monkeys On The Roof

Today was the first of six practical exams I will invigilate over the next six working days. These two and a half hour exams are mind numbing. So in the silence I contemplated my next blog post. This is written below in the form of a poem conjured in my head at the time. There may be others.

Note the monkey image was taken back in September.

They love to run.
They love to leap. 
From roof to roof.
To tree to roof.
A proverbial herd of elephants.
In fact a troop of monkeys.
Above my head.

Above my head.
As I sit in the silence.
No other sound.
But monkeys.
Running, leaping, jumping.

Only in Africa!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh Air

This morning we awoke to a storm. After several weeks without, the fresh rains have finally brought relief. This morning’s downpour bringing with it fresh air and refreshing the ground and the plants upon it. There is nothing so fresh as the smell of the air after a rainstorm – the word “petrichor” (learned from watching Doctor Who of all things) is used to describe this smell. One storm doesn’t make a rainy season but perhaps it has started this morning.


The Long Awaited Long Rains

It’s still green here amongst the dust – the occasional shower has helped in that respect, but day by day it remains hot and no significant rain has fallen in  three months – save for one downpour. Every shower is eagerly anticipated, but it is short-lived and turns the hot air humid. 

As the weeks pass, the ground gets ever dustier, the grass ever more parched, the trees and bushes droop ever more lowly to the ground.


I am a self-confessed lover of heat and dislike rain, yet I find myself craving that which I dislike. It would be nice to have some significant rain to cool the air, to dampen the dust and revive the plants. Even though it would herald the Long Rains (which get shorter with every passing day) it would be welcome. 

There may be signs it’s on it’s way as temperatures have dropped back to a mere 27°C from the mid-30s  (one report records 38°C) of last week. The next week is reportedly more showery and cooler. With even these temperatures beating anything a good summers day in the UK could produce we.’re not talking cold snap here just mild relief and a little less sweat. 

For now we await the Long Rains – I’m sure I’ll soon be complaining – we Brits are never satisfied with the weather for long!

Zanzibar Retrospective: Spice Tour

as with so many of my blog posts from Zanzibar – I was not able to share the photos taken with the camera. More than most of my posts our Spice Tour on route from Ocean Paradise to Stone Town lacked the visuals so here it is with added pics.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh (Fruit)

When it comes to Fresh, the tropics do  well with Fruit. Forget the flavours of fruits back home in the West. Here the fruits taste so much better, probably because the time between tree and plate is so much less. The markets here  are full of fresh fruits.  In some restaurants you can buy big plates full of fresh fruit which is look appetising and taste delicious.

Both here in Tanzania and on my visit to South East Asia – fresh fruit was in abundance.



The Mekong Delta is the source of much of the fruit in Vietnam. We were treated to a selection on a visit to the Delta in 2013. Other pictures from Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Pleiku



Seeking Shade

The rains have yet to come. Some say they should have come already. What little rain has come has simply humidified the hot air. Each day seems hotter than the last. Even the Tanzanians are complaining about the heat and the sweaters are disapearing.  

Today we are in town and it’s baking – so finding shade is a must. One place which offered shade and some good food is Kuleana’s. Here in the shade you can get Pizza – Tanzania Style and Fresh Fruit among other things.    

I can’t believe I actually want the rains to come. I like heat but day after day we get what would amount to a record breaker back in the UK. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh (Brewed Coffee)

When it comes to the weather here in Tanzania, the concept of Fresh is a difficult one. Here on the equator it has remained hot and steamy throughout the months we have been here at the moment it just seems to be getting hotter and hotter. So I was lacking inspiration for this week’s photo challenge and then I glanced at my freshly brewed coffee!  



Many of you will have witnessed some sort of eclipse of the sun today. Sadly no such event occurred here in Tanzania where the sun remained bright and full, whilst baking down upon us. 

The moon was I assume somewhere up there in the blue, near to but not over the shining sun.

I have been lucky enough to witness a total eclipse back in 1999 whilst on holiday in Brittany. We made the long trip up to Cherbourg in Normandy to watch the eclipse together with many who had sailed across the sea from Britain, including my parents.


It was a cloudy day and the cloud was seemingly impenetrable but as totally approached the world got suddenly dark, as if it were night. The lights in the harbour came on and the seagulls screeched. Then in the dark the clouds parted, just enough to give us a fleeting glimpse (no photo). Totality lasted but a few minutes and then like someone switching on a light it grew bright (even though most of the sun was still covered).

That was my one and only total eclipse in almost 50 years on this planet. The next visible here in Tanzania will occur on September 1st 2016 (partial).  If I’m still here (as I hope to be) it’s a definite watch!

If you saw the eclipse I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂