On 26th January 2012 my wife, Anita, was cycling to work. It was a little icy that day and thankfully she wore her cycle helmet. Near to work she turned 90° as she approached an underpass and the bike slipped from underneath her – she fell off the bike at high speed.
I was at work when I got the call – half way through a Year 11 ICT lesson, Carol (one of our administrators) approached the door and beckoned me outside. To be disturbed mid-lesson was unusual, to be disturbed half way through a year 11 lesson unheard of. I left the room to hear the news – Anita had been knocked off her bike and rushed to hospital. The thoughts that ran through my mind as I made a quick exit and drove the 45 minute journey home. The first call was to Anita’s parents. The sudden shock of the news and the request they come quickly. At the time my work in Thame was at least 45 minutes away from home and on frosty roads even longer than that. The next call was to Anita’s sister – living in Northampton, a mere 2o minutes up the M1 from Milton Keynes. She would be there before I was.
Arriving at the A&E department at MK General, I found her – the helmet had been severely dented but there were no head injuries. Her arm had been less lucky. The impact of the fall had shattered both Radius and Ulna.
Thankfully passers by had come to her aid – ironically one was a theatre nurse in the hospital, a parent from the same school as my daughter and who would later on be in the theatre when she had the operation.
The broken bones were screwed together with plates and after a 4 hour operation I received news (at gone midnight) that everything was OK.
Months of physiotherapy followed and initially there were positive signs of movement. However as time progressed things were not looking good. The bones were growing too much and were pushing on the wrist. In July of 2013 a second operation took place to purposely break the bone, remove a section and re-plate.
This took place a few weeks before I was due to travel to Vietnam / Cambodia. We had agreed I should travel and so I did. One morning in Buon Ma Throut I awoke to the news that her bones had broken whilst in the cast. A further emergency operation was required and an new plate fitted.
Nearly two years on the bones are healed, though the movement of the left arm is significantly reduced.
In years to come the longer plate may need to be removed. An incident which occured in a split second has had an impact lasting many years.
A different take on this Week’s Photo Challenge: Broken. Taken back in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics via our TV Set. Not sure why now but took some pictures of Rebecca Adlington winning Gold and breaking the then world record for her swimming event (800m Women’s Freestyle).
It’s a bit of a treat and so it’s something we do only occasionally. The forecast was great and even though the morning was cloudy it soon burned back to a glorious blue sky by midday. Time to head off to Malaika Beach Resort.
You can’t swim in Lake Victoria – the water is too polluted and full of Bilharzia, but the lakeshore offers stunning views. Entry to Malaika Beach Resort is 2000 TZS per head (63p) which is enough to make the place exclusive so they say. You get this back as a drink (a soda or money off a beer). the real expense is the pool, but it is worth it. For the four of us it was 60000TZS ,(approx £19). It is a sign of the times (and my wage here) that this price makes it an occasional trip not a regular visit. Once inside the place was virtually empty – of course although yesterday was a school break it was not a Public Holiday here and so most were at work. We had a fabulous afternoon in the pool.
The surroundings at Malaika are really pleasant too.
After an afternoon at the pool we decided to have a meal whilst watching the sunset. The food is in truth not the best but it wasn’t poor either. Even so the surroundings are stunning and we saw a great sunset.
What you can hear is the sound of a pair of Hadada Ibis in the tree behind our house (along with some cockerels). They make a lot of noise. In fact they are noisier when in flight when the calls you hear are continuous, it’s much more tricky to capture that sound as they appear from nowhere.
I have come to associate life in Mwanza with the sound of these glossy green black birds – they are everywhere here, though thankfully they don’t always make this noise.
We have Bats in our Mango tree – I say our, it’s just outside our garden but on the compound where we live. I was taking photos for my previous post (Broken Branches) when I noticed them. I was able to snap some clear photos of them roosting and some fuzzier ones of them in flight. They are very fast and silent flyers so I will need to be patient and get some more focused ones in the future.
Incidentally, the phrase “It’s in the trees” comes from a Kate Bush song “Hounds of Love”. It’s a bit of a catch-phrase in the family – it’s usually followed incorrectly by “When I was child”, The origin is over twenty years old from a time in Milton Keynes when a group of us (twenty somethings) gathered for a weekly Friday video night – it was probably coined by a guy called Richard, who knows why? Over time it was used by my brother (an occasional visitor to the video night) and I and later my kids. No rhyme or reason! I have wanted to use it in a blog post – so here it is. “It’s In The Trees!”
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Broken.”
Our Tanzanian garden has a number of trees. Here in the tropics wood decays more quickly than in Britain and termites and other insects eat away at the wood of even the sturdiest looking trees. Consequently, we have many broken branches – some dangling from bigger branches others twigs on the ground.
Before arriving in Mwanza, I was led to believe that Mwanza was a brown city – with little greenery. I have to say my experience has been different. Mwanza, certainly Isamilo is very green. True the road ways are dusty and dry most of the time, but the verges are green and trees dominate the hillsides.
Today is the Isamilo International Swimming Gala. This annual event involves schools and swimming clubs from across from across Tanzania for two days.
As staff many of us are involved in timekeeping. There are strict rules and there are three timekeepers per lane. The middle time is adjudged as the official time and as judges it’s important to be accurate especially in the shorter races. It’s hot out here so plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a must in the baking Mwanzan sun.
Mwanza is situated on Lake Victoria, but not on the “main lake”. It is actually sits on the Mwanza Channel, a narrow branch of the lake which stretches miles south from the main body of water. Our journey to and from Ukerewe gave us the opportunity to see Mwanza from a different perspective.
Apparently on Ukerewe the thought of a Mzungu on a bike is enough to bring fits of hysterics, as if it is something very unusual. I imagine if the islanders ever managed to go to the Netherlands they would be apoplectic.
This weekend I have spent time on Ukerewe, the largest island in Lake Victoria. North of Mwanza, it is a three hour ferry ride to a completely different Tanzania.
Ukerewe is a fertile island and the first thing you notice when away from the little port side town is the shear number of citrus trees. Mostly oranges and tangerines, you can buy a large basket of these fruits for 1000 TZs (about 33p). Apparently the market traders buy a tree for a season and will have sole right to all fruit produced. Mango trees are also in abundance.
My visit is part of a weekend away for the boarding students. Staying at the Monarch Beach Resort, we arrived from Mwanza on the Saturday morning ferry and we departed on the Sunday afternoon ferry.
In the short time of our visit we have hired bikes and used them to explore the island.
Our first trip took up through the fields and rice paddies and fountains of lake fly hovering in spires above the growing grains. Clouds of these mini-beasts so thick at times you needed to look down to avoid being splatted in the eye. Thankfully these soon passed and we came across the orange groves. Here the round became rougher and with no gears cycling was tough.
After half an hour or so we came to the base of the view point and we climbed on foot up to some great views of the lake. Here I spotted a cloud bursting rain over the land – possibly Mwanza from its direction.
The evening meal was followed by a bonfire and a chance to relax.
This morning it was back in the saddle for a ride to the King’s Palace. This was a long ride up and down hills on Tarmac before a long rutted sand road and a shorter flooded woodland paths.
By European standards the place was a bit rundown, no stately home here. It was possibly impressive at one time but now has a large colony of bats on the upper floor and a pungent odour. The ride was tough and the backmarkers were eventually picked up in the mini-bus (bikes and all). As I was cycling at the back it included me – but we had s boat to catch and we were running out of time. The highlight of the trip was to see the land in all it’s greenery.
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