Monthly Archives: May 2016

Lakeside Viewing

It’s a short half term here – just a couple of days and the weekend – still it’s nice to get a break and even though we’re not going away it gives us a chance to travel locally within in Mwanza to get some lakeside views.

Polluted as it is, Lake Victoria provides some great backdrops even though you wouldn’t swim in it. Our two favorite views in Mwanza are at Tunza Lodge and Talapia Hotel. Both are within 15mins by car. 

The weather of late has been warm and dry – the sought of warm you rarely get in the UK. The lakeside breeze is gentle and cooling, never cold.

Last night Anita and I went for a ‘sundowner’ at Tunza. This morning son and I went for breakfast at Talapia and then spent an hour or so lakeside whilst he did some English Lit Revision for upcoming exams away from the house. 

For those who know us,  daughter was invited too but did not want to come preferring to study at home.

Sundown at Tunza

Enjoying a Sundowner

Morning at Talapia

Some A Level Revision away from 4walls

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare (The Turtle)

Another contribution to this week’s photo challenge:Spare. It was not my intention to give my contributions an animal theme, but today’s events give no option.

Coming out of church we discovered a group of boys with a bag – in the bag was a turtle. They were probably going to sell for food for money. So we decided to spare the turtle it’s fate and pay for it with a spare 5000TzS (£1.56) change. 

Then we took it in the car to a local marsh where we let it loose.

Hopefully it will live to see another day. It turns out to have been a William’s Mud Turtle.

WPC: Spare (A Thought for the Rhino)

This week’s photo challenge is on the theme of Spare in all it’s connotations.

  1. (adjective) Additional to what is required for ordinary use.
  2. (adjective) Elegantly simple.
  3. (verb) To refrain from harming.

As far as the first definition – this really does not apply – there are far too few Rhinos and certainly not additional to anything

The second definition applies in part to these amazing animals – simple grey colour and in it’s own sense elegantly designed. They are also extremely scarce in their landscape – so sparcely are they distributed having been hunted to near extinction.

The final definition is perhaps the most poignant -we should stop harming these creatures before it’s too late.

These photos taken from our trip to Uganda last year – not in the wild sadly but in a Zoo – one which seeks to bring ordinary Ugandans face to face with their own wildlife and to educate them on the threats to their wildlife. There are very few Rhinos left in East Africa where once 500,000 Rhinos existed there are now 29,000 or so. In Uganda the White Rhino was wiped out and is only now being re-introduced.


It’s Over ……… I think!

Finally it’s come to an end. After what seems for ever it’s stopped and we’re on our way to better times.

I am of course referring to the rains. Made so much longer and wetter by the El Niño effect.

The grass is turning yellower and the roads are getting dustier but I much prefer sun to rain.

Not that it has rained all the time but it has been a lot cloudier than we’ve been used to and a lot more unpredictable. So unpredictable that it’s  been almost two weeks after the last rainfall before I am confident enough to make the tentative proposition that it’s over….. I think!

Kipepeo Silhouettes

Some pictures of the wildlife here at Kipepeo Beach south of Dar, silhouetted against the sky.

Garden Centres – Tanzania Style

Here in Tanzania there is no such thing as a Garden Centre but instead you find, strung out along the road, in certain parts of town, small nurseries and pot makers etc. This is true in Mwanza where we live and where we are this weekend and many other towns and cities across the land. 

This morning on a wander into the village of Mjimwema,  we came across a such places …..

……. and a garden set out with plants and pots. 

A Day in Dar at the TRA

We needed a Tanzanian Driving License. No longer available as a conversion in Mwanza we’d either need to get a provisional license and then ‘take lessons’ and ‘pass a test’ (in quotes because the right payment will circumvent both) or else pay a hefty ‘fee’ to a willing policeman for the license (again in quotes) . We were not prepared to do either.

It all started smoothly enough and with encouraging efficiency – this post was going to be so different!

We left Mwanza on the 8am flight. Destination Dar! The hour long flight was straight forward enough and we landed in Dar Es Salaam at 9:30am. Then the journey into the centre through free flowing traffic.

The TRA building in Dar is within a crumbling office lock but once inside the room is spacious and queues relatively short. We go to and fro from the supervisor submitting our application, biometrics, police station all in less than 90 minutes.

They say any task is governed by the speed of it’s slowest process. The slowest process was yet to come!

You’d think that paying for the license would be straightforward enough. We had the Shillings (40,000 TzS for each license). We were directed to one of two banks and drove to the first.  ‘…the systems down and we can’t take payment’ the first cashier said ‘it’s been down all week and the TRA aren’t fixing it’ -a similar story from the next bank. Back to the TRA – here they can’t help ‘it’s the system’. 

So we have done all we can do and cannot pay for the license. Such a shambolic end to the process.

We ask to speak to the boss – a phone call  to the manager who gives us the number of the Mwanza boss – we are instructed to bring the receipts to Mwanza on Monday to pay there ‘ it will be fine’ they say – I am very skeptical. We’ve tried to do things honestly and feel no shame in that but the ‘system’ here is in severe need of an overhaul – yet again there is no flexibility to deal with the unexpected. 😡

Weekly Photo Challenge: Faces (at Angkor)

This contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Face comes from my visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia back in 2013. The pictures range from the ancient to the transient – can you guess which is which 😉

Weekly Photo Challenge: [Flying Across the] Face of the Moon

A contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Face.

I wanted to do something less obvious for this challenge. 

I was standing in the garden looking at the half moon in the late afternoon sky and at the same time watching the birds riding high on the thermals (Kites, Marabou Storks) and Pied Crows moving laterally across. I wanted to get some pictures of birds flying across the face of the moon. 

A quirk of positioning generating a line between my eyes, the moving bird several hundred meters high, the moon almost 240000 miles away and split second timing, added to which the birds movements were not entirely predictable. Not an easy and task, but made a little easier by the number of birds.

There were some near misses….

 ….some close shaves

….. and finally the shots I wanted.

The focusing was a challenge too!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth (Below)

A final submission to this week’s photo challenge: Earth. If possible I like to get some snaps of the earth from the plane whenever I go flying – these were taken at various points on the journey from Qatar to London in 2013 at the end of my trip to Vietnam  and Cambodia (the first half of the journey having taken place overnight). Pictures here from Qatar, Iraq, Turkey, Central Europe and UK (London)

Maniacal Trio

We are very fortunate to see such a wide variety of birds on the compound. One of the quirkier visitors has to be the Eastern Grey Plantain-eaters. These large turacos are not brightly coloured but noticeable larger than most of the visitors to the garden as they perch precariously on the branches. They are vocal too – with loud ‘hoo hoo hoo’ sounds and a chattering call that builds to a maniacal laughter.

Today we had three birds in the garden and for once some good shots of our maniacal trio.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth (Cultivating the Hills)

Our recent trip to Rwanda took us right through this small country from the border to Kigali and Gisenyi and back again.

One of the most surprising things was the degree to which this tiny country has cultivated the earth from valley floor to mountain peak. Here is my second submission to this week’s photo challenge.


Giving the Garden a Short Back and Sides

It’s been getting a bit dark in the house. Our compound  garden has a number of trees, great for shade and bird life. However of late the foliage has overgrown in the El Niño rains and now block out so much light even in the day. So time for drastic action. Our ‘Askari’ guards were dispatched this morning to cut some branches and trim the bushes back.

Just hope the birds don’t mind too much.


Weekly Photo Challenge : Earth – 1

This is my contribution to this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge :Earth.

Our earth is an amazing place So I thought I’d share some pictures of the fabulous places I have visited across this planet in recent years in Europe, Africa and Asia.