Monthly Archives: July 2016

WPC: Narrow Street in Prague

A submission to this wee’s photo challenge: Narrow

Taken in Prague, this street is so narrow it needs traffic lights to control access.
Prague 207

A Trip to the Seaside 

Yesterday we paid a visit to the seaside – part of a longer trip to the place where we hope (results depending) our eldest will be living over the next few years whilst at University.

Then it was down to the beach for a afternoon at the British Seaside (West Witterham). It was a lovely afternoon and though it was never going to match the temperatures of Zanzibar or Tanga- the sea was pleasantly warm as indeed was  the breeze – a fabulous way to enjoy a sunny afternoon. We even took a paddle in the English Channel (part of the Atlantic Ocean).



Then a short drive along the coast to Bognor Regis for “fish and chips” – (though as a non-fish eater it was Saveloy) on the shingle beach in the evening sun. All very British!

My First Kingfisher

Throughout our time in Tanzania we have seen hundreds of kingfishers Pied Kingfishers, Grey- Headed Kingfishers, Malachite Kingfishers even a Giant Kingfisher. 


However in Britain I have never seen a (Common) Kingfisher. For years I have looked along river banks hoping to spot that flash of blue and orange, but never a glimpse of this shy bird.

Until today that is… 🙂

It started at 5:30 – I’ve not been sleeping well having pulled a muscle in my shoulder. The sun was shining brightly which for me is taking along time to get used to (having lived with a constant 12 hour day these past two years). So I got up and dressed and headed out with my camera to get some early morning shots of Emberton Park – our home for the week. I headed for the lake and made for the bird hide. As I went I wondered whether it might be possible to see a kingfisher – but I had been to many such lakes and rivers over the years and never even seen flicker. 

I am a Christian  and as I walked I shot up an arrow prayer asking if just once I might be lucky. I don’t believe in a slot-machine God who does things to order, but I do believe in a God who cares and answers our prayers though not always in the way we expect – in the big things and in the little. This was most definitely in the little category. 

I sat there waiting patiently in the early morning light. Self doubt saying to me give up you’ve tried and failed many times, a little voice countering and saying be patient – twenty minutes and movement across my eyeline – in the light it was more black than anything but I followed it and carefully moved to the other side of the hide – there it was on a branch – fleetingly and before my camera could capture it, gone. 

My first kingfisher – amazed and thankful I nonetheless decided to wait on the little voice saying be patient. 

Ten minutes on and two flashes of blue zooming across the lake – still no picture.   I shot another prayer just asking for an opportunity to capture the bird. I positioned my camera towards the branches of a submerged bush and waited. Then finally a squeaky call and another bird flew into view. I got off two shots.  

I didn’t get a perfectly posed bird on a branch but God had answered again. He had answered in abundance but not the way I expected. I had seen no less than four kingfishers, having never seen a UK bird before. He will answer in the little things and in the big – if we ask and if we are patient and if we expect the unexpected.

Slipping Right Back In?

I am not sure what I expected upon our return visit to the UK this summer but I’m pleasantly surprised that for me at least it is very much a case of picking up where I left off in 2014. I imagined that there might be a greater discontinuity or even culture shock but it hasn’t as yet been manifest.

Perhaps the effects of Social Media, FaceTime, the BBC News App on my phone and a 4G has meant that a tenuous link to the UK remained even though I was well off the beaten track in Mwanza.
We are in the midst of a week long return to MK and yesterday had a great time catching up with old friends at St Mary’s Bletchley. Whilst much had changed in the Church Yard, it seemed to us that it was very much the same SMB we left in 2014. It was good to be part of that community again.  MK itself seems little different – a few new buildings in this ever changing new city but familiar nonetheless. 
We have all got older of course and the changes are most apparent in the friends of our children and in the older folk we have met. Even so most people are as they were. Here lies the most obvious difference. 

I suppose the past two years for us have opened us to a very different way of life and a plethora of experiences. Yet perhaps outwardly we have changed little too other than a slight tan and the use of a few expat colloquialisms. Yet sitting here in MK, we are visitors, curious onlookers no longer residents.

I wonder whether the longer we are away from Britain, the bigger the differences will become.

MK Bound

Today we arrived back in MK my home for 26 years prior to moving out to Mwanza. We are staying on a campsite to the north of the city.  A picturesque landscape of woodland and lakes near Olney.

It’s the first time back in MK and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends. 

We’ve actually been back in the UK a week now. Surprisingly it has not been the culture shock we anticipated – for me I have slipped back into the UK environment with no real surprises, though it has felt a bit cold. Maybe the 40+ years of UK living have made the experience much more ‘normal’ than I expected after two years on the equator. ​

Having initially stayed with family near Abingdon it gave  an opportunity to visit ex-colleagues in Thame and it was good to catch up and see them. Life has changed little, it seems, though perhaps I detect a slightly greater pressure on all as they embrace the challenges of the British Education Reforms – something I am glad to have escaped.

This week a chance for the kids to catch up with school friends and us all to meet church friends and wider MK friends as well as family. It also gives us a chance to sort out things for our son’s impending entry into University. MK’s reassuring familiarity is a real bonus. 

WPC :Look Up -Giant Fritillary

A submission to this week’s photo challenge :Look Up – looking up at this Fritillary from below – taken using the ‘selfie’ camera on the iPhone to get this unusual angle on this flower. I’ve shared this before but am happy to do again.Fritillary

Taken at Hidcote Manor – Oxfordshire in April 2014

WPC – Look Up To The Skies

A submission to this week’s photo challenge :Look Up – looking up to see the birdlife around us in Tanzania and across Africa.