Category Archives: Getting Here

Half Term in the Sun

It’s half term (mid-term break) here in Mwanza. The start of a week’s holiday. February half term is normally the quietest of the breaks, the coldest and dullest (weatherwise) but welcome nonetheless. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas/New Year it’s a more relaxed break.
Of course last year this same break marked the real beginning of our epic journey which brought us across the globe and to different hemispheres (Northern and Western to Southern and Eastern). It’s a year tomorrow that I wrote my first blog post and a year ago the week ahead brought the start of the clear out, as Mum arrived to start the process of clearing the garage and garden.


One year ago this coming week!

Now a year on it’s difficult to believe I am half way through my first year here in Tanzania. Time is really flying.
This half term will be more relaxed. We have plans to visit Rubondo Island at the end of the week with friends and colleagues. More of this later on, but we’re really looking forward to it.

Early in the week we’re meeting up with a couple from St Mary’s our old church (Steve and Judy), they run Wabia Network  (a charity doing work) out here in Mwanza and are visiting from the UK.

The rest of the week remains unplanned which is exactly how I like it. One thing very different to the UK is the weather which is scorchingly hot. This has turned February into the hottest month of the year so far and a complete contrast to February back home.

For my former colleagues and fellow professionals in the UK and to any off work this week hope you have a nice break.

Dar Rush

T + 1

Not sure when this will be posted but ….. We have just left Dar Es Salaam after the most rushed transfer possible. Just hoping all the many bags made it Continue reading


T + 1

So we are finally on our way. After a long check-in process – we had only a very little time with family before we were off. It was sad to say goodbye and we will miss them and all we have known in the UK. IMG_8550.JPGIMG_8552.JPG



After a delay of nearly 1 and a half hours we took of from Heathrow. As predicted we were well over our luggage limit but we are here in Africa, though not yet at our destination.
Very British weather to greet us on arrival. Raining and 16C 😦 I won’t say where we are yet on this blog so FB Friends don’t say yet. I’ll save that for a future blog (security and all that!).

Tipping Point

T Minus 98

Today is the day we reach the fulcrum of the sea-saw of our journey to Africa.
I was offered the job in Mwanza on Feb 7th (98 days ago), a week before I started this blog.
We fly out to Tanzania on August 22nd (in 98 days).

It’s all downhill from here. 🙂

African Inspirations

T Minus 164

I mentioned in earlier posts that the desire to work / teach abroad and in particular Africa is something which has been with me for a very long time. So long in fact it is hard to pinpoint when exactly. However, the thoughts crystallised about the time I completed my PGCE, when I said to myself that one day I would teach in Africa.
I have already speculated on the reason it has taken so long so here I want to list the things which have inspired me.
I have thought long and hard but here is my list.

1. Doctor Dolittle
Whoever I visited my Nana, I used to read these books and later had my own copies. Though about lots of travels, it was the search for the mythical Pushmi-pullyu and the journey to Africa which caught my attention. I recognise now (but was unaware of then) the stereotyping / racism shown towards the Africans, but for me as an 8 year old it was about a magical land and adventure.dolittle

2. Daktari

This TV show broadcast in the UK in the 70’s was regularly shown on children’s telly, and a regular favorite alongside others of note (Banana Splits, Double Deckers, Why Don’t You etc). The word ‘Daktari’ is Swahili for Doctor. The Doctor in question a Vet based in East Africa. All a bit contrived but nonetheless…

3. African Adventure 

One of a series of children’s  books by Willard Price. Concerning two boys Hal and Roger and their adventures. Many of these books were set in Africa. They were great reads and gave a real sense of adventure.

African Adventure

Other African stories included Safari Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Lion Adventure and Gorilla Adventure 

4. Tarzan

Another TV favorite of the early  70’s in the UK. This TV program was  regular viewing.

5. Atlases & Flag Books

It has been said that I “swallowed an Atlas at an early age”.  At one time I could tell you the Capital of any country on earth and new their Flags ‘off by heart’. I reckon I can still give it a good go – although the plethora of new countries of the ’80s and ’90s have made the task harder. The continent of Africa with its exotic flags and ‘strange’ place names held a particular fascination. I remember learning that the capital of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) is Ouagadougou.20140312-183050.jpg

6. The World About Us

Sunday evening was always bathtime  which was followed by watching a nature program on the BBC. Many of these were set in Africa and showcased the immense variety of wildlife across the continent. Programs such as The World About Us were a favorite.

Later there was the amazing Life on Earth and the famous David Attenborough vs Gorilla scene

7. Africa

This was one of the first records I recorded of the radio when I started to get into music. A great track by the band Toto.  Later I bought the record. Fabulous and evocative tune

8. Out Of Africa

I remember going to see this with a group of friends whilst at University – a good film which charts the life of a woman going out to Africa to live in Kenya. Amazing music by John Barry

9. Zulu

A favorite film of my Dad – we used to watch it whenever it was on Telly. Although it tells of the battle of British Troops against the native Zulu warriors of South Africa and is very much focused on the British side – it is nonetheless an amazing story of bravery on both sides, and the African scenery is superb. The first clip is of the Zulu War Chants.

The second clip features another great theme by John Barry.

10. Anita

I actually knew about my wife before I met her. I actually knew her parents (my in laws) before I knew Anita. It was 1993, Heather and Geoff were part of my church in Bletchley. I was running  the Drama Team, they were involved in the Mission Partnership Group and we were planning an event for Mission Sunday in which we were to perform some sketches. I heard from them about their daughter (Anita) who was working in Malawi. Hearing of her Development work and all that she was doing to help teach Preventative Health was inspiring.

Three months later she returned to England and the rest is history…team

11. The Lion King

One of my favorite Disney films – and watched many times over the years as the kids grew up and recently rewatched. Africa is as much a part of the story as Simba, Timon, Pumba and Scar. It has some great tunes too!

12. Gambia Experience

My own chance to visit Africa came  in 2006 when I had the chance to visit the Gambia. Although I was only there for 8 days I actually visited 2 countries – spending about 4 hours touring  in Senegal, as well. This means I have actually been to more countries than Anita (who has thus far, only been to Malawi!). It was a fabulous week and one I will not forget.

18 Senegal 060

Senegalese Children

05 Kachikally Crocodile Pool 003

Gambian Children

13. Watoto and African Children’s Choirs

In the past few years we have had visits to Milton Keynes by the African Children’s Choir and Watoto Children’s Choir.  Both have sung inspirationally and given a flavour of their continent.

A Different Road

T minus 166

For almost 11 years I have travelled daily from Milton Keynes to Thame.

In essence the route takes me from Milton Keynes to Whitchurch (via Stewkley or Drayton Parslow / Swanbourne), then on to Oving, Waddeston before ascending Winchendon Hill and going over the top via Upper Winchendon and Chearsley, arriving in Long Crendon before descending to Thame. The journey takes about 50 minutes and takes in some great countryside. The main thing is to avoid Aylesbury and it’s traffic jams.

Continue reading

Malaŵi Memories and Tanzania Thoughts

T minus 174

Contemplating the move to Tanzania, makes me think back to life in Malaŵi and I wonder how similar/different it will be in Mwanza?  Here are a few thoughts I’ve had.

Atmospheric Action
I don’t think I’d really appreciated lightning and thunder before I experienced an African storm – the whole sky lit up by many strokes of lightning – truly amazing.

Bawo Beans
I love playing games and spent many a time, playing the traditional game of Bawo, on my veranda with the children.  It’s simple to learn but requires some strategy and some luck to win.    Wonder if the Tanzanians have an equivalent bean-game?  If so, I cant wait to learn it!!

Colourful Clothing
I’m often frustrated when buying clothes, because I just can’t find clothes that fit!  So many times I have gone into a shop only to find items in sizes 8 or 22!!  I’m looking forward to giving my material and measurements to a tailor and having clothes made to measure – a luxury in the UK and the norm in Malawi – wonder if it will be the same in Tanzania?

Fresh Fruit – (Mangoes & Passion Fruit)
I remember a man coming round to my house with a bucket full of passion fruit hoping to sell them to me for the equivalent of 50p.  I bought the lot, delicious :-).  The next day, he returned with another bucket and I bought them.  The following day, you’ve guessed it, he called with yet another bucket full of passion fruit!  Now, much as I love eating them, there’s only so many a girl can eat so reluctantly I had to decline the offer!!

Outside my house, was a mango tree.  The children were always happy to climb it to pick some of this delicious fruit, in exchange for the chance to do some colouring on my veranda.  Apart from one day when they were unusually reluctant – they explained there was a green mamba (highly poisonous snake) in the tree and could they wait ‘til it had gone?!!!

Laid-Back Lifestyle
My life so often seems such a constant rush from one thing to another and there just never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that I need to do, let alone those I want to do. People and friendships are so important and yet spending quality time with people is so often squeezed out with the rush and pressure of life.  My experience of living in an African village was of stark contrast to this – it was considered rude to walk past someone without saying hello and greeting them, and people had time for each other.  Yes, things took longer to do and at times this was frustrating, but overall it made for a far better quality of life. 

 We’re moving to an urban setting in Africa and although it’s not the same country and many years have passed, I understand the pace of life is still considerably slower than here and I’m looking forward to returning to a more laid-back lifestyle.

Serengeti Safaris
I’ve watched countless nature programmes on the TV and I’m very much looking forward to seeing some of this wildlife for real in the Serengeti, which apparently is situated around about 3 hours’ drive from Mwanza. 

Speaking Swahili
In Malaŵi, I learned to speak Chicheŵa, a Bantu language and it made a real difference.  So, I’m determined to learn as much Kiswahili as I can over the next few months so when I arrive I’ll be able to speak the language a little and really get to know people.

Stunning Sunsets
One of the treasured memories I have from my time in Malawi was looking across the plain from the veranda of my house seeing the numerous beautiful sunsets. Apparently the sunsets over Lake Victoria are amazing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How did I get here?

T Minus 175
Taking up a job in a foreign country in a city you’ve never been to and a school you’ve never visited is a daunting thing to do.

Granted – teaching is teaching is teaching and I’ve been doing that for twenty-six years.

Faces change

hour by hour,

day by day,

week by week,

term by term,

year by year.

Even so  the role is essentially the same. Even changing country doesn’t phase me too much. I have spent (albeit very briefly) some time in a Gambian school and found that in spite of being on a different continent there were many similarities.

Gambia Classroom

Classroom at BUBS, Brikama, Gambia (May 2006)

Time spent travelling in the Gambia with colleagues in 2006 was a great experience and fired up a desire to return to Africa at some point. This desire had actually been with me since I qualified in 1988- before I’d even heard about my future wife Anita who was then a development worker in Malawi.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To be honest the death of my dad, 10 weeks later put these things on hold for a few years. The needs of family were paramount for a time.

Within a couple of years I was appointed as Head of ICT at my school. This was a new challenge and one which I relished. It was exciting to take the reins and plot the future of a subject. There were pressures of course but I relished the challenge. I built a good team around me. Much of my first year was spent interviewing, it took time to find the right people and we didn’t take the first available person who applied. From the latter part of 2009 I had my Team and I believe it to be a fantastic group dedicated teachers – who I will miss very much.


The ICT Team – Admin Assistant: Sue; Teachers: Naveed, Bernadette, Debbie and myself; Network Manager: Darrell


ICT Teacher Nik (at Angkor Wat, Cambodia whilst on World Challenge)

Lord Williams’s has given me great opportunities – I have mentioned already the Gambia Trip. Our school is partnered with a national school (Brikama Upper Basic School) and as part of an Staff trip. The next opportunity arose last year as I was able to partake in a World Challenge Trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. This trip accompanying sixth form students lasted nearly 4 weeks and incorporated a combination of Treks, cultural visits, some development work and lots of travel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For me this was a great opportunity to re-experience the developing world (especially in Cambodia) and I loved it! I especially loved Cambodia – the people were friendly and the country was amazing. Angkor Wat was a highlight but so was the week working in the orphanage. Most of the time we were painting a dorm – but I managed to sneak out a couple of times to spend an hour or so in the classroom where orphans learnt some English.

I returned to the UK wondering whether it would be something I’d like to do more permanently. A conversation with Mum in the Autumn had a profound effect – in essence she wanted to release me from any feeling of burden to stay in the UK. She was aware that I was becoming more jaded with the mood music in education – especially towards ICT. My school had decided to make ICT optional not core, partly in response to Government decisions to demote ICT from its core status, this was a concern to me.

Having reflected through Christmas I decided that I would actively seek my next job abroad. I started scouring the TES and within a few days came across several jobs in Thailand – these appealed to me, I told Anita but for reasons unknown to me I did not pursue them. Then on the 17th January a job appeared in Tanzania at Isamilo International School.

I pondered for a week by myself and checked out as much as I could on the net, quickly coming across a blog called Bousies in Mwanza. This blog had a major impact – giving as it does a real insight into expat life – I can’t recommend this blog enough  – it has inspired me to write this blog myself. One evening I came across a post incorporating a video of a road trip around Mwanza, this gave such a feel of the place. Other blogs have also been inspirational – check out some of these on the right of the page.

The following weekend a conversation at the BETT Show with my brother about education in general further confirmed in my mind that I should apply for and so I shared this with Anita. Another week of deliberation and then I went for it.  Elsewhere I recount the speed of the process from application to appointment so I won’t repeat it here.

So this has been my journey so far. As a Christian I believe that God has been a part of it every step of the way and this is the right time……………  and there’s more to come!