Tag Archives: Anita

Anita’s Return

I make no bones about plugging my other blog today as we returned to Chilimba, the village where Anita worked as an NGO in 1992/3. It was a truly special day and I hope you’ll find some time to read it.  


Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken Bones

A different take on this Week’s Photo Challenge: Broken.

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.

Having a Ball in Rock City

Mwanza is known as Rock City due to the large number of enormous boulders stren across the city. This name has given rise to the annual Rock City Charity Ball, which took place last night at Isamilo Lodge Hotel.


This yearly event brings the expatriate community together to raise money for local charities. These includes our very own Saturday  School, Railway Children and Village of Hope among others.

The event was held by the pool and looked fabulous, with lights strung between the palms.

The event included performances from various local and national groups. Anita on flute along with two other colleagues from my school  (Max (Cello) and Maria (Flute) started the proceedings as people came in, by playing various classical pieces.

A house band played throughout the evening and the event was headlined by a band from Dar – The Tanzanites. The evening was punctuated by a local dance troop who performed modern and local traditional dances.

They were excellent. There were also auctions – both live and silent. The first auction was the usual with people bidding enormous sums (well beyond our pay scale).  The second was an auction of items where you write down how much you want to bid and the highest bid of the evening wins. We were lucky enough to win a one night stay at Kipepo Lodge near Dar Es Salaam at a very reasonable price, which we use at some time this year. There was a raffle too, we were unsuccessful in that, but that’s usual for us.

The theme for the evening was black and white. I had a Zebra pattern shirt, Anita was planning to borrow an outfit but in town that day saw an amazing piece of Zebra patterned Kitenge cloth at 12noon and found a fundi to make an outfit which we had collected at 5pm.

The evening ended with a live band (Tanzanites) and dancing which went on into the early hours.

Village Visit: A Day in Nkome

After the journey out the day before. I woke up, having had an excellent sleep and was offered water for a shower.  Definite reminders of life in Malawi, having a cup-shower in an outdoor bathroom.  The water was hot and afterwards I felt refreshed and ready for the new day.

I walked round to find out what was happening in the family and found 2 of the daughters preparing breakfast – chapatti + beans.  A meal I would usually associate with evening time!

One of the daughters started to bath her niece in a bowl (and reminded me of when I used to bath Bex like that when we were away, at a similar age).  I helped too – baby Jane is a real cutie.



After breakfast, one of the sons, Majid, who is a secondary school teacher, took us all around the local area.  It was really interesting to see all the different crops growing, including chilli which made me think of my sister + brother-in-law’s chilli sauce business “Chilli Bugs“.

Part of the walk took us through a fishing area and then to the main centre of Nkome

We ended up quite a distance from home, so we took 2 pikipiki’s (motorbike) back to Onyango + Jane’s house)….
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…in time for lunch (at 3pm).  This time we had a lovely meal of chicken, goat, rice, ugali, greens and also some mango.

The building which will provide the office and centre for the project that Joel is working on.  It’s only recently been finished, but needed a bit of the painting touching up which Joel attended to, whilst I chatted to other members of the family.

Nkome, is situated by the lake and so many people earn money through the fishing trade.  Jane, took us out to the nearby lake shore, and we met people drying fish and fishing nets.  Later, after we had all gone to bed, Jane, went out in the middle of the night, when the fishermen return to the shore with their catch of dagaa (small fish), to buy some that she will later sell at the market.  She returned to the house at 2am.  She told us that most of the time she breaks even and it’s a bonus when she makes a profit!  However, she takes the view that she has to try to help provide for the family.

After we returned from the lake shore, we were offered masala tea which is spicy, sweet and refreshing.  However, as the sun was also close to setting, Joel and I walked to the lake shore (only about a minute’s walk away), together with our cup of tea, which caused great hilarity by the locals! – to try to get a good sunset photo!

Dinner was chicken, plantain, ugali, greens and also some pineapple.  Again delicious.  We then chatted together before turning in early as we had to leave the house at 4:30 am to catch the 5am bus to return to the ferry port.  It was going to be an early start and in the dark as sun rise is at 6:30!

Village Visit: Into the Unknown

Ever since I lived in Malawi (in the early 90’s), I have longed to return to an African village. One of the expats I have got to know is Joel, from the USA, who also goes to language school ( although a different class to mine). He has been involved in a project in Nkome, a rural community a few hours away from Mwanza. The project aims to support orphans in the community, who are taken in by the extended family, however, this results in a considerable financial burden, on an already tight budget. School, is not free. So, for example, if a family has 3 children and then gains 2 from the death of the parents of a relative, they will take them in, but if they can only afford school fees for 3 children, then the additional children won’t go to school, but will help the family by working out in the family farm. The project aims to provide these families with the funds to enable all of the children to get an education.

I was thrilled to be invited to visit Nkome with Joel. So, on Thursday, I met him in Mwanza by the ferry port, intending to catch the 12:15 ferry across to Kamanga. He’d already purchased our bus tickets so we put our bags on the bus, that we would take from Kamanga and then walked to the ferry’s ticket office, as you have to buy a ticket and walk onto the ferry. The ferry arrived about 12:30 and we boarded it, together with buses, lorries and cars.

This ferry company requires everyone to hear a safety briefing (in Swahili) and this also gives “machinga” (street sellers) the chance to sell things to the passengers.

Once the briefing was over, Joel and I decided to board our bus, to escape the free-for-all of everyone trying to board the bus on the other side. However, the question was how to reach it! The vehicles are parked with very little space between them, so we chose the best route next to the left-side of the bus before our bus and the ferry side. However, the gap between these got steadily narrower as we made our way towards the front of the bus. Me being not quite as thin as I might like, made it most of the way, but realised that wishful thinking was not enough to get me all the way! So, when I reached the door, I boarded the bus and then asked the driver if I could go out via the driver’s door, on the other side, which provided a solution. Having negotiated getting down from this bus, I then was able to get to our bus, passing 3 people and made it to the steps of our bus – phew!!

After the 30 min crossing, we began the 4hr journey to Nkome. There were a number of stops on the route, and although the bus seats 62, there were over 100 on the bus. At each stop more people alighted, including a young woman and her small child. This little boy was probably 2 years old,
but obviously wouldn’t be able to stand for the whole journey, and the mother asked me to help her, so I picked him up and sat him on my lap. After a short while he fell asleep, and stayed that way for most of the way. I was pleased I could help her in a small way.

We arrived at Nkome and walked the short 30 min walk to the home of our hosts, Onyango & Jane. It was nice to stretch our legs. En-route, I was really surprised, to see a pine forest – really didn’t expect that in Africa!!!! Upon arrival we were welcomed and offered tea – hot, sweet, black, spicy and delicious.

Joel has a tent which he keeps at the family home, so I helped him put it up. I was given a room to sleep in, complete with bed & mosquito net. The loo (a pit latrine) was obviously outside and I was really impressed with how immaculately clean it was. There was a bucket of water and jug to act as a flush. There was even a toilet brush!

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The project’s office building has only recently been completed and is located nearby Onyango & Jane’s house. A meeting had been arranged for the project, to which I was invited, to discuss the formal opening ceremony of the office.

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Afterwards, we were offered a lovely meal of rice, beans, and greens. Although there is no electricity in Nkome, the family have a couple of solar lights in the house, which gave good light inside. After the meal, we played some cards. I taught Onyango how to play a simple game, I’ve known as “Strip Jack Naked”. He thought it was hilarious, and we all laughed.

It’s amazing how the lack of electric light makes you want to go to bed earlier, and I was more than ready to go to bed by 10 pm, and soon fell asleep, wondering what the next day would hold…..

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The Wanderer Returns

These past three days Anita has been away travelling out to a village far out from Mwanza to experience life in a village, accompanying one of the NGO workers she has experienced something of what live is like in rural Tanzania. Having spent two years living in rural Malaŵi in the 1990’s (as an NGO worker herself) I am certain thee will be similarities as well as differences.
On her return she will be recounting her experiences. So stay tuned for updates in the next few days. I for one am looking forward to hearing all about her adventures.

Girls Day Out

For our a long time I wanted to have a girlie day out.  For various good reasons there wasn’t a free day until today….

So off we set…

Neither of us had eaten breakfast, so we stopped for chai + mandazi (african donuts + sweet black tea).


Bex has been saying for weeks how she wanted a new hairstyle, so we walked down to Talapia, where Guddy, a ‘Toni + Guy’ trained hairdresser works on the off-chance she might have a space, and sure enough she did and so the transformation began:


It was now lunchtime, so we stayed at Talapia for refreshment

Then we walked back home (via the supermarket that sells sweets!)

Upon arriving back at the compound, Bex + Graham spent some time together doing ‘Sporkle’ quizzes online – which takes great concentration:


In the evening (Matt was out babysitting) and we invited Bev, a neighbour on the compound, over for games – Mahjong + Black Queen.

So a great day – definitely one to be repeated.

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Hospital Trip

Three days ago Anita tripped and fell. In so doing she bashed her arm. Her left arm! The arm she had previously broken! Continue reading


T Minus 8 Today another thing to tick off on the Bucket List. Clumber Park is a National Trust Property in a North Nottinghamshire; part of Sherwood Forest. It’s a place we went very much in our childhood and youth. A large open space for walking, picnicking, ball games. Today a place to wander as we circumnavigated the lake. Memories of years gone by and a chance to talk.


Thick and Fast Lasts

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As we enter the last 5 weeks in the UK the lasts come thick and fast.

  • Today was Anita’s last day at work and Bekah’s last day at school.
  • Tonight is Anita’s last Band Practice for Woburn Sands Brass Band.
  • Tomorrow is Bekah’s last Band Concert
  • Matt and Bekah both did their last paper round today.
  • This is our last weekend in MK
  • Sunday is our last Church Service at St Mary’s.
  • Tuesday is my last day at work

After what has seemed ages – suddenly we are approaching the end. Life is unravelling before us – as it must before we leave but it is a little disconcerting! 20140718-221851-80331620.jpg

the garden outside Anita’s office at the Open University.

What’s In Store For Us?

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I’m writing this from Lincoln where I am up for the day. It’s a chance to visit Mum and to bring her back to stay with us for the week, but there is another purpose to the visit. I am here to drop off some items for storage.

In recent weeks Anita has been frantically scanning all of our photo albums. These are now fully digitised (she was up until 5:45am and has stayed home to sleep). So these albums are boxed and ready to store. These are accompanied by our Vinyl records and the DVD cases emptied of their contents which we will pack.

Another milestone on our route out of here!



Dwelling Places

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I could have titled this post From Haverhill to Mwanza, but “Dwelling Places” it is.
One of my favourite words in the English Language is ‘dwell’ it has so much more to it than the word ‘live’ which is often used to replace it. Dwell has depth and solidity, a word of permanence.
The provision our new house to be and the imminent completion of sale on our current house has got me reminiscing about the places I have dwelt. From Haverhill in Suffolk to Lincoln to Nottingham to Milton Keynes to Mwanza.








Running for their Lives

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A break from routine as Anita and daughter ran in the 5K race for Life this morning. This women only event takes place in the UK each year and both highlights and raises money for Cancer Research UK.









Photographic Memories

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Over the last few weeks Anita has been scanning photos from the numerous scrapbooks and photo albums in our possession. There is no way we could even contemplate taking these physically and so they are being stored digitally to preserve their memory. Whilst abroad we will be storing the physical items.
Having now completed most of albums out attentions are now turning to those photographs which have never gone into albums. These are pictures long forgotten from those isolated day trips or events which for whatever reason never made it into an album. For speed I have photographed some of the photos but will replace this photo with the actual scans in time.20140605-174000-63600042.jpg

They an eclectic bunch from earlier years. This who knew me at the time I was at University or a Youth Leader at SMB or in One Way Drama Team or from some of the Holiday Clubs I did may see yourselves, as will family!

These photos are from a forgotten past – some haven’t seen the light of day in 20 years or so. Some are getting a little curled and will need digitising soon, de of the darker ones (night shots and dark rooms) have faded to opaque. Thankfully many survive in tact and an insight in to a pre-digital lost world. Here are some of these ‘blown up’ – scanning later!













Crete (1995)

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Nineteen years ago we headed off on honeymoon. It was our first holiday abroad as a couple. We travelled to Malia on the Northern Coast of Crete – in high season this is a busy resort full of young people. In May it is a little quieter, but with enough life to give it a good vibe.

Malia Dedalos

We arived at ‘Dedalos’ Hotel at 5am in the morning! Malia was to be our home for the duration of our honeymoon.Our hotel for the week was back from the coastal strip but close enough to the beach. We found a hairdressers ‘Anita’ juist round the corner from our hotel.
Outside the hotel and also down by the beach were lovely palm trees.

Malia Old Town

We much prefered the old town to the coastal strip which was a bit too ‘English’ for our tastes – we came to Crete to embrace Greek culture not to sit in bars drinking beer and eating fish and chips. So most evenings we found a local Taverna and had a Greek meal. The food was fantastic = we enjoyed sampling stifado, souvlaki and soutzoukakia to name but a few of the delicacies.


Here in the capital of Crete we spent a morning wandering the harbour, and enjoyed looking at the Venetian fort which has a sculpture of the lion of St Mark on all 4 walls.


The reason for visiting Iraklion was to travel to the Knossos. This Minoan Palace was the centre of a civilisation which flourished 10000 years ago. We were shown around by a guide who made the place come alive. She explained that the double headed axe was the Minoan symbol for sacrifice – similar to the cross in the Christian faith.

Malia Beach

The beach was an obvious ‘must’ and Malia had a lovely sandy beach with clean warm water. We bought a disposable underwater camera with which to take some fun shots (long before digital cameras of course). We also decide to splash out on Parascending it was great fun.

Aqua Splash
We decided to head out to a local water park – but thinking it was fairly nearby we decided not to take a taxi (which was very expensive) and there was no bus. So we decide to walk. It took us a couple of hours to walk 7.5km up into the hills in the hot sun, but it was worth it. There were numerous water slides, lazy rides and crazy rides we had a fabulous time. Fortunately there was a bus back!

One of the highlights of our holiday was a day trip cruising to Santorini and back. We got up at 4am to catch the bus to Agios Nikolaos where we caught the cruise ship. It was a 4 hour trip and we were accompanied by the sounds of Abba’s Greatest Hits all the way there. We docked at the harbour and looked high up the cliffs at the capital, Thira, right up the top. We decided the best way to get there was to go by donkey – it looked like it would be a long slow climb, but the donkeys ‘beetled’ up the mountain like there was no tomorrow and we were soon there. The view from the top was magnificent. The whitewashed stone buildings accompanied by deep blue roofs, doors and window shutters. There were a maze of side streets threading through the town and we followed these stopping off at a café and enjoying an ice cream.
After lunch we headed off to a volcanic island in the centre of the bay. Here we walked through ‘fields’ of black ash searching for the crater. It was so hot!
Someone even offered to take a photo of us together – in this time before ‘selfies’ it was the only photo of us together on honeymoon! Descending back down the mountain we took a plunge into the sulphurous waters, generated by volcanic springs. The water was warm. The t-shirt never recovered!

The journey home we were treated to a fabulous sunset and some Greek dancing.


One evening we went up into the mountains to a village where we enjoyed a Cretan Night of dancing and Greek cuisine. Beforehand we had the chance to wander around the village of Anapoli and look inside a very ornate Greek Orthodox Church.

Malia Palace

Smaller than the Knossos but within cycling distance was the Minoan palace. so we hired bikes and travelled the 3Km. With the help of the guidebook we were able to make sense of the ruins.

Hidden Costs

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Moving abroad isn’t cheap!

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Today is our 19th Wedding Anniversary and a time to reflect on the past as well as look to the future – I share here  wedding pictures from that day almost two decades ago. These come from Anita’s Creative Memories scrapbooking album. Continue reading

Gray’s and Blues

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Today is a Bank Holiday in the UK and so with the weather looking good we headed of with Anita’s family to Gray’s Court a National Trust property near Henley on Thames. Some fabulous gardens built among the ruins of a castle and a fabulous bluebell wood. We had a great time.


























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As part of an aim to blog earlier travels before leaving for Tanzania,  the Jamaica Page. This was part of Anita’s induction in development work prior to heading out to Malaŵi.

Follow the link to see much more detail and more pictures. 😀

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