Room (On Board for One More!)
A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge : Room
Crossing the river Gambia in 2006 – was quite an experience – with lots of passengers, vehicles and a herd of cattle!
A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge : Room
Crossing the river Gambia in 2006 – was quite an experience – with lots of passengers, vehicles and a herd of cattle!
A submission to the Weekly Word Challenge : Travel
As a child I wanted to visit every country in the world.
As yet this aim has not been achieved. However, I have traveled widely in Europe and can count the following in the list of places visited
Although I have been fortunate in recent years to travel more widely in Europe many of these countries were ‘ticked off’ in two family holidays as a child.
My dad drove for a living as a Food Technologist, so the thought of travelling across Europe with only the Ferry and first night’s accommodation booked was no problem to him. The first trip, in 1980, took us through Belgium, down through Germany following the Rhein, staying in towns (e.g Boppard) along the way – veering across Southern Germany and into Austria. We entered near Salzburg and tracked back towards Switzerland. The small town of Telfs in the Alps comes to memory as does Bregenz on the shores of Lake Constance. We then travelled on through Switzerland and back through France. The last night was memorable. Seeking to find a place in Luxembourg we did not realise that they did not accept French Francs and so ended up in Northern France in a run down town. The hotel was old and the owner somewhat intimidating – we asked for steak and were served horse (Dad was a Food Technologist and so knew the difference.
These holidays were tremendous experiences in an age when petrol was a lot cheaper and company mileage included holidays! We couldn’t do it today unfortunately.
Other than this my only childhood experience of foreign parts were a German exchange and a day trip to France.
In more recent years I have travelled further afield travelling to
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As a child I wanted to visit every country in the world. As yet this aim has not been achieved. However, I have travelled widely in Europe and can count the following in the list of places visited Continue reading
These four photos represent the furthest I have been on the earth so far and are therefore my personal thresholds. Continue reading
T minus 147 When we pack our bags in the summer and fly out to Tanzania – it will not be the first visit to that continent for either Anita or I. In fact by one measure all the family have been to Africa before. Anita has had by far the longest stay, having lived and worked in Malawi during 1992 and 1993. I will leave her to share her story in more depth later on. Lanzarote As for the rest of us, depending on how you look at it, we all visited the continent of Africa in 2006, when we had a fabulous holiday in Lanzarote (part the Canary Islands). These islands – while part of Spain (and therefore politically European) are actually part of the African continental shelf. However, this is probably a little tenuous, since for all practical purposes we were visiting a European nation. Nonetheless the African climate, the camels (imported of course) and the wildlife was Africa ‘writ small’. Here is an excuse to include a few of the pics we took at the time. Look for the pictures of Manrique’s works – a famous Lanzarote artist.
Gambia Only eight weeks before my family package holiday to the Canaries, I had visited ‘Africa proper’ for the first time. This trip undertaken with colleagues from school was part of fostering a link between my School and Brikama Upper Basic School in The Gambia. It was the first such trip by staff, following on from earlier trips taken by Sixth Formers. It gave me my first taste of Africa and it was wonderful. We were staying in a moderate Hotel, but it had a pool – so we Westerners weren’t completely thrown in at the ‘deep end’ (every pun intended). From that base we visited the School in neighbouring Brikama, along with Serekunda and Banjul. It was a packed week with trips out into the countryside visiting places such as Makesutu (an Ecotourism centre), Lamin Lodge and Kachikally Crocodile Pool, as well as an Orphanage and Maternity Centre. We were ably led by a Gambian Tour Guide, known as Mucki, who gave us a real insight into the real Gambia away from the tourist trail. We even went on a day trip to Senegal including the crossing of the River Gambia. I loved the heat and the wildlife (no big game in the Gambia, but a great variety of tropical birds and reptiles). I would be woken each morning by the strange whooping sound of an African bird. Lizards would be crawling across the lawns, even the grass was different. Breakfast in the hotel was buffet style with plenty of fruit including tiny, tasty bananas (better than their bigger UK imported cousins). Then it was out for the day to wherever we were going. Evenings were spent in local Gambian restaurants – off the beaten track. The sun set quickly so it was always dark by 7 which seemed strange in the heat (it was always 30ºC ). We would wait on a street corner and pile into a ‘minibus’ – these were interesting affairs with dilapidated seats and no seat belts – 15 of us crammed in and driven off at high-speed to our restaurant for the night. There were many Dalasi to the Pound, and we probably over-tipped to begin with paying one lucky ‘mandolin’ player a months wages after our first meal. One of the Gambian specialties was Domoda (a beef dish served in a peanut / tomato sauce). In those pre-wifi days internet required a cabled connection but it seemed like every other shop was an Internet Café. The Gambia was a great place to visit. Unfortunately. the week was over too quickly, but it was a fabulous introduction to Africa and one I will never forget.
Interesting blog – a ‘take’ on African life in general – although being at an International School might mean more structure.
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It’s a comment I’ve heard a few times.
I’ve never thought of myself a particularly brave, but it is probably true. Others might feel I’m reckless or foolhardy – with these sentiments I can’t agree, though I appreciate the concern.
In truth I could have ‘pootled’ (is that a word?) along for years as I was – day in day out for years to come and reached retirement never having travelled beyond the two-week summer break and maybe the odd World Challenge expedition. I probably would have become increasingly frustrated with the education policy in England but endured it all with Facebook moans to keep me sane.
In an alternate universe then maybe that is what will happen.
In this universe I’m taking a different path and bringing my family along for the ride.
From an early age I wanted to travel the world. I have been lucky enough to see most of Western Europe and a bit of Eastern Europe.
Lord Williams’s School has given me great opportunities to travel to The Gambia and Vietnam/Cambodia, but I want to see more, to travel further.
Since joining WordPress I have read many interesting and amazing blogs written by people travelling throughout the world from Greenland, Norway and Iceland in the North to Laos, Taiwan and East Timor in the East, as well as many from Africa including Tanzania and especially Mwanza itself.
Mwanza is located in the north-west of Tanzania close to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and it should be possible to travel there and further afield (e.g. Malawi, Zambia) during holidays a relatively little cost. It is something I definitely want to do whilst out there. Being just 2.5 hours by road from The Serengeti is a major plus. Obviously I am not just going for the holiday but it is all part of the experience and will be affordable in a way it can’t be in the UK.
In the UK most of our income goes to pay the Mortgage and Utilities, Car (inc Fuel) and Food. Whilst in Mwanza, though my wage will be low (by UK standards) we get a house provided and utilities paid. I can’t imagine food will be expensive and although we hope to get a car, fuel won’t be either. Outgoings should be a lot less and so holidays will be more affordable.
Thirteen years ago I made a much braver decision to resign from my Science teaching job and become a supply teacher giving up a secure job and holiday pay. I had had enough of teaching and a bad experience with the school head (being shouted at in a corridor in front of parents – for something I hadn’t done wrong!!!) left me disillusioned and determined to get out of education. Applying for a Web Design course I took supply work to pay the bills. Luckily for me in less than two months I had a supply contract at another local school which evolved to a permanent position after completing my web design course. Reinvigorated in my teaching I applied elsewhere and this led me to my current job and a change to teaching ICT. Ultimately this lead to being appointed Head of ICT and now (5 and a half years later) to the taking job at Isamilo.
I believe God is at the centre of this chain of events – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Who knows where the chain will lead next?
So bravely we leave the UK in August but we do so confidently.
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.
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.
Other African stories included Safari Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Lion Adventure and Gorilla Adventure
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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I am writing this whilst waiting to have a filling at the dentist in sunny Milton Keynes. (It really is sunny by the way)
I hate going to the dentist and even more so when I need to have work done. Such is life and it’s all part of the routine of UK living. Soon that will change of course.
In front of me are the usual crop of magazines. Most are, of course out, of date. Magazines on Fashion, Home Improvement and Gardening as well as the ubiquitous OK Mag.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!