Tag Archives: living

Life In A Northern Town

T + 12

We live in a Northern town in Tanzania – and  this post is all about living in Mwanza.

Although we are a little sheltered by the bubble of living in a compound and working in a school, life is very different here as you might expect.

These are the main differences so far

  • Power

Power cuts are a regular occurrence here – though generally short lived we have had one most days in the past week. This is apparently due to a variety of reasons – people stealing cable, decisions to divert electricity without warning e.g. to cut a hedge, transformers blowing up etc. Today – thus far we have has no power cuts – hooray!

  • Roads

The roads here are mostly dust and dirt and stones – the main road is tarmac, but the side roads most definitely are not. The road outside our compound is undulating to say the least. Even the main road runs out of tarmac before we get to Isamilo Lodge Hotel – it seems that when the money runs out so does the tarmac.  Pot holes in the UK have nothing on the ones here

  • Litter

Rubbish is everywhere even in beauty spots like Dancing Rocks. There is a lot of plastic and vegetable matter. This is most apparent outside the centre of town and in the grassy areas. I guess it  is just a fact of  life here.

  • Food

Food is a lot cheaper in general for most things – there is a supermarket (U-turn) where you can pick up most things although this is a lot more expensive. There is a good bakery in town and apparently a good butcher too (though we have yet to go). There is tons of fruit and we have eaten lots of vegetarian food and some meat. Our houseworkers do the shopping as they get much better prices than we do – though I think we need to expand our diet a little.

Eating out is a lot cheaper – even for a family of 4 at the best hotel in town it is less than £40.

  • Drink

Don’t drink the water! It is not advisable to drink the tap water – though we clean our teeth in it. Water needs to be boiled, cooled and filtered. You can buy bottled water with the seal in tact and of course there is beer and soft drinks too 🙂

We have just started getting milk from the milk man (two young girls) who come in the evening with a litre or two from their cow. This too must be boiled, cooled, skimmed and filtered. This task is undertaken by the house girls.

  • Pace

The pace of  life here is a lot slower than the UK – you can sit in a restaurant for at least an hour before getting your meal. You can request a repair to be done and it will take days to be sorted. There are things in the house that were requested a week ago which have yet to be  sorted.  Things get done but in their own time.

  • Bugs

We are being bitten a lot – although we continue to take Doxycycline for Malaria,use repellent and sleep under a mosquito net it doesn’t completely stop the beasties from biting. It’s something to factor in.


  • Daylight

The sun rises rapidly just before 7am and sets rapidly just before 7pm – it is a constant here. You don’t walk out at night and we have had lifts or taken a taxi where appropriate. Getting up in the dark is a bit of a chore (like winter in the UK). School starts at 7:55 but we need to be on site by 7:40 and I  generally leave about 7:20 – not a dissimilar time to when in the UK (though it’s a 10 minute walk these days rather than a 50 min drive)


There was a song in the 80s of this title – which no doubt referred to the North of England.

Living the Ex-Patriate Life

T + 7

We left the UK a week ago. It’s amazing to think how much has happened this week. I have yet to start teaching but have had three days of induction and two INSET days.
We have discovered our new home town and enjoyed socialising with our fellow expats. We have enjoyed the view from the top of The Gold Crest Hotel (and the beers too!), we have admired the view from the Isamilo Lodge Hotel, we have relaxed by the lake at Tunza Lodge and watched the sun go down.
After a hard day at school, instead of the long drive home it was a short walk to the swimming pool for a refreshing dip.
IMG_8610.JPGToday we hired house workers these young women (there are two) are employed to clean the house, do the washing and ironing, wash up, boil milk (to pasteurise it), boil water (to sterilise it) and go to market on occasions (they can get a better price than we). All this sounds very colonial, but it provides good employment and spreads our relative wealth.
Anita has enrolled on a language school and will be improving her Kiswahili (she’s already good). The children are making friends and as we speak have gone off with a new friend to a local hotel for a meal and a bit of socialising.
School starts Monday, so maybe things will become more normal, but we’re definitely enjoying the expatriate life so far.



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Limited Living

T Minus 11

We are lucky that on both campsites ( Newquay and here in Cheddar) we have had the option of Wifi. This has been great especially for the blog :-).
Even so there are limits!

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An Ode to Milton Keynes : Of Concrete Cows and Roundabouts

T Minus 107

Of concrete cows and roundabouts
A life lived here or hereabouts

Do you know what life here means?
Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes

When I declare I’m from MK
I wonder what it is you say?

If I reveal I’m from this city
Do you look on me with pity?

Or do you look upon me down?
If I say I’m from this town.

A place of Tarmac, steel and glazing
Where cows stand still but never grazing

Where roads run straight, past new estates.
To  roundabouts that everyone hates.

These are popular misconceptions.
The myths of Britain’s general perceptions.

When I moved here in ’88
I thought it was a place I’d hate.

But over the years I have grown to enjoy
This city, despised when I was a boy.

What people afar will often mistake
Is a town full of greenery, park and lake.

Here in this city you’ll find if you look
Woodland and meadow and canal and brook.

A modern city, yes it’s true!
But places to rest and relax too.

Fast roads which get you from place to place.
With minimum traffic to slow down your pace.

Yet near to the streets, all hustle and bustle.
You can walk through the woods and hear the leaves rustle.

Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes
Do you know what life here means?

A life lived here or hereabouts
Of concrete cows and roundabouts.

© Graham Long May 2014

This came to me on the road home tonight and I wrote it down in half an hour. It comes from conversations with people who don’t know Milton Keynes.

All pictures below taken in Milton Keynes





Canal Long Walk (9)









Small World

T minus 160

Mwanza is a place I had never heard of until a few weeks ago even as a self-confessed “Eater of Atlases“. Judging by many conversations many others are similarly unaware Most if you reading this have probably never heard of it either. It seems very much off the beaten track even though it is the second city of Tanzania and a major port on Lake Victoria.
And yet in spite of this fact I have been amazed at the number of people we know who or have met casually who have been to the place.
Firstly Anita’s cousin Helen who lived near Mwanza whilst working in Tanzania. We knew she had been in Tanzania but never realised how close to Mwanza she was.
Secondly a family at Church (the Wishearts) who worked nearby in Musoma in development.
Another church family (the Williams) have a daughter who currently works at Isamilo International School.
A third church couple have links to a mission in Mwanza and have visited several times.
Last night at the Birthday Bash, Anita got talking to a lady called Katy who has just returned from living 3 years in Tanzania of which four months were spent in Mwanza.
I am sure that there will be more strange connections in the coming months.
What a small world we live in!