I’ve not done one of these for a while so here we go. I originally thought I’d only have 4 or 5 but got a bit carried away, as you can see. These photos cover 4 continents and about 3 years of my life. Some of the hues come from nature, some are man made and others are the result of nature’s affect on man’s creations. I’m always drawn to photographing things with red tones, because red is a favourite colour of mine, but I’d not realised I had so may different oranges until I started going through to select some.
A little help from my friends…
If you have a spare few minutes, why not follow this link, watch the video and vote to help raise funds for the Livingstone Tanzania Trust. It would be very helpful!
Not drowning, but waving
When I was in the Serengeti last March/April time Joe, the Yr 5 teacher, came up with a game to keep us amused. Any time another safari car came by you had to wave at the occupants of the car. Easy enough you would think, but the game was to keep on waving for as long as you could, beyond the comfortable limits of being polite. You won if you managed to wave for the longest time, especially if the others waved back. If they didn’t they were normally termed ‘miserable bastards’ and waved at anyway with a fixed grin on our faces. It was like a car version of this:
Long car journeys when I was small always involved waving at other travellers, people in coaches, other children trapped in the back of cars being dragged by their parents to god-knows-where and, of course, truckers. You were most successful if you got a trucker to honk their horn at you as you drove past. Sometimes this would be accompanied by Dad’s truck driving country song mix tape. Later, in our battered space cruiser, the Fairport Convention album ‘Glady’s Leap’ got stuck in the tape player and so was on repeat for about 3 years. When I hear this song, I can still picture myself staring out of the moon roof, trying to count stars as we went Driving In The Dark.
I’ve been playing the waving game a little bit since getting here. It’s one of the things I do to entertain myself when I’m plodding around on my own. It seems to work well on boats, although everyone else gives up a little quicker than I do, but then they don’t know we’re playing. If they did, they’d probably try a little harder.
What I have noticed in most of the places I’ve been to, around the UK, Western Europe, Tanzania, Kenya and now Thailand, is that children still delight in getting a wave out of strangers driving or sailing by. In Tanzania, children would rush to the sides of the road waving frantically, on the motorways of France, Spain and Germany they press their faces up against their car windows, hands madly shaking back and forth. In Thailand there’s a mixture of the two, kids by the side of the road, perched on scooters, in the front of pick up trucks. And anywhere you go you are greeted with huge smiles. If only we were by more adults.
Thought I may as well take an opportunity to let you know about some other blogs written by people I know, all about different things, so hopefully something for everyone. And this is almost exactly a year after the last blog promotion post…
http://talesfromaotearoa.blogspot.co.nz/ – A new blog, just beginning about moving to New Zealand.
http://thecyclingmummy.wordpress.com/ – Stories of parenthood and life from Emma.
http://dartfordtomwanza.blogspot.com/ – life in Tanzania
http://thesecretworldofmrsmac.wordpress.com/ – A friend who found she had a bad smear, but it’s all worked out alright now…
http://sunshinysarah.wordpress.com/ – Sarah’s got some news!!
http://tophatandlace.wordpress.com – A blog about planning a wedding.
Let me know what you think!
Blood is thicker than water (except when it isn’t)
A lovely lady adopting a brilliant little boy!
…So, if you could do that, that would be great..
I’ve made a rod for my own back. I meant to sort things out earlier, but I forgot, and forgot how slow things in Tanzania can be. So the last couple of days have been very stressful.
But it would probably help if I go back to explain what I’m on about.
We don’t need to know the way home
Actually we probably do but that’s not the most pressing part of tomorrow’s adventure.
In the kitchen, the mighty kitchen, the lino sleeps tonight…
Now that I’m entering my final months of this stint in Tanzania there are so many things that I want to do but don’t have the funds for at the moment. I’m almost half way through our Easter holiday and I was hoping to go to Gombe Stream National Park to visit the chimpanzees but the ‘death money’ hasn’t come through, so I’ll se staying in Mwanza. I would love to go white water rafting in Uganda, or to see the gorillas in Rwanda, take the train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia to see Victoria Falls, but it’s not going to happen on this trip. Even if I stayed on for a further year I don’t think I’d have enough cash and time to do all of these things so there’s no point in getting annoyed and feeling like I’ve missed out.
There is plenty that I have done in the 6 months that I’ve actually been here, however. I‘ve been to Zanzibar, to Tanga and Pangani on the Tanzanian Swahili Coast. I have driven through ancient landscapes down to Shinyanga, across to Arusha, seen Mount Kilimanjaro, up across the border into Kenya. I’ve fed giraffes, been tickled by an orphaned elephant, snorkelled in the Indian Ocean, met fishermen and Maasai, been stupidly sunburnt (even in the shade), eaten fresh octopus and fish straight from the ocean. I’ve been to one of the most important archaeological sites in Kenya and watched monkeys play for half an hour. And last weekend I went to the Serengeti.
I want to explore the light
I think in general I have pretty good instincts but I am pretty crap at acting upon them. I’ll give you a few examples:
I thought I should have left my job at the homeless hostel within about 6 months of starting there. But I thought I would be letting people down or that it might not look good on my CV if I was only in a job for 6 months.
After a year with my ex boyfriend I thought that things weren’t working and that I should leave but various things had led me to think I wasn’t strong enough to cope on my own. So I stayed and he made me miserable and I tried to make him happy but couldn’t. I stayed for 2 years and for that whole time he was cheating on me.
The week before I moved here I went to visit my dad and told him that he needed to start looking after himself because I wasn’t coming back for 2 years and I didn’t want this visit to be the last time I saw my dad alive. He thought I was being ridiculous but we still talked about things like wills and getting his important paperwork sorted out. I don’t know why I said that to him in the glow of a summer afternoon’s sunshine but I just knew somehow that I needed to because my instincts told me he wasn’t well. And two weeks later his doctor’s visit told him he had terminal cancer. Four weeks and 3 days later he was dead and that visit had been the last time I saw my dad alive in any real sense. Of course I saw him for the two days before he died in his hospice bed but by that time he was not really recognisable as my father – the person who told me that I should say ‘May I get down from the table?’ rather than ‘Can I get down from the table?’, the person who would push me on the swing and let me push off his tummy with both feet just to get higher, the person who kept a text message from me saying ‘I love penguins I do’ on his phone for 4 years because it made him giggle.
So I think I know somehow when I need to change things but mostly I’m too afraid to do so because I don’t want to let other people down or disappoint anyone. But I’m 29 now. I don’t want to be living to please others and keeping on to see if it will be alright when I know deep down somewhere that it won’t. And so I’ve come to a decision.
And a girl ought to celebrate what passes by…
Since coming back from Zanzibar I have been feeling, on the most part, so much better. I sank into a quite deep depressive episode since Dad’s death, Christmas and returning to work in January. So much so that when I looked over the planning for the last half term, although I vaguely remember teaching what was written in those sheets, I don’t fully remember reading them.
It’s so easy to fall into a cycle of getting up, going to work, going home, eating, watching a bit of TV and heading to bed again ready to do it all over again the next day. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few months. I’ve been living in this amazing place and I’ve been neglecting to take it in. I’ve been teaching some lovely small humans who will, for better or worse, remember me for years to come. And I’m afraid that perhaps I’ve not been doing a very good job for them, but I am now determined to do better for them. My flatmate has moved out to a village near Mwanza, so now, for the first time in my adult life I will be living on my own – although not fully as I always leave my door open and anyone can wander up if they wish – and so this is a time when I could possibly slide back down again and become a total hermit.
There have been a few things that have begun to help me pull myself out of this slump. One was finding the blogs from my myspace and seeing how excited I was to be starting my masters. That was halted because I didn’t get the job I wanted and I’ve been holding onto that disappointment for far too long now, it’s almost been 7 years. It’s time to let it go.
A weekend in the country.
So where was I? Oh yes, a bit hung over. Not intentionally but it happened. And I dealt with it. Just about. Mainly by sitting inside watching stuff, avoiding excessive movement and the sun. Then by writing things for this.
It’s been a busy week by and large. I finished school at 2.15 on Friday, got home picked up my suitcases and by 5.15 I was on a plane for Dar es Salaam and the beginning of my half term birthday holiday adventure.
“Beep de be beep, beep de be beep…” The alarm wouldn’t stop when I hit the button, even though I was pressing very, very hard and willing with all of my might for it to stop. It was 7 o’clock on Saturday morning and we needed to get up to get ferry tickets because that was the day we were going to Zanzibar.
I had been sharing a hot, humid room with a partially functioning air conditioning unit at Mongolia’s house with Vicki. As she went off to clean up in the bathroom, I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but failed miserably. Mongolia (An American, real name Joyce, but forever to be known as Mongolia because she lived there and that was what she was introduced as) stumbled into the room to say hello. It was clear that she was still a little hung over if not still drunk. And just wearing a towel. She pointed out that we needed to wake the boys and head across the compound to Emma’s house where the others would be waiting for us. I said I would do it, but Mongolia got there first, scrambling upstairs on all fours and announcing that she knew where at least one of them was. Luckily nothing was flashed during that scramble. I suspected that Phil had perhaps managed to find himself a lady so went into the room to wake James… But instead of finding James it was Phil, his face bleeding, passed out on the bed.
You can take the girl out of the W.I. but she’ll not stop making cakes.
Ok, so technically I was never in the W.I., although I did intend on joining.
When I lived in Newcastle and broke up with my boyfriend I was sharing a one bedroom flat in a former convent with him and he was an alcoholic. He was sleeping in the sitting room, I had the bedroom. I didn’t feel like I could have friends round, as there was nowhere for them to sit and I didn’t want them to see him in that state. Neither did I want to deal with the hours of talking that would inevitably follow over many, many days if someone came in and had upset his personal space. We lived like this for 6 months before he moved out.
I had to find things to do to occupy my time. working shifts as a careers adviser I couldn’t really commit to regular classes or activities in the evenings, unless you count the night shift activities of ‘Sing the lyrics of one song to the tune of another’ or ‘Read out song lyrics in a sort of Radio 4 voice for other people to guess’ or, my personal favourite, ‘How long can I try to talk like Reeves and Mortimer being Geordie Otis Reading and Marvin Gaye sitting on the dock of the bay before I begin to sound like Sarah Milllican?’. They don’t really count as activities. Fun, yes, getting me out of the house for something other than work, not so much.
13 Going on 30
Today is the 22nd, so it’s one month until my birthday and 13 months until my 30th. Which I am looking forward to. And which people think is very odd. Apparently you shouldn’t look forward to turning 30, but I don’t see the point in dreading it. It’s an inevitability and it’s not as if I can stop it. I’ve never felt my age. When I was 16 I wasn’t hanging out in the park drinking booze from a bottle hidden in the bag whilst sitting on the tyre swing over the bark flooring. (How was that bark meant to be good to fall on? It got mouldy, it gave you splinters, it got stuck in your tights, it was rubbish, although granted better than falling on concrete. Ok, I’ll just carry on now…) At 16 I was in at least 6 choirs including Brackley Jubilee Choir and Bicester Choral and Operatic Society and I brought the average age of singers down to about 40ish. I went on holidays with my Mum’s Morris team, Owlswick Morris. They were great fun and yes, I am that cool, I’m a Morris baby and proud of it.
When I was about 18 I did do something a teenager is meant to do, I went to Gatecrasher Summer Sound System – it was an all night club with various tents pitched on Turweston Aerodrome. My Dad’s friend was running the security for the event and popped by to see if any of his kids would like to go, so my sister and I each said “Yes please!” and found ourselves being walking through the security office with 4 free passes. I took my friends Ben, Chris and Liam and we had a great time. The main things I remember are wearing combat trousers, a black vest top with a dragon on, my hair in two messy buns (yes, I was heavily influenced by the style of All Saints, I’m not going to apologise for that, it could have been worse) drinking Smirnoff Ice from plastic bottles, blue, pink and purple lights in the Happy Hardcore tent, water dripping on us from the ceiling from the condensation, a pretty rugby boy snogging me and walking home at 6 in the morning with the boys (probably mostly Ben and Liam) nicking the signs from the car park and throwing them in the hedge. If you were one of those people in 2002 who couldn’t find their car that quiet Sunday morning then I apologise, but it was really funny at the time.
Edges are blurring all around
I’m back at school, I’m tired, I’ve got a cold coming on but otherwise things are good.
After my Christmas trip to Kenya I was quite drained, sunburnt and altogether dreading going back to work. Having a break of a month is not necessarily a good thing for me. (Yes, I know, boo hoo, poor me, I’m sure you would love a month off for Christmas – I’m not bemoaning that, I just recognise that I need more structure than all that time to my own devices.)
Begin the Begin
“Fresh starts: thanks to the calendar they happen every year —just set your watch to January, our reward for surviving the holiday season is a new year. Bringing on the great tradition of new years resolutions, put your past behind you and start over. It’s hard to resist the chance of a new beginning, a chance to put the problems of last year to bed.”
Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy [2.13]
It’s nearly the end of the year, very soon I will be by a beach overlooking the Indian Ocean and so many things have changed. The Mayans thought the world would end today. They were wrong but for me, this year, a good many things have ended.
The first, in January, was a three year relationship, I thought that we would get married (mainly because he said we would), I thought that we would have children and that I would live in a cottage somewhere in the North East (he said all that too…). Last December I sat at my sister’s and then at my brother’s playing with their children and decided that enough was enough. Enough making do with someone who couldn’t look after himself, enough hoping that if I was supportive and patient that things would pay off and we would be happy. Enough of being afraid that I couldn’t cope on my own without him, despite him dragging me down gradually with him. So I told him that this was it and he agreed.