Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2009

The Uganda Diaries: The skies above Libya - 13.53 15/04/2009

Immediately after finishing my breakfast (a meal from the first class area of the plane consisting of steak, mushrooms, grilled tomato and scrambled egg) I decended into a deep sleep watching Russell Crowe in Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. It was the sleep I would have enjoyed last night!
Slightly re-energised, I have been reading Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith and listening to an Ethiopian dub collective called Dub Collosus and their album In a Town Called Addis.
I have an aisle seat this time and I'm already feeling the benefits - my backside isn't numb. I have Fran sat to my direct left, with Grigorios to her left. Fran has just fallen asleep and is twitching like there's no tomorrow. This twitching seems to alternate between punching me and stroking her arm in an awkward manner against my back - both a tad unpleasant.
My watch is still set to Ugandan time and the time it reads - around four minutes past two in the afternoon - turns my…

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe International Airport, Entebbe - 06.56 15/04/2009

As is a common theme in these later diary entries - I feel exhausted! There was very little sleep to be had last evening after the same boy that had been calling me 'Lucifer' earlier in the evening decided to come into our dorm room as we slept.
I woke up to the sound of Nick S and Greg talking to him and saw before me a naked arse. The man, still obviously high or drunk or whatever he was, had appeared and was talking about how he had been "burned" and needed morphine.
After the earlier incident, Nick DS suggested I keep a low profile, so I did just that by hiding as far back in the recess of my bottom bunk I could! Just another strange incident at a hostel.
It leaves me reflecting on how much nicer the provincial towns are, despite the fact that foreigners are even more in the minority down there. Entebbe just isn't Kabale.

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe - 21.45 14/04/2009

I have just returned to my room having made the ill-fated decision to join the drinkers' and smokers' table outside. Amongst the people at this table was a young Ugandan - an Entebbe local.
With no reason at all this guy took an instant dislike to me after I had been joking around with Frasier.
He persisted to hail me with insults including, "I really hate this guy Tom" and "Tom is as bad as Lucifer." Greg fought my corner well, but due to my tired state and rapidly diminishing temperament I took the decision to leave the table to avoid the possibility of a problem.
The incident has narked me, but Greg insists that he was mentally ill - so why is he smoking drugs and then drinking? Anyway, Greg reported him and it transpires that he is the owner's son and that he has also written me a letter saying "f--- off!" How rude.
Note: This entry is written as it appears in my diary fresh in the moment. Upon reflection I have forgiven the boy. He later caus…

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe - 20.40 14/04/2009

Having been fed and watered - a dinner of beef stew and chips (not what I had ordered) - I am sitting watching TV. Amazingly it only took the kitchen around an hour and a half to feed everyone tonight.
As I sit here I am reflecting on the fact that this hostel, Entebbe, and Kampala as a whole perhaps, are not the real Uganda. I feel like I have been into the real heart of this country and it does not look or feel like this.
Here people seem edgy and look at you in a different way; something indescribable. In Kabale people stare, indeed many shout "mzungu", but it is all done with a great deal of warmth. It is evident that I am missing Kabale already. I cannot wait to get back.

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe - 19.06 14/04/2009

After a journey that seemed to be well up there in the top ten most uncomfortable journeys, I am back in Entebbe and washed and feeling slightly fresher than before.
The journey was perhaps made more uncomfortable by the cloudless sky exposing the full wrath of the sun.
Thankfully, due to some last minute hand-washing using a bar of Jamaican washing soap, I was able to just step out of the shower and into pristine (relatively speaking) clothes. The sun, plus Abbas' bus, allowed for them to dry in double-quick time.
As I sit writing this, I feel exhausted, albeit not as emotionally tired as I was yesterday. I have Cassie sat to my right who, despite saying otherwise, looks physically exhausted too.

The Uganda Diaries: Room 7, Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 22.52 13/04/2009

Have just got back from the Little Ritz having said a few final goodbyes to Penninah and some other staff members. Just before my dinner of steak Lyonnais and chips, I was presented with a wooden carving of three men in a dugout boat; one of the nicer gifts to be given out!
So now I will make my final phone call home from Kabale. Tomorrow we leave town at 8am. I am so tired.

Brockwell Park, Herne Hill in Autumn

_________________________
I went for an Autumnal walk today in Brockwell Park, Herne Hill. Given that it's Autumn, here's a poem by John Clare of that name:

The thistledown's flying, though the winds are all still,On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,The greensward all wracked is, bents dried up and dead.The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,And the rivers we're eying burn to gold as they run;Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.

Oren Ezuz: Food Squares @ Macondo, Shoreditch

Food Squares by Oren Ezuz. Book Launch.

Autumn is taking a real hold of the air around North London. I have my cardigan buttoned as high as it will go, my keffiyeh is wound tightly around my neck and my trademark grey beanie is pulled down as far as it can go over my head without making me look abnormal.
My journey in the relative cold, accompanied by my friend Jeff Vanderpool, is headed in the direction of a small bar-cum-gallery called Macondo on Hoxton Square. My purpose to attend the launch of Oren Ezuz's photobook Food Squares.
Upon arrival at Macondo, having ascertained the whereabouts of Raj Poonia, from whom I received the invite, I take seat and commence to take in my surroundings. The level of magic is just right.
Ezuz is a man short in stature and who at first seems fused into the gathered crowd, but, upon Raj's beckoning to him, an interesting, entertaining and thoroughly engaging artist emerges.
It is then perhaps appropriate that, like the artist, the book is presente…

The Uganda Diaries: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 18.04 13/04/2009

After a brief boat journey and a bus ride, we're all back in Kabale at the Green Hills Hotel. I am currently sat with Greg, Hanka and Jeffopoulis. We're awaiting the arrival of our coffee prior to our walk into Kabale for a meal at the Little Ritz. It is good to be back in civilisation, but it comes after a very emotional goodbye with all of the Kigezi students and staff.

Things reached a real peak emotionally when Ruth, who had saved saying goodbye to me until last, walked over to me.

She was already crying, and had been crying earlier, and thus she became very upset as we spoke for what would be the last time on Ugandan soil. I honestly believe that we will remain in contact, as is her wish.

The Uganda Diaries: Bushara Island, Lake Bunyonyi - 13.52 13/04/2009

I am sat at the top of the hill that forms the highest part of Bushara Island. I have just eaten a measly dinner, feel dehydrated and also feel grumpy. I wish I were teaching in Kigezi High School as I have been in people's pockets for too long and feel that I want to be doing what I like doing for a job.
I can feel myself being snappy, but really I'm trying so hard to fight it.
The surroundings are a lot more developed on this island; the trees bigger, the main building stylish and there are steps to take you to the top of the hill. The place, I believe, sells itself as a bit of an eco-resort.
The vegetation is lush and the sunshine hitting the leaves breaks the light into a million emerald prisms.
The location and the company is great; I just hope that my mood alters quickly.

The Uganda Diaries: Main Building, Sharp's Island, Lake Bunyonyi - 20.47 12/04/2009

Well, the squally rain seems a million miles away now. Hopefully it will desist from raining tomorrow.
The main building has turned into party central - although, as I write this, the music system seems to have tripped the mains!
Just had another wonderful talk with Ruth. She wanted to thank me for treating her with warmth and affection and always being prepared to discuss anything with her at any time - perhaps this type of interaction, although common in schools and colleges in the UK, may not exist in Ugandan society.
It was really a lovely thing to say, especially as I should be thanking her; if it hadn't been for her organising the very disorganised kitchen we may never have had food! Luckily, we have now been fed breakfast, lunch and supper!

The Uganda Diaries: Main Building, Sharp's Island, Lake Bunyonyi - 19.17 12/04/2009

So, the rain has only really just stopped and I'm back in the main building smelling slightly of swamp. I must have spent the best part of two hours by the lake today; an hour and a half of which I was physically in the water.
I really enjoyed this experience. Firstly because the warmth of the water when compared to the tepid temperature of the pool at Green Hills and, secondly, because of the Kigezi students.
None of the Kigezi students are particularly strong swimmers and so those going into the lake were kitted-out with bright yellow lifejackets. Ruth, who had had an awful morning, was the funniest. She, with the aid firstly of Nick De Souza and then myself, actually progressed well with her swimming - after all, we are good teachers! After a while she was splashing around shouting "Tommy-Tom - I am a frog!"

The Uganda Diaries: Main Building, Sharp's Island, Lake Bunyonyi - 14.33 12/04/2009

From around 10am it has rained incessantly. Luckily, as the tent I am camped in is relatively new, it has hitherto resisted the temptation to leak at all.
As a result of the rain the majority of the day's activities have had to be cancelled; the exception being swimming in the lake.

I have, to occupy myself, been playing draughts against Karina and Greg. The former was easy to beat, although I later found out that I had misunderstood the rules and so had to forfeit the result. The latter absolutely destroyed me; it would appear that Greg is quite the strategist.
So after lunch - another African buffet - I will see off Penninah from the landing and will go for a swim, seeing if I can get any Kigezi students swimming.

The Uganda Diaries: Sharp's Island, Lake Bunyonyi - 15.20 11/04/2009

So we have landed, pitched our tents and we are now sitting in the sun. The boat journey from the shore of Lake Bunyonyi nearest to Kabale took about thirty minutes and was one of the most pleasurable journeys one could have on water.
The sun is shining warmly and the scene all around is one of serenity. It is how I imagine Saint Lucia to be; small island, hot sunshine, basic bars and warm bathing water.
I am dangling my feet in the warm water of the lake and I can feel my arms burning under the intensity of the sunlight.
Around me I have Adam, who is currently fashioning a fishing rod from some green wood, Nick De Souza, reading "Dreams from My Father",  and Greg and Jeff who are swimming.

The Uganda Diaries: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 18.37 10/04/2009

The air is cooler tonight;or is it just the time of night? There is a gentle breeze rustling the taller branches of the distant eucalyptus trees. The valley still has some light and is slowly filling with the haze of respiring trees. The haze, at present, fails to block a clear view of the snake in the road on the opposite hill; the same snake upon which myself, Grigorios and Hanka had stood at 9.30am this morning.
The light exposes the details of the emerald landscape opposite; the soft lines of the treetops, the moderately sharper lines of the terraces and the small, but conspicuous, blemishes made by the small dwellings hugging the hillside.
Yet, to spend this time talking of the hills and the light thus is to disregard the spetrum of azure and grey inhabiting the skies above.
Today has been a wonderful day. Owing to it being Good Friday, we went to church for a service of thanks for what we have done in the school over the last week. My little friend Charlotte led a touching prayer t…

The Uganda Diaries: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 13.12 09/04/2009

Tonight has been a most joyous of occasions. After the afternoons CPD activites at Kigezi Highs School, we arrived at the Kabale Municipal Stadium to watch the Kigezi boys take on Bunyonyi Vocational College in the final of the district football tournament.
The team had qualified for the final earlier in the day and, as a result, word had gotten around the Kigezi boarders and thus a crowd had of around 2,000 had amassed.
The atmosphere was heightened by the arrival of the mzungus. Having been spotted, Liz Walton was called upon by the student with the megaphone to say a few words. She said "hello". The crowd went wild.
When the first goal was scored, midway through the second half, the crowd got even livelier. Finally, when a second went in and, ten minutes later, the final whistle went, the whole stadium was sent into a frenzy.
The trophy was lifted, and a lap of honour commenced before the players, chased by a crowed of near to 500, ran our onto the main street of Kabale celeb…

The Uganda Diaries: Kigezi High School, Kabale - 13.12 09/04/2009

So, here I am having taught a Senior 3 class. We used the ideas of creativity, break-out groups and peer-assessment to improve the quality of 'teaching and learning'. The lesson went particularly well if I am to judge by the students' reactions; they found it peculiar that they had to mark their own work though!
After this I went for a wander, in the sunshine, around the school compound. I was taking pictures and got talking to some Senior 4 girls and a couple of Senior 6 boys. What started with me talking about my love for Uganda with a few students soon changed and I had a crowd gathered around me, all listening to my every word and looking at the pictures on my camera. 
It was a lovely experience and an especially funny moment was when I taught the girls how to greet and respond in Irish Gaelic. They were all suitably impressed with my Rukiga greeting of "agandi" to which one responds "nycha"; alhtough it did garner some laughs!
I spoke at great length …

The Perfect Summer Album

Every summer holiday needs its soundtrack and this summer, for me, was absolutely no exception. Things are looking up in my world: I have a lovely girlfriend, I joined a cricket team and my current place of work is ten times better than my last.
This summer, was an Ashes summer. As I write this the England team are preparing to continue playing against Australia in a series of ODIs, following the successful reclamation of the Ashes Urn. So, right on cue, an Irish band, The Duckworth Lewis Method, release their eponymous album - a concept Album based around cricket. The Duckworth Lewis Method are, in fact, Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash.
The album successfully uses the game I love and stories pertaining to it from over the years in order to craft a selection of perfect pop songs. Many of the songs with their hit of history and twist of humour jump along to very Beatlesque melodies and beats.
Particular highlights of the album include "Meeting Mr Miandad&…

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks

It is a testimony to the enduring legacy of Ian Fleming's character James Bond that our thirst for more adventures is never sated. Fleming wrote twelve novels and two short story collections between 1953 and 1966 from his Jamaican paradise, but this was not enough for us.

For Devil May Care Sebastian Faulks takes up the mantle and assumes the pen of Ian Fleming to bring Bond back to life once more - after all 'You Only Live Twice'.

This new Bond novel is perfect quick-fire reading and Faulks does a reasonably good job of writing in the style of Fleming's originals.

The narrative is full of the cultural reference Bond readers would expect of Ian Fleming, indeed Faulks sets the novel in 1967, the year after the last of Fleming's Bond novels. The caviar, the champagne, the Martinis prepared in the famous fashion and Q's gadgetry are all included in the storyline.
The locations of the action are equally as exotic, with the plot sweeping from Paris to Tehran, takin…

Finding Myself on the Underground

In amongst my summer ramblings and my first visit back to Warwick of the holidays, I had someone take a picture of me next to my name. Okay, it's not quite the English spelling of my name or even the Gaeilge version, but it looks similar enough anyway. 
The picture was taken at Marylebone underground station.

The Pirate Man of Wimbledon

So it was, that this morning I found myself heading through Wimbledon en route for my place of work when I stumbled upon this gentleman. He perhaps wasn't what one would expect of a pirate, but he was sporting, upon his shoulder, one piece of essential pirate kit - a parrot.

The photo I managed to take isn't wonderful, but if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you should be able to make out the shape of the parrot's yellow and blue wings.

I know not whence this gentleman arrived in Wimbledon, where he was headed, or what his business was, but it brought a smile to the face of everyone that he passed.

Illiterate Window Dressing

Window dressing at Next in Collier's Wood appears to have hit a new low after window-dressers managed to misspell the word 'love' in their display. Seeming as the set of strange metallic ornaments only comes with the letters required to spell 'love', it strikes me as strange that the staff there failed to get them in the right order. Other than being a German surname, the word 'loev' has no real meaning. A word that can be made from the four letters, that would make sense, is vole - a type of mousy animal.

At Lord's on a Monday Evening

At one point yesterday evening, when the clouds rolled over and the light faded beneath a mighty rainstorm, it looked as if the playing of any cricket was a distant pipe-dream. Rain streaked across the windows of the space-age media centre above the Edrich Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground and left those that had taken their seats on the upper tier running for cover. All this with only 2 overs on the board.
After a delay of around an hour the halftime entertainment was brought forward and both entertained and amused the crowd until play resumed. Entertainment included Apache Indian, Escala and a fat Asian bloke that looked like Neil Fox.
Rajasthan Royals were first into bat and made reasonably steady progress, but Middlesex seemed to be pinning them back to around six and a half runs an over. Eventually, when they were four wickets down, Dimitri Mascarenhas came in and hit a quick-fire 32 of 16 balls. Rajasthan finished on a respectable 162 for 5.
Middlesex, with some hard work to do, s…

Drunken Zebra Crossing

Walking back from Highgate last Friday I stumbled across this peculiar scene. It is, for those more used to photos taken with 12 megapixel cameras, a photo, taken on my phone, of a zebra crossing light looking worse for wear. If it was any other night of the week I would have presumed it to be a genuine accident, but, as it was Friday, one can only presume that the light had been out drinking.

The Uganda Diaries: The Rwandan Genocide Museum, Kigali, Rwanda - 16.30 (Rwandan Time) 08/04/2009

I have just experienced one of the most emotional episodes of my life. Having journeyed to Rwanda with a mix of Kigezi and William Morris students and staff, we arrived in Kigali; Rwanda's capital.

Whilst here, and indeed this was the raison d'être of our visit, we went to the Rwandan Genocide Museum. I was expecting an emotional time, but what got me the most was an area devoted to the deaths of innocent tutsi children.
Upon the wall was the picture of a small, two year old girl who'd been killed by Hutu militia during the genocide of the early-1990s. What affected me the most was my inability to comprehend how youe could harm a child who was only around the age of my beloved Cianan; especially as the death note read "thrown against a wall".
The Rwandan people have thankfully put this behind them; although, as I write, it doesn't help me to understand. My search for answers will no doubt continue.

The Uganda Diaries: The Market, Kabale - 09.01 08/04/2009

We're currently sat on a bus, the bus, waiting. We are bound for Rwanda and have sent Wence off into the market to look for some bananas - he is, though, taking an absolute age to find them. I am comfortable in my seat at the front of the bus listening to the song "Toko" by Momo Wandel from the Last King of Scotland soundtrack.

Peter, the link coordinator for Kigezi, is beginning to get restless over the length of time being taken to find bananas given the nature of the complexities of crossing the Uganda-Rwanda border; filling in a form in Katuna for the Ugandan authorities granting exit, walking across no man's land, crossing the physical border, walking across more of no man's land, filling in a form in Gatuna, on the Rwandan side, getting fleeced for US$60 for being Irish, having my passport taken off me and returned, then stamped before finally being allowed into Rwanda properly.

The Uganda Diaries: The Art Block, Kigezi High School, Kabale - 16.55 07/04/2009

With ten minutes left to go before our bus back to Green Hills, and an evening meal at the Cephi's Inn, I decided to make my way over to the Art Block to see what Grigorios was up to.

When I got there I was astounded with the hustle and bustle that had been created by Greg's decision to hold an art exhibition. There were so many students involved; a great deal I have already met around the school compound. There, in amongst all the other faces, I found an Aston Villa fan called James, a guitarist called Sam Smilz and the fantastic Ruth Namara.

Ruth has a wonderfully happy character and countenance. We were talking and exchanging pleasantries - she has decided upon calling me 'Tommy Tom' - and also swapped contact details, as is the norm on this trip. She, along with Grace and Charlotte, strike me as being people I would love to stay in touch with for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

My mind is already turning to thoughts of sponsorship. I would love to make some mo…

The Uganda Diaries: Kigezi High School, Kabale - 16.39 07/04/2009

Having just sat through one of the best lessons I have ever been a part of, I am sat in the Ugandan afternoon sunshine.

During this afternoon's lesson, a history led by Nick De Souza, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with four lovely young girls; Tusiime, Immy, Evas and Charlotte. Another girl that I had worked with, Grace, was equally as delightful a person.

Although the lesson itself is still firm in my memory, the most endearing part of the afternoon was getting to talk to the students. Two students, separately, asked me in a very Ugandan way - perhaps overly polite - "if I may speak with you sometime".

I obliged and talked with both Grace and Charlotte about A Levels in England. We exchanged contact details and I resolved to send them a copy of Obama's "Audacity of Hope" and another A Level text from the English Department stock cupboard. A resolution I will endeavour to keep.

Time for Irish Cricket to Stretch Its Legs?

Whenever I look at the Cricinfo website, or flick through the pages of the Wisden Almanack, I find myself wholeheartedly applauding the associate and affiliate structure for the small cricketing nations. You can cast your eyes down the pages and see names such as Jersey, Uganda, The Netherlands, and, of course, Ireland.

Whilst the quality of cricket from the small island of Jersey and the fluorescent-kitted Uganda may seem a million miles away from 'Test' standard, the standard emerging from Ireland is perhaps just the other side of the test-match boundary rope.
Over the past few years, Ireland have consistently performed well, and won, theInternational Cricket Council's (ICC) leading competition for cricketing minnows in the longer form of the game - the ICC Intercontinental Cup. In addition to this, the team has now qualified for and progressed beyond the group stages of the last two major shorter form competitions - the World Cup in 2007 and the World Twenty20 this year.
I…

The Uganda Diaries: Kigezi High School, Kabale - 09.56 07/04/2009

I am writing within the staffroom of Kigezi High School following my first lesson of the day. I taught Senior 3C. The main focus of the lesson was to get the students thinking creatively - a skill seldom toyed with in Ugandan education.
The focus was on free-writing, drama and summary writing. It seemed to go very well - despite the strange resources; a half-brick, a plant, a palm leaf, a pebble and a freshly picked mushroom.
The activity worked well to get their creative juices flowing - some students seemed to struggle when given such free reign in a lesson. They didn't understand that they were allowed to be silly and to "think" for themselves. It is the way of Ugandan education to sit and take notes as a teacher talks, on occasion, endlessly.
Luckily, to assist with the creativity, I had Rebecca and Ruby (a Performing Arts student).
I honestly believe that Penninah could use the model of a lesson designed to stretch her students' higher order skills and thinking skil…

The First Taste of Victory

Swinging Googlies (165 all out) beat The British Library (164 for 7) by 1 run.
Victoria Recreation Ground, Surbiton.

After a run of defeats and a tie, the Swinging Googlies have finally won their first game of the season. 
Rob Punter (34) and Andy Fairburn (27) were the men sent out to open and started notching up the runs pretty sharpish. Fairburn is beginning to look more and more like a demon with bat and ball, both in the nets and on the field of play. This was, according to all records, the highest opening partnership in Googlies history.
Lawrie Homan came in and put 72 on the board in no time at all. Mike Abel (5) was looking comfortable - that is before I gave him out LBW. Sean O'Connell (8), Steve Fenwick (0), Dave Le Vay (7), Myself (0) and Joe Abel (0). All in all, with 165 as the team's total, things looked comfortable - it is thought that 165 is the highest ever total set by the Googlies in their history.
After the tea break, and in spite of some sharp fielding, the Goo…

The Uganda Diaries: Main Street, Kabale - 18.35 06/04/2009

Whilst we, that is Kenneth, Teequay, Rebecca and Ruby, were waiting for Adam to pray in the mosque, the most magical of events took place.
We were stood on the street near to where some muslim ladies were selling their wears, men were fixing something and some others were selling hot corn on the cob, when a small Ugandan boy, perhaps only three years of age, came and grabbed me around my legs, hugging me.
I asked him who he was. He didn't respond. I stooped down to his level and tried again and he responded "Nasingal". I then asked him if he was happy - he said "yes". Have you had a good day? "Yes". I then told him to go and find his mummy and daddy - he said "yes" and scurried off. I loved it. He wasn't scared and seemed happy to have met me.

The Uganda Diaries: Kigezi High School, Kabale - 18.12 06/04/2009

And so I write having spent the day at Kigezi High School and its surrounds. When I arrived at the school, I did so with trepidation and a fearing the thought of being thrust into a classroom full of expectant Ugandans, but soon had this fear allayed.

Karina informed me that Penninah was heading towards the nursery and, with no resistance, I opted to join in. The walk back down the hill from, Kigezi - for Kabale is quite a hilly area - provided me with the opportunity to talk with Penninah and to find out more about her; four children and an artist husband.
The nursery was a delightful little place. The smallest, as in the youngest, class were quite clearly upset by our arrival; a bunch of strange, smiling mzungu faces that were giggling and 'ah-ing' a lot. The older year groups were a little more understanding of our presence and sang us songs; the lyrics of which included:
Your mother can let you down, Your mother can let you down, Your mother can let you down, But Jesus never fai…

White South Africans Joining the BNP?

Occasionally, when getting on the tube at Wimbledon, I like to vary my early morning reading by picking up a copy of City AM or The South African - both of which are relatively well-written papers, especially when compared to the likes of the Metro.
Today, when I picked up my copy of The South African, I was stunned to see the headline 'UK Saffers Flocking to the BNP?'
The use of the question mark in the headline perhaps indicates that the publication is itself unsure of whether or not this is true, so what is it based around? The article seems based around the Cape Times' assumption that voting the British National Party, a "far-right party", would better "suit [South African ex-pats'] traditional South African values".
The South African goes on to quote from anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, saying that many with a history of hate crimes in South African have joined or contributed to the BNP. Included amongst these is "Arthur Kemp (pictured…

The Uganda Diaries: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 22.24 05/04/2009

So I have been meaning to write all day but many things have conspired against me - none of them quite as serious as that introduction may have implied.
The day started a little fuzzily after the four 100ml whiskey and Stoneys that I had last night. After clearing my head somewhat and, with the aid of four bananas, getting some energy into my system, we made for Kigezi High School for 'chapel'. This was not chapel as we know it. There was singing, dancing, clapping, a thousand "Praise the Lords" and a smattering of "hallelujahs". The atmosphere was a million mils away from the dour normality experienced within the regular Holy Roman Catholic Church in the UK.
After three hours of chapel a desperate phone call came. Raj, and the rest of the group that had decided against attending chapel, were waiting outside and had been since about three minutes into the preacher's one hour and fifteen minute talk. Thermostat or thermometer I ask?
A large buffet was await…

The Uganda Diaries: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 20.06 04/04/2009

I feel already as though I have been here for a week. I have perhaps experienced deepest Africa more so today than before. After leaving Entebbe Backpackers we made for the Equator via the outskirts of the capital Kampala.
Kampala is extremely dense when compared, like-for-like, with Entebbe. It seems that no one in Kampala is idle. Everyone moves with purpose. The air is thick with the fumes of mopeds (boda-bodas), the dust from the rapidly drying ground, the dying exhalation of diesel exhausts and, somewhat thankfully, the scent of barbecuing food.
As you pass through Kampala you feel like a very white (mzungu) fish in a very tropical fish shop. This continues as the bus winds its way through the suburbs, still just as industrious, but distinctly less smoggy.
At the Equator, enterprising souls have set up craft shops and attempt, using broad smiles and bucket loads of African charm, to sell you there traditional wares; these range from the ubiquitous hand-carved elephants to hand paint…

Watercolour Doodling

This is my first attempt at playing with watercolours. If you look closely then hopefully you'll notice that it is the view from the top of a cliff, looking out to sea at sunset. It's not great, but no artist am I. It was done by colouring a pencil sketch with watercolour pencils, a cup of redbush tea and my right index finger.

Click the centre of the image to enlarge.

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe - 08.16 04/04/2009

It has to be said that I was expecting a particularly anonymous birthday, but that was only partly the case. I woke up around 6:30 after having gone to bed around 20:00 - straight after dinner. I checked my phone and there I found a few messages from home.

Anyway, I was the first up and so was fed and watered first and was charged with the duty of waking people up from their collective slumbers. I then returned to the dorm to beautify and clean myself whilst everyone else ate. 

When I was done, I quietly returned to the lounge area, my head firmly in clouds, I was greeted by a loud and rather rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday to you!"
I was completely shocked by this as, at the time, the only thing I was thinking about was getting water. It took me at least ten seconds to fathom what was going on! Even the kitchen staff joined in! Lovely!

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe - 17.37 03/04/2009

So after a day of various activities, a pause. The rain continued until 3pm and came to a halt whilst I was wandering around the Entebbe Botanical Gardens.

Earlier in the day, during the endless rain, I had bought a Ugandan SIM card with which to contact home, so the Botanical Gardens provided the perfect backdrop from which to make a phone call.
The sun is now shining with the vivacity one expects of an 'African country'. I am sat in the garden of Entebbe Backpackers - I was originally alone, drawing, but a crowd has assembled with the return of Liz from the swimming pool at the Victoria Lake Hotel. I have Hanka, Faye, Jeff, Liz and Karina all in close proximity.
I am told that this beautiful sunshine, in which I now bask, will be gone within an hour - so hard to believe I assure you, but thus is the nature of sunset near the equator. Plans for next week are now being made. It seems there will be a picnic on Sunday to get to know the Kigezi crowd.

The Uganda Diaries: Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe - 10.15 03/04/2009

Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel, Entebbe
10:15 - Friday 3rd April 2009
We're currently at Entebbe Backpackers' Hostel and the heavens have opened in a way that I have never before witnessed. Welsh summers have absolutely nothing on this rain. The velocity! The noise!

Luckily the majority of our bags have been moved into our rooms by Richard, a local 19-year-old boy that works here. Breakfast has been ordered - omelets sans the usual bread accompaniment. The room is basic - a dorm for all eight male members of staff. Jeff is going photo-crazy! Grigorios is talking endlessly of eggs!