Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

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!

Friday, September 11, 2009

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!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

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.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

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.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

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 to say thanks. She injected a sharp dose of passion into her words! Amen!

She wanted to "talk with me" but I failed in my mission to find her again throughout the remainder of the day - I hope that I find her tomorrow; she is an intelligent girl and want to ensure that this is recognised! I left in something of a rush having been scooped up by Penninah to be shown her house and to be introduced to her children, Enid's children and the rest of the neighbours' kids too.

We drank tea, or rather took tea, upon the arrival of Liz, Cassie, Lucy and Karina. Prior to their arrival I had been teaching them the game "Grandmother's Footsteps" which kept them entertained for a good half an hour.

So, a boda-boda ride later, I am relaxing outside on the balcony, looking out across Kabale. Beautiful.

Monday, September 07, 2009

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 celebrating... still with the trophy held aloft.

With some students on the bus with us, getting out of the vicinity of the stadium because some people were getting a bit wild, we proceeded up the main street. On board many songs were chanted, much to the admiration of the students and civilians on the street and, more importantly, to the mass of boarders that had congregated at the foot of the hill to Kigezi High School.

Upon first sight of the bus, and hearing the songs we were singing, the students came running across the fields, surrounding the bus entirely and cheering.

The atmosphere of love and joy was truly moving. This is a scene that one usually only sees on TV; I was living it.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

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 about how people in Uganda seemed so different to those in London; abou thow in Uganda people were more welcoming to strangers, whereas in London people mind their own business. This came as a great surprise to them as the teachers and students from William Morris seem so warm.

Following on from this discussion, or rather to conclude it, I let them have my best wishes for their up-coming exams. I stole away to find water and to sit in the sun and write.

Friday, September 04, 2009

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" (a irritatingly catchy number with a suitably catchy chorus), "Nightwatchman" (a songs about the pressures of guarding your best batsman towards the end of the days play) and "Mason on the Boundary" (a romantic image of village cricket that includes a monologue from IT Crowd's Matt Berry).

Perhaps to highlight these three songs is to do the rest of the album an injustice. It is, in many respects, the perfect pop record.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks

Cover image © Penguin.
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, taking in the Caspian Sea and the ubiquitous forays into the Soviet Union.

The story follows Bond on a mission to the heart of the operations of an opiate-producer and distributor, Dr Gorner. Gorner has a curious affliction affecting his otherwise perfect body, an affliction that Bond eventually uses to his advantage on his mission, and an intense hatred for anything British.

Further to this, Gorner appears to have the perfect plan to bring Britain and the USSR to the brink of war.

A great read, made all the more entertaining by my choice to read it on Studland Beach, Dorset.

Note 31/10/12: This review has been 'refreshed' recently to bring it in line with other reviews on Ayohcee.
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