Sunday, February 27, 2011

Car for Sale!

I have decided to sell my car. It has been a great safari car, (brilliant having a sunroof for game drives!)but it is time to start looking for a buyer. I'm not looking for a quick sale...yet, so I will start slowly and put the word out...starting here.

Gorgonzola (quite strong and beastly, like the cheese) has taken me to the very north of the country, to Kidepo National Park, as well as Bwindi in the south and lots of places in between. She is part of all my safari adventures so it will be hard to say goodbye.

Gorgonzola has had work done on her recently; including new shocks on the back, new back break disks this month and a new water pump. She is regularly serviced (all details have been kept) by a reliable and trustworthy mechanic. She is also fully insured until October.

If your interested get in touch with me and I'll give you more details.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lions, Tigers and Bears. Oh my!

Fine, I've seen parades of elephants and giraffes galore. But I just can't get sick of safaris. I saw another beautiful saddle-billed stork this safari and lots of black and white zebras (opposed to the white and black ones!) More importantly, I was having such a laugh with my friend; giggling, talking nonsense,sharing secrets and putting the world to right.

But I know that everyone has their own check list of what they want to spot on safari and my VIV, (very important visitor) Kerry, only had one wish for our safari. To see a lion. I nodded my head, "sure, no problem," I said.

I secretly had my doubts of finding them. Ugandan lions aren't always sleeping on fig trees for easy spotting.

However, within the first 15 minutes of entering Queen Elizabeth National Park, we found three sisters.

They even tried for a kill, but I think the land rover that came and parked in front of the girls put them off a bit (!) and the young Kob got away, unaware of being so lucky!

One of the sisters we spotted at the mating ground.

Once we checked 'lions' off the list, we were able to get back to other important holiday duties, like sunbathing and swimming in lakes!

Holey Moley

Everybody who knows Kampala, knows it is no shoppers paradise.

I have been looking forward to getting  few new pieces when I go home this summer. I have for a while. Now am I counting down the days until a mini shopping spree!

My VIV (very  Important Visitor), Kerry, came out for safari, looking lovely, dressed head to toe in Primarni (a shop I have only ever walked in and out of empty handed when I see the queues!) and made me feel quite unglamourous.

"No Robyn, (she would say) your clothes are nice. I just wouldn't wear the ones with holes in anymore! Did you wear that when your Mum visited!?" (Actually yes I did, in the secret hope that my mum would then buy some new clothes for hasn't worked, yet, maybe in the summer!!!)

Or... (my glamorous visitor says)

"Eh,I think there is something missing from that elastic!!! I really think it is time you throw out that bikini top."

Oh bugger, the hand washing really is ruining my clothes! I've just purchased a new bikini online and am hoping that I'll have a washing machine in Nairobi!

Reading my set literature for the holidays!

Benidorm or Bust!

"Why do you always go to strange places on holiday? What's wrong with Benidorm?"

Hahaha! A quote from a colleague of Kerry's that kept us laughing all safari!

That was...until...Kerry and I got sick. Really sick!

I haven't been that sick for a very long time. We were staying in the beautiful Mhingo Lodge, yet we spent most of the time either in bed or as a tag-team in the bathroom. (The lodge had a lovely bedroom and bathroom, so don't feel too sorry for us!)

At 3 am, Kerry said..."I should have gone to Benidorm!!!", she was feverish at the time and I hope she was therefore also delusional; she denies this comment. At 7am she said "I would rather be at work," awful statement that I made her take back straight away!

We got better and we saw lions.

Good news, Uganda still beats Benidorm for top holiday destinations!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

RUT Returns

Now that RUT has returned to Kampala, my car has decided that it needs a break to recuperate, so I am taking it to the garage! Good timing!

Here are some snaps from our trip. Our safari is over, but the holiday is not, so I will write more soon.

Today my VIV (very important visitor) is white water rafting down the Nile; it is the last weekend before the new dam destroys Bujagali falls. I decided against it!

Instead I, like my car, am resting and recuperating.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Game&set, flowers and discoveries


  • I won a set of tennis this morning. It has taken a year with my partner to get to this stage! She won the next - but I am happy all the same.
  • I get a text from my special visitor, she is getting on the plane at Heathrow and will be here in a few hours. I go to the shops to get some fresh flowers.
  • I found poppy seeds at the shops. The lady at the till laughs seeing how excited I am when I discover them. The lemon and poppy seed loaf is on the oven!

(Oh no! I've just burnt my loaf!!!RRRRAA!!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Election Fever

I feel I can't really write about the upcoming elections, as quite honestly I don't know enough about what is going on. I have been asking more questions recently and buying the local newspaper more, but I am still none the wiser. So I am not putting in my 2 pennies worth (I just may add a few exclamation marks here and there)-this is just a light hearted piece of election observations.

Last night, at my friend's house we had a good few margaritas, (that my friends had laboriously spent hours squeezing the 750 limes to make!!) and talks turned to politics. It was commented on how the policies of those standing were not clear, what are people actually voting for? We all nodded our heads and moved to talk about what we would be doing with the extended break instead.

Then this morning when my house-boy openly told me who he would be voting for, (Museveni, to extend his 25 year rule of Uganda) and that there would be no change. Before I had the chance to ask him if this decision had anything to do with the free 'pre-election' mass concert, titled 'The Deal is Done"(!), my house-boy went on to tell me how hard his life was at the moment. So, I asked, why not vote for change? Change is good. "But who? What would that bring?", he asked. I couldn't answer and neither could he. So that was his decision made, change and the unknown can also be scary I realise.

I am now on holiday; schools broke-up early to let those escape election fever if they chose to do so. We laugh at some of the destinations people chose to go rather than stay in Kampala; a lot of teachers have gone to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and one member of staff is going to visit family in the Congo...(the best one I have heard yet)...he did also laugh at the irony in this!

Yesterday I visited Shoprite, one of the South African supermarkets that I use; there were lots of empty spaces on the shelves, evidence of panic buying. As I wandered aimlessly up and down the aisles, contemplating spending 10USD on dipping oil (which I decided against!!) I did have a giggle at the  items that were all sold out; Heinz Baked Beans (always the first to go!), tinned tuna and soft toilet roll. Hmmm, I wonder who is doing all the buying??
Not to be left-behind and unprepared I bought some pasta, water and a few bottles of wine. I just need to get some airtime for my phone and some new DVDs and I'm set!

I'm not meaning to be blase, as of course we don't know what is going to happen. Was it expected in Cairo, Bahrain or Iran recently? But today I am not worrying, I am just wondering where the election campaign is and whether I will still be able to get to the beauticians and fit in a facial before yoga!

Let us hope for a peaceful, fair and free election in Uganda.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

surprises, breaking-up and looking forward.

My 3BT. Things that have given me pleasure today:

  • Finding sweet notes and messages in surprising places; the fridge, the tin of tea and in my purse when paying the bill.
  • "Have a good holiday, see you in 13 days", I say to my class as they walk out the door. Holiday!!!
  • Apparently the rains have arrived in Kenya. It may not last long, but for now it is cold and wet. It is so hot in Kampala today. I am so looking forward to a time I can put on a pair of tights and my never-been-work Chie Mihara boots. Eeek!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Snapshots from the weekend

A weekend in Jinja - a bit of fishing, reading, relaxing and indulging. We spotted a shoebill on the way to the heavenly Haven...lucky us!

We arrived just in time for beer-o'clock!

Fun and games is hard

A pretty spot to catch some sun
Sundowners whilst fishing

Moving to the dining room for breakfast seemed like
hard we stayed at our cabin

Bujagali falls

Having a wonder round sleepy Jinja town

So hard to leave the weekend behind!

 Hope everyone is having a loving day, especially my brother, who is 30 today! Happy Birthday Stuart!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Call yourself a runner?

My training schedule for my first half-marathon in May was pretty ad-hoc. My then running buddy and I were good at putting on our trainers and getting out the house, but distances were guessed and runs were timed by looking at the sun.

This time round is a little different.

I have a pink Gamin, which I can now use (thanks to the parentals for the gift), a new pink cap (thanks to my African Adventurer) , a cute pink and white running top (thanks to Jo), a pink I-pod shuffle (thanks to my bro and Emer...are they trying to tell me something!!??) AND my very own coach!

Today, my running buddy (come coach), Tim, took me to do my first ever interval training session. Now, as a runner's world reader, I know all about the positive effects of fartleks and intervals...but have I done The reason; they are so HARD. The end of each interval was like finishing a race, with Tim cheering me in over the line. My wee legs find sprint running very hard...but apparently I will notice the difference in just two weeks on my long runs.

I was told, after my first race in Dubai, that then I could call myself a 'runner' . I actually think that now I have started interval training, I am a 'runner'. I better be. I'm not doing them for nothing!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Inside I'm Screaming

Some days you just shrug your shoulders and say T.I.A (This is Africa). Other days you get so much achieved, like last weekend that you forget how hard it can be. This afternoon wasn't quite like that.

It has been so hot the past couple of days and with no air conditioning and a broken fan, the classroom is a sweat box. By the time 3.15 rolled around I had a red face, wet thighs and a pile of marking.

I broke my one-job-per-day rule and thought I could go food shopping, visit MTN (AGAIN!) and then swim laps! How many of those do you think I got done? One, it is always one, haven't I learnt that yet!?

This was my second visit to try the mobile shop to get my now not-so-new gadget set up for the modern world. It apparently can receive e-mails, if I need this or not is not the point, the point is that it was still not working.  After an hour in the shop, at a point when I didn't know if I was going to cry or storm out (but really...I would have had to go back another day...!) the chap that was fixing my phone, in between gossiping with the pretty (ish) girl next to him (who did not pick up my evil 'he-is-busy-with-me' eyes, selling airtime and picking his nose, handed back (yeesss....yuck...with those same fingers!!) a fully functional mobile! I never even mentioned the nose-picking, just wiped the buttons and happily walked out of the shop...

into ...traffic!

This week the traffic seems particularly it just the heat that makes me think this!? I am sure I said to myself that my next 'home' would be somewhere that I could cycle to work and around town. I am sure I did. I don't think there are cycle lanes in Nairobi!

Saying that, just as I was reaching the 0.7km mark from my house (or 30 minutes away by car) a boda-boda (motorbike) passed me with a passenger carrying...a... boda-boda. That made me smile! It zoomed (!) passed the traffic at such a speed that I didn't manage to get my mobile (it has a camera too you know!!) out of its case in time, so you will just have to imagine it.

I am learning with time, how to manage these frustrations  and I am passing on more little jobs to my man-helper (I usually just call him my 'man', as finding a suitable label for a male cleaner/helper/weighing scales (another story)/finder of all lost things is hard; I don't have 'staff', I have only a 'man'...anyhow); he now goes to the post office for me and gets my fruit and veg from the market. In my spare time I am teaching him how to teach!!!

I know that these are small frustrations. I have a friend going through tough times at the moment and I am not comparing these silly woes with theirs...still... I hope it rains tonight, that may help keep the state of zen and calm in my life.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Election Explorations

A sudden change of plan...Kenya will have to wait. RUT (Robyn's Ugandan Tours) will be taking on a special client in February after all.

Yes, the elections are taking place and in many other countries this wouldn't be a frightening time, but the truth is, this is Africa and we don't know what will happen. Some people say that the process will be calm, as the outcome is 'known' already, corrupt as it is. Others are heading to the beach, just in case, or stocking-up in airtime, water and money, ready to camp in the house.

I hope and think that any loud outcries and demonstrations will be in pocketed areas and we may not even hear about these. I hope.

Either way, RUT is going ahead. It was an easy decision in the end may be one of the last RUTs and I want Kerry to see where I live, meet my friends and I want to show-off Uganda! Plus, I have found that it is so much cheaper than safari in Kenya, I also know Uganda...and all the roads not to take (isn't that right Tania, Mum, Dad...ha!),I am pretty good at planning and was able to sort out our holiday in a few hours.

 I cannot wait!

The driver come guide (that is I!) has selected two new places to visit:

We are going to head to the Crater Lakes first, to Kyaninga Lodge. I think it looks great and have been wanting to go for a while.

We are then going to camp in the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, (I've never camped here before) to go and hunt lions. This is quite a mission, as there are only about 750 lions in the whole of Uganda, but is a special request from my client, so I hope I can find one!

We are then going to one of my favourite lodges in Uganda; Mihingo Lodge to pamper ourselves and find some white and black zebras..and also EAT LOTS...the food is so good!

A couple of photos from my last visit to Mhingo...

 So, this is what I will be doing at the end of next week!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Making the Most of Mornings

We all love lie-ins sometimes. Going back to bed with a cup of tea to read a few more pages of a book.
Getting-up early for morning weekend runs are hard, it is so tempting to roll over, but once you are out on the quiet(ish) roads, it is so worth it.

By 11o'clock this morning I had ran 11km, bought a few cards, gone to the bank, bought three bunches of beautiful flowers (I asked three times what they were and have forgotten!), been food shopping, visited the book exchange and attempted to set-up one of my new gadgets.

I now have a peel-off face mask on and I can't wait for it to dry out; I always pretend I am in some kind of horror film when I am at the mirror (it can be horrific sometimes!) is very silly, but fun!

The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day in Uganda. I laughed out loud in the bank, when I heard on the radio a request for people to "remain reasonably calm in the pre-election weeks", strong words! Today though, there are no worries. I am off to play scrabble in the sun and drink pims.

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A stormy February, remember to laugh.

Continuing with my "soaking up, breathing deeply and remembering to enjoy" mantra; today's 3BT.

  • Being woken to the sound of rain pounding on the ground and car roofs outside. Knowing it was still early, so I could snuggle further into my duvet and count between claps of thunder.
  • The month that has 51 days is over!Pay day is around the corner! We have been rewarded with a shorter and cooler month.
  • A guest reader started reading George's Marvellous Medicine to my class; one of my all time favourites. The class were enjoying it so we continued reading about all the ingredients Grandma emptied into the saucepan. We had to stop as one boy was crying with laughter! It was such a fun ending to the school day and gave us all so much pleasure. Book Week is great!

The Thinking Hat

I have been spending far too much time thinking. Sometimes I can't even remember what I am thinking about or why it is an issue. It is tiring, for me and those around me. I have to take a step back and remember what my  feeling was in those first two seconds faced with the decision. It won't be a wrong decision, just a different one.

Of course, secretly I want someone to make the decision for me or for there to be a major factor that out weighs all others; but there really isn't. I've made lists, talked it through, awarded points to both sides and it is still a draw (actually it wasn't, one side won, and I haven't chosen it yet...I still want the other side to win...perhaps!).

I am spending all this time in my head that I am not living life. I have not stopped to breathe or to soak up my surroundings and just enjoy being. I went away to Nairobi for the weekend, but could have been anywhere. I think I came out of my head twice: Once when I had lunch at the very trendy Artcaffe; I enjoyed pretending I was leading a glamorous life and was out having a 'working lunch'; such a novelty for teachers who eat in the school dining room or the staff room on a daily basis! The other time I was shooting at clay pigeons. I had quite enough to think about; in the shoulder, lean forward as to jab, cheek near the butt (always tricky !!), both eyes open, follow the clay...oh and relax!!  By the time I finished my round only one clay was 'dead' - I am quite happy to score for others next time.

I am going to stop thinking about things now. But if anyone wants to help me make a decision let me know.
B or P????