Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wedding Celebrations in Kampala

How can I not write about the Royal Wedding!?

Yesterday was quite surreal though. My friend, Jane, and I were up early and baked about 6 dozen scones - we were going to head to a champagne brunch to watch the wedding.

Then the text messages started coming through about the riots in pockets of Kampala. Not long after, we started to hear nearby explosions and the smell of tear gas started to waft through the garden.

Change of plans.

We found the BBC coverage on a Kenyan TV channel and decided to stay put. Jane and I 'ohhhed' and 'ahhhhed' at the outfits and hats (more of a 'noooooo' for Beatrice and Eugenie!!), munching on scones (there were many!) and drinking pots of Earl Grey tea, forgetting about life outside the safety of the house for a few hours.

Not the worst place to be stuck
watching the wedding!

I thought it was just such a beautiful wedding and I can't stop looking at the photographs of beautiful Kate and the dresses on the Internet.

Kampala is quiet again this morning. But it is clear that the quiet won't last. Museveni's heavy handedness when dealing with opposition is now making world news and eyebrows have been raised.

So, in short, I'm not sick of reading about the Royals in the news.

wedding photos

PS- Can anyone pick me up a copy of  'Hello' on Thursday and save it for me??

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cape Town

Cape Town is so hard to put into words. I had a great trip but was a bit overwhelmed by it all. So much of it I loved; the buildings, the wine, the carrot cake and so much that I am still processing. I happily wondered the streets with no plan, taking photos of houses and flowers and all things pretty.

When I arrived to Cape Town, my friend Tim was already in full tourist mode and had a list of sights for us to see. The day before the run we did the most walking. I was a bit worried about my tired wee legs. Walking to the International Friendship run at the waterfront (Tim ran-I took the opportunity for a sit-down and a coffee), walking to the Expo, walking back to our lodge, visiting Robben Island -all on day one.

Cape Town Loves Runners!

Tim joining his international buddies for the 5km

Tim wanted to go to Robben Island with Robyn!

Looking back to Cape Town from Robben Island

The afternoon after the Two Oceans we decided to stretch our legs and walk through the colourful Bo Kamp area and then headed to the waterfront.

A well earned drink after the Two Oceans

After the run, one highlight of the trip for me was the day touring vineyards in Paarl and Stellenbosch.

The weather changed-we moved to
reds and enjoyed them in front of fires.

Please do not disturb the cobwebs!

Still able to I walked some more, weather permitting.

I decided to walk (climb/run!) up Table Mountain in between showers. Not my best decision ever, as the view was not worth all the hard work. If I go back, I'll use the cable car!

What a view!

 Another highlight was a visit to the District 6 museum - it is taking me a while to process my thoughts on this aspect of SA-so I will write more later -but the museum itself was fantastic. A church in the area now houses photos and information on District 6 and the people that lived there. Ex-residents happily share stories and experiences with tourists. A real community spirit is felt and ex-residents are encouraged to come to the cafe and use the day care centre - it is such a happy place but holds sad memories.

 Three seasons in one day  -I sat by the beach in the sun on my last day. My friend in Uganda (Erika) twisted her sister's arm to be my tour guide! Thanks Elsbeth! :) Later I sheltered from the rain.

The next morning I flew over the snow capped mountains as I left Cape Town.

Running the Two Oceans

For a while I thought that this run was not meant to happen for Tim and I; cancelled flights, being stopped at the airport because of my lack of Yellow Fever certificate (oopps!) then the late taxi the morning of the run. But after getting up at 4am on a crisp (read, bloody cold) Cape Town morning, we got there...we ran to the starting line and joined the BACK of the 13 999 people that were lined up.

The time had come, the only thing left was to enjoy the 'most beautiful run in the world'. Even though the half marathon was not going by the coast, that route was only for the ultra marathon, our route was going to take us up in the hills, making for a challenging run.

I hadn't realised how cold it would be, but I was so excited and literally danced across the starting line at 6am, (there was no way anyway could run anyway!). There were so many people that the first bit Tim and I ran/walked together-every time we hit a corner the sea of runners were stuck and had to walk-a little frustrating for those going for a time. It took me more than an hour to weave in and out of people so that I could put my Kampala hills training (thanks to coach Tim!) to use. The sun was out by then and the course was just beautiful.

Locals had camped out by there house, having braais and picnics , sitting on sofas, wrapped in blankets and all cheering on the runners. There were even brass bands and cheerleaders at stages. A great atmosphere on a breathtaking course- I got quite emotional at times thinking how lucky I was. This was a well organised BIG run, in the same league as London, Paris and Boston. I'm not sure if I could do the lonely Source of the Nile marathon again-a route where I only saw one of two people along the way.

There were periods of time when we were running through the hills, that the sound of footsteps were deafening-the only noise breaking the peace and quite  - it was very special.

The clean air, low altitude and cool temperature were like a helping hand on my back pushing me along. I ran the second 10km strong, but it was a continual struggle to make up for lost time at the slow start. Unlike my first half marathon last year, I didn't hate my body,or promise my legs a massage when I finished, I just enjoyed every moment and didn't really want it to end.

But it did...eventually...and I crossed over the finish line and collected my winning medal!!

The finish

 My time was 2 hours 29minutes - a bit of a disappointment if I am honest, so I will just have to back to do the course again...and get a bit further-up at the starting line! (The only photo I have with my medal won't load up.I did do it...promise!)

celebratory drinks at the waterfront

Now - I am contemplating my first full marathon next year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coming to an end

Winter is arriving in Cape Town. There are three seasons per day at the moment. I sat in the sun by the beach this afternoon and now I am sheltering from the rain one hand moulded round a steaming cup of tea. I came unprepared for this, even though I was warned; my cardigan is not enough, I need warm leather boots and a coat. My fingers, toes and nose are cold. Time to go back home to Uganda, I'll tell you my tales from there.

Stories and snapshots to come.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cape Town is calling


Cape Town is calling and I am pretty much through my 'to-do' list, no knee-brace extra strong ibuprofen! All that, as well as directing a school production; a nap on the plane is needed!

My running buddy and friend, from Uganda, is already in Cape Town and climbed Table Mountain yesterday. It looks beautiful. I AM EXCITED!!!

More of Tim's photos
found here

Just glad we are not actually running up it!

Think of us on Saturday! I'll let you know how it goes (and how the wine was!) when I return to Kampala.

Woop Woop!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pre-race Preparations

Eeek...I am soooooooooo nervous about the Two Oceans race on Saturday in Cape Town. I am trying to take deep breathes and thinking of the tour in the stellenbosch wine route the day after the race.

Lists always help.

Race week preparations:
  • Go for two easy runs
  • Drink water
  • Buy energy beans
  • Buy and test 'run' a bigger knee brace....I really don't think the brace is supposed to cut off all blood circulation! 
  • Buy ibuprofen
  • Phone Expedia (once more!!) and confirm that a refund is being processed for the messed-up flight.
  • Sort out transport to and from the airport
  • Don't it for the vineyards of Cape Town!
  • Charge i-pod and camera
  • Pack; remember to put running gear in hand luggage
  • Paint nails the same colour as running cap!!
  • Don't worry if you only have time for half of the things on the list!


    Sunday, April 17, 2011


    I spent Friday night watching an electric storm move closer and closer, we had to close all the shutters bar one, left open for our viewing pleasure. We moved on from wine and drank whiskey wrapped in blankets and pashminas. Storms are great, like that, when your inside.

    This morning, after getting up at 6.30am (yes, on a Sunday morning!) my long run was rained off. My buddy and I gave up after one km and went and sat in my car. I spent longer putting on my Vaseline than I did actually running. We waited in my car, deciding what to do. Storms aren't so great during a run. Bugger-our last long run before the Two-Oceans was ruined. We waited some more, then went for breakfast. Then the sun came out, just long enough for a rainbow to arc over Kampala. I think the ugly backdrop made the rainbow even prettier.

    Hoping for a dry and cool morning in Cape Town next Saturday.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Kampala Kidnappers

    I haven't done such a good job at coping recently. Too much going on in my my lovely friends kidnapped me after school for a mid-week mini-break!


    hot tea and honey makes
    it all better

    Easy to forget your worries here!

    Thank you my wonderful kidnappers!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    The funny thing about flying

    Everyone has a  story about air travel; funny, frustrating, frightening or even sad. Sitting next to hooded falcons in first class, the fundamental Christian that stands up to bless everyone and the one I heard yesterday, from my friend Ali, about being charged the add-ons for the low budget airline; the bag, the meal, the seat! Hilarious!

    funny image of Gibraltar airport

    As you know, I had trouble with expedia recently. Long story short (deep breath)... my flight got cancelled and they put me on a new flight that would get me to Cape Town two days after I was supposed to have run the Two Oceans..helpful! dad steps in to save the day (much hand clapping!!!!) "Of course!!... Brilliant idea !! ...Why didn't I think of that before!!"

    So, it looks like everything will be OK after all! Phew. I may even just have to go business class as nothing else is available.

    I told this to my friend and she laughed and reminded me of my last experience in business class:

    I was flying from Entebbe to Kuwait via Addis Abba. The 'maid-mobile' was pretty packed and I was sticking out like a sore thumb. Anyhow, I got upgraded. "Nice!" I thought! I looked forward to choosing my wine off the list and selecting my cheese from the trolley. Hmm not quite.
    My friend asked what it was like on this particular airline and I told her that I watched ' the map' for the 6 hour flight. She thought this was a new movie. Nope,  for  the 6 hour flight, I had the route of the plane to watch!! class (!)...thank goodness for the free cava.

    I'll let you know how it fares this time round!

    I'll be taking my running gear as carry-on...just in case!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Mad Men Mania

    Why does having a 'good old' cry, watching Carrie getting jilted at the steps of the library make us feel better? ( I don't just cry watching this, but near hyperventilate...saddo!) I specifically chose a weepy, it's like choosing Out of Africa, or the Bridge of Madison it good, feeling bad? No more movies, a series then...

    So, I started watching Mad Men (I am four seasons behind,so don't spoil it for me) which is depressing as hell, but addictive all the same.

    Yesterday, after a friend's comment at the salon, I decided to go all out with the Mad Men obsession. I got my hair flicked out, my nails painted in 'go faster' red/orange (which made me run faster this morning too!), put on my pearls and my Mad Men 'hits-you-where-it-hits-you' dress and wore red lipstick. I was even tempted to buy some Lucky Strikes, but as I don't smoke, thought that was taking it a bit far! Anyhow, it was great! I felt just as depressed as the women depicted in the show! Marvellous. Mind you, I would have cheered up if Don Draper walked into the room!

    No Mad Men tonight for me! I think I'll watch the Jungle Book.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    sunny side up

    I have not been able to use my kettle all week. The power has been so unreliable and only ever seems to be 'on' when I am out of the apartment. My inverter even ran out of power last night (which never happens), so no reserves. My phone battery died, no laptop power and my fridge has therefore been on and off constantly; probably the reason why my stomach is so dodgy! Only a little annoyance to remind us that we live in Africa. Not as annoying as spending everyday on the phone to a call-centre in Ireland trying to sort out my flight to Cape Town with expedia; that is so annoying!

    I would say this week has not been the best for some friends and colleagues at the 'w' place:

    • One house was broken into,really broken into; they got in by bashing a hole through the brick wall, then once inside, breaking the door to get everything out. The Ugandan rugby team is now checking-out every passer-byers shoes in the hope of catching the culprits!
    • A leg was broken.
    • One lucky escape; a teacher was knocked over by a lorry just near the school and came out bruised and battered.
    • Money was stolen, meant for charity.
    • A boda-boda accident; another colleague was involved in a motorcycle accident. A reminder that the convenient little scooters are very dangerous.
    • And a heart was broken.

    On a positive front; my first week on weight watchers was given a kick start, I had a great run on Thursday with my buddy and I've just read on the BBC that shopping 'may improve health'. Looking for that silver lining.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Acholi Quarters

    Today my teaching partner and I took 39 eight year old students around a slum, the Acholi Quarters, in Kampala, as part of our Community Development Project. The school has an ongoing link with this community of displaced people from the North of Uganda, but it was my first visit to the area. The community is made up of over 10, 000 poor and vulnerable people (virtually every mother has a child with malaria)  .The community was friendly and welcoming and we got shown around the little maze of mud huts, latrines, animal pens and rubbish tips.

    We went with the aim of making observations and sketches of their very basic community playground, making notes of unsafe materials (mmm...all of it!) so that we could design and build a new playground after raising funds for it. My teaching partner and I hardly took any photos, which is a shame, but with so many children and so many twists and turns and alleys, we didn't really get a chance.

    For many pupils, if not all, it was the first time they had been so up-close and personal with these types of living conditions. Many were quite happy to be able to hide behind a clipboard and be very busy and important, rather than try to interact with other children we met, but I was still SO impressed with them. Visiting the area could be understandably intimidating for anybody, at any age.

    The pupils helped each other jump over sewers and avoid muddy puddles and showed respect to the living conditions of the community. I heard no 'eeeuurrrrhhh's' or 'yuuuucck's', even when they noticed what was on the slide (!) and only one pupil got a bit upset when he got a bit of mud on his leg! (I think everyone will have extra long showers this evening!) Our pupils quietly observed, watched their step and then got excited about what the new playground, that they will create, will look like.

    We all may live in Kampala, but the community we visited today is a million miles away from our lives. Every now and again, we need reminders of  how lucky we are.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Images from the weekend

    A few images from my weekend.

    1.  Evidence of the dusty trail run on Sunday - a 'fun' 10km run for charity.
    2.  I feel like I have spent a lot of my weekend on the phone to call centres trying to sort out my flight to Cape Town. If expedia don't sort it out, then maybe I should just try out this Inn; I would save on flights as it is only round the corner!!
    3. My first attempt at bread. Soda bread for our Irish cook club.
    4. Being Irish for the night - potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes.

    I wish I got a photo of...
    The British doctor running straight past the man that had collapsed with heat exhaustion at the fun run.