Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As I put on my trainers for staff Frisbee this afternoon, the bright white laces made it quite obvious that they had been washed and I was ashamed as I realised I had not laced them up since the half marathon 9 days ago! It was even more obvious when it was time to run across the grassy field after a disk!

I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to finish the NYC marathon!

So... I have decided to participate in Juneathon (check out my fancy new badge...!). Every day this month, I will attempt to run (or do some form of exercise)  and blog about it. I don't want to turn this into a exercise blog and I also don't want it to become a chore for me- so I will just write a one liner or so. If I don't you know that either:
A) I have failed and didn't run or do any exercise
B) I couldn't get on my laptop due to a power outage...'tis Uganda after all!

I am hoping to encourage a few members of staff at the 'w' place to join in...in true teacher style I am about to make a poster!

Fancy joining me for Juneathon??

Images from the weekend

Sundowners, the last bottle of wine from South Africa, dinner by candlelight under the stars, recovering at my friend's house (before 30 twelve year olds arrived!) and the ONLY photo from my friend's hen night!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The week

This week has passed in a bit of a haze: the Jinja half seems like an age ago and celebrating the lovely Marie's birthday by stuffing ourselves with seafood is a distant memory.

I haven't been blogging or running. But I did dance under the stars twice this weekend. I also had friends over for sundowners, drank my last bottle of special wine brought back from the vineyards in South Africa under the stars, swam in the sunshine and helped a friend celebrate her move to married life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Community Development Project

Oh, I have been so excited about completing and sharing this project! 

The Community Development Club at school, that my friend Erika and I lead have been linking up with a local school for the deaf. We have been learning sign language (don't test me though!) and we had a big 'Survivor' event to raise money for the school.

The children in the club decided that the dining hall needed a renovation.

Over the past month broken window panes were replaced, curtains were made along with curtain rails, new plastic bowls and cutlery purchased for the lunches and tables were made to measure. The chalkboard was even given a face-lift!

The best part (and the most time consuming!) was painting the mural. The pupils decided on the design and an arty teacher friend, Esther, drew all the outlines and directed us (read led) with the painting.

It has been a long process but a lot of fun. We had to recruit other teacher friends to help with all the hard to reach bits!!!

Our favourite wee man!

We sang, gossiped, wobbled on ladders and tables (!), 'nearly died' (well-that was Esther!),danced, took photos, ate far too many Pringles and painted...and painted...and painted!

"I can't see! I can't see!"

"Ahhh. That's better!"

 All the hours were worth it! The 'grand opening' of the hall was today-with the usual Ugandan pomp and ceremony. The pupils (at both schools) were amazed at what we had ALL achieved! So were we!

After a long morning painting...think the fumes went to our heads!
Erika, Esther and I

Well done team! x

Images from the weekend

Sunset over the River Nile
 I participated in my second Source of the Nile Marathon this weekend (don't be fooled by the name-it is a half marathon). Even though I was fitter this time round, I think it was harder as I knew what to expect after last year's race...it is a long and lonely run.

There were 6 of us in our wee group of friends doing the half marathon and one friend doing the 10km. Very few people go out to cheer the runners on (and most just laugh at the female mzungus running), so our support team, Andy the Great (the newly renamed!) and Gabe, were so amazing - driving to different spots on route and handing out bananas and energy drinks (well Gabe just smiled and waved, but that was a boost in itself!). The energy boosters were so important as you only get offered glucose powder (white, chalky dry mouth...no thanks!) on this run.

Although it is a quiet race - maybe 70 or so runners (??) doing the half- I had a few different buddies along the way to keep me company as the kilometers passed. Including a grandmother from Spain who has run the Lewa and Nairobi marathon (and many others) and some guys from the hash. But I can't say it was fun. It was hot, tough and long. The reward was beating my record (by 4 minutes....but it still counts!) and the post run bubbles!

My running buddy Tim was busy interviewing runners and taking photos along the route (whilst running!) - when it is ready I will send the link!

To help my NYC training I am looking for a half marathon in July in Scotland and one in September/October in Kenya. Anyone know of any?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Random nights of laughter, painting faces and African Mama.

I haven't been able to get onto Blogger recently, but I managed to sort it all out by downloading Firefox and sorting my cookies. Rather proud of myself!

So I have not been able to share...

  • My random night last week. So random, yet that was probably why I laughed even louder and harder than usual. An unexpected dinner with welcoming unfamiliar smiling faces from all over the globe. Real characters of life that I wish I had met earlier in my time here. Talk of child birthing stories in Uganda, parties of the past, periods of time in Iraq. Some people are just great storytellers and I enjoyed being part of the audience.
  • Stories of bravery. One boy in my class broke his clavicle bone last week. He was such a trooper through his pain and only let his walls come down when mum arrived.  Another pupil had to leave the country as his mum is very sick indeed, he is a bundle of positivity and told me how he is going to look after his little sister and make cups of tea for mum. It was hard saying goodbye to this wee special boy.
  • My friend gave birth to her first baby (girl) here in Uganda. Congratulations African Mama!
Next week I am looking forward to sharing 'project dining hall' - we are in the final stages of painting and the grand opening at the School for the Deaf will be next week! Here is a peak at what we have been doing.

I am running the Source of the Nile half-marathon tomorrow. Hoping for a dry, cool morning! Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

School days

There seems to be no more special events at school to get us through the final push of the term. Last week we had Inter-house Athletics, our Fun Run and a day off. A five day teaching week now seems unusually long at the 'w' place.

We cheered on our houses and then slipped and slid through the school grounds during our Fun Run.

 But now the fun is all over at school, time for assessments and reporting. Sighhhhh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Red Sky at Night

I managed to fit 8 guests for Spanish cook-club in my tiny apartment last week. This in itself deserves a post.
A table, chairs, spoons, plates and bowls were borrowed from neighbours and friends.

As I was setting up home, the African sun set and the colours matched all the fruit in the sangria.

I have only time for one more Kampala cook club...but I love the theme so I cannot wait! Next month it will be Robyn's favourite dishes...horray...hand clap for Stacy who thought of it!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I know I haven't blogged in ages, (then two posts in one night) but I haven't been sure where to go with my blog and what to share.

At the moment I feel like my body is porous, open and sensitive to the world around me. The news today of the death of the Kenyan runner and that the Air France black box has data on it that is still intact (Can you believe it!!!???), has left me all out of sorts, shaking my head and wiping tears away. My running buddy shared sad news of his and I received a wedding invitation from my best friend Jo (happy and excited tears, but a pang of desire to be with her) made me blue. I think it has just been building up.

I know I should give myself a kick, but heartache is the worst. Comparable to tooth ache I think. This throbbing pain that comes in waves that can't be seen. You forget how painful it is, until it is time to visit the dentist.

Words of wisdom comes from all different directions, (the Oprah magazine is a good source!). Running helps... and change is good. But today I missed my run as I was busy on 'project dining hall' (a future post) and I am tired. So today, I am sad.

I had figured it all out last night with a friend, but I had forgotten it by this morning, damn that white wine...!

Images from the weekend

I was up at 6.30 am to make the pasta salad and pack the ice-box. Then an early run before the fun of a mini road-trip to celebrate Stacy's birthday. Heaven!

Not a bad view! We arrived just in time for beer o'clock and lunch before the very serious (!) scrabble play

Other highlights; reading every word in the imported Telegraph newspaper, sundowners by the Nile, dancing under the stars, playing with Kelly's very cute puppies, nutella and pancakes for breakfast, quiet time in the sun and singing in the car.

On the down side, I was so sore from yoga that I hardly moved and walked around like an old woman! So no fishing, like my last visit , but lots of fun with friends. Light and love.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


A visitor to my blog, who is new to Kampala, asked for some advice on where/how to meet people. I thought I would write this wee piece and hopefully help D settle in at the same time.


The call of 'mzungu, mzungu ' no longer makes me feel like a stranger in a strange land. I hear it as I run along the dirt road, avoiding potholes and rubbish, listening to my buddy chat away over my heavy breathing. I don't feel like  aforeigner, I just look it perhaps. I now feel 'at home', surrounded by my Kampala family; my friends.

When out celebrating my friend's birthday on the weekend, she toasted to her family that were celebrating with her, us, her friends. All expats feel like that I think. Having amazing adventures and experiences in wild and wonderful places is no fun if you have nobody to share it with. Our friends that we meet abroad, become our family.

So how do you meet them?

Well, I wrote a little bit about this on my Around the World post, but I will give you more details of my experiences.

The Eye Magazine is a good place to start. It is online, but the magazine is easily picked up around town (at Banana Boat and the such). There is something for everyone - ceilidh dancing, salsa lessons, sailing clubs, bowling clubs etc.

I do have to admit that as an international teacher, I do have it easy. Teachers and expat families remember what it was like in a new place and give advice on hiring staff, directions to the best hairdresser in town and numbers for their trusted tailor. But it is still so important (and refreshing) to have a life outside the 'w' thing. I joined the Hash House Harriers straight away (and I will do the same in Nairobi), a great place to meet some running buddies and friends. My yoga teacher, Helle (whose number is in The Eye) offers rooibos tea and often encourages people to stay and share after the session and get to know new faces. From yoga I met friends who were forming a book club etc etc, links to an all important social life are made.

When I first moved to Kuwait I joined anything and everything to meet people in the hope of meeting friends. The netball league, the choir and the chamber orchestra. I learnt how to dive (and went to dive socials...on quiet weeks!!), went to the Caledonian Society weekly and hashed. I then met friends and left most (not all) of those clubs! I am sure I will do something similar in Nairobi, then I will meet new people, who will hopefully become friends and then my Kenyan family. Friends to celebrate birthdays with, moan with on a rough day, train for the NYC marathon with (!!!), shop with and experience new adventures with.

I'm still a 'mzungu', but no longer a 'foreigner' in the land that I have chosen, for now, to be my home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Bucket List

I met with a friend for coffee after the 'w' thing today. It was lovely to have some 'face time' with her, rather than just reading about all her happenings on her blog. She is also leaving Kampala this June and we shared things we are looking forward to, things that we would miss and contacts for freight companies! It was so lovely that now I am shaking my head and sighing at the thought of uprooting and leaving my comfortable little world that I created here in Kampala.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself. It is my choice to go and I am excited to start a new adventure, but it is always hard to leave friends and familiarity.

So positive thoughts only! 

When I leave in June it will be more of an 'hasta luego' than a 'goodbye' . I know I'll be back. But I still have a wee bucket list of things I would like to do/do again, with friends before I leave. Time just flies and with at least two weekends-away already booked, I don't want to make my list too extensive and become a stressful 'to-do' list.

My Kampala Bucket List (edited on 13.06.11)
Go for dinner at Il Patio (although I will happily go again...yum!)
Listen to Qwela at Emin Pasha
Lunch at Rocks and Roses
Dinner at Mamba Point
Make it back to church one Sunday!
Dance under the stars (done many times over the past few weeks)
Stay on Andy's Farm (a friend of a friend who has land by the lake) - not going to happen
Get to Helle's yoga for a last Wednesday and Saturday session - can't see this happening either..
Help host a final cook club
Sit by the pool for at least 3 hours straight, one sunny day
Visit Owino market (this is in pencil...)- rubbing this one out
Play at least 2 more games of tennis I'll try and fit one in!
Have a last mani and pedi by Denis in June

Is this it? I think I have forgotten a few - I will add to the list as I remember them. Any more suggestions?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday's run

My text:  "Please tell me your sick."
The reply:"Nope. Rolling out of bed."

No escaping the early-morning long run today. Tim is hardcore, Jillian Michaels has nothing on him! What will I do without my coach in Nairobi!?

We ran past a tank and police, gathered in groups, waiting, being seen. Passed the sleepy market where grasshoppers are on sale again (although they don't seem to be 'in season'!), passed the airstrip where three tank were delivered this week and where a 'party' will be held to celebrate the inauguration of the President on Thursday.

It seemed eerily quiet in the city, we became a little paranoid, but perhaps everyone just partied hard last night. Tim and I were also quiet on the run today. Thirsty, saving energy and lost in thoughts. I realised at one stage I had my mouth closed and was breathing through my nose (I have been trying to do this for years!!)...surely a sign that I am becoming a runner...a slow one...but a runner.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekend Celebrations

I closed my eyes as I did a final lap swimming in the sun this morning. A wonderful start to the weekend, a fantastic celebration to the end of a good week in Uganda.

I started to write my bucket list of things I want to do in Kampala before I leave (I will share these another time) and I am, going to soak it all up before I go.

It is a good friend's birthday today - she is a strong and powerful, independent woman who makes me, and all around her, laugh out loud. We are going to start the day off with mimosas (she is American..bucks fizz to you and me!) and a day at a spa at the boutique hotel in town. I feel like it is my birthday! I know if there is trouble to be found and fun to be had, we will be the ones to find it today.

And I have more birthdays next weekend...horray for celebrating life!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Artists for a night

 Yesterday evening a few lucky friends and I took a workshop with a visiting South African artist, (our friend's mum!). The mantra was repeated again and again; "If you can trace, you can do it." Hmmmm.

Oh dear...more 'puffing' needed!

We giggled, scratched heads, took  photographs during the power cut, drank wine, spilt varnish, ate pizza and attempted to create master pieces! Thank you artist June for being patient with us!

This one was mine - I was going for simple!

It reminded me of my weekend drawing classes in Kuwait, just with wine instead of Kirsten's baking and no tears...only sweat!

Anyone know where I can take art classes in Nairobi?