Friday 15 February 2008
Well, there’s a funny thing. For the first time in at least five, maybe six years, I made it to a meeting of blogging types organised by Gordon and featuring an impressive collection of bloggers, some known from years past, some from their writing and some new to me. It was, undoubtedly, excellent. Links to at least some of the attendees as soon as I’m not blogging from my mobile.
UPDATE: I knew that, if I waited long enough, someone else would do the hard work and link to all the attendees.
Thursday 19 October 2006
Huge congratulations to Sarah and Paul who became parents to Emily Grace yesterday. Mum and baby are reportedly doing well, and I’m sure that Dad is still trying to get his head around the concept – even though you have nine months to get ready, nothing really prepares you.
Monday 29 May 2006
I’ve really been neglecting you readers lately, haven’t I? Umm, well, sorry. But hey, I’ve been somewhat busy lately:
- Last weekend: up to Stafford with Tom to spend the weekend with Jo and Bob. Excellent time had by all.
- Last weekend and this week: much concern about SiL, who has been really quite unwell. But she seems to be making a steady recovery, which is good.
- Tuesday: an all-day meeting with my New Zealand sub-agent, who is in the country at the moment.
- Wednesday: a day out with H to the Chelsea Flower Show. We dressed in our finest summer clothes and were subjected to repeated heavy showers, with the result that we looked like a pair of muddy drowned rats. But it was worth it. Not sure that it is worth paying £35 a head to get in, though, particularly when you have to sit on the floor to eat your sandwiches and drink your tea because the catering facilities are so inadequate. They were absolutely awful when I last went ten years ago and have only improved marginally.
- Thursday: catching up in the office.
- Friday: to Chichester for a haircut and to distribute publicity materials for my event coming up at West Dean at the end of June.
- Saturday: Charlie and the Peet came for lunch – a thoroughly relaxing and wine-filled event.
- yesterday: up early to go to Heathrow to meet some American colleagues of their plane, collect plants, deliver them to a nursery near my parents and then join my parents for Sunday lunch and some plant talk.
- today: dozy sleeping and much talk of "we really should go for a walk" and "the lawn needs mowing" or "I really must start on the front garden", but it’s chucking down with rain (between burst of intense hot sunshine) – that’s my excuse, anyway.
There are many, many things that I really should find time to write about, but I’m not sure when that will happen. If you’re very lucky, I’ll provide you with some photos, as a picture is worth a thousand words (or several thousand, if your usualy verbage is as poor as that which generally graces these pages).
Wednesday 23 November 2005
I forgot to say…
…that we had a splendid lunch in Chichester on Saturday in the marvellous company of Lord Percy and Lady Bren with the added bonus of sightings of Hamish and Ruth. Consumption of the world’s largest home-made burgers (with chilli – mmmm) meant no tea for me. Hurrah! I also bumped into Anne, Nick and their gorgeous little daughter.
Monday 19 September 2005
Avast ye! Tis ye Official Talk Like A Pirate Day, so be sure to answer ye telephone with a loud "Yarr!", ye scurvy scalliwags!
Meanwhile, congratulations to our friends David and Andi who are now proud parents to Kate, born last Monday. Ah-arr!
Thursday 7 July 2005
Just as well…
…that this happened today and not yesterday, otherwise the Olympics would probably not be coming to London.
EDIT: when I wrote that, the reports were of a power surge that had left a few people slightly injured. Now a full picture is emerging that is much more disturbing. My cousin and several friends work in the area targeted by the bombers. I’m really quite worried and the reports of eyewitnesses give little encouragement.
FURTHER EDIT: all safe and well.
ADDITIONAL EDIT: the media keep talking about the low levels of fatality. But I can’t help thinking that that is optimistic. Surely the triage operation at the scene will have left the dead laying where they were whilst the efforts were focused on the injured. It’s hard to imagine what the bombers hoped to achieve by this.
LATER: My fears have been realised with reports giving the number of dead as between 33 and 41. I suspect that figure may rise. As for the reaction, I think that Ken Livingstone got it right by saying that this was an indiscriminate attack on all Londoners. George Galloway got it wrong – many people might agree with his opinion, but to voice it today is distasteful and shows a lack of compassion for the bereaved and injured.
LINK: With so many bloggers in the world now, there is often one of our number present at a major news event. Justin survived and recorded his experience.
Saturday 28 May 2005
Music and birthday
Forgot to mention on Thursday that it was Lord Percy’s birthday. The poor chap was 21 again.
In other news: Soul Deep has to be the best series that has been on TV in years – absolutely fantastic and compulsory viewing. The track listing on the CD compilation that goes with the series looks a little lacklustre, so I’m hoping that the Beeb will release the whole thing on DVD.
Sunday 24 April 2005
Sir John Mills, RIP
Sir John Mills died yesterday at the age of 97. I always think of him saying something like "you simply have to, old bean, you simply have to!" or some other such earnestness whilst sitting in the tail gunner’s seat of a World War 2 bomber. His characters always seemed to be earnest. Perhaps that was my own misconception.
I remember one evening, many years ago, going into the Bell pub in Chichester. The Bell is directly opposite the Festival Theatre. As we walked in, my friend Louise was in a bit of rush, not really looking where she was going, and careered straight into John Mills as he was coming out. Neither party was injured.
Wednesday 30 March 2005
Just like old times
Beer with Lord Percy, Lady Bren, Aris, Julie, Paul F and Mrs Graybo. Shame they didn’t bother to use dust sheets when they painted W2.
Chichester looks much like it was when I left – the new owner of my old flat hasn’t done anything to the exterior (like changing the windows) and doesn’t seem to have changed the curtains either. It was good to go back, though if time and finances permitted, it wouldn’t be quite so infrequent.
Monday 24 January 2005
We held our housewarming on Saturday. There were lots of people and even more alcohol, as well as some cracking home-made pizzas that H and I made between us. People brought flowers, gifts, food and drink and (I think) everyone had a good time. Heads were slightly delicate yesterday morning, but thanks to help from Charlie in particular, the mess wasn’t bad at all and normal service has been resumed.
Wednesday 19 January 2005
…Lord Percy, Aris, Kearn, Paul F and Nikki, with sightings of Ted and Dave. Thanks to Lord Percy and Lady Bren for fine hostability at Percy Towers. All preceded by a haircut with Karen, catching up on all of Paul R’s news.
Chichester seems alive and well and pretty much its normal self.
Are you male, single and interested in going to a fabulous party in Brighton on 29th January with some lovely food and great (female) company? If so, email me and I’ll put you in the picture.
(Somehow, I feel slightly dirty posting this, but it is all genuine and above board and to do with our good friends at LITK).
Friday 10 December 2004
It looks like I won’t be able to get to tomorrow’s bloggers’ party after all. H is ill, with the consequence that she won’t be able to come along and drive me back from the railway station (12 miles away). The alternative, a late-night taxi, doesn’t bear consideration. Bah!
Thursday 9 December 2004
There is a party for UK webloggers in London this Saturday. I will be there. H may be there too, although she is off work sick today, so may not be.
Monday 22 November 2004
In case you were wondering…
..what happened this weekend, I couldn’t possibly tell you. Alcohol was not involved. Oh no. Ahem.
Saturday 13 November 2004
This afternoon we took delivery of our new (to us) car. Hels seems very pleased with it. Colin, the guy who sold it to us, has very kindly thrown in a wheelbarrow. I kid you not. I’m actually very pleased with the wheelbarrow – it’s suitably cement-lined, battered and slightly rusty, and is currently in the back of Hels’s shiny new motor, much to her chagrin.
We also went to the Hardy Plant Society Sussex Group’s 10th birthday bash today. I set the group up with considerable help from several like-minded people, and it is really quite rewarding to see the group is in such good shape. Hels came with me, and had to deal with a large number of ladies-who-lunch saying "oooo! you’re Graham’s wife!" but, in spite of being thrown in at the deep end, took it all in her stride, as usual.
Wednesday 10 November 2004
Picture double bill
From the honeymoon – Mount Etna erupting.
We decided that close inspection of the crater probably wasn’t called for.
From the wedding – Lord Percy and Peet ham it up.
The full effect of the red wine was setting in by this point. (Photo courtesy of Mrs Peet).
Tuesday 2 November 2004
…to my sister-in-law. 23 today (cof!).
Monday 11 October 2004
Keep checking the webloggers’ party page – it looks like a plan is coming together.
Friday 8 October 2004
There will be a webloggers’ end-of-year party. Fact. Webloggers can influence where and when it takes place by employing the FunJunkie editable page which can be found by clicking here. I intend to attend unless I’m moving house, getting married or doing some other reckless thing.
Monday 4 October 2004
This picture does not show me tied to some railings with clingfilm whilst being soaked with a watering can and garden hose. Oh no.
Thanks to everyone that came along for my stag night on Saturday. Particular thanks to Kristian at W2, and to Tim for putting the whole thing together. A very good time was had by all (I think – I can’t remember!).
Tuesday 28 September 2004
…Arron, Paul F, Kearn, Aris and Julie.
Monday 27 September 2004
To have and to hold
On Saturday, H and I went to the wedding of Sarah and Paul, an event in which I got to play at least a small part in the rôle of usher – something that was a great honour.
Sarah has been one of my closest friends for very many years indeed (we try not to remember how many). She and Paul make one of the happiest couples that you could imagine. I *know* that they are going to have a great marriage.
Tuesday 14 September 2004
… Lord Percy, Paul F, Aris, Arron and Al.
Tuesday 17 August 2004
…Lord Percy. W2 is a bit pants, in a dead kinda way.
Sunday 8 August 2004
Tanya, Jeremy (congratulations on both on engagement, and happy birthday to Jeremy), Ian, Sacha, Paul F, Lord Percy, Lady Bren, Kearn, DA, Sarah, Simon and Matt (plus H, of course).
Tuesday 3 August 2004
…Lord Percy, with sightings of Matt and Rachel.
BubbleFun – better in two player format, but worth playing against the server nonetheless.
Tuesday 27 July 2004
Aris, Julie, their daughter Alex, Hamish, Ruth, Kearn and Greg, with sightings of long lost friend Guy, as well as Fi and Nicola.
Tuesday 20 July 2004
Lord Percy, Paul F and Aris.
Tuesday 13 July 2004
Kearn, Lord Percy, Fi, Nichola and Kristian. Featuring silly memories of the night that Kristian and I hid behind the bar in W2 from Jeff.
Saturday 3 July 2004
(last night) Lord Percy, Lady Bren, Fi, Nicola, the other Helen W, Steve, Paul C, Paul F, Kearn, Steen, Al, Arron, Leah, Simon, Debbie, Simon, Ruth, Hamish and Terry. The first Friday night drinks I’ve had in Chichester for a long while – and it’ll probably be a long while again before the next time.
Tuesday 1 June 2004
Go look at SheepFilms. I’m sure I pointed to it before, but it’s still genius.
Saturday 29 May 2004
This evening, H and I will be at Lord Percy’s Grand Birthday Bash. It’s a fancy dress do, and I’ll be in a fetching Superman outfit. H, on the other hand, will be dressed in PVC as CatWoman. I don’t think she is likely to let me post a picture here, unfortunately for you!
Wednesday 26 May 2004
Sometimes I wonder what life will be like when Hels and I can finally stop stressing about selling flats, buying a home and organising a wedding, not to mention work, family and all the rest. We’ve yet to experience anything that approaches what most people would consider to be "normal life" together. We frequently talk about the prospect of blissful times together, when we don’t have to do anything to a particular deadline, don’t have to worry where we will be living, not have to plan a major event and concern ourselves with the needs and desires of other people – and, most importantly, don’t have to hold those discussions over the telephone because we live 65 miles apart. We can’t wait for those days to come – at the moment, the prospect of those days is all that is keeping me going. Positive mental attitude. Positive mental attitude. Positive mental attitude. If I repeat it enough times, it may sink in and actually work.
[EDIT: actually, that's not entirely true. What's keeping me going is a very beautiful, amazing and wonderful woman who I love very much and who I know loves me too. But I didn't want to say that too loudly in case you all threw up.]
In other news, happy 40th birthday today to Lord Percy. I spent a few hours this afternoon with Lord Percy and Lady Bren, helping to tidy and pack at Percy Towers, as they are moving to the new and more imposing Percy Towers, complete with columns, tomorrow. To say that they are mildly stressed would be an understatement – I hope I provided a little light relief.
Friday 21 May 2004
I feel that I should explain the whole Little Otik thing, as I may be being a bit obscure for you all here. Some time ago, I went with Lord Percy and Lady Bren to see Little Otik at the cinema. It’s a film about a tree stump that looks like a baby.
B and G were working in their garden the other day and found a dead Pelargonium that looked like a little man, complete with hair. Naturally, they were reminded of the film, and with my birthday approaching, decided to put it in a spiffy little box and give it to me as a present.
Wednesday 19 May 2004
Beer last night with…
Lord Percy, Paul C, Kearn, Kev and Little Otik.
Tuesday 27 April 2004
A saucer of milk with…
Paul C, Greg, Kearn, Aris and DJ, with a sighting of Dom.
Tuesday 20 April 2004
Lord Percy, Clive, Matt, Ted, Vick and Paul F, with sightings of Sally, Viv, Ted, Dave, Gary, Terry and other picture postcards. I also saw Bill, who is a client. Thankfully, he was more pissed than I was. So that worked out ok.
Wednesday 24 March 2004
Love In The Kitchen
If I was still single, I’d go on this – not least because it is organised by my lovely friend Charlie, and I know her culinary skills to be excellent.
Anyway, it’s just an idea for any single people in striking distance of Brighton who want to give it a go. At the very least, there’ll be a laugh or six and some good food and wine.
Wednesday 10 March 2004
…Greg, Paul C, Paul F, Kearn, Simon and Dave. Last night, obviously. Not this morning. That would be excessive.
Friday 5 March 2004
Well, meeting the vicar went well – actually a friendly chat more than the interview that we had feared. Which is good.
And, more importantly, was followed by beer with Jo and Bob, with the idea of a Cocteau Twins disco for the wedding. Whaddya reckon?
Friday 27 February 2004
Bren, Greg, Arron, Kristian, Hamish, Ruth, Debbie and Simon.
One person missing.
Tuesday 10 February 2004
Beer with the usual suspects tonight. DA has his freezer set to minus 23C. He also has his heating thermostat set to plus 25C. Anyone care to estimate his utilities bill?
Tuesday 20 January 2004
Beer with Kearn, Greg, Paul C and Kev.
Whammers are the new noughts, apparently.
Wednesday 7 January 2004
…Greg, wherein I bored the hair off him by talking incessantly about the wedding. Sorreeeee!
In other observations, why do the police in Chichester (or anywhere else for that matter) consider themselves exempt from the speed limit?
Wednesday 24 December 2003
… Paul C, Greg, Kearn and Aris. Sightings of the Nags posse.
In a major development, tonight I possibly had my last ever haircut with Jo. She has cut my hair for eight years, and she and Andy have become good friends. Good luck to Jo in her future.
Paul R was also sighted at the salon. He was to travel onwards to a vet to get some water pills for his dog. Somehow, I know there is a joke in there somewhere….
Tuesday 23 December 2003
Final Penn update
I forgot to post Penn’s latest and final email from Nepal:
Well guys here is my last update to you before I start making my way home. As I am plagued with cold I have decided to head into the country tomorrow and away from Kathmandu in an attempt to relax and get rid of any last remaining germs and so this will be my last email to you all from Nepal and there is no Internet access in the countryside and my next email will be to my parents to say that i have arrived safely in Bangkok!
So this is a very odd time for me I am now up to the last few days of my trip and I do not feel how I thought would, though why this surprises me I am not sure as nothing here has been as I thought it would. I thought that I would be excited about leaving Thamel and excited about coming home, but also sad at leaving the last few other volunteers here, but I am not really any of these things. In fact I am damn right grumpy and niggled and I have no real concept of how I feel. I know that I want to come home and get on with my normal life, get back to a routine, a good job and my friends and family who I have missed desperately and will up until the second I see everyone, but aside from that it is hard to explain how I feel now and i am hoping that these last few days in the country will help me figure out a lot of this!
Let me start with the last day at the children’s home! Well I went in early having finished the kids room the night before and blew up a load of balloons so that they covered quite a bit of the floor and made sure that all the books and pens which I had brought over and begged borrowed and stolen from other people where put out and the room was presented well. I then went out and gave Mr. oli all of the food (ok food is a very lose description for the junk which I had brought them) and the cake, which I had made, he thought this was great and wanted to try the cake then and there. The only thing that managed to take the wind out of my sails was when he asked me to divide it equally amongst the children. So one hour later I had prepared 60 party food platters for the kids and was quite happy never to see another crisp or sweet again! I then preceded to give each child two balloons, a whistle and lolly, and this was quite amusing as apparently some of the children had not seen balloons before!! The only comparison I can draw to this is to put a puppy or a kitten out in the snow and watch how they react to the snow being on their feet!! So with Kids already hyper and all over the place we let them in for Tiffin – afternoon tea which of course was the party food. I do not think I have ever seen food go so quickly or a 5lb chocolate cake diminish so quickly but a good time was had by all. So I then presented the room to them and they really loved it and I am delighted to report that I am pleased with the way it came out (show you all pics when i come home). This was received with hugs and kisses from the teachers to me and a few tears here and there!! So After 6 weeks, a lot of heartache and one room later I went to say my good byes when mr.oli asked me if I would stay for another half an hour!! The kids had prepared some dancing for me to say thank you, which was really lovely – bless them all. So I then said my good byes which took another half an hour and left and whilst I was upset once I had left, I do not know how I feel about it all now and I hope that I will have a better understanding of what I think once I get home. All I know is that I already miss the kids and I will miss them even more once they are no longer up the road and that in leaving them I also leave a little bit of myself behind as I have fallen in love with them all!! Any further than that I could not tell you and I am afraid it will just have to be a case of watch this space!!
Now my time in Thamel is hollow and I suddenly realise how tired and fed up I am with all the noise, dirt and corruptness which exists within the country so I am headed back off into the countryside for some calm and peace and quiet before i head home properly. But I guess I have achieved what I set out to do and that was to help out and have some input into a children’s home. Whilst it was not the Julie Andrews experience I thought it would be (in fact more the Tarantino balls out blood and guts version!!) It has still be an emotional life changing experience and I hope in some ways there is a small happy ending for the kids there as well as me.
So my mind now returns to home…
Again I am nervous about this as home – the UK – now seems so foreign to me (whilst I know I will) I wonder how I will ever get used to the luxury which the U.K. is. I know for you at home this is an alien concept and you probably think I am nuts, but I have been paying an extra 100 rupees for a sandwich at a nice restaurant just so I can use their linen napkins and I have to say it is a real treat!! So to come home where people wish to know what Christmas presents I want is somewhat odd. For at the moment I feel I have no real needs and particularly when I think about all the nice things I will have access to when I get home – like English tea, real milk and HOT WATER !!! I just think it will be another culture shock and this is an odd feeling when after all I am coming home!
I sat last night is Sam’s bar (my favourite haunt) and tried to think how I felt about the whole experience and the conclusion I came to is at the moment there is no conclusion and maybe there never will be. Nepal is a country captured in beauty with perhaps some of the most ugly things I have ever seen. Two days ago I witnessed a man beat his wife (badly) in the street, Simon (one of the crew) stopped me from interceding and told me to look around at the locals – nobody even flinched!! He reminded me this is their world and not ours and sometimes you just have to accept that, to which my reply was a flood of tears. You see I do not understand how this country and its people can accept the way it exists. I wonder if maybe the fact they are surrounded by such beautiful scenery and exquisite nature means they are able to behave in a more despicable manner because it is soothed by their surroundings, or just simply they are ignorant to the fact that other human beings are beautiful too. I just know that as I write this to you all and try to explain it makes me cry and I am not sure if I cry for the children I have met, the people here or the conflicting warmth and coldness of the culture as a whole. But I know it will be a relief to come back amongst the people where good relationships are appreciated and the world is slightly more sympathetic to its weak. So have i had a good time in nepal – yes i have, have i liked everything – no, would i come back – i’ll get back to you on this – lets just see what conclusions i manage to draw….
So I will end my updates to you by saying thank you to you all. Thanks to all of you who helped in the fundraising that contributed to my getting here, thanks to those of you who have sent me fabulous emails (or two or three a day xxxxxxxxxxxxx) and thanks to you all for being my friends and making me realise what a lucky individual I am, I willing be thinking about you all over the next week or so as I am on my travels home to you all.
I love you all
As a footnote, I’ve just had a conversation with Penn. She is tired but home, in pain from root canal surgery. She tells me that the parcel arrived on the morning that she left, so she didn’t get to give it to the children herself, but one of the other volunteers there promised to take it to the school on our behalf.
So it arrived safely and got to the people that will make best use of it. Excellent! Penn says a big thank you to those who helped with it.
Friday 5 December 2003
Life seems to be incredibly full at the moment – not only do I have a full work schedule, but there is also a packed calendar on the social side. Tonight Hels is coming to Chichester and we are going out for drinks with the usual suspects. Tomorrow morning we are dropping in on the parents for morning coffee before heading to Brighton for a spot of Christmas shopping, followed by dinner with Charlie and Peeet. Next week there are at least two dinners booked in already. And the diary towards Christmas seems to get busier still.
The thing is, unlike some people who find the whole yuletide social shenanigans to be hard work and a nuisance, I love spending time with friends and socialising – not least because it usually involves a lot of good food and drink. I don’t really understand why people moan about Christmas – even the gift giving and shopping is fun, if a little hard work and sometimes costly. All you have to do is remember that the most important thing is to have a good time with the special people around you, and not get too hung up on the boring stressy elements.
Thursday 4 December 2003
Drunk and disorderly
Hels has just called me from Charing Cross station. She’s been to a lunch organised by one of her clients, along with one of the girls from her office. It seems that she’s had one or two margueritas.
How come I never get invited to lunches like that? I’m clearly in the wrong industry.
Tuesday 2 December 2003
I’m back from Copenhagen. But before I launch into an account of our weekend there, here’s a new update from Penn:
Well as usual i hope that everyone is well and that things are bright and cheery seeing as you have entered the christmas month at home!!! I can’t tell you what an odd concept that is to me here, that it is christmas at home here they have put soem lights up in the street but that is pretty much it! What with the warm days (nights are bloody cold now) and the running around christmas seems like a million miles away.
Well i really do not know what to tell you all it has been an odd few weeks. I am sorry that the emails have not come to you all a little more regularly. It would seem that there have been problems with emails getting to some people with hotmail accounts so i have been sending emails but i have no idea what is and is not getting there! so apologies if i seeem to have been ignoring you. Things here have been a little eratic as have my emotions and i have been popping in to send the odd mails but could not really face having to look at what i was doing or try to decipeher what i am feeling about the whole trip. It’s difficult as you feel like you should be grateful for being in a place such as this and savouring every moment but there have been times when i have been absolutely desperate to come home and have had enough of the hardship that Nepal presents both to myself and for its citizens. I really do not know how i will feel when i get home. I know that i will be glad to be back but as to whether or not i will miss it i do not know. I now it will be a shock to be back in the luxuries which are usually routine everyday things for me and i am a little nervous about how i will find it all.
SO where shall i start – lets start with the reason i am here – the shopping !!! No only joking my kids!
As you will see i have attached pictures for you
Green fingers – this is painting the kids hands so that they can make the leaf imprints on the wall
Finished wall – this is the picture i took of the kids when we showed them the first wall finsihed
Leafy Hands – a picture of me putting the kids hands prints on the tree
Green Olis – this is Mr oli (the homes cheif officer – real sweety ) and i after he has doen his hand print!
So the tree of life wall is done and i have to say that it was a lot of fun doing it. the kids were fascinated by the paint being put on their hands and it was bliss as i have not seem them so quiet and in awe before or after the event and believe me they are very manic and very noisy!! So 54 kids cames in had their hand painted and made their print o n the wall and then had their little hands washed all to produce the lovely tree!!
Now you would think that i came away elated after this day but oddly i did not. i came away feeling quite numb and a bit shocked really. At the time ( I am feeling fine now) i just felt dispondent and confused. I was thinking how on earth did i think painting one tree was going to help these kids!! I have found out alot about what the childrens future here and it is not necessarily good – some paretns will come out of prison and have no money so will sell their children to child labour, parents will also pay to have their children arrested as it is cheaper than trying to bring them up in this economical situation etc etc and i came away that day with a heavy heart and i felt like the merriment that day was so temporary and i would (still)like to be able to look at those children and tell them that in some way thinsg would be ok. Of course not all children will have a bad future but Nepal is so blooyd corrupt you just do not know what will happen!! There are now 53 kids at the home as little 3 year old Babita has gone back to her mother. But there was no joy when she left the home and you can see the question of “what will happen now” in everyones eyes. As some of you may be aware ;o) i am quite a forthright person and i found it so hard not to pin the mother down and ask her what she had planned for Babita… I feel fine now and i see that what little i can do here will help them in some way but i also feel that the little I have done is a drop in the ocean to what actually needs doing and i think this bit of sadness will remain with me forever and because of it i am changed – i could not tell you how i am changed just that i have been…
Being with these children makes you continually question yourself and your patience for the rest of the western world diminishes – it is hard to explain what happens here to a person who comes to stay here and to the poeple who live here and i will not say too much more other than i will try and convey as much as i can when i get home.
As the pressure has been getting a little much i have been trying to do as much with my weekend as possible to lift my spirits. This has included hiring a motorbike and driving out of Kathmandu now this may not seem likee much but here the traffic is nuts!! they drive in any directiion and make four lanes of taffic in a road that we would not considere driving down at home!! I went to the Ghatts where they hold the cremations and ok this sounds a little gloomy but in an odd way it is not they treat the person (body) beautifully and the whole death thing is not taboo here at all and it is not at all intimidating to watch.
This weekend i went up to Nhagakhort and stayed at the highest hotel in the world in the middle of the Himalayas and it was amazing. Apart from anything else it was just so nice to be out of all the dirt and noisee ( i have got used to the end of my nose being black with dust). Then add to the peace and quiet hot water!! Spectacular viewes and good company and you have one of the best weekends i have had since i have been here. On saturday mornign i hired a horse and rode around the mountains rodes watching the condors and looking at the stunning views. In the afternon we all sat n the ebalcony and watched the views and the susnet and talkede about our experiences. It really was lovely. The only down side to it all was having to come back into Thamel. Got back on Sunday evening and chucked a full on 5 year old temper tantrum at having to be back in this noisy, filth ridden corrupt town!! I know what you’re all thinking but really you try it!
So in a little under two weeks left here and by this time ei will be ready to come home thoroughly knackered minus a few pounds in weight oh and completely non smoking!!!! I think i will probably be back in the UK for the 22nd/23rd depedning on the flights etc so i will hope to see you in or around then some time!
Well i will leave you with that and try to send at least another two updates before i come home, i hope that you are all well and that you are enjoying thesee updates. As always i continue to miss you all and the things which you are all up to
Loving you all more each day
Actually, the pictures weren’t attached, so I’ll ask Penn to send them again, or maybe wait until she gets back to Blighty.
Thursday 27 November 2003
I’ve just sent the parcel off to Nepal. The lady who works behind the counter in the local post office says that she doesn’t see many parcels for Kathmandu!
It was full of toys and games donated by Hels, my parents, Julie (works for my parents) and Dave, plus a couple of things I put in too. I paid the carriage with some help from my parents – it wasn’t cheap!
If this parcel makes it ok, then I’ll consider sending a second one – but I’ll wait to hear from Penn before I do.
Wednesday 26 November 2003
Just a quick one as i thought you might like to see how i am getting on with my first wall in the kids study! you will see on the right there is an outline of a tree trunk – what i intend to do with that is bring the kids in (one by one – or else it would be shear bedlum) and roller their hands with green paint and make their individual hands print the leaves of the tree! I think this is quite a nice idea and makes it a tree of life! I have to say i am pleased with the way that it has come out so far as i am having to mix all the colours from little pots of resin into white paint lets just hope that it continues to go as well!!
Apart from that all is well and i am off today for a massage as i am still aching some what from the white water rafting!!
Love to you all
Penelope the Painty girl xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Wednesday 19 November 2003
latest from Penn
I’m so unbelievably proud of my friend….
i hope that this email finds you all well in sunny brit!
I have just come in from another day at work in the home and today i am very smiley!!
There are many reasons for this firstly as my day started with some lovely emails and was then followed by an hour reading on the roof in the sun with a CLEAR view of the himalayas in the background. I then went off to the kids home and commenced work on my masterpiece which i have to say after soem hard work, lots of white paint, markerpens and finally soem colour is falling into place! I did this accompanied by my usual band of on watchers who finally got bored of me and left me alone with young Umesh.
Umesh is a 13 year old boy who speaks very good english and is the head boy at the home. He sat there and we chatted away whilst i painted, he asked lots of questions about england and things like how many people loved me and who they were so if you are receiving this email your ears where more than likely at some point burning!! He then sang a nepalese song to me which (and i will admit this only once) moved me to tears and i then taught him to sing Help by the beatles and some jamiroquai, in no way as beautiful or melodic as his redentition but it pleased him no end. So we had a lovely afternoon and laughed alot. I then went out and started the new activities time table which i have implemented and have in some way ended up in charge of the home between 4 – 6pm, when Mr Oli the manager puts his feet up and runs over every now and again to tell me how great i am (cupboard love me thinks!!)
I am also talking to the spanish ambassador who is working on behalf of the Spanish NGO (national grant office) about getting some more sponsorship into my home as Balminder Siphal (where i work) is the poorest in Nepal. He has been quite impressed with what i have introduced in the home both in terms of the timetable and the painting and has asked me to write a budgetary report on what i think it needs there so you never know. I am quite positive about it as he has got some people in and gave the kids meningitis vacancies (this is a really good thing for the kids, two have died this year already from it) and today there was a really nice chap (also from the spanish embassy) in who brought all of the Kindergarten kids new coats as by 5pm it is really cold here!!! SO what a good day. Adn it just goes to prove a little cheek and a bit of pleaing will get you soemwhere! So to reward myself i am off to tom and Jerries for Pizza and Red wine!
so as you can probably guess i am alot more settled here and thoroughly enjoying myself. The kids are fantastic and whilst it is hard not to have low moments at the home i am generally quite positive about some of the changes which have been made – including (try not to wet yourself laughing Caz) teaching them how to bleach the toilets!!! So now the smell of urine is no where near as bad!!
I also took some time out for me this weekend and went white water rafting on one of the fastest rivers in the world! I wont say too much justthat i certainly won’t forget it in a hurry and i am glad to be back safe and sound. Though i have to say after two days in the mountains (20kmm from the tibet border) in the most breathatking scenery I have ever seen in my life with the cleanest air, it was awful to have to come back to the noise and smog of Thamel – which i am quite certain as driven me insane – ok then further insane !! But the mountains were fantastic and i cannot wait to show you all the pics which i toko you will be so jealous. You will how ever not ency me the bus trip up there which took three hours crossed several maoui checkpoints and at some point there was no road just dirt track with no leeway on either side. I have not prayed so much in years and i will always be in some small way accoutnable to that bus driver who got me there in one piece – though how he did i will never fully comprehend!!!
Well thats the news this end. I hope that you are all well and i will look forward to seeing you all some time before(ish) christmas as i am missing you all loads
Love to you all
Penelope the Mad!!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Friday 14 November 2003
Beer in the Nags and W2 with Paul F, Malcolm, Kearn, Phil, Dave, Gary, Jeremy, Tanya and Arron, with sightings of Chris and Kristian. W2 really needs a major sort-out, as the bar is not really doing anything to retain the regular customers. As has been said numerous times before, it needs a good bar manager, and quickly.
Pictures from Nepal
A new mail from Penn…
They are of a fairly low quality so may not be that clear but i will show you the high quality ones when i get home!
Hope you enjoy them see you all soon
Tuesday 11 November 2003
One of the things I did during the hiatus was to travel up to Twyford in Berkshire for the village fireworks. OK, the fireworks were not the main reason for me going to the scene of so many Scaryduck stories. What I was really there for was the leaving party for my friend Penn, who has given up her job and travelled half way around the globe to Nepal to work for three months or so in a children’s home in Kathmandu.
Penn is sending regular emails to friends, family and supporters back in the UK. I’m going to reproduce them here, exactly as she sends them to me. Here are the first two. I hope that they will make you think…
well what can i say there is so much to tell you! I have been so up and down it has been a real roller coaster ride but i think that am finally setlled here.
So let me tell you about my placement. I am working at Siphal children development home which holds somewhere in the region of 60 children ranging from 2 1/2 years old to 14 years of age with about half of them being under 6! I thought i would be able to cope with what i saw there and that i had prepared myself well enough, but that is complete B.S nothing can prepare someone for what i went into. The kids are completely beautiful and amongst the happiest kids i have seen which is completely amazing when you view their circumstances. These homes are built for children whose parents are in prison serving life sentences! 16% of marriages in Nepal will end in murder and usually the husband killing the wife, this is a common thing here and not unheard of or shocking to the locals at all. the bad things is that as nepalese homes are small 3 out of 4 of my kids will have seen the murders take place or will have been in the same room. The nepalese state will not allow fostering or adoption of these children as they know where their parents are! The kids then go and live in the prison with their parent once every six months for one week. This is all completely ridiculous when you think they will be adults when or if their parents survive and leave the prison.
The home is a huge damp building that would be demolished at home and has plain white mildew covered walls. the play ground is a dust yard with a rusting swing set which the kids love. And the place reeks as their toilet is a huge tiled room which the kids stand at the door to pee and pooh into as they have not really been shown better. But the dumb thing is they are happy smiling kids – ok they all have continuous colds and eczema from the damp but they are great.
so my first day was horrifying and i came away feeeling that i could not have an impact there. The kids loved me being there and some call me sunshine as they say my hair is the same colour or dolly as i look like a dolls head which they play with (or so they think). They clamber all over you and queue to be cuddled as they now associate the westerners with affectionate people.
So i came away upset and wanting to come home and ignore this desperate, poverty stricken scenario as it was too much to cope with and then i felt disappointed in myself as i thought i was better person than that. Then Craig (thank you gorgeous) sent me a little adage about starfish and i decided that i had to put the shock and my own needs aside and help these kids. So i went back yesterday and spoke with the head of the home (which is no mean feat as his english is not good ) and we designed activity time tables and i am going to buy a load of paint and fabric and redecorate their stdy rooms with murals and floor cushions put bag pegs up that sort of thing! I hope in doing this they have not just seen another westerner who cuddles them alot and then buggars off after two months but they have a slightly better world to survive in.
One of the most amazing things about these kids is their hunger for knowledge and willingness to learn i have NEVER seen this level of eagerness in a child before!! Three year olds know their alphabet in english and nepalese and can write to a high level!
So i am now extremely positive about the whole thing and have the other volunteers giving me hours of their time here and there as a lot of them are in schools and not homes so i want them to help me out.
The other volunteers are Claire who i share a room with, who is absolutely lovely and we get on very well and she reminds me alot of Bear, simon, mark, Penny (i am now pitstop to aviod confusion), claudette, anna, ellen, luke, harry, andmatthew. They are all fabulous and its quite a family unit i was really upset on monday and home sick and they all rallied round to cheer me up and talk with me. It is quite amaxzing how close we have all become. I have all ready been labelled as organiser and comedienne as i came in and sorted out beer kitty, the resource cupboards and can tell everyone where all the bargain shopping is!! and of course i also have a smutty or cheeky reply for anythign put to the table. We now have a nice routine of dinner, out for a beer and then back for the cards and beer club(monday – friday national curfew of 10.30 – 11pm)! The food is fine and i do not feel like i am starving to death and i look forward to the meals as it is nice to see everyone at the end of the day!
Right i think that is enough to keep you all going! I have a bad cold so i am now off to buy some antibiotics (which cost 55p) and going to bed for the day so i may not email for a day or so and try to get better – apparently getting sick is part of the induction and i am the last person to do so in the group , but it does make you feel rotten.
Missing you all and i hope that you are well – bear with me on keeping up with the emails i have a lot on my plate this end but please keep sending them as they cheer me up no end. I will send some pics on the next email as the computer i have downloaded them onto is busy.
ah helay batola (see you later)
Penelope the determined
PS Big bruv the kids adore my yellow hat and it is a great source of amusement for the crew at home!
This is the second mail:
I hope that you are all well and England is not too cold for you!!
Firstly let me start with an apology- I am sorry if i am not able to respond to all of your emails individually I am currently averaging 12 emails per day and i simply do not have the time to respond individually to them all! But please keep them coming as they are fabulous to recieve and cheer me up no end!
Well what can i tell you so much has happened since we last spoke. I am cured of my bout of tonsilitis and i am now fighting fit, but none the less it has been a tough few days. Saturday i finally lost the plot and had the biggest temper tantrum after a fight with the nepalese communication system!! I think that was really a a turning point for me as at that point i had to make a decision to find a way to feel better or come home, and seeing as you are getting this email you probably realise i am staying.
I have always considered myself a strong and independent person who could cope with most things but you honestly have no idea how different things are here! Have you ever been stood in a queue at shop and looked at the other twenty closed tills and wonder why no one is working on those and are simply stood around chatting about last nights eastenders (which by the way i am really missing). Well take that level of frustration and multiply it several hundred times and that is what you have to endure here! everything comes five days after it was supposed to be here and then three hours later than the time FINALLY agreed. Chuck into this mixture some home sickness, tiredness cos it is impossible to sleep beyound 7am as the world and their wife are kncking down the odd wall or out in the streets demonstrating how well their horns work and you are part of the way there!
SO i have devised myself a new routine and have booked loads of stuff to do out of town at the weekends! And i am throwing myself into the work at the home. This weekend i am going into the mountains to do some white water rafting and the thought of being out of the city is overwhelming.
The work at the home is coming along well though that too has been a slightly surreal experience! When i began to paint my study room most of the teachers and home helps came to watch as nepalese women are notoriously lazy and also alot of the people have not seen painting done particularly with rollers! so as i painted to my audience of seven adults and numerous children i began to realise that this is why i am here! not only to brighten rooms , but also to show the people things they have not seen before and learn more about myself! I have learnt that i am perhaps more human than i expected but also when push comes to shove also a strong and very determined individual!
Mr. Oli (the home father) has asked if i would give them a photo of myself as they would like to build a small prayer temple to me!!! Wow i now have a serious ego problem to cope with too. It would seem that in years of volunteers they have just been prepared to accept the state these children live in and not aplpy themselves to change it. The very fact that i have asked to paint is in itself a surprise to them and when i ever i walk around the school every one starts mimicing the action of painting walls – which i have to say makes me chortle and is a welcome change from the action of swigging poo! I have also received a proposal of marriage from one of the nepalese men we know – not for himself but for his son who should be mature enough in the next ten years!!! When i explained that i have a boyfriend whom i was very happy with he asked if I had friends he could send. Apparently any tempted parties would have their own clothes and bed ! Now there is an offer you do not get everyday!
The kids continue to be amazing as i washed out my brushes and rollers in the stream behind the home they all started to giggle and scream i was quite alarmed at this and called Mandira to translate what they were all shouting! The kids were delighted as they thought i was turnign the water into milk and sending it to the gods, no amount of reasoning could convince them otherwise and before you know it they are singing to songs to me as i am making their god happy. Even the monkeys came to see what was going on and looked at me in the oddest of fashions! then later that day Khilan (one of my favs – i know i know but its hard not to ) was pulling me to the courtyard and said please miss i have football and there was an old carrier stuffed with rubbish that he had tied to make a sort of football shape. The kids and i played with this for 30 minutes until it burst and then i provided a new carrier and you would have thought i had given them the world. There is nothing as beautiful as such a simple joy and it truly makes your heart ache.
This is quite simply a journey of paradoxes for me…
Right i now have to go and chase down things that i was supposed to have saturday so i will bid you all Nameste (good day – literal translation bless your soul and future) and leave you with this thought.. Next time you run the hot tap in the kitchen to rinse your plates etc just think that is probably more hot water than i have seen since i have been here.
Missing you all terribly and look forward to seeing you all in the new year
All my love and warmest wishes
I’ve emailed Penn, and discussed what help we could give. She thinks that a parcel with some toys suitable for children aged 3 to 12 would be useful, as well as clothing for that age group as well. Can you help? If you can, email me and we shall see what can be done.
Thursday 16 October 2003
Just back for a brief moment…
Huge congratulations to Nick and Anne T on the birth yesterday of Sophie Charlotte.
Nick. A dad. Who’d have thought it?
Normal hiatus will now resume…