Wednesday, 20 October 2010

We're Off (Our Heads!)

Sunday 17th October

It has been a long day already and its only mid afternoon - six hours before our flight is due to leave. It feels as though we have been playing out anend game for the past week. We have had numerous frantic moments to do with renting out the house, packing, cleaning, making wills, packing, cleaning, re-roofing the shed, making storage arrangements and re-packing.
Passports ans visas only arrived yesterday - cutting it a bit fine, I thought!.
Ten there has been the traumas of all the goodbyes. Enough said.  You just have to switch channels and focus on something different or it would drive you crazy. So we focus on the journey to Euston, taxi to Paddington then flopping down inside Heathrow exoress train only to be told to get out again - with our 46kg of luggage - because the train hadn't coupled properly. I'm sure Jake could have given them advice on that! Then back onboard for the 20 minute ride to terminal 5 where Caffe Nero comes to the rescue.
The obligatory VSO crash helmets have been a real pain - taking up space and being so unwieldy when you have three other bags to carry. Heaven knows what Caroline has stuffed in hers, but it has all the weight of a cannon  ball!
Still the sun is blazing through into the  departure ;ounge and we are taking turns to pace the concourse, browse the mags in W H Smith, scan the departure boards for the progress of flight BA083 up the screen. I ponder the other destinations - about 70 before ours - and play mental maps with where they are, what the weather might be like there (forever the brit!) and who might be going there and why, which brings me full circle with another layer of self doubt.
I'm on the lookout for celebs. A spotty youth with a huge kit bag and GB track suit loped across my path but I didn't recognise him. Did see Alan Hardacre of FA notoriety at Lime Srteet, if that counts.Well, only two hours to check-in now - plenty of time to spot Kylie! But would she spot me!!
I'm now looking up at a huge poster of one of the lions in Trafalgar Square . A young woman is stretching up to give him a  kiss on the lip. It is such a  gentle image and the lion has  such a gentle, tender look in his eyes, yet such power and dignity in his face - just thought I'd share that with you!!
Trrrra for now.


Monday, 11 October 2010


In this, my second blog, I should like to acknowledge the generosity of all who have helped me to achieve my target of £1000, being my contribution towards the work of VSO. Friends and relatives have been brilliant, as have the staff at my school, Broughton Hall High School in Liverpool

As well as generous donations, many have bought copies of my two anthologies, 'Liverpool Haiku' and 'A Cycle of Days', both of which have ISBNs and can be ordered through all good bookshops! I would like to thank the staff at Birkenhead Press for their help and generosity in enabling me to bring these projects to fruition.

My 'Liverpool Skyline' paintings have brought in the most money and I have taken great pleasure in producing them - I think there are about 50 originals now in circulation.

My storypaintings have been popular too and I hope to resume this as a hobby when I return from Nigeria. I think I could make more of this - if I had a bit more business sense!

Anyhow, I am truly grateful to all who have donated, purchased and encouraged since I first was accepted for a VSO placement. It has been a long driveway, but now I feel ready to hit the open road!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Hello dear reader/writer/thinker/insomniac,
Welcome to my blog - taken a bit of time to sort out - Technophobes Anonymous no help at all!
Our Nigerian adventure is now only 10 days away, though we seem to have been preparing for it for ever. We had confirmation today of our flight e-ticket to Abuja so now it all feels very real - and slightly scary!
Most of our prized possessions are now in an assortment of boxes, courtesy of Broughton Hall school, awaiting storage for the next two years. It really feels as though we have packed up our lives and are about to start new ones. The real trauma is yet to kick in - saying goodbye to friends and especially to our girls and grand children. My strategy for coping with this is to view our African experience as an extended 'holiday' rather than a two year absence - in any case we will be back in Blighty next summer for Katie's wedding, so it won't be that bad! We said goodbye to the cat a few days ago - no need there for any strategy on my part - apart from trying to conceal my joy!
The next consideration is going to be how much we can cram into our luggage - bearing in mind we are going to have to carry it ourselves between modes of transport when in Nigeria - assuming it all arrives! It is quite possible that one of those modes will be astride a motorcycle as pillion, which, with 40 kilos of  baggage, should be interesting.
We have been kitted out with full facial crash helmets and visors that conform to British safety standards, in readiness for our daily white-knuckle experiences, though given the road conditions VSO have failed to supply sufficient body armour for my liking.
So the next few days are going to require some hard decision-making - whether we really need to pack our own body weight in insect repellant, sun cream, travel wash, cup-a-soups, rehydration sachets, anti-malarials, after-bite and dark chocolate, or whether we can trust the local economy in Kwara State to supply us with these long term essentials.
I have already wrestled with some weighty issues - like what sort of headgear to buy, bearing in mind it can be extremely wet as well as very hot and dusty, and whether I can get away with not having to mow the lawn again before we leave.
I hope that by the time I come to add a new posting to my blog, I will have mastered the skill of adding a photo - properly. Its probably dead easy but then my ECDL qualification (Yes, I really have one!), did not cover blog-related issues - or if it did I had lost interest by then!
C U next time (Hate it when people use txt instead of proper English. Don't U? )


And it wasn't posted at 16.08 - it was well gone midnight!!