Monthly Archives: June 2010

Oh so lovely

Marking? Tick. Reports? Tick.  I am on a slippery water slide heading for the finish line; before I know it Year One will be behind us all.  Last Saturday saw an extravaganza at school aptly named Fun Day. It saw Princess dancing on stage despite her one armed status, it saw Handsome Husband taking his turn as parent of the day at the Parent’s Sports Relay; hopping along with one leg tied to a virtual stranger, his muscles put to the test in the “pull a swimmer” challenge in the pool. I did my turn as cheerleader and happy observer. There was no point in both of us breaking a sweat! Sunday saw us at two parties, one for a delightful four year old, one where we watched England disgrace themselves on a football pitch. I think the four year old bouncing on a rubber castle was more coordinated then most of those over paid grown men kicking a ball.

In the mean time I have started to salivate over the pretty things awaiting me in London. If you know me at all by now you know that I am a frustrated shopper and lover of shoes. A good friend warned me that after being in Africa for close to a year without a break it is advisable to resist all shopping for three days. Yes, hide the wallet for three whole days. So I have turned to the nets for some early anticipatory temptation. Rather like looking at the dessert menu upon arriving at a restaurant  without a care for price, nor calorie.

Look at the lovely things I have found.  I am guilty of coveting. Of course there is an air of being sensible, after all these items do need to return to Kampala and be worn, most likely in a classroom or an event where they will suit. Silly heels are out of the question, obviously.

A Lovely number from Jigsaw here. And another one below:

This one is a pretty little number from Mango.
Yes those will do very nicely. ( From LK Bennet.)

Lovely pair of Pied a Terre Sandals below.
And then this.. Swoon… It is called Friday dress and it is by Anglomania.  Price upon waking up.

I am now going to return swiftly to reality with a attack of the dishes and a sponge bath for the aforementioned one armed Princess.


Filed under I miss shopping.

One year ago today…

A whole year has gone by and I still remember leaving Trinidad like it was yesterday despite all that has happened since.  In one day I said goodbye to my sweet dog, my house, all my friends, my students, I attended both a graduation ceremony and all our friends gathered for goodbye drinks at our hotel before we set off. It was a long and extraordinary day and I have never really written about it. The emotions were just too sharp. I did, however, write a small and final goodbye to T&T and here it is.

One Last Goodbye.


Filed under Trinidad & Tobago

A Waste of time: a bit of fun.

I have found a most excellent time waster and procrastination tool. Please feel free to add your own answers in the comment box (you know I find the comments box on 3limes shamefully underused. Are you all shy? Don’t actually visit much? Have nothing to say?) If not the comments box then perhaps do your own version on your blog, send an email to a friend or maybe just on the back of a grocery receipt that you found lurking behind the fridge. In any case it might be fun. Who knows? It beats marking exams.

Anyway back to the point; here is a little questionnaire, known in the blog world as a meme.

What experience has most shaped you and why?

Moving all over the world. Spending no longer than 4 years in any place until arriving in my beloved Montreal, only to be pulled away, tearfully like a toddler told to leave a toy store. It hurts. I have said goodbye to more people in the past few years than most people do in a life time. On a brighter note I have seen more of the world and met a greater variety of people than most do in a life time. So it depends on how you look at it or how I wake up in the morning.

If you had a whole day with no commitments what would you do?

This question seriously depends on where I am. In Kampala it would be to lie by the pool, play scrabble, and eat a large and delicious lunch with white wine spritzers; followed by a return home to watch a Glee marathon with my daughters. If I am in the Great Shiny West, I would have to say a brunch out with good friends, a saunter around a gallery or two and a good few hours trying on shoes. This would also have to include a long walk in a city park (the sun would be shining by the way) and an evening spent in a movie theatre eating popcorn and M&Ms. I am a simple girl with simple tastes.

What food or drink could you never give up?

White wine, good coffee and Toblerone. As I said simple girl, simple tastes.

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why?

I have a long list. In Africa I want to go to Capetown, Botswana, Masai Mara and Victoria Falls. I also have an urge to go to Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania where the sea is turquoise and the sand a startling hot white.

In Europe, a return back to Italy. Lots of time in Italy please.

In the Americas: Argentina and the Grand Canyon.

But today? Right now? Montreal.

Who do you have a crush on?

Hmmm.  I have lots of crushes on all sorts of people, most of them famous. I think crushes are important. Here is a random list in no particular order:

George Clooney. No matter what, there is always George.

A former student who shall remain nameless.

Jack Johnson, or really any guy who surfs and plays the guitar.

Two friends who shall remain nameless.

Rob Lowe.

There is a guy who makes coffee in a café in Montreal….

If you were the leader of your country, what would you do?

Take all the taxes off diapers, and sanitary towels, tampax and toilet paper. No one should have to pay tax to wipe up body fluids.  Strange opinion but true.

I would also pay teachers a whole lot more. There is no rhyme or reason to the fact that plumbers and bus drivers get paid more than I do.

What am I reading right now?

Other than exams? Tick Bite Fever by David Bennun. A hilarious account of all that can go wrong when one family moves to Kenya in the 70s. Handsome Husband found the book very inspiring while I am reading it as a precautionary tale.

What recent event has made you sad?

Princess fell off her horse while horse jumping and is now sporting a most colourful autographed cast. She can’t take part in the End of Year Swim Gala, Dance Performance or any more riding lessons for some time.  Luckily she can’t wait to get back on a horse, there appears to be no fear in that child. She is being a brave and cheerful trooper but I feel very sad for her.

What recent event has made you angry?

The oil spill. A disaster brought on by greed, a disaster that won’t go away because of greed.

The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland. Why did it take 12 years and cost nearly $200 to come to the conclusion that the victims were indeed victims and not armed?

The G20 summit in Huntsville Canada will be held next week. The cost of security? $1 billion. That is insane. I think the world has gone insane or has my perspective been warped by a year in Africa?

Ok. That’s it. Back to work.


Filed under personal

Miss Teacher is procrastinating

( Photo taken on a recent day off school midweek before the marking marathon began. Uganda has a curious number of Public Holidays, this one was called Hero’s Day. I feel like a Hero at the moment. A teacher Hero.)

In the past 36 hours I have marked 80 exams and written 60 reports. My eyes have the scrawled script of many  teenagers bobbing in a dazed blurred image.

When I am not marking I am procrastinating.

Things I do when I should be marking exams:

  1. Eat chocolate given to me my students that go just perfectly soft in the sun.
  2. Read the final book of the Millenium series. The marathon is finally over and I read all three in a row.
  3. Watch season six of House
  4. Watch season 1 of Glee ( with Trooper and Princess)
  5. Play Hangman on my iphone
  6. Plan my summer holidays and fret over how much I am packing into three weeks
  7. look at the the sartorialist and dream of shops
  8. make lists of all the exams I have to mark
  9. Write lists of what I do when I am not marking exams
  10. Clean my classroom
  11. Excel as a procrastinator

If you don’t hear from me then I have stopped procrastinating and I am back, knee deep in paper.

This week will pass and then we will be facing THE END.


Filed under Miss Teacher

World Cup Memories

World Cup Spirit is alive and well in Kampala and the close proximity to South Africa has got the Vuvuzelas blasting loud and clear. Since this is an expat town football t-shirts from Argentina, Ghana, South Africa, England, Uruguay and a host of other nations can be seen on the backs of many a fan. I watched one game in a Latino Club, in Kampala with people from Spain, Switzerland, France, South Africa, Kenya, England, Uganda, Honduras and Canada.

This time four years ago we were in Montreal and I watched most of the games with my German friend in an Italian cafe. But the highlight was being in Little Italy when Italy won and as you can see a much younger Trooper and Princess got right into the spirit of it all.

These are a few photos taken minutes after Italy won, four years ago. You can almost see the joy on the parrot’s face.

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, Photography

Shoebox cooking

I have been cooking. All sorts of delectable treats have come out of the shoebox kitchen and it just goes to show what can be produced with limited ingredients in a tiny kitchen without any of my fancy appliances. However I did have to purchase a blender and an electric whisk.

Gazpacho: Terribly delicious and easy. Only problem was when my blender broke and I had to buy a new one. I added tons of fresh dill and a splash of vodka but I didn’t have any red wine vinegar so I used balsamic and added the juice of one lemon.

Tuna Pasta Salad: The trick here is in the sauce. I combined Dijon mustard with Mayonnaise, tons of fresh dill and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss a red onion, finely chopped, the mayo mustard mix and a tin of tuna with a bag of penne. Easy, delicious and something good to bring to a BBQ.

Homemade ice-cream: Basically it is chocolate mousse frozen. But that is my secret. Everybody adores this. Back in the great shiny west I used Lindt, here I used Bournville cooking chocolate. Still divine.

The best chocolate cookies: Chocolate chips do not exist here so I made my own. My oven is gas and I have had the worst luck, finding it constantly too hot. This time I stood over the batches of cookies like a hawk and they came out perfectly. I only burnt myself once; must get oven gloves. These cookies went marvelously with the ice cream.

Butternut squash and carrot soup: I add red lentils to this; they cook the quickest and a tin of tomatoes. I also use a few bay leaves. Once everything is cooked I blend it. It is thick and creamy and makes you feel all warm and nurtured. Best served with a soft, warm white bun.

Vegetable curry: I am giving all my secrets away here; the secret is the Patak curry sauce in a jar. Now that I have found it here I am in heaven. Lots of chopped veggies, anything at hand but I find cauliflower and carrots work very well, a handful of red lentils, fresh chopped ginger and a red onion, lots of garlic and a few good tablespoons of Patak. I also add a tin of tomatoes and a tin of water, or two.

Fresh Pesto: Pine nuts are a real rarity so I use cashews instead. I blend them with two good handfuls of basil, four-five cloves of garlic, fresh grated Parmesan and olive oil. Toss with pasta. For an added twist I like to add some finely chopped sun dried tomatoes before serving but I am in the only one in the family who likes this.

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Filed under I love food

Kids are Cruel.

The tween and teen years are a time of terrible pressure and also petty silliness. Take these examples of things that make my students said. What is missing here is maturity and perspective, perhaps all that comes from having bigger problems to fry. But in the mean time their little hearts get sore and their heads in a tizzy all from, what seems to us, simple silliness. But to them these things are very real despite being very short lived.

“Jill told Jack to come and tell me my boobs are too big!”

“Frank and Jack were throwing my bag all over the place and I couldn’t catch it.”

“Al flagged me at lunch today.” (This means that he pulled her skirt down to reveal her underwear to the whole cafeteria.)

“Jess looked at me with a mean face and all I did was have lunch with someone different today.”

“John threw a pen at me!”

“Everyone is laughing and saying I love Josh but I was only worried about his face after the ball hit it!”

“Sarah gave me a present and then she took it back! That is why I hit her!”

“Miss, John told me I am ugly.”

The girls tend to make each other cry but the boys are simply crazy. They tease each other so much that their skin grows hard and little bothers them. However they have been taught to pretend nothing hurts them when often it does.  Kids are cruel.


Filed under Miss Teacher

June Days

It does not feel one bit like June. Not at all. To me June feels like hope, the start of a long long summer and it simultaneously feels like the end, of a long long school year. June is flowers and finally really warm weather, it is school girls in tee shirts and dogs running their owners around the park. June is getting ready for tennis, Wimbledon, strawberries and cream; June is digging out the summer clothes and seeing what still fits. True, some of this happens in May but June has the real feeling of summer and the end of the school year. For the longest time my children and I have been on the American school schedule where school wraps up in June. This year we are full steam ahead until July and the glory of a last day at school will only hit us on July 9th. This is my third year of living in an all year round summer climate so I wonder why this June stands out as not feeling at all Juneish. I think it must be that school is still in full swing.

By this time, in my idea of June, exams would be over and yearbooks would be signed. Grad caps would be tossed, prom pics sorted and summer camps signed sealed and delivered. I love June in a 4 season climate when the flower boxes come out and people take to their gardens in earnest and I love June when legs start to go brown and the dresses get shorter. Children in shorts and sun hats run under sprinklers and ice cream slips down chins. Summer chalets are opened and cobwebs dusted away. Docks are laid upon the lakes and the dock days of summer begin.

The light is different in June as we approach Midsummer’s Night.  Here in Uganda sitting on the equator we have no lengthening of days, no changing of clocks or the joy of a slow evening sitting outside watching the day finally wane past 9pm. The best thing, really about June, are the long light evenings for walking, playing or eating with friends.

I have been wearing tee shirts and skirts for three years now, in fact other than the occasional hike I haven’t worn socks since 2007! I l love living summer all year long but I no longer feel the thrill of a summer’s day. I think you need to survive a long winter to truly appreciate June and maybe that is why it really doesn’t feel like June at all.


Filed under Great Big Shiny West, Photography

Watching the Wild Ones

The Warthog had got to be the ugliest creature on this planet. A good and witty friend commented that perhaps the warthog is the result of God not knowing what to do with all the left over pieces lying around. A few straggly nose hairs here, a small tusk there, a strange looking pair of knees and an over large snout and the jigsaw puzzle is complete; a warthog you have. They are not shy and spend their time munching the grass around campsites. When they eat they rest on their knees looking as ridiculous as possible.

The Zebra, on the other hand, is one of God’s great creatures. With a crafty hand Mother Nature took some black paint, a fine brush and worked her magic. The rings around their eyes give them a shy but gentle look and their short bushy manes make them at once adorable and mysterious. These animals are very special, holding dear to the mystique sent through story books and wall alphabets to young children all around the world. Seeing a family, with tiny one in tow prance through the sunlight across the road right in front of our car and through the savannah was like a scene out of a fairy tale.

Impala live in a veritable harem. One stud male, replete with majestic antlers watches over his brood of females and children. These beasts are barely timid nor scared of us; at times we had to wait for them to clear out of our path before we could drive. When they run they leap, jumping with a fabulous agility and their doe eyes give them a dose of shy character that adds to their charm. They are rarely found alone, preferring to live in groups. The male is stand offish, waiting and watching a small distance from the females that he guards with a beady eye.

The Waterbuck is large, grey and soft. It would be tempting to reach out a hand and stroke his back but this is a creature that is nervous and shy. Often found alone but at times in groups I hear that he is rather unappetizing to lions. Apparently they are not tasty. This is convenient for them and they are mainly left in peace with their large doleful eyes and their expression of gormless wonder. They look irritated when we stopped to watch them, with an expression that begged us to just leave him alone. “Can’t I just drink from this mud puddle in peace? I know I look ungainly as I bend over to drink but quite frankly I don’t give a damn.”

A Bush pig is very rare and it is quite fortunate to be able to see one. A large and painfully shy creature, he resembles a dark boar but his eyes are gentle and his snout has some sweetness about it. We were lucky enough to spy on one at our first lodge when the cooks threw some potatoes in front of some bushes. Out he came, slowly, to pick up the spuds only to turn and quickly scurry away, tiny tail dipped low, back into the bushes where he felt safe and dark.

A Bushbaby is a true rarity. There is no way that these nocturnal animals could ever be spotted in the wild. But at Mihingo they feed them bananas at 7.30 each evening and with a safe infrared light we could watch them merely inches away from us. With their huge eyes and bushy tails they resembled live teddy bears more than wild animals. What were most surprising were their five tiny and perfect fingers and toes. The little babies, as black as soot waited patiently on the branch of a tree for their mom to deliver  bananas to them from between her perfect fingers but she was happy to come right up to us and take fruit from our hands. Then she would munch in one gulp, take a few steps, show off some of her swinging moves and come back for more. These creatures of the night were totally adorable and had dinner and cocktails not been waiting I could have watched for hours. This was a true treat. Photos were impossible as the flash would have hurt their highly sensitive eyes.

But the most vivacious creatures of all were the happy leaping children that moved swiftly from Camping Pros who wrestled with tents and poles, washing up in the lake, cooking eggs over a fire and telling scary ghost stories to water babes that leapt in and out of the infinity pool with the majesty of the park as their own personal back drop. And when they tired of rock climbing and pool jumps we headed to the stables where they hitched up some fine Ethiopian horses and ventured out for a hack through the grasses where the zebra roam free. What a life.

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Filed under Travel, Uganda

Tales from the park

I live for my holidays. The best thing about living here in Uganda is the fabulous opportunity to travel and each long weekend or school break we head off to explore somewhere new. At some point this voracious appetite for travel might need to be slightly curbed simply to preserve the fragile nature of our bank balance.  In the meantime I day dream constantly about escaping from Kampala and spend some serious time planning and researching the next place I want to explore.

We had driven past Lake Mburu on the way out West but had never stopped there to explore. The park is famous for its Zebra population and aside from Kidepo, a park in the far North East, is the only place where one can find Zebras in Uganda. It is also the only place where the Impala roam. There are no elephants or giraffes and in fact this is one of the unique and possibly frustrating things about the nature of Ugandan parks; only Kidepo has all the animals.

This does not bother me one little bit. I would rather go on a game drive in Uganda with fewer animals and be alone with 8 elephants or 12 Zebra than be surrounded by 40 safari vehicles in a busy park in Kenya. Believe me, I am looking forward to going to the Serengeti, but Ugandan parks have their own quiet charm and I love them for it.

While we packed Trooper and Princess of to the camp site for two nights Handsome Husband and I spent some much needed quality time alone. If marriage is like a garden then we took this opportunity to do some weeding.  I find weeding in the presence of Impala and Zebra, with a splendid view of a lake a most pleasant occupation. The lounge area of the lodge was very relaxing with plenty of space to read, talk and even nap. The tent/rooms however were overpriced and basic and I must be something really delicious since despite sleeping in the same bed as my husband I was the only one who came away devoured by bed bugs. Yes again.

The third night was spent in a space far more divine. Mihingo Lodge is one of the most impressive and special places to stay in Uganda and we certainly lapped up the luxury beside the infinity pool or in our room that closely resembled sleeping in a tree house.  I was so impressed by the attention to detail in this lodge and I realized that having stayed in a fair number of places in Uganda I now have plenty of material to compare. Lodge reviews will be coming within the next few weeks.

The most amazing thing about the past few days was the opportunity to horse ride with Zebras. In my mind this was the equivalent of scuba diving on land. We were literally riding amongst the Impala, Waterbuck, Cranes and Zebras and they mingled with us without a care in the world. Despite the fact that Princess was thrown from her pony at one point (she clambered back on like the brave girl she is) this experience was a true highlight of my time in Uganda so far.

Both Trooper and Princess have proven to be true campers. Even I, half way through a burning bug bitten and frustrating night trapped in my room in the pitch dark was longing for a camping tent. Yes, I might have to consider the camping option for those nights when the 5 star lodge is just not possible. I am beginning to sense that camping is far better than a bug ridden mattresses in subpar and over priced accommodation.

These past few days were a much needed respite from school, the shoe box and Kampala and a wonderful get-away with good friends. I find it hard to believe that in one month the school year will be over and I will be packing for London!

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Filed under Travel, Uganda