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Archive for December, 2009

An interlude

Okay, having nearly got up to date, I’m afraid that exciting news about 85km runs (85 not 80!), dance shows with children, bush walks with 12 year-olds, junior carol concerts and stresses with Yellow Fever certificates (thank goodness for DHL and the lovely Melbourne Grove Medical Centre in London) will have to wait as we’re off to Kenya and Uganda (hopefully) later today. Back in the New Year when I’ll have to update this like a demon.

Enjoy your holidays and best wishes for the new year. Let’s hope 2010 is great one- foremost on my mind is whether the East London will be finished as promised.

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Tortoise love

Not it wasn't this one

Down the road from us there is a large pen of giant tortoises that we pass on the occasional ‘run’ (usually used by me as an excuse to slow down, you know, so I can have a chat with them).Yesterday though, hearing a loud grunt issuing forth from the pen we ambled over to be faced by nature in action; one tortoise mounted on top the other.

Wow, the mating ritual of giant tortoises. How many times in your life might you get to observe such a sight? This was a must see…

EXCEPT, lacking any David Attenborough style narration, just standing there watching this tortoise humping away (though this implies far too much movement on the tortoise’s part), I got a bit embarrassed. I mean, why? The tortoises didn’t care. Perhaps it was the noise? Invading the tortoises’ privacy? Or maybe it was because it was obvious he was about to reach his climatic end…

Any minute now, no wait nearly, nearly, ohh very close, that’s it, here it is and yes there he goes…grunt overdrive.

He slumped, dismounted and moved off.

The tortoise underneath yawned.

Any allusions to humans are purely your own.

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…even if I am dressed in a curtain

Like Wurzel Gummidge (did I really just write that?) I too have the ability to take off my head

The prom theme was Angels and Demons and discounting the one red outfit I have as being too boring, I sought inspiration in the meagre white recesses of my wardrobe, a largely useless exercise given I only have about 25 items of clothing with me. I tried to think what other stuff we had that might be white.

Sheets were my first thought – a bit toga like but worth a try.Unfortunately, the only clean white sheet was one of those elasticated ones that even in my desperation I could see would be very hard to pull off unless I wanted to look like a rubbish bit of cotton wool.

It was then that my eyes alighted on the piece of material that’s been sat on the spare room floor since our arrival – a spare curtain. Ivory with a damask type pattern on it, the fabric was also thicker than any sheet would be, and grabbing it excitedly I was also pleased to find that its edges had been cut diagonally so that when I wrapped myself in it, it had a split at the front.

Assured by the other one that that you couldn’t tell the dress’ humble origins and always up for doing something slightly different, I decided it was a goer. N had also apparently made some of the curtains for our house so I thought it would be funny if it turned out I was wearing one of them (I wasn’t sadly).

On the night, the other one seemed to have problems with using the safety pins (as all women of course are born with such an innate talent) though he did manage not to cause me any bodily injury, which was something I guess. A few accessories later and et voila an angel outfit. Perhaps.

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I shall go to the prom …

Ages ago N had asked if we wanted to go to the school’s prom for the Sixth Form and Year 11 – staff were welcome – and its an excuse to dress up and drink lots of pop (no alcohol allowed) .The other one declined preferring to stay in and play chess on the computer (rock and roll) while I thought, it’s something to do and I’ve never been to one so might be amusing (I am reminded later that a mate and I had vowed never to attend a prom because of its social/popularity hierarchy – still she isn’t living in the Seychelles with a gecko to stare at for company on a Saturday night).

The other one dropped me off and I strolled past ‘security’ having no ticket (N had it) but hearing the words muttered ‘she’s a teacher’ – stick around long enough and people think you’re important. I might try it as an employment trick in the New Year, hang round the President’s place perhaps?

It felt odd being in the other one’s territory without him so I was a little self conscious. This of course wasn’t helped by knowing that I was wearing a curtain. Spotting the newbies, I blabbed immediately about my DIY outfit instead of trying to carry it off (pretty typical – if ever complimented about something I’m wearing I always confess to how little it cost me). They swear they couldn’t tell but really how else to respond? Of course they wouldn’t be drawn (geddit?!) into saying it looked awful…

A huge effort was made with the decorations. The  outside tables were decorated with tea lights and inside the main hall were massive papier-mâché angels suspended from the ceiling with a chill out and ‘bar’ area. I tried for a sugar rush from copious amounts of coke and along with the newbies made sure we partook of the buffet before the sixth formers were unleashed.

I tried some sober grooving but lasted only three songs, the DJ seemingly forsaking variety for Boom Boom Boom Black Eyed Peas style. I also tried to ignore the fact that dancing as I was with the teachers that I’d become a de facto dad in the disco – a bitter pill to swallow as a proud clubbing chick of old. Plus, I had to be careful not to move lest my safety pins came undone.

My lift arrived after the fiery display of capioera from some locals but before the prom king and queen announcement, which was fine as it was never going to be me). Home by 11.00pm I drank beer and the other one tried to teach me chess evidently so he can gain great pleasure from beating me at it.

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Island fever

An advantage of moving to the Seychelles was the opportunity to explore more of Africa, it being a part of, and closer to the continent, than the UK. In my naivety I thought that travelling there would be straightforward. It is, if you have lots of cash and time.

We don’t have very much of either.

For Christmas, I had thought about visiting Cape Town, it being city that’s relatively close (shopping!), the right time of year, quality wine, cultural history etc etc. That was until I found out the cheapest fare was around £650 (and not exactly cheap once there either). A search on the internet for pretty much any South/ East African city safe to visit (!) sunk my optimism further. Part of the problem is that it’s peak season but also there are not that many airlines that fly in and out of the Seychelles. The great thing about London (and it’s easy to take it for granted) is that it’s a major travel hub with the best airfares on offer to go absolutely anywhere. Not so here. Despite my obsessive quest, the best fare I could get was to Nairobi (about £400).

Informed by Kenya Airways that I didn’t have to pay until 9 December, I took them at their word preferring to find out first about the availability of accommodation and to plan a travel route.

The fares went up 1st December and I was told that I was obliged to pay the higher fare.

It might have been helpful for them to have explained this when I made my reservation especially as I had enquired about paying a deposit. Nor did they apologise in any way when they told me I would have to cough up more. Furious I was!

But alas this isn’t unusual. I try to be balanced as the Seychelles is of course not the UK, it has a completely different culture/history/political system BUT with Kenya Airways I reached the breaking point. Put baldly, in my experience (and from speaking to others including some Seychellois) with the very rare exception, customer service and attitude here is absolutely and unreservedly rubbish. There I’ve said it – and I’ll say more.

For the record, I’ve had not one smile from the indifferent staff at Citymart, STC,Airtel, PUC or the Pirate Arms. There was one decent person out of four who I spoke to at Kenya Airways, at Bunson Travel Olivia was lovely but her Saturday cover appalling, at the library there is a good cop/rude cop routine going on and possibly the rudest staff I have come across yet work at Kenwyn House – if they want tourists’ business they have a long way to go.

 THERE OUT OF MY SYSTEM. Let’s hope I don’t now get thrown out of the country (though at least then the airfare might not cost me anything).

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And on

I find out through someone from school that the date of the show has changed again, it’s a day earlier. The date of the run remains unchanged.

That means the dance show is the day after the run.

Brilliant.

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Keep that good news coming

Found out today from a potential car buyer (not having access to internet, TV, radio or paper) that the government had some kind of budget thing this week. Guess what?

They’ve reduced the tax on imported cars by at least half. That’s the bottom falling out of the second hand car market then.

Great.

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