Archive for October, 2010

Sorry random Gadaffi aside..

Do you ever have those moments when there’s a random fact that you’ve picked up along the way but it having been so long since you picked it up and you never really had the proper details in the first place that you start to doubt that it was ever a ‘fact’ in the first place?

I had that feeling about something I thought I knew about Gadaffi. Looking for a picture of him, I stumbled upon another picture and rejoice, I was vindicated, it was clearly a fact and I’m not going mad!

Colonel Gadaffi has in his time as leader of Libya found time to invent a car with no proper corners. Really, honestly, truthfully. A safety thing apparently. Here is the incontrovertible proof – and read it here.

Must admit though, not seen a lot of them on the road.

What next, Cameron invents robot to replace the civil service? or the Lib Dems? or how about Boris Johnson – it could be the version with a scouse accent…

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Not an everyday invite…


see beige scarf..sunglasses...


‘On the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the Al Fateh of September Revolution The Charge d’Affairs of the People’s Bureau of The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Mr X requests the pleasure of the company of…’

How often do you get an invite like that eh? We had to go.

The venue was Bravo on Eden Island and we’d been invited as the other one had taught one of the Ambassador’s kids. Our first proper embassy reception (not counting Brit ones)- and it was a dry one. So it was small talk over a glass of juice – I anticipated painful but in the event it was a fun and amusing night – well, I found it was. Others, being deprived of or in joyful ignorance of my often internal, and occasionally external dialogue, may have not found it so.

It started with the line up – the assorted VIPs arranged in a line [‘I have no sodding clue who these people are and they don’t know who the hell I am, I must smile and remember not to use my left hand at all. What’s this, they’re putting their hand to their chest in greeting do I do that too? What ‘s with the piggin news camera and oooh look fruit juice, mustn’t spill it, damn I should have brought the hip flask but then can you imagine getting chucked out of a Libyan Embassy do, no, just smile relax’].

Then the speeches… [ ‘What’s with the pictures on the wall, President Michel on one side and Colonel Gadaffi on the other, did Bravo have to put the picture hooks up especially? My god the interpreter is soooo boring and jeez is that wad of A4 he’s got the whole of the speech, I shouldn’t have worn heels, my feet will be dead by the time they’ve finished. The big screen with the televised celebrations in Libya is pretty good though, is that Gadaffi dancing at the front or someone pretending to be him? and I’m not sure that pretending to hang someone even if it is renacting the revolution is really a good thing, oi the other one, what do you think, is that Gadaffi?’]

My civic duty [‘ I just told you that there was a car in the car park with its lights on full beam and some poor bugger is going to leave and find their battery flat and there’s no AA or RAC here and you haven’t announced it. I mean I know it might slightly bring down the tone of the evening  ‘will the owner of car reg S xxxx’ please come to the bar’ but really it’s a good deed and come on what happened to the socialist spirit of the 41st anniversary of the whatsit eh?’]

The food [‘Is it wrong to chase the person serving circulating with the canapes? I’ve committed myself now, I have to follow her but why doesn’t she turn round, I look like a stalker, *rap, oh hello commissioner, yes it is a lovely evening isn’t it, I was just wondering what the etiquette was about chasing the food? You’ve been to a lot of these things..what’s that you can’t hear me? Oh look, cake’]

The exit [what’s that darling, you think we should go? But just one more piece please? See the car’s lights are still on, honestly, I told them but you’re right at least we can see where we’re going. What do you think they’d have thought of my gadaffi look you know the sunglasses and the beige scarf I wear? No, I think you’re probably right, yes dear’]

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The news gone public…

The news is out!

I haven’t had to keep my secret for too long thank goodness and the news is now out. It’s official, HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne (daughter of the Queen to those who may not know, I knew that…*) is visiting Seychelles. So work life has just become way more interesting (and useful for the CV one hopes!). I also now need to perfect bobbing and saying Ma’am so it doesn’t rhyme with jam.

*Nannying in Australia, my Aussie boss knew all the English Kings and Queen’s pretty much off by heart – my paltry knowledge of an  abdicated one, a bath once a week one, a beheading one, a mad one and a ginger one and now I guess the horse riding one, hardly compared.

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Social Seychelles as an NGO

After a quiet summer and getting into the swing of being in an office for half a week (its hard really), it was time I decided the fate of Social Seychelles and how to break it out from the geek garage and into the real world proper. Some hundred dollars out of pocket for covering hosting and admin costs (ever since Ning! decided to take away free hosting grrrr), I need to fundraise and also reassure people that I’m not some cyber hoodlum.  Earning some money would be nice but what between the business permission needed, the application for the work permit, the business licences etc etc and not knowing how long I’ll be here anyway with regard to setting up a company and on the other hand sticking closer to the community ethos and creating an NGO with no outlay and no work permit, well it was a no brainer, sort of. There was the matter of procuring the six members needed to form the NGO in the first place. The other one of course had no choice and I asked some of the newbies nicelyand other people I’ve got to know since being here. I also did a general shout out on social seychelles.

As suspected, I could rely on a few and they came through for me which was ace and a couple of a random offers too which was even more lovely.Meanwhile, mine was the job of putting together a constitution, gratefully receiving help from my buddy from meditation dabbling and the UK charity commission and Fife CVS websites (causing a spike in hits on the latter I’d have thought).

I arranged a meeting to discuss the constitution and as a meeting isn’t a real meeting without a powerpoint presentation (and not at all influenced by the fact that being divorced from corporate life as I know it, I actually enjoyed doing it how sad am I?), I did my stuff if somewhat nervously. Everyone seemed happy, though I was a bit upset that they didn’t get as exicted as I was about the powerpoint template I’d used- I’d customised it as well. Some people.

Next step registration.

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Her name is Rio…

Life doesn’t get much sweeter than being offered a day out on a catamaran sailing in the Indian ocean around Seychelles. We’re very lucky people with great neighbours! Unfortunately, age dictates that though I’m old enough to want recreate Duran Duran’s Rio video (admittedly the wrong kind of boat but it floats and looks good), for the sake of any kind of dignity, I should stick to the ‘tankini’ and encourage the other one to keep his shirt on. And may I digress slightly, cutaway swimsuits, who are they trying to kid?

Delicately hungover, I did manage to get up at 8am and boil up some pasta as part of our picnic, liberally adding parmesan only to remember in horror our neighbour and host is allergic to the stuff, well done me. We stopped by the supermarket for some supplies and then  headed for Eden Island to catch our ride.

What a beauty. A something foot catamaran with proper sails and everything. The other one had a go at winching up a the main sail and jib (I think) and I looked frantically round for the gin and tonic.  Happy to share their knowledge and blissfully ignorant of how useless I am at operating anything, I was allowed to steer the boat, meaning that our estimated time of arrival was delayed at least 30 mins while I tried tacking (badly) and we circled around Eden Island more times than was really necessary.  Once back on route, we made for a deserted sliver of beach on  Baie St Anne that had a smidgen of the Robinson Crusoe about it. We anchored the boat and zipped over in a dinghy which ‘S’ our neighbour had to get back in almost immediately after, to satisfy the curiosity of the marine police who took no time at all to check out who we were and happily not charge us any marine park fee on account of being residents. I wet myself laughing as the other one ‘rushed’ over to help ‘S’ drag the dinghy in, him stepping so gingerly over the rocks underfoot that ‘S’, not a man to mess about, had time for a beer and crossword by the time the other one had reached him…

We explored the beach a bit on shore before deciding it was too hot and we’d be more usefully employed feeding our faces on the boat which we duly did (and luckily ‘D’ had her own supply of delicious foodstuffs). It was time for the other one to take the helm as we headed for the group of islands of Cerf, Long and Moyenne. I’d never seen them up close before and the place just looked stunning. We got out for a snorkel but the masks were playing up so it was more of pootle before we dropped onto a sandbar and meandered about startling the immigrant workers who seemed to be building a hotel (on Long I think). I got one of the masks working again and tried again snorkelling and gave myself a fright as from among the sea cucumbers, a stingray popped up. I managed not to swim away in fright and caught a good look but alas the other one missed it. Was pretty amazing to see and made a brillo pads day even briller.

We got home just before sunset and had a couple more beers to celebrate an awesome day all round. Oh to be rich.

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Praslin encounters #2 – Vallee de Mai

Wanting to make the most of our visit to Praslin, we also had a visit to the UNESCO site at Vallee de Mai, home to the Coco de Mer, a palm


tree that has a male and female (the latter of which produces the largest seed in the world and is what can I say, ‘erotically shaped’). We were here on a top secret mission to do a mini recce for an upcoming visit. We walked the route with the site manager who was a font of knowledge and randomly educated in Cyprus. This seems to happen a lot here, over the years different countries have sponsored and supported Seychelles and I know of another colleague who spent some months studying carpentry in Japan.  Some lucky students even get to go to Manchester…

We retired for lunch at the cafe in the new visitors centre; the food was tasty and good value (90 SCR for a salad). They had a reasonable range of juices and coffee too so well worth a visit if on Praslin and wanting a break from hotels.We chatted about the park, about black parrots and the coco de mer – apparently poaching is a problem so be told, buy only certified Coco de Mer as the palms will have been protected and their ability to grow to maturity not compromised. The Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) is doing its utmost to protect the Vallee de Mai  (and Aldabra that it’s also responsible for)  but as a tourist paying about 20 EUROs for the entrance fee, I’m not sure that the message gets across, a guide is probably a good thing to understand more about about the nature – or get a job that takes you there!


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Praslin encounters # 1 – Cousin Island

At least being, somehow, involved in government can get you places though my ass wet through, sat in a puddle of water was new for me.


Seychelles magpie robin

I also looked like a complete pleb as being a certified (or certifiable?)  landlubber, I’d  put my lifejacket on underneath the bright yellow raincoat I’d been given so my head looked like a peanut protruding from a custard flan. My boss (did I mention he was there?), was diplomacy itself and hadn’t laughed out loud  in my face, leaving it to the skipper to politely suggest that maybe I’d be more comfortable with my life jacket on top of my coat.We were on our way to Cousin Island, just off the coast of Praslin, a nature reserve run by Nature Seychelles to primarily protect its bird life. It had just declared itself carbon neutral and so we were having a nosy having donated some money to the project so I might write a short article about it and take some pics. I’d clearly chosen the wrong place to sit on the boat.


The landing  had been well James Bond, we zoomed forward with a swerve and a skid, straight onto the beach with a warning to hang on tight. That I was less Kitty Galore and more, custard flan, was  well more Mr Bean.

We spent about an hour walking around the island learning about Nature Seychelles work  with me taking lots of photos of birds, one of which was the rare Seychelles Magpie Robin that’s indigenous to Seychelles. It’s amazing what they’re doing on the island, and they have a real vision of what they want to achieve but I think having visited Bird Island so recently, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I might have been. It didn’t help that I was having to periodically slap my thighs like some pantomine dame in early rehearsal, in what proved to be a futile effort to deter mossies – and I looked like I’d wet myself.

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Government meetings…hang on…

So I’m sat in an office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a meeting and I think to myself, I travel from London 12 hours by plane  to an island with a national population that numbers that of Hastings, has year round temperatures of 29-32 degrees, I’ve just  spent a weekend adrift on an even smaller island surrounded by about a million birds and 25 people and here I am still working  on behalf of the British Government. I thank them for it, they’ve kept me fed and watered for the past 15 years on and off but I can’t help but think, will I ever get away (or perhaps more insightfully do I want to get away hmmm?). It’s like being the administrative dullard equivalent of Jack Bauer, minus the gun and assassins, my fate being more like a slow death of a thousand paper cuts and a few too many pen pushers. But, I probably shouldn’t moan what with the spending review and all.

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Newbies no more

N had another bring a dish party to welcome new teachers meaning a year’s passed and technically I can’t now refer to the other one and his crew as newbies but old habits die hard…I just need to find a new way to refer to the new new teachers.I checked with the other one and he seems to think that two is enough to warrant a collective noun but I can’t think of one. So I’ll settle for D&E or DE or, as in my creativity,  DEad.

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I love this.


not a sequin in sight...


A Giant Tortoise called Esmeralda has been living happily on Bird Island for a very long time.Except she is a he and should technically be called Esmeraldo but staying true to history (or more likely it makes a nice story) he’s still confusingly called Esmeralda. I hope he doesn’t have any issues. I mean, he’s apparently been knocking around since June 1771, TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE YEARS OLD. He’d need another lifetime for the therapy alone.

He needn’t be troubled by emasculation by name though, at 1.27 metres in length, 2.54 metres in girth and weighing 363kg  (measured by the Royal Society so it must be true), he’s likely to be the world’s largest tortoise. Esmeralda rocks.

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