Monday, November 29, 2010


  • "Your car Madame?"my house boy asks. "Is it dirty?" I question him. He laughs as he works, I have a gleaming green truck  (I thought it was grey!) once more.
  • I check my pigeon hole this morning to find a cutely wrapped parcel from an absent friend  and a note to collect another from the post office. A great start to my Monday.
  • Flowers are delivered unexpectedly to me at school by a handsome delivery man.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sore feet, rain and rubber

1. Some how the morning has slipped into afternoon, but my feet are still sore and tired after all of last night's great ceilidh dancing.  I was on the old 'biddie' table; I feel like one today!!

Our table not appropriate... last night!

2. The heavens have opened and the thunder is so close that the car alarms are going off. I have to turn on the lights to see my keyboard. A great Sunday afternoon for a film.

3. Slipping into my Orla Keily wellies - a dash to the shops is just an excuse to wear them!

Friday, November 26, 2010

sailors, laps and cupcakes

My week has not been the best here in Uganda. I need a in, a break from the city! People can be so much meaner here. I lost my patience in the bank and had to turn around to check that I didn't know anybody...before I carried on my rant.

Maybe because of this, my day was even sweeter today! There were lots of beautiful smiles.

1. My class had their assembly. They were explorers on the galleon Victoria. They were excited and happy; I was relieved!

2. I swam laps at the country club, unable to face a run. It was fun and tiring- and as I dried in the sun talking to my friend, I wondered, why I haven't been doing that in my 16 months in Kampala!

3. I have been wanting to bake all week-so I made six fluffy and light vanilla cupcakes. There are now four.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A bit ill.

I've not been very well this week. It has been coming and going in waves.  I was fine, on top of the world, then all of a sudden..WHAM!

 Infact I am rather sick...home sick!

This is funny, as last week, as I watched the lads thrash the Boks at Murrayfield, I saw the rain..!! I actually can't remember the last time I was soaked by rain like that. Here, we have tropical warm rain, it comes straight down, and usually is over in less than an hour (unless you're camping Tania, that is one of the rules!!!)none of this special sideways-drenching-drizzle that is a speciality in Scotland. I didn't miss Scotland then.

It is Thanksgiving today and although I am not American (did you guess that?) it is a tradition that I like; anything involving turkey, a day off work and lots of wine is alright by me! So in class we talked about what we were thankful for.
I have many.

But this week I can still be homesick.

The ceilidh band have arrived in Kampala for the Caledonian ball on Saturday- so tonight they are having a warm-up session at a local bar.
I am starting to feel better already!

Whilst running at home


You take the high road...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sleepovers, savoury delights and seasons

Don't you just love it when you have done so many things on the weekend that it feels much longer than a two day break?
I was going to write a blog about my weekend run, which was quite eventful for a Sunday- snakes, boda rides and Shell garage stops.
But instead I want to share 3 beautiful things.

1. I tried two new recipes last night; brown rice and lentil soup served with red pepper and corn loaf. I was inspired by these yummy looking muffins.

2.My lovely friend Jane, is in the city for a few days due to work. She is a very special friend and it is just lovely having company in my pad and having her as a guest. We ate breakfast together, sitting on the balcony before school - a very civilized sleepover.

3. Everyone here, including myself, seems envious of photos of snow at the moment. We have our own seasons in Uganda-it is the turn of the grasshopper! As I walked into school this morning, the sound was immense...not deafening but the grasshoppers were singing beautifully loud that I had to double check what was going on. We have had to ask the children to stop catching them at school ; they eat them fried...we rather they waited until home time!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wanna be in my gang?

After the whole 'New York City marathon mania', I signed-up for my second half marathon.

I am looking forward to it. It will be my second big race,Dubai being my first. My first half marathon in Jinja left me with no T-shirt to wear, no medal, no photo finish or an official time ...I may as well have not been there! I am looking forward to running with the big crowds, being passed and passing others, being cheered on by spectators and having more than 3 water stops!

As I am running the half marathon alone (with hundreds of other people!) I have been trying to pound the pavements with the company of myself and I, just to get used it is so much harder by yourself! However, with the Kampala MTN marathon  just around the corner ( I am signed-up for the hilly 10km), my normal quiet running route is now full of joggers and trotters out for the last push before race day.

I might have to run with my camera next week (no i-phone 4 for me, my mobile has a torch...much more useful in Uganda...usually!) just to take photos of all the gangs of runners; men gossiping, women having a wee giggle, energetic teenagers, cute rugby players, hard core athletes and those running in boots that are cut to give their feet more room.

We all know the tough hills in the area and praise those that are still running when they reach the top, we smile and greet each other, or if our breath leaves us, give each other a wave.
It is a cool club to be part of!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Counting down

I have been re-watching Ewan McGregor's 'A Long Way Down' -I love it! It makes me excited about all my future travels and adventures in Africa. I am so lucky to live here and have it all on my door step...bit of a bugger that us teachers don't have long holidays though!!!

But, I have just over 4 weeks left of school before my Christmas holiday, until... you guessed it...safari!!!

I am now realising that I better start writing my 'to do' list, stuff I have to do before then; take car to the mechanics, post Christmas cards, pay for accommodation, make mince pies, paint guest bedroom..!

I was hoping to have a weekend away out of Kampala in these 4 weeks, you know, to relax with my friends before my parents arrive (only joking!!!) but with birthdays,10km road races (and the training!!) pantos, cook club and ceilidhs, there is just no time.

So, I will be counting down the days until the arrival of my VIP guests. Where we will see lots more of these...

Tania's great photos from our October safari.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Wildebeest Story

"Africa saved them....from themselves".
So many sarcastic comments come to mind. Well, I am a Scot after all!

This often happens when I am up-country and meet 18 year old students on a gap "yah" saving the world'. The phrase " Mummy, can we adopt an African" was honestly said by a volunteer I once lived with!! But I've been there (I never said that though, but...) I was changed too!
I can't really be that cynical can I !? Well, I am my father's daughter after all!

I think my friends at home still think that I am here saving the world...but like I said in my 10 year reunion speech (thanks Rob) - even rich children need an education! (I then went on to ask for a job in my old boarding school...)
There should be no illusions for the real reasons why I am here in Africa.
The safari, adventures and anecdotes.

Now that I know how to upload videos from u-tube (I have no technical talents!) - I want to share a talented storyteller with you, not I (!!!), Billy Connolly.

True Talent

I have some very artistic and talented friends here in Kampala; singers, writers, storytellers, athletes and artists. One of these talented friends has a true talent of changing a flat into a spectacular home; it could easily fit in the latest edition of the Home and Design magazine.

Last night, with my said talented friends, sipping on sweet tea and listening to music, I was telling them about the masterful Mexican musicians that are Rodrigo y Gabriela. My brother introduced me to them years ago when I was a student, but only recently did I dust off their CD. I was pleased I could introduce their music to my friends.

I feel a Mexican cook club could be on the horizon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

3 Beautiful Things in Kampalala

Sundowners, safari, school

  • This evening I shared sundowners, dinner and dessert wine, with my wonderful friend. Admiring the ever changing, ever dramatic African sky. We shared things that made our weekend beautiful (lovely new leather boots) and things that made our weekend tough (the invoice of the new boots!!). It is that time of year where we teachers decide; "should I stay or should I go?" We are undecided. I had to remind her that she wants to leave the country (does she?) so ...we shared our 'beautiful things'. There were many. This sharing, this friendship, is one of my beautiful things.
  • I love the fact that on long weekends and holidays I can jump in my car with  friends and go on safari. Friends in Europe are (can I say it..?) envious of, what they think to be a decadent extravagance; where it is in fact a cheap and cheerful trip.
  • There is no doubt about it that I do, (in the world of teaching) have an easy job. I do not have to spend my weekends planning and preparing lessons. I can enjoy my life! I have time for online courses, tennis lesson, half marathon training, RUT (Robyn's Ugandan Trips) planning and sundowners.
Easy decision! RUT will be shortly be taking bookings for 2011-2012!!

Special sundowner skies in Uganda.

Friday, November 12, 2010

3 beautiful things that I miss

To-go, layers and cold cheeks

  • This morning,as I licked my foam from my cappuccino at school (...yes, that is right, we have a morning cafe at our school...  pancakes and cappuccinos, catered by our sister 'health' club), a friend commented how she missed Starbucks. There are times; like the report writing period, when I dream of lattes to-go! I bet the red cups are now back for another Winter. The words "now, now" (often used here to speed things up, but has the same effect as 'inshallah') spring to mind! 

  • I am spending lots of time finding super cute boutiques online that have soft woolen layers. As I can't buy anything for myself, I share these lovely online shops with friends. I often bring a soft cardigan into school-the pretty things just decorate my chairs!

  • Don't you love it when someone gets in touch with you out of the blue? This happened to me yesterday, and it got me thinking a bit about home. I know I would probably hate the dark days of Winter, after a week, if I went back to Scotland.  Especially in January, when all the Christmas lights have been taken down. But I miss the cold! Wearing soft leather boots and layers, walking with the wind biting at my cheeks, thankful for the steaming mug and friend that waits for me in Starbucks!
It is sunny today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Something has to give

Over dinner, quite some time ago, I became involved with a conversation about time. Now that we have music to download, i-pod shuffles to set, Facebook accounts to check, e-mails to write, Twits to make (whatever!); there must be something or someone that loses out?
Do our friendships suffer for this?
Is time in techno-land taking us away from the reality of relationships?
One guest stated that his commute  in London gave him  time to do all his 'tinterneting'! Fair enough.

But something surely has to give or do we just stay awake for longer?
Mmm no, anyone that knows my sleeping habits(bro, Tania) knows that I am no night-owl!

Running is usually time where I can catch-up with friends and have a gossip.
I don't own a TV, I don't clean (a perk of living abroad, one that I will not easily give-up) and I don't have a long drive to work. So, maybe I gain a bit of extra time on the clock by living in this time zone!

Therefore, how did I still not manage to finish my book-club book for this month!!??

My excuse is that my version of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" did not come with Cliff notes!

Last night, as I tried to skim-read the remaining 20 chapters (!), I realised I wasn't willing to miss out on an evening in the American South -so I went to our meeting anyway; wearing my pearls and cardigan, I drank iced tea, ate cheese grits and soda dread ...and talked about... the cover! "Do you think the horse symbolised death?"

So -I found my thing that I lost!
I am now going to step away from the computer and get out my Orhan Pumak novel!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

3 more beautiful things

The day is not even over- but I have 3 more beautiful things to share that gave me pleasure; the shuffle, wool and calendars!
  • My brother sent me a bright pink i-pod shuffle for my birthday. It is pretty and shiny and will give me faster running legs! I tried to sort out my music last night, but failed, but an ICT technician at school was easily able to sort out my shuffle! I am now ready to rock and run!!
  • It has been pretty grey in Kampala of recent, so I decided that today I would wear a cozy woolen dress that a friend gave me in Kuwait. I miss wearing soft clothes and layers- so I am taking full advantage of this mini autumn we are having! I would love to wear tights and boots with it...but the flip flops are still a must!
  • I have just found out that it is more than likely that we are off school for one day next week, as it will be Eid. A lovely little surprise. I am also checking out flights for my April holiday to Cape Town. I am not wishing my life away, I just enjoy looking forward to things! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mondays, Motivation and Marathons

Monday. You come into school, see the bags under the eyes of all the children you teach and know you look just as bad!
Motivation is needed.
What better way than to look at all the pictures from yesterdays NYC marathon. Read the 'inspirational' stories and think, "How did a miner possibly train for a marathon?" I did all these things, then I registered online for the Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town; the world's most beautiful marathon in the world. I then went for a run!
While I am feeling inspired, my friend took a photograph of myself with my Scottish flag on the streets of Kampala, in the hope that this would help me get into the NYC marathon for 2011.
Today is Marathon Monday Mania!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

3 beautiful things

3 things that have given me pleasure this weekend are walnuts, margaritas and naps.
  1. My birthday gift to myself was a beautiful walnut coloured Orla Kiely handbag, The smell, the soft leather, the detachable satchel strap; it is special and I love it.
  2. Last night I went to a rave under the stars. The best margarita maker in Kampala was at the bar salting our glasses and topping us up. His wife is my yoga teacher, she is away breathing somewhere, so he was putting his skills to use. The dance floor then filled up with everyone making squares with their hands - all that was missing were the glow sticks!
  3. Afternoon naps are the best thing about weekends! They rejuvenated me on Saturday so that I could restart the birthday weekend celebrations.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Handy Hints

This blog was written by my friend,(the first guest on 'Robyn's Ugandan Trips' ) when we were on safari. I have just condensed the list.

A Survival Guide for RUT Passengers
  • If told by Robyn, the tour guide, not to worry about the rain as it is a small shower, ignore weather advice as it will probably be a 6 hour torrential storm!
  • When camping, please remind the said guide to zip up the inner of the tent. She has lots of things to remember, so help is needed!
  • As well as remembering the tent, it is best if all passengers remember her numberplate, as the guide/driver cannot. It is needed for most parks and lodges.
  • Do not be quick to judge the single, white female driver. In times of need, like a lion spotting, she will drive like a professional rally driver!
  •  Please try not to laugh when the single, white guide tells all Ugandans, that " I am Ugandan". OK, the tan is good, but not that good!
  • Make sure that all passengers know where the spade and chewing gum are in the car. Useful for getting out of the mud and for fixing cracked windows.
  •  Remember sundowners are not included in the price of the trip - so buy before you fly. If by chance, you are cruising down the Nile and the Bombay Sapphire spills when the hippo bumps into the tin canoe, first, remember that it is expensive, so lick it off the boat and then pour yourself another..this time skip the ice and a slice!There is no extra charge for up-close and personal encounters!
  • Uganda is a big, little country and there are only 415 lions. Bare this in mind when going on a hunt.
  • RUT cannot take responsibility for any acts of nature by wild animals!

Kissing at Kidepo National Park

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

City Life

In the world of 'Robyn', today has been a very good day!

A very productive day at work, both in teaching and as head tour-guide operator for RUT; Robyn's Ugandan Trips!!  Having seen the positive feedback that my friend, Tania, got from her photos, I feel I have found my first employee - as Marketing Manager.

Today's other highlights; renewing my car insurance. I panicked at how long this might take; waiting in an office down-town, to be told I had the wrong paper work or such-and-such wasn't here etc. But no! All it took was a phone call, a ride on a boda to avoid being stuck in traffic, a lot of money and two minutes in the office! Amazingly civilized!

I then went to the bank (I avoid this- it goes at the end of every 'to do' list) to cash in some extra money that the school gave me. Well, I had earned  it- but had forgotten about it, nice all the same. As I went through the enclosed time-capsule that is the door (one door opens, step in, the other door opens,  enter the bank) and passed the guard with the machine gun(not kidding - not the usual rusty AK47, but a deadly and intimidating silver machine gun, held by a guard with his shoe laces undone...scary!!) my cool began to  heat-up. But-yet again, I was pleasantly surprised-  no stress today!

Kampala, I don't give you enough credit!

So-home in time to make pea and pesto soup, time for a long scrub (boda-boda hair is not attractive!) and time to write a blog!

Monday, November 1, 2010

For a giraffe?

My parents are coming over to Uganda for 16 days in December. This is their first African Adventure, not counting Egypt (who does!?).16 days sounds like a long time to spend on safari in one country -some people fly in and 'do' Uganda in four days -they may see the gorillas and raft the Nile-but I don't think their expeirence of Uganda is very rich.

My safari planning is made more difficult by set dates, like Christmas and gorilla tracking permits. Also, to see a wide range of game in Uganda, one must cover all corners of the country. The years of lawlessness that prevailed during and after the 1979 war left poachers free to cause havoc in the national parks; over 300 black rhinos and 120 white rhinos were killed. NGOs and the Ugandan authorities are working hard to increase game and re-introduce animals, including the rhino, into parks, but it is a slow process. We may have to wait 20 more years to see a rhino back in Murchison. This is one reason tree climbing lions are only found in the south, giraffes are only found in Murchison (the centre of the country), gorillas are annoyingly placed on the top of mountains (hence the name, mountain gorillas) and so forth.
There is one park, Kidepo, that does have it all; lions, orstrich, zebras, buffalo, elephants, giraffes. This park borders Sudan-it takes two days to drive there and as breath taking as it might be, I doubt I will go back any time soon.

Back to the burning issue: Can the graceful giraffe really be cut out of a safari? Are zebras, tree climbing lions, elephants and gorillas enough?

                      Warning: photos may contain acts of an adult nature!!