Tuesday, 29 September 2009

We are not alone.

Little Warthog has a possum. We have a banded mongoose! Mickey Mongoose and his family have happily installed themselves next to the compost bins, where they snuffle around and eat any snakes and rats that come along.
They can definitely stay, then.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Punctuation matters

We are settling back into Kampala life...thankfully no more hair-raising incidents to report. I love being on top of my mountain, and we even had a party last weekend a sort of housewarming / R's birthday combo.

I like parties: I just hate organising them. I get in a terrible fluster about how much food to buy and whether we have refrigeration capacity. I can't bear the thought of waste - something I have inherited from my mama - and whether my terrible cooking will be exposed. (We had broccoli, pasta and sausages the other night, which I managed to mess up. I still maintain the useless grill was partly to blame.) Barbecues are at least quite forgiving in this sense, especially when you buy the meat pre-marinated and there are lots of pyromaniac friends prepared to take over. But I most love it when the guests turn up, and the spirit of misery guts suddenly disappears.

My favourite thing though: the cake...

Yeah, "Robert", Happy Birthday!
You can run but you can't hide, scumbag!
your friends at the FBI

I think I should be told.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

How Uganda works, pt 3288

Gandalady is on the phone. It is Wednesday. Day three in her new job!

GL: Hello? Is that 'Standard Signs'?
Male: Yes. This is Brian from Standard Signs.
GL: Oh great. Can I come and meet you? I'd like to order some new signs for Banana Boat. Can you tell me where your office is please?
Brian: We are on Kampala road, next to the Crane Bank etc etc.
GL: OK see you tomorrow!

Gandalady is in the car. It is Thursday: time for her meeting with Standard Signs! She has spent about fifteen minutes looking for a parking space in the centre of Kampala. She is trying to be smart and professional, but is actually hot and bothered.

GL: Hello, Brian? I can't see your office. Can you meet me outside Crane Bank?
Brian: Yes of course.
They meet, make chit-chat and head to the lift. They get outside Sanyu FM, a local radio station.

GL: Er...where is the office? Standard Signs?
Brian: Actually...I don't work for Standard Signs, I work for Sanyu FM! Here is my card. I am an advertising sales executive. Would you like to advertise on the radio? Wait a minute, the studio is just here, do you want to look around...?
GL: No thank you. I want to go to Standard Signs. You told me you were from Standard Signs.
(Awkward silence.)
Brian: Let me get you the number of Standard Signs.
GL leaves the building. Later on, Brian sends two numbers for Standard Signs...neither of which work.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

No really, everything's fine!

Good news: much calmer today. We had a nice drive to the shops and I even went for a walk with Gloria this afternoon. Sadly it doesn't mean a total end to the violence; just that it's migrated to another part of town.

What's annoying is that our electricity is very feeble at the moment. Rumour has it someone sabotaged one of the transformers at the army barracks near here during all the unrest. We have lights, although very dim. (I can't see my keyboard properly. Does that mean I can actually touch type? After all these years? *emotional sob!*) But we can't run the fridge and the inverter won't charge. An inverter is a special widget that sucks electricity from the mains and stores it in batteries for when mains power fails. That is the, er, technical description. But: at least we have the internet! Who cares if the milk is sour!

Baby Kitty has also developed a nasty stomach bug. She has thrown up four times in 24 hours..she doesn't have a fever, but I hope it doesn't develop into anything sinister as we haven't got our new health insurance sorted yet. We have, however, run out of cot sheets as the washing machine is broken and everything has to be hand washed. Not that we could run the washing machine anyway with the power situation.

So yes, I'd say we've got off to a somewhat shaky start to our Ugandan adventure (round two.) But at least the rains have made our garden beautiful. I might even try and grow something in it!

Friday, 11 September 2009

A scary moment

What is going on in Uganda?

We learned yesterday from our neighbour, that "there were riots in town, people dying, eh!" At the time we didn't take it that seriously because a) our neighbour is a bit of a jack-the-lad and prone to exaggerate and b) we put it down to another local turf war dispute, and so unlikely to affect us. We carried on business as usual.

Apart from being beautifully traffic-free, I didn't notice anything unusual on my school run. But an hour later, we were told to come and pick our children up. We heard of shops closing and people leaving work. I went home with my new boss and had a very nice time chatting about cushions and Christmas decorations, and from time to time we heard gun fire. Cue nervous laughter. Then it got to be frequent enough for some anxious phone calls to R and boss's fearless mother about their movements. (Fearless mother adamant about going to town to buy a new notebook.) Boss went home, and R came back with Emma, and we went about making beans and sausages for lunch. Everyone was a little tense.

Then, just as we sat down to eat, the gunfire got very noisy and quite intense. It sounded like it was a couple of hundred metres away, although we live on top of a hill and noise travels so we weren't sure. But it was scary enough for us all to suddenly get up and go and eat in the corridor away from the windows. We tried making it into a bit of a joke, but it was pretty frightening.

It didn't last, thank God, and it died down after an hour or so. We ventured down the hill and went for a swim, and everything seemed pretty normal, though 'the situation' is a hot topic of conversation. Tomorrow is likely to be bad too, as the king of Bugunda is planning to make his visit (against the wishes of the President.)

So your prayers are appreciated..for our safety, for this land, that the people won't go and screw it up. We still believe God is in charge, and that he's good. That's a huge comfort, and goes deeper than the fear.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A long absence

I can't believe we're back in Uganda already and I only found time in England to write one lousy post. So here is a summary of the last few weeks. This is where those time-efficient bullet points come in handy!
  • It is a shock having to look after one's own children. I am not sure how anyone manages it back home. Either I am fundametally lazy, or Uganda has spoiled me. Feel free to speculate!
  • We did A LOT of socialising, all of it enjoyable and somehow involving food. There is half a stone more of me here as a result. I would be on the rice crackers and cottage cheese...if you could get them here.
  • Although we did a lot of socialising, there was still not enough time to see everyone. (Sorry, PF, are we still friends?)
  • We did lots of work on the garden. Actually, Rob did everything, I called out encouraging things from the kitchen.
  • We intended to clear the loft, but nostalgia overtook us and we ended up putting 90 per cent of it back.
  • Major change has occured in Tooting: Primark has become...TK Maxx! Marks and Spencers has become...Primark! And Woolworths has become....Poundland! (Not much change there then.)
  • Despite being grey, rainy, overcrowded and full of miserable people, I absolutely love London. It's home.
  • Gloria had her first filling! No more fizzy drinks and neat Milo powder for us and
  • ...it's my birthday today. Thirty-six and still hot!