Friday, 29 July 2011

Final Farewell

This is my final blog as we are due to fly home on Tuesday, gosh how two years have flown especially this year. Last year at the same time we were looking forward to Dale’s arrival to The Gambia. I can honestly say we have experienced good and bad times whilst living here but at least we made that choice others aren’t so lucky and do live hand to mouth earning only a small daily income. For me I am going to miss the glorious sunshine although not the humid stickiness which we are currently experiencing where you have to shower three times a day and change your knickers just as frequently. I will also miss my work colleagues from Diana Mariam, I am so grateful to Mary who took me on as I would not have had the pleasure to meet such lovely people of which I hope to keep in touch with via email. Also the domada sauce and delicious mangoes which are currently in season I just can’t get enough off them. Even Serrekunda market has become a cultural favourite which I will cherish with all the hustle and bustle and the thrill of getting a good price by bartering. What I am not going to miss is the hand washing of clothes and cooking of dinner in this heat I can now understand why the Gambians cook outside under the shade of a tree, I just don’t know how they keep going all day long. As for Paul he has just coached his last game of rugby with the rhino’s so will miss the boys from the team. He received a leaving present from them of a sparkly trousers suit (Top Deck here I come) and a wood carved rhino which was engraved with all their names.

He will also miss the teaching at the college which he has found so rewarding and he was very emotional when some of his students thanked him for teaching them. Also he say’s he will miss the vibrant colours of daily life as the street vendors sit selling their piles of peppers, onions, carrots and fish which he passes on his way into work through the busy roads of Serrekunda. He certainly is not going to miss the bumster boys and beggars who just grind you down trying to get something from you (the white man giveth). As for Abigail and Bradley they will miss the wildlife especially the pretty birds no wonder it is one of the top destinations for twitchers. Although it will be sad to leave we have been counting down the days and are all looking forward to seeing family and friends who we have missed so much. It has been a rich and rewarding experience for us all and one which we will treasure for the rest of our lives. I now realise how lucky I am to have been born and brought up in the UK where you are not afraid to speak out for what’s right.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011


This week we have enjoyed spending another week in the resort of Sally in Senagal. We were closer to the centre this time so we had much better access to the shops. The apartment had the use of two pools one of which was right next to us and then another situated next to the resort restaurant, however on the Monday they started retiling and grouting the restaurant pool hence it was closed for the rest of our holiday. The week was spent relaxing by the pool or taking walks along the beach. On one such walk we spotted a Pelican and we were then suppressed when another lady started calling him by his name Daniel. We watched as he came waddling over to her to take a fish from her hand he even begged for it and wagged his tail which amused us all. That was it the children ran off to get more fish as we had noticed loads of tiny sprats which were getting washed up by the tide. I started walking off to help and happened to glance to my side and got such a shock as Daniel was happily waddling along by my side as if I was taking him for a walk. We then spent some time feeding Daniel by throwing the sprats into the air for him to catch. The next day we went looking for Daniel again armed with a tub full of sprats, at first there was no sign of him however a Senegalese lad took us further inland to the house where he lives and then called his name. He swam across the stream to get his fill of the fish which we had collected. Abigail and I even got to stroke his feathers which were very thick and soft. On one of our walks we walked to the resort near the Marina where we had stayed at Christmas, we got such a shock as the villas close to the beach plus the Marina Restaurants had been burnt down to the ground. Apparently it happened four months ago when some one had lit a firework which landed on one of the grass roofs and just spread from villa to villa, there was even a shell of a badly burnt out boat in the Marina.

View Of The Pool Over Our Wall

Daniel The Pelican

End Of School Term


On Monday we held a party for the children with music, dancing and food as it was the last day of term for them. This also meant the last day for me to say goodbye to them, gosh I am going to miss some of the children and teachers. At midday Ida presented me with a leaving present of a tie dyed tablecloth, thank you card and paper flowers (made by Craft Club Uncle Musa). I thanked them all for the gifts and support they have given me whilst working at the school. A big thank you went to Mr Jadama for my first year of working with him. I then thanked Auntie Ken who I have immense respect for and who I will greatly miss, at this point Auntie Ken covered her face and had to leave as she was so upset. All was going well until Auntie Mansetta and Uncle Musa started to sing to me a thank you song. Mansetta speaks French and only a little English, she has such a lovely voice no guessing what happened, I started blubbering. To top this I then had the children crowded around me singing a song which I had taught them for African Liberation Day, It’s A Small World before then giving me a group hug At 1 o’clock I said my final goodbye’s to some of the children Fatou, Momodou, Sheriff, Nina, Fattoumatta, Ramatoulie and Carl to name just a few. As for the teachers I will see them tomorrow as it is parents open day also I plan to pop in during summer school before we leave for the UK.

Painting Workshop

This week Abigail has been helping Mamaddy with some of his paintings. He is an Artist close to the market and Paul has got to know him through playing touch rugby on a Sunday. Mamaddy runs a youth art class where the children visit him after school and he gets them drawing and painting. Abigail and some of the other children were helping to paint a map of Africa by painting the ocean blue, Africa yellow and then painting in the sunset with red, yellow and white paint the finished result is quite effective.

Painting In The Sunset

On Tuesday Awa brought a little visitor to see us, her daughter Louise who we haven’t seen since she was one years old she is now nearly three.

On Wednesday and Thursday Abigail and Bradley were off school as year 3 and 5 were doing their Gambian National Exams. They were both pleased as it meant they could come with me on our school trip to Tanji Museum.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fish Platter

On Sunday we spent the day at the beach and Sailors Restaurant. Paul had been given a complimentary meal by Vicky the head teacher of Zenith as he had produced a Science paper and then marked them for her. She had organised a fish platter for us with a bottle of wine and soft drinks for the children. The fish platter consisted of lobster, prawns, calamari and four different types of grilled fish. This was served with rice, chips and salad. The meal was delicious however we were unable to finish all the fish so this was placed in a doggy bag for us to take home.

Bradley looking forward to the fish

Paul getting stuck in to the lobster

Meringo Planting

On Friday afternoon Pete picked me and the children up in his new four wheel drive he has bought the car as he is planning to travel back with Bernie over land. We are all helping Mick and Jenny plant some trees along with other VSO and Peace Corp voulunteers. The trees we are planting are called Miringo or never die as they are very hardy. They are a super tree as they are packed with more nutrients than most foods. The leaves can be dried and sprinkled into food jenny on the day even made a groundnut pesto sauce with the leaves and it was very tasty. There were about thirty of us in total unfortunately we ran out of manure to prepare the ground so only planted two long beds over 1,000 trees we could off easily have done double that. Some of the group started on digging another bed ready to prepare for planting. Overall the day went very well although I was glad I took a change of clothes.

Birthday Celebrations

This week I celebrated my birthday along with Mary the owner of the school whose birthday was on Friday. Mary as she does every year had arranged for cakes and drinks to be delivered to the school for the children and staff to celebrate with her. We had a short assembly and then everyone sang happy birthday to the both of us we then took some group photos before returning to class. The cake and drinks were distributed around during the first break.

Ida & Mary

On the evening we had planned to go out for a meal as my birthday treat however we had a twenty four hour power cut so I had to cook the chicken which had defrosted in the freezer, hence chicken yassa was our evening meal. Then plans were changed for a Saturday meal out when Max phoned late on to say he was hosting a party at his house. As we discussed if we could make it as we were also attending a naming ceremony on the afternoon of one of Paul’s rugby players we suddenly remembered that it was Max’s birthday.

On the Saturday afternoon we made our way to Tallinding which is where the naming ceremony is to be held. We walked through the back streets and after twenty minutes Paul phoned Billy to check if his directions were correct. Billy met us to take us the rest of the way first calling at his wife’s compound. There were a number of relatives mainly women and children waiting inside a very dark basic cement floor room. Outside aunties were busy preparing food, one lady was breaking up a huge bucket of cold cooked rice with her hands this is probably what we are going to eat later. Next we called to see his wife she was in his uncles compound who is the local Iman hence there was also a mosque in the compound. His wife had been there for the last six hours getting her face and hair done by her cousin from Senegal. She had styled her hair (or wig) up onto the top of her head very much like we do in the UK for weddings and was busy painting gold lines onto her scalp. Her face was heavily made up with jade green eye shadow. We went and sat outside for a while and were introduced to Billy’s father and uncle. We then had a ten minute walk to Billy’s compound where we were shown in to a room and introduced to his mother who is visiting from Senegal for the occasion. Billy was brought up in the Gambia by his fathers second wife who works as a chef at the Kairaba hotel in Senegambia. As we sat a group of girls outside were also busy preparing food some of which was brought in for us to try. Chakary is a sweet yogurt and cous mix which I sometimes buy for Bradley and is very tasty. It was now 5 o’clock and we had hoped to get to Max’s for around 6 o’clock. Suddenly the food Benechin which had been prepared in the other compound arrived. A group of lady’s placed some of the rice on various large platters and then scattered the cooked vegetables with there hands over this and then the ram meat was added on top. We shared a platter with one of Billy’s friends, the meat was very tough and hard to get off the bone hence Bradley decided to chomp on it using his hands. We waited a little longer before managing to make our excuses to leave for Max’s just as another couple of buckets of cooked chicken were brought in to be made up into foil containers to be eaten later on in the evening. We declined the offer of a container of chicken knowing we would also be enjoying some Philipino food later at Max’s.