Corona Canal Chronicles #3

After using up our mooring allowance of 14 days at Grindley Brook, we continued along the canal, until we reached a new spot. This time with more quietness, less passerbys, and so many wildflowers and grasses that they came up past my porthole!

Happily, Fela and Kuti had begun to master the fine art of selfies, and gained nimble thumbs to boot, and I was able to receive word of their continued happiness in their caretakers back in Lagos. So the guilt of abandoning them was put to one side for a while longer once again.

The new home-made garden was pretty exceptional, given that we had sunset views over the fields and farmlands but more intriguingly, such was our position that we could see both England and Wales in the horizon. Such was the effect that, assuming the camera never lies, it quite literally blew my mind….

A couple of wonderful weeks were spent admiring this beautiful spot, yet with all moorings, it could not last forever. More time with the brazier and outdoor cinema, and much fresh air absorbed by our lungs. Temperatures constantly changing however, as seems to be the standard norm for life in the UK.

Though my Masters was continuing to drag at my heels, I was able to extricate myself from the books for an afternoon, enabling me to join in with a socially distanced walk with my sister and nephews, where we made friends with more local wildlife.

When this mooring spot reached it’s expiry also, we hit the road, oops, cruised the canals, once more. Passing by some extremely remote areas, with foreboding walls of forestry and crumbling mud, and rather high, overbearing brides that made us feel like we had stumbled into the set of The Borrowers.

As we passed through, I sensed a strange sensation run through my bones, as I imagined what it would be like should I be on the boat solo at this stage, without another human in sight, and certainly no indication of where I would locate food and supplies!

After a long day of travel, we found the latest mooring spot with sufficient internet signal to allow the online workers onboard access to their required radio waves. However, it wasn’t that ideal and after just a few days we were off again. This became a fine art of time management, as when we moved the boat, we would often lose the broadband. Which is fine when you’re able to freely enjoy the scenery, fully focus on being the captain of the ship, and when you have no need for contact with the outside world. However, we all had our various requirements for this accessibility and there were numerous Canal Club house meetings onboard, to work out distances achievable in the time brackets available, set against the apparent quality of signals we could receive. All very well when this all matches up, but as we found out many a time, just because it says it will take x amount of time, it will probably take y, and even though the signal radar may appear strong in location z, this is debatable to say the least. Apparently it really can depend on which way the wind blows….

It also transpired that it can depend on who/what you pass as you amble along….as my stepdad discovered when unbelievably (I kid you not) he got shot.

We had passed through another set of picture-postcard scenes, of quaint villages, amazing meres, long grasses, flower patches and open skies. As I sat working away at one end of the boat, and my mum at the other, we heard a series of gunshots. My mum quipped, ‘gosh, I hope that isn’t Barry getting shot!’. And never in a million years did I take her seriously, nor she herself. Why would we!

All of a sudden however, there was a commotion outside with my mum calling me to attend. Wherein she exclaimed that what had first been a silliness between us was indeed fact. There seemed to have been some illegal bird poachers nearby, and through using what we believe to have been double-barrelled shotguns, some of their wayward bullets had ricocheted, with one or two bits hitting my stepdad in the leg. Ouch. In fact, he was able to locate one of the pellets, for us to all examine, whilst we all had a stiff drink in disbelief.

All of life’s journeys take us along paths unknown, though for sure, this is one we had not foreseen along our current way. Perhaps we should have taken the other turn? Or perhaps there was something far worse waiting for us had we have done so.

To be continued…

Returning to the roots of those who have walked here before us

With an increasing frequency of more universal messages arriving to my ears, I feel a oneness and inherent belief that despite the whiteness of my skin, my source is here within the lands of Africa. In fact, colleagues of mine this past week even said as such; “are you sure you aren’t really African Miss?

From this, it makes complete and natural sense that my mother should have made the difficult (yet well-worth it) efforts to meet hectic visa requirements and end up here in Africa beside me, albeit for only 10 days (due to her busy schedule and multitude of commitments). In the 1940s my grandfather was here in Nigeria, and some 70 years later, so now has been his daughter, beside her daughter in fact. She brought with her letters of people who loved my grandfather for his kindness, and she was able to see firsthand, what the difference is like for life here in comparison to wherever “there” may be.

In some ways, it was such a rushed time having her here, having only landed here myself some two weeks prior. Of course, the initial intention had been that she would have been beside me sharing my affair with Uganda. But come she did, regardless of where the “here” now was. Thankfully, due to my adaptations to African ways of living from my Ugandan time, I was able to adjust relatively quickly and speedily to my new surroundings, such that by the time she arrived, it was smooth enough for her and I had many things in place. I have not yet really traversed the lands, but I rapidly began to suss out the ways of them and be able to support my mum with the intense adjustments she had to make from being in the UK to being here in Nigeria.

Continue reading “Returning to the roots of those who have walked here before us”

Spirit of like-minds, beauty and mischief

Many of my weekends in Uganda have been spent on the road; travelling around to seek new sights, meet new people, learn new stories. It is not a bad thing when I also spend time in Kampala however, as I have many friends here and there is much fun to be had.

I have been slowed down, a little against my will, but I have used this as another form of opportunity; I have explored the city in new ways, through friends and mischievious play, and I have also uncovered some hidden gems that many are unaware of.

After the enjoyment of Milege, I found myself with a phone full to the brim of new friends and offers of meeting up to share company, food and time together. Continue reading “Spirit of like-minds, beauty and mischief”

Seizing the day, Sipi-style

Uganda is an incredibly diverse country.  There is some massive wealth here in Kampala, and from those in  the west, (from what I hear; this is the president’s land).  The rainy season has barely touched us here in Kampala, and there are some 50 districts across the country that have people dying from famine due to the arid lands caused by this lack of water.  Meanwhile Ugandan friends in the west send me reports of torrid rainfalls, putting a stop to all best laid plans and causing damage to property and lands.

It fascinates and intrigues me how there can be such diversity in a land-locked country, that in comparison to others, is not that huge in size. In my time here, I have actively sought time and space to explore its different corners as best I can. Sickness put a stop to it for a few weeks, and although I have developed a wonderful community of friends (better named as part of my family in all honesty), I was itching at the bit to get back on the road. Continue reading “Seizing the day, Sipi-style”

Remembering how to be a philocalist (part one)

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that it is all around us, (if only we remember how to look).

I have now entered my third week of working here in Uganda, and quite honestly I lost this ability almost immediately upon commencement of this. Whilst I won’t go into the finer details of why, I can simply state that communication is hugely vital in pretty much all aspects of life. When making the minor decisions such as to leave the entire “life as you know it” in order to fully immerse yourself into the unknown, having some form of clear communication channel around this is somewhat useful. At least it is for me. Thus when I found myself at my new workplace on day one, in a role entirely different to the one I thought I had come for, I was utterly thrown. In fact, I was devastated. Continue reading “Remembering how to be a philocalist (part one)”

What does time really mean?

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Only a week ago, I was walking barefoot through the green fields of the South Downs, with people I love dearly.  I am now sat in a tropical garden in Entebbe, Uganda, alone.  Yet with these people and more, in my heart and thoughts.

I arrived here at 5am on Friday 29th July, feeling disorientated, bewildered and curious.  And time has been fluctuating through many continuums ever since.

Whilst at the airport still in the UK, I was struggling to catch my breath due to the enormity of the change I had created for myself, when a tiny, beautiful, little baby walked over to me and just held onto my finger, looking me straight in the eye for a passing moment.  That to him, probably felt insignificant and minute.  Yet for me, caused time to stop, for a while, and my breath returned.

Continue reading “What does time really mean?”