The local Pub in Soma (4 punters and it is full!)

Fruit and Veg market stall

The 'High Street'

Jules in her Kitchen/Living Room
(she is not a midget, her furniture is too big!)

Big Curry and Soma

Firstly, big thank you to those of you that bought raffle tickets or made donations to the Big Curry Night. We managed to raise over 80,000 dalasi which was great and will make big difference to the Charities that receive the funds…I’ll keep you posted.
(John P you won a golf umbrella, I’ll do my best to get it home for you. I won a haircut, which would have been wonderful had I not had my haircut the day before, what luck eh!)

Jodie led the volunteer troops (and even made us wee aprons to wear much to the delight of certain ex-pats with slightly odd fetishes!) We ran around like headless chickens for half the night and then relaxed and joined the party the other half. Food, drink and music were great and Marney and Justin prepared a quiz (I’ll put on the blog for anyone that is interested, email me your answers if you like and I’ll send you them back with corrections!) The night before the event, Marney, Jodie and I sat up chopping and blending about 100 mangos to make cocktails so were delighted when there was plenty left after the party had ended for us to enjoy.

Ive also been 'up country' for few days. We had been planning to work in some of the regional offices for ages but with legendary Gambian planning things kept changing. Just to continue in the same vein, on the day we left I was due to be collected at 11am and was finally met at 3pm….Anyone that knows me well will be amazed to learn that I was reasonably relaxed about the delay.

My 'road' after one evening or rain...

The journey itself was easy as we were in an air-conditioned vehicle (thank you Bespor!). It gave me the chance to see The Gambia outside of Kombos and remember how the majority of people live. The roads in the Gambia are terrible. Basically there are two main roads; one on the south bank and one on the North. While the North Bank road is now at least tarmac the entire way, the south bank road is little more that a large dirt track most of the way along the country. Because of that, all the NGOs, Charities and anyone that can afford it have 4 wheel drive vehicles, they then tear up the poor roads and create even more of a mess of things. A bit of a vicious cycle really.... As rainy season is in full flow now, parts of the road were almost like rivers and we drove past lots of house and compounds where people were wading about in muddy water up to their thighs. I have no idea how they can be living as the water must have totally flooded the homes. And we have 2-3 more months of progressively worse and worse rain…It’s heartbreaking really but people here are used to it as it happens every year. And as most of the rural people farm the land they are always so happy to see the rains that having the houses flooded is just a side issue.

I stayed in Soma with Julie (her blog is on a link on mine if you are interested). The first night Sovie, another volunteer, cooked dinner for us and we sat in the pitch black admiring the stars…They really are countless as there are no artificial lights corrupting the view. The second night, Julie took me on a tour of Soma on the back of her motorbike. It took about 30 mins, the highlight of which was the local bar where we bought a take out carton of wine!

The local Bar

We also stopped at the local market to buy dinner. I really am spoiled living in Kombos as we can get most things we need. Julie was very over excited as there were ‘greens’ at the market. They turned out to be sweet potato leaves but as they were they only green things she had seen in a few weeks, I could understand her enthusiasm! During the evening (whislt feasting a sweet potato leaf salad!), we sat and watched an almighty storm come in! It was quite spectacular to see and the rain was great, so much so, I decided to enjoy a ‘real’shower and danced naked in the rain at the back of the house.…Julie and Sovie just humoured me but refused to join in the fun! As there is no running water in the houses I thought it was as effective than the normal ‘bucket’shower. I was quite sorry to come back to Kombos so soon and would happily have stayed a few more days, if only to give me more of a chance to miss by relatively luxury life.

The work we carried out was fairly successful and the regional teams were supportive and interested which I was surprised and pleased about. I still have my reservations about the system and its benefit/impact in the Gambia but I remain determined to do what I can to implement it in the best possible way.

Training at a Regional Office

A final note. Many of you have commented on my Gambian meetings summary, I can assure you it is 100% true (you really don’t need to make things up!) Anyway, this week, at another meeting, the same person that lay in my lap to take a phone call demonstrated another way of going undetected whist using a mobile in our meetings… The phone rang so he stood up, walked to the window, wrapped the curtain around him and continued with the call so there was a large talking lump coming from the window dressing! I had to literally suck my cheeks together to stop myself from exploding with laughter, it was the type of thing my 2 year old nephew might do! Nobody else batted an eyelid! Is it really me?????

Planning to go to Senegal next week so more news soon x


A. African Geography

Give the name of each African country shown here. (Hmmm, they dont seem to have copied here do they, so you'll just have to guess!!)


4. Name the Capital of Cameron

5. List the following African Countries in order of population (starting with the highest)
The Gambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Madagascar

6. In which African country can you spend the currency ‘Escudo’

7. If traveling from Cape Verde to Mauritius, how many time zones would you pass through?

B: Sport

1. What is unusual about the players on a ‘goalball’ team?

2. Shirlie Robertson, Shani Kedmi and Iker Martinez have all won Olympic medals in which sport?

3. Name the 6 events/apparatus in an international Men’s Gymnastics competition?

4. Which country was the 1986 Football World Cup held in and which team won?

5. In which country were the 1998 Winter Olympics held?

6. In which sport did Natalie De Toit win a Paralympic Gold Medal in Athens?

7. At what height is a basketball ring fixed?

C. Culture

1. List 5 of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World.

2. Which famous fashion designer died earlier this month (June)?

3. Which bird is featured on the Jule Brew bottle?

4. Name the English author of the book Lucky Jim?

5. How tall is Rod Stewart?

6. Which 4 US presidents are depicted at Mount Rushmore?

7. The African Union (AU) is a federation consisting of all Africa countries except one. Which African nation is not a member?

D: Science and nature

1. Which man is said to have experimented with gravity, by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

2. Gram for gram what is the most expensive spice in the world and which plant does it come from?

3. Does sound travel faster through air, through water, or through a vacuum?

4. What is the boiling point of alcohol (ethanol)?

5. Atoms are made of three types of particle. What are they?

6. What is the chemical formula for chalk?7. What is the heaviest animal in the world?


Making cocktails and salsa and the BIG CURRY TEAM!

Water, water everywhere - Week 16

Before I start the blog I’m putting a shameless plug here… BIG CURRY NIGHT. A charity event I helping to organise here is on 28th June. If anyone would like to buy some raffle tickets or donate a raffle prize (I guess pay for a prize as getting something here will be tricky!?) please let me know. Raffle tickets are 25p each (10 dalasi), I’ll buy them for you and you can pay the UK money into my bank account. The proceeds will go to GFD, The Gambian Federation for this disabled, a group of 9 charities all working within this disability sector in The Gambia. Email me or send a comment on the blog if you can help – MANY THANKS XXX

Anyway on to business, it has started raining! We had an almighty storm last Thursday, (really quite impressive and slightly scary) and since then it has rained 3 times. It is hot and sticky but a bit cloudy and there are bugs everywhere…yuck. I’m told 4 months of this and then it will be nice again. I’ve not yet taken any pictures and it is difficult to describe how intense the rain can be but I will do next time there is a decent storm that is not in the middle of the night! The number of bugs in the air following the first rains was amazing, the larva must lay dormant and ‘hatch’ when the rain falls. I had to walk to work without opening my mouth or I would have had a breakfast I hadn’t ordered.

In the Gambia the rains totally change the environment. It had become very red, dusty and dry up to now but over the next few months this will all change. I have been told that parts of the country become very lush and green which I am looking forward to seeing. I have taken some photos of the views from my roof so will take some more in 4 months time and then post them on the site so the changes are obvious. Even after one real storm you can see green shoots everywhere. Things grow incredibly quickly in the Gambian climate. During one month here we get more rain than the UK gets in the 6 wettest months, so imagine how wet it really is going to be next few months!

There is little or no drainage on the streets here so new routes to work, shops etc will need to be found for this season, I could do with footwear other than flip flops for walking through the muddy puddles…..

Anyway, a much nicer water tale…It involves Jodie having a bad week. In a moment of desperation she booked herself into Ngala Lodge (, it’s a lovely, small, posh hotel, and kindly invited Marney and I to join her for the evening. She had a sea view terrace with a private Jacuzzi. Despite instructions to only use it for 15 mins and not to drink alcohol we managed to stay in it for over 3 hours and drink 4 bottles of wine....
I think I lost about 6lbs as I finally managed to get clean! I felt a bit guilty about being a volunteer and sitting in a private Jacuzzi but got over that fairly quickly and had a fab time.

And finally, I thought I’d add a photo of one of my favourite places here, le batou. It right on the beach and I go here at least twice a week. If I’m finding things a bit tough or getting home sick then walking to the beach for a swim after work and then watching the sunset over the sea seems to help. It's also where I meet on Sundays and Thursdays to play touch rugby with other volunteers, ex-pats and locals. The trials of a volunteer lifestyle eh?!