55 shades of heat….. in Mali

Heat does amazing things to your body and brain. As Bamako basks (or boils) at over 41°c degrees (that’s 106 fahrenheit for the rest of us) I now think of cold liquids (water, beer, water, water, gin, water) all the time. Sweat pearls down my neck all day, my pee is almost orange and when […]

Plastic paradise: why recycling and clean fuel can raise the stakes in Mali

Hello again, from sunny Bamako, where the temperature is going up just as mangos are tumbling from the trees.  It’s getting hot here and the temperature is going to keep climbing, till it busts 50 degrees Celsius: that, ladies and gentlemen who are not from the US, is 120 degrees fahrenheit. Hot enough to fry […]

Why Leonard is illuminating the darkness and how to face down facebook with metta

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve survived Christmas and are cruising towards New Year, happy or sad, reinvigorated or bruised by life. This year hasn’t been easy for most of the world – I’m listening to Mr Leonard Cohen wanting it darker right now which has, of course, has set me off on a twilit path of […]

Why Bamako is the new Bangui

Hello again, with greetings from Bamako! I’m now living here, in this busy city filled with life and traffic fumes and poverty and occasional joy and music and peanut sauce and above all, banter. Malians like to joke. So do I, which is why I think we are getting along. Despite the traffic. I moved […]

Paradise….. if you can stand it

Do you ever wonder what actually happens to clothes you donate? Where they end up – and who wears them? Well, I’m in Greece, on the island of Samos working with Samos Volunteers for a month, and can testify about what happens to the donated items we receive here, and who receives them. We are working […]

Referenda Furorem, staying optimistic when hysteria Trumps truth and international postings

So. You know something’s gone seriously wrong when Marie Le Pen is celebrating the UK referendum result, 7 members of the Labour shadow cabinet (and counting) have resigned and 1.3 million voters have signed a petition demanding a re-run of Thursday’s historic vote. Scotland First Minister La Sturgeon is already threatening to veto BREXIT. Right […]

Calm in CAR, rhododendrons in Nepal and the global search for happiness!

So. Bangui and I finally parted company four months ago. It was hard in a good way, because it felt like the right move, which counts as a good ending. I spent my last night in ‘La coquette’ sitting on my balcony eating pizza with friends and laughing about the experiences we’ve shared over the […]

In which Bangui sees the Pope Francois come and go in a Holy Whirl

So. The Pope arrived here in Bangui this morning just slightly late at 10.45 am. I heard his plane touch down, the Presidential cavalcade screeching its way past the airport, and later this afternoon hymns from the Cathedral mass drifted up to my garden. I live near Bangui Cathedral, and have a pass to the Pope […]

In which tennis becomes a political statement

These last couple of weeks in Bangui have been very stressful. Between 24 September – 2 October an eruption of violence, politically orchestrated and clearly calculated to bring down the discredited Transitional Government, killed at least 77 people. Hundreds more were injured, and houses were burnt down across Bangui’s 5th arrondissement. International NGO offices were […]

how to write about the Central African Republic

Having previously pondered how pushed-for-time reporters tend to write about life, and more especially death, here in the Central African Republic (CAR) I thought I’d post my own guide to writing about CAR. With a nod and heavy wink to Binyavanga Wainaina’s stupendous 2005 satire, ‘how to write about Africa,’ which still makes me laugh today. […]