It’s 3 am on Easter morning and we are woken by gospel singing blasting out full volume. This continues until 5 am, when various competitors join in from the surrounding villages. We are near Bintung, a Christian stronghold in the majority-Muslim Indonesia and the singing marks the beginning of an Eater procession. We have come here to finish our holiday with some muck diving at Black Sand Dive Retreat. Ross has been here twice before, and I once – Manado is short hop (three hours) from Singapore and was on our long weekend itineraries. Continue reading →
We arrive in Ternate to the sound of the Imam calling the faithful to prayer. It is the height of Ramadan and we are in the North Maluku archipelago where we are to board the Dewi Nusantara for the fourth time. We speed out past a huge green mosque where our three-masted home for the next few days is anchored. She really is a splendid vessel, 5 metres wide and 60m long. The staterooms are luxurious with huge king size beds and a spacious en-suite with piping hot water – just what’s needed after an hour-long dive.
The first port of call on our thrice-postponed diving trip to Raja Ampat is Singapore. Since my broken and dislocated shoulder at the end of December I have been doing my physio religiously every day and having acupuncture, cranial osteopathy and massage. I’ve brought with me three different wet suit combos to see what I can actually fit my shoulders into so I am well prepared. Continue reading →
An outing to the top of the cable car towards the end of January
So here we are ten weeks after my injury. Time to take stock. I spent the whole of January in Switzerland looking longingly at the perfect snow and sunshine. Well, there was one week of blizzards where it was so cold that I hardly dared venture out.
Always a bittersweet time of year: my annual check-up and Louise’s birthday. Here we are on her 18th about to go clubbing. She styled my outfit, Kate Moss Topshop dress…an embarrassing mum moment.
The good news first. I always know when all’s well when I get the registrar rather than the consultant to give me the results. This year it was another smooth NHS performance, timings like clockwork. And the consultation so relaxed she forgot to look at my leg as we were too busy talking about diving. Next year – 10 years on – time for my sign off and the ‘big party’ in the words of my surgeon. I have already received the appointment letter for the CT scan in November 2023 as final belt & braces.
I first visited Lamu when I was eight years old. My mother was excavating the Pate and Manda ruins with Neville Chittick, the director of the British Institute in East Africa and the love of her life. They camped on Manda Toto, a small island of Lamu whose significance will be clear later. ‘Mama Sheila’ was the doyenne of Lamu society – beloved by all. Chronicler of the old oral tradition, culture and friend and patron of many. She bought a house there in about 1970 which she owned until the 1980s. I spent many happy holidays there, and our honeymoon. Continue reading →
Juliet with Patrick, the Farm Africa Project Manager, showing us a recently mulched field
After Zimbabwe, we travel to Kenya. Here I am to visit some Farm Africa projects and to host a donor cultivation event, whose purpose is to introduce private equity, corporate investors and potential new partners to our work in East Africa, but specifically in Kenya where we have regional headquarters. With a team of 200 staff operating across Eastern Africa, Farm Africa is a unique NGO with over 35 years of experience working with small scale farmers in agriculture, market engagement and natural resource management. We work collaboratively with communities and business to build resilient and sustainable livelihoods so that people and the planet can thrive together. I only recently joined the Board so am anxious to leverage my contacts and see the work that we do in person. Continue reading →
This must be my 9th visit to Mana and I never tire of it. Growing up in Tanganyika (yes, that’s what it was called when I was little!), one of my happiest memories is going to Mikumi game park with my Dad, and camping in ancient tents on rickety old canvas beds, with a long drop, canvas basin and no shower! Dad and I would drive around the park, getting up at the crack of dawn and he would make a fire and cook eggs, bacon and fried bread. Heaven. Continue reading →
Still exhausted from Covid and lying on the sofa watching Wimbledon, I haul myself off to meet Ross in Champery after his long walk. Heathrow is busy and security has long queues and we are late taking off as there not enough staff to load the plane. This is only the beginning of broken Britain – the worst is yet to come I fear. I go to Switzerland to try and forget about the state we are in….and to admire the Swiss attention to detail as below! Continue reading →