Adventures in England

As our journey goes on we find ourselves in a dim and cold climate, coming out of a dank winter, a couple of months ago we were blessed with a beautiful summer like season of glorious sunshine and warmth, so taking the bull by the horns so to speak we headed out into the country side for a day in the sun deciding on Salisbury  home to a fine example of a medieval cathedral with England’s highest church spire and home of the Magna Carter.

The day started with a lovely breakfast in a French style coffee shop which was excellent and then a long walking tour around the city.

The weather has since gone back to cold so we look at the pictures and wait in hope for the sun to come back, amazing that on the same day the hose pipe ban came into affect the rains came.

England has some amazing country side and places to explore some of the most beautiful rivers and walkways, we went up to the ruins an old Roman town near Fleet awhile ago, will post on that later.

Enjoy the photos;;ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Weekends on the wild side

Nestled in the Lebombo mountains just outside Mbabane the capital of The Kingdom of Swaziland lies Mlilwane game reserve not quiet your deepest Africa big game park but a wonderful mix of rural game reserve and close enough to the city for those that desire it. The attraction for us was that the climate is temperate after the hot humid lowveld were summer never stops, the park is part of The Big Three Game Farms check out their website and pay a visit if you are ever there. We normally stayed in one of the Swazi Bee hive huts which was always a nice adventure in it’s self, cosy and cool in summer warm in winter this park is the ideal place to base yourself when exploring the surrounding attractions which include an old hand made glass blowing factory a fancy candle workshop and a whole host of craft villages all offering something slightly different.

For us a good meal in the open air restaurant overlooking the little lake with its crocodiles hippos and abundant bird life was the best way to relax and unwind especially as there were always so many different people there from all over the world it made interesting conversation swapping stories and experiences about life in general and then in the late evening sitting around the big log fire watching the Swazi tribal dancing listening to the drums beat, this is really a chilled out place to explore the surrounding region with its old stone age silver mine the forest areas and the mighty rivers even white water rafting for the adventurous, next week we visit Hlane for a foot tour through big 5 terrain till then enjoy.

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The Fishing Village

Just outside the city of Maputo Mozambique is a not so little town or suburb called in English the fishing village, this is in Maputo bay a busy centre of empowerment for the locals those owning and operating the boats the women who buy the fish and sell on to the markets and hawkers who then hit the trail to the city and suburbs to sell their wares, one thing about the Mozambicans, fresh food was important and in all my years there never got food poisoning or an upset stomach from buying food on the road side, did get a serious case of food poisoning from a local restaurant though.  Of great enjoyment to us was to go down in the late afternoon and watch the boats come in then to buy some fish to take home to grill as the locals do, sometimes we would buy a bucket of mussels to take along as well these we would boil up and very often encase the meat in a chilli batter mix and grill on the BBQ for a short while ohhhhhhhh like being in heaven, the fish we would cut grooves across the body rub with olive oil, garlic and peri-peri and then grill quickly over hot coals no flames, together with a few friends and a cold drink on a hot evening what a way to complete the day.

One of the interesting sights were the ever present goats eating what ever they could find including their meanderings across the boats in search of the elusive food.

The sad truth is the fishing grounds are being exploited as more and more small fish are taken out not getting the chance to grow to maturity, at one time there was a closed season which helped, but like all things progress takes its toll and very often the boats came in with very little and very immature fish. for the people, they need to earn money to live and the population needs to eat, a very difficult balancing act to follow, when we sit many miles away it is easy to pass judgement on exploitation ect but for the locals it is life, so far things seem to be working out ok only time will tell.

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On life’s journey

On this journey through life stop to look at those around you, you can learn the most amazing things if you just take the time to look and listen, years ago when I started out in the tourist business I had the fortune of having a very wise teacher who told me there are two types of visitor those that enjoy the trip as much as the destination and then those for who the trip is a waste of precious time those he said always end up dissatisfied or less satisfied and all things being equal will give you the most complaints how true I have found this to be. I am not in that industry any more but still observe this on my trips, life is short use it wisely.

Till later

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The Carpenters

Not long after arriving in Maputo to work our trusty driver and general helper around the office suggested I needed a new bed a hand carved version and he new just the people to supply it at a very good price, so several days later a couple of rough hand drawn diagrams were produced for my perusal I was told to take them home as my wife would need to make the final decision Tomo was a good salesman he knew how to sell … a decision was made and the order placed, about two weeks later I was informed that I needed to bring my wife to Maputo to inspect the bed and to make sure it was up to our standard, now comes the interesting part this was still in the time just after the war and life was not so simple we were taken on this journey into the Barracas or suburbs a maze of windy very narrow streets if you can call them that in between rows of houses made of reeds ans mud to this clearing were we parked then a 10 minute walk to a second clearing and what a site greeted us a workshop staffed only by war and land mine victims each person was missing  at least one limb some two, they had an old lathe powered by a half bicycle  with an armless chap sitting on an improvised seat peddling the bike to turn the lathe and legless guys using home made chisels hand making this bed headboard this was a moving experience in people who made something happen out of disaster a people who created works of art even with the disabilities and misfortune that had befallen them we ended up buying two bedside cabinets as well. In today’s world of supposed entitlement this was a lesson to us., I will say no more except that this bed and side tables has now travelled to the other side of the world with us.

Till next time … lift some one up ………….two pictures of the beds hand carved by seriously disadvantaged people who made themselves more advantaged than most … makes you think

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Mozambique perceptions and paradox

I came across an article the other day on Mozambique, worlds poorest nation becomes fastest growing economy, very true, but what is poorest, I went over there in the mid 90’s after the end of the war, what was there? boarded up empty shops cardboard instead of glass in the windows the streets lined with 1960’s wrecked cars and vans bombed out warehouses and potholed roads, that was on the surface beneath all that were complete sub-cultures of industrious entrepreneurial people going about there daily lives creating a living for themselves. They did not have the luxuries of what we in the west would call essentials but there were no pot bellied babies or queue’s of starving people with hands held out waiting for a hand out what was there was a proud nation ready to make the best of every situation, yes the hospitals were scary the police corrupt  bandits ruled at night  as the presidential motorcade hurtled through town with sirens blaring forcing everyone out of the way.Then came Billiton and built a 5b$ aluminium smelter and all this changed for some in a big way and for others the spin off was there to be had, within one year all the scrap cars had gone Japanese imports flooded the country shops reopened highways were built and the economy boomed  for some, out in the country not much changed land mines were slowly cleared the locals carried on planting their maize and few veg living from hand to mouth eking out a survival day to day oblivious to the wealth of the cities.

This was a place I called home for close to ten years a place I came to love and a people I came to respect one of the most polite and respectful people  yip there were great groups of baddies around like anywhere but if you treated them well they did amazing things for you.

Over the next few blogs I will share some experiences from those times, like buying a hand carved bed made by landmine victims,till then smile, make some ones day

Below some photos of the beach at Bilene a shallow warm lagoon, sort of like paradise.


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Quick Thought

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