It’s good to be back in London!

After 9 weeks away it was certainly good to be back in London! I’d been to Africa, living a different life, meeting different people and having different experiences and landing back in Heathrow into a sunny spring day brought a big smile to my face. I love being away and exploring the world but it’s always good to be home.

Here’s a whistle-stop tour through those 9 weeks with just a few photos to illustrate my experiences, I will save you from the rest of the 3,500 photos I took!

The first 6 weeks were spent in Swaziland volunteering on a building project, helping to finish a school building for young children, many of whom are orphans. AIDS has had a devastating impact on Swaziland and many families take in children whose parents have died or are ill, putting great strain on them, so these children need somewhere to go during the day for food and education. Our task was to finish one large schoolroom, plastering it inside and out and laying the floor. That sounds so easy but with no power tools and having to fetch water from a tap across the field it was hard work, but we somehow managed to finish it and I gained all kinds of extra muscles!

Hard at work

Even harder work!

Here are the kids we were building the school for

Luckily there was some spare time during the project to explore Swaziland and to take some side trips to Mozambique and Kruger National Park. In Kruger, I was able to fulfil my long-held wish to see a leopard and we managed a really close up and personal meeting with this most beautiful beast and to add to my joy we had the opportunity to see several rhinos, a real treat when I think of how few are still left in the world.

My beautiful leopard

A pair of precious rhinos

One African country that has fascinated me for most of my adult life is Ethiopia with its rich history and fabulous scenery so I decided to spend a couple of weeks touring around after my volunteering. After waiting so long to go there was I disappointed? Absolutely not! Travelling through incredible mountain ranges, and climbing some of them (!); visiting richly painted churches and seeing the religious traditions; learning about their proud rich culture; and, eating their wonderful food – how could I be disappointed. It’s hard to pick out just a few highlights to show in my photos but here goes…

Firstly the mountains:

Extraordinary landscapes in the far north near Hawzen

The endless vistas in the Simien mountains

Churches and traditions:

Highly decorated church interiors are everywhere

Parading church treasures on a special day

The incredible St George’s rock-hewn church at Lalibela

The food and drink:

Tasty Shiro

Everything comes with injera – a type of bread used to eat with

St George – the national and best beer

The people, I couldn’t whittle these down any further…

Deacons and priests chanting

At the cattle market

There are always people walking to and from market

Praying at St George’s church on the saint’s day

More walking…

Celebrations on a special church day

School pupils all have uniforms and of course, walk to school…

People arrived as if from nowhere whenever we stopped

And not to be missed – the highest bar in Africa!

In the Simien mountains – cheers!

I loved my time away, it was a fantastic trip full of fun, exploring and challenges. However, it was really good to be back in London!

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