A Uganda Day

I could let this photo speak for itself:

Doing a Liz at PremierObviously I won’t let it speak for itself, that would defeat the point of blogging…

That’s me, doing a Liz, in the Premier Radio studios in Pimlico. It’s also photographic evidence of my first-ever live, in-studio, radio interview. Specifically, I was there to talk on Woman to Woman about the Uganda trip – it wasn’t just me, Bex phoned in from Durham. [Dave was excluded on the basis of his gender.] It was great to have a chance to share some of the stories and lovely (though weird) to be talking to Bex in such a manner.

It meant that I also had a chance to catch up with Holly (the genius behind the trip) over tea while she prepped me for the interview. Holly visited Soroti and Ogongora in 2011, and obviously had kept a close watch over our adventures. I’ve struggled over the last few weeks with the feeling that I might become a Uganda bore if I’m not too careful, so it was brilliant to chat about things with someone who wouldn’t mind.

After a morning of answering questions about the trip, I spent the afternoon doing the same, this time with an old friend who lives in Kampala. Why didn’t we have our conversation in Kampala while I was there? Well, how’s this for a situation…

On the night we landed at Entebbe, my friend Abby, her husband Sam and their young daughter were watching from the window of the departure lounge. They boarded the plane we’d just got off and set off to London so Sam could have a job interview. On the night we left Entebbe, Sam got off the plane we were to board minutes later. Random. Fortunately, Abby and their daughter Rachel have stayed in the UK for a while, meaning that we could catch up in colder climes.

Years ago, when I first moved into my grotty Bermondsey flat, I was moving in with Abby. We worked together at CMS and decided to get a flat together. Within weeks she started seeing a handsome Ugandan she’d first met at her sister’s wedding in Kampala. Within months they were engaged. 7 months after moving in, she left for Kampala. Today was the first time we’d seen each other since her wedding blessing nearly 6 years ago. Crazy.

Crazy, but brilliant. Processing thoughts, feelings and wonderings post-Uganda has been tricky, but here I had someone who understood both the culture in which I exist and the one I experienced only briefly. We had shared experiences of challenges, humour and cultural differences. I was particularly thankful that she was able to solve a mystery that had bothered me throughout the trip – why was Mbale a familiar place name to me? [It’s where the ‘good’ road stopped en route to Soroti.] It had to be to do with CMS mission partners I’d worked with, but I couldn’t remember who – Abby did and my mind was thankful! [Small things…]

Plus, I got to catch up with someone I’d always enjoyed hanging out with and I met their delightful daughter. All in all, a pretty good few hours.

RachelThe lovely Rachel.

Behind the times

In so many ways, I’m now behind the times.

Not only is ‘blogging so 2004’ (according to Wired), but it’s taken me almost a week to respond to the post on this topic on Jonny Baker’s blog.

I came into the blogging fold in 2005, so in many ways I’d already missed the boat. Even then, it took me over a year to really find my niche. At the time, I was working for CMS and very conscious of the other bloggers amongst my colleagues (like Jonny, Dave and Naomi, not to mention the Mission Partners I worked with) whose blogs were not only interesting, but oh so worthy.

It was actually leaving CMS that proved to be the catalyst for my blog developing, in two ways:
(i) It was a way of keeping my old colleagues up to date with my random adventures and ‘funny’ stories.
(ii) My new job resulted in me working closely with two fellow bloggers who inspired me (ocassionally in a competitive way) to write more. First Abidemi and then Andy were employed as writers, so I felt I could learn a lot from both of them. (Whether I did or not is another matter!)

Blogging suits me. I’m naturally rather verbose and it taps into my need to write in order to process things that are going on. I’ve kept a diary since I was 13, was trained to write travel journals as a child, keep a ‘God book’ to keep track of what’s going on spiritually and write an anonymous blog (which, since being found by a friend is very well hidden/disguised) that’s where I splurge my innermost thoughts and feelings.

Whilst I enjoy coming up with amusing facebook statuses, I don’t think I’d cope well with Twitter’s limited number of characters. Equally, I’d like to have a bit more to read and think about than a brief update.

I still feel like blogging is a bit of a self-indulgent habit. I’m conscious that my new colleagues don’t blog or even read blogs and every time I mention mine, I feel like I’m labelling myself as a geek. (They also keep threatening to read it, which would be fine, but it might reveal a bit too much about myself and I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet. Which is weird. Plus, the problem with colleagues reading your blog is that you end up repeating funny anecdotes which they actually read on your blog over the weekend…)

Is it particularly self-indulgent that I love knowing who reads this? I’m addicted to my analytics software and trying to figure out who visitors are, not to mention being endlessly amused by the ways in which this blog comes up on google. The whole point of a blog is that other people can read it, but for some reason I never cease to be surprised that people do.

Like last week, when I posted a note on facebook just letting people know that my blog wasn’t importing anymore (still no idea why). I didn’t really think that many people read it, but knew, for example, that a friend who’s currently on placement overseas usually read it that way, so didn’t want him to miss out. Shortly afterwards I had messages and comments on my blog from people saying how much they liked it, I was so touched! Easiest way I’ve ever managed to feel affirmed, warm & fuzzy!

So what’s my point? I guess in a way, Wired’s right – blogging is a bit old school these days. But actually, whilst facebook and Twitter promote faster, more immediate contact, there’s still a place for this dinosaur. I don’t care about blogs being a live commentary on what’s going on in the world, but I do care about what people are thinking and doing and love having the privilege to gain an insight into their lives.

As I said, I’m rather verbose…