Mengo view

Our bedroom window faces southwest across the Kampalan suburb of Mengo. It looks across rusted tin roofs and palms trees to the pylons on top of the Lubaga and Namirembe hills. Woods smoke and clotted humidity permanently cloud the air. Although we don’t open the curtains often, I retain a detailed and nuanced mental map of our neighbourhood assembled from the polyphonic soundscape that we … Continue reading Mengo view

My Ugandan office

I am sitting at my new desk in a small lightly painted office under the lee of palms and jackfruit trees from the compound next door. Two chickens are clucking around the open doorway in the bright sunshine. I share this office with Lorna and the office administrator. My brow is beaded with sweat; it must be about twenty-eight degrees. It hasn’t yet rained today. … Continue reading My Ugandan office

Arrival in Kampala

Long-term lists, short-term lists. Ticking items off lists. Contracts to be signed, contracts to be terminated. Fees paid repeatedly. Unexpected expenses. Unanticipated purchases. Phone calls, interviews. Calendars consulted and dates agreed upon. Vaccinations. Different categories of possessions packed and moved to storage and to various homes. Multiple goodbyes and send offs. Packing away lives, packing away possessions. It has come to this again. Why do … Continue reading Arrival in Kampala

Spending time in Oslo

Perhaps it was because it’s a Sunday or some national holiday I thought, or maybe we’re in the wrong part of town. When we walked out of the central train station onto the main pedestrian street Karl Johans Gate, I couldn’t understand why Oslo was so tranquil and quiet.  After a couple of days I realized that it is always this relaxed. Despite being Norway’s largest … Continue reading Spending time in Oslo

Baltic crossing: Gdańsk to Nynäsham

Staring through the glass of the bus window ito the darkness of the northern Polish countryside, stiff and tired from the ten hour ride from Krakow, I realised I knew nothing of Gdańsk, the town we were about to arrive at. Even so, I had assumed that a port town on the edge of the Baltic Sea would be dank, bleak and inhospitable. As we … Continue reading Baltic crossing: Gdańsk to Nynäsham

Venice dinner dash

  Within about five minutes of leaving the train station I knew that we were lost. It should have been simple – head directly south and we’ll find the restaurant we’re looking for. Racing through the looming darkness past crowds of dawdling tourists onto yet another dank canal, another crumbling church or a suspiciously familiar dead-end piazza, we realized that this task was beyond the … Continue reading Venice dinner dash

Avoiding the beach and bad puns in Monopoli, Puglia

While staying in Rome we often wondered where all the Italians were. Outside the central tourist areas it often felt like a ghost town. No need to worry – we found them all at the beach in Puglia. Sprawled for miles across rocks, sand, pebbles, car parks, campgrounds, hanging off cliff faces, along old castle walls, and lying on boardwalks, the holidaying Italians were hemmed … Continue reading Avoiding the beach and bad puns in Monopoli, Puglia

All roads lead to Roman-style decadence and excess

Or perhaps just cheap online fights lead to Rome. After flying from Luxor we spent a few days in a little boutique hotel in the central Campo Marzio area near the Piazza del Paradiso. Here, amongst Renaissance architecture and throngs of sandalled tourists, we rediscovered exquisite Western delicacies that had been absent from the African campgrounds and hostels during our previous four months of travel. … Continue reading All roads lead to Roman-style decadence and excess

Sightseeing during a military coup

For tourists looking to explore Egypt’s inspiring and mysterious past, we spent an awful lot of time thinking about its disheartening present while it was splurged in real-time across the world through on-the-ground news reports, twitter and all other manner of implausibly new-fangled communications media. On 3rd July 2013, about four weeks prior to our arrival in the country, the Egyptian military announced that President … Continue reading Sightseeing during a military coup