The Liebster Award Nomination

I could equally well have titled this post “Encouragement”.  Thank you so much for the nomination.  It has given me the push I need to power on through this still-fresh, often confusing new world of blogging.


I love awards!  These are the rules that go with this one:

1. Display the Liebster award on your blog.

2. Thank and link back to your nominator.

3. Answer the nominator’s 11 questions.

4. Nominate 11 other bloggers with about 200 or fewer followers and link to them.

5. Draft 11 new questions for your nominees.

6. Notify your nominees via their blogs or social media.


1. How do you feel about getting nominated for the Liebster Award?

Totally chuffed!  And it’s a great idea, giving new bloggers encouragement and promoting our blogs to a wider readership.

2. What made you start blogging?

My friend Sarah at was my inspiration.

There’s a bit more to the story but I find I’ve explained it fairly well at another site that didn’t get off the ground:

3. Where is your favourite place in the world?

In bed beside my husband,


Wherever the air is fresh and unpolluted, where the sounds are of nature or beautiful music, where there is something to read and something to write on, with people I love, and clean, swimmable water nearby.

4. Bungee jump or surfing?

Surfing.  But I don’t really need the fear of either.

5. If you could go back in time and do something different in your life, what would that be?

Accept that offer to crew on Glide, from Florida through the Panama Canal to California.  Damn!

6. Where will your next holiday/vacation destination be?

I plan to go to Rwanda next month.

7. Dogs or Cats?

I love them both.  But if there are birds around, a dog is better.

8. Tell us about your favourite food!

The humble egg is my Prince of Foods.  Versatile, nutritious and totally delicious.  Poached, fried, soft-boiled with soldiers, scrambled, omeletted, quiched and French toasted.  Nothing beats a hard-boiled egg or two when you’re travelling, – it comes in its own hygienic, biodegradable wrapping (as do bananas which run a close second) and can be eaten on bumpy buses and wild seas.  But only from happy hens, not the poor caged birds who are victims of an industrial farming practice that should be outlawed everywhere.

9. What is your perfect day?

One where I am kind to someone, don’t offend anyone, feel I have achieved something and still have time to ponder.

10. Who would be your dream dinner companion?

Whew, that’s a hard one.  There are so many people I would like to have dinner with, – for the conversation.  For example: Martha Gellhorn, war journalist (also Ernest Hemingway’s fourth wife – she survived that too!).   Anais Nin.  Or Doris Lessing. I seem to be leaning towards great female writers, and I’m assuming their conversation would in some way reflect their writing.  Doris Lessing may be an exception, judging from her candid reception of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I hope she would accept my admiration and share her wisdom with me.

11. Do these questions all seem very random to you too?

Yes!  And now I have to think of 11 more! 🙂

Here are my nominations for the Liebster Award: – Sculpture – everywhere and Anytime: Art (especially sculpture) and its conservation. Incredibly informative and well-researched.  Beautifully presented, together with some quirky photography and thoughts. – A travel writer and photographer looks with fresh eyes at her hometown Melbourne – A young, fresh travel blog by an international school teacher – Accomplishing 60 things while 60.  Gutsy and funny. – a beautifully crafted blog with stunning photography and insightful comment, regular postings and clear presentation – inspiring paintings and photography – beautiful photography, craft, nature, animals and family life – Margaret Miller showcases exquisite photos and textile work – Travel and life abroad, through a Peace Corp teacher’s eyes – young and bright, lovely photos and random thoughts, we share an African connection – beautiful photography and inspirational musings

New Questions (I apologise if your blog already contains the answers to some of these).

  1. How do you fit blogging into your life?
  2. Do you spend more time posting on your own blog or looking at other blogger’s material?
  3. Vegemite, Promite, or Marmite? (Careful, – this could be a trick question!) 🙂
  4. How have your friends and family reacted to your interest in blogging?
  5. If you had to spend a whole day inside a building, which one would it be?
  6. What gives you the most pleasure, – the journey or the destination?
  7. Where are you right now?
  8. Who are your heroes?
  9. Why do you blog?
  10. If you had to lose one of your senses, which would it be?
  11. Would you rather be a whale or a shark? (Definitely a trick question!) 🙂

Your blogs are awesome; I enjoy visiting and watching them develop.  Happy blogging and keep in touch! 

Around the World Reading Challenge

I’ve just signed up for a reading challenge at: Not a hardship post, – more of an invitation really.  How lovely!  I have agreed to read at least one book by authors from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa in 2015.  Oh, I have to write about them too. I’m currently about halfway through a wonderful book by Owen Sheers called The Dust Diaries.  Described as ‘semi-fictional’, it is written in such a way that I believe every word.  It is the story of Sheers’ search for the truth about his great-uncle, a British missionary in Southern Rhodesia during the first half of the twentieth century.  A story within a story, it is written with great warmth and wit. Both stories, that of the adventurous young Sheers tramping around Zimbabwe, and that of his ancestor, the Rev. Cripps, in whose footsteps he walks (sometimes quite literally), are utterly compelling. I’ll post more when I have finished reading.  Owen Sheers was born in Fiji and raised in South Wales,  – I think he qualifies as my first European author. Thanks for the idea Debra and happy reading fellow travellers!

Portrait Gallery


Thanks to Hogrider Dookes at for inspiring me with the Gallery format.  To try it out I’ve posted a few old portraits in a variety of media.  I really love working in soft pastel, and they usually work for me, but am still always trying to become a better painter.  I also love the texture and ‘accidents’ that happen with collage and watercolour.

The Glue Accident


This is an old student claymation video, – I think the shortest in history.  But it tickles me.  I hit the play button over and over again and laugh more each time.  (What does that say about me?)  Credit goes to Tae Ho (creator) and Christina Ruchkina (editor), – I am using it here as my first attempt to post a video link for Blogging 101.  I hope you like it.

Going Solo

Re-springing Your Step

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

Should a disclaimer ever be needed (and I don’t believe it is in our family but I’d like anybody reading this to be absolutely sure), I love my Russians deeply. Vladimir and I were married on Zanzibar 18 months ago after five years of a courtship peppered with sometimes hilarious (sometimes not) cross-cultural misunderstandings and adventures.  Masha his eldest came here to Tanzania for our wedding and stayed; she attends the school where I teach and is preparing for her final IGCSE exams.  We live in a small house with a big garden and lots of friendly neighbours, including many young children who provide Masha with a regular babysitting income.  Not being blessed with a strong maternal instinct, I am glad Masha is 17.  We get on well, especially since she has worked so hard on improving her English and I have given up trying to communicate in my bad Russian.  I’ve also stopped trying to be a step-mother (evil or otherwise) and now see us more as a Gang of Three.  Our sense of solidarity is getting stronger as we prepare to move to Australia in July.  It is a move ‘back home’ for me, – and immigration for my Russians.  Gathering the documentation required before we can submit the application is quite a process.

Which is where my Going Solo story really begins.  Soon after the Christmas frivolity subsided, Vladimir and Masha had to jump on a plane to Dar Es Salaam to visit the Russian Embassy; Vladimir  to pick up his passport and Masha to apply for a new one.  In order to serve a related requirement for unravelling red-tape, (one of the police checks I must get for every country I have lived in over the last ten years – for Masha’s protection because she is still a minor) I jumped on a bus to Nairobi, to get a document stamped at the Philippine Embassy.

What fun!  I had almost forgotten what a buzz I get from travelling alone.  And knowing I had my family to return home to just sweetened the experience.  There was also an element of hope, – hope that I would return to them in one piece, as anyone who’s ever been on a Tanzanian bus can probably relate to.   I gripped the seat as we overtook slow trucks on blind corners, horn blaring should another vehicle have the impudence to be headed in the opposite direction at the same time.   In an effort to reduce accidents, Tanzanian buses are not allowed on the road after 8pm but this is not the case in Kenya: safely (somehow) at the border, and after clearing immigration, I boarded an evening bus that took me through the night to Nairobi.  I kept my eyes shut most of the way.

My business at the Embassy being over by 10am, the thought of immediately starting the 15 hour trip back to Mwanza was not attractive.  The spring was returning to my step.  I was on an adventure and I wasn’t ready to go home.  The overnight train to Mombasa seemed the next logical thing to do. The spring in my step got a little bouncier after I’d bought my ticket; I even smiled when the lady behind the counter advised me the train would be five hours late, –  what was an extra five hours to me?  I elbowed my way onto a crowded matatu and took myself off to the cinema, (Night at the Museum 2, silly but entertaining enough) then spent time in the supermarket wandering up and down the aisles (an adventure in itself, coming from Mwanza),  putting together a special dinner for my wait: a couple of triangles of camembert, two lovely fresh bread rolls, some mandarines, and a wee bottle of red wIne. I finally felt like I was really on holiday.

The holiday feeling had waned somewhat after the first six or seven hours on the platform.  Renate, a friendly biotechnologist from Vienna, and I (we met when we were both kicked out of the station restaurant at closing time) had polished off most of our train snacks, finished our books and were huddled in scarves and towels trying to keep out the cold.  As were all the other waiting passengers, some occasionally pacing the platform to break the boredom and stir the circulation.  I must admit, the spring in my step was starting to flag.

It’s all part of the journey though, isn’t it?  Even though the train eventually left 10 hours behind schedule, – when we finally did snuggle down in our little compartment the beds were warm and comfortable, the fact that we travelled in daylight rather than overnight meant that we saw zebras and wildebeest and gazelle (and I heard later, someone saw giraffes), and later in the day while we ate in the dining car, amongst more delicious company, the changing landscape of Kenya rolled past us for hours, a live movie that was to me far more intriguing than Night at the Museum.

Finally on the coast: two nights in a welcoming backpackers’, a swim in the sea and a snorkel on the reef, practising my Swahili with the suffering locals (not sure what’s most to blame for keeping so many tourists away, – is it ebola or is it terrorist threats?), and New Year’s Eve dancing in a famous pirates bar on the beach.  The spring in my step was becoming quite bouncy.   A night in a cheap and cheerful city hotel, a leisurely wander inside the battlements of Fort Jesus (where I also stumbled on a real treasure of an exhibition: dozens of paintings casually strung along a verandah, –  all gorgeous watercolours of vibrantly coloured fish done from observation and memory by Joy Adamson, the lion lady), and an even more leisurely stroll through Old Town, stopping here and there for a bite to eat and to ask directions.  By this stage my steps were springing all over the place.  It was time to go home.

I had another long bus ride back into Tanzania, but this time through Dar Es Salaam, where I could catch a plane home to Mwanza.  No more buses for me, – but the mechanics and discomforts were no longer important.  I had rediscovered my passion for solo travelling, and day by day, step by step, recharged my severely depleted batteries, reestablishing myself (in my own mind) as a strong, curious and appreciative explorer and putting the spring right back where it belongs, – in my step.

Postscript: My Russians were as happy to see me home as I was to be there.  They noticed the difference and have promised to send me away again soon.