Our cruise round the Western Med was the most relaxing break in years - even allowing for a hot tramp round Pompeii (haven't been since 78 and that was a school trip - it hasn't changed much but I understand it better now!)
I was bemused to find a street that appeared to have been paved with stones from the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. We went to a Sicilian olive farm for lunch. Having read Carol Drinkwater's books about her own olive farm and also her talk in Bangor at the Aspects Literary Festival, we were keen to see an organic olive farm for ourselves - and we enjoyed the scenery as we sailed out of the harbour at sunset.
Other highlights included a trip to a Corsican organic essential oil producer (mum and dad surrounded by fragrant, pungent maquis in Corisca - rosemary, lavender etc) and later to a small family run business where they make nougat to die for. Mmmm.
Less than a week after we got home, the passports and bags were at the ready again. The African trip was unexpected. For years I've been trying to persuade my parents to visit Uganda and see the projects they've been prayerfully and financially supporting since I visited the country several times on work teams in the 1980s. At last, on a whim, dad agreed and I had the tickets bought and collected before he got the full stop at the end of the sentence.
We went to Kenya first to stay with a friend from home for a few days (a soft landing - it's higher, so fewer bugs and cooler temperatures - also less humid than Uganda.)It was lovely to see Graham again - just sorry he couldn't join us when we headed to Lake Naivasha for a couple of days to stay in the fabulous Chui Lodge. Oh man, what a trip that was. Several game drives, a couple of sundowners and a large, greedy python later (it ate, then barfed up "Bambi") we headed back to Nairobi for another overnight at Graham's. Luxury all round.
Then we headed to "real" Africa and the Acheru project run by Africare. I love Uganda. It's sticky, the roads are still hopeless outside of the main routes, there are bugs galore and I'll never be able to digest matoke, but it's wonderful.
It was dad's 79th birthday while we were there, and some of the children clambered to the verandah to sing happy birthday to him. (that's them on the left.) It was incredibly moving - and such a joyful day. The unit offers care and treatment for children in need of (mainly) orthopaedic surgery and rehab. It is NOTHING like what we can access at home, but they're setting new standards in Uganda and getting referals from all round the country - and beyond and man are they putting smiles on wee faces.Funding is mainly from NI and we're having a coffee morning on Saturday to spread the word about the work going on in Acheru. If you know where I live and you're in the area - we'd LOVE to see you - just swing by for a cuppa (and a freshly baked scone with good Irish butter and home made plum jam!)
I've gone into overdrive making jams (lemon curd, plum) and marmalades (ginger and Bushmills whiskey!) Hopefully the little pots of sunshine will sell! (If you don't live nearby I'll post you a scone! And if you'd making a even a little donation, you could do so online at www.acheru.com - go on, you know our scones are great - and I'll post them ANYwhere in the world. Ask nicely and I might even manage a wee tody tiny pot of marmalade too!)