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Showing posts from May, 2009

Yippee I got here!

Where should I start? The flight? 3 sick bags on the way into Port Harcourt in the middle of a tropical rainstorm,thunder, lightening et al... v. scary!

The beautiful faces of the ladies who were sent to meet us? Their clothes? Stunning and very welcoming and after a long flight and feeling very uncertain it was great to see so many happy faces.

The drive from the airport to Government House where we are staying was very eciting too! Police landrover in front and back with sirens blaring and armed escort on our mini bus. We still ended up stuck in traffic but it was definitely memorable.

The accommodation. Luxury that has seen better days, but very clean and huge air conditioning units in all the rooms. No bugs! Hoorah! Well not inside anyway... plenty outside!

The first lady has assigned a group of ladies who take it in turns to babysit us and make sure that we have every thing we need. They are very gracious and very generous and our every whim is catered for. Of course we t…

SoapMission Africa - Pre-Launch

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... I am just about ready to go to Nigeria. We have had one or two little concerns over the last week or so. We may be staying at The Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt. It looks great... and very unexpected since I thought it would be more along the mud hut lines but before I get too excited... the health and leisure page of the website shows a picture of a sofa... mmmm. It does say there is a pool, but when I checked all three locations that Google Maps gave for the same hotel... there wasnt anything that looked like a pool... satelite pictures might lie... but they sure dont look like the picture on the website!

One of our group found an online forum for ex-pats in Nigeria and asked for some information on the hotel. This was the response she got after she declined the invitation to have a male escort for the duration of our stay.
"The Presidential is a market place with semi government types and shadycharacters lolling on the sofas in the front area. I would not feel safe there…

Kilimanjaro Update

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Billy Jon has been working hard to get fit enough for his challenge on Mt. Kilimanjaro in October. Most of his training is cardiovasculor on the bike at the gym. But he likes to get out and walk as much as possible too.

Today we had lunch with him and his wife Billy Carrie and met their new puppy Teigan.



After lunch we went for a short walk and Billy Jon showed me his new leg brace. Without these on his legs he can barely walk.


When we first were told that he would have to wear braces, we thought of Forest Gump and were a bit concerned about how normal they would look. But of course these are much more modern. He needs a full lower leg one on his left leg because he has no movement of that ankle at all and it holds his foot at the correct angle for walking. On his other leg he has a shorter one because he has some movement of his ankle on that side. It really is amazing what advances they have made with this kind of thing. With long trousers on, it is impossible to tell that he is wea…

Well Preserved!

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A large box was delivered to the Technobilly household today! I was quite excited because I hadn't expected this to come so soon after ordering it. Billy Fergus was intrigued too.
I opened it up... to find another large box inside....

and inside that box was this..........

It's a pasteuriser/automatic preserving cooker. I bought it from here. It will enable me to bottle all my expected glut of tomatoes at one go. It takes 13 x 1 litre Kilner jars at a time! YAY! The excitement was all too much for BillyFergus! Gone are the entire days of standing over a pressure cooker that can only handle one jar at a time! It means that I can make chutneys and jams and bottled fruit till the cows come home.... well not my cows obviously. Molly was quite interested in the box, so everyone was happy!

The Trouble with Families!

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Families!! It's what makes life wonderful, but it can be what makes your life difficult too. I have been thinking a great deal about my childhood recently and various events that happened to me, that I considered traumatic, the death of my mother when I was 11 in particular. And of course that would be a terrible event for any child - but because my father was brought up in a very different world we seemed to do the 'stiff upper lip' thing and we carried on as normal, or as near normal as possible, as if nothing had happened. Of course if you don't deal with emotional events, if you suppress your feelings, they always come back to haunt you later on.
This is a picture of my grandmother (the little girl on her mother's knee - she looks to me like she was squirming) and her brother and my great grandparents. When I did some research into what their life was like I was amazed at what great granny had to cope with.

My great grandmother Jessie shown here, about 6 months …

Ladies Bits - No Men Allowed!

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I can't exactly stop you chaps from reading this post but honestly, it isn't going to be of any interest to you at all, so go be good boys and put the kettle on and make a nice cup of tea, while us ladies discuss important lady things.

I am not pulling any punches on this as I have a real bugbear about knickers, a bugbear that has grown to fairly large proportions as I have got older (sort of keeping pace with the size of my derriere). Ever since about age 13 when things like the size of one's 'gusset' became really important I have been disappointed with the choice of underwear available in the shops. Since when was this sexy? If a woman isn't comfortable how can she be sexy? She can pretend to be sexy but that is something completely different! Perhaps for a bit of foreplay in the bedroom (and to you men who disagree.... you were told to go to the kitchen!!) but realistically who wears these all day? Normal women have BOTTOMS and curvey bits and I am very pr…

The Human Pincushion - Soap Mission Africa Update

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.....but first, The Visa Saga - Getting a visa for Nigeria has proved to be extremely frustrating for many of our group, apparently typical of dealings with African beaurocracy. The Nigerian Embassy London website seemed to be fairly clear about what was required, except for the pages that I couldnt access because my computer told me it had detected a spyware virus and wouldnt let me go any further. The website happily declared that I could pay for my visa online, however I couldnt find an online payment system or shopping cart or button of any description that said 'pay now'. It was all very confusing.

I downloaded a form (along with the virus which meant spending half a day cleaning my computer) and filled it out by hand as best I could. I posted it to the embassy along with postal orders for £70, my invitation letter, confirmed flight booking, my passport, photographs of me, special delivery return envelope and a polite letter which gave the impression that I was an old lad…

Give us This Day

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Today I am thinking about something very very important. BREAD. I have always been a fan of home made bread. I have a bread machine which I use regularly but I also like to get stuck in and make it the long way... It tastes better and I don't seem to need to eat so much but it doesn't last very long... if I leave it in the bread bin for more than two days I find it has started to grow mould. The bread I buy in the supermarket lasts for ages... I wonder why?
Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on your loaf of bread? Well I did today. After the wheat flour, water and vegetable oil and vegetable fat, yeast, sugar, salt... yep I put all these into my home made loaf... but what's this? Calcium Carbonate, Vinegar(????), Emulsifiers: E471, E472e; Flour Treatment Agent: Ascobic Acid (Vitamin C). My only question is WHY? Two e numbers? OK that's two questions. The more I investigated the more horrified I was. Modern supermarket bread is not made in the traditional way o…

Come what May..

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Today, our village celebrated May Day. Except it isnt really May Day is it? I mean May Day is the 1st of May, I know that the bank holiday is today but I really prefer to celebrate occasions on the date they are supposed to be... not the nearest convenient day. Well, in my house when I was a child we used to go out very early in the morning on May Day and wash our faces in the dew, this would ensure that we grew up beautiful. And obviously it worked!

In Oxford on 1st May the Magdalen College Choir sing in the summer at the top of Magdalen Tower at daybreak... there are always crowds of very drunk students who have stayed out all night waiting for the moment that the choir finish singing when they throw themselves off Magdalen Bridge into the river. Due to injuries over the last few years the police now try to stop them.




About mid day today I heard the thump thump thump of the drum which signified that our Morris team were out and about (ladies click on the link with caution... very mach…

Welcome the new Raptor's!

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This is the sign on the gate of my hen enclosure.


We have some new little dinosaur's arrived at the Technobilly garden today. Say welcome to STAR, SPECKLE, BLACKIE and BLUEBELLE!


Tired of only getting the occasional egg from Wilma who has beaten Miss Skinny into submission so badly that she has been barren for days now... I have brought in a new 'flock'. They are kept separate from Wilma and Miss Skinny but they can see each other. The new girls were a bit shy at first...


... but then I couldn't get them to pose together... so here you have only three...... but the fourth (Miss Speckle) is around somewhere...


Wilma has been making quite a fuss since they arrived this morning, goose stepping up and down the dividing fence and making a real racket. It's now nearly four o'clock and she hasn't stopped crowing since 11am when they arrived... it's getting very tiresome and I am close to taking out the chicken brick and showing it to her. I hadn't planned a ro…

Money, Money, Money...

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It all comes down to money. It's horrid but it's true. I gave up full time work to concentrate on other things... my mental health more than anything, but in order to justify less money coming into the Billy household I decided to find ways to cut down on the money we already spend. So far it's working... but it isn't easy.

The first thing I looked at was our electricity bill. It only goes in one direction... always up and up. The biggest culprit in my home is the tumble drier... it's often going with only one pair of jeans in it and an anxious near-naked teenager sat watching the clock. I met a lady recently who told me proudly that she had gone all through the winter without using her tumble drier. There were a couple of us listening to her and we both exclaimed "OMG HOW?"... and then I thought how silly of us... before tumble driers were invented we all went through the winter without using one... I didn't get a tumble drier until 1989... so what di…