Posts from the ‘Tanzania adventures’ category

More Asian and European wanderings….

As most of you know, my blogs are mainly about the photos with some information on the side. This one takes us to the end of 2019 and another set of adventures… Enjoy!

Another trip to Penang in Malaysia for yet another visa, no more until next year. At least Penang is an interesting and a fun place to spend two days at. This time I ventured out of town to see some temples and visited old Chinese mansions – there are plenty! Another great thing about Georgetown is the amazing Indian food, I always come back stuffed.




Kek Lok Si Temple



Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia



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Sky Walk at Penang Hill


Summer in Portugal never disappoints, in fact, we cannot think of many other places we would rather be. This time we explored Marvão and Castelo de Vide. What a stunning area; old medieval villages, castles and views to die for. If you like history, some of Castelo de Vide’s earliest inhabitants were the Romans who settled there in 44 BC. There is no shortage of cobbled streets, whitewashed houses with granite and gothic doorways.


Castelo de Vide

20190624_10454920190624_10505820190624_11060820190624_11122220190624_11204420190624_163432We did a short hop to Cáceres in Spain which was truly amazing. The medieval walled city has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. Narrow cobbled streets twist and climb among ancient stone walls lined with palaces, mansions, arches and churches, while the skyline is decorated with turrets, spires, gargoyles and enormous storks’ nests. Protected by defensive walls, it has survived almost intact from its 16th-century. It is like stepping into the Middle Ages.


Back to Marvão! A little bit of information from the internet as I love a bit of history: Perched on a quartzite crag of the Serra de São Mamede, Marvão’s name is derived from an 8th-century Muladi duke, named Ibn Marwan. Ibn Marwan, who constructed the Castle of Marvão – likely on the site of an earlier Roman watchtower – as a power base when establishing an independent statele – covering much of modern-day Portugal – during the Emirate of Cordoba (884-931 CE). The castle and walled village were further fortified through the centuries, notably under Sancho II of Portugal (13th century) and Denis of Portugal.



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Marvão by horse – can’t keep the girl away from these beasts….






As luck would have it, we stumbled upon Lisbon Pride, great fun!



In Lisbon for the Santos Populares festivities


Bansky exhibition in Lisbon



LX Factory


Quinta da Regaleira near Sintra is worth a visit. Never been there before and I am glad that I went! My favourites were the gardens, the secret tunnels and the inverted towers.



Inverted tower


The “other side” in Lisbon, across the bridge for lunch and to go up the Boca do Vento lift. Beautiful views and some cool graffiti.


As a lover of graffiti, I took a day to explore and discover various murals around the city. There are some amazing graffiti artists around, here are some examples.



Just a Lisbon doorway….


EDP Headquarters, great modern architecture!



My place!


Some random photos of Phuket!


Bang Tao beach, close to our house where we often go for sunsets.



One my best buys of 2019! Make your toilet great again, Trump toilet brush.


I wonder if he knows what his T-Shirt means….


Getting ready for the rainy season in November


How to make yourself confortable


Phuket graffiti by Cece Nobre



Phuket Town, no idea….



Geoff finally finds out who he is

In April, we ventured into Laos to Luang Prabang. Beautiful town and we caught the Festival of Lights which celebrates Lai Heua Fai, in celebration of Boun Awk Phansa, the end of Buddhist Lent. The city was incredibly beautiful, illuminated by wax candles melting to pagodas and crepe paper lanterns hanging from temple roofs and the windows of local homes. Screen Shot 2020-01-19 at 12.35.53



Going up to Mount Phou Si, 100 m high. It lies in the heart of the old town peninsula and is bordered on one side by the Mekong River and on the other side by the Nam Khan River. Amazing views and a lovely temple!





I love bugs!



The Mekong


Moon bears sanctuary – these poor bears are trafficked and suffer a terrible fate. They are trafficked as exotic pets but many are imprisoned and abused in bear farms, where they are often kept in tiny cages, unable to move, while catheters are inserted into their gall bladders to extract their bile, believed to have a multitude of health benefits in
traditional medicines.


Kuang Si waterfall, so beautiful!!!



Just a walkabout in Luang Prabang


And we end the year in Bangkok to see the Christmas lights. Over the top and extravagant as always. Bangkok is a city of extremes and excess, you either love it or hate it. I am not too fond of it but am drawn to it now and then…


Exposure of Tolerance: LGBTQ in Southeast Asia exhibition in Bangkok


Cocktails in the sky



And so ends another year in Thailand. Who knows what 2020 will bring?

End of 2017 in Thailand, Koh Chang, Koh Mak, Koh Samet and others….

So another year comes to an end, just like that!  Thailand has grown on me, I actually enjoy being here although not so much in Bangkok.  I love the calmness of the people and the kindness and gentleness.  Of course it is not all great and life is life pretty much anywhere…  Work, routines, kids, weekends but there is something about the place that is calming and enjoyable.  The heat is not one of those things although at the moment it is a balmy 29 degrees and we were even cold the last few days with temperatures of 19 and 20, it was a shock to the system, I can tell you!  Small problems, indeed.

There have been horse shows, a wedding, a python and trips to islands.  Diving has not happened as the weather was not great but we are still hoping to practice some more soon.  We live in a somewhat sterile, American type of community, not something we are used to at all so it continues to feel rather strange and weird to be in this bubble.  It does have benefits, it is quiet and kind of pleasant.  However….  we are in Thailand and beasties lurk even in the man made sterile environments.  We have seen plenty of monitor lizards about but the other night we nearly ran over a huge python crossing the road!  Not expected at all!  Beautiful thing, had time to get off the bike, get my phone out, fumble with the camera and finally take a pic, this is as good as it got before it slithered off into the bushes.


BIG python, about 4 metres long!

Snake excitement aside, we attended our first ever wedding on a beach.  Congratulations to Adam and Miyoung on what was a truly fun, relaxed, beautiful and loving few days.  One of the best weddings I have been to.  Koh Chang has beautiful beaches and amazing sunsets.  Highly recommended.  The only downside was the wind!  We caught the end of a storm and it was actually rather chilly (well, in Thai terms!) and very windy.


Koh Chang



These are popular….


Flower arranging service


Am I getting smaller?!



Health and safety nightmare…



This dog loved his daily evening soaking






More beach fire



Beautiful people in and out!


Petrol station


Thai buses are pretty cool!


It was bloody hard to leave the island!  Strong winds meant that there were no boats running so we embarked on a 7 hour journey – it should have been 1 hour, really…. Got on a boat.  Boat turned back.  Got in a taxi.  Onto another boat to mainland.  Long drive to another boat.  Boat to Koh Mak.  Another taxi and we arrived at our destination which turned out to be shit and we had to go in search of another place to stay!  Phew, a long day but ended up somewhere beautiful.  We enjoyed Koh Mak despite the awful weather (I know, it looks nice but it was chilly).  Small and rustic and very quiet, perfect!



Not sure that goes…


Koh Mak has lots of rubber plantations.  Here is some latex drying, it is quite stinky!!!



The local museum turned out to be quite a surprise.  An old house over the water, full of old trinkets from various eras.


I think the floor is quite sturdy?



A room with a view.


More sunsets



So many fish!


Back to Bangkok to enjoy Xmas and NY.


I wish that was mine but it was empty!  It still smelt of chocolate though…


Later afternoon trip to Ayutthaya to stroll and enjoy the sunset



Poor attempt at selfie!


We went into Bangkok for NY.  Never seen so many lights in my life.  Amazing mix of people on the streets, all having fun, no fighting, no drunks, just fun and happiness.



After a night of dancing in the streets of Bangkok and being squished in a crowd of thousands, we treated ourselves to an outing to a 1st class cinema!  It was actually before the above but it all seems like a long time ago now.

Never having heard of such a luxury before, we were damn curious to find out what this was all about.  What better way but to see Star Wars in comfort…  We are shown to a lounge were we are offered a free drink canapes – very nice.  Inside the cinema, there are ginormous chairs which turn into beds, blankets are provided and there is a butler service for drinks and pop corn.  Well, not bad, a tad decadent but rather pleasant.


It has been a rather stressful and fraught couple of months.  After finding out in November that Geoff’s contract would not be renewed, I found out that my position was also not going to continue.  Nothing personal, apparently…  Still, it left us aimless and wondering what to do once again.  I guess that is the nature of this game (expat, teaching life) but it is still a little disconcerting to have to find a new job and move house/countries, whatever.  We also needed to find two jobs instead of one which created complications.  After a few arguments, unpleasant moments and some anxiety all is well in the Costa-Buck household.  In the midst of all this, we decided to attend a Search Associates job fair (for teachers in international schools).  These are held around the world and there was one in Bangkok so off we went.  It was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have had!

It took place in the Sheraton in central Bangkok which has delightful views.  That was probably the only good thing going for it.  There were about 550 candidates and various schools from around the world.  So…  You look for the vacancies, place your CV in the school’s folder and next day you queue up at each of the schools and try and get an interview.  It is like speed dating, you have a short time to convince them to interview you.  In my case, it was a matter of a quick glance at my CV and a polite no, you do not have enough experience.  I take it that they meant that my life experience, coupled with a masters, social work and some teaching experience and counselling did not count for much!  Geoff fared better but they were only interested in him and not me so we left empty handed, demoralised and angry with the cattle market feel of the place.

As I tend to say, things happen for a reason although I do not believe in destiny!  Such is life, Geoff got a couple of job offers in Phuket and we are off to United World College in July.  Rather excited even though I am jobless.  Something will come up…

In the middle of all this, Geoff and I spend a relaxing few days in Koh Samet.  Close to Bangkok and very beautiful.  We were quite surprised that the island was so close and so lovely.  Got a scooter, explored and enjoyed the beach.



Little baby urchin holding on


Best beach on the island






Hippy moment watching the sunrise



The water, the water….


I rescued this bug from the sea.  Thought it was dead but it came back to life eventually.  Found out that is is a mango tree borer.  Quite an amazing looking thing!



Very excited to ring the bell and wait for the raft to take us to the floating restaurant.  It was not to be, the restaurant is now inland.  It was really good though!



Got to love the Thai signs…

We are now in process of selling our house in the UK.  The end of an era, the start of something new.   Maybe a house in Portugal?  Watch this space!

Thailand, Hong Kong and diving!

I did not know so much could happen in two months!  So we have finally found out that Geoff is not going to have his contract renewed.  A lot of you are asking why…  Well, he was on a 2 year contract covering for someone who has decided to return.  We were hoping a vacancy might have come up but no such luck.  We need to move, again!  Don’t know where yet, but we do know when, June!  Watch this space.  Shame as was starting to acclimatise to our new life and really enjoying my new job.

On another note, we have been busy exploring as usual.  Since the summer holidays, we have been out and about, here and there.  The most exciting thing has been to finish our PADI and to go sea diving for the first time.  It was bloody scary at first.  I experienced an under water panic attack which was rather unpleasant but I also found that there is a whole new whole down there and it is magical.  We had the nicest of instructors, patient, caring, gentle and thorough; could not have asked for more.  Need to get a few dives in before we leave this diving paradise!


Waiting for the first dive!!  I look happy but am petrified…



Sattahip fishing port


I have had a couple of exciting weekends!  The previous one I went to Hong Kong which is a place I never really thought to visit.  Fortunately, there was a conference I wanted to attend so it was the perfect excuse for a little escape.  I really liked Hong Kong (and the conference!).  It is an environmental nightmare but it is pretty and lots of lights always look impressive.  Beautiful views, good place to stroll and eat and lots of boats to take from one island to another.  What more could I want?  I met a kindred soul at the conference, what a lovely woman!  We got completely lost with a map and Google maps and ended up getting into a cab and asking the driver to take us to where we already were!  He was amused and drove us around until we realised we were in the wrong area after all.  So cool to meet someone who is as useless as me with maps!


We had Loy Krathong in November when people gather around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respects to the goddess of water by releasing beautiful lotus shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water.  Every year, Loy Krathong falls on the night of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November), at the end of the rainy season when the full-moon lights up the sky.  This festival is celebrated for many reasons.  The main rice harvest season has ended and it’s time to thank the Water Goddess for a year’s worth of her abundant supply, as well as an apology for polluting the waters.  Some believe that this is the time to symbolically ‘float away’ all the anger and grudges you have been holding onto, and including a fingernail or a lock of hair is seen as a way of letting go of the dark side of yourself, to start anew free of negative feelings.  If your candle stays alight until your Krathong disappears out of sight, it means a year of good luck.

So, Krathongs were duly made and released into the Chao Praya river!  Quite beautiful and a happy time to be outside celebrating with everyone.

Making Krathongs!


Boys and Krathongs



Krathongs made of fish food


All shapes and sizes…


Made out of bread dough




Ready to launch!



Monk selfie!



Wat Arun

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What it looks like from the water

To finish off, some photos of life around here.  We love going to Kho Kret and walking around the island.  It is peaceful, very close by and there it always looks different depending on the season.  We went recently and found that most of the island was underwater.  Sad for the people who live there, it is not an uncommon occurrence as the rain swells the river which then overflows over the whole island.  People continue to live there and we walked past someone’s living room with the family sitting on chairs with water up to their knees watching television!  A rather strange sight but then again, Thailand is not like other places…



Pretty weird but this guy was just walking around with his slow loris pets!  It is illegal to have these as pets but he let me take a photo of the little guys.  Considering he was walking around Very cute but sad that they are not in the wild.



Life goes on….



Thai sweets



A boat is the way to go!



Road becomes swimming pool


That is it for now.  Thailand is growing on me now, especially when we venture out of Bangkok!  It is a beautiful country full of surprises.  The language is pretty impossible to learn, the food is like something out of another world (not always in a good way!) and the people are a constant source of puzzlement for us.  It takes time to understand such a different culture and way of thinking but we like it here!

Bangkok and Thailand adventures

It has been hard to write…  No inspiration, no time, no ideas, no adventures…  Finally, teacher training has come to an end and I can think again.  It was intense, enjoyable, frightening, fun and an incredible learning journey.  I have a job as a Pastoral Leader in an international school nearby and am very excited to start in August.  New start after 3 years without a job, also a new experience which I have not enjoyed so much, lost my financial independence and work identity but learned to be alone and to immerse myself in new experiences.

Where to start?!  Today!  We went off exploring Bangkok, the new Bangkok I find ugly, busy, smelly, materialistic and not very inspiring.  However, there are still areas of old Bangkok where I can feel I have been transformed to a different place altogether and I love spending time in these “secret” places.  One such place is Khlong Bang Luang on the West side of the Chao Phraya River.  It is a laid back neighbourhood, a small village with stilted wooden houses along an old canal.  There are plenty of narrow alleyways with art galleries, studios, shops and local eateries.  Along the canal runs a rickety boardwalk where you can let your feet dangle above the water and feed the hundreds of catfish that live in the Bangkok canals and rivers.  The artist house was our main destination – Baan Silapin, coffee shop below, gallery atop and painting and colouring activities on offer. Great place to relax and while away an afternoon.



Cat fish feeding frenzy



No idea how MJ got in there!



The most beautiful and atmospheric guitar playing…



Walkways and alleyways



Another place we really like is Kho Kret, a small island not far from our house.  It is, once again, like being transported to another time and place.  A path runs around the whole island and it is a great walk which goes through a local market, past various temples and pottery making places.  We always try something new to eat when we go there and mostly it is suspect (such as barbecued frogs!) or other stuff that we do not know and tend to throw away as it does not agree with our taste buds!  It is a wonderful place to while away a few hours, have a look:


One of many kilns around the island



Cafe where your feet dangle over the water


Mon cuisine consists of a lot of fried vegetables and flowers


Fried orchids


Sacred tree



Sticky rice cooked in bamboo


Sweet things


More sweets






More catfish madness!


No idea…

There are numerous vendors cooking up a number of local treats mainly Thai and Mon snacks and desserts.  Favourites that the island is known for include “Khao Cher.”  This dish is a Mon specialty of rice served with chilled fragrant water and a number of little side dishes. It was a royal favourite for hot summer days, but now is hard to find most anywhere besides here. “Tod mun pla nor gala” is another treat.  This is spiced fish cake with the shoots of local ginger variety.  Gives you an idea of the variety.  I just love wandering about the paths and through the market trying out stuff and soaking up the atmosphere.  At the weekends the place is full of Thais visiting the temples and the markets so pretty busy!

On another note, today is 37 degrees and it feels rather balmy.  We have returned from a few days in Kanchanaburi where the famous bridge over the river Kwai is.  The temperatures there reached 46 degrees, I never through Bangkok could feel cooler than it does right now.  Kanchanburi is not far, about 2/3 hour drive, it gets more and more jungly as you drive into the countryside.  The river is beautiful and we stayed on a floating cabin which was peaceful and beautiful.  Erawan falls were one of our destinations, a series of 7 falls which you have to walk up to, higher and higher.  The great thing is that the higher you go the cooler it gets and the less people there are.  The first 3 falls are packed with Thais with their huge lunch boxes and ice drinks.  At the top were the tourists who have little to carry such as us!  Highly recommend it.


Very rickety bridge




Marianne was not too sure about this….


Maybe that says do not walk on the bridge!



Random shrines….


Flowers everywhere


New found poser



One of the 7 Erawan Falls



Here come the monkeys!



One of many swimming spots


Shall we swim in this one too?



Or this one?



Lurking in the bushes….


Geoff’s jungle look with photobomb




Our cabin


Bamboo rafting going past



Another fall…

As we had visited the war museum and learned more about how the railway was build and its awful history, we decided to take a trip on the Death Railway as it is known.  The initial part of the trip was beautiful although old train and heat does not bode well.  Still, I thought about the poor men who were transported in closed metal carriages for up to 3 days without much breeze, food or water…  No wonder so many died building the railway, around 100,000!



The faceless monk



Train views marred by thoughts of the men who carved through this jungle…



And so we arrive!


The bridge!


It was quite moving to see the bridge and to travel part of the way (a lot of the railway is no longer in use) on such a well known part of our history.  It is hard to imagine the suffering of those who toiled and the cruelty of those who enslaved so many.  After a thoughtful and roasting day, we returned to our river cabin and proceeded to float down the river which has a pretty strong current, as we found out!  Great fun and wonderfully cooling.


First challenge, get on a bamboo raft


Then jump in!



And float…






Sun is going down



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So Thailand is full of surprises.  The old and the new co-exist side by side in the most unexpected ways.  It is such an alien culture and language that I feel it will take me years to even feel I know what is going on around me!

Getting settled in Bangkok

As usual, it has been a roller coaster!  Although not as challenging as settling in Moshi turned out to be, settling in Bangkok is proving to have its challenges.  We have certainly gone from a society of little to one of excess.  Well, I say excess in terms of shops, malls, stuff to buy, buy, buy but poverty all around too.  I find it hard to be surrounded by such excess of consumerism when there are people living in shacks outside the gates of our cosy compound.  I guess it is the same in the UK but unlike here or in Africa, poverty is not on show.

So, what are the challenges?  The language has to be number one!  It is incredibly difficult to learn, to understand, to speak, and writing or reading is impossible.  English is not widely spoken so we really have to learn it to get on with life.  We have group lessons which inevitable turn to hysterical laughter halfway through due to the crazy sounds and tones we have to make.

Getting around is not hard although the road system makes no sense to us and the roads are always busy.  Driving is fun and fast, overtaking can be done in any lane so easy peasy. My revelation has been riding a scooter.  So, I am 50 years old and have now discovered that I love riding about, why did I not try this before?  I like going through the clogged up traffic thinking “so long suckers” the best!

Food can be interesting.  As we all know, Thai food is delicious and yummy and can be bloody hot.  Well, it can also be hard to identify what it is we are actually eating so a degree of curiosity and lack of fussiness is required.  I like to touch everything I see which as we know can lead to certain injuries.  With the food, I am tempted to try everything although I was pleased I passed when Geoff inadvertently ate a frog!!

As usual, we have been exploring as much as we can and as much as the moaning from the kids allow.  If it is not far, we leave them here.  Further afield they come with us moaning and complaining and making our life a misery (well, most of the time).  We love them really but this teenage business is rather tiresome.

One day we went off to Ayutthaya which was the capital of Thailand for over 400 years from 1350 until 1767.  Sadly the Burmese ransacked the place and today it comprises mainly ruined temples spread over a large area.  It is a really beautiful place to wander about for the day and explore the ruins and the area.



Is it safe to assume that these do not date to the Ayutthaya period?


Very large reclining budha



Very small reclining budha


Our next stop was a weekend away in Hua Hin where we went to a water park which the kids actually enjoyed and wandered about the local beaches and markets.  Geoff managed to crack a rib and I went on two slides which is a record for me!


The “beach”


They’re in there somewhere


Joshua finds a more dignified way to get out of the ring



Extremely rare photos of the kids happy together!



Running away from each other



Thai sweets



On the way back we went for a stroll in Petchaburi.  Temples and palaces built in 1869 and the setting for the film “The King and I”.

dscn4688dscn4689dscn4691dscn4694dscn4695dscn4696dscn4700dscn4708The following weekend we took part in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos.  A good event but sadly we were not allowed to march outside the park.  We are all probably on some Thai list of trouble makers!  Out of focus but here is the Sparkling Elephant from Tanzania!



The end…



Bangkok as we see it, not the most attractive of places

Time flies as usual.  My course has started and am enjoying studying again, I think I will become one of those eternal students…  The flat feels very homely and cosy and purely by accident we have acquired two cats.  I think it is my animal magnetism that draws them to me!  One needed a home so I offered and the other was a foster placement but he is too cute to give back.


Randomly stacked on the pavement…


Orchids everywhere and ridiculously cheap


Small street temple but there are no zebras in Thailand…


The newly adopted cats


Who knew riding a scooter would be so much fun.  Been missing out all these years!!!

So, this is now going on a bit and there is much more I want to say so bear with me. Marianne entered her first Thai horse show and she had lots of fun.  Here she is working towards her dream of becoming an Olympian show jumper.





Waiting for the race to start



I shall end with a few things I have learnt since being in Bangkok.  Thai culture can certainly seem strange to us, “farangs” and it takes some getting used to.  Thais believe in ghosts and historically, overnight visitors to a Thai home were requested to ask permission from the phra phum (spirit ghost of the land) to stay in the house. The visitor would then be asked to thank the ghost when they left. This custom still exists in some rural areas of the country.  Raising you voice is unacceptable in Thailand, and considered an act of losing control. Remain calm at all times!!

Don’t touch anyone on the head unless you want trouble. This is hard for me as I enjoy playing with small children and got a very angry look when I tapped a child on the head the other day.  The head is considered the sacred part of the body and not to be touched without permission.  Don’t point at monks or pictures of any of the Royal Family, ever!!

I am scared of this: lèse majesté in Thailand which makes it illegal to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent since 1908. The punishment is three to fifteen years of imprisonment per count. There is no legal definition, however, of what actions constitute a defamation, insult or threat against the monarchy, and there is plenty of room for interpretation.  Be careful with what you say…

Until next time…


From Lisbon to Brighton to Bangkok!


Balcony views


So much graffiti, love it!


Botanic gardens in Lisbon, a small oasis of calm

I know, I know…  I have said it before.  Time flies!  Here we are in Bangkok but before I launch into the delights of being in this humongous city, I will have to go via Lisbon and Brighton where we had a fabulous time reuniting with family and friends.


The talented nephew!  What a voice!

Lisbon is such a beautiful city.  We had not been there for quite some time and I fell in love with it all over again.  I’m not sure what it was.  Going to Portugal, in particular, Lisbon has always brought too many sad memories and a feeling that I wanted to get out of there. This time it was different; it was a beautiful and happy stay and I wish I could have stayed longer.  We got off to a good start with a great Air B&B flat and plenty of family visits.  One of the highlights was to see my nephew sing and perform with his group Seconda Pratica at Sintra Palace.  An absolutely stunning and special evening.


No trip to Lisbon is complete without a visit to Belem where the original Pasteis de Nata are still made!

Lisbon has certainly changed, it is more dynamic, more creative and there is a lot more to do. Beautiful food in great restaurants, strolls around the old town but the Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology ( was one of the highlights of our visit.  A stunning old power station on the river bank which retains many of its original features and equipment and also showcases modern art installations.  Great fun and it is free!



I’m watching you!



One of the ways to cross the river in Lisbon

The light exhibition was visually great fun and the map of the world showing which countries have electricity is shocking.  Check out Africa!  We were indeed often in the dark in Tanzania.


One place I have always wanted to visit was Tomar, north of Lisbon.  Tomar was built inside the walls of the Convento de Cristo which was constructed under the fourth grand master of the Knights Templar in the late 12th century.  It was the last Templar town to be commissioned for construction and it is well worth a visit.  In the 15th century, Tomar was a center of Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator, the Grand Master of the Order of Christ.  The Convento is nothing short of spectacular and really takes you back in history.  I just love walking around old places where you can “feel” the history!  I will not bore you with details but if interested have a look here



Dining hall


A window from a window!


As we were in Tomar we could not leave without visiting the famous Castelo de Almourol. Almourol is a medieval castle, located on a small islet in the middle of the Tejo River. This castle was part of the defensive line controlled by the Knights Templar and the area is also very beautiful to visit.  The only way in and out is by boat or swimming if you prefer. It is a peaceful place with wonderful views and gorgeous villages.



On the islet


This is one thing I love about Portugal, the history and the beautiful old buildings, ancient villages, fortified towns…  Obidos here we come.  An historical, walled town very close to Lisbon.  Cobbled streets, colourful houses and ginginha (cherry brandy) served in little dark chocolate glasses which you eat when our drink is finished. Delicious.



Got him where we want!


He was not trapped for long….



Up on the walls

Being in Portugal was relaxing and a good introduction back to life in the west.  It was incredible to be in a city after 2 years in Moshi, to see shops, variety, culture, cars, so much activity and people walking so fast!  It was enjoyable and fun and I can not wait to go back. The thought of going on to the UK is not so enticing but Brighton here we come, let’s hope the weather is not too cold!

Although all this moving about sounds terribly exciting, it is also very unsettling and confusing.  Have we done the right thing?  Will we like the new place?  Will we miss the old place?  Will the kids be happy?  Blah, blah, blah….  We go round and round in circles and the anxiety before the move goes up and up.  Being in Lisbon was great but going to the UK means that there is paperwork to sort out, more boxes to pack and the anticipation of waiting for the departure date.  Still, friends await and we are excited to get there!


Joshua is enjoying having plenty of food!


What strange people!  So good to see friends and have a laugh, good food and hugs. Wish I had taken more pics now…


Thank you to all friends who put us up, lent us their houses and made us yummy food.  We miss you all already, please come and visit us in this beautiful country.

I was extremely lucky to have been in Brighton for my 50th birthday and it did not even rain for our annual birthday picnic.  Great company, good food and lovely presents.  I feel very lucky and loved, thank you dear friends.



From Primary to teenagers!


Walk on the downs, glorious weather



Marianne trots away happily…


In her element!


And so it goes, three weeks gone.  Happy times, sad to leave again but before we go I leave you with some Capoeira shots!  See you next summer.