Maldives Rowing Volunteer
 
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Sorry it has been a while since I have updated the blog and photos from this end - I managed to lock myself out of the website, I am not blaming Tash but I think it is 99% her fault.  Since I last moaned about food, quite a bit has happened.  I found a dirty, scrawny flea ridden tiny kitten on the beach, who I took home and kept in a box in bathroom and then under the house and fed him top quality tuna and gone off milk (no fridge) and he was getting bigger and fatter and less dirty and flea ridden when sadly he disappeared. Having had his freedom for a few days and not leaving the space under the house, one evening he disappeared during dinner.  I had even christened him Kipper as he smelt mostly of gone off fish!  I fear the worst for Kipper although there is not much that could eat him on the island, only a bigger cat could see him off or a person but I have have not heard his formerly intensely irritating cries for the past few days so I think I will probably not see him again.  It is for the best as I was starting to think about how I would fly him to the UK when I left, so for my bank balance and my sanity it is safer that our friendship was oh so brief!!!

Recently it seems to have been International Everything day, first it was International Children's Day, which seem to involve the children either not turning up for swimming or being cheekier than ever.  On the Friday following the day there was a festival on the island complete with a real life mermaid in a pool on a cold day, looking even sorrier for herself when a couple of irate ducks were introduced to the pool - see photos here.  I also enjoyed the celebrations for International Nurse's Day in Male at a Nurses' Sports Day, which is really entertaining and great to see such a huge level of participation, every nurse not working from the largest hospital was there, and giving it some welly in events from lemon and spoon races to tug of war.  I have to thank Liz, the director of nursing for Male Health Services for inviting me along and then for taking me out to dinner where I had a huge bowl of pasta and ice cream, not together, which quietened down a lot of my food fantasies! The final ceremony was our own Certificate Award Ceremony for the children who have completed the first 5 weeks of swimming lessons and have reached either there Starfish, Angelfish or Manta Ray level.  With 40% of the children now able to competently swim 25m in the sea the lessons have been a great success.  Teaching in the ever changing conditions of the sea is a big challenge particularly for the younger and smaller children who have a tendency to be thrown around by the waves at high tide - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (mostly) though!  

The swimming programme has now changed in that I am the only teacher - the lovely assistants have all completed their swimming teaching courses and are heading back to their islands - luckily one of my favourites lives on Hulhumale so I will be bullying him into helping me soon.  The children now only have lessons once a week so the classes are manageable for one instructor (most of the time) and with the new swimming track (floating swimming pools) as an incentive things are going really well.

On the rowing front, the boats are scheduled to be here at the end of next month so plans are moving forwards here to get the location all set up and ready for their arrival - we have the land kindly donated to us and now are just awaiting confirmation before we can start to make some structural changes and begin to build the boat house - exciting times indeed!

Right so a very factual blog - mainly due to the lack of access to the website for the past couple of weeks, I am sure I will be back to my rambling self again soon!  The rainy season is properly here after a short break and I am stuck in the hotel whilst the rain empties from the sky in buckets, much as it did throughout lessons yesterday!

Have a look at the photos and despite the cloudiness of the photos I can assure the sun shines a lot here, as proved by my awkward tan marks!!

Bye

PS A huge thank you and well done to everyone who is fundraising at home, it is really appreciated by everyone here and I hopefully am making a bit of an improvement to children's' 

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You'll all be pleased to know that your eating efforts raised a fantastic £390! and t-shirts the t shirts made a further £300!

Cooked breakfasts kept me sweating in the kitchen for a good 3 hours yelling out of the hatch in a very harrassed fish wife styley! Thank you to Rhona, Rosemary, Jack, Judy, Bee and everyone that baked and or donated all those cakes, flap jacks, cookies, tea pots and cup cakes. The beautiful red and yellow very 'posh' bunting attracted lots of comments and we were all awed by Jackie's amazing talent for face painting. 
Thank you everyone that came down to support the event - now you all have to do that little bit more training to work off the effects of your charitable support.

The t-shirts sold really well and of course we still have some available so just drop me a line.

I'm finishing on an apology to Rachel for not logging off the website properly after my last post and causing her all sorts of strife out in the field! Your original suspicions Rachel were correct and I'm very glad I'm a few thousand miles away when you read this......! x Tash 

 
 
MALDIVES ROWING FUNDRAISER

Join us at Tideway Scullers School, Chiswick Bridge, London for:

English Breakfast - served from 0900
High Tea (scones, cake, sandwiches, tea and coffee) available from 1000 -1500

On sale (First Time Ever in World!!!) Maldives Rowing T-shirts
Face Painting


ON SATURDAY 14TH MAY

Bring your empty/hungry tummies and help us raise money to establish rowing clubs in the Maldives!

Look forward to seeing you all x Tash

(sorry Rachel for all the chat of very English food
 
 
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Food and drink - Something that those of you who know me well plays a big part in my life and it still does, although not in the same way it used to.  Food now plays an important part in my day in that it takes up so much time, both in eating and in thinking about it.  I eat all my meals at a cafe, the oddly named ‘Food Palace’  which does have a huge menu which I am currently working my way through all the reasonably priced options, including the infamous chicken fried noodle and chicken fried rice and of course an overloading of tuna every which way you like.  There are many western dishes on the menu including burgers and pasta but at twice the price of other dishes I have yet to try them barring one bad experience with a particularly gristly lasagne (or lazaniga as it is in the menu) which I am frankly terrified to repeat.  I think maybe in my old age I am becoming fussy but if meat is going to be on the bone I like to be able to see the bones.  So although officially I cannot complain about the food (I spent four months living on rice and beans and porridge once) I cannot keep the food fantasies (which became a good friend during the aforementioned four months) at bay.  Of course there are many shops here and chips on the menu so I have all the imitation Pringles, cuttlefish snacks and slightly melted chocolate I could want but nothing can stop me dreaming of all the food I take for granted at home, including brown toast, sausages (not horrific pink chicken sausages), yummy fresh filled pasta with no gristle, cheese not out of a can and most importantly SALAD!  Fresh fruit and vegetables are very expensive here due to the obvious lack of fertile places to grow anything, many of the locals grow vegetables in any containers they have, outside their flats.  A small plate of salad in the cafe is more expensive than a big plate of noodles and as I am not paying for my food price is a bigger concern than it might otherwise be ( I am sure my father will be surprised to hear that!)  I have eaten very little in the way of fresh vegetables since I have been here.  Maybe the hardest thing is having so many food channels on the television so I am bombarded with what good English food is all about.  Luckily a bout of stomach bug following my episode with the dengue has meant food has not been such an issue - but I would still kill for a half hour in a Waitrose to buy for a fry up or an evening in any of pizza express, Zizzi, Strada, Loch Fyne etc, or a roast dinner......the list is potentially endless.

Now for the good things about food here – in general eating out is cheap for expats, a fish curry with rice and water to drink costs about £2, a drink is about 60p so relatively expensive compared to the food, and the curries are really good; not as spicy as I was warned about, I cannot quite cope with the chicken one (too much bone and skin) but fish curry is my current meal of choice!

Right on to drink; something many people (myself definitely included) were worried about how I would cope with the illegality of one of my favourite substances, although as those of you know me well will know has a tendency to disagree with me.  So far it has not been a problem or something I have even thought about too much,  I think that this is the longest I have been without a drop of alcohol for longer than I care to remember (and longer than it legally should be!).  I cannot lie and say that the thought of a cold beer or glass of wine as the sun disappears would not be appreciated, but the lack of alcohol anywhere means that it does not enter my thoughts too often.  Maybe alcohol is all just advertising and peer pressure?  No I really do miss it but currently having been ill for a while with many of the symptoms of a killer hangover the thought of alcohol is a quite unpleasant one so maybe I should hold onto that for the next six months!

Please go out have a drink and a delicious meal and spare a thought for me – I am dreaming of Christmas already and it is only May, eeeek!

On the plus (ish) side though due to the lack of tasty food and prolonged illness none of my trousers fit me, even the new ones I have just been sent – I am going to have to hold them up with string soon as I cannot find a belt big enough for me, another of the problems of being a giant in a land of five footers!

Sorry about the lack of photos I have been a bit slack with the camera will be better next time - promise!

Bye

 
 
Having spent a ridiculous amount of money on vaccinations before I left, it has only taken me four weeks to get my first tropical disease of the trip, Dengue Fever.  Thankfully it sounds a lot worse than it is and I am hopefully on the short road to full recovery and will find out today with more blood tests.  It makes me feel better to know that I was not being completely pathetic over a cold and that there was something really wrong with me.  After a sleepless night, which I thought was due to not being able to get the AC temperature right and having a streaming nose, I woke to find a red rash all over me, which I did not need a doctor to tell me wasn’t good, accompanied by an inability to move my head or eyes at normal speed rather than sick person speed – I decided a trip to a doctor was required.  Seeing a doctor is easy, in fact much easier than in the UK, I was sat in front of two doctors within 10 minutes of walking in the hospital door.  The problem came when I had to pay for the tests I needed, without enough cash on me, I trotted over the road to the bank cash point only to find it out of service.  As the only cash point on the island and with the bank closed all day I was stuck, having been dismissed by the cashiers at the hospital with a shrug of the shoulders when I asked what I could do, I resorted to the thing girls do best in a crisis and sat outside the hospital and cried.  It really worked this time, within 10 minutes I had been offered the loan of money from the doctors and the police so all was ok with the world again!  Having been given a large amount of various drugs, tests the following day confirmed Dengue Fever. Five days later and with my fever gone and blood returning to normal I can safely say I am on the road to recovery and it would appear that I have got off lightly in comparison to the horror stories I am hearing from everyone, so for that I am grateful, though not as grateful as I am for having a good few English language channels on the television in my room, otherwise the past few days might have pushed me into terminal boredom!

Prior to becoming an invalid we have made a good few steps on the road to founding the Hulhumale rowing club, following a long chat to the UK, I am now going to be based here for the duration of my stay to set up the club here.  This is fantastic as Hulhumale is a growing community which really supports the swimming programme and is very excited about the arrival of the rowing boats.  So we have decided on the location of the rowing club, currently a corner of the island with huge concrete blocks thrown around and no development at all.  With the help of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) who are the developing body for the island, we will make safe access to the water – which is the most important part as it is deep enough and with a sandy bottom, no mean feat on this island!  So fingers crossed that I can get the site ready before the arrival of the boats, so although I am eager for the boats to arrive I am now not too eager!  It feels like we are making progress and once I am back fighting fit I will be able to keep pushing things on, Hurrah!  In the mean time I shall get back to watching trashy films and taking regular naps!!

Byeeee

PS as an update, I am now feeling almost 100% again, am just on the look out to make sure I do not catch one of the three other strains of Deng

 
 
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Congratulations everyone who helped eat 40 boxes of 12 doughnuts on Sunday at Wallingford regatta and raise a fantastic £400 for our project!!! Thank you to Katie, Ali, Lou and Andy for wading through the throngs, on a very hot and windy day, selling doughnuts dressed in our very fetching hats. Most people seemed to enjoy seeing how many doughnuts they could get Katie to eat..... After 7 hours of sales the last doughnut went just as the regatta was called off due to increasingly high winds - so perfect timing as usual.

Thanks again to the incredibly generous people who helped us raise such a tremendous amount and I hope the return to work after the bank holiday is not too great a shock!

Cheers Tash   

PS I would just to add a massive thank you to Tash and all her helpers - I really appreciate it all the way out in the advance party in the Maldives!  Rachel