Adieu

I’m sure I’ve written this post before, but somewhere in the ether of cyberspace it has been eaten up – and is now lost. So, yeah. By this time tomorrow, I will be in Heathrow, preparing to fly to Tanzania for 2 and half months to help improve the access to clean water and sanitation in rural communities. I’m excited, very excited, but also quite excited. I mean nervous. As well as excited. What I was meaning to say, rather than tripping over my words in the usual fashion, was that I will be gone, and I will be unable to put anything up or otherwise update this blog whilst I’m away.

If you want to keep up to date with my adventures whilst I’m away, me and my team will be putting things up at:

http://www.raleighinternational.org/ri-blogs/raleigh-tanzania-ics

Stay safe and have a great time whilst I’m away,

– Vicki

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Words.

I feel quite out of sync with writing this, like I’ve lost some sort of rhythm that used to remind me when it was writing day and helped me with the process of putting words on a page. (Or on a screen if you’re going to be pedantic). Since my siblings started back at school, my sense of which day of the week it is has slowly began to deteriorate – and it was only on Thursday that I realised there’s still another week until October. I don’t want to be wishing my time away, but most of what I’m doing at the moment seems to be waiting. Waiting, and rushing, and getting confused by words.

I may have mentioned before the months of slamming my head against a brick wall that I encountered before realizing I was dyslexic. The assumptions I subconsciously make that similar words, or numbers, or strings of characters, are the same. My inability to spell, at least with certain words. It’s something that’s made learning languages a lot harder. Not French, strangely enough, but Latin grammar with it’s 7 million declensions was a nightmare. And now Swahili. I’m going in less than a fortnight, and I’d really like to be able to manage more than half a dozen words.

Hello. Welcome. How are you. Sorry. No worries. This is the current extent of my Swahili, or so it feels. I’m told you pick up languages faster when people around you are speaking them, but that doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence. I think I’ll be fine, at least that’s what I keep telling myself; but having watched hours of “teach yourself Swahili” videos on youtube doesn’t seem to have helped me very much. Nor the surprisingly good 40 minute propaganda movie telling people to be more aware of malaria when they’re pregnant. I should hopefully be okay, and if the worst comes to the worst; I will be with other people and  I have a chapter of supposedly useful phrases (including “where can I buy cannabis?”) in the back of my guidebook. I suppose this is part of the travelers’ anxiety, the pre-departure homesickness, the nervousness that makes up part of every adventure. I’ve never been one of life’s great communicators, and being thrown into a new environment is making me a little worried about that.

I’ll get a hold of Swahili eventually, no matter how much the letters run together in an intangible stream. After all, it’s only words.

– Vicki

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An Ode to Scotland.

Here I am, in wet and raining England, thoroughly relieved that after 400 years together, we are not saying goodbye to a wetter and raining Scotland. I wouldn’t want to describe myself as “anti-independence” exactly, I just think that Britain works better as a singular entity than as the nations that make it do on their own. We’ve got a common history, as comes from being the same country and occupying the same land mass, but there are differences.

A lot of things that people traditionally think of as English are actually Scottish. Macbeth, for example, is set in the Highlands somewhere. David Tennant (formerly McDonald) is Scottish, as is new who Peter Capaldi. But anyway, this was supposed to be fun and mildly interesting about why Scotland is good, but is much better as part of the UK (where it can never be forced to join the eurozone), not a list of how many Dr Who actors I can name – which in terms of who’s played the doctor is obviously all of them. Scotland is more geographically interesting than England in my opinion, at least the part where I live. It has lots of lakes and mountains and nice countryside, and snows more than one day every year. It’s generally less flooded, and the people don’t sound like pirates all the time.

But no, in the words of Alistair Darling (who I never thought I would have any opinion besides laughing about his eyebrows), we are better together. Macbeth maybe Scottish, but Shakespeare (an English guy) wrote it. Dr Who is funded by London and produced in Wales. I have no idea where I’m going with this, beyond the realization that talking about politics is messy and opinionated and probably not a very good idea.

– Vicki

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Those days.

I don’t have a lot to say this week, because I’ve having one of those days. One of those days where it takes a million times longer than normal to do anything. One of those days where nothing seems to be going right. One of those days where you want to bang your head against a brick wall, repeatedly, for about six hours. One of those days where you listen to Pink Floyd for far too long and far too loudly just to convince yourself that everything will in fact be okay.

 I have what seems like 700 hundred things to do next week, including my mother’s birthday, a rabies jab, and a four day hike in the welsh mountains, and I do not feel even remotely prepared. There’s also the third attempt at a car boot sale that involves me having to wake up at 5, or maybe even earlier, tomorrow morning, and I just feel entirely disenfranchised with the whole idea. I want to sleep. I want to go back and have an episode of doctor who that isn’t over-complicated with religious metaphors, and just doesn’t suck. I want to curl up with chocolate and fluffy bunnies. 

I think this is fast becoming dreary and disheartening. Please excuse me, I’m having one of those days. 

– Vicki

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Doctor Who.

[WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS]

Doctor Who. I’m so confused. I should probably backtrack a bit here, and do some explaining, or you will end up even more confused than I am. Today, about an hour and a half ago, at long last, started the new series of Doctor Who. I’m not sure if things like that are the same everywhere, but it probably comes out soon in most places. And I just watched it. I had very low expectations, because even though the 50th anniversary special was brilliant, the Christmas episode was the most disappointing piece of shit in the history of humanity. I may sound like I am exaggerating, but I was so bitterly disappointed. The mere word “disappointed” doesn’t even feel big enough to cover it. 

So, with trepidation, I sat in front of the telly, cup of tea in hand, expecting to be disappointed. And I am. But I’m not. In short, I am very very confused. There were good bits, and there were bad bits. On the whole, Jenny is continuing to win my favour as super bad-ass, and Clara is being to make up for the whole “I-am-a-plot-device” thing that happened. I think that a certain person needs to re-learn the rule of “show, don’t tell”, with the clunking kissing part (you couldn’t even see their faces, just their mouths) and the control freak argument being cases in point, but on the whole it was good. Until the last 5 minutes. 

Stephen Moffat, or whoever else it is that’s writing Doctor Who, seems to have a habit of doing that. Closing time, the one with Craig and the Doctor and Stormageddon, would be my absolute favourite episode in the history of science fiction, were it not for the tiny bit at the end with River and sadness and not-nice things. And again this time. I was perfectly fine thinking the cyborg guy was some sort of religious fanatic, a Zionist, a Jehovah’s Witness, or anyone else who’s a little bit obsessed with the idea of heaven or “the promised land”. But that can’t be, apparently. The Doctor has to have some romantic attachment, or so it seems, whose purpose seems to be to cause unnecessary plot disturbance and annoy me. I wasn’t a fan of River, and Missy, I’m not a fan of you.

– Vicki 

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The Rest of Your Life

This probably seems like the millionth time I’ve said this, but being totally finished with school is incredibly liberating. The day before yesterday, as was drilled into my head for months, was A-Level results day; and so I finally found out what I got in the exams I’ve spent the last two years working towards and which essentially tell me (or least most people, those who haven’t taken a gap year) whether or not I’ve gotten into university. I did alright, could have been better, but also could have been much worse. Anyway, as is the message pouring in from all sides, people are not defined by their results – they are defined by themselves, I think, so on I must go.

So, things have changed. Friends are going on to university, or going back to school, and I am going off on my own adventures. I suppose life is an adventure, whatever you do with it, but parting with “see you at christmas” to someone you’ve known for and seen pretty much every day for the last 7 years of your life is strange. Yes, I know we’re all still in the same city, the same physical locations we’ve always been in, but the possibility of not seeing someone who’s been a part of your life for a long time on a regular basis anymore is surprisingly isolating.

I don’t really know what I’m saying anymore, and I’m not even sure I knew what I was saying to begin with. The point constantly being made, I guess, about everything here, is that this is the start of the rest of your life. And as much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ve realised lately that there are definitely things I’ll miss. Well, mostly people.

– Vicki

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Travel Plans

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an adventurous streak. An urge to get away. Since I was a very little girl, I’ve spent hours staring longingly out of windows, or up into the clouds, willing myself to be somewhere else. Up till now, most of these flights of fancy have taken place within the confines of my own head – or else in the form of lonely wonders through local parks or along the river. But now its time to spread my wings, so to speak. To learn to fly. 

Moving away from aviation metaphors, Tanzania is something I have been rather excited about for a long time. And has also involved meticulous planning. In my free time, however, I have continued to gaze at maps, and pictures of the northern lights, and I have finally come up with a wonderful plan for the second half of my gap year. 

Although conventionally expensive, it looks cheap for around 6 months of constant travel. It involves travel by just about every means; coach, train, ferry and some light (ha!) walking, in order to save on airfares. The sooner I book it, the first parts at least, the more likely I am to be able to stay in both nice and cheap hostels – they do exist, with York being a case in point. So why haven’t I done it yet?

1. I am having some Tanzania-related cash flow problems. This isn’t really unexpected, It just makes my heart shatter a little every time I open up my laptop and the page with my current route jumps out at me. 

2. I have to talk to people. Mostly people who own farms or youth hostels where I intend to be volunteering, but also some friends and the like, who I would like to meet up with along the way. Including you. 

3. Travelling the world makes me into an adult. A responsible human who leaves home, and her parents, and doesn’t see anyone she knows for months. In a way, this is part of what attracts me to travelling, but in another way, it’s terrifying.

– Vicki

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