Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Journey on the White Nile: Uganda April 2010

After a short break from my trip down memory lane, I am back today with one post on my travels in Uganda. If you are a new follower of Made in Suisse, first welcome, and second, if you would like to catch up on my previous posts on my Tanzanian memories, you can click here, here and here!

Marabout stork and Mosque, Makerere University

We left Dar es Salaam at the beginning of April 2010 and flew over the beautiful Lake Victoria to find ourselves in Uganda. We didn't let the 44kg of extra luggage stop us in our stride. The 3rd training course we taught was taking place at the Vet School at Makerere University in Kampala. I am not sure what those crazy vet students are up to in their spare time but judging by the freaky cow I encountered on the campus there, I can't be anything good!

Brown cow has a 5th leg on its back! This has NOT been Photoshopped!
During our first weekend in Uganda, we decided to go for a long walk in Mpanga forest reserve, 40km out of Kampala. Mpanga forest is worth a visit to enjoy the peace and solitude of a beautiful forest just one hour away from the noisy capital. Mpanga is home of the Ugandan Royal Drum makers. The five main tree species suitable for this traditional craft are found in the forest and at the visitor reception of the park you can learn about the drum trees.

The forest is very well known for having >100 species of butterflies! We were mostly hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare red tail colobus monkey and of many colourful birds...

Pretty tall trees!

Their bite is painful!


Check out the gigantic spider web I am standing next to!

We kept our eyes and ears wide open for monkeys but only spotted butterflies and 1 hornbill in the distance after a 3 hours walk. Never mind...

For our second weekend in Uganda, we decided to take a 2-days trip to Jinja. Jinja lies about 90 km East of Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria. The White Nile river starts it 6,500km journey to the Mediterranean Sea beside Jinja town. The White Nile is one of the two main tributaries of the Nile from Egypt, the other being the Blue Nile (which originates in Lake Tana in Ethiopia where I have also been!).

View from our hotel: Lake Victoria and the beginning of the White Nile

We took an afternoon boat trip on Lake Victoria to see the exact location of the source and then spent some time admiring the local wildlife surrounding the boat.

Swimming in the source of the White Nile

Giant kingfisher

Nile monitor


I decided to do something a bit crazy (when you know my usual safety-conscious self) and went rafting down rapids on the Nile. The one-day water-rafting trip consisted in 5/6 hours rafting (31 km) in grade 5 waters (definition of class 5 rafting: Whitewater, large waves, continuous rapids, large rocks and hazards,  large drop, precise maneuvering). This was my first white water-rafting experience and I did not go for an easy ride...

This was very scary but so much fun!! We only overturned the boat on 2 occasions in 5 hours of rafting which was really good actually since we were all novices!

I only stayed 2 weeks in Uganda as I needed to return to the UK for a week to have my PhD viva before the start of our 4th training course in Sénégal. My colleague stayed for an extra week in Uganda and went to the Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari which she highly recommends. Uganda was a fantastic surprise for me. Not knowing anything about the country before coming beyond what was shown in the movie The Last King of Scotland, Uganda stroke me as a lush green country, full of very friendly and helpful people and with spectacular wildlife to rival some of its more popular neighbours (like Tanzania). Watching the sun setting over Lake Victoria was one of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Jurassic Park

Who am I??

I roamed the Earth during the late Jurassic period some 155 million years ago. My name means "roof lizard".

Despite my large size (9 meters long and 4 meters tall), you have nothing to fear from me as I am a herbivore. I was even declared the State Dinosaur of Colorado in 1982 (thank you Wikipedia for your random facts)!

Who am I?

My name is Terence, I am a stegosaurus and I hope to make a little boy happy this Christmas!

PS: You can find the pattern for Terence the stegosaurus in the July issue of the British magasine "Sew Hip" (

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Oh happy days....

Warm greetings from Meilen!

Hello everyone!

I am just back from a 3 days training course for my new job in Hasliberg, in the Bernese Oberland. What a beautiful area!! I am still mad with myself for forgetting to take the camera! But then again, I was going away for a 3 days statistics/programming course so I did not think that taking a camera along would be essential...

Anyhow, I realised on Blogger earlier today  that this will be my 100th post!!!!!!!!!! A (small) but exiting milestone for all of us at Made in Suisse (well Alf and I mostly!). I started this blog at the end of March and never thought that I would have so many stories to share with family, friends and fellow bloggers around the world. Looking back on all the things Mr T, Alf and I have been up to in the last 5 months, and on all the memories we have built in La Suisse, makes me very happy.

Had I been slightly more organised, I would have started to put together a little "give away" a few weeks back to celebrate this milestone with you all but between going on holidays and Mr T's operation, this had slipped my mind...However, fear not!! I will be celebrating my next Made in Suisse milestone (50th follower) with you all. When the number of followers will reach 50, I will open a "give away" competition for all my followers in Switzerland and abroad. The parcel is sure to contain some Swiss chocolate (!!!) so spread the word, and if you haven't already done so, join the Made in Suisse adventure by clicking on the Followers link on the left.

Something else is making me very happy today (apart from the sun and Mr T's slow but good recovery from his op): I have finished my first "big" knitting project!

Up until a few weeks ago, I had only ever knitted small things for children mostly such as hats and scarves or socks. However, I had 500g of this wonderful wool sitting in my craft basket and sulking because it hadn't been used since being bought 9 months ago. My friend Petit Filoux and I went to the Glasgow Christmas Country Living fair last November. We ended up buying and sharing a pack of 10 balls (1kg) of 70% merino, 20% alpaca and 10% silk from Woolfish. You can click on this link to see the cowl the talented Petit Filoux knitted with her share!

Because this wool is so beautiful and so soft, I felt that it should be used to knit something special, something I would get to wear for once as I usually knit presents for others. Not being a knitting expert, I wanted something that would be relatively easy to make and without too many fancy increases/decreases/bits to saw together at the end. I came across this pattern on Ravelry which looked exactly like what I needed! The pattern is called Foliage Wrap by Anne Thompson. It is a simple sleeveless cardigan i.e. a rectangle with 2 holes for the arms (That I can manage!) but with beautiful details added onto the collar and the bottom to make it look really special (yet very easy!). Loved it!

I modified the pattern slightly by making the cardigan longer and increased the number of leaf repeats at the bottom. Because the yarn is so thick, it is a quick knit. Et voilà!!!

Far too hot, as you can tell with the sunglasses and the shorts, to be wearing this cardigan but I am very excited at the prospect of wearing it when Autumn starts. I am quite proud of my first "real" knitting project and want to tell the world about it!

PS: I have just joined the Handmade Monday crowd over at 1st Unique Gifts- the blog. Today is the first Monday I have posted a link to one of my posts on there and I am quite excited to see what other people have been creating in the last 7 days. If you're curious too, go on and have a look on here!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Zanzibar: March 2010

Welcome back to my third and last instalment of my travels in Tanzania in March last year. I will take you to Uganda soon, but first let me share with you a few memories from the Easter weekend I spent on Zanzibar. Zanzibar is an archipelgo of islands in the Indian Ocean and is a semi-autonomous region of the Republic of Tanzania.

Gecko on Zanzibar

We had finished our week long training at the University of Dar es Salaam on the Friday and were telling the students that we would be running a 2 days revision course starting on the Monday, when we realised that all the students had a surprised/confused look on their faces. One of them finally raised their hand to let us know that nobody will be attending the course on was a bank holiday! We had been so busy preparing the training course and teaching it that we had forgotten that it was Easter!

We were actually quite pleased 1) to have been warned that nobody would turn up on Monday 2) to have 3 days off which meant we could take the 6am ferry to Ungunja (the biggest of the two islands forming Zanzibar) on Saturday morning and spent 2 nights on the island. I had no idea what to expect from Zanzibar but my colleague who is a keen diver was desperate to do some scuba diving in the coral reefs. We phoned up a hotel on Friday night for a last minute booking and secured a bungalow on the beach. I was starting to get really excited about this weekend away!

Straight out of bed and onto the beach...awesome
We spent 2 1/2 days on Kendwa beach, enjoying cocktails, getting massages in a little booth on the beach (the lady was so good we both went twice), swimming and reading. A perfect lazy weekend!

What amazing colours! 
The beach wasn't too busy at this time of year and there were not too many hustlers (which can often be a bit of an annoyance for lone females travelling in Africa) so I could enjoy some walks along the beach too.

Dried puffer fish

Sunset on Kendwa beach
This would make a great honeymoon destination for a fraction of the price of the Seychelles! On the second day, we opted for a half day scuba diving trip in some nearby coral reef. I had never been scuba diving before and although I did not manage to go more than a couple of meters deep, it was a fantastic experience. No under water camera shots I'm afraid which is a shame as we saw so many different types of coral reef fishes and anemones.

Coming back from our trip in the reefs
That evening, we joined some friends of a friend who came along to Zanzibar with us to have a beach barbecue. These people had been on a fishing trip that day and had come home with a big tuna and dorado which we thoroughly enjoyed for our dinner. I am not a fish person but that was delicious.

Meeting new friends at night

While waiting for the ferry to take us back to the mainland, we spent a few hours wandering around Stone Town, the old part of Zanzibar City. Unlike any other city I had seen in Africa, Stone Town's architecture dates back to the 19th century when Zanzibar was the flourishing centre of the spice trade as well as the slave trade. The name "Stone Town" comes from the ubiquitous use of coral stone as the main construction material.

The town's old buildings reflect the diverse influences sweeping through this old international port and giving rise to a unique mix of Swahili , Moorish, Persian, Indian and European elements.

A Stone Town doorway

Several historical buildings from the time the island was controlled by the Sultanate of Oman are still visible The House of Wonders is the largest and tallest building of Stone Town and occupies a prominent place on the old town's seafront. It is one of six palaces built by the second Sultan of Zanzibar.

The House of Wonders
The Old Fort , adjacent to the House of Wonders, is a heavy stone fortress that was built in the 17th century by the Omani.

The Old Fort
The Anglican cathedral of Christ Church was built at the end of the 19th century in an area in the centre of  Stone Town that previously hosted the biggest slave market of Zanzibar. The place was deliberately chosen to celebrate the end of slavery, and the altar was located in the exact spot where the main whipping post of the market used to be.

Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church

You can also see the house in which Freddy Mercury's was born and spent his childhood! We had a nice time walking around the maze of tiny streets making up the old town and being sheltered from the blazing sun.

Beautifully carved Zanzibari dorrways

The time for our departure back to the mainland was fast approaching, and before leaving this little jewel of an island behind, we stopped in one of Zanzaibar's most celebrated coffee houses for a drink and to stock up on coffee to bring back home. To say that I love coffee is an understatement (it is to me as much of a basic vital necessity as air, water or chocolate) and that last drink on ths island was ever so perfect!

If you ever find yourself in Tanzania, I can only recommend that you take a boat or a plane to spend a few days in Zanzibar. I wish we had spent more time in the Old Town and I would happily go back for a week and travel around the islands to discover other beaches/reefs and trek through the last remaining forests. That's it for my Tanzanian adventures, I hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane with me. Next, we will fly to Kampala, the capital of Uganda where I will take you water rafting on the Nile.

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