Saturday, November 6, 2010


One of the things that I didn't realise before coming out this time is just how big Blantyre is – it has a population of nearly three quarters of million people. Yet at night time it is totally silent because a great number of these people don't have electricity, so will just go to bed when it gets dark.

Today is a Saturday so it is exceptionally noisy this afternoon there seems to be a lot of clubbing going on – it is rather like being at the cusp of several stages at a festival, music and djs blaring in all direction. Mixed with that is the noise of the noisy English people at the pool, there is never many people staying here but it seems a place to come to eat and swim in at the weekend. Quietly in the background to all this cacophony are the weekday usual quiet sounds; the huge dried seed pods falling from the trees, the bleating of the next door goats, the call to prayer from the mosque and the beautiful singing of the the shy birds at the side of the pool that I've yet to identify. I've downloaded a book of southern African birds with sounds so I will have a trawl and see if I can find out what they are.


I realise that I am never going to manage to write a diary style blog so I will instead write small bits and pieces as they occur.

Monday, November 1, 2010


We safely arrived in Malawi last night. The journey was uneventful apart from being stuck on the runway at Jo'burg for 40 mins on the runway on the way to Malawi, fortunately we were both so tired that we slept through it as it was very hot. Thankfully that was our only flight on Air Malawi as their planes (plane?) always looks so tired.

Dawn from the plane flying into Africa was stunning. The sky was so red and the little clouds on the horizon looked like silhouettes of trees and houses so it looked like land. It was magical. There were also little 'hills' of black cloud below with local intense electrical storms.

It was lovely to be back in the hotel again and to see all the staff again, it is definitely like a home for us here. I love the sounds and smells of this place - I wish I could bottle it all up and take it home so I could instantly be brought back here. The smells are of warm earth and wood smoke. The sounds are of a beautiful bird song (I will have to find out what the birds are at the hotel, I never see them but their song is wonderful), distant people laughing, music, sometimes drums and the call to prayer.

Julie and Chris who've been here since Tuesday met us last night for a working dinner to discuss the progress we made and what we want to do this week.

I slept like a log! The bed is so comfortable and I am really grateful for air conditioning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 3rd and final trip

Here I go again. The final trip in our three year project. I am SO excited, but also already feeling sad as I think it will be the last time I will be there.

I've been looking back at the last few entries and seeing how this blog has never really got off the ground. It sounds like an excellent idea, but the combination of long and tiring days, power cuts and poor bandwidth means that it never really stands a chance. I also find it difficult to blog about the work I am doing. I find it intrusive to comment on meetings I've had or people I've met; I tend not to do it at St Andrews either.

Still, I am full of good intentions that I will keep the blog up to date this year. Who knows?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


First day of work went well. I met up with Diston (the College of Medicine Librarian) in the morning and we set out our priorities for the week. These are:
  • getting the A-Z list up and running
  • sharing experiences of information literacy teaching, especially now that they have much more self-directed and problem-based learning
  • reviewing the Reference Section and discussing what is useful and what not
  • looking at the Library's input into the new VLE, including useful links and RSS feeds
  • looking at the new Library and the needs that they have for that
I met Diana, the Deputy Librarian for the first time as she was on maternity leave the last time we were out. The three of us went for a hard-hat tour of the new Library. It is quite extraordinarily huge and beautifully designed. Diston has an office to die for with windows running down two sides and views of the mountain from one. The functions of all the rooms aren't totally decided yet, but it looks like it will be finished in the Spring. Photos are still on my camera, will post later.


Sunday saw us going to a wildlife park, somewhere south east of Blantyre ( I think) - I will have to get the name and place and add it in.

Long journey down and a bit bumpy. We didn’t see a whole lot of animals, or maybe I am just getting blasé as we certainly saw a lot of antelopes. We did see a lot of different birds and I was delighted to find out that Susie is a bird expert so could name them all. Here’s some pics:

In the evening we met up with the A Team and went out for a surprisingly good meal at a little hotel near here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First Day

Had a few hours kicking around Jo’burg airport. All their signage was out of order which made it a bit of an adventure trying to find out the departure gate. We met up with a couple more of our party at the gate and then got on the flight for Blantyre. As usual, the mood on the Malawi-bound plane was completely different to the other ones we got on. Much jollity and good humour with people catching up with old friends. They aren’t like any other flight I’ve been on. Flight was good and then there was the usual hanging around the airport with everyone trying to find a place to fill in their paperwork. Then mysterious stamping and handing over bits of paper to various officials. Good news was that all our luggage arrived. A first, I think! A College car took us to the hotel where we checked in and then spent the afternoon recovering from lack of sleep.

At five we had a couple of hours worth of meeting discussing what we want to do this week, who we need to talk to etc.

Briefly met up with the Edinburgh University Team who have been working with the A Team last week and are just finishing off. The A Team stay at a posher hotel, we but the Edinburgh lot were in ours.

The dinner menu has expanded to include an Indian menu, which was very good. They’d baked a cake for David as it was his birthday and one of the waitresses too. It was very sweet!

Was just doing a bit of interneting before bed when the power went, so I am writing this by candle light and will have to post this tomorrow.

Picture is of my afternoon Fanta by the pool. :)

(I do seem to be a day behind at the moment, apologies.)