Saturday, 19 May 2007

Catching up on Photos

A long time ago I promised you photos. You may be aware that South America has been having difficulty with its internet. The Americas II cable in French Guiana has been broken and loading photos by dial up takes a long time. So here goes. Just click on the link below and you should be taken to another place where you can catch up on our earlier photos.

Home Sweet Home (in Georgetown)

The Harding Residence

This blog is long overdue because I realise that we haven’t really told you about where we are living. Most of the houses in Georgetown are on stilts or the main part of the house is upstairs with outside living areas downstairs or often it is just storage space. The area is prone to flooding and there were very bad floods in 2005. Some say they might reoccur this year but so far the rainy season is quite mild. So, we have an upstairs house with three bedrooms, living and dining areas, a kitchen and an en suite shower with hot water. What luxury! The house is surrounded by a lawn, patios and a garden and our landlady keeps them all immaculate. She is the exception rather than the rule so it’s a great place to live!
I'm sure this little piece has just got byou longing for more. So all you have to do is click on the picture below to see a whole array of Home Photos on the web link.

Our Home in Guyana

Post Shell Beach and back to work!

Well, here’s our news since we got back from our adventures in Shell Beach. We were invited by our landlady, Miss P to go to the annual Hat Show in the Jubilee Gardens which is near the VSO Office. They’re small gardens and very colourful. The people call Georgetown the Garden City but these are the only gardens which are as we would know them in England. Although there are beautiful flowering trees everywhere. Very few people have gardens but they have their private space which is often in the form of a yard and, if there are any plants, they are in pots, very often without flowers – ferns etc. Our house is perhaps the exception with its lawn and flowering plants. Anyway, I digress, we went along for 4pm, looked around the gardens and then the show started. There were about 8 – 10 women in each category starting with children in the elegant and original categories. It was like an Easter Bonnet Parade and took us back to the 1950s as the ladies and girls paraded around the bandstand with the police band playing ‘sensible’ music in the middle. The highlight was when Miss Cecilia Harding at 84 years of age danced around the bandstand to everyone’s amusement. Aunt Cecilia as we like to call her!!!

The following week we invited all the VSOs around to our house for an Afternoon Tea with home made scones, bread and cakes. It was a lovely day. It started at around 4pm and we waited until the sun came over the yardarm as it does here at 6pm and then we had a little tipple – Banks Beer – the local brew and Rum and anything! A great time was had by all. Everyone gives a party at some time. Ours was to celebrate our anniversary, St George’s Day and the birth and death of Shakespeare all of which occurred on 23rd April.

Last week we went on a business trip to Vreed-en-Hoop which is just across the Demerara River to the West of Georgetown. We went to visit several schools and, yet again, saw first hand the challenges that schools have to face on a day today basis. However, the Nursery Schools seem to be an oasis of calm with their excellent display and generally very delightful schools – but they get every afternoon off to prepare. I suppose the strange thing about this trip was going to work and coming back on the launch across the river.

The following weekend was another National Holiday but there was no day off as it is on a Saturday. It was Indian Arrival Day which commemorates the Indian indentured labourers arriving in Guyana in 1838 to work in the sugar plantations. We treated ourselves by going to the Meridien Pegasus Hotel which is right next door to where we work – the only really “posh” hotel in Georgetown – and having one beer. At £1 a bottle, one is all we can afford on our salaries of £105 a month. We then went to the Horticultural show next door which, as our friend Meg says, is a bit like the Southport Flower Show. We had afternoon tea (a treat from the past with ladies with hats) and bought a few plants to decorate our veranda. We have quite a collection now! In the evening we went to the Arrival Day Concert in the Cultural centre which was almost 3 hours of Indian song and dance with some additional items from other ethnic groups. It was unbelievably colourful and a great experience. The next afternoon we went to the National Park to join in the Indian Family Fun Day.

Just a word about Sundays! I get up at about 5-45am to make the bread for the week and off to church on our bikes. It’s a great community. One week there was no priest so the women lay ministers did a service. Who says we can’t have women priests? Sundays are like Sundays here. Wherever you go at any time of day you can hear the services, usually evangelical with loud sermons and stirring music. It’s very uplifting.

I seemed destined to work in schools called St Mary’s. From my own school in the sixties – St Mary’s College to my last school where I was Headteacher in Croydon and now to a school in Brickdam, Georgetown – St Mary’s High - where I am helping out with some advice. Mary must be looking over me! (and then, of course, there’s my own Mary - she’s always looking over me!!!!)

Work is getting very hectic for both Mary and I. I am still busy with the Education Management Course for Headteachers, travelling around, meeting trainers and advising as well as getting together with large groups of trainees (Heads, Deputies and Senior Staff) to talk about Leadership and Management. In addition, I am giving management advice to schools where it is needed. I have been asked to prepare a series of 8 TV programmes on Leadership and Management and hope to go live in September. There’s never a dull moment. Mary and Meg have got several projects going at the same time from training on SEN in nursery schools to planning large 3 day SEN workshops to be held in Georgetown for teachers across all the regions. She’s also planning work to train teachers for after school clubs linked to a feeding programme for children. What busy little bees we are!

It’s been a bit like work, work, work in the last few weeks but there are exciting things on the horizon – the most pressing of which for Mary and Meg is to go to Windies Sports Bar at 10am this morning to watch the FA cup. This afternoon we are having Guyanese cooking lessons and tomorrow we have been invited along with all the VSOs to a Pool and Barbecue Party at the residence of the British High Commissioner! Watch this space!

Photos are from the Georgetown Botanical Gardens which are about 10 minutes walk from our house. The middle one - the water lilly is the national flower of Guyana and you see them everywhere, in dykes, ditches, rivers and canals. They last for about one day but there are always others to replace them. The seed pod, on the left is almost as spectacular and looks like a giant sieve. On the right is the Georgetown Kissing Bridge.

If you want to see more pictures of what we've been up to during this period, click on the picture below to go to the web link.

From Shell Beach to Arrival Day 2007