My parents came for a visit last weekend with Iain and Adele. The weather wasn’t great, with snow-chaos on Saturday and extremely low temperatures on Sunday. Apparently Saturday had the greatest snowfall since the 1960s.
My Mum and Dad came over to Sweden for a few weeks in June, this time they got much nicer weather than they had in November. I’ve only just got round to sorting out the pictures from their trip.
During the week we also took a trip along the Göta canal from Berg to Borensberg with the M/S Wasa Lejon. It was a very relaxing trip, although we were puzzled about the people queuing an hour before departure.
Eleanor come over to join us for a long weekend, so we spent Saturday and Sunday in Kalmar. For some reason I don’t seem to have taken any pictures with Eleanor in… On the way back on Sunday we visited Vadstena again, although the weather was much better than the last couple of times I’d been there.
I spent Christmas with my parents and Grandparents in Norfolk, enjoying Granny’s cooking.
If was pretty cold and windy, but we soon got back to the house and warmed up ready for a delicious goose dinner.
I know I haven’t updated this for ages, but I’m living a much less exotic (although no less enjoyable) life these days.
Mum and Dad came out to visit me for a few days, against all the warnings of my colleagues (the weather is notoriously bad here in November). We were quite lucky with the weather, less lucky with catching tourist attractions open. For example, in Vadstena the main attractions are only open on weekdays during winter.
I also just bought myself a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner:
It should make keeping the many square metres of floor space in my apartment clean.
Yesterday Mum, Dad and my grandparents went for a trip to Aviemore and up the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular Railway.
As you can probably tell from the pictures, it wasn’t very warm at the top, 0°C, windy and snowing slightly.
Wandering around Stirling I’ve noticed a few things. The first is how few people there are on the streets. Outside the main shopping areas you meet few pedestrians, everyone seems to be in cars. Stirling town centre is also full of CCTV cameras.
(that’s Queen Street)
The second thing was how many signs there are. That’s official signs, rather than Nigeria’s profusion of advertising banners and political posters. Signs to warn you of penalties for not cleaning up after your dog, signs to identify lampposts, road traffic instruction signs and directional signs. Road signs in Nigeria are particularly bad, there are standard signs defined but various authorities each use different ones instead.
I spent the weekend visiting my Grandparents down in Norfolk, Eleanor was there as well. We took our usual walk down to Wroxham Broad:
Coming back from living in Nigeria there’s bound to be some reverse culture shock, I was expecting it. At the moment I’m actually just enjoying things like being able to turn on a tap and knowing water will come out.
A few things are strange:
- Getting on a bus (capacity of around 50 passengers) and not only does it leave before it’s full but the whole bus is carrying fewer passengers than the typical Kaduna minibus (10+ people in a Toyota Liteace).
- Bottled water: this seems ridiculous to me. Why buy bottled water in a country where the tap water is perfectly safe? Just think of the waste in producing, packaging and transporting it.
- Signs: there are signs everywhere, many telling you what you’re not allowed to do, but also providing useful information like where you are and how to get to other places.
- Greetings: instead of being expected to enquire about someone’s work, family and how they slept the usual greeting in a shop is a quick “hiya”.
I just got back on Sunday from a two-week holiday back home. This was partly to get away from the elections in Nigeria, partly to attend my nephew Joseph’s first birthday party and also just as a holiday.
The KLM flight from Abuja to Amsterdam (via Kano) was comfortable enough. They have video on demand in economy on their new A330s, so I could occupy my night by watching films and TV shows. I’d used the online check-in to choose an exit row seat, so I had plenty of legroom.
Mum and Dad were waiting for me at Edinburgh, along with my niece Eve. She was a little bit shy at first, but remembered me from October and was soon chatting away.
I spent the first week in Stirling, at Mum and Dad’s. The pictures of Eve and Joseph are from the day Mum and I took them to a wildlife park. Eve is wearing a hedgehog mask on top of her head and Joseph is very good at serious looks.
Sunday 19th March
I arrived into Abuja at around 8pm but the heat was still almost overpowering as I stepped out of the horribly air-conditioned plane. The immigration desk officials were efficient and very friendly (thank god the Americans haven’t been training them!) and I was soon collecting my luggage and meeting Kevin.
As it was dark I could not see much as we drove into Abuja and to Radio House where we would be staying with Marebec for the night. I met Marebec and Russell before gratefully heading to bed although 5am alarm call had been set!
Monday 20th March
Up very early and off the Jabi motor park (which is actually called some other name which no one actually calls it) to get a car to Kaduna where Kevin now lives. My mum and dad had prepared me for the state of the cars and I think being half asleep made me distinctly relaxed about the safety of these vehicles. We got a car quickly and were soon heading off.
We headed to NTI when we reached Kaduna and greeted the many security guards before dropping off the rucksacks in Kevin’s room before a greeting tour of all the staff in NTI, many who appeared to be asleep. We then went into Kaduna for a look around the market and the city itself. It was overwhemingly busy with people and traffic everywhere in no apparent order, not at all like British cities.
That evening we met some of the other VSO’s in the Air Force Club for a few beers and then for some dinner in the form of suya, which was unbelievably spicy, so much so it brought tears to my eyes! It was then a white knuckle ride on the motorbikes to get a car back to NTI.
Dad emailed these pictures to me today, my Mum found them wedged into a frame behind another picture. They’re both of me at an early age, I think in the one on the left I’m probably around two or three and in the one on the right somewhere around five.