Thursday, 9 November 2017

Sixteen thousand hits on the blog! Thank you, friends from UK, USA, Russia, Africa, Iceland and everywhere else. Very happy to welcome you. I'm a bit too lazy about posting as often as I might, but thanks for staying with me, for taking an interest in GOES - and for buying the Malinding Village series of eBooks and paper-backs.
I'm in one of my favourite places today - no, not in the Gambia - that's a pleasure that must wait till January - this place is across the border and into Wales. Gladstone's Library, where books mix with coffee and very comfortable bed rooms. I'm lucky enough to have been able to introduce some of you to this place and I know that you have enjoyed it. I bring most of my favourite characters from the village here; Sirra and Ed spent their honeymoon here, Jodie met an African chief here and decided to visit her village, others have visited too.
Most of the books they feature in have, at least in part, been written here. I have eaten too much cake, too many biscuits and consumed too much coffee in the dining room and I would possibly have written many more books if I had not been so greedy!
I'm working on the second part of Jodie Sonko's autobiography, Jodie Two, at the moment. She's experiencing a huge change in her life and I'm not sure yet how she's going to deal with it. More coffee and cake needed to fuel the brain, I think. Any excuse ...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

We've booked our next trip to the Gambia. Just a few weeks to wait then we'll be walking down the steps from the plane into that lovely wall of heat and welcome. Our driver, now a longstanding family friend, will be waiting with news of his lovely family, and we'll chat as we drive along familiar roads to our favourite hotel in Kotu.
We'll settle in as quickly as possible then join our friends for a welcome bottle of Julbrew by the pool. Domada of Benechin? Decisions, decisions. We'll chat about our plans, which school to visit first, what does the clinic need, how can we help the hospital, how are our friends and their children going on? Has Fatou passed her exams, is Lamin married yet, how at the babies doing, how is Amadou doing after his operation, all these and ten times more before we settle down to sleep.
And we'll be wondering, not for the first time, if this will be our final visit to this tiny country of wonderful people and terrible problems?
Age is against us as are the insurance premiums which we pay to cover our travels. Last year our premium cost more than our travel and accommodation.
With luck and a bit more publicity the Malinding books will continue to bring in some revenue, but if we cannot continue to visit and see for ourselves the Charity's money is being well spent I don't see how we can go on accepting money from family and friends. Up till now we can say to our supporters "Thank you for you gift; we used it to help Ami with her education and examination fees and we've see her certificates. She sends her thanks." If we can't travel we can't honestly report that donations have been properly used.
And also, being honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that we are not as fit as we used to be! We both plod on, coping with annoying medical conditions which are beginning to prove a nuisance.
Hopefully, we'll feel better when we walk off the plane - so far, the magic of Africa has drawn us back to the continent where human life began. Fingers crossed - see you by the pool, or in the market at Bakau, maybe by the crocodile pool, or in the fish market?
As I said before, fingers crossed! I must get on with Jodie Sonko's second book ....

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Autumn

Apples: 2 - the rest rot on the branch.
Figs; 1 - wasps got the rest.
Blueberries; 14 - quite pleased!
Carrots; nil.
Olives; nil.

Income from books sold this month; £0.56

Don't think I'm cut out to be a farmer. Or a writer. Maybe I should try politics?

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Second hand stories :-)

Just discovered my self on eBay. Well, not me myself, that would be silly. Some of my books have got to that stage. Just out of curiosity I bought a couple. Quite surprisingly they arrived in perfect condition! Of course they made no contribution to the funds of GOES, which was the reason they'd been written in the first place, but they can be passed on to new readers who, hopefully, will be tempted to but others in the Malinding Village series. Or I could take them with me when we venture out to The Gambia early next year. It would be interesting to know how genuine Gambians react to fictional ones! Some, of course, feature in the books. The Mechanical Girl was based on a real village girl, and a young Gambian friend allowed us to use her picture for the cover.
I also found that some of my books were on offer at silly prices. Who in their right mind would be tempted to spend nearly a hundred dollars on a copy of Empty Bananas? Not even the hero, Mr Ed Edwards would be so daft!
The second book about Jodie Sonko, the Girl on Wheels, rolls along. There's an element of Sci-Fi in this book, and it's possible that Jodie may find herself independent of her wheels, at least for a while. At the moment she's living in a post-Brexit England. The population has grown to 80 million and there's about to be a famine ... hope she survives! Hydroponics and underground farms may help. Time to leap into action, mow the lawn, tidy the spare bedroom, and locate my collection of memory sticks. Somewhere there's a collection of short stories and poems I'd forgotten about ... I need coffee and cake!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Busy doing nothing - well, not much!

We keep a picture of a young Gambian girl on top of the fridge in the kitchen. We caught her on a bad hair day, not a happy bunny. She's an elegant and educated young lady now, and we're proud to know her. The picture, it must be fifteen years out of date by now, serves a purpose. It reminds us, every time we go to the fridge, that GOES works. With your help, friends, this little girl was educated. When she was poorly you, through GOES, cared for her. When her mum's house needed repairs after a dreadful rainy season, you provided the cement and corrugated iron sheets to repair it and make it weather proof again.
And it reassures us that it's worth carrying on. Sometimes it's hard, or it seems so. We're ageing, nearly 160 years between us. We're slower than we used to be, we tire easily, we're forgetful. But when we go to the fridge for a bottle of milk or a couple of eggs, we look at that picture and smile. And we determine to carry on, maybe just a little longer, maybe to help and make friends with another generation of wonderful, intelligent, and caring people.
Before I sat down to write this I had a head full of grumbles and worries but this little story demanded to be written instead. Beware of the picture on the fridge! *

*Young lady in the picture - if you read this you'll know who you are, I think. Thank you.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Gift Aid!

Thank you, supporters! Family, friends, kind strangers. Thanks to all of you for your help, donations and encouragement during the past year (and many years before for most of you :-) )
HMRC have paid out again, accepting this time my handwritten and rather tatty claim form, having failed to master the on-line procedure yet again.
As before, money doesn't linger long in the GOES account. Most is already in The Gambia, working away in hospitals, clinics, and schools. A fair proportion has gone directly ti people who needed urgent medical treatment, fees for exams, and other emergency help. Using Smallworld Financial Services, GOES can receive an appeal for help in the early morning, have the case verified by our local representative and have the money ready for collection in a local bank the same day. And we'll check on the result during one of our visits to the country, later this year, all being well.
Again, thanks - and to those of you who can make the journey  (six hours on a plane ...) you'll be made welcome by the people of this lovely, tiny, poor country.

Saturday, 1 July 2017