Paris in December

I recently had my first work trip away since the beginning of 2019, almost 4 years ago.

Back in 2019, I went to Afghanistan in January and then to Ethiopia in March (in fact I was in the middle of a training in Ethiopia when I received an email from my social worker telling me about a potential match with A, who would become my daughter soon afterwards).

Since then I had a kid, then there was a pandemic, then I had another kid, so there hasn’t been much of an opportunity to go anywhere or do anything!

This December, I was asked to go to Paris to deliver a training (technically a training of trainers to train up a new cohort of trainers who can deliver our course worldwide).

It was a really fun trip and I had forgotten just how much I missed delivering training!

Continue reading

An Ode to my MacPac…

As I was recently rooting around in my loft for something, I found my big macpac, and realised I’ve had it for 10 years this year. It’s the best rucksack I’ve ever bought, it has a lifetime guarantee, and it’s EXTREMELY well-made, so I thought it was worthy of a little shout-out.

I bought my matching big and little macpacs in 2007, before going to Nepal for a year.

My big macpac has gone with me to Nepal, India, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Liverpool, South Sudan, India again, Nepal again, Kashmir, Oxford, the USA, The Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Iraq, Jordan, Canada, USA again, Australia again, Senegal, Kenya, Iraq again, and Senegal again.

Other than an unfortunate incident once where my Big Mac got ripped in an airport and needed to be patched (I sent it off to macpac and they fixed it up and shipped it back to me), it has held up remarkably well! In Nepal I used to keep it empty under my bed, but padlocked as my passport was in there, and when I lost the key, I had to beg the locksmith to cut through the padlock carefully not to damage the zip!

It’s incredibly comfortable, exactly the right size, and I love that it unzips like a proper suitcase instead of rooting around in a normal rucksack. I also love that you can fold in and zip up the straps when checking it in at airports so they don’t get damaged en-route.

My little macpac has gone with me EVERYWHERE in the last 10 years. It’s literally my everyday bag, it carries my laptop into work everyday, it goes with me on mini-breaks and weekends, and in addition to all of the countries my big mac has been to¬†it has ALSO been with me to Qatar, Madrid, Italy and Switzerland!

Obviously daily use for 10 years has left my little mac a bit grubby, but considering what it’s been through, it’s holding up INCREDIBLY well! It’s even still mostly waterproof, as I learned after a can of tonic water exploded inside it once in the Philippines…

This little bag goes with me pretty much everywhere, is still sturdy and comfy after 10 years, and it zips onto the front of Big Mac (although I hardly ever do that).

So, all in all, as a fairly frequent traveller, I give these bags 10 out of 10 and highly recommend them for your travelling adventures.

ūüôā

All the places I’ve been

In a recent conversation with my dad, I realised that in his 70+ years, he has travelled to a huge number of countries, (34 and counting!) so I thought it was worth listing all of mine out too to see how we compare!

My dad also pointed out that the majority of his travelling happened in his 20’s and 30’s, as like most people, once you settle down and have kids you tend to travel less often, so here is our combined list:¬† Continue reading

Weapons training with the French army…

Monday 8th December 2008

Hello again people!
So much to talk about!

With only a week to go before I head home, there’s a lot to do! I have an exam on Friday, and we have to arrange to pay our final rent and bills, which is proving to be very confusing!
Also, last week I went on a really amazing Security training course run by the French Army that was really fun, but also exhausting. Continue reading

A Halloween Faux-Pas!

Tuesday 4th November 2008

Bonjour mes amis!
Ca va? Hope everyone had a bon halloween!
The Bioforce party was AWESOME, and I plan to tell you all about it!
We went to the Chateau de Passins, about an hour’s drive outside of Lyon, which was gorgeous, and they had rented the place from Friday night until Saturday lunchtime. I had arranged a lift with some friends, and arrived to find everyone busily putting up decorations and setting up speakers and kegs etc.
I had been worried that not many people were going to wear costumes, and hadn’t really found anywhere to buy something, so I’d hastily fashioned some ears and a tail out of a cheap hairband and some black socks (That’s the beauty of having been a primary school teacher!).
Anyway, lots of people were in costume, and so I transformed into a cat wearing my sexiest clothes, and frankly looked pretty damn good (if I do say so myself!). Continue reading

The Anglo-Saxon Approach…

Sunday 26th October 2008

Hi again!
Well, things here are tootling along nicely, I’ve now had my first exam¬†(which went ok) and have finished the first module without too much trouble, so¬†fingers crossed I passed!

I’m also learning things at an insanely fast rate – it turns out there is¬†so much I don’t know!

I’ve discovered that the humanitarian world has it’s own little¬†language that requires translating (for example the word “coherence”¬†when used in an evaluation context apparently means “sustainable” –¬†who knew?).
So half of our time is spent arguing over the meaning of words and I have quite an impressive little dictionary with definitions of the difference between a hazard, a threat, and a risk, what constitutes a disaster, and the difference between disaster prevention, disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation! Continue reading

Life in the French Ghetto…

Monday 13th October 2008

Hey everyone,
It has been BUSY over here in the delightful ghetto of Les Minguettes, so get ready for a very long post!
I almost don’t know where to start, as there’s so much to say!

Ok, well I guess the most important things should go first, so I’ll tell you all about my new neighbours. Up until two weeks ago, Bioforce had been pretty quiet, with only us Masters students and a couple of other smaller classes going on. Then the new students arrived, 130 of them, to start their school year training in logistics, project management, administration etc.
Apart from a hefty smattering of filthy hippies (I have soooooo gotten over that look – maybe it’s cos I’m getting old, but it’s like, seriously, have a shower and wash your clothes already!)
but the rest of them are GORGEOUS! Continue reading

La vie en Francais…

Saturday 27th September 2008

Salut everyone!

Well after only a week here I am fully immersed in French culture, and straight in at the deep end on this course! Vive la fromage! et le vin! et le pain!

It’s been pretty good so far, but we have classes from 9am til 4 or 5pm, so there’s very little time to do all the mountains of reading I’m supposed to do!
They’re already asking me for my dissertation topic, which I have no clue about, and I’m still staying with my cousin in Lyon so the commute out to Les Minguettes, where Bioforce is, means getting up FAR too early!
However, everyone on this course is lovely – they’ve all been very welcoming and kind and keen to help me catch up. They all keep emailing around useful articles or websites, and have regular “brainstorming” sessions to help think through our research projects and spot potential problems as a group etc. Continue reading