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Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Let’s start with Thursday, the day I left home, when Chris, worrying hopefully unnecessarily about the possible spread of the coronavirus , took me to the airport at 4.30 am for the 6 am flight to Schipol. It turned out to be an uneventful journey from beginning to end with Peter, our driver, meeting me at Entebbe to drive to Hellen’s Guest House where we were to stay the night. We got dreadfully lost requiring many phone calls to Hellen to be guided in the right direction. The fact that the road we were searching for had changed its name which didn’t help but finally we picked up a local man to complete the drive. It was cool as the tropical rains had come unexpectedly early in the year and so a blanket was necessary to keep me warm overnight.

Friday morning and we set off in heavy rain to Kampala and to my favourite haunt, Banana Boat, where I stocked up on raffle and tombola prizes for our next June Open Day when we raise funds for the next visit which this year will be in August. Lunch was at the new Igar fuel station café in Jinja where Peter chose the tilapia fish, his favourite, and I had a modest vegetable curry. Igar had opened a new fuel station when the impressive new bridge was constructed and I was probably one of the first to stop there to use its facilities when passing by last November. It was disappointing to find the modern toilets had lost their splendid pristine condition but they were still the best by far on the route to Kumi. The Melbourne Tennis Championships were being televised in the café and it was tempting to stay back as the last set was in action but we still had far to go and I was reluctantly dragged away. In total, the journey took nine hours and, at last, we turned into the hospital road and we were greeted warmly by Anne and her daughter, Jena, who immediately told me that it was her birthday the next day and she would be nine years old. I was pleased to fid we had power but the internet was very intermittent so here I am with my WhatsApp sorted but unable to get online.

First, a cup of tea was needed to be followed by considering how on earth I was going to unpack the three cases which I had brought plus the case and bags including my tin trunk that remain here. First things first and supper was on the table. It’s always exciting to lift the lids of the dishes to find what Anne had prepared - mashed Irish (our potatoes) which Anne knows I like and cabbage which she fries with onions. The cases could wait till morning as all I needed was my toothbrush and toothpaste. I’d bought a new pillow in Shoprite in Kampala as my previous one was almost nineteen years old and didn’t really resemble a pillow at all. It would take a while to get used to the change!

Saturday morning and the night had been good. No need for blankets here as Kumi is always a lot warmer than Kampala but it is surprisingly cooler than usual. My thermometer read 23 degrees and 74% humidity but climbed steadily during the day. Breakfast was a Marmite and jam sandwich while my omelette was reserved for lunch. I’m on my own this

year so I was able to unpack with a certain amount of order until all the cases were empty and I could now concentrate on my paperwork.

This year, now that we are a registered charity, I need to keep impeccable records of income and expenditure so I dutifully sate down and added the payments to date on our spreadsheet. I was at last up to date with my duties and I could sit outside on my veranda to start my book. But Peter, the driver’s son, Cocas, arrived to say good bye as he is starting boarding school next week. I was expecting him so I had found in my trunk an Oxford geometry set which is so much more superior to the local type. He was delighted with this and a handful of pencils although I could see his eyes scanning the contents of the table where a couple of deflated footballs lay.

Harriet, Henry and their two boys, Robinson and Carl, arrived and the rest of the day was spent sharing our news together. Outside, Jena was celebrating her ninth birthday with a few cousins and friends who had come for tea. Such fun, games and laughter were heard and I’m sure there were a lot of sleepy heads settling down for the night.

I’m not far off ready to sleep as well so I shall close my first entry of 2020. Good night!

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