Edinburgh and Newcastle

I’ve not written in what feels like ages. It’s been so busy over Christmas and new year and I’ve really just wanted to enjoy being home with my lovey little family. Christmas was cosy and this New Years Eve I just decided to watch telly with Mol and get an early night. A lovely addition to the festivities was my cousin getting married, it was small and gorgeous and got to spend another day with all my family.

2020 so far has been nice and normal. Doing bits of work and plodding on with the day to day.

To mix things up a bit I decided to book a trip up to Edinburgh to see my friend Stacey. I’ve never been to Scotland and so it was pretty exciting for me! I should travel more of the U.K. really. Anyway, I went up to Edinburgh on Wednesday, and after a cancelled train and a bit of faff, I managed to give my friend a hug after nearly two years!!!! She lives in a van which felt even more like an adventure. We headed out to park up in the Pentlands, chatted and slept! The next day we did a bit of exploring Edinburgh to see some famous sites! Unfortunately I’ve got a cold so my entire trip I felt a bit yucky, but we made the most of it! We ate lovely pancakes and I felt constantly amazed at ALL the Scottish people in Scotland….. probably one of the more silly things I’ve ever thought or said out loud!! The second day was much the same, exploring more of the gorgeous city. We wandered up to the castle and just enjoyed each other’s company. Lovely!!

Friday evening I left the extremely chilly Edinburgh for a slightly milder Newcastle. I’ve been meaning to visit Newcastle for ages as my Nana bloody loves it!! I have a lovely excuse to visit now as my little cousin is at uni there. I arrived and met Katy and after dumping my stuff we went for some tea at a lovely Italian place! Her friend Izzy met us too which was nice, most of the chat was about cats. I think I’m officially a crazy cat lady!!! The next day we wandered into the city for brunch and looked at the sites. We saw the bridges over the river Tyne, spotted the castle and I just enjoyed seeing new places for the first time! I also managed to meet one of my northern friends too which was lovely! It was a happy and chilled day! Today me and Katy went back into the centre and managed to get a spot in the cat cafe for lunch. Best place I’ve ever been I think?! We got to chat with all the cats (I was actually the only person talking to the cats, no one else did?!?!) and had a brew and a toastie. Not bad eh?! We then went for a drink at this cool place made from loads of shipping containers and enjoyed some live music. Chilled again!

I’ve had a really lovely time on my whirlwind trip. So lovely to step out of the norm for a bit!! Now I’m on the train home and back to it tomorrow!

Not a bad 2020 so far!!

Xx

It’s been a while!

Oooops. I’ve not been the best at writing this blog lately. This is the first time I’ve written in 3 weeks. But to be honest, I’ve been busy with life and doing lovely things with lovely people!

I am now back in the U.K. for the Christmas break. I’ll actually be back for a while now which is nice. I don’t usually spend long at home so I’m always rushing and can’t properly enjoy it.

It’s been a few weeks of mixed emotions. Leyla, one of the kittens, became really sick and died. Poor little thing. Luckily the other cats are healthy and seem to be doing fine. So 6 lovely ones left.

Me and Doğukan went to Karpaz for a road trip one day. It was a really stormy day and so we couldn’t even paddle in the sea. But it was quite nice to drive in the thunder and see it travelling across the mountains. We visited a small beach on the way back and explored an old Greek church nearby which was cute! It’s nice to imagine the old times and what they must have been like.

It was Doğu’s birthday and we had a lovely day with his family! A few nights before we went out with our friends, Hannah and Ash, too. The family meetings are always so busy and crazy and I am constantly trying to understand all the Turkish! All of his aunties were over which was a first, usually there are one or two missing. They are all so lovely and it’s nice to chat with them. Even if it is very broken Turkish and English!

My last week in Cyprus my Mum and Beth came over which was lovely. I stayed with Doğu but we had nice times with them. One afternoon me Mum and Doğu went up St Hilarion castle. It’s the only castle I have visited in Northern Cyprus so I was really chuffed. The views were amazing and it was so silent up there. It must have been such a huge castle back when it was lived in. There were three levels with the lowest one being for soldiers. There were royal apartments with amazing views and various kitchen areas. We liked seeing all the plants that had started to take over again. Fun fact actually, St Hilarion is where Richard the Lionheart had his honeymoon and is the inspiration behind the castle in Disney’s Snow White. We loved the little adventure!!

The day after, Mum and Beth came over to me and Doğu for a wander along the beach and some tasty gözleme! Mum loved meeting the lady that makes the gözleme. She couldn’t wait to take a photo of her!

It was bittersweet when I left Cyprus. I was so excited to get home and see all my lovely family. But at the same time, I didn’t want to leave Doğukan and all our lovely cats. Being home has been lovely so far though. I’ve seen my gorgeous family and had loads of cuddles which is always the best! I’m really not getting used to the cold weather though. I know I’m complaining too much about it!

I’m trying to relax into being home and enjoying it. I always find it tricky to adjust when I get to a new place. Just for the first few days or so. I have a crazy time at home aswell because I’m in between my Mum and my Dads so I’m like a yo-yo! But it’s lovely anyway!

That’s all for now, a very quick update!

Xx

One poorly kitten

This week has been another lovely week in Cyprus filled with sunshine, smiles and sea views. There was a small hiccup in the middle of the week as the youngest kitten, Lucky, becoming really sick. One afternoon we noticed he was limping and then he became really tired. The next day he was the same and so we took him to a vets nearby as he wasn’t eating. Unfortunately this vet was pretty rubbish, she just gave him an injection of what we presume was antibiotics, didn’t check his temperature, didn’t check his foot that was sore, nothing…. She just told us to come back tomorrow. Later that night he got a lot worse and quickly went downhill. Dogu took him to an emergency vet and the vet said it was a 50% chance of whether he’d survive. He had a dangerously high temperature and his breathing was bad. They kept him in all night and gave him lots of fluids and started him on a shock treatment of antibiotics. Luckily he pulled through. We have had to go back to the vets each evening for more antibiotic injections but he is returning to his normal self! phew!!!

Apart from the cat drama, the week has been lovely.

We have enjoyed a few wanders into the countryside. It has actually been lovely to do this in the evening because some different birds are around since the last time I was here. There are lots of singing Robins defending their territories. Stonechats are everywhere now, sitting on their thin perches. I even heard a Black redstart a couple of days ago. They have a weird and wonderful song!

We have done some more olive picking this week and finally finished the trees in the garden. Its not easy work! I now fully appreciate olive oil! The time it takes to pick all the olives in a way that doesn’t damage the trees is so long! After we pick them the family sort out which olives will be used for oil and which for eating. The oil ones are taken to an olive press and the lovely elixir is made! The olives for eating are bashed with a stone, soaked in salty water for days, and then are ready! Dogu mixed his olives with garlic and oregano and olive oil and they are just so lovely! So much so that I actually got a saw tongue from eating so many!!!!

We have been busy in the garden his week. October in turkish is called Ekim and it is related to the word Ekmek which means to sow. We have been planting broad beans which was fun! We are also watching eagerly for the other crops to grow. So far there are carrots, garlic, parsley, artichoke, spinach, kale and sweet potatoes growing! We picked a lot of loofahs this week. A natural, organic alternative to plastic sponges! We have so many!

Other things we have done this week are eat Gozleme (a thin bread type thing filled with cheese or whatever you fancy!). The lady that makes them is so lovely, she always gives us extra treats! She was impressed with my turkish grammar which was nice to hear! We also went to a bazaar yesterday that our friend Deniz helped host. It was full of little stalls which handmade trinkets. One stall was full of homemade crystal bead bracelets and I was sold! A new sunstone bracelet is now in my possession!

Other than that, we’ve enjoyed seeing friends, eating good food and watching amazing storms!

Nice!

xx

Olive picking

Another week has gone by and I’m yet again in another country!! On Tuesday I flew to Cyprus and have loved every minute so far! I got to cuddle my lovely Doğukan and have lots of love from all of our cats! How can that be bad?!

I’ve seen lots of other people this week too. I met Doğu’s friend Orçun for the first time. He was so lovely!! And I’ve also seen our friend Mert which was great. We were talking about different Christmas traditions which made me all excited! I’ve brought some Christmassy things over with me to show everyone!!

We’ve just been enjoying being back to normal really, and chilling out at home. This weekend a lot of Doğukan’s family came over to help us pick olives from the trees. It’s so funny when they all arrive, they are all chatting away and then trying to chat to me, but I can’t understand everything so I just nod along!! When they come they always bring amazing food though, so it’s brill!! In total be picked around 200kg of olives on Saturday and we still have more to go. Today has been hard to collect them because a storm came in and made it really windy!! I’m so excited to taste some of the olive oil once it’s done!

Last night we went to see our friends Ash and Hannah which was so lovely! It was just great to catch up and enjoy nice stories. It was also nice to have some wine too!!

So that’s the week really, mainly olives and friends. What more could a girl want?!

Xx

It’s rainy here!!

I’ve had a lovely week this week. It was my last week in Cyprus for a few weeks and so I wanted to make the most of it!! And obviously I’ve spent my time with Doğukan and his family.

One afternoon we went on another adventure up to Karaağaç up in the mountains. The roads are long and winding but the views are just amazing. The air always feels fresh and cool up there and I reckon it’s a good detox for your lungs! We spent a while up there, enjoying the smell of wild sage and just listening to the peace and quiet. Every now and then a great tit would do a little call, but not much else.

On Tuesday we took ourselves to Karpaz for one night and spent it in a wooden cabin. Thought we’d treat ourselves this time! We have a lovely Karpaz routine now. We go to our favourite cafe and drink the best Frappes and we got to Ayios phillon beach for a swim! The sea is getting cooler now, but it was still lovely, although I was getting chased by fish!! We played some backgammon and I lost basically every game. But I’m learning slowly and it’s just nice to play and forget everything else. I get quite competitive towards the end!! We enjoyed nice food and just had a lovely time as always!!!

Apart from doing uni work, a lot of the week was spent helping his parents remove the tiles and cement from the terrace and balcony so they can put in a better insulated one! It was bloody hard work and very sweaty, but we did it! We make a really good team. I think his mums cooking helped us, and gave us good energy! Plus, they brought sweet treats as well which is always good!!!!

Apart from that it’s just been us and the cats. The gorgeous cats! They’ve become quite cheeky recently and are enjoying the canopy outside the house as there own personal balcony.

Yesterday Doğu and his lovely sister Diloş took me to Larnaca for me to get my flight home. I got lots of lovely cuddles before I left which put a smile on my face! And now I’m home. And I get to see all my lovely family’s and get even more hugs!! How lucky am I?!

Xxx

Living a happy life

Two weeks since my last blog post, which I guess isn’t too bad…

As usual I have been smiling lots and enjoying life here in Cyprus. The weather has been quite humid the past couple of weeks, but luckily last night there was a huge thunder storm which seems to have gotten rid of the stickiness! phew!

Last weekend was the first Kuskor field trip since the break in the summer. A big group of people turned out which was nice. Some people I’ve met before and some newbies. It was great to be out in the field again. We went to Kukla wetlands for most of the day. Having been dry as a bone for the last few years, it is now thriving after the winter rains this year. Thousands of birds are taking advantage of the site and it’s just gorgeous to see. There were hundreds of flamingos, various sandpiper species, little egrets, an osprey, an eagle, marsh harriers and montagu’s harriers. There were even a few lovely tern species which were coming quite close to the hide. It really was lovely. Pretty hot, but lovely! After Kukla we went for lunch at a local cafe and all enjoyed a turkish coffee or tea. Bee-eaters were about and singing in the sky. My Mum would have loved it, they are her favourite bird! Next stop after lunch was Sinirustu wetland where we saw a Demoiselle crane which was a first for me!! They look so elegant and grand. Really beautiful!

Apart from the Kuskor field trip it’s been a pretty relaxed couple of weeks really. I have been working on my PhD and enjoying trips out with Dogukan to see his family and friends. His family always give me amazing home cooked food which is a treat! His garden is looking lovely and healthy and the fig tree is still giving us a lovely fresh supply of the gorgeous fruits. The passionfruit is also coming along, it is now flowering which means we will soon get the fruit! All the cats are doing well and little Yoda has spent a few more days with us which is nice. We are definitely the mad cat people!

The other night we got a rude awakening when an explosion went off near this house. I say near, we worked out it was just under 5km away. Anyway, the house shook and there was a huge bang. We checked outside and noticed a huge fire in the distance. Explosions kept happening and you could hear bullets being set off by the heat of the fire. The armoury of one of the army bases was on fire! It was so scary, we didn’t really know what to do. We watched for a while to see if the fire was spreading but in about half an hour it was under control and was dying down. The explosions lasted for a further few hours though. And the house smelt of smoke! My first and hopefully last experience of explosions!

Now I’m enjoying a week with my Mum and auntie! They have come over for a holiday and it’s so nice to laugh and chat with them! And of course to get cuddles! We’ve been relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying nice food. I’m loving it!

I just want to stay happy and smiley. It’s a gorgeous way to be! Xx

Karpaz, molasses and stars

Back again, and this time I’m back after a week rather than four!!! Been doing lots of work this week, trying to wrap my head around statistics stuff for my PhD. And doing lots of reading for my next paper which is exciting!

Apart from work I’ve had a lovely week of adventure and new experiences. At the start of the week I went to the Karpaz peninsula with Doğukan and Mert (his friend). We basically copied the last Karpaz adventure because we enjoyed it so much. So we picked organic vegetables from a local farmer, we swam in the sea, ate lovely fresh fish (Sokan taste so much like the sea!!) and drank those lovely frappes! In addition to last time we did some intense star gazing. I’ve definitely increased my constellation repertoire recently which makes me so happy! My first ever star gazing started with my Grandma with me wrapped up in a beach towel on a sun lounger on holiday. It continued with my Mum and seeing my first shooting star. So stars are special to me. I’m now confident that I can spot Ursa Major (the plough), Ursa Minor, Orion, the seven sisters, the dolphin, the swan, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Aries, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpio and Aquarius. Not bad eh!!!! I was showing Doğu and Mert in Karpaz and we were dazzled by the Milky Way which was just magical!

Another addition to the Karpaz adventure was the huge eye is got after being bitten three times in basically the same place!! After the dusk swimming session on the first night, a hungry mosquito decided my eye was just right and bit and bit and bit. My eye went huge. I think the mozzi won that fight!!! Hehe

The final addition was the battle of backgammon. The boys refreshed my rusty skills and we had a few good games! I even won a game which was good! Although I think they were being nice to me!

After Karpaz we were shattered and just chilled at home. Enjoyed picking figs in the garden and drinking brews! One nice surprise was the return of one of the kittens we thought had died weeks ago! He turned up looking a little worse for wear so we cleaned him up and gave him some nice food!! Bless him! We’ve called him Yoda.

Finally, yesterday the Healers were playing at a Carub festival and so we went there for a few hours. Carups are a dark brown pod that grows on trees and you can boil them down and make molasses. Doğukan and his dad swear by it and although at first I wasn’t too keen, I know love it!! So I got myself a huge bottle to enjoy. I love it on some toasty bread!! The boys played and then a group of school kids performed some traditional dancing which was cute!!

My week has been lovely and as usual now, I’m smiling.

Love and hugs.

Amie xx

Living life and I am happy!

Goodness me, it has been ages since I have written a blog. I’ve been enjoying my life and the time has run away with me. Oops! I’ve been having lots of lovely times these past few weeks and I constantly have a smile on my face. I’ve done a bit of birding, swam in the sea, eaten amazing food, met lovely people and just had a generally great time.

I guess the main thing I got up to in these past few weeks was going to a Reggae festival in the South of Cyprus near Paphos. The festival was called SunJam and I went with Dogukan and his band mates. It was nice to meet them all and I also got to meet his friend Osman too. We started the journey from Nicosia that morning and got through the border to the Greek side easily. We then carried on towards Paphos and I enjoyed taking in all of the new sites. We stopped at a small cafe on the way and I got some lovely strawberry ice cream! The festival was held at a botanical gardens which was a gorgeous setting for the weekend. Dogukan and I pitched our tent on a balcony overlooking the festival area. It was a sort of staff only area so it was quieter and more chilled than the other camping spot. Shortly after arrival they all had a sound check so I just sat on the grass and watched whilst drinking a nice cold beer. Not bad at all!!! Eventually guests from the public could enter and it got nice and busy and the atmosphere was great. The Healers were playing later at night and so I watched them with Osman. We drank more beer and had a mysterious shot of what was meant to be tequila. They were brilliant. They had amazing energy and got so many nice compliments after they played. We enjoyed the rest of the night and headed to our tent for much needed sleep!

The next day there was more amazing music, quite a lot of fun DJ sets throughout the day. We just chilled out and enjoyed the scene. Osman played in the afternoon and so it was nice to watch him too. Me and Dogukan obviously drank beer whilst doing so. We ended up staying another night and headed home the next morning. On our way back to the Turkish side we decided to stop at a place called Aphrodite’s rock. This place is said to be the birth place of Aphrodite. It is said that she was born from the sea foam made around the rocks and then was brought ashore on a sea shell. We parked up the van and enjoyed the beautiful view and had a bit of a chat about the Gods! haha After this lovely stop we went back to the North.

Since then, I have pretty much been at Dogukan’s the entire time. Enjoying the garden, having mini adventures, and again, eating amazing food. One afternoon we went up into the mountains. It had rained that morning and so we thought we would take advantage of the cool air. Our first stop was Kara agac (This means black tree in turkish but i didn’t see any black trees….). We stopped by a spring water pool that was being fed directly from mountain water. There was also a fountain there that was attached to a really old building. We washed our faces and explored this place a little. In the pool there were huge tadpoles. They were all in different stages of metamorphosis. Some had chunky back legs, others were still just at the start. From here we climbed the mountain side more (in the car I would like to add!) and headed to Antiphonitis monastery. It was closed by the time we got there but we explored again. There were huge olive trees there and the view was gorgeous. And it was just us and the birds! Peaceful and perfect.

Apart from these two adventures I’ve just been enjoying all the lovely little things. All feels really good in my little world and I am just so happy and thankful.

That’s all for now!

I’ll be back soon!

xx

Camping in Karpaz

This week has been a really lovely week. I’ve had adventures galore and it has made me smile so much.

On Tuesday I went to see my friend Doğukan at his house over the other side of Girne. It is a really lovely place to be, he grows all kinds of fruits and vegetables and so we just enjoyed watering all the crops and harvesting what we could. The figs are nearly ready for the first pick which is exciting, but in the meantime we enjoyed some of his home grown honeydew melon. He has an extended cat family that live in his shed. Misty is a Mum who has 4 kittens, I think they are about 8 weeks old. Cezi is also a Mum but only one of her kittens has survived. We called him Lucky, and he’s only about 3 weeks old now. When she first brought him to us he couldn’t even open his eyes! Being a cat lover it’s bloody lovely just watching them all hang out and play. I also got to me Doğukan’s dog, Kucucuk. He is a tiny chihuahua but has loads of personality. We decided that night that we would go on a Karpaz camping adventure and that we’d go the next morning.

Wednesday was the first day of adventures. We headed off to Karpaz in the early afternoon so that it wouldn’t be too hot once we arrived there. The journey there is beautiful, loads of coastline and the sea has so many colours of aquamarine. We got a few supplies in the village so we could cook something for tea! We actually went to a lovely place to get some veggies. It was a families home where they grow loads of vegetables that you can buy. The eldest daughter in the family took us around and let us pick some aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. She recognised Doğukan from earlier trips and didn’t want any money but we insisted! It was such a gorgeous place. They were so kind. To refuel from the journey we stopped at a cafe for a frappe. The owner of the cafe is Greek but it’s a mix of Turkish and Greek people who work there. They were all really smiley and chatty and we bought some lovely dried herbs off of them so we could make some different teas! In the late afternoon we went to the beach of Ayios philon. The water was crystal clear and so warm. We had a nice swim and relaxed in the last of the evening sunshines rays. Afterwards we went and parked the van and set up camp. We had a foam mattress that fit perfectly in the back so we could use it as a bed and we had fold out chairs, crates for a table and a small gas fire that made for a perfect kitchen set up. Doğukan took over the cooking and made some lovely veggie fajitas for us both. We then enjoyed watching the shooting stars and the milky way whilst sipping some lovely chilled Efes.

The next day we got up and slowly but surely got ready to move on. First we had a morning swim and snorkel. From the beach we decided to go for another frappe at the lovely cafe from the day before. Two of Doğukan’s friends turned up there just after us and so we spent the afternoon with them. We enjoyed coffee and chatted about all sorts. After that we started making our way towards the end of the peninsula to find our place to camp for the night. On our way we stopped at a lovely seaside restaurant to have something to eat. We ordered some fresh fish and calamari and got a small meze before hand. The calamari was so lovely and the fish was really tasty too. Luckily Doğukan took over the fish filleting for me, I have no idea how to do it properly! Once we were nice and full we headed back to the van and carried on until we found our place to stop for the night. We came across a lot of the wild donkeys and I fed them some carup fruits we’d picked earlier. We set up our little camp again and enjoyed the last night of camping. We were so full from the fish that we didn’t cook. We just enjoyed some snacks!

The next day we got up and packed up all the camping stuff. We stopped at Apostolos Andreas which is an ancient monastery in Dipkarpaz. We took a look around and even splashed our faces with some of the holy water from the fountain. On our way back we stopped for another Frappe (we couldn’t resist them!!) and then started on our journey back.

It was such a lovely few days and a spontaneous little trip. I really enjoyed it and I don’t think I stopped smiling. I’m now really excited for more adventures to come!

xx

Mozambique- part 3

And now for the final part of my lovely Mozambique adventure.

Pretty much the entire last week we were in a site known as Coutada 12. I’d heard a lot about this place and was intrigued to go. Michal and Tomasz had placed recorders there last year and so it felt like a bit of a recovery mission! Anyway… we packed up our tents and what not from Chitengo base and picked up the lovely Noreena, a lab technician working with insects! We packed the boot full of all our kit. I’ve never seen a more full boot! We made our way out of Chitengo and started the 9 hour trip to our home for the next 6 days. On the way we obviously picked up supplies, namely beer, bread and avocados! After a very long trip we reached Coutada 12. This place was a former hunting zone and is now a place where anti-poaching training occurs. There is a really basic and small camping place where we were able to pitch our tents. When we arrived lots of rangers were doing some sort of exercise and it all looked very official and almost army like! At this base there was no running water, no electricity, no toilet, no shower and no phone signal. A bit like I was back in Cameroon! A nice break from the real world though. In the evening me and Michal prepared tea. We went for our standard sardine and tomato mix with some sort of carbohydrate. There was a small hut for the kitchen area and a tiny coal stove we could use for cooking. The two women who worked at the camp were intrigued to watch our cooking style!!

The next day we all got up and had some breakfast. Unfortunately, on the journey to Coutada 12, the gasoline from the generator had leaked and a lot of our food now tasted and smelt of gasoline. My dreams of a bread bun with mashed avocado were dashed. I went for a few biscuits and a banana instead… After breakfast all 4 of us loaded into the car and headed to Miombo forest to collect three recorders that had been placed last year. We literally drove completely off of the beaten track. At points there was hugely tall elephant grass surrounding us with desperate tsetse flies trying to get to us! We were swerving around fallen trees and vines. It was so cool, but the little car was probably shattered. After the first three recorders were retrieved we went to a small local village to get more petrol for the car. Michal got us some of these small donut type things. I’ve had them in Cameroon before too. They are just a sweet, flourey, fried ball. But they are nice!  We then had more driving after the petrol stop. We went to get the other three recorders that needed to be retrieved. We parked up and walked about 2km along a railway track. We saw a huge eagle right next to us at one point. Honestly, it was so so big, I thought it might have been a dragon! We deduced it was not a dragon, but a gorgeous Martial eagle. We’d leave the railway track to go to each recorder and then rejoin it to find the next one. In the rainforest it was dark and cooler, and there were vines everywhere. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about snakes, and so I armed myself with the machete! We finished collecting all of the recorders and made our way to the car and then to camp. We saw some gorgeous southern ground-hornbills on the way. They are magnificent birds and so so huge! I’d really wanted to see them so I was very happy. It had been a really long day but a good day. Lots of adventuring!

The next day I headed out early with Michal to go and look for birds and do some recording. Right at the beginning of our walk we saw some lovely arrow-marked babblers which was great. They were duetting together which was nice to hear. I also got to see a beautiful Narina trogon. I have never seen a Trogon before and so I was very excited. It was a gorgeous male and he was just sat peacefully in a tree, munching on the occasional insect. I could have watched him for hours. Along with the birds I was taking in the beautiful surroundings too. There was a lot of dew on all of the tree and grasses, and one species of grass looked so magical covered in dew drops. There was also all sorts of different fungi species which was cool to see. After a nice morning, me and Michal made tea for everyone. He wanted to cook some cabbage and so I followed his lead. For some random reason I decided to check my left hip (as you do) and noticed I had a tick! I freaked out! I got Michal to get it out for me and then I panicked for a while wondering what bloody disease I might catch from it. To lighten the mood, a gecko decided to jump on my neck as we were eating. I made a slight fool of myself with my reaction but it took my mind off of things. I decided to name the gecko Kevin. He was a cutie! In the evening I started preparing bird ringing nets with Michal and Noreena. It was actually really nice to chat with Noreena, she is such a tough cookie. She said she gets malaria at least once a year! Made me feel slightly foolish about my tick dilemma! I think it made her laugh a little bit! We placed four nets and left them closed for the night.

So the next day we tried some bird ringing. Well, we eventually did after it stopped raining. It was extremely slow, be we did catch a handsome brown-crowned tchagra which was very exciting. In between checking the nets I did a little recording of surrounding birds. I also saw some beautiful little bee-eaters, a Burchells coucal and lots of lovely Retz’s helmetshrike. We made another sardine and tomato creation for tea. I was getting pretty sick of sardines!

Woke up and opened up the nets with Michal to try some bird ringing again. My hands were covered in bites from palm flies. So bloody itchy! It was Tomasz’s birthday so I gave him the little birthday card I’d made him. It was another slow bird ringing day I’m afraid.  To celebrate Tomasz’s birthday we had a little bit of whiskey which was a nice treat. Me and Michal tried to prepare a nice meal for us all but it ended up tasting a bit weird. We just laughed about it. One good thing was that I’d gotten pretty damn good at making the fire now. I had watched the ladies making it and copied them. As an evening treat we all munched on some pineapple as a sort of birthday cake… it was gorgeous and juicy and sweet. It attracted two lovely moths as well which was a bonus. I also discovered my gecko friend, Kevin, had a lady friend. I called her Carol.

The next day we packed up and headed back to Chitengo. Another 9 hour drive! I could finally have a shower when we got back. I was actually greeted by lots of baby praying mantises when I got to the shower block. They were everywhere, but so cute!

The last day in Gorongosa was spent placing 6 recorders in the jungle. We took a guard with us and headed out. It’s always quite satisfying trekking through the thick vegetation, makes me feel tough! One of my many observations was that some lovely, delicate looking mushrooms like to grow out of elephant poo!! The last evening in the park was a chilled one.

On the 18th we left the park and headed to Beira for a night before the long journey back to Poland. It was a lovely trip and I enjoyed seeing all of the amazing bird species, some of which I’d never seen before. It was also really nice to watch the cheeky vervet monkeys and the baboons. Africa always makes me love adventures, such a magical continent.

xx