Friday, 30 September 2011

Joining the ranks of "Smuggly Marrieds"

as Bridget Jones would describe the act, were the career bachelor 'Corkie', and his good lady Emma. They had a beautiful intimate Wedding ceremony held in the Chancel at Tewkesbury Abbey. It was made even more special in my mind by having the Cantate Choir, with whom Emma sings, perform 'Ave Maria' during the signing of the register and then hearing the organ boom out the 'Toccata' by Widor as they left the Abbey...I love the emotion of that piece and to hear it in played so beautifully in that environment, was sublime. There was Champagne and photographs in the sunshine against the backdrop of the stunning grounds of Dumbleton Hall, followed by a sumptuous wedding breakfast and evening reception. The weather couldn't have been better and it was lovely to be surrounded by friends and have been part of such a genuinely joyous event.

ps. spot the confirmed romantic ;o)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Where the heck's Djibouti?

came the cry....

Out with the maps yet again....

There's been some interest in maritime security which has necessitated reading up about ship security officer training and locating all kinds of places I'd never heard of which have now turned out to be close to Somalia and the pesky pirates. I think this is one potential site visit I might give a miss.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Therapy of the retail variety

especially every time for me!

Highly impractical colour and inappropriate for this season but I needed something to make this week feel slightly brighter and it's only the weathermen say we're in for a late Indian summer....

Monday, 19 September 2011

Bereavement notification

was about the last thing I ever thought I would be adding to my training portfolio, but given the nature of the business there's a reasonable possibility I might be given the task of dealing with the outcome of an incident and therefore best be prepared.
A couple of colleagues and I attended a very thought provoking session presented by an ex- Policeman who has been involved in dealing with incidents as diverse as the Marchioness tragedy, Paddington rail crash, London bombings, and Asian Tsunami. He was an excellent trainer and covered everything from the practical issues, the role of the Coroner, repatriation, as well as debating some of the cultural and religious considerations.

I hope to God I never need to put any of what I have learnt into action, but after a days education feel far more aware and prepared for whatever might come my way.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Gnashing of teeth...

I'm having one of those days where I feel like I'm trying to put a jig-saw puzzle together but don't have all the bits or the lid to refer to.

I love this job but I can't be doing with office politics or dysfunctional's way too trying at times...

As a blunt northerner maybe I'm just not cut out for working in a large multi-national..?

Friday, 9 September 2011


In the afternoon we ventured to Patan which is on the southern side of the Bagmati River, and one of 3 royal cities in the valley. Patan is an amazing place filled with wood and stone carvings, statues, ornate architecture, including dozens of Buddhist and Hindu temples, and over a thousand monuments. Kings were crowned in one of the temples in ancient times and standing in such an unspoilt area you can almost imagine the scene.

It was fantastic to be able to visit such a fabulous place and be given a tutorial on the history and politics of the country from local inhabitants but sobering to hear that the beautiful carved water pipes in the photograph are the source of water for the vast majority of the local population and can carry Cholera as there is none of the infrastructure or sanitation we take for granted.
I was lucky enough to have some time to do some sight-seeing so my hosts took me to Swayambhunath Stupa the most ancient of the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. Although considered a Buddhist temple, the place is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. There are 365 steps up to the main platform of the temple hence this magnificent view!
Swayambhunath Stupa is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are monkeys living in parts of the temple - they are considered are holy because Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the Temple stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he allowed it to grow long and caught head lice. It is said that the head lice had transformed into these monkeys.
Although teaming with visitors there is a serene and peaceful atmosphere which is difficult to describe. Maybe it's just the fact that the area is a mass of small shrines with statues of deities, prayer wheels and Buddhist monks but you can feel the sense of belief around you.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Last night my hosts very kindly took me to an authentic Nepalese restaurant for a special banquet. The restaurant is called "Bhojan Griha", which I am told means Nepali Kitchen. The place is superb; a very colonial looking building over 150 years old which once belonged to the priests of the King of Nepal. The seating is traditional i.e. cushions on the floor which had I known I might have opted for trousers instead of a frock (and spending most of the evening hoping no one could see my knickers!).

It was to be yet another occasion when I had no idea what I was eating apart from Wild Boar which was highlighted as a local delicacy, but everything was absolutely delicious. I was also introduced to Raksi which is a traditional very strong Nepali rice wine which I was told was the perfect antidote to the streaming cold I'd managed to develop.

But the main reason to take me to Bhojan Griha was to see the famous Nepali cultural dance & costumes, representing various regions of the country, hear the traditional musicians and learn about the folklore on which they were based.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Yeti Yeukies

are quite commonly to be expected by intrepid explorers who venture into Yetiland and swift access to toilet facilities of any type whatsoever is often a prerequisite, but frequently unobtainable necessity.

Not what you need when you've still got a couple of days to go and various meetings to get through!

Gritting teeth and tightening one's rear....

Meeting with tea and no biscuits

When you’re travelling such a distance you have to make sure your time is productive so in order to help out the Travel Manager who is currently undertaking a survey of all of our travel suppliers, I agreed to visit the travel agency we use in Kathmandu and gather some information.

Not being an expert in this flights, carriers, etc. I was decidedly apprehensive but I needn’t have worried. The Directors of the company were warm and welcoming and all of the company employees stood and greeted me with a "Namaste". I felt really humbled. In fact the most difficult part of the meeting was when I was brought a cup of tea. Throughout the trip I have had the usual Masala chai which I actually enjoy so I was surprised to be passed a milky tea…even more so when it turned out to be made with coconut milk....really thick and sweet...not at all what I'd been expecting, but I did the dutiful bit and drank it...not something I want to repeat!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Greetings from Hotel Himalaya

Made it after a debacle involving 48hrs without sleep and lost/ absent colleagues. One pulled out at the last minute before boarding in the UK due to an ear infection. (As he's the custodian of the contract, that’s left me in the interesting position of having to negotiate with the Nepalese supplier who wants a 70% increase, and undoubtedly doesn’t hold much truck with women in business.)

My other colleague from Afghanistan was nowhere to be found at Terminal 2 Dubai which left me in a slight tizz but fortunately it turned out he was in the wrong bit of the airport, so materialised on the aircraft albeit the last to board...At least that meant I could breathe a small sigh of relief.

Kathmandu airport was as chaotic as last time but good entertainment value, as was the drive to the hotel - this place comes second only to Kabul in terms of traffic and a lack of road sense/rules!

On the off-chance, dear reader, you are wondering why I am in Nepal when the Army is laying off so many Gurkhas…unfortunately UK Gurkhas expect UK wages, unlike their Nepalese and Indian counterparts.