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Cathy McCormick @ The Walk Centre, Kenya

For the whole of October, my colleague Yvonne and I will be volunteering with The Walk Children's Centre in Nakuru, Kenya. The centre provides meals and an education for children who live on a rubbish dump and would otherwise have to scavenge for food there. Thanks for reading my blog about our preparations for our trip and our time at The Walk.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Day 26

Well, it's just as well that we had so much to do yesterday as otherwise I would have been a complete gibbering wreck. After chopping cabbage for the last time, using the last of the bubbles in the playground and sitting in on our last lesson with our classes, we hurried off into town to buy the exercise books so desperately needed by the school, and some sweets for the children as we'd forgotten the day before since we'd been trying to deal with 'bank problems'. After a quick dash in the tuk tuk back to school, (luckily we weren't quite as late back as we expected, but still were too late for the afternoon class) we went to hand out the sweets we'd bought for each class.

The tears had actually started as we arrived at the school that morning. One of the little boys in my class was escorting his younger brother and sister home after bringing them to the school to register them for the January intake at the centre. Their older brother in the top class, had already mentioned that their mother was poorly so knowing that we'd be able to afford to buy uniforms for the new children as John's sister ran forward to hug my legs really caught me by surprise and set my eyes leaking. Unfortunately though, by the time I'd reached the playground and met the younger sister of another little girl in my class (she was just a smaller version of Miriam) it was mini-Miriam who was crying. Whilst most of the children at the Walk Centre and in London greet us with "hararwoo?" ("how are you?" for those still too young to know what they're asking) and come to stroke our arms or hold our hands, unfortunately there is the occasional child who finds either our skin tone or grinning faces just too much to bear...

My final class in the morning was also emotional but I'd managed to keep it together and we knew we had a job to do at lunchtime. By the time I'd dropped sweets off in the top Primary class and they'd shouted "thank you very much" in unison, however, the floodgates were open. My class, who I visited last, found this quite curious - that I cried as we gave out their sweets. We'd be warned about an assembly, but having arrived back, and bearing in mind it was already gone 3pm when the children would normally go home, I was pleased and sad at the same time that we'd not had the opportunity. And then I saw several classes lined up outside...

We were asked to give messages to the children, which were translated by one of the teachers. The children sang for us and then the children were asked if they wanted to come to the front to give us messages. I have an audio recording of this. A video recording was not likely to have been very straight. And then to walk the children home for the last time. Since they see so many volunteers come and go, they smiled broadly - carefully guarding their sweets. Very emotional. I've had another 'moment' this morning after escorting the few children who came for breakfast home. Eric, again from my class held my hand all the way home, and as I finally shut the gate at the house peered at me grinning broadly through the hole in the gate and pushed his hand through to hold mine for the last time...

Things I will miss desperately about Kenya:

* The children. If you've read any of my blogs over the last 4 weeks, that goes without saying
* The people and the very warm welcome we've had from complete strangers. People are genuinely keen to say hello, pass the time of day, or find out about our reasons for being here. I suspect if I try to say hello to strangers like this in Manchester I'll either be carted off or lamped.
* The relaxed atmosphere
* The ability to be pleased with 'your lot', and to be thankful for small things - things that would barely raise a grunt of appreciation in the UK
* The weather. Even for someone like me who burns really easily, it's been nice to get a bit of sun


Things I won't miss about Kenya:

* The matatu beeping in front of the house at 5:30am, 5:45 am, 6:00am...
* The flies. They're everywhere, especially at breakfast
* The relaxed atmosphere - people (Freddy being one of the worst) actually refer to being on time as 'mazungu' (white person) time. This morning was a case in point - Fred asked me to be at the school at 8am, then rocked up at 8:55am!
* The ability to be pleased with 'your lot' - whilst this is nice in some ways, it also means that people don't expect life to get any better. One of the tuk tuks has a sticker that reads 'Live to your standard to avoid stress'. Whilst this encourages people to not think about things that are out of their reach, it also encourages people not to question the system or to expect things to get any better - and those who do at protests etc are often beaten or killed

I know that I'm rambling now, so if you've stuck with me this long, thank you again for reading. I can't wait to see you all next week. Cathy xxx

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Day 24

I can't believe that tomorrow will be our last day at the centre! This month has at the same time been one of the longest and yet the shortest of my life. So much to do and see and get used to, and just as I feel that we've got to grips with the matatu, and diplomatically declining the street vendors, and chopping cabbage, it's almost time to leave. The trip has definitely made both Yvonne and I realise how lucky we are at home, and whilst we've had a fabulous time and got a massive amount from the experience, there are things we've both missed about the UK. What we will miss most about Kenya is the children.

Despite the circumstances in which they live, they're just as you'd expect children to be - sweet and funny and mischievous and stroppy (sometimes) and unique. The only difference between them and the children in the UK is that they've never heard of an X-Box 360, let alone played on one or asked for one for Christmas. We got the bubbles out again today and it brought home how made up the kids are with simple things - bubbles, skipping (the boys from my class had a go at this today. The result was hilarious as they pushed and blamed each other for them not being able to skip very well), being measured for shoes and uniform...

They also love singing and clapping games and "roundy roundy" (aka Round and Round the Garden) and also This Little Piggy (when requesting this they just wriggle their fingers at us) as these result in them being tickled. I pause sometimes before tickling them and the squeals of anticipation are fabulous. As this and holding their hands as we walk home is the only physical contact they get, we cherish it as well. We try to comfort children when they cry but since they don't understand us very well, I'm not sure we make it any better normally...

Fred is going to be on his own now for a while chopping the cabbage, we're around tomorrow and I've volunteered to help on Saturday for lunc too. But there aren't any more volunteers due here until February. One of the former volunteers from the Centre, a lady from London called Amy, has however been able to set up The Walk as a charity in the UK with a charity number and bank account that can transfer funds monthly to the centre, so for anyone who asked about making a regular donation to the centre (which they will find especially useful since they won't have the extra revenue from receiving volunteers) then we'll forward details when we get back.

We may be busy with shopping for uniform tomorrow afternoon, and we've got our meeting about building materials for low cost housing, so we might not get the chance to blog. Hopefully we'll get the chance for final thoughts on Saturday, and failing that will see you all next week. Thanks to everyone who has persevered and read all of my ramblings, and/or sent messages. It's really meant a lot to know you've been there. Looking forward to seeing you all very soon! Cathy x

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Day 23

Well we did try to blog yesterday, but the internet connection died and despite activating the auto save yesterday's info is all gone...

Never mind, things have moved on a bit anyway now... Yesterday we spent measuring the children throughout the school for shoes and uniform, as with the money you helped us to raise we were in a position to provide uniform for the 3 classes going to the prison school, and as we thought new uniform for the children remaining at The Walk. We were going to do the shopping today. In the meantime Gladys the Head teacher has had a call from Alex who runs the school to advise that he'd like us to hold off on this.

When the 3 classes move to the Prison School there will be an intake of another 50 children aged 3-5 at The Walk who will have no uniform at all so Alex would prefer us to provide uniform for these children instead. Yvonne and I spent all evening last night working out sizes and prices etc for the existing children and now we might not need this info! Humph! It's a shame really since some of the children in the lower classes are wearing clothes that we would have thrown away months ago. As such we're hoping that even after buying new uniform for the new intake, that we might at least be able to replace a couple of items of uniform for the children whose current uniform is most damaged.

I think we're both kicking ourselves a bit that we left the shopping this late (we were warned!) but we've had to hold off on committing to too much as we weren't sure of the final amount that was going to be in the account to spend as there was still fundraising money coming in. Unfortunately this means that instead of buying the uniform and shoes today we'll need to wait to speak to Alex on Thursday since he is away for a few days. We were hoping to spend all day Thursday and Friday at the school before we left, but as it stands we might be in town shopping... We're making the most of our time with the children though while we can. More about this tomorrow...

Monday, 26 October 2009

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Day 21

I can't believe that this time next week we'll be on a plane home. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone at home, and there have been things I've missed about the UK, but I looked around the playground as the children were having breakfast, and (as I'd been warned) I wanted to bring them all home with me!

I've now got to grips with all of the names of the children in my class, and plenty more in the playground, and each day you meet somebody new, or find out how one child is related to another. Some of the kids start off with quite a brash exterior but in some of them over the last few weeks, this has melted away and left the most sweet children. Some of the children used to be shy if I caught their eye or smiled. Whilst they still sometimes bury their heads in their elbows if I smile, they beam back with the most enormous grin before their faces disappear from view. Or there's the child who doesn't do especially well academically, but who now replies confidently in English and smiles when I ask her how she is when I see her in the morning. Don't get me wrong, there are the kids who fight, or cause trouble, but they're children, and these 'troublesome' kids are in a tiny minority, and aren't naughty all of the time.

Each of the children has their own personality and just as we're getting to know them, it's almost time to come home :o( It's been some of the shy children who have picked up the clapping games that I've been showing them the fastest, or who have taken that step to take our hands as we walk home and it all comes to an end at the end of this week. I've met children who are called names that remind me of friends at home - for anyone who works at Southern Gate, there is an Eric and a Kevin in my class - mirroring the names of the lovely caretakers who look after our building. Then there's a Marion and a Martin and a Stephen and an Ann... I don't know anyone at home called Obadiah or Milka though...

Can't believe we've so little time left at the school, and this is made worse by the fact that we've now got a mad scramble to spend all of the money that you helped us to raise... More on that and what we've been spending your money on very soon!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Day 20

We weren't actually sure we'd be able to blog today as our usual internet cafe is closed on a Sunday, but one of the street vendors offered to show us another place, and here we are. Am sure it's going to cost us a fortune in postcards when we finally do some shopping in what is known as the Masai Market in the centre of Nakuru, as the vendors in the town centre remember your name - especially if you're white. I say centre, but it really is just one main street - nothing like the town centres we're used to...

We've had another fabulous weekend with Rufus, our tour guide. Yesterday we visited Lake Nakuru National Park (the park that the volunteers took the children from The Walk to a couple of years ago), had a trip up to the Menengai Crater - the volcano summit just 8 km from Nakuru town and then a trip over the equator (yes, we've seen it, the water really does drain in different directions depending on which side of the equator you're on) to Thompson Falls, a waterfall which is also suffering from the drought.

We've been so, so lucky with the animals we saw again, seeing rhino, a hippo grazing out of the water, flamingo (although again there are fewer of them because the lake has receded so much because of the drought) more lions, baboons, velvet monkeys stealing and playing with the toilet paper from the loos at the main entrance to the park, and wait for it, 2 more leopards! A mum and her cub this time. Unfortunately the photos of the leopards aren't quite so good this time, since they moved so quickly, but it was still fabulous to see.

Evalyne, the young girl who is staying with Alex and Patricia came to Lake Nakuru with us. At 12 this was the first time she'd seen any of the animals despite living just 5 km from the park. She's not the only one. Freddy has never seen a lion, and from what Rufus said, this isn't unusual in Kenya despite how many National Parks there are...

No photos today as I have to download my photos to a disc before I'm ale to upload them, so more next week. x


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Recent Messages

From Jo Dawson
Hi Cathy, shame your shopping plans have been put on hold. Hope you get to speak with Alex tonight and can go shopping tomorrow? You might have to leave the uniform money with Alex for the 50 new intakes? What have you got planned for your last day? The final class assembly is so emotional, so be warned. Chris also expects a little speach from you both. Mark had to do all the speaking whilst holding back the tears - I'm filling up now. People at work must think I am loosing it as everytime I read your blogs I cry. Have a fantastic last day at the Centre, love to everyone. x
Response: No one has mentioned an assembly! Eeek! Found myself getting emotional today at the thought of leaving. All of the kids have been fabulous. Just a bit of a shame that we might have to spend tomorrow afternoon in town rather than at the school. Made sure I took class photos of each class today though so hopefully will have a lasting reminder of most if not all of the kids. See you for very long chats about it all very soon! Cathy x
From Carlie Ford
Hi Cathy,

Sounds like you are enjoying it out there and are doing an amazing job. So jealous of you seeing lions and a leopard!!
Keep up the good work.
Take Care
Carlie
Response: Thank you! Lovely to hear from you. Can't believe it's our last proper day at the Centre tomorrow (although I have promised I'd help Freddy with the cabbage on Saturday). Have loved being here and don't want to leave the children, but looking forward to seeing everyone at home now. See you very soon! Cathy
From Janet Sivori
Hi Cathy
Me and the boys have been following your diary and have been thoroughly enjoying the read. We were all trying to search the piccies to see if we could spot the football socks we donated! They didn't approve of Freddy in 'that' football shirt very much either. Your adventure sounds truly amazing and can't wait to hear even more stories (if that's possible) when you get home. Safe journey Cathy and Yvonne. x
Response: Lovely to hear that you're reading. English football is a massive thing over here and you see lots of English team kits around town. Have been trying to be brief - Clare Clare Daly has already chastised me for going on, but there's just so much to see and tell you all about. Looking forward to seeing you all next week. Cathy x
From Rachel
Hi Cathy,
Sounds like you're doing an amazing job. Love the sock story - I didn't know whether to laugh or cry either. Can you imagine giving kids here a paid of socks as a reward for working hard! Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe journey home.
Response: Thank you! And thanks for reading. Can't believe we'll be home in less than a week. Shame I haven't had the chance to learn a song in Swahili yet for choir! Will see what I can do...
From Joanne Cullen
Glad you got all our messages from the Friday club, I thought Robert had written war and peace he was on the computer for so long! Just in case the suspense is killing you Liverpool won beach balls and all (footy related joke!)

Glad to hear you enjoyed Nakuru - make the most of your last week.

I think Nikki and Ian hope to be at the club on the 6th x
Response: Heard the score from Freddy this morning. He's currently working on the basis that he's a Man Utd fan so he wasn't too happy admitting that Liverpool won 2-0. About time though, after a shocking run at Anfield eh?
From Jo Dawson
Hi Cathy, I love reading your blogs. So your a fire starter, well done! I need to see photo evidence please, in your 'white' T-shirt! You have been so lucky seeing leopards, I'm very jealous. Mark and I didn't go to the equator or Thomson Falls, so I can't wait to see these photos. I'm glad Mark has remembered the name of the uniform shop, I just remember it was across the road from Barclays Bank. You are doing an amazing job and working very hard. Thinking of you both every day. Love Jo
Response: We've been doing some hard sums working out what we can afford based on prices from Shah's and from the Nakuru Wool Shop a little way down. We're hoping to be able to provide at least shoes and some if not a whole new uniform for all of the children. Fingers crossed!
From Cathy
Hi Cathy,
Have really enjoyed reading your blog, now you know what I meant when I said having so little and yet still being so happy, it makes us think what do we really have to complain about? Am so looking forward to having a good chat about your experience, see you soon and safe journey home.
With love
giselle
xxxx
Response: Thank you! Not long now. I am looking forward to coming home, but am really going to miss the children and the ability of the people here to smile through their problems. I'm sure this is going to spark many long discussions... Cathy
From Mark Karlisle
Hi Cathy hope you got my text earlier about the uniforms being from Shah's on Kenyeta...and they gave us a little bit of discount without us asking but we did let them know we were from the walk church....the shoes are from the market at the back of were all the bus are but got with someone, chris took us and negotiated etc but make sure to have a maximum price you want to spend and dont got any higher they will come come down to meet you or dont be afraid to walk away if they dont...enjoy your last week and have a fab weekend...Mark
Response: Thanks for getting back to us about the uniforms. That was one of the places we tried, so it's god to know we're on the right lines. Gladys and Chris wanted to have a discussion about 'needs for the school' before we bought uniforms, but we'll see what they come up with and then decide where we spend the rest of the money we have. Thanks for the extra fundraising you've been doing. You know yourself how much it is needed! The tip about bringing Chris is also a good one - since Yvonne and I were both fleeced into paying 2 pounds each for photos with a chameleon at Thompson Falls. Yvonne struggled with her camera so the photo of me is my hand with the chameleon on it - not worth the money, and testament to our distinct lack of ability to haggle!
From Maggie
Hi Cathy, I'm reading your diary every day, and can just visualise the fun you're having! I'd love to see that T shirt! Not sure about Alex's sums though...
Response: Yeah, the figure for the land for the boarding school was a bit of a shock, and despite a bit of probing still don't think we're any closer to finding out how he thinks it will all work. Having Amy involved in setting up The Walk as a charity in the UK might help. I've emailed her (don't know if she's already been in touch with you or Carolyn) and am awaiting a reply to see if we can find out any more...
From stephanie
hi there it looks like your haveing a great time i am glad your loveing it we miss you so much and i cant wait to see you to get all the info i have not read all your e-mails yet cos its 20.53 and i only got to the friday club ay 20.45 late as normal lol well i will e-mail you soon mark says hi and he cant wait to see you take care and we will see you soon love steph and mark lee xxxx
From john w
hi cathy hope this message finds you well thinking of you and the terrific work you have undertaken ,can not wait for you to share your experances with us love john&jackie
From robert
hopeyouare alright and on wednesday i went for an interview for asda also i will not when i will get it and our helen isdoing well in canada
From Christine Friday Clu
Hi Cathy
It is so good to hear about all your news and it really brings it home to us just how much we have, here in England, compared to how little is over there. What is lovely to see on the photographs are the lovely beaming smiles of all the children and you look quite happy as well. Joanne says that you have just over one more week to go so make sure that you enjoy every single minute. No doubt you will be absolutely shattered, both physically and mentally, but the experience will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Congratulations on your award from Nugent Care. You really deserve the accolade and I bet your mum is really proud of you.

Take care of yourself and have a safe journey home. We'll see you when you get back complete with thermal socks, vest and pants!!!!!
Bye for now.
Woo
From The Friday Club
Hi Cathy from all your friends at the Friday Club we all enjoyed the Illuminations at Blackpool and had a quiet night at the club last week. Tonight we are doing some craft activities thanks to Christine based on Haloween. We have enjoyed looking at your photos and we are looking forward to some more when you get back. John is going to buy some fireworks for the 6th to celebrate both bonfire night and your return which we are all very excited about.

Mark - I am looking forward to the fireworks, and he is missing you very much, he says Cathy is not coming as she has gone to Kenya.

Paul - Thank you very much for coming to all the volunteers and that he is looking forward to seeing you soon. (He missed Blackpool as he was grounded!). Paul likes cats and loves the photos of the Masai.

Jackie - Thank you for what you are doing I have loved looking at your photos and hearing about your adventures. Apart from that Jackie is more interested in the match on Sunday my team vs her team!

Ricky - I like you (I did point out that last time he loved you but he was adamant it was like this time), and prompted by Christine he wants to know if you like cabbage soup. Ricky is a Man Utd fan this week with his shirt on tie on.

Martin - he says he has been on holiday on a plane to Spain and he slept on the plane.

Chips & Cheesecake - yes its Ian and he would like to go for a walk.

Rosemary - I have enjoyed looking at the photos, and that she has been away on holiday as well, and she missed the Friday Club and was crying for not seeing me. (about the only person who does - Steve is always glad of the break!)

Anne - Glad to see you are having a good time and looking forward to seeing you again at the Friday Club.

Mike - I like Freddy's shirt and hopes that Liverpool win on Sunday (recurring theme here) they are playing at home against Utd.

Sharon smiled looking at all your photos.

Clare M -loved looking at all your photos especially the ones of you and all the children enjoying their food.

We are send our best wishes to you and cannot wait to see you again on the 6th. xxxxx

Response: Know you won't get this before I return, but it's lovely to hear from you all. Can't wait to see you either. Cathy x
From wendy
OMG! Now I know why you have been skipping classes at the gym! I didn't realise what going to Kanya actually entailed. You have impressed me Miss McCormick.
I think you are amazing.
Look forward to seeing you when you get back.

Take care.
wendyxxxxx
Response: See, and there you thought I was just being a lazy mare! Not seen you properly in ages. Want us to arrange to get together properly when I get back. Lots of love, Cathy x
From Trevor
Hi Cathy

"Streaming eyes, a snotty nose and lungs full of black soot". Sounds like a lady I once went out with - but that's another story! You should be in the panto instead of me!

I'm enjoying reading your blog and the comments by all your friends and colleagues. Dave's been dying to do the warthogs joke ever since he heard you were going to Kenya. He'll feel better now he's got it off his chest.

As ever the kids' reaction to everything sounds great. It must be really rewarding to see their faces light up for things that we take so much for granted.

By the way the panto is "The Wizard of Oz" this year. I'm Wotchit (one half of the comedy duo) and there are rumours I could be wearing a dress in one of the scenes. First and last time, but that should be worth the price of the ticket on its own.

Well, enjoy your final week in Africa and keep up the good work. See you back at the ranch soon.
Response: Trevor, let me know what dates you're doing the panto. Seeing you in a dress (with what sounds like a bigger part) sounds like it is not to be missed! Thanks for getting in touch, it's lovely to hear from you! See you very soon (it's scary how quickly our time here is disappearing now!) Cathy
From Claire Claire Daly
Cathy i cannot believe that you will be back in the UK in a week.!!!! and this is my first post.! I see you're keeping your posts nice and brief!!!! sounds like your having a wonderful time out there. Enjoy the rest of the trip I will see you when you are back. Good work with the fire!!
clairex:)
Response: Ha ha! Since when have you known me to be brief? And there's so much to say in the blogs! At least if I put it down here it saves me boring you with it when I get back. Looking forward to seeing you all! Cathy
From Ewa
Hi Cathy,
I just want to say I really enjoy reading your diary, you sound so passioned about all what's happening there. Hope you will not allow any other bugs to knock you known!!! :) It's really hard to believe you will be back soon - I bet it will be really difficult to get back to your desk :). Regards - Ewa
Response: It's quite a strange feeling knowing that in just over a week I'll be back in the UK. It really does feel like I've been here forever - even the street vendors don't ask us to buy anything anymore as they know we always say no! It's lovely to know that you're reading though, and thinking of us! It really does mean a lot when people take the time to get in touch, so thank you! Looking forward to seeing you all soon! Cathy
From steve lewis
Hi Cathy
Sounds like you're having an amazing time - well worth the wait!! Make the most of it, and keep on smiling :)
Steve
Response: The children have made it all so worthwhile, I can't even begin to describe how fabulous they are. Can't believe we only have 1 week left! Hope all is well with you! Cathy
From Jo Cullen
I can't believe you have just over a week to go it seems to have gone really quickly. I will be taking my laptop to the Friday Club tomorrow so hope to have some more messages from everyone for you. I will show everyone the photos so far and will them know more will follow on your return. Enjoy Nakuru its not quite the Masai Mara but its still fantastic.
From david hilton
Hj, cathy!

Hope Freddy makes it on time tomorrow!
Do you realise that you have gone from Hogwarts to warthogs?
I look forward to trying the vegetable tian and , in the meantime wish you every sock-cess

cheers
Response: David, lovely to hear from you! I take it Trevor persuaded you to buy a cook book. Hope you enjoy the recipe! Trevor must be due to tread the boards again soon - will double check when I get back.

Hogwarts to warthogs - We're getting through a lot of reading here which is nice (only after it has gone dark though) so I re-read HP1 in anticipation of my December book group meeting - it was of course, my suggestion! I'm now a good way into book 6 too, which is nice. That said, we're also taking time to see the country and different bits of the town, so hopefully making the most of each day. Thanks for getting in touch!

Cathy
From Jo Dawson
Hi Cathy, I'm so pleased you had an amazing time in Masai Mara. I can't believe you saw a leopard, how exciting! Your blog made me cry when you described the childrens excitment over the special meal - I bet most of them have never had fresh meat. You're doing a great job at the Centre and it sounds like you need to work in Development. Alex was meant to provide Maggie with a business plan for the boarding school but this has never happened. Alex also said the land would cost £10,000 is this what you meant or are you talking about ks? Poor Fred - what a nightmare day. It is very inspiring to see Kenyans smiling despite the things which are thrown their way. Lovely caring people. Say Hi to Fred for me. Keep up the good work. Love to everyone.
Response: Hiya, no, unfortunately we checked and double checked and it was definitely 1 million shillings or roughly 100,000 pounds to buy a 10 acre plot of land for the boarding school. So that may take a lot longer than we might have first thought. We did our best to get some costings, and whilst we have approximate figures, Alex was still a bit vague about how money could be raised, and wasn't really able to give us much info on how a boarding school would sustain itself - except to say that they're hoping to receive more donations now that The Centre has been set up as a charity. I've been in touch with the volunteer who has been working with Alex on this - not sure if she's been in touch with Great Places yet? She might be able to tell us more...
From Alison Dean
Hi Cathy and Yvonne

I've really enjoyed reading your blogs so far. You are certainly packing loads in and having a memorable time. I bet it will be a long time before you can look at a cabbage when you get home though.

We have shared some information with your colleagues back home about the restructure we started to discuss before you went off and Paul and I have sent a bit more detail to your works email addresses.

Thinking about you and missing having you around.

Take care

Alison
Response: Thanks for getting in touch! Not long now before we're home - just over 1 week, which is a good and a bad thing. Looking forward to catching up properly with everything that has been going on at the office. Cathy
From Hilary
Hi Kathy, really enjoyed reading your blog and looking at the great photos: wish I was there too! Make the most of the rest of your stay as I'm sure the time must be flying by. Look forward to seeing you at book club - perhaps we should serve cabbage soup to make you feel at home...
Response: Hilary, if I never see another cabbage after my trip, I will be a very happy woman! Lovely to hear from you! Hope all is well with you. Just over one week to go now and we're off on safari (1 day trip this time) again this weekend, so lots to cram in before we come home! Looking forward to seeing you all, and discussing the latest book. Cathy
From Mark Karlisle
Did Fred become an Evertonian!! Yey with a Liverpool top on but he supported Manu when I was there... Nice pic of Cynthia...Yvonne looks stunning with that cabbage in her hand..Could you get me some photo's of the dining hall..please.
Response: I have some photos of the dining hall - I just keep bringing the wrong discs! Will hopefully get the chance to upload some of these this afternoon...