Birthday bashology…

Hi beautiful,

How the devil are you? Oh, it feels ages since you were here on Marathon Weekend, which was a serious marathon in more ways than one, I can tell you. But it was superlativey amazing to see you again, and I rather enjoyed all the boogeying we did in the Blues bar. Do you remember the genuis that was the ‘Tube Dance’. Go on, do it now, in your room, right now…ready…?….Jubilee line…..Northern Line….Piccadilly Line…..and DLR…..! And again. Sigh. (You realise No. One. Else has any idea what I’m talking about. No idea at all).

So, I decided we had to keep el bloggo going, if only because Nick Cavell (spelling?) was so scared into submission by the blinding brilliance of our blog that he decided not to write his own. Ergo, we must write. It is a universal imperative.

It was The American’s birthday last night. Now, I don’t wanna make you homesick but we all hungover ( oh God, I actually meant to write ‘hung out’ – get a load of my state of mind today…) anyway…we all hung out at The Chapel and drank beer. Well I didn’t. I polished off a raaaather nice glass or five of shiraz. The American drank beer, and he looked quite dapper you’ll be pleased to know. He’d even shaved AND put on a clean shirt for the occasion, can you believe it? I know.

I am thinking of doing the same for my birthday, donning a new outfit and having a wash, you know. I might even shave my legs, ooo err. Talking of birthdays we’re turning 30 this year, shizer. That is OLD. Just ask The American, he knows. I’m thinking beers in the sunshine in a nice pub garden. And maybe making el Boyfriend take me out for a posh dinner. What about you? Have you got all sorts of fun going on?

Liloo was also at the party last night; looking Hot to Trot as always. What DOES that actually mean? I mean do you need to be hot in order to trot? And is this about horses, or dogs, or pigs or people? Or what? Either way the Liloo was lovely, late, but lovely. I was quite inebriated by the time she arrived but by all accounts of my patchy memory we had an ace chat and she’s doing Good. I also have  it on good authority (ie an email from her) that she was there till the wee hours and is now suffering immensely. Shame.

OK, I have to do some work now, but speak soon, let me (and everyone else) know how you’re getting on. I miss you.

xx

P.S I keep hearing about scary things in Kampala on the news, please keep safe. xx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 1 Comment

Feck the halls..

Man alive I have been busy. As, it seems, have you. Though doing what I have no idea. I’ve read that last post like a hundred times and I’m still not sure exactly what happened. Let me try and guess…

You were at work, wrestling a gorilla, a girl gorilla who was mean and pulled your hair. The gorilla was wearing a blonde wig, and was in a bar. With a big handbag. You were dressed like a farmer, and needed to buy a spade at Owino possibly because you have killed someone and need to bury the evidence in the back garden, a la Beth from Brookside. Armed with your spade you fled the authorities on a road trip to the river to destroy all the evidence. You had salad for lunch and then played the ping pong game well into the night (oo err missus). The next day, you rode a horse and then some Aussies. Then the authorities finally caught up with you, and you were arrested for doing bad things on the side of the road with the horse. Or the Aussies. This cost you, or the horse, £150,000.

Am I in any way close?

Meanwhile back in Blighty. I have started my new job and I am so freakin’ busy it isn’t even true. I love it though, writing about London life and getting paid to do it, is SO the mutts nuts. I’ll send Lisa out with copies of my efforts so you be all impressed and say nice things.

Rich and I went away to a friend’s holiday house in Poole, Dorset for a winter mini-break, which was lovely. But absolutely freezing. We went on lots of lovely long walks around the coast, on some alarmingly high cliffs which did nowt for my vertigo and meant at one point I was crawling on all fours. Oh how Richard laughed. Then we went to stay in Stoke Park Hotel because I was reviewing it for the magazine. It’s the hotel that Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger went to for the mini-break in Bridget Jones. We even stayed in the same suite. Tres posh. And it’s also the place where Daniel Craig gets shot at the end of Layer Cake. Very cool. It was snowing when we arrived. Snowing, remember that? It was lovely.

Christmas is well and truly here. We’ve had snow, Christmas carols, the Coke advert, advent calendars, flu bugs – and I nearly fainted in John  Lewis. So i’d say we are well and truly festive here. This year’s Christmas lights on Oxford Street are again sponsored by Disney and Aslan, so that’s nice and corporate. On Carnaby Street they’re all random planets. It’s very odd. That said, with two major magazine deadlines on Friday and then next Thursday I’m not exactly thinking about Christmas but more about not getting my ass handed to me on a prickly Christmas wreath.

Christmas itself is going to be spent in West Wales, if it doesn’t snow, I am terrified of being stuck there for the rest of the holidays. Blurgh. And then we’re off to France for a couple of days to buy wine and salami, and spending New Year chilling at home with dinner and drinks and some friends, before heading up Parliament Hill to watch the fireworks with a flask of mulled wine. I am looking forward to it muchos.

I can’t think what else is new. I haven’t read any good books recently. You? Oooh, I went to Shampers the other day with that American. I am still recovering. He is a wicked man. And not in a good way.

Anyway, if we don’t speak before, which is a mighty shame, then have a totally supersonic Christmas and New Year. I hope you have lots and lots and lots of fun in the sin sun. I await photographic evidence of all the fun.

Big love

Queenie xxx

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Lewd Conduct and other Shanigans

Sorry for the prolonged silence Queenie – I’m having my ass handed to me at work and when not wrestling Gorilla related tasks, I’m trying to play nice with the locals … the girls here are mean!

You know that pack mentality they have in London, well it turns out it exists the world over. You walk into a bar and immediately a sandal clad posse of aid related blondes with big bags eye you suspiciously, positioning themselves between you and any potential hottie like a row of well accessorised vultures. If it weren’t for The Journalist and her caustic commentary, I might be hurt.

That said, this weekend we infiltrated the ‘long termers’ and have made some headway thanks to a plaid shirt, flat cap, wellies and a 6,000 shilling spade – all purchased at Owino much to the amusement of the Ugandans, who stared wide eyed as we shot past on bodas, spade and wellies wedged between bike and thigh.

Weekend prior The Journalist, Salad, Vish and I embarked on a mini road trip to Jinja, where Stanely and Livingston first discovered the source of the Nile. We spent a night on the banks of the Nile, above Bujagali Falls, in a ramshackle cottage that I’m fairly certain only just scraped their health and safety inspection, Salad and I wedged tightly into a double bed, suffering from ping pong giggles.

The Journalist insisted we cruise the Nile on horseback the following day, which at times pleasant, had me braced for impact and/or mauling for two hours straight and suffering from inner thigh ache for three days thereafter. I would really rather have gone in the rubber dingy with the crazy ass Aussies.

And to clarify, Lewd Conduct does not mean the same thing here as it does in the UK. I was not, as suggested by the Fatigue clad Captain, having sex on the side of the road. If I had known a peck on the cheek would prompt eight heavily armed policemen to disembark at speed from a 4×4 I would have opted for a handshake!

Reluctant for the boss to discover his recently appointed Ops Manager had been done for Lewd Conduct outside the office at three in the morning, I strapped on an apologetic smile and submitted to a lecture on appropriate public behaviour. It was sweet of them to offer me an ‘alternative’ to jail, but on principle I insisted they take me to the station and book me.

The Captain took a shine to me, but unfortunately the giver of the peck was less fortunate and eventually forked out 150,000 to avoid the station and his car being impounded – Papa Peck refused to kiss me goodbye the following evening saying it cost too much! What can I say, I’m a classy chick.

In other news …

  • Yes the chat house is still going and the cheese soda dosa is still the mutt’s nuts!
  • The flat flooded and I had to mop with a bucket and dish cloth – people laughed
  • I’m very excited about new job because of all the potential goodies …. oh and because you rock
  • Love Richard
  • I like Gideon, but then I’m not a civil servant
  • Alex Fergason is the coach for Man U (honestly I’m not a complete cretin) and hasn’t Rooney just broken something vital/slept with another prostitute so good riddance?
  • I didn’t know Thatcher had a heart, but bless them for looking
  • A local newspaper just published a list of prominent gay men in Uganda suggesting they be executed for their sexual orientation – that’s criminal.
  • Salad and I went the wrong way around a roundabout on a boda and narrowly missed a 16 wheeler – we both bought helmets.

Love you and let’s skype baby!

B

Posted in Beani Blogs | 2 Comments

We gon’ party tonight…

As you'll discover the main body of this post centres around curry, but I couldn't find a nice picture of a curry, so you've got this pic of Adrianne Curry instead. Isn't she lovely? But isn't that dress repulsive?

The title of this post is brought you by a comment caught in our blog’s spam filter. It was from a lovely gentleman called Bonus. His email address went something like this: free_girlz@asscittee.com – isn’t that nice of him?

Anyways, that scintillating non sequitur aside, how goes it? All is good here, though I’ve got a rampant hangover courtesy of a reunion curry at Tayyabs last night. We so should have gone to Tayyabs when you were still a London lass. It costs us all £12 each. £12 tincy little pounds. And it was good, Bean. I mean real good curry. Actually, on the subject of curry how is the damn Chat House these days? Still blowing people’s heads off with mindnumbingly hot curry? Ah, those were the heady days of yore. Me in some beige dungarees (WHAT was I thinking) you rocking something from Oweno (that is most likely NOT how you spell that but, hey, you know what I mean. Actually I just Googled it, and it’s Owino, you can find out more about Owino here. Did you know, for instance, that: “You forgot your party clothes at home, and every one else is looking trendy? Owino market is the place to buy designer clothes and shoes if you don’t mind them being second hand .The experience is fascinating and you will possibly be able to buy back something of your own! Beware of pick pocketers and please leave your jewelry behind.” That is like the WORST travel guide ever) So anyway, where was I? Oh yes, you in something from Owino, me in the dungarees and Liloo bounding around excitedly like a racoon on viagara. Those were the days, Bean, the days those were.

Other news from the UK is as follows:

  • I am broke, again
  • I start my new job on 8th November, I am excited
  • Richard made two ‘sales’ at work, he is also excited
  • Gideon has made cuts everywhere and everyone is cross, personally I don’t think cutting half a million public sector jobs is such a bad idea. It’s not like any of them DO anything except sit around being deliberately unhelpful, work ridiculously short hours, have too many holidays and charge me too much council tax.
  • Rooney has announced he wants to leave Man U – now, I know YOU don’t care about this, but I do. It is terrible news. I am distraught. So is Fergie (You don’t even know who that is do you?)
  • Maggie Thatcher is in hospital, having ‘tests’, guess they haven’t managed to locate her missing heart yet then.
  • And crime has apparently fallen by 8% in England and Wales. So that’s nice.
  • Oh and Beyonce is up the duff and Christina Aguilera is a lesbian.

I don’t think there’s much more to report, so this will do for now.

I love you, let’s Skype soon please,

Queenie

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 4 Comments

To the Equator and Beyond …


Hey Queenie,

Great to chat on Skype – sorry I lost you to the abyss that is MTN wireless internet connection.  There are people all over Uganda holding one sided conversations with a frozen image of their loved one mid air kiss … makes me giddy with frustration.

I lost Woelf in what I can only assume was the finale of an impromptu skype dance and had a very disjointed conversation with my nephews, which involved a lot of stuffed animals vying for camera time and a frozen close up of Buzz Light Year screaming ‘to infinity and beyond’!  Gave me nightmares …

This post smacks my chronological account of Ahhfrica in the ass, but I realised I hadn’t posted some of my favourite photos of our trip post Gorilla Trek in Virunga.  I’ll keep it concise…

We crossed the border from Rwanda to Uganda on foot, pausing briefly to herd V via the correct channels and obligatory, yet completely ineffective security check – she bolted for the barrier unaware that security were readying their AK 47s; we were forced to rein her in.

We stayed two nights in Gahinga, trekked with the Batwa (pigmy forest people who are no longer small – disappointing both for me and the marketing team; short sells people!) and did a fantastic community walk before an ass numbing, and apparently endless journey to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Desperate to pee and in search of a sports bra (ambitious I agree) we got out at the park gate and walked.  The single track road is sandwiched between dense tropical forest and offers the most spectacular views across the canopy, which as day turns to dusk is scattered with wisps of white mist and alive with monkey calls.  A little eerie.

We arrived to a warm welcome in Bwindi and dropped into a sofa, fire roaring, cold beer in hand.  The following morning I met the gang in my pyjamas on the front lawn to stare, wide eyed and bed headed at the Gorillas, who apparently decided to have breakfast at the lodge.

From Bwindi we travelled north to Queen Elizabeth National Park, dubbed the ‘Pearl of Africa’ because of its rich biodiversity and phenomenal views across the savannah and papyrus swamps.

Basically on the equator, the park is divided by the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Albert and Lake Edward and encompasses the Ishasha Sector, with notoriously difficult to spot tree-climbing lions and the Kyambura Gorge, a 13km 100 metre deep gorge that has a family of habituated chimps.

Let’s just say it’s a very cool spot!  The bats at sundown are less cool and forced high pitched squeals and a lot of bob and weave/ frantic head ducking from my colleagues – I would have preferred peanuts with my beer.

We cruised the Kazinga Channel, which included a brief, but butt clenching encounter with a hippo and her calf, and surfed the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of the big five … of which we saw four.

We disappeared into Kyambura Gorge in search of the chimps in pouring rain and ankle deep mud.  Three hours later we still hadn’t seen them.  Caroline did a comedy running without moving ascent up the gorge wall, which left me crippled by extreme hysterics and completely unable to move.  Chantal eventually put her shoulder in and with the help of V pushed Caroline up the remainder of the wall.  We were all subject to sporadic bouts of hysterics thereafter at Caroline’s expense.  She took it very well.

We spent our last night set precariously on the rim of a crater lake before a seven hour journey back into Kampala, which Caroline (who’s ear piercing I’ve-just-seen-a-tree-climbing-lion scream in QE brought animals large a small to a shuddering halt) spent glaring at me while I slowly and meticulously perused the only magazine we had between six … which in a rare moment of stealth, I had smuggled out of Ndali Lodge.

Some piccies from the trip – I’ve been pain stakingly selective.  I took close to 800 photos (loving the sports setting on my camera!) so count your blessings.

More news to follow ….

Big love, B

Posted in Beani Blogs | 5 Comments

This is such cool news it deserves its own post…

I’ve just been offered a wicked wicked job, and I’m taking it! Yay!!

I’m going to be editor of a very glossy lifestyle mag, called Vantage:NW – writing about everything fabulous, luxury and high end in North West London including Maida Vale, Little Venice, Marylebone, Hampstead, St John’s Wood etc. It’s such a wicked job and I get to run the mag, write everything I want, devlop and evolve it. It’s aweosme. I am stoked.

Speak to you Saturday, Love The Queen

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 4 Comments

Printed Pumps and Prime Property

Straddling the bath is fine when you’re 20 Queenie, but at my ripe old age it’s not cool – three days of crippling back pain and insult to injury, sporadic bouts of hysteria from my female colleagues as they relive my public hand wash demonstration.

So while you make a strong argument re: the trials of too many kitchen appliances (not at all jealous) I think you should still spend a little quality time on the floor, gently caressing the washing machine, followed by the fridge, toaster and Rich, if he happens to be en route to the cooker.

Suddenly dawned on me that bloglets (not sure of the terminology) don’t actually have any evidence to support my being in Ahhfrica vs. folded into a bedsit in Glasgow with only a candle for light – please see right for proof.

 

Chatting with David, Lodge Manager at Virunga

 

Please send pants aid package – Mama has researched thoroughly and subsequently skyped to tell me that ‘Jesus’ is key… ‘Apparently if you put Praise the Lord and Jesus Rules on parcels, peeps are too scared to pinch ’em.  Tip from friend in Arusha’

I’m going to need so much therapy …

So I’m currently living in a university dorm like setting at the office flat with ‘Veggie’, who is fresh off the boat and my instant friend.  I love her, want to hug her and fear I may get into terrible trouble with her.  Thank God the boys are up country otherwise they’d be wearing pink, with perfectly manicured toes and initialled hair straighteners.

It’s a stop gap until I move into my one bedroom bungalow at the top of Kololo (the Kensington and Chelsea of Kampala Daaaaaarling).  It’s hideous, but has views across Kampala down to Lake Victoria and was built by the Brits, so Father will approve.

 

Community Walk with Japhet, Lodge Manager at Gahinga

 

It’s completely unfurnished so I go roadside shopping with dial-a-boda on Saturday.  Dial-a-boda takes a particular interest in my housing situation and insists on helping me furnish it – a black, bike riding Lawrence Llewelyn if you will.

I’ve started to mentally decorate and I’m currently thinking shabby chic safari stylie, but without being one of those crazy expats that are so at one with their environment that everyting is either tree, grass or local fabric.

 

Pit stop on the way back to Kampala from Kyambura

 

You know how I covet your flat so suggestions please Queenie?

The Journalist moves in next door so for budgetary purposes she’ll buy the oven, I’ll buy the fridge and we’ll meet regularly in the garden for supper!

 

Pre Gorilla Trek with Ivan (right) our guide and Captain of the Combie

 

Work is good, if a little daunting.  I’m not entirely sure what my role is, but that appears to be the norm here; we all do a little of everything.  C has told me off on numerous occasions for my English, which apparently is too good and therefore, confusing.  I’m learning Ugandan-English, but it’s a slow process and I fear I’ll be told off for using ‘mild-mannered’ in conversation before the week is out.

MD and I had lunch on Tuesday, which was lovely.  It’s nice to see a familiar face.  He insists he’s been tamed and no longer a party animal, but I intend to change all that (subject to permission from girlfriend) when I head to his Friday for some party that involves a pool and without doubt the potential for bad behaviour – be warned.

 

Gorilla Trekking ... and apparently drunk!

 

Attended a bizarre book launch at the Uganda Museum (the only one in the whole of Uganda people, so be suitably impressed) where people were named and shamed into buying pictures from the book in a David lynch esque auction that was conducted in the dark.  I drank through it.

Last night 400 people attended the Steve Willis Memorial Fund Comedy Night at Red Chili, with guest speaker Jane Bussman.  Previously a celebrity journalist, she followed human rights activist John Prendergast to Uganda because of a crush, and subsequently (NB this is a black listed word in the office and creates only confusion) to write a story no newspaper would touch on Joseph Kony – leader of the Lords Resistance Army in Northern Uganda who is described as the most evil man in the world.

Despite the subject matter, she is absolutely hilarious and punctuates a highly charged dialogue on the politics of war with self-deprecating humour and a good dollop of entertaining facts about the intricacies of conducting a celebrity interview.  I’d highly recommend her book ‘The Worst Date Ever’.

A lot of the old crowd were there, plus some very attractive fwar shwing budda bing newbies.  Extensive Chipati hunt ensued before Veggie and I abandoned The Journalist and Co to chase down a boda.  Feeling a little jaded this morning.

In other news I have developed a huge crush on newbie eco tourism guy. He’s been living Bruce Parry Stylie in some obscure country in the armpit of South America, and by all accounts conducted his interview up a tree by satellite phone …. be still my beating heart.  Unfortunately, I think my somewhat ballsy manner scares the crap out of his mild mannered American sensibilities.  Not a great start!

Love ya, B x

Posted in Beani Blogs | 7 Comments