Category Archives: Voluntouring

Guest Blogger back again!

I am back! This is my first full day in Cornwall as we got back yesterday at 10 pm! In the morning we went to visit the allotment to replant a tiny tomato plant, protect the growing vegetables and scatter some seeds to create a flower bed!

We found some beautiful flowers in other people’s allotments. Their colours made it finally feel like spring – I missed those bursts of colour and patterns so it was great to see some dancing in the sun!

Later on, we had some delicious, classic, fish and chips. I noticed the gorgeously artistic napkin holders made out of different coloured beads which is something I hadn’t seen before but I thought it was really cool and now I think I’m going to have to find some of my own. Although I think they’re one of a kind!

Some of the fine beadwork made by the women in Mapoch, S Africa, where we did our volunteering in 2006


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Allotment – Flowers and Fun

We had a shared lunch at the allotment today – lots of courgettes in evidence! My muffins (recipe to come as soon as I can) were joined by Courgette Fritters and more muffins and some delicious Cinnamon rolls.  I took some photos of a couple of flowers around the plot.

Chatting together we talked about travelling and learning languages and I remembered learning some IsiZulu for our volunteering in Mapoch, near Pretoria when we first retired. I made flash cards to learn with and afterwards wrote a diary of our experiences. Here is the opening paragraph of my diary and some of my flash cards.


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Special Message, Decorations and Thomas Merritt

1   Sorting the bookshelves today, this precious piece of paper fell out. It is a beautiful note given to us as we left the village of Mapoch where we had been volunteering in 2007.

Message from Thabang

Message from Thabang

2   We used to keep in touch with the village through Voluntours, getting beaded decorations to sell each Christmas to help raise funds for the village. Very sadly, we have lost both Marnie of Voluntours and Pastor Peter to cancer in the last 15 months. They were each instrumental in making our time there a success and both must be sorely missed by the village. Now we have no contact, these are my last three decorations for sale.

Beaded decorations made by the Gogos of the village

Beaded decorations made by the Gogos of the village

3   At singing tonight, we learned a new Thomas Merritt carol, in one session! It is a wonderful one with the various parts coming in at intervals and sounding like peals of bells. I’ll try to get a recording of it to add here.


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Weekly Photo Challenge – Inside

This is one of my favourite “Inside” photos. It shows the contents of the case that I took to South Africa when we went volunteering in a village called Mapoch. The stacking cups and the wooden beads were toys which our own children had played with many years ago.

Inside my case

Inside my case

The subsequent photos show some of the toys we took being played with by the children in the pre-school. We went to help build an extra classroom and to work with the teacher and the children. It remains one of the best things I have ever done. The village and the people will be a part of me forever.

Sadly I lost all my photos from the trip but I did keep a diary so these photos are from the diary and are therefore not the best quality.

Children playing

Children playing

IMG_7553 IMG_7557


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A Death, A Good Life and Inspirational Words.

Opening Fb this morning I found the very sad news that the lovely young woman who organised Voluntours and through whom we did our Volunteering in Mapoch,S.A. died last night after a long illness. The very next thing I saw was Eleanor Roosevelt’s reminder to live our lives the best we can.

“The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

This is how Marnie lived her too-short life and what she encouraged everyone else to do. Meeting Marnie and her family and working in the community of Mapoch was one of the richest experiences of my life so far.

Last year we also lost the wonderful Pastor Peter Mbasa from the Mapoch community. Here’s what he said about  Marnie and the Volunteers she organised.

” I personally believe that your continuous involvement in the upliftment of the people has finally come to fruition. It has sparked some sense of self worth in the people. It makes me think of an avocado seedling. It takes from five years to thirteen years to bear fruit. But once it starts to bear fruit, it’s good nutrition for the body. And you will want to plant more because you are proud of the fruit. Some people never live long enough to eat the fruit, but people will always remember who planted the tree. Sometimes it does not even matter who planted the tree, as long as it will feed others. And its shade is the best to rest under in sunny days. Thank you my friends.”

Here, you can see Marnie in the middle, behind is the classroom we helped to build and the fence being erected by another volunteer

Here, you can see the always smiling Marnie in the middle. Sibongile, the teacher, is to the left  and to the left of her, is the classroom we helped to build. The fence, funds raised by the pupils at the school I had just retired from, is here in the process of being erected by another volunteer.

Sisters under the skin, the sisters with whom I worked in the classroom with their babies

‘Sisters under the skin.’   The sisters with whom I worked in the classroom took me to their hearts and called me their sister.


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Playground Sounds, Delicate Daffodil and Birthday Skype

1   Walking into town about lunchtime today, I was delighted to hear the sounds of the nearby primary school children at play – such happy squeals and shrieks and laughter, sounds that we have heard all our working lives and since, in our travels around the world.  All children at play, wherever they are, make the same happy sounds and we heard it in Mapoch, South Africa where we went to build a classroom the year after we retired.

Children on the climbing frame in Mapoch

Children on the climbing frame in Mapoch

2   I love the  yellowness of this time of year but I also find the delicacy of this pale daffodil very beautiful. The specialness of this daffodil is for two very good friends who have each lost a parent in the last couple of weeks. This is just to tell them they are loved.

Pale daffodil

Pale daffodil

3   We Skyped with T for her 2nd birthday today as she opened her presents. How lucky we are with current technology that allows us to share such events from hundreds of miles away.

For those who would like the Nutella Cookies recipe, I’ve put it on my Recipe pages today. Enjoy!


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Elephants, Embroidery and ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!’

1   I love elephants! I’ve loved them since I was very little and today this beautiful story came in to my inbox and reminded me of our encounter with a herd of elephants after our Voluntouring in Mapoch, South Africa. The lovely Mr S spotted them from a long way away, we found them and watched them playing in the water for about 40 minutes. It was absolutely magical.

Elephants enjoying the water

Leaving the water

Teenage elephant, reluctant to leave his playing

Mother and Baby

2   This beautiful embroidery is one of three made for me by Grace, the sister of the teacher at the school in Mapoch, near Pretoria where we, with local builders, built a classroom.

Grace’s beautiful embroidery

Sisters under the skin, Grace, me and Sibongile and their babies

3   We’ve hardly stopped laughing all evening! We’ve been to see ‘Spamalot’ at The Hall for Cornwall. The place was packed and the whole audience loved the show.


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