Archive for April, 2006

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 23-04-2006

Hi folks! This is gonna be the longest post ever, as I recap the past 3 or so weeks with photos…

So, I caught an Afriqiya flight from Cotonou at about 1:00am on Sunday 26th March, via Tripoli to London. Thankfully, both planes were quite empty, so I got 3 seats to lie across and have a bit of a kip! Arriving at around midday in London, I then met up with 4 good mates: Ed, Reggie, Billy and Clive for a curry and a pint. See post further down for photos of that get-together

Then it was off on an 18:05 Easyjet flight to Cologne, arriving around 20:30 local time. Then, a train as far as I could get, which was Siegburg, where I stayed overnight in a hotel which literally overlooked the railway line! Just as well, as I had to catch a 6:45 train the next morning to Haiger, where a lift was waiting to take me to the Wycliffe Centre in Holzhausen. Here it is:

Wycliff centre.jpg

(click on image to see a larger version)

Holzhausen is a lovely village, quite contrasting from Cotonou (which is ‘lovely’ in different ways!) Here’s Holzhausen taken from the Wycliffe centre:

lovely Holzhausen.jpg

Upon arrival, I was ushered straight into the classroom, where the first lecture was about to begin. Here’s the room and the other members of the group:

lecture room.jpg

So, straight on with work, learning about the history and theories of ethnomusicology, studying the works of Merriam, Merryn and Nettl amongst others. Here are some of the course details:

ethno course info.jpg

Part of the course was to give a presentation based on an ethnography. The one I read was about the music and dance of the BaAka pygmies in the Congo and C.A.R. Here I am giving my presentation to the others:

Robs presentation.jpg

The first weekend, I visited Frankfurt and had a whale of a time at the Music Exhibition, where there were hundreds of pianos to play. The second weekend, I visited my friend Gerald, whom I did a German exchange with nine years ago. Here I am with him

Rob & Gerald1.jpg

From his house, I went into Frankfurt and had an explore. Here’s Frankfurt, viewed from the top of the 200 metre high ‘Main Tower’:


And here’s a picture of the old part of Frankfurt. Very pretty:

Frankfurt old town.jpg

And one more Frankfurt photo I must include (for Mike Webb if no-one else). Here’s the monster of an organ in Frankfurt Catherdral:

Frankfurt organ.jpg

Once the course was over (including submitting a project of about 4000 words) I caught a train to Dortmund, then a flight to Luton, where Lois’ friend Clare picked me up and gave me hot cross buns and coffee for breakfast! Then off to Ampthill, to visit folk, including lunch in Bedford with Mum & Dad. Here they are:

Rob with mum & dad.jpg

Then in the evening, there was a get together at the Woods place, where lots of folk dropped in to say ‘Hi.’ (thanks to all of you who did – great to see you!) Here are a few shots from the evening:

Rob & 3 tall men!.jpg

(Rob with 3 tall men!)

Rob & the Woods.jpg

(Rob with the Wood family)

Rob & Plummers.jpg

(Rob with our pastor Stephen and his wife Carole).

John F & the plane!.jpg

(John the train/plane spotter!)

…and here’s the man who makes this whole blog possible. The brains behind, Mr Reggie Thompson:


(no Reg, don’t delete it – although I know you can!!)

Finally, after bed at 1:30am, I was up at 6:30 to get a lift to Gatwick with the inlaws. Here they are enjoying breakfast:

Brian & Jean at airport.jpg

Finally, back to Cotonou, Benin, to be reunited with my lovely family. Here are the kids (taken once I’d got back:

Back home & kids.jpg

There. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed hearing about the trip and seeing some of the photos. More Benin news soon. Watch this space…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 22-04-2006

Hi folks!

 If you’ve tuned in to the blog in the last week or so, apologies that there has been no change.  We had a problem with the site, which is now sorted, but we still can’t upload images.  Still, webmaster Reggie is on the case, so I hope to be able to post up some shots of Germany soon..

 Otherwise, we’re all fine.  Rob brought back some Easter eggs from England, much to the kids’ delight.

Good Friday was the craziest of days, but great fun.  I landed at Luton airport at 7:05am, and went to Lois’ friend, Clare’s house for hot cross buns and coffee.  After that I dropped my luggage off at Lois’ folks place and went to visit some other friends.  I had lunch with my folks at The Park pub in Bedford (very nice steak & Guinness pie there!)  In the afternoon, I got a lift to Cambridge to visit a friend in Addenbrookes hospital who’s not too well at the mo.  Got back around 7:15pm and rapidly sorted out my cases at Brian & Jean’s (standing on the scales with each case and then subtracting my weight!)  At 8:00pm was the party at the Woods, which was such fun (although nobody much cared for the Beninese crisps I’d brought with me!!!)  Got to bed around 1:30am, then up at 6:30 to get a lift to Gatwick with Brian & Jean!  Madness!

The Afriqiya flight got into Cotonou at 00:05 hours, just Easter Sunday!  Lois was waiting in the carpark with 3 sleepy kids.  Got home and unpacked.  Bed around 3:00am!

Easter Sunday We had a meeting at some friends’ house in the morning, followed by brunch.  In the afternoon was a party at the home of some American friends.  Big do, with around 70 or so folk there!  Nice to be out in the sun again and to see so many friends from Benin too.

 Bye for now,

Thanks for visiting the blog!  Do leave a comment if you have time!

R, L, M, R & M

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 09-04-2006

Yes, last Thursday, Yayi Boni was officially invested as president of Benin at a ceremony in Porto Novo, the country´s capital.  For more details, have a look at his website, which is excellent:

His motto for the elections was:

Ca peut changer

Ca doit changer

Ca va changer

So we now await the aforesaid change and will see what that entails.

Other news…

Rob has 4 days left of his course and tonnes more work to do before then.  Don´t forget Good Friday at the Woods, if you´re free drop in from 8:00.

Still no photos - sorry about that.  I did try, but for some reason they wouldn´t go on the site.  Should be possible when I get back to Benin (ironic that!)

Thanks for visiting.  Do leave a comment if you have time…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 04-04-2006

The Musikmesse in Frankfurt was an amazing experience, especially after only playing 4 different pianos since going to Benin.

The piano section must have had over 200 pianos in, many of them grands.  So much fun and you were allowed to play any of them.  The sound in the hall was quite something, with so many tunes coming from so many instruments.  Sometimes, there´d be some guy playing a bit of jazz and I´d sit down on the next piano and join in.  Plenty of fun jam sessions and we even got an audience a couple of times!

After a while, I decided to do a tour of all the grands and test them out, making notes on how they sounded.  I would begin by playing just bottom ´C´to hear if it had a good ´growl,´then I´d try the top octave to see if the tone was still bright there.  If both were afirmative, I´d play a tune.  If not, no point proceeding!  Pianos I particularly enjoyed were:

Some interesting ones there.  Pearl River is Chinese, but had a very good sound.  Couldn´t say how durable one would be though.  I was also impressed with the Czech made Bohemia piano.  However, for me the best of all was the…


…an amazing tone, especially on the full-size grand.   Of course, there were Yamahas, Bechsteins, Blüthners etc, which I didn´t try out much, because I already know how good they are!  Well, dream on, Rob!  Maybe one day you´ll own one!!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 04-04-2006

Today we´ve been having HAILSTORMS!!!  Yes, quite amazing, especially having not seen snow or anything like it for so long.

This afternoon, I give a seminar on notation and transcription (and, yes, there is a difference – in purpose if not in what the end result looks like!)  Then tomorrow, I give a presentation on the music and dance of the BaAka pygmies of CAR/Congo.  Interesting stuff, based on the book Seize the Dance by Michelle Kisliuk

hey, I´m enjoying this hyperlink business!  Fun, eh?


Finally, and somewhat randomly, I was chatting to a guy from SIL Dallas today and he told me a couple of great palindromic sentences:

A man a plan a canal Panama.

and the lesser known, but fun:

Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog.

Anyone got any others?  Send ’em in!

On that note, I´ll sign off.