Archive for July, 2007

Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 31-07-2007

…differ from British ones in the following ways:


1. They have a cement base, or occasionally a tiled one. Moulded fibreglass is virtually unheard of.

2. The water is usually COLD! However, most of the year this is a refreshing change from the heat outside, and cold water in Africa is seldom as cold as what comes out of the tap in Britain.

3. They are part of the room – ie no glass cubicle and rarely a curtain. Many have a 10 inch wall you step over, which keeps the water out of the rest of the bathroom.

4. They are purely gravity fed – no electrically pumped power showers here!

5. The shower head is made of metal and would look more at home on the end of a watering can.

Just thought you’d like to know!


Filed Under (General) by Rob on 28-07-2007

A friend of ours has just finished building a radio mast in central Benin. Last week we were invited to a fun day to celebrate the completion of the project…

First, Rob got to climb up the mast – but bottled out at about 30 feet! Here I am:


It felt very high when I was up there, but once I returned to terra ferma I could see I’d only gone about 7th of the way up!!!

Then we had a nice meal of goat and rice, then in the afternoon, the dads did a ‘treasure hunt’ around the site with the kids/ This involved making a fire African style to toast some marshmallows:


Then Ruthie got to have a mudbath:


Finally, Rob had a go on the bulldozer – rather fun, and to steer you simply apply one of the two breaks (no steering wheel!!)


After this, the kids had a fun water fight with those bags of drinking water you can buy everywhere (for less than 2p a bag!) and two braver guys climbed to the very top of the mast (about 200ft!!) Maybe next time, says Rob.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 28-07-2007

…for goats!! These ones found our Land Rover a handy resting place out of the sun (or was it rain?!?) However, I’m pretty sure they’d have moved fast enough as soon as the engine started!


Incidentally, we have cleaned the car since then too!

More soon. Sorry for lack of postings this week – we’ve been at a conference.


Filed Under (General) by Rob on 16-07-2007

Here are our three playing a wee trio I wrote for them. Mads on violin, Ruth on piano and Micah on flute. Enjoy watching!

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Filed Under (General) by Rob on 16-07-2007


There’s none of this going on at the moment, as two of the main mobile phone networks in Benin have been cut off for the last 4 days. Apparently there was some discrepancy between the networks and the powers that be. This is rather inconvenient, as so many folk (including ourselves) rely upon mobile phones for communication.
We’re hoping the situation will sort itself out soon!

Filed Under (Ethnomusicology, General) by Rob on 15-07-2007

Rob had a busy week with his computer cassette duplicator last week…


The song-writing workshops and recording sessions are only the start. Once he gets home, Rob uploads the MP3 recordings onto the computer and then edits them using a great program called Audacity, then he makes a master cassette, being careful to monitor the recording level for each track and to calculate the length of each side correctly. After this, it’s onto the machine, which copies 4 C60 tapes in under 5 minutes. Here’s a close up of the awesome device:


“Just as well, as I had 450 cassettes to copy last week” says Rob “and I have over 700 copied tapes boxed up and awaiting delivery.”

Remember, all of these contain Bible-based songs in the local language and musical style, using a variety of genres and traditional instruments, so pray for those who will be listening to the recordings in the coming months.

Next workshop: 8-10 August, with the Ifè and Idaasha people. Stay tuned!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 14-07-2007

At this time of year, these wee beasties are everywhere! In fact, I sprayed about a dozen of them in our front yard just today…


Of course, some get into the house too, which is a pain. I’ve spent many a moment in our bathroom chasing a wayward mozzie in order to splat it between my hands, or against the wall. It’s almost a national sport! The reason for so many mosquitoes right now is that it’s rainy season, and the mozzies breed in standing water. As you can see from this picture of our street, there’s plenty of it about:


On this workshop in Sokode this year, I got bitten tonnes in my hotel room, so I invested in this handy free-standing mozzie net, which assembles a bit like a tent – rather fun! This is the first time I used it in the monastery in Togo last month:


Just the job – it works really well and only takes about 10 minutes to assemble! Meanwhile, it’s almost nightfall, so it’s time to go and apply some repellant…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 10-07-2007


When I took my driving test back in the 80’s, I don’t remember this sign being one we had to learn. I saw it on a mountain pass in Togo recently. Anyone seen this one in the UK??? Whilst I carefully descended the steep mountain road, I kept a lookout for pirates, but there were none to be found. No toxic waste either…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 08-07-2007

Last week we had school prize giving to end the term. This year, Madelaine won a prize for being punctual and hard-working. Here she is getting her prize:


Other news…

*Madelaine has low-grade malaria again last week, but both she and Ruth had some kind of virus which gave them high fevers for several days. At one point, Mads hit the dizzy heights of 40.6 degrees C, a bit too scarily high for our liking! They’re both much better now. Mads had a rash following the fever too, but that’s almost faded now.

*Rob went on a 4×4 course the other day (see post below)

*We’re on school hols now, and may even get to go out a bit next week (now the kids are well…)

*We travel to Parakou in a few days for a wee holiday, then on to Kara for our annual retreat.

*Before then, Rob has 450 cassettes to duplicate, but the lady at the market has run out!!

*At Kara, Rob’s in charge of all the worship and is also running a choir. Should be fun.

*After Kara, Lois sister Alison and her family come to visit. We’re all very excited, especially the kids!

And finally…

Micah has started reading Harry Potter!

He’s now on chapter 3 and is enjoying it.

Thanks for your visit. Leave us a comment if you have time!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 08-07-2007


Last Saturday Rob took a course in 4×4 driving to learn how to drive in tricky situations. It took place on the beach west of Cotonou. He learned a lot and had some fun too!

Here are the four cars which took part (I’m third in line)hvt_4012.JPG

The main things I learned on the course were:

*How 4×4 works, and why Land Rovers can have permanent four-wheel drives when others don’t.
*What a differential is and does (and the fact that Land Rovers have three of them rather than two).
*What free lock does on the front wheels of some vehicles (called a moyeu debrayable in French – posh name for a small device!)
*What a diff lock is when to use it.
*How to drive on sand – best tyre pressures, gear selection/changing, steering etc.
*How to go up a steep slope – techniques etc, although I failed and got stuck first time and had to reverse back down. Look:


*How to go down a steep slope, taking special care to be perpendicular to the slope. Here’s me going down one of the larger slopes – scary first time, but after a couple there was no stopping us!


*Using an inflatable jack to change a tyre.
*How to get your car out when stuck in sand, and how to us a tow rope if necessary.

Eddie, our instructor, deliberately got the Land Rover stuck, to show us how to get out! Look:


All in all, it was a great day and I learned loads. Now I’m ready to tackle the trickiest of situations on difficult African roads. A big thanks to Ed & Steph for enabling me to do this course. It was well worth it! Thanks also to Hugo van Tilborg for the excellent photos. To see more of his work, click here

Thanks for reading, more news soon!