Archive for May, 2009

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 28-05-2009

Stop press! Rob Baker ‘appears’ in the latest issue of ‘Christianity Magazine‘, a UK publication which does what it says on the tin.

I met the author of the article, George Luke, at an ethnomusicology conference in the USA back in 2006 and we’ve kept in touch via The Little Book of Face. So, when he asked me if I’d been to any Christian conferences in the UK recently, I was happy to send him my impressions of The Keswick Convention, which we attended last summer. Still, don’t take my word for it, read George’s article in Christianity magazine (including Rob’s four paragraphs) or – better still – go out and buy your copy of the June edition now!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 27-05-2009

A normal day in Keswick:


An exceptional day in Keswick:


Yes, Keswick (and the Lake District in general) are generally quite rainy, which makes the grass and trees lovely and green, but makes going outside a tad tricky for about 50% of the time. In fact, there is a well-known saying which goes: “If you can see the mountains, it’s going to rain. If you cannot see the mountains, it’s already raining”. The two photos above (of Helvellyn St) certainly testify to this.

However, a couple of days ago we had stunningly warm weather for the area (and time of year), but when I woke this morning, I was somewhat consoled to see that the ‘good old lakeland weather’ was back with a vengeance!

Click here to see the forecast for the next few days – more grey fluffy things than bright yellow cirlces there too!

We had a couple of weeks in the Lakes last summer, which you can read about here. Meanwhile, I hope the weather’s nice wherever you are!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 25-05-2009

I love my iPod, it’s the best thing ever (even taking sliced bread into account!)


Of course the main purpose of an iPod is listening to music, but I recently discovered the fascinating world of the podcast; free downloads of all kinds.

Firstly, here are some Christian podcasts – or God-casts, if you’d rather, which I have on my iPod and have found both edifying and uplifting:

* Firstly, I love listening to Jim Morgan’s Morning Devotions. They’re upbeat, witty and challenging and only last 2 minutes each.

* Also, every Christian should download ‘A year in the New Testament’ from God’s iPod. Yes – it’s the ENTIRE New Testament of the Bible in audio form for your iPod, completely FREE!!! Amazing!

* I’ve really appreciated the HTB Sunday Talks, sermons from Holy Trinity Church in Brompton (the Alpha Course place). Some really sound and useful stuff here.

* When I’m on a L-o-o-o-o-n-g car journey, or have time to spare (ie rarely), I like listening to one of John Piper’s sermons. Deep, passionate and very long, they’re a great resource for Christians who want a more in-depth sermon to get their teeth into.

Secondly, as a linguist, I have enjoyed the following podcasts in other languages:

* Notes in Spanish, which has beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Great for keeping the Spanish up or preparing for a holiday in Spain!

* Meanwhile, to keep my German going, I listen to Sprachbar, which describes a certain word or phrase in German in some detail. There are other German podcasts on the same site.

Finally, if you like German and you’re a Christian (or even if you’re not), check out Helle Welle, professionally produced radio broadcasts from a German Christian station. Varied, informative and sehr interessant!

Well, there you go. Have a listen and let me know what you think! Happy pod-casting!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 19-05-2009

I do! If you don’t believe me, click here, here or here!


I was therefore delighted to discover a new djembe group just up the road in Bedford. The group meets from 7:00-10:00pm on Fridays (but may be changing to Tuesdays soon) and is run by the more than capable hands of expert percussionist and teacher Malcolm Smith. Here’s Malcolm in action:


And here’s his site, where you can find out more. Do you live in Bedfordshire? Do you enjoy drumming? Would you like to find out more about how music is made in another culture of the world? If so, come along to Malcolm’s wonderful drumming group.

Failing that, you could always try Lamin Jassays on line djembe lessons. See him in action here. However, I still think there’s nothing quite like the real thing; the camaraderie and rhythmic interaction which take place when a group are drumming together is hard to equal! In fact, Malcolm lists the many physical and emotional benefits of African drumming here.

So, what are you waiting for? Get drumming!


Filed Under (General) by Rob on 15-05-2009

Remember this post, where I found a Beninese school bag with the president, Yayi Boni, on it?


I was surprised and the time, but was pretty certain no such bag would ever exist in either the UK or the USA. However, last week in St Albans (of all places), I discovered my first ever Obama bag on the market, right next to a Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ bag:


Now I’ve seen everything – apart from a Gordon Brown bag. Do let me know if you spot one anywhere…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 11-05-2009

Rob is back home from Texas and just about de-jet-lagged (if that’s a word).

I will always remember at least 4 things from my visit to the crazy but fun state of Texas. They are:

(i) The vehicles


Every other vehicle is a pickup truck, and you even get ‘posh’ ones! So many interesting and unusual vehicles when you’re coming from a European/African setting. Now, they may well drive like bricks on wheels, I don’t know. And they may be burning a hole in the atmosphere the size of a football pitch (either kind), but they sure look good!

(ii) The sky-scrapers


I’ve never seen such HUGE buildings as these ones in Dallas. I wouldn’t want to live next to a load of them, but one cannot deny how impressive they look.

(iii) The Christian signs


This is the Bible Belt, after all! Some of the signs made me laugh, but at the end of the day they are still publicizing the faith which I hold to – hopefully in a positive way!

(iv) The Texan Houses


It seems somewhat ironic that a Brit would come to the USA and end up saying, “I sure love your cute little houses”, but I did! They’re just so different from the old English thatches and terraced cottages, but had a charm of their very own. Also, the fact that you can buy one for a mere £40k is an attraction in itself!

Well, goodbye Texas and all its friendly people. I’ll be seein’ y’all again some day!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 01-05-2009

* Everyone here likes my accent.

* I could afford a small mansion with a big garden here.

* The people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met ANYWHERE.

* It’s warmer than the UK, but generally not as hot as Africa.

* There is good Mexican food to be had round every corner.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 01-05-2009

* If I did, I’d be clinically obese within about 6 months of arriving.

* They sometimes have lethal tornadoes and hail stones the size of oranges.

* There are rattle snakes and poisonous spiders in the woods.

* I might have to start eating mountain oysters, a local delicacy.

* All that country music would eventually drive me insane.