Media daaarling!

This week we had an unexpected visit from a lovely team of film makers.

Actually here to film the underground world of Angolan metal and rock music (!) they were keen to find out more about the landmines problem in Angola. Always happy to bang the drum and raise the profile of the threat of landmines here, we set up a day filming in one of our minefields.

When they announced their arrival dates my initial thoughts were that their timing couldn’t have been worse. Each month my deminers work for 3 weeks then take a week break, 3 weeks on, 1 week off. Typically our new movie maker friends were due to arrive the week we weren’t working.

So what do they film?

Not to be defeated by this mere ‘logistical challenge’ we plucked a few of our hardy deminers and their supervisors out of their monthly tools cleaning session and set up an exact replica minefield (sans landmines!) in our training ground.

To be perfectly honest I think both myself and the film crew actually preferred it in the end.

I didn’t have to spend the entire day worrying about them crossing our marking sticks into dangerous ground all in the name of a good shot and they didn’t have to try to get the perfect shot whilst sweating in our heavy body armour!

It was facinating watching the cameraman work…we always struggle to demining look, well, interesting! I mean its really just a man on his knees with some gardening tools digging holes in the ground, admittedly rather dangerous ground.

Photos never do demining justice; the look of concentration in our deminers faces as they work away or the sheer length of time it takes to clear just 1 metre forward. Neither do you get the sounds of the minefield – the click click click of the detector battery, the gently spoken words of advice from the supervisors, the squeak of the detector when it identifies a metal signal.

The film crew will hopefully capture all which makes our working enviornment surely one of the most unique in the world.

The deminers worked so hard, bless them, and by the end of the day they were positively relishing the attention – I swear they were actually ‘performing’ for the cameras by the time we filmed the last few shots of the day!

It also got me out of the office and reminded me that two days really never are the same out here!

It was a long hot day but the producer seemed happy. I’m hoping we’ll get a look at the finished film before too long. I can’t wait to show my deminers them in their starring roles.

.                                        Eat your heart out Hollywood!



Are you a sunrise or a sunset kind of person?

I have a funny feeling I may have gone on, once or twice, about how unbelievably amazing African skies are!

Well here I go again…

Now I think people are either sunrise or sunset folk. In my youth (yes I know, those many moons ago!) I only ever saw the sunrise if I hadn’t been to bed. Nowadays oh how times have changed and the only 9 o’clock I am awake for is the one first thing in the morning.

But if there is one thing which makes it worthwhile getting out of bed at first light is to see an African dawn.

I am 100% a sunrise person and my favourite of favourite times of day for the African sky at its best is 6am, just as the sun is rising.

Each morning I arrive first to my office compound and so am the one to switch on the huge generator which powers our numerous computers, printers, welding machines, battery chargers, not to mention the kettle for my morning coffee!

My compound is on a bit of a hill and the generator is way down at the bottom.

I relish my little bit of ‘quiet time’ before the troops arrive as I wander down to the generator taking in the morning sky – each day I stand in the same spot waiting for the generator kick in and stare at the same patch of sky and each day the morning sky is completely different.

(and each day the compound guards stare at their odd programme manager taking photos of the sky!)

Some days I arrive as the sun is rising and watch the huge red ball slowly climb above the horizon.

Other days I arrive just after dawn as the sun has risen and is starting to break through the clouds.

Other days I am late (!) and end up staring transfixed to the fluffy clouds which hang suspended in the sky, not moving an inch. The sky looks like the set of the Truman show.

I just wish I was a better photographer to be able to show you just how incredible they are. These pictures don’t do them justice!

Amateur David Bailey

I have 2 dogs out here – not taken on me but inherited from another expat who was here years ago. These poor dogs must get serious cabin fever as although I live in a fairly big old rambling house, the compound it’s in is not so big. So as often as time allows I take the dogs for a long run just out of town.

The place is actually the land of an agricultural training college and gets busy on sunny weekends with picnicking Angolan families and young couples.

I am an early bird these days so tend to arrive way before the crowds which means the dogs can be let off the leash to race round like lunatics and go a swim in the lake.

Last weekend I was there particularly early, it was not too long after dawn.  I stayed for ages watching as the sun came up and the light changed by the minute.

.                              These are pine trees…in Angola, in Africa!

It’s a really beautiful peaceful place in fact as I wandered round the muddy paths snapping away I felt quite homesick – it looked exactly like the English countryside and reminded me of home!