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"Smarter Aid, not more Aid!"

The Northumbrian Abroad

Well, here we are! I succumbed.  Rather than blogging on other people's sites, I have decided to have my own.  Why?  Well like most of us, I think I have something to say and some folks out there may be interested.  I quite often find especially with larger media, that they tend to want things expressed in their own way, imposing a kind of censorship.  Well this is the pure unadultered me!  As a person who comes from a distinct part of the world, betwixt the warring English and Scots, I think we have our special characteristics.  Those stand us in good stead when plodding around the world.  So I like to compare and contrast situations at home or in the past but within living memory, with those encountered in the developing world.  My blogs delve in to some intricate details.
My "Alnwickdotes" are of course anecdotes, usually lighter stories of things that have happened over the years.  Please go to the link below for a quick-list. Most still have a development connection.  Over time, I will write up more of them, as well as blog on any subject in my areas of interest trending on social media.  I explain the term Alnwickdote in No 1 in the series. My life journey briefly has taken far in to the distance from Northumberland (and back)  to Leicester; Kingston-upon-Thames, Exeter, Dorchester, Saint Helena Island, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Malawi, Rwanda and Cambodia plus many stops on the way.

I must warn you, and maybe apologize in advance? I do tend to rant; rave, groan and moan, perhaps a North-Eastern attribute, but then who would not want to associate with the High Level Ranters?  (For the uninitiated, this great band was called after one of the 5 Bridges now 7 that grace the River Tyne in Newcastle, made famous by the Nice.) Their equally talented and humorous peers, the band Lindisfarne, are more famous - lads I met in Kingston before they were rich and famous! (The Fog on the Thames was all wors!).

Actually, as my blogs show, there is not so much difference between life in cities like Newcastle and Phnom Penh, despite the passage of time and distance.  Listen to my chum Chris Minko and his great Cambodian girl singers in Sin City. Just Like Eric Burdon and the Animals "We gotta get out of this place"?

The background picture is of Longhoughton Quarry Pond.  I see it every day when I crank up the computer!  When we grew up, the pond was small but a constant source of fascination with the fishes, frogs, and newts. Apart from a few fishermen, few people seem to go to enjoy its beauty*.  Maybe that is because one thing has not changed.  There may be still explosive charges to extract the stone.  Many years later when in Malawi, Africa, I recalled instantly those days.  Young Pioneers.......

* PS - Well that was until Vera visited! (A TV detective show set in and around #northumberland

June 2015 - update: Vera is back in Craster and at our childhood playground haunt of the Rumbling Kern. By chance we were at the Jolly Fisherman same time but missed the new famous Craster Kipper Beer kipper - thanks Cheers! and @alnwickgazette

One follower of my Twitter Account @LowrieJohn asked me about my banner picture.  It is of course Dunstanburgh Castle just North of Craster, my photo taken of course from the best vantage point and all-weather retreat of the Jolly Fisherman.  Here's the clearer close-up promised:

Where are we in the world?

Thanks to Tim Peake and the International Space Station we can show you - next to Bonnie Scotland (South of) but a distinctive different if related mob... to use the cute Australian Aboriginal word for kin

 And finally for the record:

Please note that I subscribe to freedom of information over the internet subject to reasonable conditions such as those set by Creative Commons.  I would appreciate it if you would act and honour such undertakings similarly, for knowledge to spread as widely as possible and to those who have most difficulty in accessing it.

A Guide to my Alnwickdotes (Anecdotes)

About Me

The inaugural AGM of the new local NGO for indigenous people in Mondulkiri, Cambodia. I am a bit too centre-stage for my liking, but they like it!

I am of course a long-time worker in international community development and human rights, but have come a long way from my Northumbrian origins.

Inspirations, lasting impressions

The humble Salmon - what a remarkable journey it makes with sheer dogged determination to return to where it was hatched, to spawn and die. Photographer Mike Smith similarly persisted. It took two years to capture this Northumbrian image.

Very often people ask me “What keeps you going?”  There is no doubt that work in the “Aid and Development” industry is a struggle and frustrating.

Saints – Heed your Pope!

Who am I?

Who am I to judge?posed Pope Francis in 2015 when asked about gay people.

No-one should be surprised that “full marriage equality” was not achieved straightaway on St Helena.  It has been a struggle everywhere else in the world. (For non-St Helenians, please read Lermarc's all-too familiar story below.)

More to peering than appears?

For the Beer Garden and Karaoke Hostesses the shift starts early 4.00pm and never ends?

“You won’t get a word out of her!”  That was the familiar rebuke directed at the teenager as she peered in to her telephone.  Unabashed the girl remained transfixed, oblivious to all around her. “Let her be, it’s just her age.” calmed Grand-Ma.

Just a few hours later and half-way around the world, the girl’s exact peers, girls of her age, even younger, were doing much the same.  Thousands were still on duty at midnight.

Legacy; Legitimacy and Loi!

Photo source not known. A single plank is the norm.

Legacy; Legitimacy and Loi!

A tribute.

Are we all like Salmon?  Does nature dictate that we should end our days where we were born?  The truth is most of use have a yearning to do so.  But then there are exceptions and none more so in “pioneering” countries like Cambodia, where the cause of humanity has been challenged in ways that few of us would have expected.

Denwick, Northumberland, River Aln Salmon Leap
Casey Nelson “Barang in the land of Khmers” is the latest exception to the rule.

Rocking All Over the World

Yet the tiny rock island of Saint Helena seems to crop up all over the world. My elderly Aunt died recently and my Cambodian wife took a liking to one of her knick-knacks pictured above.

It led me to a another journey of discovery and coincidences fuelled of course by Google Search.

Northumberland and Saint Helena have pride of place in my blog as the two best places to live in, not that I am biased. It is a totally objective opinion based on well-established liveability criteria such as the quality of the local bars and fish-cakes.