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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 someone 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 of them. 
My "Alnwickdotes" are of course anecdotes, usually lighter stories of things that have happened over the years.  Go to 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 me from Northumberland 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.)

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.  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





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.






Where are we in the world?

Thanks to the International Space Station we can show you - next to (South of) but unconnected and different from Bonnie Scotland.





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.

Railway Superbreaks Cambodia-style



From Alnmouth, it’s possible to take a rail superbreak, transport and hotel all-in, anywhere in the UK.  We’ve been to Whitehaven in Cumberland and to Aberdeen where my Cambodian wife took a liking to the free Buck’s Fizz served at breakfast.  Oddly, the cost of these packages can be less than booking the fare-only.

So once Cambodia’s rail system was restored, I couldn’t resist the temptation. A trip to Kampot or Sihanoukville is a bit long for me, but Takeo just an hour and a half from Phnom Penh, was just the ticket.

Governing well, or not so well?



William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong CB FRS (26 November 1810 – 27 December 1900) is one of Northumberland’s most famous sons, and whose home Cragside, pictured above, remains one of the county’s most attractive venues for visitors.  Not many people know that despite his brilliance he was an early victim of poor governance.

“When in Rome do as the Romans do” may be sensible advice generally, but it should not lend itself to human rights and governance.  We are all supposed to share universal and inviolable rights, aren’t we?

Now this blog is going to be quite unusual in that it is not a grumble about Cambodia, but it does suggest that countries like the UK do allow Cambodian ways of doing things to creep in, for lots of reasons, such as expediency.

Careless Talk Costs Lives



Dark Skies at Kielder Water Northumberland, United Kingdom
As dark as possible helps astronomy but not politics!

(Kielder Water exemplifies where modern development, environmental issues, and local people’s interests work together to benefit all.  You can read more on this other blog)



Probably we will never know the real motive, but what he said and stood for must have upset someone.  

Built-in obsolescence



Larger image below or read on website here Page 16

Built-in obsolescence, the personal kind, doing yourself out of a job

A recurring theme in my blogs is the unwillingness of many in the aid and development business to see that real success is "to do yourself out of a job". 

Right over Might (Part 2)




My first “right over might” blog was prophetic, courtesy yet again of Tottenham Hotspur kindly giving way again, this time not to an Alnwick trader but a football club.

It was all the way back in the 1960s when our family left Northumberland for Leicester, and since then both of my brothers have been avid Leicester City fans, right through even the dark days when the club was bankrupt. 

The George in Alnwick and surrounding area was rocked by the raucous screams from thw two of them as Hazard equalised for Chelsea and when the final whistle blew, gifting Leicester the Premier League championship.

Everyone is absolutely amazed by the success in the face of the rich and powerful clubs who normally dominate. Nobody saw it coming a year ago nor can they believe it now.

That is a lesson and encouragement for underdogs everywhere.  The club’s Thai ownership and connection hopefully will impact across South East Asia.  Spread Leicester’s hashtag #fearless!