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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 as does my website.         
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. One clue is Alnwick may be the "most mispronounced place-name in the UK".
Alnwick Castle and the Lion Bridge                         
My life journey briefly has taken me far in to the distance from Alnwick 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. You can access my latest CV hereI m 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"?



You can go to my Google Drive for some of my Classic Photographs - this is a work-in-progress that I started in August 2017. Takhmau, Cambodia is now the place I have lived in longest, as you can see by the "Takhmau Girls" who have served my beer or over the years.


My 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 Great Tweet of her in Amble here 15 June 2018.  I've taken the liberty of borrowing the photograph too.

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. In this blog, you'll find more stories and details than in my website.

Community Organising Globally – Saving and Enhancing Lives




Your members and supporters might like to hear how the same devotion and skills that they apply in their communities are very effective abroad.  They are perhaps the best way for Foreign Aid interventions to succeed.

As the title in one of my blogs states I am an “Unlikely Aid Worker”.

When sparks fly 

Last month Cambodia's irrepressible young people discussed consumer rights in the country.  It seems there are efforts underway to begin to correct a persistent wrong over many years, one that I actually spoke about back in 2005 "Doing Business in Cambodia."

Well, after an altercation this week with Cambodia's monopoly Electricity Company (EdC) - that proclaims "high quality" and "best productive services" - you can see how much not only the legislative and regulatory frameworks must change but also the basic culture.

Exasperating donors


We can all be exasperated or exasperating. Whistle-blowers of course encounter both.

Public Service: no way; on its way, or lost its way?

In life things go round in circles, don't they? We keep seeing the same things happen over again. This is a sequel to my blog the “Rise and Fall of Public Service”.  Please also see my website entry - the case for better public service everywhere also published here.

Roll out the Barrel!



What ales you, man? (An Alnwickdote)


When Bob Caldwell told us “You must be one of the boys”, he didn't add that we'd be having our first beer of the day at the unearthly hour of 4.45 am. If you were lucky – unlucky if you're a normal mortal – you'd have two more before going for your greasy-spoon bacon-and-egg breakfast at 6.00am. Some days you'd be off again for two more “turns” and that could mean 6-8 more pints by knocking-off time at noon.