I mentioned I had a busy spell coming up. I am Story Telling every day this week (I’m lucky that all the Gigs are in Gloucestershire and I am hoping to cycle to a few of them.) I have just packed my trusty mount “Shadowfax” with all my many props. The panniers are bulging! The following week will involve more travelling.
I did manage to get a few miles on the bike clocked up at the end of last week including some hills.
On Thursday I went up to London to see a special showing of War Horse for the Farm for City Children charity I volunteer for. The charity had booked out the whole theatre and many London Schools who send children to the 3 farms were there. It was a privilege to be there with such an enthusiastic audience. So it was a very different experience from when I saw it last year with a mainly adult audience. Many children recognised us and I had a moment I want as my epitaph. If you are a regular reader of the blog you will know my volunteering is taking children bird watching at Wick Court. One young man (Y6) greeted me with a twinkle in his eye with the following comment.
“You’re the man who told us about Great Tits!”
Back home feeling a little jet lagged!
Most of this blog is about Cuba. There is a Story Telling footnote at the end but a proper Story Telling Blog later this week. So if you don’t want to hear about Cuba and our mini birding trip stop reading now!
We went on a tour called Hemingway’s Cuba which included in keeping with the man quite a bit of consummation of Rum especially in the legendary Mojitos (Cubans do add liberal doses of Rum to their cocktails). I thoroughly enjoyed travelling about Cuba and touching recent History. The Guevara museum and Che’s sculpture I found particularly interesting. The country is in a state of flux with the impending changes in allowing Americans to visit legally. The country’s infrastructure is not ready and already under strain from the developing tourist industry. Towns like Santa Clara, Cienfuego, Trinidad all had their attractions. Havana’s faded colonial charm was appealing but the traffic was often choked and the diesel fumes ever-present. I can certainly understand why Graham Greene’s famous novel was set here!
The political system is gradually changing particularly because of the impact of tourism and as a result there are many contradictions resulting. The rationing system was fascinating, the two currency’s confusing! Getting hold of money often needs planning around bank opening hours, ATMs are few. Petrol stations are also scattered so if driving you need to watch your fuel gauge as well as the numerous horse and carts and the many cyclists carrying things. The impact of the revolution is positive in the way literacy improved and of course its outstanding health system which sees Cubans leading the fight in the world against many of the diseases. However it restricts innovation particularly for ordinary Cubans engaging outside the country e.g. the internet is not accessible in homes-the embargo has held back the country’s development significantly.
At the end of the tour we did four days birding with our wonderful guide Tania and briefly Ernesto. We saw 99 species with them so with birds seen earlier in the trip well over 100! So many highlights. The smallest bird in the world the Bee Hummingbird was something special. The colours and the sounds will stay with me for a long time. I will keep mentioning some of the birds in future blogs but we couldn’t believe the close views we had of the beautiful Cuban Tody and the Cuban Trogon. A bit more on the birds in my next couple of blogs.
Finally changing the subject a busy time coming up on the Story Telling front with a full week next week and a busy March. so much so I have had to turn down several gigs because of clashes. More later this week!
Now finished the cultural part of our jaunt relaxing by the sea for a couple of days. On Thursday we are off birding so an early morning start! Flight home leaves Monday night and we are back on Tuesday.
Found the history of the revolution fascinating. Will write more when home. The museum for Che was good. Interesting character.
Very quick blog from Cuba. Internet not great so may not blog that many times from here.
Apologies to people who have been getting in touch about gigs over my slow responses. I am going to be very throughout March!
Really enjoying this amazing country. The politics are interesting and surprised to hear Sanders in the debate last night saying the US should lift the embargo and so they should it is mean and vindictive. More perhaps in a few days the rum awaits!
A blog from the UK and in the early hours of Thursday we off to Cuba. Very excited about this trip. We start with cultural tour and finish with some birding. There is so much to look forward to and I think we are going just before the changes. I am keen to see the smallest bird in the world it is called the Bee Hummingbird.
Blogging might be a bit hit and miss while we are there. I know the internet is variable and in some places non-existent. So if I can I will blog.
Had a lovely day with the children Bird Watching at Wick Court today. A younger group than normal but they asked some challenging questions especially about binoculars and how they worked! We are also in the planning stage for building a hide overlooking the River and new ponds we are developing.
Yesterday wearing my Children’s Centre hat I went to a consultation on how Gloucestershire want to re-organise their Centres. At the end of the day the it is the impact of cuts in public expenditure and the withering away of services. It is disgusting how Google got away with paying minimal tax while H.M. government is going to appeal about a disabled grandfather and his very dependent grandson being the ruling allowing them not to pay the iniquitous “Bedroom Tax”. I feel this government seems determined to dismantle things that support those not so well off like the NHS which I always thought was what made this country great! Rant over!