Career Breaks

Who thinks of taking a career break?

Bean and I have been thinking recently about the kind of people who work in “City” jobs. I did my first degree at the University of Durham in the UK, whilst I was there, large, corporate companies appeared to use it as a recruitment ground: I lose count of the amount of invitations to “Champagne and Canapes with PriceWaterHouseCoopers” or “Dinner and Dancing at Deloitte’s Pleasure” invitations I received in my college pigeon hole. It sounds slightly archaic, but that’s how it was.

Now, it appears that an organisation called Escape the City founded by two of my contemporaries from Durham is assisting my old class-mates who were lured in by the promises of smoked salmon blinis and a glass of free bubbly (understandable on a student budget.. especially after the prices charged by the Doxbridge 3) to “escape” from this corporate rat race, and heart-attack-at-35 inducing lifestyles that people seem to fall into, apparently, erroneously.

Getting back to the point. At risk of sounding rather smug *grins* I was never seduced by the promises of gold plated office chairs. I was, however, entirely lured into the travelling trap, resultant lack of cash, and fell into my current lifestyle (which, actually, I believe is infinitely preferably to an office job in London, cash aside). As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, we are planning on expanding the opportunities MozVolunteers offer. In addition to the usual student/young person gap year-focused project participation, we are opening up to the idea of family volunteering holidays, ethical house parties (coming up… watch this space!) and of course the afore mentioned *career break*.

We are in need of skilled professionals, to come and help us with more than the basics. The career break “package” would of course include the contact with communities, management of specific aspects of our organisation, such as website management, teaching opportunities for specialists, health promotion opportunities for health specialists, management, all within the beautiful setting of our organisation, St Lucia Estuary (hippos and all) Monzi (living in an over-enthused farmhouse for the duration of your stay is a price you may have to pay..!) and the Indian Ocean. This is an opportunity for these highly professional individuals who wish to experience life out of the office to come and explore their passions, learn, teach, live, be outdoors, farm, eat fresh fruit straight off the tree (sometimes even lands straight on your bed if you’re lucky), camp out under the stars, eat by a fire, braai, love fresh, local food, search and explore and relax. All whilst sharing these skills with us. We need them.

We can’t promise blinis (braai and poitje?), French champagne (JC Le Roux do? South Africa does have some phenominal reds though…visit ) smoked salmon (aha. Smoked snoek. Much better AND fresh from the boat), gold plated office chair (umm antique wooden leather affair) or limo transport (a ride on the back of a battered toyota bakkie will have to suffice). What we can promise is good food, great friendships, beautiful places, warm, clear water of the Indian Ocean and wonderful wine, helping, learning, teaching and experiencing.

Come on, have I persuaded you yet? Take a career break and join MozVolunteers email alex@movzolunteers.com and really come and experience what you’re missing.

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Back to the bush, and bright skies beyond

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As you can see from the slightly blurry snap above, we now have baby Angoras.

Bean woke up on Friday to Princess and Fatty each in triplicate, both having given birth overnight to boy/girl twins each.  Extreme “maaaaaa-ing” woke Bean at 4am, in his sleepy state, he realised that perhaps the noise was a little louder, more persistent and of a higher pitch than the meeps and bleats we were used to, he rushed out to the goat paddock, and found Fatty with her babies in the leaves under a Litchee tree (babies now named Lychee and Litchee, obviously) and Princess snuggled in a bundle of hay with hers (yet to be named… ideas please?).  We’re now just waiting on the next 8 birthing mothers to start popping the little ones out, so hopefully by the end of the season, our herd will have increased exponentially in size.

Unfortunately, the British bird has deserted the bush, for the cold muddy island also known as the UK.  Although back on “home” ground, the office environment, lack of sunshine and continuous drizzle is not conducive to a chirpy bird.  British bird is very much looking forward to getting back to the bush, meeting the new additions to the herd and enjoying the onset of summer, as today is indeed South Africa’s official “first day of spring” (bringing with it apparently: blue skies, a puff or two of wind, thirty plus temperatures, baby goats, an absence of water in Monzi’s antiquated thirst-quenching system, eskom on load shedding – no power and lettuce in the garden.  What a mix).

Full blog post to follow soon – just thought an update on the Angora situation would be welcomed 🙂

baby time!

I mentioned briefly the Angoras in a previous post.  However, I definitely did not do full justice to our 10 beautiful ladies, and one equally handsome gentleman (previously two…) angora goats with a single mention in a paragraph detailing all our animals (domestic and well.. not quite yet domesticated included!).

Bean and I were temporarily banished to our neighbouring country of Swaziland a few months ago (primarily because HA was taking too long to renew my legal existence as a british bird in the bush and my previous permit had expired… instead of offering me a regular extension, we were met with the typical “angaze” * I don’t know* told to hop across the nearest border, and given a highly official looking stamped piece of paper to hand in on return).  Anyway, during this visit, we stayed at the stunningly beautiful Mlilwane wildlife reserve, and on exploring the Malkerns Meander one rainy afternoon, we stumbled upon a small shop selling warm, inviting, soft, fluffy, stunning mohair blankets.  On further investigation, we identified (super-sleuths that we are) that the origin of the beautiful fluffy rugs we were so taken with was a women’s employment project based in a warehouse in a neighbouring village.

After a visit to the project HQ, numerous stops at various shops selling more of these mesmerising products (mmm warm and fluffy on a cold winter’s day in Swaziland….) we stopped for a pit stop at the equally mentionable Malandela’s restaurant (home of “house on fire” *or washa umkhuku* if you prefer the swazi version [which means wash my chicken… ?!!? don’t ask me!]) for some light relief from frozen fingers with a tempting bowl of soup, a glass of red wine and a table next to a warm fire.  After a couple  of additional glasses of wine, the foundations of our Angora project were laid.

On return to South Africa, we located first an electric fencing supplier (boring), poles (equally boring) stables (somewhere in the previously overgrown jungle that was our garden) and finally, ten beautiful female angora goats (well, on purchase, perhaps not quite so beautiful, more tired, travel wearied and hungry!).

After a rather interesting delivery episode, involving ten very noisy ladies chattering at the tops of their voices in the back of a bakkie (open backed truck, small), said bakkie getting stuck (whilst still containing said ladies) on numerous occasions, in holes better described as craters that seemed to appear from nowhere in our newly formed paddock of phenomenally long grass and some quite ungainly pushing and shoving the girls were installed in their new home, munching on grass and oranges and seeming, well, to absolute amateur farmers quite happy all things considered.

The next stage was clearly the naming process, as their characters became more pronounced they all quickly acquired the most ridiculous goat names under the sun: Fatty (shame), Friendly (pretty self-explanatory), Princess (beautiful and spoilt), Pretty (pretty face), Sunflower (ummm), Moonflower (previously sunflower’s twin), Steel Wool (fluff of a similar consistency), Dopey (totally out of it most of the time), Ginny (from Chinny, had a lot of fluff on her chin) and Fluffy (also self-explanatory, usually looks like a messy version of an ET styled goat).

Since then, we acquired a male of the species “Grandad” (in the back of the small car), who quickly began his duty, counting his blessings at being launched into such a role as to service ten such stunning ladies, a second male “Seven Fifty” (what he cost) who wasn’t quite as successful until the death of Grandad after his duty had been quickly (and hopefully successfully) performed, * note – we didn’t play a part in Grandad’s demise, we knew when we bought him that he was on his “last legs” so to speak, and let him live out his final months in style.

So, now we get to today, around 5 months down the line, left with 10 stunning girls and 1 curly male, and so far Princess is showing signs of being pregnant with twins, Fatty and Steel Wool have enlarged udders, and are showing signs of unusual behaviour (all clear indicators that kidding is near) and the others are getting fatter and fatter (can’t always tell who is fatty on some days now…!)

Hopefully, within a few weeks we’ll have doubled the herd… I’ll keep you posted!

Then, the next stage is to figure out how to shear them, spin the fluff, weave the wool… but lets take baby steps here, fingers crossed for safe kidding!

So, in the end, this is the first stage of a highly experimental women’s project: Bean and myself have started to understand a full season of progress with the Angoras, we will start to train women from Scom to care for the goats, weave and spin and make (hopefully) the same beautiful blankets that so took our fancy on our trip across the border.  Eventually, to be provided with the “micro loan” of their own small breeding herd to expand as they wish…….Wish us luck!