The things you see when you have a day off.

Today was a much needed rest day. Lillian is a devout Christian and to give her support I have gone to church with her several times during this adventure. Normally it has been Morning Mass at her Catholic Church. These services were in Lugandan so made no sense to me but the singing has been pretty uplifting. Strange words in a way as I have no belief in any religion. Today we visited an Anglican Church for a ‘youth service’. There was a hundred or more school children in the congregation and twenty or so adults. The pastor and a colleague were in full song with the children as we entered. Hymn after hymn they went on. There were pauses for readings and prayers but the service was alive with song and an obvious feeling of joy. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.

After church we went to a plant nursery to buy some shrubs so that Lillian can create a garden feature at home.

We bought a total of nine shrubs and paid 45,0000 Ugandan Shillings, or £9. As Lillian started taking these home in loads on a boda boda motorbike taxi I started walking home looking for things of interest for posting on the blog. Some of these will give you, the blog readers, a little bit of an insight into life in Uganda. Others will include some photos of the Crested Crown that had previously been evasive. You, like me may be surprised by their wingspan. Also, I saw an Ibis, I think pecking bugs from the face of a cud chewing cow.

The feel of Uganda will include a truck load of plantain or black banana. These form a major part of the staple diet. It is eaten as a savoury ‘filler’ for any meal in quite large portions.  Advertising of products is carried out in a flamboyant way. Rubbish is a major issue here when seen with Western eyes. Litter is found everywhere, usually in large quantities. Some of the poorest folk, including children can be seen picking through the rubbish collecting plastics, especially plastic bottles of which there is a surprisingly high number.

A major health risk is diesel fumes from poorly maintained, and often close to terminal failure engines. Thick black diesel exhaust is commonly seen pouring from all manner of vehicles. These also seem to be mainly overloaded, despite weighbridges being set up at permanent and temporary locations.

Secure metal gates are often found on properties where it can be afforded. These are often made along the roadside. 

I came across a giraffe and zebra alongside the main road.  These are concrete castings which seem popular.

I often see bizarre loads carried on motorbikes and cycles. One thing today was a sheet of steel carried on a cycle with two men struggling to push.

Tourit’s are a major source of income, and the related vehicles are easy to spot by their green colour and having ‘Tourist Transport’ or similar boldly painted signs. All in a days life!


Odds and ends day.

We crammed a lot of small tasks in today. Away from the work place we took three pieces of timber to the sawmill. We needed to get a decent finish on these pieces to use for the stools under construction. Two are one legged type made as a turning exercise and for Lillian to gain some basic woodwork construction experience. The third one is more conventional and has four legs and two stretchers for rigity.

The work today was also a mixed bag. Julius returned to us and turned his own one legged stool leg. He was intrigued by the idea. Apart from one near disaster with reducing the diameter too much in one area he did a really good job. He also helped with a few odd tasks. Lillian finished her second stretcher, demonstrating to her uncle, who is a carpenter. Cleaving and shave horse work were also demonstrated. I did a quick sample of a leg with squared sections that could take mortise and tenon joints. This could be potential work for Lillian in the future. Later in the day I made a turned door wedge for Lillian to see my approach. She then turned hers. She was tired by this time and struggled with the turning and then the shave horse work that goes with this task. No doubt she’ll do a good job next time.

One other task was cutting the stool seats to shape and size and boring the hole in each seat.

These were tested by Lillian’s brother Willy and myself. Once we back at home we all had a go, including Lillian’s mum who thought they were hilarious.

Julius, ‘our’ student.

Julius is in training with the two carpenters that helped enormously at the beginning of Project 3. He had come along when he was able to, and has proved to be a useful pair of hands.

Last week he had been shown how to use the shaving horse and produced a billet for the lathe.

We kept moist and today he had his introduction to pole-lathe turning. To give Lillian more experience at teaching she observed me as I went through the stages. Lillian was given the chance to join in with some of the tuition and to translate some of the details.

Julius quickly proved to be very capable on the lathe. He did struggle a little with the skew chisel, but those in the know will appreciate the challenges that the skew brings.

In a little over an hour he produced a decent tool handle for, perhaps a small chisel.

The photos are all about his first session on the lathe. One of the photos captures his intense concentration.

Today has been International Woman’s Day, and this was celebrated at Salama SHIELD Foundation. In the Community Hall there were a couple of hundred women in the audience. There were guest speakers, music and a great and happy atmosphere.

Near our work area a huge out door kitchen was busy preparing for all in attendance. These guys are great innovators and naturally resourceful.

When we left at 6.30pm there was a disco loudly bashing all manner of music. Naturally they didn’t play any of my preferred music, Pink Floyd.

Lillian’s first set of stool legs.

Yesterday I gave Lillian some guidance on chair and stool leg needs and designs. I showed her how to do a half size and half profile leg pattern using the High Wycombe pattern and my own personal pattern.

To offer an alternative I did a simple pattern with gentle swellings and hollows which was made up on the spur of the moment. We discussed the merits of each and then left her to develop some ideas. Her second design really appealed to her and was keen to make it. The resulting legs are shown in photos below. The leg photographed is her fourth one and is shown during roughing out, partly finished and completed with the other three legs in a typical ‘Lillian pose’. She loves to pose and is good at it. She’ll probably demand that I delete that detail. No chance Lillian.

As I said earlier these were her first attempt at making a set of matching legs.

I turned a slightly undersize billet to create a copy of her design. This guidance was based on my approach to making legs.

With the first leg she struggled to deal with the overall shaping techniques. She persevered and completed a most acceptable leg. With each successive leg the finish and accuracy improved. Her final leg took about half an hour to make from a pre-prepared billet.

I can’t easily express how proud I am of Lillian.

Whilst keeping an eye on Lillian’s progress I made a high chopping block for Lillian, something I’ve never done before. I’ll bore the leg holes tomorrow, and maybe create some legs too.

There two photos of some turned work, the paler item on right is one of Lillian’s stool legs freshly turned today. The darker item on the left was made about three weeks ago and has fully dried and I suspect has oxidised to show the figure much more clearly. Normally with this species the figure takes at least a week to show itself.

The species is known as Omusemba and according to one of Lillian’s friends who is taking an arboreal course at university the botanical name is Mirkamia Lukea. I should have checked this detail before making this post so I’m hoping she is right. I also hope she will be able to give botanical names to the trees featured in an earlier post.

Large diameters are tough to cleave with the fibres resisting to the bitter end. It cuts nicely with an axe and draw-knife. It turns very nicely and gives a really smooth finish.

Fauna and flora

So far I haven’t bumped into any lions or elephants roaming the streets of Lyantonde. Being so urban there is no sign of anything so exotic unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately. There are plenty of birds around, some are only seen in flight or at a distance. Two such examples are cranes, crested cranes I think, which are featured on the Ugandan flag. These usually appear as pairs, so presumably mating pairs. I’ve not been close enough to photograph any yet. Kites are often seen gliding overhead. Storks of some kind are common. There will be a photo uploaded with this post of a stork, and a hen on one of the councils rubbish piles picking through for food. The two goats in the photo are just as likely to eat from the pile. I saw a cow on the pile before taking the photo.

The blue / purple bird is a frequent visitor with its mate around our work area at Salama SHIELD Foundation. They appear black until the sunlight brings out the colours. I have heard a bird in the distance that has a peculiar call, more of a warbling hoot. Occasionally I catch sight of a tiny wren sized bird working it’s way through a hedge.

One other thing we see flying around are wasps, photo included. They are feared for their sting. We also see bees, like honey bees. Plenty of flies of various types and naturally mosquitoes, fortunately not so many to be a real problem.

Other photos included with this post are an even bigger bottle brush tree than included with an earlier post. One of the flowers is included. The bright yellow flower also grows on a tree. The little shrub is an aubergine / eggplant with ‘fruit’ about the size of a garden pea. These are a little on the bitter side but mixed with tomatoes and any other vegetables they are good to eat. Also good to eat are eggplants that are actually egg size and range from green to white, they are nice. A few days ago I saw the first purple aubergines here.