The good, the sad….

April 14, 2010

 ………..and the lovely. Sunbird House is finished and looks fabulous!! It’s been a long journey with lots of ups and downs but we have done it.  Thanks to lots of hard work and patience from quite a few people particuarly David. So that’s the good……..the sad is that we are now having to sell Sunbird House as Rich and I part company. It is up for sale in The Gambia so if you are interested get in touch.

If in the meantime you fancy a lovely place to stay in The Gambia then we are renting out whilst we find a buyer. We have always had a great time staying in this area of The Gambia and will continue to visit as we have many friends there. 


The Universe will provide

January 22, 2010

On 7th Jan Sarah and I escaped the sub zero temperatures for some much needed r & r in sunny Gambia. Of course I also wanted to see how the house was progressing. After a promising start we have had a number of set backs, the latest is that our builder Paul recently suffered a stroke. He is now back in Holland and we wish him a speedy recovery. This left us with a dilemma – where to find another builder to finish the house? After an inspection of the remaining work with David it became apparent that what we needed most was a carpenter.
Now on the flight out to The Gambia, involving a coach ride to Stanstead, a lack of plane de-icer, a lost hat and much queuing, I sat next to the lovely Janette. In the window seat was a newly acquired friend of hers called Julian. Janette and I exchanged contact details but I knew I would struggle to get up to see her as we were only out there for a week. However whilst I was enjoying massage (I know hard life) Janette and Jules turned up with Colin and little Alex. Not only was it great to see them but it turns out that Jules has a carpentry business with the talented Papamodou. So work resumes and will be completed in the next few weeks!
The Universe truely does provide!!!!!!
Jules & Papamodou


August 26, 2009

We met our good friends Phil and Becky on our first trip to The Gambia at Footsteps Ecolodge and manged to hook up with them again earlier this year – in The Gambia! What we failed to do so far is meet them in England even though they are only a few hours away. The good news is that Phil has just proposed to Becky who accepted – congratulations to you both.

Phil is a keen (and rather good) photographer and has kindly sent through some fantastic photos of Beautiful Sunbirds that we can use for promoting Sunbird House. I have added a couple below – what do you think? And talking about Sunbird House take a look at the photo below…. not bad eh? Nearly there now! 

Sunbird House getting a lick of paint

Sunbird House getting a lick of paint

  Beautiful Sunbird - male

Beautiful Sunbird - male

Got to be there

June 28, 2009

David has left the sunny climes of West Africa for the sunny climes in England and we have just spent a relaxing weekend on our boat. As to the progress on the build ………with David over here and the fickle nature of web access in The Gambia it has  been difficult to get the latest photos emailed across. Finally, after several weeks and many helping hands, we got to see what is happening. You cannot fail to be impressed by the compost toilet……..might be a problem for those with vertigo! Most of the tiling is complete including the kitchen so only a few more weeks and we could see the job completed.  Work in the garden progresses a pace trying to get fruit trees planted before the rainy season starts (anytime now).  Before David returns we will be sorting out the details for the solar, furnishings and when Sunbird House will be ready for letting. We can’t wait and you have just got to be there!


 David at the helm
compost toilet

compost toilet







Goodbye Lamin

March 31, 2009

We had some very very sad news today. Lamin Lowe (our Gambian builder) passed away this morning.  He was a lovely man and our heart goes out to his family. Lamin did have a wife, from Senegal, and baby girl they both died some time ago. The photo below shows all the children in Lamin’s family who live in his mothers compound.  They are clutching soft toys that my Godson Toby sent over with us in February.


Giant in the Garden

March 15, 2009

Omar starts work in our garden soon and boy does it need it! We sponsor Omar’s son to go to school so you might of heard his name before. Omar is a cleaner at Footsteps and is a really keen gardener with great plans for our plot. He is also very very tall as you can see from the photos of him in his garden below.

Omar with seedlings potted in juice cartons

Omar with seedlings potted in juice cartons

Omar 2

with Mango trees

Rich & Omar discuss gardening tips

Rich & Omar swop gardening tips

The roof is on!

March 2, 2009

We have just returned from a great trip to see the build in action. The first photo shows the roof when we arrived and the second when we left. You can see from the photo that the roof is finished and looks fantastic. 

After a long delay (4 months) waiting for the wood for the roof to arrive, coupled with Lamin (the builder) being very unwell and Paul (the roofer) suffering with maleria, we are now back on track.  The new estimate is 3-4 months to completion and we can’t wait.

Sometimes when we are back in UK I wonder whether we are doing the right thing building a house in The Gambia but every time we visit I realise how much I love it there. More posts from The Gambia coming soon.

Roof 1


Ousman and Samba

Ousman and Samba (working on roof with Paul)

What price life?

February 2, 2009

In December 2008 The Independent reported that there were 15 cases of malaria in the UK in the previous 2 months following visits to The Gambia. In all these cases the tourists didn’t take antimalarial drugs. Perhaps they thought it was worth the risk? May be they didn’t realise it was necessary? Perhaps they had not heard that  Malaria kills over 1 million people a year with around 20 deaths in the UK after holidaying or visiting relatives abroad? Or may be they just didn’t want to pay for it and who can blame them. After searching for, and booking,  reasonably priced flights to Gambia  I turned my attention to the need for antimalarial drugs. You need a prescription to get them so I contacted the doctors and managed, with much sucking of teeth, to get an appointment two days before we go. The recommended drug (malarone) will cost in the region of £50 -£ 70 per person for 2 weeks. It is tempting not to bother particularly as there are very few mosquitoes around Sunbird House. But then it only takes one. Of course we will cover up in the evenings and use a DEET based repellent to prevent being bitten in the first place but we will also be taking the antimalarial drugs – its just not worth the risk!

In ten days we will be in sunny Gambia and able to post about progress. Hurrah.


December 16, 2008

Progress has been really slow on Sunbird House. It has been the rainest summer for the last 30 years making it difficult to get the roofing materials on site. Finally the roof timbers got to Brikama to be cut then last week Eid al-Adha celebrations brought work to a brief halt. Eid al-Adha is a three day Muslim ‘Festival of Sacrifice’ locally called Tabaski . Work resumes and I have been promised the rest of the build will fly up!

At this time of year Christmas festivities begin and many of us celebrate with plentiful pressies and over indulgence. This year instead of  sending cards to work colleagues, or giving the usual tokens to my team, I have donated to Opera Africa. I met Janice from Opera Africa at Footsteps on our first stay in the Gambia and the work of her charity seemed to be very effective. It also turned out that she lived in Hampshire and her husband has worked with a couple of my friends – small world. Giving to Opera Africa seems very fitting- visit for more information.

Happy festive season.

Apples and avocados

October 21, 2008

The build is progressing slowly and the internet has been down so I don’t have any photos of the roof going on our mansion to share with you. Towards the end of September the builders were running out of energy in the afternoon due to lack of food (it was Ramadan) so David gave them all some time off. Then they had a few days off to celebrate Eid. Since then there has been yet more rain making it difficult to get the roofing materials in. Hopefully things will get back on track as the weather is cooling and becoming dryer.

We have not yet started planning the garden in any detail but Omar Jassey is growing a few plants for us. There is a huge range of fruiting trees that we will be looking to grow such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, banana and avocado. I think David said that this is the first year they have managed to get fruit (technically a seed, I think) on the avocado tree. On another fruity note Happy Apple Day – go to for more info.