Tues 14 Oct 2008 - SKWID training - part II or 'Blame the Lariam'

Sorry for keeping you all on the edge of your seats for so long - but it's been a busy couple of weeks..

So to update you - I did get to SKWID ... eventually, having had to re-schedule my flight as the passport didn't arrive in time. After my harassing the VSO Travel Unit - their quick investigation with Royal Mail got to the bottom of it. When asked to confirm the delivery address for the passport, I had given VSO my street address and my father's postcode. How was I so stupid? Two options to answer that question: (a) I'm simply stupid (b) Lariam - known to be a mind altering drug. Although I have been pretty blissfully free of the psychotic side-effects Lariam can produce, I hate to think that I am simply that dumb. So I blame the Lariam.
As a result of my stupidity a.k.a. Lariam, I did have an unexpected free morning in London which I used to complete my 'PrintWeek Profile' (not coming soon to a newsstand near you) and roped neighbour, friend and photographer Scottie into a suitable picture to accompany the article, should they decide to print it. Once fired off to the editor of that august magazine, I ran to catch my re-scheduled flight. I love London City Airport! From walking out of my front door at RHP to sitting in the departure lounge, having checked in my luggage - 35 minutes. Where else in the world can you do that?

PrintWeek Profile picture By Scott Kohlhagen
Once in Holland, my extravagance at having to re-book my flight stayed with me guiltily as I sat in the €50 taxi from Eindhoven to Die Kleine Aarde (the small earth) in Boxtel, turning into frustration as the driver's steadfast refusal to follow VSO's helpful written instructions in favour of his two, confused sat navs added an extra €10 to the fare... However as I arrived, the SKWID team was having a fine dinner and I was able to participate in both that and the evening training session.

Once there - the training was (as usual) invaluable. Our cultural mix (trainers and 2 delegates from the UK, 5 delegates from Holland) gave us a greater appreciation of the challenges you would face... Starting with the the mayonnaise v. ketchup with chips debate.. However in the role plays we struggled equally to garner information effectively from 'Nicky Villager', choosing direct interrogation rather than good old fashioned conversation, and had varying degrees of success persuading tight-fisted 'Nicky Trustee' to allow colleagues to attend the British Council's participation workshop. I learnt a great deal although it became clear to me that my former corporate career would have also benefited from a bit more training on facilitation, participation and conflict resolution....
SKWID Group Photo, Boxtel NL

With SKWID completed in just three days - the UK contingent took a day out to sample Amsterdam and I planned to spend the day with my good IMD friend Reshmi who's based there, only to be partially foiled by Holland's railway engineering work necessitating a bus replacement service. And you thought it was only the UK! A 1.5 hour journey morphed into 3 hours giving me precious few moments to spend with Reshmi however enough to catch up, have a quick lunch and take a picture (expected in my Inbox any day now..!) in the pouring rain.
Once back it was up to Keswick in the Lakes with my father where the breathaking scenery was challenged by the wonders of the 'Cumberland Pencil Museum', and Wordsworth's house 'Dove Cottage' where he was living when he wrote "I wondered lonely as a cloud".... However the highlight was my father's 24 year old monster Volvo attacking the gradient and 1:3 hairpin bends of the Hardknott Pass like it was straight off the assembly line.

And straight after coming back from the Lakes, Jared and I were off to Beccles to visit Sian and Colin (Sian of the wellington boots of the previous post) for some real Suffolk fish and chips. And so it came to pass in the Bear and Bells in Beccles, we toasted the 'this time next week I'll be on a plane to Abuja' and it all hit home.

The suitcase is sitting on the bed, with the helmet inside, preparing to be re-packed three times as I struggle to fit the contents into both it and the luggage allowance. I have my wind-up radio, four varieties of Schwarz spices (on special at Sainsburys...) and, for the first time, nerves. No more comfy beds, simple travel, electricity when you want it and food how you like it. However so much more that I can't wait to experience. So where are the nerves coming from....? Well... I blame the Lariam...

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