Sunday, December 27, 2009

Off to Dubai

We're heading to Dubai for a holiday - first time really staying there instead of just transiting. Photos soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stibbs goes to Colombia

I am enjoying this funny and interesting friend's funny and interesting blog about his funny and interesting new life in Colombia: Stibbs goes to Colombia

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're OK.

There was an explosion in Kabul today - a bad one - but we were nowhere near it and we're fine.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Map of 'Hawthornthwaite'

My Dad has obtained this 1800 Ordnance Survey map containing the Haythornthwaite (then 'Hawthornthwaite') family origins in Lancashire - the village of 'Hawthornthwaite', as well as 'Hawthornthwaite Fell [an area of uncultivated high ground used as common grazing]' and 'Haythornthwaite Fell Top'.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dudhsagar Waterfall, 2009

While in Goa we hired a car and had a lovely day at the Dudhsagar Waterfalls - second highest in India. I expect they're the only waterfalls in the world that are crossed by a train. The photo above shows the configuration better than the ones we took when a train actually crossed the bridge.

Photos here

I have never felt cleaner than when I swam under the falls. The monkeys were real monkeys though.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We had a marvelous holiday in Goa in October. Here are photos from our day trip (by scooter) from Manga Beach to Tirakol Fort.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Updated Contries I've Visited web page

I have finally updated my "Countries I have visited (in chronological order)" web page, now with 50 countries (newest = Norway) plus nine more in which I did not spend a motionless night.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Left to right: Me, Sharky, and our security officer Staale Johansen

We don't actually have to wear our body armor all the time but apart from that this shows a bit of the way we live right now. (We were moved to the UNOCA compound after the attack on a UN guesthouse last month.) The buildings on the left is our World Health Organization home. Staale is a wonderful combination of protective and understanding. We'll miss him but we know he's done more than his share.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It has been AGES since I blogged anything except "Sharky and I are OK" after the various explosions and attacks here in Kabul. I have been so busy with work and moving that tonight seems like my first chance to really relax.

Sharky and I have now moved into our sixth home together - while we still have ten days until two years from the date we first set eyes on each other. The most recent move was for two reasons related to the attack on a Kabul guest house on October 28.

Actually we didn't know about it until the day and then only because I was nosily reading somebody's papers through between the seats in front of us on our flight home from India. The severity only began to set in when we found we had to wait a few hours at the airport before the UN gave permission for a car to collect us. Then we learned that there had been a terrible complex attack and that a colleague of one of our housemates had been killed (leaving three children). The entire UN population of Kabul went on alert with rumors of suspicious surveillance. A few days later Sharky saw a Corolla full of five men staring at our gate and then we had a visitor ask if we had any vacancies for an NGO that he couldn't name. We reported these incidents and the UN Department of Safety and Security advised everybody in our house to move. While we were still making preparations we learned that most guest houses in Kabul - including ours - were suddenly about to lose their UNDSS security approval so we had no choice. We spent two more days there (alone) and then moved to the large and heavily protected UNOCA compound where I work. This suddenly meant that I can enjoy a safe 500m walk to work instead of an uncomfortably and theoretically two hours a day in an armored Land Cruiser. Sharky, however, now faces the long ride whenever she wants to go into town.

I'm going to try to blog more often.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sharky and I are fine

Sharky and I are fine. We just flew into Kabul from India and did not know about yesterday's attacks on UN staff, but now we know a friend's friend was killed. More soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

No bomb today

Chicken Street, Kabul.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sharky and I are fine

This is getting to be too much of a habit. There was another big bomb in Kabul this morning with rumors of ten dead. Sharky and I are safe and sound.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My colleagues

Here is the team I work with at the World Health Organization in Afghanistan. (L-R) Dr Asadullah Taqdeer, Mr Patrick Ulrich, Dr Humaira, Ms Shabnam Waleh, and me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another bloody bomb - we're OK

There was another horrible bomb attack today. I didn't hear this one but I was right there earlier in the day.

Sharky and I are fine.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

re-post: My mother in law

I'm re-posting this picture of me and my beloved mother in law because somehow a Japanese porn site keeps posting comments to the earlier version.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


All rumors to the effect that Vikings didn't wear horned helmets are hereby proven wrong.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Explosion on Jalalabad Road

There was another explosion near my office just now. Sharky and I are fine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bomb in Kabul

There was a big explosion this morning but Sharky and I are not hurt.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Polio fury

Afghanistan held National Immunization Days in January and March targeted 7.5 million children under 5 years of age for protection against various diseases including Polio. Although normal winter conditions blocked access to many districts with 702,000 children most of these were or will be protected later. Monitoring confirms that in the vast majority of covered districts the target of 95% coverage was achieved. Although Afghanistan is one of only four countries with significant polio problems, surveillance and treatment is generally well established. HOWEVER, the Taliban blocked access to districts with 226,000 eligible children. Nearly a quarter of a million Afghan children are denied access to routine polio protection by these fundamentalists.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Refurbished Reflections

This is an example was my BFA final project (Concordia University, 2000). I photographed shops with a view camera through their windows. Every image has at least a small reflection of the exterior. I've recently done some reprocessing and the entire exhibition is here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

World Health Organization

I've joined the World Health Organization. I am the 'Information Officer' for the Health Cluster, which brings health NGOs working in Afghanistan and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health together. (I think.)

It's STILL not the type of management position I'm trying to return to but it looks interesting.

As the Presidential and Provincial Council elections approach we're bracing for threatened 'complex attacks' on our compound. This means that a first vehicle born suicide bomb might smash the compound entrance and then other attackers will run in shooting before detonating their suicide vests. Our building is within a big (and now targeted) compound but we're adding a thick steel front door and windows will be bricked over. Yesterday we were told that when we hear the initial bomb (and apparently we "WILL hear it" - the Taliban won't come with less than 500Kg of explosives) we should lock our door and hide under our desks. Apparently there will be no time to rush to the bunker.

Also related to the election, we are advocating for the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan to reverse its decision to use health facilities (and schools) for polling. We are concerned that politicizing health facilities jeopardizes their neutrality and the perception and reality that they are safe places. Furthermore, if there is violence on election day the health facilities must be available, not involved.

In between jobs

I spent part of my valuable free time between jobs visiting Puli Khumri in Baghlan province.

I'd had a bad time at my previous job and I hoped that visiting one of our actual projects would make me feel better about the fifteen months I'd devoted.

This is the Women's Garden wall Puli Khumri. The wall is great and the garden (which we did not develop) is lovely. The all-important donor plaque is deteriorating which is deliciously ironic. We claimed that this project generated over 100,000 (half the town's population) of our 129,000 female beneficiaries in our second year.

(In this picture I'm wearing a genuine Schuh's Saloon T-shirt.)


I terminated at ARD on June 20 to our mutual relief. I hope I'll never work for another for-profit organization in a developing country again.

Monday, June 1, 2009

An amazing encounter

(left to right: Ginny Haythornthwaite, me, Sharky)

Ms S and I went to a party last week and had an amazing encounter: we ran into a Ginny Haythornthwaite! She's the first non-related (as far as we know) Haythornthwaite I've ever (knowingly) met (and I'm her first too). She says her family say I look like a real Haythornthwaite in this photo, so perhaps I really wasn't adopted! She looks the real thing to me too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Laily can walk!

My beloved niece Laily is walking! Here's documentation:

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Selection A"

I recently put some of my favorite Afghan photos here on my website.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One last honeymoon picture

Here are the four of us (left to right: Anjelika, Sharky, Tom and Fernando) at the Terracotta Warriors at Xi'an

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We are fine

Nasty stuff going on here in Kabul today but Sharky and I are fine.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


"District level training under the subject of Planning is planned for district authorities (heads of districts’ line departments) from seven Hirat districts, which have not been given trainings by LG trainers."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Colaba bazaar, Mumbai, India

Friday, January 2, 2009

Total pledges for my dismal weight loss challenge were $3.38 per 100g, so my loss of 1.8Kg means we raised just $60.75. Delightfully, however, donor number seven pledged an additional flat $20, bringing us to $80.75. I'm going to top this all up to $100. The leading donor was my Dad, and I'll discuss which Afghan charity he'd like us to support. I'll e-mail each donor to discuss details.