Category Archives: Midwifery

Day Three Independence Day

Today is Independence Day! For Kyrgyzstan. Lots of celebrations in Bishkek but first, time to get the family organised. And no rush so a bit of a lie in. The family are always careful to keep quiet and not disturb us until we wake. Which is generous as our bedroom is between them and the bathroom!

We had a leisurely breakfast and then into Bishkek. Umar elects to stay home alone to carry out a number of chores such as cutting up and laying out  any fruit ready from the garden. Today it is apples.

Bishkek is still not frightfully busy although there is lot of pomp and ceremony. We head for the main square when there is a concert ongoing. Young and old are singing or dancing. And there are lots of national costumes round about.

After a while we move on in pursuit of other celebrations firstly looking for sports demos  but this is not happening where advertised so we move on for some topiary. The children have great fun climbing around and posing on the various animals . Next to this is a small play park with the rides made out of varnished wood. 

Aina needs to fetch her work laptop. She works for the UN. So we go to a coffee shop for my first cup of coffee since we arrived in the country and a slice of strudel. Altynai has stayed with us and despite not remembering any English we manage to communicate. Strawberry ice cream! She and Ian then rebond over a game of hide and seek around the coffee shop followed by stories. The people here are very child friendly.  Following a walk in one of the lovely parks, we go to the opening of a new kindergarten, a new venture for one of Aine’s friends. A lovely place where they intend to teach English and this is demonstrated by the posters with fruits for example which have the names in three languages, Kyrgyz, Russian and English. We are invited to join them in tea, compote and nibbles. I liked the pumpkin samosas. Time then to go home for a real treat. 

Sultan has decided to cook Plov a kind of pilaff with rice, lamb, yellow carrots, onions and cumin. This takes awhile to cook but it is absolutely delicious. This is accompanied by tomato, bread and chilli water! Melon and watermelon  for pudding, both really delicious. But then they are fresh. Sultan told us about men’s club meetings when they make and eat Plov together although nowadays women come sometimes. 

Day One Kyrgyzstan

We are in Kyrgyzstan! We were welcomed at 5.30 local time by a very alert Aina, for such a time. There were some volunteers from the Games there also waiting for competitors from USA and Sri Lanka. There was a little bit of a wait as we went through passport control but all very smooth after that. We got talking to an American who was returning to Kyrgyzstan to record a VLOG of the Games. He spent two years here previously volunteering in an orphanage. I have forgotten the name of the blog now but will look it up later.

Out into a tiny and chaotic car park, we headed home.  The airport is an hour from Bishkek along a straight and dusty road.

We were welcomed into a lovely warm house with three living rooms, kitchen and bedroom. We were to sleep in the lounge on the floor, in a bed built up on various layers of thick padding. After a breakfast of fried eggs and tea, we were left to sleep whilst Aina went to work. We slept for four hours quite successfully then got up and showered and dressed and I had a wander round a large back garden. Fruit trees and bushes, roses, grapes, a sheepskin drying on the ground, apples drying in the sun, a cellar with preserves, swings and lots of vegetation.

Aina came home at 2 with Altynai and Umar. Amir, who we had met in the morning,  and who was not at all sure of these strange looking people, was at nursery where he goes everyday. First we went to Faisa’s for lunch. Noodle soup for me, one with rice for Ian, but more a meal than a soup, heaped up with meat, vegetables and with a spicey taste. This was washed down with Compote which is a fruit juice made from the flavours of dried fruits. The fruits are boiled up with the dried fruit, then the fruits are removed and eaten leaving the delicious juices. Four soups, compote and a bread came to 800SOM or £9.

We then went for a wander round the city. We saw government buildings, big squares full of flower displays, ice cream vendors on every street corner, and not a particularly busy place.

Very pretty though with several large very green parks, with table tennis, men playing chess, children’s parks etc. We went for a ride on the Kyrgyz eye and generally admired the city centre.


We then went to fetch Amir from nursery, a well set up busy unit, where Amir is obviously quite happy.

Home now for a rest – Aina has been up since 04.30 and has done a full day’s work as well as show us round. We were entertained by Amir bombing around on a little sit on toy, getting into everything he could reach. There had been some discussion about eating in, eating out, but in the end Aina’s sister Nellie rang to say she had booked a table so we all went out.

We went to a fabulous restaurant in the middle of town, one of a string of such restaurants, Navat. Beautifully decorated in the Kyrgyz way, we sat in an enclosed alcove. A very cheap but wide ranging choice of meals and we encouraged Aina to choose local meals.

We started with a salad dish, and then Ian had lamb and potatoes whilst I had dumplings along with the two sisters. These were difficult to eat until Nellie told me that Kyrgyz people eat with their fingers, much more sensible with these slippery morsels. To drink we had tea, which was a mint and fruit tea, which Ian tried, liked and joined the rest of in drinking. We also had compote for the wee ones.

Whilst all this was going on a traditional band played music and the children danced. At one point the waitresses performed the typical Kyrgyz dance, and again the children joined in.

Time for home then with very sleepy children. Altynai fell asleep in the car. Amir was a bit of a handful as he was tired too and kept trying to climb in the front of the car, but Umar keep a hold of him. No children’s seats, or seatbelts in the back of this car.

Once home Aina made up our bed and put the children in bed, in that order as older people are cared for first, and we met and had a great chat with Sultan.

Another blog from Richard

Meeting Donald Trump
After my last trip to the US, I shared my views on the presidential election. Having just completed another visit to Boston, Dallas and Miami, I wanted to share a previous encounter I had with Donald Trump.

Some years ago, Mr Trump invited me to lunch for a one-to-one meeting at his apartment in Manhattan. We had not met before and I accepted. Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.

He didn’t speak about anything else and I found it very bizarre. I told him I didn’t think it was the best way of spending his life. I said it was going to eat him up, and do more damage to him than them. There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life. (Hopefully my advice didn’t lead to him running for President!)
I was baffled why he had invited me to lunch solely to tell me this. For a moment, I even wondered if he was going to ask me for financial help. If he had, I would have become the sixth person on his list!

I left the lunch feeling disturbed and saddened by what I’d heard. There are a lot of frightening things about this election; not least that policy has been pushed so far down the agenda. What concerns me most, based upon my personal experiences with Donald Trump, is his vindictive streak, which could be so dangerous if he got into the White House. For somebody who is running to be the leader of the free world to be so wrapped up in himself, rather than concerned with global issues, is very worrying.

Later, I remember contrasting the lunch with a one-to-one lunch I shared with Hillary Clinton. Here we talked about education reform, the war on drugs, women’s rights, conflicts around the globe and the death penalty. She was a good listener as well as an eloquent speaker. As she understands well, the President of the United States needs to understand and be engaged with wider world issues, rather than be consumed by petty personal quarrels.

Found this in Richard Branson’s blog

One of his favourite quotes from Hunter S. Thompson: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Women’s March

With the changes in midwifery legislation (see later) and the intention of midwives to march as a block with the Women of the world, there has been so much posted on social media. One funny side of this has been  the posters. This one I love


And then there is this one