Sunday, November 26, 2006

podcast140 podcastpaul - grown up music for a grown up audience from independent producer Paul Nicholls

Download MP3 here podcastpaul podcast140

PodcastPaul 140 26th November 2006

Grown up music from grown up independent producer; Paul Nicholls in South West Brmingham, England.

Today I really wanted to pull the stops out and play some great tunes.

One for the ages - Patrick Hall
I'm so Happy - Bombskare
Invisible Boy - Jake Hook
Europa and the pirate twins Thomas Dolby
Mike's audio - Fishbowl Acoustic
Forget you - Slashed Seat Affair
SSA interview
Treat me right - Scotty Meyer Band

music from the podsafe music network, save SSA courtesy of SSA and Acoustic Fishbowl.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

...and the most amazing podsafe guitar solo video goes to....

....Paul Rose.

Thanks for directing me to the link mate - this is brilliant!

If you like great guitar music, I can heartily reccomend Paul. Look out for his music on the podsafe music network. Paul's albums are terrific and incredibly varied too. One of the great unsung and unsigned indie artsts in the UK today.

Love your stuff mate.

Monday, November 20, 2006

podcast139 roundup of podcastcon 2006

Download MP3 podcastpaul podcast 139 here

Roundup of podcastcon 2006, with featured music from:

Slashed Seat Affair (Ellie Myles)
Jimmy Golding
The Shakes

all music from podsafe music network.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

stealth disco at the podcast conference...

from the podcast conference - brilliant!

podcastcon 2006

this very unflattering pic of me has been nicked from Neil Ford.

I was having a bash on Tim's drums from the Shakes. What a cracking band - as were Slashed Seat Affair and Jimmy Golding.

The folks who attended were wonderful - thanks to the panels of folks - especially CC Chapman, what a top fella, our sponsors, and stall holders.

Loads to talk about, and even more pics on the web to follow.


phew...I need a lie down now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

podcast138 Final instalment from Swaziland - The way forward

Download the link (MP3) direct from here

The last instalment from Swaziland - how the project really is making a life changing difference

My attempts at bartering African style!

This show was so easy to put together. The wonderful people of Swaziland do it so well, in this episode you'll hear Mosu at Emafini, Pindela Dlamini in the market place and Kevin Ward, Director of Teen Challenge and Hawane Farm AIDS orphanage project.

Squeaky clean, but good tough challenging stuff from Kevin too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

it's very, very soon...

Podcastcon is just days away

Looks to be a great event, hope to see you there.


Friday, November 03, 2006

podcastpaul podcast 137 from Swaziland

Download the MP3 - podcastpaul 137 direct from here

My first podcast from this visit to Swaziland - clcick the link above to listen.


The cultural village
Don & David (Mongolesu)
The Swazi singers.
some amazing sound seeing stuff... keep your ears peeled for more possibly tomorrow / Saturday.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

swaziland - the culture and the children

Here's a picture of the Swazi dancers at the Cultural centre - you'll hear their amazing singing in a podcast tomorrow.

The culture here is so different to the west. You'll hear much more about this tomorrow, in the meantime - while the storms hold out from kicking the internet connection, I'll give you as many pictures as I can muster.

These are typical traditional 'homesteads' made from wattle daub / sticks and cowpat floors. These are lived in at the cultural centre and can be seen dotted around Swaziland, they're certainly still in use, particularly around the more rural areas.

There's a whole system of sleeping arrangements, the grandmoher is the matriachal leader whils the grandfather takes a leadership role. The girls sleep in one hut, the boys in another.

Men have no say and are considered children until they marry. The boys all sleep in one hut and this will include the unmarried men who are still considered children until they marry. These men have no say in the life of the homestead. Boys are considered to young to move to the boys hut until they are six - determined by whether they can touch their right ear with their right arm curled around the top of the head! Until they are six they sleep with mum and dad.

The fathers can take as many wives as he wishes, the cost is 17 cows.

The grandmother takes a huge role in decision making and acts as the one to resolve disputes. It seems unflattering to say, but the grandmother is known as 'The great elephant' essentially demonstrating her power in family life. There is a huge matriarchal society that still remains in Swaziland - the Queen mother is particularly important in governmental affairs and will guide the king, certainly until his 40th birthday, still retaining a key role in state affairs thereafter. It's easy to wonder how this society works if you don't understand it, but trust me, it does. Kids respect their elders, and their king.

The shanty that you see here is perhaps the more typical home you'll see in Swaziland, this will co-exist alongside the homesteads above and more modern buildings that are acually quite palacial. I can't undertsnad the way that abject poverty can live so closely with wealth, but it does.

I've seen so many kids without shoes, I'm already hardened to that, while others drive around in 4 x 4's. Transport here is very costly, people tend to walk everywhere as a result, and, as a result, there seems to be little obesity. A real lesson for our own kids.

Sue spent the day with 77 pre-school kids, many of these orphans or living with aging relatives from all over the place. The children speak little English, speaking the native Siswati tongue. Kids flock here because provision like this is so rare. This work desperately needs supporting, the resources are incredibly limited and Hawane Farm do this for no cost at all but simply act out of passion. It chokes me that these folks have so little yet offer so much. They desperately need support, not patronising.

We would have no idea how to work long term with the Swazi kids, we don't know or understand the culture, they do. They have limited room and even more limited resource. Look at this for resources:

This is the box of toys for the pre-schoolers. I'm sure more will come in, and possibly bought in. Please understand, I'm absolutely not patronising - Hawane is actually here, it's doing things, but provision is finite. Other projects are taking resources - such as the hospice, medication, education. No funding exists apart from the generosity of folks and the incredible self funding work the farm invests in. This place seems to be an amazing success, but they need help to run it.

When I think of what my kids have / have had I feel so priviliged and blessed. These beautiful kids deserve

the same.

Here are some of the children eating their porridge by the sandpit - you can see the gift shop logo just in the top right. Every part of the structure is used - the gift shop sells the most amazing curios, ceramics, paintings and suchlike - every rand raised to further the work. This is such an amazing cottage industry and is just an inspiration to see.

So why blog this? Why bother coming out here, what;s the point?

There's a huge point actually. The internet is an awesome source of citizen journalism. I'm literally teary eyed as I'm typing this. WE CAN make a difference. This isn't rhetoric. These kids aren't commodities, they're kids. They're just as precious as our kids back home, in fact, probably moreso, some of these poor mites have no mom, dad, or family - many of these tiny lives have been ravished by the blight of AIDS. They need feeding, stimulating, and most of all, love. The amazing thing is that they're getting it. Right here.

This picture is so precious to me - it represents the trip out last year and the £7,500 raised to build a kids home - 16 more kids can be moved in and cared for as soon as the home is finished. That's why this is so important. What an immediate, incredible and immotive difference the project is doing - hampered only by funds. I feel as though I need to shout this from every roof top as I feel so passionate about it, and, thank God, I can through the use of blogging and podcasting. You have to see this work to believe it, i's so humbling and lifechanging to see this. You really see things in perspective when you're here.

Yet another building - the hospice has just been finished and will sadly be in use - Emma, a nurse from Weston Super-Mare works here full time and is presently away on respite, due back within the next week.

I've so much to say, but I need to rest up - please pass this link to anyone and everyone you can think of. My homepage carries a paypal account with a donate button for Swaziland. Absolutely every single penny raised will go out to Kevin and the team here. Please revisit the site and watch out for more blogs / podcasts over the next week.

God Bless


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Finding my feet in Swaziland.

I've been at Hawane Farm today - the wonderful place that houses so many of the AIDS orphans.

I was shocked at the expansion of the work here since I last visited the project just 12 months ago. A gift shop now occupies the front of the orphanage with the most incredible sculptures, ceramics and artwork for sale, all to bring in much needed revenue to keep the work going, a cultural village has been built, again to attract guests to ensure that this vital work keeps afloat. The sums are low, but much needed.

It was both surreal and overwhelming to see the half constructed home that will house 16 youngsters - the money raised from our last trip paid for that. Just £7,500 for a home. The maths are ridiculous: £468.75 to save the life of a youngster. It's shameful isn't it? I spend more than that in a quarter on clothes, music and ancillary rubbish.

The work that Kevin and the team put into this project is something I honestly cannot convey in words, audio or pictures. These folks give their entire time - and I mean it, their entire time to look after kids that otherwise, quite honestly would just have nothing, and would most certainly die. These folks live in the place and it courses through their veins. They absolutely love the precious kids that range from as little as 2 up to 17 and would do anything for them.

I mentioned previously that Kevin turned down the offer of his father's luxurious hotel business as he felt he needed to do the work with the kids. Do you know anyone like that? I don't. I'm in awe of the man who is just a year or so older than me.

To see kids who would have nothing - no home, food, shoes, hope is something that is a tonic to the soul. I started to listen to some podcasts today and had to stop. The topics that seem so important to us in the west, are, largely superfluous. There is nothing more important than life. This may seem so melodramatic but things really come into perspective in a place like this. Sadly I know I'll readjust again when I'm back...but not quite. Something of Swaziland goes home with you. I absolutely adore this place and the people.

The electricity and iternet connection seem to be a source of ongoing nuisance, I cannot load pictures at the moment as it seems to crash the tempremental WIFI. I should complain - some of the houses I've seen are made from mud, sicks and stones, and the size of a tiny garage with something that constitutes a window and door with a floor made from cowpats. Like I say, you really get perspective. You listen to something western and it just sounds so trite - last year I remember having the AIDS stricken kids on my mind, switching on the tv. and having some made up, overpaid model shaking her hair in slow motion whispering that she was "worth it". That really affected me.

Back to reality: the storms here have been amazing, the sounds, smells, scenes, are all incredible and I hope to share them all with you over the coming days.

See you all soon.

Thanks so much for taking the time out to read the blog. Do come back tomorrow and I'll most likely have another entry and/or a podcast for you.