What’s round the next corner?

This blog skips the travel log because life is moving on apace and there have been a lot of big changes here on the ground in India.

For those of you who wish to follow my journey to Varanasi and on through Rajasthan you will find this towards the end of the blog.

By now I should be due to start my teaching role with the team in Hyderabad. I had always planned to spend a short time in Kerala before this to recover from the exertions of the tour and experience of many new things in adjusting to the Indian way of life. so today finds me on my last day in Varkala, a beach resort on southern Kerala.

Instead of departing for Hyderabad I shall be returning to Berhampur, in the State of Odisha,  a very poor state on the east edges of India boarding the Bay of Bengal.  I had spent a week there earlier visiting the NGO “Love the One” who care for a child I have supported for the last 2 years..

While I was there Samyi ( full name Sammyaswari) had her 6th birthday. The school and preschools always make a big thing of children’s birthdays, to help the children feel valued and often this the only opportunity for the occasion to be marked. Because in such a poor society birthdays are not significant, or the date often is not known because the birth was never registered !                                                               We also celebrated Republic day (26th Jan.)  The school held a parade and lots of speeches were given and dancing displays, some composed by the children themselves. Watch out  “Strictly … ” here comes serious competition. At the end there were was prize giving – it appears that virtually every child gets a prize, there was  even a prize for tidying the classroom and a best hat prize for the little ones?                                                                                                                                                                         I was asked to perform the prize giving in a full sari costume .

Sorry the photo would@t download !

I got to home on the school bus with Samyi to meet her family who live in a small 2 roomed single storey house, with very few possessions but so hospitable and thankful for their meager daily existence. It made me feel very humble and small.

Love the One is making a positive impact working in the community not only providing quality education, but to be a place where the children can learn through play and self direction. Not by rote and beatings as is found in the state schools even today this is common place. In the state of Odisha there’s a high level of child abuse and domestic violence in all its forms and Love the One are working with their local staff and parents to change attitudes and build trusting relationships with the wider community.                                                                                                                               The school children’s happy smiling faces bears witness to the fun and sense of self-worth they are gaining by attending.

Some of the children’s stories are pitiful. They have been burnt, scalded for minor misdemeanours or perceived disobedience or maimed or malnourished to assist their parent in begging.                                                                                                       Those born with an obvious physical disability are often left to die or hidden away at home for fear of shame being brought on the family.                                              These undiscovered children often come to light when the medical team headed by the two directors and qualified pediatricians, Cat and Mary set up local outreach clinics in the villages or go into the homes to meet the families. They are then invited to attend the special needs learning centre where physiotherapy can be taught and the children receive stimulation and the parents given love and care.                              Many are single women abused,deserted or widowed, some only in their late teens my heart goes out to them in their struggles as life is hard enough as a couple let alone when ostracised and poverty-stricken. Frequently the organisation is creative in making jobs for the parents so they can be on hand for their children rather than working long hours in heavy manual employment as farm labourers or  hod carriers in the blistering heat of Odisha.                                                                                                Yes it is already climbing into the upper F 80 s 33-35 degrees. and this is only spring !

Please take a moment and view to amazing website of   Love the One ……www.lovetheone.org

So I left Berhampur with reluctance, promising my hosts that I would return at the end of my time of teaching in Hyderabad.

So what changed my mind …….? Simply a strong message from my heavenly Father to say that Berhampur was where He wanted me.

I arrived in Hyderabad determined to settle in and enjoy my time there and give it my usual enthusiastic approach to any given situation. However, so much on the ground there had changed in the immediate time before my departure to India. The single lady I had been due to share a flat with in the city had returned to the USA  on sick leave and wasn’t due back for a least 6 months. I now found myself sharing an all-be- it large villa with 4 adults and 6 children aged 2-17 years of age Much as I like children I also need my own head space and a little peace so found myself retreating to the bedroom vacated by my absent co-worker.  I am thankful for her lovely comfy  bed, a soft mattress is a rarity in India as many budget tourists will know.                                                                                                                                                             The families live in a gated elite community a long distance from the city,  and not the local community I was hoping to join. The journey into the city took 30 -40 mins. through heavy traffic and could only be undertaken by scooter or Uber taxi a very expensive alternative on a daily basis. I did not relish the first option of taking my life in my hands and risking Indian driving habits. Where no one stops at red lights or signals, they just honk their horn to forewarn you of their approach !!

When I visited the language school and was introduced to the curriculum and heard the teaching levels expected I knew I was out of my comfort zone however much effort I put in.

So, after a great deal of soul-searching and praying I spoke to the team leader and expressed my reservations. He was most gracious and said it was good to be honest because as he put it.” India is hard enough , it will drain you , and if you are not convinced that this is the right placement you won’t thrive or serve well” I spoke to my UK sending base and my church leadership about being released they all agreed it would be for the best.                                                                                                             At this point Love the One leaders contacted me to say they wanted me to return and take up a role with them and they had accommodation organised. friends and church leaders give this their blessing and feel it is a better fit for my skills and passion of  nurturing and empowering others.

On Wednesday I fly to Bhubaneswar where I am to be picked up at the airport for the 2 hour journey to Berhampur. A little roof top flat above the newly rented guest house is awaiting me . Sheer BLISS….. after 3 months of  ” homelessness” since moving out of my cottage in Oct.( no offence meant for those who kindly gave me a roof.)                                                                                                                                              Somewhere that I can make and relax with a cup of tea when ever I like.. aaaahh.  It’s the small things you miss most when away from home.

More news will follow once I have settled and begun to work in a voluntary role which will be made clear in the coming days.                                                                   Keep praying for safe travel -2 more flights this coming week. Pray for the remaining team in Hyderabad,we meet on Monday or Tuesday,when I pick up my additional luggage. Pray for their work among the students that they forge positive relationships.                                                                                                                        Lastly thoughts for my family back in England, its been as much of a roller coaster for them as for me. I thank them and friends for all the support I have received.







CONTINUED  travel log.   Leaving Delhi behind with it’s traffic congestion, smog and chill in the air. Janet and I fly east to Varanasi, a Hindu city straddling the Ganges river.  A sacred place where devout Hindu pilgrims come to die. Their bodies are wrapped in a shroud   and placed on funeral pyres where the sandalwood logs are burned on the ghats beside the river each day. Each evening Hindu ceremonies take place there to honour the Gods and the dead. This involves the use of incense and fire, the giving of offerings of flower petals and much chanting and bell ringing.



It is a sight which has not changed for hundreds of years.It was an eerily  melancholic scene as the winter mists hovered over the river as we took a boat ride one early morning. Listening to the chants of worshippers and clinking of bells drifting out of the gloom made me realise how temporal life is and how vital it is to value each day as a blessing.

I felt Varanasi was a brooding place. It was sombre, possibly my mood influenced by the weather. I have never before seen so many cows in one city. they are sacred so wander freely thus vehicles and people manoeuvre around them in very confined narrow alleys and very crowded roads  . Our hotel even had a cattle grid at its entrance !

Following our stay in Varanasi we flew on to Khanjaroo famed for its World Heritage site containing many temples. These are covered with erotic carvings, a sight to behold.


I shall only publish the most discreet and hopefully non offensive photos.



We enjoyed an evening  sound and light show set in the grounds. It retold the history of the region and was very amusing for it’s corny voice overs delivered with such dramatic effect. At the hotel I experienced my first Indian puppet show and was mesmerised by the artistry and young musicans.

Leaving Khanjuroo…….. we took a 3 hour drive to the railway station to pick up our train to Agra. A ride on the extensive Indian railways are a must for any intrepid traveller

Everthing traveled on our passenger train even a motor bike

The 3 hour journey is punctuated by regular sellers  of chai, sweets, and other services making their way along the carriage. Included in our fare was an in-service meal consisted of at least 6 small tin foil containers., filled with curry rice and veg. a paratha as well as a sweet fruit yoghurt.  All washed down with a strange tasting tropical  fruit drink which I did not recognise. It rivals anything  served on a top airline in flight meal.

Our sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal did not disappoint. It doesn’t matter how many pictures of this iconic building one has seen, nothing quite prepares you for the sheer beauty of the marble  structure as the first rays of sunlight hit.

The obligatory “selfie” at the Taj Mahal



As the sun rose the Taj turned from a glistening white to a golden hue. Right on cue the mists rolled in from the river and the mausoleum appeared ethereal as if floating in mid-air. close up the sheer beauty and artistry of the decoration leaves the viewer incredulous.

we spent the afternoon relaxing on the hotel roof top by the infinity pool with a distant view of the Taj Mahal on the skyline.

No more elephant rides for me



Our next destination was Jaipur with its magnificent Pink fork  sitting astride a nearby hillside. An elephant ride took us up to the entrance. My second such experience  in less than a year and it served to confirm my dislike of the lurching nature of this mode of transport and the demeaning use of such an intelligent animal.I have pledged it to be my last, moreover I shall seek to support Indian agencies which aim to protect them from expoiltation

.The pink fort is an amazing sight for its sheer size              The Palace of winds                         and the opulence of its interior is breath taking.


Our our tour continued with stops in Bijapur, staying at a 16th century castle in the countryside. Having a jeep ride where we were shown a field of opium poppies and an evening cookery demonstration by the lake where we were joined by the heir to the castle were all wonderful experiences.

the castle where we stayed as guests of the current tribal ruler.

The last stage of the tour before being flown back to Delhi was 2 days in Udaipur. This was a real delight as we stayed at a very plush hotel within the maharaja’s palace                                                                                             right on the lakeside.                                                                                                                              FIMG_2753or anyone visiting the city I should                                                                                      recommend the Palace museum a                                                                                     beautiful building and full of                                                                                                   interesting insights into the history                                                                                         and culture of Rajasthan.

More Hindu                                                temple visits and a boat trip, relaxing        by the pool meant time passed very pleasantly.

I still don’t believe it but this is the hotelwhere we stayed in Udaipur attached to the In the maharja’s palace . It is just to the left of the picture above the group of trees.

All too soon we were back a Delhi airport our point of entry on this fascinating adventure. This time, Janet is dropped off at the international and me at the domestic terminals. She to fly back to Heathrow and myself to carry on my exploration  and love affair with India, it’s people and their joys and struggles, it’s craziness and its dynamism…. so what is around the next corner?

Sent from my iPad

Countdown- less than 10 days to go !

Happy New Year greetings.   Well time is certainly short until I finally launch.

Life is becoming a bit of a blur as time speeds up and there are still so many unfinished tasks to do.

Christmas went by in a flash and the same with New year. Christmas was very special and spent with the family at Faye’s. New year’s Eve was low-key and sentimental,  a visit in the afternoon with friends to the Rex theatre in Berkhamsted to see a showing of “Pretty Woman”  and then home to Faye’s to dog sit her three lovely hounds

keep calmAfter 3 visits I have now completed my vaccination programme of 8 injections, 2 doses of oral Cholera and have been prescribed anti-malarial tablets ( to be taken on the Orissa leg of the trip). I now have a slightly sore, but very valuable left arm.- worth over £450 !

I am eagerly, if some what anxiously awaiting the return of my visa for India. Although applied for on the 13th Dec. I couldn’t get an appointment at the Visa office until after Christmas so time is short for the processing and return. Prayers are requested for its speedy expedition and granting in full. I have applied for a 2 year tourist with a multiple entry  requirement to allow me to exit the country to renew it . Under the terms of  a tourist visa this has to be done every 180 days . I am hoping that the Indian High Commission authorities grant this and do not down grade my visa in favour of a lesser time period of a year. As this would mean for shortening the time I spend volunteering with the team.

The need to exit the country every 6 months to renew my visa is an irritant and also bumps up the budget costs of my stay . Some of you might have wondered why the costs  for travel, insurance and visa  seemed high. Well this goes part way to explaining it.

When I looked at the amount of “stuff” I need to take out with me for my year’s stay, I  have decided to sent a bag on ahead. The idea of travelling for 3-4 weeks with hand luggage and several suitcases passing through several internal airports was just too risky. I also think lugging my worldly goods around the countryside would have done my back in, not the start I want for my adventures.

luggage picture

I still need to dispose of my car. It’s been a hard decision to give up my beloved Celica as over the years it has brought me so much pleasure driving it. However, it is the sensible thing to do. After a year off the road the engine will probably have seized up or at the very least the battery and tyres will be flat. Although it is very reliable due to its age things do need attention and replacement. So it is with regret that I have to let her go along with so many other material things. Still the freedom I gain for not having such responsibilities is enormous – a great trade-off. De-cluttering one’s life is a positive activity.

Time is short and I am in need of help. So if anyone has interest in helping me to dispose/sell of my car please get in touch. Mobile: 07940127525.

At Hockliffe Street Baptist church on 7th January there will be a slot                                  in the service to recognise the church  sending” me to serve.                                                         The service starts at 10:30 am.        Church Address:
Hockliffe Street
Leighton Buzzard
There is no car parking space available at the church, but there is public car parking in the library car park, entrance opposite the church – free during evenings and on Sundays. There is disabled access via the side doors and during Sunday services a ramp is available at the front of the building.
Map: Follow this link or download this file
Sat-nav users: If you use the post-code alone to set your sat-nav up, you may be directed to the eastern section of Hockliffe Street  rather than the western section which is where the church is. If in doubt, follow the signs for the car-parking at the Library Car-Park, not the A4012 signposted to Hockliffe.

All are welcome to come and join me and the congregation in celebrating  God’s faithfulness and His hand on my life in the past and going forward.




I should like to wish you all a peaceful and happy New Year. Here’s praying my visa and passport are returned by the 7th and I hope to write again with an update prior to my departure if time allows.  Maggie



At last the time has arrived for my long-awaited departure. Watch this space for details.

Not perhaps surprising after 40 years service in the NHS, when I retired in the summer of 2015 following a nursing career I was passionate about, I was left feeling a little lost.     I took the step of getting in touch with a life style coach, a wonderful lady called Jayne who lives in Tring. She asked me what my dreams were? what drives my life?  Out poured my desire to travel, to “make a difference”, my love of India, its people and food and my wish to visit my sponsored child, Sammyaswari, who lives in the Indian state of Odisha. Her words “What’s stopping you?” really challenged me and I suddenly realised the only thing holding me back were the limits I put on myself and my God.

I took my embryonic ideas to my church  leadership to sound them out as to whether I should pursue any thoughts of “taking a senior gap year ” to experience living aboard,  using my nursing skills, or such like. At this stage I had no real focus on what my future would look like and we spoke in general terms of me spending 6 months or so in India. One thing was made clear to me, I needed to prepare for this if I was to thrive in a vastly different culture and away from family and friends.

So, September 2016 found me at All Nations Christian college for a term on a cross cultural course (En Route) along with 8 other students. What a mixed group we were  coming from 5 different countries – if you count Wales! Laughter and camaraderie are great antidotes to over come anxieties and language barriers and we soon knitted together as a tight team. Since completing the course members have gone to work around the world and I shall be fledging in January 2018.

While at college I was struck by the realisation that now James and Faye , my son and daughter were now adults with lives of their own, including family and friendship circles. That, although as a mother I was not redundant, my job although never complete, was easing. Also, I had no elderly parents, aunts or uncles to care for unlike so many of my friends and peers. With good health , bags of energy and enthusiasm and a reasonable level of financial security, it dawned on me that God had blessed me greatly. All this was His gifting, His not mine, to be used for His purpose. Living a student life even for only one term made me realise that it is possibly to be content with less. Less possessions, clothes, space, choices.  And to still be grateful and chilled about my situation seems a bonus.

Since the beginning of the year I have found an organisation who work in Muslim communities worldwide, including India. I have completed training, medical, psychological and life style checks and been accepted by them. All through the summer I waited, often impatiently to be called by one of their teams to join them . Time seemed to be slipping by. Then on the same morning that I successfully found a tenant for my cottage, willing to rent for a year, I heard that I would be joining a team in South India. So maybe, if you think your prayers are going unanswered then perhaps God is just making you wait for something larger than you asked for !

I moved out of my cottage in Cublington at the end of October. After a 2 week holiday to recover from the exertions and stress of packing up my home , having regained my equilibrium I am now living with a friend, Sue in her home here in Leighton Buzzard. So with the contents of my home and worldly possessions packed away I basically live out of 3 suitcases and still wonder each day where I have mislaid my diary?