Thoughts from October 2010

a weekend in Ethiopia

emilie in ethiopia

It's been a while since my last posts but internet access has been limited to say the least. I spent a few days with my 2 friends from IDE in the Dongar region. The trip included visiting 3 more cooperatives, interviewing lots new beekeepers

Coop meeting

chatting to more supermarket staff about honey

Nice supermarket lady

and trying ever-more stylish bee suits.

Bee suit

The time has now come for me to enjoy my first weekend in Ethiopia so let me try and convey a bit of what people like doing when they're not at work: namely eat and drink.

When it comes to food, things are pretty different in Ethiopia. Below is our 'breakfast treat' at 7am this morning. If we are used to the 'cooked' variety in the UK, here the breakfast are served 'raw'. Yes, that's it - meat straight off the cow. How I missed my bacon and eggs / muesli and yogurt - and the weekend supplements whilst I'm at it.

Meals are always served on injera - which looks like a soft pancake (but unfortunately doesn't taste anything like a pancake). You eat it with whatever meats, sauces or vegetables are on offer - a bit like a massive soft pizza with 'all you can eat' toppoings. Who said we needed knives and forks?
Lunch start2

You can never be told off for 'not finishing your plate' as it's one dish for all, however in this occasion it was clear who hadn't eaten up...
Lunch end

As for drinks, I've tried the delicious honey-wine (tej) as well as local beer but what was my surprise to get served a green smoothie when I asked for a mixed juice. Unfortuantely, it didn't taste anything like our kiwis, apples & limes but rather an avocado soup. So the next day, I went back to good old OJ - you can't beat the classics.

Green smoothie

the evil knits

Adam the Vampire's been up to all sorts of mischief in the office. Jumping from pumpkin to pumpkin, sticking bits of fruit on them (nice nose), and foolishly teetering on the brink of danger.


Though we worry he may have got a little carried away with an unsuspecting visitor to Fruit Towers, who merely wanted to wash their hands.


Edgar Allen Skull & The Pieces Of Eight have been living it large and making all sorts of noise in Room Fruit. Even Larry the Spider's been getting involved.


Jenny the witch has been hanging around with Salvador the rat, which can only mean hubble, bubble, toil and trouble.


And the phantom hugger has been putting off any would be trick or treaters, sending them crying up the drive, without their sweets (until next year).


But at the end of a good day's haunting, bewitching, biting, spellcasting, and drumming, they all like to get together to watch the Cat signal glow, and wait for the Panther of Hammersmith to arrive (we call her Charlie) and then things can really get spooky.


Happy Halloween.


Big Knit student ambassador competition

And the winner is...

Birmingham Knitsock - as organised by Rosie Campbell and Laura Whitley. We had many teams enter the competition, but these guys really took a hold of the yarn and ran with it.

4 core members

Here's the team at their first group meeting of the year, having a nice knit in the park.

Group park

And these are just some of the hats of their labour.

Hat tower

A big congratulations to them, and to everyone who took part. Thanks for your contributions, every hat counts.


honey market board

emilie in ethiopia

Emilie's having a bit of internet trouble so here's her latest update from Ethiopia:

It's been an epic 2 days since I last wrote.

Yesterday I met the local team yesterday and had a good old taste test to break the ice


We then spent the rest of the day visiting supermarkets, chatting to honey buyers and sellers to find about a bit more about honey consumption and people's favourite brands.

Habtamou in supermarket

We finished up at the Beekeeper's Union (note the 'honey styled' architecture')


Today, we visited a co-operative of beekeepers in Dangla (which is about 2 hours South) where I met and interviewed some of the co-op executive committee.

They were really passionate and very enthusiastic in the way they spoke about their hives, honey prices and IDE's training workshops. But when it came to taking pictures, this was my best attempt to get them to smile.


October is an exciting time for the co-op as it's the beginning of the harvest season when the members can all start processing and selling the beekeepers' honey again.

They've been out of stock since July which means the co-operative shopkeepers sole role for the last months has been turning customers down. I think I'd have gone crazy in that time but here she is with the first honey of the season

First honey

My favourite bit of the day was meeting the co-op's 'star' beekeeper, Walker. I got to put on a bee suit and see his hives. One bee managed to get in and attempted to kiss me on the cheek, but apart from a few shrieks (much to the entertainment of the co-operative), neither the bee or me were harmed.

We finished the day in the honey section of the wholesale market - a succession of slightly tired tents selling honey and butter.

The outside appearance should have given me a hint as to what I would find inside but it was really honey in it's very crudest form i.e. big plastic drums filled with honey and dead bees floating inside.

Now I can really see where IDE's co-operatives are making a difference and adding value to the keepers' honey, enabling them to sell it at a higher price.

After all, I think people would be prepared to pay more to avoid having to fish out dead bees before spreading honey on their toast.

hat of the week: halloween special

Last week's hat of the week winner was the openable egg and spoon by Rachel Watts. Congratulations Rachel, smoothies on their way to you now...

Since then, somethings spooky's been going on in Fruit Towers. The sound of wailing in the Big Fridge. Mugs and plates flying through the kitchen of their own accord. Bubbling cauldrons dangerously left lying around the kitchen. What does it all mean? It must be a Halloween special of hat of the week.

This fellow floated over from the central line, down the Goldhawk Road and through Fruit Towers, despite being weighed down by his heavy ball and chain. We give you: The Phantom Hugger.

Week 9 ghost surrey sisterhood of silly hats

And to make things even spookier, Jenny the Witch threw a magic potion at our normally cast-iron rules of two-hat hat of the week competitiveness, so that her friend, Adam the Vampire could join her for this week's challenge. Well, he looked like an Adam to us.

Week 9 dracula denise chalk co community relations team

You can cast your spell here.