Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Friday 23 April 2010

Echoes of Phase 2 Environmental projects

Phase 3 is now underway and the world of Phase 2, whilst only completed a week ago, seems a distant memory. The pace of life on Raleigh can make the sights, sounds, experiences and events of each project pass like the view from the window of a speeding train on its way to the next project.
Luckily, our Venturers have been fantastic at documenting their experience and memories of each project and allow us at Field Base to relay their stories to you via the blog. Mums, Dads, friends and partners do not worry, we know that during Phase 2 Echo 4 and Echo 5 were subjects of several Blog posts detailing relocations to new project sites and that the typical blog entries on these project groups were not posted. Both groups returned to us safe and well and both groups had a story to tell. So, John Campbell of Echo 4 has provided us with details of Echo 4’s day to day life from the start of Phase 2. His account really details the everyday activities on the campsite at Parsalnatham and gives us an insight into how the group ran themselves. Also, Geoff Wells of Echo 5 has lent us his thoughts on the project both groups undertook in the second half of phase 2, including some information on their mini-project to build a water storage tank/shower/secondary irrigation feed for the village.

Echo 4

Phase 2.

Day 1. We set off for Parsalnatham from Field Base at 9:30am, keen as mustard venturers and three top notch PMs sharing songs on the bus as we made along the bumpy road south. One flat tyre, 10 songs and a few gags later we arrived at a forest ranger’s station where we stayed for the night before finishing the journey the following morning.

Day 2. We reached the drop-off point at 10:00am, it was warm already and we needed to unload the bus, trek to the campsite and make temporary camp whilst the equipment and food was carried in...it was hard work but the team really came together to support those who tired in the heat and we made it through the day on top form.

Day 3. We finished setting up the camp. Bashas were built and given a thorough test by Sam (the ‘hump test’ as we named it), long drops and slops pits were dug and the camp really took shape. It was hot again which didn’t make working any easier. It was Tom’s birthday today and Rachael and Hattie made a delicious cake with fruit salad to celebrate...happy birthday Tom! We spent the evening chilling around the camp fire playing games before heading to our bashas for a well earned night’s sleep.

Day 4. Birthday boy Tom was Day Leader today. We started work early, de-silting the local dam so the locals could access good water for their crops. We had to walk 30 minutes to retrieve water for our camp from a local well, it reached 43 degrees so I know that this project is going to be hardcore!
Day 5. Duncan is our Day Leader today. He got us up at and out of camp by 6:30am to go and fetch water. When we got back there was a donkey raiding the food barrel. Sam took his best shot at moving it, but some asses are just too big and even Sam’s charm couldn’t remove the beast We carried on de-silting for the day, Christina and I made dhal and spicey fried egg for dinner which everyone loved!

Day 6. It was Rachael’s turn to be Day Leader (nominated by Duncan) and we set off to collect water at 6:30am again, these early starts are taking their toll! Clive, Merel and I were on camp duty today while the rest of the team went to work. Clive and I nipped off to find some rocks and returned to see Merel, running through a sandstorm screaming ‘there are monkey’s, there are monkey’s in our camp!’. A storm had been brewing for a while and when it finally came the camp was left in a state of semi-disaster. Four bashas collapsed, there was mud everywhere and worst of all, Duncan’s ‘magazines’ were ruined. Gutted.

Regardless, Merel and Hattie made a fantastic tuna, cheese and tomato pasta dinner and we all sat down to listen to Mere’s hilarious story of how the monkeys bullied her and chased her out of camp.

Day 7. We woke at 8:00am today and went straight to work to de-silt the dam. Later in the morning we trekked for two hours to the next village where we ate puri in the village Chief’s sons’ restaurant, delicious! We also walked to the birthplace of Shiva, it took ages to get there in the heat of the midday sun and we all felt wrecked when we got there. Ironic, I suppose, as Shiva is the God of destruction. We headed back to the village where we picked up one last cold drink before heading back to Parsalnatham to finish our work for the day.

Day 8. Water duty as normal in the morning, then we had to collect 64 buckets of small stones to be used on the elephant proof fencing we were building. Me, Sam and Rachael won the prize for ‘most stones collected’ so we each got an extra flapjack at dinner. Later that evening, after our comms check with Field Base, we were told that we were to be relocated from Parsalnatham to a new project site. We didn’t have all of the details but we were told that one of the Field Base staff would come to see us and explain all. Some of the team are happy, some are sad.

Day 9. We rose at 4:30am to start de-camping; taking down bashas, filling in long drops and slops pits and packing everything away to be moved to the pick up point for the bus. We trekked out of the camp for 6km, but it wasn’t easy and the sun took it’s toll again. We made it to the pick up point and some of us went for a swim in the river while we waited for Mark and the bus to meet us.

1:30pm, the bus and Mark arrived and we headed back to the forest ranger HQ where Mark explained why we had to relocate. We set up a temporary camp, had dinner and went to bed, ready for a six hour drive the next day. I couldn’t wait to meet up with Echo 5 and catch up with everyone again!

Day 10. We join Echo 5 and make way en convoy to the headquarters of the Centre for Tribals and Rural Development Trust in the Nilgiri Mountains in Tamil Nadu. Mr Ranganathen, CTRD Director, welcomed us and described to us what kind of work we would be doing in the next week on the new project.


(Details of the project our Echo groups were presented with are available in the blog post ‘Changes for our Echo groups’ posted on 10/04/2010.)

Geoff Wells of Echo 5 takes the stage now and gives us a brief overview of the new project to build elephant proof solar power fencing in the rural mountain village of Kottakkadavu. Here’s a sample of a letter Geoff sent us from the project site:

‘Hi Ho! Just a quick update from all the newly relocated Echo 5, hope all is well at Field Base, looking forward to a good rendezvous in a few days time.

So, since relocating, we have made our new home in the tribal village, where our campsite is far superior to our neighbours’ Echo 4. Despite the rivalry, the two groups have been bonding well with chai and cake afternoons planned, there might also be a fashion show in the pipeline!

What have we been doing? Working hard to clear the ground and dig holes around the village for the much needed elephant fence. Last night, elephants came to around 50m of our camp and damaged the water supply pipes to some of the homes, proving just how vital the work Echo 5 (and Echo 4...sometimes) has been.

Also, some of the best members of the group (Ruth and me...but mostly me) have been working on a mini-project to develop a water storage tank which will also double up as a shower/drinking water supply and source for irrigation water when required (I’ve attached Ruth’s notes on the project for bedtime reading).

Skit plans going nicely!


p.s Can’t wait for the fĂȘte.’

Gravity water feed – pressurised water system

Planned and developed by Ruth de Sainte Croix and Geoff Wells, assisted by Catriona Rizzutto and Kevin Walker.

Problem: Low pressure, sporadic water supply affecting availability of water to village for drinking and washing.

Solution: Improve water pressure by installing a storage tank downstream of water source to build hydrostatic pressure so water can be more effectively stored and distributed around village under pressure derived from storage tank. Install a shower attachment so future expedition groups don’t impact on villagers’ bathing sites and villagers have an alternative washing site closer to their houses but away from drinking water.

Method: After meeting with the villagers and assessing the challenges on the efficiency of the water supply, we focussed on not compromising the current supply and minimising the visual and environmental impact of the installation.

• Dug ledge into hillside to support 1000L storage tank. Floor of platform layered with bricks to distribute the weight of the tank.

• Fitted release valve into the tank and sealed the connection with plumbing tape.

• Cleared area 5m downhill of the tank for the shower cubicle.

• Set up a pipe network and on/off valve. Used a T-junction to connect drinking water pipe and pipe for shower.

• Paved shower floor and dug a drainage system to allow excess water to run off to crop fields.

• Erected shower cubicle bamboo and tarpaulin sourced from local village. Reinforced pipe connections and supports.

• Guided the villagers through the system and discussed maintenance process e.g refilling tank,de-silting, fixing leaks etc.


  1. Hi Ruth
    Yer father would be proud of you installing a gravity feed pressurised water tank eh!!! chip off the old block - maybe you should be a water engineer!
    Looks like you are still having a great time. Read your e mail to yer father - where was mine eh?? I'm the one who keeps writing to you on this blog!!
    Did you enjoy your cooked breakfast and hot shower?
    all well at home. Mia is now pulling herself up and may even be walking by the time you get home. K & R have moved back to their own house at last so it is very quiet at home - unitl Sarah gets back in about 3 weeks time!!
    it sounds like she might be back for 8 months to earn enough money to do a university course in Rio!
    Well looking forward to hearing more of your news in due course
    Lots of love Mum xxxxxxxxxx

  2. Message for Raleigh Fieldbase

    Yet another BIG thank you for the most recent blog. I know it may be some time before we see pictures from the next phase so it's great to see some info and photos of the great work Echo 4 & 5 did in the last phase. Amazing stuff and very impressed with the hard work and brain stuff that went into the water storage tank project. Brilliant.

  3. Good to see some photos of you Geoff, although I hope Ruth is more scientifically minded than you given your record on understanding physics!! The time seems to be flying by, although it looks like you will be ok to fly home now. We're off to Matlock this weekend then on nights in A&E next week (yuk)! Enjoy your last few weeks, love Ruth and Steve xxx

  4. Message to Merel Loonstra, Charlie 2

    Heeee mer (of zal ik je vanaf nu maar serieus aap gaan noemen)??!! Hahaha ik moest zo hard lachen toen ik dat apenverhaal las, echt weer iets voor jou. Gelukkig leef je nog wel. Klinkt ook echt heel vet wat jullie doen, ik hoop dat je laatste project ook zo leuk is! Ik ben inmiddels druk bezig met examens, maar ik vroeg me af hoe ver van te voren jij was begonnen met leren. Ik heb namelijk nog maar 3 weken en pas 1 vak van de 9 geleerd, dus ik begin me wel een klein beetje zorgen te maken... Als je ooit nog in de gelegenheid bent iets van je te laten horen, kan je dat dan even kort zeggen?! Gister heb ik ook mijn laatste schooldag gehad dus het gaat rap nu! Ik probeer wel alles voor 9 mei geleerd te hebben want dan kunnen we daarna lekker samen chillen in Hilly. Kijk uit voor de apen!!!!!

    Love youuuuuu, xxxx

  5. Message for Paula Brocki
    Hi Sweetheart
    received your email and made me laugh so much when i read it, however probably very scarey for you at the time. I still havent received any mail you have sent but not to worry at least i have been able to send and receive messages from the blog, a huge thanks to the Raleigh Team for that and whilst we are talking of Raleigh just wanted to say a huge thankyou to the whole team for everything they have done and keeping you all safe and making this an experience of a lifetime.
    I have been saying for a while now to Panda and the family that this would be a life changing experience for you and am sure you will be thinking much about the future on your return.
    The sun is shining again today and all is well.
    Just waiting to hear whether bump will be a girl or boy and cant wait to start buying coloured clothing as everything i have bought so far is cream or white.I had to ask Joe how his DIY skills are as he has to put the rocking base together for the moses basket i have bought but he assures me they are good and the spare room currently looks like a nursery not that i have bought much lol.
    Anyway sweetheart, so good to hear from you and look forward to you coming home and hearing all about your experiences and take very good care of yourself and look out for those pesky elephants, lions, monkeys, ants, leeches, and anything else that would like to have you for lunch.
    Love you always

  6. Lucy Travis Charlie 2

    Think you need to stand in front of the PR's camera as not seen any pictures of you for ages .. or perhaps you've been away so long we now don't recognise our daughter!

    Sunny, sunny, sunny here! So how to take advantage of it? After the foray to Derbyshire last weekend, we're going to Bristol to see the mighty Rams play Bristol City (incredible though it must seem ... your mother has agreed to go too!. Match of absolutely no consequence as end of season.

    Meantime Chris is off to watch the Marathon today. Anna is probably sleeping!

    Election campaign hotting up as Tory press targets that 'nice young Cleggy' seeing him as a bigger threat to 'Dave' than Bruiser Gord. Opinion polls reflect it's a battle over image, not substance.

    G'dad still in the RUH and is now likely to have to go to a Nursing Home when he's released. Possibly next week.

    Otherwise all well here. Builders, electricians and plumbers drop in for a day or two, much to the irritation of Charlie who sometimes has to move from the Aga.

    So do take care and we look forward to some message/call for an update. Meantime just watch out for those rampaging bull elephants!

    dad xxx

  7. For Rachel Hard

    Two bits of news. Gabriel learned to ride his bike today. Always a day to remember in anyone's life!

    The other is that I had a letter published in The Times today which read as follows:

    'Ryanair complained that under EU regulations it has been hit by lots of arbitrary and unfair additional costs that exceed the face value of the original ticket. Perhaps Ryanair will now understand bettter how its customers feel.'

    I don't think Michael O'Leary has a great sense of humour and so I don't suppose I'll ever be able to fly Ryanair again (not that this will be much of a loss).


    Dad. XXX

  8. Hi Kate,

    Hope you are well? Everyone is fine over here. We went to get Gabriel's outfit for his Confirmation yesterday. I was looking at really nice shirts and chinos but he wanted a suit! So we got him a suit and a shirt, still have to get him some shoes. I was shocked that he wanted a suit. Of course the dedicated follower of fashion was trying to persuade him to get a denim suit! So we left him at home!

    It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday but it is raining today. Of course I forgot to bring the washing in last night so it will all have to be done again!

    We might go out to lunch with Nan, Granddad, Paul and Becky but I have not heard from them yet. And of course there will be a session at the Roisin Dubh tonight - nothing changes! Other than that I have no news (I know that will shock you)!

    Speak to you soon. Lots and lots of love Mum, Dad and VEG xxxxxxxx

  9. Dearest Christina, How are you very I hope and pray,did Mum tell yopu that we had our hair done 2 wks ago, again the hair dressers down here are a load of rubbish.I went in there before booking appointment explaining all the trouble we have had.so no excuse. We are going on Monday AM,to see them.Anyway darling how are you doing getting very excited as time is very near now and then you have to get use to this boring life compared to what you have seen and done. It would be lovely to see you again on the photos. it makes us fill that you are so close you could be touched. you look so happy and that lovely colour you have Please bring some back for us so we will not fill so pale and miserable ha ha ha only joking. Shanel sends all her love and walking over the park on Saturday Shanel said to me Christina is coming home today,and she will do the games and the painting and making things, she has it all worked out.we have been doing these with her but she says Christina does it better.I Think everything has been told,all we can say now is keep up the good work see you very soon. Oh by the way there was a TV program on Friday night about India hospital train,it was very inlightning.All our love and kisses.Mum Nan Martin Shanel.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  10. Message for James Brown.Hola!!!! I have just completed and sent in your accomodation application form - what palaver but all done and dusted!!!! Had a terrific week end Simon had one long birthday party. On Saturday I did a 10 mile coastal walk to Elie and back with Valerie. It was fab and the sun shone all the way. We stopped for fish and chips in Elie and sat outside eating and topping up the tan.We shall definitely do this again when you are home. Millie spent the weekend up north on her D of E and returned home last night exhausted. She found it quite tough - they nearly managed to set the hills alight and there was the odd pen knife injuries! However they all survived.Angus has exams this week and he like me has lost his mobile ! All is booked for Paris - hooray. Loads of people still stuck and not home yet because of the ash!!! Just going to pop round and see Kate for a gossip . Lots of love, Mum

  11. To Raleigh leaders
    Please will you advise Theo Boyce to contact urgently re travel from Bangalore to Thailand as Home Office as from today advises against travel to the whole of Thailand.

  12. Peer! Wat een super grappig apenverhaal! Haha, ik moet er dan echt weer even aan denken dat we op dat feestje van Noor waren en dat jij de kamer in kwam stormen om te melden dat er dieven waren, terwijl dat Tessa was met een masker op, haha! Hoe is het met je man? Ik hoor niets, vast een goed teken, maar ik ben zo benieuwd!! We moeten maar heel snel in het Hilversumse zonnetje gaan chillen als je terug bent, want niet al te lang daarna ben ik weer een poosje weg. Ik ben bijna gestopt bij de Jonghe Graef (ik ben een beetje te chaotisch voor de horeca) en ik ga dus nu veel meer bij Pepperminds werken. Maar God, ik heb bijna geen vrienden meer hier, dus dat wordt echt m'n leven...
    Perenaapje, SUPER veel plezier nog en geniet volop, ik hoop snel iets van je te horen! xxxxxx Anna Fleur

  13. To Hattie Way C2

    A huge thank you to Anna at FB for all her help, and please could this message be got to Hattie as soon as possible, thank you.

    Hi Hattie

    We have managed to change your flight. You are now booked on BA118 out of Bangalore departing at 07.30 and arriving Heathrow T5 at 13.40. See your gmail for confirmation. I know this is later than hoped but no earlier seats available due I think to it being so close to date and remaining backloggged passengers due to the volcanic ash cloud. I do hope you can manage to sort yourself out for those few days.

    All well here, Benjie's just finished nights and Charlie's fine. Hope you are ok and enjoying C2.

    All our love, Mummy and Dad