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

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

Saturday 29 October 2011

When the going gets tough, the loop gets going!

Helen and I set off for our first visit of four groups; Tango 5, Charlie 2, Echo 3 and Charlie 1; and weren’t disappointed.  All groups are over half way through their first phase and were eager to read all your blog comments and post.

Tango 5

First up were the trekkers in Wayanad who had just completed an arduous trek in Meenmutti. When we met them (the campsite was at the top of their last hill of the day) understandably some were not in the greatest of spirits! But once tents had been erected and the egg-fried noodles (ps amazing!) cooked then everyone perked up.
Tango 5 arrive at camp and make sure their tents go up quickly

Harriet and Will show the loop how to make a cordon-bleu meal on a Trangia (no mean feat!)
On our third attempt the reluctant fire was lit and we chatted away, mesmerised by the flames. Harriet led an excellent review of the day from the beginning to the end in minute-by-minute detail. Hannah (PM) remembered serving porridge while hopping around in the rain, Matt & Will remembered an ever-increasing distance when they asked the guide "how much further", Andy had seen some elephants and Anne had some leech bites as proof of the struggle.

We bid the trekkers farewell the next morning. They have continued on well and we can report that today (Day 15) they are completing one of the last hard days in their programme but one which, if the weather holds, should offer superb views of Karnataka and Kerala!

Tango 5, Tim and Helen ready to face a day of trekking
Charlie 2

We rocked up to our hosts a little bit earlier than expected, so cleaning efforts on site were halted mid flow. But being unfashionably early meant we were just in time for a gorgeous lunch, cooked by the beneficiaries of one of the biogas units the group was building. The warm welcome, washing of our mess tins and offers of drinks made us feel like proper guests too.

The loop arrive at Charlie 2

Straight after lunch we rolled up our sleeves, donned our gloves and work boots and joined the work groups on the digging of Biogas dome hole #2 (affectionately named "The Hell Hole"). Now I can partly understand the name, as the graft was tough going. However we quite enjoyed ourselves: from time-to-time our work was broken by the beneficiary of hole #2 who plied us with quenching chai; Helen also led singing efforts in the hole and we started reliving our teenage years to such great tunes as "Grease Lightning" and Steps!

Sian and Kath (Charlie 2's PMs) and Helen and Tim (the Loop) get to work at Charlie 2

Stewart, Zoe and Shruti take a welcome break from digging (due to the rain) and a great excuse for a chai at a local house

After just a day-and-a-half of the work, it really made us appreciate how much of Charlie 2's sweat and effort had gone in already.  Luckily for the loop they had enough energy to entertain us with a Big Brother episode Charlie 2 style.

Evening entertainment by Charlie 2

Since we have left Charlie 2 have taken a pause in their work for day trips to the nearby village in Ayyankoli and have just returned from the hill station at Ooty, where they celebrated Diwali  and the birthdays of Roz and Lizzie.

Echo 3

After two nights we travelled onwards to Echo 3, picking up some fresh fruit and veg on the way that made us especially popular when we arrived! Our Bravo arrived just as Jake, Shafeeque, Kate and Lizzy were returning with full jerrycans from the local water pump. We followed them down the path to a beautiful vista of their basha beds with a lake backdrop.

Echo 3's absolutely stunning campsite, with (luckily) rain-resistant yellow group shelter

Kate cooked up some yummy baked beans and then the sky thundered. This was our bonding session with Echo 3 as when the lightning flashed and thunder grew closer we huddled up closer and closer inside the group shelter. The rain stopped and gave us all a window to retreat to our bashas for bed.

The next day we had a tour by Gemma of all the biogas sites that Echo 3 are working on and were greeted by silent smiles of the villagers. On our trip from house-to-house Shafeeque pointed out the different plants and their ayurvedic properties to us.

Echo 3 building a bio-gas unit at one of their four sites

Now in India you have to learn to go with the rough and the smooth of delays on construction sites. There’s no point getting frustrated when something scuppers your plans. It turned out that not as many people were needed that day on site and so Echo 3 found other positive things to do instead. The group decided to finish off some unfinished tasks at camp, some completed a raft Gemma was working on and others got ready for the evening’s festivities.

While the boys played cricket with the locals in the school, the girls chaperoned Kate who was chosen to be dressed from head-to-foot in Indian dress. A local family styled her hair, loaned a saree and showed her how to wear it. It drew attention from inquisitive locals who thought Kate may be on her way to her wedding!

Kate all dressed up!

The locals helped us to kick off Divali celebrations with some home-cooked lentil curry that even my spice-averse mum would love! Nearly 50 of us: Echo 3, locals and their children crowded underneath the group shelter and when the evening rain came the cooks shielded the open fire with a tarpaulin. The meal was cooked and we got out our mess tins, were served and started eating – however we noticed the locals were still waiting. We found out that the banana leaves they normally eat off hadn’t been brought so we offered clean mess tins to them so they could also get the delicious tucker. Shafeeque became self-appointed feeder and made sure that everyone was well fed with firsts, seconds and thirds!

Charlie being given a chai making lesson

Charlie 1

Last but not least was the eco-sanitation project in Malligali – Charlie 1. We turned up at the school where they were staying and only saw half the group, where was everyone else? Jules and Anna promptly showed us on a tour that took in the many toilet sites they were working on around the town, all within 5 minutes walk.
The loop being shown an almost completed eco-sanitation unit where Jamie and Suthakar  took a break for a photo

The toilets have entered the plastering stage when the cement is made up, transported to the toilet and then thrown on and smoothed out. The pace of work has slowed to everyone’s relief: they pulled out the stops in the early days of foundation digging and transporting the materials. Now everybody has more time to interact with the locals and get all the riches a community project in India has to offer.

Just before 7 we got our mess tins and headed down to the cook’s house for a tasty curry with poppadums. We were so surprised with how friendly the locals were and enjoyed a chai afterwards in a neighbour’s house. He introduced us to his family and a beautiful saree that interested the female PMs no end! As a result the female members of Charlie 1 bought some sarees yesterday and are having them fitted today.

The PMs returned to the school for a surprise production of “Charlie 1” by Charlie 1 Productions. Lavinia got Ed’s accent to a tea and highlighted his tendency to comment on the good quality of the porridge EVERY morning! Anna wore a wig to match Johnnie’s dreds. We all whooped and shouted “Encore!”. We’re hoping they’ll be able to incorporate it into their skit when they return at changeover.

Charlie 1 by Charlie 1 Productions

What about Tango 6?

If you were wondering how Tango 6 are getting on, they're doing fine. As Tango 6 is a few days away we were unable to make a second visit to them this phase. You can find out what Hannah and Sarahgot up to with them at the start of their trek. Despite day in and day out of heavy rain they are battling on through. Day Leader on Thursday, Maya, was upbeat and found creative ways to dry clothes in their evening shelter.

We're looking forward to seeing the groups back on Tuesday 1st when one group will be crowned Loop Champions of Phase One. And that makes this blog title make sense too, as Hannah, our Videographer, will start work on the editing of the groups' music video to Billy Ocean's "When the going gets tough". Watch this space for the final cut!

Tim and Helen.


  1. F.A.O. Jon Hurrell Echo 3.
    Hi Jonathan, Have just read the Blog latest on all the groups. Boy, have you all been busy ! Makes me feel quite lazy home here ! Photos are great to see, but we have'nt picked you out in many at all. Dad sends his love & hopes that you are doing better with your cricket with the village children than England did against India!!
    Good luck to you all with the completion of your project & we look forward to contact on your return to base.
    Lots of Love, Mum & Dad. Xxx

  2. For Zoe Coles, Charlie 2.
    Hi Zoe, Just read the latest blog and seen the photo's of you all. You look tired but happy! Your mum and dad read your letter out to us and we're thrilled to know you are having such a great time and experiencing so many new things. No frozen chicken for you from now on! We expect you will have now received the blogs sent out to you via the loop (see, we know all the technology now, hope you're impressed!)We've posted a letter and parcel to you so should receive both within a few days we hope. Nanna is going with your mum to see the Dance Show tonight, so we'll let you know how it goes (they'll miss you of course). Jill and Jim have been to stay overnight, on their way back to Howden to stay in Straw Cottage and we've arranged to go over to see Auntie Margaret on Wednesday and stay overnight at the cottage with them. We'll print out some photo's of you to take with us, as she always asks how you are and what you're up to. Your brother is at the Chiropodist this morning so no doubt will be feeling sorry for himself this afternoon. Gordon and Karin are coming over on 11th to 13th November and bringing the Christmas wine, but unfortunately you won't be home to see them. They send their regards and are asking how you are getting on. They too have been following your exploits over the internet. Geoff and Jan are coming over on 22nd November as the four of us are going to a Sensational 60's night at Llandudno Theatre. We know you're jealous, not being able to see Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Tremeloes, and the Freddy and the Dreamers, (without Freddy as he's dead!). We miss you lots and are looking forward to seeing you at the end of November. Keep enjoying yourself, we await hearing all about your time there. Take care of yourself. Nanna and Taid

  3. To: Julie Scheer
    Hi Naans, zie weer een leuke foto van jou op de blog. Volgens mij zijn jullie een toneelstukje aan het spelen. Ziet er goed uit, je bent vast lkkr in je element zo "on stage"! Goeie bruine benen ook! Flo is het weekend gezellig thuis om te studeren. We denken aan je, heel veel liefs en 1000 dikke kussen, Mam

  4. To alex Rolfe Charlie 2
    Wow I can't believe it has nearly been month (feels a lot longer bet it has flown by for you)
    I have been following the blog every day it is so wonderful to see what you and your group are up to and to see all the pictures (your so brown) I can't wait to join you in about 9 weeks and hear all about your adventures.
    I am so proud of you and it is so lovely to see you in high spirits and always have a smile on your face.
    Stay safe. Miss and love you lots
    Ellis xxx

  5. Alexander Rose to Daniel Rose (Echo 3)29 October 2011 at 23:08

    Dear Daniel Rose (Echo 3),

    Glad to hear that you're having such a great time - and that they are working you hard!

    Those tents don't look as easy to pitch as the pop up ones you're used to. You must be picking up all kinds of new skills. Not least, how to play cricket and shelter yourself from heavy rain storms! How are you finding the food? You'll have to buy a mess tin for university - they look highly versatile.

    I have settled into my new surroundings in Warwick and I've made lots of new friends from my course. Adam sends his best wishes. We had our first house party last weekend, which was a great success. We also went to see Mr Scruff play last night, which made me think of you (and how jealous you would be). You will have to come for a visit after Christmas.

    We all miss you very much. Can't wait to hear all of your stories. Keep up the good work and make the most of it!

    Lots of love,

    Your big bro Alex

  6. To Roz Hodson - Charlie 2

    Impressed by the size of hell hole. What you need is a Barn digger!

    Love to know what was is so riveting in the travel puzzle book.

    Glad to see that you are all looking so happy.

    See you very soon, lots of love :-) xxxxxxxx

  7. message for charlotte ali, hi aunty charlotte missing you loads, it is only one day untill halloween and nanny pat is doing us a halloween tea party. nanny is dressing up as a witch she said and she has bought us loads of treats :) cant wait for you to come home missing you loads XXX jayden and kai XXX

  8. Hi Alex,
    Looks like you are having a fantastic time!! Glad to see all the great work you and your team are doing. I miss you oodles but am doing good. I'm taking Ellis out shopping in a couple of weeks :) Anyway, lots of love WB.
    Hugs, Nicky xxxx

  9. Claire van Doeveren Tango 5
    Wat heerlijk om je weer te zien, je ziet er goed uit.....Afzien, doorzetten en doorgaan, ondertussen hopelijk genietend van de pure natuur en mooie uitzichten. Je hebt me enorm verrast dat ik van je hoorde, al was het kort. We waren er allemaal blij mee....Claire geniet ervan en wij genieten mee via de blog! xxx mama

  10. Hi Kate, echo 3. You look brilliant XXXX

  11. For Amelia Ayliffe charlie 1.
    AMELIA! Sorry its taken me ages to write you a message, I was't really sure how to. I miss you too much, oh gosh I can't wait till you get back!
    I've been reading about your adventures, keep up the hard work man. I saw you went for a curry, i can imagine you not being able to eat it coz its too spicy haha. Also, can't wait to see you in your saree. Have an amazing time and can't wait for you to tell me about it in person. COME TO LEEDS. Love you always, Steffy XXXX

    ALSO, whenever I hear 'Hawaiian Air' I think of you, and yes I am still obsessed with Gyptian X

  12. Hi Will (Tango 5)
    Great to see the photos of you on the blog.Look forward to you recreating that dish for us at home....(hmmm)! Theo wants to know if you got leeched? Much love from us all at home, love M xxx

  13. Helenor and Dave31 October 2011 at 02:04

    To Dan, Echo 3 Hi Dan, We still get stupidly excited when we see you on the blog and hear how Echo 3 are getting on. Getting your message was brill. We've gained an hour here in the UK so the nights are closing in and it's getting dark early. Dad and I are making the most of the relatively warm weather tho - walks along the canal, etc. Bumped into Sue, Elliot's Mum at the Nascot this pm - she sent you her love and very best wishes. Hope you enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation back at fieldbase on Tues. Can't wait to find out what project you're on next ... Love Mum and Dad xx

  14. Hi Lucy! I've just seen you in the Tango 5 photos! It all looks rather soggy and misty there now! I bet you'll love home comforts when you get back to field base! I sent you a letter - a real one - and I'll send another tomorrow, to keep you up to date with home news. I miss you lots and keep telling Roo that you'll be home soon...well, soonish. I bet you're having a wonderful time. Lots of love and hugs from Mum xxx

  15. For Anna Roberts (Charlie 1)
    Hi Anna, Hope you get this during your 36 hour break at Fieldbase. Would be nice if you could get a nice shower so you feel less tramp-like! I wonder if you have the luxury of hot water...maybe not. Bet you'd give anything for one of your long luxurious baths.... It was lovely to see the pictures of you in the Charlie 1 blog and to read about the completion of the toilets. I wonder if you've bought a sari, I think they are beautiful, but there is definitely an art to putting them on. You'll have to show me how it's done when you get back. Noticed you can now add 'official toilet guide' to your CV as well as brick layer, cement maker, porridge maker, and that's after only one project, just think what you'll be able to do after 11 weeks! Marc, Jo + kids send their love, you should be getting a message from them soon. In my next letter I'll send pictures of Daisy, Ross, James etc at the Halloween party.....they went as 'KISS' - well worth seeing! Hope you're taking loads of photos can't wait to see everything you're seeing first hand. Anyway, have a lovely break and enjoy the opportunity to 'chill-out a bit. Love you, take care. Mum & Dad xxxxx

  16. To Jenni, Echo 3.
    Hi Jenni, hope you are ok, thank you so much for the comment, it was amazing to hear from you! Had a smile on my face all day after I had read it. The pictures look great, you look like you are having an amazing time. Everything here is going well - I finally told work I'm leaving the other day so it is all arranged now! Coming out cant come quick enough now, only a month and half go! :) I hope you have got my first letter by now, I am going to send another one tomorrow and will try and print out a few pictures from White Night to put in as well. Missing you everyday. Lots of love J xxx

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  18. Gem Bennett - Echo 3

    Hey Hun, Looks like your having an amazing time. You look really well and happy in the photos. France was good had lovely weather, Saw the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. Screamed on space mountain in disney and spent too much money. Everyone keeps asking how your doing and loads of us are following on the blog. Sams definaltley missing you now he keeps curling up at the end if your bed. Saw Mark and Em last night they came round to give mum her Bday pressie. Chloe is walking now cant belive how much she changes everytime we see her. Bonfire night on saturday hopefully weather is good. Love from all here.

    Lisa xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Great to see the pics of the loop and to see how the projects are doing. It all looks very impressive and hard work. There seems to be lots of rain!
    The calf looks sweet. Did you see it born? Have you learned how to milk the cow?
    Love from us all.

  20. lieve esmee charlie 2
    na een aantal dagen buitenland met lieke, hebben we weer heel wat te lezen over jullie avonturen . Leuke foto's ,leuke verhalen. Het doet me goed om je vrolijk op de foto te zien staan . Volgens mij kom je morgen terug op de fieldbase. Wat leesvoer is dan wel leuk. Eline, vandaag aan de telefoon gehad . Even bijgekletst, fijn om haar stem ook weer even te horen.Eline heeft het blog geprobeerd,maar het is niet gelukt .Ze gaat het nog een keer proberen,haha .Toch wel knap dat het je moeder wel lukt . Ik stijg vast in aanzien! Las het berichtje van julia ,wat balen dat de studie toch is tegen gevallen. Ik weet zeker dat ze een studie gaat vinden die wel bij haar past .Weet je al wat je de komende weken gaat doen ? dikke kus xxxxxx mama

  21. To: Julie Scheer

    Liefste Juul, Ik heb vandaag een brief voor je geschreven, hoop dat je hem snel ontvangt. Ik mis je ontzettend erg, maar ik geloof dat je het helemaal naar je zin hebt daar! Geniet lief, ik hou van je!

  22. lieve esmee
    even een berichtje van het thuisfront. .na 4 dagen Marrakech is het gewone leven weer begonnen. Lieke is vandaag begonnen aan haar stage . Een lange dag voor de boeg . Ik ben benieuwd naar haar verhalen. We zullen straks onder het genot van een bakje heerlijke Marokkaanse thee, de ervaringen wel horen. Als het goed is ben je nu op de fieldbase en hebben jullie je eerste project afgerond .ik hoop dat je even kan bellen dikke kus mama

  23. lieve Esmee

    Ik blijf maar berichtjes sturen in de hoop dat er een door komt. is het fijn om even terug te zijn op de fieldbase? Een rust momentje of toch weer actie? de brief voor Eline is aangekomen . Ik zal de brief aan haar geven.Gisteren heb ik een super lange brief aan je geschreven. Over drie weken dus genoeg leesvoer. Ben je trouwens een dagboek aan het bijhouden ? dikke kus mama

  24. ieve Esmee

    Ik blijf maar berichtjes sturen in de hoop dat er een door komt. is het fijn om even terug te zijn op de fieldbase? Een rust momentje of toch weer actie? de brief voor Eline is aangekomen . Ik zal de brief aan haar geven.Gisteren heb ik een super lange brief aan je geschreven. Over drie weken dus genoeg leesvoer. Ben je trouwens een dagboek aan het bijhouden ? dikke kus mama

  25. Anne-Roos Hesselmans1 November 2011 at 16:06

    Claire van Doeveren tango 5
    Heeee lieverd,
    Ik ben blij je even gesproken te hebben, mis je wel hier hoor! Vooral onze vrijdag avonden haha. ik ga eens even op onderzoek uit om er achter te komen hoe ik je een brief/kaart kan sturen, dan ga ik ook even back to basics door te schrijven ipv te typen! Tot over een tijdje, xxxxxxx roos

  26. For Zoe Coles Charlie 2.
    Hey Zoe! Looks like you're having a fantastic time. I really hope you enjoy and get as much as you can from this amazing experience, which it sure looks like you are :)
    Missing you in Cardiff,
    Sam Li

  27. Sterre, Charlie 2
    Hi lieve sterrie! heb net je foto's zitten kijken en wat een modderzooi zeg, haha. Wel ziet het er gaaf uit, maar lijkt me allemaal super zwaar! Was even een probleempje met dit blog gebeure want snapte er geen snars van..Heel veel succes met je nieuwe project en keep up the good work, je bent een toppertje en ik mis je heel erg!! Love you x Robine

  28. for ANNA ROBERTS(charlie 1)
    hello lady pictures are fantastic your so talented :p you can build us a house in london then we're sorted!
    i think your mum got confused of the kiss pictures obviously i'm not in them i'm just a very talented make up artist! i cant believe your in india with a guy with ginger dreads what are the chances!! i'll send my letter soon hopefully it's worth the wait.... love you with all my heart your bestest friend daisy xxxxx

  29. For Amelia Ayliffe, charlie 1
    it's anna, i totally didn't blog enough in the last month so i'm gunna blog like crazy for the last, what is it, 3 weeks? i think. imagine how many bbm/phone/skype convo's we actually would have had in a month, there's so much irrelevant crap we havn't said to eachother! haha
    i've decided i don't care how tired you are when you get home, you can have a little chat with you're family and then you can CALL ME! i've forgotten what your voice sounds like! :o
    if you think you are going straight from australia to america then you have another thing coming missy. haha. or you can just invite me out to america ;) i'm sure i could handle that! hahaha
    it's towie night tonight, the girls and one of the guys in my flat all watch it together with tea- so cute. (tea is dinner up north, and lunch is called dinner! haha) it's like a different language. i'm not even that north aswell, when we visit jadams in newcastle we'll need an interpreter! hahhaha

  30. For Stephanie B
    Hey Steph, we have just seem your profile in Fi's local magazine and we are so proud. Love all the pics, although I dont see very many with you in them. You'll be sad to learn my group 4shore from VA beach did not make it and Kim K has already filed for divorce.
    surprise surprise!!
    Everyone here is well, just waiting to Caz to drop the baby already....love you

  31. Robyn charlie 1
    Hi Robyn
    Glad to see your wearing your fashionable sandels bet their really comfy!! You look really happy, well done for completing your trek. heard about the chicken from your mum, You'll have no trouble preparing the turkey for Christmas now!! We are off to India tonight, have a great time building your eco units, will catch up when we get back!!Love and Kisses Grandma and Bobxxxxxx