Would you tell us a few things about yourself that you view as strengths?
How about one weakness?
ok just one then - stubbornness - which makes me press on with things that should have been abandoned long ago
Are you a photographer, writer or painter by profession - or all of the above?
At one stage I was working as a freelance travel writer, then I went into partnership with a friend in a small art gallery in Chobe, Botswana. This was such a steep learning curve that the travel writing fell into disrepair. Whenever i can i splodge away at very amateur watercolours - i love landscapes and the translucence of water colour as a medium.
Have you always lived in Africa?'
no, i was born in Canada, but my parents were English and the family moved back to UK two years after i was born. i lived there until my early twenties when i followed my heart to Africa.
What three things would you like us to know about Botswana?
Botswana's people are generally friendly and calm, they tend to avoid confrontation and aggression, thus were recognised as leading peacekeeping forces with the UN in Africa;
the Okavango Delta in Botswana is the worlds only inland delta - a water wonderland viewed from land or air supporting a wealth of biodiversity beyond the limits of imagination- please lets look after it;
Botswana diamonds are the mainstay of the economy and they are LEGAL - not blood diamonds - IF you are buying diamonds please make sure they come from Botswana!
You seem to live in the middle of a wildlife preserve, with many exotic visitors beyond the monkeys on your roof. This provides you with jaw-dropping photographic opportunities, but I wonder if you have ever felt endangered by your amazing 'visitors'?
What misperceptions about Africa have you noticed are commonplace among non-Africans?
Can you recommend a couple of African writers/books we should know about?
there are so many, but recently i loved reading Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott about her life growing up in eastern Botswana - it gives some great insights and character sketches!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
feeling a bit low on achievements right now so hard to say;
What quality do you value most in your friends? loyalty, humour and depth
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
assuming you are not talking about cosmetic surgery, because i wouldn't know where to start with that, one thing I would change about myself would be improved self-discipline!
What do you consider the most over-rated virtue? abstinence/self denial (you see the problem?)
Which living person do you most admire?
right now, my friend who is bravely fighting a terminal disease, and despite the ravages of her physical deterioration and pain, is keeping her spirit strong - plus her family who are with her and caring for her at this emotional time
I'm sorry to hear about your friend. There is much to learn from the courage and dignity of many with terminal illness. Is there a historical figure, or a figure from literature, you identify with?
I like the fact that British history is full of strong independent and capable women
How do you play? is facebook really a time waster? i quite like it
How do you attend to your spiritual needs?
i am supremely fortunate to live in a vibrant natural area; i fill up my batteries from the natural energies around me; I love reiki, and some time back received the reiki attunements, although i don't practice it enough, it has still helped me enormously in many ways. I read a lot of books and where possible talk to like minded and or inspirational friends.
Is there one thing you wish you had learned or discovered earlier in your life?
I always wanted to travel - couldn't wait to learn to drive, and dreamt of far off places; not because i didn't love where i was but the romance and adventure of distant shores had a heady appeal. What I didn't know then was that the curse of the perpetual traveller is to always yearn for places and people loved and left along the way. But i am not sure whether, had i known this, anything would have changed
What do you still want to learn?
as much as possible! I need to improve my Setswana language, photography, writing and painting skills; I'd like to learn more about bees, and all things natural in the world, and how to live with them.
How do you make your life meaningful?
i like to think everything we do creatively together or separately, helps to publicise the preciousness and vulnerability of our natural resources. If people find their roots in the earths community of species, we may start to honour our surroundings and ourselves again.
What is your greatest fear?
What sustains you through difficult times? feeling loved - if i do at the time
What two or three pieces of advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
trust yourself and listen to your inner voice; do something you love to do and the rest will fall into place
What brought you to blogging?
Miranda from The Times of Miranda blogspot; i stumbled onto her blog somehow and loved it; Miranda is the daughter of my great friend forever, Pam of Spiny Marshmallow blogspot. I started blogging as a writing exercise to try to remove a blockage, but quickly realised that blogging is so much more than that.
What keeps you blogging?
What have you learned from the experience of blogging?
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers of your blog? i can wiggle my ears!
What is your favorite word?
i love words; i love the sound of words often more than the meanings, and try to remember to use that when writing. I think 'monkey' is a fun word don't you?
Monkey IS funny; aardvark is a word that always makes me giggle too! What is your least favorite word?
i think 'blog' is such an ugly word for something that displays so much beauty and gives so much fun to so many.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? a gorgeous landscape
What turns you off? bigotry
What sound or noise do you love?
I love the racket made by frogs on the night after the first big rain; sometimes we drive to the waterhole and just listen; its a raucous symphony of sound that fills up your whole head. Its so jubilant and celebratory too.
What sound or noise do you hate? the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard
What question have I neglected to ask that would have given readers more insight into who you are? what's my favourite colour?
What is the answer to that question? rainbow
Your blog offers us a rainbow in terms of the variety of sights and adventures we may experience vicariously there. Thank you so much for this glimpse into your amazing life, Val.
To visit Val at Monkeys On The Roof, click here.