Well at last it’s that time of the year again when I pack up my bags, try and remember everything we have to take, sort out the things we leave behind for a few weeks and fly off to the Gambia to help organise and support the Dombondir and Kartong Festivals.

Dombondir takes place in a beautiful quiet village in the Casamance area of Senegal bringing together amazing music, dance and wrestling in an extraordinary, colourful explosion of joy and culture! This is happening at the end of January closely followed on Feb 11th – 13th by the vibrant Kartong Festival just over the border in the Gambia.

We are very much involved with the organisation of Kartong Festival and gradually encouraging the local people to take more and more of the responsibility for it so that eventually it will hopefully happen whether we’re there or not! This year will be the sixth one so they’ve got lots of experience now.

I always feel a bit nervous going and leaving home for so long (back end of February) but excited at the same time and looking forward to seeing old friends and no doubt making some new ones. The music and dance are just wonderful and I’ll have the chance to play flute with my friend Moriba who plays the Kora (African harp) and hopefully we’ll play a set at Dombondir. We’ll also be having a week of sabar drumming workshops with Modou Diouf at Mama Sanchaba’s too.

We’ve said most of our goodbyes and have only tomorrow left for any last minute panics or shopping then it’s off we go from Birmingham airport early on Tuesday.

I’ll be sending text updates to Twitter regularly which will automatically update my Facebook status even without being able to get to the internet very often and hopefully be able to check my email every week or so but in the meantime goodbye for a while – keep well and I’ll bring back lots of lovely photos in a few weeks time.

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