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The end of the year is approaching, bringing with it that sense of slowdown, of a subtle gear shift across my life and the lives of people making plans to be elsewhere in December. Something in the last, frantic rush to Get Things Done has meant that I’ve been a little neglectful of this space. For which I apologise. And move swiftly on, loathing those blogs which are little more than periodic apologies for non-posting. It’s the blogging equivalent of those statements that begin “I don’t mean to be rude, but…”. Write, or don’t. I will.

The next three months at least promise to be busy. I’ve been making plans and squeezing the last inches out of my budget to make it all hang together, but now everything seems to be in place. So this is a condensed update of the things you can expect to see me write about. Or write in a manner affected by.

On the first of December, it’s time to get back in the air. I land in Entebbe, Uganda at 9pm and hit the ground running. The next morning sees an interview with the Refugee Law Project about the work they do with former IDPs (internally displaced people) in the north, before Thomas, Saskia, Naomi and I will head north to Gulu to get on with the challenge of documenting as many stories as possible in the two weeks we will have there. Besides the areas I mentioned that I was keen to focus on in a previous post (rehabilitation programs, demining and South Sudanese refugee camps), naomi has also mentioned that there will be an event of some sort happening at Pabbo, one of the largest IDP camps, that we can tag along to.

I’m excited for what should actually be real downtime. Not roughing it in chicken buses, not pushing myself hard to get things done, not doing anything except spending some time with Katherine and relaxing as thoroughly as possible.

Flying back to Johannesburg on the 17th, it’s back on a plane with me on the 18th to fly to London, where¬† I will be spending a good few weeks with my (much) better half, exploring the city, eating roasted chestnuts, toasting the Queen and whatever else it is that one does in Britain. I’m excited for what should actually be real downtime. Not roughing it in chicken buses, not pushing myself hard to get things done, not doing anything except spending some time with Katherine and relaxing as thoroughly as possible. The problem with ends-of-years, for me at any rate, is that they always find me wound up quite emotionally tightly. It’s more than likely a product of insufficient rest the rest of the year, but I hate that it gets in the way of really good writing – the honest stuff that I love to revisit on these pages when I need a little emotional kick in the pants. Between Uganda and the United Kingdom, I should hopefully find that emotional center again, and have much less white noise floating around the creative synapses.

Then, sometime in mid to late January, it’s back to South Africa, back to Grahamstown and enrolment again. I’m a sucker for punishment, and something about journalism appeals. So I applied for – and have been accepted to – the university’s MA program. Which means the next year or two spent doing a great deal more writing of all sorts. Given a choice, and inspired a little by the people around me, I’d like to try find a research topic that would involve more travelling back to places like Uganda. But arguing and pleading for it can wait until I am rested, returned, and have practiced getting the pitch of my pleading voice just right.

So there’s my holiday plans. I hope you have made yours by this point in the year too, and that they serve equally to unfuzz your creative passages and bring you back in 2011 as bright, shiny and strong.