Week 35

It’s not often I find myself laughing out loud doing my research for this diary but today I did just that. I was working on my entry for the tigers, who have reached the town of Jagodina in central Serbia. As usual, Google is my best friend for learning about new places, so searching for Jagodina,  the first page I found was “24 Hours in Jagodina” on serbia.com. The opening paragraph seems to tell us all we need to know: “Do you enjoy being outdoors? Do you like water attractions? Or do you like animals better? Or, would you rather have a glimpse of the past? Then make sure you visit a city in the flatlands of central Serbia named after a most delicious fruit.” (the fruit is strawberry). There’s even a cute photo of a tiger cub in the local zoo being fed from a baby’s bottle, and it’s our feature image for today, in honour of our tigers making a visit. Clearly, Jagodina is a place not to miss.

Jagodinsko Beer

I usually look for more than one site to tell me about a place and I’m so glad I did this for Jagodina, or I might never have found this page! It’s from a website called “An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery” so that should give a clue as to what to expect! Read it if you have the time but some highlight sentences from it if you don’t have time: “What the hell are you doing in Jagodina?”; “It has an ex-mayor who some refer to as ‘eccentric’, with others preferring words such as ‘insane’ or ‘criminal’”; “Even the most passionate of Jagodinite will tell you that it isn’t a pretty town”; “you may not be aware but Jagodina also has its own beer. The beer has a 14% rating on ratebeer.com”; “An afternoon in Jagodina is an enjoyable one, as long as you bring at least a pinch of salt”. Hmmmm – who to believe…? I need to go there! Tigers, we expect a full report…

Buzi Makola Satellite Image

Meanwhile, far to the south in Pakistan, the peacocks have just passed through the large Buzi Makola Wildlife Sanctuary on the southern coast, one of more than 30 protected areas in the Balochistan District of Pakistan. It’s centred round a large lagoon and is home to nearly 300 land and sea species that are on the IUCN Red List, meaning they are in danger in some or other way. Most worrying for our team, the Indian Peafowl is among that number, and though it’s on the lower end of the danger scale it’s there nonetheless. Among some of the other species, even more critically endangered, are the beautiful  Zebra Shark and the majestic  Steppe Eagle. For a full list and a fascinating read when you have some time click this link, scroll down to ‘species’, and toggle the ‘show all’ entries button.

Pavo cristatus,Pfau, Indian Peafowl, Blue Peafowl, Peacock
Indian Peafowl

Having hopefully caught a glimpse of their Indian peafowl cousins in Buzi Makola, the peacocks are now in the seaside resort of Ormara. Nothing shows a place quite like a video so take a look at this from a Pakistani blogger, to get a taste of the town! Or choose from dozens of others – video blogging is quite the pastime in Pakistan! Have a well deserved rest and enjoy some of that rather nice looking Dahl at the Winder restaurant. 

Between the tigers in Serbia and the peacocks in Pakistan we find our snow leopards and wee monkeys, making steady progress through Iran. Seeing them on the map, in the middle of the mountains and desert, it seems a world away from the wild party town of Ormara. As they make their way through the desert landscape I’m sure many things cross their minds, and maybe some members of the team could write and tell us what these things are? But in the absence of anything to confirm what that might be I’m going to hazard a guess that food is never far from the mind!

Iranian Breakfast

Well, even though they are in the middle of the desert our teams are in the right country for some delicious food. To find out more I paid a visit to the mouth-watering website with the no-nonsense name of iran-cuisine.com and what a feast for the eyes I found, as well as the mouth no doubt. I have to confess that I’ve not yet prepared any of the recipes yet, but I will. Here’s a challenge for all the Chaparda Challengers – find a recipe from any of the countries you’ve passed through, cook it at home, and send some photographs or  video for our weekly diary! And here’s my pledge – anyone who comes to Scotland for the Great Glencoe Challenge in July will get something cooked for them from one of our countries (but at this stage I’m not saying what!). We began in York so maybe a Yorkshire Pudding? Or some Belgian frites? A (veggie) German sausage maybe? or something more exotic? A Turkish kebab? Something from iran-cusine.com? who knows…?

OK, enough rambling from me – all that talk of food tells me I need to eat something before the Strictly results show… But before signing off, I want to mark a very special milestone that was passed this week: our combined mileage for the Chaparda Challenge has passed 15,000 miles!! What an amazing achievement! As of this evening the total distance covered by all of our teams was 15,048 miles, so please, everyone, take a bow. And well done to everyone. That was achieved by covering 453 miles this week, and in addition to that another £60 was added to our fundraising total, which now stands at £5,499. Marvellous…!

Have a good week, and don’t forget to make and report on those recipes.