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Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Thursday, 1 July 2010 11:49 UK
Reporter Faye tells of trip to Kenya with Irish Guards
By Faye Harland
BBC Berkshire Reporter

Faye Harland in Kenya
Faye meets children in Kenya while she follows the Irish Guards in training

"How was Kenya?" I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked that question since I returned.

"You might think it would be easy enough to answer but, the truth is, I really haven't known where to begin.

"It all started about a year ago, not long after the Irish Guards moved back into Victoria Barracks in Windsor after an absence of almost thirty years.

"I was chatting to one of their officers and he mentioned plans for a six week training exercise in Kenya.

"The exercise would be part of their preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

"Before even thinking about it, I'd suggested BBC Berkshire send a reporter out there with them and that was it.

On my way

Faye camped with the soldiers on the trip

"Forms were filled out, risk assessments completed, vaccinations done.

"I was told to expect basic living conditions, pack a sleeping bag and get myself some decent footwear.

"Before I knew it, in March 2010, I was at Heathrow, armed with a head torch and industrial strength mosquito repellent, wondering what on earth I'd got myself into.

"Perhaps I should explain that this is the first time I've done anything like this in a BBC career that spans more than fifteen years in TV and radio.

"I've covered my fair share of disasters and murders but I had never been abroad for work and had never travelled to Africa before.

"Since the birth of my son, 6 years ago, I've been pretty much office bound so it's fair to say I was way out of my comfort zone.

roads in kenya
The roads were barely "roads" says Faye

"I didn't even own a rucksack and had to borrow one from a more intrepid colleague on the basis that my wheelie suitcase probably wasn't up to the job. Friends and family seemed bemused by the whole expedition.

"I hate camping, am not exactly what you'd call fit and have an unhealthy attachment to my hair straighteners."

On the road

"Ten hours later and we're on the road to BATUK. The British Army Training Unit Kenya is a small, permanent base on the outskirts of Nairobi that provides the logistic support for visiting units during their six week stay in the country.

"Now when I say "road", I use the term loosely. As I was soon to discover, tarmac is a rare commodity in Kenya and where it is in evidence, it is rarely continuous.

"Even the main roads out of Nairobi are treacherous by our standards.

"Potholes the size of English counties, speed bumps were without warning at all and no street lighting makes driving a real challenge.

Tent with mosquito net
Sleeping arrangements were camp beds with mosquito nets

"After forty minutes we arrive at BATUK to be greeted by our minders for the week.

"Warrant Officer Ben Culleton, a clerk with the Adjutant General's Corps attached to the Irish Guards in Windsor and Private Jade Burden, also with the AGC, was drafted in because of her much needed driving skills. By now it was nearly midnight.

"A camp bed encased in a mosquito net awaited. Proper introductions would have to wait until the morning."

Come back to BBC Berkshire for the next instalment of Faye's experiences in Kenya.


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