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7.30am actually 9.00am! Waiting seems to be a national past time. Arrive at the site to a welcome of bright yellow marigold necklaces and lead off to our house by home owner’s wife. Diminutive beautiful lady with a dazzling smile. Hubby is wizened and worried. The partially built house nestles on the hillside with an aspect that would be worth millions in UK. Mud brick walls with two rooms on either side of a narrow corridor.


Their present home is a squat up the slope: little better than a stack of timber and corrugated iron. We have our safety talk and set to work. We have to build up the walls that have already been started. Mix the red clay from the adjacent slope into mud mortar by sloshing round in wellies provided. Hump bricks down slope from a store 50 yards away. Bricks are carried in a basket on the back with a strap around the head.


Nigel soon enters into a competition with 28 year-old Darius as to who can carry most. Seems they tied at 32 whereas our little Nepali wife regularly carries at least 35! Sloping mud mortar on the wall and laying the bricks is very therapeutic. House is shaded in the morning but as the day proceeds the sun overhead becomes hotter and hotter and the sweat starts to hurt my eyes. Should have brought a bandana and risked looking a prat or more of a prat! Plenty of water provided and we are lectured on perils of dehydration.


Lunch in a large bamboo marquee. Excellent chicken curry and veg. Several hundred have to be fed in 45 mins. Talked to a Kiwi structural engineer about the Christchurch earthquake – apparently the problem was liquefaction of the sand/gravel soils! Very interesting! Afternoon more humping and laying. Kids fascinated by my camera – little boy, Asok (11), runs off with it and takes pictures of all and sundry. Back to hotel at 5.30pm. Pep talk in evening – Habitat leader Stefan is very inspiring. Dinner on terrace by candlelight. Ribbed Glyn for his wonky wall building. Two Everests and bed. Long call to Sue.


Cast list: Our team: Leader Stefan from Habitat, Glyn, Clive, Peter, Linda, Nigel, Ali and me. Also Maria (veteran of many Builds), daughter Jess and adopted son, Darius. Nepali translator and guide: Naveen – student actually studying hotel management. Home owner: Hera (42), (always worried) looks 62, Wife, Onita (32), (with the lovely smile) looks 22 – has a daughter, 16, at school in Pokhara and staying with an uncle. Son, Asok, (cheeky smile) Builder, Preem (never saw him smile) Zulu, so christened by Nigel because of her unpronounceable name - teenage girl cousin & friend. Stream of Nepali visitors come to see the curious people in funny hats sweating up and down the slope.


Day 3: Wake up at 4am with a raging sore throat – Jez, is it bird ‘flu?! Days start to settle down into routine. Breakfast on terrace with the beautiful view – set off 7.30am-ish! Straight into building and humping bricks. Gaggle of locals come to watch our antics from the terrace above. God knows what they think of this bunch of wealthy white skinned people sweating away. Cloudy so not so hot – no water breaks. Benighted loudspeaker is turned off by film crew making publicity film. Thank God! Mixture of


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