Wednesday, 30 May 2012

This is summer

Welcome summer.

You with your already warm mornings in which the foxes find squares of sun to snatch sleep. Your weekend days which set parks and commons around London alight with life; footballs, bbqs, cider, and sunglasses.

It's endless posters for festivals, large and small, on the tube; Pimms from a plastic jug, in a pub beer garden, stuffed with more fruit than liquid. Seemingly endless days of light which start well before you want them to, but end just a bit before you wish them.

The air is filled with ongoing talk of summer holidays to Spain, Sardinia, Barbados and Brighton. Sunscreen flies off the shelves, along with sausages, sandals, hummus, shorts, charcoal, posh hats, and G&T in a can.

It's wonderful to have you back summer. With a calendar that's filled with parties, horse races, 1940s dress-ups, numerous picnics, a river procession fit for a queen, the world's biggest sporting spectacle, theatre, comedy and a spit-roasted birthday pig in a backyard, we're bound to have a good time together this year.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Dear Ghana

As I find myself back in my real world, I just wanted to say...

...Thank you.

Thanks to all the taxi drivers who took me from one side of the city, to the other. Going out of their way to make sure I got to the correct destination, even if they had to ask twenty different people for directions. Ben: I'll let you know if I find you a white lady to marry.

And to Prince, the wonderful receptionist at Pink Hostel, thank you for being so patient with me and giving me directions three times over when I looked lost, for fixing me up with a phone, printing, taxis, and highlights of the FA Cup (even though the reception was so bad there were 33 players on the pitch).

Thanks Ghana for being so innovative and supplying water in bags rather than just bottles. A tenth of the price and so much less packaging. Smart idea.

And I can't forget all of the wonderful people I spoke to, in particular the two very inspiring academics who looked after me so well, calling anyone and everyone who they thought might be of any assistance to me.

To the University of Ghana, with the best reputation in Western Africa, thank you for reminding me what it is like to be part of an academic institution again. To walk amongst the buildings, from faculty to faculty, alongside thousands of others, all just trying to learn some stuff.

Thank you Ghana. For your intriguing history, big smiles, burning heat, drums, song, dust, breeze, strength, forward thinking, and generosity.

See you soon.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Getting back on the travelling horse

I used to be a relatively intrepid traveller. Almost 11 years ago, I threw a rucksack on my back, and spent two months in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Of course we all know that travelling around South East Asia isn't particularly intrepid. It's so well trodden, all the 20 somethings have practically worn holes in the region with their converse trainers. But when you're 21 and it's just you and your Lonely Planet, it all feels pretty ground breaking.

And so, when, over a decade later, I found myself with similar jitters, on a different continent, I wondered where I'd gone wrong.

If you'd asked me as I stepped off that plane in Bangkok, whether I thought I'd ever be anxious about travelling when I was in my 30s, you would have gotten a funny look. Surely someone who managed, at 21, a ferry trip across the Melaka Straits, a bus trip next to some Indonesian guy apparently called Romeo who kept telling me he loved me (despite the husband and two children I told him I had waiting for me), and the experience of sitting in a guesthouse straight after 9/11 and watched CNN report they thought Bin Laden might be in that very country, couldn't be having travel nerves?

Well, the fact is, I was out of practice. London living, with its luxury travel options and package tours, had wrapped me in a boring bundle of cotton wool. I needed to get back on the horse. And that horse was to be a TAP Portugal flight to Accra.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Oh the things I've seen

I've seen some interesting sights in the four days I've been in Accra.

Here's a collection:

 It's a three day miracle explosion at the Accra Sports Stadium. How did I manage to miss that?

'Christ Cares' - the divine choice for all your photocopying, printing and binding needs

  • The two guys walking down the road each with a huge bundle of remote controls on their shoulders
  •  The women with huge stainless steel trays of peanuts in shells, stacked in a perfect pyramid, beautifully balanced on their heads as they weave between the cars at traffic lights
  • (not really a sight but...) listening to Louis Armstrong's 'what a wonderful world' whilst tearing down the highway in my taxi with shiny, spiky, Ben Hur-esque hub caps
  • The guy at the traffic lights who tried to sell me a TV aerial with a cheeky smile on his face. Actually considering the state of the home entertainment at Franconia, perhaps I should have taken him up on it.
  •  The 'God is Great Chop House' which I saw next to the Nurses and Midwives Council building this afternoon

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Hello Africa. Hello Ghana.

There was nothing quite like watching the moon rise over the African continent last Saturday evening. Below me lay winding riverbeds like twisted scarves of silk, a slightly darker shade of red than the dirt around them. Great expanses of sand came and went, until the next time I looked up from my Vanity Fair, a heavy darkness had pushed out the light, until the morning.

That morning would find me in Ghana, West Africa.