Friday, October 30, 2009


I want this, despite the somewhat sporadic nature of the posts, to be a pristine record of my time en Afrique, not contaminated by the day-to-dayities of life now I'm back. I'm therefore putting it on hiatus (is that the correct use of hiatus?) until such time as I truly once again miss bacon butties. Or that I miss the time when I missed bacon butties and wish to reminisc.

I have thus migrated here, to the rather boringly, yet functionaly named, alison's blog. More exciting name to follow, whence I've had inspiration.

I hope to be a little more regular in my blog movements.


ps i have noticed the dual meaning to 'miss bacon butties' and i wonder what such a lady would look like...?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Ok, so I’m back. I’m home, my African adventure is over, I can now have bacon butties as and when I wish (except I can’t as I am currently residing with Parents and mother has decided that, due to Ethical Reasons, we should be vegetarian about 6/7ths of the week), my tan is fading, my feet are constantly cold and I am learning to speak English properly again.

I’ve actually been back about two months, and have been enjoying my freedom, gallivanting off to various glamorous locations (New York, Barcelona, the south of France, Portsmouth and Chichester) and now am coming to the very real conclusion that I Need To Find A Job. More than anything, I feel like I need My Own Space (and to be allowed to eat chicken). Now my younger sister has left for London for eight weeks I have spread, much to my mother’s chagrin, to her room, and Alison’s Stuff now occupies all three ‘spare bedrooms’. (My Maternal Parent has a favourite story about Alison’s Stuff. When they last moved house, about a month after I left to go to Ghana, she asked the removal men if they had any tips for how she could organise it better next time. “Yes” they answered, referring to the beautifully labelled boxes they had just shovelled into my room “Get Alison to throw some stuff out!”)

Anyway, yesterday, at last, my passive-job-searches (send CV into about three recruitment agencies, peruse company websites about once every three weeks, moan about how little there is around but stay positive as I am actually aware I ‘haven’t really looked yet’) turned into active-job-searches (actually phone recruitment agencies, seek out careers advice, check company websites a few times a week, and watch positivity ebb away as I am told how little there is around). My friend Em came up for the afternoon and it was under her watchful eye that I started this new proactive approach (thanks Em!).

I’m actually starting to miss Ghana, particularly Kumasi. I miss the friends I made there and I miss the community spirit. I miss being able to meet people so easily because you stand out (how on earth do I meet people of a kindred spirit in Wolverhampton?!), I miss the depth of relationships with friends, of course I miss the weather, and I miss the simplicity of life... although it was simple in a complex way! I also miss the friendliness and openness of Ghanaians! I think I have come to the conclusion that one day, I expect I will be back in Africa in some capacity. Just not yet though!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

window shopping

I thought I would share some of the things one can buy on a drive round Accra by merely winding down one's car windows... ... by no means an exhaustive list...

plantain chips
in-car phone chargers
yam chips
toilet roll
apples (appow appow)
flashing koosh balls
fan yogo/fan choco/fan ice
car footmats
those plastic butterflies that are on long handles and when you roll them along the ground their wings flutter

steering wheel covers
meat pie
car seat covers
ground nuts
pyuaa watter
tampico (juice)
map of Ghana
map of the world

phone units (credit)

car air freshners
alphabet chart
counting chart


Thursday, August 6, 2009

musical snobbery

I’m going to New York in September with a couple of friends… a spontaneous girly trip to do some shopping, some sightseeing – and the Sex And The City tour. We also decided we should go to Broadway to enjoy a musical, but I informed my friends that I have a bit of musical snobbery, and some of them I refuse to see. I blame my logical engineering brain. I mean, musicals aren’t real are they? They tell plausible stories (ie not science fiction), but come on, who breaks into song in the middle of a walk to work in real life? Or does a full scale dance while they’re cleaning the kitchen. It’s just silly. Plus they have no plots, and are highly predictable anyway. I remember when I first vocalised this theory as to why I don’t like musicals my friend Em spent three days conversing with me in song. Hilarious.
There are a few exceptions. Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I absolutely love, due to many a car journey when I was younger when the soundtrack would be playing on repeat the whole way to our destination and back. My younger sister and I can recite it, with all the oos, aaahs, pauses and inflexions. I was taken to see it at Christmas and I was irrepressible. And Grease, what girl doesn’t like Grease? And I saw Chicago at the cinema and thought that was pretty good, though to be fair a little silly.
But Mamma Mia was firmly in the snobbery category. It just sounded like a musical for the sake of being a musical. But a friend invited me to dinner the other day as her husband was travelling for a few days, and they have the film on DVD, and her seven year old daughter loves it and sings and dances along to it, so I agreed, with a good natured smile, to watch it. And enjoyed it sooo much! It was such fun, and didn’t pretend to be anything else. It was what I’d call a ‘romp’! You could see how much fun the cast had whilst filming it in Greece, and that sillyness is really infectious. Julie Walters is fantastic and joyful, Piers Brosnan can’t sing, Colin Firth is, well, Colin Firth. I was totally converted and even, at one point, during Dancing Queen, had a bit of a dance with my friend’s daughter. But don’t tell anyone. I mean, who bursts into song when they post a letter for goodness sake? Ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

twiddling my thumbs

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not really doing much at work at the moment. It’s a bit of a lull, the company is in the process of getting new work, plus I have decided it’s time to go home anyway, so I will be leaving Ghana in a couple of weeks.
So today I have:
· Had an argument with an Indian guy about English grammar (I knew I was right, but my gut feeling was nothing against his dictionary definitions), into which I then dragged friends and family, my Dad eventually shocking me with his knowledge of the pluperfect tense.
· Written a couple of lines of work
· Had many conversations with various people in the office about the dress I am wearing, which was made by a tailor one of the girls in the office knows, and is rather nice
· Stood for a while looking in the full length mirror in the lift and considering how the skirt on aforementioned dress moves like a dairylea cheese portion
· Emailed the lovely Lindsay about river modelling, why men marry African girls and English Grammar,
· Emailed the lovely Sarah about life plans. Mine involves getting a house in the pennies for my adorable children and husband (fictional as yet) with a vegetable patch, chickens, and a composting toilet. Hers involves travelling, puppies and an aga.
· Got upset about this article on the BBC website and wondered what I can do about it
· Vowed to do something ethical like join Amnesty when I get home
· Discussed with some guys in the office why men marry African girls (I have my theories)
· Looked at shoes online and debated what kind of trainers its appropriate to wear these days
· Considered I hope my dress sense (?!) clicks back in when I get home and I don’t end up a) looking like mutton dressed as lamb, b) being TheGirlWhoWentToAfrica and ending up on ‘What Not to Wear’ in a few years thinking I look great in a tie-dyed boubou with concerned friends gathering round saying ‘oh she went to Ghana for two years and lost her self respect!’
· Thought about work
· Written a few lines of work
· Thought about work again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

calling teachers...

Katie from Kumasi came to visit me at the weekend. For the second time in a row. I don’t know whether she misses me or has had enough of Kumasi.

Actually she was blatantly using me this time to go and see Harry Potter, eat salad, sleep in till 9 in a room with AC and meet a friend from the states who’s here for a month to volunteer at Katie’s NGO. But, I am totally open to being used if it means I have people to hang out with!!

I met Katie last year in Kumasi at one of those hardest times of being an expat, when the community of friends I'd built up disappeared in a puff of smoke. I was sunbathing at a local pool in the hope of meeting new obrunis... and it turned out she was doing the same thing (I usually use the phrase 'pimping myself out' but I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea). That was her third summer trip to Ghana, and she was about two thirds of her way through. Katie is a primary school teacher from the states, and had just given up her job to set up and run an NGO to support a little school in Kumasi. Even though it’s a school where the kids have to pay fees, I think she was shocked by the lack of educational facilities and quality of teaching.

So Volunteers In Africa aims to help not only with the teaching, but also with training the teachers to teach - to control the children, use effective discipline, make learning fun; and I guess all the stuff teachers in the US and UK are taught as part of their training. Katie also provides equipment and teaching aids - she brought 14 hold-alls of the stuff this time! VIA also educates kids in the US a little bit about Africa, so the emphasis is really on cross-cultural experiences!

Basically, I think it's great, and I think Katie is great too and I think she has chosen a thankless task! Launching an NGO as the credit crunch hit was probably not the easiest thing to do (although she has ways of getting round it... never mind fun runs or lying in a bath of baked beans for a couple of hours, my Californian friend held a beauty evening with 'cosmetic injections' available)(she tells me San Diego, USA must be a long long way from Manchester, UK). Back at the school, progress is slow and frustrating, and the stories she tells me about day to day school life make me giggle but also make me appreciate how incredibly lucky we are to have available to us the education system we do have. I am also humbled when I am moaning about the service at my four star hotel or the fact I no longer have my own personal driver.

Please have a look at the website, and the cause and group on facebook! And to all my teacher friends, please get in touch if you fancy helping her; with teaching and/or with teacher training! Because it's such a small organisation I think you'd feel you were making a real difference even on a short term trip, and I know she keeps costs to the absolute minimum. And there's a great Indian restaurant in Kumasi.

Monday, July 20, 2009

chocolate cake

Only those of you who have travelled will understand taking photos of food... but this was actually the best chocolate cake in the world. It was warm and gooey in the middle, perfectly rich but not too rich, with smooth vanilla ice cream to contrast. And it was in Ghana, and an hour out of Accra.

For anyone who is in Ghana and wants to know where to get this heavenly food, we were on our way up to the Aburi Botanical gardens. It's probably about ten minutes before you get to Aburi, on the right hand side, 'Hillburi', a restaurant and conference centre, with the promise of chalet accommodation in a few months. The restaurant looks over the Akuapem hills and has stunning views back to Accra. The food is fantastic, the infinity pool clean and cool, and the staff friendly and attentive. We had to fill in a questionnaire and everything.

the movies, ghana style

A friend and I went on saturday to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in the new cinema complex in Accra. It's quite bizarre to have popcorn and sit in big cocooning cinema seats after having fought with the tro tro drivers of Accra on the way to get there, but at last I'm getting used to these crazy contrasts of culture that hit you daily.

What I'm not used to was the African way of watching films. Before it started, I'd say the cinema was about a quarter full, but of course, it filled up as the film was in progress - and not just the trailers, not even just the first few minutes; all the way through people were walking in!

There's a constant hum of chatter too. And people getting up and walking out. Mobile phones ring all the time. The gentleman next to me took a phonecall halfway through, wittering away. I very politely told him not to do it again. The lady next to Katie left when her crying baby wouldnt keep quiet, and was replaced by someone else. And a couple of rows in front of us people were taking pictures of the screen on their phones. And the sound kept going towards the end. I don't appreciate the interruptions to me and my beloved Harry Potter!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the non cocktail cocktail party

We are having a cocktail (‘drinks and small chops’) party after work today as a bit of a company re-launch. Sounds about as exciting as a cold teabag to me. Thing is, I don’t think there’s going to be any cocktails. Which is flaw no. 1 in the evening. I would be a lot happier if I could sit in the corner sipping away on a mojito. Or seven.

It looks like beers to me.

Also, no one seems bothered about concept of driving home after cocktail party. So even if they do have mojitos I shall be able to sip only a half, being the only person who actually has a conscience.

We have a new logo as the 'four men' are no longer legally ours. Can you picture the four men, red and leaning to one direction? Well the new logo, with all the imagination of a fridge, is those four red men mutated into four red blocks all sloping in the same direction as the four men, shaded in the same way.

In the same 'imagination of a fridge' vein, they are currently decorating our balcony in the Ghanaian style which is: wrap bits of material around the pillars and drape them over the windows Roman-style. I could have done waaay better with a few fairy lights. We now have rosettes which makes the place feel like a gazebo wedding off of a bad American chick-flick.

Next, I asked one of the girls what the dress code was for tonight, and to make it easier, what they'd be wearing, and she said oh just this and gestured to what she is wearing; a navy suit with a pink top, so I made an 'o ok' kind of noise and she said 'so can you find someting pink disting' - well no Linda I’m not going to come in exactly the same clothes as you are wearing, that would just be weird.

So really I'm none the wiser on Outfit. Can't go home and come back in exactly what I was wearing all day; that would be weird. Can’t go for my usual uniform of jeansandatop, as what we Brits view as casual chic Ghanaians view as shabby. And not shabby chic. And I don’t wanna go African if the girls aren’t going African. Oh look there’s the Obruni looking like a plonker in a big floaty print dress. Nope.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

so much excitement over a little pot of burnt wood?

I am one of those rare commodities, obscure creations, exceptions to the rule, a GIRL, who likes CRICKET. Not to play, I don’t think I’ve ever held a cricket bat in my life, and feel sure that I would hold it the wrong way round anyway (at least I know there’s a wrong way round), not to mention probably getting knocked out by the first red leather ball that came my way, but to watch! And it’s not just the men in whites (or men out of whites).

I don’t even pretend to know that much about it, but I love the myriad of factors that contribute to winning or losing. I love the fact there’s always something else to think about, I love the strategy element of the game, I love the fact it takes five days and they break for tea and lunch. I love the relaxed and rambling commentary and I love the memories it evokes of long summers with dad gardening with the radio on, dropping everything and running inside when a wicket fell, to catch the replay on the TV.

Even in the UK I have very few people to share and feed my enthusiasm, most of my friends find it dull, boring, and complicated. Since I have been here I have tried to explain cricket to Ghanaians, Americans, French, Dutch… all of them end up looking more confused than when I started.

So here I am, on day 1 of the Ashes, that biggest of sporting rivalries, with the rain slating down from a grey sky, in an ex-British colony, frequently wondering why Ghana did not pick up cricket like India did, and wishing it had done. Even the Brits I work with do not seem overly bothered, and I think if I said the word ‘Ashes’ to a Ghanaian they’d think I was talking about bush fires. So I am sitting behind my computer, wishing I was in the sun at home, pretending to work, sneakily following Ben Dirs and his BBC text commentary, with butterflies in my belly… and hoping 21-1 already isn’t the start of something horrible...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

al's got the grumps.

I have moved to Accra, and as some close friends (actually anyone who asks me ‘how is Accra?’ and waits for an answer) know, I have decided that it’s horrible and I don’t want to be here. Cue sitting all day yesterday in my pants fiddling round on the internet, trying to beat monsters on my DS, watching TV and generally feeling sorry for myself.

I have decided that my flat looks ‘tired’, it smells because no-ones lived in it for a while, I don’t know anyone, Accra has too many expats, I’ve got too much stuff, I’ve not got enough work clothes, I don’t want to stay in, I don’t want to go out, I’m not enthused by the work I’ve been assigned, food is too expensive, I miss home, I'm grumpy with my boyfriend for going home this week, I miss Kumasi, I miss friends there... basically anything and everything, I manage to find fault with. This mood is reminiscent of a mood I had travelling with friends in Riga, also known as the ‘Riga bunk bed mood’... when I didn’t want the top bunk, didn’t want the bottom, didn’t want to go for a walk, didn’t want to be left while they went for a walk, didn’t want crisps, didn’t want chocolate. And I’m sure my mother knows this mood all too well... sorry ma!

Anyway so through some encouragement of some friends who quite rightly said if I was going to sit feeling sorry for myself then I was going to feel bad about being here, I got up and went to find the car that has been assigned to me for a few weeks. We no longer get drivers in Accra, and so I have to confront the potential of breaking down in the middle of Ghana, or indeed just getting lost in the middle of Accra. Easy to do.

Still in a foul mood, I headed off to the Accra Mall... a western-style out of town shopping centre which, if you have just come down from Kumasi, is a bit of a shock, even if you know what to expect! I did a food shop in ‘Shoprite’... after Kumasi, I didn’t really know where to start! I got bread and vacuum-packed meat and yoghurt and cheese and banana cake and Flora! Flora! I then wandered round the mall, had a mocha in a little coffee shop (which serves bacon butties!), went to get a ‘what’s on’ list from the cinema, and then spent a good half hour browsing the bookshop! It was like walking into Borders or WHSmith! Needless to say, getting out and thinking about things other than my disgruntlement cheered me up no end.

In my flicking through the TV this morning, I came across Hillsong TV, and the pastor was preaching about every day being special, and how we should rejoice in every day, because, as it says in Psalm 118:24, ‘This is the day the Lord has made’. I think it really sowed a seed and got me thinking. I did not rejoice in yesterday, I failed to find any good in it; I wasted a God given day wallowing in my self-pity! So today, I rejoice in the day; in my friends, in the sun, and in toast and mum's home-made marmalade for breakfast!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Instead of updating my facebook status every fifteen minutes, I have decided to accumulate all status-related thoughts I had in one day in one simple list... yes I need to get out more...

Alison wants someone to go on holiday with

Alison wonders if every white person in the world is born on a Sunday, what white midwives do for the rest of the week

Alison wants a ‘magic leaf’ in her pocket

Alison is a bit disturbed that half of Kumasi seem to know her name

Alison is looking for a small boy with a long tape

Alison is no one’s wife

Alison wonders why Ghana gets spoilt when it rains

Alison is wondering why out of 16 channels three so often show the same thing

Alison thinks CNN is a bit backward

Alison thinks Ghanaian onions have the strongest smell in the world

Alison just found some indescribable goo in the middle of one of her onions

Alison likes chatting to friends from home

Alison didn’t know you could burn lentils

Alison still needs to pack

Alison thinks burnt lentils just adds to the flavour

Alison still wants someone to go on holiday with

Alison didn’t pack.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

on names...

Last year I went to a friend’s wedding back in the UK. I was talking to a uni friend and his wife and on being told ‘Oh we have a friend from Ghana’, I replied, half in jest, ‘Is his name Kofi?’ and they looked at me slightly bewlidered and said ‘yes, how did you know?’!

I understand that many cultural groups in Ghana (including the Ashanti of Kumasi) have an Akan name relating to the day they were born, and if they are not actually known by it, they will answer to it – and thus in the above conversation I had a one-in-seven chance! For example, Kojo is a male born on a Monday, Yaa a female born on a Thursday. I know Kofi Annan was born on a Friday, as was I, and I am thus an Afia.

Other names have meanings too. Like I said on an earlier post, Duku apparently means eleventh born, and I think I have established Obaa means lady. There are also names for twins, and what circumstances you were born in. I once met a guy called ‘Gracious’, ‘Justice’ is a fairly common man’s name, I know a ‘Perfect’, not to mention the supervisor called ‘Bonaventure’ (but known as 'Coach')!

I also know the culture of naming your baby after someone is very widely used here -someone who you respect or who has helped you out somehow, someone you would like your child to take after. A great guy I worked with at Barekese had a daughter in February and told me he would name her after me – when it turned out he had done, I asked if he would call her just Alison or if she would have another name too. He said ‘no she will be Kesewa Alison’. I asked what Kesewa meant and he looked like he was struggling with the English for a minute then said ‘aa like fat dis-ting’ (‘dis-ting’ being the general word when you can’t think of the word… like ‘whatsit’). This amused me for a moment, calling your baby Fat Alison. But here, being ‘fat’ is good, it is a sign of health and wealth, and so Kesewa was probably a blessing over the baby that she didn’t turn out to be a skinny runt like the person she was named after!

But names seem to have a slightly different significance here and I can’t work it out. My name is Alison, I expect to be called Alison, and if anyone tried to call me anything else I would not like it. Being called by my surname without a Miss before it feels impersonal and impolite. Yet one of our surveyors told me his name was ‘Sarni’ and so I used that name. However, when asking for him everyone looked at me blankly and said ‘we don’t have a Sarni!’ It later turned out everyone else called him Ibrahim. There was also a guy called Joseph who’s boss called him Chris, and he answered to it. Often I’ll be told one name for someone and yet it’s not their used name. And often I’ll ask a colleague the name of someone who I have seen them conversing with regularly and they don’t know! People get referred to by their job title not their name. And white people will often get called ‘Akosia’ – Sunday born – in the street (several different explanations have been given to me on this one, maybe something to do with the fact that the original white people were missionaries).

I can't work it out - despite the care and attention it seems Ghanaians put into a name, names don’t appear to have the same meaning they do in our culture, but I can't put my finger on exactly what it is!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

unplanned adventures...

In February, I changed projects from the Barekese Water Treatment Plant to the ADM Cocoa Factory. This is still in Kumasi but the other side of town, and all the assets (cars and houses) that came with Barekese were duly removed, and instead we were moved into apartments in the Golden Tulip Hotel, and got old cars which the company had lying around.

I’d grown quite attached to my butch Ford Ranger. No frills, but I’d had it from new and it did the job and I felt safe! Instead, I got an old Land Rover Defender which has bits of cardboard stuffed in the (dripping) AC vents to make them stay in, the oil needs topping up daily, the door leaks around the feet area, the passenger side locks don’t work, takes superhuman effort to unlock the driver door, you need to break about 20 minutes before you want to stop, the gas pedal once got stuck (cue scary swerve into oncoming traffic), the gear stick fell apart in my hand twice. And once it just stopped. And it turned out some shaft had snapped because it’d been welded back together when it snapped before.

So, I was not particularly confident about the thing, but having taken it on a couple of fairly long journeys and been assured that ‘anyone can fix a Land Rover with a handful of sand and a stone’, I decided to go up to visit my boyfriend at the weekend at the mine where he works, about a two hour journey.

I always take a driver out of town, particularly when in the Defender, just in case! And about half an hour from our destination, the car started making very strange noises, and we ended up having to wait in a little bush garage surrounded by rather pretty fireflies to be rescued by my very own (grumpy) superman, who luckily specialises in these things. The guys had a bit of a look at the engine but couldn’t fix anything, so ended up towing it up to the mine.

Next day, my company sent a car to tow us back to Kumasi, which was fairly uneventful for most of the way, just slow, until we reached a toll booth (8 Ghana Pesewas… about 4pence… compare that to the M6toll!) and a policeman stopped us. It seems that you are meant to tow with a towing vehicle and not with a Land Rover... so for once we were stopped for a legitimate reason… but anyway, if I am being driven and get stopped, I leave it to the drivers to sort out; if you, as a white person, show any concern or interest the ‘dash’ will be higher, as white means money! So I just sat in the car staring out of the window, making a phone call. I turned round to see a young man standing by the driver’s window staring at me. Just staring. When I get disgruntled here I seem to go all uber-English and polite (for ‘polite’ read ‘sarcastic’) so after about three minutes of staring I said in the Queens English 'Can I help you?' and he giggled and carried on staring. Then the driver came back (having made the lucky policeman 20cedis richer and the roads no safer – what’s the point of laws if you can pay a tenner to get off them?) and exchanged a few words with Staring Man and asked if I was scared because I thought he was a policeman. I said no, I just don't like being stared at. My driver told me this man had asked if I would marry him but he’d replied with 'no you could not pay her bills'!

I think this is great as of course being a Independent Woman I would ordinarily take great affront at such a suggestion, and so he needn’t worry, but of course in this culture, women don’t pay their own, so it’s a perfect retort!

Anyway, John and Duku then decided we should go on a detour to avoid any more police… and whilst on this back-road detour, the tow rope got stuck under front wheel of the towed car. Cue a stop, wheel off, rope out of wheel, wheel on, jack stuck in road, rope back on, head for the traffic of Kumasi. Which was a bit hairy, considering that the driver in the front car didn’t drive like he had a car on a bit of string behind him; still nipping into tiny gaps in the traffic while I held my breath and gripped the seat! We finally pulled into the yard with no further major mishaps… except the rope once more got caught as we arrived, and the brake pads went, brake fluid was leaking…and the heavens opened – at least we got back first!

The car is well and truly ‘spoilt’ and as a replacement, I got an… even older Land Rover!

Monday, June 22, 2009

a change...

Well it is an age since I have updated this. I think after being somewhere for a while one gets immune to the things which once seemed bizarre and crazy! Plus I could wax lyrical for hours on opinions on The State Of Africa and I don’t want to bore anyone/be too controversial…

However, a lot has changed since my last post, and my mum for one likes reading it. Even though she knows exactly what is going on in my life before it goes on here. Bless her.

You may have thought I was due to be coming home to the UK imminently. Well, I was. But, a great deal has gone on with my company (and that’s another story for another day) and I am actually staying, for a while at least. My time in Kumasi is almost over, and I shall be moving to Accra on Friday.

I have always said I don’t know which I prefer, Accra or Kumasi. Accra is a busy, bustling city, with restaurants of every cuisine imaginable and bars and shopping malls (well a shopping mall) and people of all nationalities and bowling and a cinema and big hotels and beaches and pools and sandwich shops and balsamic vinegar and live music and haloumi cheese and ready salted crisps. But sometimes I think you can forget you are in Africa (OK so at times that’s exactly what I want), and I sometimes wonder what the point is of being here if you could be in any city of the world.

Kumasi, on the other hand, is a lot smaller, with about five restaurants of any standard, and a similar number of bars, nothing else to do, and fewer international residents. But living here for over 18 months means I have really settled, I know Kumasi a bit, I have some good friends, and I know a lot of people to chat to when I go in to one of the (five) restaurants. In a word, Kumasi is a community, and people look out for each other, and I’ve grown to love that. I also loved when I was working on the water project (again, another story for another day) the fact that my drive to work took me through rural villages, and we felt like we were doing something do help those villages.

In Accra I will be working in our head office, and it’s new and pretty, and I can wear new and pretty clothes (I am a little fed up of steel toe cap boots and mud-splattered combats day-in, day-out), and I am looking forward to a wider range of food available and a more balanced diet again (there is only so many times you can eat tuna pasta in a week) (and I’m over that limit). I will also be doing different work, and as they say, a change is as good as a rest. So, apart from missing the community and good friends and acquaintances in Kumasi, I am looking forward to the change.