Sunday, 30 September 2012

Ouagadougou, 2004 vs 2012

 This summer I returned to Burkina Faso for the first time in 8 years, it was strange and wonderful.

The similar positions of these two pictures is striking given that eight years passed between them, yet perhaps it is inevitable that I should take a picture of this street because the orange building with silver and green doors is the gatehouse to the compound in which I lived in 2004.
In the first picture from 2004 I am in the blue t shirt, seemingly about to walk into the wall while three of the other girls are stood around and talking with neighbouring children. I'm not entirely sure what we would've been doing, perhaps waiting for someone to pick us up and take us somewhere. There are a few trees in compounds but apart from the children who have come out to greet us the street looks very bare, perhaps barren. It was the end of the dry season and very hot, though it looks as if there had been rain earlier in the day.
In the second picture, taken this August a group of older children had come to talk to me. I had wandered over to the street by myself leaving friends in a tailors' in a parallel road. There is a large pile of sand and stacks of bricks outside the compound, this is because the small rented rooms in which we lived back in 2004 have been knocked down and the new owners are building a new house. The tree branches piled to the lift of the street will probably be used for cooking fires.
It felt odd to be back in this street, rue 18.54 and not know my neighbours, not to have my friends just inside our compound. I asked the children if they knew certain people I remembered but they couldn't tell me.
Even though our house is no longer there I'm glad I got the chance to be back in the street again.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Cat Portraits

This is my cat Peel.
 She is terrified of nearly everything, this is why she looking so intensely at me in the second picture, my camera is pretty loud.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Burkina Faso

Though I spent August in Ghana visiting my friend I was also very keen to visit Burkina Faso while I was in western Africa.
I first went to Burkina Faso in 2004. I went as part of a gap year before I started uni. We were a group of 6 girls, all of us 18 or 19 and in the same situation, taking a year out before beginning university.
I have wanted to go back and visit often. Somehow it never happened until this year.
 It was a long and uncertain journey from my friend's village in northern Ghana to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. I left her village at 5am on a Wednesday and didn't arrive in Ouaga until 10am the following Saturday. This was mostly due to uncertainty about buses and when it would be possible to travel, I spent most of the intervening time watching Friends DVDs in a rented house in the nearest large town in Ghana. I got an overnight bus on Friday and had to buy a visa at the border. I got to Ouaga tired and dirty but so glad to be there and to see friends again.
It felt very odd to be back there again. In some ways, it felt like going home. Ouagadougou was the first place I lived without my family and I felt that instant connection again, that closeness that you could just slot back in to the old life. At the same time, it was 8 years ago that I was last there. Friend there who are my age are mostly married with children, some have children in school now. The children I knew, my neighbours and pupils are grown up. The son of a dear friend and pastor who in 2004 was 5 had recently turned 13 and was taller than his father.
Life changes, people grow up and move on, cities develop, new roads and buildings are built.
I am hopeful that I won't leave it as long before I visit again.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fi and Andy's wedding

 I met Fi in my first year at uni, we were taking the same course (Peace Studies) and were living in the same block of halls. We lived together for the next two years in a house of six girls. During our time at uni she met Andy and they started going out. Seven years later they are living in the lively and picturesque village of Todmorden. I was lovely to see them get married this last weekend.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Family Party

 My Aunt, Uncle and cousins hosted my Grandfather's 90th birthday party last week. They have a beautiful house and a huge and lovely garden so it was pretty perfect.
I met a lot of unknown second cousins twice removed and all sorts of other distant relations.
I have a fairly small immediate family but even though my Granddad only has 5 grandchildren we haven't all been together since my Granny's funeral over two years ago and before that it'd probably been about 4 years. It was so nice to get together

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Granddad's 90th

This week we've had the lovely opportunity of celebrating my Grandfather's 90th birthday. All my family met up at my cousin's house in Hertfordshire.
My Granddad is pretty amazing. At 90 he is still an active member of a rambling group and regularly hikes 10 or 15 miles. He loves ice cream and cheese. He's a definite train enthusiast and has several wardrobes full of model trains and a large set up housed in his garage. He's still very keen on travelling and exploring, this year he took a trip to the channel islands for the first time and his first helicopter flight, he's just booked to go on a cruise around Norway.

He's on the left on all of these pictures in the green jacket. My Granny died 2 years ago and it has affected us all but particularly him. We had a lovely party though and it was great to see so many members of my family, many of whom like my grandfather's cousins and their children I'd never met before.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ghanian photoshoot

 While I was in Ghana I helped my friend Rachel take some pictures for her mum's birthday. She then had her favourite photo put onto a mug and delivered to her parents' house in the UK. Rachel lives in a compound with a family who work for the same charity and their oldest two daughters were keen to get involved.
It got quite silly rather quickly!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A kitten with bangles

Rachel, the friend I stayed with in Ghana has two very sweet, biddable kittens; Wumpini and Kataly. I bought these bangles and left them on the spare bed. While I was cooking dinner she called me into my bedroom to show me how she'd decorated the cat.
This is Wumpini, I think these are hilarious pictures so I thought I'd share this slightly confused cat.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Bits and pieces from Ghana



1&2 hanging out with Rachel and cats
3 an evening walk home along the tarmac road
4 a half built house, now growing
5 a lady caring firewood at twilight
6 bird in flight
7 huge snails
8 Kataly kitten face