Archive for September, 2012

Goodbyes and Homecoming

Friday 14th September was our last day in Ghana. We went into the Omega Schools office for the last time and tidied our desks, as well as handing over the work we’d been doing. Ian handed over the ‘laptop of power’ (with all the data and software for analysing assessment data) to Ato, who is taking over the reins of assessment and data analysis. And we said goodbye to colleagues who had become good friends during the last year.

Handing over the laptop of power

There was a farewell ceremony on the roof terrace, with speeches, prayers, snacks and   real champagne.  In the end it was hard to say goodbye, but good to feel that we might have made a small difference to that group of schools.

Ken makes a speech at the Omega Schools farewell ceremony

With some of our Omega Schools colleagues

We flew home that night, and landed back at Heathrow on Saturday morning. Claire picked us up, and we checked into the Travelodge hotel in High Wycombe for a 12-night stay. Our first week ‘home’ was taken up with medical / dental appointments, dealing with four months’ post, helping with childcare, and a trip to London.

Oscar and Charlie in the swing

Bathtime for Oscar

We had a great day in London.  We prepared for future travels by visiting Stanfords (travel bookshop) and Trailfinders (travel agents).  We also visited Holland Park (we’d never been there before – it’s really beautiful), went to the Tate Modern (drinks in the sixth floor café, with a fantastic view of the Thames), and walked along the South Bank. The day was rounded off with a visit to the theatre to see ‘Jumpy’, a play about fraught mother/daughter relationships.

Lunch in Holland Park

Holland Park rose garden

View of St Paul’s from Tate Modern cafe

On Wednesday, while we were looking after the grandsons (Claire was flying and Raf was at work), Ian broke a tooth while eating some French bread. This involved two visits to the dentist in Langley, with another one due next week and a final appointment in three months. Sandie has also been to the dentist and optician, and Ian had a doctor’s appointment on Friday. Altogether, we’re making up for lost time with the health service.

The Saturday after we arrived home, our son Paul came down from Manchester for the weekend.  On Saturday afternoon he went with Claire and the boys to a pirate-themed third birthday party.  In the evening, we went with Paul, Claire and Raf for dinner at an Indian restaurant, followed by drinks at a cocktail bar.  On Sunday Paul was keen to see Manchester United play Liverpool.  Raf was at work, but the rest of us (including the children) had lunch at a pub where the match was being shown on a large screen.  The pub was packed, and Man U won, so Paul was in a happy mood when he returned home to Manchester.

Charlie the pirate

Lunch in the pub


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Last Days in Ghana

After almost a year, we have come to the last week of our stay in Ghana. We’ve certainly had an interesting time. We’ve seen slave castles, beach resorts, posuban shrines, a stilt village, a fantastic ancient mosque, elephants, hippos, baboons, crocodiles, a traditional shrine, a traditional ceremony, the largest man-made lake in Africa, the highest waterfall in West Africa, a batch of fantasy coffins, and (last but not least) a Ghanaian wedding. We’ve travelled on more tro-tros than we can count, ranging from the modern and reasonably comfortable to the ‘Oh my goodness!’ Most of all, we’ve enjoyed doing interesting and challenging work alongside some friendly and dedicated colleagues, We are grateful for the opportunity to use the skills we’ve acquired over the years, in a way that we hope will benefit the children of Omega Schools.

Apart from work, what will we miss when we leave Ghana?

  • The cheerful people and the way everyone greets us as we pass
  • The smart clothes, especially on Sunday when people are going to church
  • The warm weather, so we can eat almost all of our meals outdoors
  • Sitting on our balcony, watching the sun set and the lights come out on the hills opposite
  • Going to the beach, especially to Kokrobitey with all the life going on there, and our two favourite restaurants close together
  • Our big spacious flat, luxurious accommodation by the standard of what most people have here
  • The interesting country, and how easy it is to explore by tro-tro
  • Wearing sandals for months on end, and forgetting what socks or sweaters are for
  • Star beer (for Sandie) and Savanna Dry cider (for Ian).

On the tro-tro – note the mate’s hat, and the state of the seats!

Enjoying a sundowner on the balcony

Sunset at Gbawe Top Base

On Saturday 1st September we went to a Ghanaian wedding. A colleague was getting married, and she invited everyone from Omega Schools. The event was held at the Horeb Temple, a vast structure still in process of construction. Compared with weddings we’ve attended in other countries, the service was very long (about three hours) and involved a lot of singing (by a large choir) and gospel preaching. The reception (at the same location) was much shorter.  But other features were familiar: the bride looked absolutely stunning, and the groom looked very nervous!

The bride and groom

The choir follows the bridal procession back into the church

Singing in the congregation

Time for photos

Our final weekend was spent in two ways: preparing to leave, and revisiting our favourite haunts at Kokrobitey. Starting early on Saturday morning we went through the flat deciding what we were going to take home and what we were going to leave – it’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate in just under a year!  By late afternoon we’d given the flat a good clean and were well advanced with the packing, so we quit and went to Kokrobitey. We had a break for chilling out, with two nice meals, cocktails on the beach, and even some sunbathing time on Sunday morning, before returning home to continue with the packing.  The sun shone brightly all weekend, the best weather we’ve had for ages (it seems to have improved just as we are about to leave!).

Our chalet at Kokrobite Garden, where we spent Saturday night

Pizza and chianti for dinner – it could almost be Italy!

On Kokrobitey beach

The bag seller at Kokrobitey says goodbye to his best customer

We have one more week at work, and then on Friday fly back to the UK. We shall spend a few weeks visiting friends and family, and then who knows? Watch this space for further adventures

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