August 07, 2015

There's a feeling you get when you go to a new  country and you just seem to fit . It's nothing you  can put your finger on,  you just know that this is a place you're supposed to be. I felt that way in Ghana, I felt that way in Croatia, I even felt it on a weekend away to Amsterdam. But Grenada, you just haven't done it for me. Your beaches are  perfect and your waterfalls are beautiful - I just don't think I'll be back.

 This time it's the people who've made the trip for me. I knew most of you to begin with, some were even good friends but I've come out  of this with people I can't imagine not knowing.

Cookie breaks with body buddies, an endless game of bullshit, deep and meaningfuls on the beach, toothpaste thieves, kfc lunch dates, always open doors, thriller dancing,  hash running, pineapple saving, girly nights out, turtle watching, cocktail drinking,  copious eating, boat driving, door to door, Lucy dancing, inflatable fun, all  of the sunsets, sea beers, road beers, volcano beers...

I'd like to think that Grenada played a part in this, and it did provide a nice backdrop, but I think these great times would have happened wherever we were. That feeling you get isn't just  for countries. Bring on the fondue parties.

And remember...

"Torsion  is key"


"It's only fun if you might die."


July 03, 2015

It seems about time that I revived this long lost blog. I seem to have missed out the Croatia chapter of my life here (many shenanigans were had) buuuut... let's skip to the good bit. I'm currently 3 days in to a 70 day Carribean adventure!

I'm currently on the island of Grenada here to study at St George's University for 4 weeks doing anatomy dissection. How I ended up with a place on this trip is completely baffling when I started with absolutely no intention of going but Danni walked into my kitchen 2 days before claiming it would be good revision practise to sit the exam. A random tick of the box saying I did indeed want to go on the trip (just to see if I could) and hear I am a few months later, 1st year medical school exams passed and about to embark on a sunny, sandy...body filled adventure.

My first impressions of this place were a cleaner, more developed version of Ghana, where houses were complete and thankfully toilet facilities seem to exist for everybody. No awful beach encounters so far!

A jet lagged 6am walk on the beach on our first day involved a medley of new friends to be made. The beach was full of joggers and people taking an early morning swim -even what seemed to look like a business meeting was occurring in the water.

One of the best encounters so far was with 'Rasta Frank' who politely enquired to Danni and I "What is your fitness regime?", hilarity ensued as exercise is so rare in our lives that I'm not quite sure what that word means anymore. " It must be in the genes" exclaimed Rasta Frank before enquiring on whether we liked to read the bible.

We spent the first real night at a Full moon beach party (with a brief detour to hang out with some new friends in a beauty salon while the rest of the group is driving around trying to find us -whoops, sorry guys :s). A live band, a sea view and some rather strong drinks added up to a great time dancing. Minor incident with a cactus in the bushes not withstanding.

Plan for today looks like a trip to the local fish market. I'm slightly confused about why this comes so highly recommended but time will tell, and I guess fish is delicious :).


P.s. I'm having some issues uploading pictures from my phone. I'll try to add these in at some point. For piccies check @itsclairek on Instagram :)


Selfie stick :)

May 07, 2014

Today was my last day at home for a while. Tomorrow I’m heading to London and on Friday I start training to become a Tour Guide with Busabout. It’s actually a dream job - I’m going to be sailing around the Adriatic Sea with their Croatia Sailing product.



Bluebell woods

Bluebell Woods on my last day at home.


I’m a little bit terrified but so excited to be spending my summer in the sun. In my training trip alone I’m going to be going to 4 countries I’ve never, ever been to before –Austria, Germany, Italy and Bosnia & Herzegovina. I think it might be a little bit amazing :D.


I remember going to the interview and thinking ‘I’m going to have to be annoyingly outgoing today’, that’s going to be my whole summer (although hopefully not too annoying)! It’s so strange to think that I went from being a super shy child to someone who’s about to start leading groups of 30 around cities sightseeing and partying…well, as long as I pass training trip…


So, I’ll see you in a while –once I’m done being the person you’re jealous of on instagram  ;) .



April 29, 2014

Windsor has to be one of my favourite places in the UK, I’m always trying to find a reason to go there. So for my birthday weekend my bestie Mel and I went for afternoon tea at the Crooked House. It was very cute inside, we went up a tiny, tiny staircase to what I’m sure must be the best seat in the house, looking out at all the tourists taking photos of us. We had a traditional cream tea with such delicious scones, warm out the oven.


Windsor Castle

Bestie looking like a film star


And then we did what I thought could never be done. We walked the long walk. And guys it’s really, really, really long. You just can’t tell because it’s so straight. We had a couple of hours and thought of course it’s be fine only to end up running back to the car before our parking ran out. Totally worth it though, we just really didn’t want to fail.


A really long walk windsor

So, So far


Horse statue Windsor Long Walk

Made it!


Windsor Long Walk

View from the top –there’s a castle down there somewhere…


Made it Windsor Long Walk

Let me take a selfie.


Windsor just gets better every time, even if you do have to go for an unexpected jog,



April 26, 2014

I’ve been living at home for the last 9 months, working a lot and generally not getting up to much. But I haven’t been wasting my time, there was a reason I moved home, a reason I quit my job and volunteered in a hospital in Ghana. I’ve been applying to study graduate medicine. It’s been a horrible, stressful experience filled with personal statements and interviews….and rejection after rejection. Until, on my birthday when we were heading for a day at Noah’s Ark Farm Zoo, we ended up lost sat in a pub car park. I looked up from the book I was reading (Allegiant –it’s great) to see an email on my phone with ‘offer’ in the title. I couldn’t quite believe it when I read I had an offer to study medicine from the University of Warwick. I had to get my mum to read it to check it was true. Thankfully it was, my parents looked like they were about to cry and I thought I might genuinely faint if I stood it up.


It’s finally settled in now, I’m going to be a student again, and after that I’m going to do the job I was meant for. Hopefully I’ll even one day be able to work for Medecins Sans Frontieres (my life goal). It’s funny to think that I know where I’m going to be here for the next 4 years –I’d been making back up plans to travel the world!


Last weekend we went to visit the uni and Leamington Spa where a lot of medical students live. I’m hoping to get into campus accommodation for the first year –it all looked pretty nice, big brick houses in a little student village. The medical school is a 15 minute walk away but it’s the most beautiful walk through a campus I’ve ever seen (at least in the UK, UQ in Australia was pretty nice). Warwick has it’s own nature reserve with ponds and woods to walk through to get to the medical school. There’s a cycle path too, a little uphill but at least at the end of the day I could just roll all the way home.


Warwick University Nature Park

Nature Reserve


Warwick University Lake

This is where I’ll walk


Warwick University Woods

Lexie liked it too :)


It was the Easter holidays so the uni was pretty quiet and a lot of places were shut. There’s a lot of places to go at the student union though and an arts centre which looked pretty fun. We stopped for lunch at a pub on campus then headed on to Leamington Spa. It was a really beautiful town, with a lovely, lovely park I could see myself revising in.



Leamington Spa Town Hall

Leamington Spa Town Hall


Leamington Spa Park

The park in Leamington Spa

Leamington Spa Flowers

Pretty flowers


It was way nicer than I’d ever expected. Can’t wait to get started :).



April 01, 2014

The little things are what come to mind when I think about Ghana. The walk down the hill to catch the tro-tro, stopping at Baba’s on the way for some juice or water. Buying fan ice from the little carts that people pushed around. Taking a break from the hospital to hunt for Bofrot (doughnuts) and everyone knowing me there as their local obruni.



My bofrot lady

Pool bar, so much time spent here that Nana or Betsy would automatically bring me a club when I arrived. So many Clubs were drunk (huge bottle of Ghanaian lager). Buying kebabs when dinner had been gross. Trying to take over DJ responsibilities so we could dance to Chop my money and Azonto. I miss Ghanaian music so much! One time we even found the actual pool table that we named the bar after, up some stairs with no rails so you could drop off either side, making me feel like I was in Temple Run. My 2 pet kittens that lived at the bar and I would occasionally be able to catch, until they disappeared suspiciously. Even the walk to pool bar, over walls and through gardens saying hello to everyone because they all seemed to know who we were. So many good nights there. And that time Tom and I decided to darty (daytime party) there, only to get home around 7 and realise that we were supposed to be having dinner with everyone (including the director and staff) for Yikes birthday. I was terribly drunk! That was an odd meal cheese with salt and pepper to start, plain pasta with boiled chicken and a cheesy triangle to finish.


Drinking from water sachets- so convenient and cheap, I wish we had them here. I especially miss people selling stuff through the windows of the tro-tro. From relatively normal things like snacks and drinks to coat hangers, flannels, posters and once I even saw a coffee table. I miss the tro-tros the most convenient public transport as there was always one going past so you never had to wait to long. It was my favourite when you got on 1 with a tv screen and watched the crazy African programmes with the most ridiculous premises. The best ones involved magic as the special effects were excellent.


Visiting Matilda the seamstress to get some clothes or souvenirs made. She made me the most beautiful patchwork blanket. Then there was that time when I tagged along with the microfinance volunteers who wanted to sell her things on ebay and made me model them.


Going to the mall because we couldn’t cope with Ghanaian food any longer and needed to buy pizza or chips. The food was not particularly good. We were provided with dinner every night at the house and it was either edible but plain (fried rice and pasta), absolutely horrendous (fish paste) or swimming in oil (red-red –which I actually found pretty delicious, it’s made of spicy beans and served with plantain).


Going to the hotel across the road for a breakfast of omelette, bread and milo or chicken and chips for lunch. Finding that another volunteer was already there and having great chats. I miss the other volunteers the most. I miss being surrounded by friends, always having someone to talk to and never being alone. When you live together so closely you can’t help but make great friends and I really believe I will know some of these people forever. The people I met there are some of the best people I’ve ever met. When you go somewhere like that to volunteer, you’ve got to be a certain kind of person who loves adventure but wants to make a difference in peoples lives. And it turns out that is my favourite sort of person.


Street library! I occasionally tagged along to street library and it was the most intense but fun and rewarding experience. We would go out in the van with the music blaring over the tannoy and the kids would start to run after us. When we arrived at the location for the day we’d get all the books out and read with the kids. The ages ranged from tiny tots who didn’t know any English to teenagers who needed to be told to get harder books because they were reading so well already. We stayed for a few hours but by the end noone could concentrate anymore and we ended up playing games. The girls taught me their hand clapping games and I attempted to teach them ‘A sailor went to sea’.



Street Library –I let them do my hair…


I miss the friendliness of Ghana, everyone was always happy to speak with you and if you had a problem would do anything to try and help. I don’t miss being an Obruni though. Being white gave you something of a celebrity status, kids would wave and shout Obruni at you and be so excited to see you all the time and I’d often feel like I was getting special treatment just because I was white. I know we kind of stand out there but it did seem something of an extreme reaction. So many men would tell me they loved me and want to marry me, purely because I was white, they would have literally just seen me and started talking to me and decide this. I spoke to Richard who worked at the house about it and he told me that in Ghana if you like a woman you have to tell her you love her straight away to show that you are serious. This is so at odds with my views as I just think how could you possibly love someone you don’t even know. I guess I just don’t believe in love at first sight.


My time in Ghana was genuinely the best time of my life. When I was there I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The people I met were amazing, the country is beautiful and I feel like the Western world could learn a lot from the culture and attitudes of the people there. I wish at home people were as friendly and peaceful as they were in Ghana. It really made me feel like we should be more grateful for what we have and stop focusing on the next thing we want to buy or wasting our time not appreciating the people in our lives. Ghana, you’ve been great.



March 30, 2014

Sometimes British politeness can lead to some really awkward situations. After I’d finally seen an elephant it seemed like a good time to figure out how I was going to get home. I was sat outside checking flights when some older Lebanese guys thought I looked like a good candidate for a chat.  This was all fine, they gave me advice on what sites to look at for flights. Then they both wanted photos with me, but that’s something you kind of get used to being a white person in Ghana. Fine. Then they offered to give me a lift back to the airport with them the next day and pay for everything for me to stay an extra day. So strange! A very generous offer but I didn’t really fancy hanging out with them for 2 days. I hate those awkward situations where people are so insistent you feel rude to refuse and rude to accept. So I politely excused myself and hotfooted it out of there, deciding to figure out how I was going to get back en route.


One of the students who was on the safari gave me a lift back to town on the back of one of the guides bikes- a much speedier journey than the first one! So fun! I got the bus on to Tamale which just happened to be there when we arrived and made the terrifying decision to take an 11 hour bus journey home. I splashed out and spent 50C on the last ticket for the VIP bus. We left at 4pm and really it wasn’t that bad. I slept most of the way and luckily it passed by ACP Junction (the turning where the volunteer house was) so I was able to go straight home. Unfortunately had to knock on the door and wake the housemates up at 3am because someone had locked me out but I’d made it home!


VPWA house

View from the VPWA house


Sitting in my ‘real’ home in the UK I feel like it should be weird to call Accra home, but it really did feel that way. I was going home to the amazing friends I’d made and the place I’d been living for the last 2 months. It was good to be back. I was so happy to see everyone the next day but had no idea what to do with my last weekend. I’d been planning to go to the Volta region to see Wli falls (the biggest waterfalls in Ghana) but the others were planning to go back to Big Millies. I tried to persuade them to come with me but they were having none of it. In the end the decision was easy. My trip had made me miss my friends and I wanted to spend my last weekend with them. People over places every time.


It turned out to be one of those perfect weekends which only happen every few years, when you are so happy about everything that nothing could possibly make it any better. We went out for a final night in Accra on the Friday, having my last Cardinal shots in Container, and partying with the students in Duplex. Accra is a great night out! Had a weird morning when Lizzie the cleaner woke me up to move me out of my room for someone else to move in. That was pretty sad, I loved my little room and had to go nap in Ana’s room instead. We headed to Kokrobite in the afternoon, squeezing in a quick nap before an epic night at Big Millies. A revealing game of I’ve Never, pretending to sing along with the band on stage and finally ticking skinny dipping off the bucket list made for a perfect last night out.


On stage Big Millies

I definitely belong in this band…


Sunday was spent lazing on the beach, swimming in the sea, and for Lauren –pretending to be French to fend off unwanted advances. Did have an embarrassing moment though –I’m not sure if this happens to anyone else, but instead of falling over when drunk I do it the next day. Walking back in from the beach to Big Millies I feel flat on my face, into the sand, when wearing a bikini. Sand everywhere! The Ghanaian stall holders came running over “I’m sorry”, “I’m sorry” like it was their faulty my hangovers show themselves in an inability to stay upright. My friend John helped me up (He thinks we’re destined to be together because he saw me at Elmina as well as multiple times at Big Millies). I brushed myself off and quickly ran back out to the beach where noone knew what had happened.


That evening, back home, I went to Pool Bar to say my final goodbyes to Nana and Betty. I still miss them and their extremely efficient service, serving us clubs as soon as they saw us sit down. It’s great being a local somewhere. The next day was full of goodbyes, a final lunch at the hotel and some last minute souvenir purchases. I was so, so sad to leave. Ghana had become my home and I wasn’t ready to move on yet. I’d had the greatest time with the most amazing people that I will never forget .  I’m sure I’ll be back one day but I don’t imagine it could ever be the same. Ghana is progressing rapidly and in a few years I’m sure it’ll be a popular tourist destination. Hopefully that doesn’t take away any of the magic.


VPWA ghana

Last day with my boys


Ghana I miss you!