How to choose a coffin

Frizztext reminded me in his post today of when I visited a coffin makers shop in Accra, Ghana, quite a few years ago. He has seen a film about funerals over there, Frizz you’ll be amused to know that I danced at one! He was impressed by the choice of coffin designs and says he would like to be buried in a giant guitar shaped one.

Me, I would choose the mobile phone because I’m a techno hen, but I’d like it to be a smart phone, not the kind that was around all those years ago!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Which would you choose?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

I had to work out from dates where I took this photo. I know it was near Techiman, perhaps Baobeng Fiema in the Brong-Ahafo region. But I’ve never forgotten the joy on these children’s faces, jubilation even. jubilationThey will be teenagers by now, I wonder how their lives have evolved.

Jubilant, adjective: showing great joy, satisfaction, or triumph; rejoicing; exultant.

7-Day Nature Photo, Day Three

I’m going a bit further afield for day three of the nature photo challenge, to northern Ghana. This termite mound was more then twice my height of five-six and must have housed millions of little beasties!termitehill

Amy invited me to join the nature photo challenge, a photo a day for seven, of anything from the natural world. Today I’m inviting Sue, one of very few blogging friends I’ve been lucky enough to meet. She already posts the most wonderful photos of  nature in decay, beautiful images of flowers in all stages, so the challenge would be easy for her. If you’re too busy Sue,  it’s no problem, I understand how difficult it is to fit in a challenge!

Jude’s Bench Challenge, Black and White February

Jude likes to photograph benches and has discovered that lots of other people share that little passion, so last month she started a monthly challenge. The topic this month is black and white, visit her here to learn more and join in.
My entry is a photo from my collection taken in Ghana, when I visited Sirigu Women’s Co-operative for Pottery and Art, a few years ago. It wasn’t the most comfortable of benches, but the thatch roof provided much needed shelter from the extreme heat and sun.
Gillys Africa--Ghana 143
In case you’re wondering the bench was actually red, white and black but it seems to me it works quite well in monochrome because of the contrast, what do you think?

Treasure from Ghana

My sweet bird of Sirigu! If ever you get the chance to visit Ghana, don’t hesitate for a moment.  It really is a wonderful country  with a rich cultural, fascinating history and the friendliest of people.

This is probably my favourite travel buy of all time.

sirigu bird

Complete with broken tail!


Back on Foot with Elephants

Okay, so this is a post from my early days of blogging but I’m re-posting in response to a weekly writing challenge from Crista. If you knew me back then please ignore! 

I missed the elephant in the swimming pool by one week – in Mole national park, northern Ghana. It had strolled up the hill for a chlorinated swim by way of a change. But it was okay because I got closer to them than I was comfortable with, in a jeep, with my friend and two rangers. One of these guys was smaller than we were, and I am sure that an angry elephant would have been no more frightened of him, than of one of the baboons that were as populous as sparrows in my garden. The second warden came complete with a safari suit and a rifle. Or maybe a replica rifle. I don’t think I’ve ever been very close to a real gun, but it didn’t look like it could shoot a bullet big enough to even graze the hide of these healthy, well fed  pachyderms. I could only hope that the plan would be to scare them away with a little bang.

We were bullied, no ahem, persuaded into exiting the jeep, which was tied together with string anyway, to take photos of each other with three of the giants in the background.

‘We need to drive around that way, a bit closer’ said small warden without safari suit.

‘Closer, why closer?’ ‘I don’t want to get any closer thanks’. We were perhaps thirty feet away.

‘Please, speak in whispers and if they smell us they may charge, we have to be behind the wind’ he said. Now, I hadn’t felt any wind, it was as hot as well …Africa, as still as a graveyard before a thunderstorm, and my adrenaline was telling me to run back to the jeep pdq. These guys are probably used to re-assuring wussy travellers who like the idea of a gentle stroll, to see some cute wildlife just like Attenborough, but then turn chicken in the end.

‘Don’t you want to show your friends how close you were to elephants?’

No actually I want to throw up but I suppose that would be too noisy.

‘Okay, I guess I probably should do this.’ They led us closer and I snapped the two of them with my friend. Then I realised that I had to turn MY back on them, no more than twenty feet away. Needless to say my face tells all in that photo. I’m glad I did it; I still love elephants – from a distance! IMG_4285

We only stayed in Mole for two nights. It was a brilliant experience, a lot more rugged than a safari I did in Botswana a few years earlier, where the lodge was the height of luxury. In Mole, the water and electricity in our chalet was only on for a couple of hours a day and there were creepy crawly things that I’d rather forget. The atmosphere was great though and the view was about as good as it gets. Just before sunset herds of elephants of all sizes come to bathe in the waterhole down below the veranda. A much more relaxed way to see them!

Lazy Poets Thursday Haibun

Ghana 1

Along the Tamale Road

She’d packed her shop up for the day, all hope of sales abandoned. Resigned to eating the hard boiled eggs herself, with the plantain that no-one wanted either. All morning she’d snacked on the pastries she baked before dawn. Once upon a time she couldn’t make enough of them, they sold like hot cakes. A tourist asked if her canopy was for sale, she’d said no – how would she have shade without it? Perhaps . . . perhaps she could try making some small ones to sell.

What’s this? A tourist jeep stopping, she gathered her wares in her apron and ran. ‘Fresh eggs, tomato, banana, what will you buy?’


Travellers lunch break

a bargain fresh as the day

benefits for all

Travel Theme: Architecture

Ailsa has chosen architecture as her theme this week so I’m showing you the mosque at Larabanga, Northern Ghana. It’s said to be 500 years old and the oldest mosque in Africa. I’ve always wanted to see the mosque at Djenne in Mali, supposedly the biggest mud and stick mosque but that will probably never happen, so even on a rainy day I was thrilled to see this one. Of course non-Muslims were not permitted to go inside.

There is a legend about an Islamic trader who discovered the nearby mystic stone

Hoping for a mystical experience - like the rain stopping!
Hoping for a mystical experience – like the rain stopping!

and decided to sleep wherever his spear landed. He dreamt of building a mosque on that very spot and in the morning woke to find the foundations had mysteriously been laid during the night. He saw this as a sign, completed the building and now lies buried under the baobab tree beside the mosque.

What do you think? was the trader the architect?

Join in at

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Christa at says
‘In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture that evokes HOME for you.’
I love these homes that I saw in Northern Ghana. It looks like such a tight community, something to be treasured in our hectic world.


Gina volunteers at Teshie Childrens Centre, Accra

I first met Gina when we trained as counsellors together ten years ago. We got on well from the start with shared passions for learning, travel, books and a touch of the alternative, and supported each other in our first counselling placements. Never one to let the grass grow under her feet – a Gemini like me, Gina has gone on to train in reflexology, and has also continued to study.

I remember when Gina  first voiced the idea of doing voluntary work abroad somewhere, she thought about India or Ghana, somewhere she could make a difference. It always had to wait for the right time, she is a single mum to a son but now that he is thirteen, it is easier for her to spend some time away.

We chatted occasionally about travel in third world countries; I shared some of my experiences and practical stuff. Nearly a year ago she told me that she was making plans, and Ghana was her choice. By then I had been there myself, not to volunteer, just to travel – in 2007 I toured around, and as far north as the border with Burkina Faso, and loved every minute I was there.

To raise the money for her trip Gina organised a fundraising evening. She sold tickets for a party with live music and a raffle, persuading and charming the prizes, and even the printing of tickets, from friends and local businesses, and then two weeks ago she was off! An hour before her flight she sent me a text saying she was real scared, and I said not to worry, the people are the friendliest anywhere in the country of smiles.

As soon as she arrived it was obvious how much she loved it, her joy just shines out, I knew she would. This is what she has told me.


The Under privileged Children’s Centre is based in Teshie Nungua and supports children from some of the poorest inner city areas of Accra. Those attending are from La, Teshie and surrounding communities. 

UCC was established in La, by a local Ghanian man named Billa Mahmud. Billa had grown up within this poor community and recognised the vast amounts of street children and orphans who were just roaming the streets or working without an education. In 1998 Billa began to teach what started as 5 children under a mango tree to 55 children under a larger mango tree to 80 children in a small rented room which he financed to what it is today, a thriving centre of which I have been honoured to be a part of. This project is continuing to grow and now includes further community initiatives including sports coaching and vocational training. Since 2010 UCC has been supported by a registered charity which provides volunteers and financial support to the centre in Ghana. The UCC is reliant on donations of money or resources and the sponsor a child scheme in order to continue its operations.
I have spent the past 3 weeks absorbing the local culture, the friendliest people I have ever met and the biggest hugs from these beautiful grateful children.
I am sponsoring a child here and plan to return with my son in 2014 to appreciate the growth of this unique project. An experience that will stay close to my heart…..

 Teshie sounds like an amazing place, doing wonderful work that will make a huge difference. Whenever a child gets an education, that child’s life changes and the effect spreads in expanding circles of opportunity.

If you have ever considered volunteering abroad I would recommend Ghana and I know for sure that Gina would recommend Teshie. It isn’t non-stop work, she has had  the chance to see some of the area around Ghana’s fabulous coast and to experience the culture.

Gina I’m sure that you will stay close to their hearts too, well done, you’re amazing.