Tag Archives: travel

What (not) to wear, in Somaliland…

Whilst waiting for the aforementioned permission to work I decided I should find some Somaliland-appropriate clothes. The fashion rules are pretty simple here, expose nothing higher than mid upper arm or ankle and cover the head. Women dont wear trousers so long skirts or dresses are the mainstay. If you think this leaves no room for individuality or glamour you’d be wrong. Headscarves can be worn in a number of ways, wrists are often adorned with gold, eyes may be heavily kohled, colours are bright and in the evening the dresses are embroidered or beaded and quite beautiful. 

I asked Fahima, the lovely operations manager at The Institute of Public Health to help me in my quest. Somaliland born but European raised she moved back recently to expose her children to her culture and help develop the country. So, along with friends we got a driver to take us to the local market after early breakfast. But not before she made me change from my UK clothes in to a traditional dress she had bought from home. ‘Its a traditional area’ she said. Translation: even thought you arent showing skin you still look too foreign.

The first task was negotiating entrance to the market. A labyrinth of sellers and stands and woman on the floor fanning flies away from wonderfully scented morsels of food, all piled under canvases slung between buildings. The matt of sellers spilled  into the street and we picked our way carefully to the shady market core. Once inside we had to choose materials, based on colour, pattern and textile. When all you wear is a large sack and a headscarf these details gain heightened importance. Cloth procured, we headed to the seamtress to get the dress, aka dirac, made up. Finally, the finishing touches – headscarves in complementing colours. 

And then came the fun bit, as we sat on plastic chairs the girls asked for the household items they needed. One by one, items were brought by young men eager to make a sale. A lady came round and we picked through her handmade jewellery. An old man wandered past with hot cups of somali tea. After deciding on the purchases to be made a man arrived, piled them into a wheelbarrow and off we went. Navigating our way out the shadowy market and in to the singing sunlight.

That should’ve been the end of the trip, but as we bumped our way down the chaotic streets towards home one of the girls spotted a fan she wanted. Immediately, the driver stopped, on a roundabout I should add, and shouted at the shopkeeper to bring it over. Hanging out the window, holding up a hooting line of traffic behind (with not an eyelid batted) the fan was examined and plugged in to demonstrate its power. It was paid for by saad, a kind of text payment sent phone to phone. And off we went, allowing the roundabout to function once again..


Birthday views…

It’s never sunny on my birthday, this dull february day was no different. Which featured clouds as thick as our hangovers. We warmed our souls with coffee amd kanelbullar in a little cosy underground cafe in Gamla Stan. Armed with a fist full of balloons we climbed the path to this lookout, Katerina hissen, round the back of Slussen. I can never tire of this view.


The drive from Stockholm to Gothenburg took 4hours and 35mins. Roughly. I was DJ, and also chief animal spotter. I am particularly good at spotting horses since Ive been doing so my entire life, but I was after something more exotic this time. An elk. Although my friend told me, stone face coldly, that the greatest chance I had of seeing an elk was if we hit one with the car. But fear not, for Swedes are taught how to minimise the damage/chance of death should this happen (aim for the back of the animal apparently). Not too reassured we pressed on, past a lake called, I think, Vättern (not lake betty as i had thought for the first few hours of the trip). A massive expanse of choppy water and Swedens largest lake. The trouble with roadtrips in Sweden is that there is not much other than forest and the occasional chocolate box house. A welcoming splash of red in an otherwise monotonous, yet still beautiful (just not from the inside of a car on a motorway) landscape. 

This view…


I will never tire of it..

Travelling through time..

When I was about 14 years into my life my mother took us to Arizona.  On one of the long car journeys we took through the scorched red desert to a soundtrack of indistinct country and western radio we stopped.  It was monument valley.  And it was so beautiful that I scanned the horizon and told my mind to mentally photograph the scene so I would never forget it. And I haven’t.  A few years later I painted the scene for school art class, checking my memory against a picture provided by my mum.  My only problem now is that life is so full of memories that I cant keep them all, and the ones I keep are distorted by time, because the paint never dries on the canvas of life…

A little bit of Germany..

Christmas markets, who doesn’t love them, and what better place to visit them than the country of the original christmas marketers (probably?).. Germany.

So we flew to Bremen, half a million people reside in this beautiful place nestled along the river. Among cobbled streets and ancient buildings it has not one but two christmas markets. The first near town hall is lively and more modern, the second is the ‘traditional’ market and can be found at the river edge. Here they have people in mediaeval dress and wooden huts where people drink glüwein under mock candlelight.

Since the market shuts after 9pm we walked along the streets and stumbled upon a literal piss up in a brewery. Greeted by a dirndled girl and lederhosened man we drank weißbier, ate wurst, sauerkraut and grünkohl and watched the germans get more and more merry, rowdy and dancey. I’m not sure the night could have been any more German if we tried…



Days in summer..


..are apt to linger..