About Andy McFarlane

Freelance journalist and content producer. Based in Liverpool.

The importance of eating buns

Wherever we are in the world and no matter how adventurous or varied our lives, I suspect we all crave a bit of routine.

We need an anchor to hold us steady as we negotiate life’s highs and lows, pegging us to a state of relative “normality”.

For us, that anchor comes in the shape of buns.

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Flying solo

It’s fair to say I never exactly look forward to The One With The Common Sense spending a week away with work.

But I must be getting used to managing The Flump on my own because I’ve had my most productive writing week for ages.

On top of that, there have been surprisingly few daddyrage incidents and Flumpo has been remarkably forgiving about the fact she’s been living in a sty, what with Mummy not around to tidy up. Continue reading

Grim realities

It’s been a week that’s highlighted some sad realities about life in Sierra Leone.

Firstly, we heard two vehicles had been stolen during a break-in at the One With The Common Sense’s office.

Worse, however, was finding out later that one of the night watchmen had been killed in the robbery. Men armed with machetes – or cutlasses, as they call them here – had tied him up and strangled him. Continue reading

A long weekend in Freetown

Freetown might seem an odd destination for a long weekend but it’s certainly doable, as our friend just proved.

I picked up our old housemate Tim – or Topsy Tim, as the Flump named him (her first CBeebies in-joke) – from the SeaCoach terminal at 6am on Friday.

He’d enjoyed a trouble-free overnight flight until the passport officer stamped him in and then asked for money for a drink. Being a kindly soul, and having nothing smaller, Topsy handed over a fiver (Sterling), enough to fund a decent night out.

We aimed to show Tim as much of what Sierra Leone had to offer as is possible inside four days. Continue reading

Gas and air

We’ve been waiting for months for the gas cylinder that powers our cooker to run empty.

And Sod’s Law dictated that it’d happen mid-lasagne, when we had guests on the way.

Cue a mad dash and tour of west Freetown’s petrol stations to find a replacement.

However, all turned out well and we had a pleasant evening with our friends George and Anne, and their two kids.

It was, for us, tinged with sadness, as it was a farewell dinner before they headed off for a new life in Anne’s native Canada, via a stop in England. Continue reading

Did the Earth move?

We’re fairly well accustomed to sleeping through seriously noisy nights, with rain hammering on our corrugated metal roof.

And we had plenty of thunder crackling around at the start of the rainy season.

But at 4.30am on Monday, a noise like no other made me shoot bolt upright.

A deafening noise rumbled apocalyptically around Freetown’s mountainous borders, echoing around the compass points like it’d never end. Continue reading

A dampener on our return

We knew there’d be something.

Our return journey to Sierra Leone had gone far too smoothly for us to walk into a trouble-free house.

An infestation of ants had seemed the most likely problem when we left, while I’d been envisaging rainy-season floods or a toppled water tower.

The other great fear – that someone would have nicked our car – was eased when we arrived to find one of our watchmen diligently guarding it.

But when we opened the front door, we immediately got a whiff of what lay in store.

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10 things you didn’t know last week*

We’ve been back in the UK and Ireland for three weeks, enjoying home comforts thanks to the hospitality of family.

Power cuts and water shortages seem to belong to another lifetime, or parallel universe. And the relative ease of things here is such that I fear a second bout of culture shock on our return to Africa later this month.

I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t made me consider why on Earth we’d chosen to make life difficult for ourselves. Thankfully, flicking through photos serves as a reminder of the more colourful aspects of life in Sierra Leone that make for such a fun and fascinating experience. Continue reading

Home Salone

Home is where the heart is, according to proverb. But if that’s the case, mine has been riven in two for years.

I’ve spent my adulthood away from Liverpool, travelling “home” to family, friends and football at weekends, then heading back “home” to work.

Nonetheless it was reassuring to have it pointed out that I’d referred to “flying home” to Sierra Leone in a text message.

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