Our expat experience – the last word

I don’t suppose you ever completely know what you’re heading into when you move abroad but it’s fair to say we hadn’t the first idea.

As I look back to those first days in Sierra Leone, I struggle to remember how I kept the Flump entertained through those long days with only a few books and the odd toy, and nothing so much as an electric fan to temper the searing March heat

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Keeping hydrated was our prime concern early on

It must go down as one of the most challenging times in my life. We had so few possessions, no reliable means of transport, uncertainty over the arrival of our freight and, unsurprisingly, doubts as to the wisdom our choice.

It was tough at the time but we just blamed ourselves for being a bit feeble. Besides, wasn’t it our own fault if we were ill-prepared?

Anyway, how could we complain when a short walk outside would reveal how tough life really could get? Continue reading

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My Sweet Salone top five

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Chaotic transport and poor infrastructure might keep Sierra Leone off the mainstream tourist trail for a while yet but new flight choices could soon tempt the more adventurous traveller. 

Dutch airline KLM will fly to Freetown three times a week from March 26, after a two-decade hiatus. It’s currently offering £470 returns from London or Manchester and there are signs that rivals are dropping prices, making a long weekend or week’s break more feasible.

So what are Sweet Salone’s top attractions? Here’s my favourite five:


5. The Sierra Leone Marathon

Okay, so I only ran the half distance – my body really wasn’t ready for 26.2 miles – but whatever you feel fit for, it’s worth making the journey for a race with a truly special atmosphere. The charity Street Child puts together a fantastic itinerary that allows runners to meet some of the kids they’re raising money to help, both in rural schools and the host town of Makeni.

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Times they are a-changing

I hate to be one of those irritating people who go on about amazing far-flung beaches while you’re pondering turning on the central heating.

But our last few beach outings really have been fantastic fun.

As the rain has eased, so has the flow of litter into the drains and on to the sea. The last seaweed bloom that left the sands covered in a festering mass seems to have finally cleared.

And at Lakka on Sunday the water was clear and perfect for bathing, to the point where I had what’s probably my first ever proper swim in the sea – covering about 500m aided only by the salt offering great buoyancy. Continue reading