Simple pleasures and small mercies.

Shopping in Marrakech souk.

Shopping in Marrakech souk.

This morning I am sitting in my new office, a little space tucked off my bedroom, with windows on each side which allows the breeze (and no doubt the harmattan dust) to waft through. While I look into other buildings, a giant palm tree tempers this view. And while I can hear the cars blaring their horns and roaring past on Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout they are far enough away to be a dull white noise.

Because we like a challenge (ha!), we moved house a few days before we left for our Christmas holidays, all in the middle of end of year celebrations and farewell parties and the simmering guilt I had over a university assignment due just after Christmas. So in this chaos, my little office became the dumping ground for those boxes you don’t quite know what to do with. And the boxes and baskets of sewing supplies and children’s report cards and letters deemed too precious to throw away. So I took great pleasure yesterday in stacking the boxes, organizing the books and bits and pieces of clutter, and with a new 2015 diary in hand, wrote out the school holidays, and looked forward to the year ahead. I didn’t allow myself to dwell on the instabilities in the mining industry, but simply felt grateful for a lovely new apartment and a clean(-ish) desk.

I’m not one for gratitude diaries which proponents tell me will increase my daily happiness and mindfulness of the moment. But I do think it’s important to take a moment every now and then to acknowledge all the simple good in our lives. Whether we dwell on tragedies in the wider world or the frustrations of daily life, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity. I think this can be exacerbated by the challenges of living in developing countries, where a bad morning can easily spiral into a nightmarish day. And combine this with being away from old friends and family, it can add up to a fairly miserable time when we lose sight of the bigger picture.

So clinging onto the refreshment a holiday brings, here are a few things which are giving me simple pleasures at the moment:

A clean desk and the sense of opportunity it brings.

An internet connection, even sweeter when it has been off for several hours/days.

Penicillin. Thank you. To this tropically acclimatized body those European flu bugs pack a real punch.

How lucky we are to have had such a great holiday, and the greatly extended pleasure of remembering it. I’m loving sorting through our photos, admiring our new Touareg carpet and my Berber earrings. The container of Saharan sand on Jock’s bedside table sings to me of wonderful opportunity and memories.

Printer ink. Truly.

Discussions with the children. Last nights dinner special started about the importance of not offending someone’s religious beliefs vs freedom of speech, obviously in light of the Charlie Hedbo tragedy this week. But it progressed, as these things do, to about ‘being principled’, and whether Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian are principled people…how does this happen?

The really lovely comments and emails I received after my last post. It seems as though, you, the discerning reader, are happy for me to explore any and all possibilities for this blog. Sometimes it will be about the meanderings of life and sometimes about life specifically here in West Africa. I am always humbled by you taking the time to reach out to me, particularly those Ghanaians in the diaspora who read this blog to touch base with home. As a non-Ghanaian, I am humbled by your praise, and can only say ‘Akwaaba’.

Let me know, what’s giving you simple pleasures?

Jock rocking it with the Berbers. Too funny!

Jock rocking it with the Berbers. Too funny!

8 responses to “Simple pleasures and small mercies.

  1. Ah Chris…..excellent as always, and YES! I am also enjoying my new house, and office (not quite yet) but I am winning “small-small”

    Have a great day, x Karin

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Yes! Gratefulness, such a trite notion, really does make a difference!
    Here are some of my simple pleasures:
    -Sourdough pancakes with maple syrup – the weekly chore of feeding my starter transformed into a special breakfast.
    -That tin of Badger Balm my sister-in-law gave me – perfect for smoothing the chapped skin on my winter hands.
    -My first book! After months of fiddling with the manuscript for “Two Brauds Abroad” co-author Steph and I now have a finished product. And we’re still friends!
    -My parents – still alive, still kicking.
    -Bob’s companionship, mentor-ship and outright adoration.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My simple pleasures at the moment are the bottle of Sainsbury’s black currant squash and the Terry’s Chocolate Orange brought back by friends visiting the UK over Christmas!
    Love your writings; I hope the open university course you are taking is one on writing a book!


  4. Your shopping photo is fantastic! I haven’t achieved a clean desk yet, but yesterday I cleaned the piles of paper off my kitchen island. I feel better every time I look at it.
    The simplest pleasure: the little birds that fly into my patio, pause for a moment, and then flit away.
    In the midst of the frustration of trying to learn how to market my novel, I do take pleasure in finishing a blog post and reading the comments of my faithful readers.


  5. Simply pleasures:
    – Going for a mountain bike with friends in Glenrock
    – Going for a swim at the baths with John and the girls (Merewether, Newcastle, Bogey Hole – limitless choice all good).
    – Looking up and down the coastline at the beautiful crystal clear ocean waters.
    – Having a cup of tea or a beer with friends who have dropped over out of the blue on the balcony at home staring out into the eucalyptus canopy chatting about life and adventures past and future.
    – Sitting on the sofa cuddling one or both of the girls and watching a movie eating Grill’d for dinner and enjoying no washing up.
    – Reading your blog while possums run across the roof and Scratchey barks at them letting them know that she’s the boss of this verandah!
    Just a few simple pleasures and I got to do them all today.
    Looking forward to another day tomorrow for some more simple pleasures.
    x RJSX


  6. I agree it’s good to occasionally remind ourselves of what’s good in our lives. I’m on holidays right now so my biggest simple pleasure would have to be swimming almost every day, either at the beach or the pool.


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