Hello, I’m Mo!

A Civil Engineer by profession, based in England. Work-life balance is ideally important. Hence, in my free time I explore the world by taking you for a walk with me on national & international travels along with my ethnic journey as a Civil Engineer.

  • Florence – Italy

    Duomo

    Two things that comes to mind when someone mentions the city of Florence : Leonardo Da vinci & The Medici family. Well for me anyway. That’s probably because I watched the TV series _ ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ for like 3 times, obsessively.

    A show that digs into the history of its people, rulers and at the time known as the city of centre Renaissance. Thus prior to visiting Firenze you’d say I somewhat fairly knew of its history.

    If you are looking to party-hard I kindly suggest you look for somewhere else because this is a city rich in medieval architecture, art & poetry. Sadly, as a solo traveller I was only there for 2 days.

    I stayed at a hostel called ‘Plus Florence’ (see on map below) which I’d highly recommend for solo & group travellers. Located pretty much bang on at the centre of Florence and its attractions. Reasonably cheap ( £65 for 2 nights), along with a splendid rooftop view, swimming pool and more.

    Worth the money! A confined city that you could walk to any designated attraction with ease.

    I think the main attraction drawn to most travellers is the Duomo – Santa Maria del Fiore. A Landmark Engineered with an unmissable red dome structure that can be seen from wherever you are in Firenze.

    I also loved the ‘Ponte vecchio’ arched river bridge with shops literally sitting on top of it structure. There are definitely more attractions to visit such as the likes of Leonardo interactive museum, Pitti palace, Uffizi gallery, David of Michelangelo and more.

    I briefly met some amazing people/travellers like myself from various continental destinations and you’d be amazed how much you have in common and how aligned your travelling plans are with theirs. It was indeed a great ‘walking’ experience!

    ‘Ponte vecchio‘ 2021


  • The Phone Call

    “Hello is this, Mohamed? she asked “, yes! I replied. “You applied for a student Engineering placement role with us, and I was wondering if you are still interested?”. Believe it or not my response was – which one? Silly, isn’t it?

    Perhaps over the course of 10 months I had applied for more than 20 placement jobs. Being unsuccessful at most of them with no feedback as to how I could improve and set my self up for the next, some of them didn’t even bother.

    Having polished my cv/cover letters along with pre-interview rehearsals; thanks to my University careers team– Birmingham City university. I was fortunate to pull a few face-to-face interviews with the likes of Jacobs and Network rail.

    I could recall having drove 3hrs 30min to Exeter for the interview with Jacobs, for a ‘Civil Engineering year placement – consultant role’, and also being called to an interview for a ‘Network analyst’ placement role with Network rail (which by the way was completely the opposite to Civil Engineering).

    Unfortunately , both were unsuccessful but provided me with constructive feedbacks. The need for such desperation was to find answers as I was uncertain to whether I was on the right career path thus by having a glimpse of the real practical world would either make me like it or dislike it.

    I guess when you’re lost you either keep on fumbling in the dark beaten by invisibility or show resilience by finding that one tiny crack that could burst into beam of colourful lights with just a single punch.

    Personally, the morals of these unsuccessful opportunities were : do your research, take feedback as a form of constructive criticism and of course everything do happen for a reason.

    She responded with an understandable laughter followed by: ‘the job is available if you’re still interested’. Prior to this call, I was still at university in my second year desperately applying for placements and hoping to secure one before my final year.

    This meant if I could secure a placement I would skip university for a year (a gap year) and come back to complete my final year but this time around topped with experience and answers.

    It also meant I could miss out in graduating with my day 1 friends and would return back the following year to new faces (making new friends all over again).

    Anyway, she gave me a phone interview and said she’d get back to me. At this point I was numb to rejection thus I thought I wouldn’t hear back from her or possibly in weeks time. Fast forward 20minutes later I received a call back from her offering a face- to- face interview with project managers the following week.

    Hope my face portrayed, excitement my mood showed, but despair my mind felt . One thing I left out was the job was 2hrs 30mins away from my town and if the interview came out successful I would have to relocate from my family and friends for a year.

    Perhaps the adrenaline rush of finding purpose and answers were far more important than comfort.

    On the 18th of July 2019, I drove to the city of Brighton along with two friends of mine – friends that contributed to my confidence that day. I got there hoping to be greeted by a fancy building with prestigious interiors where the air con caress your skin with Goosebumps like those of my previously failed interviews.

    To my surprise the scene was more practical and lively. I parked and walked into these stacked containers to be embraced by the smell of papers – papers scribbled with knowledge sprinkled everywhere, smell of pace – pace of hard work and reliability.

    I was hosted by two interviewers one of whom sat right next to me and the other opposite, across a long wooden office table. To me this symbolised comfort, friendliness and professionalism.

    I sat there with honesty and authenticity while I carefully answered the questions thrown at me. Mid way through the interview they started throwing questions about my relocation plans, when I’d like to start and salary (yes you do get paid for Engineering placement).

    At this point I silently smiled in disguise as the thought of me relocating is actually becoming a reality.

    I was offered the job at the spot and ask to them to allow me a month to quit my part-time job, to inform my university and sort out an accommodation in Brighton.

    It’s worth mentioning the company who saw the never-ending failures on my search for placements and decided to put an end to my blows is Dyer & Butler.

    A Civil Engineering company that changed the course of my career doubts and navigated my uncertainties to a much broader horizon of endless clarity . Off to Brighton I went !! A city that later turns out to be my favourite in England. Everything do happen for a reason.

    Site office in Brighton 2019.

    By the way…these two handsome guys weren’t the interviewers. They offered a lot more down the line!


  • The Island City of England

    There are many Islands in England and arguably attractive and historic in there own ways. But an Island city, now that’s rare to come by in England. They call it the port city because it harbours (used to) a significant Naval port. To many of us it goes by the name – Portsmouth (south of England).

    My walk to Portsmouth was brief yet captivating. A vibrant city with many collective attractions centred at Gunwharf quays. Now I must say if you love to shop this might be your fortress of solitude. Gunwharf quays is known for its leading designer outlet in the south with countless designer brands, restaurants, bars , the Spinnaker Tower followed by a pleasant sea view.

    Like I said it was a brief walk, too bad I couldn’t go for a spin on the spinnaker tower just so I could have a bit of the adrenaline rush through my head at the 170m tall landmark. Due to strict COVID restrictions it was out of bounds to tourists. It’s now open to all so I may finally get to be at the top of Portsmouth, soon.


  • There’s always a Twist!

    I don’t want to start by defining what Civil Engineering is or what it fully entail. You may get bored or start to think I’m smart. Yes I do get the ‘wows’ from people followed by a raise in the eye brows and a brief moment of pause, whenever someone asks me what I do. Believe me, I’m not smart I’m just like YOU. Any course/degree is equally as challenging as the others. Now, think of everything around you.

    Your house, place of work, place of exercise/sport, leisure & shopping centres, pedestrian and cyclist pavements, the roads you relentlessly drive on everyday to work, trains you hop on everyday to dodge traffic, some of the magic tricks behind your daily energy supply, the safety and soothing bedrock behind the take-offs and landing from the aeroplanes in the airports, bridges & skyscrapers.

    You probably only captured the last two – ‘bridges & skyscrapers’, right? Perhaps not! In short Civil Engineering : designs, builds and maintain infrastructures around you. In what areas exactly? you may ask. Four key areas :

    Structural, Geotechnical, Hydraulics/drainage & Transportation. You get your bridges, skyscrapers, buildings from the first one. This’s where you’d find the math gurus’ as they work out all the mathematics involved (using software simulations) of any structural construction ensuring it doesn’t collapse.

    Before you build anything you need to ensure that the ground/soil is fit for purpose – This’s where the Geotechnical Kings walks in, making sure that your building doesn’t sink into the ground pre & post after construction. Most/some of your energy supply comes from natural and renewable sources – eg water.

    Dams are built to enhance and generate the force of water which is converted from mechanical to electrical energy and in turn switches on your TV. Yes, literally switches on your TV. Potable water pipes are carefully distributed in the ground and strategically designed to allow the right amount of water to households & cyclically whenever you flush your toilets it goes somewhere safe and gets treated (sewage treatment plants) carefully.

    Drainage/gutters designed to circulate and distribute surface water we get from various rainfalls – which in turn prevents flooding. This’s where the Hydraulics/drainage minds takeover. Finally, Transportation! the biggest of all where you have your roads/highways, train tracks and airports. At this point I may have bored you but hang in there.

    As a Civil Engineer you could work in any of these 4 sectors depending on whether you want to be on site or in the office or perhaps a bit of both. Meaning, if you choose to be on the design side you could be designing anything from those 4.

    Whereas, if you’re a more practical and hands person you’d be working on site, managing Engineering works and see everything being built from scratch and at the same time doing office/design based work (depending on who you work for). What ever floats your boat. Right…! Interestingly, before I chose this path, I was on a completely different one years back. I call it a twist. There’s always a twist to a journey.

    My Engineering Journey started in Milton Keynes College. Where I spent a substantial amount of years (4yrs) studying a mixture of electrical, mechanical and a bit of design.

    More like what you would call generic Engineering. To be honest I have forgotten most of what I learnt – remember I told you I’m not smart. But it created a path to which I was exposed to the different types of Engineering out there, before going to University.

    My time there was great, fun, friendly and teachers were very kind and supportive. Hopefully I get to revisit there someday. I know you thought you’d be seeing pictures of bridges etc…hang in there we will get there, eventually. For now sit tight and you’d see how everything start to unfold, indeed there is more to tell and more be told.


  • A walk to Gloucester & Cirencester

    South west of England is a county called Gloucestershire. A county that houses other towns within it circumference known for it medieval history and Forest of dean (which we would get into on ‘Nature’ another time) . Two of which I visited were Gloucester and Cirencester. Lets start with Gloucester.

    At first I didn’t know what to expect when I got there: unusual, quiet, different, low-key, easy-going, history. These were the words that came to mind. Until I stretched my legs out of the Airbnb apartment I was staying, walked down the road and was hit with the view of ‘Gloucester docks’. There was so much information to absorb all at once. Out burst with leisurely sights of eateries, shopping outlet, canal and restored Victorian warehouses.

    Lingering around these beautiful scenery gave me a fundamental insight to its people and history. History dating all the way back to Roman times. Anyway, I didn’t just want to be trapped into these collective attractions as I thought there has to be more. Yes, MORE. About 10-15 minute from the docks is the city’s shopping centre and Cathedral.

    If you are a fan of Harry Potter then you should probably visit this gothic historical cathedral. I went back to the shopping outlet to have a browse – which was one of a kind by the way! before stopping by a Caribbean restaurant to fill up me belly. The food was indeed banging!

    Now, Cirencester isn’t that much different from that of Gloucester. A small town lively, cultural and relaxing. It also has its own history and uniqueness. Old gothic and Victorian vibe, strict in sticking to its oldness; that of which makes it invaluable and unique.

    A thing I love about Cirencester. You could easily grab a meal or cup of coffee, sit outside and enjoy a pleasant view down the lane/s. Oh yeah, I did take a walk into an enclosed food and shopping muse called ‘The Corn Hall’. Again, very different in so many ways. In there you’d find art, books, jewellery, clothing, food and more. Definitely a place to stop by.