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.

  • A Language of Togetherness

    A mini wooden goal post

    A year ago, I went back home – Sierra Leone. A trip of a lifetime. I wanted to reconnect and reminisce with that of my upbringing and reflect on the journey of transformation so far.

    What re-ignites these reconnections are the moments of laughter and fun, occasionally some bruises too. As for many boys/men growing up it was Football – street football in third world countries. Using natural environmental materials at disposal to be creative in order to have fun. Stones/timber as goal post, flip-flops as boots, our daily casual clothes as match-kits (sometimes vestless). Amongst the midst of cars & bikes constantly flowing past we often stop and resume once they’ve vanished.

    A mix of Olders and youngers dripping in sweats under a 40 plus degrees heat, sweats sometimes washed away from our skin down into the Gutters of Freetown during rainy season. The best sensation was when it rains. We try to avoid kicking the ball into the open gutters flowing in high velocity of rainy waters as you’d end up chasing it forever. Bystanders stalling; wanting to be a part of the scene as they too could relate to the atmospheric adrenaline of adults & kids in flip flops kicking ball made out of used plastic. The energy is competitive and special.

    I was strolling in the neighbourhood at some point during my visit and came across this scenery – once again. But this time I was the bystander who stalled, admired and took pictures. Itching to blend in once more, smiled at how lucky they are to be playing on a tarmac floor as I didn’t have such luxury growing up.

    A way to pay tribute before my departure was to organise a football match calling on all the Olders & youngers within the neighbourhood I grew up in. People who played a significant part in my life – like literally. They turned up in abundance having conservations with each other on: ‘Last time I saw you was 2yrs ago’ or ‘I haven’t seen this guy for God knows how long‘. We played, had food refreshment, reminisce and went our separate ways. A hobby best described as a language of togetherness.


  • 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


  • Degree Apprenticeship

    2017 in the carpentry workshop – MK college

    A 2017 throwback of me working on an individual project during my last year at college, before going to university. I spent 4 years in college (Level 1-4). When I moved to the UK at age 17 my academic background didn’t translate to that of UK’s.

    Hence, I had to settle down for a course at college (in my case Engineering) and worked my way up, to stack up enough points to go to Uni. Keep in mind the UK age demographic for graduates is between ages 21-22 (Degree & Masters). I went to uni at age 21.

    As productive I may have appeared on the image above, at the time I was clueless at to what specific type of Engineering I should apply for before going to uni.

    I contemplated many times on alternative paths – one of which was an ‘Apprenticeship‘. The opportunity to earn invaluable experience whilst employed, earn money, debt free, a degree and most likely a secured job offer at the end of your apprenticeship.

    All within 4-5 yrs. Yes I know you’d probably say what about the university experience? (party, fun, escaping from your parents hassles, making friends etc).

    I won’t and I’m not trying to sell you anything, because only you get to choose which path you want to go down or what works best for you. It’s totally okay not to know what route you want to take after leaving school/college.

    Most people take a gap year/s to find answers whilst others shoot straight to uni hoping to find answers – some do others don’t.

    I currently work for a Civil Engineering Contractor – Dyer & Butler with offices all over UK, within the transportation sector including Rail & Aviation projects.

    My self included and fellow colleagues, along with the help of others have designed the company’s first degree apprenticeship scheme to offer school leavers/equivalent a unique structured development programme recognising your uniqueness and supports you professionally and academically .

    All you have to do is put yourself forward and apply. Did I regret going to uni? No, I enjoyed most part of it apart from the debt I’ll be paying for the next 30years.

    Should I have gone down the path of apprenticeship? If I knew what I know now, possibly. But it’s your call! Academia is marathon not a sprint. To find out more see links below!


  • Pineda De Mar

    When I arrived I was dumbfounded by how quiet and maze-like the town was! You could walk down a neighbourhood as if no one lives there. To me it struck me with a sense of freedom, fresh air and vacancy.

    Ironically, this maze-like town is full of neighbours who know each other very well, drawing a sense of close community and safety. We went on walks along the endless seafront, scooter riding and hit a few tourists shops.

    We also took trains to visit the nearby towns as mentioned above – all within a 5-8mins train ride for free – yes for free! I guess when you in Spain you do as the Spaniards do! It was a shaky yet fun experience.

    Not to say I had free lunches everyday as my friend worked in a restaurant at the time and he’d bring food with him everyday exactly at 14:00 where we’d sit, eat, laugh, reminisce and enjoy the view.

    He also introduced me to his other mates whom by the way were welcoming and we connected straight away on mutual levels of familiarities. We also hung out a few times and visited some chill spots and tourist locations. On day 3 we part ways and I headed back to Barcelona to commence on the rest of my travelling.

    Pineda De Mar would definitely be one of my favourite lowkey destination and I would absolutely recommend this Maze-like Gambian town.


  • ,

    Newhaven Fort

    A brief walk to the cliff-view top of Newhaven fort, South coast of England with stunning naturistic views. The fort was built back in the 1800’s as a naval defence territory which stood it grounds & served it purpose during both WW1 & WW11. To date it been preserved as a historical landmark housing exhibitions of network of tunnels, ramparts and more.

    I went on few walks on the never-ending cliff, during two seasons namely, summer & spring. However, I must say I didn’t visit the exhibitions as I was busy strolling on the cliffs absorbing and jaw-dropping on the views around me.

    Below the cliff is a sandy beach full of relaxation stretching along miles of land. At the top was me doing steps of miles and still feeling like I was been followed by the views below and around.

    Maybe next time I will pop by the historical exhibitions. A place of hiking, walks, picnic, sun tan, swimming and history. A place to escape.


  • 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.