Sunday, 2 August 2015

My Sunday Photo - Week 31

I don't know about you, but despite not having a job or children at home, I always seem to be on the go and never really just sit down and enjoy our home.

5 months ago hubby and I went to Ikea to buy curtain poles, it was touch and go if either of us would come out of there alive after hubby called me a 'f**king psychopath' and we came away empty handed.

I went out on my own 3 months ago and bought the poles we needed, where they sat in the conservatory until hubby finally put them up was a smooth process, this time I managed to keep my opinions to myself, although it was an effort to do so :-)

I spent most of the morning, hanging and re hanging the curtains until I got them just right, but due to  the way the room has been built, hubby couldn't get the pole any higher, so the curtains will have to come back down and be shortened and then re hung.

It's made a real difference to the room, keeping it much cooler during the day, apart from putting the step ladder away, we now finally have curtains up in every room, each room is how we want it.

Apart from keeping up with the housework, I'm hoping I will now just sit and relax more in the house during the day and finally get on with those little craft projects I've been collecting for the last few years.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Week 31 - Project 365

Every time I settle into a routine, we get a visitor, hubby goes away or I'm off somewhere. The teen is here for the summer holidays then hubby and I are off to the UK in September. It's been like this for the past 5 years, I guess I should just accept that this is my routine now and just get on with it.

Sunday. A good start to the week with collecting my AED 1000 prize for an Instagram competition run during Eid #HappyGatherings at The Beach, so I spent the morning drinking coffee on the beach front and writing my blog posts.

Monday. I've been watching back to back Obsessive Compulsive Hoarders and Cleaners. Hubby suggested I was being a bit obsessive with watching them all and suggested maybe I should go out and do something instead. I opted to have a clean and a tidy up instead but not at the levels they were on the TV.

Tuesday. The teen arrived early morning and took over the TV with immediate effect, which doesn't bother me as I rarely watch it, but it means there's another room to have the air con on all day and the mess. I've spent the week trying NOT to be bothered by the mess. he also 'broke' the internet with his attempt to improve the signal. It's only the 3rd time I've seen him this year and I'll miss the mess once he's gone.

Wednesday. The whole day was spent putting together documents and writing letters and making online payments to solicitors, the Foreign Office and UAE Embassy all in the UK to sort out residency visa for the 16 year old. Despite him being in Boarding School in the UK, his main residence is with us in Dubai. There was no court order when I divorced his Father which has complicated the matter. What I fail to understand is we moved to Dubai from South Africa having already produced all these documents, yet the UAE require us to process our application from our country of origin, not from the country we were moving from.

Thursday. Coffee morning with the expat ladies over at Dubai Festival City, numbers are dwindling, with many being away for the summer and a few having to move unexpectedly with hubbies jobs.

Friday. Up early with hubby, the teen and the dog, out into the desert. I packed a picnic breakfast, chairs and the camp stove. We went to Mugg and Bean for lunch a South African cafe for a little taste of 'home'. In the afternoon we went to the cinemas to Ant Man.

Saturday. A day of nothingness was planned, however it ended up with putting curtain rails up in the conservatory, we popped out to a new coffee shop (can't be many left for us to discover), did some food shopping and ate a picnic dinner on the beach.

Day 207 #onedailypositive #NegativeSpace #fmsphotoaday #IceCream #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

I bought a box of 16 ice creams for today's photo prompt as I'm sure there would be many mistakes made trying to capture this shot, however hubby pulled it off first bite.

Day 208 #onedailypositive #clouds #fmsphotoaday #hair #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

Current temperature in Dubai 42c with a heat index of 45c and a NNE wind of 14km/h therefore the clouds make no difference in regards to protecting you from the heat. The wind is warm and it's like you're being followed around by a hairdryer on full blast.

Day 209 #onedailypositive #LookingIn #fmsphotoaday #SomethingOld #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

This is my glass collection, that my father started for my Mother in the late 50's when he travelled Europe playing football 59/60 season, picking up a glass ornament on his travels. I inherited the collection aged 11 and spent my pocket money adding to it over the years.

Day 210 #onedailypositive #LookingOut #fmsphotoaday #Toes #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

Looking out the window, driving into the desert with hubby and Bob for his weekly trip to the lakes

Day 211 #onedailypositive #trash #fmsphotoaday #pets #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

I have to hoover daily in Dubai, the cat and dog moult everywhere and the air con blows it around the house creating little piles of fur I can collect easily for the trash.

Day 212 #onedailypositive #IBoughtIt #fmsphotoaday #GoldenHour #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

As an expat any and every taste of home is a prized possession. Often we find favourite items go out of stock for a few weeks, so any time we see PG Tips we pick up a box, along with a few other favourites. We've been known to buy the last 4 boxes of a favourite food item from the supermarket.

Day 213 #onedailypositive #fiction #fmsphotoaday #PostCard #snaphappybritmums #project365 #50DaysOfSummer

A bit of a sore point this one, some of our family aren't THAT interested in our real lives in Dubai, they love the idea of us living a life of luxury and not the reality of it being too hot to go out, too expensive just to take part in all the activities they think we do daily, such as Brunch, spa's, nail bars, concerts etc. While some expats do live this life style, they either live life to the max on their credit cards or are exaggerating back home as to what they actually do. So for a few I keep the correspondence short and sweet and just say 'Life is great here' as they don't know how to respond, if they bother replying at all.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Organising your wardrobe

I find that I always seem to wear a variation of below

Jeans or 3 quarter jeans, black t shirt and black sandals

Living in Dubai means I don't need to think about jumpers and coats etc, but when I visit the UK, I add black boots and a black coat.

I do own clothes that don't aren't black or denim, but not many. I have my favourites and tend to stick to them.

After a recent holiday and an 8 hour time difference to adjust to, my trusted favourites were all in the wash for a week and I was forced to wear something different and once I'd caught up with the washing and ironing I decided to turn the hangers of the clothes I hadn't worn around and and not wear anything else until I'd gone through my entire wardrobe.

Towards the end of the 3 weeks, I found all I had left was this combination.

I was actually back to where I started, black top and denim bottom, so I think to some extent I failed, yet I've worn every single item of clothing I own, including most of my dresses, apart from one or two which aren't suitable for wearing in Dubai, without a jacket, which in this heat just doesn't work.

Upon leaving South Africa we packed up all our winter clothes, which are kept in a separate wardrobe, which I had a sort through this week and found 5 skirts I'd forgotten I'd owned as I don't really like wearing them, but after wearing the denim skirt I've put them back in the main wardrobe and I'll be wearing them next week, assuming they fit me still.

There were a few tops I appear to have outgrown and a couple of pairs of jeans I'd been hanging on to in the hope I'd fit them again one day, but I'm afraid that the 'one day' has now passed and along with couple of tops they've been put in the charity pile and 2 pairs of combat trousers have been relegated to the 'beach wear' and 'dog walk in the desert' shelf.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Trees in Dubai with #HDYGG

Seeing as Horse Chestnut trees don't like excessively dry conditions, I was surprised to find a conker when I went out walking the other evening.

I can only assume that the conker has come from a child's toy box that has recently been sorted with several items making it to the trash.

Having googled 'Do horse chestnut trees grow in Dubai?' I was surprised to see what trees did and didn't grow in these harsh conditions and have spent the last few days wandering around the neighbourhood with my camera looking for and identifying local trees.

I really struggled with online identification and finding a book shop, so hubby and visited the local garden centre where I bought a book on gardening in Oman and the UAE.

Ficus Microcarpa - Laurel Fig

Can be grown in containers or reach a height of 10ms if grown in open ground. A fast growing tree, with shiny leaves that burn in the height of summer. It germinates easily and cuttings grow quickly.
This tree is growing in our garden in the sand.

Washingtona - Mexican Fan Palm, Washington Palm

 A slow growing tree reaching up to 4.5m's in around 10 years. The leaves are around 3m's long, however most of these trees in our neighbourhood, including this one in our garden are in poor condition, despite having a high salt  and drought tolerance. 
As the leaves die off they are cut back and form part of the trunk.
It is self seeding and propagates well from a string of black fruits, each containing 1 seed, from a white flower.

Ficus Religiosa - sacred Bo, Bo Tree, Peepul

A tree sacred to Buddists and Hindus as it is said this is the tree the Buddha gained enlightenment. grows up to 15ms and is fast growing up to 3ms in it's first 2 years.
Prior to mature the leaves are pale pink.
This tree prefers rich soil. But has some salt tolerance, considering this tree is growing in the sand about 1.5kms from the sea. 
Cultivates well and is self seeding.

Prosopis Cineraria - Arabic name: Ghaf

Found in the desert, grows well in sand. A fast growing tree reaching 12m's in height and one of the best providers of shade. 
Prior to the development of Dubai, these trees were the tallest structures and used as landmarks. 
These trees are are an important source of nectar for honey production. In spring the tree produces pale yellow catkin like flowers and slender pods producing small black seeds, which are propagated after soaking the seeds over night and shallow planting. The pods and leaves are also used for animal feed.
For the seeds to germinate they require a temperature of around 25-30c and germinate within 5-10 days. The seedlings need planting out when they are young as the root system can reach depths up to 35m's which helps it stabilise in the sand.

Phoenix Dactylifera - Date Palm. Arabic name: Nakhl

The region produces around 1 million metric tonnes of dates every year. There are 150 varieties of grapes grown in the region.
The leaves are called Fronds and grow up to 6 m's long. 
Grown from seed the date tree takes up to 8 year to produce fruit. 
Dates are only produced on a female plant, which requires pollination from a male tree usually carried through the wind. In a plantation there is approximately 1 male tree to every 50 female trees. The dates are tied up to prevent damage and take around 6 months to ripen.
In summer a tree in fruit requires 120 litres of water per day.

Leucaena Leucocephala - Speedy Tree

No longer considered a garden plant as it was originally planted to feed cattle and withstands repeated cutting back, making it difficult to keep under control. Self propagating, it's seed pods are packed full of seeds and germinates quickly.
Grows rapidly over 8m's in height.

Ziziphus Spina-Christi - Christ Thorn Tree. Arabic name: Sidr

Grows to a height of 10m's, it is salt and drought tolerant
This tree produces an edible flesh sold at local markets, it smells a bit like an apple, but I haven't tasted it yet as this was a fruit I collected from the ground.
To propagate the seed, it needs to be soaked to rehydrate it and only half bury as it needs light to germinate. Seeds fully planted can take 7 months to germinate. It also requires a temperature of between 25-30c to grow.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Looking for a friend

I'm lonely. I go out everyday when hubby is at work. I've sent off endless job and volunteer applications, I've met up with lots of people for coffee and lunches, but I haven't found myself a friend yet.

In the UK I had friends who lived on the street, friends I'd made in places I'd lived previously and kept in touch with. I popped into friends houses unannounced and they popped into ours. We met for shopping, going for a walk, for the kids to play in the park and for coffees out just for the sake of it, just because we could.

I'm still in touch with these friends, I visit when I'm in the UK, we write letters, face book, some of them have been out to visit us, either on their own or with their families. I value these friendships. They've been made through a share of common interests, through the children, who despite going their different ways with schools and careers, we've stayed in touch and remained very good friends, despite our lives changing and with the huge distance there is now between us.

In South Africa I had friends I met through volunteering, very good friends, but our relationship was cut short by us relocating to Dubai. We are still very good friends, we write, whats app daily. I'm going back to visit for a month later this year and 1 set of friends are staying with us on their way to Europe, they don't need to visit Dubai other than the fact we live here and they miss us and vice versa.

It took around 18 months to start making friends in South Africa, I went out for coffees, lunches, joined groups and met people and although like now, everyone is very nice, helpful and supportive, it's not the same as a having a handful of close friends, on your doorstep, that just pop in unannounced, who don't mind what state yours or their house is in, if they're on their way out and you just go along with them, whether it's the kids football or just a dental appointment.

I'm 44, my children have left home, including the youngest at 16 who has been in UK boarding school for the past 2 years. I have 3 very good friends in the UK, whose children are now adults. I have three very good friends who still have school aged children. I have 1 good friend who doesn't have children. We are all a similar age, live a similar life style (despite us living in Dubai) we are at the other end of the phone for emergencies, we are more than often the first people we turn to with our news. My friends all know one another and some of them are friends together. But their not here.

I need a friend to come to pick up the phone within a few minutes of reading this and tell me to get showered and dressed and meet them for a coffee, like NOW. Not arrange a coffee in a week's time, not a rearranged appointment, not a networking session.

I've got plenty of things to do. It's 10am, I've prepared tonights dinner, I've run the hoover round, made the bed, watered the garden and walked the dog. The 16yo is here till the end of August, so I have company in the day, someone here that will actually talk back to me, unlike the cat and dog.

I'm networking daily, I'm making contacts, going places out of my comfort zone.

I'm spending today contacting more volunteer organisations, working with children in schools, children with disabilities, football clubs and other sports organisations. I've applied to work with animal organisations, cats, dogs, turtles. I've adapted my CV to meet the needs of the organisation, sent copies and covering letters to the Embassies. I'm co-hosting a linky for the school holidays, I have my daily photo prompts that get me out and about. I'm blogging, fixing things, making things, sorting things.

I have a bill to pay, yes I can pay it online but that reduces the opportunities to meet people. By going out to pay the bill, I get out the house, despite the heat, I can have a coffee, do a spot of people watching.
I make eye contact, I smile at people, I'll pick a busy cafe where I need to ask if it's ok to share a table and who knows? maybe today I meet someone who is on their own and is looking for a friend also.