Thursday, 2 July 2015

How does your garden grow in Canada?

The British are here in Canada. 

I arrived last week to stay for 3 weeks with my twitter friend @AlwaysARedHead. So I thought I'd take you for a walk around her garden this week.

So far quite a lot of Canada reminds me of the UK, the uniformity of the streets and style of houses, although much bigger than your average UK house, open front gardens with a path to the front door, grass and borders. Although you don't see many houses in the UK with a veranda or porch.

The summer weather is slightly warmer and consistent, although it did rain here a couple of nights ago. The flowers are in full bloom and the garden is looking gorgeous.

The 'erb and veg garden is full to over flowing, stocked with thyme, rosemary, squash, beans, peppers, carrots, onions and for the first year broccoli.

The trees in the yard/garden are very tall, much taller than you'd find in an average UK garden, usually I'd only expect to see trees of this height in a mansion house or stately home.

There's a pool in the garden and a hammock in the shade, which the dog likes to join me in.

I'm getting lots of rest, sun and catching up with blogging, chilling out with reading and just generally enjoying the garden.

Meanwhile back in the desert with hubby in charge of watering, it's not doing too bad. The gaps are where I removed the dead marigold before I left and I see the weeds seem to like the dry, hot conditions.

WaterWorld, Atlantis Palm, Dubai

Driving toWater World on the Palm, you have no idea of the real shape of it unless viewed from the air, it's a bit messy at street level. There is also a tram that runs to the Atlantis Hotel and I'd recommend that if you did visit that this would be your best way to reach the hotel. At the end of the day there were massive queues for the park and ride and after waiting 30 minutes, we opted to walk back with the rest of the queue.

 Although some people prefer to arrive in style, we parked where we were directed to and then walked to the bus stop for the free shuttle bus to the hotel that arrived frequently, was air conditioned and clean. Shading was provided while queuing.

 We took advantage of 50% discount tickets and visited on a Friday. the tickets were booked online, therefore you'd think that the staff would know how many people will be arriving and have more than 4 counters open for pre sales. It was disorganised, hot and uncomfortable.  I was annoyed having emailled in advance to ask for what we could and couldn't bring in with us and was informed no food, cool boxes or water. Obviously cool boxes weren't allowed in and despite bags being checked there were plenty of people with their own picnics. There was also a sign saying that each guest could take in 1 litre of water each.

On arriving at the counter with print out and bank card used to make the booking there was a list of optional extras one could buy, meal deals, lockers etc. Now this would have been handy to have known whilst waiting in the queue therefore saving even more time on people having to decide what extras they wanted and in some cases holding up the entire queue until all family members had been located and asked one by one what they wanted.

 There were plenty of sun loungers available and free to use and no one seems to mind when they were moved into the shade. The sun loungers pool side were taken but it was noisy round there and besides once you got on a ride it was a long time before you returned to your lounger and one on the beach, in the shade was much nicer.

 The rides were fantastic and on the whole well managed in regards to the queue and people around to stop queue jumpers. A few more direction signs as you approached each ride would've been nice.

 It wasn't cheap inside, this cost me 50AED around £9. Ice cream and a bottle of water, especially when you could buy a meal deal of burger, fries and soft drink for around the same price.

 The grounds themselves were very clean, tidy and offered some fantastic views, it was peaceful and relaxing sitting on the beach front.

On leaving the park at the same time as everyone else it was not possible to have a shower or use a cubicle to get changed in, people in the queues had been there for around 40 minutes and the whole changing area and toilets were dirty and over crowded. We had planned on eating at one of the many restaurants on our way out, but instead drove home and had beans on toast.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Things I regret now my children have left home

Hindsight is a wonderful, but it always comes too late.

There are many things I've learnt as a parent, that have shaped me and changed me into who I am today.

But my parenting days are over and although hopefully I'll have Grandkids one day, it'll not be the same as raising my own kids and to be honest, although I'm sad that my parenting days are over now, I really don't have the energy to do it all again.

My kids are all grown up and have their own lives. My youngest is 16, but as he's in full time boarding school in the UK while I live in Dubai, he grows and changes without me. In fact all 5 of our children have moved into adulthood without their parents around. Actually they seem to have done rather well for themselves, are content, happy, have girlfriends, careers and a place to call home.

I started life as a parent in May 1992, I was 21. I finished as a full time parent in January 2015. I spent the last 4 years as a SAHM, but prior to that I worked and studied. I had spells as a SAHM when a child was born or we moved to a new area, but I worked part time and studied and all 3 of my boys were in nursery or with a child minder or after school clubs prior to starting school.

In 2005 I went to University, in 2008 I started work full time and had a career. On top of that as a parent I had pack lunches, homework, taxi runs most nights of the week and weekends with their schools, part time jobs and sport. Add to that a husband who worked away most weeks, I had laundry, supper to cook, housework etc.

I had a full and varied 2 years, prior to moving to South Africa and gave it all up. I worked as volunteer but with no family near by, I worked within school hours only. I was home every evening. Child 4 of 5 learnt to drive and slowly my 'Mum' duties stopped. I was no longer required to give lifts to and from school, to mates, to football....and then they left.

So here I am, with a varied and full life behind me, well adjusted (they've had their moments) kids. I've not been able to work for the past 5 years due to rules and visas in the countries I have lived in and I'm wondering what it has all been for.

I needed something else than being 'just a mum' I needed to be able to join in with the 'real world' to personally achieve something, to be valued, to have a role in society, to be me.

I can't go back and change the course of my life, it has happened, it has lead right up to this spot today. But there are still things I regret, things I can't change, but there are lessons I can pass on to my adult children and their girlfriends, so they don't reach the same stage I'm at, right now, with regrets and they are:

  • Not worry about the washing up, hoovering, ironing. There is plenty of time in the day for that, instead of taking a long bath, I wish I'd had a quick shower and read more to my kids at bedtime. 

  • I wish I'd spent longer on the touchline when they were playing football, rather than sitting in the car with a coffee, reading a book.

  • I wish I'd had more structure to my approach to their homework. I wish I'd played with them when they were in the garden instead of tidying up their bedrooms, that they were only going to mess up again.

  • I wish I'd been more relaxed about the mess in their bedrooms rather than getting all shouty and stressed out about it.

  • I wish I'd listened to them when they said they no longer wanted to go to gym, have swimming lessons, practice their musical instruments, rather than make them finish off the end of the term.

I regret running the PTA, the local football club, saying yes to extra work when we didn't need the money, all to do what? To have a career when the children had left home, so I wasn't left without anything to do.

I regret wishing the time away so they were more independent.

I regret interfering with their rows and squabbles as they'd end up ganging up on me.

I regret making them go to parties of children they didn't particularly like, when they said they didn't want to go.

These are regrets for me as a parent, I'm sure my children have a whole list of things that they wished I'd done differently, such as bedtime rules, electronic games, pocket money, pets, staying out later, different holidays, eating out more, a lift to school everyday and back and forth several times with forgotten PE Kit and I'm sure the list goes on and on and on.

It's made no difference, to where I am now, I'm not working, I don't have any children at home. But I didn't realise back in 1992 that part of having children would was about shaping me and making me who I am today, it's was not about putting my life on hold and making sacrifices.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Week 26 - My Sunday Photo

Here I am, another coffee, in yet another mall, in yet another country.

All this travel is getting tiring and somewhat boring. Going new places and meeting new people isn't boring in itself, but the actual flights and journeys are tedious and when you arrive in a new country, everything is all too familiar these days.

As a family we've travelled all over Europe and into Scandinavia, explored the West Coast of America, visited Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and finally ended up living abroad, first in South Africa and now Dubai. We've travelled just the two of us, with a combination of up to all 5 of our children and we've travelled separately, either to visit family, experience new places or with work.

I'm currently visiting Canada on my own, the kids are in the UK, hubby is back in Dubai. Everything looks familiar. I have no idea these days as to what companies originated in what country.

There are coffee shops, stores and fast food restaurants that I've shopped at, in the UK, South Africa, Dubai and now here in Canada. I'm tired of living my life indoors, in malls. In South Africa one shops in the malls due to safety, in Dubai it's because of the heat.

I've visited a few little towns during my stay in Canada. The City of Hamilton itself is lovely to walk around, old buildings, churches and museums with open spaces, parks and a gorgeous walk down James Street filled with individual shops, selling fruit and veg, clothing and antiques as well as quirky art pieces and non chain coffee shops.

I had lunch and the edge of Lake Erie, explored a small part of Lake Ontario and next weekend I'm off camping in Algonquin, a 4 hour drive north east of Hamilton. I'm looking forward to being in the middle of nowhere, away from Tim Hortons and exploring a part of Canada that not a lot of foreign tourists will get to experience.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Week 26 - Project 365

I'm half way home, well with Project 365 and the two daily photo prompts from fmsphotoaday and snaphappybritmums. I'm also half way home in regards to my trip to Canada. I'm also incorporating one daily positive if I'm unable to find good in a particular day. I was unable on day 145 to find a positive about anything, but I guess 1 day out of half a year isn't that bad really.

Big test for me next week. I'm going camping, in the outback, in Canada. The campsite has NO facilities other than a box in the ground, open to the elements, water is taken from the lake and boiled before drinking and of course there is no electricity. I'll be taking my nikon camera, book, letter writing set and as much chocolate and bags of sweets as I can manage to carry when we get to the portage stages. I'll also be uploading days 183-186 on my return, assuming a grizzly bear hasn't eaten me.

Day 172 #onedailypositive #wet #fmsphotoaday #dad #snaphappybritmums

After a lovely sunday roast, what better than a walk around Princess Point, Lake Ontario in Canada. I phoned my dad this morning and left him a gift when I visited the UK earlier this year and made sure the kids acknowledged hubby who is home in Dubai on his own. I think both 'dads' have probably had the best Father's Day ever, child

Day 173 #onedailypositive #money #fmsphotoaday #landscape #snaphappybritmums #project365

I thought I'd have trouble getting both photo prompts together today, was going to take a picture of some money with a landscape behind me, then discovered the money actually has a landscape on it.

Day 174 #onedailypositive #view #fmsphotoaday#savvy #snaphappybritmums #project365 

In Canada the banks produce polymer notes in order to reduce counterfeiters. The new notes cost 19 cents to produce where as the old 'paper' money cost 9 cents to produce. It may not make sense looking at it like that but in my view someone was being savvy as it saves the government more each year than it does to produce the new notes

Day 175 #onedailypositive #InTheGarden #fmsphotoaday #RedFruit #snaphappybritmums #project365

In the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Canada. Pomegranate tree.

Day 176 #onedailypositive #DepthOfField #fmsphotoaday #BallGame #snaphappybritmums #project365 

I have no idea how to focus my nikon to blur either the foreground or background, I however can do it accidentally. Try as I might, it just didn't work. The photo was taken at the Canadian Museum of Football in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Day 177 #onedailypositive #gift #fmsphotoaday #grass #snaphappybritmums #project365 

Couldn't have wished for a better photo prompt as today is my birthday. I started celebrating 25hrs ago at midnight Dubai time and opened my gifts from the lovely Catherine and family. 2 beautiful pashminas and a tshirt with Canada on. I then opened gifts from hubby, Glee box set (don't judge me) a hello kitty watch (I said don't judge) from my friend in South Africa and a selection of goodies from my niece and friends in the UK. It's been wonderful sharing my birthday with family and friends from around the world, here in Canada.

Day 178 #onedailypositive #mini #fmsphotoaday #polkadot #snaphappybritmums #project365 

In an attempt to take the Nikon off automatic settings after 7 months, I managed to get this shot.