Monday, 29 May 2017

Should I cancel my UK holiday in light of recent terrorism?

Terrorist levels in the UK raised to critical levels now by Government.

A question I see a lot from bloggers is 'should I cancel my holiday to xxxxxxx? after an attack in another country. Maybe we should be re thinking the sensitivities as to asking those types of questions.

The media reports that I got locally about the Manchester bomb last week varied little from how the UK reports on terrorist bombs abroad, they focus on their own people over there.

I'm travelling to the UK next month, should I cancel my travel plans?

What advice would you give someone who posted that question?

How does someone posting that question while the situation is still ongoing make you feel about your country?

It would be much more beneficial in future if we asked these types of questions to the right people, rather than people who have no real idea of what a country is like, other than they've had a holiday there.

Do ever get an idea of what a country is really like, what the people are like from a 2-3 week visit?

Holidays are not real life, a tourist resort does not represent a country, its people, a way of life. You know that. Most British people are never more than a 2 hour drive, maximum from a holiday resort and even closer to tourist destinations. You know the misconceptions people have about the north if they're from the south or the opinions of city folk v country folk. Why make those assumptions about another country?

After the attacks in Turkey and Tunisia, people were posting these questions about whether it was safe to go there for their holidays. They were offered to rebook their flights and accommodation to go to other resorts and even other countries. People were flown home early. 
Is this the current case for people who are holidaying in the UK? Are other countries warning against travel there? I can't find anything other than general information on local websites here, but I have found this information from the British government. (May 24th 2017 9am UK time)

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organisations. 
This year we've travelled to Egypt and Hong Kong. My husband has also travelled to Saudi and Pakistan with work. Last year I was in Germany and South Africa, there was an attack near Munich when I was there, not terrorism, but that wasn't known at the time. We get asked all the time about our personal safety, especially in regards to flying back to Dubai. But we never get asked about our travel plans to the UK. Do we feel safe? No one ever asks us to reconsider our UK trips, like they do when we travel to other countries. Why is this? 

I of course won't be cancelling my plans to fly to the UK in 3 weeks time. I'm flying via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, I've already travelled this route since the new restrictions with hand luggage. I expect security to have been tightened even further since the end of March.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 126. R is for Ramadan

Yes it's that time of year again.

As a non Muslim, Ramadan is an important time of year for me while I live in Dubai.

There are rules to follow for those not fasting and it is against the law to disobey.

So as from yesterday for the next 4 weeks, I will not be able to do any of the following in public during daylight hours.

  • Eat
  • Smoke
  • Drink
Yes that includes water, chewing gum, taking medication.

It's not a problem for me, it's slightly frustrating, as I often go to light a cigarette or swig water from my bag.

But I can carry on as normal otherwise:

  • Food shop
  • Beach
  • Cinema
  • Visit a mall
The fact it is summer plays a big part on restrictions on my life anyway, the only other change to my daily life is I won't be able to go out for coffee during the day, unless I

a) get a take away for home or drink it in a toilet cubicle
b) visit one of the 120+ restaurants that are open during the day
c) visit a large mall and use the food courts that open to non Muslims from 12pm

There are many sales and special offers to be had during Ramadan, Iftars (breaking of fast) to attend and life in general is much slower at this time of year with reduced working hours for all.

Don't be put off visiting Dubai during Ramadan, you can read more about it here. Although I'd think twice about spending summer here and that's why I'm going to the UK just before Ramadan ends, it's not all Fun in the Sun.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 21

I decided the house needed a deeper spring clean than I'd given for a long time, we've been plagued with an ant invasion and it's difficult to treat the ants, with the cat and dog in the house full time, so I shut them in the lounge and blitzed the kitchen, this involved rearranging every cupboard and drawer, which will provide hours of entertainment to me as I watch Peter trying to find things.

The rest of the week continued in the same vain, with every room getting tackled and a huge decluttering took place. With Ramadan approaching this weekend, it's a time to be charitable, so I'll be finding an organisation to come and collect all our unwanted items.

I had a sore throat, probably due to the constant air con. On Friday a migraine started to appear, stiff neck, eye strain, it takes a few days to hit full force, but I'm hoping fluids, rest and meds can keep this at bay.

I'm also still trying to deal with a few UK issues, that I guess will have to wait till next month when I visit. There's only so much that can be done via email.

141/365 Sunday. Car.
This is my 3rd Ramadan in Dubai. 2015 I only had a week as I'd been to Canada for the first part, I didn't cope at all well with the restrictions of eating and drinking in public, I didn't have a car, so I was pretty much stuck indoors for that time as it's too hot to be walking anywhere in summer. Last year I was working, but with work and the heat I was too hot and tired to do anything once I got home from work. This year I'll be here until 4-5 days before Eid and I have a car, most places I use/visit in Dubai are within a 3-5km radius, but are beyond walking distance, again due to the heat. It was midday when I returned to the car the temperature inside was 43c. Kitchen is now spotless, will be eating out the rest of the year. I turned the job offer down.

142/365 Monday. Mud.
It's amazing what a professional make up artist and good lighting can do for someone. Not wanting to waste such a good look, I popped into Mall of the Emirates on my way home and bought Bob a McDonalds as a late birthday treat. I then tackled some emails, chasing replies and had a little nap. I dropped Peter at the airport as he's in Saudi till Thursday and called in at Dubai Festival City, had a coffee, did some shopping and watched the Imagine fire, water and light show. I then treated myself to a face pack and hair conditioning treatment.

143/365 Tuesday. Outdoors.
The lounge, dining room, sewing room and conservatory is now also spotless, it was mid morning before I heard about the suicide bombing at the MEN in Manchester. As an expat I think I've become desensitised to events such as this in my home country, but it doesn't mean I don't care or have empathy, it just becomes harder to relate to. popped out for coffee early evening to enjoy being able to spend time outdoors, the cat is in and out like a yo yo all day. When I go out, I do make sure she's safely inside.

144/365 Wednesday. Mix it up.
Sorted some paperwork and headed off early to beat the crowds for a coffee at The Souk Madinat, ended up as usual in Costa as there is shade to allow me to sit outside for as long as possible. Tackled the bedroom and bathrooms mid morning and did the washing. School confirmed son's taxi for his lift to the airport tomorrow. £90 each way. Headed off to the beach just before sunset for a swim.

145/365 Thursday. Drinks.
Peter arrived home in the early hours then headed off to the office for the day. I ironed, washed up, prepped tea, walked the dog and did some gardening, all before 8am. I went food shopping and was back home by 12pm I had to stock up for the teens arrival in the morning and enjoyed some time in my lovely clean home.

146/365 Friday. Random!
Up early and off to collect the teen from the airport. Apart from cooking breakfast and preparing dinner for another night. The only other thing I did today was sort and pair 45 socks the teen brought with him, throwing 15 socks away that I couldn't be arsed to pair up. The teen slept most of the day, as did I and Peter watched the TV, walked Bob and washed up.

147/365 Saturday. Old.
FA Cup Final 2010 Chelsea v Portsmouth. Back when life was uncomplicated, we all lived in the UK and we were there with my job. Those days are long gone now, I really need to try and move on. 

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - J is for Job.
Travel - Monday Escapes and PoCoLo - Visiting Dubai during Ramadan.
Parenting - TweensTeensBeyond and TriumphantTales - How Social Media can damage children's lives.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Deadly Nightshade in the garden

Back last year I was given a packet of Organic seeds, I had to register on a website and sign to declare I was an organic gardener. There were no instructions other than 'do not use chemicals' and no list of the contents.

I sowed the seeds, stood back and watched them grow.

At first I thought I'd planted potatoes, the leaves and white flowers looked familiar, then after 2 weeks away the plant had shot up over 3 ft and the good people on the internet declared they were chillies.

2 weeks later berries had appeared, so a whole new google search took place and here's what I discovered.

Deadly nightshade is the popular name for Atropa belladonna and as it's name indicated it can kill. It only takes 3-10 berries to cause a hallucinogenic reaction and 10-20 berries can kill an adult. The leaves and stem are also poisonous, and the deadliest part of the plant is the roots. 

Potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines are part of the deadly nightshade family, hence why I originally confused the seedlings for potatoes.

What I've actually cultivated is Solanum nigrum or Black nightshade, which produces edible berries and is used as animal fodder around the world.

Solanum produces white flowers before the berries appear, belladonna produces purple flowers before it fruits.

But then someone told me different.

Scroll to the last picture to see what I did next?

Putting on gloves, long sleeve top and trousers, I ripped it all up and chucked it in the bin.

I'm not prepared to take the risk....would you?

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Animals on my UK travels

I spent 3 weeks in the UK in spring, every where I visited there were pets, farm animals and birds.

Living in Dubai, one doesn't see cows, horses and sheep in fields, although there are birds, other than a few doves, pigeons in the garden and the occasional parrot, one needs to go to Al Quada Lakes or to Ras Al Khor bird sanctuary to see swans, ducks and even flamingoes.

It was really weird to be able to make and eat a cheese or ham sandwich and take the lid off a yogurt without the cat and dog morphing into the room.

My Aunts cat kept a close eye on me when I drank my tea and my sisters 2 cats were keen to help me eat my dinner.

Dubai isn't very dog friendly and there are few places I can take Bob. I just hope Bob can move back to the UK with us one day and we can take him to the pub and into coffee shops after long walks.

There were woodland walks with my friend and her dogs. 

And entertainment from Morgan who sat and stared a stick, no matter how small until it was thrown for them to fetch.
 Dexter, my niece's dog treated me like a long lost friend.

I've not seen bees yet in Dubai, my friends had a bug house in their garden and I was fortunate to have spotted this bee in a field and not to have stepped on it.

I'll be back in the UK in 2 weeks time and look forward to visiting some summer shows and fairs in and around Monmouth, Malvern and Gloucester, so if you know of any or you're happy for me to join you for a dog walk or a visit to a farm, just give me a yell.