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.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Family Holiday to Tunisia 2010

Little did we know that this would be our last family holiday for a long time. It was after we returned from this trip that we were asked to move to South Africa and we’d be gone from the UK within 4 months.

Our last major vacation had been to the West Coast of America in 2007 where our eldest turned 18 and left home the following month to join the army.

We’re not ones for booking resort style holidays and in fact have always shied away from them, but we managed to convince hubby that now the boys were older that a resort with pools and on the beach would make for a more relaxing holiday all round. So we booked 2 weeks in Yasmin Hammamet at Villa Noria, full board.

Of course travelling as a family of 5 this meant with hiring a 2 bed villa that one child would end up sleeping on the sofa and of course there were the inevitable arguments. 

Our villa opened up on to the pool side with a little court yard garden out front, we had one set of very loud neighbours whose holiday crossed over with ours for a few days and although they were loud, the kids were actually quite nice and after a few days of constantly returning them to mum and dad we decided it was better to have their kids play with ours at the pool than have them unsupervised, fighting and screaming their heads off near by.

We met another family with 2 boys similar ages to ours and although we don’t see them much due to the distance we do keep in touch on face book and there have been a couple of visits when we’ve travelled back to the UK.

Unfortunatley it turned out that the beach was a short walk from the complex so our idea of letting the 3 boys on the beach alone were cut short as although they were competent swimmers it was hardly fair to ask the 18 year old to supervise his competitive 15 year old brother his ‘stroppy’ 11 year old brother. 

But with the other family and their kids we did end up making sure there was at least one adult present on the beach when the kids were there.

The 18 and 15 year olds were able to use the local taxis into the town and the 18yo often returned to the villa after evenings out in Hammamet.

We did book a couple of local trips and went out on the pirate boat, the kids were able to jump off the side and we all swam and snorkeled and food was served. The kids and I climbed into the rigging to join in with the pirate show which was very entertaining.

Hubby persuaded us to join him on a trip further a field and the kids and I gave in to pressure and agreed to a day out in Tunis. It was the hottest day of the holiday at 37c and on the morning at 7am hubby announced he wasn’t well enough to go, so the kids and I reluctantly set off on a 3 hour coach trip.

We stopped at the town of Sidi Bou Said which is painted blue and white, there was a museum and plenty of stops for a cold drink. 

Next we headed off to Carthage for a self guided tour and we did actually enjoy ourselves.

On into Tunis and the souks which was also enjoyed by all and we returned later that evening. Hubby did manage to get on the tour the following weekend with the friends we’d made and the boys and I stayed poolside for the day and chilled out.

We spent most evenings in Hammamet, a short taxi ride away. 

One evening the youngest and I were in a taxi and set off first. By the time we arrived everyone else had been waiting for nearly half an hour for us and were getting worried. The taxi driver misheard me and set off down the dual carriage way, he tried explaining it was a 20km trip before the next turning to return to the Hammamet, for a moment I was actually quite scared we were being abducted.

We visited a water park, fun fair and found plenty of play areas.

There was a lot of chilling out on the beach in the day and the evenings.

And the most amazing sunsets

A lot has gone on in Tunisia since we were there and we hope one day we can return for another holiday, as it really is a beautiful country and there is so much more to see.

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