Sunday, 28 February 2016

Week 61 - My Sunday Photo

We've had visitors for the last two weekends, from Saudi and South Africa & next weekend my friend from the UK. I seem to be spending a lot of time on the Creek. This is Natalie and Tom from South Africa, they stopped over on Friday night on their way back from Vietnam. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Creating a garden in the desert - February 2016 with HDYGG?

Summer is slowly creeping in, in Dubai. Only last week I was leaving the house at 6am and the temp was 16c, getting up to around 28c by midday. Yesterday at 6.30am it was already 26c, reaching 33c by around midday. We had a big storm over the weekend, and since then the weather has warmed up considerably. I'm making the most of being outdoors while I still can. A face book memory informs me, that this all happened last year 2 weeks earlier in the year.

The ground water temp is also rising, this is from the outside cold tap at 5pm, I'll take a measurement first thing in the morning and see if there is a difference.

I'll have to start putting equipment away, my gloves were as stiff as a board from being out in the sun and the seed packets that were in the cupboard underneath had disintegrated, the tools will now go back in the shed, but gloves, seeds, watering cans etc will have to be stored in the house where the air con will soon be switched on.

The tomatoes are going well, the strawberry plant is only producing one fruit a week, which is very sweet.

I discovered these mushrooms growing in the grass, this week. I'm glad I took the photo when I did as by the time I told Peter about them, the gardener had removed them from the lawn.

I've asked the gardener not to cut the bougainvillea back as far as he has down previously as it is providing shade for some of the plants.


The tomato plants have quite a bit of life left in them, I need to research where the best place is for them when the heat comes.

I've transferred some more seedlings, no idea what I'm growing again as the labels always fade in the sun. The geraniums will be moved into pots and moved inside once the average temps hit 30c. I need to find out what other plants should be brought inside and I'll need a trip to buy some pots for the hallway.

Our gardener doesn't actually garden other than mowing the lawn about 4 times a year, he sweeps up every day, cuts the shrubs back 6 times a year and waters the sand to stop it blowing around and cleans up after me.

I've now completed a whole season in the garden, I've joined groups, researched and recorded best planting schedules in my diary. This year I will be attempting to grow some vegetable in the sandpit now that I have established other plants in the garden and I'll focus less on the flowers as they take a lot more work and water than I'd anticipated and now I'm working full time I can't give that level of commitment to it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Dogs and Herons in the Desert

Every Friday morning we take a trip into the desert to Al Qudra Lakes with Bob. It's the ONLY place in Dubai he can run off the lead. We take him out for a walk every evening around the neighbourhood on the lead, but we can't take him on any of the beaches which is a shame as we only live 1km from the sea.

It's a 45 minute drive for a 60km trip, and the lakes are located directly behind the Al Qudra Cycle Centre. From the lakes on a clear day you can see Dubai Marina and on the drive home the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa are also visable and we use them as our landmarks to navigate (oh and we know the route too well)

The lakes are man made and are home to 130 species of birds.

There has been an increase in traffic to the site in the past year since we've been visiting and sadly there is lots of rubbish left behind by visitors who have been camping, dog walking and partying in the desert. There is also a lot of damage from 4x4 off roaders and is very noisy some days and you have to keep a close eye on your dog with all the dune buggies and quad bikes.

Sadly, a lot of users of the lakes seem to think it has been designed just for their use, there is very little harmony amongst the groups and a fierce amount of competition in various face book groups about 'who' is the cause of the issues.

We, like many others, believe we are good users of the lake. We keep to the tracks when driving, we remove all of our rubbish and dog poo and we take rubbish bags and help clear up mess left behind by others.

There is a small coffee shop at the cycle centre, where toilets are also located, that is dog friendly and we've got into a routine of stopping for a drink after our morning walk, Bob gets fussed over by the cyclists and the staff bring out water and treats for him.

There is always a friendly dog for Bob to play with.

I hear the birds in the garden but it is not often I actually get to see them or have my camera with me.

I really want to visit the bird sanctuary again soon at Ras Al Khor, around the 4pm time when they feed the flamingoes.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Week 60 - My Sunday Photo

Peter spent last weekend in the UK, we spent this weekend with friends from Saudi, next weekend is with friends from South Africa and the following 2 weekends with my mate from the UK. 

Life has had it's shares of ups and downs the past week, from not coping with my new job, to missing the kids and family back in the UK and wanting to jack it all in, whatever the cost and just go home now and settle down. 

It's totally our choice to remain in Dubai for the time being but when you get sent photos like this, the temptation to leave is just too great.

Our son, his girlfriend and our niece.

Week 7 - One Daily Positive and Project 366

It's been a strange week, having gone from being on my own, to Peter returning from seeing the family in the UK and the mixed emotions of being pleased for him and the kids and being jealous of the time they got to spend together, through to the sad news of the death of a friend and other friends arriving for a long weekend with their children.

Sunday Day 45 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎project366‬ this is Dubai people, you need a licence to purchase and consume alcohol here and you can only transport it from the store to home, certainly not allowed to drink it in the streets. I found this bottle by the side of the road, outside the school where I work today. It's not just the fact it's alcohol, but that so many people litter as much as they do. On a positive note Peter is home from his travels tomorrow and I'm on top of my game with paperwork.

My Sunday Photo this week is yet another photo of the Burj Khalifa, this time from the beach.

Monday Day 46 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎project366‬ Peter is home from the UK and brings with him gifts from the family.

Tuesday Day 47 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎project366‬ I was majorly fed up on my drive home this afternoon that I stopped at the beach for a walk, was feeling slightly better by the time I got home 2 hours later and decided I'd have a G&T in case the foul mood reared its ugly head again.

Animal Tales this week involved the cat and the washing machine incident and how encounters with 2 stray cats unsettled me for different reasons.

Wednesday Day 48 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎project366‬ I received upsetting news today about the sudden death of someone I used to call a very good friend. I've done a lot of crying today. But there was a positive and the timing couldn't have been better, friends arrived for the weekend laden with their full duty free allowance and these beautiful flowers.

Thursday Day 49 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎project366‬ lots of positives today as I wandered round the souks with @mulledred and family and a lovely lunch on the creek and fish and chips for supper at home. But especially for this boy who's IPad was successfully recovered from T1 after he left it in his seat pocket on his flight in from Saudi yesterday.

HDYGG involved a stroll on the beach, I was surprised at how much vegetation there is on it.

Friday Day 50 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎project366‬ ‪#‎brunch‬ @westindubai ‪#‎bubbalicious‬ food and company were fab, but I felt like I was a plus 1 at a wedding. I'm not a big fan of spending that much money and then having to fetch my own food and drinks. My first (& probably) last brunch in Dubai.

Saturday Day 51 #onedailypositive #project366 the weather is perfect in Dubai at this time of year for a wander down the road to the beach and just sit for a while.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

HDYGG and Animal Tales on Jumeriah Beach

This is our local beach, I have no idea for how much longer it will be this tranquil and undeveloped as with all things in Dubai, everything has to be improved, which means more people and more facilities which means everything becomes crowded and expensive and whilst it is great for the tourist economy, for us locals, there are less places to go and chill out without cabana's, beach volley ball and jet ski hire spoiling things.

Although the beach looks tired it has an abundance of vegetation on it and some interesting holes and patterns from creatures (crabs) digging in the sand.

I've no idea what these plants are called, some of them had long tendrils reaching out 10ft, others had red flowers and were with grasses or succulents.

They are currently building a canal that joins the Creek to the sea, about a mile from our house, which will travel through a 14 lane highway and 2 x 4 lane roads which are currently being elevated and half of Safa Park has been lost to the development. There is a man made island under construction and hotels being built.

Some care is being taken of the environment and shrubs are being planted on the rocks, but I'm concerned about what will happen to the natural vegetation and the wildlife. There is so much rubbish washed up on the beach from boats and a huge problem with the turtles suffering from the pollution.

The houses are shielded from the beach with rows of palm trees with irrigation systems and have direct access to the beach.

Is there a beach in the world without seagulls on it?

I have some interesting finds on the beach this week, a toy elephant, a couple of starbucks cups, full tissue packets, unopened fruit juice cans, 10kg bags of garlic and a sand dollar.

When a friend dies.

Life is too short for regrets and I was reminded of this, this week when someone I used to call a very dear friend died unexpectedly from a heart attack on Wednesday aged 49. We were very close when our children was small, along with another couple, we celebrated birthdays, christmases, child care together. She was god mother to my youngest child. We were there for one another when things got tough, we laughed, we cried, we relied on one another. Then things happened in our lives and we grew apart. I remarried and moved away, the other friends also moved away within a year and something strange had happened with the woman who died, her contact with myself and the other friends stopped and the relationship dwindled into nothing. A few years ago she came back into the lives of the other couple, but by this time we were living abroad and I never got the chance to find out exactly what went wrong. My relationship with the other couple has become distant also, but we still keep in touch and there have been the occasional meet ups when I've been in the UK. I'm very grateful that they informed me of her death yesterday, very shocked also and I feel that a part of life has now closed for ever. Old people die, people who have led full lives, not people my age, not my friends.

I question my own mortality on occasions, I think about the older generation in the family, I assume that I will outlive my parents, my aunts and uncles. I remember when my nan passed away in 1994 and my mother saying, 'that's it, I'm the adult now' and I was puzzled by it. I now understand what she means, her generation is in charge now and it's made me realise it won't be many more years before I'm the oldest one left in the family.

For my friend that isn't going to happen, she had two grown up son's who all of a sudden have become the adults, the one's in charge, the one's left behind.

Although we weren't in contact these days, I grieve for a lost friendship that can never be put right now, I grieve for her adult children. I grieve for opportunities lost and for the future when I become the adult, the person in charge, assuming that life follows the pattern I grew up expecting. Receiving this news yesterday, just goes to show we never know what is going to happen in our lives and that we should make peace with ourselves and others before it's too late.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Animal Tales round up - January and February 2016

I've taken a few pictures of the cat and dog the past 2 months, that haven't been included in any posts and I wanted to share some of the things the cat and dog have been up to, plus an unpleasant experience with 2 stray cats.

The stray cat No 1
I know I was being silly but this was really difficult. Early in January I witnessed a car hit a cat, I pulled over as did the man behind me, we rescued the cat from the road but it was dead, we placed it near the bins and knocked on a few doors nearby but no one knew the cat. The other cat that was there let me pick her up with help from another passerby and I took her to the vet to check for a chip and to make sure she was alright. On advise from the vet I took her in over night and let her back out in the morning. That evening I went to check the dead cat had been collected by the Municipality to discover the cat I took in the previous night, sitting in the spot where we had placed her dead friend. It is so sad, I cried all the way home.

I went back to where I found the cat a few evenings later and she has moved on. The 'mad cat lady' (not me) who feeds all the strays has put food out again this evening for the strays. thankfully she has taken heed of the notice our gate and is feeding the strays on the waste land.

No 2
We encountered another stray off the Sheik Zayed Road, she really wasn't at all friendly, she had me walk round the back of the car to get in it with her hissing and another woman was scared and leapt back into the car, which her hubby found most amusing until he got out the car and the cat hissed at him also.

Our cat and the washing machine incident

We feed the cat on top of the washing machine as the dog will eat her food otherwise. our washing machine is a top loader, the drum doesn't operate when the lid is up but it will fill with water. As a rule the cat is very lazy and always expects me to pick her up when I dish up her food, however I was a little late home from work and she decided to jump up onto the machine in the hope of finding some leftover biscuits from the morning. I can laugh now about it, but I don't think the cat has fully recovered from her experience on discovering the lid was open and falling inside the filling machine, I scooped her out and she disappeared outside for a few hours. When she returned she was hesitant to eat her food, but she seems to have forgotten the whole experience now.

The cat has been very needy recently, probably because I haven't been at home during the day.


I returned to work the beginning of January and I'm out the house from 6.15am until 4.15pm Sunday till Thursday. Hubby often works from home, or he pops in and out during the day, or like last week he was travelling so Bob was on his own every day for the week. Bob wasn't happy. It's winter in Dubai so we leave Bob outside all day, he has plenty of dog toys, bones to chew on, a large garden to run around, a secure gate, company from the gardener, plenty of water and a comfy bed in his own dog house.

This is what I'm greeted with everyday when I get home from work, followed by demands for a walk, which I'm more than happy to do.

Bob has a very good sense of time and day of the week, which is based on routine and on Friday mornings, he pesters for his trip out to the desert. I try to get everything ready as quietly as possible and as soon as I open the car door he jumps in, despite every time being made to get out the front and into the back.

I also had to re register the cat and dog with the municipality. I have to provide their chip ID number, their vaccination date and a photo. To date there hasn't been data base in Dubai and if you lose your pet, you have to hope it has been taken to one of the vets in Dubai and they have scanned it and you have phoned all 26 vet clinics to see who has them.

Bob is used to me being out all day now and recognises the signs that I am off, he takes himself off to his dog house and sits on his bed waiting for his treat. It is dark when I leave for work at 6.15am and a couple of nights I've returned late and it's been dark again. Hubby was away last week, the cat has to make a quick decision as to whether she is in or out for the day, she prefers outdoors and doesn't travel far, she seems to always be on the roof when I come home, keeping an eye on her territory.