Monday, 29 August 2016

A positive review of Easy Jet - Luton to Munich.

This is the first time I've flown with a low cost airline and to be honest I was a bit concerned there would be problems. I never see or hear anything positive about low cost airlines and I hear all the time about the additional charges that people complain are a rip off, like booking seats together and paying for boarding passes and in general the mass melee to get on the plane before departure.

I however was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Luton airport to board my flight to Munich in July.

I was however, also very confused when I arrived at Luton while I waited for check in to open, to realise that I could just show my boarding pass and passport at departures and go straight through as I was travelling with hand luggage only.

There was no pushing and shoving as we lined up to board the plane, my only complaint would be that there was no where to sit while we waited to board, but other than that it was fine.

A few people had paid for priority boarding, I've no idea how much that cost them, but at the end of the day, the plane wasn't going anywhere until we were all on it, so in my opinion, it was a bit of a waste of money.

My luggage weighed 15kg, it fitted in the over head compartment and I was able to lift it easily. The luggage allowance for the cabin was very generous, most of the weight was magazines and gifts.

I was allocated a seat and after years of long haul flying I was surprised at just how much leg room there was and how clean the plane was also.

I purchased a G&T at £5.50 which was £2.50 cheaper than the price I'd paid in a St Alban's pub the night before.

The flight both ways was uneventful and I spent it reading a book and looking out the window.

Peter informed me on my return I had actually flown with Easy Jet in the past to Berlin on two occasions in 2006, that had obviously been excellent flights also or I'd have remembered it.

I'm not sure if people just complain for the sake of complaining these days. My expectations of Easy Jet were very low, considering I'd paid half of what the flight with other airlines would've cost me.

I'll certainly fly with them again when I'm next in Europe, it's just a shame they don't offer flights from Dubai, as at their prices I'd be more than prepared to put up with some of the horror stories I've read about online, in exchange for lower prices.

(Tongue in cheek) Disclaimer:
I was not paid in anyway to write this article, however if Easy Jet would like me on board as an ambassador I'd be more than happy to oblige.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Week 87 - My Sunday Photo and #photalife #sunrise

Taken at 5.57am sunrise in Dubai. Current temperature 31c, humidity 84%, humidex (feels like) 42c, visibility 6.4km.

The view from my doorstep this morning, you can just see the Burj Khalifa in the middle of the picture. Sunsets are easier for me to capture as the sun sets out to sea, 1km behind me. There are too many buildings in front of me. By the time December comes I'll be driving to work in the dark at this time and I'll arrive just in time for sunrise.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Week 34 One Daily Positive and Project 366

Still too hot in Dubai to spend anytime outside, quite a bit of gardening to be done and a house to clean, as well as packing the car ready for Back to School for me on Sunday.

The teen and I have been out everyday, new shoes, clothes and a phone for passing his Maths GCSE, several dental visits for impacted wisdom teeth that need removing, a haircut and Brunch on Friday. He flies back to Boarding School on Wednesday for his last year in school and on Thursday child 3 of 5 arrives for a fortnight with his girlfriend, who we've yet to meet.

While I was in the UK I bought and wrapped Christmas presents for the family and this week I've made a start on writing Christmas cards to send back with child 3 of 5, for him to post in November for me.

Day 234 Old - Never too old for a paddle in the sea

 Day 235 Photography - Sorting out photos from Summer travels

Day 236 Oh Yes! - Finally the hot water tap is cool enough for a shower, however the cold water is still 39c

 Day 237 Slow - Old Fashioned communication

Day 238 Staying Cool - Bob dragged his bed under the air con

Day 239 New - Not the most exciting of purchases, but a necessity 

Day 240 Green - Still too hot to spend too much time on the beach

Thursday, 25 August 2016

HDYGG Summer in Dubai 2016

On my return from the UK after 7 weeks of travelling I discovered the neighbours had erected a fence at the back of our property. It looks OK and the more shade the better as far as I'm concerned but, did they really think it was ok to cut through the rope holding the Bougainvillaea upright and just leave it to cover the path and for me to sort out?

I'm NOT happy and I'm going to assume it will be a wasted activity going round there and asking them to rectify the issue, so I'm just going to tie it back up.

I've been amazed at what has grown since I've been away. Peter was only away for the last 3 weeks, so the garden and indoor plants have only been without water for less than half my trip.



I'm going to let the ground cover take over for now, will be planing seeds directly into pots, inside the house to germinate where it is cooler and then move the pots outside.

Inside has faired a lot better but my hydrangea didn't make it, I'm planting it outside on the off chance it can be salvaged.

Empty pot where the hydrangea used to be. I'm surprised the basil has survived.

Only 1 succulent survived, the daffodil never flowered and the white pot at the back contains last years hyacinths.

I'll need to repot these plants, they're a bit wiry, but first I need another visit to the outdoor garden centre to buy some more pots.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Expat travel and visits home

When you're an expat and you go home for the holidays, the last thing you actually have is a holiday.

For me a holiday is when you go somewhere new, stay in a hotel, apartment or holiday home, or even camping.

We used to holiday in the UK, mainly camping and made several trips abroad with the kids to discover most of France, the West Coast of America, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt.

When we moved to South Africa, I wasn't working and made 2 annual trips to the UK alone each year, Peter combined an annual trip with work and we stayed with family and friends. It worked, they were trips of 2-3 weeks and the family came out to visit us. We also holidayed in South Africa with trips to Cape Town and Durban as well as camping in the Drakensburg Mountains and Kruger and weekend trips into the countryside to lodges.

The end of 2014 we relocated to Dubai, In 2015 I travelled to Canada for 3 weeks and back to South Africa for 6 weeks and we spent 2 weeks together in the UK.

Since starting work full time in January 2016 we haven't had a holiday other than 2 long weekends within the UAE.

I've returned from 7 weeks away last Friday, having spent 8 days in South Africa, traveling around and 6 weeks in the UK, including 5 days with friends in Munich.

Peter joined me for the last 3 weeks of the trip when we picked up car hire and travelled as far as Cumbria, Leeds and down to Lyme Regis, via South Wales, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Bath. We managed to see 4 of the 5 children. Child 4 of 5 drove down from Northern Ireland to meet me in London for a few days when I first arrived. The rest of time I relied on public transport, trains and buses which isn't easy when you're lugging your suitcase also.

We stayed in a hotel for 3 nights in Malvern while we caught up with friends and sorted out some issues with the house we rent out and a night in Birmingham to watch the football.

We've decided we're too old to be living out of suitcases, sleeping on sofas and in spare rooms, we've used friends and family as a base and left our suitcases with them when we've visited other people just using our hand luggage, but we really need a base of our own, to have some privacy, to be able to unpack properly, to leave a mess, shower when we want and eat what we want when we want, without having to think about other people and trying to keep out their way.

The teen is with us in Dubai till the end of August, child 3 of 5 is coming out on September 1st for 2 weeks with his girlfriend, we have friends stopping over later this week for a night. We've had visitors most months this year, who have their own room, bathroom and wardrobe, complete with hangers, hair dryer etc. There's a friend coming over end of November for a week, followed by my Mother for 3 weeks and children 4 and 5 and a niece are with us over christmas and the new year.

We've explained that now I'm working they will all have to entertain themselves, our lives are different now, we can't take time off to take them places during the day, they'll have to fend for themselves and in the evenings we'll go out occasionally, but not every night and we won't be sitting up drinking into the small hours, as we're not on holiday.

The problem is when we go to the UK, people have work, routines and while they do go out with us some evenings or sit up late on weekends having a drink, they don't in general stop what they normally do, watching their TV programmes, going to work etc. They also don't have the space or in some cases an actual bed for us to sleep in, so we can't stay with some of our family and friends, which means we are completing long journeys on day trips or having to fork out for a hotel or B and B's. We're really looking forward to having a base in the UK so family and friends can come and visit us for the day, evening or even the night as long as they don't mind sleeping on the sofa for a change, rather than us.

My next break after Christmas will be over the Easter holidays, I'm planning a return trip to South Africa while I'll stay with friends in various places and live out my suitcase and then it's the long summer holiday where it's just too hot to stay in Dubai. I'll return to the UK the end of June till the end of August and Peter will join me for 3 weeks towards the end.

Peter will probably be in the UK and Europe for business over the next few months and he'll be doing a lot of travel around the Middle East and in Africa. We're both hopeful we can have a few long weekends away to Jordan and India, in-between visitors and work.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Week 86 - My Sunday Photo - Too many carbs

Both Peter and I have piled on a few pounds during our UK trip.

Since leaving the UK early 2011 we've noticed how much healthier we've been eating than we did in the UK.

Whilst travelling we've eaten out nearly every night. Eating bread, potatoes (chips, crisps, etc) and pasta almost every day.

We've OD'd on Carbs.

We've also been drinking a lot of sugary drinks as well as upping our alcohol intake (pub meals almost daily).

On our return to Dubai we said we'd get back into our normal healthy diets. Yesterday I felt a bit headachy, we went out for a salad for lunch, which I had a glass of water with and homemade lasagne for dinner. I drank rose tea throughout the day and took to my bed at 5pm with the start of a migraine.

I spent all day today in bed, mostly sleeping and drinking water. At 4pm I downed 2 cans of coke and ate 4 welsh cakes, at 5pm I felt well enough to take a walk on the beach, followed by a burger, curly fries and mountain dew. I took a shower, walked the dog, did a load of washing and took the bins out.

At 8pm I was suffering with indigestion, felt sick and my headache had returned.

I'd OD'd again on carbs, but I did have 3 hours of feeling well and was up and and above, but that was because I had a sugar rush. My body fooled me into thinking I was feeling ok, but when the rush went, I felt no better than I had before 4pm.

Lesson learnt, I need to ween myself off the carbs and fizzy drinks slowly, so my body stops craving sugar. I'll start the morning with porridge and fruit juice and will make sure I have some carbs at lunch time to keep me going till dinner, which will consist of chicken and veg and salad.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Week 33 - One Daily Positive and Project 366. Back Home

After 7 weeks of travel, I'm please to say I'm back home.

As much as I've enjoyed my whirlwind trip from Dubai to South Africa, Germany and all Around the UK, there's nothing better than being back in one's own bed.

Peter joined me for the last 3 weeks and he returned to Dubai with the teen earlier this week. I arrived back in the early hours of Friday morning and after unpacking and putting most of the stuff away, i spent the rest of the day in bed, recovering from my trip.

As a result of sleeping most of yesterday I woke at 5am and sat outside drinking tea and catching up with reading blogs and leaving comments. By 6.30am it was too hot to sit outside as the temp reached 33c, with top temps of 40c and above for the rest of the week. I've missed the worst part of summer where temps reached high 40's but it's still hot, too hot to spend time outside that I've greatly enjoyed doing on my travels.

Day 227 Sunday - The Letter R. Home after an exciting 'all expenses' day out with The Daily Mail

Day 228 Monday - Sleep. Come stay with us, we have plenty of room (in a tent in the garden)

Day 229 Tuesday - Cake. Too many carbs have been eaten on this trip.

Day 230 Wednesday - Happy. Nails done. bags packed, transport booked.

Day 231 Thursday - I'm Reading. Blog posts on the bus.

Day 232 Friday - Sport. Spent the early evening watching the Olympics, the rest of the day in bed.

Day 233 Saturday - Drink. Not drinking coffee or soft drinks anymore, sure they're responsible for the weight gain while travelling.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A visit to the Crematorium Garden with HDYGG

Once a year when I visit the UK, I go to the Crematorium in Newport, South Wales to visit my Gran.

I was fortunate to have my Grandmother in my life for 34 years and she got to know my three grandchildren, my husband Peter and his two children.

She played an important role in my life and I know she'd be proud of us all today. She'd also love the fact we live abroad, first South Africa and now Dubai.

The gardens at the Crematorium are beautiful, it's such a peaceful place to visit.

Bees for Development - Animal Tales


In Monmouth, town centre.

I've collected leaflets, researched on the internet, bought seeds and I'm hoping to encourage a bit more wildlife into my garden in Dubai.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Week 32 - One Daily Positive and Project 366

I left Dubai on Day 182 of Project 366 to escape the summer in Dubai, I return next week to slightly cooler weather in the mid 40's than when I left at the end of June. Peter joined me 3 weeks ago and we've been cramming in as many visits with the kids as we can manage, we have 2 days left and I'm afraid many of our plans to visit people and places will have to wait for the next trip in July 2017.

Child 5 of 5 is flying back to Dubai with Peter on Monday for 2 weeks then returning to the UK for his final year at school. Child 3 of 5 with his girlfriend is visiting September 1st for 2 weeks also and in-between we have visitors over night from South Africa.

I fly back from he throw on Thursday and I'll be spending my last few days in St Albans.

We've had a lovely visit to the UK, but feel like we need a holiday now, it's not been a lot of fun living out of suitcases and dragging them around with us.

Sunday Day 220 Driving - on our way back to South Wales

Monday Day 221 Sparkle - making the most of visiting our daughter in her home in Gloucester

Tuesday Day 222 Public - watching Birmingham City play with a reluctant husband

Wednesday Day 223 What I both today - New football shirt

Thursday Day 224 Relax - Christmas shopping

Friday Day 225 Nature - Enjoying the last few days of being outdoors before returning to Dubai

Saturday Day 226 Fast - It's almost time to go home. 
I bought this material in South Africa as I'd promised to make some bunting for my 2nd great nephew, finally got round to running it up today.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Week 85 - My Sunday Photo

At the end of a photo shoot with the Daily Mail. Have wiped off most of the make up and combed my hair flat. 

Love the style but the colour needs reviewing so I'll be back in the salon on Tuesday to get it sorted.

Pictures from shoot will be in (Fe)Mail on Thursday. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Travel and HDYGG in Worcester

During our travels in the UK, Peter and I have not only visited the areas where our family and friends live, but we've also revisited areas where we've previously lived and worked.

I've not been into Worcester since 2013 when I spent most of my time at the courts and with solicitors evicting tenants from our property in Malvern. Prior to that I worked in the city at the college. Peter's last visit here was prior to us leaving the UK in January 2011.

In some ways nothing has really changed, but we both noticed the addition of  a travel lodge at the cricket ground and the demolition of the old one in the city. 

We've only visited the Cathedral a handful of times, the last time was probably for my Graduation in 2007.

The city centres are full of brightly coloured flowers and displays, we've really noticed how many trees there are in the cities and how much green and open space there is, something we don't see a lot of in Dubai and we're very much enjoying.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Week 84 - My Sunday Photo - Lyme Regis

It was a glorious day in Lyme Regis yesterday. Peter went out fishing on his friends boat, while us wives wandered around the town and sea front.

As the boat came in, we walked across the beach to the harbour wall, past families and sun bathers to discuss (take the piss) out of the day's catch.

Our time spent on the actual beach was less than 10 minutes, but it was the most stressful 10 minutes I've had in ages. 

Territories were clearly marked, battle lines were drawn, kids were in meltdown, ice creams had been dropped, mums were pinning kids down rubbing sun cream onto sandy skin, prams were being dragged, mums and dads were snarling at one another as they attempted to shield their lunch from seagulls, set up windbreakers and inflate beach balls.

Holidays have always been a nightmare for me, with 5 kids, one of whom is disabled and likes to eat sand and rub it in her eyes, only 2 adults and with 5 kids to supervise, a crowded beach filled me with dread, we've had lifeguards rescue kids from the sea in France and the coast guard out looking for the youngest on Perranporth beach whilst being filmed by BBC Seaside rescue, apparently I didn't show enough emotion over the 2 hour period for them to use any footage.