Sunday, 30 October 2016

Week 96 - My Sunday Photo and Photalife LIGHT

Last week I bought a pumpkin at the petrol station in Monmouth, South Wales, to carve with and for my 5 year old niece. It cost £3. 

When we lived in South Africa, I carved butternut squashes for Halloween as Pumpkins were difficult to find. Last year I was in South Africa for Halloween so I had no idea if they sold Pumpkins in Dubai, so I was very excited to see that they did and I wanted to buy one to put on the gate to let the local children know I had sweets to give away. however at £5 per kilo, it meant the pumpkin I chose would've cost me £25.

So I bought a melon to carve, I've carved them before and pomelo's as well as other fruit and veg and at least I'll eat the melon and it was LIGHTer on my wallet.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Week 43 - One Daily Positive and Project 366. Newport to Dubai

I arrived back in Dubai on Friday, I'm shattered. I've unpacked and put most of it away. I really don't want to go to work tomorrow, I'm not getting any satisfaction from working, there's too much pressure on me, while I enjoy the teaching side and don't mind planning and evidencing work in my own time, I don't think I've ever worked in a job where I'm under so much scrutiny and asked to justify EVERY single action. I've already decided I will pack it in at the end of the school year in June, but at the moment I'm not sure I'm going to make it to the new year.

Whilst I had a lovely time in the UK, it was sadly a trip made due to family bereavement. My Father's youngest brother's funeral was on Monday. It was lovely a service, there were lots of people there from his involvement with Gwent Football Association and the bands he'd played in over the years.

Sadly on Thursday we heard the news that my Mother's eldest brother had passed away. The funeral will be in mid November and I won't be able to travel to attend.

Day 297 - Kids. Picked up a few craft activities for school, I did want to post a picture of the teen, but he was having none of it as usual.

Day 298 - Cute. My sisters missing cat, he ran away last year, she has moved towns since then, she finally located him and brought him back to the new house where he has settled back in.

Day 299 - Amazing. Lovely to meet up with my SIL who I haven't seen since her Cancer was diagnosed in July, she is half way through her treatment and looks fab. Her daughter (my niece) is spending new year with us and 2 of the boys, she needs a break, she doesn't want or need the break, but her mum and I have ganged up on her.

Day 300 - Light. I've really enjoyed being in the UK in autumn, the rain and the cold, it all looks so pretty, it's amazing how early it gets dark now. In Dubai we average 10-12 hours of light every day. While we miss the long summer evenings of the UK, we certainly don't miss the lack of sun in the winter.

Day 301 - Leaves. I've loved the sight, smell and sounds of autumn. 

Day 302 - Dark. Back in Dubai, an evening at sunset spent on the beach, I've been sleeping the rest of the time.

Day 303 - Trick. I hate this part, the unpacking and eventual putting away of stuff. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

50 shades of Green - What we miss about living in the UK

One of the things I miss the most about living in the UK, is the colour green. They say the grass is always greener on the other side. For family and friends in the UK, they think the grass must be greener for us because we live in a foreign country, but I can tell you, the grass is definitely greener where you are.

We left the UK in January 2011, it had been a white Christmas. We moved to South Africa and marvelled at how big the sky was, the sun and how much open space there was, how the horizon seemed so much further away. but we couldn't enjoy the open space, the countryside, stop for picnics on the side of the road or go for walks. This was South Africa, it just wasn't safe, whether it was due to security or the wildlife, we just couldn't wander around. The river were polluted and open water would mean crocodiles and hippos and long grass meant snakes and other dangerous animals, you just really wouldn't want to encounter. We lived on a golf course, with a river running through and as idyllic as it sounds, it was surrounded by security, brick walls and barbed wired fences, with the constant hum of the electric fences. We did however spend most of the year outdoors, in the garden, eating outside in restaurants, even though they were in security areas.

In contrast, Dubai is just beige, the sun shines 24/7, for 4 months of the year it is too hot to sit outside, to enjoy the outdoor life, to work in the garden, to even swim in the sea or sit on the beach which is only 1km from our villa. We still have the same constant hum, but it's from the air conditioning units, you just can't live without.

It's only been in the past year when we've visited the UK, that we've realised just how green and beautiful it is, how much character the tiny villages have, the endless hanging baskets full of colour hanging in the pub car parks, the old buildings, the castles, the beauty of the high street, the individual stores, the markets and coffee shops. The freedom to park and walk outside, around a town, down side streets, chatting to random strangers.

We didn't appreciate it all when we lived there, we moaned about the roadworks, the state of repairs needed to the local parks, the lack of facilities, amenities, the queueing, the length of time it took to get things done, the cost of parking, fuel, food in the supermarkets.

When we embarked on big adventure abroad, we spent the first few months like we were on holiday, both in South Africa and Dubai, we first stayed in hotels, everything was new, we explored places we could only have dreamed of visiting, but like with all things the excitement wore off, we ran out of places to visit, our lives became mundane, we were living there, we have jobs, washing, ironing, commute to work, bills to pay, it soon became the same as living in the UK. I mean how many times do you visit the local church to marvel at the architecture? or the park to look at the flowers and have a picnic? There are only so many times you can visit the World's tallest building or go on a safari, at the end of the day, you don't have anymore time in the week or anymore money in your pocket to pay for all these things.

Over the past year 12 months we've had two trips back to the UK, not just to visit family, but to have a holiday. I've also travelled back to South Africa twice on my own to do the same thing. Last year in the UK, we visited Yorkshire, stayed in a B&B, went for long walks, wandered around markets, had sunday lunch in the pub and enjoyed driving around. We've been to the sea side, ate fish and chips on a harbour wall, walked along sandy and pebbled beaches, eaten ice cream and just generally pleased ourselves. We've done the tourist stuff in London, Bath, Manchester and other cities, we've wandered around local towns and villages, popping into churches and stopping in tea rooms. We've walked the Malvern Hills, ambled along the river side, had picnics. All the things we didn't do so much of when we lived in the UK, because it was on our doorstep, it was just there. Pretty much how we live in Dubai, how we lived in South Africa.

Family and friends come to visit us from the UK, they come on holiday to places they wouldn't normally visit, due to the costs involved, but now they have somewhere to stay, a tour guide, they save money because they don't have to eat out in restaurants every night, pay for taxis to get around. Well it's the same for us when we visit the UK, it's different from our day to day lives, it's a holiday of a life time for us also.

The plane is always packed as we fly into manchester, Birmingham or London, it's not just full of expats visiting home, it's full of people off on their annual holidays, having worked hard all year and saved up for this trip. We strike up a conversation, they say how lucky we are to be from the UK, we tell them about all the places they should visit, outside of London, if they have time.

Although the UK will be home again for us both one day and we'll be doing the same things there as we currently do here, work, commute, housework etc, for us right now it's the ideal holiday location, where we can experience the weather, the changing seasons and just appreciate how beautiful it all is.

Enjoying the cooler weather, wrapping up warm, using an umbrella, enjoying the rain.

Even the road side verges are pretty.

Driving down country lanes.

 And catching buses into town.

 Enjoying the shopping experience of being somewhere different.

 Stopping off for coffees, eating fish and chips and visiting the pub.

 Staying in unique B&B's

Ambling around the Docks.

 Visiting cities.

Taking photos of all the tourist destinations.

Walking around London.

 Wandering around market towns.

Popping into a local church.

Visiting Stately Homes.

Stopping in a grave yard to sit down and have a chat.

 Taking a short cut through the train station, because it's Victorian and beautifully maintained.

Even a level crossing is a novelty for us to see.

 Open air concerts in the towns.

 The scenery, the views, the parks.

Even in the middle of London there is greenery.

 Marvelling at the variety of colour.

Enjoying a rainbow

Did you recognise any of the places we visited on our travels?

Last week I Hydrated some Hydrangeas and you can see below what a huge difference it made to them. I also forced roses to drink by emerging them in hot water and that too made a difference to the life of the blooms.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A walk around Munich

I'm in love with Munich, I may have mentioned this is earlier posts, but it truly is a gorgeous city and cheap and easy to get to from Luton airport. I spent 5 days there in the summer with friends and had 2 days on my own to explore the city and I think I covered almost every square inch and went inside almost every public building, museum, coffee shop, tourist office and souvenir shop. I started and ended my journey on foot at Marienplatz.

The toy museum. Having been to the one in Hamburg a few years ago, I was slightly disappointed with what was on display here, but for only a few Euro's it didn't break the bank and I met a nice couple inside who told me about St Peter's tower, which I throughly enjoyed visiting.
The transport system was clearly sign posted, easy to use, assuming you know how to use public transport and reasonably priced. I don't speak a word of German and I managed rather well.

Check out the may poles. Not something I'd associate with Germany, it made me think about the 2012 Olympic Games when the South African friend I was staying with in Germany asked what the opening ceremony was all about and I explained I'd not danced round or seen a May Pole since I was 7.

With all the walking and the lovely hot weather, I couldn't find a single reason why I shouldn't sit down every now and then and have a beer or two.

All the streets were easy to navigate and despite wandering off the beaten track quite a few times as I spotted something shiny to explore in a shop, I managed to get back on track every time.

The decoration of the buildings and the signage is simply stunning.

I did quite a bit of shopping in Munich, a leather handbag, new Birkenstocks as I wore my feet out with all the walking I did and of course plenty of souvenirs.

I did purchase an outfit for my niece, it was pricey, but worth it.

Apart from the bars, coffee shops and restaurants, there was plenty of seating for people just to plonk themselves down on and sit for a while.

I visited many places in Munich, learnt a lot, which I seem to have forgotten for the moment but I do remember Juliet and her shiny boob. The statue was a gift from Munich's sister city, Verona and it is said to be good luck to rub her right boob. 

And back to the beginning.