Sunday, 26 February 2017

Top 10 travel must haves #MarkWarnerMum

This was my entry to become a #MarkWarnerMum, my last year being a mum to a child, as the youngest of 5 turns 18 this year. My year of teaching in FS last year has paid off. I can cut and stick like the best of them. Although I might have done better if I'd employed a small child to do it for me.

When it came to choosing my Top 10 travel must-haves, I thought it would be an easy task, but as you can see from the pictures it actually got really complicated, quite quickly.

Apart from the tea, neck pillow and the white board, I will take all this with me on my UK trip in March. I have a 30kg baggage allowance so the rucksack will be packed in my case and I'll use the small wheeled bag with everything else inside that, as I'll be making a couple of short haul trips to Ireland and Germany for long weekends where I'll only be limited by bag size and not weight.

It has been a long time since I've travelled with children, in fact our last family holiday with all 7 of us was in 2003 to France. It was our one and only holiday as a family of 7 since our eldest child is profoundly disabled, flying is impossible, long car journeys and ferry trips were not good.

Our holidays to France for the summer became 6, then we ventured further afield to Turkey and finally America in 2007 before the first of the boys left home, then Tunisia as a family of 5. A move to South Africa in 2011 as a family of 4, saw us driving around exploring the coast line, camping in Kruger, trips to the sea side in Durban and internal flights and on one occasion the train from Johannesburg to Cape Town. In 2015 we moved to Dubai as a family of 2 and travel became a solo venture, as we took it in turns to visit the kids and family in the UK or they came out to holiday with us.

As mum, it has always been my job to pack for the family, the car, the cases, check the passports, ensure everyone has something to entertain themselves with whether its a car journey, ferry crossing, short, long haul or a flight with a lay over. After moving abroad the children made the trips on their own, apart from a trip to Egypt in January where I flew back with my husband, none of us have actually travelled together for a long time.

My view of travel has changed greatly, so when I actually thought about my top 10 travel must haves, I hit a brick wall. I realised I pack differently for different journeys and often start and finish my trips in different locations. It's always sunny in Dubai, so I can pack well in advance for the UK or SA, regardless of the time of year.

Long haul flights with a lay over require me to pack differently and depending on whether I'm flying in or out of Johannesburg, I have to consider valuables and can't pack paperwork in my hand luggage as it takes me over my allowance. When you fly long haul flights your baggage allowance is 30kg, but your hand allowance is limited to between 7-10kg and they do weigh it.

Short haul flights again depend on who I fly with and my destination as well as length of stay.

2017 is a busy year of travel for me, but not a holiday in sight, just trips to stay with family and friends, this informs what I need to pack, which airlines I have booked with and the type of luggage I need to take.

I plan this year to travel with my 6 year old niece, I'd love to take her on a flight to the sun, to a beach for a week and to be honest I've no idea what I'd need to pack extra for her, she is epileptic so it means my sister would be coming also, so she'll take full responsibility for their packing.

Of course everyone had their own hand luggage and when the kids were little I made sure they all had something to entertain themselves with on long journeys, spare batteries for game boys, a colouring or sticker book, maybe a teddy or action man and a change of clothes.

So apart from what I usually carry in my handbag, wallet, phone, sunglasses, notepad and pen. I'll assume I can add my passport, here's the rest of my Top 10 travel must haves, based on the fact, I do the booking of flights, hotels, car hire, trips etc. I need to be as stress free as possible, happy and relaxed, because despite all the travel I do, I'm still quite a nervous flyer.

1. Flip Flops
Always packed in my hand luggage to use on the plane, there’s nothing worse than walking down the aisles and using the bathroom in bare feet or sticky socks and who actually keeps their boots/shoes on when flying. Handy also for the beach and poolside at your destination or in my case as slippers.

2. Rucksack or small fold up bag.
On long haul flights, hand luggage size and weight is monitored closely, I find by using my leather rucksack is easier to manage and fits under the seat in front of me on the plane and makes life easier the other end when collecting your suitcase. If I’m only travelling for a few days or on low cost airlines, with only a one bag allowance for everything, I take a foldable canvas bag with me, that once airside I can use to hold the essentials I want to use on the plane.

3. Sturdy wheels and handles.

It would appear from experience that most suitcases are meant only for 1 annual holiday a year and should live in the attic the rest of the time and on that annual holiday the suit case travels on it’s wheels on nothing other than tiled floor for short distances. I however can make up to 8 long haul flights a year, that’s 8 years of normal travel for most people and their luggage. My suitcase spends more time on pavements, up and down steps, on and off trains and buses and having suffered wheel and zip failure in the past, it’s important your suitcase wheel can cope with rugged surfaces. This case has yet to make a journey with me, but the salesman demonstrated it’s versatility by throwing one around the store, dragging it up steps by it’s handle, and bouncing it on it’s wheels. It wasn’t cheap, but comes with a lifetime warranty, so watch this space.

4. Wet wipes. 

To remove make up and freshen up on long haul flights, to clean my hands 
with before an in flight meal and to wipe the tray with as soon as I'm seated 
and I always travel in a window seat so I wipe the plastic down that I'm going to be resting my head.

5. Travel plug/laptop/phone/camera.

Don’t under estimate your need for an adapter and if you have room 
an extension cable would be handy as I often find plug sockets are located behind the bed or heavy bedside tables and chaos can ensue if the TV is on, the kettle boiling and you want to charge your phone. If I’m making a long haul trip and I’m visiting home or friends, I take
my laptop with me, but on a recent trip to Egypt I decided to leave it 
at home as I was travelling with hand luggage only and decided my camera was going to be more valuable to me.

6. Cool bag.

Even when staying in full board or all inclusive there are times when you just want a snack or drink and not have to traipse off to a 
restaurant or cafĂ© to do so, especially when it can often mean having 
to pack up all your belongings at pool side or on the beach and when travelling with kids, that is quite a task. I pack a cool bag that if 
nothing else contains at least one bar of emergency chocolate and to take milk back to your hotel room, because in my opinion they never provide you with enough.

7.  Pashmina.

I carry a pashmina with me everywhere I go, not just when I’m travelling.
The pashmina can be used for sitting on, especially useful if wearing light coloured trousers, as a head covering in the middle east, to slip over my shoulders if it gets chilly and to protect from sun burn. It can also be used to wrap up all your wet beach wear so save the inside of the bag getting sandy or wet.

8. Headphones.

These come in two different sizes and usually both are packed. I tend to only make short haul flights after I've reached the UK or South Africa. I find these ears buds uncomfortable to use on long flights, preferring the over the ear ones. The small ones come in handy at the destination for listening to music on my iPhone, usually though a child breaks or loses there's and spares are always handy.

9. Luggage labels, straps and added security.

Leaving South Africa I have my case cling wrapped, but I also never put anything of value in it, which includes paperwork, if needed, so these days all my documents are scanned and a copy is left a theme in case my laptop were to go missing or break. I use cable ties on the zips and only put my destination tag on the case, which I swop for my home address on the rerun journey.

10. Tea.

Depending on the length of my trip and my destination I always pack tea, this also includes weekends away and even days out if I'm not in the UK. I can pretty much do without anything else on the above list, but if I can't get a decent cup of tea, things can go horribly wrong.

Well that took longer to write and made more mess than the actual packing for a holiday of 7, but I had fun and that's the main thing.


Week 113 My Sunday Photo 2017 - I is for Ikea

For those who know Peter and I you'll realise what a big decision this was to make to actually go to Ikea together.

Last time we were there we had a row in the curtain pole area and he called me a f***ing psychopath.

We've been together 17 years, I sometimes wonder how we actually survived that long.

Anyway the visit passed without incident, however we both scurried past the curtain poles with a quick glance at each other that said 'we can do this'

A table for the hallway was purchased and assembled without incident also.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Week 8 - One Daily Positive Fighting the boredom

It's a new week, Peter was back in work and my life started on repeat again. I'm bored, my life is boring. But I've decided it's ok to be bored as long as I don't end up spending too much money to entertain myself.

I started the week on Sunday after I'd finished the cleaning and went for coffee at the Souk Madinat with a spectacular view of the Burj Al Arab. It was my nieces 6th birthday, she was born the month after we left the UK and I'm missing out on so much not seeing her grow up. I made a visit to the garden centre and collecting Rory from the vets for the afternoon. I've decided I need to explore a bit further a field than my local neighbourhood and although I can't believe I'm actually saying this, I'm looking forward to the weather improving so I can spend some time on the beach.

On Monday I headed off to Dubai Mall arriving at 8.30am where I had a walk round, took photos for my blog, had coffee and planned my route around the stores I wanted to look at. The shops don't open till 10am so I got some lovely pictures minus the tourists. I collected Rory for the afternoon and took her back to the vets at 7pm.

My dog has a better social life than me as on Tuesday Jelly came round to play and we went out for a walk into the desert, boring afternoon watching planes crash on youtube and doing the ironing. We took Rory for a walk in the evening after Jelly was collected.

On Wednesday I got Peter to drop me at a near by cafe and after my daily latte I collected Rory and picked her and brought her home for the day. The cat really isn't impressed with the extra dogs this week and it took me over an hour to coax her off the roof. I scheduled more blog posts and transplanted my seedlings into bigger pots. After dropping Rory off I caught the bus to Ibn Battuta where I met a friend and then Peter joined us and her husband in the local pub for a quiz night. We won, my general knowledge these days is crap, there were no questions on air planes crashes or on serial killers which I seem to spend a lot of time watching on youtube.

Due to the rain, the house needed cleaning again on Thursday as there were animal paw prints everywhere and a fresh layer of sand covering everything from the winds. I did the food shopping, collected Rory and read my book. The vets was closed due to refreshment so Rory spent the night with us.

Friday we headed off to the desert with Bob and Rory, while Bob ran around playing ball with his doggie friends, we kept Rory on the lead. On our way home we took her to meet her potential forever home humans and their dog Ice, who they adopted through Dubai Animal Welfare Society, the same organisation I'm working with and we left her there for her trial adoption. With 3 dogs in the house this week the conservatory or Bob's bedroom as we call it need a real good clean. We went down the beach in the afternoon and a BBQ at home in the evening.

Saturday morning we were up early and off to Ikea. We've bought an apartment in South Wales and it needs furnishing, I purchased bedding and kitchen items in October when I was last over to sign and collect the keys. We'll be ordering a sofa bed to be delivered and assembled with help from my sister prior to my arrival next month. I'll sort a bed, table and chairs, wardrobe and a chest of drawers out when I arrive.

50/365 Traffic.

51/365 What I'm looking at.

52/365 Cosy.

53/365 Hold.

54/365 Noise. (lack of now the kids have left home)

55/365 I'm thankful.

56/365 Social Media. Scheduling blog posts.

On the blog this week:

MySunday Photo - W is for weather
Travel - 10 Things not to do in Luxor
My Michael McIntyre moment - Public bathroom technology
Parenting - Sharing my son with another family

Thursday, 23 February 2017

10 things not to do in Luxor, Egypt.

Spend Money.

Apart from your flights and hotel room, you'll be hard pressed to spend money in Luxor, unless you allow yourself to be ripped off or wish to buy pashminas and replica relics. Everyone will try to help you with everything, including pointing at something for your to photograph and then ask you for money for what they did, be firm and polite and say no.

A taxi from the airport is LE 80, around £4, ask and confirm the price before you do anything and check it's LE (Egyptian Pounds) and not $ (Dollars).

Expect to pay up to LE 700 per person for a full day tour of the West Bank, to include the Valley of the Kings, a couple of temples and the tour guides, brothers, Alabaster or Papayas shop. You will have to pay extra to visit Tutankhamen. You can however do this cheaper yourself, but I'd recommend a tour guide a) to tell you the     history b) to stop you being hassled and c) to get
                                                                                    you back to your hotel.
You have to pay your hotel bill in foreign currency, you are not allowed to pay in Egyptian Pounds, but you can withdraw local currency from the cash machines. Banks are heavily guarded, but don't let anyone try to assist you and preferably withdraw money in pairs.

No one will have change anywhere, and will delay giving you change in the hope you won't bother waiting.

Bring Kids.

Don't bring kids with you unless you are prepared to keep a very close eye on them 24/7 and entertain them yourself. While the hotels have pools, they are a long way from the rooms, terraces, life guards are rare. There are no facilities in Luxor aimed at entertaining children, whilst there is a MacDonalds, there isn't a play area, there are no swings and slides to be found or public parks and internet is scarce.

Use the Internet.

Leave that laptop at home. There is little if no wifi in public places and in the hotels, you are limited to two devices per room. Wifi is often limited each day and costs around $10 per 250mb. Your mobile phone provider will sms on arrival with cost of calls, but if you wish to buy a sim card, you can only get this at the airport.

Drink coffee.

I found one coffee shop that served anything that resembled the coffee I like to drink. Nescafe seem to have the monopoly over here and a latte is 2 powered tubes and over heated milk, not nice. Ask for a cappuccino, it's likely to be from a Nespresso machine.

Drink the water

We've travelled to many locations around the world and we often forget to check if we can drink the tap water. To date we've never been ill from drinking the water, but one of us, usually Peter, has had food poisoning. Brushing teeth is ok, but avoid ice in drinks, ask the waiter to give you the bottled water to open, so you can check the seal and personally I avoid foods with high water content such as watermelon and cucumber.


There are NO high street stores in Luxor, all you'll find are local shops, souks and markets, mainly selling souvenirs and replica, tacky and low quality, clothes and bags. You'll be hard pressed to find a supermarket, corner store, pharmacy, so bring all your toiletries and medications with you.


December and January are the height of the tourist season, but don't expect to have to wait in long queues for anywhere, there are sadly few tourists coming to Luxor since 2011, due to the current political climate.

Get tired

Luxor is a relaxing place to visit, tours start early morning, 3 days minimum stay to visit all the sights, take a trip on the nile, fit in a hot air balloon trip and enjoy leisurely drinks and meals in the hotel.

Walk anywhere

Don't expect to walk anywhere in Luxor, the second you step out your hotel you'll be inundated with requests to use taxi's and horse and carriages. If you do get a taxi, the driver will tell you he will wait for you at your destination, until you've finished, so don't pay them until you get back to your hotel.

Relax with personal safety

There are many warnings about travelling to Luxor and Egypt in general. The biggest risk is around mosques at prayer times and if you see large groups of people forming, then it is advised to leave the area and not hang around to see what is going on. Use the hotel safe for your passports, laptops, etc and only carry with you cash and cards that you think you'll need each day. Keep your bag in full sight at all times.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Public Toilet Technology - How do you turn the taps on?

I've travelled far and wide, stayed in the finest of hotels, used the basics of bathrooms.

I've found the foot pedals, operated the sensors, turned dials, twisted taps, sussed out if the tap turns left or right or if the hot and cold is on the left or the right.

But this one stumped me and I had to ask at reception how to turn the tap on. Apparently, you lift the elbow and turn left or right to adjust the water temperature.

What's the weirdest tap you've come across?

I'm not the only one who has this issue, see what Michael McIntyre had to say on the subject.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Sharing my son with another family.

Child 4 was the last to leave home in 2014, he was almost 20 and had been the last child at home for almost a year after child 5 returned to the UK to boarding school.

Child 4 is the only child we've had an input with into adult hood, he was at home the longest, therefore the one we spent the most time with as a young adult.

He was the only one we taught to drive, who we left home alone to look after his younger sibling while we travelled and the one who did the school runs, food shops and picked us up after a night out.

Apart from the youngest who finishes school this year, the other 3 boys manage their own finances, careers and lives in general. But they always come to me for advice and support before making major decisions. They respond to messages, but unlike child 4, they rarely initiate just general day to day chat.

However things are changing/have changed with child 4 in the past few months since he got himself a girlfriend. I don't mean that he's stopped talking to me, tagging me in photo's or even become distant. I mean he now has a whole new family involved in his life. He tags me in photo's of days out with his girlfriend and her family, his achievements and just general stuff he thinks I'll like, same as usual, but now not only is his girlfriend commenting on his posts, so are her family, their extended family, friends and neighbours.

These are people I don't know, but who are getting to know my son just as well as I do. Whose comments are similar to mine, because they know what he's like and how he'll respond. People who share 'in' jokes with him. People who he tells things to at the same time as he tells me. People who are important in his life, of equal importance to me.

I'm not jealous, but I do envy their relationship with my son. My relationship with my son is now online, we live 4000 miles apart, he sees his girlfriend most days after work, he goes round her house and eats his tea with her family, he walks their dog, he talks to her dad about the football, he asks her mum to help with removing stains from his clothes.

As a Mother to 5 children, all bar one being adults, I've accepted a long time ago, that they would all grow up and leave home one day, that they'd get girlfriends, get married one day and eventually have children of their own. What I didn't think about was how their new families had families of their own.

I'm off to Belfast for a few days in March to meet the girlfriend and her family and the 3 of us are taking a road trip to Dublin, it's a short visit, but it will be nice to meet the girlfriend and her family and get to know the people my son now shares his life with on a daily basis.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

112 My Sunday Photo 2017 W is for weather.

The two photos were taken 24 hours apart. Top photo Saturday, bottom photo Friday.

It's always a worry when the Burj Khalifa isn't visible, we call it Armageddon day. Most of the past week has been, cloudy, windy, rainy or sandy. But Friday all 4 occurred at the same time, with visibility dropping, localised flooding and the house filling up with sand, covering every, single, surface.

We were woken at 4am Saturday morning with a terrific crash and flash of light, thinking an aeroplane had crashed, but no, it was thunder and lightening, a rare occurrence for Dubai.

There was snow up in Jebel Jais last week, a 2 hour drive from Dubai and the highest point of the 1,943 meters, just over double the height of the World's tallest tower.

Despite the poor weather, it's a pleasure to have it. But it's still been very warm around the mid 20c and very muggy.

Summer isn't far away, thankfully I'll dodge the worse of the heat this year as I'm in the UK from mid June till mid October.

One Daily Positive 2017 Week 7

I decided not to drink any coke this week, or any other fizzy drinks. I can drink 2-3 cans of coke a day without thinking about it. It's not good for my weight or my teeth. there's no list this week, apart from daily stuff like housework, everything else has been done, apart from a few things I need to sort out when I get to the UK next month. My weight at the start of the week was 72.9kg, I gave up weighing myself as I lost and gained a kilo during the week. By Tuesday I stopped having sugar in my coffee, but I found myself eating more food. We ate out 3 times this week and a fair few pints were consumed also.

I've also realised that I only use my mobile phone in Dubai for Social Media, it's only Peter who physically calls me. Every public place has wifi so I'm spending February 3G free when I'm out and about, I don't need to keep checking my status when walking in the park or sitting on the beach and as a result I've been reading a lot more. I do have a small amount of credit for when I drive into the desert in case of an emergency.

Peter was working late all week and the time dragged by. On Monday the only person I spoke to was at the window at Costa Coffee drive through.

Sunday was spent mainly at the dentists after I collected some old duvets to make some more dog beds with and the afternoon was spent sorting the material out.

Monday involved a trip into the desert with Bob and I spent a few hours tidying the sheds and garage, while the weather is cool. I cycled and walked to and on the beach, had a coffee and wrote my address book up to date, although I don't know why I bother writing letters to so many people these days as only my mum and 2 friends write back. I spent the evening working out and resetting ALL my passwords online after accidentally clearing all the cookies when I was looking for flights for Peter for the UK in April.

Tuesday was another long day. We woke up to heavy rain. Bob and I went out for a Valentine's lunch and the ironing got done. I also started on a new dog bed design and cut some squares for making bandana's. I visited 11 puppies and their 2 mothers who are looking for a new home and took them some valentine heart shaped dog biscuits I'd baked. I had a sleep in the afternoon then went to Costa Coffee for free coffee, cake and balloons, getting home at 9pm.

Wednesday morning was spent cleaning the house, the weather has been really cool and it's been raining most of the week, so doors are flung wide open. It's also been very windy, so along with the muddy paw prints the house was covered in a fine layer of sand. I went food shopping and stopped for my obligatory coffee. I ended up cooking several meals for the next week along with the dinner.

Thursday I spent the morning in the nail bar and sorted out my outfit and accessories for a boat party on Friday, which was cancelled due to the weather. Rory's time with her foster family came to an end and I collected her for the afternoon, not once, but 3 times she cleared our 6ft wall and I found her desperately trying to bounce her way back into the garden. We went out for dinner, neither of us could be bothered to cook. We received sad news that Peter's Aunty Marion had passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday.

Friday we met friends and their dog out in the desert, we brought Jelly home with us for the night, while her humans had the sofas cleaned. Late afternoon we visited Dubai Mall and had Dinner over looking the fountains. We finally got round to booking Peter's UK trip in April, just internal flights and car hire to book for me now.

Saturday morning around 4am we were woken with an almighty crash and flash of light, seriously thinking a plane had crashed, it was that loud and bright, another crash and flash and we recognised thunder and lightening. Not something that happens often in Dubai, it took a while to get back to sleep with the noise of the heavy rain. We went out for breakfast, food shop and spent an hour removing layers of sand from the kitchen where the window had been left open over night. After Jelly was collected I took Rory to visit a potential foster family. I ended up leaving her there and we'll see how it goes for a week.

43/365 #WIDN Enjoying the rain in Dubai.
 44/365 I Love the freedom of living in Dubai, compared to South Africa.
 45/365 #LoveYourSelfie.
46/365 Red, changing the soft furnishings to mark the seasons.
47/365 A message.

48/365 Wide angle, although portrait mode is more suited to living in Dubai.
49/365 Muse my inspiration for everything in life is directly related to the amount of caffeine I have.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - V is for Valentine
Animal Tales and HDYGG? - Plants that are dangerous to animals
Travel - My top 6 tips for starting a conversation when travelling
Parenting - You don't need to entertain children 24/7

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

My Top 6 Tips for starting a conversation when travelling

Solo travelling is very lonely, the very fact I've used the word solo in the the opening line indicates one is alone, although many people prefer to travel in silence, I'm not one of them. I like to meet people and find out more about where I am visiting and get some insider tips that may not be on offer in the guide books.

When I travel I often have somewhere to stay with people I know. I spend many hours at airports, on planes, trains, buses and on foot. I also stay in B&B's and hotels on my own as I travel through from place to place.

There are plenty of people who like to while (or wile) away the hours with a chat, but how do you know they want to talk?

It may sound relatively simple to start a conversation with someone, a stranger, but it can also be hard work, they may want to sleep, they may not be a sociable person themselves, they may not even speak the same language, but I've whiled away many an hour, in transit, chatting to people I'll never see again and for me it does make a journey a lot more pleasurable and time passes quicker.

People can be suspicious of strangers talking to them, so if you don't succeed the first time, keep trying or you'll end up sitting in silence watching back to back movies or completing puzzles. You'll get a good feeling if someone is interested in chatting or whether they just want to sit/sleep in silence by:
  • Making eye contact and smiling, it lets people know you are friendly and approachable.
  • Offering to help someone who are struggling with a bag, bay, small child, TV screen on the plane.
  • Commenting on something you have in common, such as the waiting, destination, where you're from.
  • Commenting on a general topic of current interest, either in the country your flying from or to.
  • Asking open questions.
  • Responding to what the person says.
Do you have have any other tips on starting a conversation or are one of those people that prefers to sit in silence? 

How else do you pass the time on long journeys?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Plants in Dubai that are dangerous to pets.

The desert rose, scientific name, Adenium obesum, also known as impala lily, kudu lily, desert azalea, mock azalea and wabi star.

Popular all over the world and considered scared in some places.

Tribes in Africa use the sap of the plant and pollen to get poison for their arrows. it is so toxic it can even kill an elephant.

The entire plant is toxic if ingested by your dog.

There's space in my garden for a new shrub, since I found out this plant was extremely toxic to cats and dogs and can cause serious illnesses including heart failure from ingesting any part of the plant, just from licking any part of the plant.

There are hundred's of these plants in Dubai, usually grown in pots to keep them more ornate or they grow into mid sized trees.

They produce the prettiest of flowers and adorn almost every garden in Dubai.

This plant has been re homed to live outside the garden gate.

Meanwhile the dog has been posing for his latest GQ centre spread.
Not taken with a soft focus, just need to replace the cover on my phone
Bob got a stone in his paw, out in the desert, growled at me when I went near him, so I threw his precious ball in the water which he limped after and the stone came free.
Found a dog friendly coffee stop.
Bedtime for the cat, when she's ready for bed, she follows me around and sits and looks at me like this until I give her, her treats in her bed.
The cat went into full on attack mode, seconds after this picture was taken, poor Bob had to run for his life.
You're never alone when you let a cat and dog into your life, waiting for peas and sweetcorn, the cats favourite snack.

The garden is looking a little dire, the plants are growing but they're not growing as big and as fast as they did last year despite the recent rain. I've moved the houseplants outdoors for a few weeks before the weather gets too hot and they seem to be doing well.
* rained and we had storms. Half the plants died so are now back indoors.