Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Kameeldrift Trauma Support - Rape care kits

I'm sure you'd be more interest in this blog post if I posted about a cake. I did recently on facebook and received a lot of attention with likes and comments. I posted a photo of a rape care kit and I guess people just scrolled right past, pretending not to see it as they didn't know what to say.

Anyway I digress.

I'm visiting South Africa our former home and supporting friends who work with various charities and projects throughout the year. I'm no longer affiliated with any of the charities here, but I help out with things online and some fundraising throughout the year and when I visit, I tidy, clean, pack and physically get involved hands on.

Over the weekend my friend Lee-Ann, took me with her to a community in Pretoria North to hand out rape care kits on behalf of Kameeldrift Trauma Support, who she is involved with throughout the year.

These kits aren't handed out to women who have been raped, they are handed out to women for when they or a family member or friend is raped.

1:3 women have been or will be raped in South Africa, with 150 cases reported daily. Many do not report because a) it is a way of life for some and b) too many women are afraid of reprisals for reporting their rapist.

In the UK statistics for the same period were 1:200.

Of course these figures can't be relied on and they do not include the rape of men or children, nor do they include other forms of sexual abuse.

But the reality is in South Africa it is going to happen, just when is the only unknown.

So how can a rape care kit help women in crisis.

Each kit contains a brown paper bag to place underwear in, a plastic bag can contaminate the DNA. The advice is to put it in a freezer asap for the best forensic results.

There is also a note pad and pen to write down what happened in detail.

Everything else in the pack is for personal hygiene and comfort.

In the recent kits being distributed there have been donations from Isabella Garcia with facial wash and body creams and from Reitzer Pharmaceuticals glycerine soaps.

All other items have been donated by individuals by adding a few extra items to their shopping trolley each week and through cash donations.

This is not a sponsored post, I'm advertising the services of Kameeldrift Trauma Support as I believe and support fully the work they are doing. The two companies tagged will hopefully share this post on their social media and I'm hoping it will lead to further donations from them and other companies to support this worthy project.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Maintaining contact with family as an expat

I was chatting with my niece online yesterday and showed her some of the photos we have round the house of her children. The Things 1, 2 & 3. There are also hundreds of photo's of our 5 kids and other family members. It's important to us to be part of the family and watch them grow and hear about their achievements when we're away from home.

Two of our children have lived abroad with us, another now lives alone in Australia. They've all been out to visit as have both our mothers, but in between us going over there, we're pretty much on our own. Our kids have little contact with one another, both our mums live near one of our nieces, but they can all get together, they all have support if they need it within an hours drive (excluding the one in Australia)
We have fairly regular contact online via facebook messengers, we can see photos on FB and instagram of what everyone is up to and at the end of the month I'll ring round using up the last of my monthly phone credit.

When I visit the UK I will leave gifts and cards with my mum to post/distribute during the time till my next visit and I regularly post physical photo's, small gifts, novelty items to the kids. I leave these parcels with my mum also and let her know when I want them sent. I also send regular letters and post cards from Dubai, but sadly either not many get through, or I'm not informed when they do arrive.

I keep a copy of every letter I send and receive, it makes a fab way of keeping a record of our lives abroad.

It's a way of letting everyone know we're still thinking of them, still want to part of their lives, that we're around in mind, if not physically, for the whole year.

It's going to get as lot harder for us though after September as we're going to be grandparents and as Skype, whatsapp calls and facetime is currently blocked in the UAE, we won't be able to interact with our grandchild as he or she grows

Saturday, 18 May 2019

One Daily Positive - Week 20 South Africa

I'm back in South Africa for 10 days, our former home of 4 years, before moving to Dubai. We made lifelong friends when we were here and I go back to visit once or twice a year.

I'm staying with 3 friends and their families this week, with use of a car so I can get out and about during the day.

When we lived there, I was involved in working with several charities, although I have no direct link with these charities anymore I do support the work my friends do throughout the year. I work behind the scenes online to help out, raise funds and when I'm visiting I get involved hands on in with a Christmas box initiative and visit facilities in townships to support education.

You can read about my last visit in December by clicking here.

132 Sunday Landed in Johannesburg around 5.30am, had 5 hours sleep on the flight, got changed, had coffee, sorted out local sim card. Collected by my friend, back to hers for a natter, wine, food, then over to Pretoria to the family I'm staying with while I'm here, another friend came over for the evening.

133 Monday Woke at 6.30am to the sound of the hadedah's, they're the size of a chicken and sound like someone is being murdered. Spent the morning washing teddy bears that were left over from a flamingo project that you can read about here. Took myself off for a walk, had coffee, spent time in the garden reading and blogging.
These are Jacaranda trees and in Autumn they turn purple.

134 Tuesday Visited the Irene Mall and had lunch with a friend then off to Rietvlei Nature Reserve for a mini self drive safari.

135 Wednesday Off to Menlyn Mall for the day, some shopping, walking around and coffee. Spent the afternoon sweeping out the storage unit, sorting through donations since I was there last in December and flattening boxes.

136 Thursday Met a friend for breakfast with her mother and baby. Spent the afternoon typing up name lists for the Christmas gift website and off to Ridgebacks for dinner and jam jars with friends.

137 Friday Visited Brooklyn Mall, in Pretoria, then back to the storage unit to finish cleaning it up. Was collected by my friend to spend the weekend at hers.
This is Grace, she's 4 years younger than Bob, but rescued from the same area, she has to be related.

138 Saturday Up early and off to a rural town in North Pretoria to deliver rape care kits. These kits aren't for women who have been raped, but for when they get raped. Statistically 1 in 3 women will or have been raped in South Africa with around 150 cases reported daily, many don't report for fear of reprisals. On a lighter note the afternoon was spent at Hartbeesport markets and lunch out.

On the blog this week:

How the Mike Bolhuis Flamingo Project is supporting orphans in South Africa

Safety and Security differences between Dubai and the UK

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Wednesday, 15 May 2019

How the Mike Bolhuis flamingo project is also supporting vulnerable children in South Africa.

I came across Mike Bolhuis and the Flamingo Project through a friend in South Africa. I’m here for 2 weeks working with volunteers who support children’s charities year-round. When I’m not in South Africa I work behind the scenes, promoting, fund raising and online support. You can read about my last visit in December 2018, supporting a Christmas Charity.

After recent droughts in South Africa Mike took it upon himself to try and rescue hundreds of dehydrated and starving flamingo chicks, which hatched back in February in Kamfersdam, Kimberley.

These chicks have now been released back into their natural habitat, but Mike was left with 100’s of teddy bears the public had donated for the flamingo chicks to snuggle up to, to keep warm and to play with.

I spoke to Mike this week to thank him for the teddy bears, which are now washed, repaired and waiting to be rehoused to 300 vulnerable children living in poverty or in orphanages in and around Pretoria.

You can read more about Mike’s Flamingo rescue on his face book page.

Flamingoes are one of my favourite birds and I often visit Ras Al Khor bird santuary where I live in Dubai and I went in search of the flamingoes in the Western Cape in July 2015.

I'm, pleased Mike and the volunteers have been successful with their project, just a shame I didn't arrive earlier and I could have volunteered.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Differences between the UK and Dubai - Safety and Security.

'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore'

That's how I feel when I leave Dubai and visit the UK.

In Dubai I can leave my engine running, hand my card over for 'tap' payment at the petrol pump without getting out the car and leave my bag, laptop and phone on the restaurant/cafe table while I go to the toilet. I can leave my door not only unlocked but on occasions open when we go out and not worry about anyone breaking in or having my car or personal items stolen.

I often visit Pretoria in South Africa. Life over there isn't particularly safe. My personal safety and that of my belongings is paramount, there's a risk of car jacking when sitting at the lights and junctions.
I've experienced theft in South Africa personally and the biggest risk I faced was an armed robbery at a place I volunteered in. I'd opted to stay and eat with a resident, rather than joining everyone else in the staff room where they were held and robbed at gun point.

I've also camped in a township, travelled solo around the Western cape and caught the Shosholoza Meyl train with one of the teens to Cape Town and have holidayed in Durban. Life is slightly different in Cape Town and Durban to the Gauteng region with little visible security.

I used to post often about life in South Africa during the 4 years we lived there and when I travelled to the UK, I felt safe. But having lived in Dubai for 4 years, I now realise when I return to the UK that the feeling I had in the UK was compared to life in South Africa and having been out of the country for almost 9 years now, that I should treat visits home as if I was visiting a new place and should take better care of my personal safety and belongings.

It was pointed out to us in a UK pub when we went to the bar that 'we're not in Kansas anymore' and shouldn't be leaving our personal belongings unattended.

I'm currently back in South Africa, I visit my friends once or twice a year. It's an automatic reaction to fall back into line with the security aspect now for me.

How safe is it where you live?

Saturday, 11 May 2019

One Daily Positive - Week 19. Ramadan Kareem

Week 19 sees the start of Ramadan. As a non muslim it only affects me by limiting where I can eat, drink or smoke when I'm out in public during daylight hours.

Ramadan this year in Dubai will be much easier to manage as it is occurring earlier in the year and therefore much cooler than our first year here when it took place in the middle of June 2015. Apparently it won't occur in the middle of summer again until around 2042.

The laws in Dubai have also relaxed quite a bit since we first came her. The first year no alcohol was served and during the day time food outlets only did takeaways. In 2016 they relaxed the alcohol laws and you could drink in a bar/restaurant/hotel after Iftar which is the breaking of the fast. Some outlets were open during the day so you could eat/drink in, but it was hit and miss. In 2017 I was in Dubai most of Ramadan and only half of 2018. By 2018 I could pretty much guarantee to go most places and get a drink or something to eat during the daytime. I find it strange when I go to the UK and Ramadan is on to be able to eat and drink in public and tend to abstain from doing so when walking around unless I'm indoors.

This year, I have 12 days out from the 11th till the 23rd of May. Ramadan starts on the 6th May and ends on the 3rd of June. School and work days are reduced from 8am till 2pm and the roads get very busy at the end of the day as people race to get home to break fast, mosque, followed by Iftar. We will avoid the roads between 2pm and 6.30pm, as it's hectic out there.

Being British I find it very strange still to see signs stating 'No Muslims allowed' it's because it's the food halls in the mall, they can of course take their children in their to be fed and the elderly, people who are ill and pregnant or breast feeding women are exempt from fasting.

It's a fun place to be despite the restrictions on me, lots of sales, invites for Iftars and dates galore.

125 Sunday Having got up at 5am to walk the dog, do some gardening and wash the entrance hall, I was back in bed by 9am as I was tired and very hot. Took myself out for a coffee and to do some blogging around 11am and did a food shop. The afternoon was spent catching up with bills, paperwork and some letter writing.  Went for a swim early evening and a dog walk.

126 Monday Plans to dog walk and garden went out the window when I woke up late, so a short walk only for Bob. Popped out for coffee and came home frustrated due to Ramadan opening hours not being consistent and available online, watched TV in bed, ate junk food, paid bills and booked my next UK flight with a return via Sydney/Melbourne to visit child 3 in late July early August for a 3 week road trip. Ramadan Mubarak.

127 Tuesday Off to the dog park for the morning. One of the few places I can get a drink out before midday. Joined in with the yoga group. Left at midday and the car was 50c inside. Tidied up in the garden after pruning the trees and spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV and writing letters. Took Bob for a long walk.
The worlds largest indoor dog park

128 Wednesday Back to the dog park for the morning. Peter left his phone at home so I met him at the bank with it, as we had some papers to sign. Did some washing and ironing while watching youtube, went for a swim and dinner out and pub quiz in the evening. We won.
The new road system and apartments being built. Work started after we moved in December 2017

129 Thursday Up early, dog walk, garden watered, bed changed and 4 loads of washing done. Off to the nail bar, found a Starbucks open for dine in. Caught up with some blog comments and posts, home by 12pm and started cleaning up stairs. Swim in the late afternoon, dinner and an early night.
Too many children in the pool to take a photo

130 Friday Out for lunch with friends followed by a BBQ with another set in the evening. It's all or nothing with us on weekends here, we're either super busy with friends or just the two of us at home.
View of Dubai Marina from the roof top

131 Saturday Popped out for coffee and a food shop for Peter while I'm away. I finished packing, had a swim and a sleep mid afternoon. I'm catching an over night flight to Johannesburg at midnight.
Bob doesn't want me to go

On the blog this week:

We're super excited to announce We're going to be Grandparents in September.

Ramadan in Dubai
2015 Our first Ramadan Very different from how it is 4 years on
2016 Iftars and breaking fast with dates and milk
         Living and working in Dubai during Ramadan
2017 Visiting Dubai in Ramadan
2018 Where is Ramadan in the UK?
         Ramadan for a non muslim

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Monday, 6 May 2019

We're going to be grandparents.

Child 2 and 2a asked us to phone them mid February. They had been visiting us only the week before so Peter's response was 'I wonder what they want?' My response 'I bet we're going to be grandparents'

I was right.

Our first grandchild is due 20th September 2019.

We're going to be Granddad and Granny, we've been told and have no say in the matter. I'm not keen on being called Granny, it's what you call old people, not a 47 year old. I don't have any other suggestions so I'll just go with the flow as long as my kids don't call me Granny, when speaking about me I don't mind really. It'll be up to the Grandchild what I'm called anyway.

It'll set a precedent for the following grandchildren. I called my father's mother Gran, my cousins called her Nan. My kids call their fathers mother, Granny, their cousins call her Nan also. I find that confusing and assume they're talking about their other grandmother.

I wrote a blog post the other month about being middle aged and not particularly liking it that much, with the next stage of my life being a grandparent and it making me feel old. That was written just a week before the pregnancy announcement.

Well the time is almost here, I don't feel any older. I'm excited for 2 and 2a and what the future brings for them and for us. My mother was the same age as me when she became a Nanna, with my first born. She's became a Great Grandmother at the age of 69 to my nieces children and is still young enough to take a hands on role with them.

We're a family of 7 with a DIL in and a DIL to be and now there will be another one joining our family very soon and we are a little bit excited.

I'm also pleased to say that 2 and 2a are taking the approach of waiting till the baby is born to find out the sex, that won't stop me shopping though.

Just need a nickname now for the baby for my blog ahead of its arrival in September. Any suggestions?

Saturday, 4 May 2019

One Daily Positive - Week 18 - We're going to be grandparents

I have no idea what day it's been any day this week. Arrived home in Dubai to wall to wall sunshine, no rain and temperatures getting higher. There's been a gentle breeze this week which has made life more bearable but it is a relatively warm one. By Thursday my body clock had adjusted and I was awake around 4-5am to be able to walk the dog and to do some gardening. When I get up early like this, I'll often go back to bed for an hour or two in the middle of the day.

Been sitting on the news that we're going to be grandparents in September until child 2 and 2a shared their news online. Blog posts have been scheduled for 15 weeks now and I'm so excited to be able to talk freely now. Have really respected 2a's wishes, just found it frustrating as I was worried I'd slip up.

118 Sunday A round of goodbyes with my mum, a friend and the twins, niece and the Things a pub lunch and a pint and back to mums to finish a small DIY job and then another friends in the evening. Packed and had an early night.
View from a friend's house in Wales.

119 Monday Up early, dressed and out for breakfast and coffee while the washing machine was on, then drove to Birmingham airport for our flight home. Uneventful flight other than a minor scuffle with a few passengers that got them moved and I took advantage of the 3 empty seats.
We rarely fly together.

120 Tuesday A lie in then off to the nail bar, collected the cat and dog from boarding, went for a swim and unpacked the suit cases. We had an early night.
Opposite weather, although both drives us indoors.

121 Wednesday Went swimming then had breakfast before enjoying a coffee at the Souk Madinat then off to the Doctors for an iron infusion, drove home stopping off for a McDonald's, went to bed to finish binge watching Line of Duty, took Bob for a walk then bed at 8pm.
It would appear neither of these think they got fed while we were away.

122 Thursday Up early to walk Bob and take some photo's of the train station and local construction, did a bit of gardening (sweeping sand) then retreated indoors to do some batch cooking. Went out at 9am for a coffee and get the zip repaired on my Coach bag, followed by a swim in the afternoon.

123 Friday Off early to the beach, spent 3 hours there, people watching, swimming and reading. Home and nothing till 6pm when we got ready for dinner with friends.
The view from the 68th floor looking down on Iris Bay.

124 Saturday A trip to the Mall and coffee, then off to the beer and wine shop, followed by a food shop on the way home. We BBQ'd in the evening and off for an early night.

On the blog this week:

Dubai and the UK April Round up Home and Garden.
Why I've ditched the linkys.
Spot the difference. View from Dubai Festival City. Before and After.

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Friday, 3 May 2019

April Garden and Home Round up 2019. Dubai and the UK.

It's been raining in Dubai in April, we've never experienced this much rain there over such a long period of time. It started raining in February and I think since then we've only had 1 full week without it.

This has meant the indoors has looked like this most days as we drag everything in when the rain starts again.

The temperature at this time of year is perfect though (when it's not raining) for sitting in the garden, leaving the doors wide open, walks and swimming in the sea.

However with a change of seasons comes the sand. It's in the air, the rain and gets everywhere. Coupled with the rain it's been harder to clean up as it sets like concrete and with the weather being so varied it's involved sweeping up outside everyday, cleaning the cars daily and sweeping piles of it out the house daily.

The garden has been prepared now for summer, pruned, weeded, lawn re seeded (Bob does like to dig) Just the climbers to continue training and a bit of lawn edging to keep up with.

The garden furniture is weather resistant between -20c and 50c. It was purchased in South Africa where winter temps do drop to below zero in Johannesburg where it's at altitude. The umbrella will be stored indoors as the last one disintegrated after 8 years and every year Peter strips the wood back and repaints it.

Soft furnishings just live by the dining room door so we can grab them as we go in and out and in a funny way feels like we have a bit of the outdoors inside.

There's been a bit of colour added to the house to try and tone down the reds, but only in the form of a sprig or two of artificial yellow flowers.

The summer will drive us indoors soon, but having created this welcoming space on the mezzanine, it'll give us a change of scenery in the evenings and weekends.

We were in the UK last week and loved the bank holiday weather which was very similar to how Dubai has been the past few weeks.

I'm not back in Dubai for long. May sees me travel to South Africa and in June I'm back in the UK, before heading off to Australia in July and back to the UK in August. The dog and the cat will be spending more time in boarding while Peter also travels with work. Walking the dog at this time of year is difficult, so there will be play parks for him to enjoy, until the rain comes again at the end of the year.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Why I'm ditching the linkys

I've been joining in with Project 365 for 5 years now. It's a blog hop. When you add your link it shows all the other blog posts who have joined in. There are around 12-15 link ups each week and there is a core group of us who have become firm friends, either online and/or in real life.

I'm disappointed some weeks when I comment on everyone else's post and half the people don't comment back, but then this is life and we really don't have many rules other than it being a weekly photo a day post that gets linked up.

Some of the other linkys I join in with just have far too many rules. The standard rules are as follows:

  • Add the badge to your blog.
  • Comment on the host.
  • The post in front of yours.
  • One other post of your choosing.

It's not difficult, quite simple to adhere to except:

  • One linky I received NO comments for 4 weeks from the hosts.
  • The people who comment on my posts are regular readers and don't need to find me through the linky.
  • I comment on my share each week and often more or all the other posts linked up, if I have the time, but what comes back? Maybe 2-3 comments.
  • I rarely have my post shared online by the hosts, yet they share their favourites, as in bloggers, not posts.
  • Too many sponsored posts appearing in linkys. It's so hard to say something about a restaurant in a town I'll never visit or a new mattress I have no intention of buying or the latest opinion on raising children, when mine are now all adults. But I do, I read the post, I find something nice to say and what do I get back from others? 'Nice post, thanks for joining in.'
  • Requests to add the badge to the bottom of the blog post. Where has this come from? This is all about creating backlinks, but it doesn't give me a back link and if you read the above, it's not been drawing new readers to my posts at all.
A lot of my favourite linkys have faded away, it is hard work as a host to keep up when 20+ bloggers link every week, to find the time to read, comment, promote etc. Plus write your own post each week, I get that. It's a good way to promote your blog also and get the back links, however it is a two way process. Those who link up use your hashtag, @reply you with their link and comment on your posts every week. I keep seeing more and more requests from the hosts for people to follow the rules or their posts will be deleted. I can't be doing with 'office' politics anymore, so I'm out. It's supposed to be fun.

My blog is in its 10th year. I set it up as a way to Tweet longer, I have a DA score of 31, that wasn't affected by the latest adjustments. My blog just plods along. Sometimes I do a sponsored post or a review but only if it fits with my blog and I rarely approach companies, they come to me.

I've removed all badges from my side bar now, apart from #mysundayphoto a monthly link up run by Darren Coleshill. #pocolo a weekly link up for a post written that week hosted by Stephanie and Morgan and of course #project365 under the title of #OneDailyPositive on my blog.

No offence intended to all the other hosts and I may join in again from time to time, but my baby, child, teen, empty nest days are long gone. If I do join in I'll add the badge to the bottom of each post, but if I don't feel the love being returned from those who link up, I'll be off again.

Do you join in with other linkys?

Do you have similar problems/issues?

Do you run a linky? What problems have you encountered? Do you think my comments are fair?

Sunday, 28 April 2019

One Daily Positive - Week 17. A week in the UK

Peter and I have flown to the UK for a week, it was a bit of a last minute decision. Peter needs to renew his passport and although we could do it via a courier, we decided on a trip over instead.

Our trip to the UK together has made me realise how little interaction I have with the outside world back in Dubai. This week there has been no dog walking, or swimming, or cleaning or sweeping of sand. It's pretty much all I do normally. Instead my week has been full of family and friends.

We didn't get to see child 3 as he's now back in Australia. It wasn't about money it was time and age, but neither of us felt we could manage the trip over to visit child 4 and 4a in the short time we had here, it's only an hours flight but it's all the time spent getting to and from airports also.

We've loved the countryside in Spring, so much has reminded us of our time in South Africa also, but minus the animals. I half expected to see giraffe and zebra as we drove to Cannop ponds and hippos in the lake. The tea room at the garden centre is typical of the ones in SA also. The buildings also capture our attention more than when we lived here.

111 Sunday An early start and flight to Birmingham, collecting car hire and driving to South Wales. After unpacking and a bit of tidying as child 3 had been living in the flat, we popped in to see Mum, our 8 year niece and Thing 1. Pub with friends.
This sign has featured highly in my journeys from childhood, returning home.

112 Monday Off to Gloucester to visit child 1. We stopped for breakfast on route and regretted it all day. Called in to see child 2 on our way home then off to visit the Things, bit of salad for tea and an early night.
View from our flat window.

113 Tuesday Appointment at the passport office and a wander around Newport with mum. Took a nap in the afternoon. Child 2 and 2a came over early evening.
Down by the river, spring time, with bunnies and ducks running around.

114 Wednesday Collected child 1 in Gloucester and drove to Cirencester to visit child 5 for lunch. Afternoon just chilling and dinner out with friends and child 2 and 2a.
Caught in the rain in Fairford.

115 Thursday Pottered around the Forest of Dean went for a walk, had coffee, called in to see friends early evening and dinner out in Ross with another set.
Cannop Ponds.

116 Friday Collected MIL from Keynsham and went to Street for the day, dinner and pub in the evening with Peter's sister and family. We stayed in a B&B.
Drive by photography, Tintern Abbey.

117 Saturday A long day out, took MIL to a local garden centre for a coffee and look round. Drove to Gloucester to visit child 1, due to the weather we took her to Asda for a walk round and some last minute shopping. Into the town for Peter's suit fitting for child 4 and 4a's wedding in September, met a friend for a drink and catch up, home and an early night.
Tea room in Keynsham.

On the blog this week:

My parenting journey and how it went

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