Wednesday 30 September 2020

A hotel stay with a dog - Travelodge

After 2 weeks in isolation and with summer drifting away rapidly, I decided to grab the opportunity to go away for a couple of nights with Bob to the beach.

Looking for dog friendly accommodation as it was too cold to camp, I struggled to find anything for less than a weeks stay. So I decided to contact a couple of hotel chains.

I initially booked to stay at Days Inn in Bridgend, but they went into lockdown. I didn't realise Travelodge allowed dogs to stay over night and you can add then to your booking online under 'extras' at £20 per stay.

Bob was a little confused about being indoors, but soon walked straight to our room as I wasn't allowed to leave him unattended so we have a couple of trips to the car to bring in bags, food bowls and his bed.

I had to put his water bowl in the bathroom as the rest of the room is carpeted

Bob was more than happy to sleep by the side of my bed

Although every single noise had him up and by the door to see what was going on, mind you, I rarely sleep in a hotel room with all the activity going on.

We spent a fab two days on the beach, social distancing and walking around 8 miles each day. 

I brought my now towels with me to wash Bob and I did clean the bath afterwards as I needed to use it myself.

I wasn't able to leave Bob unattended in the hotel room so I had to put him in the car when I went to the local supermarket as there wasn't anywhere suitable outside to leave him. There was also no where to let him go to the toilet or just have some time off lead. Early mornings on the industrial estate were fine for a quick run off lead but not so keen on walking those areas at night before bed.

Bob and I are new to travel within the UK together. He's originally from South Africa and has spent the past 5 years living in Dubai. 

Sunday 27 September 2020

Gloucester re-imagined - Kings Square

I visited Gloucester this week whilst my car was being serviced. As a child and a teenager and most of my adult life, Gloucester has been our nearest City and with child 1 living there also, it's somewhere we still visit.

I don't like Gloucester City Centre and usually prefer to spend my time on the outskirts. But as a teen I would go to the cinema, to the left of this photo and loved nothing more than shopping in Debenhams which is to my right.

Gloucester has seen a lot of development over the years with the docks being turned into shopping, restaurants and apartments and new retail parks being established. There are quite a few empty stores/buildings in the city since the closure of BHS amongst others.

Kings Square used to have seating, water features and I remember the stepping stones over the water. It's been an ice rink, held small funfairs, markets etc, but in 2006 they drained the water after vandalism and this week it looked like this.

The plans as seen below appear to be to reintroduce the water features to the area, but I've no idea of the timescale involved.

This is what it looked like in 1979 photo used from Gloucestershire Live. I've taken my photo from the right of Debenhams department store, looking back this way.

It'll be a while before I go back into the City centre, but It'll be interesting to see how it develops and how long it takes.

Have you visited this area? Do you remember it looking like this? 

Saturday 26 September 2020

Week 39 - Out of isolation and a new normal.

My 2 week isolation was up on Tuesday. I'm going out every day with Bob, I've missed the freedom to just go out and about. I'm only shopping for essentials, as and when and my main food shop is a click and collect, which I'll do fortnightly from now on, knowing that I can use the local shop for milk, fruit, veg etc. I'm still mask wearing, hand washing and cleaning everything that comes into the house. I need to keep well to be able to travel to see Peter.

My research covid test last Tuesday came back negative, I'm happy with what I'm doing to protect myself and others, sadly many seem to think the government are just trying to control them and have little awareness that the virus is still around.

I've ventured inside a house for the first time and had someone else in mine, social distancing has been easy to maintain. I'm still arranging outdoor visits, dog walking etc, coffee on a dry day in cafes that have outdoor and covered seating.

264 Sunday I had a better sleep but again with the help of meds. Had a whole day of doing nothing (apart from the ironing) I read, watched TV, wrote letters, sat in the garden and had an afternoon nap.

265 Monday Finalised my shopping list for tomorrow. My plan is to get everything in one go while I'm in Gloucester tomorrow as my car won't be ready till late afternoon. Another day of doing not a lot other than some more work on restoring my old dolls house.

266 Tuesday Out of isolation and off to Tewkesbury to get my car serviced. Caught the train to Gloucester as the car won't be ready till 3pm. It was a 25 minute walk to the station. The first time I've been into a UK city since pre lockdown. I had planned to visit child 1 for a garden visit and chat to the staff about coming out for a walk with us, but visits to care homes have been stopped again. It was actually a pleasant trip and I wore my mask the whole day, even outside due to a minority of idiots not social distancing. Am pleased to hear store staff are now required to wear masks as many weren't and were too close to customers.

267 Wednesday Dropped some stuff off with a friend then onto spend the day with Child 2, 2a and 2b. This is the first time I've been in someone else's house. I got home at 9pm ish and went straight to bed, the cat was very shouty when I got home. I'd taken Bob with me for the day.

268 Thursday I slept 10 hours, straight. I'm out and about from now on with Bob regardless of the weather. We walked into town, I started off with a take away coffee, but moved indoors due to a sudden down pour The rest of the day was spent watching TV, blogging, tidying things away and general nothiningness.

Malvern Priory.

269 Friday Bob and I walked to the retail park, got a coffee but sat outside, Bob whined the whole time, he thinks if we're out we should be walking non stop. I cleaned downstairs and scrubbed the kitchen floor. Chips and wine with my friend Debbie, indoors.

Trying on his new Christmas jumper.

270 Saturday I didn't sleep well, think it was the chips. Up early, car parked and off with Bob to Burnham on Sea for the weekend. Bob spent most of the day off lead and loved every minute of it. We stayed in a Travelodge and got dinner from the nearby Asda.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - Ain Dubai, the worlds tallest ferris wheel 

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Friday 25 September 2020

25th - 27th September - Post Comment Love

There have been some great posts linked up with Post Comment Love #PoCoLo from fellow bloggers from childcare, sewing patterns, fashion tips and many other subjects during lockdown and I've really enjoyed connecting with a wider blogging community.

I finished my 2 week isolation this week and had 2 full days out with getting my car serviced and visiting our grandchild, the weather has turned now after 2 glorious weeks and Covid has scuppered by plans for going away this weekend with parts of South Wales going into local lockdown.

All the outside jobs have been down now, but I do need to find someone with ladders that can fix the guttering as the rain is just pouring down the external walls.

Having a few days off now before I start re painting the internal doors that my husband had to adjust for the new carpets and I've been renovating my old childhood dolls house, which also needs painting now.

Stephanie and I would love you to link up a post you've written this week with us at Post Comment Love #PoCoLo

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Sunday 20 September 2020

Ain Dubai - World's tallest Ferris wheel.

Underneath the Dubai Eye - The World's tallest Ferris wheel which stands at 250 meters high. The London Eye is 135 meters.

The land where I'm standing was being built in the sea in January 2013 when I first visited Dubai. You can see the photo's of the Bluewater Island and the Dubai Eye or Ain Dubai to give it, it's correct name.

There were 4 pods on when I visited in August, my husband informed me last week more pods have been added. It'll be interesting to see how much it has changed and whether it's open when I go back in November. It was supposed to be opened in time for Expo 2020, however that has been postponed till next year.

Week 38 One Daily Positive - Painting sheds and a dolls house

Getting no more than 4 hours sleep a night, but it's really not enough for me and I'm unable to exercise due to isolating, I'm finding myself just eating and dozing on the sofa during the day. I needed the first few days to recover from the flight and the jet lag, but I need to kick my arse into gear now and get motivated.

We Iive next door but one to a large primary School. it's been nice hearing them out in the play ground. Mary told me she has to wear a mask on the school run due to the size of the drop off area. I've been surprised to see no masks being worn outside our school. I'm really not looking forward to being out and about next week. I have to have my car serviced soon and will be spending the day in Gloucester, apart from stopping for a take out coffee, I will be wearing my mask outdoors as well as in the shops.

257 Sunday Up early and sat blogging, replying to comments and catching up with comments from the linkies. Put the washing machine on, got dressed and spent the day in the garden, some weeding, lawn edging and painting the shed, swopping between jobs. I cooked myself a roast dinner which I ate around 3pm with green beans I grew myself.

258 Monday Arranged a zoom call with Age Concern who I'll be volunteering with once I'm out of isolation. Chased up a refund from a private covid test that couldn't give Peter an appointment within his required timescale for returning to Dubai. Still chasing the shipping company for a date so I can finalise flights and house sitters for my return to Dubai and confirmed my attendance at the night Golf in Dubai in November. Also ordered a few things online for the house and stuff to take back to Dubai for Peter for Christmas that I was unable to source out there. Started painting the shed.

259 Tuesday Finished the first coat on the big shed, Peter replaced panels on his last visit, the wood just absorbed the paint, it says 'one coat' but it'll have to be two. I took my covid test to the nearest, approved post box. Bob was so excited to go for a walk. Sadly an encounter with 3 teens from the local school and their refusal to social distanced resulted in me being told to 'go fuck myself' The afternoon was spent gardening and edging the back lawn. it looks so much better.

260 Wednesday Started the day washing and ironing, painted the gate posts and panels and the first coat on the small shed as well as the inside of the big shed. Finally my door from Wickes was collected, it's been sitting in the hall way since the end of July. Food shop arrived. I'm still washing everything that comes into the house, that way I can relax and carry on as normal within my home. I finished edging the front lawn. turned cold really quickly this evening, so I had an early bath, dinner and watched TV. Bob has missed his walks, but is happy playing and sunbathing in the garden.

261 Thursday Second coat of paint on the shed. I cleared my shed out and created a little area where I can sit if it rains. A few DIY jobs to fix the bike store so they're secure. Tidied everything away, did some batch cooking for the freezer and made some cakes, spent the evening online with the TV on in the back ground.

262 Friday Slept for 8 hours, I did take half a valium though. Feel much better mentally, but physically my chronic pain is letting me know I've over done it with the painting and gardening during isolation.  Finished tidying up the loft bedrooms, ready for painting. Started renovations on my old dolls house, wrote 30 letters for #postcardsofkindness, had chips and wine as usual.

263 Saturday Didn't sleep well and battled with a migraine all day, managed to mow the lawns and did a bit more work to the dolls house. I feel like the cat looks today.

On the blog this week:

Am I an ex-expat, a re-pat or what? My repatriation journey

My Sunday Photo - Before and After the completion of the new Metro in Dubai

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Friday 18 September 2020

18th -20th September 2020 - Post Comment Love

My last week of isolation and all the outside work is done, garden prepared for winter and the sheds and gates painted. I've taken some time to just rest this week, been reading and just chilling out, mostly in the garden as I really love being outdoors. I managed a cup of tea in the garden around 6-7am in Dubai, but then it gets too hot to enjoy being outdoors.

I had a hospital appointment this week with the haematologist to try and get to the bottom of why I'm not storing iron. It's been a journey over 3 years, including seeing an oncologist and a bone marrow biopsy. My only physical symptoms are lethargy and breathlessness, it's all been blood test led investigations. Basically it's iron infusions from now on every 4 months and apparently my white blood cell count just goes up and down, probably stress related, but I could've told them that without a bone marrow biopsy.

I've a few family visits in the planning for next week and I'm also hoping to take Bob camping to South Wales for a few days before it gets too cold.

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week.

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Wednesday 16 September 2020

Ex expat or Re-pat? My repatriation journey.

Since planning our return to the UK, I've read a lot of blogs and posts in expat groups about how hard repatriation is.

There's a lot of negativity around about going home, how it's not the same anymore, how people aren't interested and how difficult it is to slip back into their old lives.

This is something I've been worrying about. For the past (almost 10 years) I've not settled living as an expat. I've dealt with not being able to get a visa to work, having to make the tough decision to send the youngest child back to the UK for boarding school, dealing with empty nest syndrome when the last child left home, tenants from hell requiring court evictions and serious financial costs and damage to our family home and the sudden death of my father, 3 years ago.

Being on a residents visa (not allowed to work), living in a country where voice over internet is banned, coping with my husband travelling with his job, has left me feeling isolated from family and friends, a loss of identity from being a working mum, to someones mum, to someones wife has been hard and with no company support, I've struggled with getting things done, from paying bills, to buying a car to moving house several times and countries.

We bought a flat in South Wales 4 years ago, so we had a base for people to come to us, so we didn't spend all out trips to the UK charging around the country, spending a fortune on hotels and sleeping in spare rooms and on air beds.

We claimed our family home back in December 2019 and made the decision for me to return to the UK with the cat and dog and get house sitters for me to travel back and forth to see Peter. However, Covid has stopped us in our tracks, but this is something everyone around the world is going through. 

We're not moving back into our old lives, Peter will be retiring and I will be venturing back into the world of work. I've started volunteering locally, have police checks from previous countries in place and updated my CV. I did teach for a year and have worked hands on with a couple of charities, long term, since we've been abroad.

We have a grandchild now, kids living abroad also, our family home still suits our needs and the location is perfect. We have a couple of friends in the area, we may move house, but won't be moving town. 

Things have changed dramatically in the UK since we've been away, the way we do things, Brexit looming etc, but we don't have to deal with visas, we're doing the move without the help/hindrance of HR. I'm not relying on waiting for other people to get back to me.

I still have a few years ahead before the UK becomes our full time home again and I do still hold a residents visa to live abroad and am satisfying the requirements for the UK as well as for my visa, so I guess technically I'm still an expat for the time being.

Maybe I'm just become a 'when we'

In South Africa, we met a group of long term expats, 40+ years of living abroad, they described ex-expats who had returned to their country of birth as the 'when we's'

Sunday 13 September 2020

Dubai 2020 Metro extension - Al Furjan. Before and After.

Another game of spot the difference from Dubai. 

Photos taken 17 months apart and the new metro line through Discovery Gardens and Al Furjan opens later this month.

The metro is fully automated, no driver. The track extension runs from Nakheel (near the Marina) to the Expo 2020 site, which has been postponed until next year, due to covid. This is one of 7 stations on the 15km extension which will eventually link up to Al Maktoum airport. 11km elevated above the ground and 4km underground.

April 2018

September 2020


Saturday 12 September 2020

Week 37 - One Daily Positive. Back in the UK.

I'm not really sure what's happened to this week. I was mentally prepared for my flight home, until 2 hours into the flight a woman was out on the end of the aisle, blocking my space and causing me to have a panic attack. I was really upset by the whole experience as I'd been giving the row due to my anxiety about flying, then without consultation the supervisor on the flight, moved someone else due to their needs.

the whole week has been stressful, I'm grateful to be isolating for 2 weeks so I can just ground myself, catch up with sleep and recover from a horrendous migraine and chronic neck pain.

I'm also getting a bit despondent with blogging and sharing thoughts and feelings on social media. Stuff I post is being taken out of context and rather than asking me what I'm talking about, it's being fed back to others and has potentially caused us some issues we have to deal with.

250 Sunday Oh my god, my stress levels went through the roof today. Went to the happiness centre to get a cancellation certificate for the insurance company, left less than happy. I had all the documents I needed, but as is typical, when I got there, I needed more. I had to go to Deira, thankfully with covid the roads aren't as busy as normal, but I'll save it for another day. Spent 40 minutes at the bank waiting to be told, 'why you here, Miss Suzanne? I told you I will close account for you' Great and thank you, but the phone call you promised to tell me it was all done, never came, hence why I had to check. I stopped off a mall for a coffee and there was a fab sale on in GAP so I bought all the small kids clothes for Christmas.

Out for dinner at Bluewater Island, we were the only diners in there. After 5 years they're finally putting the pods on the eye.

251 Monday The morning to Deira went smoothly, in and out in 30 mins, I did get barked at for only having a digital copy of the insurance, which yesterday was acceptable and I had to use the ATM as it was cash payments only. Home to pack, dinner, movie and an early night.

This may look a great way to spend the afternoon, but I was only on the beach long enough to take this photo. the sand burnt my feet, the sea was as warm as the bath and the air was hot.

252 Tuesday Up at 4am to the airport. Presented my covid test which is booked and sent via an app, but the woman at check in wanted the digital copy showing the testing time, which I couldn't produce. Most of the airport lounge is sealed off to stop people being too close together when walking through, however as soon as you get on the plane the social distancing stops. On arrival at Heathrow it was sheer chaos, thankfully my car was brought to me and I was straight on the road, with a stop for the toilet and a cup of tea. I unpacked, put stuff away, reclaimed the fridge from various house sitters. My daughter in law had washed all the bedding and mowed the back lawn for me.

253 Wednesday Up at 4am. My food shop was delivered on time, mum isn't very well and I had to try and get her a food slot, which I managed as she had been wanting to go out and do her own shopping now. Wickes failed for the 3rd time to collect a door, that's been sitting in our hallway for 5 weeks. I mowed the front garden and  spent the rest of the day on the sofa.

The cat and dog were pleased to have me home.

254 Thursday Argos delivered a shoe cupboard and a small unit for the hallway which I assembled. I'm still struggling with a migraine. I've been craving sugary foods and drinks this week, which is common when I have a migraine.

I've a tonne of tomatoes I've turned into a puree, I missed the sunflower in full bloom, but there are still a few more to come out yet. the rose tree is in flower for the second time this year.

255 Friday I sorted through all the post and yes, wrapped the Christmas gifts, it seems pointless finding a home for them as they need wrapping and posting before I return to Dubai in November. Wine and chips for dinner as per normal Friday night routine.

256 Saturday Up early again, mowed the back garden, cleaned the top floor bedroom which was storing items of my dads and child 3's things while he's in Australia (it's been 3 years since he left the UK) It's all now in the eaves with easy access. We'll be using that bedroom as our loft. Plans made for next week to include hanging all my dads car badges and pub signs on the shed door after I've painted it. I've the main shed also to paint, finish the gardening, weeding and edging the lawn and painting all the interior doors which Peter had altered after having new carpets fitted.

On the blog this week:

Day out with my dog - Camping with Bob 

My Sunday Photo - Spot the difference - Construction projects in Dubai.

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Friday 11 September 2020

11th - 13th September 2020 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to the UK. The weather certainly is different, sunny and warm, but not hot. At least I can sit outside and I've returned to an overgrown garden that will keep me occupied for my 2 weeks isolation.

I arranged a food shop to be delivered for the day after I got back and my neighbour and good friend has said she'll drop off anything I need during this period. The cat and dog were pleased to see me, they've been looked after by a friend of a friend for 10 days, child 5 for a week and child 2 and his family for a weekend, over seen by a close friend and neighbour who did the last few days. Poor Bob can't understand why we're not going out for walks though.

I know a lot of people who are ignoring the isolation period after returning from a holiday. Dubai was much nicer in terms of how covid is being handled and I felt much more comfortable there going out and about than I do in the UK. I had to have a covid negative test to be able to fly out of Dubai.

Dubai put social distancing measures into place early March and closed schools at the same time, it felt similar to that again this trip. They had curfews, mask and glove wearing was compulsory even outdoors and alone in your car, but this has been relaxed now, just mask wearing and social distancing when you're indoors, which in Dubai, due to it being summer means for your entire visit to the malls unless you're seated having food and/or drink. You are still to wear mask though when outdoors in populated areas, such as the car parks and several tourist spots. It was hot, but not uncomfortable.

I've a few other jobs to keep me busy, such as repainting the internal doors as my husband had rehung them to fit properly after having new carpets and painting the new wood on the shed, both inside and out. I've plenty of time to be doing it all before the next task ahead which is unpacking our belongings which are expected to arrive late October/early November, before I return to Dubai for the winter.

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week.


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Monday 7 September 2020

Camping with a dog in Oxfordshire, Barefoot Campsites - Day out with my dog

 Bob and I were invite to join friends camping at Barefoot Campsites in Oxfordshire for the weekend. The weather was reasonably good, some rain, but it didn't;t interfere with our planned activites, a walk to the pub and we managed to get the tent dry before packing it up.

Bob has been camping with me many times, all in South Africa. He does get a bit smelly, but it doesn't interfere with his eating or sleeping, he's just happy to be outdoors as much as possible.

It was a long drive to Oxford, dropping Peter at Heathrow, back to Bristol for a COVID test so I could fly the following week. I was surprised at how much space there was for Bob to have a walk and stretch his legs at Reading Services on the way to Bristol and back to Oxford.

I have a super long lead for Bob so he can explore but not escape, he has NO recall at all.

Given half the chance, he would have spent the day in the tent.

The scenery was stunning alongside the Thames for walking.

Whilst the sheep were fenced off from the path, the cows and bull weren't and people were letting their dogs run straight through the gates into the fields.

So after lunch and a pint, Bob and I decided to walk back along the main road, which was 7 miles to avoid the livestock and inconsiderate dog owners.

The rain held off mostly, but we were both dressed for the weather.

We stopped at another pub for a rest and I purchased some flowers from a house selling them on the side of the road.

The last mile back to the camp site.

Both Bob and I slept well that night.

I'm hoping Bob and I can go camping again towards the end of September when I'm back in the UK and have done my 2 weeks isolation. Wish us luck with the weather as we're planning to go to the beach.