Saudi Desert Trip.

Friday dawned with a perfect temperature for a desert trip. The area we are enjoying exploring is about 1 and a half hours drive away and although it’s a familiar route it’s always interesting to be on the lookout for birds of prey soaring over the desert or nearer to town see how various building projects have progressed since last time. Being the holy day in Saudi most people have the day off so there’s very little actually being done and until after the big prayer at noon not a lot of movement of people on the roads. This trip we turned off at a rocky outcrop which was covered with script. There were also a few petroglyphs and the writing looked Arabic but I haven’t had that confirmed by an Arabic speaker yet.

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From there we tried to navigate to a way point one of my husband’s associates at work had given him. It was supposed to be a really beautiful rockscape. However, we are not very good at staying focused and continually have to check out things on the way. Today we never actually got to the waypoint- we came very close, but the area was definitely worth another trip as the landscape was breathtaking.

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We found another spectacular arch.

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But for the first time in many trips we got a little stuck in soft sand:(

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I was still amazed at how green everything is in many places and found a spiky yellow seed pod that I’ve never noticed before.

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I can’t believe we were close to where we’ve been a few times before as everything looked so different and more impressive.
Of course I had to set up a couple of geocaches- one at the big arch and the other at the lovely spot we had lunch at.

20131022-123614.jpgWe are truly blessed to have this opportunity to experience such an amazing place.

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Felting.

A few years ago I took a felting workshop in Switzerland. I was in heaven – a whole week of being in the mountains with like minded people playing around with wool.
Sadly, since then I have done very little with the knowledge I gained.
Living in Saudi I only wear warm clothes for a short time in the winter so now that the days are a wee bit cooler I decided to wash some of my cardigans in readiness for cycling to school in the cooler mornings. One of my cardigans was becoming a bit holey so I thought it would be fun to have a go at felting it.

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So in my usual slap dash way I chucked it in the washing machine on the hottest setting and waited to see what happened. Success – it shrunk! Next a dry off in a hot tumble dryer and I had a felted cardigan to play with.

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I set to with scissors and cut it up into all its original pieces.
With a piece from the back I’ve made this cafetiere cosy.

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I’m really pleased with how it looks.
At the moment I’m not sure what to do with my other pieces. Ideas very welcome:)

In my garden

Even after living here for many years I’m never totally confident about when to successfully plant seeds and get results. This morning I tended my little herb/veg patch with the hope that in a few weeks I might have some fresh salad leaves to pick. This would be very welcome as apart from long lettuce, very occasionally iceberg lettuce and sometimes rocket there isn’t much choice in the salad leaf department to be had in the supermarket.
Whilst preparing my small patch for planting I dug up some insect larvae. I’m not exactly sure what they are- beetle things maybe? Any suggestions welcome:)

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When I went to get some potting compost I remembered the tiny gecko eggs I’d found there a few months ago. Here is what I found.

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🙂 they’d hatched. I was so pleased that I hadn’t caused them any harm last time. When I moved the canvas covering the potting compost bag this gecko ran out.

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Perhaps it was one of the hatchlings? It looked a bit big, but then I don’t know how quickly they grow.
My garlic chives are flowering at the moment and are proving to be very popular with the bees.

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As well as a beetle that I haven’t noticed before.

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Although it’s still 35 deg C here it’s lovely to find a shady spot and enjoy a little time noticing the wonderful nature that exists here.

iPhone gizmo.

My husband surprised me with this funny little gizmo called an Olloclip a few weeks ago.

20130902-224630.jpg it’s a 3 in 1 lens attachment to use on my iPhone, like this.

20130902-224817.jpg When turned one way it works as a fisheye lens; turned the other way a wide-angle and if you unscrew the lens piece it becomes a macro lens- very dinky! I hadn’t had much chance to play around until the last few days but so far I’m liking the results and extra possibilities it gives for taking photos using my phone. The only down side is that to fit it in I have to remove the cover I have on my phone and I just don’t seem to have the knack to do that easily! Anyway here are a few photos I took outside my house.

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20130902-230153.jpgjust realised I was having so much fun with the macro and fisheye that I took very few with the wide angle and it was getting dark so they weren’t very good and I deleted them! Oops!

Harris Artisans

Many years ago, when I first visited the Outer Hebrides there was very little in the way of art and craft items for sale. Possibly, there just wasn’t the tourist trade and anything made was very much for personal use and most people made their own knitwear and tweed items. Since then there has been a growing community of art and crafts in the islands and especially on Harris. Many of these talented people have settled there from mainland UK and have very much embraced the local way of life. Visiting in the summer when the days are long and the sun is shining it seems a very desirable option, but knowing how long and dark the winter months can be when the Atlantic gales are battering all in its way I’m not so sure I would last very long.
This summer, I visited a few new (to me) artisans and enjoyed some lovely chats about their work and general life in a remote area of UK. A shed definitely seems to be an essential addition and a great asset for a personal place to work. 3 sheds I fell in love with were-
The Scalpay Linen shed which smelt so good with all the wool that was being worked as well as the linen.

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The weaving loom.

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Hand spun art wool.
The food shed at Northton where you can be tempted by home baked bread, scones, cakes as well as fresh caught shellfish.

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All the purchases here are made on trust- loved the box which asks you to roll pound notes up tight to feed into the hole on the top!

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And thirdly this cheekily called ‘Northton Trading Co’ shed with an eclectic mix of items. Again, trust is an essential part of its success as you are asked to ring the bell if you want to buy anything!

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Handbags for sale.

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An inside view.
How heartening it was to think that there are still areas where people can live in harmony without taking advantage of each other so readily and that they extend this trust to us,the visitors, who come from very different backgrounds.
And how do they survive? I’m not too sure. I know that for some the Internet is a vital link for selling their goods, and perhaps for others, who have partners with regular paid jobs, the financial reward isn’t the ultimate goal. Whatever, I know I met some very happy, contented people living on the Island of Harris this summer and hope when I return next time they will still be there …and their sheds of course!

Ma’asalama.

Expat life is filled with positives and negatives. One of the great things is the selection of people you get to meet. Even here in a compound for a British company there is quite a range of nationalities. Mostly the men are British or Australian but their wives come from a diverse range of countries- Thailand, Poland, Czech Republic, Somalia, South Africa – to name just a few. The reason for this is partly to do with the itinerant nature of the men who have sometimes worked in a few other countries before ending up here or a result of both being expat workers here.
Over the years I have therefore had the pleasure of getting to know some really lovely people and becoming great friends with many of them. However an inevitable part of expat life in Saudi is that none of us will ever make it our permanent home and so there comes the time that we will leave.

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This past week has been a week of ma’asalamas or goodbyes as 3 different families have been preparing to move on to new ‘adventures’. All 3 have been in the community for a number of years so it is sad to see them go and I’m sure I won’t be alone in remembering them fondly.
Having been here for nearly 28 years I have had to say goodbye to many people and only kept in touch with a few, but now with the ‘miracle’ that is Facebook I have become reacquainted with so many. Somehow, the parting of the ways to whatever far flung corner of the world that is involved is not so sad anymore and

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as the time comes closer for my turn to ‘leave on that Saudia jet plane’ I know that keeping in touch will be so much easier than it ever was before.

It only rains on the good people!

There is a saying in UK and probably in other temperate countries that ‘the sun only shines on the righteous’! Here in Saudi Arabia the locals say that it ‘only rains on the good people’.
I arrived in Saudi in 1986 and it was a regular winter occurrence to have the most amazing thunder and lightning storms accompanied with torrential rain and water flowing in the wadis. Obviously, we were all living very wholesome lives! However, since then the winters became much drier and despite prayers for rain and some cloudy days not much precipitation occurred.
This last couple of weeks the weather forecast has sounded hopeful that we have seen the error of our ways and we waited with anticipation for the ‘heavens to open’ and give us some long awaited rain. The newspapers have been filled with reports of floods in areas north, south, east and west of us but not a spot fell in Tabuk! This afternoon it seemed like things were to change. The clouds built up, the sky darkened and a few rain spots became a heavy shower.

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Alas, it didn’t last long and the sun soon came out again.
I suppose, us Tabukkies still have to reform our characters and to push to point further- I had just had my windows cleaned 2 hours before!