Cross country to the canyon.

Using a Bedouin desert track we travelled from the Sharma road to the Duba road. I have no idea how long it would take driving non-stop but with all our stops it took us all day. It’s been a year since we travelled this route and whether it was because the weather was a bit overcast but it was like seeing some of the scenery for the first time, so I ended up taking lots of photos. Our first stop was at a huge cavern where I have placed a Geocache. The last people to search for it had been unable to find it so I wanted to check if it was still there. As soon as I got there I saw the problem- a Bedouin had decided to store some sacks of feed in the same place! Luckily, I could just reach the Geocache and rescue it. It is now in another hidey hole, close by.

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Coffee time.
From there we continued to an amazing rock art site. I believe these figures are representations of deities, but from which era I have no idea. I have found a lot of rock art in the area, but the workmanship of these is exquisite. I just wish I could find out more about them and the people who carved them.

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3 deities or the 3 spacemen as we affectionately call them!
Next we stopped at a large rock pinnacle attached to a huge rock massive. The view from the ‘saddle’ between the two was beautiful.

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We decided it was lunchtime so headed to another rock art site to have our picnic.

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We were just packing up when we had a very strange experience. A vehicle with 2 young Saudis came driving up to us. However, they didn’t get out to chat etc. but the passenger started taking photos and or video of us on his phone! As we started to drive away they pursued us with the passenger still standing up out of his doorway, taking photos!

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We now know how animals in safari situations feel!
‘Our friends’ headed off after a while and we continued our trip to the canyon, passing some amazing rock formations on the way.

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We named this one balloon rock, as one of our group flies a hot air balloon and reckoned it looked just like one.

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A striped tailed lizard.

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Desert apples.
And finally to the canyon!

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Another truly enjoyable trip which will be reminisced about when we leave Saudi in a few months.

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More socks!

Another pair off the needles:)
The unknowing recipient of these socks will be my brother who lives in London. I’m sure as winter is approaching there will be times when a cosy pair of socks will be appreciated- I hope!

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So who will be my next ‘victim’! Sadly, my stash is dwindling to the choice of 3.

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Living in Saudi Arabia and especially in the town of Tabuk means I have to either bring back my sock wool or order it and run the gauntlet of the mail and customs. So which colour combination will I choose for my sister-in-law who I’ve decided will be next for my socks. Well at least that was what I had intended until last night when I received a message from my niece who was ‘pretty pleasing’ for a pair after she’d seen the pair I’d knitted for her cousin!
2 of the yarns are Regia which I have so far used for all my socks but the other is the hand-dyed yarn I bought in Harris this summer. It feels so cosy being made from merino and bamboo that I’m just dying to see how it knits up. Decisions, decisions! Who will get what?

What will I do today?

As a teacher I am blessed with a lovely long 8 week holiday in the summer. Interestingly, that’s usually when others envy my job- at other times of the year they don’t want to know! My husband isn’t a teacher so he gets a lot less holidays which means that very often in the summer we will spend a month in UK and I will spend the other month chilling in the villa. I love the freedom this allows me to begin most days with the luxury of ‘what will I do today?’. One thing that I never get is bored, but I suppose I know that my time is limited and the school year will begin again and I will be once more back to fulfilling the National Curriculum and all the ‘paperwork’ that goes with the job.
So how have I filled my days so far?
I’m still hooked on knitting socks. My latest ‘victim’ is my brother, Billy. So far, all my sock knitting has been using Regia 4 ply and following the free pattern I received when I mass ordered a selection of wool awhile ago. I love looking at the wool I have and thinking about the person I am going to knit for. This is my choice for Billy:-

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I usually knit while I’m watching T.V. which tends to be for about an hour in the evening, but as I’m on holiday I’ve been able to go to the Ladies’ craft morning on Mondays and this has given a boost to the speed in which the socks have grown:) it’s also to great to catch up with some of the other women in the community and meet some ladies who are relatively new and I would probably not have the same opportunity to meet when I’m working.
Normally, I wouldn’t regard myself as much of a baker but today I excelled myself by baking a banana and walnut cake and some Stilton and walnut scones.
The banana cake recipe was in the ‘Landlove’ magazine that I brought back with me from UK. It required 700g bananas and as I was weighing them out I began to think there had been a misprint as this seemed a LOT of banana to me! However, it seemed to turn out fine and tasted good.

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After the sampling it got sliced up and put in the freezer- probably to be used on a couple of desert trips once the weather cools down next month.
I made the scones to use up some Laban (sour milk) that I had bought to make cheese scones at the weekend. I love cheese scones and usually buy some from a friend who makes them to sell in the compound community shop on Thursdays. However, she has gone on holiday so I thought I should give them a go. They turned out a bit thin but tasty and didn’t last long.

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I also had some Stilton in the fridge so googled Stilton scones and found a few recipes. I used one from the UK magazine ‘Delicious’ which also added walnuts. It was interesting as instead of rolling and cutting out circles it said to roll the dough into a fat sausage shape and then slice it to make the individual scones. Again, mine didn’t rise much but as they’re just for my husband and me and they taste good I won’t worry too much about that. Perhaps I should ask my friend for some advice when she gets back, but then again it’s just so much easier to get her to make them!

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So that was today- what will tomorrow bring? I have few ideas but when I wake up in the morning I know it’ll be my choice whatever I end up doing- how wonderful:)

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.