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!

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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:)

Back in the Kingdom!

So after a lovely, busy, enjoyable month in Scotland I’m back in Saudi. Lucky for me I have a whole month to relax before school starts again:) so I’m anticipating some serious crafting, book reading and relaxing before that happens!
One month seems like a long holiday for those at home but it flies by and is usually a bit hectic as we always seem to try to pack 5 or 6 months activities into the time. I suppose that’s natural as we have a definite deadline for getting things done or they just don’t get done until the next time. This time we managed to catch up with a lot of friends and family which is always enjoyable. One of my old school friends I hadn’t seen for many years. She lives in the south of England and was up visiting her mother. She brought her son along, who is now 27 – I’m sure he was about 8 last time I saw him! Time certainly zooms past these days. I don’t know if its different for people in other parts of the country but I find that most of my family and friends especially those who went to university just don’t return home again unless they still have parents in the area. This means that the chances of meeting up with them are limited and many years can go by without seeing each other. Another reason I am so glad for – the love it or hate it- Facebook, as at least there is a bit more interaction with each other than the annual, hastily scrawled Christmas card.
When I left Saudi Ramadan had just begun. Now it is Eid holiday and party time for the local people for a few days. This means that my husband doesn’t have to go to work til Tuesday, which is nice to have some time to relax together after travelling back. It’s traditional to give chocolates at Eid and yesterday on the Saudia flight to Tabuk we were given these little boxes of chocolates:) such a lovely thing to do and I thought – now why doesn’t BA do that at Christmas? – or a choccie egg at Easter?

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Now that I have a much more reliable Internet and a bit more time to myself I hope my blogging will get back on track again and there will probably be a lot of back tracking over my holiday. – please bear with me:)

‘Masterchef’

Yesterday the school hosted a take on the t.v. Programme Masterchef. I have a horrible feeling that we breeched all sorts of copyright laws in using their logo on our trophies and certificates but I suppose we have all become very lax about this living in Saudi Arabia where the government has only recently started to issue warnings against pirated items- mainly DVDs, CD ‘s and computer software.

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The trophies and certificates.
The very large cups were for the children and the more ‘tasteful’ Perspex plaques were for the adult winners.
One of my pupils won the savoury section and was well impressed with his trophy. Being 6 years old it was nearly as big as him!!
At the end of each term the school runs some sort of parent and pupil ‘fun’ event, sometimes opening it to the whole community. This was the case with Masterchef and there were a few entries from members of the community not directly involved with the school.
The entrants had to enter a dish, prepared at home, to either the savoury or sweet category. There were some very tasty looking dishes.

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Part of the children’s savoury table. The sushi came 3rd- and I was interested to see many of the children tucking into it afterwards! How tastes have changed in the last 10 years or so. The entry in the tagine was aThai fish parcel dish and it was the winner in this section.

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The adult savoury table.

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The children’s sweet table before it became totally decimated by eager tasters!
The chef from one of the compound restaurants was given the difficult task of judging.

20130704-163700.jpgand afterwards he presented the awards to the anxious participants.
Perhaps the best part came next- the tasting of the dishes:) half an hour later there wasn’t much left- so I think it’s safe to say- it was a very successful and enjoyable end of year event for the school.

Gecko

I’m not much of a gardener but I do like to try to grow a few things in our patch of garden. It’s been very rewarding recently to go out and pick a few salad leaves, herbs and tomatoes to add to the salad for our dinner, and know exactly how they’ve been grown and enjoy the lovely, fresh taste. A small area of the veg patch had got past it’s best and after some procrastinating it was time to take action. My husband kindly cleared the old tomato plants and I dug over the area, adding some of my homemade compost. After rummaging through my bag of seeds I thought I’d try some beet root. As I said, I’m not much of a gardener so apologies to any knowledgable gardeners reading this who might baulk at the idea of planting beet root in July in Saudi! Ignorance is bliss, as they say, and I will happily leave the results in ‘the lap of the gods’ or as they say locally- Inshallah.
When I went to get some shop bought potting compost to sprinkle over the seeds I was surprised to be met with this sight-

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2 tiny gecko eggs:)
I don’t mind these small lizards at all. In fact I think they’re quite sweet and am happy to have them live around our doorway as I’m sure they do their best to keep the mosquito population down. My husband likes them too, but has told me a few tales of Saudis at work killing them because they’re dangerous. Intrigued, I looked it up and found that it’s all tied in with Mohammed’s teachings. In Islam, the house gecko is regarded as a pest and like other pests a carrier of disease. Which, I suppose, equates to how mice, cockroaches, ants etc. are regarded in my culture. Here is the link for the info I found-
http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-152-607.htm
Have I changed my opinion of geckos? Although,yes, I can understand that geckos are possibly germ- carriers, I still think they’re cute and don’t really think that they should be killed so senselessly- but then I haven’t been brought up in the Islamic faith.

No change for me!

Well it’s a 3 day weekend for my husband and everyone else on the compound except for teachers and pupils. With only 2 weeks of the school year to go it was decided to carry on as we were until the new academic year in September.

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Of course this was met with mixed reactions and I for one will be a bit disgruntled on Saturday to have to get up for work while my husband still sleeps:(.
So with only 2 weeks to go the report cards have been sent out, most of the classes are finished their exams and already some of the children are leaving for the summer holidays. With most of the academic work behind us, my class is preparing for their class assembly- so we're pretty busy, but in a different kind of way. I have chosen to do a re-telling of the Julia Donaldson book 'The Smartest Giant in Town'.

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The children are loving it! Especially the part where the giant’s trousers have to fall down! The boy who is the giant is really hamming it up and hopefully won’t be struck with stage fright on the big day.
In school we’re also busy getting the stage and props ready.

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The children drew pictures of the houses for the town background and now the T.A and myself are enlarging their ideas and transferring them onto the walls.
Today at home I’ve been busy working on the socks for the play.

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It’s the first time my sewing machine has been out for nearly 2 years! Perhaps now I’ll get some other repair jobs done- ha! Ha!
So, with all that’s going in in my classroom the next 2 weeks will fly by and hopefully being out of step with the rest of the community at weekends won’t affect us too much.

New weekend!

One of the changes I had to get used to when I started living in Saudi Arabia was the different weekend. Here, if you’re lucky enough enough to have a two day weekend, you will have Thursday and Friday off work. The Sunday working was something even after many, many years I still felt cheated to have to get up and go into school for an 8 o’clock start! Sunday’s should be for lazy, leisurely mornings:).

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Most of the other Arab countries have Friday and Saturday as their weekend and find this more beneficial for doing business with the west. For many years now there has been talk of Saudi changing and in April this raised its head again when Oman announced it would be changing its weekend in line with the other Gulf countries. Being out of line with not only the west but with the other gulf countries meant that Saudi was falling short on potential business transactions but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking things would just continue as they had. How wrong I was! Today this man

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King Abdullah announced that Saudi Arabia will be changing its weekend and they won’t be tardy in doing so! The new working week will begin a week today! We’re now all wondering if we will have to work a 6 day week this week or will we be given a 3 day weekend? Mmmm. …I don’t really want to get my hopes up on that one…. But one thing is for sure- I’m still going to be sitting in front of my class at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning feeling that it is just wrong that I should be there!