2015- what will it bring?

Beautiful way to start the year:)

Beautiful way to start the year:)

10 months ago today I repatriated to the UK. It still doesn’t feel real and I don’t think a day goes by without thinking about Saudi in one way or another!

So now it’s time to definitely look forward more and less to the past. Here’s to new ventures and enjoying the freedom of retirement!

I hope you all have a 2015 filled with peace, joy and health.:)

2014- ScottishYear of Homecoming.

Well today my husband hit me with the news that his job is being Saudi-ised and we will probably leave here on 1st March! We had been expecting redundancy but not that we would only have a month to pack up etc.and leave this country that has been our home for 28 years! I’m still a bit stunned but compared to some people I have know out here I have lots of time to sort myself out. I’m just hoping when I wake up inthe morning I will feel focused and ready to tackle all the ‘stuff’ I have accumulated in all those years- yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder and now I’m regretting my- it might be useful some day, way of thinking. So time to call it a day and tomorrow will be the first day on the path to my new life in Scotland and all the experiences that will bring.

First signs of winter.

Living in the north of Saudi and 2000 feet above sea level we experience a few cold months usually from November through til March. This year, the temperature has stayed unseasonably high but now there is a definite chill in the air and signs of the approaching winter months are all around.

The leaves on the pomegranate tree have changed colour.

The leaves on the pomegranate tree have changed colour.


The mandarine oranges are ripening.

The mandarine oranges are ripening.


And in the downtown shops the traditional Arab coats, called Farwa, are on sale.
This year's range include some bright colours.

This year’s range include some bright colours.


I went with the intention of buying 1 to take home and ended up buying 2!
My bright Syrian farwa.

My bright Syrian farwa.


And the back view.image
And also from Syria a more conservative farwa.image
I doubt that I will ever wear them out and about in UK unless it’s to a fancy dress party but for summer evenings in the garden they will be great to keep any slight chills at bay:)
So how cold does it get in Tabuk? Today it was a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 19, but later in the week they’re forecasting 0 degrees! Time to put the sandals away for a few months I think!

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.

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.

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.