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!


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.

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.

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.

The adult savoury table.

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.

School visitor!

Look what visited us in school today!

And it was alive!
One of the teachers spotted this scorpion crawling up the outside wall of the building this morning. She fetched another teacher to catch it in a jug- brave, foolhardy people!
All the classes had a visit from it and in my class we had a great nature & keeping safe lesson from the experience. I was pleased to hear from the 5 and 6 year old children just how much they were aware about the dangers of some of the wildlife here and how to keep themselves safe.
For the adults I think it definitely made us think how close we are living to nature even although we don’t encounter it very often on our concrete walled in compound!
After we all had a good look, and no doubt planted an image that may well be the source of a few nightmares, the headmaster took it outside the compound and released it on some waste ground. Lets hope it will live happily ever after there and not feel the need to revisit us again!

In my Saudi Garden!

From my window this morning I was cheered up by the sight of this beautiful iris that had just opened up.

20130323-222253.jpgI grabbed my camera to go out and practise the use of macro photography. I was enjoying taking the various flowers that have recently started blossoming with the warmer weather when my gardener called me to come and look at what he had found in the back garden. Curious I followed him thinking perhaps it was a locust or praying mantis and was surprised to find …..a tortoise!

20130323-222803.jpgI know a few people who keep tortoises so set off on my bike to visit them to find out if it belonged to them. Nothing definite came out of this so I posted a photo on my Facebook page and a post on the compound Facebook page and soon had a few more suggestions. Meanwhile I gave tortie some tomato, water and peas which ‘he’ chomped into with great gusto! An hour ago he was picked up by Sarah our compound animal rescue person who is going to house him with her tortoises until his true home can be found. A reasonably happy ending:)

First signs of spring!



Most people I know are surprised to hear that the winter months here in the north of Saudi get amazingly cool, with even the possibility of snow in the mountains nearby. Now the days are beginning to warm up and life is starting to come back to my garden. Today it was a joy to spend a little time there and appreciate the beauty of nature in the form of the narcissi and nectarine blossom.


Not long after dark tonight there were quite a few extended bursts of automatic gunfire! It sounded quite near so I’m hoping it was from some wedding celebration in one of the nearby social buildings. We’re terribly complacent about it I suppose but although this practice has recently been made illegal it still carries on and of course there are still accidents from stray bullets reported in the English newspaper ‘Arab News’. Not too long ago some bullets landed in one of the gardens and on the street nearby. Luckily no one was hit but that’s the problem it doesn’t seem to enter the shooters mind that ‘what goes up must come down’!

Social week.

Usually, I don’t have much contact with the local people but this last week has been an exception. It started last Thursday with the company ‘away day’ at a horse riding centre on the outskirts of Tabuk. Many of the Saudis Paul works with turned up with their families and we spent a very pleasant few hours chatting, looking around, watching the children play, drinking Gahwa and enjoying a lovely buffet of food. I met Hasan’s wife and before we left he told me his wife wanted to invite us to their house.
On Sunday evening we attended a company presentation evening for people achieving awards and some others for long service certificates. Paul was receiving his 30 year certificate and also a Spencer Tart framed print of a Saudi Door. It was a very pleasant evening and again there were some Saudis present to have a few conversations with.
Our invitation to Hasan’s house was for Monday evening. It turned out a truly memorable time. In 26 years of living in Saudi I have never been to a Saudi family home and I was both excited and a bit nervous.




Shopping and storm

Spent the morning in town shopping. Hadn’t been shopping since about July!!- well in Tabuk that is! Also stopped by the tailor to get a dress copied- a handy facility that beats any western tailoring in price but perhaps nt always in quality. My dresses should b ready on Monday as they’ll b closed for a couple f days fr Eid.
Managed a wee bit of study in the afternoon before going for a massage. Just a I was about to go the rain started. By the time I left te salon there were huge puddles everywhere ad te thunder and lightning started. Weirdly this happened yesterday about the same time and it’s forecast for tomorrow too! Spent over half an hour watching the lightning from the upstairs bedroom and attempted to catch some f it on photo. Paul and I reminisced How we regularly used to get amazing lightning storms when we lived on the airbase in the 80’s and 90’s but hadn’t seen many for years. We’re now wondering if we’ll see any ‘wadi action’ on our way to Aqaba on Wednesday.