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!

Abayas, Gahwa and dates.

This morning was craft morning. So I got myself organised quickly, grabbed the new sock on my knitting needles and wandered across to ‘Bunnies’ to see who was there. It was busy!
One of the ladies had completed a beautiful handmade quilt and had brought it to show. It was her first ever quilt and it was certainly a quilt to be proud of. It made me determined to get one of my long term quilt projects out of the cupboard soon and restart the process as I really love this craft.

20130408-231500.jpgGahwa pots and old Gahwa cup.

We were all having a chat and catching up with people who had just come back off holiday when Kate mentioned that an American woman who is married to a local Saudi was coming to join us. She did not come alone but brought some Gahwa (Arabic coffee) and dates to share:) so lovely. I think she finds it a bit lonely at times and although she loves her husband dearly, craves some ordinary chat with other English speaking women. She is pregnant with their first child so will be travelling back to U.S for the birth next month. I certainly didn’t expect that as I would have thought that she would have been obliged to have the baby here.
She also brought 4 abayas with decoration to sell. I got the idea that some of the others had been expressing difficulty in getting ‘nice’ abayas. She certainly came through for 2 of the women as they quickly ‘snapped up’ a couple of the abayas for 300 SR each. I heard a while back that many Saudi women were getting hassle for wearing abayas with adornment on them by the matouaya (religious police) down in Riyadh, so it will be interesting if any of the ladies have any problems here.
All in all, although I came home again without knitting a stitch, I had a very enjoyable couple of hours and a very interesting time meeting another ‘western’ woman who lives in Tabuk under very different circumstances to us other ex-pats.

Ladies’ Bank

Frustration, inconvenience, panic, bummer! Just a few of my thoughts and feelings when my bank card was rejected at the ATM machine and I couldn’t get any cash. Perhaps it was a fault with the machine? – but no, another machine spat out my card with the helpful suggestion to go to my bank.
Luckily, as I have a husband I was not completely destitute as his card was functioning ok, so we had access to money to go food shopping etc.
However, a trip to the bank was necessary to try to sort the problem of my card. As a woman with a bank account I have the pleasure of using the Ladies’ Branch of the bank- and a pleasure it certainly is. Every time I have had to go to the bank it has been a very civilised experience. Perhaps I have been lucky but unlike the men’s branch, which is always jostling with men, the ladies side has been very quiet and I am asked straight away ‘what do you want?’ (Perhaps it sounds a bit abrupt but I’m sure it is just using an unfamiliar language and no offence is intended). The women working in the bank are usually young, well dressed and made up- I know this because being in a totally female situation there are no abayas, head scarves or face coverings. To ensure no men wander in, there is a guard outside the door to the ladies’ branch.
Within 10 minutes I was on my way back home after the helpful, English speaking, Saudi female bank manager had sorted out the glitch that my new iqama (work visa) details hadn’t been entered back in January as I thought. So far, I haven’t been able to check it is now working as ……it takes 4 days to be activated! Now that’s sexual discrimination as my husband informs me his card works after just 1 day! ……So he will still be paying for the big supermarket shop next time too:)