Thursday, 30 December 2010

Oasis Living

There's a new edition of Oasis Living. Check out the online version here.

Last night in NZ




Well, the time has flown. After the Christmas rush and catching up with as many people as I could, tomorrow I fly home to Al Ain. I had a lovely day with Annie today at Sumner Beach, walking up the Whitewash Heads track then down again for a yummy coffee and toasted sandwichs. Seems like all I've done is eat, eat, eat and have the occasional vino. Like with Keri and Shirley last night.

We had a dinner catch up and are working on a get together at Lyn and Kerry's in Australia next winter, southern winter that is. I'm feeling sad to be leaving Noah when him and I are just getting to know each other. He beams when he sees me, loves to play on the floor and squeal with delight as he walks around the furniture. I hope to see much more of him on Skype, soon.

The photos are of the New Zealand Christmas tree the pohutukawa, lovely red flowers that are more common in the north; Annie smiling because she could sit down after climbing the steep hill; and the view of the beach and estuary with the city behind, a hazy view on a lazy day.

Monday, 27 December 2010

The aftermath



Well that's that for another year, peace and quiet reigns after a social few days. Number 2 son got his flights a bit muddled so only had two days with us, the early morning airport run getting me out of bed too soon. The little one was still willing after days of attention, smiley and cuddly and wanting to play. There was another earthquake or several in the night, one that woke me with aftershocks that rocked me back to sleep. How blase one gets in such a short time.

The Boxing Day shopping, a day of sport for many keen shoppers, was rudely interrupted at about 10.30 with a good shake. The town was cordoned off as glass and bricks fell into the streets. The most amazing thing was that the shocks were centred in the Christchurch CBD and surrounds, very shallow quakes that sent people scrambling and put the emergency services on high alert. Fortunately no one was injured, quite a surprise as we all stopped to look.

The two photos are of the firemen surveying the latest damage and my former local shopping centre, the best fish n chips came from one of those shops with some lovely gifts for special occasions from another. The chemist survived, for now anyway.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Day





On a much more pleasant note, Christmas day was wonderful. I got to spend the day with my family, all except Kieran and Sasi who were with her family in Cairns. Noah was fun, enjoying the wrapping paper as much as the presents. He was a delight, making a fuss of his four grandparents, uncle and extended family when they came to visit.

Noah had a great day. The pics are of his toy selection, Elmo causing us all some laughter as he waved his arms when Elmo did while squealing delight. He also enjoyed chewing Nick's pounamu toki, reading the book Kieran and Sasi sent and shaking the rattling ball his grandma bought for him. He enjoyed sitting up at the table in his special chair and eating as much as he could manage of Christmas breakfast and lunch. He held up for the day, amazing with such a houseful all making a fuss and wanting to cuddle and play.

Earthquake!

The shakey isles have lived up to their reputation. Last night at about 2am there was quite a strong earthquake, it almost tossed me out of bed and it was only a small one apparently. I'm not a great fan of the earth shaking, childhood memories of being terrified during a big one in the '60s I suspect. I lay shaking a bit, then came another and in the morning yet another.

Sitting having breakfast with Nick and Muzz there was a much bigger one, a jolt this time. The sizes are in the link above. I feel so sorry for the people of Christchurch, especially the kids who have by most accounts just settled after the big ones in September. I know that I didn't sleep much after the 2am shock.

I just hope no one is hurt and that there's not too much more damage in the war like zone that is the Christchurch CBD, such a lot of buildings either down or coming down under the bulldozers. The terrible waste of food stuffs shocked me with stories of loaders in supermarket isles scooping up the stock and transporting this, useable and unuseable dumped together in a landfill site. Such a waste when people are queueing for food parcels and eating a charity Christmas dinner.

I suppose I can understand why, the insurance companies have to be careful that people don't get sick but I'm sure that there would have been volunteers willing to sort through the piles of tinned food not spoiled. Anyhow, I know that I won't rest easy just in case I have to move quickly to a safe place.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Some home time


It's been a hectic few days catching up with people, some by phone others in person, some to make a date for next week. I've spent as much time as I can with Tim, Sarah and Noah. Noah's beginning to light up as I walk into the room, pleased to see this funny person who sits on the floor playing with him and steals kisses when she can.

Today we had lunch at Vic's Cafe, a place that has lovely smoothies and hunza pies, tasty New Zealand pies. When I walked in Noah looked at me, a bit quizzically but with a big grin, then looked at Sarah as if to say, she's here too how can that be. We had fun eating lunch with the fingers boy, he's really quick at grabbing things he's not supposed to.

I've been really enjoying having some time here, the summer weather helps. I've been tying up some loose ends and am looking forward to having things settled and sorted, a weight off my mind. The weather has been very interesting, just as it has been worldwide judging by the news reports. We've had very strong, hot winds then some rain then more winds. Colder this time. Driving back to Oxford from Christchurch, I spotted this rainbow so got out and in the cold rain to get a photo.

Tomorrow I hope to have more of an at home day so will hopefully catch up a bit on my writing, I have another one for Oasis Living due soon, and sorting my photos. I'm also looking forward to a sleep in.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Where in the world....

I'm in Christchurch, well Oxford just out of Christchurch to be exact. It's a little different to Oxford in the UK, slightly smaller and very peaceful. The Canterbury weather is true to form, 33 yesterday and chilly and wet today. It was lovely to hear rain on the roof, a novelty for this desert dweller.

The trip over was great, yes really. The journey of around 25 hours went surprisingly quickly. Where can you find a menu that would grace the finest of restaurants, service where everyone knows your name, unlimited drinks, interesting company, a comfy seat that turns into a bed and a big screen TV with good movies? That would be Emirate's business class, courtesy of an upgrade. I'm going to do it hard if I have to travel cattle class on the way back so I've put it out to the universe that I want more of the same on the return trip.

The very best thing about traveling in style is that I arrived rested and full of energy, needed when visiting a lively 10 month old. Noah is stunning, that is his grandma talking I know but it's true. He's a busy wee boy, crawling around, standing up and doing chin ups on the table when he wants what's up there. He's also very gorgeous, people say so all the time so it's not just me.
It was so lovely being able to lay on the floor and play with him, to bath him and see him off to bed. He's also a really good baby, sleeping and eating well and growing fast. A settled, happy, well loved little boy. I hope to get to spend lots of time with him, Tim and Sarah, to enjoy his first Christmas.

I'm heading to town soon to go shopping, finally doing my Christmas shopping. I suspect the city will be a bit crazy but from most accounts the Christmas rush has been quiet this year, possibly due to the year Christchurch has had. Driving through the streets yesterday I was amazed at the damage, streets still blocked of and empty lots where there used to be some lovely character buildings. It was difficult to keep my eyes on the road.

Right now I need to get moving, I've got an appointment with a small boy and his mum and dad. Photos will hopefully follow.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The drought

I don't know when I've had such a writing drought before, it's lasted a while too. I've just been so busy at work and socially. There's been heaps on, the Dubai 7's last weekend and this weekend I'm racing in my work team at the Dubai Dragon Boat Festival. I think I'm going to need all the down time that happens on the long flight from Dubai to Christchurch, that is if I actually get packed in time to go.

I've had comments so best I spend at least some of this weekend catching up. Just a quick last night story before I do. Gillie, Tammy and I went to Buraimi last night to go antique shopping. The shop I usually go to was not up to it's usual standards. We pottered in there for while before deciding to give up and go home. Three disappointed ladies headed for the border. We spotted the souk on the way and decided, why not.

I thought the man who was waving his hands when I was parking was telling me not to, not so. He was guiding me into the park. And so it went, we caused a bit of a furor wandering through the dark market with the brightly lit fruit and vege stalls. The men called out to us to come and buy their fruit and veg, we just smiled.

Then we found some dark and dingy junky shops, one in particular having some treasures. Tammy bought frankincense and a burner as a present. It smells wonderful and is one the smells of Christmas, wise men brought it so it must be good. Gillie found the necklace of her dreams, a traditional Omani design and a cool old walking stick.

Well the man in the shop said it was old when she asked. The only other customers, a local couple laughed and said that is was about 30 days old. We had a giggle, the shop keeper looked sheepish and Gillie bought a walking stick with a story. The fruit and vege man who helped me park lured us into his shop and I went home with some yummy watermelon and grapes from Iraq as well as some kumara.

We were wandering back to the car when we heard a boy yelling out to us. His mum was in the shop and looked at us, apologising. We just smiled and called his bluff, going over to the car. He was so funny, looking very embarrassed but we got to talk to the rest of his family, a very cute one year old as well as numerous other children. So very friendly. Their mum came over and we had a quick chat before we all went on our way.

The border crossing both ways was done with a cheery smile, no dramas. Last night I went shopping in another country, I never tire of saying that. Oh and I brought fruit and vege over the border, something I would be arrested for in my country. The watermelon was delicious tasting of sunshine and beach holidays.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Bits and pieces

I've had some snippets to write about, the small things, things not quite worth an entry but worth saying so I thought I'd write about some of them now.

I've been doing some writing and taking some photos for the Oasis Living magazine and the second edition is out now. The magazine looks fantastic and gives an excellent insight into Al Ain, into the lifestyle here of the ex pats as well as the local people. My work life limits how much I can do but I love being able to contribute. The hard copies are in the malls of Al Ain, for the online copy, click the link. Your feedback would be appreciated.

On a completely different topic, I've always been amused by the fact that the UAE runs on Lipton tea, yellow label to be precise. There is a misconception that it's oil that runs the Middle East, I've discovered that's only part of it. There are huge signs on the top of the cafeterias advertising that yellow label is sold here, all cafeteria seem to have these signs. A cafeteria is like a cafe only it sells a greater variety of food, mostly fast food. They are usually cheap and alway have tea.

The supermarkets are full of Lipton tea, at school there is always a flask of Lipton's waiting for us in the morning. I like it, I look forward to my small cup in the morning. I can even ask for tea in Arabic. Imagine my surprise to go to Jordan and there was Lipton's again, everywhere. On one cafeteria and nut shop there was a sign that left me considering it's meaning for a while.

"Tourist best without taste" I suspect there was something lost in translation. More about my Jordan adventures tomorrow. I'm having a home and local travel long weekend. It was too hard to get back from Tbilisi so I'll have to visit Natia another time. I've got lots to catch up on including some pool time tomorrow, it's still just warm enough to lie in the sun and relax.

It's National Day tomorrow and the city is decorated beautifully. I hope to get some photos out and about tomorrow, another reason to stay. The schools all have had big celebrations and I was privileged to be able to join in at one of my schools. I have a lovely henna design on my hands thanks to two of the teachers. Both skilled artists, they quickly drew some patterns on my hands. The henna has flaked off and the pattern is getting darker as it sets. I know Keri will be envious.

Well, that's about it. I'm sure there was something else. That's right, last night we had a party on our roof. A couple of us have set up my outdoor table and chairs on some fake grass with candles so we can sit up on the roof with sundowners and watch the sun setting. Last night we invited others, had pizza and a bit of a chat, a laugh or two. The weather is nice for outdoor living at the moment and as most are away for Christmas this year, it was a good chance to have a small gathering before we all leave. The next two weeks are hectic so best I catch my breath this weekend.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Dilemmas

What a dilemma, where to go for a four day weekend. Natia and Tbilisi are very tempting but then there's getting the flight. It seems like I have to go through lots of places to get there or home or both. Then there's Kuwait or Oman or staying home to catch up on blog entries, I'm so far behind. What to do, what to do? I'm sure something will work, at least I have a long weekend. The dilemma is, do I stay home and catch up on my photographs and writing about the last adventure or go and have another? We shall see.