No News Monday….

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It’s been a funny sort of day, one of those days when nothing seems to happen but before you know it it is almost bed time.

There have been no farting tubes of toothpaste, the oven continues to work, BA have still not sent me that damned flight confirmation and I have managed to go cold turkey on the Sainsbury’s website – I have not been on there once today.

Rest day and a good job – I have very weary legs. Spinning tomorrow……..

So, yes, a very mediocre and uninspiring day all in all. Not even the slightest hint of chaos or a dilemma to recount…..bit disconcerting really…

But tomorrow is another day….

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Sainsburys Stupor & Cheeky Children….

As an ex-pat in Saudi Arabia, there is little more exciting in life than going online and doing a Sainsburys order ready for the next visit to the UK. Yeap, sad I know but there it is.

It is a truly liberating experience and one which should never be underestimated, only my comrades here in the desert will understand the enormity of this treat. The feeling of unbridled shopping and ordering forbidden fodder here in Saudi is quite frankly mind-blowing.

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You actually find yourself transfixed by the computer and as the array of goodies unfurls itself in front of you, you become more and more animated – until you can almost taste the bacon and vino and start to slobber on the keyboard.

Your eyes become bigger than your tummy and available time to eat it all while in the UK – not to mention the effect on your wallet.

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And then you realise that actually you are salivating over a computer screen and that  you have managed to work yourself into an absolute frenzy about a Sainsbury’s order that is still a week away. The disappointment is crushing, devastating in fact.

OK, now that I have unburdened myself with my disappointment, devastation and drooling over the computer screen, I had better look lively, get ready for my run and burn off the pent up emotion relating to having to wait another week before taking delivery of my Sainsbury’s order.

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On the bright side, at least I have another few days to order more….

The cooker is fixed, thanks to the wonderful Apol, so emaciated chicken for tea….

Full report on tonight’s run to follow…

Well chiffin’ heck – tough run tonight. Heavy legs and tight hips – ouch! But I did it, shorter distance but despite that good pace and no stopping. Those damned gremlins were in full flow but got very short shrift and retreated from whence they came!

Just wondering if I am still recovering from the longer run of two days ago, it is either that or that I burnt myself out today with the excitement of the Sainsburys order.  Time will tell.

Whatever way I did it. Spinning as the next couple of training sessions, off to the UK next weekend and actually excited about the prospect of running in The North Yorkshire Moors, (no that was not sarcasm, I am genuinely looking forward to it).

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That said, it’s a good job that I am looking forward to it, I will be out there whatever the weather – the nearest gym is 25 miles away.

So, coming home from my run tonight I was greeted by my oh so loving son as he was reclining on the settee. He managed to glance up at me and point out quite bluntly that I smelt soooo sweaty – charming. As if it is so easy to get him in the shower! Next I heaved myself up on my tired legs to go for a shower, (yes, he should have been pleased about this), when I groaned about my aching legs. His comment?, hmmmm……oh so politely he said, ‘well of course you have a bad back, you are getting old now’. Just to rub it in he repeated his comment once more of good measure, smirking uncontrollably at the same time..

Now there is only so much that a sweat ridden, weary Mum will cope with and two insults in close succession from a cheeky and impudent 7 year old who has a birthday in a few days and will frankly be lucky to make it that far, was quite frankly a step too far.

So, off came the sweat soaked t-shirt and it was unceremoniously applied all over the cheeky 7 not going to make it to 8 year old. After giving him a thorough rubbing down I think that he may have got the message – at least I hope so. Now, I just need to shoehorn him into the shower – I did honk and the t-shirt was foul!

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Oh, chaos reigns as usual in our house….

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Rescued By The Pizza Delivery Guy & Emaciated Pigeons…

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Slight crisis in the kitchen tonight, everything planned, (for once), 2 chickens waiting for roasting, potatoes ready for the oven, veg ready and waiting…………..

……and a broken cooker! Yeap, it managed to limp to about 10 degrees, wheezed and was immediately overcome by stress and refused to do anymore.

Crisis! Too late in the day for a maintenance call, one small hungry man who had already started scavenging in the fridge and no cooker – oooppppsss….

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God bless the compound food delivery guys! Hurrah! J thought all his christmases had come together as he was allowed pizza on a school night, himself chomped his way through a curry and me? Well, beans on toast for me – life in the fastlane here!

If you are wondering why there are 2 chickens for 3 of us, well there is another story. For some reason in Saudi Arabia chickens are tiny, not sure why but they are tiny. Imagine a pigeon and put it on a diet and you are about there. Not much meat and chuffin’ big bones!

I once went to the quality butchers in town, (Forsan),  and was really pleased to see really good size chicken breasts there. Encouraged by this vision, I asked the philipino butcher where these chicken breasts had come from and could I buy one of the chickens in it’s intact form. Now, there are a lot of philipinos, (and other nationalities), working in Saudi and as a rule their english is pretty damned good but every now and then you get somebody who struggles somewhat – but hey lets be honest about this, their english is still much better than my absolutely non-existent filipino so maximum respect.

So, back to the mutant chicken breasts, either there was a communication breakdown and secretly Forsan Butchers, (there is another tale about that name, but later), have a secret supply of mutant chickens or there is something very odd going on.

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Despite the butcher standing on one side of the counter and me on the other, with a tray of very good sized chicken breasts between us, he categorically denied that they had any bigger chickens. I asked very politely where the featured chicken breasts had come from and just got, ‘no ma’am, no big chickens’ in reply. I asked to see one of the shop’s whole chickens and was presented with a standard Saudi emaciated pigeon wannabe. Eventually the butcher’s english and my attempted reasoning both reached maximum capacity and I had to admit defeat and stick with the standard issue.

Now this situation has perplexed me for sometime as somewhere there have to be larger chickens that make the ultimate sacrifice to supply the customers of Forsan with good size chicken breasts – but the exact location is a mystery. I have found myself surmising as to whether or not they are from abroad and imported, but then import some decent sized whole chickens please!

I have reached the grand conclusion that over the last few months I have spent too much time musing this issue and wasted too many brain cells on it. The fact of the matter is that you cannot buy a decent sized chicken in Saudi Arabia, hence why 2 is essential for a roast – J pretty much consumes a whole one on his own.

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Oh yes, Forsan. Well, in my own inimitable fashion I have a problem with this name, (say it out loud and you may get the gist of my problem). You see one day somebody pointed this out to me and it stuck in my head like some sort of automatic switch. This is not really a problem when I ask himself to drive me there, he just rolls his eyes and ignores me now, but to anybody else it is an issue. It is not the fact that we live in one of the most conservative muslim countries in the world as to be honest the people I would talk to about this shop would just laugh, (a lot and for a very long time), and the drivers who I would ask to take me there would just do a double take – I would hastily cough loudly and fudge over my mistake. No it is the embarrassment factor and the fact that it happens at all and that it is now so deeply engrained into my brain and my psyche. So, whenever I go to say the name of this particular butcher’s shop I have to physically pause, concentrate and focus on saying the right word.  While this strategy does make me look and sound a bit simple, it does work and of late there have been no mispronunciations – but perhaps I am tempting fate and as this week we need some chicken sausages and so I am going to have to utter the name and ask the question…..

Rest day today and boy did I need it – aching legs or what. As I sprung out of bed this morning, (OK, crawled, the last time I sprung out of bed I was about 8), I knew that I had worked hard on my run last night. Have loosened up over today but blimey – that was a shock to the old system.

So, maintenance call tomorrow and doubtless the kitchen will be full of philipino maintenance men scratching their heads, taking sharp intakes of breath and frowning at the state of the cooker. But like the butcher, as their english is a million times better than my Filipino and their knowledge of cookers outweighs my knowledge of how to switch it on, I will bow to their superior know how and skill, make them a very english cup of tea and retreat to the safe distance of the lounge to look forward to tomorrow night’s offering of emaciated pigeon.

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Surreal Saudi Arabia………

Who says there is no Christmas in Saudi – the Salwa Christmas tree is up and lit up in its full glory!

Surreal experience every year, but hey ho nothing beats singing carols in the desert in your flip flops!

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Good day today, out of the Facebook sin bin, superb response to the sporting challenges with incredible support from absolutely everyone and to end it all great training run – hurrah! I will never be speedy but I sure keep going – extra distance and a great endurance run!

Right, off to rest my weary legs!

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Yyyyiiipppeeee…………..

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Whoop, whoop! Looks like I am off the Facebook naughty step, all is forgiven and I am able to send invites again!!

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Wow, Thank You!

Wow, loving all the support from everybody after launching the Spinathon, swimming challenge, junior swimming challenge and marathon events of the Facebook EIOT page – thank you!

People are already signed up for events! Thank you! I will crack on with the sponsor forms and the planning and will keep everybody posted on all the plans.

Brilliant!

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Flies, Spies And Earlyish Mornings…….

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So today was officially a rest day – quite a relief as I have actually been a tad stiff today from the excesses of Spinning® yesterday and today would have been an ideal day to crawl back up the stairs to check the bed temperature after waving the small man off at the front door, (if you are wondering what the heck I am on about, check back through some previous posts).

Alas no, a shock to the system this morning – I had to be at school at 0800. Now those of you who still do the school run will be scoffing at this, but believe me when you get into the routine of booting the boy out of the front door in your pj’s every morning and have been known to crawl back into bed afterwards, then yes it is a bit of a shock to the old system when you have to be up, awake, dressed and at school by 0800.  A complete shock to the system.

Anyway, I made it into school, said my goodbyes to the legend that is Mrs N who is leaving, then legged it back home.

So, to get me out of the house I pretty quickly retreated to the newly refurbished King Pin Diner complete with various Apple gadgets and took up residence to tackle my admin backlog.

Now, the newly refurbished King Pin is pretty fab and a massive improvement. However, there is one downside – flies. Flies in Saudi tend only to be a problem at certain times of the year, when it is cooler, the rest of the time they just fry and even they admit defeat and go into hiding. So, cooler weather and flies at the moment.

This morning King Pin was pretty much a fly haven and as I arrived Darwin, one of the waiters in King Pin, was wondering around trying to swot them with a rag but without much success.

After just a few minutes the flies had got the better of me and having asked Darwin about a fly swat, which was answered with an apology, I decided on decisive action.

One quick cycle home, a fly swat and the fly spray fetched and I was back at King Pin.

So, Darwin and I spent a very productive half an hour armed with a fly swat and fly spray!  Much hilarity ensued and hurrah, for a short time King Pin was a fly free zone – although having said that the number of corpses on the floor was quite off putting as I tucked into a salad later!

The residents of Salwa who frequent King Pin may be pleased to know that I have donated the fly swat to Darwin who seemed rather chuffed with his new acquisition and I will of course make sure that the fly spray is with me on all future visits.

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Regular readers of my Facebook page will know that along with my jinx on all things travel related, (resulting in even my family now refusing to travel with me), I always have a habit of causing issues with the websites of large, corporate businesses with IT infrastructures which you would assume would take the brain of a 15 year old computer geek to hack into.

No, this forty something is pretty effective as it as well, even if all my efforts are completely unintentional. Remember when I crashed the Sainsbury’s website with my booze and bacon order for a trip back to the UK and even the techie guy at Sainsburys was baffled? Or this week when I finally got round to phoning BA about Luce’s missing Skyflyers confirmation to be told that the computer system had failed as I placed the booking and so it had been booked in a random way that was going to take 5 days to fix?

Well today I have upset Facebook and been blocked. Apparently this is an automated block that will be lifted in due course when Facebook or the software deem I have served my time and done my penance.

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I wouldn’t mind but all I was doing was sorting out the events for the fundraising, (Swimming Challenge, Junior Swimming Challenge, Spinathon and marathons), and sending out invites – but no the software did not like it and for those ‘Little Britain’ fans:

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So I have been officially sent to the Facebook sinbin and until they decide that I am contrite and will not reoffend then I can send out no more invites and big brother is watching me.

So, some of you have had event invitations and some of you haven’t. All the events are now on the Facebook page and I would love you to take a look please. Once the block is lifted I will try once again to issue invites, but if big brother does not approve then I will be blocked again and there is a threat of a complete block hanging ominously over my head!

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So, as my day concludes and I find myself on a Facebook blacklist, I find myself wondering what tomorrow will bring and whether or not the block will be lifted or if BA are going to have sorted out their IT glitch or whether or not I should run the gauntlet and place a Sainsbury’s order for my UK visit in a couple of weeks.

I think that for the sake of the world in general I will just sit and read a book…..

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Pedalling Like Crazy But Not Getting Very Far…

It is amazing what goes through your mind on a 4 hour Spinning® training ride – yes, the rain has got a bit better, (only a bit mind), but for the sake of my phone, (which is still water logged from a combination of sweat down my Dolly Parton wannabe and the deluge out running the other night), I opted for a Spin® training day.

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So this afternoon while training and passing the time on my iPad and the world wide web, I made the following, slightly eye opening revelations:

  1. I am the same age as Adele’s mum. Sobering thought there. Yeap, she too was born in the vintage year of 1970 and while I dragged my feet about the whole baby thing, she didn’t and Adele burst forth with her explosive voice when her mum was a mere 18. So while my brood are still pretty much in the ankle biker phase, her offspring is a 27 year old, multi award winning, multi millionaire, MBE holding superstar and mum. So, in theory I could be Adele’s mum and grandma to her little boy. Now I must have a serious chat to Luce – I am not in a rush to be a Grandma but I could certainly live with her being a multi-millionaire by her mid twenties….
    Waving-HelloThis is not the first time that I have been bluntly reminded of my more advanced years for parenthood, (not least of which was being referred to as an ‘elderly primagravida’ when I was 35 and pregnant with Luce – as J would say ‘how rude’…..). Danni was our childcare support when we led our mad, professional lives in the UK and often picked up the childcare pieces when the world collapsed around our ears. After one eventful day Danni came home looking exasperated, (nothing new there being involved in our household – she deserved a medal), and the conversation went something like this;Danni: ‘I am so fed up with everyone thinking I am the kids mum’, – at this stage Luce was around 4, J was around 1 and Danni was around 21.
    Me: ‘Well technically you could be, don’t worry about it. Actually technically you could be my daughter’
    A pregnant pause ensued and then Danni came out with the revelation;
    ‘In that case you could be your kids grandma.’I hasten to add that against the odds Danni walked away from that situation relatively unscathed and to this day still plays an active and important role in our family life – although it was touch and go for a while!
  2. I can still stun a seven year old into silence – not mine I hasten to add, those days have gone. Thanks to the rain, school was closed today, (as I mentioned yesterday rain here has the same effect as an inch of snow in the UK – general panic, chaos and a battening down of the hatches).  He spent the day pretty much exclusively with his buddy, T, shuffling between various venues over the course of the day according to what console they wanted to play on, off to T’s for the Xbox 360, over to us for the Wii U, anywhere at all with a power supply for iPad activity charging. So this afternoon the boys were ensconced with the Wii U and I started my Spinning® training in the lounge while occupying myself with various episodes of different UK TV series. J is never phased anymore by any of the more eccentric activities that go on here, (usually involving sporting activities, extreme ironing, panic cleaning after a manic sandstorm or me wailing like a banshee when it becomes clear that he has stashed all his dirty school uniform in secret places and so all of a sudden he has no clean clothes for school), and he just usually tuts as he avoids whatever activity is underway and carries on with what he is doing – yes even me screaming. However, poor T has not had any preparation for this and so when he came running out of the study at full speed he stopped dead in his tracks as his brain got to grips with the sweat ridden sight of J’s mum in front of him, on a Spinning® bike and in front of the TV in the lounge. The poor lad froze to the spot for a few seconds, his mouth opened as if to ask a question but nothing came out. J on the other hand glanced in my general direction, scavenged food from the kitchen for them both and then disappeared back into the study. I suppose I ought to drop T’s mum a line in case the poor soul has nightmares tonight.
  3. Rupert Penry-Jones has to be one of the sexiest men around – he certainly helped to wile away the hours as I pedalled my way through 4 hours while watching ‘Silk’.  Also, while Mr Penry-Jones’ title of sexiest man on TV, (well in my sweat ridden and blurred eyes anyway), is under no threat from the cast of ‘Friday Night Dinner’, this still has to be one of the funniest TV programmes around and a revision of the entire second series while peddling like crazy and not actually going very far this afternoon brought more than a wry smile to my sweat drenched face.9393ee9a214c01ce2eee4d4528ebc332
  4. I can still ‘out stink’ a seven year old – believe me after 4 hours on a Spinning® bike I think I could out stink out just about anything.  Stand by for 24 hours in February, I will probably have to be hosed down by people in chemical warfare kit. You know you have worked hard when your seven year old boy, who usually has no scruples about not showering or wearing the same clothes for more than one day, takes one luck at you and tells you to go and get in the shower. No mummy son hugs until after a shower then….

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From One Extreme To Another……

Well after last nights downpour the rain has carried on, and on, and on, in fact it has been pretty much persisting it down all day.

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Now this has caused a bit of chaos.

Saudi Arabia is not built for rain, there is no easy way to say it but rain is a bit of an oddity out here. Don’t get me wrong the locals love it and when it does rain they dash out to the desert at great speed to ‘enjoy’ it, but Saudi is not ready for rain.

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Rain is so uncommon here that when they were first putting the infrastructure in place, nobody thought about installing drains – basic error! While 99% of the time this is not an issue, on the 1% that it rains, then the poo hits the fan – or to be more accurate the water hits the streets and everybody dons waders and wetsuits, (OK, so that last bit is not really true but you get the general gist of what I am trying to say).

Probably the easiest way to explain it is say that it is similar to when the UK is brought to a screaming standstill by snow. You know, everything comes to a grinding halt with an inch of snow, despite the forecasters warning that it was coming. People batten down the hatches, the supermarkets sell out of food faster than you can say ‘don’t touch the yellow snow’ and everybody rushes to the front door of the nearest OAP who despite having the constitution of a 40 year old is suddenly bombarded with questions about if they need anything, are they warm enough, would they like a cup of tea and have they got enough milk and bread – when in reality all they want is to carry on reading their Jackie Collins novel while sipping on their G&T!

When it rains here then the few drains that there are fail to cope and with nowhere else to go then pretty much everywhere floods. But the floods are quite impressive, in fact they are very impressive.

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The downside of this is that people die with each rainfall. I am not going to get morbid here, so enough said about that.

So, in a nutshell everything goes pretty much to pot here when it rains and I am not only talking about out and about.

So today has been about rain, rain and even more of the damned wet stuff. The smell of dehydrated camel poo is still around and goodness knows what state the land outside the compound is in, (reference to last night’s post), I have a vision in my head of a landscape scattered with rehydrating camel poos that have taken on a mutant form and have metamorphosed into gremlin type beings intent on taking over the desert and ultimately the world.

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Oooopppsss, sorry, I got a bit carried away there. Back to reality now.

Fortunately today was a rest day so I was able to stare at the rain phenomena outside. Tomorrow is a different kettle of fish – I feel a Spinning® session with Mr Turnbull coming on!

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Now I do seem to have a problem. Today, I actually remembered to make a rice pudding, the only problem was that I then forgot that I had made a rice pudding and forgot to take it out of the oven. Now, I can hear you ask why couldn’t I smell it? Well, himself had donned his pinny, sharpened his knife and taken up residence in the kitchen to make a curry for tea. So, the kitchen and in fact the house was full of the smell of aromatic curry fragrances which by far outweighed the smell of pretty well cooked rice pudding.

However, by some stroke of luck pudding was mentioned as J was scavenging for food in the kitchen and yes, I had a lightbulb moment….

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So, the rice pudding was saved from cremation by a whisker…..

And that my friends has been the sum total of today, rain & rice pudding.

Oh yes, I did phone British Airways as well…….but that is another story.

Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

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