That Sinking Bottom Feeling…..

You can tell it is the school holidays, not only does the house resemble a war zone but random comments are floating around which cause me to stop, consider and usually disregard on the grounds of not having a clue what is being talked about.

Today’s comments have included gems such as, ‘I am going to save up for a nuclear reactor’ and ‘I am not going to pack pizzas anymore’. Mind boggling……

Needless to say there has been some computer game playing type stuff going on which while I do not understand I listen to to make sure I know what they are up to.

Yeap, as you know the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade has landed and it is fab to have her home. Yes there have already been several skirmishes, (mainly between me and her but also with the small man), but it is fab having her here.

Layout 1

I am however slightly puzzled by her packing strategy, (or perhaps it is Matron’s packing strategy). I did mention to both that not much was needed as she has most things here already. So, imagine my confusion when I unpacked her bag to find, (and who reading this please bear in mind that the average temperature here is over 40 degrees), 2 scarfs, 2 heavy jumpers, 1 pair of jeans, a pair of mittens, numerous pairs of socks and a box of loom bands.

Needless to say it will all be making its way back to school next week.

Despite his protestations to the contrary the small man is as pleased to see his big sister as we are. Much playing, frivolity, and a couple of skirmishes, has been taking place and he has now resumed his normal sleeping position on the floor by her bed – he refuses to sleep on the spare bunk of her bed as it is pink but will happily compromise with his duvet and pillow the floor.

That said the first night of sleeping by her side was abruptly curtailed after he had made camp in her room when she used his Minion shower gel in her post-aeroplane shower, he was not impressed and took his toys away – well his duvet, pillow and Minion shower gel anyway.


All appears to be forgiven now.

Well, for those of you ho read Friday’s blog, I am sure that you will be relieved to know that this far there have been no repercussions of ‘the mob’ type. In fact Chick P and Sugar Daddy P, (wondering what I am on about? Click here to find out), appear to be very happy with my musings and quite entertained. It could be that they are lulling me into a false sense of security and I will go to bed tonight to find a horse’s head under the duvet but at the moment the signs are positive.

However, there is no news on Sugar Daddy P’s quest for budgie smugglers, there have been no reported sightings and no more screaming children and cats around the compound than usual.

I can only assume, and hope, that they have not yet been acquired.

Regular readers will be pleased to hear that the daily round of ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’ is starting to come to an end. The final two boxes of unidentified, (or maybe unidentifiable), food stuff are in the freezer and ready to be thawed out over the coming days in our, well my, pre-Ramadan and therefore major break away use up session. Today’s boxes are thawing nicely ready to be used tomorrow, they have yet to be identified as anything other than frozen chunks of something and once they have defrosted enough to allow a firm identification then a decision will be made about tomorrow night’s dinner. I would put my money on one being beef casserole and the other yet another lot of lamb stock….

So, to training. Well, yesterday was a rest day and I needed it. It did me good to have a chilled day – although after one family trip to the pool and cycling around the compound doing many different errands and repeatedly going to the shop to get the things I forgot on the previous visits I am not sure how much rest I actually achieved.

So, today was back to the pool. Blimey – what a session! Fab! All that work last week really paid off and today’s swim training was great. A combination of front and back crawl, full on and pushing myself.

My biggest problem today was a sinking bottom in back stroke. Pretty much every stroke was accompanied by that sinking in the middle feeling. I suppose that Mary Berry would call it a ‘sinking, soggy bottom’ – not a nice combination. I think it may be a hangover of my traumatic debacle with my sense of direction with back stroke last week – when actually I went in one big circle. There did appear to be a correlation between poking my head up to check that I was going in a relatively straight line and my bottom sinking.

I suppose my advice to myself should be not to look up – oh it is so simple on dry land!

So, masses of concentration to keep my midriff relatively horizontal, my head where it should be and to stay in a straight line – I think even more core work in the gym is called for. Ouch!

So, another case of tired and sore shoulders from today…….I think it was worth it, will report back tomorrow, if I can move my core that is.


11 Days to the full on swim assessment, 14 days to The Great North Swim and 19 days to the full on Swim Camp with ‘Madfish’ – ? ?

I must be mad.

OK, gym tomorrow – get ready shoulders, there is more coming.



I will be back tomorrow night, if I can raise my hands to the keyboard that is……


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Sugar Daddy P Wearing Budgie Smugglers…..Oh Dear…..

Committed and regular readers of the EIOT blog, (I am still not sure that there are any, but it is a nice thought), may well recall my fear of a few months ago of a mafia reprisal when the compound’s own Italian force of nature, Mrs P, collected some Tommy’s money on my behalf. However, wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini and a smile, she was greeted by the entire nursery plus mothers and sat through a whole sing-a-long of ‘the wheels on the bus’ and other assorted songs and rhymes.


However, the nursery had done a sterling job and raised over 800SR for the fundraising campaign so sympathy for Mrs P was in short supply and gratitude to the nursery was in abundance.

The circumstances behind this incident lay in a break down in communication between Mrs P and I, and I have to admit that as I was several thousand miles away in the UK I did find the whole episode quite entertaining – that was until I was convinced that Mrs P’s brethren had contacted ‘the mob’ and revenge was being sought, (to refresh your memory you may like to click here for the first instalment of the saga and here for the second chapter).

So last night was a small, informal gathering of some of the ‘chaps’ from himself’s work to mark the departure of one of them back to the real world. In addition there were several wives there and as the gathering was at The Lagoon Pool, (yes, the same Lagoon Pool on which I had unleashed my new found back stroke skills earlier in the day), there were quite a few children there as well having fun in the water.

baby swimming

Among all this frivolity were Mr & Mrs P and two small P’s. Now I have to say that the two small P’s are really good kids and are really, really sweet – so I suppose that that makes them sweet P’s, but they are fab kids.



Or maybe this……..




The whole family is fab and they are all like P’s in a pod



Mr & Mrs P lead a very loving and tender family,


In fact, even almost to the point of being mushy,


Sorry – there aren’t many references on the internet to British & Italian mushy peas…..











Sorry, enough of my digressing, I do apologise – even if it was, in my mind anyway, quite entertaining.

So, Mr and Mrs P, actually perhaps I ought to call Mrs P Chick P from now on,


I suppose I need to find a new name for Mr P – let’s call him Sugar Daddy P


So, I guess we have Sugar Daddy P, Chick P and two Sweet Peas – a nice little family unit if I may say so.

Sorry – I did it again, apologies.

Anyway, a fine time was being had by all with casual conversation, kids playing and good humour largely throughout.

Towards the end of the evening, when the kids were all getting tired, the sun had set and the temperature had cooled to a very pleasant point on the thermometer, a very odd conversation was struck up between Sugar Daddy P and two MAMIL’s, (yes, we do have our own MAMIL’s although out of deference to other compound residents, small children and animals they only tend to come out in their ‘kit’ in the hours of darkness).


Now, please bear in mind that Sugar Daddy P is the bilingual and long suffering husband of Chick P, our very own iconic, Italian force of nature. Yes, she of true Italian origin, flamboyant hand gestures, an incredible accent and enthusiastic speech.

Normally Sugar Daddy P is very quiet, possibly as he struggles to get a word in edgeways, and contemplative as he takes all the information in from events happening around him.

However, last night Sugar Daddy P broached the subject of budgie smugglers with our two MAMILS.

Don’t think that he was aiming his satire at out two MAMILS and their swimming trunks, no it was quite the opposite.

You see Sugar Daddy P has decided to start swimming seriously and has decided, in his wisdom, that the way forward, so to speak, is to buy himself a pair of budgie smugglers.


Sugar Daddy P is not a big bloke, he is not very tall and is extremely slim, but even so the thought of Sugar Daddy P wearing budgie smugglers is enough to send a shiver down the spine.

Now this conversation went on for sometime and I have to say that the two MAMILS, despite their tendency for wearing tight lycra triathlete suits which leave little to the imagination, did everything in their power to try to dissuade Sugar Daddy P from his purchase on the grounds of his dignity and honour, but no – he was not to be moved.

All this time Chick P was listening to this conversation in various stages of disbelief. At first she questioned whether she was translating the conversation into english correctly in her own mind and was regularly checking her interpretation with me.

Needless to say I did not really help the situation and may have embellished a few facts.


The conversation took a turn towards logistics of the male anatomy with water resistance, streamlining and energy efficiency – all of which contained a few too many details even for me.

Eventually the Italian in Chick P returned to the fore, overwhelming any acquired english reticence and inhibitions to announce that there is nothing wrong with budgie smugglers and he will buy some and he will be wearing them at The Lagoon Pool.

If the MAMILS had actually made any progress with their argument then it was now futile, Chick P had spoken and that was it – decision made.

So, stand by in future posts about scared children and animals as Sugar Daddy P takes to the water, and then sunbathing straight after. I can only hope that a towel is donned immediately on exit from the pool and the damage to the psyches of the other residents is minimal.

Oh dear……..

I think I could be in trouble for today’s post…..


Anyway, onto other matters.

Today was meant to be a rest day, but as the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade is inbound as I write and due to burst back in Saudi Arabian territory this evening, I chose to hit the gym this morning and have tomorrow as my rest day instead.

I have to say that despite the beasting I gave my shoulders yesterday, they feel surprisingly good today – I guess that is a good sign.

However, the joining information for the three day swim camp arrived by email last night and I have just had the chance to peruse the info. Ouch, my shoulders are aching already. Pool swims, Windermere swims, gym sessions, yoga sessions, nutrition lectures…….the list goes on, and on, and on…..

So yes, the daughter is inbound. With typical German efficiency so far the trip has been faultless and Lufthansa are coping with the whirlwind that they have in their care at the moment.

Anyway, best I go and try to find out why the small man is standing on the arm of the settee, (which he shouldn’t be in the first place), waving his iPad in the air and claiming he is looking for the WIFI connection. The WIFI box is around 10 yards away from him and is in full working order – there is no need for such extreme measures…..The mind boggles…


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I Am Not Impressed, I Am Seriously Not Impressed…….

I suppose it had to happen, it was inevitable and it was only a matter of time – but even though the fact that it was on its way was virtually plastered over the perimeter wall in fluorescent lights with fireworks for extra effect, I am not impressed, I am seriously not impressed.


Last week the small man in my life had a cold and he oh so generously passed it onto himself.


At this point there was a massive exacerbation in the seriousness of the condition and it rapidly deteriorated to man flu before becoming a combination of pneumonia, pleurisy, appendicitis, period pains and a broken toe nail.

Anyway, after a couple of days a recovery was achieved without too many complications.

Then last night it started with me. Yeap, first off the tickle throat, then the nose and finally the sneezing.

It was at this point that himself realised he was in trouble.

He tried to blame the small man but that didn’t work, himself was solely responsible.

Anyway, you will be pleased to hear that in my case the cold has reverted back to its normal form and has not gone to its presentation with himself of a life-threatening, potentially fatal and long term debilitating condition. Instead it is just a normal cold – phew now that’s a relief.


Now my ire towards himself was escalated to a higher level this morning as today is a swim training day and as I got ready this morning to plunge myself into The Lagoon Pool I was a tad concerned that breathing could be even more of an issue than usual with a bunged up nose.

Anyway, I was determined I was going to swim, I was not going to let a little sniffle stop me and so I spent a while watching YouTube videos about backstroke. I had been thinking recently how I ought to get to grips with backstroke before I throw myself into Lake Windermere in a couple of weeks time, so today could be my chance. I had not seriously attempted back stroke for more years than I care to remember. I have memories of sinking bottom first during school swimming lessons and I made a conscious decision aged around 8 that I would never attempt to throw my arms round again in order to propel myself along on my back in an attempted swimming fashion.

That was until today.

So, sitting in front of my laptop I watched some back stroke videos and spent some time throwing my arms up in the air in a random fashion in a reverse fashion. A glass of water, two lego models and the paperwork for the tax returns were the casualties of this research but it was worth it as after half an hour of viewing and 10 minutes of clearing up afterwards I had a reasonably good grip on back stroke – should it be needed.

The first few lengths of the pool proved beyond a doubt that actually swimming front crawl with a bunged up nose is not a good idea. I needn’t have actually bothered with my nose clip.

So, off I went with back stroke.


Now it is at this point that I started to realise how doing back stroke actually uses the various muscle groups of the shoulder in a completely different way to front crawl.

So, on the one hand breathes a whole lot easier, but on the other hand, cor blimey – shoulders!

So, I followed my new found YouTube knowledge to the letter, one arm at a time, thumb out, pinky finger in, (no comments thanks), don’t have a sinking bottom, legs straight.

I have to admit that it was a bit of a juggling act at first getting everything in the right order, but I am pleased to say I got there.

Yes, there were a few directional incidents involving big circles but hey, the eyes in the back of my head only operate in the presence of either of our off spring.


So, here I was ploughing up and down the pool concentrating hard on my arms, my bottom and yes, my nose.

Now as I have already alluded to I very quickly learnt how swimming back stroke is a completely different experience than front crawl with regards to muscles and by now my arms and shoulders were starting to scream out in pain.

Being a bit daft I carried on, the pain and screaming got louder.

I carried on.

About at this point a comment off one of the YouTube videos sprung into my mind like Zebedee on a trampoline – the comment that said that back stroke is exactly the opposite of front crawl in terms of hand position.

So, at this point in my absolute wisdom, despite the screaming coming from my arms and shoulders, I thought – hey, I bet it would be good to use my training paddles in back stroke.

OMG! The pain! The agony!

The verdict? Yes, you CAN use the paddles for back stroke, they work and yes they are just as effective. But you need to have a large whisky and a pain numbing injection in each shoulder first.

Blimey – that is hard work and being the stubborn and cantankerous so and so that I am I would not quit.


Now, with my concentrating on technique today my brain power could not stretch to counting lengths so I honestly have no idea how far I swum but it was at least a mile.

I have to say now that any whinging and moaning that the readers of the EIOT blog may have endured in the past about aching shoulders is nothing compared to what I could produce at this moment in time.

The fatigue in my shoulders is like nothing I have ever suffered before. Shoulders:Burning

Regular readers may well recall me whinging about carrying a 2 litre bottle of milk after a swim training session a few weeks ago and how I had to resort to hanging it from the brake lever on my bike. Well, I can tell you that if we need any milk today it ain’t me going to fetch it!


Anyway, I am on it, not only is front crawl a standard part of my swim training programme, but back stroke is now as well – hurrah!

I think my shoulder’s quest for world domination as they develop to a size that Charles Atlas would be proud of has been speeded up and intensified with the inclusion of back stroke.


Right, the clock is ticking till tomorrow evening when the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade arrives back and the small man has a few days off school as of today for ‘half-term’ – so all change here as this time next week we will all be in holiday and Sainsbury’s delivery mood as we get ready to head to the airport.

So, normal routine is now well and truly out of the window – stand by for an OCD type meltdown.


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iPhone CPR, Sainsburys Excitement & A 3:3 Ratio…….

Apologies for the brief respite from my random wittering on the EIOT blog, a minor crisis was underway.


A friend needed some help with her various items on computers and phones and being pretty IT literate I stepped into the breach.

Now everything went well and was sorted – and then there was the phone that took it upon itself to have the equivalent of a toddler tantrum and came seriously close to a full meltdown potentially leaving my buddy with no phone. This was not an option.

So, several hours yesterday afternoon was spent anxiously tending to there whims of an iPhone, caressing it back into life and then finally jolting it into activity with the IT equivalent of a defibrillator, copious amounts of adrenalin and a quadruple heart bypass.


Anyway, after several hours of jiggery pokery the phone lurched back from the brink complete with IOS update and with all the previous content intact as well as extra features associated with more recent versions of IOS.

Relief does not come close to the sentiment at the end of the day, I returned home and lay down in a darkened room with my legs in the air to recover. Survival of the phone was seriously touch and go on several occasions.

Oh why do I live in a ‘dry’ country?????


So, writing a blog yesterday was way down my list of things to do in my weakened state.

Anyway, all is well. The Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade is back on Friday night and then it is just a week till we head back to Cumbria! Hurrah!

The Sainsburys order is well under way!

Sainsburys orders do this to an expat......

Sainsburys orders do this to an expat……

Training continues to go well, even if a considerable amount of time has been sent trying to work out if the sleeves on my rash vest have stretched with extreme use or if my arms are shrinking. Minor point I know but hey, these things cross my mind as I trundle up and down the swimming pool.

The jury is out on the answer to my question and in all honesty compared to world famine, poverty and whether or not Jose Mourinho will be the next manager of Manchester United, the question of whether the sleeves on my rash vest are baggy because they are stretching or my arms are shrinking is pretty much irrelevant. Just wondering that’s all.

If my arms are shrinking, then my shoulders are most definitely not…..

So swimming is going well. The words of wisdom from the swimming guru Mr D about breathing are working and I have fallen into a 3:3, bilateral breathing ratio – yo, get me, I sound like I know what I am talking about!


Yeap, being able to effectively breath while swimming really makes a difference and is a useful skill to have. More practice is required but I am getting there!

Right, that concludes this evenings musings. Humorous anecdotes and goings on seem to be in short supply today, it has been incredibly ‘normal’ really and that in itself is a little disconcerting.

Mind you, that will all change when the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade arrives on Friday……..??

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

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A Double Hit, Hair Success & Darwin Awards………………

Today was one of those days when I just didn’t know when to stop. Thanks to that my shoulders are tired, no they are not just tired they are completely and utterly pooped. Yeap, they have had a double hit, a double whammy, double punch, a serious flogging and a complete drubbing.


First off today was gym day and so off I trundled to the gym after waving the small man off to school.

Blimey it was busy in there this morning, and stuffy and stinky! Never mind it is a gym, if I wanted sweet smelling I would have gone and sat in the flower shop.

Anyway, a great gym session was had and to be honest my shoulders were a tad weary at that early stage.

But today was the chosen day to meet up with Mr D, yeap the swimming coach extraordinaire who kindly offered to give up his lunch break to talk me through the logistics of breathing, (to recap on the history of this, please click here).

I hasten to add that this related to swimming, after 40 odd years I think I have got the knack of breathing on dry land.


Anyway, I took advantage of the fact I had the indoor pool all to myself and was quite happily ploughing from end to end when I glanced up to seer Mr D had arrived and was already analysing my stroke and more importantly my breathing.

He scared me to death.

Strategically placed within easy reach but safe from any splashing was a cheese roll and Mr D scratching his chin and considering how to help me breath more efficiently while swimming.

I have to say that it was a great coaching session with great tips and great success. Many, many thanks go to Mr D who was as enthusiastic as ever and after half an hour or so he left me to practice my new found techniques as he went back to work complete with his still uneaten cheese butty.

Many thanks go to Mr D – you are a true diamond!

Anyway, I decided that as I had nothing else to do I would stay in the pool and practice what I had just learnt.

Well as you can guess I practiced and practiced and practiced and was really into it. Time and lengths ticked by and I just, well carried on.

I am honestly not sure how far I swam, it certainly was not my usual training distance but it was a fair chunk.

Eventually I decided that I should call it a day. I had already done a crackin’ gym session, now I had tagged on a chunk of swimming and tomorrow is swim training in the Lagoon Pool again.

I begrudgingly decided that it was better to finish while I wanted to do more than to get fed up and then not be enthusiastic tomorrow. So I called it a day.

Now I am not sure if it was the gym session or the swimming that wore my shoulders out, or perhaps it was the fact that I decided to tackle the enormous ironing pile this afternoon. I suspect it was the ironing and as such I should cross ironing off as an activity while I am training. It is clearly not good for me and does not compliment my training programme.

Nope, from here on in there will be no ironing in the interests of my shoulders and swim training.

Or on second thoughts......

Or on second thoughts……

Anyway, you will all be pleased to hear the hair was a major success.

Yeap, there were no errant and mutinous hair strands pasting themselves to my goggles like a sticky bobble on fuzzy felt and a quick wipe with my towel post exiting the pool left it pretty much under control. My post training shower was quick and easy with fraction of the shampoo and conditioner of normally and the hairdryer lay undisturbed in a heap on the bedroom floor.

All in all a major success!


The rebellion against the ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’ game of roulette is gaining momentum.

In my defence I did find a load of frozen prawns deep in the freezer this morning, (and yes they were prawns – there was no dispute on this), and had thawed them out over the course of the day.

However, in a not so subtle display of defiance, himself took it upon himself without any consultation to make dinner with the prawns. I think he suspected there was another plastic box of lamb stock lurking somewhere and the idea of prawns soaked with a hint of lamb didn’t appeal either to him or the small man.

Anyway, a very tasty dinner appeared with the prawns and for once there was no moaning about the unique flavour combinations we have enjoyed of late.

Readers will be pleased to hear that the freezer is now starting to take on a somewhat sparse appearance with just some tasty morsels left that I have been saving for the return of the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade at the end of the week.

Between training sessions there was another chance meeting with Mrs DC, (recap here), yes she who attempted to recruit me to the Resident’s Committee and shot a bolt of fear down my spine and out through my big toe.

Well I am pleased to report that no mention was made in any form of me joining the compound’s Resident’s Committee – phew! I think Mrs DC may have realised, or been told, that actually my participation would not be such a wise move. Best leave me to my crazy sporting challenges where the only damage I can really cause is to myself.

Admittedly I would prefer an 'Honourable Mention' than the full monty....

Admittedly, I would prefer an ‘Honourable Mention’ than the full monty….


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

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Hair Today, Gone Today…..?????

When I wrote yesterday’s blog and referred to the predicament I faced relating to my hair and swimming, (and to a lesser degree training generally), the last thing I expected was the events of today.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 16.40.16

I had made an appointment with one of the compound’s hairdressers for next week, but events overtook me today quite dramatically.

This morning was swimming training but before I headed off there I found myself struggling once again with the mass of thick hair first thing. Despite the copious amounts of shampoo and conditioner yesterday, this morning my hair still felt much pants from the chlorine, goldfish, small camel and water bottle, type activity, (click here for a debrief on this random sentence).

Then I went swimming.


Firstly I was blissfully aware as I jumped in and started swimming that my hair was topping up on chloriney gunk and as a result glueing itself to my scalp. This was under my swimming hat and I could feel the urge to violently scratch my head creeping up on me.

Then the straw that broke the camels back.

I was working my way backwards and forwards across the pool swimmingly, listening to my music and generally quite relaxed with life.

Then it happened.

A thick bulk of chlorine and water soaked hair somehow found its was out from under my swimming hat on the left hand side of my forehead.

It insisted on announcing its presence by clinging across the left side of my goggles with all the tenacity of second hand chewing gum on the sole of your shoe. Yeap, it would not shift. Well, it would not shift until the last but one stroke of each crossing when it would miraculously disappear off the front of my goggles and apparently evaporate into thin air.

Hare in swimming goggles? Get it? Sorry.....

Hare in swimming goggles? Got it? Sorry…..

Nope, if I took the opportunity to try to find the errant hair then it was never in evidence, but without fail it came back into view about two or three strokes into the next journey over to the other side.

So the trauma continued time after time.

Eventually I hit the two mile point and not only celebrated the fact that today’s swim session was over, but that finally that chunk of congealed, glutinous and gooey hair was about to meet its comeuppance – although I was more anticipating a good wash and condition rather than what actually transpired.

Apart from getting increasingly exasperated with the rebel chunk of hair during the swim, I had also been musing over the opening decision on whether or not to have a dramatic haircut.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been quizzing various people about whether or not to be big, grown up and brave and have my hair cut short again.

On the whole the responses had been yeap, go for it and I had pretty much made the decision – hence the appointment next week.

However, events of this morning and the fact that I would have several more swim training sessions and the subsequent hair issues before the planned appointment, I decided to call in at the hairdressers to see if there were any spaces any sooner.

Expecting to be given an appointment in a day or two I was slightly taken aback to be asked, ‘how about now?’

Well after negotiating a five minute window to dash home and put dry clothes on I was home, showered, wearing dry clothes and on my way back.

I have to admit thinking revenge is sweet about the congealed mass of hair that had tried to make my life so difficult just a few minutes earlier – its time was seriously limited.


So, back at the salon work started. The hairdresser had nonchalantly told me not to do anything with my chlorine soaked conglomeration of hair as she would sort it out. I think she regretted that as she pulled out the bobble which was a vague token of effort towards my ponytail and the congealed mess stayed exactly where it had been.

Combing was attempted but even the hairdresser with her masses of trade secrets could not deal with it – I was called over to the sink where a generous lashing of hardcore, professional standard hair degunking stuff was applied.

Then the cutting started and I have to say I felt really rather smug and superior as the mass on the left hand side of my forehead was dealt with – ‘ha, that’ll teach you, don’t mess with this mamma!’

Yeap, that's the lot.....

Yeap, that’s the lot… today, gone today..

So, the rest is history – the hair is gone and I am rather chuffed with the result.

Himself is impressed, the small man laughed out loud, (well he is a small man), and hopefully the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade will approve if she finds time to Facetime us later.

OK, the ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’ chicken soup has been confirmed as being chicken soup and there have been no label mishaps, (click here to find out what I am rabbiting on about).

So, tonight’s dinner is defrosting in the kitchen.

Himself asked what was for dinner and was singularly unimpressed with the reply, the small man has not yet broached the subject but I think I know what the response will be….

Right, best I clear off and start to disguise the home made chicken soup as something exciting. Perhaps it could be passed off as…………..OK, it can’t be passed off as anything other than homemade chicken soup, stand by for blast off….

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

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An Emotional Outburst, Garlic Overdose & It’s All Coming Off…….

The last 4 weeks or so have thrust me forwards through a veritable roller-coaster of emotions and to be honest I thought that I had reached the end of the ride, stepped out of the carriage, redone my hair, taken a big breath and joined the cue in anticipation for the next ride and adventure.


As I have previously written, I consider running marathons to be like childbirth, in the immediate aftermath you swear to yourself that you are never doing that again and come out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of it. Then over the following days and weeks, (we haven’t hit months yet so can’t comment),  your mind slowly blots out the negatives and replaces them with the opposite end of the spectrum.

So, this morning I was taken completely unawares as I was riding my bike, muling over the sporting challenges past and those on the way when suddenly my mind lurched to the image of my London Marathon medal hanging over the edge of a picture frame in the study, (its current home until something more permanent is decided on), and I burst into tears.

I hasten to add that hormones played no role in my emotional outburst...

I hasten to add that hormones played no role in my emotional outburst…

They were not tears of sadness or despair, but neither were they tears of joy. I am not entirely sure what they were, but they did not last long and before I knew it a quick wipe of my eyes on my t-shirt shoulders, an enormous snotty sniff, a deep breath and I was back to normal.

All very odd and I can only assume completely normal. If by any chance it is not completely normal and I am about to crash into some disastrous and horrible illness, then apologies for a prolonged hiatus in EIOT posts – I will be back as soon as possible.

So, now that my little and unexpected outburst of emotion has passed, best I move onwards and hopefully upwards. Yesterday was a rest day and today was a gym day. A full on gym day and yes my shoulders are in their usual post gym confusion. Extra weights ready for next month’s swimming frenzy and extra cardio-vascular stuff – because I can!

Yeap, I am well on the way to my induction into the world of open water swimming. All being well that oh so attractive wetsuit will be waiting for me on arrival in Cumbria. Not that I need it for anything other than The Great North Swim – anything other than a swimming costume, nose clip and swimming hat is not accepted at either the swim assessment or swim camp.

Now that brings me to my next point and I apologise as this will only carry any relevance to those people who actually know me.

All this sport and in particular swimming is driving me potty in relation to my hair. At best my locks are dry, brittle and a mess, at worst, (usually immediately after a swim training session), it is a gunky, gooey, thick mass of congealed hair, chlorine and general flotsam and jetsom that is found in the pool. Any number of shampoos and conditioners do not remedy the situation – it is pretty gross really. Last week alone I found three dead goldfish, a small camel and an empty water bottle in my hair as I tackled it after training.


So, due consideration has been given to having it all cut off. It has been really short before. Yesterday I ran the possibility past the two men in my life and the response was as expected – pretty ambivalent.

So be it – it is coming off in the very near future. Everybody has been warned!

Today seems to be a day of warnings – sorry.

I have seriously overdosed on garlic – again. Yes this is a regular occurrence and I apologise in advance. My current penchant for halloumi and garlic is starting to get me into trouble. Well to be honest it is probably better described as a garlic with halloumi as the proportion of garlic to halloumi is certainly well over the recommended acceptable levels.


The guys in the supermarket look at me quizzically if I do not have halloumi and a bulb of garlic in my shopping basket these days and to be honest I do not need to worry about anybody invading my personal space these days.

One incident with a small child this morning led to a very distressed face and running off to mummy very rapidly.

So, once again apologies to anybody I see around the compound who is adverse to the smell of second hand garlic – I have just got a little carried away.

Probably best I abstain before my forthcoming visit to the hairdresser or there could be a disaster.

OK, onto other matters. The roulette game of  ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’ is continuing although I have to say it has slowed a little over this weekend as I have caved into whinging and moaning from the two men in my life.

However, as the freezer is still laden with several plastic containers with unknown contents there will be a new wave of ‘using up’ this week whether they like it or not.

In the midst of the freezer this morning I did actually find a container with a label. Now this is quite impressive to find in our freezer. Just to illustrate the fact I would like to mention that my stock of ‘Lakeland Freezer Food Labels’ is now so old and redundant in the kitchen draw that they have lost most of their stickiness and colour, gone rigid and are better suited as postal labels or door stops.

So, the label on the container says ‘chicken soup’. Now, do I trust that label and believe that it is chicken soup or do I suspect that in the chaos of the freezer the label has actually fallen off another container and attached itself to the new one?


Well, time will tell. Despite the fact that the outside temperature is now well in excess of 40 degrees, I will be taking the box in question out of the freezer tonight to thaw and subject to inspection tomorrow, the next few days will see me ‘eating up’, all being well, home made chicken soup.

If it turns out not to be home made chicken soup then I had better fall on my sword and scoff down whatever it is anyway…….

The strawberry blond hand-grenade is on fine form and has actually graced us with a couple of Facetime conversations of late. I am under no illusions, it is revision time before exams and clearly Face Timing her old Mum and Dad is preferable to revision. Not that is she transparent or anything. Only a few days now till she graces us with her presence for half-term – whoop, whoop!

Right, best I go and extract the ‘chicken soup’ from the freezer and decide what delicacies we will be feasting on this week from the plastic container collection in there.

Stand by for whinging and moaning from this side of the compound, (from the men, not me you understand….)

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Sense Of Direction Issue & Incommunicado…

So, its the weekend again – if somebody could please tell me where the last week has gone I would be quite grateful, (don’t forget our weekend starts here!).


For my part I think the last few days seem to have been a blur of swimming, gymming, chocolate deprivation and night time muscle twitching.

So, here we are again at Thursday with the Ramadan break starting two weeks today – hurrah!


Training today was a great success – 2 miles in the Lagoon Pool. Yes, it was great, no I cannot feel my shoulders, yes I have been starving ever since and no I am not training tomorrow, it is a rest day.

While I was swimming today I pondered what it is that gets me through these watery training sessions.

I reached the grand conclusion that quite frankly it is  the isolation. My phone could explode in a haze of missed calls while I plough backwards and forwards, text messages can ping away to their hearts content and remain unanswered and emails can ping around Cyber-Space like a super-ball on a pogo stick. The world can continue its march towards the EU Referendum like an indecisive hedgehog trying to decide which side of the Channel has the best supply of snails, guided by unconvincing arguments from over-bearing and patronising mamma and papa hedgehogs. In short everything can just carry on with out me as quite frankly I am incommunicado when I am swimming, offline, off grid, out of touch – pretty much in my own little world.


So, my 2 miles of communication free ‘me time’ is a great boon in my life. I have the opportunity to think about all those random issues that normally get pinged to the back of my brain by more pressing matters such as packed lunches for school, is there enough fabric softener for today’s washing? and trying to work out what that sticky gunk is on the kitchen floor and is it a threat to public health. Instead I get to think quiet thoughts and contemplate life. Today’s considerations included an in-depth dissection and analysis The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars, the logistics of entertaining a swarm of teenage girls at the forthcoming birthday party in the wilds of Cumbria and pre-empting any potential complications in my forthcoming foray into the world of triathlon wet-suits and open water swimming.


My mind wandered to such a point of relative mental repose at one point today that I veered off course and crashed into the pokey out bit of the pool in quite dramatic fashion. That woke me up.

I have to admit that my sense of direction while swimming is a bit of an issue as I do not seem to be able to swim in a completely straight line and I am sure that I inadvertently add a few extra metres to each training session. But that can’t be a bad thing.

Hopefully my sense of direction will improve as I train more – it better had or Lake Windermere could take a lot longer swim than anticipated.

Right, so weekend here we are. Hopefully the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade may find time in her hectic life to Facetime, the small man may have a full tummy for a few minutes with the masses of flapjack and rice pudding that I have just made and hopefully my shoulders will end their bid for world domination.

I will update you on progress in due course.


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Wide Awake For A Slightly Obscure Reason………????

Over the years of crazy sporting and adventurous activities, some of which could be classed as reasonably extreme, I have had many injuries and wounds which have disturbed daily life and worst of all, have kept me wide awake at night.

There was of course ‘that’ mountain bike incident where in my concussed state I saw through hazy eyes my mountain bike being loaded into an ambulance in its own right while I was piled into another. I distinctly recall being concerned for its welfare as the world continued to swirl around in front of me and I saw stars in front of my eyes.


That incident led to several fingernails being ripped off, bruised ribs, concussion and bruised pride.

Then there was the haematoma the size of a dinner plate on my right thigh from an over-enthusiastic hockey match, numerous ankle injuries and resultant surgery and bruised toes from dropping diving cylinders.

Of course there was the camping stove, frozen salmon and missing skin on several fingers – let’s not get onto that one, I will save that for another day.

Aching and painful muscles have been par for the course over the years – especially after running, cycling and hiking adventures and even more after The London Marathon.


So last night was a new one, something that I have never experienced before.

As you all know, regular reader or not, life at the moment is all about training not only for The Great North Swim but also my swim assessment and then the looming 3 day swim camp in Windermere.

Life is all about shoulders, stamina, strength and swimming.

Yesterday was a 2 mile training swim and by the end my shoulders would have been more suited to an American Footballer on steroids with extra shoulder pads.


So last night I suppose some sort of discomfort should have been expected, but it did not arrive.

Instead, at around 0200 I was greeted by flickering in my shoulders. Actually flickering is the understatement, my shoulders were taking on a life of their own.

Yeap, at around 0200 this morning both shoulders decided that this was the time to bulk up, for thickening of those muscle fibres and growth in incalculable proportions.

Absolutely no pain, but extreme flickering in the various fibres of deltoid, the muscles of my rotator cuff and lat dorsi.

Both shoulders were affected, but the left more than the right.

While it was most certainly not painful, it was a tad disconcerting and no matter what I did I could not get in a position which subdued the problem.

The best way of describing it is one which those female readers of the blog who have had a baby will relate to. It was like that feeling at about six months of pregnancy when you are being kicked to within an inch of your life but the culprit is not big enough yet to really hurt. It was a constant fluttering and twitching – but I am most certainly not with child and if I was I would be slightly concerned about feeling this action in my shoulders.

So, much of last night was spent trying to quell the issues going on in my shoulders and trying to get some sleep.

I may as well have got up and do the ironing – it was driving me mad.

Eventually I must have dropped off as when the alarm went off this morning I was asleep – although my shoulders were distinctly still wide awake.

So, this morning off to the gym I went with my burgeoning shoulders. Between the swimming and gym they really are on a mission for world domination.


A great gym session was enjoyed and off to the pool I go tomorrow morning.

So, how do I feel about all the swimming stuff and the challenges they present over the coming weeks?

Well, my main concern with The Great North Swim has to be breathing. Yes, that oh so essential element of life and one which does not come naturally to humans in water.

Every aspect of my swimming is coming along beautifully – except breathing. It is the Achilles Heel of my swimming and in some ways I am slightly sad that my swimming assessment with ‘Madfish’, (read more about Dr Julie Bradshaw OBE here) is after The Great North Swim and my initiation into the world of open water swimming. I could really do with her guidance before I throw myself into Lake Windermere on that Sunday.

However, not being one to sit back and let a problem overtake me I have today had a ‘word’ with Mr D – a dude who is widely known across the compound and who is also an accomplished swimming coach.

All being well Mr D is going to fit me into his hectic schedule for half an hour sometime between now and when we fly out for the Ramadan break to teach me how to breath properly while swimming – always useful.


So, fingers crossed I will soon take another enormous step forward in my journey to being a reasonable swimmer.

I am really looking forward to my full, no holes barred swimming assessment with ‘Madfish’ and then also the three day swim camp the weekend after – although I suspect that it is going to be pretty hardcore.

So, onto other matters. The small man is back at school – hurrah!

Last night’s roulette game of  ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’ worked out OK in the end. The jury is still out on whether the mystery sauce addition was lamb stock or not, but whatever it was it all tasted really good when mixed together.

The whole game  ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’ is taking its toll on the men in my life, with the smaller man not impressed with vague explanations of what is for dinner and while he loves jacket potatoes he is getting a bit bored of them in their role of ‘Plan B’ in the scenario of the contents of today’s plastic box being inedible.

So today I have taken my foot off the accelerator in my pre-Ramadan race to have a ‘use up’ in the freezer and have bought some mince beef for a fresh chilli con carne.

That should please the men in my life, although it had all be better eaten up this evening as I will not allow any left overs to be put in a plastic box in the freezer – no siree!


Well the holidays must be imminent, yes I have reached that oh so exciting stage of placing the Sainsbury’s order.

Regular readers will know what this means to an expat in Saudi, it represents normality, bacon and wine and is a really, really exciting point in expat life and can be interpreted as ‘quick get the passports out – we are almost on the way….’

So, the Sainsbury’s delivery slot is booked. the first draft of the order is done and the next couple of weeks will see significant fine-tuning of the shopping list as we think of things to add. Don’t worry The Bombay Sapphire and tonic water were the first things that hit the basket…..


Right, in a moment of extreme organisation yesterday I started to pull everything together to send through for the Tax Return when we hit UK soil next month.

This is quite a turn up for the books, usually there is a mad panic accompanied by extreme grumpiness on my part late in January as the deadline ticks closer.


I am not sure why I have had a sudden urge to complete the prep for this now, I just hope it is not a subconscious feeling of doom that makes sure that everything is in order before I throw myself into Lake Windermere next month. I suddenly remembered today that I really need to collect our new Wills as well. Hey ho, lets strike while the iron is hot, and get this tax stuff done!

So, off I go to do some more prep and bolster myself for running the gauntlet with HMRC.


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Mother Of A Boy Part II ???

So, the small man is still off school. Not for any reason than school will not have him, or any other child for that matter, back within 48 hours of a dodgy tummy.


So, I have a fit and healthy small man bouncing around the house, claiming starvation status and loafing around on the sofa more like a 16 year old than his more tender younger years.

Yeap, regular readers will know that the small man is pretty big for his age and so when he loafs around, he really does loaf around and takes up quite some space.

Well, in my case one boy and a strawberry blond hand-grenade

Well, in my case one boy and a strawberry blond hand-grenade

So, in light of the fact that he is on fine form, we live on what is one of the most secure compounds in The Middle East and the small man knew exactly where I was on the compound, I went off to swim training.

A very successful swim training it was as well. 2 miles – not fast, my swimming is developing in a similar fashion to my running, I am not speedy but I just keep on going.

At two miles I decided that I ought to call it a day and check up on the small man.

However, I had a couple of errands to do so I made my way to the nearest landline phone and called home to check on his well-being. No answer.


First lot of errands in the supermarket done and a quick chat with friends and another attempt to phone – still no answer.


Now do not be alarmed by the fact there was no answer, I was 101% confident he was fine, just couldn’t be bothered answering the phone. All his buddies were at school so he was safe in the knowledge that the phone call would not be for him so he would not bother answering it.

So next to Kingpin Cafe and another attempt to call, still no answer.


One cheese toastie and slushy ordered to take home for the small man and salads for us.

So, with tired and sore shoulders I climbed on my bike along with wet swimming kit, shopping, 2 salads, a cheese toastie and a slushy balanced on my handle-bars. I wobbled home and pretty much fell through the door to find the small man exactly in the same place as I had left him.

I feel a shock coming to somebody's system in the near future....

I feel a shock coming to somebody’s system in the near future….

First I asked the small man about the telephone and to be greeted with a grunt about not hearing it – yeah, likely story!

Next, I announced I had food and this produced movement – yeap he raised himself off the settee at the thought of food.

I then asked him if he had stayed in the same place all the time that I had been out swimming 2 miles, and yes I got a grunt in response.

Next I asked if he was impressed that his Mum had just swum 2 miles – another grunt, (mind you by this time he did have a mouth full of cheese toastie).

By this point I was starting to run out of topics of conversation so I asked if he had been OK while I had been out, (I was sure he had but it as just something to say really).


The answer was somewhat startling as he said the fateful words, ‘yeah, I didn’t really notice you weren’t here’……….

My feeling of redundancy and being taken for granted grew monumentally in the blink of an eye….

At least of it had been the strawberry blond hand-grenade that I had posed the question to, she may have tried to soften the blow somewhat…..

So, while I come to terms with the fact I am superfluous to requirements, (well until he next requires a rice pudding, clean underpants or Justin Beaver needs a trip into the washing machine), I have once again been playing the roulette game of  ‘what’s in this unlabelled plastic box in the freezer?’


I thought that tonight’s food was going to simple when I got it out of the freezer last night. Yeap, true to form there was no sticker but on inspection a lamb shank in a casserole was clearly visible, so out of the freezer it came and this morning it headed into the slow cooker for gentle warming over the course of the day.

In my infinite wisdom, (yeah, right), I decided that the ‘lamb stock’ in an unmarked plastic box that had been pulled out of the freezer a couple of days ago and had taken up residence in the fridge since would go ideally into the mix.

A quick sniff at the open box did not convince me that it was lamb stock, but as it resembled it I tipped it into the brew.

As I did so I spied what I though was beef and then chick peas.

I think dinner tonight maybe lamb and beef casserole with chick peas….

Best I do some more jacket spuds!

OK, so to training again.

Yeap, I am chuffed with today’s session – 2 miles, but I think I need to revise my training plan. I can carry on adding distance but the time has come to work on speed or next month I will still be making my way across Windermere in The Great North Swim while everybody else is packing away their kit for winter.

So, I think for the foreseeable future I will be working on speed and strength.


Good job really, I now know every bit of the swimming pool according to the tile pattern and bits of rubbish at the bottom.

Regular readers will know the reasoning behind this blog being called ‘Every Inch Of Tarmac’ and I did consider during this morning’s swim renaming it ‘Every Tile Of The Swimming Pool’.

Don’t worry – just another random thought and nothing is going to change.

Right, time to eject the small man off the settee and into some sort of action.

Yes – he IS going to school tomorrow.



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Sorry - I know I am using this photo a lot at the moment but i love it!