Genius, Sheer Genius!, Starving Off-Spring & Diplomatic Skills……

During my early morning meander through the World Wide Web, (well, relatively early – it is the summer holidays after all), I made a startling discovery and one which, quite frankly, I wish I had thought of.Dogs Shocked

Everybody who pays any vague attention to the EIOT blog, (and I really do live in hope that there is somebody out there who does take a look every now and then), will know about my unhealthy pre-occupation with the temperature here in Saudi over the summer months.

Tap Hot 1

Yeap, as a quick recap there is no cold water, the heat simply warms the pipes and warms the water.

Well, exciting news!

Exciting News

Now, why I did not think of this myself is beyond me, it is sheer genius!

Yeap, someone, somewhere in the Middle East has thought of a great solution to the lack of cold water issue – take a look at this, isn’t it brilliant??


Now, why oh why oh why did I not think of that?

Yeap, it may need some forward planning with a reliable and copious ice supply, maybe even going as far as having a small freezer upstairs, sacrificing a kitchen colander and coming up with a suitably stable way of attaching it to the shower head but what genius! I am in awe of whoever thought of this.

So, my mission over the next few days will be to source the appropriate parts and install the said contraption to restore cold showers.

I will keep you posted.

Now today was decreed a rest day by the small man, AKA Mr Sport, and I am delighted, (as well as relieved), that he maintained that stance today.

So I have taken full advantage of the fact to catch up with people and errands – but stand by, not only has he decreed tomorrow as a gym and swimming day, he has arranged to meet one of his buddies at the gym at an alloted hour, looks like I will have 2 Mr Sports to deal with.

So, how is Mr Sport on a rest day? Restless I think is the answer. So much so that we ended up heading out to the smaller pool in the centre of our block as it turned cooler to get rid of some energy.

Now, we have two outstanding issues relating mainly to the small man but also to lesser extent the strawberry blond hand grenade.

Firstly, as mentioned last night, with the fantastic training that the small man is doing he is permanently ravenous – even more than usual and despite the rest day status of today I have not had chance to bake and he has been starving. This has even been to the point of minesweeping everybody’s bowls for left over rice after dinner – the poor lad is wasting away.

Hungry Labrador


So, tomorrow is baking, in between training. The housework will have to wait, I have baking to do and lots of it!

The other issue that we have is that the small man and his big sister have discovered the EIOT blog. Yeap, they have rumbled what keeps me occupied and out of their hair most days and last night saw them read it for the first time, (to be honest the hand grenade has read it in the past but not really got into it until last night).

Yeap, at one point last night all three of the other members of the immediate family were reading the blog at the same time on various devices.

Now that was intimidating.

The small man has already run in to me while writing this post and asked when it will be ready and when he can read it……

So, advance warning here; future EIOT posts maybe slightly more diplomatic about my immediate family in order to avoid family strife and alienation.


Now where did I put that colander?


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

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Glenn Update & Regrouping Post Tommo……..

Well, after last night’s visit by the legend that is Tommo, I think we have returned to a vague sense of normality – whatever that may be. Well, I say normality but regular EIOT readers will know that the word normality is not easy to define in our household.


Yeap, the chaos has been tidied away. You see when Tommo visits there is an eruption of disarray. The small man goes into hyper mode as soon as his hero walks through the door that means that Nerf guns and the associated bullets are brought out, the Wii goes into overdrive, jokes get told and remote control cars whisk paint off the skirting boards quicker than anything you can buy from B&Q. Yeap, Tommo is as bigger kid as anybody under ten years old – despite hurtling towards a birthday with a ‘5’ in it, with two grown up offspring of his own. After any visit a considerable amount of time is spent regrouping, collecting Nerf bullets and putting the lounge back together. The mess usually resembles an incident involving an outsized Jack-In-The-Box filled with Nerf bullets, crisps, defunct batteries and sweets. I will leave that one to your imagination.


So, as documented last night Tommo and himself launched into all sorts of spurious conversations about sporting challenges as well discussing whisky on mountain tops.

Well, I have to say that after his sporting adventures of yesterday and the excitement of a visit from his hero megastar idol, the small man actually faded mid evening and retired to bed, reluctantly as his knight in shining armour was still downstairs.

Not long afterwards the discussion of whisky and mountains got the better of me and I disappeared off up to bed as well, leaving Tommo, himself and the strawberry blond hand grenade putting the world to rights. Well, almost, Tommo had actually been recruited to help sort out the various colours of the hand grenade’s loom band collection and was happily sorting them into various shades of orange, pink, purple, blue…….

It was quite a sight to behold and I really regret not taking a photo for posterity.

So, training again. Well, as predicted off we went to the gym again – without the hand grenade who refused point-blank today – and the small man waged war on the treadmill, stepper and rowing machine before planking and stretching.

Gym Bunny

This afternoon was swimming, again, and yet more races in which he keeps me on my toes. The hand grenade did honour us with her presence for swimming, (only because her brother had told her she was lazy and should do something, sibling rivalry at its best!), and won pretty much every race but blimey both of our offspring have a turn of speed in the swimming pool.

I am delighted to say that the small man has announced that tomorrow is a rest day, although I will only believe it and start making non gym/swimming plans once the day has dawned and he is still of that mindset.


Now the small man is doing really, really well and we are really proud of him, but there is an associated problem. Regular readers will know that the small man loves his food and has an incredible appetite – often surpassing that of his Dad.

Well, it doesn’t take the brains of a dietician or sports physiologist to work out what effect all this training is having on him.

Three big meals today, plus fruit, plus snacks. For dinner he had home-made chilli and rice and is now scavenging for more food.

I am in trouble with the small man as I have not had chance to make cookies, chocolate muffins or a rice-pudding – apparently that would stave off his hunger nicely. Sorry son, but I have been somewhat busy at the gym and swimming pool for some reason….

So, if you see us begging on street corners you will know that the small man is training and we are struggling to feed him – the food intake is incredible.

So, onto other matters. A post of a few days ago saw me make mention of my friend Glenn who at that point was waiting down in Dover for a window to swim to France before cycling from Calais to Paris, (click here for a refresher).

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 18.51.14

Well, the elements did not work in Glenn’s favour and much to everyone’s disappointment the weather just was not obliging and so Glenn could not do his swim in his allowed window and annual leave from work. But, not to be defeated he and his support team jumped on a ferry to Calais before jumping on their bikes to Paris, before heading back home today in time for Glenn to go to work.

The plan is for Glenn to do the swim as soon as possible, (weather and work allowing), and I know he blast it.

So, hang on in there Glenn, you will do it and you will do it damned well! Perhaps we could send Tommo with you to give us all, (not least Mrs Tommo), some peace and quiet….

Now there’s a thought……


Right, I suppose I ought to do a recce on if we have enough ingredients for cookies/muffins before the small man starves to death…


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

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Naked Mountain Top Whisky Drinking & Mr Sport……???


It is with a very heavy heart that I write today’s blog…… well as heavy arms, legs, trunk and eye lids.

Yeap, you have guessed it, I have been training again with my small, testosterone filled man.

I was greeted this morning not by ‘Hi Mum, did you sleep well?’, but ‘when are we going to the gym Mum?’

So, after sorting out breakfast and all the diff naff and triv that goes with life off we went. However, today was different as Friday is the first day of the weekend here and so we were joined by himself and a very reluctant strawberry hand grenade.

So, the small man and I started off as usual on the treadmill. There was me and my steady pace, and then there was the mini Mo Farah by the side of me. Yeap, legs like pistons, arms pumping and lips blowing he was going for it.


Well, I was not having that, so up went my speed. The challenge today was the first to 1 mile and I was not going to be beaten by an 8 year old. No way, this was getting personal and I knew that if he got to a mile first I would never hear the last of it. The claws came out.


So, on seeing my speed go up I don’t think I need to say what he did and soon we were piling through the first mile.

I am delighted to say that I held the attack off valiantly and managed to hit 1 mile first – but only just I have to admit.

Next up were sprints over 100 metres – after this I can officially say that the boy can sprint! Blimey. I am honestly not sure who each one, but they were all close run things.


So, what next. Steppers. Now I did have the upper hand here and reached a mile first but I was not waiting long before the small man hit a mile.

Now, up to today I have managed to convince the small man that treadmill and stepper was enough, but not today. The small man is getting fitter and was keen to sample other kit in the gym.

So, to the rowing machine. After 2 minutes of tuition he was off, with a great technique. I challenged him to 500m which he gleefully accepted and before I knew it he was there. There was a grim determination on his face and nothing was going to stop him.

At this point the realisation really hit home that the small man is getting fit and I need to keep up – despite the thirty odd year age difference. The truth of the matter is just a few weeks ago I could whop him at most things sporty, (but his superior knowledge of all things scientific left me feeling like a numpty). But now after his half-term at the hand grenade’s sport mad school, running in the Cumbrian hills and now demanding to go to the gym every morning and swimming every afternoon he is turning into Mr Sports Mad Eight Year Old.

So, with this revelation in mind I deposited the small man with the larger man and took again to the treadmill as part of my master plan for maintaining any dominance in sporting prowess.


I am however going to have to be on the ball to keep up, stand by for more sporting challenges to not only raise money for Tommy’s but also to keep me physically one step in front of my son!

So this afternoon saw us at the indoor pool and once again I was pushed – not a bad thing but his competitive nature was made worse by the presence of his sister. The gym is not really her thing and she only begrudgingly came along this morning through a fear of missing something. However, she can swim and swims rather well and rather quickly.

So, not only did I have to cope with Mr Sports Mad Eight Year Old, I also had to contend with the fish like skills and capabilities of the strawberry blond hand grenade. Yeap, no sooner does she hit the water than she appears at the other end, like a dolphin wearing a strawberry blond wig and with attitude.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 19.11.00

Now, while the small man has also made considerable progress with his swimming and now gives me a good run for my money with front crawl, (backstroke and breast stroke he whoops me convincingly and lets not even start to talk about the elephant in the room – butterfly), I can pretty much keep the upper hand, for now. However, I have had to accept defeat with his sister who pretty much wipes the floor with us all.

Anyway, after my training swim this afternoon I was greeted by races with the gruesome twosome, just to add to my aching muscles from my grilling at the gym this morning.


Needless to say the hand grenade took most of the accolades but the small man gave me a run for my money.

I can now officially say that I am pooped, tired, weary, prostrate, bushed, spent…… get the picture.

Just to add insult to injury the small man has announced he wants to go to the gym tomorrow morning…..

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 18.09.53

So, as I sit here pondering tomorrow morning’s gym session and inevitable afternoon swim, I look up to see himself chatting to Tommo. Yeap, the legend that is Tommo has come round and I am listening to endless ramblings about planned sporting challenges, previous sporting accomplishments, (with all the associated exaggeration), tales of daring woo from the past and sitting on the top of mountains naked drinking whisky.

Yeap, you read that right, they are discussing the pros and cons of drinking whisky stark butt naked on top of a mountain.

If you are new to the blog and unfamiliar with the legend that is Tommo, then please refer to these pages for an explanation – then, hopefully, it will all make complete sense…..or maybe not….Tommo Intro & Tommy’s Epic 5 Marathon Challenge.

A smiling, cartoon comedian about to tell some jokes.

Yeap Tommo is a regular feature in our lives and as well as having very random conversations he is also part of the team which so far has raised over £17,000 for Tommy’s.

He is also hero-worshipped by our small man. The strawberry blond hand grenade is at ‘that’ stage in her life when she worships nobody but the small man more than makes up for that gap with complete adoration.

So far Tommo has played several games of Mario on the Wii, had a wrestling match, been roped into taking the small man training, (mainly to give my aching limbs a rest), and a cookie eating competition.

I hasten to add that the small man was not present for the conversation about drinking whisky butt naked on top of a mountain – good job really as being the young man that he is I am sure that he would be there as well.


Right, best I go and keep all the men’s feet on the floor and preferably not up a mountain……


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

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Why We Are Doing What We Are Doing – A Recap – Inspirational Annie, A Real Life Story Of Love And Determination

Well today I have mainly in competition with my small man in the gym and the pool, so I am a little weary.


So, as The Great North Run is looming large and there will be more mention about Tommy’s and the fantastic work they do I thought tonight is a good time just to recap on one of the reasons we are doing what we are doing and why I subject you to my musings on such a regular basis.

Sometimes it is all well and good writing a humorous blog that keeps people entertained in the hope that at the end of all the craziness and challenges people will be inspired to put their hands in their pockets and donate to Tommy’s.

Our primary reason for doing this is well known, to channel our grief on behalf of our good friends who recently lost their little sunflower at 6 months gestation.

However, everywhere we look there are other families that have been affected by stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage.

Below is such a case. I am proud to call the McFadden family friends and truly inspirational. They live on our compound here in Riyadh and Annie, (as well as Michael, Cherie and Paul I hasten to add), is a regular face across the compound, at events and generally being a fantastic 8 – almost 9 year old.

Below is the widely available text of a national magazine article from Australia, published sometime ago which details Annie’s journey.

Cherie has today forwarded me the incredible photos which I have inserted in the text.

I hasten to add that I am publishing this on the Every Inch Of Tarmac Blog with Cherie and Paul’s full approval.

For Dear Life

BORN at just 23 weeks, Annie McFadden survived – partially blind, after months of traumatic surgery. But where should doctors draw the line between supporting life and letting go?

Cherie McFadden was just under six months pregnant and sitting at her desk in a high-rise office above Perth when she felt her body lurch suddenly into the early stages of labour.

It was January 2007, and within an hour the 33-year-old was sitting on a bus heading to King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, crying and fearful, as her husband Paul drove madly down from RAAF Base Pearce on the city’s northern outskirts, where he worked as a pilot.

The couple can still recall every detail of that grim afternoon in the hospital’s maternity ward, in particular the grave face of the obstetrician who advised them that a 22-week-old foetus was almost certain to die outside the womb.

Its skin was so fragile that it could tear like wet paper; its lungs would struggle to process oxygen; its brain and other organs were still not fully formed. In theory, such a baby could be artificially resuscitated, the doctor said, but death or severe disability was almost inevitable.

The McFaddens knew their baby was a girl, and they had already decided to name her Annie.

Now they listened as the doctor explained how their first child would be delivered, would be laid on Cherie’s chest, would make several gasping attempts at breathing, and would die.

But that seeming inevitability never happened, because for the next week Cherie McFadden lay in a hospital bed fighting her body’s urge to give birth while her husband spent hours at home, hunched over his computer as he downloaded hundreds of pages of medical literature on premature birth.

In the course of that research Paul McFadden made a crucial discovery: in a few days’ time his wife’s pregnancy would enter an uncertain area of medical controversy known among neonatologists as the “Grey Zone”.

The Grey Zone is a term coined to describe the three-week span in an unborn baby’s life, between 23 and 25 weeks’ gestation, when survival outside the womb is possible but outcomes are terribly uncertain.

Fifty per cent of the babies born at this gestation will die, and those who live can often be afflicted cerebral palsy, intellectual disability or blindness. Some doctors refuse to resuscitate such fragile infants. But the McFaddens happened to be in the Australian hospital which had the most aggressive policy of supporting “23-weekers” if their parents requested it.

At 3am on January 23, only a few hours after Cherie’s pregnancy officially entered its 23rd week, the McFaddens made that request.

Annie McFadden was about the size of her father’s hand when she was delivered, weighing only 570 grams. “She looked like a baby bird that wouldn’t live,” remembers Paul. “Completely purple, almost black. Totally limp, way beyond anything you think could survive.”


The pediatrician pressed a stethoscope to this tiny creature’s chest and announced, “She’s got a heartbeat”, then inserted a plastic breathing tube down her throat.

Within minutes the McFaddens’ daughter was laid on a steel intensive care warmer and connected by a tangle of tubes and wires to banks of computerised life-support systems. A ventilator delivered oxygen in carefully calibrated doses through her mouth; a catheter was inserted into the umbilical vein in her abdomen, and another pushed through to an artery near her heart to measure blood pressure; a tube was inserted in her stomach to drain off air pushed in by the ventilator, and a sensor attached to her foot measured oxygen saturation in her blood.

Rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, she was hooked up to a drip which fed glucose, amino acids and nutrients through a third catheter in her arm. It would be a month before Cherie McFadden was allowed to touch her.


With machines regulating her breathing, temperature, body fluids and nutrition levels, Annie spent the first two weeks hovering near death as she nearly succumbed to the shock of life outside the womb and a septic blood infection that required multiple transfusions.

Three weeks after delivery her bowel ruptured from a necrotising infection and she was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, where surgeons cut open her abdomen from hip to hip and spent five hours mending and removing sections of her lower intestines which were barely wider than spaghetti. A faulty valve near her lungs caused wild gyrations in her blood oxygen levels, and at 30 weeks she developed a lung infection so dire it required the administration of four antibiotics.

In the second month following her birth she nearly died twice – first when a ventilation tube shifted in her airway, and shortly afterwards from severe pneumonia. Antibiotics kept her alive, and steroids were given to promote her lung development.

At 38 weeks severe gastroenteritis nearly killed her, and a week later the retina in her right eye began detaching. For four weeks she underwent a series of operations in which eye surgeons attempted to reattach the retina by burning blood vessels around it with a laser, injecting a gas bubble into the centre of the eyeball, applying microdroplets of dry-ice and finally wrapping the entire eyeball with an elasticised “scleral buckle”.

The surgery saved 20 per cent of her vision in the eye, but two weeks later the entire retina in the other eye detached.

It wasn’t until June 27, five months after her birth, that the McFaddens were finally allowed to bring their baby home.

Since then the couple have had a son, Michael, whose birth last November was perfectly normal.

On a recent winter evening the family’s home in Perth’s southern suburbs is a hive of post-dinner activity as baby Michael is put to bed and Annie runs energetically around the lounge room in her pyjamas. Only at a second glance do you notice that Annie still does not speak, and that the story books littering the floor are written in Braille.

Yes, this is Annie....

Yes, this is Annie….

The McFaddens have thus become one of hundreds of families whose premature baby has miraculously survived, only to be significantly disabled. It’s an outcome that has led them to contemplate some big questions about the nature of life and the limits of medical intervention.

“The bad news doesn’t stop when you come home,” admits Paul. “One of the doctors we consulted compared it to the waves hitting the coast – it just keeps on coming. It might be five years before you discover whether your child is developmentally delayed.”

But as he looks at his daughter, his voice softens. “Whatever outcome Annie has, for her it will be normal. None of us are judged by what we don’t have. I don’t have Einstein’s intellect or Carl Lewis’s speed. Who makes the decision about what quality of life is acceptable?”

Read the full story in The Weekend Australian Magazine –

So, there you have it. A truly inspiring and moving true story of a gorgeous little girl who we see perhaps not every day but certainly on a very, very regular basis.

So next time I am whinging about aching legs or being saddle sore, I will just look at the pictures of Annie, or even the real thing if she happens to be around, and will promptly shut up.

Can you do the same and help us raise as much money as possible for Tommy’s?

If you are not sure, then for those of you here in Riyadh and on our compound. next time you see a bubbly, laughing, smiling little girl by the name of Annie carrying a cane, please let that help you make your mind up.

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

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Go Glenn!, Rhetorical Question & So Very Tired……

I would like to start this evening’s EIOT blog post with a massive ‘Good Luck’ to my friend Glenn Tinselly.

Glenn is currently down in Dover waiting for a weather window to start his epic Charity swim over the Channel to France. But that is not all, once in France Glenn is going to be cycling to Paris.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 18.51.14

Glenn is raising funds for Make A Wish (UK) and I would personally like to wish him all the best and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

To find out more about Glenn’s adventure take a look at Glenn’s Story here

Go Glenn!

So, onto matters more frivolous and nowhere near as exciting.

Firstly, I have a rhetorical question for you. No answers required and I suspect my subconscious is letting off steam.

get it off your chest

But, does anybody else place items on the bottom of the stairs, to the side for safety reasons and think to themselves that they will take it up next time they go but have the faintest glimmer of hope that actually somebody else may take the initiative and take it up as they spot it on the stairs on their way?

Is the answer yes?, (sorry, perhaps I should have drawn a flowchart for this), then does anybody else’s family treat the items as a round about and go out of their way to ignore them?

Is the answer still yes?, then does it still fall onto your shoulders to take the items upstairs at the end of the day despite numerous ascents and descents by other household members of the preceding few hours?

OK, I am sensing all the nods of agreement out there, I am not unique! That is a relief…..

Regular readers of the EIOT blog, (yes those inimitable words), may recall the post of quite some months ago relating to the cartoonish and comedic experience of having my foot x-rayed at one of the local hospitals. If you need a reminder then please click here. Yeap, the post ‘Darth Vader On A Surfboard’ created quite a stir and quite a lot of hilarity. Once again I would like to state openly that it was all completely true – as are all EIOT blogs.



But anyway, there has been a new development – oh yes. During our absence the hospital in question was closed down, very unceremoniously and without warning. Yeap, signs were stuck up on doors and people were turned away.

Now, I am not sure if this has anything to do with the slightly unorthodox technique for taking foot x-rays, the state of the wooden block or any more sinister and potentially much more serious reasons but whatever it was it has caused chaos.

Now while I suspect that our fantastic Medical Centre here on the compound have coped with their incredible resilience and fortitude to ensure that the population of the compound continue to receive excellent medical care at other hospitals around the city, it does raise one interesting question.

If the hospital was shut so abruptly, then what happened to those poor souls who were in-patients at the time? This event happened some weeks ago and I must admit that I have visions of not only nobody being allowed in, but also nobody being allowed out…..

So, does this mean that when the hospital finally reopens, (which word on the street has it is the end of August), there will be an exodus of fit and healthy but slightly stir-crazy people who have been incarcerated for several weeks?


Now, to those people who have never been here that may sound ludicrous, but I bet those readers who have experienced life here in the land of sand are now nodding sagely and wondering themselves…..

So, as you can see I am in contemplative mood this evening, largely because I don’t really have the energy for anything even vaguely energetic.


You see the small man in my life is continuing his new-found love of sport and exercise. While it is too hot to run outside, he has taken to the gym and the treadmill.

So, whereas yesterday I was rudely awoken by his sister throwing open the door, switching on the lights, opening the blind and shouting it was ‘time for swim training’, this morning I was woken by a small man who has commando crawled around to my side of the bed and launched an ambush at my face repeatedly saying ‘time to run, time to run’.

So, off we went to the gym, me and my small man. Now there is an important thing to remember here, I am in my mid-forties and while overall I am pretty fit the Ramadan break has seen many excesses and more snug fitting clothes. He on the other hand is 8, been running in Cumbria, is naturally fit and is highly competitive.


So, side by side on the treadmills – I will leave the rest to your imagination other than to say I maintained my sporting dominance, just. The same thing on the steppers, sheer determination kept him at bay. After this I convinced him that he really should not overdo it and it was time to go home.

Then this afternoon was swimming and we were joined by the strawberry blond hand grenade and the larger man.

Once again the competitive edges shone through, but alas I cannot get the upper hand with the hand grenade with front crawl. The small man has the upper hand with back stroke and even had the nerve to be waiting at the end of one race with his legs over the side doing stomach crunches and asking what had kept me…..??

baby swimming

So, after quite a lot of training today I am a tad weary, needless to say the gruesome twosome aren’t.  But no rest for the wicked, I have already been informed that tomorrow morning is gym and the afternoon is swimming again….?

Right, best I go off and rest my weary body, don’t know what I am moaning about, I am not swimming to France and then cycling over to Paris in the next few days.

Toughen up woman!

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

Donate at


Tumbleweed, Feeling Hot & Whites Are White – AGAIN!

Blimey it is quiet here – very quiet indeed! I am not usually here in August and so have never seen the compound like this. There are people here – I think – but not very many. I walked into the supermarket this morning to see the guys who work in there looking very bored, the pigeons outnumbered the humans at the big outdoor pool and I swear a mass of tumbleweed has just blown past the front door.


There are signs of life, but they appear to be very few and far between.

That said, I love it. Life here is usually pretty quiet but this is fab, absolute peace and quiet – well, apart from the gruesome twosome permanently trying to inflict grievous bodily harm on each other but to be honest I think I am getting immune to that.


Needless to say it is hot, as Robin Williams famously mimicked in ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ – “Roosevelt. What’s the weather like out there? “It’s hot. Damn hot! Real hot! Hottest things is my shorts. I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking.” Well, can you tell me what it feels like. “Fool, it’s hot! I told you again! Were you born on the sun? It’s damn hot! I saw – It’s so damn hot, I saw little guys, their orange robes burst into flames. It’s that hot! Do you know what I’m talking about.” What do you think it’s going to be like tonight? “It’s gonna be hot and wet! That’s nice if you’re with a lady, but it ain’t no good if you’re in the jungle.”


So, as you can see it is a tad warm here – somewhere around the mid forties, but I have been assured that it is tamer this week than it was last week.


So, we are back and faced with all the associated fun and games with being back in the land of sand. First of all there is the annual water dilemma. Yeap, I have mentioned this before – the hot and hotter water issue, (click here for a refresher). Thanks to the heat there is just about no cold water. If you are lucky you may get a blast of cold water when you first switch on the shower, but alas that is it, mistime your plunge under the shower head by fraction of a second and you have blown it, a torrent of hot water takes over – great if you have been walking in the Cumbrian Fells, not so brill in the desert in summer. ? Yeap, you got it, the cold water tap throws out hot water and the hot water tap throws out even hotter water. It is at times like this that you actually crave a cold shower and needless to say brushing your teeth in hot water just is not pleasant.


Then there are more random things to negotiate. Well, ‘negotiate’ suggests an element of compromise – there is no compromise here, oh no – here you have to like it or lump it. There is the great bike seat dilemma as the small testosterone filled one found out this morning as he enthusiastically leapt onto his bike only to yelp loudly, stand on his pedals and exhale loudly. Yeap, bike seats get hot here and even melt. Last year mine ended up as a congealed mess which left some rather questionable marks on my shorts. So, at this time of year the options are keeping your bike in the shade or putting an ice pack down your shorts before pedalling off.


Finally there is hidden heat. Yeap I know it sounds odd but the heat hides and when you are least expecting it it leaps out at you. The classic is cupboards – especially those on exterior walls. Yeap, the demon heat builds up, and up, and up and then bumf!, you open the cupboard and a blast of hot air explodes out into your face. Don’t underestimate this, when you open the oven door you know what is coming, when you idly open a cupboard door to retrieve the washing up liquid you do not…….


So yes, we are back in the land of sand. My friend’s pregnancy cravings have been satisfied with copious amount of Angel Delight, some random sweets and two bottles of Sesame Oil. The washing machine has been on none stop and the suitcases are once again installed into the store room.

Talking of washing, you may or may not, (the latter I suspect rather than the former), be relieved to know that the whites are here as well and are currently undergoing a serious whitening, (confused?, I would be, find out what I am going on about White Wash Woes). Yeap, about the only thing that Saudi has that is better than deepest Cumbria is clear water, so in true Belle and Sebastian fashion, (well they sung ‘The Blues Are Still Blue’ but hey ho, you get the picture), the whites will be white.

As I mentioned in the post White Wash Woes this issue with washing your whites is not an issue at all, it is just a problem that has to be borne in mind and navigated around, although it does seem a little extreme to bring all the whites back to Saudi but needs must…

So, to detox and training. My liver has put away its white flag and the detox is going well – let’s face it, it had to!. The guys in the legendary KingPin Diner served me my lunchtime salad with enthusiasm, the guys in the supermarket, (yes the bored ones), sold me bottles of water with glee the guys in the sports centre ushered me and the gruesome twosome through to the deserted indoor swimming pool with nods of approval.


So, yes, we started off this morning with swimming training. I have to admit that I was slightly taken aback, (mainly because I was fast asleep), by the strawberry blond hand grenade’s enthusiasm when she decided swimming training was nigh, threw the bedroom door open with vigour, switched all the lights on, opened the blind and announced to the world that it was swimming training time and I had to get up.

Rather than argue I did actually climb out of bed and we went swimming. I have to be honest a great swimming session was had by all. The hand grenade has been inspired by the Great North Swim and is set to do a half mile swim next year and the small man is busy training for when he is old enough to do it. Don’t worry – he has not lost the running bug, he has announced that tomorrow we are going to the gym to use the treadmills.

Think I have my own two personal trainers.

So, a great training session this morning woke my shoulders up and they now seem to be rekindling their quest for world dominance.

A great speed walk this evening, just me and Simon Mayo. It is far too hot to run even in the evening so a speed walk it was, even that reduced me to a sweaty mass to the point that the gruesome twosome have declined my offers of ‘sweaty hugs’, ???


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Crabs, Brahms and Liszt Blogging & Overdue Detox….

So, here we go again, another trip is over and the gruesome twosome and I head back to the land of sand on the BA big bird, (so to speak), in the very near future.


Yeap, it has been an eventful and somewhat chaotic trip back to the UK, all sorts of things happening that will become apparent on the EIOT blog over the coming weeks, the normal chaos that engulfs our lives, much partying and enjoying the delicacies of the Cumbrian life and generally a feeling of ‘normality’ hick to be honest becomes more important and appreciated the longer we live in the land of sand.

Friday saw the gruesome twosome and I head from Cumbria to Dorset, yes you did read that right, Cumbria to Dorset.

In my absolute wisdom I had not appreciated that we were travelling down south on what for a lot of the world was the first Friday of the school summer holidays, a hot day and a day when several cars had burst into flames, self-combusted, been taken ill or been involved in accidents on the M6 and M5. So, some 9 hours, several Costa stops and with a very odd noise coming from the front passenger wheel we staggered into the village inhabited by among others our very good friends and the strawberry blond hand grenade’s best buddy from years ago at Kindergarten.


While I had bought small gifts for the hand grenade’s buddy and her sister, I had anticipated calling in at an appropriate place en route to buy flowers and make a contribution to the host’s wine store but thanks to the somewhat prolonged and stressful journey one more stop to make the purchases was beyond me and so that had to wait to yesterday when a pre-return to the land of sand visit to Sainsburys saw the purchase of a nice bouquet which the small testosterone one duly delivered to the lady of the house.

Any replacement of the considerable amount of alcohol will have to wait until a return visit – but it will be executed, especially considering that I did do considerable damage to their wine store this weekend.


So, as you will have surmised the inevitable pre-return to Saudi Sainsbury’s visit has taken place. the usual restock of Walkers crisps has taken place as has a restock of Jaffa Cakes. In addition a phone call to my buddy who is with child from the Angel Delight aisle means that her craving for butterscotch Angel Delight and some random type of sweets will be satisfied on our arrival back on the compound.

So this weekend, well much hilarity and fun, with a considerable amount of time sat on a seawall dangling small mesh bags containing various mortals of food which are attractive to crabs into the sea below.

After sometime of ‘crabbing’ without any success I decided the time had come to refer to everybody’s favourite online encyclopaedia, but it as at this point that I have to admit to a sinking sort of feeling.

You see there is always that thought at the back of your mind when you Google most things about how the search engine will interpret your query – none more so than when I tapped in ‘How To Catch Crabs’…….


Anyway, I am pleased to report that the first few results did undoubtedly refer to how to catch the crustaceans rather than an embarrassing medical condition but I have to say that I did not look much further down the list for fear of some uninvited, unpleasant and detailed medical photographs.

Anyway, from reading the advice on Google I was reassured that we were in fact ‘crabbing’ correctly and our efforts were duly rewarded soon after when a somewhat reluctant and brassed off crab was hoiked out of the sea and deposited in a bucket of water to be starred at by four excited children and two bewildered adults.

From that point onwards we failed dismally to find it a playmate – probably a good thing as the first catch was quite large and filled most of the bucket, it would have been a bit cosy in there.

Anyway, by this point the nerves of my good buddy Mrs B were shredded as we all leant over the side of the sea wall and any longer with flip flops dangling, children peeking and me enthusiastically rescuing crab lines I think that she may have become a jibbering mess so at this point we retreated for ice-creams before heading home for tea and medals, (well wine and a bbq). I hasten to add that our new friend was released from his bucket back into the sea to rejoin the rest of his crabby friends.


So, to training – or lack of it of late. Yeap, I have been very lax in my training and while I have remained active with walks, general mischief with the gruesome twosome and the normal chaos that goes along with our lives I have been remiss with my training.

This has not been helped by a reoccurrence of my damned foot problem which has been a pain, (literally), but no excuses – I have been a lazy so and so.

And before you say it, yes I am paying for it. My clothes are somewhat snugger and I swear those damned little critters have been in the wardrobe every night sewing in extra seams and rearranging the sizes.


However, as I sit here jotting down my musings and sipping a Bloody Mary, I am blissfully aware of the fact that I am heading back to the land of sand and that as of later today Operation Detox will be underway.

There are advantages to living in the land of sand – one of which is that a tee-total life is easy. I am talking cryptically here, but while there are options for various types of orange juice available, anybody who is not partial to anything other than proper orange juice can very easily detox from an excess of vitamin C.

So, the next month before heading back to deepest Cumbria again for Hajj, will see detox and considerable training. Yeap, it is damned hot at the moment so to the gym and pool I will go. After all The Great North Run is approaching rather quickly……??☺️☺️

I have still got money to raise for Tommy’s…..???

So, stand by for much talk of training over the coming weeks.

I hasten to add that normal service will be resumed with no planned interruptions in posts. I have been very aware that the posts have of late been somewhat sporadic – personally I blame the Bombay Sapphire. There is that saying about ‘drunk texting’, well in my defence I have been avoiding ‘Brahms and Liszt blogging’, not that I have actually been that bad but there has been much merriment…..

But as already discussed that will not be an issue for the next 4 weeks, so stand by for ‘on the wagon ramblings…..’


Right, BA have just sent me a message to say that the gate for the BA big bird is now open, so best I order another Bloody Mary, have a chunk of pork, round up the gruesome twosome and make our way to whatever delights BA can offer. That said, there has been an impressive lack of stress surrounding me and BA of late, or is that tempting fate as I stride out towards the big red, white and blue aeroplane…..??


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A Beaver’s Arse, Mrs M’s Driving Woes & Sheep Identity Crisis…..

I seem to spend a lot of time on the EIOT blog writing the words ‘regular readers may remember’ and referring to events or actions that I have already submitted my musings about.

I am not sure if that means that actually my life is a series of recurring events that rarely vary, whether I cling onto events as actually they are quite a rare event in my mundane life and so grab hold of them with the ferocity of Donald Trump’s toupee clinging to his head or actually there is a rich tapestry of events in my life that are all interlinked and reliant on each other.

Whatever it may be the fact of the matter is that many of the EIOT posts are actually interlinked and refer to events referenced in other days.

So, apologies, but here goes with the statement ‘regular readers may remember’ the mention of the legend that is Mrs M. Yeap, my long-term buddy who once resided in Riyadh but has moved onto better things in Abu Dhabi and who regularly leads me into mischief and chaos – usually involving copious amounts of alcohol. Mrs M’s child of the testosterone filled variety is best buddy’s with our testosterone filled one and so all visits are doubly welcome.

Well Mrs M has come to visit here in darkest Cumbria, the alcohol has flowed, the boyish mischief has gone through the roof and generally there has been much fun and frivolity.

The chaos started as we met in a coffee shop nearby town, at which point my testosterone fuelled one made a paper aeroplane out of the menu and launched it across the busy cafe. The aeroplane bounced off one of the waitresses who was less than impressed and even more so when she realised that the aeroplane was made out of one of their menus.

At that point I legged it out of the cafe with the strawberry blond one to get her to her horse-riding course and left Mrs M with two excitable small men to cope with the annoyed waitress.

I make no apology for that.

So, the strawberry blond one has disappeared off for 4 days of horse-riding, among much excitement and disgust when she realised she was missing out on a visit from Mrs M.

This is becoming an annual event but this year there is one major difference – the weather. Last year the strawberry blond one returned wet, soggy and particularly smelly. This year I anticipate a return that is sweaty, grubby and particularly smelly.

Yeap – deepest Cumbria has been hit by the current heatwave, yeap the one day heatwave, the sweat will be pouring off the strawberry blond one and the horses alike – delightful.

God bless persil is all I can say.

So, Mrs M’s visit has been punctuated by enjoying the gorgeous Cumbrian countryside and after a picnic by a brook this lunchtime, this afternoon we went exploring across the footpaths with three grumpy children and a rugby ball, (Mrs M not only has a small testosterone filled one but also a small blond female one).

Now on this walk, close to the farm we were greeted by a rather agitated sheep and two lambs who had clearly escaped from their field and were a little upset.


As we were on a narrow footpath I heroically, (hey get me, countryside expert!), steered the agitated sheep and off-spring away from the children and Mrs M and ushered them past. This fact was lost on the children who whole-heartedly blamed me for not being there to stamp down the nettles and so were stung, next time I will leave them to an agitated sheep.

Anyway, I have just seen the dude that is our local friendly farmer to ask him if the escapees, (a ewe and two lambs), were his. Now, being a complete numpty when it comes to sheep I was particularly proud of my description of ‘a ewe and two lambs’ – that is as technical as I get.


So, imagine my dismay and complete surprise when he asked ‘what did they look like?’. Now I have to say I suspect a level of mischief in his voice but even so I was somewhat taken aback and just said, ‘well they looked like sheep to me’.

I have to say that while he may know every sheep in his flock by facial features, tone of ‘baa’, direction of wool quiff and attitude, to me they all look the same and so any distinguishing features were lost.

Now, I am still slightly taken aback by this conversation and trying to reason it in my head.

I have to say that he did take the conversation further by asking if they had horns or not, (I think he toned down the technical terminology for me in light of my somewhat bewildered look), and accompanied it be circular hand gestures around each side of his head that represented horns.


In a slightly bewildered and post half a bottle of Prosecco fashion, I replied that yes they did and he replied that they were not his but that they would be fine and they would be rescued later this evening.

I honestly think that the question, ‘what did they look like?’ will be lodged in my brain forever.

So, Mrs M in Cumbria. Now it is important to remember that Mrs M is well-travelled and has visited many places world-wide. However, this is her first trip to deepest Cumbria and it has been a bit of a shock to her system.


Yesterday, on arrival Mrs M had to follow me through the narrow country lanes to the cottage and I have to admit that knowing Mrs M may lack some driving confidence on narrow lanes, (completely unjustified I hasten to add), I found myself praying that we did not meet any large tractors with trailers, equipment or herds of livestock being herded from field to field.

With hindsight that would have been the least of our worries.

As I was in front I was slightly concerned to see a tourist, (yes, there are a couple of them every now and then), in a car towing a caravan down the narrow country lane. To make matters worse this was being followed by three cars and a van who were clearly not impressed to be behind a caravan.

CO112936_0005 caravan STEVE ARGENT.jpg-pwrt3

I made it past and crawled up the road, looking in my rear view mirror for any sign of Mrs M. Nothing.

I pulled into a siding and waited, (I had two testosterone filled small men in the back seat who were bouncing as they had just been reunited).

Nothing. Nichts. Rien. No sign.

After a few minutes of concern, not to mention the three cars that has travelled towards the bottle neck, I turned around and meandered back.

There I saw a queue of cars, revving their engines. I got out of my car and walked to the front to see Mrs M and the caravan in a head to head situation, with a queue of traffic both ways.


Oh dear.

I have to admit that I asked one chap who was complete with trailer what was going on and I was greeted with an expletive about caravan owners and women who cannot reverse, (sorry Mrs M!).

In her defence I have to say that Mrs M was pretty much in the hedge and unable to go any further over and the caravan was hogging the road…..

Anyway, with encouragement the caravan made its way past the debacle but Mrs M was greeted by my car facing her head on.

We eventually got the traffic cleared and having reversed back down the hill I turned around and we made it into the village – with me still praying, (and yes, I am one of the most nonreligious people around), that we did not meet a fully loaded and equipped tractor as so often happens.

Anyway, we finally made it to the cottage where Mrs M’s nerves were soothed with gin and a full recovery was achieved.

Mrs M has now installed the small young lady’s car seat into my car and I am driving everywhere. Mrs M is resolutely refusing to drive anywhere on the narrow Cumbrian lanes until her departure on Thursday.

So, to the final topic in the blog title. Just to once again go back to those immortal words ‘regular readers may remember’ that a few weeks ago I wrote a post about Justin Beaver – yes, that beaver.

Well Justin is as always loved and treasured but is showing signs of wear and tear.

After I made my way up to bed last night I was greeted by the sight of two small men in my bedroom – one of whom was looking rather upset. This individual looked forlornly at me with Justin in one hand the Justin’s tail in the other.

It transpired that a tug of war had gone wrong, (why they were not asleep and were actually having a tug of war is beyond me).

So, today I have spent a considerable amount of time looking carefully at Justin’s bottom, armed with a needle and thread and aided by Prosecco.

I am pleased to announce that the operation appears to have been successful, the tail is back in place and the beaver is in recovery.

The Beaver2969.JPG Upstate, New York 09-28-09 Jodie Foster (with unidentified woman) & Mel Gibson shooting the new movie "The Beaver", about a man (Mel Gibson) who walks around with a puppet of a Beaver on his hand and treats it like a living creature Digital photo by Maggie ONE TIME REPRODUCTION RIGHTS ONLY NO WEBSITE USE WITHOUT AGREEMENT 718-487-4334-OFFICE 718-374-3733-FAX

The prognosis is good. Stand by for updates on Beaver health and rehabilitation.

Pass my the Prosecco somebody…..


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Running Man, Canned Dog Food & Stroppy Sheep…..

So, the rice pudding is in the oven, the jacket spuds are prepped and ready to be cast into the fire, (well fan assisted oven but hey, let’s not split hairs), the gruesome twosome are back from their morning adventures and I have chance to sit and jot down my musings the EIOT blog.


That said, the kitchen door is wide-open and a mini convoy of quad-bikes, (well two to be honest), with farmers aboard plus sheep dogs have just zoomed up into the fields leaving the gate open and so it could be assumed that anytime now there will be a flock of angry sheep being herded through the open gate for some agricultural reason. So, best I keep an eye open or the angry sheep may just keep on going and join me in the kitchen of the holiday cottage. I just hope that they are not joined by the quad bikes, farmers and sheep dogs – the kitchen just is not that big.

While I am on the subject of sheep, I have noticed of late how certain sheep in the area are developing attitude, not just a bit of attitude but bucket loads of it. I am not talking about the sheep here on the farm, but the free roaming ones in the valley and in the even more remote areas.

It used to be the case that they were timid and ran off at the mere hint of a vehicle approaching. No more. I do not know if it because the lambs are getting bigger and are more substantial or if the sheep just do not care anymore but blimey they are stroppy at the moment. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to come to a complete stop because of a random sheep in the middle of a single track road refusing to move. Even worse is when you are driving along and suddenly you spot a sheep head, (attached to a living, breathing sheep I hasten to add), casually on the side of the road with the body in the long grass – wide awake but just not bothering to move.

This morning alone there were three stand offs in the middle of the road, two stubborn sheep heads and and an angry looking ewe who was looking for trouble with anybody or anything that got in her way.

So, what else has been happening here in deepest Cumbria? Well, himself is installed back in the land of sand, much to his disgust.

It is at this point that I ought to announce with all due pomp and ceremony that from hereon in himself will no longer be referred to as a ‘MAMIL’. In a minor fit of pre-return to Saudi-itis yesterday with the resultant foot stamping, he pointed out that he is now ‘fed-up’ with being called a ‘MAMIL’ and would appreciate it if I ceased the practice.

Temper, temper…..


So, from now one, the cyclist formerly known as ‘MAMIL’ will now be known as himself, (again)….

Sheep update – all quad-bikes, farmers and sheep dogs have now returned via the open gate, accompanied by a mere handful of sheep. Among much whistling and commands the sheep were shepherded past the kitchen door and to wherever they are destined this afternoon – quite probably in preparation for Sunday’s roast dinner in the farmhouse I suspect.


So, this morning the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade had an appointment with the farmer’s wife and her three horses for a session of pony-care and a hack out over the fells. Much excitement has accompanied this venture – even to the point that she got herself out of bed bright and early this morning with no arguing or answering back – now there’s a miracle!

Anyway, with her packed off to do all things equine, the small man and I headed off through the valley to do the recycling and pay a visit to the emporium that is Booths.


Now, under normal circumstances I would not weigh down the EIOT blog with mundane ramblings such as the recycling and shopping. However, those people who read the recent post Run, Forest Run……., will know that the small testosterone filled man in my life has a new found love of running and drives such as that this morning which involve quiet country lanes with excellent long range visibility are punctuated with him jumping out of the car when it stops for sheep, passing vehicles or gates and running.


So, this mornings trip to the Booths emporium took considerably longer than usual to get there, actually twice as long.

There were two saving graces on the return journey. Firstly, it was raining. Not just raining but persisting it down in glorious fashion and while he did venture into his first experience of running in the rain it did not impress him and he soon retreated back to the car. The second saving grace was that we had also been to the traditional sweet shop near Booths and his haul of odd-looking delicacies were an irresistible attraction.

Now this brings me onto my next rambling for today. I have, without question, had a new chapter in my experience of children’s sweets written today.

The small man has been wittering on for a while about ‘Bean Boozled’ Jelly Beans. I have to say that this conversation has largely passed me by and has been one of those conversations that I just nod at while multi-tasking life.

Anyway, in the traditional sweet shop today they had packets of the afore-mentioned sweets.

In my naivety I allowed a packet as part of his haul – hmmmmm…..

On closer examination of the packet in the car, I started to be slightly concerned when I read the words – ‘Dare To Compare’, ‘Caution’ and ‘Contains Weird & Wonderful Flavours’


The small man then explained more about these culinary masterpieces.

These jelly beans look alike but each colour has alter ago. There are two beans of each colour, but one of them is a normal, middle of the road flavour such as ‘Juicy Pear’, ‘Lime’ or ‘Tutti-frutti’. The other is a random, not so normal flavour such as ‘Grass Clippings’, ‘Canned Dog Food’ or ‘Booger’.

Here is the full chart for your perusal, I take no responsibility for any feelings of nausea you may experience in reading this.


The game is to be brave enough to put one in your mouth with the inherent danger of getting a not so pleasant flavour on the off chance of getting a more acceptable taste.

So, after much procrastination the first one was chewed – yuk, grass clippings. Then the second one – canned dog food.

It was at this point that something really odd happened. You see the small man was chewing on this sweet which he unceremoniously announced was the ‘Canned Dog Food’ flavour and as he did so I could have sworn I could smell Chappie dog food.


I even took another deep breath just to convince myself that I was not imaging it, but yes while he was chomping, and gagging, on this delicacy I could definitely smell Chappie and as soon as he spat the sweet out and got rid of it the smell vanished.

Now, I am not sure if the manufacturers actually use Chappie in the production of these sweets, (somehow I doubt it), or have some very clever food and taste scientists who can recreate that smell but blimey it was authentic – very authentic.

As the first two sweets that he ate from the pack were dodgy flavours, the small man is now pondering the remaining jelly beans. They are in a bowl and he keeps looking at them suspiciously.

I do not know if he will take the plunge and try another one or not……….

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Run Forest, Run!, Departing MAMIL & New Blood….

As our time in the stunning Cumbrian countryside once again starts to make its way towards an end, I am stunned by the changes in the world that have taken place in the weeks that we have been here.

The embarrassment that is, (or was), Nigel Farage has stepped aside and gone to be embarrassing elsewhere – although I suspect that the muppet will be back in another guise in due course and shouting equally as loudly and inappropriately as ever.


Boris Johnson got what he wanted and then did not know what to do with it so stepped aside and rested on his laurels safe, apparently, in the knowledge that the Tory Leadership and Prime Ministerial baton would be thrust to him until he was unceremoniously stabbed in the back by Michael Gove.

Michael Gove then promptly showed how his distorted view of popularity among the Tory Party was completely fictitious as he bummed out of the leadership race with all due weight as is appropriate for an over inflated ego.


So, thus far we have been greeted by a posse of dithering, misdirected middle-aged men who showed actually their commitment to anything other than their country piles, off shore earnings and expense claims is somewhat dubious.

So, to another, George Osbourne has been conspicuous by his silence and absence throughout this entire farce – in the short term that is a good thing as he is as much of a muppet as the rest but does it mean he will be back with vengeance in due course? We can certainly hope not.

David Cameron – Let’s add Mr Cameron to this list who threw his toys out of the pram with the Brexit vote and left us in the lurch, apparently sometime in the autumn. Well, that was till yesterday when he said it would be this Wednesday. Talk about running out at full speed.


Personally I think he has already packed his ex PM budgie smugglers and by Thursday morning he will be sunning himself in a non-EU country somewhere with Sam Cam rubbing SP50 into his pasty skin.

Anyway, I could sit here and talk with a vague sense of interest about Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Eagle and Teresa May but to be perfectly honest the whole thing bores me to tears and I have dedicated enough of the EIOT blog to the numpties in Westminster. New blood is inbound and whichever side of the Brexit campaign we sit, the new blood can only be a positive. Now, it is time for more interesting and exciting matters.

So, to exercise, sport and training.

Well, I have to admit that I have over the last couple of weeks been somewhat lax in my training as my tighter clothing can confirm.

While I certainly have been no couch potato, I have certainly not been my normal highly active self.

While away from the land of sand I do not usually miss it, I have to admit for the first time I have missed having the sporting facilities on the doorstep. Deepest Cumbria is mind-blowing, I love it but a 20 mile drive to the swimming pool or gym is a bit of pain.

Yeap, you have got it right, I am making excuses – I have been somewhat lax in my training. How can I possibly claim that the distance to the gym and swimming pool is a reason for my lax training programme when some of the most incredible countryside anywhere is outside the front door – what a muppet!!!


Anyway, my lack of training has been brought home to me with significant force by two factors.

Firstly, the fact that The Great North Run is now just a little under nine weeks away and I really need to get my currently not so trim backside into gear for it.

Secondly, the small testosterone filled man in my life.

It has been brought to my attention with the force of a small testosterone man filled with adrenalin,  energy, country air, good food, acres and acres of space for adventure and a newly found passion for running.

We have known for sometime that the small man is not best suited to the land of sand – the heat and dust does not a happy small make. That combined with a hugely successful half-term at his big sister’s school has led to a small man desperate to stay at school in the UK.

The fact that while he is old enough to board at school, in our view is too little is irrelevant to him.

Anyway, one unexpected benefit of the time at school here is that he has discovered running. For numerous reasons, including the heat, he has never taken to running in Saudi. However, one dose of daily PE sessions in the Cumbrian freshness has led to a new found love of running.

Now this new found appetite for running is superb, but it does have one drawback.

Most car journeys around here involve slowing down on single track roads to pass cars, navigate stand offs with random sheep or stopping to open or close gates.

This is the issue – when you have a small man with a love of running in the car and the car comes to a halt for any reason, the back door is thrust open and away he goes.


Forest Gump has nothing on this small man!

As he disappears off over the horizon we sit and wait in the car. If we are lucky we see a distant splodge raise his arm to ask to be collected, if we are not so lucky then he disappears out of sight and we pull forwards to the next point where we can see him and reassure ourselves that he is safe.

Encouragement has been duly received with a trip to the local running shop and the small man’s first pair of ‘proper’ running shoes and shorts – Mo Farah watch your back!

This pattern of behaviour is on the one hand fantastic, but on the other a pain as quite frankly the time of any journey is at least doubled. Oh great!!!

So, our son’s new found love of running has brought home the startling reality that I need to get my backside in gear – and soon!

So, Mr Murray won Wimbledon – nice one Andy! Single handedly you have rescued a nation from the depth of self-destruction, isolation and alienation, (or so the mass media would have us believe), and have restored some national pride.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Katie next door, yes she of Katie’s Cakes fame. Not only has she had for several weeks the trauma of us being next door and the associated chaos but the trauma of me watching the Wimbledon Men’s Final on Sunday with all the associated screaming. Katie – I apologise unreservedly for the noise, screaming and shouting, it was completely necessary and required but I sincerely regret any disturbance to your very small people.


Then of course there was the day that himself and I watched ‘Grimsby’ while the gruesome twosome were at school with all the hilarity that involved, I really do not want to think about what you thought was going on in the lounge next door……

That said the look of sheer panic on his face when the new Prime Minister and football manager were mentioned was a picture – but did I detect a hint of excitement at the new Top Gear Presenter???

So, what of the MAMIL? Well, the lycra clad one departs these shores on Thursday to head back to the land of sand. The gruesome twosome and I will be around for a little longer before climbing aboard the BA big bird and head back. The bike will be put in the shed for 8 weeks until we are back for the Hajj break and no doubt Lycra will be donned and the sheep of Cumbria will be once again traumatised.

That combined with the small running man will mean that once again we will leave our mark on the Cumbrian countryside.

Himself’s suitcase is yet to be packed, but he is armed with numerous goodies for folks back in Saudi. So far, several food parcels, numerous packets of Angel Delight and Vanilla Bean Paste. More to follow.

Right, BBQ time.


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