More Than A Tad Miffed……

Now you would have thought that with the number of times and the frequency that I travel through the illustrious conurbation that is the airport in Riyadh, that nothing would surprise me let alone offend me. After all I am a pretty hardy sort and after living in the land of sand for 5 years there is little that can shock me. But yes, tonight I am more than a little miffed.

piggymiss

Before I go any further I ought to explain to those who have never experienced the land of sand how security works at the airport. You see as we live in a segregated society, sort of, then it is not deemed appropriate that men and women should be ‘scanned’ together and heaven forbid by a member of the opposite sex.

So, instead us ladies have a separate area for this to take place.

In times gone by we would have to shoulder our way to the conveyor belt, dump all our hand luggage and then leg it back to the end of the queue where the ‘ladies search area’ is situated. You then had to hope that you would get through there super speedily before your bags appeared out of the machine to potentially be picked over.

luggagepile

The ‘ladies search area’ is actually a small cordoned off area behind a grubby looking curtain where usually a couple of local ladies are sat enjoying a falafel and a good gossip. They are usually pleased to see you, despite the fact that you are disturbing them from their cuisine but carry on with their conversation while they scan various parts of your anatomy with a rather archaic looking scanner that more resembles a gadget for measuring radiation at Chernobyl than anything high tech at an airport.

This process is usually more palatable when I have the small testosterone filled one in tow. Despite his grumpiness about another trip to an airport he still does charm the ladies and it has even been known for them to break off from their conversation to say hello to him and stroke his hair – much to his annoyance.

childannoyed

They seem to be put off stroking the hair of the strawberry blond hand grenade. Several years of locals being fascinated by her strawberry blond locks have triggered an inbuilt defence mechanism and if there is even a hint of fascination about the unique hair colour then snarling starts, rapidly followed by growling and frothing at the mouth. Funnily enough this tends to deter even the most determined local……..

Anyway, times have changed in security at the airport. The ongoing renovation at the airport has led to a bit of a change and instead of the shoulder barging to the front of there queue you now go through a new and improved ‘ladies search area’ which proudly boasts its own scanner, bright and shiny new gadgets and a new cohort of staff who appear to be highly trained.

And no, not a falafel in sight.

Sorry – couldn’t resist a quick bit of GoRemy – it is a while since his last contribution to the EIOT blog after all……

So, after that brief digression back to the ‘ladies security area’ at Riyadh airport.

So, the new and improved security area is a good thing. However, it does mean that the hardened Riyadh traveller has to negotiate a new set of directions that take you directly into the enclave compete with hand baggage.

It was at this point that my emotions were shattered and I found myself questioning my inner self.

Yes, as I wondered along and questioned where to go I must have looked a tad puzzled. Because it was at this point that the on duty security officer asked, ‘man or lady?’

manwoman

Now while I am the first to admit that I am never at my best in getting to the airport for the overnight flight on the BA big bird, (no, that is still not a derogatory comment about the BA crew),  I like to think that I do maintain my feminine charms and my gender is not in question.

Obviously I am wrong.

Oh dear, time for an airport makeover I think….

Tonight’s experience reminds me of a visit a few years ago now to my previous beautician here in Riyadh.

In the course of this treatment session the therapist in question was close up and personal doing my eye brows. At which point, in very broken english, she commented that I may be getting slightly hairy above my top lip and perhaps it was time to give it some attention.

womanmoustache

Now, while I am always very open to professional opinions from anybody, this was a bit of a sock to the system and resulted in a  few minutes standing in front of her mirror trying to decide whether or not I was indeed developing a facial hair issue and whether or not urgent action was needed.

With some backtracking from the lady in question and several minutes with my face virtually pressed against the mirror I decided that I was fine, that the light must just have been giving a false impression and there was no need to buy a razor just yet.

womanshaving

That said at the back of my mind there were still vague question marks and I resolved to ask the first friend who I would inevitably bump into when I left the therapist if I did have a problem.

Well, for once between the therapist’s house and the supermarket on the compound I saw nobody.

Instead as I walked into the supermarket area there were two of the guys who work on the compound standing chatting.

Now just to recap from previous posts, the guys who work on our compound hold everything together and generally come from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and The Philippines.

I have a lot of time for these guys and always try to say hi. However, it should be remembered that while these guys have more english then we do of any of their languages, quite often communication issues abound.

So, as I walked into the supermarket area, in my usual cheery fashion I said ‘Good Morning’ to the two chaps in question.

goodmorning

Being the polite chaps that they are, they broke off their conversation and turned to me. At which point one smiled and said, ‘Good Morning Sir’, before realising his mistake and rapidly revising his statement to ‘Ma’am’……

Now under normal circumstances this would have made me pause for thought but little more. However, as this happened just minutes after the conversation about my apparently developing facial hair issue then this was too much and quite frankly reduced me to a mass of quivering facial hair.

I smiled sweetly at the chaps, not letting on about my inner turmoil and scuttled into the toilets to once again use the mirror.

Anyway, all I can assume is that it was a weird coincidence. It is several years ago now and I still have not had to commit to any drastic action above my top lip.

I did change my beauty therapist and the incredibly patient Mrs CH has since dealt with all my varying requirements ever since and has never once made mention of my top lip.

She did however identify a grey hair in my right eyebrow this week…

grayhair

Anyway, onto other matters.

As I am sure you will have deduced by now yeap I am Blighty bound once more as an Exeat weekend followed by many Christmas school celebrations beckon.

But if by any chance anybody who will see either of the gruesome twosome in the next few days is reading this, please do not let on that I am inbound. No, the gruesome twosome think I am inbound on Thursday and I fully intend to spring a surprise on them….

surpriseword

Now, here I sit waiting for the BA big bird to arrive and I am intrigued. You see what happens here is that when a flight arrives the passengers are filtered past the passengers waiting to depart, the aeroplane is cleaned, (is it BA??), and then we all get on and off we go.

Because of this you see exactly who is arriving and usually there are a few familiar faces and often there are a few local chaps in thobes, (not thongs i hasten to add – well maybe they are wearing thongs, it is pretty hard to tell really and would be inappropriate to look too closely), waiting to greet a VIP or similar.

Well tonight there are more than a few. There is a blinkin’ coach load of chaps in immaculate white thobes and while I write an all out melee has taken place. The BA big bird is clearly here and a mass of thobes, first class baggage labels and enthusiastic handshakes has just exploded at the end of the jetty.

Many of the apparently important folks have been diverted and have evaporated along with their thobe wearing guardians.

We are now seeing the rest of the ‘not so important’ souls meander down the jetty to fight their way through immigration.

It is only a matter of time before the crew of tonight’s BA big bird trundle towards us looking full of enthusiasm and excitement for their 24hrs in Riyadh……That said our crew will be here soon and they will be full of enthusiasm and excitement ready for their flight out of Riyadh after their 24hrs….

What a jolly band they are....

What a jolly band they are….

Right, so EIOT Towers is calling. Yeap, not only will I be down in the field in wellies and waders tomorrow investigating the water supply, but I will be breaking the ice on the tank to get to it in the first place.

Yeap, rumour has it it is a tad nippy up north – it must be the testosterone filled one had a jumper on when he was on Facetime yesterday. So, it must be cold. He was still wearing shorts though so there is still scope for it to get colder…..

Right, forget people spotting, crew spotting is the order of this evening while trying to guess just how happy with life they are according to the severity of their frowns – yeap they are on their way…..blimey that was a big sigh from that hostie…….

Laters!

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe…..

I’m here! Just when you thought it was safe to go back onto Facebook, Twitter or any other social platform where my ramblings appear, well I have kiboshed that!

 

kiboshedwoman

Yes, I am here.

Apologies to anybody, if there is anybody, who has missed my ramblings well I am here.

I do often worry that nobody reads my drivel but I have been reassured that people have been looking at the EIOT website in my absence. I assume to see if there are any new posts, but it could be just to check that the coast is clear and hope that maybe I have disappeared into the ether.

spontaneouscombustion

Well, I am back. Yeap, I have had some time out. I have been really rather busy doing some other things. Nothing exciting and I am sure reference will be made to them in due course, but in the meantime it is time for a catch up.

So what has been going on?

Well, I seem to recall that my last EIOT post was pre-child depositing back at school when I was getting ready to climb aboard Lufthansa luxury. What a refreshing change it was too.

Lufthansa

Yeap, an immaculately clean aeroplane, sweet smelling and departing bang on time – down to the second – and arriving on time. Polite staff, ever open drinks trolley, (alas I was driving on arrival – hurumph…) and generally as pleasant an experience as you can ever have on a night trip. Listen up and learn BA!

The trip itself saw me in my usual whirl of vaguely organised sort of chaos, with me shoe-horning into the time absolutely everything that you could ever quite imagine.

Those few days saw me acting as everything from carpenter, furniture mover, water tank engineer, labourer, Mum, peace negotiator, evil and embarrassing parental monster, Father Christmas, Waterstones Demon and the thorn in the side of BT. Most of those roles ended when I landed back in the land of sand – except thorn in the side of BT which has escalated quite substantially today.

bttearing

The mere fact that there were no legendary EIOT posts during my whirlwind trip should come as no surprise as there is still no BT line going into EIOT Towers.

No, despite a mere flicker of hope of a pending connection in the recent conversation with our ‘Case Manager’ we are still left wanting and quite frankly completely high and dry without any sort of communication. To be honest the vague hint of a pending connection was a red herring an clearly designed to get me off the phone.

herringred

Now, the continued BT situation has led to my new status as Waterstones Demon and quite frankly I suspect that I am now ‘black-balled’ from all branches of Waterstones.

You see we were due for a BT update on the Monday of my brief UK visit. Needless to say it didn’t arrive, nichts, narda, rien. I knew that our case manager, (Vincent), was on holiday, (so much for always being on hand and one point of contact), but had been assured that one of his colleagues, (possibly one of our other two ‘Case Managers’ or maybe a new, fourth one), would be in touch that day.

skeletoncall

It got to 1630 on the Monday and nothing. In light of the fact I had no contact number for a supposed ‘other’ case manager, I called Vincent’s number. I was greeted by a voice mail message apologising that Vincent was on holiday but inviting me to leave a message and it would immediately be listened to by ‘somebody’ and actioned.

I am not sure what the BT definition of ‘immediately’ is, but it is not the same as mine and after half an hour there was nothing and I was heading back up to EIOT Towers and therefore by default heading out of mobile coverage and therefore into the ether…..

So, I left another message.

By the time I ventured back into communication and civilisation, it was Tuesday and there were no messages, emails, owls or carrier pigeons from BT.

Now on Tuesday I was heading to Lancaster to meet the legendary Mrs M for coffee. The arrangement was to meet in Waterstones before heading off to Costa for a natter.

Anyway, Mrs M was not in sight, so I took the opportunity to call BT – again! I left yet another message on Vincent’s voice mail. But this was not enough – I was fed up with no contact and so decided to call the general BT phone number.

bthoops

Watta mistake to make…

Well, after the first 20 minutes of being on hold I was getting bored – always bad news. I had worn holes in the pavement outside Waterstones from pacing up and down and so with my phone glued to my ear I ventured into Waterstones. Still no sign of Mrs M I hasten to add.

Now, it is important to realise that I am not the sort of person who makes phone calls in public. I loathe and detest people who walk around anywhere public while on the phone. However, after 20 minutes on hold outside Waterstones in Lancaster there was no way I was losing my place in the ‘BT Queue’.

So, still on hold I wondered around Waterstones and selected several books as a vague attempt at Christmas shopping, placed them carefully on the till just as a voice said, ‘ Hello, this is, [(let’s call him Buzby)], from BT. How can I help you?’

I found this quite extraordinary as I had already submitted my details in response to the numpty automated answering system so he knew exactly who was on the phone. Perhaps he had read a resume of the case and a feeling of dread and fear had rickashaid through his body and he was hoping there had been an IT failure and actually it wasn’t Mrs EIOT about her 11 weeks without phone or WIFI but some mild mannered old lady who was calling just for somebody to talk to and ask if a BT Engineer would like to call round for a cup of tea.

ladytea

Sorry, no such luck, it was Mrs EIOT and I wasn’t in the mood for small talk.

Anyway, after some posturing he said that he was going to make some internal phone calls and would I mind holding? I pointed out at this juncture that I had been holding for well in excess of 20 minutes and quite frankly life was too short and so he could call me back.

At this point he said, and I jest not, that he was unable to make outgoing calls and so I would have to hold.

jokingnot

Now, it was around now that my blood started to boil and I pointed out that this was BT and of course he could make outgoing phone calls. If BT could not make outgoing phone calls then who could?

Please bear in mind that I was still wondering around Waterstones during this exchange. It was just past 0900 and I was the only customer in there, but I was still in Waterstones.

Anyway, as he was telling me I had to hold, I pointed out to him that he ought to cut the ‘crap’, put me on hold and get on with his internal phone calls.

Fair play he did.

During this time my vague attempt at Christmas shopping one handed continued, (the other hand and phone was still glued to my ear), and I added another couple of books to my stash at the checkout.

Anyway, after a few more minutes he came back on the line with some convoluted explanation about our continuing lack of communication tools at EIOT Towers. Apparently they now need to dig up a field but before they can do that they need to send the planning and surveying team out to assess it. For goodness sake it is a field that needs digging up!

diggerfield

Anyway, our BT chappie then launched into his well practised spiel about how he ‘understood’ my frustrations, ‘knew how frustrating it is’ and ‘how he felt for me’ in my situation.

Well, enough was enough and while I do not usually react to spin and ballony, that was one step too far.

The conversation went something like:

BT Numpty: ‘I am really sorry Mrs EIOT, I know how frustrating it is and I really understand your…..”

Me: ‘Oh for goodness sake cut your PR sympathetic spiel that you learnt on some sort of touchy feely course. I have done those courses as well and you and I both know it is a huge pile of b******s which is designed to make people feel better and shut up, so let’s’ cut to the quick and talk about the fact that after 11 weeks I have no phone line and there is no sign of a phone line anytime between now and the next millennium’

It was about at this point that I felt eyes staring at me and I remembered that actually I was still in a public place – Waterstones. Yeap, the manager was glaring at me and asked me quite bluntly ‘not to use language like that and speak to people in that manner in his store’

keep-calm-and-rock-the-naughty-step-3

Ooooppppsss……naughty step here I come.

I was actually quite contrite towards him and immediately apologised.

Anyway, the conversation with BT ended with yet another update date issued and a very curt goodbye from me to the BT call centre chappie and vice versa.

I paid for my stash of books, apologised once more and left the store with my tail between my legs as Mrs M was now in the near vicinity and in need of coffee. So off I went to Costa to meet her and satisfy her caffeine addiction.

Mrs M saw my Waterstones carrier bag, that cost me 5p I hasten to add, did comment that I had already been there without her and would I head back with her after coffee. I explained the situation and made my apologies as I did not feel it appropriate to darken the Waterstones doorstep once more.

hbkb-naughty-step-t-rd

The latest news about BT is that….well there is no news really. I did receive a very garbled message the other day about waiting for permission from a landowner to dig up a field. We were due for another update today and in fairness I did receive an email today from some bod in the ‘Executive Level Complaints Team’ but the email didn’t really say anything other than hello but I think it is fair to deduce that we have now been escalated to the ‘Executive Level Complaints Team’ . I am not sure what that means, is it a team that deals with complaints about executives, or a team that deals with complaints more effectively than the other teams that we have moved through? Time will tell.

I did try to call case manager number four back but she had clocked off for the day by 1630 UK time. Another always contactable during office hours type bod……

I can only assume that we have been promoted to the ‘Executive Level Complaints Team’ as I have once again been in touch with the newspaper local to EIOT Towers as they have been considering writing a story about the BT debacle for sometime and today I suspect that they have been in touch with BT again.

Well, I am very grateful to the local paper but as they have been considering writing the article for quite a few weeks now I am not holding my breath. However, the rattle to the BT cage that they have delivered today may have something to do with the escalation of our case.

In anycase today I have potentially escalated the issue myself.

When I decided to call the latest case manager now in the ‘Executive Level Complaints Team’ I randomly did some research and Googled ‘newspapers that do not like BT’. Well, a very interesting article came up – BT Not Investing Enough In Openreach and made for very interesting reading.

So, to cut a long story short a rather good email has pinged off to a couple of London journalists this evening. Let’s see if that gets us anywhere!

breakingnews

So, anyway, onto other matters.

Water. Well, another visit from our local water expert with a bad back and his compressor which has led to a torrent of water into the holding tank.

But, for some reason the tank does not fill. Our local water expert sent his youngest son into the tank but no leak, hole or crack could be found.

But alas, the tank will not fill beyond around 2 foot deep.

Now I am no physicist but even I know that water gushing into an intact tank will mean that the depth will increase. But no, no increase in depth.

It is a mystery.

Anyway, we have agreed that on the next visit we are going to blitz the tank and find out what the heck is going on. Yeap, I suspect I will be donning the waders once again and I may well venture into the tank as well…….

wellieswaders

I have single handedly started to clear the earth and vegetation off the top of the tank in preparation for further investigation and repair. I have discovered to my surprise that the tank is not actually metal but concrete….a very old tank…….

This brief and action packed trip has proven to me how much I love deepest, darkest Cumbria and how I love EIOT Towers. It is absolutely freezing there at the moment – I drove through sleat, snow and general freezingness en route to the airport on the way back to the land of sand – but EIOT Towers keeps us cozy and warm.

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Yeap, this is a photo I took en route to the airport in the wee small hours on airport day. Actually a correction, this was a photo I took en route to school at 0300 on airport day as a diversion en route to the airport as I had decided as I lay awake worrying that I would oversleep, (get your head around that one…), that I had not packed the small testosterone filled one enough clothes for his boarding fun and adventures. So a call in at school was necessary to leave a bag of small man clothes on the front door handle ready for when the school rolled into action at some point later.

I am not sure how many times school have found a Lidl bag filled with random clothes hanging from the big polished door handle on the oak front door of school, but there is a first time for everything.

I did have an email later to say that the random carrier bag of clothes on the front door handle has been found and handed over to the boy’s house matron – albeit slightly damp and snow soaked……

Oh the joys of parenthood! A 0300 visit to school in the snow to make sure the small man is catered for……

So, back in the land of sand. Slightly traumatic as an issue with almost identical bags, a pack of veal escalope and several bags of baby clothes almost ended in disaster. But more of that another time.

buzzaverted

Well, there is cold water coming out of the cold taps and the water in the hot tap no longer peels the skin off your back, guess it must be autumn/winter.

Right, time to go and prepare more ammunition for BT….

Laters!

 

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Boothman

Credit Where Credits Due…..

Well, credit where credits due and while I will always be the first in line to knock British Airways, (and British Telecom for that matter), I feel I ought to give all due recognition to BA for their new discount for The Armed Services – including past personnel, spouses etc.

http://www.cityam.com/252780/british-airways-giving-armed-forces-10-per-cent-discount

Apologies for inserting a link to an external website, but I have just spent the last two hours trying to work out unsuccessfully how to insert the website into the EIOT blog when I really ought to be packing. When I did manage to insert it then it was so tiny that you would have had to have used a microscope to read it. All the websites I read about increasing the iFrame size were not much help so I have binned that project for now.

As I said I really should be packing.

baconsenses

So, we are all booked in as I stayed up to the middle of the night to do the online check in and get good seats for us. So, imagine what response I got this morning when I overslept and then tried to marshall the troops into action to go swim training.

Yes, you have got it, the general response was a combination of, ‘well you should have got up earlier’, ‘I’m hungry – what’s for breakfast?’ and ‘why didn’t you set an alarm clock?’.

Next time I will have an early night and they can enjoy the dregs of whatever seats happen to be left over at check in…….gggrrrrrrrr…..

Anyway, one trip to the shop later to get pain au chocolat to fill them up, (when I got back they both commented that they hadn’t actually noticed I had gone out……), and normal service was resumed…….

Right, best I go and pack, but in the meantime another offering from GoRemy – once again turn up the volume, kick back and enjoy!

 

Laters!

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DSC_5886

Lufthansa Joy, BT Silence, Empty Bucket & Another Giggle…..

Oh dear, it must be time – the suitcases are out, the washing machine is claiming overtime, stuff for EIOT Towers is disappearing into the bags and the gruesome twosome are being generally tidied up, cleaned, groomed and organised ready to head back to school.

Yeap, we have had the obligatory trip to the hairdressers, an M&S order is in place for essentials at school, shoes will be cleaned, toothbrushes packed and clarinet packed away ready to head back to the metropolis that is school.

mumpacking

There will be panic stricken moments of anxiety when I desperately try to remember whether school kit is here, at school or at EIOT Towers and hoping that I have got it right as to where they are.

So, tomorrow night off we go with the German time capsule that is Lufthansa. I have to day that actually I am quite looking forward to it. Instead of the smelly, unreliable and unpunctual BA big bird with grumpy crew we can look forward to wonderful German efficiency, cleanliness, prompt departure, friendly staff and of course the early opening drinks trolley.

 

Lufthansa

So, another brief visit back to the UK to deposit the gruesome twosome back at school and then back to the land of sand. It must be brief – I haven’t even done a Sainsbury’s order!

As I alluded to last night BT have once again single handedly failed to connect the phone and WIFI, so there will be limited contact with the outside world.

The latest reasoning is that they have now found a fault on the line. I did ask why they had not picked this up earlier in the 10 week debacle that has been connecting EIOT Towers with the outside world and civilisation, but once again I was greeted by that oh so familiar BT response of….no response, just stony silence.

phonesilence

So, there is nothing for it but to frequent the cafe with its high speed broadband service and force down a bacon butty or two with a hot chocolate or two, or make my way down to the village pub and partake in a pint or two of orange juice to use their WIFI.

Its a tough life but somebody has to do it…..

The next update is due while I am actually in the UK, so stand by BT….

Of course the other pressing matter to do with EIOT Towers is the water supply and in particular our raging, and leaking, holding tank. Yeap, on arrival I will be donning my wellies, waders and brandishing a spade as I make my way across the fields to the spring and holding tank.

wellieswaders

If I am lucky our local water expert will be on hand and we can stand, scratch our chins, take sharp intakes of breath and look at the manhole cover while chewing the fat on the various permutations of what to do about the leak.

It gives a whole new meaning to the song, ‘there’s a hole in my bucket’ I can tell you……

 

No, this is not our holding tank, but it is quite tricky to find a 30 year old 10,000 litre holding tank with a hole in it on the internet.....

No, this is not our holding tank, but it is quite tricky to find a 30 year old 10,000 litre holding tank with a hole in it on the internet…

And, I don’t want any comments humorous or other wise about ‘The Little Dutch Boy’ thank you very much…

fingerdyke

Right, as promised in the last post, another submission from the legend that is GoRemy.

Volume up, kick back & enjoy!

Laters!

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Tommys Baby