Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busy Day

So today was the last day of school before the lovely Eid holidays. I can tell you - we all need this holiday really badly - life has been so busy recently and it's going to get worse as we head into the run up to Christmas I know so a week to take some time to relax all together is going to be wonderful. We are planning to do very little, other than go to the beach, go cycling, play in our new and lovely garden and generally just have a bit of time for chilling - I can't wait. I told Jacob he looked knackered today and he said "I am so tired" now this is so unusual for him, usually he would say "no, I'm not tired at all, can I stay up late tonight ?" even if he had bags down to his knees so for him to admit defeat is serious ! Oscar - well he is a duracell bunny and will just keep going no matter what. James and I are certainly worn out James hasn't made it past 9 o'clock the last two nights before giving in and going to bed and I'm not much better.

Anyway, today being the last day before the holiday, school decided to make sure that it was action packed for us !! So this morning I went to the beach in the company of sixy odd six and seven year olds for plenty of sandcastle builing. I have to say they had a fabulous time, many many sandcastles were built and much fun was had - they really really enjoyed it and surprisingly, so did I !!! So here is Jacob on the beach building his sandcastles.

After this it was a quick dash from Qurum beach back to Azaiba to collect Oscar from nursery, take him home have a quick lunch and then back to school for an exhibition that Grade 1 were putting on to show the houses that they had all built for their Dream House project. They were amazing. All of them, I can't believe that children of their age produced such fabulous stuff, the thought that had gone it to it all was awesome. Jacob had made a crab house with search light antenae - the idea being that you can search out intruders with your lights and then pick them up and throw them in the bin with you very long pincers !!! do you think he's a bit security concious ?!!! It was great fun anyway and they were all so proud of themselves. Here is Jacob with his finished creation !

So happy holidays to those that have them and see you soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

National Day, YAAAY!

Congratulations to his Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said and the people of Oman on the occassion of the 39th National Day, and thank you for having us here another year!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Teething Troubles

Well what a busy time October has been, now I have a chance to say thank you to everyone that helped us out in the month!

It all began with our friend Jo’s arrival in town in order to help us celebrate our 40ths.
Jo is a regular reader of the blog (So she says), but is far too busy or important ;o) to comment. Shame on you Jo, go to the back of the class!

Jo joined Becky and me on the hunt for a new house and was there when we finally found it. She was also present when I lost it with an agent due to that company’s complete incompetency and personal attitude, in Jo’s words ‘I have never seen James so angry’ I can’t say I have either!
Putting that aside, I would like to say the first big ‘THANK YOU’ to Nicole at Cluttons for listening to us, understanding our requirements and most importantly, remembering us at the crucial moment, a job well done, brilliant.

And with all of that my Parents arrived just in time for the ‘Partay’.
We had arranged for Andy Pyzer of Hi FM repute to DJ for us and the guys at the Dolphin Village to provide the venue and the food. There were the usual moments beforehand, ‘If a tree falls down in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’, in our case it was, ‘If you hold a party and invite lots of people, will anyone come?’.
Whilst I’m on a philosophical mind set, did anyone see that someone is actually planning on conducting the Schrödinger’s cat experiment?? COOL!!
Fortunately for us a lot of people did turn up (Or I would have been eating left-overs for a month), and we spent the night talking, eating and dancing.
Andy did a great job with the music considering the immense pressure he had been placed under, Becky had warned him of dire consequences if he were to play music of a certain era or anything else not of her liking.
The guys in the kitchen served up some absoloutly delicious food, plenty of curry, so I was happy (Should have had a doggy bag at the end of it), and the guys in the club kept the drinks flowing. So a big ‘Thank You’ goes out to Andy and the guys of the Dolphin Village for making the party such a great success!
Oh, and a last ‘thank you’ for the party has to go to the lovely lady who got up and danced with me at the end of the evening, I have no idea who you are, but I do hope you enjoyed yourself, photos anyone?

The following week my parents took off down to Salalah for a couple of days. Reports came back that they had a lovely time with a couple of trips out to see the tail end of the Khareef and walks along deserted beaches. The Crown Plaza was completely deserted!
For those of you that don’t know, the Khareef is the wet season in the South of Oman, when everything is lush and green. I must say that one of my favorite photos is on the header of Dhofari Gucci’s blog.
I suppose most people think of the Middle East as one big sand box, but Oman is nothing like that, it is just so diverse and I really love that about it (More on this in another post me thinks). It is also very small in some ways, one of these experienced whilst out shopping on my parents return from their trip. We happened to be in a certain shop frequented solely by expats when we bumped into our friend Bernie, at which my mother instantly remembered having bumped into her on the deserted beach in Salalah. Small world, and even smaller when we pointed out that they had previously sat beside each other (and subsequently both forgotten) a year ago at a friend's party in Al Azaiber! I am glad to see that I am not the only one who has trouble remembering people names and faces.

So back in Muscat my father was starting to get itchy fingers, not one to sit around idly, a job was in order. We had a new house to prepare before we moved, and the garden had a dead and very prickly hedge that had to come out.
We set to work with shovels and forks and, after much sweat and a little blood, we had removed a quarter of it.
The following day, already feeling the effects of our previous day’s exploits there was little enthusiasm for more of the same and so we struck upon the idea of employing the jeep to do the hard work. It was still hard work, but oh so much more rewarding!

The benefits of this impromptu makeover was a far larger garden and additional street parking at the front of the house. So with just a few roots left to get rid of, we are planning to grass the dirt areas and have a real garden for the first time since leaving England.
By the end of the weekend, what with all the jobs inside the house as well, my parents were exhausted. A day of rest around the pool at the Dolphin village was called for before their inevitable flight back to Blighty.
A big ‘Thank You’ to my mum and dad for all your hard work and we really loved having you over, you’ll need to come back next year to reap the rewards of your labours.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum, (Boom Boom)when I received a call from Al Hamry Post Office……

PO – “Are you James Michelle Smith, Old Company Name, PO Box XXX, PC XXX?
Me – “Actually it’s Michael, and I changed companies and PO Box over a year ago”
PO – “??????”

Realizing I had just inadvertently confused the issue, I quickly backtracked…..

Me – “Yes”
PO – “We have package from Hong Kong. We are closed, come next week”

Now this had my brain racing, I had changed jobs and addresses quite some time back and some time prior to that a parcel from Hong Kong had indeed gone missing.
At the time I had been fortunate in being able to ask the help of the Post Master General of Oman Post and, with the help of his staff they had tracked the package back to a forwarding warehouse in Singapore.
It was in Singapore that it went astray, I was assured that it had not been stolen, simply mislaid (Probably picked up with other parcels and shipped to America or other unknown destination) and some time in the future it would show up.
I can’t say I shared this optimism and I guess I wrote off any chance of seeing my parcel delivered.
Imagine my surprise when I got to the post office in Ruwi to find it really was my long lost package, arriving in Oman a full two years and two months after it was sent!
The guys at the post office couldn’t believe it and I had to show them the post mark to back up my story. This elicited much laughter and comments that it must have tralled via donkey mail.
I would like to point out to everyone that in general, if you have lost something in the post, it is more than likely that it is NOT Oman Post’s fault, but more likely that of the people in between. As Oman is not a major postal hub parcels and letters are often dropped off at forwarding points around the globe waiting for enough post to justify a full flight to Oman.
One very sound piece of advice is to have your telephone number written below your postal address and then you too may get an unexpected telephone call from a post office somewhere in Oman.

A milestone in our family history was reached shortly before we moved house.

Jacob lost his first tooth!!! This issue had been bothering him for some time as everyone in his class at school, other than him, had already lost at least one. His other concern was whether the tooth fairy would get lost as we were just about to move.
Fortunately the lady came through and Jacob woke the next day to find ten, crisp one hundred baisa notes nestled under his pillow, Phew!!!

So the day of the move was upon us and at nine am, six men and a truck arrived to shift all our worldly possessions to six streets away. My best laid plans flew out the window as I struggled to keep up and just when it looked like it would all go horribly wrong, our friends turned up to lend a hand.
In the space of a day we had dismantled all our furniture, packaged our belongings, ran it around the corner, reassembled and mostly unpacked it all. No mean feat, but we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help.
So a big ‘Thank You’ goes out to Gael and Andrew, Olivia and Chris and especially Martin and Andrea who kept us going ‘till the bitter end and even went and collected the ‘thank you’ dinner I had promised them!

Becky and I spent the next two days putting the house in order and discovering all the little problems associated with a ‘new’ old house. Our new landlord ‘Saif’ showed his colours early on by brining guys around to fix the problems as soon as we had identified them, even mucking in and fitting manhole covers himself!
Oscar gave us one small hiccup, when he surreptitiously turned off a hither to unknown valve, thereby cutting off our water.
Becky called the water company out, “Sorry, not our problem mate!”, so she organised a water tanker which pumped water up to the tanks on the roof, still nothing. And so I left work early to attempt to solve the problem.
After much head scratching, (deap in thought that is, not head lice) I found the valve and switched the water back on.
I also, thanks to Oscar’s shenanigans, discovered a blocked pipe that had prevented us from making use of the tankered water, Well done Oscar!

Finally, I would like to say that Jo had a lovely time with us, but as she never comments, I couldn’t really say! ;o)