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Blogosphere, Uncategorized

First Public Speaking Event with the AWG

November 6, 2014

Months ago I received an email from the American Womens Group (AWG) in Oman. They were planning to hold a blogging event in a few months time and wanted to invite me to take part and present to their audience on my experiences. Of course I replied accepting their invitation with the mindset that It would be good exposure for my blog and it is very flattering to be asked.

Then I remembered…. I hate speaking in public.

Online I have a confident persona where I can project the version of myself that I want the world to see. In real life I’m actually quite shy and constantly doubt myself. Being able to hide behind a computer screen where I can edit images of myself and I don’t have to use my weird Scottish accent is more comfortable for me. Standing up onfront of an audience is horribly daunting.

Penny is always on hand to listen to my ideas

Last minute rehearsals with my biggest fan

As the event approached I was horribly nervous spending HOURS working on my presentation to include fancy colors and pictures for people to focus on rather than actually listening to me. This was my defense tactic.

What made it even more scary is that this was a paid event – people were actually parting with their money to hear me speak. I just didn’t want to let them down.

On the day of the event I stood at the podium and opened my mouth to speak and the strangest thing happened, all the nerves melted away. Suddenly I was confident in what I was talking about, people were laughing at my jokes and were genuinely interested in what I was telling them. I didn’t feel like I was wasting their time/money or that I was boring or confusing them.

With my new found confidence I told a few more jokes and stories making people laugh. My original planned talk was to last around 20 minutes but I finally managed to wrap up the real thing after questions at 62 minutes – quite an achievement.

I’m so pleased that I managed to surprise myself and enjoy the experience!

Thank you to April and the AWG ladies for taking the chance and inviting me, I think we both taught each other something that day.

Expat Life, Uncategorized

Ice Bucket Challenge & Swim Time

August 26, 2014

If you haven’t heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge then you must be living under a rock. All across the globe people are throwing buckets of iced water over themselves in the name of charity. 

This week I had been feeling quite smug to avoid any nominations so far – perhaps everyone assumed that I had already completed it – then the videos calling out my name arrived thick and fast from both Scotland and here in Oman. No escaping it. Dammit.

As I put my thinking cap on to conjure up a fun way to complete the challenge I noticed the Shangri La’s Facebook status. They were planning a group ice bucket challenge that afternoon and anyone who joined would be allowed to use the facilities for the rest of the afternoon. How could I turn that down?!

A large crowd turned up and everyone was in good spirits ready for the challenge! I can confirm that there was no scrimping on the ice in buckets, they full to the brim! Brrrrr!



On the group attempt it isn’t easy to spot us in the crowd of buckets and shivering bodies. There was only one thing for it – a repeat performance. Thankfully the second attempt was filmed and there was no need for a third bucket!

Sadly my video won’t upload here to Blogger but head over to my Facebook page ‘The Duncan Adventures’ to watch the video.

     

After our double dousing of iced water we headed to the pool area for some much needed heat. 


The pool here is fabulous! It is super clean, not too crowded and plenty of room to throw a lively baby around.

Spencer quickly got bored of his inflatable pool seat and wanted to be thrown high in the air as he shrieked and giggled.


As the evening sun set at the Shangri La we packed into the car and headed for home. Before we even reached the main gates there were faint snores coming from the back seat – a sure sign that a fun afternoon was had!

Pregnancy & Baby, Uncategorized

26-28 weeks pregnant – Goodbye belly bar & second trimester

November 28, 2013
It’s starting to feel like I’ve been pregnant for quite a long time but the thing that keeps you going and your excitement levels up are hitting the big milestones and by 28 weeks that is the second trimester behind us and we are onto the third and final trimester – yipee!
At 26 weeks I have a clear bump but I still have a good majority of my trotters visible before they disappear, it might help that I already have huge feet though?
My general health has been pretty good the past few weeks and I’ve been feeling healthy and active, this is only achieved by taking my vitamins religiously, an afternoon nap and my weekly yoga class. If I miss any of these things I feel the strain alot more. But hey it’s working for now so I’m gonna stick with them.
At 27 weeks I said a sad goodbye to my belly button piercing, it was a tough day. After 10 years together it is very strange to look at my stomach and it’s not there anymore. I probably could have kept it in for a couple more weeks but the skin around it was getting very tight and I didn’t want it to rip – that would be gross!
The best part of 28 weeks was having another scan at the hospital and seeing our little guy on the screen. He is growing perfectly on schedule and already weighs about 2.5lbs. We also got to see his face properly on the 3D scan for the first time which was amazing, usually he is hiding or has his hands over his face but this time we could clearly see him. I think he has my mouth? I can’t help but let my mind wander as to what he will look like when he is born.
26 weeks in my only maternity dress. Still plenty of room to grow in it which is good.

How far along: 28 weeks

How are you measuring: Perfectly on schedule. I haven’t started measuring my actual bump yet, I’m not too big still.

Size of baby: He weighs around 2.5lbs at 28 weeks and will continue to pork his little body up for birth. Lets hope he isn’t too huge.. The doc says right now he is bang on average which is good news for me, his Daddy is a big guy.

Sleep: Sadly sleep has been pretty crap for a few weeks now, I wake up alot through the night as I’m getting kicked at all angles by the karate kid or I just can’t settle into a sleep pattern. An afternoon nap is a must these days if I want to function like a human.

Total weight gain:  Now this bit doesn’t please me… I’ve started to pack on the pregnancy pounds boooo! The average weight gain by now is 17-20lbs and I have put on about 15lbs I think, I still haven’t worked it out properly because I just don’t want to know. No stretch marks yet.

Symptoms: Lower back pain is a real tough one, I’ve been trying to make it better by walking with the dog, yoga and wearing sensible shoes – yuk. Trying to strengthen my back is tough when it hurts but it can only benefit in the long run so I’m sticking with it.

Movement: Oh my, this little jelly bean just doesn’t stop. People in the cinema must have thought I was terrified at a film with all the oohh’s and ouch’s I was doing but it was actually because I had Baby D’s feet in my ribs, that’s a sore one. I have to wriggle about to try and move him but the doctor says it’s a good thing because that means he is already head down.

Maternity Clothes: Still no new clothes, money is tight and maternity clothes are so expensive so I’ve been making do with what I have.

Must eat: Croissants!! They are so wonderful and flaky delicious I can’t get enough. Trying so hard to limit my intake to only a couple a week but I think about them every day. How sad is that?!

Must not eat: Nothing really that I am avoiding which is good.

Best Moment of the week: Seeing our little guy at the 28 week scan and seeing his chubby little cheeks 🙂

Gender predictions: IT’S A BOY!

What I wish people knew: That I really do want to make plans and go to dinners, movies and parties but by 8pm when everyone is meeting I am so tired I just want to relax.

What I’m looking forward to: Getting stuck into the third and final trimester. I really want to start washing and preparing all his clothes and packing my hospital bag but I’m still very early for that!

What I miss: My belly bar! We had a great 10 years together but sadly my skin just couldn’t stretch anymore.

What baby is upto this week: Practicing his karate moves.. Now he can blink and see light shining through the uterus wall. His hearing is almost perfectly formed also and if there is a loud noise he jumps, at least he will be used to the noise of the dog barking.


Look at this sweet little face! I wonder every day what color his eyes will be and will he have dark hair like me?



Adventure Time, Expat Life, Uncategorized

Friday Boating

April 1, 2013

On Friday I was invited to a day boating with some friends to swim, drink and have some fun. How could you say no to that?! My darling husband did, he told me that ‘boating’ just wasn’t his thing. Oh well, you can’t please them all so I left him at home with his guitar and I went off to have some fun. What a great wife I am 😛

This ‘friend of a friend’ berths his boat at Marina Bandar Rawdha and we headed along and got on board with the essentials… You know it’s going to get messy when 3 sacks full of ice arrive to fill all these cool boxes full of alcohol.
So we head out on the party boat with the wind blowing, drinks flowing and we are all excited for a day in the sun.
With three massive outboard motors on this boat it took us 15 minutes instead of the usual 40 to reach our destination. We set down the anchor at BK2 beach (Bandar Kyran is its proper name).
What an amazing place for a party! There were about 12 other boats full of people all having a great time swimming, banana boats, jet skiis, speed boats etc.
I am clearly loving this jet skii that our friends brought with them.
Then a random man on a jet ski arrives next to our boat. He has an inflatable ring tied on the back and asks if we want to go for a spin…ummm ok…so we climb on this ring and get whizzed round the bay as he tries to throw us off. No chance buddy! Only in Oman is this ok for a random guy to do this and still be safe, in other countries he would probably drag you back to his lair but this guy was nice and just wanted everyone to share what he had. You gotta love the generous Omanis!
Then my darling husband text me to see how we were, I told him how much fun we were having and how fast the jet skiis were. His text reply was “You never told me there would be jet skiis, where are you????” Well, well, well now he wants to join in!
Hats off to him for what came next, if you have ever been to BK you will know that it is a great place to be because you can only really get there by boat so it’s only ever boating people that go there, that didn’t stop Colin. He drove 25km from Muscat down the coast on some crazy rocky roads that challenge the suspension on any car. Then he navigated his way down a rock face like a mountain goat with a rucksack on his back full of Magners. THEN stood on the beach and hitched a lift from a passing jet ski all just to get to this boat we were on.
The prize for biggest dedication to Friday Boating goes to Colin!
Here are some photos from through the day..
Well a great day was had by all and once the sun went down it was time to head home to bed. We are truly blessed to have these opportunities in life and to be living in such an amazing place that they are all possible.
Blogosphere, Uncategorized

Most popular Blog’s in Oman 2013…

March 11, 2013
After just 6 short months in the blogging world I am proud to announce that my blog is the 12th most popular in Oman – Yipeeee!


I read most of the blogs who are on the same list as me so I feel privileged to be up there next to them and that people actually read the crap that I write!


You can check the list out here at the Oman Collective Intelligence page to see the full list of where everyone ranked for 2013.

Who knows where I will be next year?!
Family Life, Uncategorized

Let sleeping dogs lie, just this once!

March 9, 2013

Our German Shepherd, Penny, is now 1 year and 4 months old and the best behaved dog I know by a long mile. Maybe I spoil her a little but she is my baby, it’s allowed.

One rule we have always had with her is that she is not allowed on the beds unless invited up. This is one that she is now starting to test…



This was Colin and Penny having a nap together the other night when he came home from work, the dog snuck up next to him and made herself very comfortable. She looked too comfy to shout at her to get down, maybe just happy to be next to her Daddy. Just this once I will let the sleeping dog lie.

We always say she looks like a T-Rex with her front legs like that, can you see it too?

Adventure Time, Uncategorized

Hiking in Muttrah

March 9, 2013

When I think of the Muttrah area of Muscat I picture the Souk (market place) and the Corniche along the sea front, little did I know that there is a hiking trail very close by.

In serach of this trail I rounded up a couple of friends together, packed a picnic and headed off on an adventure.
Oman’s Ministry of Tourism is promoting these kind of outdoor activities for people to get out of their cars and explore this beautiful country. To make it easier and accessible to people, the trek routes can be found on their website. So there really is no excuse not to pull on some sturdy shoes and get hiking. You can find these routes by clicking here.

We chose the Muttrah hike as no one in our group had done it before and it was listed as ‘easy’ so we thought it was worth checking out. At 2.5km we set aside a good 2 hours as us ladies like to walk and tallk 🙂
This particular hike begins from the parking area at Riyam Park in Muttrah. Look for the big gold coffee cup things, maybe they are jugs?, on the roundabouts.

Once you are parked, it is not obvious at all where to go. There are steep mountains all around. Luckily, Rach figured it out, the map forgot to mention the part where you should cross the road out of the car park and go up the small hill in front of you. You will reach a yellow house with a wall all the way round the perimiter, follow the wall all the way to the back of their house and you will see a stone path going steeply up the hill next to an old diesel pipe. This is the start of the hike up the hill alongside the rusty pipe, this is a reminder of days gone by when supplies of diesel oil were pumped from a ship anchored in Muttrah harbour.

This initial hike is possibly the hardest part of the entire walk. It was worth every step, though, for the spectacular views. From the top, the next landmark you can see is the distinctive Incense Burner monument. 




There are ‘flags’ painted onto the rocks along the way guiding you where to go, though some are a little faded so an eagle-eye is advised. Here are a couple of examples of what you should be looking for:


The route cuts through a wadi (valley) area for a time. This could be quite treacherous if it had rained recently, with bigger water pools and a slippery surface underfoot, so watch your step.
We stopped for a snack and a well-earned drink of water whilst in the wadi, where you can shelter from the sun.




Though it’s rated an ‘easy’ walk, I would personally give it more of a ‘moderate’ rating. They should really recommend that you wear sensible footwear as it can be pretty steep and there are lots of areas with loose rock underfoot. Perhaps the person who rated it ‘easy’ had the balance and coordination of a mountain goat. I don’t. At times, we found ourselves having to scramble and hold onto higher rocks for balance while moving our unsteady feet down the path. I sensibly wore sneakers, which were perfect for the job.

The end of the walk will take you through what is actually a grave yard, although it doesn’t look like the kind of graves we are used to, and back into the streets of Muttrah again where you can stop off for refreshments. If your heading back to your car then get back onto the main street again and turn right and follow the road back to Riyam Park.

This is the grave yard:


Surprisingly, we only saw two other people during our trek. It seems that people are unaware of this amazing hike in the city and tend to head further out to places like Wadi Shab for their adventures.
If you are interested in trekking this Muttrah route and others then you can find and print the route map on the activities section at www.omantourism.gov.om



This week my article on hiking has a two page spread in Y magazine or you can read it online by clicking here.

– If you have any adventures that you would like to recommend or want me to try for you then please feel free to get in touch by using the “contact me” icon. I love a new challenge!

Expat Life, Family Life, Uncategorized

Christmas Spirit, I miss you..

December 21, 2012
An idol of mine, Buddy the Elf, once said – “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”… Only this year I’m singing and no one else is joining in…



I make no secret of the fact that I luuuurve Christmas, it makes me think of happy times as a child getting all excited and trying to force myself to sleep on Christmas Eve convincing myself that I just heard sleighbells and a reindeer outside. Then to be woken at crazy o’clock by my sister to sneak down and look through the glass door at all the presents under the tree before Mom & Pop Robertson woke up (I say we only looked, we had no choice as Pops had fitted a sliding bolt to the top of the door because he knew how sneaky we were, dammit)……Only this year it’s going to be a whole lot different.

For one I have never been away from my family for Christmas so that is going to be the first big thing for me and secondly I have never been in a Muslim country over the festive season. I know my family will cope just fine without me but the question is will I cope without them? I am predicting tears on Christmas day when the reality hits me, as Colin keeps telling me “it’s only another day, what’s so special?”. I guess he is right but it is times like birthdays and Christmas that the home sickness really kicks in. Right now I am feeling it!



You don’t appreciate the little things about a Christmas at home until you aren’t there to enjoy them, I am going to list my top ten things that I will miss, in no particular order. This is probably hugely boring for you but I am making myself feel better by typing it:

1- I miss the cold weather, the frost and even the snow – no chance of a white Christmas out here when its 28 degrees on the 21st December.

2- I miss the excitement and the build up to it and the saying goodbyes at work for the “see you in the New Year”.

3- I miss the presents, both giving and recieving them. I always spoil my brother as I love seeing his face get all excited before Christmas guessing what I have bought him, now that he is old enough to have a proper job he spoils me back so all those years of gifts weren’t in vain.

4- I miss Christmas decorations, lights and general festive stuff. I even miss the snowman Christmas light in Inverurie that looks more like a used condom.

5- I miss the family bickers and my Dad getting stressed over cooking while we all snooze on the sofa. We always ask if he wants help and get a “well it’s too late now”, he loves the stress really.

6- I miss my nephews, Ben & Adam, Christmas is more magical when there are children around.

7- I miss the tradition me and my sister have that we always wear new PJ’s on Christmas eve. I even bought mine for this year, I might send her a picture of them just to keep the tradition going.

8- I miss the fact that everyone tries to get on for one day and makes an effort to be in touch just because it’s Christmas.

9- I miss the food!! Especially my favourite part, turkey and sausage meat stuffing!

10- And to sum it up, I miss the whole bloody thing!!


                                           This sums up my festive mood right now…

But to think of happy times, this time last year I had my gorgeous little puppy sitting under the Christmas tree at 7 weeks old.
 
We are lucky enough to have our friends coming over for a Christmas meal this year so we have something to keep us occupied, I will even be having my first attempt at making a turkey – wish me luck! 
 
So to everyone celebrating with their families and friends for Christmas this year, please appreciate and love each other it is that magical time of year after all and have a great time.
 
Love Heather 🙂 xx
 
 
 
PS- Santa if you are reading this I would like a new pair of Ray Bans and a pair of brown boots from Aldo.
Expat Life, Family Life, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeee!

December 8, 2012
Congratulations to me! I have officially reached that mile stone of a quarter century, it wasn’t a joyful occasion but it didn’t hurt quite as much as I had expected leaving the “18-24” demographic.

It kind of feels like a small accomplishment that I have made it this far and breathing on my own for a whole 25 years straight! My hope is that now I am the big 2-5 people might take me more seriously, I am a proper adult, I am married for goodness sake! I still get the “What does she know, she’s just a child” malarky, probably because I am considerably younger than alot of the Expat wives here in Oman. They don’t like the age difference but I don’t see it like that.

Anyways, my birthday started off like this:

Me: “So what do you have planned for me today?”
Hubby: “I don’t know, what do you want to do today?”
Me: “So you really don’t have anything planned?”
Hubby: “No, what did you want me to plan?”
**Cue big exhale huff of breath and followed by tears**


So my day started off with tears, pretty standard on my birthday with the whole “its my party and I’ll cry if I want to” thing, it’s my day and I’ll throw whatever toys I want out of this metaphorical pram that I want. Hubby starts to get angry at me being a brat and that he isn’t going to win against this birthday monster that has developed over night so he gives in and is nice to me, winner!

                         This looked like me!






Hubby decides that I need to get out of my comfort zone and he is going to take me on a jet ski, ummm okay… I’ve never had the urge to go on a jet ski but I’m running the risk of him stomping out the door and leaving me all alone on my birthday so I put my happy face on and think of the exciting prospect of taking my new underwater camera, yeahhhhh! (Oh yeah he did get me a pretty decent present so he’s not the total arse I make him out to be, I just like moaning hee hee).











This is us all ready to go off on our jet skii’s, then I realise I’ve never done this before and I’m kinda scared..


Colin goes zipping off into the distance, he has literally been on these jet skii’s every Friday for the past 4 weeks. I think it’s an attempt to show me it would be cheaper if he bought his own one. I hate to admit but he was pretty good on them.


Me doing some granny style driving..


Can you spot the show off??

So after our jet ski’s it was time to head home to my little dog zoo I have going on just now, we have a very busy house with Penny and 3 other pups staying. Thankfully as I type now they are all asleep at my feet. After the 6am walk, breakfast then playtime there is a peaceful couple of hours where they all find a quiet spot and have a snooze. They are so cute when they are asleep 🙂


In the evening we went out to Left Bank for birthday dinner and this drink was well deserved after my week of chasing pups about! Only one though for me, Sensible Jeff!


Neither of us had been to Left Bank before and it was a great experience, the food was amazing!! – For people in Muscat, the Left Bank is the place on the hill with Mumtaz, next to Qurum Natural Gardens and definitely worth a visit.

This was my yummy Thai Green curry and Colin had a steak which he claimed was the best he ever had in his life – he eats alot of steak!
Every time I turn this photo round the correct way it switches back so you will just have to ignore that and tilt your head to the right slightly please…super..


The meal was lovely and really nice to spend some quality husband and wife time together as Colin has been so busy at work lately. But he did very well and I had a nice day.

To round the day off I got to Skype my nephews back home in Scotland with tears in my eyes as they sang me Happy Birthday. It was a bit tougher than I imagined having my first birthday away from family and friends so I got a tad emotional at points, I expect Christmas day to be a day of major tears then!

My dear friend sent me this which summed us both up, genius!

Family Life, Uncategorized

The Duncan’s are front page news!

November 30, 2012
When I receive an email into my inbox with the title “OMG” my little gossip receptors go into overdrive, that’s surely got to be something exciting to be worthy of a title like that!

The email in question came from a friend and former boss who, like me, loves a good story! The “OMG” worthy moment was to let me know that our wedding picture had made it onto the front page of the local paper back home. Now this confused me…. We got married 4 months ago and it wasn’t anything spectacular or newsworthy, so why now?

I emailed the paper to thank them and ask why. They replied saying that they loved our photo and thought it was worthy of showing and someone, possibly my mother in law, had been on the phone to ask why it hadn’t been in the paper yet. Of course she will deny all knowledge of this 😉 lol

Anyway here is our debut on the front cover of the Banffshire Journal, next stop Vanity Fair 😛


The caption reads “Heather Robertson and Colin Duncan, formally of Williamson Place, Banff were married in the town and now live in Muscat, Oman”. Why do newspapers insist on printing your street address?!

We had so many better pictures taken that day this one is no where near as nice as the rest but I am never happy. I look a bit of a creep with my protective hand claiming my prize haha.