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Expat Life, Family Life

The wanderer returns to Muscat

May 19, 2013
Well Bloglets, I’ve had a busy couple of weeks galavanting and now thankfully I am back in Muscat and trying to get back into my usual routine. Don’t ask me what my usual routine is, it mostly consists of being lazy but maybe I’ll blog about the day in the life of a house wife another day.

My latest adventure took me back home to the shores of “home” in Bonnie Scotland. It was a somewhat spontaneous journey as I didn’t even have any flights booked until a couple of days before I left, this is not in my nature at all – I just love to plan things! My reason for a trip home was to sort some things out with our house back in the UK which kept me busy for most of my trip there.



The weather treated me well and most days were dry with some sunshine. It was nice to get away from the intense heat of the Middle East for a couple of weeks.


Things in the house took up almost every day of my trip home but I managed to fit in some visiting where possible, sacrificing sleeping and resting but at least I managed to get some fun in along the way. I’m lucky to have helpful inlaws who had already completed some chores for me which made life that bit easier.



A visit to see my family ended in me and Graham taking his mini motorbike out for a spin. He has had this thing since he was about 14 and we were surprised that it even still worked!



The view of Bennachie from my parents home was a welcome sight for sore, traveled eyes. It was so nice to see green grass & fields again instead of sand and rock!


I got to see my Dad again as the last time we saw each other was August before I left as he was travelling out to Houston for work. He was one of many people I didn’t manage to catch a picture which I regret, Linda your another one I forgot. We were too busy gossiping as usual I totally forgot!



My second other main reason for making the trip home was to see my beautiful new nephew, Max. On my last trip home in February I was lucky enough to attend Samantha’s baby shower, she is my oldest friend so I couldn’t miss it. I hadn’t planned to be home again until August meaning that he would be 4 months old before I met him so I was over the moon to get to see him at 4 weeks old. Being so far away from your friend when she has her first baby is a tough thing and I wished I could have been with her.

Beautiful baby Max <3


Me and Kay managed to find a dinosaur in Aberdeen! And even have a fish & chip supper mmmmm, thanks Kay! 🙂

Abby and I managed to find the bottom of a bottle of Grey Goose! It was so nice to see her as I hadn’t seen her since the week before I left home in August. It was just like old times and hopefully I will see her here in the not too distant future.



It was lovely to see my sister and her two twin boys, Ben and Adam. I took the boys for ice cream and some fun at the play park where me & Graham ended up hogging the slide.. Big kids!






Towards the end of the trip the weather changed with rain clouds and dark skies, this is the Scotland I remember! 





All in all it was a reasonably successful trip, I managed to get most of the things done that I set out to do and managed to fit in some visiting along the way.

Sadly time ran out too fast and I didn’t manage to see everyone or spend enough quality time with the people that I wanted to due to conflicting schedules and people having to work when I was free.  Hopefully they will understand that it’s not personal and I was sent home with a purpose, any free time I had was just a bonus. 


Now time to catch up on some sleep and acclimatize to the heat again..

Adventure Time, Expat Life, Food & Entertainment

Red Bull Soapbox 2013

April 27, 2013


Last Thursday the Red Bull Soap Box race came to Oman for the first time and with the event being held by Red Bull it was sure to be a great day out!


The teams were able to score points based on three criteria including speed, showmanship and creativity. You can’t see well in the photos but there were a couple of obstacles with bumps and ramps set up along the course to test the durability of the soapboxes – many of them didn’t pass the test and fell apart along the way much to the crowds amusement.

 



The different themed cars that threw themselves Bowsher Sand Dunes in the quest to be crowned #1 ranged from a flying carpet to a giant crab being chased by a chef holding cutlery. Thousands of people lined the street throughout the day to cheer the craziest ‘road race’ Oman has ever seen!

 
 
 
 
With temperatures hitting a whopping 42 degrees Celsius my skin felt like it was melting in the sunshine. The Red Bull team were well equipped for the weather with plenty of shade for spectators and lots of liquids. The location was fantastic and the set up was very impressive!
 
 
 



The team titled ‘No Flying Yoke’ claimed the top podium spot and won themselves an all-expense paid trip to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi along with an exclusive paddock walk to experience the F1 garage and the chance to meet the Red Bull Racing Team. Not a bad prize at all!
 
 
 
The top three teams: 1st Place ‘No Flying Yoke’, 2nd Place ‘Clearly Deranged’, 3rd Place ‘Pharma/Zynova’
 
 
With the after party held at the Grand Hyatt hotel it was a great way to round off a fun and exciting day. Yet another amazing day by the Red Bull team! 
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.
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

It’s been a busy few weeks!

March 2, 2013
Hello Blog Readers

Don’t worry I am still alive, I just took a little break from blogging as I had family visiting, lots of people to catch up with after vacation and just trying to keep busy and get my life back on track.

With not having a job per se, Saying that I have many hobbies and activities and I dabble in this and that but no actual 9-5 occupation, I like to keep myself as busy as possible. If I stop being busy that’s when I get lazy and start feeling sorry for myself that I’m not busy.. That’s how I feel today so I am back in the Blog-a-sphere and typing like crazy. You with me still?

So here is a run down of what I have been upto recently.

Salsa Dancing-
It’s no secret that I am a horrendous dancer and I have never claimed to be anything better than horrendous which us why it may be shocking that I took part in a Salsa class. No, it’s not about dorritos or a tomato based sauce that goes with it, actual dancing with rhythm and stuff eeekkkk!

My lovely friend/boss/suggestion maker Kate (hi Kate!) at Y magazine suggested that I take a class and write a story about it for the magazine.
I am actually delighted to say that I really enjoyed the class, they were welcoming and friendly and it didn’t matter that I went without a partner – Mr Duncan was too busy drinking beer and watching the football.

The new batch of beginners starts on Tuesday 5th March, I’ll be there trying to coordinate my legs to look a bit more sexy and a bit less Bambi on ice. If you want to know more about the group I joined called Latin Dance Muscat then you can check out their website or email info@latindancemuscat.com 

You can read my salsa review in this week’s Y magazine or by following this link here.


Ice Skating with Eliza-

Eliza and I have been saying for literally months that we wanted to go ice skating so this week we finally made it happen, yipeee! What better place to go when it is roasting outside?

I still find it quite amusing that Muscat even has an ice rink, I would never have guessed it. It’s been a while, well actually around 5 years, since I last skated so I was pretty rusty but I managed to stay on my feet and not my arse for the entire time so that was a huge achievement for me.



Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas-

On Wednesday without and forward planning I got a call saying we have tickets to a concert for Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas at the Shangri La Hotel, but you’ve only got an hour to get ready ahhhhhh. I was in the supermarket buying grass seed so I rushed home to get ready. But I do say that they unexpected nights are always the best.

This is me and some friends at the concert:





Although it wasn’t really my kind of music, a little too house & dance for my liking, I had a great time. We danced and had a good laugh but some of that laughing was aimed at my dancing.. Peter told me I stand more like I’m at the races than a concert, Maybe for next time I need to work on being a more concert kind of gal?


Kickboxing-

For a while I’ve been looking for a new place for kick boxing lessons but everywhere seemed to be a bit..well..lame.. I wanted something to challenge me and get my frustration out and Muay Thai (Thai kick boxing) seems to be just the thing for me. There is a fitness studio in Qurum called Hawk Fitness that runs kick boxing, personal training and Zumba classes. I jumped, literally, at the chance of a lesson and I wasn’t disappointed. It was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done! After the class I was physically and mentally exhausted and felt better than I have in a long time. This will be my next hobby!

More things to come…

Over the next few weeks I have some more adventures planned and lots of things to keep me busy. I’m sure with more assignments from Y magazine I will be having great fun along the way.

Tomorrow’s new thing involves dogs and lots of them….. Stay tuned 🙂

Adventure Time, Family Life

A trip “home” to the UK

February 16, 2013
Hello Blog Readers, I’m back and trying to get these creative blog juices running – it’s been a while.

That is me back in lovely Muscat after a trip home to the UK to visit friends and family. It was nice to see everyone and visit where we are from but for both Colin and Myself it just cemented even more how much we love living in Oman and were happy to get back to our own lives again.

Here are some of the things that we got upto while in the UK and I will apologize now for the recurring theme of the same jacket and white hat, It was so bitterly cold and I didn’t have many winter clothes left.

———————————————————————————————————–

My main reason for returning home when I did was the visit my oldest and dearest friend, Samantha, at her baby shower. She is pregnant with her first child and I can’t wait to be Auntie Heather! Since I won’t be around for the birth of her Bambino I wanted to be there for some part of her pregnancy. Luckily we  got to spend alot of time together due to the fact she was on maternity leave so we made the most of it with lots of cups of tea and yapping.


Me and Samantha and we even got a rare 5 mins with her/our brother, Simon to reunite “The Wolfpack”.



Colin got to spend lots of time with his son, Nathan, which was his main reason for making the long trip home. This photo made me laugh, it’s like he has a “mini me”.




I got to spend some precious time with my twin nephews, Ben and Adam, when I picked them up from school and surprised them, the look on their little faces to surprise them was worth the journey home. Please ignore the bags under my eyes travelling combined with flu is tiring!!




I got to catch up with my other best friend, Kay, also and we went for a lovely brunch at the Malmaison hotel. Perfect for a cold snowy Sunday then snuggled at her house with a blanket and a cup of tea 🙂

Here I am with my friend Cheryl in her shop, Vanity. I popped in for a visit and jumped behind the counter for a picture where she pointed out that I am wearing the same jacket and hat again lol.



Samantha and Myself managed a stop for a Crepe and a cup of coffee at the Kilted Frog, yummy!



As nice as it was to see all the special people in my life, I am left a little confused as to where “home” is now. I didn’t feel settled nor enjoy myself the way I expected to. Am I home here in Oman? Or am I at home wherever me and Colin are together? 
A peaceful moment on the plane happy knowing i’m going back to Oman, only a year ago I would never have believed that I would feel this way.
Expat Life, Other Stuff

How to make friends in Muscat, Expat style

January 8, 2013

“How to make friends in Muscat” – That is honestly what I typed into my Google search four months ago. What a saddo!

Our whole move from the UK to Oman was a bit of a whirlwind and I never really stopped to think about what to do when I actually arrived, I was too consumed about that actual ‘getting there’ part. 

 – Would people like me?
 – Would we have anything in common?
 – Will they see me as too young to be friends with?
 – Does it matter that I can’t speak Arabic?
 – What if they are all a bunch of sand loving freaks?!

These were genuine questions that I worried about when I sat down and actually thought about it. I really thought that I would be lonely and struggle to make friends and find people to hang out with – This scared me.


My husband is one of those lucky sods in life who can walk into a room of people and they all gravitate towards him like a magnet, he is fun and lively and the kind of person you want to spend time with. Me on the other hand…well I sometimes come across as rude or moody but honestly that’s just the way I look when I’m shy so sometimes I struggle to make people like me until they warm to me. This can take a while :-/

                                                 This looks a little like the faces I pull…




How have I managed to find friends? Honestly?! I laid my cards on the table and pushed my weakness and embarrassment to the side, as Expats in a foreign country we are all in the same situation. I posted an online appeal for new friends on the Internations website with a description of my age, likes and hobbies. Thankfully I had a few good responses from people with similar interests which got the ball rolling and boosted my confidence.


This blog has opened me up to a whole new world of people who email me and ask to meet up, for advice and generally just to speak to someone else who understands what it is like to be new here. I am so flattered that people would read these crazy ramblings and want to be friends and it actually works, I have met some great and interesting people from here.


So have I made friends?? YES! Actually more than I can shake a friendly stick at. Tomorrow I even have plans to meet 3 separate people, that’s more than I’d see in a month in my old life! Honestly! I feel very lucky to be in this position and found the people that I have, hopefully it continues.


My advice to new expats who find themselves in the same situation would be- Try to be open to new people and experiences, you never know where it could lead you.

                                                                     Good Luck!

Expat Life

A perfect day at the Oman Dive Centre

January 8, 2013


I’ll start off with a promise – I am not going to moan and complain in this post like I usually do, the reason being I have nothing to moan about. After a perfect day in the sunshine I have completely fallen in love with Muscat again.


Myself and Eliza planned a girls afternoon at the Oman Dive Center, which is one of my favorite places here as it is so peaceful and relaxing. The combination of a stunning view, clean beach and the fact it is more tolerant of the people in bikinis make it a great place to come and hang out for the day.

               How could you not fall in love with this place?!




This season we are in right now is classed as “winter” even though the sun was beating down and a lovely 29 degrees Celsius, very different to the snowy winters I am used to growing up Northern Scotland.


              We got our snorkels on and went for a swim!







We swam, tanned, gossiped and had a really great day together. It reminded me how lucky I am to be in a place like this and to have found really good friends so quickly. 


We even managed an impromptu photo shoot with Eliza’s magical camera. I call it magic because it manages to make me look nice when in reality I was a bit bedraggled and make up free.




Here is the magic photographer herself! She looks amazing and I am pretty delighted with myself that I managed to take a good photo for her.



We had a great day in the sunshine and I have decided that my New Year’s resolution should be to enjoy what is around me and not to become so complacent in life.


You can check out Eliza’s blog post about our day out by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by and leave a comment 🙂 preferably a nice one I’m sick of “Anonymous” idiots….
Expat Life, Family Life

First Christmas away from home

December 27, 2012
Well I made it through the festive season horraaayyy, that’s not to say that there wasn’t many tears and down moments but we got there. My first Christmas away from home sucked!


I was terribly home sick and missed everyone and everything but I know that my Christmas at “home” wouldn’t have been perfect either, I just like the thought of it.


You might want to make yourself comfortable for this next rant, it’s a long ‘un….

One of my favourite parts of Christmas is the turkey meal with all the trimmings so I was adamant that we were having this to feel a little more homely, what a mistake that was! I ordered my 6kg fresh, oven ready turkey from a certain supermarket that sounds like “Ball Hair”, I won’t mention their name due to the fact I’ll probably get in trouble for it.
Just before I left the house of Christmas Eve to collect said turkey the Ball Hair shop phoned me to tell me that they don’t have my turkey anymore…ehh WTF.. I can feel my stress levels rising through the roof at this point..


“And you phone to tell me this on Christmas Eve?”
“Yes Madam”
“Why didn’t you phone sooner?!”
“I forgot Madam”
“You don’t celebrate Christmas do you?”
“No Madam”
“If you did you would realise how pissed off I am right now, I’ll be there in 15 minutes”
**GULP**


So I arrive at the Ball Hair shop and he see’s me coming.. I’m the white girl storming towards his counter with a face that could make an onion cry and this little onion was about to start crying.

“let me get my Manager”
“Yes, please do”

I explain to the Manager that I have 5 people coming for Christmas dinner and due to the fact that I ordered my turkey 2 weeks ago I want this 6kg, fresh and oven ready turkey.

“We don’t have any left but I can give you a 3.5kg one”
“Okay fine, give me two of them”
“No Madam, you only ordered one” 
ARGHHHHH – Cue the point where I lost the rag..


Anyway after my melt down in the shop the Manager was VERY nice to me, even offering to cook the turkey on Christmas day and personally deliver it to my house. I declined this offer and demanded 2 smaller turkeys and went on my grumpy way.


So I’ll fast forward quite a bit… We had a nice meal with friends for Christmas and then lots of drinks. I had hyped Christmas up far too much in my head, like I was warned not to, that I ruined it for myself.

But… The good news was my culinary skills are finnally getting better and more like a proper house wife. My husband is such a fussy eater so as long as he is eating and not turning his nose up then it’s a happy day:

                                                 Mixed Starters, all home made!-
Sticky BBQ chicken drumsticks

Smoked Salmon Bellinis

Prawns and Marie Rose Sauce

Sausage rolls

Main Course-

Turkey and all the trimmings

Dessert-

Home made apple pie

M&S cheese cake for the fuss pot.

Not bad for someone who could burn salad 😛




This was us sitting down for some food, Colin took the picture.


This was my festive outfit, Colin told me I looked like a Christmas elf – I felt like one too lol.


Penny was VERY interested in what was cooking in the oven and sat at the door crying, I thought she wanted the turkey leftovers then I saw what she really wanted – The apple pie! What a strange dog!


So anyway we survived Christmas and my home sickness has myseriously gone away? I am heading home for a vacation soon but for now I’m happy where I am.

And next year – We are eating out!

I hope you all had a great Christmas Day with friends, family and loved ones. And to all my Muslim readers I hope you had a nice Tuesday.

Adventure Time, Expat Life, Family Life

Remains of fun times in October

November 3, 2012
Wow – October 2012 was a busy month as you can see by all the blog posts! I am honestly exhausted with everything that has been going on so I am very much looking forward to getting back to normal and chilling out. 

Here are the last few bits and bobs left over from October to keep you updated with what we have been upto.

                                       TV Cameo, House Hunters in Oman

Life here just gets more random! My friend Eliza was lucky enough to be involved in her very own episode of House Hunters International! It shows on the American TV channel HGTV and would be the UK equivalent to ‘A Place in the Sun’. I managed to wangle myself a small roll and get involved. They filmed us shopping at Muttrah Sook (local market) and snorkelling in the sea.

The episode should air around Feb 2013 but I’ll keep you updated.
For more details and better pics check out Eliza’s page:
http://www.pumpkinpolarbear.blogspot.com/

                                                      Ash & Eliza filming in our garden

 

Eliza & I ready to film for the day

Us shopping in Muttrah Sook

Picked up a couple of fans along the way..




                                Getting my independence back yipeee:

Colin now has a new car for both daily & weekend use for taking into the desert sand driving that means that the original car is all mine!

The biggest thing that I have struggled with here is feeling that I have lost my independence so hopefully having regular access to a car and exploring on my own is going to do me the world of good and I can’t wait to be confident and know where I am going.

Colin driving my Pajero… He is a terrible passenger so it’s good for me to get out without him. 





                       Camels aren’t hard to find when you know where to look:

On a drive back from Nizwa we were looking for camels to show Nathan and we were lucky enough to get up close to them, I even tried to feed it some popcorn. Nathan decided that he is actually quite scared of camels once he could see how big they are and changed his mind about having one as a pet.




I’m going to call him Buster 🙂




                                              We are finished in the garden:

Following on from my previous post “Green Fingers and Dirty Finger Nails”, we have now finished our work in our garden and created a nice area for relaxing and having BBQ’s.

We have more furniture and extra’s since this photo but you can see the nice area we have created.



                                               Sadly all holidays have to come to an end:

We had a great time with Colin’s Mom and son visiting, hopefully we managed to show them a good time and create some special memories. 

                        Colin & his Mom got a chance to go to the Opera for the evening.




A day at the Oman Dive Centre



BBQ with Rolf, Oda & Nilu

This is the pretty house warming gift that my mother in law bought for us.



After such a busy few weeks and the Eid holidays hopefully we can chill out for a while and get back into a routine but I can’t see that happening, we already have quite a few things planned for November. 

I’ll keep you posted x