My summer – August 2014 via a Photo a day

So I’m back in Dubai and the blue skies and green open spaces of England seem so far away in distance, time and memory. Already these pics hold such poignant memories for me, starting with peering out of the window of elder teens hotel room that I booked for her to stay in on her 18th birthday. We went out to Les Miserables then she headed off into the night on her first night as a legal adult. Gulp.

Where did it all go? This summer? Her childhood? This life!

For the full story behind the pictures, hop over to instagram. The pics here are in galleries which means I can’t link each one to instagram so here’s the link to the fist image – you can navigate from there. I hope you enjoy them. P.S. There are 33 where I couldn’t choose between two on a couple of days.  What did you do in August?

My suitcases were stuffed full on my return. Find out what was in them and is now in my kitchen here


My summer – July 2014 via a Photo a day

Apart from the first day, the whole of my July was spent in the UK under mainly sunny skies. This month I was in Cheltenham, The Peak District, Manchester, Devon, Cornwall, Winchester and Bath… and here it is through the filter of Fat Mum Slim‘s photo-a-day themes. I also tested out her newly launched ‘little moments’ app which is excellent (plus I use Snapseed and Fuzel apps). My new walking boots got broken in quickly if not their waterproof capabilities.

For the full story behind the pictures, hop over to instagram. The pics here are in galleries which means I can’t link each one to instagram so here’s the link to red and white – you can navigate from there. I hope you enjoy them. P.S. There are 33 where I couldn’t choose between two on a couple of days.  How have you been spending July?


These boots were made for walking

Lake view South CerneyThey fell like stones, one after another. Brown parcel tape was administered around gaping holes,  flapping soles were tamed. The boot casualties were numerous on the trek across the Lebanese Mountain Trail, even the army cadets who were helping guide us suffered.  I gave thanks that my boots had easily withstood the strain – pretty lucky considering the choice in Dubai was very limited. Those Timberland boots took me through stony terrain in Lebanon and my daughter through Duke of Edinburgh expeditions in the desert, a World Challenge trip through Mongolia and are still going strong.

Spoiled for choice in the UK, I bought a new pair for walking on Dartmoor a couple of years ago. The less said about those ‘waterproof’ boots the better. They’ve gone off to recycling heaven. Replacements were needed.

A recommendation from my sister led me to the door of Cotswold Outdoor in South Cerney near Cirencester. A timber, double storey building near a lake is packed full of clothing and equipment for outdoor living plus, of course, footwear.

This was the most thorough fitting I’d had since my annual visit to Clark’s for school shoes (a very long time ago). The friendly man found out what sort of walking I was intending to do, measured my feet against a board and on the floor. I tried on a few pairs and could even walk up a little ramp to test them out on a incline. He knew all about the different manufacturing processes (machine made or on a last) and where they were produced.

At the end of about 30 minutes I left with a beautiful pair of Italian Scarpa leather boots (clutching VAT reclaim forms too).

I could have put them on and gone for a walk straight away had I wished, as a path around the lake or along a canal started right outside.

Instead we went across to the Relish cafe at the Gateway Centre with a gorgeous view out onto the lake. The menu is based on local, seasonal produce and all freshly cooked. You can even download a map of walks from their website. As it’s just off the A417 turning, this is a useful stop off point to know.

Where will these boots take me? Looking forward to sharing their adventures.

(all pics taken on iphone 4S)


Definitely looking forward….

Gifford's Circus

Gifford’s Circus – we haven’t missed one season

In less than ten days I’ll be off. My annual break in the UK is imminent. I’m finding this difficult to come to terms with, it seems so unreal, and yet it’s a ritual that has happened every year for almost two decades.

Part of me feels really guilty. That’s my Catholic upbringing talking and I’m trying to pack it away in a ziplock bag and leave it behind. Part of me is overwhelmed by the stuff I’ve got to do before I go. The piles of stuff in my study – it’s an absolute tip at the moment – the volume of work, some vital chores, a dissertation for a course that I have to write and give in, the blog posts on MCP I’d like to get finished before I go, packing…

Butterflies in my stomach rise up to my throat and threaten to choke me. Keep calm, keep calm…

The best way to do this is via lists and to do a bit of packing. Then the anticipation becomes manageable and pleasurable.

Fat Mum Slim’s list of photo-a-day prompts is live. Something beginning with K is for July 2nd when I’ll be on a plane. Wondering what photo I’ll take. This is when looking forward to something becomes delicious.


What are you looking forward to? How do you deal with packing, ‘to do’ lists and overwhelming life?

Summer days

Getting back to Dubai last year swept me up in the usual frenzy of unpacking and back to school …and then the months raced by… Now I’m on the brink of my summer trip to the UK again. It’s a bit different this year as eldest teen is poised to fly the nest. So more than ever, it’s about savoring every special moment.

Fat Mum Slim’s photo a day challenge is one way I can look back on happy times – but from a different perspective. Here are my pics from last August:

All pics taken on an iphone 4S – to view the gallery click on one image. You can view all Photo-a-day posts here.

How do you like to record happy memories?

Looking back and looking forward

Taking photos every single day of my life is second nature to me now. Years of art classes with Susan Elliot, a very inspiring teacher from the US, helped me to look at the world with ‘an artist’s eye’. You tune into light, contrast, shape and form. It’s also related to mindfulness which I’m trying to practice; taking time to be in the moment and focus very intensely on the now. Taking a photo of your every day surroundings helps with this too.

I’ve joined in with Fat Mum Slim’s photo-a-day challenge for the past couple of years when I’ve visited the UK. For some reason or another I’ve only just got round to publishing the ones from last summer here (they were on Instagram before this). It’s an alternative view of our time there and I think this series tells a story in itself.

All pics taken on an iphone 4S – to view the gallery click on one image.

Cloud watching

18 years of living in the Middle East had made me obsessed with clouds. I marvel at their fluffiness, revel in their pinkness ( or whiteness) and frequently take my eye off the road trying to spot shapes when driving in England. Tourists must be fed up of the strange rainy weather but I’m not.

Sun rising behind Umm Suqeim park

Sun rising behind Umm Suqeim park

Mosque and burnt down Chalet restaurant

Mosque and burnt down Chalet restaurant


Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf – sunset beach

Surfers arrive

Surfers arrive

Walking in Jaipur

Jaipur city palaceWalking in Jaipur can be a bit like tackling an obstacle course. The small stretch of pavement by the bazaars is full of people and abstract merchandise overflowing from the small shops and stalls on the roadsides to almost meet in the middle. Then they’ll be a heap of sand with a sacred cow on top of it pushing you out into the tumultuous traffic.

The guide books focus on attractions although the city of Jaipur was designed on a grid system and is pretty easy to navigate once you cut through the chaos. On our way out in Jaipur airport, after we’d negotiation two-thirds of the bureaucratic forms, checks and stamps (6 in total on our boarding passes alone before we got to the plane)  we found a book shop in departures which on closer inspection revealed some interest and wasn’t extortionate in price, once you got past the absolutely haphazard nature of the display. Oh how I wish I’d brought home ‘Italian cooking in Jaipur’ for novelty value; but Jaipur – 10 easy walks by Dharmendar Kanwar is a treasure which makes me want to return to the pink city to explore at leisure.

More about Jaipur:

Sights and sounds


Getting about, eating, and staying

Dark and stormy

Work load means I’m still heading out of my gate with the dogs at 6.10 am. Dubai in the dark, early morning is another world. Longed for rain clouds glower in the sky as the dawn breaks feebly. Workmen pray under a street lamp on a corner. Cleaners in orange boiler suits appear out of the gloom, picking up debris among the puddles. Lights are reflected in calm pools of water. A pair of bulldozers slumber on the beach, while the cleaning machine competes with a lone jogger along the gently moving tide line.

Workmen praying

Workmen praying

Street cleaner under lamplight

Street cleaner under lamplight

Dawn behind mosque

Dawn behind mosque

Beach cleaning machine

Beach cleaning machine under storm clouds

Everything is pink

Dhow building yard

Dhow building yard

As the Dubai winter creeps in, each morning the sunrise becomes more intense. The view is muted and bathed for a short while in a rosy glow. Scant clouds break up the hazy skies, the sea gleams colour, white concrete walls (of which there are many) reflect watercolour tints of rose madder and pale aureolin.

sunset beach

Pink clouds from the dawn over sunset beach

Bind cats

How many cats having their breakfast? One peeping out from behind the bin

Cat and dogs

A cat followed us up the road then they all sat down and contemplated each other

cooking house

This is the cooking house all rebuilt. Lovely aromas still emanate.


I love this fancy gold mosque against the white scruffy buildings

sunrise on walls

No retouching involved. Dawn colours reflected

More about the cooking house here.

All images taken on iphone4s and post written plus uploaded in same using WordPress app.

Anything that’s made you smile recently from a pedestrian’s view?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,339 other followers