All posts by ingrid

A Tribute to a Wonderful Dad

I naively thought that he would live forever so it came as a huge shock when my sister phoned me to tell me my Dad had died.

One of my earliest memories of him was when I was about 5 years old, running up the road screaming and crying when my Dad was driving up the road to work. This was a common occurrence apparently and one of my brothers or sisters took turns to fetch me and bring me home again.

Another memory was driving the long (mostly dirt) road to either my Grandmother’s farm or to my Uncle and Aunt where we stayed during school holidays. He used to switch the engine of the car off on every downhill and freewheel down to save petrol. Every trip also involved a stop at the Babanango Hotel for a quick beer with the landlord Stan Winston, we didn’t mind too much as we were kept quiet with a packet of crisps and a bottle of coke.

He was a wonderful story teller with a great sense of humour and loved to tell us tales of his adventures with his brother Ossie most of them involving cars, and tales of people he met in various pubs, Mtunzini Pub being a favourite. He was a humble man with a big heart who would give away his last penny to those who were worse off then him, he also trusted people far too easily and was often taken advantage of.

My Dad was a very social person who loved drinking beer with his friends and I remember him having a shot of jagermeister with his breakfast occasionally on a Sunday, (that was more than 30 years ago, before it became the trendy drink that it is now.) He loved Opera’s, Pavarotti and Neil Diamond and every Sunday he used to play their records loudly. My Dad had a great tenor voice and I remember him playing the role of Jesus one year, and the role of one of the wise men another year, at the ‘Forest Noel’ annual naivety play in Eshowe.

He loved cars and watching Formula 1.He also enjoyed watching cricket and rugby and supported the Sharks rugby team, even though they weren’t playing so well this year, he proudly wore his sharks fleece and cap. My Dad loved wearing hats and was never seen without one in the later years of his life.

He had a hard life with losing my mother to cancer with 6 young children to raise. With the help of my sister Von (who was 12 at the time), and my aunt Ingelore and uncle Ossie who we spent every day with after school, he did a great job in raising us. Although he never attended any of our school concerts or sporting events, wasn’t there to see my oldest brother and two oldest sister become Dux of the school and Head Boy and Head Girl respectively, he was the first person to phone up everyone he knew to let them know of their achievements, he was so proud of all his children. Another tragedy which my Dad had to live through was losing my brother, his oldest child, in a car accident when my brother was 21 years old.

He sadly was left a quadriplegic from a car accident 20 odd years ago, but he never ever complained, wasn’t bitter with the tragic loss and changes in his life and never felt sorry for himself, he remained positive and carried on with his life. He never wanted to feel like a burden to anyone and never complained when he wasn’t feeling well.

I never realised that his family in the end were his life, he was so proud of all of us. Although none of us lived close by he lived from one phone call to another, (The weekly phone call on Friday at 1pm sharp, from his brother Ossie was a highlight of his week) we tried to visit him as much as we could, every visit from one of us meant the world to him and an excuse to have a beer.

My Dad was a legend, a great father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, father-in-law, uncle and friend to so many. He is going to leave a big hole in my life.

 

Swaziland….

I have just realised that I broke a promise, in my last post I promised to write soon and post pictures of potholes and our trip to Swaziland..oops sorry failure. The photos of Swaziland I can do, but the potholes I am afraid, can’t do, I never got around to taking any photo’s and now all the potholes have been filled in. I have been told that this happens every year but that they will all be back again in December after the first rains…(will take some photo’s then). 

Our weekend in Swaziland was amazing, we went with the Hash Club (as in Hash House Harriers, check out Maputo Hash House Harriers if you are interested to see what its about) and stayed at the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in the Ezulwini Valley in typical Swazi huts, these were called Beehives and you can see why. 

Beehives

We had 2 runs over the weekend (one ending getting home in the dark in pouring rain and lightening far to close for comfort) , lots of drinking and plenty of time for shopping in between. 

Some 'Hashers' before one of the runs

Went to the Swazi Candle Factory, where we bought an African mask and Ngwenya Glass factory were we bought these funky hand blown glasses. 

Funky wine glasses from Ngwenya Glass - love them !!!
African mask : the only one we both liked

We also stopped at the House on Fire for lunch, an amazing, bizarre, fascinating building which looks like the person who designed it was on some type of drugs, it has a shop which had gorgeous candle holders and clocks etc Stefan and I were quite tempted to buy a candle stand but in seriousness it was expensive and would have looked ridiculous and out of place with our furniture. It’s definitely worth paying the House on Fire a visit if you are ever in Swaziland. (sorry no photo’s Stefan took hundreds but he’s not here at the moment – google it 🙂 

I loved being in Swaziland, it has rolling hills, was very green and incredibly clean, the roads are in great condition too. I really hope the Swazi government can sort out the economic crisis there; apparently there is only enough money to keep the country going till July. Can’t wait for our next visit. 

 P.S it’s Mozambique Independence Day tomorrow, we are hoping there will be something happening in this area which we will be able to see from our balcony, they are preparing for something judging by all the flags, and the band practice I have heard all morning, hopefully there will be some good photo opportunities which I can show you..

Maputo at last !!

I can’t believe that we have been in Maputo for almost 2 months… it was a huge culture shock when we arrived. Not sure what we expected but it definitely wasn’t this…. When we had told friends that we were moving to Mozambique almost all of them who had been here before said…Moz is amazing. Our first impressions were the opposite. The city is run down and tired. The roads are full of pot holes and the buildings generally grubby. Rubbish is left on the side of the road and there generally isn’t any pride. I cried every day for the first week. But, after living here and getting to know my way around and getting to know the people, it’s really grown on me, we are settled into our own place, Stefan is enjoying his job and I have now also found a job working as a volunteer working for a charity and we are starting to make friends. I’ve realized that it’s the people that make Mozambique amazing. They are very friendly, always smiling and so helpful.

 

The country is incredibly poor with a high HIV death rate and contracting malaria is a real risk (there were approximately 49000 cases reported in the Maputo province in the first three months of this year). Food is very expensive as almost everything is imported in from SA with huge import costs (how the average family survives I have no idea as I find that food is even more expensive here then it was in England.) There is a lot of bribery and corruption , a fair amount of petty crime (which is understandable in a way when you see the poverty but thankfully no violent crime), all properties have security guards and electric fences and lights and mirrors are frequently stolen off vehicles at night, the language barrier can be a bit challenging at times but so far I can say that I think it’s going to be okay and we are going to enjoy our time here, we still need to venture out of the capital to explore but hopefully as soon as we have a 4×4 we will be heading up north. I haven’t taken many photographs yet as I keep meaning to ask someone what the etiquette is regarding taking photo’s but here are a few to give you a taster of what things look like. (next time I will have some photo’s of the potholes and more interesting things , as well as some photo’s from Swaziland were we are going to this weekend- I promise).

View of the sea

Amazing building we discovered by chance
Beautiful bright cloths and sarongs for sale on the side of the road
Hand made furniture for sale on the road next to the sea
You can stop and buy chicken or fresh fish especially BBQ'd for you at the side of the road
One of the many 'pubs' on the road next to the beach

Sunset view from our balcony
View from our balcony - can you the see the sea ?

Saying farewell to Doha

I have just read back on my previous posts and almost all of them start with an apology for the lack of writing, this time you do deserve one. Its been some time, actually quite some time, (more than 2 months – eek!!! ) since I last posted on my blog !!!  I have many excuses but I won’t bore you with the details.We have finally arrived in Maputo after being delayed in South Africa for 6 weeks, but before I tell you all about that part of the journey I thought I needed to say a farewell to Doha.   

Although we were looking forward to our next part of the journey, I was quite sad to say goodbye to all the friends that I made in the short time that we were in Doha, and just want to thank each one of them for making me feel so welcome and being there for me which was quite a stressful time in my life. Even though we only knew each other for a short while, they were all very special to me and I really hope that our paths will cross again one day. Thank you also for all the lovely farewell gifts, I was truly spoilt. 

 Highlights of my time in Doha was seeing Roger Federer play tennis and winning the tournament, seeing fascinating buildings, early morning power walking on the Corniche with my friend Janis, spending time at Souk Waqif, seeing the camel racing, spending time at the Pearl (would have been great to live there), visiting Villaggio shopping centre (over the top) and the 20 minute firework display on National day, but most of all was meeting such amazing people.  

 
Meeting Roger - the closest I could get
His number one fan
At the tennis
Farewell lunch with the" lovely Doha ladies "
Old years eve with a few of the lovely ladies
Farewell dinner with friends at the Souq
Janis and I on one of our morning walks
The Pearl
Dhow
museum of Islamic art
Amazing building
Cheers Doha !!!

Souk Waqif

Sorry that I haven’t written for a while, this time I have no excuse other than pure laziness and also nothing remotely exciting has happened since I last wrote. I have been spending my days with an early exercise routine which is either an 8km walk on the Corniche with my friend J or on alternative days a workout in the gym (Ezdan surprisingly has a good gym !!!). I have been lucky enough to meet a great bunch of ladies who hail from all over the world, Australia, UK, Holland, Canada and Austin Texas who have been great and welcomed me into there, we meet up for coffee or lunch once a week , have met a few times for a walk around the Souk and even spent New Years Eve with some of them. It feels like I have known them for much longer than a few weeks.

As promised I thought I would tell you about what we have done since arriving here.

 One of my favourite places in Doha is Souk Waqif, for those of you who don’t know a souk is a market. Souk Waqif has many little alleys with shops selling pashminas to catering pots, spices and dried fruits, clothes toys and pets, you can get pretty much anything here.  It reminds me a bit of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul on a smaller scale without being bugged to buy something and it has a bit of a Moroccan feel to it.(not that I have been to Morocco but its what I imagine it must be!!)

Souk Waqif
Narrow passages filled with shops selling different things
Wheel barrows lined up in narrow passage
'Hubbly Bubbly's' or better known as Hashish pipes

It has great coffee shops where you can sit for hours sipping coffee and smoking hashish pipes whilst people watching. It also has many different restaurants my favourite is Moroccan called Tajine. We went for dinner when we first arrived with business colleagues of S’s who were in Doha for a few days. I was the only one who didn’t order baby camel stew… they all said it was delicious, I was to nervous to try it..

M and P enjoying baby camel stew
S enjoying a typical Lebanese lunch ..yum !!

One night we went out for dinner with friends J and C, we had a lovely dinner, J and I had a hubbly bubbly after dinner, I chose mint flavour which was great.. I woke up the next morning feeling a bit worse for wear as though I had a hangover – which was impossible as all we drank that night was water and a cup of coffee… looking at my eyes in the photo’s maybe they put something stronger than mint in it !!!

'Hubbly Bubbly' man preparing the pipe
S and I
Interesting....

I will post again in a few days.. hope you enjoyed reading !

P.S thought I would update you on S shirt’s we had made in Thailand – after about 6 washes there is no sign of them falling apart which goes to show don’t believe everything you read in a guide book !

Unexpected pothole

When I started writing this blogg I wrote that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, what I never thought of at the time was that sometimes the road one travels hits unexpected potholes and that what initially looked like a simple journey can change in an instant …

This is what happened to us, we have hit an unexpected pothole which has resulted in us having to make some hard decisions, things haven’t worked out here as planned and we will be leaving Qatar in January. We aren’t to sure were our next adventure is going to be, we have some possible options that we are considering elsewhere but nothing has been decided yet and who knows if they are going to be the right ones. When one hits a pothole, you usually stop, assess the damage and decide what course of action to take, do you carry on with the journey or do you turn around and go back in the direction you came from ?…I suppose you never know when you set out on a new journey what it is going to be like, I could carry on and be philosophical but those of you who know me well, will also know that I have had a few knocks in life and generally look on the bright side of life and try and never let things get me down (well not for very long, although I must admit I have been wallowing in my own self pity for the last few weeks) but from today no longer !!!

 So what have we been up too since I last wrote quite a few weeks ago…

 We spent an enjoyable afternoon with friends at the camel races. Experienced all the excitement of Qatar winning the 2022 Football World Cup, have spent some enjoyable times at the Souk Waqif (market) were I tried smoking a hubbly bubbly and also watched the National Day parade with a 19 minute fireworks display…

I will start with the camel racing. We had no idea what to expect when we were invited by friends to join them one Saturday afternoon at the races. It is not at all like horse racing, I was expecting little people dressed as jockeys, which I must admit I had my reservations about the cruelty aspect (I am not a huge fan of horse racing for the same reason).There were no ‘little jockeys’ in sight only little robots dressed like jockeys on top of the camels holding tiny whips controlled by radio control.

Camels with robots

The owners of the camels drive in white 4×4 vehicles (they are always white not sure why) on a road next to the race track controlling the robots. Spectators (also white 4×4’s !!!) drive next to the race on the other side of the track.

 There is a bus that drives around the track for spectators, one thing I haven’t written about yet is how crazy the drivers are here, apparently it is the same in Dubai and the whole of the Middle East, and you feel as if you are putting your life at risk every time you venture out in a car…which is probablly why there is a bus for people like me.

We jumped into a white bus which was waiting to set off, only to discover a few minutes later when we were 400m down the road that this wasn’t the official bus but somebody’s private vehicle – they didn’t seem to mind even though we were 5 adults and 2 children!! It was great fun going around the track this way as they had the commentary in Arabic on the car radio which added to the excitement. A few races later we ventured out on our own with my friend D diving alongside the spectators, he has lived here for 3 years so drives the same way they do..which made it an exciting experience , how no-one had an accident I still can’t believe. It was a great experience and a fun day out.

Start of the race check how the trainers are running out of the way
View from the bus
more photos of the start
Another view of camels from the bus

 

and more camels

Thailand

Sorry that I haven’t posted anything for 2 weeks. Stefan and I decided to make the most of the Eid holiday by joining the masses at Doha airport to fly to Phuket, Thailand. I have never been to an airport that was so busy and so chaotic. We had to queue to enter the airport and once inside chaos reigned. I was able to get through passport control fairly easily but Stefan almost wasn’t able to fly as he didnt have his exit visa with him. If you are employed in Qatar you can not leave without permission from your employer.  A few phone calls were made by the lady at passport control before she was satisfied, and he was allowed to go through. I had been waiting anxiously for 40 minutes, if they hadn’t let him through I would have had to travel on my own, with no way of contacting him as my mobile phone does not allow me to make calls outside the UK. (That’s another long story…).

We arrived in Phuket after midnight, luckily I had arranged transport so we had someone waiting for us on arrival as our hotel in Patong was about 45 mins drive from the airport.We woke the next day to the most awful weather, heavy, heavy rain which I suppose is to be expected when you visit a country in monsoon season. After buying a very sexy pink rain coat for myself and an umbrella for Stefan, we decided to go exploring and spent an enjoyable day sightseeing and shopping in the rain. At 4pm I was enticed into a shop which was a tailorshop, and before we knew it Stefan was measured up for 5 shirts ,3 pairs of trousers and after some haggling 4 ties were added for the total sum of £120!!!. We were promised that everything would be ready at 9pm that night…and it was although the trousers were a bit short and had to be altered everything else fitted perfectly. Everything was dropped off at our hotel at midnight..- quite impressive. (A few days later we read in the Lonely Planet that they advised not to buy anything from shops that promised suits in 24 hours – as the shirt sleeves start falling off after the 3rd wash – so I reckon these shirts are going to possibly last 2 washes.. will keep you posted.

Being measured for trousers

After leaving the tailor shop we walked down a street that we hadnt been down earlier in the day. It was crazy, 100’s of nightclubs and bars playing loud music and loads of prostitutes walking down the street trying to entice Stefan into massage parlours and shows involving women and ping pong balls (will leave that to your imagination….)

The next day we left Patong and moved down the coast to a less busy place called Karon, we had found a lovely hotel away from the beach set up high on a hill with a view of the sea. It was a small hotel called CC Blooms (which I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to stay away from the crowds, friendly staff and the General Manager Ken is great -really helpful). We hired a motorbike and went exploring for the next two days, but had enough of people and just wanted to get away from the crowds. Ken recommended an island not far off Phuket which only has 5 hotels.

We found an amazing place through Tripadvisor which we booked for 2 nights and caught a long boat to Yao Yai island the next day. The hotel Koh Yao Yai resort was out of this world, it was made up of individual bungalows set under trees. Had an amazing swimming pool with its own private beach. This was just what we were looking for and extended our stay to 4 nights.

View of pool and beach
Having a cup of tea on our balcony

We arranged an island hopping trip the day after we arrived on a long boat with our own guide and captain. Although it initially poured with rain, it sooned cleared and we had a lovley day. This part of the world is amazing and so beautiful, we had been recommended by a friend to go to PhiPhi island – but we were so glad we didnt as it is very touristy with about 4ooo people visiting the island every day. We hardly saw anyone the whole day.

our long boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the long boat

After 4 days we were sad to leave Kao Yai Yoa as we felt we had found our own little piece of paradise. The staff had been so friendly and it felt like we were leaving friends behind.

Deck chairs on the beach

As we had to catch our flight back to Doha the next day, we decided to head to Phuket Town for our last day as we wanted to do a bit of shopping , and this wasnt to far from the airport. We caught a ferry back to the mainland which was uneventful and took about an hour. On arriving in Phuket we walked down the street with all our luggage looking for a taxi or tuk tuk that we could catch to the hotel. We were a bit disorientated and walked in the wrong direction. Not one taxi passed us and we were about to turn around and walk back to the Pier when a car stopped. It was the Captain of the ferry, he offered to take us to our hotel. He was a lovely man who didnt speak much english but we managed to explain where we were staying. On arriving at the hotel, he would not take any money from us, and just pointed to his heart, which I understood as he was doing this from the goodness of his heart.

We spent the rest of the day exploring, it was a big dissapointment as the city was very dirty and run down. We had dinner and a few drinks before heading back to the hotel .

Street in Phuket Town

The next day we caught a bus to the airport and flew back to Doha. We had a lovely holiday but I couldnt help feeling that I wanted to get back to Qatar so I could do some more exploring.

Thunder storm in Doha

 Today I experienced my first thunder storm in Doha. There are few things I love more than thunderstorms, I love the sounds, the smell and they way everything feels fresh once it has passed. I stood standing at the window with my camera ready waiting to capture this (living on the 22nd floor, I was scared that if I went downstairs by the time I got there I might miss it and also wouldnt have been able to capture the moment). I didnt need to worry as it took all day for the storm to finally break. I went outside and stood at the entrance to our building so that I could experience it and take some photographs. The wind was howling and  sand was blowing into my eyes. The heavens opened as the battery in my camera died….
As I write this it is pouring with rain – I can hardly see out of the window as the rain has covered it. I am hoping that the camera will charge quickly so I can get some shots of the lightening over the sea. The storm has not dissapointed me.
dark clouds over Doha this morning
view from the entrance to Ezdan
grey clouds
howling wind
view through rainy window

 

 

 

  

 

Ezdan Towers – our temporary residence

Today is Monday, I know this because the carpet in the elevator told me so… it gets changed every day which is great for me because at the moment every day feels the same. 

carpet in elevator where we are staying

We are staying on the 22nd floor of a hotel called Ezdan (someone called it the Ezdan Tower of hell on Trip Advisor and generally the ratings are rubbish), the views are great and apart from the awful smell which occassionally drifts through the pipes in the bathroom and poor customer service, it isn’t a bad place to stay. It has a great swimming pool which I can see from the window, a gym which has a few treadmills, cross trainers and weights, sauna and steam room and 2 studios one for men and one for women. They have an aerobics class once a week and a Salsa class on a Monday night, I have wondered how they teach Salsa with men only and women only studios ?

view of the pool

The hotel has a coffee shop, 2 restaurants,a hairdresser for women, another for men and a super market. It is located close to the main business area and in walking distance from the Corniche which is a boulevard stretching about 7km along the waterway. It is used for walking, cycling and running and has benches etc to hang out on. There are restaurants and museums along the way and is generally a good place to hang out.

view from Ezdan Tower

We signed for our own place on Saturday this involved sampling loads of chocolate and drinking cups of sweet tea, an interesting experience as our landlord owns a chocolate factory and a few chocolate shops in Doha called Larissa.  We move on 1st December, it looks like we might be camping though as our furniture hasnt left the UK yet. I will post details as soon as we have the keys and I can take some photos, you will love it.

The journey begins….

It took about 4 months from the time Stefan and I decided that we were moving to Doha for me to finally board the plane.

 The last few weeks in the UK passed in a blur, the flat was being painted and spruced up to be rented, I was trying to sell the car (which is still not sold!!!), sorting out bank accounts, tax, etc….the list continues. In between this I was trying to catch up with as many of my friends as I could, my head was spinning by the time I got on the plane (this could have had a bit to do with all the champagne consumed the night before with great friends Em, Aid, Steve, Wendy and Boo) and I was in a bit of a daze.

Em and Aidrian were amazing to drive me to Heathrow at 5am to catch my flight, and patiently waited while I was charged for excess luggage which cut in to our last minutes together.(Thank you so much E and A -you are stars!!) Although I was really excited to be seeing Stefan in a few hours, I was very sad to say goodbye to the UK and all the amazing friends I have had to leave behind, and I am not ashamed to say I shed a few tears as I boarded the plane.