Of Grandchildren and Travel

Goodness me, it’s been a while since I wrote a post.  I’ve been somewhat pre-occupied over the last few months with things that have kept me from my keyboard.  Some voluntary work, some child minding and some traveling.  All with a dash of procrastination thrown in because, if I’m being honest, at the end of the day when the decision was made post or do something else, something else won out!

Last year I volunteered to help out at Haya Tour with a few things around the office and soon found myself with a full time voluntary occupation.  The perks were great, (free trips), and I was quite enjoying being useful.   There have been times in the last five years living in Saudi Arabia, when I haven’t felt particularly useful or contributory.  Sure I can swan around to coffee mornings and travel to places far from home that, for most of us, are just a dream, but feeling useful is just so much more rewarding, don’t you think?  And though Hubster says that having me around is much nicer for him than his being here alone, I have to say, being here as a non-working expat woman with no kids to run around after and no real purpose for existing, other than to welcome Hubster home at the end of the day, present him with dinner and then practice ignoring him all evening so he can do more work on the computer, is a sucky kind of existence!  So, when I found myself fully occupied and useful I was pretty chuffed for a while there.

Then my grandchildren came to stay.
For three months!
So I was pleasantly busy, though I’d forgotten how time consuming and energetic young children can be.

We took them to Budapest for Christmas hoping to frolic in the snow.  Unfortunately that part of Europe was having an unseasonably snow free winter even though it was still frikken cold.  I think it snowed, very lightly, only twice the whole two weeks we were there.  But that was enough for their first introduction to the white fluffy stuff, and their reaction was priceless.  We’d been out to dinner with some friends and the kids were tired so I was taking them home.  A very light dusting of snow was on the cars outside the restaurant and the lightest flakes were falling.  They ran in to Hubster shouting excitedly, to the amusement of other diners, to announce’ It’s snowing!’  Of course the table of adults had to come out to see.  A child’s excitement is cute and infectious.  So late that night the kids were in the park, playing in a smattering of snow and having a blast.

Then we bought them to Saudi.
I had ideas in my head of the great and marvelous things we would do while they were here.  However the Hip Hop must have hooked it as I got no reply to email requests, the music center wasn’t answering their phone, (I had visions of guitar lessons as Hubster had bought the grandson a guitar.  In the end we had to rely on the internet for tuition), and the activity center over at the Localizer has closed up shop.  Although there are loads of fun parks in the shopping centers that the kids would have been more than happy to visit every day, I was more interested in finding physical activities.  After all, these two are very active outdoorsy Mozzies.   Fortunately we found tennis coaching once a week, Karate twice a week and the pool, once it was refilled, was a daily activity.

Cafe Ceramique was recommended as an art outlet to satisfy their creative side.  And we visited Azzizi Mall one day for the soap and chair making upstairs.  Plus on our walks around town we would collect up different bits and pieces and get artistic with glue and paints from Jariir Bookstore where we also spent a bit of time each week choosing new books to read.  Both kids love books.

Other days were filled with visiting friends and joining the ladies on coffee mornings.  They met loads of people and got totally spoiled.  On weekends we would head out into the desert for  picnicking, camping and searching for bones – the grandson was becoming quite an archaeologist.  They both loved camping in their tents given as gifts from Madam Louise and the granddaughter became quite adept at roasting marshmallows over the fire.

The granddaughter also formed some very definite ideas about Saudi Arabia quite early on in her visit and I take some of the blame for that.  Cursing under my breath at the driver who guaranteed he was ten minutes away from picking us up outside a bookshop that had closed for prayer, but decided instead to be an extra half an hour late didn’t really give her a great first impression.  “Why don’t you just drive us Nana?”, was one of the questions she asked as I grumbled away.  No matter how nicely you say it, explaining to a switched on seven year old the peculiarities of Saudi male thinking when it comes to the women related issues of driving, abaya wearing and segregation makes them sound a bit like dicks.

In the second half of their visit I had to spend a bit of time pointing out the good things about the country, but I have to say, you local blokes just didn’t cut the mustard for my granddaughter and she doubts she will be back here again until you can open your eyes and get your act together.  Our grandson, being five and cruisey, was pretty much just cruisin’ the whole time.

Whanau on a birthday cruise: photo credit Rehua’s GoPro

After three months the grandchildren had to be returned to Australia.  The timing coincided with a visit to Melbourne, where Hubster was doing some study, and a trip home to NZ (because if I’m down that way it seems silly not to go the extra two and bit thousand miles) before we set off on a Pacific Dawn cruise.  Our nephew turned 21 and, as he likes boats, his family decided the best way to celebrate his coming of age, would be on a cruise ship.  So 22 members of the family cruised their way up the Aussie coast for a week and we had quite a good time while we were at it.  Unfortunately WiFi isn’t that great out at sea, so no work was done by anybody.  Fabulous.

After that Hubster and I went to the Gold Coast to get our land lubber legs back, to catch up with some of his family and to meet the rest of our brood (they didn’t go on the cruise).  It was a fabulously relaxing time and a perfect end to our tiki touring ways before heading back to Saudi.

And here we are.
Back in the frey.
A few things have changed.
The Yemeni scene is looking a bit shaky.
I guess we’ll all be keeping on eye on that.

Ka Kite,


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