Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A look back at 2009

What a year.

If we'd known at the beginning of the year how this one would pan out, what would we have said?

January: Our first attempt at Clomid failed. My husband flew off to the Gulf to begin his new job, unsure of what life would be like out there. An initial planned 6 weeks apart became more than two months as we struggled to sort out my visa. In the meantime, I packed up all our belongings and resigned from my job.

February: I have an emotional leaving do from work, and the UK gets its worst snowfall in years, just as my husband is studying for his new type-rating in the unrelenting sunshine of the Gulf. Having succeeded in packing/throwing away/shipping all our things, I move out of our house and in with mum and dad until I can fly out to be with him.

March: I bid goodbye to the UK for I know not how long. I'm moving to a country I've never even visited. I'm very sad but also overjoyed to see my husband again. When I get there I'm pleasantly surprised by our new apartment, but also dreadfully homesick for the first couple of weeks.

April: I begin to settle in and see the benefits of our new lifestyle. TTC wise, however, we're still in the dark, albeit with a bit more hope as my periods seem to have restarted, despite being 45 days apart each time! I decide to wait a while before attempting Clomid again. I continue to struggle to deal with the infertility, finding each happy announcement from people I know very difficult to cope with.

May: In May I take the big step of registering with the state healthcare system out here and am advised to try Clomid again. I take it at the end of the month and begin the two week wait to see if it's worked.

June: The Clomid doesn't work, but I get a positive progesterone test result, suggesting I definitely ovulated that cycle - a real step forward. At short notice we head back to the UK for a well-deserved holiday, and catch the best two weeks of the British summer while we're there!

July: We celebrate our third wedding anniversary in style. At the end of the month, I begin my third round of Clomid.

August: I struggle with the Clomid side-effects. At the end of the month, I fly with my husband on one of his trips to the US and have an amazing time. And a few days after we get back I do a pregnancy test and.... I'm pregnant! A complete miracle. I'm thrilled and petrified in equal measure. We fly back to the UK the next day for a planned holiday and tell our parents, who are delighted.

Then, a truly horrible bolt out of the blue. My wonderful mother-in-law died from a major stroke with absolutely no warning just days after she found out she was going to be a grandma. We are all devastated.

September: We spend another fortnight in the UK supporting my father-in-law and organising the funeral. It's a horrible time. Then, when we fly back to the Gulf, we resolve to get a scan done to establish whether the pregnancy is viable (I feel sure the emotional upset of the previous few weeks can't have been very good for the baby). We go for the scan with little hope but are overjoyed when the doctor plays us the heartbeat, a moment neither of us will ever forget. I'm 8 weeks pregnant and it looks good so far.

October: I begin to realise I really am pregnant, and it's amazing! We go for the 12 week scan and are told everything looks ok, so we start to tell people, which is very exciting.

November: We head back to the UK for a trip to see our families and go on a brilliant impromptu holiday in Scotland, organised by my husband. We are immensely lucky with the weather (the north-east floods badly just after we leave!) and have a wonderful time, just the two of us.

December: I'm now five months pregnant. We travel to the UK for 10 days before Christmas and have a fabulous if hectic time visiting all our family. We're again lucky with the weather, as it snows! My husband's Christmas roster isn't brilliant, so I fly with him to the US and we spend a really romantic Christmas Eve together stateside, flying back home on Christmas Day. It was an unusual but very special thing to do, and we're both so glad we made the effort to do it.

And that brings us up to now. My husband is on a trip over New Year (our first one apart), so that will be difficult for us both.

Still, I know that we're both looking towards 2010 with hope that it's a much better year, one where we can build on our new life out here, and welcome the new life we've made together into the world healthily and happily.

I wish every one of you a healthy, fun and most importantly, happy New Year.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Christmas message of hope, revisited

Last year, just before Christmas, I wrote this post.

In it, I wrote:

For me this year, the baby, the symbol of God's love, has a new significance. Regular readers of this blog will know that my husband and I would love a child of our own, and that it's not going to be very easy for us. Hearing those familiar readings inevitably brought my own concerns to the fore. We would dearly love a child of our own by next Christmas. So, as I sat on that cold and rather uncomfortable pew last night, I said a silent prayer of hope that it might happen for us.

As I write this I can barely believe how much has changed in the past year. In the comments on that post, Someday wrote that she hoped the move would bring "many wonderful changes" to our lives, and that has really proved to be the case. I couldn't possibly have imagined it then (I could barely imagine the following week, let alone the following year), but in fact the move away from the UK has brought us many, many good things.

At the pinnacle of those things, of course, is the miracle of my pregnancy. I now pray that all goes well (because I take nothing for granted), and that next year we will be experiencing our first ever family Christmas.

I'm also saying a prayer for all those couples who are still waiting for the child they so dearly want. I will never forget how it felt, and I feel for every single one of you as you prepare to bid farewell to this year and usher in the next with as much hope as you can muster. Hope is such an easy word, but such a difficult thing to cling onto in the face of such adversity. Good luck, and God bless you.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Christmas in the Middle East

We're currently in the UK on another madcap dash around the country visiting family, before returning to the Gulf a few days before Christmas. It's a beautiful morning here, just above freezing with the sun out and low in the sky, one of my favourite kinds of day. I'm glad we managed to find time do this, as there's nothing quite like sharing this time of year with those you love - particularly given the terrible time my husband and his father have been through in the last four months. I feel like it's a perfect compromise, as my husband didn't manage to get Christmas off this year. To be honest, I've always preferred the run-up to Christmas more than the actual day itself anyhow. This way we get to have fun with our families, see a bit of the UK, stock up on some Christmas essentials we can't buy at home, and generally indulge all our British foibles for a little while. After all, this will be our last visit here until the baby is born, as long-haul flying will soon become too dangerous and uncomfortable for me to make it worthwhile.

What has really surprised me recently is how nice preparing for a Christmas in the Gulf has actually been. Obviously we live in a Muslim country, but I have been pleasantly surprised to see Christmas decorations (including nativity scenes!) widely available in the shops, and Christmas decorations up in the shopping centres and restaurants. We had a wonderful luxurious meal at a 5* hotel the other day for my husband's birthday, and there was an absolutely enormous tree there - it must have been more than 12 feet tall! (Oh, and a human sized gingerbread house.. they don't do things by halves in the Gulf states!)

I've also enjoyed gathering the ingredients for our traditional British Christmas cake (lots of dried fruit, brandy, marzipan and icing) and putting up our tree, which is the hugest we have ever had, even in the UK! And I also *think* I have our Christmas meal sorted, having even found a Turkey imported from the USA!

All in all, somehow it feels fine that we'll be spending the Christmas week so far from "home". As you know, we'll hopefully be spending Christmas Eve in the USA together, and part of Christmas Day on a plane (in Business Class, thank God...!) So this year isn't traditional for us in any sense, and I'm really getting to like that. This year has made me take myself out of my comfort zone, and I've been amazed by how much I've enjoyed the results, despite the obvious challenges involved. Sometimes you can really surprise yourself.

And despite getting used to a cold, frosty (and let's face it, often wet and dreary!) UK Christmas, I'm quite looking forward to a warm and sunny Christmas for a change. It's all rather more authentic, anyhow. This is where Christmas began, after all...

Friday, 4 December 2009

A move towards the East

It's exactly a year since my husband got the job offer he'd been waiting for, and we knew we'd be moving out to the Gulf. A great deal has changed in that year...

For a start, I've noticed a real shift in attitudes towards the Middle Eastern airlines amongst the flying community. When we first announced we were moving out here, a lot of our pilot friends felt slightly sorry for us, having to move our lives halfway across the world. There was definitely a feeling that being in a Muslim country would be a tremendous trial for us, too (I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked if I can drive, work or drink alcohol here, etc, etc). Of course, we were forced into a corner to come here by the collapse of my husband's old airline, so we felt sorry for ourselves, too.

Now, though, things seem to be changing. We've been contacted by a great number of British pilots asking about the recruitment process here, driven of course by the dire state of the industry in Europe at the moment. Many UK airlines are offering career breaks to pilots who take a job elsewhere, which is a very attractive offer that many of them are choosing to take up. And on closer inspection, living out here isn't as bad as many fear. One pilot recently asked us if we would choose to do this again if we were actually given the choice. So I thought about my answer...

Well, for a start, my husband is flying for an airline with very, very deep pockets. Just knowing it's not going to go bust any second is quite wonderful. My husband is flying an aircraft he has always wanted to, and didn't expect to be able to do at this relatively early stage of his career. Financially we are doing pretty well, despite the fact I'm only working very part-time. This is of course helped by the complete absence of tax here (yes, there really is NO tax!). We have comprehensive international health cover, and the hospitals out here are extremely good, which is a relief, as I'm planning on giving birth in one! And of course our accommodation is provided, we can rent our house out at home, we get great staff travel across the industry, we get a transport and communications allowance, will get school fees paid... etc, etc. Suffice to say we're better off here than we were at home.

Then, of course, there's the biggie; we really don't believe I'd be pregnant if we were still living in the UK and I was still working full time in my stressful job. For us, that's the deal breaker.

So, despite the negatives of living here - being far from friends and family, the difficulties of living in a different culture - we are actually very happy, as are almost all of the expat pilots and their families who have moved out here in the last year, too. We all agree that basically, life out here is what you make it. If you want to be miserable, it's perfectly easy to do that (just stay in and refuse to meet people, don't personalise your house, spend all your time staring at the TV, etc). But if you get out there and do things, meet people, and make the most of things, it's a pretty great place to live.

My husband and I were walking along the seafront the other day in the lovely warm (but not hot) evening breeze, reflecting on how life has changed for us over the past year. We both agree that this period of our lives is going to be one we will look back on extremely fondly.

There've certainly been lots of downs along with the ups, but on balance - would I do this again, given the choice? Yes, absolutely. Although of course I'd like to do the move knowing what I know now, not arriving clueless as we actually did... Wouldn't it be great if we could always do that?

Oh, for time travel...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Four months

I'm officially over four months pregnant now, and I never fail to be amazed daily by what a huge blessing it is. We had another scan yesterday and were absolutely spellbound by the wriggling, healthy baby we saw on the scan! In fact the baby was moving so much the doctor couldn't get a clear image of it, so we're left with lots of vague pictures of shapes that may be a head/stomach/leg. Well, no matter, it's still there and it's healthy!

The only fly in the ointment was that I got told off by my doctor for managing to put on 3 kilos in the last 5 weeks (apparently 1.5 is ideal). Clearly all those fry-ups in Scotland were not the best thing! Whoops...

As is usual for me, I'm starting to get over excited about Christmas already. We're hopefully heading back to the UK for a week beforehand, which will be lovely. Christmas somehow wouldn't feel quite right without the requisite cold, miserable UK weather! Then we're back here just before the big day, and unfortunately my husband's been given a trip to the USA on the 23rd of December, flying back on Christmas day! A long way short of ideal.

We felt a bit down about it yesterday, but checked the loads out this morning and it looks like I have a more than fighting chance of getting on the flights. So, Christmas day in Business Class it is for me! This obviously isn't brilliant, but it does mean we get to spend Christmas Eve in the US together, and will both be home on Christmas day in time for an opening of presents and festive meal in the evening. Then we'll do our traditional Christmas lunch on Boxing Day!

If this had happened last year I think I'd have been devastated about it (given how much of a kid I am about Christmas) but to be honest, having seen our wonderful baby on the scan yesterday and realising that we really COULD be cradling a healthy child in our arms next May, nothing could dampen my spirits. Not even a rubbish Christmas roster!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

"Us" time

We've just come back from a long trip to the UK, which included a very needed holiday for just the two of us. We realised recently that we haven't been on a "just the two of us" break since September last year, and since we'll be three next year, it seemed like we should make it a priority!

We started our break with a couple of weeks seeing family, which was vital. My husband and his father are still reeling from the death of my mother-in-law, so it was important for them to spend some time together. Sometimes I have no idea what to say to either of them, but I'm trying to help just by doing practical things, and just being there. Seeing them in so much pain is terrible.

It was during our time staying with his Dad that my husband said he planned to spring a surprise trip on me. I was very excited about this (as even our honeymoon was planned by us both!) and I expected it to be a couple of nights in London before our flight home. I was entirely wrong. It turned out to be what my husband entitled "The great pre-bump UK tour", and it was fabulous. We put in some serious miles on the hire car, and drove via my parents' lovely country home to the Lake District, then up to the Scottish Highlands and then on to Edinburgh. Believe it or not, I've never been to Scotland before (despite having travelled across the world many times!) so this was a great opportunity, and the sort of trip it would be very tricky to do with a baby in tow.

We had a wonderful, relaxed time taking in the fantastic scenery and immense breakfasts (whoops). The picture above was taken during our drive through the Lakes - amazing to actually be at the end of a rainbow! (Sadly we didn't find a pot of gold).

Pregnancy wise, things are going well, we hope. We had the 12 week scan before we headed back to the UK, and everything looked ok so far. I'm now 15 weeks and I'm really starting to show. Several people we don't know, like people working in shops, have noticed, and that makes it all seem wonderfully real! There's really no hiding it now, even if I wanted to. I've invested in some maternity clothes, taking advantage of the fact that the UK shops were selling off their summer stock when I was home - hooray! Definitely a benefit of living in a country where the sun shines every day!

Symptoms wise, I have an itchy tummy (which I assume is the skin stretching?), heartburn, occasional muscle pain around my stomach (which I think is round ligament pain), a dodgy back, and I still need to pee ALL the time! Brilliant.

My husband is being fantastic about the pregnancy, more than I could ever have hoped. He's read all the books (and seems to know more facts than me!) and is incredibly supportive, which is so vital when you live so far away from home and you're feeling hormonally emotional.

Of course, I'm already worried that my husband will just have taken off for a long-haul trip to the US just as I go into labour... I'm thinking of asking a friend to be a stand-by birthing assistant. Does anyone who's been there have any advice?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Pregnant pause

I apologise for my somewhat lax blogging over the last few months. There has actually been a reason for this...

Yes, you read that correctly! After our long, painful struggle with infertility, my husband and I have been blessed with a little bit of magic. I'm now 12 weeks pregnant, and everything looks ok so far, although I've been incredibly nervous throughout and will probably continue to be so.

Obviously we are over the moon, but as you will know if you read my blog regularly, my husband is recently bereaved, so things have been very difficult for us both over the last couple of months. We found out we were expecting the week before my mother-in-law died, and told her about it, thank God. She was absolutely delighted.

I'd also like to add that, despite my pregnancy, I hope my friends who are still dealing with infertility will feel they can still come to me to talk about how they feel. I may be pregnant, but I will always remember how truly horrible it all is. I, more than most, will also completely understand if you want to stop following my blog. But, if you do decide to continue, I promise to be as sensitive to your feelings as I can.

Infertility can take over your life, and once you've experienced it, you never forget its effects. I'm praying you all have a happy outcome, whatever that may be.

And for me? Well, I'm not counting my chickens until I have our baby safe in my arms...

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Home thoughts from abroad

Amazingly, I'm entering my eighth month of living here. It seems to have gone in a flash. One thing I notice about being an expat is the longer the stretch of time you have in your new country of residence, the easier it is - and conversely if you head back to your mother country for a break, it's much harder to feel settled in your new country when you get back.

I feel a bit like that this time. Our recent three weeks in the UK, whilst obviously very harrowing, were also an opportunity for us to get used to a UK way of life again. It was also very important for us both to be close to our families during this horrible time, and being so far away from them now is extremely difficult.

So, I've been thinking about the things I miss about the UK, versus the things I don't. I thought I'd make a list.

Things I miss:

1) Our families. Although having said that, we've seen a great deal of them this year with our flitting back and forth, and when they come to visit you get proper quality time with them, not just a snatched overnight stay once every few months. We didn't live very near our families in the UK either.

Naturally I miss my mum-in-law every day, but I think that would be the same wherever we lived in the world. Rest in peace, lovely mum-in-law. We miss you.

2) Green. You know, that wonderful saturated green you get in the UK - green hills, green fields, green gardens. Here, you get green parks and green plants, but the overwhelming colour is browny yellow!

3) A democracy. I miss a society where bureaucracy was transparent and everything seemed (mostly) fair. Here things are never black and white - generally various shades of grey instead.

4) Snow and ice. I love snowy days, and let's face it, we're never going to have those out here. But on the other hand, I don't really like being cold! Doh.

5) My friends at home. I miss the physical presence of friends I've known for many many years. Having said that, Skype and email are amazing tools and I feel very close to them still, and I have lots of new friends here, many of whom are becoming very great friends.

6) Drinking booze in a pub. This is a picky one I suppose, but alcohol regulations are so tight here that you can only drink alcohol in 5 star hotels, or in your own home. I miss being able to drink booze on tables outside restaurants, in parks and in pub gardens. Just a simple freedom thing I think.

7) Our cat - although he's being completely spoilt by my mum and is very, very happy with the countryside cat eutopia he currently lives in!

Things I don't miss:

1) Stress. I had no idea how stressed I was, and how my lifestyle was making me ill. I used to suffer from recurrent headaches, but I haven't had a single one since I moved here. I used to have a hellish commute into London every day to do a job that was exciting but extremely stressful and demanding - and I have to say I don't miss the way it used to make me feel. I think all of this only served to make my infertility problems worse.

2) Worries about money. The UK just seems to get more and more expensive to live in, and the salaries just aren't keeping up. When my husband was unemployed things were particularly dicey. I remember we worried about turning the heating on in our small 3 bedroom terraced house in case we couldn't afford the bill. Tesco vouchers became my best friends. I am now amazingly relieved that money is no longer our primary concern.

3) Being cold. As mentioned above, I'm not very good at being cold! Here it can be unpleasantly hot in the summer, but the autumn, winter and spring are gorgeous. There's a lot to be said for lying in the sun reading a book wearing a swimming costume in December.

4) Tax. It's really an incredible feeling to realise that everything on your pay packet goes straight into the bank!

5) The rat-race. Someone said to me today that life here just makes you slow down and appreciate things a little more, and I agree. You just can't get things done quickly here, so you have to relax a little and take things a bit more in your stride, which is good for me.

6) Never seeing my husband. Despite the fact he now flies long-haul, his roster's generally pretty good, with only 3 or 4 trips a month, and when he's home, we have quality time. Last week, for example, we got to spend a whole week together, uninterrupted.

7) Drizzle/downpours/fog and any combination of them! I'm thinking of those cold, dark, damp winter days you usually have in the UK, when it's only light between about 8am and 4pm. I don't miss those!

I'm sure there are loads more... I'll have to post again when they come to me!

If any other expat ladies read my blog - what do or don't you miss about your home country?

Monday, 21 September 2009

After the flood

We have just arrived back from 3 weeks in the UK to find that our apartment has been under several inches of water in our absence. We had a note from the management company explaining that a pipe had "snapped" in the flat next door and flooded our home. Brilliant. Luckily they sent in a team of cleaners to mop it all up, who used our lovely bed spread and my husband's dressing gown to soak up the excess, leaving the latter in the washing machine. For three weeks.

Somehow, this wasn't a surprise to us. We've just had the most devastating, upsetting time of our whole lives, and we've stopped expecting the world to go our way, even a little bit.

This is because my beautiful, vivacious, hilarious, loving mother-in-law died suddenly and unexpectedly while we were in the UK. It has been a time of incredible sadness, and my husband is undoubtedly going through hell. She was still young - not even 70 - and had so much to live for. Thank God, though, that we were in the UK - we could so easily have been over here - and in fact my husband was staying with his parents when his mum died. He is her only child and she loved him with an incredible and amazing intensity, and I know him being there with her always brought her tremendous joy. I thank God for that.

And for my part - when my mother-in-law was on life support in hospital, I promised her I'd look after her son for her, always.

And I will.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

A slice of his life

I've just got back from a trip with my husband to the USA. It's the first time I've been able to go along with him since we got here. His previous airline often had him working away from base, but he generally flew short-haul so he never stayed anywhere for me to go along with him - and even if I did want to, staff travel was a nightmare!

This, however, was a completely different matter. When I fly on staff travel with this airline I realise the gulf there is between his current employer and his previous one - it's like they're from completely different worlds! First and foremost, this airline actually has a proper ID90 system with inter-airline agreements, and a route-network across the world - so we can go almost anywhere so cheaply. Amazing. Secondly, the airline takes customer service REALLY SERIOUSLY. Every passenger I've spoken to raves about his airline. Contrast this to his previous airline where we had standbys that were worthless because we could never get on, limited destinations and the passenger reviews online could make you cry. Anyhow, I digress...

The trip was fantastic. Getting on was a close run thing - there are weight restrictions on long-haul flights from here in the summer because it's so hot (over 45c most days). Luckily, though, the Captain was determined to get me on and lo and behold I was seated in Business Class! Three other staff passengers didn't get on, so I felt extremely lucky.

When I'd taken my seat on board my husband came into the cabin to check on me, and I was so proud to be seen with him. All the other passengers were peering at us, wondering how on earth I knew the pilot! I know that other pilot's wives will have had this feeling and will know exactly what I'm talking about!

When we arrived in the US I went through the normal security channels, but when I came out I discovered that all four pilots were waiting for me, bless them! They then took me to the crew shuttle and I travelled with the crew to their hotel, which was in a lovely town, right in the middle of things.

We packed a lot in while we were there. We met one of my husband's friends for dinner and then met one of my friends in town the next day, and she gave us a guided tour. It was so surreal to actually be there, but so fantastic. We were knackered and slightly sunburned after a day walking around in the sun, but it was brilliant.

That night we got a couple of hours kip before we had to head to the airport for the return flight.

This time the staff travel situation was a little easier; the man behind the desk confirmed me in economy on an exit row, and said that they might upgrade me at the gate if they had space. Pleased I was at least going to get on the flight, I sat down and waited for my husband, who was about 30 minutes behind me in the crew bus.

When he arrived he took me over with him to the crew baggage screening area, and we waited there until the crew were ready to go through security. It was at this point that I felt I should probably leave them and go through the normal passenger channel, not wanting to take advantage too much of my relationship with my husband. So, I left the crew and began to make my way through the crowds, when the airline's representative who was escorting the crew called out "you can come with us!".

So it was that I walked through the airport with four pilots and 16 perfect looking cabin crew, and was taken with them through the crew security channel ("she's with us!") and on the bus to the gate. When I reached the gate my husband boarded the aircraft while I went to see the gate agent to see if they were able to upgrade me.

They told me that it was still too early to tell, so I left my boarding pass with them and went off for a wander in the terminal. I bought a book at Borders and was just buying a bottle of water in a cafe when the gate agent came up to me and said "here is your business boarding pass"!) Bless him, he'd actually come to find me to give me my pass! It was a brilliant bit of customer service. I was so surprised and impressed.

On the flight back I was in the very front row of the aircraft, and had a seat free next to me. I managed to get quite a lot of sleep in the lovely lie-flat bed (a revolution for me in air travel! I can never normally sleep on planes!) I also managed to see my husband a couple of times when he came down from the rest area. By this point all the crew knew who I was, and I truly did feel extremely spoilt.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. It did feel totally surreal flying half-way across the world for the weekend, but it was a fantastic experience I'll never forget. I'm just itching to do it again...

Friday, 21 August 2009

Local life unveiled

This week, a root canal I'd had done earlier this year started to play up. Those of you who've had one too will know that not only are they tremendously painful, they're also tremendously expensive. And although we have good health insurance provided out here, it only covers emergency dental care, unfortunately.

So with this in mind, I set about seeing a dentist on the state healthcare system here, which is free. Despite this, it's not a very popular choice with expats here. This has nothing to do with the quality of the care provided (great dentists, excellent equipment and hygiene) but more to do with the slightly chaotic way you get appointments. For example, our local dentist will only give you an appointment if you turn up at either 7am or 3pm. Then you have to wait an hour until they open with lots of abaya-clad women (the services are segregated by sex here) and then race to the desk to get in line so that you can be allocated one of the 30 appointments they have going! Then, once you get an appointment, if might be for several hours hence - therefore you have to go home and come back again. Joy!

Anyhow, I managed to achieve all of this (always an experience), and make a new friend in the process. One of the loveliest things about exploring the state system here is the opportunity to meet local women, something you don't generally get to do in normal everyday life here. It's not that we don't see them about, of course we do, but we just don't get to talk to them usually. There's a huge social divide betwen expats and locals here, sadly.

So, I was standing in the queue for the dentist reading a book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson. All of a sudden a girl standing next to me, who had her face uncovered (usually a sign of an unmarried woman) said "Is that a novel? Wow. Tell me what it's about". So I tried to explain the plot of this complex, violent novel without making it sound like it was either! Tricky, to say the least.

It turned out she was 17, and about to leave school and head to university to train as a doctor. She told me she needed to pass a proficiency test for English before she could start her training, and wanted to chat to me. She asked if I was married, and I showed her the wedding picture I carry around in my wallet, to which she replied "SO cute! Oh, take that away or I'll steal him!" Not what you expect to hear from a local girl here, but so wonderful to hear her sound so normal. I'm not sure what I expected, but I suppose it wasn't that.

I asked her if she had read many English books. It turned out she was a big Harry Potter fan. She asked me if I thought Daniel Radcliffe was attractive. I said I thought he was too thin - and she said "Do you think he would look better if he was fat?!! You're crazy!!" Lost in translation, I think...

Then rather unexpectedly she said "Why is it that men are always in charge in the world? It's not fair". I explained with some pride that the UK had a female monarch, and she looked pleased. Since we were in public we didn't go any further into her views on this, but I can guess what they are.

Then, just before I got called for the dentist, she asked for my phone number. She said she wanted to learn to speak "just like me". I said sure, no problem, and offered to meet her for coffee to teach her some more English. She then looked sad and said she couldn't do that, because of her culture. I understand of course (I expect her father might not be happy with her meeting a western woman in public) but I did find it very sad. Still, perhaps I'll be getting a call from her one of these days.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Fast-track friendships

One of the biggest problems with moving your life half-way across the world is that you can't bring your friends with you. Of course, the internet is brilliant for keeping in touch, but sadly Skype contacts can't take you out to a bar or sunbathe next to you by the pool, much as they'd like to.

Very soon after I arrived I realised I was going to have to do something I've never had to do before; begin building friendships up from scratch in double-quick time. Previously, my friendship circle has grown organically through work etc, with no pressure and long periods of time to get to know each other. Out here, that's not really an option. The problem is made worse by my husband being away so much, and me not working - the pressure to find a human being to talk to when he was away became pretty intense.

Luckily, expats are generally a very friendly lot. All the women I've met out here understand completely what it feels like to be alone in a strange country, and have been very welcoming. Some in particular have been just brilliant; they are fast becoming great friends. Last week, for example, I was ill and needed to go to the doctor, and my husband was away. So I called one of my friends, who'd just finished work, and without me asking she said "shall I come and pick you up?!" Then she looked after me all evening, gawd bless her.

On the other hand, it is I suppose just like Fresher's week at University, in that you get to know a lot of people quickly, some of whom you spend the next few years trying to avoid! Inevitably, you can't get on with everyone. You sometimes agree to meet someone for coffee and gradually realise that that friendship "chemistry" isn't there. I think it's a bit like speed-dating! After one of these "dates" you might find yourself wondering why so-and-so hasn't texted or asked you out again - but there you go, that's life. We can't be best friends with everyone, can we? It would ruin the joy of friendship if we were great mates with everyone!

In general, though, I feel very blessed out here. I now have several close friends who I have a brilliant time with, and I know would look after me in a crisis (very important to know, given my husband is away a lot!)

Naturally nothing will ever replace my friends at home, who I love dearly and miss very much. This new expat life is just a way of adding to my friendship circle, not replacing it. And for that, I feel very blessed.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Clomid side-effects

Honestly, I hate Clomid. I mean, I love what it is capable of doing, but blimey, it makes me NUTS. Here's what it does:

1) Day 2 of the tablets I wake up feeling like I have a cold, all congested and nasty. I wouldn't normally think this was a side-effect, except it's happened all 3 times!
2) Day 3 The hot flashes start - wonderful! Oh, and my stomach blows up like a balloon. I also have problems sleeping.
3)Day 3 into 4 and 5 - I start to get a nasty headache that just won't go away - oh, and I become massively insecure, emotional and short-tempered. In fact, I don't recognise myself...

Sigh. I've now finished the course, but will probably have these side effects for at least another week. Am praying it's worth it.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


Today has been a good day so far, despite a crappy night's sleep (thanks, Clomid!) I've just got back from an appointment with my consultant, and she said that my tests confirm I DEFINITELY ovulated last cycle! It feels amazing to know that my body seems to be working at least a little bit.

She also laid out the plans from now on - if we don't get pregnant this cycle I will have to have a test to check whether my fallopian tubes are blocked, and then if that's ok, we'll move on to IUI (inter-uterine insemination). A lot to think about, and I'm not looking forward to the test, as I hear this can be painful.

The other slightly good news today is that apparently my police clearance to work should be ready in 4 days! Then I think I just have another piece of paper to get (they love bureaucracy here) and I can be a working woman again! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

For the record

It occurs to me that I've never properly documented my struggles with infertility. I was prompted to do it though by a post on Meet me at Peachtree about the author's own battle with the disorder which threatened to stop her having children.

The story starts, I suppose, in my teens. I developed really bad spots that, of course, being a teen were very upsetting, so I was put on Dianette - a form of the contraceptive pill that treats acne specifically - at a very young age. And, because the pill worked like magic and gave me perfect skin, and had the added benefit of a contraceptive, I continued to use it throughout the rest of school and University.

At the age of 21 I started to have a little irregular bleeding, so my GP recommended I come off the pill for a break. And what happened next surprised us all - I had no period at all for 6 months. After numerous negative pregnancy tests I went to see a consultant, who, after a series of blood tests and an ultrasound, diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Basically, he'd found what looked like a "string of pearls" in each ovary, tiny "cysts" which were in fact failed ovulations, plus a set of tell-tale imbalanced hormones, including high testosterone, and imbalanced LH (Lutenising hormone) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating hormone).

PCOS is a very varied disorder that affects many women very differently. Often it's linked to obesity, but as I was a healthy BMI (about a UK size 14 at the time) that was discounted. After a glucose tolerance test it was determined that I was at risk of Diabetes and put on Metformin, a drug they give Type 2 Diabetics to manage their blood sugar. The affect of the drug was dramatic - I lost a lot of weight and felt an awful lot better. And, on the advice of the consultant, I went back on Dianette to manage the other symptoms, and although devastated, tried to forget about it.

Fast-forward five years, and I met my husband. I was aware, of course, that we'd probably have problems conceiving, but we were keen to spend a number of years enjoying our time together before children came along.

Then, last year, I began to have irregular bleeding again. I went back to the doctor, who thought I might have a polyp in my uterus and carried out a hysteroscopy under general anaesthetic.

What she found was a complete shock. She found - NOTHING. There was absolutely no womb lining, nothing even to take away for analysis. The bleeding I'd been having was in fact the blood vessels in the fragile wall of the uterus breaking.

My consultant felt it was probably an extreme reaction to the pill I've been on all these years.

It was then that we decided enough was enough, and I came off the pill and we decided to see what would happen. We waited, and we waited, and nothing - no periods at all, for months.

So, I went back to see the doctor. This time, she decided to give me Clomid to try to "jump start" my system. Eventually, it worked. 45 days later I had my first natural period for over 10 years.

So, that's where this blog picks up. Everything else is documented in here. As you will know if you've followed my tale, I've now had several cycles, although I still haven't had absolute confirmation of ovulation, or, in fact, if my womb is back to anything like the way it should be.

The path ahead isn't exactly clear, but one thing my husband and I do know, is that we're not giving up.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Yesterday, we celebrated our wedding anniversary. It was a lovely day, despite the fact my husband had asked for a day off and got a training course instead! Luckily it finished after lunch and we were able to spend a gorgeous afternoon and evening together. We took a walk along the seafront at sunset, and then headed to a very decadent restaurant for a spot of indulgence! A perfect day.

This year our anniversary seemed to assume a greater significance. I think that's because it comes at the end of what has been a very tough year for us - discovering the extent of my infertility, then my husband's airline going bust, then us moving here halfway across the world to start all over again.

It's been a very challenging year, and I think when you go through these things they either make you stronger or divide you, but luckily in our case it has been the former. We both feel that we have never been closer to each other. Quite a result after a tumultuous year.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Smug mummies and daddies: a rant

Irrational hatred of the month: "Baby on Board" stickers.

I'm not sure quite what these are supposed to achieve. Am I supposed to drive vastly more carefully around a car that might have a baby in it? Are adults not as precious cargo? And surely by the time I'm close enough to read the bloody sign, I'm already too close to their precious child anyhow?

My theory is it's just a form of boasting. Ooooh, look at me, I managed to get pregnant and it's now the centre of my universe, so I want to tell the whole world!!! Aren't you impressed with my brand new baby-car seat, multiple-mode push chair, oh-so-huggy mummy outfit and re-decorated nursery, with Mamas and Papas flatpack furniture?

My husband said the other day that he was now beginning to feel like I do - that it seems to him that everyone we know, and everyone we see, is pregnant. And, in his words, "they're all so bloody smug about it".

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Friday, 10 July 2009

101 uses for a man

This is shamelessly lifted from the Times via Pprune, but it really made me giggle, so I thought I'd share. It's a list of things men "are still good for" following news that scientists have developed synthetic sperm...

The Times: 101 uses for a man

1 Whistling at you in the street on your 41st birthday (this should be a state-funded initiative).

2 Model railways, the running and maintenance of.

3 Pigeon fancying.

4 Particle physics.

5 Eating up the elderly tub of coleslaw in the back of the fridge after an evening at the pub.

6 Opening all those terrifying brown envelopes that the bank will insist on sending you.

7 Catching spiders.

8 Bringing you tea in bed in the mornings.

9 Forgetting your anniversary, but then wildly overcompensating with a completely over-the-top gesture, preferably involving diamonds.

10 Making your limited capacity for grooving look positively Madonna-esque by dancing around you wildly, arms and legs jerking like a demented puppet.

11 Lending you (often without knowing it) a razor.

12 Parking.

13 Ensuring that the children learn to play happily on their own by applying special male method of childcare, namely sitting on the sofa reading the paper while they set fire to the house.

14 Keeping Coleen Rooney in handbags by continuous funding of endless, dreary football games.

15 Explaining the rules of cricket, slowly and in words of one syllable, every two years.

16 Baring his bottom on stag nights.

17 Helping to keep you fit and supple by generously leaving towels, socks and other items of personal attire dotted around the floor for you to pick up.

18 Supporting the luxury car market with the purchase, on his 50th birthday, of a meno-Porsche.

19 Patronising you at parties.

20 Being the Pope.

21 Cartography, and all its many delights.

22 Trying very hard to distract you in the delivery room by telling you about the time he got really badly constipated and had to go to hospital and, you know, the consultant said that sometimes the pain can be almost as bad as the agony of labour . . .

23 Using the last drop of milk before, very helpfully, putting the empty carton back in the fridge.

24 Looking nice in a dinner suit. Every man has an inner James Bond.

25 Stocking the iPod with obscure (albeit largely unlistenable) punk music from the 1970s, even though he went to a nice grammar school and has never even owned a pair of DMs, let alone used them to stamp on a hippy’s head.

26 Driving up very close behind you on the motorway and flashing his lights repeatedly. So sweet to notice your new highlights . . .

27 Being a rock star. Florence and the Machine is all very well, but no match for, say, the raw guitar strut of Caleb out of Kings of Leon (silly name, silly beard, very sexy boy whichever way you cut it).

28 Loading all the glasses the wrong way up in the dishwasher.

29 Overfeeding the dog.

30 Saying, “Oh, so that explains it” in a cryptic voice the day you get your period.

31 Making the inventor of the electric nose-hair clipper very, very rich.

32 Doing lots of very important pointing and shouting.

33 Hunting — and gathering — on the wild Burgundian plains.

34 Catching man-flu.

35 Feeding your children raw barbecue sausages (“It’ll build up their immune systems!”).

36 Removing dead mice from the house.

37 Losing the keys for the roofbox.

38 Blaming you for losing the keys to the roofbox — then finding them in his coat pocket.

39 Making sure that every last pot and pan in the kitchen gets used to its full potential when cooking special Daddy spagbol for Sunday lunch.

40 Building large, pointy metal tubes, filling them with explosives and firing them into the air.

41 Encouraging Britain’s thriving shed manufacturing industry.

42 Insisting that only he can be trusted to drive on the right-hand side of the road in a foreign country and then going the wrong way round the roundabout at the exit from the airport, careering into an oncoming Fiat Panda, arguing furiously with the police and ensuring that the first night of your Italian holiday is spent in a Sicilian jail.

43 Not calling when he says he will.

44 Doing those really strange man-bonding handshakes.

45 Alphabetising your record collection.

46 Being able to wear the same pair of shoes for 25 years before buying a new pair.

47 Accidentally stroking your bottom while directing you to your chair.

48 Codpieces, the wearing of.

49 Eating full-size Mars bars.

50 Inventing Prog Rock.

51 Drinking warm fermented hops.

52 Listening to Wagner.

53 Being a murderous despot (go on, name a female murderous despot).

54 Letting the lawn grow free and wild. It’s not a lawn, it’s an eco-meadow!

55 Warming the bed.

56 Making those trips to Ikea such a stress-free delight.

57 Reading, and actually understanding, instruction manuals for small electrical devices.

58 If not exactly fixing the car, then at least looking purposeful until the AA turns up.

59 Ordering a lovely big bowl of chips in a restaurant which you then eat most of — without, of course, having actually ordered any yourself.

60 Mixing the perfect gin and tonic.

61 Remembering the rules to Canasta.

62 Standing behind you for emotional support as you creep downstairs to investigate those strange noises . . .

63 Remembering the relevance of minor characters in The Sopranos

64 Constructing your son’s 10,000-piece Lego Death Star.

65 Doing price comparisons for car insurance.

66 Setting the sat-nav.

67 Finishing off that glass of wine you poured an hour ago but never got round to drinking.

68 Having more hair on his legs than you.

69 Working out how to fold up the wretched double buggy.

70 Doing up the zip on your dress.

71 Keeping the local Indian takeaway in business.

72 Eating the children’s leftovers (it makes the eco-wash on the dishwasher much more effective).

73 Sky Plus-ing The Wire.

74 Making sure there’s always enough party ice in the freezer.

75 Sweetly buying you size 12 underwear when in actual fact you’re at least a size 16.

76 Helping the children with their trigonometry homework.

77 Always having at least three glasses of water in the vicinity of the bedside table – even if two of those glasses are at least a week old.

78 Going to the dump.

79 Eating cornichons.

80 Delivering a rip-roaring best man speech.

81 Leaving all the drawers and cupboard doors in the house very slightly open.

82 Being Father Christmas, and beards in general.

83 Opening jars (as loosened by you).

84 Regularly contracting obscure and incurable tropical diseases (as diagnosed on Google), only to recover miraculously just in time for the cricket.

85 Snoring.

86 Carving.

87 Watering the toilet seat. What is it, a plant?

88 Doing the Atkins diet. Fried eggs, sausages, lard: what’s not to like?

89 Wearing comedy swimming trucks.

90 Loving his mummy.

91 Making fire.

92 Putting things very helpfully in the general vicinity of the washing machine – but never switching it on (or hanging the stuff out afterwards).

93 Managing to ruin a perfectly plumped-up sofa within precisely three seconds.

94 Keeping all those lovely old gentlemen-only clubs from going under.

95 Going up into the loft.

96 Making sure there are at least four radios in the house that are tuned to John Humphrys at any given time.

97 Presenting Top Gear.

98 Doing air guitar.

99 Suddenly remembering a very pressing telephone call whenever there’s even the whiff of a dirty nappy.

100 Diving, in exotic destinations.

101 Never (or only very occasionally) wanting to borrow your favourite dress.

And before my husband points this out to me, let me say that number 92 doesn't apply to him, and he never forgets our anniversary... And as far as I know he's never borrowed my favourite dress (or an any dress for that matter!)

And thanks for doing number 8 this morning before you left. I miss you...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Back to Blighty

Apologies for not blogging for the past couple of weeks. The reason for it is that my husband and I decided to take advantage of a break in his roster and headed back to the UK for a break - my husband stayed for only 5 days, but I stayed for two weeks and used the time to catch up with much missed friends and family.

It was the first time that both of us had been back since we moved out here, so it was something we were looking forward to greatly, and it didn't disappoint. Our visit coincided with some wonderful British summer weather, so it was a perfect time to get out and about and enjoy the very GREEN English countryside! We were also both able to travel in Business Class both there and back, and it was wonderful being pampered. I'm slightly worried that I'm never going to be able to cope with flying Economy ever again!

On the infertility front, my cycle of 100mg Clomid last month was unsuccessful - but there was a bit of good news, because I definitely ovulated! Whoop whoop! That's the first definite ovulation I've had for years. Now I feel like we've got something we can work with. On the other hand I stupidly didn't bring my Clomid with me, so this month will have to be unmedicated. Ho hum.

While in the UK, I caught up with a few friends who've also been struggling with infertility, one of whom has just suffered a miscarriage after getting pregnant on her 3rd attempt at IUI. Sometimes life just isn't fair. I went out to lunch one day and watched these two young mums at a table next to me yell and swear at their toddlers, and one of them was pregnant and smoking, too; sometimes I feel like there's just no justice in the world.

Oh, and I totally embarrassed myself again on the "crying when confronted by too many children" front. It was cumulative, really - I stayed overnight with my friend with two kids, had lunch with a friend who's just had a baby, and was on my way to another friend's house when she texted me saying "just letting you know that my son's two little friends are here with their mum playing in the garden, hope you don't mind". Oh sweet Jesus. I knew it was going to be trouble even before I arrived. Knowing I was walking into the Lion's den, I went in and tried to have a nice chat, but in the end just dissolved into tears. Again. Hey ho, nothing I can do about that one.

On a more positive note, some of you will remember my excitement at getting tickets to see Take That at Wembley Stadium. Here's a little pic to remind you (any excuse).

Well, I saw them on Friday, and they were fantastic! I've been a fan ever since I was a teenager, and seeing them always brings back a real mixture of emotions, both good and bad. I feel transported back to my teenage hormonal state! I can't believe I went to my first concert over 15 years ago. I don't feel any older at all, but inescapably of course, I am! What is of course rather reassuring is that they're getting old along with me - perhaps I'll be going to a Take That tour when we're all in our 50s, like the Rolling Stones? I do hope so.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

There are TWO pilots on the plane, damn it - revisited...

Just when I thought my blood pressure was safe on this subject, along comes the sad tale of the Captain who died en route to Newark. A very sad thing to happen for his family - I really feel for them. But get this, people - there was NO DANGER, and there was NO EMERGENCY! Because, and I'm going to say this quietly - there is more than one pilot on the plane! Shock, horror, probe, hold the presses!

(If you're experienced in aviation, you can skip the next paragraph. But if you're not, I recommend you read on. Particularly if your name is Jim Ferguson! More on that later....)

This, my friends, is because, even on a short-haul flight, you will have two pilots on the flight deck. One is called the Captain, and one is called the First Officer. They have exactly the same training, the only difference between them generally being experience (usually, but not always, Captains have flown more hours than First Officers) and responsibility - because it's the Captain who ultimately carries the can for the safety of the aircraft. When it comes to flying, though, there's nothing that separates them - they each take turns to land, take-off, or operate the radio - one becomes "pilot flying" for each flight, and one "pilot not flying" - but each has their own role, and as I said, they take turns. Yes, that's right, an FO might have landed the plane you were on when you came back from Spain last year! I know - shocking, isn't it?! Anyhow, ultimately, First Officers will generally become Captains themselves after a certain number of flying hours, and having passed the simulator for promotion. So, each Captain has been a First Officer at some point.

So, are we all clear so far? Good.

Now, take a look at these fantastic nuggets of journalism. (I apologise for not putting in the hyperlink - that feature doesn't seem to be working at the moment).


They contain such brilliant lines as:

Most of the passengers had no idea of the danger
That's what co-pilots are for, he says - to stand in for the pilot in case of emergency

And this brilliant piece of fiction by Jim Ferguson:

Jim Ferguson - an aviation writer from the UK - told BBC News the plane would have been difficult to land with only one pilot at the controls, as might have been the case on flights manned by only two pilots.

"You could, I gather, land a 777 single-handed - but it would require a lot of effort and it would appear [in this case there was] a very young co-pilot - so if there was another one, that would help.

"It would be very difficult, very distressing. I don't know if this [scenario] is carried out on simulator training or not.

Be still, my beating heart.

So, my dear Jim, if you're reading this - this is for you.

I hate to break it to you, but really only one person lands a plane anyhow - sure, the other one is on the radio and assisting, but there's only ever one person "at the controls". So it's not such a huge leap to cope with it all by yourself. And as for whether this is done in the simulator - I think the Captain "dies" on my husband every time he goes into the sim! Pilot incapacitation is practiced all the time. How can you possibly be an aviation "writer" and not know that? The mind boggles.

Golly, I feel much much better now. Much more healthy writing it all down than shouting at the TV!

Does anyone else share my annoyance?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Infertility nightmare

The other day, I agreed to meet a new British woman I'd just met on the compound for coffee. She texted me to say that she was meeting a few friends in the afternoon, and would I like to come? Naturally I agreed, always eager to make new contacts here.

So, I turned up at the coffee shop and found her sitting with her baby, one other mother and baby, and two other women. I sat down and was offered a cookie. It was then I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was pregnant. As I was taking this in, my new friend told the others that "another baby was coming too". And then the horrible truth dawned on me - this was her mother and baby group!

As the conversation, which was entirely baby related, began around me, I just suddenly felt this massive panic. I just wanted to get out of there, and considered making an excuse and walking out, but I knew that would look odd. Then the woman opposite, who was really quite sweet, asked me whether my husband and I had children, and I couldn't stop the tears. All of a sudden I burst into very embarrassing sobs. The women around me, none of course who I knew at all, just looked at me in horror. They asked what was up, and I mumbled "I'm really sorry, I'm having fertility treatment".

Only half the women understood what I'd said, but thankfully one of them - the only woman there who as far as I could see, wasn't pregnant - came over to give me a hug, and said "I know how it feels. It took me 11 years, and IUI, to manage it. Now I'm six months pregnant". Bless her, she was so overweight, I'd managed not to notice she was pregnant too! But it was such a lovely thing to say, and made me feel much better, so I stayed with the group when they all went for a swim, and chatted to this lady about her fertility treatment.

We have a fridge magnet which says "this would be really funny if it wasn't happening to me". Couldn't agree more - this was definitely one of those times. Inviting an infertile friend to your mother and baby group, eh - a classic!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Prepare for take-off

Lights on, doors locked. Cross-checked.
Fuel ok. Then the walk round -
Same as ever. Garden bedecked
with summer finery. The ground

in need of some good, longed for rain.
A much neglected easy chair.
Scattered Sunday papers remain:
50 ways of saving power; 20 ways for summer hair.

Upstairs, evidence of the suitcase battle.
In the end you succeeded,
But not without casualties. A rattle
of painkillers here, and there a lonely sock you needed.

I put them back where they came from.
Then, washing basket in hand, I go
to the garden, and peg each item up along
the line. And looking up as I do so

I catch sight of a glint of metal in the sun.
I wave. I imagine you doing the same.
The forecast said it would be showers:
And so it will, before we are together again.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A waiting game

It occurred to me last night that I've been off the pill now since last August. So, it's been almost a year since we threw caution to the wind and decided we'd like to have a family. I remember how secretly optimistic I was that we'd get pregnant in the first month! How ridiculous that seems now. Having said that, I don't really consider that we've really been "trying" for all that time. After all, I didn't have any sort of cycle until January, and then my husband was away in another country for two months! So it's not as bad as it seems (or at least, that's what I keep telling myself).

Amazingly, all my blood tests were completely normal. My consultant went so far as to say that, given the results, she'd be inclined NOT to diagnose PCOS, despite my cystic ovaries during my scan last October. This is all very reassuring. My FSH, for people who know and/or care, was 5, which I'm told is good. My oestrogen, which had been a cause of concern in the past (because it was FAR too low) was normal. Having said all this, despite the fact my blood tests don't confirm PCOS at this stage, that doesn't mean I don't have it. All it means, really, is that the drugs I'm taking and my lifestyle are managing it. Which is good, too, of course. The doctor said it was possible that I was just the sort of person who had late ovulation. We shall see, I suppose.

As for other PCOS symptoms - the only one I really have is mild acne. It was a big concern for me when I came off the pill, as I had a big problem when I was a teenager, but all I have now is a few spots and slightly greasier skin. So nothing LIKE as bad as I'd feared. Nothing a bit of make-up can't cure, anyway! It's a tremendous relief to me that I don't have the excess hair that many PCOS women have. It must make them feel very un-feminine and unattractive, which is not what you need when you're dealing with everything else!

The consultant confirmed that the 100mg round of Clomid is the next thing to try (which is just as well, as I'm mid-way through the cycle!) No sign of ovulation yet, but I live in hope. Then, if that doesn't work, we move on to injectable fertility drugs. Mmmmmm, can't wait!

All this baby making of course relies on me actually being on the same premises as my husband, which has proved tricky this month. His roster has taken him to the other side of the world rather a lot! He's just set off this morning for another trip to the US. Thankfully, though, once this trip is out of the way, the second half of the month is a lot lighter. I can't wait to spend a bit more quality time with him! Yesterday we headed to a lovely hotel for lunch. We sat outside afterwards with our coffee looking out at the sea, listening to the birds chirping merrily away and soaking up the heat (it's 47c here at the moment!) It was lovely. We certainly made the most of his two days off, but I do wish it had been longer!

Talking of which... Last night I caught him checking out staff travel for Business Class standby to the US for me, so I can come with him on one of his trips! Awwwwww...... And there was me thinking I'd have to go in the back with the cattle. Trust me, there's nothing like his airline's Biz class - it's fantastic.

I love my husband, I really do!

Monday, 8 June 2009

I can see clearly now

I'm having a really good day. I suspect this might have something to do with the apparent dominance of oestrogen in my body at the moment - I've read that many women feel very creative and motivated during this phase in their cycle, and so it is for me. I feel very full of energy and able to tackle tasks that at other times I've been unable to face.

I've just finished taking my second round of Clomid, this time 100mg a day, twice my previous dose. It wasn't a pleasant experience. I felt a cloud of depression descend on me whilst I took it, and I felt tired, headachey, nauseous and emotional. Oh, and not forgetting the hot flashes! I also developed an extremely weird side effect - a stuffy and/or runny nose, which only lasted as long as I took the tablets.

Although I knew that how I was feeling was medically induced, it was still a wretched period of time. My poor husband didn't know what to do about it, but tried manfully to cheer me up, anyway. It was hideous.

Anyhow, as I said, I'm feeling much better now. I have yet to see if I ovulate on this dose. I'm taking my temperature every day and charting to see if I can identify ovulation. Fingers crossed. My husband is away for a lot of this month, so odds on I'll ovulate when he's not around, but hey ho, such is life! At this point I'd settle for just ovulating and having a normal cycle length. That, we can work with! I'm heading back to the consultant later this week. She'll have the results of my blood tests. It will be very interesting to find out what on earth my hormones are doing!

We had a fantastic outing at the weekend with a couple we've become good friends with. They've both lived here for a long time and are experienced desert drivers. We had a wonderful (and sometimes rather scary!) time driving up steep sand dunes in our 4x4s, and watching the locals "doing tricks" - things like driving almost completely on their side along the side of a dune. Quite breathtaking stuff. Then, we went to the beach and swam in the gorgeous warm, clear water. A perfect afternoon, Gulf style.

I'm also in a good mood because I had a trial day at a potential employer yesterday, and it went very well. They said some very nice things about my abilities. It's been a while since I've had that sort of feedback, so it was fantastic. I'm feeling very buoyed by it. There's now a contract "in the system" but given the way things work in the Arab world, it may still be a long time before I'm gainfully employed again! Nevermind, it will happen, eventually. You have to learn that attitude when you live in the Gulf, otherwise you'd go crazy.

Insha'Allah, as they say here...

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Infertility bore

I'm beginning to worry that I might be boring my friends will all my thoughts about my infertility. I had lunch with a lovely new friend today who said she felt I carried an "overwhelming sadness" around with me about it. I don't think she meant it in an awful way, but it did make me think a bit.

It's certainly true that it's become something of a pre-occupation at the moment. This is partly because I'm not working, so it's taken more of a central position in my list of things to think about on a daily basis. It's also because I'm actively undergoing tests and taking my BBT every day, so it's very much something that takes up a lot of my time. And of course, it IS a very emotional thing to deal with, and I do tend to talk to my friends about it because that makes me feel better.

The thing is, I'm not sure that I can do anything about it. I tend to think that in much the same way as I'm very tolerant of my friends (quite naturally) talking all the time about their new baby, they should be just as tolerant of me talking about my attempts to have one! What do you think?

I had my first appointment with a specialist here the other day, and it went really well. My husband and I are being sent for a raft of tests, many of which the NHS simply wouldn't have bothered with if we were still in the UK. So, I'm feeling very positive about that.

And on other topics... It's currently 47c outside! ! The first time we saw that on the car thermometer we thought we were hallucinating! We're slowly adjusting to it, though - basically you don't go outside for more than a minute or two between 11am-3pm unless you're in a car. The evenings here are lovely, though - very warm and relaxing. We went to the beach the other day at 5pm, and it was perfect! The sea really was the temperature of a warm bath.

You certainly don't get that in Peckham....

Monday, 25 May 2009

Don't marry an airline pilot

The other day, I came across this entry on a blog by the ubiquitous David Learmount, Editor of Flight International and general rent-an-aviation-expert for any newspaper or news programme you care to mention. http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/learmount/2008/08/dont-marry-an-airline-pilot.html

He wrote it last year, and I'm not sure why I didn't come across it sooner. I don't generally find myself agreeing with a lot of what he has to say, but this did ring true:

"Pilots must have a gypsy soul to survive. That may not be new, but it's particularly true as the downturn bites. Ideally, pilots should have no family ties beyond mum and dad. If they acquire a family en route, every member of it has to be incredibly tolerant of the pilot's chosen lifestyle. "

I have to agree. The best way to get through your pilot training and the first few years of employment is to be single, no doubt about it. Of course, many relationships DO survive this period (ours, for one) but it's a tremendously difficult time, and not one we care to remember. Many relationships failed during my husband's ATPL training, for a number of reasons: distance, money worries, inability to spend time together due to pressure of work, stress generated by fear of not getting a job at the end of it all... You get the picture. Then, even if a job does come up, it's usually low paid, and could in fact be anywhere in the world! I remember my husband applying for jobs in India and the Far East. Luckily for us it never came to that, although of course we have now had to make the move anyway, although thankfully later on in his career when he had enough hours to secure a job with a serious, legacy airline. I feel we've both discovered a bit of our "gypsy soul" in the last few months. This isn't a career for the faint hearted.

I digress, but Learmount then goes on to talk about how airlines in general are taking the piss at the moment when it comes to pilot recruitment, going so far as to expect pilots to self-fund their own type-rating BEFORE offering them a job (so called pay-to-fly schemes, which are now very common - amongst them Thomas Cook and Ryanair, and I imagine many others). In fact, Ryanair have stopped recruitment at the moment for experienced First Officers, preferring instead to take ab initio students, as this MAKES THEM MONEY. Don't even get me started... grrrrrr....!

So to elaborate - don't marry an airline pilot - unless:

  • You have an incredible amount of patience
  • A solid job that earns decent money
  • Don't mind doing a lot of stuff by yourself
  • Don't mind moving all over the world
  • Are a dab hand with ebay/ freecycle/ putting up shelves one-handed/checking tyre pressures
  • You have a great sense of humour
  • You're a very trusting sort of person... AND
  • You love him more than anyone else in the world.

And to be honest, if that's the case... You should be fine. Really. There are times when it will all drive you crazy, but I promise, it WILL be worth it. Honest.

And remember - marry the MAN, not the pilot. If you marry him just because he's a pilot, you'll be very disappointed!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Long-haul lifestyle

So, I've been here almost two months now, and if you'll excuse the pun, it's flown by. Even though I haven't been working - although I expect to be working part-time soon - there has been so much to do. Just settling in takes a lot of effort, I think. I've certainly had my ups and my downs. I cried for a lot of the first week, with the shock of just being here and realising I wasn't just on holiday, I think - and then I just suddenly turned a corner, and began feeling better and better. It helps that I've made quite a few friends here already, and I add more every week, which is just great. I miss my friends at home, of course - but luckily with the magic of Skype I can call them for hardly anything at all. It's brilliant. I have no idea how expats coped before Skype!

Talking of which, I spoke to my husband earlier, who was in his hotel room in the USA. Several large bodies of water, many time zones and thousands of miles lie between us, but Skype made it seem like he was next door, and it was SO cheap.

We're both adjusting to the new long-haul lifestyle. Although my husband was often away when he was based in the UK, he was often just at other regional airports, and even if night-stopping abroad, rarely so far away that there was any significant jet-lag or time difference involved. Now that my husband is doing ultra-long-haul routes, it's a complete change for us both. There are pluses and minuses to both short and long-haul. The short-haul guys generally work a busier roster, but obviously generally get to sleep in their own bed more, whereas the long-haul crews are away for maybe 4 days at a time, but then spend longer periods at home in between. We've certainly seen the benefit so far of these extended periods of time together - for example my husband had a whole week off in one go last week - but it's also very hard when he's away for 4 days, and I'm still settling in to a new country with no familiar things around me.

Still, I'm coping well. I'm learning an awful lot about myself, particularly how resilient I can be if I want to be! I'm also forcing myself to get out and about and meet people, and it's really paying dividends. This morning I had coffee with a group of other expat women from all over the world, and it was fantastic. They were all really welcoming and helpful, and had all felt how I'm feeling now, so were full of empathy. There are so many lovely people in the world! We get so bogged down with negativity sometimes, it's easy to overlook that.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Adventures in infertility

The journey that infertility takes you on has lots of unexpected turns. Certainly moving out to the Gulf has put a whole new perspective on it. One of my concerns about leaving the UK was leaving the NHS behind, because I was being treated there by an excellent gynaecologist and I was firmly "in the system", something that my fellow Brits will understand is quite a feat!

Although we have great health insurance out here, it doesn't cover anything more than "investigations into infertility". Although this might be slightly helpful, providing cover for blood tests etc, it's not going to help at all should be need any further treatment than Clomid. Luckily, there's a national health service out here too, and despite its chaotic exterior, it has a great reputation for fertility treatment. What's interesting is that very few expats take advantage of it, so I felt like a real adventurer heading to my nearest primary care centre yesterday for my health card.

Finding it was like classic farce; the rather tired building was actually hidden behind a vast new one they've built but not yet opened, and the whole complex was hidden behind the most monstrous road works known to man. All the parking was on scrub land, any which way the locals could fit, and when I went in I went through the men's entrance (of course!!!) and had to be ushered through to the women's section by a rather embarrassed male indian orderly.

Once there, it was far from clear what I was supposed to do next. Arab women here are generally covered from head to toe in the black abaya, with their faces covered too, so it's particularly difficult to make eye contact and work out whether you're being spoken to or not. They also do not believe in queueing. It's quite incredible watching a crowd of women jostling for the attention of the women behind the desk, thrusting their paperwork over the head/under the arm/through the legs of the woman in front.

Luckily, my embarrassed orderly pointed me in the direction of the cashier, where there wasn't a queue. When I told her I needed to enrol she found an English speaking nurse who told me what ID was needed, and then once this was done pointed in the direction of a corridor to the left and told me to "wait there". Once I got there I saw a hole in the wall marked "medical cards - women" and the tell-tale mass of abayas. I stood in the "queue" for about half an hour, being overtaken endlessly, before the advice of an English gulf-based nurse friend came back to me - "don't queue, because the locals don't. Push in. You're white and western. Use it." Sadly, I couldn't see any other option, so I adopted the approach of standing directly behind the woman being served, and, being considerably taller, managed to attract her attention and receive my card.

Anyhow, health card achieved, I decided I would go the whole hog and wait to see a GP. This proved more difficult than I'd expected, as when I was handed the number card which told me where I was in the waiting list, it was in Arabic script. I also realised I had no idea what the number sounded like either, so being called in Arabic would be no help at all! So I asked a few of the women if they spoke English, and they were very friendly and wrote the number down in English for me, and one in particular, who didn't have her face covered, came and sat down next to me. She told me she was Sudanese, and finding that I was British, launched into a tale about how her son was severely disabled and that she'd recently been to the UK for an operation for him, which had been performed by a famous British surgeon who I met quite recently! The world is indeed a small place.

Anyhow, after waiting for about 30 minutes she told me I might as well knock on the doctor's door between consultations and ask how long I'd have to wait, which I did, again remembering my nurse friend's advice. On doing this the doctor told me that I was number 28, and she was now on 36. I had been leap-frogged! But nevermind, she said, come in and sit down. She explained to the Arab woman who barged in just after me what had happened, and she seemed to accept it with resignation - all's fair in love and queue barging here, it seems.

My conversation with the doctor was fascinating. Instead of asking how long we'd been trying for a baby, she asked how many years we had been married. Out here, contraception clearly isn't an issue! Once you're married, that's it. I also found out the other day that in order to get a smear test on the national health system you need to produce a marriage certificate. Anyhow, she asked me whether I wanted to have an ultrasound and blood tests done there at the centre or whether I'd just prefer an immediate referral. I said I'd prefer the referral, and she said "Yes, that's a good idea. You don't need this (meaning the chaotic doctor's surgery) do you? It's like a zoo out there!" Which seemed to be a rather good analogy. Particularly as it was next door to the ACTUAL zoo. Poetic, really.

Oh, and my nurse friend's other piece of advice about handling the system was "Cry. They don't know what to do, but want to help".

Luckily I didn't need this piece of advice on this occasion, but I'm keeping it in reserve...

Friday, 1 May 2009

Hoorah for Carol Ann Duffy

On a completely random non aviation related note, I was very pleased to hear today that one of my favourite poets, Carol Ann Duffy, has been named Poet Laureate, the first woman to be appointed in all of the 341 years the post has existed. I've admired her work since my teenage days. Here's one of my favourites - which chimed very well with my disastrous teenage relationships!

Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.

It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

It promises light like the careful undressing of


It will blind you with tears like a lover.

It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram. I give you an

Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful
as we are, for as long as we are.

Take it. Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring, if you

Lethal. Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your

Thank heavens my marriage isn't anything like the above. In fact, hoorah for not being a teenager anymore...! It's vastly over-rated.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The green eyed monster

Yesterday, an old colleague emailed to tell me that she'd been successful in her first round of Clomid, and was now 14 weeks pregnant. To be fair to her, she did acknowledge that this would be be difficult news for me to hear. And it was, very difficult. Particularly as my first round of Clomid did absolutely nothing except give me hot flashes and make me feel wacky.

Yet again, I find myself in the ridiculous position of being jealous of anyone who gets pregnant. The other day, another friend (male) announced his wife was pregnant on Facebook. I removed him as a friend immediately. Several other distant friends are pregnant too and I'm seriously considering removing them too so I'm not subjected to endless pregnancy pics/baby shower pics/new baby pics/pics of baby's first smile, baby's first bath, etc etc, ad infinitum. Do I sound bitter? Well, I suppose I am. Here we are, a very happy couple who are desperate to become parents, and everything seems to be against us.

The only good news on the fertility horizon is that I seem to be having regular cycles now, albeit 45 day ones! Research suggests these may or may not be ovulatory, so I have no idea if we could get pregnant or not. I haven't taken Clomid again since my first attempt. My doctor in the UK prescribed me double the dose for the next attempt but what with the move etc I just didn't feel I could cope with the extra hormones. This month was a possibility, but my husband will be away on a trip on the key days, so there's no point! That's another slight issue - my husband's new long-haul lifestyle means him being home at the right time is far from guaranteed.

Still, we'll persist, and hope for a miracle. On the job front I have an offer of some freelance work, which is great. I'm also facing a dilemma as a full-time job has come up that I'd be really suited to. I just don't think I want it! I want to be able to travel with my husband, be around for guests when they visit, etc, and generally not be so stressed out every day. Still, if I don't apply I'll feel like I've let myself and my husband down, as it's a great job. What should I do? Answers on a postcard, please...

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Things I love about being a Middle East expat

I'm constantly amazed at how much I enjoy living out here. Regular readers of this blog will know I had many doubts about coming here. In fact, I moved here essentially because we had no choice; either that, or my husband would have remained in the UK job-less, and we all know how hard it is for a pilot to get another job once they've been grounded for a long period of time. No, I HAD to come, and so I didn't really think about what it would be like here. I was perfectly prepared to hate it. I just wanted to be with my husband, and it didn't matter where that was!

Certainly the first week was tricky - I was very homesick and the culture shock was pretty harsh - but I've been here 5 weeks now and day by day, this place is growing on me. So I thought I'd put a little list together of things I like about it!

1) The sunshine. Wow, it's gorgeous, and aside for a few isolated days of rain you can rely on it to shine every day! What a change from the UK.
2) Financial stability. We've gone from relying completely on my salary in the UK, cutting out coupons for Tesco and worrying about my little car's MPG, to a position where I don't even have to work if I don't want to, we eat out all the time and we drive a ridiculously large car that only costs the equivalent of £10 to fill. Blimey, eh. I keep having to pinch myself.
3) My husband's happiness. Words can't describe how relieved I am that he's finally in the skies again, and flying a brilliant aircraft he'd always wanted to fly, to boot! His transformation in the last few months has been fantastic to watch.
4) Cameraderie. Before we came here I was quite worried about what living on a compound full of other pilots and their families would be like. I had an image of the Stepford Wives! But in fact, it's been great. If I ever feel lonely I can just walk out the door and head to the pool, and there's always someone there to talk to who understands exactly where I'm coming from.
5) Staff travel. My husband's airline has great staff travel. Unlike his UK airline, they actually have an ID90 system out here (which we can use on most airlines), and my husband's airline's network is so large that you can fly pretty much wherever you want in the world for minimum expense! What a huge privelege.
6) New friends. I miss my friends at home hugely, but I've discovered that the expat community is incredibly friendly. You're all in it together, and I've met a couple of women in the shops etc who've just handed me their number!
7) Radio 4 on the beach/by the pool/in the desert. There's just nothing like listening to The Archers podcast when you're by the pool! Listening to farmyard animals in Borsetshire whilst you're basking in the sun is a very funny, and lovely combination.
8) Visitors! Lots of friends and family are planning to visit us, and that's very exciting. My mum's coming out next month, and I'm already planning where to go and what to do!

That's enough for now I think. I'll add more when I think of them! If any other expats are reading this, I'd be interested to know your views.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Pilots DO have happy marriages

This morning my husband drew my attention to this thread on the Professional Pilot's Rumour Network, Pprune, entitled "When did you realise your marriage was over". When he first told me about it, I rather cheekily replied: "Is the answer - when I first started sleeping with cabin crew?" To which my husband replied: "Sometimes the woman leaves too, you know..." So, feeling suitable chastened, I started to read.

What I found was a true lesson in not tarring everyone with the same brush. I have always rather dogmatically pointed out on this blog that all pilots are individuals, not some strange amorphous mass named "my pilot", and that therefore they all make individual choices, to cheat or not to cheat, to flirt or not to flirt. I sometimes feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, being shouted down by others who believe that there are such things as "pilot personalities", and amongst these traits are the tendancy to be selfish, flirtatious, a little cold, unable to resist temptation when placed in their path. I disagree wholeheartedly, and I found the thread very enlightening.

Although of course by a law of averages there were men on there who had cheated (like the guy who said his marriage had ended the minute his wife decided to read his email!) there were also tales of pilots coming home to find their wife had already moved out and taken the kids, and also, strikingly, many testaments to long and happy marriages. This comment from a pilot from the Netherlands really stood out:

Our marriage has never been over. Maybe because we are very different, because we never get bored of each other, because we share entirely different interests, the one is always trying to convince the other of how good his/her matters are. One is a believer, the other is an atheist, with radically different political convictions, as well.We have even developed our own language (only the cats can understand).We genuinely still love each other, like it was in the beginning it is now.

I think the very fact that so many pilots have taken the time to write about their successful marriages should warm the hearts of anyone in a relationship with a pilot. I might also add that on our compound here in the Gulf I see so many long, successful partnerships. It's been a brilliant way of realising that stereotypes are for the breaking.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

This is the first Easter I've spent outside the UK, I think. It still feels very special, despite the fact we can't be with our families or our normal church congregation at home.

We went to church on Friday as my husband had his line-check last night and has been sleeping this morning. It went very well, and I'm very proud of him. He's now a fully fledged long-haul FO! Hours wise he's one of the least experienced First Officers the airline has hired - there are high hours Captains from UK airlines starting as FOs here - so it's quite frankly a gift from God that he got this job. Thank you, God!

Now we just have to see how we settle into the lifestyle. Having spoken to the other wives here on his fleet, it seems to be about three trips a month at the moment. I'm hoping to go on some of them with him, as the destinations are fantastic! So all very exciting. I'm also investigating getting a job out here. As much as I enjoy the rest, I can't carry on like this forever. Oddly enough for the first time in our relationship, we don't NEED my salary. It's a nice feeling, but not one that I'm going to let persuade me into becoming a stay at home expat wife!

On the subject of Easter and new life - we've been taking a rest from trying to have a baby for now. Clomid made me so wacky I'm sort of scared to go back on it, particularly combined with moving out here and all that that entails. But I think we'll get back to it soon-ish. In the mean-time, we're just enjoying some us time. I'm trying not to think about it much (but failing, of course!) There are lots of families with kids out here and it makes it kind of hard to avoid!

Still, with a little prayer to God on this most special of days - we'll see what this year brings.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Pilot's wife blogging

It's amazing how the small community of pilot's wife/partner bloggers has grown. When I first googled "I'm a pilot's wife" a few years ago, only one blog came up - Someday's excellent Oh the Life of Pilot's Wife. Now there are so many I don't have room for them all on my blog list!

On that note, I find internet etiquette interesting. Some bloggers get very offended if, despite leaving comments on my blog, I don't link to their blog, too. This doesn't really bother me in reverse; there are several blogs I link to who don't link to me back. Still, everyone is different. My list keeps changing, and I try to get it to reflect my own blog reading habits as much as possible.

Equally, everyone's approach to blogging is different. I started this blog primarily to share a part of my life that my friends and family don't really understand. I wanted to reach out to other women in my position. But over time, it's taken in more aspects of my life which I hadn't planned - my husband's airline's collapse, my infertility, our move abroad. It feels good to write about these things, but having said that, there are lots of parts of my life that never make it onto the blog - quite deliberately so. I've never felt comfortable sharing absolutely all my thoughts with my readers, anonymous blog or no. I admire those who do feel comfortable doing it. I know for many, blogs (particularly anonymous ones) are a perfect way of venting, a friend to talk to when you're down who listens patiently. (Actually, I also find the latter to be true!) I read several blogs which fall into this category, and they are a refreshing read.

There are also many pilot's wife bloggers for whom being married to a pilot is not at the forefront of their blog, and I really respect that, too. After all, we are much more than the man we are married to! It's lovely to read about their children, their animals, their jobs and their homes, especially from my home in the desert many miles away from where they live.

I know there's a school of thought that blogs like mine are too focused on our husband's job, and a suggestion perhaps that by doing so we're forgetting ourselves. I refute this - just because I choose to write about this aspect of my life, it doesn't make me a one dimensional person. I do think, however, that our lifestyle is one that not many people understand - but many want to know about. And that's why I write my blog. And judging by how many people read it every day, I must be doing something right!

I'd like to end by drawing your eye to my Blog List on the left hand side. There are some great blogs on there. Worth checking out for many other angles on the crazy lives we all lead!

Friday, 3 April 2009


It's been an odd few days. My poor husband's line training is pretty much entirely made up of night flights, so consequently we've both been living in a sort of twilight world.

If I was at home in the UK this wouldn't be the case - I'd be at work, or out of the house visiting friends or doing chores - but here, without (as yet) my local driving licence, I'm restricted to our flat and the compound for my entertainment. And the problem is that, in common with all accommodation here, our floors are tiled and every noise in the flat is magnified by the echo, so I'm having to tiptoe around the flat to avoid waking my husband. Hence the computer is my access to the outside world as I sit, with headphones on, playing the Sims/writing my blog/sending emails, hoping that my husband's managing to sleep through the noise of the kids playing outside. Oh, and it's raining today. In the Middle East! Amazing as it sounds, it's actually overcast and rainy outside. Still, no doubt the sun will come out tomorrow (as the song goes) - it usually does here!!

Having said that I'm stuck in the flat, last night that actually wasn't the case. I met a very nice woman last week in the toilets at church (as you do!) and she invited me to a dinner party last night at her apartment across town. I got a taxi there and back, and it was well worth it. She invited ten very friendly, very interesting, very welcoming expats, and it was so much fun. The sort of people who move here are generally the adventurous type, so you can pretty much guarantee that conversation will never be dull. Sitting at a table eating a lovely meal, drinking lovely wine, and being entertained by lovely people certainly made me realise how exciting and rewarding the expat experience can be.

More of that, please....



Relationship Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory