Dodgiest purchase?

I noticed a special offer in the meat section at Carrefour. It looked like big chunks of beef. I was already thinking about doing a roast meal this week since temperatures are cooling off (after around 40°C for the last two weeks, 34°C feels quite pleasant today). I have not felt like cooking while it’s been that hot, certainly not with the oven.

So I took a closer look and was intrigued to see that this meat claims to be Indian Buffalo Leg.

You know when something seems so cheap, you think there’s probably something funny about it? You know when your instincts suggest that buying suspicious meat in a heatwave might not be the greatest idea? You know when on even closer inspection, even the label maker seems unsure and has put a string of question marks under the name….

…. Reader, I bought it.

And having seared it in hot oil, it’s now on a heap of vegetables and herbs in the slow cooker. Because if you are going to experiment with buffalo (if that is what it is!) I figure you should at least do it the courtesy of cooking it for ten hours or so!

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Quite the claim

I mean, I know people really like pick n mix. But it still seems a bit optimistic.

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In case you need proof

We really do live in the Middle East! Travelling south we passed these handsome camels near the desert highway.

I pointed them out to the kids who grunted with the same level of interest as if I’d said, look, sand!

Which reminded me of Joanna aged about 2 in the UK on holiday seeing a cow in a field and saying “Camel!”

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In our country, Covid-19 cases remain low (really low), and the lockdown is easing. We can now get together in groups of up to 20, and last night I was invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday on a rooftop in the city.

It was good, if a little strange, to be back in a larger group of people I don’t live with… Ten women in fact, from six different countries, chatting in three different languages (English and Arabic I can manage… Dredging up my rusty German is more of a challenge!). And as the sun set over our city, we ate and talked and prayed and cried and danced and sang and it was good to be together.

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Just because you can…

… doesn’t mean you should. I’m talking to you KitKat.

Maybe they furloughed the taste testers and quality control folks? Maybe they thought that in lockdown people just don’t have time to make coffee AND unwrap a KitKat. Or maybe they just thought that monotony would spur idiots like me to buy a gimmick just for the sake of a new experience.

Arabic coffee flavoured KitKats. Which in practice means normal KitKat, blended with crushed coffee bean grit and infused with a really strong cardamom hit. It wasn’t good. I was finding grit in my teeth for hours and burping cardamom for days.

I’m assuming these are not available in most of the rest of the world but if you pop over to see us post pandemic, I’ll gladly give you the other four I bought and won’t be eating!

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Arts and crafts

One thing Joanna and I have been doing in lockdown is finally getting around to doing some of the craft kits she has had stashed in her room for months.

Plaster of paris unicorn.

Pompom unicorn.

And then there are some things she doesn’t need a kit for. Making her own piano for example…

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Poem for a new mum

I’ve been spending a bit of time with a friend who just had a baby. First baby. Yesterday I wrote this for her… What I wish someone had told me when I had a newborn for the first time.

For N

My friend turns from baby to me
But when? she asks,
When does it happen?
The rush of love, the sacred bonding
Feeling like a mum?

The truth is, it’s different for everyone
For every mum
And every child
But don’t panic
It’ll come

It might not be a sudden onset
A flood of perfect knowing
It might be slowly (it was for me)

It might be every nappy changed
Every night feed
Every tear shed
Adding up in increments…
A creeping dawn of
“I’m doing all this for you…
…because I want to.”
I am mum.

Maybe it’s when smiling starts
The real kind
The first gift
Her delight in you
Giving you pause
There’s a person behind the
Needing, crying, peeing, (not) sleeping
A person who adores you
Utterly, completely
And you cannot help
But smile right back
Through your tears
I am mum.

It might be the first conscious
Eyes and hearts meet
And you will know, that she knows it too
I am mum.

It might be when she crawls
after days or weeks of
rocking on hands and knees
collapsing onto elbows with frustrated squeals
And then, one day, she is on the move
And your pride in this achievement is
Out of all proportion
But it is pure and it is real
I am mum.

Maybe when she becomes a sister
You are a two child family and
One evening they are actually both asleep
And you and their dad
Meet in the kitchen and look at each other
In amazement at what, together, you did
And smile, and you feel it
I am mum.

It might be one dull January day
She started school a while ago
It’s now mundane
But walking to school
Hand in hand
Your heart is full
And you realise
I am mum.

Maybe a million other little clues
Or maybe a lightning bolt from the blue
For now, sweet friend
Keep trusting, it’ll come
Because definitely, truthfully
You are Mum.

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Connecting across the miles

Thanks to zoom, it’s not all doom and gloom. From dining room (there) to living room (here). Hands loom. Boom.

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Don’t mind if I do

One of the things I had delivered from the supermarket this morning, just in time for lunch, was some manaqeesh including three of these beauties…

It’s cheese on one side, zaatar on the other. Zaatar is a mixture of thyme and sesame seeds… Folded over like a Middle Eastern calzone and eaten freshly made and hot… Wow. Just wow. One of my friends once referred to these as “like crack”. I wouldn’t know, but can confirm them to be very very moreish!

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Real time

I managed to get a slot for an online delivery today. As we are in the run up to Eid (the 3 day festival at the end of Ramadan), starting Saturday or Sunday depending on the sighting of the new moon, and Friday is a full curfew with all shops closed and no one allowed out, today is roughly the equivalent of the day before Christmas Eve… Shops are busy with everyone stocking up on food and it’s traditional to buy new clothes for all your children too.

One thing I love about the app I use for online shopping is that I get a real time update of what my shopper has found and the substitutes he or she is suggesting which I can then approve, make a different suggestion, or cancel the item. He also calls when he finishes shopping to ask if there is anything else I forgot or would like to add.

Maybe this is standard practice in the west too now but I’d not seen it before.

Anyway, happy (almost) Eid, everyone.

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You’ve been sprayed

I went to the supermarket yesterday. We queued to get in, and the last obstacle is to pass through this plastic contraption which sprays you with a fine mist of… Water? Disinfectant? Nobody knows…

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For the first six weeks of lockdown no restaurants were allowed to open at all not even for delivery. So on occasion we had to make our own “fast” food. We each built our own burger according to taste. Above, my burger. Yum. Two of my children though are apparently into fine dining where it is all the rage to offer “deconstructed” versions of traditional dishes.

Or maybe they just don’t like their separate ingredients touching!

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The Masked Mama

It is now compulsory here to wear a mask and gloves if you are in a shop, business, taxi or any vehicle with more than one occupant.

Children are still not officially allowed out but this one wanted to try a mask anyway…

There are some exceptions… when my husband went to the barber for a haircut, beard and moustache trim, he asked if he should wear a mask and they just laughed.

And no matter what, everyone is supposed to be home by 6pm when the air raid sirens mark the start of the nightly curfew. I was driving home just after 5.30pm today and got slightly delayed when all the traffic was halted to allow a flock of sheep to cross the main road in the middle of the city.

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Kites at dusk

May and September are the main months for kite flying. Kids go on the flat roofs of their buildings to fly them. This year, I guess because of the lockdown, we have seen more kites than ever fluttering over the skyline in the early evenings when the wind picks up… If you look closely at the picture above you can see about ten kites flying. Shame we don’t have access to our roof!

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Family outing!!!

We went out! All together!

Ok fine it was only out on to the balcony but still.

Posted in Boys, Covid-19, Girl | 4 Comments


Philip and Joanna’s primary school sends tasks every week for Arabic, English, Maths, French, science or humanities, music and art. Generally for Art they are sent a link to a short video showing how to do a craft or art project. They are reasonably simple but as you may know I am not an artistic type. Trying to mess with crafts, painting, handiwork, sewing, drawing or any kind of art generally brings me out in hives, which is why the end of each art video the school sends really makes me smile. The final image is as above… After going through the steps to do the art, they mean, “that’s it” or “lastly” but have translated it into English as “Finally we are done with our artwork…”

My sentiments EXACTLY.

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Sad times

For a seven year old who accidentally smashes a musical snow globe filled with water and glitter on the carpet in her room.

And for her mother, cleaning hundreds of minuscule shards of broken glass and glitter off a wet carpet and the surrounding toys/clothes/quilt while aforementioned 7 year old sobs, brokenhearted.

Still. No one was hurt. Also, for the sake of clarity, we don’t have a giant cat. Or any cat. I don’t know why she drew one.

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My boy bright and beautiful

So sweet, so calm.

Yes yes I am brilliant!

This is the boy who:

a) when his sister asked “What’s your favourite kind of oxygen?” (what every 7 yr old girl wants to know), replied, without missing a beat: “The kind produced by phytoplankton.”


b) had a message from his computer teacher tonight, asking for his help with a computer problem…!

Not just a pretty face.

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Hello to the past

They spent a very happy half hour looking through photos from when Joanna was a baby. Doesn’t 2013 seem a long long time ago?

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Oh! Oh? Oh no.

The monkeys have a week’s break from school. There was some doubt as to whether it would be cancelled or shortened but thankfully the school decided to give students and teachers alike a well earned rest.

When we heard for sure that we were getting the holiday, I rubbed my hands together with glee and said, “Oh goodie, I have lots of ideas for things we can do together!” To which I got the following responses, in this order…

7 yr old: Yay!

10 yr old: Okaaaaay….?

13 yr old: Oh no…

Which perfectly summed up their respective stages… Innocent and full of enthusiasm, beginning to realise that mum’s idea of fun may not be the same as theirs and well, teenager.

To be fair my ideas mostly involve having a really good sort out of their rooms, clothes, toys and books. Which does sound really exciting, right?!

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