Drizzle Kicks

One of the tricks to making expat life work for you is taking advantage of all the opportunities it affords.

Withnail & I

Also on holiday by mistake: Withnail & I

It could be something as amazing as travelling to a place you’d rarely get a chance to otherwise, or it could be as surreally mundane as an unexpected trip back to your country of origin while you wait for a visa to be processed.

Guess which one I’ve been doing this week?

Continue reading

Two Wheels Good

It’s winter* in Qatar again, which means it’s finally safe for the lesser-spotted leisure cyclist to emerge from hibernation

This strange and rare breed is only visible for a few months each year. Tell-tale signs include a nervous disposition, a look of slight incredulity that they’re out and about on two wheels at all, and a palpable sense of imminent harm.

Technically, these delicate creatures could ride on the city streets – and a tweet this week from Baladiya, the Ministry of Municipality & Urban Planning, implies that Doha is some sort of cycling utopia:

Baladiya

Where is this cycling utopia?

But the reality is that, if a leisure cyclist did dare try and use the open road, their sliver of space would soon be taken up by something far larger, more air conditioned, and way less patient.

Continue reading

Kicking the Bucket

Bucket lists are all wrong. Dwelling on places you haven’t been is a one-way ticket to regret and dissatisfaction. Except…

(Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama crosses Stonehenge off his bucket list

Have you got a bucket list? If so, you’re far from alone. We all have crazy, ridiculous dreams, whether it’s running a marathon, taking the plunge and moving abroad, or just driving across Doha without getting either mown down or marooned in traffic. We can all dream, right?

Even President Obama has one, as he cheerfully admitted when taking time off from the NATO summit in Cardiff last month to pop over the border into England and cross Stonehenge off his.

Living a life of potentially-unfulfilled hopes is no life at all. But having floated in the Dead Sea last month, I’ve been thinking about my list again – specifically, a waterfall. Continue reading

Tourist Extraction

I hadn’t planned to write about our recent trip to Jordan – what I did on my holiday being a topic best left behind in junior school – but the amazing trip we had over the Eid break convinced me otherwise

We found a beautiful, friendly country, albeit one which has seen its tourist industry – which contributes more than 20% of its GDP – take a hammering in recent years.

The Dead Sea

“Is it called the Dead Sea because it’s full of dead people?” Ah, the endless joys of seven-year-old-boy logic

It’s not even as if it’s their fault. The country is peaceful, stable, visibly protected and yet because of where it physically sits in the region, people take one look at the atlas and think: nope.

Proof of this came before we left, when Kid A expressed a previously-unhinted-at interest in geopolitics.

“Dad,” she asked me, “why exactly are we going on holiday somewhere that’s in between Israel and Syria?” You have to admit, it’s a good question. Continue reading

Rainbows and Unicorns

For the first time ever, I’ve seriously considered stopping writing this blog.

Rainbows and Unicorns

Ben Alman / Flickr [used under Creative Commons]

Oh no, I hear you gasp, as you drop your toast in shock. What’s happened?

A – Has the expat dream has finally turned sour?
B – Is he worried about the effect live-blogging their childhood is having on his kids?
C – Perhaps there’s – whisper it – “trouble at home” and it would be best to keep a low profile for a bit?

Sadly, gossip-fans, the answer is D – None of the above (today, at least).

No, call me picky but it’s the tedious thoughts of fines, deportation and/or prison that’s weighing on my mind, and it’s all thanks to Qatar’s new Cybercrime Law which was ratified earlier this month.

Continue reading