#SundaySnapshot Week 10

Week 10 Collage

I love blogging and there is nothing I would love more than to reach a point where I could blog for a living. However, whilst I am aiming towards that goal I am presented with a challenge. As a full-time teacher and mum, it is often hard to find the time I want to give to my blog without sacrificing the time I want to give to my family. Establishing my #SundaySnapshot posts has helped me to establish a weekly routine of posting. In the past weeks, as the school year draws to a close and our schedules become busier, this weekly post has helped me to balance my commitments. Sometimes however something has to give. Last week, the combined effects of poor internet coverage, a number of after school commitments and life in general, meant that for the first time in 2 months, my #SundaySnapshot was not posted. I must confess that I missed it as part of my weekly routine and I am more than happy to get back to it again.

As the weeks have passed, #SundaySnapshot has begun to represent how blogging can help you connect with so many great people across the globe and how their stories can enrich our own. My good friend Kathryn, recently described herself as a documentarian and I would like to think that #SundaySnapshot has an element of that. Through images I receive I provide new perspectives and insights into the diverse world around us. I enjoy the new discoveries of each week and where they take me. I hope you do too.

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece. Her most recent set of posts based around the theme of broken dolls is fascinating – I love her pictures and the stories she creates around the dolls she has found. She encourages a very emotional response not only with her images but also with her writing. I strongly recommend you take the time to check them out. Her post 101 Things: What Art Means to Me has really got me thinking about how I would sum up my love of Kuwait. I am accepting the challenge and currently planning my own version.

Kathryn Lilac Week 10 Kathryn’s #SundaySnapshot this week has a real flavour of early Summer. On one of her walks around her property a couple of weeks ago, she found a small lilac bush (Syringa vulgaris). She has lived there for 5 years but never noticed it before. It seems likely that it was a young sapling when she arrived but it is now beginning to mature and bloom. Lilacs are not an invasive species, but they do adapt well to Oregon weather. Kathryn and I share a mutual love for lilac. It is one of my favourite flowers as I love their colour, shape, and fragrance. We don’t have lilacs in Kuwait so I am quite envious that Kathryn was able to cut a couple of blooms and brought them into her home. She had the wonderful dusky scent wafting around for over a week. Interestingly not only do we both love lilacs but we also share a certain childhood nostalgia. Kathryn had them around when she was a child and loved them then. We had a two lilac trees in our garden, purple and white. The scent of lilac always makes me think of that wonderful stage as Spring turns into Summer. I love the vibrant colour of Kathryn’s picture, especially when my own picture is next to it. These flowers simply glow and cannot help to raise the spirits. Kathryn’s #SundaySnapshot is a wonderful taste of the summer months to come.

Do you want to be a part of #SundaySnapshot?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.
2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 10 (and a bit)

MarinaWalks

 

People often claim that there is nothing to do in Kuwait. That the temperatures make it difficult to go out and there are not enough open spaces to walk and enjoy nature. True, Kuwait does not have lakes, rivers or mountains nor does it have wide expanses of grassland but nor should you expect it to. Kuwait is a desert and as such has certain limitations placed on what can grow there. However, there is a lot of beauty in Kuwait and there is a surprising amount of greenery if you take the time to look for it. One of the more popular outdoor spaces is Marina Walks. A beautiful stretch from the Scientific Centre in Salmiya up to Marina Mall and then stretching beyond that up to Kuwait Towers and up towards the city.. This weekend we were part of a hike being undertaken by the Scout pack my oldest is a part of. The 14km hike took us all the way to Kuwait Towers and we were lucky enough to arrive after dark and truly appreciate the fabulous renovations and the light show that takes place each evening.

This week’s #SundaySnapshot is one of the picturesque stopping points along Marina Walks. Unfortunately the weather was not at its best, although that was an advantage for those of us walking, so I don’t feel this picture truly shows this spot to it its best. For me, a lot of Kuwait’s beauty comes from its location at the top of the Arabian Gulf. The Gulf Road is crammed with restaurants trying to make the most of this fabulous view and even on the dullest of days there is something about it that captures me. This spot is elegant in its simplicity and whilst we may not have the lilacs that Kathryn’s garden is blessed with, here our palm trees stand as sentinels watching over the land. Should you ever visit Kuwait this would be one of my top recommendations. Here you can sit and enjoy the sun, watch all the varied life of Kuwait go by, smile at the antics of the street cats that live along the shoreline and feel the quiet relaxation that comes with living out here.

What would your #SundaySnapshot be? What image best captures your week or the place where you live?

Why not join in next week? Share a picture on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts. It would be great to have you along.

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#SundaySnapshot Week 9

#SundaySnapshot Week 9 Collage Welcome to week 9 of #SundaySnapshot; a brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. As the week’s have passed, #SundaySnapshot has begun to represent how blogging can help you connect with so many great people across the globe and how their stories can enrich our own. My good friend Kathryn, recently described herself as a documentarian and I would like to think that #SundaySnapshot has an element of that. Through images I receive I provide new perspectives and insights into the diverse world around us. I enjoy the new discoveries of each week and where they take me. I hope you do too.

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece. Her most recent set of posts based around the theme of broken dolls is fascinating – I love her pictures and the stories she creates around the dolls she has found. She encourages a very emotional response not only with her images but also with her writing. I strongly recommend you take the time to check them out. Her post101 Things: What Art Means to Me has really got me thinking about how I would sum up my love of Kuwait. I am accepting the challenge and currently planning my own version.

Kathryn’s #SundaySnapshot comes from closer to home this week. She took up the challenge, with camera in hand, and went out to find a suitable picture for this week. This cute little fellow was the result.

SundaySnapshot Week 9 Kathryn

Kathryn admits to not knowing exactly what type of bird he is but considering the Oregon is home to around 500 different species of birds, I think we can forgive her! In her own words,

“There are lots of kinds here and I listen to them everyday. We have hawks, vultures, crows, doves, quail, pheasants, and lots of small kinds singing in the trees. Sometimes, on special nights, I get to listen to owls hooting to each other.”

Kathryn’s pictures stand as a great contrast to my own life in Kuwait. Bird species in Kuwait number around 300 but a great number of those are migratory, travelling in during the spring and heading out before the high temperatures of summer arrive. If you know where to look you can find flamingos at the right time of year. I was lucky enough to have a glimpse of them when I was in hospital recuperating last March. The most commonly sighted  birds are sparrows and doves. However, in the evenings, we sometimes hear the call of peacocks from a nearby villa where they are kept as pets in the high walled grounds. It’s a very different world from the one Kathryn lives in, yet, I know my boys would swap it in heartbeat for the trees, lakes and green spaces of Oregon.

The second #SundaySnapshot this week is an old friend from my time in the UK. I worked with Sue for 10 years, teaching Religious Education in Liverpool. Sue has developed a real passion for photography in recent years and has the most amazing, and growing, collection on her Instagram account. I love the quality of Sue’s photos, she has a real gift for lighting and tone. Please take the time to have a look at her account and you’ll see what I mean. All the photos are her own, mostly taken using a Canon 550D, with a tiny number taken with an iphone 4S. I love her photos because they remind me of home.

SundaySnapshot Week 9 Sue @ Crosby

Sue’s recent pictures are helping me create a list of places to visit when we are home this summer. This week’s #SundaySnapshot is from Crosby Beach and the installation of cast iron men by the artist Antony Gormley. I have found Sue’s pictures so evocative that I have actually taken 2 for this week. The installation is called Another Place and I remember when they were first put in place. We always wanted to make a point to go out and visit them but never took the opportunity before we left. Crosby Beach is to the north of Liverpool and I remember visits to the red squirrel sanctuary there as a child. These statues have become a matter of local pride and Sue informs me that people are encouraged to dress them, hence the tattered shirt on this statue’s shoulders. There is a lonely hopefulness in the stance of these statues as they look out to the horizon.

In the words of the Visit Liverpool website:

Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea…. The Another Place figures – each one weighing 650 kilos – are made from casts of the artist’s own body standing on the beach, all of them looking out to sea, staring at the horizon in silent expectation…. According to Antony Gormley, Another Place harnesses the ebb and flow of the tide to explore man’s relationship with nature. He explains: The seaside is a good place to do this. Here time is tested by tide, architecture by the elements and the prevalence of sky seems to question the earth’s substance. In this work human life is tested against planetary time. This sculpture exposes to light and time the nakedness of a particular and peculiar body. It is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.

SundaySnapshot Week 9 Sue @ Crosby #2

Do you want to be a part of #SundaySnapshot?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.
2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 9 – Liberation Tower

SundaySnapshot Week 9 Liberation Tower

 

My #SundaySnapshot is of Kuwait’s Liberation Tower. I took this picture on Thursday when I was fortunate enough to be part of a school trip to the newly opened Al Shaheed Park, a beautifully designed open space in the centre of Kuwait City. We were attending an evening performance at the inaugural opening of the open air amphitheatre there and we had a pleasant stroll from the park entrance through to our final destination. There has been quite a lot of dust in the air recently and the wind was starting to pick up as we walked through, lending a slight haze to my picture.

Liberation Tower, as the name suggests, represents the strength and resolve of the people of Kuwait after the Iraq invasion of 1990. Construction on the tower has actually begun before the invasion but the sacrifices made by the country as part of the war meant that finishing the building took on greater significance after the Iraqis were driven out. Liberation Tower stands at 40 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower and is the 5th largest telecommunications tower in the world. It is a highly recognisable feature of Kuwait’s skyline even though it is slowly being surrounded by larger buildings such as the recently built Al Hamra.

One thing that has struck me whilst writing these posts is that there is still a lot I have to learn about Kuwait. I am very aware of the exterior of this amazing country but I still have plenty to discover. Liberation Tower is a perfect example. Whilst researching its history I have discovered there is a restaurant and observation deck at the tops of the tower. That’s another thing to add to my ever-growing bucket list of places to visit and things to do whilst we are out here.

What #SundaySnapshot would you share? Get involved and share a picture for next week’s post on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter account.

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#SundaySnapshot Week 8

#SundaySnapshot Week 8 Collage

Welcome to week 8 of #SundaySnapshot; a brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. This marks the 2 month mark and it amazes me how quickly the time has flown and the incredible range of images and stories I have collected in such a short space of time. #SundaySnapshot has begun to represent how blogging can help you connect with so many great people across the globe and how their stories can enrich our own.

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece. Her most recent set of posts based around the theme of broken dolls is fascinating – I love her pictures and the stories she creates around the dolls she has found. She encourages a very emotional response not only with her images but also with her writing. I strongly recommend you take the time to check them out. Her post 101 Things: What Art Means to Me has really got me thinking about how I would sum up my love of Kuwait. I am accepting the challenge and currently planning my own version.

Kathryn's Caterpillar

Kathyrn’s #SundaySnapshot this week represents a link to her family history. This one is from Antique Powerland Museum in Brooks, Oregon. It is a unique site. Not your average museum. Kathryn likes it because it represents and supports the farming industry in her home state. A great place to visit on a sunny day. She knew about the place, but didn’t really have much interest until a friend from a local museum (where she volunteers) asked her to go. It was educational and a lot of fun.  The image is of the front end grill of an antique Caterpillar tractor. Like Kathryn, I love the design of the logo. The wiggly line representing the movement of the caterpillar really makes me smile and I love the blue-green colour of the metal. Kathryn feels a real connection to this picture because her own ancestors, including my grandfather (who probably used one of these) were farmers and ranchers.

This week’s second photo comes from a lovely lady by the name of Marianne Cash.  Based in South Wales, she works hard to raise awareness of the beauty of her local area, focusing mainly on the Garw Valley and surrounding area. Sadly, due to chronic pain disability she is limited to how far she can travel but I’m sure you’ll agree he images are stunning. Marianne runs a number of Facebook pages, all of which I highly recommend. Make sure you click on the links to check out more: Welsh Valleys SceneryVintage Valley Wales,  Fashion Valley Wales and I Love Unicorns (because let’s face we all secretly do!). On top of all of this, she runs the charity Community Furniture Aid  (which is linked to her Vintage Valley Wales Facebook page) and she likes to share and support other local groups and artists. Marianne is one very busy lady.

Marianne's Valley

The weather in the UK has been quite unpredictable of late. Although some areas have been enjoying unseasonably high temperatures, when Marianne took this stunning #SundaySnapshot it was still cold enough to see your breath. However, there are definite signs that Spring is on its way for as she walked the dog this morning she heard the call of the Cuckoo. Here in Kuwait we have been battling with our unsettled spring weather. Whilst today’s temperatures were a pleasantly sitting in the 30s, we have been dealing with dust and rain for the past few weeks. Marianne’s photo reminds me of the beautiful fresh spring days you get at this time of year in the UK. The clear blue sky and fresh green leaves clearly give hope of a better weather ahead.

My third contributor this week is an old friend from my time in the UK. I worked with Sue for 10 years, teaching Religious Education in Liverpool. Sue has developed a real passion for photography in recent years and has the most amazing, and growing, collection on her Instagram account. I love the quality of Sue’s photos, she has a real gift for lighting and tone. Please take the time to have a look at her account and you’ll see what I mean. All the photos are her own, mostly taken using a Canon 550D, with a tiny number taken with an iphone 4S. I love her photos because they remind me of home.

Sue's The Dream

Sue’s #SundaySnapshot  is of The Dream, a sculpture situated on the site of an old colliery in Sutton Manor, just outside Liverpool in St Helens. I have seen the sculpture before whilst driving past on the motorway but I have never seen it up close or wondered about its story. What I love about the pictures Sue shares with me is that they encourage me to find out more about where I come from. Somewhat ironic since I am currently living thousands of miles away. After a little research, I found this wonderful excerpt from The Story of the Dream describing the symbolism behind the sculpture,

“Dream takes the form of the head and neck a 9-year-old girl that has been elongated by a third. Her eyes are closed in quiet contemplation, dreaming not only about her future but also that of the former colliery site and St Helens.  It’s proposed that the landmark will give hope and aspirations for future generations and become a positive symbol for the area. It’s to be constructed in English concrete and Spanish dolomite marble. It’s white to replicate light and to contrast the darkness of the mine and coal that lies beneath. Finally, she is to sit on a plinth of a giant miners tally as a reminder of the heritage of the site. The structure is to be lit, with an additional beam of light from the sculptures head that goes into the sky. The former miners love it and give it their full backing.”

The history of the site is fascinating and I recommend you find out more by following this link. I love the way Sue’s photo also reflects the symbolism the sculpture – she has a real eye for these things.

Do you want to be a part of #SundaySnapshot?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.
A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.
2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 8

Situated at the top of the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait has a long and proud history of seafaring. Before the discovery of oil one of its primary sources of income was pearl fishing. Whilst this has changed in recent years there are still strong links to the sea. One place where this is evident is Souq Sharq, just outside the centre of Kuwait City, and the location of the Fish Market. Here you can see traditional dhows bringing in their daily catch which is then proudly displayed in the nearby market. The range of fish is staggering and my boys love going down to look at the variety. Fishmongers, other than those in the big supermarkets, have long since become a thing of the past in many area of the UK. I love visiting the market as it reminds me of visits to our local fishmongers when I was younger. As a child my father taught me from an early age how to clean and gut fish. Here in Kuwait the market workers will gut, clean and descale your chosen prize with staggering speed and efficiency. However, being true little boys and fascinated with anything slimy or gross, my two far prefer to bring the fish home and get mum to do it. Our cats are always happy with that choice too!

Souq Sharq
This week’s #SundaySnapshot shows the dhows moored at the back of fish market. I love the contrast in this picture between the traditional boats and towering skyscraper in the background. To me this picture sums up the juxtaposition between modernity and tradition across this area of the Gulf. There is a fine balancing act between embracing the advantages of the 21st Century whilst maintaining the traditions of the past. As you move further into the city from here you will see evidence of far older buildings that bear the scars of the first Gulf War; a testament to the resilient spirit of the local people. If you look carefully at the right hand corner of the picture you can just see the dome of Kuwait’s Grand Mosque (the 8th largest mosque in the world). A stunning building that should be visited if you ever have the opportunity. The décor inside, made of golds, beiges and blues, reflects the ties Kuwait has with the sea and the desert surrounding it. It is the closeness to the sea and heat of the desert environment that we love about life out here. Souq Sharq is a great location to see where old and new Kuwait meet and is a firm family favourite.

What #SundaySnapshot would you share? Get involved and share a picture for next week’s post on my Facebook page or Twitter account.

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#SundaySnapshot – Week 7

#SundaySnapshot Week 7 Collage

Welcome to week 7 of #SundaySnapshot. A brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. It’s been half term holidays for us this week in Kuwait. We have family out visiting from the UK and have been blessed, for the most part, with some lovely Kuwait sunshine. However, this morning we have been greeted with yellow tinted skies that herald dust – not a great way to end the holiday!  I used the holiday to try to enhance my poor photography skills by experimenting with my husband’s camera. The results have been a pretty mixed bag but I can certainly see some improvements. With having family over, this is a quiet week for the #SundaySnapshot. I am very grateful to my good friend Kathryn for taking part and next week I shall be looking for more volunteers … You have been warned!

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece. Her most recent set of posts based around the theme of broken dolls is fascinating – I love her pictures and the stories she creates around the dolls she has found. She encourages a very emotional response not only with her images but also with her writing. I strongly recommend you take the time to check them out.

Kathryn’s photo this week was taken at an Oregon State Fair in nearby Salem. State fairs are an unknown concept to me. Considering there are 11 states in America that are larger than the UK, I am quite certain that our county fairs are seen as the poor relations. I have never been to the Cheshire Show, which would be our local equivalent to a state fair, but it is definitely a bucket list event.

Kathryn Oregon State Fair

A little research revealed the The Huffington Post The Ten Best State Fairs in the United States places the Oregon State Fair at #8 …

Agriculture and farming takes center stage at the Oregon State Fair, where all the traditional rearing and growing methods of the American West are celebrated with competitions, live entertainment, artistic exhibitions and floral displays. Other draws include farmer’s markets and grocery beds laden with statewide produce, along with a variety of carnival rides and attractions. 

Kathryn hasn’t been able to attend for the last couple of years due to work and other issues but she hopes to this year. (I’m hoping that means more pictures for us!) The fair is in the last week in August and Kathryn is currently working on some artwork to submit to the annual art show there. She has had work accepted in the past, but has not tried for a while. Looking at the great range of ideas on her blog I think it’s definitely time for her to jump back in. This photo is was taken while riding the sky chair and I love how the Ferris Wheel stands in contrast to the darkening night sky. I find this such an emotive picture that conjures up all the sights and sounds of the fair. It makes me quite nostalgic and I have already been looking to see if there are any fairs I can take my boys to during the summer holidays.

Do you want to join in?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.

2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 7

Marina Mall

This week’s #SundaySnapshot is of Marina Crescent. Expats often joke that the main hobbies in Kuwait are eating and shopping. If you judged the country by the number and size of its shopping malls you could well believe it to be true. Marina Mall is one of the smaller malls and is personally one of my favourites as it is preceded by Marina Crescent, a lovely collection of restaurants all set out with a view over one Kuwait’s private marinas. As the weather heads towards warmer temperatures it is the perfect place for sitting outside in the evening and watching the world go by.  With a wide range of chains such as Pizza Express, Pinkberry and TGI Fridays as well as more local restaurants, there is plenty to choose from. When the temperatures get too high you can move inside to air-conditioned comfort. My boys love to look over the railings at the fish below, often throwing small pieces of bread that create a feeding frenzy. On one memorable occasion, in our first year in Kuwait, we were witness to a visiting whale shark that had very lost on its way to Oman. It was quite surreal to see a shark’s fin rising from the waters of the marina but the boys, understandably, found it very exciting. Our visiting family enjoyed a relaxed evening at Marina Mall last week, revelling in the balmy temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius and the gentle evening breeze. It’s one of many slices of heaven we are lucky to have out here in Kuwait.

What will your #SundaySnapshot be? What picture reflects the hidden secrets to where you live?

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#SundaySnapshot Week 6

Week 6 Collage Happy Easter and welcome to week 6 of #SundaySnapshot. A brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. I asked for volunteers to share their own #SundaySnapshot with me and I am incredibly grateful to my new friends in blogging, Kathryn M Bennett and Marianna Cash, for joining me and sharing their photos.

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece. Her most recent set of posts based around the theme of broken dolls is fascinating – I love her pictures and the stories she creates around the dolls she has found. I strongly recommend you take the time to check them out.

IMG_0103 (2)

Kathryn’s #SundaySnapshot this week is one of her favourite visiting spots, the Portland Art Museum.  She talks about some of the fixed exhibits as old friends who she looks forward to visiting. One of her favourites is a painting by Monet which she fondly remembers as literally taking her breath away the first time she saw it. This photo was from a visit in May of 2013 taken in the outdoor sculpture garden. Kathryn likes how it shows the marriage of art and city. I quite agree as I love the contrast between the darkness of the sculpture and the stunning blue of the sky. One of the things I miss in Kuwait is the presence of art galleries and museums. Whilst I do not visit these often enough when the opportunity presents it I do appreciate their presence. As I get older I find I have an appreciation for art that I never had when I was younger. That said, whilst Kuwait does not have many conventional art galleries, I am finding there is a lot of hidden art here, but I will save that for another post.

This week’s second photo comes from a lovely lady by the name of Marianne Cash.  Based in South Wales, she works hard to raise awareness of the beauty of her local area, focusing mainly on the Garw Valley and surrounding area. Sadly, due to chronic pain disability she is limited to how far she can travel but I’m sure you’ll agree he images are stunning. Marianne runs a number of Facebook pages, all of which I highly recommend. Make sure you click on the links to check out more: Welsh Valleys SceneryVintage Valley Wales,  Fashion Valley Wales and I Love Unicorns (because let’s face it, we all secretly do!). On top of all of this, she runs the charity Community Furniture Aid  (which is linked to her Vintage Valley Wales Facebook page) and she likes to share and support other local groups and artists. Marianne is one very busy lady.

Marianne's Gothic Church - Week 6 Marianne’s stunning photo this week is of the Gothic Church she is renovating with her husband. The church is in her village and if you take the time to check out her Facebook page, you will see she posts regular pictures of the renovation process. The style of the building is one familiar to anyone who has visited Wales. I love the different style of arches over the windows and the open door is so inviting. I just want to step inside and explore, to see what treasures and stories are contained inside. I am looking forward to seeing more of Marianne’s renovation and I wish her great success as it moves forward.

Do you want to join in?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.

2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 6

We have family visiting from the UK this school holiday. I cannot begin to describe how excited my boys are to see their Grandma and Uncles. During the past week there has been much discussion about where we will take them and what we will do and there are quite a range of activities planned. One of the places we will be visiting is the Kuwait Science Centre and Aquarium. This is a real favourite of my youngest who is mad about anything scientific in nature. The Science Centre, on the Gulf Road, looks out towards the Kuwait City skyline and is a wonderful place to visit not just for the science but also for the fantastic location. Sitting outside looking out over the Arabian Gulf, sipping a coffee, makes it a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

My #SundaySnapshot this week is from a previous visit to the Science Centre when my youngest wanted to test a theory that sharks are attracted to the colour red. He spent considerable time choosing his ‘most-red-outfit’ and was thrilled to see the sharks taking an interest. For me, this picture reflects his youthful enthusiasm and inquisitiveness in the world around him. I can only hope that these are qualities I can help him nurture as he grows older. The shark has a certain glint in his eye that suggests he is considering my youngest as an appetizer. I think he might find him a bit chewy!

Sharks at the Scientific Centre

 

 

What will your #SundaySnapshot be? What picture reflects the hidden secrets to where you live?

 

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#SundaySnapshot Week 5

#SundaySnapshot Week 5 Collage I am now into my fifth #SundaySnapshot. A brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. Every week my #SundaySnapshot seems to get a little bigger. This week I asked for volunteers and  I am incredibly grateful to not only have my stalwart friends in blogging, Kathryn M Bennett and Marianna Cash, but also my good friends Sue, Jane, Jackie and  Estelle. Every week my little group gets bigger, it’s great to have so many people taking part. This week’s collection of images is quite varied and all the better for it.

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece.

Oregon Week 5

Kathryn has shared another photo of the stunning area she lives in. Silver Falls State Park is 14 miles in the mountains from her home town, Silverton. It is considered to be the local ‘natural wonder’ and a favourite day-tripping spot. Looking at the landscape, I doubt there is one local resident who has not been there. If you look closely, the line through the side of the rock is actually a walkway that goes behind the waterfall. This link gives more information about the many state parks of Oregon and it’s well worth the read. I love how Kathryn’s photos stand in direct contrast to my own. The more I see of where she lives, the more I want to visit. Oregon is now firmly on my USA Road Trip bucket list. 

This week’s second photo comes from a lovely lady by the name of Marianne Cash.  Based in South Wales, she works hard to raise awareness of the beauty of her local area, focusing mainly on the Garw Valley and surrounding area. Sadly, due to chronic pain disability she is limited to how far she can travel but I’m sure you’ll agree he images are stunning. Marianne runs a number of Facebook pages, all of which I highly recommend. Make sure you click on the links to check out more: Welsh Valleys SceneryVintage Valley Wales,  Fashion Valley Wales and I Love Unicorns (because let’s face we all secretly do!). On top of all of this, she runs the charity Community Furniture Aid  (which is linked to her Vintage Valley Wales Facebook page) and she likes to share and support other local groups and artists. Marianne is one very busy lady.

Welsh Valleys Scenery Week 5

Marriane’s #SundaySnapshot this week is of her local seaside at Porthcawl. I must confess that despite living close to Wales and having spent a year at Aberystwyth University there is a lot I have yet to discover in this fascinating country. Marriane’s picture sets a fabulous scene and sparked my interest. After a little time spent on the internet I came across Porthcawl: Town by the Sea and this fabulous description of the town,

“Embraced by the light summer breezes and encircled by the might of winter storms, Porthcawl, town by the sea, welcomes visitors all year round. With a fantastic array of unique boutiques, stylish cafes and the obligatory ice cream, it feels like a holiday every day! Home of the Elvis Festival, International Jazz Festival and the Pro Surf UK tour to name a few, Porthcawl is the perfect seaside entertainment venue”.

I love the idea of the Elvis Festival. When you look at Marriane’s beautiful picture, it’s hard to imagine such an idyllic spot being overrun by 1000s of wannabe Elvis. Sadly we won’t be able to attend as the festival is in September but I’m secretly hoping I can persuade Marriane to send a few photos.

For the second week I have a photo from my friend Sue who I knew from my time in the UK. I worked with Sue for 10 years, teaching Religious Education in Liverpool. She has developed a real passion for photography in recent years and has the most amazing, and growing, collection on her Instagram account. I love the quality of Sue’s photos, she has a real gift for lighting and tone and likes to experiment using different effects. Please take the time to have a look at her account and you’ll see what I mean. All the photos are her own, mostly taken using a Canon 550D, with a tiny number taken with an iphone 4S. I love her photos because they remind me of home.

Liverpool Waterfront Week 5

Sue’s photo this week is a combination of images from Liverpool waterfront. There is so much history in this part of the city and for those of us with a love of the city the images immediately trigger memories of home. The Liverpool Waterfront website describes this beautiful area as ..

“…  a great place to visit with a whole host of things to do in a breathtaking and iconic setting.  Diverse in its appeal the waterfront offers everything from a sing-along in the Beatles Story to a quiet riverside stroll.Where else could you marvel at truly magnificent mercantile architecture like the famous Liver Building; enjoy world-class contemporary art at Tate Liverpool; explore the Merseyside Maritime Museum and become interactive at the recently opened Museum of Liverpool – all within a stone’s throw of one another. But this would not be a waterfront without the River Mersey, the network of historic docks and the canal link which allows evocative narrow boats to moor right in the heart of Liverpool….Whether you are planning to visit this impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site for the day or are looking for a family weekend packed full of fun and adventure Liverpool Waterfront won’t disappoint.”

The next series of pictures come from 3 friends I have been fortunate to make out here in Kuwait. Each photo gives a different perspective on life out here in the Gulf.

The first picture comes from my friend, Jackie, a fellow Scouser who has lived in Kuwait for 6 years and around the Gulf for 17. Jackie’s picture is of her family’s recent efforts to dress up and raise money for Red Nose Day.

Comic Relief Week 5

Red Nose Day is a long-established event where British comedians get together to raise money for a wide range of good causes both in the UK and abroad. The original idea was simple – buy a red nose and wear it for the day. I still remember my first Red Nose Day – an absolute highlight of the year. Red Nose Day and Comic Relief have grown over the years and it gets more flamboyant and exciting every time. Jackie’s family clearly got fully into the spirit of the day and I’m just loving those eyebrows!

My good friend Jane left Kuwait 3 years ago to live out in Qatar. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit her a few years ago. Qatar is a beautiful country and I totally fell in love with Doha. To me, Qatar represents a middle point between the brashness of Dubai and the calmness of Kuwait. As with a number of the Gulf countries, Qatar is growing rapidly and there are hotels popping up everywhere.

Kempinski Week 5

This fabulous building is the new Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel built on The Pearl – Qatar’s answer to Dubai’s The Palm. The horse sculpture at the front is 3 storeys high. Even though Jane’s picture gives a true impression of its size, I find it hard to imagine just how enormous this horse must appear to be when standing underneath it. Doha-based artist Ahmed al-Bahrani  crafted the 18-metre sculpture, which is only one of an array of other paintings, sculptures, and installation arts which were created for the hotel by artists from around the world. I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit Qatar again .. looks like I’ve found one!

This week’s final photo is actually a compilation from another good friend of mine, Estelle. Recently, Estelle has been suffering from a slipped disk and has had to give up work and been pretty much stuck in her apartment whilst she recovers. Her photos represent the different emotions she has felt over the past month.  Being at home recovering from an illness can be a lonely time and even more so when you live abroad and are away from family. Having recently celebrated my 1 year heart attack anniversary, I can relate to her feelings. I’m so pleased to see her final image is such a positive one. The road to recovery can be a long one but it looks as though Estelle is heading in the right direction.

Estelle's #SundaySnapshot Collage

Do you want to join in?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.

2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 5

#SundaySnapshot Week 5

The great thing about #SundaySnapshot is it is making it abundantly clear I need to improve my photography skills. This week’s photo seems quite boring in comparison to everyone else’s but there is a good reason for choosing it.

The weather in Kuwait has been quite unsettled over the last month. We’ve had a sandstorm, numerous thunderstorms and several downpours. This is quite normal for Kuwait and marks the arrival of Spring. Temperatures have been steadily rising and this weekend marked the first time our boys were in the pool. Our cats have also been enjoying the improving weather. Bruce, who is our indoor cat, takes great pleasure in sunning himself on the balcony as the weather warms. With temperatures currently at a lovely 27 degrees Celsius, Bruce has taken every opportunity to sit outside, as have we. With the holidays fast approaching and family due to visit, I am reminded of one of the many reasons I love living in Kuwait.

What will your #SundaySnapshot be? What picture reflects the hidden secrets to where you live?

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#SundaySnapshot – Week 4

#SundaySnapshot Week 4 Collage I am now into my fourth #SundaySnapshot. A brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. I asked for volunteers to share their own #SundaySnapshot with me and this week, I am incredibly grateful to not only have my stalwart friend in blogging, Kathryn M Bennett joining me but also three new contributors, my old friend Sue and 2 new friends, Debbie Dilg Thompson and Marianna Cash . It’s exciting times!

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece.

This week Kathryn’s #SundaySnapshot is this great action shot.
Oregon Week 4 Kathryn describes her picture as not real spectacular (I disagree) but quite significant. The helicopter is spraying a nearby hazelnut Corylus avellana (aka filberts) orchard. There are a lot of them around where she lives. In fact it is said that nearly 100% of them grow here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Oregon is known as farming country and supplies a lot of produce, dairy, and other food products to many states. The people of Oregon are quite proud of this. Kathryn, rightly, feels incredibly blessed to live where she could watch the helicopter out of her window. If you want to know more, here is a link.

This week’s second photo comes from a lovely lady by the name of Marianne Cash.  Based in South Wales, she works hard to raise awareness of the beauty of her local area, focusing mainly on the Garw Valley and surrounding area. Sadly, due to chronic pain disability she is limited to how far she can travel but I’m sure you’ll agree he images are stunning. Marianne runs a number of Facebook pages, all of which I highly recommend. Make sure you click on the links to check out more: Welsh Valleys SceneryVintage Valley Wales,  Fashion Valley Wales and I Love Unicorns (because let’s face we all secretly do!). On top of all of this, she runs the charity Community Furniture Aid  (which is linked to her Vintage Valley Wales Facebook page) and she likes to share and support other local groups and artists. Marianne is one very busy lady.

I love the clarity of the colours in this picture. It makes me feel quite homesick. Both of my boys thought it looked amazing. I could practically hear the cogs turning as they thought about the adventures they could have – fish to catch, trees to climb, dens to build. This reminds me why we try to go back to the UK in the summer. The landscape of Kuwait couldn’t look more different and it means the boys really appreciate the difference when they return home.

Welsh Valleys Week 4

My third contributor this week is a new friend, Debbie Dilg Thompson. She runs a fascinating blog about the good, the funny, and the ugly of life as the ultra runner and family. I strongly recommend you take the time to check out her blog and Facebook page. Debbie has a great way with words and a sense of humour I completely get. In her own words, if she has a little time to express her creativity or enjoy someone else’s through home decorating, antiquing, architecture, art, music, dance or writing, that day is made. 

Her #SundaySnapshot is this great picture of her husband and his most recent Christmas present. Bill is an ultramarathon runner and he’s currently in training for a 100 mile race on March 28. I love how clearly proud Bill is of his new present and I love the idea behind it. As someone who, when I run, has such bad coordination I make Phoebe from Friends look like an Olympic athlete, I cannot overemphasise my admiration for anyone who runs. Let alone someone who runs ultramarthons! Take time to read Debbie’s post about how the recent cold weather and snow made their runs more interesting. Clearly not a problem we ever face out here in Kuwait! With Bill’s race date coming up soon we have all our fingers crossed that it is a great success.

Ultimate Runner Week 4

My fourth contributor this week is an old friend from my time in the UK. I worked with Sue for 10 years, teaching Religious Education in Liverpool. Sue has developed a real passion for photography in recent years and has the most amazing, and growing, collection on her Instagram account. I love the quality of Sue’s photos, she has a real gift for lighting and tone. Please take the time to have a look at her account and you’ll see what I mean. All the photos are her own, mostly taken using a Canon 550D, with a tiny number taken with an iphone 4S. I love her photos because they remind me of home.

This week’s photo is of the Albert Dock in Liverpool. This was a favourite place of mine when I was a child. I would look forward to visits with my Dad as an absolute highlight. The lighting in this picture is gorgeous and adds a certain romance to what was a very rainy British day.

Albert Dock Week 4

Do you want to join in?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.

2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 4

#SundaySnapshot Week 4 Spring has most certainly sprung out here in Kuwait. We’ve had quite a lot of rain showers over the past week and this has had a great effect on the flower beds. Most people assume Kuwait is a bleak arid place and I chose these stunning yellow flowers to prove that it isn’t the case. Temperatures are steadily rising and the skies are again returning to their usual clear blue. This is one of the best times in Kuwait, where sitting outside in the sun is an absolute pleasure. We had a lovely afternoon out on the bikes on Saturday, at Mishref, and this was where I spotted these stunning flowers. Whilst I miss the daffodils and crocuses of the UK, I love the surprising beauty of Kuwait in the Spring.

What will your #SundaySnapshot be? What picture reflects the hidden secrets to where you live?

 

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#SundaySnapshot Week 3

#SundaySnapshot Week 3 Collage

I am now into my third #SundaySnapshot. A brief glimpse into my world out here in Kuwait. I asked for volunteers to share their own #SundaySnapshot with me and I am incredibly grateful to my new friends in blogging, Kathryn M Bennett and Roslyn Tanner Evans, for joining me and sharing their photos.

Kathryn is, in her own words, an eccentric and somewhat reclusive artist, working out of Oregon. She has a great gift and I cannot recommend highly enough that you take the time to check out her blog or Facebook page. I have used a number of her posts as inspiration for writing with my class or as examples of how a piece of art work grows from the initial inspiration to the finished piece.

This week Kathryn’s #SundaySnapshot is this adorable little fellow, a bullfrog.

KathrynWeek2 The ‘cement pond’ (unused swimming pool) where Kathryn lives is full of them. The weather lately has made them quite loud at night and they are bothering everyone in the valley. In Kuwait there are only certain points in the year when we hear sounds of life at night and I can imagine the call of the bullfrogs would be impressive to hear. I know Kathryn often enjoys their calls. Unfortunately, bullfrogs are an invasive species, eating the other frog species and upsetting the ecosystem. That said, I do think this one has some charm about him. I cannot help but wonder what he’s thinking.

Roslyn Tanner Evans owns and runs Earth and Moon Design which creates beautiful handcrafted jewellery inspired by nature. I love reading her blog posts about where she gets her inspiration from and the jewellery is so stunning it makes me wish I was a bit more of a girly-girl. I cannot recommend highly enough that you take time to check out her Facebook page and blog. Roslyn works with her daughter and it is her daughter who takes most of the photos for the company so I was really grateful when Roslyn passed on one of her own.

Roslyn Week2
This beautiful shot is of a night sky in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Roslyn was on the 21st floor, when she looked out the window & thought, this might make a good photo for a quote. Roslyn often shares motivational quotes on her Facebook page and as you will see below she was absolutely right about this making a good background. I love the lighting in this picture, it is hard to imagine that this is a night-time shot, and the reflection of the photographer adds an extra element of interest. The finished version is stunning and a perfect companion for the quote.

RoslynWeek2

Do you want to join in?

How does #SundaySnapshot work?

Each Sunday I will share a snapshot I have taken that shows you something about life in Kuwait. Why don’t you do the same? Share your own snapshot from the week or about something you love on my Facebook page or Twitter account. The next week, I shall share your pictures in my #SundaySnapshot post and link them back to your fan page, blog or where ever you choose.

A Couple of Simple Rules:

1. Photos have to be taken by yourself – They can be old or new and should include some simple explanation about why you have chosen it.

2. Please keep everything child friendly. – My youngest, who is 7, currently has a fascination with everything related to mum’s blog and I know he will want to have look.

I’m really hoping you decide to take part. It would be great to have you along for the ride and to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into your life and showcase your work.

#SundaySnapshot Week 3

Whilst looking through my most recent photos to find this week’s #SundaySnapshot I stumbled upon this picture which I took in the first month we were in Kuwait, all the way back in 2010.

#SundaySnapshot Week3 I couldn’t resist sharing this because I remember at the time being entranced not only with the sunset but also with Kuwait skyline. The photo was taken at the Scientific Centre, Salmiya, a lovely building just off the Gulf Road that runs around the edge of the Kuwait coastline. It is a lovely spot where people often gather on weekend evenings to enjoy the good weather and beautiful views. To me, this photo summed up how different the land I had moved to was to the one I had come from. Even in the evenings, September temperatures hover around 30 degrees and looking at the photo now it makes me smile to think how bewildering that felt at the time. The Kuwait skyline has changed over the 5 years we have been here but this first photo still represents a lot of what makes Kuwait special to me.

What will your #SundaySnapshot be? What picture reflects the hidden secrets to where you live?

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A Heart Attack at 37 – The morning after the night before

A Heart Attack at 37 - Part 2 One of the concerns people have about moving abroad is what happens when you are ill so far away from home. Being seriously ill can be a scary business and going through it in a foreign country lends an extra level of stress. In my previous post, I described the symptoms I felt when I had a heart attack in March 2014. When I awoke the next morning I was still unsure what had happened, by the end of that day I was facing a 5 day stay in a Kuwait government hospital. Here is the story of what happened next.

Mornings in Kuwait come early. The call to prayer echoes around the buildings as the sun rises. It is a feature of Kuwait that I love; there is a musical lilt to the summons to greet the day with God and, whilst I am not a Muslim, it always reminds me I am home. Working in Kuwait also ensures an early start. When we first arrived in Kuwait 5 years ago we would be up for school at 5.40 am at the latest – something of a shock for a family who thought 7.00 was a struggle in the UK!

When I woke up the next morning I felt tired and my left bicep throbbed. Beyond that I felt fine. I didn’t feel nauseous or light-headed, my breathing was fine and I had no pain or tightness on my chest. In fact the whole of the previous evening’s event seemed a little silly and somewhat blown out of proportion. What I most certainly didn’t feel was sick. In myself, other than a little tiredness, I felt absolutely normal. More than anything else, when looking back at everything that had happened during those 5 days, this was the thing that scared me the most.

I had already agreed, the night before, that I would go to the doctors in the morning. I knew something clearly wasn’t right. However, as I sat on the edge of the bed, contemplating how surprisingly good I felt, I was already trying to postpone my visit.

“I could go into school, register my class and then go the doctors,” I explained to my husband. “I’m not teaching until after first break. I’ll have plenty of time to go there and back. It can’t have been anything major otherwise I wouldn’t feel so good this morning.”

Thankfully, my husband is far more sensible than I am and immediately knocked that idea on the head. Being not only my husband but also my boss there wasn’t really a lot I could say in argument. In the long run, I am eternally grateful to him for being so direct about it. There are moments when I wonder what could have happened had I actually had things my own way!

So, we launched into our usual morning routine, albeit with me moving a little slower than usual. The boys of course were curious to know why I wasn’t going to work and I fobbed it off as, ‘mum was a bit sick last night. I’m just going to the doctors to check it out.’ Lunch boxes were safely stowed in school bags, ties straightened and my 3 boys left the house with me promising my husband that I would update him as soon I had some news. Within 20 minutes I too was on my way, not knowing at the time I wouldn’t be back for nearly a week.

As you will know from my post, driving in Kuwait is always interesting. Mornings can bring an extra challenge as everyone heads out to school or work. That morning, the rush hour was no different. A snaking line of cars stretched ahead of me. As I geared myself to face it, my left arm began to throb again. I almost immediately tried to ignore it and then rationalise it. It’s only sore because of last night, you are just more aware of it because you are using it to steer the car. I was just  beginning to feel the first tingles of panic set in when I was interrupted by the phone. Upon arriving at work my husband had explained to his boss, our Head teacher, what had happened the night before. She had, in no uncertain terms, told him to immediately head off to meet me at the clinic. She had clearly had a better understanding or acceptance of what had happened even if we had both refused to see it. Even though he was less than half a mile behind me, we both knew it would be at least 30 minutes before he would catch up to me. Oh, the joys of morning rush hour!

Kuwait has an National Health system not dissimilar to the original vision for the British NHS. The service is funded by the government with patients asked to pay a nominal fee of 1KD (approximately £2.20) for each treatment, with the consultation, tests and subsequent medicine included in the price. One of the key differences between Kuwait’s NHS and that of the UK is the issue of waiting times. In most cases in Kuwait if a problem is detected, or even suspected, tests are done straight away, on the day, or at least booked to be done within the next week. Results are returned immediately and discussed with a doctor on the spot. Whilst Arabic is the main language of the country, the doctors and nurses are able to speak clearly in a range of languages. The care that is offered is available to anyone who has residency and a valid Civil ID and many expats take advantage of the easy accessibility of quality health care.

There are those who prefer to use the private healthcare available with the wide range of ultra-modern hospitals across the country. The International Clinic is one such company, situated in the busy area of Salmiya. It provides an invaluable and speedy service offering a range of medical treatments from x-rays to barium meals. In fact pretty much the only thing it does not offer is overnight treatment. We have been there for coughs and colds, to have warts removed and for my husband to have a full array of tests for a long running illness.

It was quiet when I arrived and I was guaranteed a quick appointment. My husband still hadn’t arrived when I was called and I somewhat reluctantly went in without him. Our usual doctor wasn’t available so my appointment was with a doctor I had never met before, Dr Rob. He greeted me with a smile and asked me to sit down and explain what my problem was. Even as I went through the previous evenings events, I kept hoping he would shrug it off, attribute it to a trapped nerve or something similar. I was faced with the usual questions,

“Do you smoke?” “No!” “Do you drink?” “N0”

“How often do you exercise?” “Not often enough,” was my shamefaced reply. Exercise is something I have never been able to develop a love for. I know it is something I should do but I find it hard to motivate myself or maintain a routine. I’m very good at showing enthusiasm but very bad at turning it into actions. Having been very underweight in my late teens, through no fault of my own, I was advised by a doctor not to exercise for a while. I have taken this to be a life time prescription and having yet to find a sport I enjoy. My desire to exercise is generally non-existent or at best highly reluctant.

“Mmmm…” was the reply. I squirmed with shame.

“What you are describing does sound like a heart attack,” he said, to my horror. “However, you certainly don’t look like a someone who has had a heart attack and your life style doesn’t identify you as being at risk of one. Let me check your blood pressure and listen to your heart and then I shall send you for an ECG to check what your heart is doing. We’ll also organise a blood test so we can rule out the possibility of an attack and then think about what might have caused the pain.”

He sounded so calm that I was instantly reassured and happy to forget his original confirmation. My blood pressure was taken and was fine; a little on the low side but nothing to be concerned about – I have always tended towards low blood pressure, even when I was pregnant. He listened to my heart and couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. All in all, on the surface of things, it looked as though the possibility of a heart attack was becoming less unlikely. I went downstairs and had my ECG, which I was told looked clear, and to have my first needle of the day. As I sat waiting for my blood test I began to feel calmer; it really wasn’t as bad as I had quietly feared. Nothing to worry about.

My husband arrived at this point, looking a little harassed after his run in with Kuwait’s rush hour traffic. I explained everything to him as we sat outside Dr Rob’s office. I saw in his face the same concern I had felt replaced by a calm certainty that the situation wasn’t actually as bad as we were beginning to fear. That of course made me feel even more confident. By the time we were called back into Dr Rob’s office, I was already working out which lesson I would be back in school for and what I would need to cover with the children, as well as thinking ahead to the Cub’s Session I would be involved in that evening.

Dr Rob quickly got to the point,

“Your ECG seems to be fine but as this the first one you have had here I have nothing to compare it to so, on it’s own, it doesn’t really give us enough information. Your blood test results are back but I have to confess that I think there has been a mistake and I would like to run them again, if you don’t mind,” he said. “It will take about 30-40 minutes to get the results back. You may wish to wait in the clinic but if you want to go and get a coffee and come back that would be fine.”

We headed back downstairs, feeling slightly bemused but happy to steal the opportunity to get a quiet coffee together before heading back to work. I had my second blood test of the day and we wandered off into Salmiya high street to find the nearest Starbucks or Costa. Many expats remark on the seemingly infinite array of coffee shops available in Kuwait. Multiple outlets of the most famous brands can be found in close proximity to each other, interspersed with a range of other smaller establishments. Drinking coffee is practically a national pastime, enjoyed across genders and age ranges.

We didn’t have far to travel before we discovered a quiet cafe offering an interesting range of drinks, snacks and shisha. The decor was an odd mix of Eastern themes with a scattering of plush velvet cushions. We sat on benches beneath a white pagoda, sipping hot chocolate that was extravagantly laced with whipped cream and marshmallows. Our conversation focused on our plans for the rest of the day, Cubs that evening and our plans for the long summer holiday and the need to book our tickets sooner rather than later. In fact, the only thing we didn’t discuss was the reason we were not in school. It was almost as if we had both had accepted that it had been a false alarm. Something we would take notice of and maybe laugh about in the future,

We sauntered back to the International Clinic, enjoying the early heat of spring; comfortable in our confidence that life was ticking along exactly the way we wanted it to.

Upon our arrival at the International Clinic we were immediately shown into Dr Rob’s office. His face was serious and his tone was grave.

“Your results are back and I’m afraid it appears that you have had a heart attack!”

I swear the world stopped spinning, just for a moment. Everything seemed to move in slow motion and I felt I was stuck in treacle, not quite able to process or understand what was being said.

“The blood test we did was looking for a particular protein called Traponin,” Dr Rob explained. “A normal reading is 0. Anything above that indicates there has been a problem with the heart. Your reading is 0.8. Now, as I said to you before, you show none of the visual signs I would expect of someone who has had a heart attack which is why I asked for the test to be done again. The results, however, are the same and clearly indicate that you have had some form of a heart attack. The next step now is to get you to Mubarak Hospital where they can repeat the tests and decide what the next steps are.”

I heard every word Dr Rob said but found it all unbelievable, as if I was watching it happen to someone else. My stomach roiled as if I was on a boat in a storm.

“I’ll bring the car round,” said Ben. “It’s just downstairs.”

“I’ve already called for an ambulance,” replied Dr Rob. “It’s the safest option. We’ll take you downstairs and hook you up to an ECG to get some readings while we wait. I can have a wheelchair brought in if you’d like.”

That snapped me out of my reverie. What was he talking about? A wheelchair? He had to be kidding. I felt fine; a little tired but fine. There was no way I was going down in a wheelchair like some invalid. Not when I could walk perfectly well, thank you very much!

“I’ll be fine,” I declared. “What is likely to happen at the hospital? How long will they want me stay?” I was trying to figure out if I would make it to Cubs later that evening.

“As I said, they are likely to repeat the blood tests we’ve done. If the results are negative then they are likely to send you home. If not, then you can expect to stay in for around 3-5 days.”

Bugger that, I thought! The whole thing was clearly a false alarm and I was already adamant in my own mind that I would be home by the end of the day. I decided that bluster and denial were my best approaches for the time being. I practically marched downstairs, determined to prove I was absolutely fine. As we entered I was rapidly bundled off by a plump Filipino nurse who saw through my charade immediately. She brooked no bluster as I was hooked up to an ECG, a sensor attached to my thumb to take my pulse and oxygen mask fitted to my face. At this point the reality started to sink in. As my husband took a moment to duck out and call school, I suddenly felt totally helpless and lost. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

Waiting for the ambulance

Before I knew it my transport to the hospital had arrived. Two charming Arab men, whose easy manner helped reduce the natural stress of the situation, guided me into a wheelchair, much to my charaign, and took me to the ambulance. The whole situation felt surreal, it was as though I was detached from reality. The fact that I still felt absolutely fine didn’t help the situation. I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t feel I should be there, I just wanted to go home, climb under the duvet and hide from the world.

My husband throughout the experience was trying to make me relax and smile, even taking one or two photos for ‘prosterity’. I think even he felt as though I would be back home by the end of the day. I was glad to have him in the ambulance, travelling backwards on Kuwait roads is not an experience I want to repeat again.

When we arrived at the hospital I was quickly wheeled inside, given a repeat of the tests I had already had and told I would have to wait until my blood tests returned before I would know any more. As Kuwait is a Muslim country there are strict rules for the separate treatment of men and women in hospitals. I was to be taken through to an all women’s ward into which my husband was not allowed. The thought filled me with dread. I was to be in a ward, on my own, surrounded by people who’s main language was Arabic of which I could only speak a few words, with no idea of what might happen next. I tried to put a brave face on things but my stomach lurched as my husband and I parted at the door.

Unamused on the way to the hospital

Have you ever had treatment abroad? What were your experiences like? 

Look out for my next post about my experiences on the wards of an Arabic hospital, the interesting characters I met along the way and what I learnt about my condition.

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A heart attack at 37

A Heart Attack at 37 A year ago today, at the age of 37, I was settling down for a good night’s sleep before school when without warning my coronary artery spasmed so hard that I had a heart attack. At the time I had no idea what was happening and because of my age I dismissed all suggestions that I could be having a heart attack. I have since learnt that this is becoming increasingly common in women under 40, although there are mixed opinions as to why. To celebrate my one year anniversary I wanted to share my story. I hope that in doing so I can help others to recognise the warning signs and act in an appropriate, potentially life saving, fashion!

How it feels to have a heart attack

A heart is like a ticking clock. Occasionally we are aware of the seconds ticking slowly by, as it filters into our consciousness at odd moments in the day. But mostly, it is just a background noise, something on the edge of our hearing, something we do not notice until it stops. It is the same with our heart. How often do you listen to your heart? Or count the beats as it pushes the blood around your body, as it regulates and supports every organ and muscle within us? We take our hearts for granted. We ignore them and ungratefully take advantage of the heart’s remarkable strength and staying power until the day it stops working the way it should.

The night of my heart attack was perfectly normal. I had seen the boys to bed, enjoyed a lazy bath, had a quiet read, a cup of tea and after a quick trip to the bathroom was settling down for a good night’s sleep. As a climbed into bed my left arm began to ache, it began slowly at first; a dull ache that became more insistent as time passed. Initially I thought I had lain on it at a funny angle and so I rolled onto my right side to get more comfortable. However the pain would not pass, instead it grew stronger and more insistent. My left bicep began to cramp intensely with the pain spreading into my armpit. The last 3 fingers on my left hand started to tingle with a strong sensation of pins and needles, until they went numb.

Convinced I had trapped a nerve and was simply experiencing an unusual cramp I hopped out of bed, much to my husbands surprise, and began pacing the room wind-milling my arm round and round in an effort to relieve the discomfort. But it would not go. Instead it kept building and nothing I could do would shift it. Waves of nausea began to hit me and I started to sweat. I tried to calm myself, convinced I was over-reacting. Yet the pain and nausea would not pass until I was forced into the bathroom to spend the next 90 minutes sat on the floor with my head resting on the toilet seat like some hung-over university student. Not how I had imagined spending the last night of the weekend.

Obviously concerned, my husband kept me company, constantly checking on me, asking me key questions. Was the pain the same or worse or better? What type of pain was it? An ache? A stab? What other sensations did I have? Did my chest hurt? No!  Was I short of breath? No! All the information was dutifully fed into his phone (where would we be without Google?) and we awaited the results.

We both laughed a little at the first response suggesting a heart attack. A heart attack! Rubbish! I’m 37, I don’t really drink (Kuwait is a dry country after all), don’t smoke, have a BMI of 21.3 and have been known to exercise (on occasion). I have never had problems with blood pressure, even when I was pregnant, and the last time I had mu cholesterol checked it came out as normal, a highly respectable 3.7. A heart attack? Me? Ludicrous, absurd, preposterous!

However, the pain would not shift. It stubbornly remained, now accompanied by a need to vomit which only produced an unpleasant dry retching that resulted in nothing. After 30 minutes hugging the toilet I began to quietly question if Google was in fact right. I didn’t want to believe it but I think, somewhere, I knew something wasn’t right. Whatever this was it was more serious than I wanted to admit.

I am notoriously bad at going to the doctor when I am ill. Whilst I will pester my husband to go to the doctor at the slightest sign of something potentially more insidious than a cold, I will give every known reason I can think of not to go myself. I have a deep-set belief that everything will be fine; whatever the illness I shall shake it off and life will go back to normal. That night wasn’t much different.

My husband was the first to raise the possibility of going to the doctor. It was by then 10.30 at night, our boys were fast asleep and we had no-one we felt we could easily call on to come and help us. I remember thinking he was probably right, that we should bundle the boys in the back of the car, throw on our dressing gowns and go and yet … I stalled. “Let’s wait “, “It’s probably a trapped nerve,” “It doesn’t hurt so much now”, “There’s no one to look after the boys” “It’s too late at night,” “I’ll go in the morning”. We debated it back and forth and finally compromised on an early morning appointment at the International Clinic the next day.

Ultimately I didn’t want to inconvenience us. We were both tired, a long week of work stretched ahead … Frankly, I just wanted to get back to bed. So I did! The nausea and sweating finally passed and the feeling returned to my fingers. My left bicep continued to ache with a warm heat but it was manageable. I felt I could ignore it enough to get some sleep. It took me a while to get comfortable as my arm continued to throb dully but I eventually drifted off into a deep, undisturbed sleep.

I shudder to think how differently things could have turned out. Heart attacks in women are often dubbed the ‘silent killer’ and these experiences only served to prove how potentially dangerous my situation could have been had I not been checked out. If you take anything from my story it should be never to second guess yourself, I was very lucky but deep down I knew it was serious and that I should have sought medical help immediately… please, don’t make the same mistake get it checked out!

Have you had any close calls like this? Did you trust your intuition or did you put off checking yourself out? 

Read my next post to find out how my heart attack was diagnosed and what happened next.

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