Thursday, 11 May 2017

Company Car change.........crash bang wallop!

Last week, I had one of those "everything happening in slow motion, but can't do anything about it" moments.

Sat in traffic, about 6 feet behind the car in front, (tyres and tarmac rule!), stationary, foot on the brake. Next thing I here is engine revving and bouncing off the rev limiter. I can't remember if I said it out loud or just in my head "What's he doing?", next thing I remember is his reversing lights come on and he is coming straight back at me......Crash! Then he is back in forward gear and heading straight into the car in front of him, which hit  the car in front and the car in front. In total 5 cars damaged.

I immediately took a couple of photos and then moved the car to the side of the road. You can get a traffic violation if you are blocking the road after an accident, and don't want one of those.

Got out and first them was to check the guy who hit me was okay. He didn't speak English, but appeared okay, so that was fine. Spoke to the other car drivers and one of them was already on the phone to the Police. Nadia was with me, so she immediately started calling the company contacts. Took photos of all the cars involved etc. Then the other drivers moved their cars off the road, traffic was properly grid lock now!

The Police turned up and started speaking to everyone, took our licenses. and then told us we could go, no need to visit the police station and would receive the incident reference number via SMS for the insurance company. I did try to find out what had happened etc. but the Police officer simply said, all is good and I can go.

The company Mitsubishi rep said he was coming over to see the car. I didn't want to try and open the bonnet as not sure if it would have opened or if we would have got it closed again. The damaged had caved in the nose of the bonnet, and there was water leaking out the bottom of the car. There was no rise in engine temperature while we were sat, so didn't look like the radiator or fan was damaged.

He arrived and said to drive round to the Mitsubishi showroom which was about 5 km away. I was dreading the car breaking down on the busy main road, but we got there without any problem.

The rep, took my QID and Driving license to get copies, he had already been forwarded the police reference number. Then appeared a few minutes later and said wait while he goes and gets another car for me. He arrives back with another Pajero, which was recently returned from the company when another employee left. It had only about 3500 km on the clock, so relatively new. And off we went!

I won't post the pictures, because there is potential to identify parties involved, which can lead to getting into trouble with the police around privacy issues.

One thing I will say, is the Police guy was excellent, and everyone involved was really calm.

Service from Mitsubishi was great and great help from the company rep!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Moving out becomes a reality when........

With Cyprus on the horizon, you know it is fast approaching when all the indicators tell you it is nearly time!

Last week the HR department sent me the demobilisation flight confirmation for N,M+S. They are heading back to the UK for summer, and stopping off to visit family on the way.

Also, last week, the shipping agents also got in touch to ask about relocation needs. Completed and returned the requirements form, so will probably hear back from them next week. I had already a survey done recently, before work confirmed they were organising the shipping.

Today, the letting agent for the villa came round for the pre-inspection. That was relatively painless. Fortunately we hadn't made any modifications. They did enquire about a few things, but fortunately they were all there before we moved in, namely;
1) Stair gate on the stairs to the roof.
2) Partition in the master bedroom.
3) Cat flap in the kitchen door.

Also made comment about a couple of small cracks in one of the rear bathroom sinks, (the bathroom has 3 sinks), but this is old cracking in the surface glaze.

He also asked about our gazebo, but told him I was talking it with us. Not sure if he thought it was original or what.

Anywhere, 2 months will be over and done before we no it.

Not long now!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

2 years on......still smiling....changes ahead!

Twelve months....sounds a long time doesn't it. So why does it only feel like last week that I posted about being 1 year on!

What a twelve months it has been and yes another roller coaster of a year.

At the start of the year it was all about stabilizing the operation after an organisation review, towards the summer months the thought were heavily around the tender announcement. Will we/won't we win, and of course the millions of questions and speculation, rumours, you name it doing the rounds.

Qatar Petroleum held a town hall in April for all Maersk Staff, with an aim of settling and re-assuring the organisation of continued employment through the transition.
Al Shaheen project: QP hints at ‘service continuity’

Then it came at the end of June, the big reveal; We lost! Needless to say the articles started appearing all over the internet like the two examples below.
Total ousts Maersk at Al-Shaheen
Qatar: Al-Shaheen field stake goes to Total. Maersk Oil to leave

As you would imagine this put a massive ripple through the organisation with emotions all over the place. As expected, the question on everyone's lips immediately turned to "what does this mean for me?" With such a large diverse workforce, ranging from the die hard born and bred Danish Maersk staff, to the been through this before guys, you couldn't get a more wide range of emotion.

I was/am in the latter camp. Having been through the transition from BP to Apache in 2003, as the one being taken over, and also in the Exxon to Apache in 2012 as the ones doing the take over, I wasn't particularly concerned, but had a good understanding how everyone was feeling.

We were all waiting for the offers from the new company NOC, but these were delayed for various reasons and didn't come until early in the new year. The offers varied significantly, with the rumours on the scale of the cuts even hitting the local papers. I was on a training course and there were a couple of Shell staff there, and they were asking if the numbers they had heard were true. Maybe they are thinking their next!

Anyway, so what did it mean for me? Well unfortunately, residential status has been withdrawn, so it is time to move the family. I will continue to work here, but just rotate in and out of the country,

And that is where we are now, planning a move, so watch this space! Oh, and in case you are wondering where to, current choice looks like Cyprus, but we will just see how it pans out. You never know might end up going the other way.

I am still that is the main thing.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Bird Defences - Stage 2

In Bird Defences - Stage 1 the focus was on the small narrow window frame ledges. Stage 2 is all about the large over hangs above the windows and the roof areas.

For this stage, I went to the next size of Defender spikes and purchased the Defender 8 (Wide), again purchased from Jones and Son from their Ebay page

Details on the actual product can be found at this link:

I had measured up that I needed a minimum of about 60m, but with the top ledge being marginal whether 1 or 2 wide would be sufficient, and also might put more on the roof than originally planned, I elected to order up a 100m box. This was being shipped via Aramex Shop&Ship, so did not buy any of their own fixing silicone to keep the shipping weight down, but elected to buy silicone here in Qatar. The 100m box was 15.88Kg and cost 1128 QR to ship.

You might think this is expensive, but if we look at the cost we were quoted locally of 120QR / meter

So, local supply and fitted 100m x 120QR = 12,000QR
Spikes: 300 UKP = 1329 QR + Shipping 1128 QR = 2457 + 500QR allowance for Silicone = 3000 QR

Ok, so I have to fit them myself, but I would rather do that and save 9000QR (~2000UKP)

The spikes are a UV stabilised polycarbonate, temperature rated to 130'c, and carry a 15 year warranty, so if they last half that time in the Qatar Heat/Sun, I will be happy.

The silicone I bought, again was a UV stabilised product, and bought both white and clear, from the the local Carrefour and Lulu supermarkets. For application on the roof tiles I wanted to use clear so it didn't look like blobs of white against the terracotta tiles.

So here is the typical problem, as you can see the pigeons are sat on the ledge round the stairwell tower, below this area is the path at the side of the villa, and it gets absolutely covered. At night, this corner of the roof space is also a favourite roosting spot for the birds.

First thing was to get out the power washers and give the everything a clean down the best I could. I also used a scrubbing brush on areas not jet washed, to make sure the surface was relatively clean of 'bits'.
Fortunately the roof tiles were also a shallow angle, so not really a case of sliding off, but to make sure, the roof was dust free and no water around and did it in my bare feet so had could feeling of any movement, also made sure my center of gravity was also going backwards away from the edge and generally kept away from the edge.

For the roof tiles, given the shape of the tile, there was only the two elevated contact points, so with a big dollop of silicone, I pressed in the spike strip, I also overlapped and 'interlocked' the spikes (and silicone between) to give them a bit of extra strength on the roof. Having left them to cure over night, it was clear that they had a really good adhesion to the tiles.

It was the same for the concrete surfaces/painted surfaces, having washed where possible and scrubbed with the brush, putting a think bead of silicone and then bedding in the spikes they took really well to the surface. The spikes also have small cross cut outs and the silicone oozes through this and makes a nice silicone rivet also holding them down.

Along the ridge of the balcony, I put a double row as a single row would have left space either both or one side (depending on position), which would have still left room for the birds to land.

On the stairwell tower, we still need to get access to the roof space for the satellite dish, so on one area where the ladder is normally placed, I several strips of spikes interlocked together to form a removable lift off section, rather than having to try and climb over the spikes. This section then interlocked with the fixed spikes.

The two main window ledges also required a double width run.
Ledge above master bedroom balcony window/door

Ledge above living room front window
As for the silicone usage, so far I have used about 5 standard tubes, so well under the cost I allowed. A tube will last approximately 10 to 15 meters, with rough uneven surfaces needing a thicker bead.

As for the birds, they are definitely unhappy at not being able to land! Watching them come in for a landing and realize there are spikes, flap and hover for a bit and then disappear. Also even after just a short time, I have noticed how the paths to the side of the house are now staying clean!

The spikes being clear, you do not really see them against the building or against the skyline, especially from ground level, so not an eyesore.

So, a definite success. Let's just hope they last the elements here.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Bird Defences - Stage 1 - Re-visited!

Back at the end of November 2016, I wrote about the Bird Defences Stage 1, unfortunately, I hit a snag.

I noticed yesterday that one of the spike strips was missing, on closer inspection, a couple of others were also loose at one end.

Turns out the double sided foam tape is not a good idea! Although it adheres perfectly to the metal frames of the window, the side exposed to the bird strips (and the sun) simply lost all adhesion and detached from the spike strip.

Today, I went round them all, removed them, scraped the foam strip off the window frame with a knife and then re-attached them all with clear silicone.

I had started the Stage 2 defences (more to come soon) and had been using silicone for this and it appears to be a much better bond. Running a bead of silicone down the length of the spike strip and then pressing firmly along the length to get a good spread.

Hopefully that is the problem solved...