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 Well unfortunately, residential status has been withdrawn, so it is time to move the family.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 smiling...so 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 http://stores.ebay.co.uk/defenderbirdspikes/.

Details on the actual product can be found at this link: http://www.birdspikesonline.co.uk/Bird-Spikes/Defender8-Pigeon-Spikes-Plastic

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
vs
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...

Monday, 9 January 2017

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Carluccio's (@Pearl) - Relaxing lunch in the sun...

Dropped out to the Pearl for a spot of lunch and after having a wander round ended up coming back to here as we had been before.

The weather was perfect for sitting outside and wasn't too busy even for 12.30, with only a handful of tables occupied.

I wasn't looking for anything heavy going and just fancied a pizza and opted for the Misto Carni, which contained beef meatballs, veal sausage, spicy beef salami and was on a thin and crispy base. It was very good indeed. Washed down with a few bottles of refreshing San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa.

Nice and relaxed in the sunshine, looking out onto the marina.....just a shame the next stop was to go and pick the kids up from school!

Review posted at: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294009-d8617728-r451597197-Carluccio_s-Doha.html#

Saturday, 7 January 2017

And so that is the end of another year!

Arriving home from offshore on the 22nd December can only mean one thing......it is nearly Christmas once again!

The kids were already on holiday from school. After getting back to the villa and a quick change, it was out for some last minute shopping. The kids wanted to head out to Mall of Qatar, and I had never been before so no excuse not to. Although had a feeling being a Thursday and afternoon thought it would be mobbed!

We got there with out any problem, parked up the car - in the monstrous underground car park - and headed up to the shops. This place is going to get some getting use to, yes it is big, no, not fully open yet, but not knowing where the shops are, it felt like we kept going round in circles and missing most of it. The kids and I had wandered off leaving the wife to have some peace. Got a couple of shops the kids wanted in, and a few other bits and bobs, then headed down to the food area.

The wife wasn't answering her phone, so we just waited for a bit, a show had just started on the stage area, so they were occupied. Once N had arrived, it was time for food. We went into Carluccio's, as there were plenty of seats, The Cheesecake Factory was on a minimum wait time of approximately 20-30 minutes, so that wasn't happening! Anyway, good meal, so no complaints. Kids also got to watch another show while eating, so kept them amused.

That evening was the start of the festive 'beverages', the neighbours came in and rolled out a some point in time later on. So this leave is off to a good start!

Next day, 23rd, we had another party at one of the school parents villa, armed with festive jumper and Snoopy Christmas hat and a bag that went 'clink clink' when you walked, this turned into another excellent evening, the kids occupied themselves in the pool and playing the console and eating far too much, while the parents sat outside eating too much and feeling very merry!

The 24th soon rolled round, I had left the car over at the villa from yesterday, and given the fact it was a lovely morning (no shock!) I headed off for a walk to pick it up. Took an hour to walk, so felt very refreshed by the time I go there. The afternoon was a catch up on the last few things and then kids off to bed. Time to wrap the last few presents before tomorrows chaos unfolds...

Now the 25th, it wasn't long after we had headed to bed, we were pretty sure that the youngest was now up, either that or Santa had arrived. We pretended we didn't hear it, so we could get some sleep, it felt like the eyes had only just closed and it was morning. Woken by hyper children! Time to get up then....

The usual Christmas morning of presents and hyper children filled the day. I think they were both delighted with their Google Pixel phones and Daydream VR headsets, not sure how long the youngest will take to break her's but time will tell.........I should have bought a cheaper one (it was her first phone), but if she didn't get the same as her sister, then there would have only been arguments.

We had the neighbours coming round for Christmas Day, so I headed over to the Radisson to collect the Turkey & Trimmings. 11.30am was our time slot and we were #20 on the list.......fortunately it is just across the road. As soon as I got back, that was it, beer and bubbles time! A great day had. The food was very good once again.

The next day our neighbours were sadly packing up to leave the country, so we were looking after the dogs for a few days. kept the kids occupied. We also managed to acquire a number of plants both indoor and out, so.

The area has also seen quite a few days of fog in the mornings, there has been some amazing pictures of the skyscrapers of West Bay and the Pearl popping through, but the building architecture also gave way to some amazing ray reflection pictures, like the two pictures below by Saudita Ema (pictures used with permission);




New Year fast approached, and we had considered a couple of places to go for a meal with the kids, but they were doing fixed menu's that really didn't appeal (particularly for the kids) so we ended up heading to The Anvil Rooms which is located on the 28th floor of Tornado Tower. They were serving the normal A la Carte menu (with the all important steak!) add the restaurant is licensed, so perfect!

Heading down into the city centre in the evening we arrived at the restaurant for 7pm and was surprised how quiet the town and place was. The buildings were all lit up and we had a great view out of over the Corniche.

We arrived home after a great meal, I think Maya was the only one who managed to stay awake for midnight, I feel asleep watching the telly, and Nadia fell asleep in Sasha's bed.....Rock n' Roll!

Tornado Tower - restaurant around the middle somewhere  








So here we are, 2017;

HAPPY NEW YEAR..........

let's see what this one brings!