Thursday, 31 March 2016

School Information Website

One of the biggest headaches when moving to Qatar was the whole subject of schooling. I'm sure many parents who have moved to the country will agree to that.

The Qatar government have tried to make the information more centrally available on one of their own websites.

The page shows a map with all the schools listed, and a flag representing which curriculum the school operates. 

Clicking on one of the flags will provide you with a popup with the name of the school and a link to more detailed information page about the school, including contact information, size, school years covered and school fees.

Being able to locate on a map all the schools may also help the selection process for which schools to apply for positions, or in which areas to search for accommodation relative to your place of work and the school.  

To access these pages you can visit:

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Orangery Cafe Trottoir - outdoor lunch

Fancied a bite to eat out for lunch with the wife, so took a walk along the road from the villa into Orangery Café Trottoir at La Cigale. it was around 12:00 and wasn't too busy.

Sat outside, and despite the breeze and being on the busy C'Ring road, it was just fine. Service was good from the staff with no complaints. I had a very enjoyable chicken burger and fries. The wife couldn't have the drink she wanted from the menu due to lack of one of the ingredients, but no big deal.

Reasonably priced.

Review posted at:

Thursday, 17 March 2016

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Buffalo Wings - Quick bite for lunch

Popped in for some lunch with wife and eldest daughter. Staff were very welcoming, choice of tables. It was pretty quiet as lunchtime was just starting, there were only a few other tables occupied.

After placing the order, the food arrived very quickly which i was a bit suspicious about, not sure if they had pre-prepared their usual choices and then just keep them on heat. I had the chicken tenders and these were tasty enough and succulent, and not too dry which is easy to do.

The only thing i didn't like was the coleslaw pot, which leaked the juices onto the plate and made the lower fries and chicken pieces soggy. (I don't like coleslaw, which probably doesn't help!)

The daughter had plenty left over from a child's portion, she doesn't eat a lot anytime, and they gladly gave us this in a box to go, the dog's in for a treat for its tea.....

Priced reasonably, and no real grumbles, but nothing jumped out and said it was one to rush back to.

Review posted at:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Day 3 of Thunderstorms and Rain......

Woke up this morning to the sound of yet more flashes of lightning and thunder.

I thought I would see if I could catch anything, so started randomly pointing my iPhone at the skyline from the balcony door.

There were not that many air to ground strikes, but lots of flashes in the clouds and the occasional cloud to cloud strokes.

I did manage to grab one, but it was very brief and as it turns out the iPhone camera isn't very good at capturing this.....only once I had opened the file in a video player and stepped through frame by frame did I see what I had managed to grab. Doesn't help when usually looking in the wrong direction.

In the video below there is a very brief 3-4 strikes in about 1 second followed a few seconds later by the accompanying thunder.

Must try harder!

Monday, 7 March 2016

Caught in the rain!

Took the dog out for a walk round the compound this morning. When I first stepped out into the garden it was clear that something was brewing with the weather. The clouds looked odd and there was a constant steady rumble coming from the sky. it was so continuous that it was as if a plane was passing overhead. With the occasional flash of lightning just feeding more thunder into the echoey noise.

About half way round the compound the lightning was becoming more frequent and the thunder was still ongoing but getting louder. turning the last corner on the home straight the rain started and was pretty large drops and then it picked up. There was an empty garage nearby, so the dog and I headed for some cover.

It progressively got heavier and heavier, until the road was just a sheet of water after almost 10 minutes it eased off and we made a dash for it back to the villa.

As we headed back, there was one of the compound maintenance staff heading somewhere with a plunger..guessing someone's drain is blocked!

As we don't see rain very often, it is almost satisfying to get some!

Suppose it helps when it is warm rain....

Sunday, 6 March 2016

New Gate.....

One of the problems having the private walled garden is that does exactly that. However, sometimes you want to be able to see outside or to let people know they are welcome. Or even when the kids are out playing not having to keep opening it for them.

It was fine when there was no dog, but now we are fostering Bella, can't leave the gate open and it must be locked all the time.

We noticed round the compound that numerous others have had a second wooden gate fitted. These are made by the compound workmen and you basically pay cost for the material and then a small add-on for labour.

All in all about approx £50 to have the materials purchase, gate made and fitted.

I had a spare drop latch which I had taken out from the UK and fitted that myself to the gate as it is easier for the kids to use than the snib on the inside, which probably means better chance of it being closed properly!

The carpenter seen me messing with the gate about 20 minutes after he had fitted it and thought there was something wrong and came over with a worried look on his face. Once I had explained what I was doing his smile returned and then complimented me on my battery drill!

Just have to wait for the painter now......

Friday, 4 March 2016

Mist pump fixed and what's that bug?

Arrived home from offshore and spotted the garden fan sitting outside which reminded me that Nadia had said she had taken out of the store and that the water mist was not working.

I pulled it out the tank blew water through the inlet and outlet and checked there were no obstructions.

The pump unit is unbranded with the model number GG-888 and thought that I should be able to find something on the net should I need to search for any info or a replacement etc.
GG-888 Submersible Pump

I pulled the end housing off and then opened the end plate to expose the impeller and turned it on briefly out of the water and then dunked it back under the water surface and as soon as water entered the unit the impeller slowed and appeared to be juddery as if there wasn't enough forced to keep it turning in water.

Pulling out the shaft pulled the impeller with it and inside it looked like there was a magnet as the main core. I managed to get the magnet out and on close examination noticed that on the impeller mount had a slight raised key which matched an indentation on the magnet end face. It appears that while in storage the glue had dried out and it had simply parted so when put in the water the impeller was slowing down, and the magnet kept turning.

Using a small dab of Gorilla Glue I put the two pieces back together and left it overnight with a weight on it to maintain a good bond while it cured.

The next morning I used a 3mm drill bit to clear out the shaft hole as the glue had squeezed into it. The impeller/magnet were now spinning freely on the shift. Lubricating the shaft and the end mounts with some petroleum jelly, put the whole lot back in the housing and tested it out. Perfect working pump again!

What's that Bug!
While I was doing the initial assessment of the pump, I heard this almighty scream from Maya, thinking she had hurt herself on something I turned to hear the frantic noises being emitted as she danced and pointed at some bug.

It was an odd looking thing with a big fat body, about 4 to 5cm long and a half-dozen legs at the head end. Flicking it onto the patio to get a better look at it it proceed to have a poop, then wandered across the ground.

 No idea what it was.......but certainly entertaining watching Maya's reaction!

Update: after using the pictures as inputs for Google Image search, it turns out that the bug is a Scarab Beetle larvae.....Yah! for Google!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

1 Year on......Still Smiling! :-)

One year ago I started my new job down here in Qatar. I actually arrived late on the 27th February, but today was the contract start date and 1st day turned up in the office to commence the onboarding.

I cannot believe how quick a year it has been. Not only has it been a quick year, but the current state of the oil industry has really forced through a lot of changes quickly.

With cut backs, redundancies, organisation changes, contract amendments in all companies and the never ending news of devastation in the industry media, I really did wonder what the future might bring. Friends and colleagues leaving the company and having to leave Qatar also brings the reality close to home.

From first arriving and moving into the temporary apartment until my shipment arrived, then moving into the new villa, the family arriving in August and the kids starting school, family visits in October and Christmas. The trawling round the shops looking for suitable furniture and just 'stuff' in general.

That first experience of what a 'Hot Day' really means here in Qatar and the first experience of walking home from the nearby hotel bar in a full on sandstorm and how can I forget the mad traffic.

It can all be seen as just part of the experience!

So, I'm pleased to say I'm still smiling!