That just leaves Samantha who is out there somewhere. We know she's happy and enjoying life back in San Francisco after her Canadian adventures, but - gis a call Fanfa wontcha.
Last week was an interesting one in Doha - the job I thought I had after the UK holiday break suddenly morphed into a different one on my return. All good though as I am able to work with new people and a different group of Qatari Principals (more on the baggy trewsers blog if you're interested). Flexibility is a necessary quality in Qatar.
The upshot has been some busy days as I adjust to the new demands to develop and present leadership material to new people. When I wasn't doing that I was with Jacky and we were probably walking miles to one Doha location or another. We're definitely fitter.
The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed me wearing new glasses, rather than my usual contacts. A month or so ago I went to have an eye test at Al Jabar Optometrist's in a shopping centre about an hour walk away from our apartment. The test revealed changes to my old glasses prescription (right eye has improved, left eye has got worse - go figure). I chose some new frames and all was well...until I saw a photo of myself! I looked like dad!! Now I love the fact that in many ways Ross and I echo dad but this was a bit scary.
So - back to Al Jabar and some new frames (snazzy ones that don't make me look like dad circa 1972), plus some prescription sunglasses and an order for new contacts.
EEK you're thinking - that must have cost a fortune - eye test, two pairs of new glasses and prescription RayBans. Actually all of that has cost as much as one pair of glasses in NZ. Plus we have got better service and more accurate prescriptions (that first pair of glasses was ready the same day that I did the test). We? Yes we.
On her recent return to NZ Jacky was getting bad headaches and went to an optometrists in New Plymouth. $300 later she had new lenses. But on her return to Doha we worked out that the glasses were still giving her problems. Off to Al Jabar and the lovely Filipino lady there tested her and found that the NZ glasses were wrong!! Jacky now has another set of lenses and the headaches from eye strain have vanished. The cost in Doha? A third of what NZ charged.
We've also been socially active in the last week. A NZ friend (Lyal French-Wright) is Principal at an international school in Al Khor - a town about 30 mins drive north of Doha. Jacky and I went to visit Lyal and his wife Pauline with Graeme and Jan McFadyen. At one time Lyal, Graeme and I were all Taranaki Principals but that was long ago and far away!
The community Lyal and Pauline live in is amazing - a gated community of about 9,000 people, owned by RasGas - a gas company worth mega mega bucks. They have built the Al Khor community for their workers. Naturally schools are part of this community as are clubs and services and housing. Security is very tight but it means a safe environment for the community made up of Indonesian, Filipino, ex pat English/Aussies/South Africans/Kiwis and Indians - all working for RasGas. It's not for everyone (bit too much like The Truman Show for my tastes) but it's very impressive!
Jacky and I also had an outing to the zoo with Aussie Dene on the weekend.
The zoo was rather on the sad side actually - the animals tended to be in smallish enclosures and didn't look entirely happy. Plus the locals insist on feeding them popcorn and such even though there is a plethora of 'Don't Feed The Animals' signage about. Seems the feeding the animals idea extends beyond popcorn too - the lucky bear in this picture was munching his way through a mobile phone! I couldn't believe my eyes and ears.
Finally - I've added a photo of Westminster Abbey to the inspirations section. During a recent visit to this inspirational place Jacky and I attended a service with others away from the tourist throngs. I took communion for the first time in many years (I felt the need and it wasn't a hypocritical need is all I can say). It was an amazing experience that reduced me to tears. Nuff said.
Love and peace - W