Tuesday, April 28, 2015

12 Signs Of Summer In The Middle East

Yesterday I read Jazzygal's post about her 12 signs of summer. It's full of the things I remember from my childhood - the raspberries growing at the end of the garden, the clean washing flapping in the breeze... One that she didn't mention was the smell for freshly cut grass as the school playing fields were readied for the summer athletics and rounders.

Living in a hotter climate and in a flat to boot, my current signs that summer has arrived are somewhat different.

1. The weather. That's it for rain until October. If we do get a dirty shower after a sand storm and 100 degree heat, we all run outside to squeal with delight and enjoy the unexpected gift. And the green grass of spring slowly disappears leaving a dusty brown landscape.

Washing can be done in the late afternoon, hung out, and still be dry by bedtime. It only takes a couple of hours even for towels. Clean sheets on the beds becomes more frequent - not just because it's all done and dusted in one afternoon and the sheets get dirtier in the summer (sweaty/dusty bodies and no need for pjs and socks) but also because it's so easy when there's no duvet to put into the covers.

I open the windows and leave them open until October. Unless we go away for a few days, in which case I close them to keep out the dust. We have safety bars on the windows so no one can get in.

I find myself showering twice a day... at least.

We don't go out between 10am and 4pm unless we absolutely have to. It's just too hot and besides, everywhere is filled with tourists from cooler climes who don't know any better.

I forget what it feels like to be cold and yet I yearn for it.

2 The lack of clothes and dress code. I get out my summer sandals and wear them every day to go out. Inside it's a pair of cheap flipflops (at 1GBP a go I have several pairs of these). Two cotton cardigans are kept back from the winter storage for when it gets cooler at night. Otherwise it's short sleeved T's, skirts and skimpy dresses. Even jeans are too hot in the summer. All this means that you have to start looking after your feet and shaving your legs again.

3. The beach. I start to dread going to the beach - all that sand that comes home with you and, even though you clean out everything thoroughly, keeps popping up in places you didn't even know you had places. But every time we go to the beach we have fun and DD loves bobbing up and down in the waves with me, running in and out of the surf (I'm talking knee deep, not Bondi Beach surf), and making sandcastles with intricate moat systems to catch and trap the water as it rolls in.

4. Guests. I start blocking off days in August when we will have summer guests visiting. I plan what we could do together and hope the annual (so it seems) summer unrest (read war) won't materialize this year and cause everyone to cancel.

5. Culture innit. We look forward to the Shakespeare In Motion production in the park. Last year it was A Midsummer Night's Dream. They keep it secret until the last minute. I'm hoping for The Taming Of The Shrew (which was my suggestion on the fb poll).

6. Summer food. No more soups or stews. The leftover vegetables at the end of the week are now made into kugels or quiches. The water jugs are permanently filled and in the fridge. Also soda water and washed grapes. Our favourite supper is Salade Nicoise and orange or apple juice spritzers made with juice and soda water.

7. Weddings. It's wedding season. I've reached the age when my friends children are getting married. Apart from it being pleasant to get married in the summer and party outdoors, most of my friends have family who want to come from abroad. A summer wedding is most convenient for everyone. I have two wedding invitations so far for this summer.

8. Camping. I start thinking up excuses to avoid the inevitable annual camping trip. But how can I do that to DD? She loved it last year.

9. Long days. There are suddenly more hours in the day. It starts earlier (with less effort) and finishes way into the night. Children are out playing until 10pm or later. The clocks might be one hour forward for summertime but our social life jumps about threee hours ahead. The neighbourhood is noisier but happier and safer, as there are more people out on the streets.

10. The pool. Swimming lessons start again for DD. We buy a season ticket to the local pool and set up camp for the duration. It's like a whole community that hybernated for the winter wakes up and lives together again sitting on deckchairs and eating out of lock&lock boxes. We support each other by taking turns to catch the younger children as they come off the water slide.

11. Giving up on routine. I find that we start to get lazy about homework (which still gets done but not until later), meals (more and more it's a picnic supper at the coffee table), bedtimes (whenever), housework (whenever), reading practice (when was the last time DD read to me in English?), everything really. The older school kids have long since given up trying to learn anything new and the teachers don't seem to push it. It's the summer, we'll deal with it all in October.

12. The lightness of being. People are happier and more relaxed. The pace of life slows down even though we do more. And even though I hate the heat outside, I find myself singing as I go about my day.

What are your signs of summer? 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Whatever Happened To April?

This blog needs a kick-start. It always happens in April. We go to England for our yearly visit and I get lost between living out of the suitcase, catching up with old friends, the Pesach (Passover) chaos, and 52 episodes of Escape to the Country recorded by my mum.

And as happy as I am to get back home to our own wardrobes, current friends, and a regular routine; I find myself hitting the ground crawling. It takes me several weeks to get back into the swing of things, including blogging.

Meanwhile the blog stats are falling and my TOTS100 fell by about 40 places - taking it into the vague "top 500" rather than the badge announcing my actual and personal rank. However, this was just the challenge I need to get my mojo moving.

For a gentle start, here are some of the things we got up to in England over Pesach:

We made friends at the Natural History Museum.

We liked it so much we bought the book.

We escaped to the country ourselves but just for a horse ride. I didn't buy a cottage with outhouses to convert into holiday lets (this time).

We went to the farm and fed the cows

And the sheep who looked positively Biblical in their barn complete with a manger and little lambs.

We made daisy chains in the park. 

We also love the exercise equipment, far better than the swings and slides.

The adventure playground is fab though.

We had fun with our cousins. This is the big one.

We played with the old train set. 

We enjoyed staying at Grandma and Grandpa's.

Best of all, on our return I found that you can watch hundreds of episodes of Escape to the Country on You Tube. :~)