Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mini Summer Staycation In Israel - R2BC

The view from the top.  Mediterranean scrub.  It is what it is.
On Thursday we set off for our annual mini-holiday with our friends. This year we were only 4 mothers and 4 children aged between 5 1/2 and 8 1/2. Also, we left it too late to find two consecutive nights in a kibbutz guest house so we only had one night away.

We set off early on Wednesday morning for the obligatory hike and picnic. I described the Israeli obsession with hiking here and gave my views about it. I don't need to go into it again. Suffice to say I've not changed my mind but we don't have a car so we have to go with the flow to some extent.

We went to Guvrin National Park which is a full of ancient ruins, houses, cisterns, and caves in the Judean Hills. We trekked a bit and every so often there was a ruin where everyone climbed down into the underground cistern to look. I don't do climbing so I stayed above ground and sat under a carob tree to wait.

This solitary house was once part of a whole village in the hillside.
That's a carob tree on the right. 
Lunch was trying to balance plastic boxes and human bottoms on a series of rocks because the picnic tables at the first stop were all in the sun. I ate a bit but it wasn't lunch as I enjoy it. More of a quick snack and not worth all the cool boxes and flasks that came out and were packed back in the cars after 15 minutes. DD didn't eat at all.

My friend showed me that you can pick a carob pod, break it in half and chew the inside (you discard the beans). It's delicious. I always thought you had to cook them somehow first.

Some of the solitary houses we saw were once part of a whole village built into the hillside. Originally each house had an underground cistern to catch the rain water and the cisterns were connected by tunnels. This meant that the water was shared and also that the people could walk between the houses without going outside.

DD in a carob tree.
After two ruins with underground cisterns, DD and I opted out and sat at a shady picnic table to eat our real lunch and read a chapter of Harry Potter. This is why I like to take our own food. We had it with us, we sat at a table, it felt like lunch.

From there we drove to our kibbutz guesthouse and spent the afternoon at their beautiful pool which we had almost to ourselves (probably because all the other Israelis were out hiking in the mountains). And in the evening we drove to a nearby town for shnitzel or felafel and chips. The children played and eventually went to bed. We sat outside and drank coffee until late. I love this part of our trips the best.

The Soreq caves are magical.
Day two started with our Israeli breakfast (though not nearly as good as last year's). Then we set off for the the Soreq caves on the way back to Jerusalem. The Soreq caves are full of natural stalactites (with c for ceiling) and stalagmites (with g for ground). It's beautiful like a fairy cave. You go round in groups of about 20 with a guide on a purpose built path through the structures that are lit up to show the different shapes and formations.

I went to this cave about 25 years ago and DD went last year on a school trip. It's a strange concept that you know every Israeli adult on the tour had visited this place before. Imagine if you went to Cheddar Gorge, for example. You wouldn't assume that every British adult you saw there had been there before. Israel is a small country and it's part of the education and national psyche to visit and learn about every inch of it.

These formations are between 1 million and 10 million years old.
One drop of water can take two months to drip.
One mm of rock can take about 100 years to form. 
It used to drive me mad on my gap year that one week we'd go and climb a mountain in the Mediterranean scrub and two weeks later we'd go and climb another similar mountain. What was the point? To the Israelis it was obvious - that was Mt. Tabor, today we are climbing Mt Nebo. Next week we will climb Mt. Gilboah. Different history, different parts of the Bible innit?

And then home for a rest before a birthday party in the park down the road. There was food and beer for the adults. Home at 7.45, straight into bed for a chapter of Harry Potter, and asleep by 8.30 - both of us.

Pool dude
I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Lakes Single Mum.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The New Outside Room - Reasons 2B Cheerful

We have added a new room to our apartment. Well no we haven't actually added a new room but it feels like we have a gained a new room.

I bought the new balcony furniture. You can see below what it looked like before. I had some plastic chairs which aren't comfortable, and a small coffee table which does what it says on the box - holds your coffee - but not much else. The truth is that we didn't really use the balcony except for hanging washing. And that was a shame.

We went to ACE where they had run out of the 'bistro' sets that I thought I wanted. So we we went to Home Center where the 'bistro' chairs were 250 nis a chair (about 50 GBP) if you buy four but more if you only want two or three. In the end I decided to buy the nicer Keter (the plastics people) chairs which are still much cheaper than aluminium framed chairs. And if you're already buying Keter, it's better to go to the Keter shop for the best value.

At keter I chose a cheap but sturdy table and four of the nicer, more comfortable chairs (one is at my desk). The table is bigger than the 'bistro' tables so we can really have a meal out there and/or play Rummikub, paint pictures, etc....

On the way home we stopped at Hastock (a bazaar outlet) and picked up four cushions for the chairs and the plastic table cloth. We arrived home 10 minutes before the chairs and table were delivered.

Tonight's dinner is salade sur le balcon. To drink we will have le Chateau Robinet as usual.

The next project is growing something pretty to look at. I said in my last post that I'm tempted to go to the nursery and buy some colourful plants but instead I'm going to try and grow from cuttings and seeds. This may take some time.

Linking up with R2BC which is back at Lakes Single Mum this month.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thanks For The Ads Facebook

The prettiest bit of my balcony is my neighbour's flowers
Yet again, I met someone yesterday who told me, with a look of utter disdain, how she would never go on facebook because it's a frivolous waste of time.

I couldn't be bothered to go into detail about the invaluable information I get via the relevant facebook groups about parenting, single parenting, the health care system, government regulations and subsidies, tax information, food recalls, places to go/things to see, where to buy, the education system, recommendations for good services, where to donate, buying and selling second hand, new services in the area, jobs available, etc....

Not to mention support groups for people who really need support in very difficult situations, and keeping up connections with friends and family flung far and wide around the world. And down the road but why pay for a babysitter when we can chat online?

So I just told her that her comment is like saying you won't go into the library because there are a group of people who often sit on the steps and giggle about inane rubbish. Even though you know that some of those gigglers are actually Ph.D. candidates who must be doing their research somewhere in the library.

Anyway, moving on.... Today I discovered a way to make a pet hate work for you. Facebook ads are hated by most people. Who needs them cluttering up your timeline? Most comments about the ads are asking how you can get rid of them. The answer is that you can de-clutter your likes and interests in your profile so that fewer related topics are available to show up as ads.

I have been looking for balcony furniture for a few months. My balcony had become a dumping ground over the past season and the plants neglected to death. (I thought I had some before photos but I can't find them.) Once I cleared it up, I wanted to make a little outside oasis. A tiny, elevated garden in which to enjoy my morning coffee or an evening drink. The plastic chairs and the low coffee table just don't do the job.

We need comfortable table and chairs
(A note about the lack of plants. I was going to make a trip to a local nursery and buy colourful plants but then I decided to take cuttings and grow my own. I've also been watching You Tube videos about growing plants from fruit pips and sprouting vegetables. Watch this space.....)

There are a couple of shops in Jerusalem I could go to for furniture. I know because I asked friends on facebook. I'd need to ask a friend with a car to come with or pay for a delivery. Neither of these options is a problem but I've not got round to going there yet. I've looked at their websites and I've not seen exactly what I'm looking for.

I saw this on my downstairs neighbour's balcony. This is what I want
So I searched the web for garden furniture in Israel. I really wanted three bistro chairs like you get outside cafes but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted at the right price. So I gave up searching. And this where Facebook took over.

Facebook has been finding outdoor furniture shops for me and showing their ads on my timeline. The more I click on the ads the more they send. Today I found exactly the chairs I wanted. I was ready to order them to be delivered but they were temporarily out of stock. I'm happy that they are out of stock because they didn't have a suitable table to go with the chairs so I'm hanging on for another advert with the full set in one delivery.

And when I've bought my new balcony set, I'll delete all interest in outdoor furniture from my facebook settings and internet searches.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Pocket Money

1. Doing Nothing
Have you noticed that this blog has become a once a week wonder over the past few weeks? Yeah me too. We had the final week of school followed by my final week of college and finally, last week we had..... nothing. It's a funny thing about having nothing to do. Like some sort of self fulfilling prophecy, if you've nothing that you have to do you often do nothing. You'd think the week would have been spent catching up with all sorts of things on the back burner. But no, nothing.

This was great for a week but's got to stop. Now. I saw a meme on facebook aimed at teachers... HELP! I'M RUNNING OUT OF SUMMER HOLIDAY! I know how that cartoon teacher feels. We have a little under four weeks left. Where did it all go? I must use the remaining time productively. I must use the remaining time productively. I must.....

2. There's always one
On the way to the pool this week we noticed that the road in front of the local community centre and library had been re-tarmacked. And further along the road we noticed this. :~)

When they did our road there were also a couple of cars that had not been moved. The police came and they did a supervised 'break-in' and rolled the cars to the other side of the street. I remember thinking how easy it was for them to open a locked car door. On the other hand, it's not possible to hot-wire a car like it was in the old days.

3. Pocket Money: Lost and Found
DD has entered that obsessed by money phase that young children all seem to go through. One day last month she came and sat down to start a serious conversation with me. "Mummy I need to get more money. How can I get more money? And I don't mean wait until I grow up and go to work." I told her she could earn money by watering the plants on the balcony but as I've not got round to planting any yet, that was not an acceptable solution. So we agreed on pocket money once a week.

I used to give her any stray 10 agarot pieces (about 2p each) we found or that I had in my purse. She collected 80 of them. "Mummy, I've got 80!" she exclaimed. The look on her face when I told her that she could buy one fancy ice-lolly or two cheap ones with that amount, was priceless. And a little sad. So I agreed that she should get 10nis (10 shekels = 2 pounds atm) a week pocket money. It seems a lot more in pounds than it does in shekels but things cost more here and I'm hoping it will be saved up to buy something worthwhile.

The first week I gave DD her 10nis and she put it in her purse. The second week I gave her 10nis and she couldn't find the purse. We looked everywhere. It only contained 18nis (3.50) but she was distraught. I knew this would happen. I sighed a lot.

Yesterday afternoon DD suddenly exclaimed from her bedroom, "Mummy, I've found my money! It was in my bead box! I put it there to keep it safe!" I happily gave her her pocket money for this week. So now she has 38nis.

I started a conversation about what she could buy with it. However, I can see that she doesn't want to spend it. ("You can buy me that with your money, Mummy.") She likes having it too much. Don't we all. And me, I'm enjoying watching the process of character building as DD negotiates her way out of babyhood and into the real world.

 I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Becky's on Lakes Single Mum.