Part 2: Gazumped!

Part 2: Gazumped!

During our travels around the UK last month, with a stirring in our hearts for a place to call our own, we found a house we thought might be it. We made an offer and it was accepted. For exactly a week and a day, my family and I enjoyed the tantalising prospect of being almost home owners. We instructed solicitors and paid for searches. We talked about who would have which bedroom, we discussed the possibility of renaming it,…

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Part 1: A Place to Rest My Head

Part 1: A Place to Rest My Head

To say we spent 6 months planning our summer visit to the UK (our first trip back after a year away), we managed to make it look as though no one, at any point, had put any thought into it. For weeks, we talked dates and locations. We booked and cancelled Air BnB’s on a daily basis, kept family on their toes with weekly updates of our changing plans and then changed them all again once we landed. It should…

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When Love Broke Through

When Love Broke Through

Before we moved overseas, I worked as a criminal solicitor, defending people who stood accused, often of small things, occasionally big. The question I was most frequently asked by family and friends was: ‘How do you defend someone if you believe they’re guilty?’ Generally-speaking, I wasn’t often troubled by that issue. I believe everyone deserves a defence. Our legal system is flawed but not as flawed as systems where there is little or no access to legal representation. And there…

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Mission 24/24 Fun

Mission 24/24 Fun

My 2 criteria for my 40th birthday celebrations were seemingly simple ones: no abaya and a glass of champagne. Easy to arrange elsewhere in the world but in our current neck of the woods, this was code for: whisk me away for an exotic weekend! With a big UK trip coming up, it had to be a small hop somewhere out of the kingdom. Otherwise I might have angled for Barcelona or Venice… Contrary to common perceptions, Beirut is described…

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A Date with Destiny

A Date with Destiny

I had a sad and moving experience last week in the most mundane of circumstances.  It was during my weekly shop.  As background, maybe I should explain that I hate the weekly shop.  I gave up supermarket shopping years ago when they invented online shopping but when we arrived in the Middle East last summer, online shopping was in its infancy. I had a brief fling with it but we didn’t get on and agreed to part company after my…

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Compounding the Differences

Compounding the Differences

It struck me this week that I am becoming compound-bound. So are our children. It’s easy to do, especially now its Ramadan and the average temperature is spiking into the 40s. Basically. everywhere is either too hot or shut until ifthar brings the relative cool of sunset, the opening of shops and restaurants, and the breaking of the fast. But that’s too late for 3 year olds. One of my last trips off-compound was to the hospital to get our…

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Good Gifts

Good Gifts

What’s the greatest gift you have ever given anyone? I can’t decide between two. The first was a £25 fountain pen I gave my Grandad for his 60th birthday back in 1987. It cost me a whole year’s worth of pocket money- I was 8 when I started saving for it and 9 by the time I picked it out from the Parker counter in Selfridges. Every birthday card I received from Grandad after that said ‘signed with THE pen’!…

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What Katie Didn’t Do

What Katie Didn’t Do

Have you ever parked your car somewhere and then not been able to find it?  This was commonplace for me before moving to a place where I’m not allowed to drive.  In fact, the very last time I lost the car was just before we moved overseas.  I think the experience made my husband grateful that I was temporarily hanging up my driving gloves… I was collecting our children from school when it happened.  It was a rare day when…

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The Eye of the Storm

The Eye of the Storm

Last Thursday night, I waved our son off to rugby practice and started clearing away the remains of teatime.  It was still early and so perfectly light outside.  Not that I was thinking about it being light.  When it’s light, you just expect it to be light.  But then, a second later, it was utter darkness.  The house was cast into a black-orange gloom. I poked my head out of the front door to see what was happening and quickly…

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A Burning Desire

A Burning Desire

‘How can you tell that I cooked dinner tonight?’ my husband asked our children last night, beaming around at us as we sat eating Deliciously Ella’s lentil bolgnese.  (He hadn’t cooked dinner- he’d warmed the dinner I’d made earlier in the day…) He enjoyed answering his own question.  ‘Because there are no plumes of black smoke coming from the kitchen, because we’re not all furiously waving recipe books at the smoke alarm, because we can’t hear the noise of the…

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