PictureSimon and Ben appearing in Qatar Sport magazine
It has now been over six months since I vowed that I was going to get myself into shape again and drop a few dress sizes. I am sure that there are a few people out there who can empathise when I say that so far my journey seems to have stalled at the start! I've lost a few pounds, gained a few pounds, lost them again....and gained them again! The reality is nothing much has really changed.
It's not that I lacked enthusiasm in the beginning - I ran/jogged regularly, cut down my alcohol intake for a while and tried to eat less.
On returning to Doha in September I started running laps around the Compound but soon found that my back would stiffen and start to ache shortly after returning from my runs and at night time the pain would be so excruciating that I would be unable to even turn myself over in bed. As a result, I had to stop running for a while to let my body recover.
My next attempt at pounding the pavements, a couple of months later, resulted in a stress fracture in my foot, which then put me out of action for yet another 6 weeks.
So it is only now, that I am once again trying to grasp that nettle and incorporate some form of exercise into my daily routine.

Today is National Sports Day here in Qatar. In a bid to help stem ever increasing obesity rates, the Emir declared in 2012 that the second Tuesday in February would become a national holiday and people would be given the opportunity to participate in a variety of sporting activities across Doha on that day.

Last year was the second National Sports Day and we took the children to take part in one of the specially arranged events, the Doha Dash. Dependent on age and ability you could take part in either a 1km, 3km or 5km run or a 1km walk around Loseil race track. 

Matthew took part in the 1km race along with some of his friends from Beavers, while Simon, Rebecca and Ben did the 3km race. I watched and cheered them on with a then 6 month old Ethan. It was obvious that Ben really enjoyed running and he and Simon crossed the line together in 19 minutes. A photo of them, which was taken by the official event photographer as they crossed the line, later went on to appear in a number of newspapers and magazines over the following weeks!

After seeing the famous picture of Simon and Ben splashed within the pages of a newspaper once again last month, we quickly signed everyone back up for this year's event too. Just like last year though I unfortunately looked on from the sidelines with Ethan as the rest of the family enjoyed the buzz of racing around a part of the international circuit with fellow competitors. Wearing their same football tops, Simon and Ben crossed the line in unison again today, but this time they were a whole 3 minutes quicker than last year, finishing in just 16 minutes (according to their chip times they were 75th and 76th out of a field of almost 600 runners)! Rebecca too, who doesn't usually like to run, managed to complete the distance faster than before and Matthew ran his 1km race so quickly that I didn't even make it to the finish in time to take a picture! 

By Midday we were back home, everyone was showered and changed and the children were once more back to their usual pursuits of lounging around watching television, messaging friends via the iPad and sitting playing on their games console. The delights of outdoor pursuits may be finished for today but I can live in hope that the Doha Dash will have motivated them to try more energetic activities once again tomorrow.      

As for me, it will be my turn to pull on my running attire as I take to running laps of our Compound tonight.........under the safe cover of darkness, which is just how I prefer it! 

 
PictureA friend's back patio step after the sandstorms
The last three days have been blustery here in Doha and sandstorms have been wreaking havoc. The inside of our Villa now resembles a sand pit and my face has broken out in spots due to the constant sand and grit it has been exposed to every time I have stepped out of the front door! 

The weather seems somehow symbolic to the way I have been feeling about my blog, as for the past couple of months I have been struggling with what to write, not because I haven't got anything to say but because I have been torn as to what type of things I really want to be writing about. When I first set up this page I was full of ideas of how I was going to give information about life in Qatar, to help those people who are contemplating moving and making a life here. 
I remember vividly the way in which Simon and I spent hours and hours on the internet trying to find out everything we needed to know about how things were done here before we made the move to Doha, and some of the blogs from ex-pats already living here proved very useful in giving us a realistic picture of what to expect. I guess I initially thought that I wanted to emulate something similar for future ex-pats.

However, at the same time I desperately wanted to create a personal record of the day to day happenings within our family unit as something for us to look back on and remember in years to come. Somewhere along the way I sidelined this goal and as a result have found myself  unable to post here as regularly as I had hoped. 

I am not a naturally witty person so my entries are never going to have you screaming with laughter (my husband believes that I have absolutely no sense of humor at all!) but I have made the decision that from now on I am going to concentrate my focus on our family adventures, rather than simply writing informative pieces about processes and procedures in Doha!

That is not to say that these elements won't crop up from time to time but they will be less obvious than before. in the 6 months since I set up this page I have had an amazing 10.7k unique visitors to my site and to those who will no longer find what they are looking for here, I apologise, but there are some significant milestones looming just round the corner for our family - it is going to be my 40th later this month, then my youngest child will be celebrating his first birthday in July and just a couple of days following that my eldest will finally enter the dark realms of the teen years! All too quickly the children will be grown up, but if I can diarise just a few moments of our life together now then we will have something to look back on and cherish in future years. 

I hope that you will still want to stop by and take a peak at my posts here as you would of course still be extremely welcome - perhaps you may even wish to comment on the posts you can relate to! 
Now where to start.....the fantastic Stomp show I saw last week at the QNCC or Rebecca's upcoming trip to the orthodontist to find out when she will have her bottom braces fitted?!

 
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Our Villa in Doha
As the children edge ever closer towards the end of their second school year here in Doha, I  find myself thinking about just how quickly and easily we were able to adapt to living such a hugely different life when we first moved to Qatar back in 2011. I often find myself pondering our lives here and marvel at all the new things we have been able to experience by living abroad. As I look around at the hot, dusty landscape, I think about the introduction we have had to other cultures, and smile at the way in which we have learnt to do everyday tasks in such a completely different way to how we had always done them previously. At the same time, I have of course learnt the need to be more patient as not everything is always done here at quite the speed we were accustomed to back in the UK!

 When I sit waiting at red traffic lights I take a look around me, at the Qatari men in their Land Cruisers, with mobiles fixed to their ears; at the Indian drivers in their somewhat smaller cars with little children inside, sitting on laps or moving freely around the inside of the car, with not a seatbelt in sight; at the bright turquoise Karwa taxis that stand out from all the other cars and are invariably driving in the opposite direction to where their fare paying passenger actually wishes to be, and at the huge big lorries which are busy moving construction materials to one of the many building sites around Doha's quickly expanding skyline. Except for the Qatari drivers, all the rest of us have something in common, the fact that we all have another place, another land, that we call 'home' - that it is the prospect of work, at somewhat differing levels, that have united us here in Doha. 

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Our house in England
Soon we will be returning to England for the Summer break and I know that after the initial frenzy at the supermarket, buying and relishing everything we have gone without for so long and seeing our much loved extended family, we will quietly slot back into our life there for 2 months. Initially, we may well enjoy the typically dull British weather, the smaller cars and the more interesting single carriageway roads. We will love seeing so much greenery again and having the feel of carpet beneath our feet as we get out of bed in the mornings. In fact, we will enjoy being in the one place that is our 'true' home. Yet, soon we will no doubt start to complain about the high cost of petrol and diesel (and probably everything else!), the fact that we have to wear jumpers or coats again and the way in which rain will frequently spoil our planned trips out. 

Before we know it the end of August will quickly arrive and we will pack our cases and head back to the land of sand, laden down with all those extra purchases that can't be made in Doha. The sun will beat down on us as we step off the plane and, in the space of a week, allowing for that initial period of adjustment, we will be 'home' again! We are so lucky to have 2 such vastly different places to call home and it will never cease to amaze me the way in which we can slot so seamlessly back into hugely different environments so quickly and easily. It would have been simple to have said 'no' to the opportunity to move here, but for once we stepped up to the mark and accepted the challenge. We are in fact the lucky ones now as we always have another place to escape to, so when the boredom of day-to-day living starts to set in at one home, we can look at the calendar and start the countdown to when we can escape to the other!