View of West Bay in Doha on a Winter's morning, Jan 2013
Last week my Facebook page was filled with posts from family and friends about the recent snowfall in the UK. There were statuses about school closures, the treacherous driving conditions there and some lovely photos of children having fun out sledging and building snowmen.

Well, believe it or not, Winter finally arrived here in Qatar too for a few days recently, with cold winds and temperatures dipping right down to a paltry 14 degrees overnight and rising to no more than 21 degrees in the day. The boys had to dig out their school fleeces, which still look brand new 16 months after buying them due to lack of use, and I couldn't help but feel a chill even with my jeans and jumper wrapped tightly around me! It's laughable really as I know that if I had still been living in the UK we would have been walking around in rather skimpier clothing and saying what a beautiful day it was, but things somehow change once you've  been living in the desert for 17 months! 

Many people dream of living in year round sunshine and here in the Middle East that's certainly what you get. After the coolness of last week we are back to temperatures of 29 degrees with beautiful cloudless skies, and the weather is perfect for trips to the park and other outdoor pursuits. Between now and June the temperatures will however slowly creep up until we hit the peak of Summer, at which time air conditioned buildings will become our refuge. 

The reality is that, for a couple of months of the year, collecting the boys from school at lunchtime in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees is not much fun and it usually involves leaving the car engine running in the school car park with the air con on full blast, making a quick dash to the classrooms (no point in walking slowly as you will be dripping in sweat 2 seconds after getting out the car regardless!) and returning as quickly as possible to the vehicle with the kids. On returning home, another shower and change of clothing is usually in order! 

If you don't want to risk sunstroke between May and September, visits to the Compound swimming pool only become possible from 4pm, as the sun is setting (which incidentally is very beautiful here in the desert) and outdoor activities are generally limited to short, sharp bursts. Once the schools close for the long summer break at the end of June, it is no surprise that the expat community leave in their droves to travel to cooler climates for the duration of the holidays. We then all return early in September to suffer yet another couple of months of intense heat  before finally getting to enjoy our lives in the sunshine again from late October.

It does rain occasionally here but, in the 17 months we have lived here, I can count those occasions on 2 hands - and most of those times were nothing more than a few splodges for 10 minutes or so. Villas and roads have not been designed with rain in mind so, on the couple of  times it has properly poured, roads have quickly become flooded due to lack of drainage, and water has made an unwelcome appearance in our home, due to insufficient sealant around the windows and gaps at the bottom of the doors! It's funny to see how all the children dash outside to have fun in the rain, when it does come, because when you don't have it, you find yourself yearning for it!

In fact there is something quite glorious about the seasonal weather of the UK - hearing the birds sing and seeing new flowers budding in the Spring, smelling freshly cut grass in the Summer, walking through the crunchy Autumn leaves with the smell of bonfires burning, and then of course there is the crisp chill of Winter and chance of snow showers to get excited about. But for now I guess I can only dream about these things, as I lie back on my sunbed and continue to enjoy my winter in the sunshine!

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