Thursday, 24 November 2011

Settling into the new abode

So far so good re. tummy. I have eaten some very strange things but it's holding up, or at least in ;o)

Just as I started to think I was acclimatised when I was I was pulled up short. As I was crossing the compound earlier after lunch half a dozen Iraqi Close Protection guys came charging towards me kitted out in their flack jackets, helmets and totting AK47s...

Was about to start to panic then realised they were smiling.....
it was a training drill!!!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Reached base camp on Sunday and already feel part of the fixtures and fittings. Quite like being here if you put aside the hostile environment issues. They're a great bunch, excellent sense of humour (mostly black! :o) and there's a fab work ethos.

Board and lodgings are perfectly ok....not quite sure what I'm eating half the time as things frequently look like they should be props or aliens in Dr. Who, but they taste ok and I had a superb cup of Arabic coffee with cardamon this morning, won't have helped the insomnia but was lovely.

Last night, I worked til just before 10pm and went back to the villa where I’m staying only to find I’d been locked out as they’d all already gone to bed and forgot to check I was in. I had visions of having to bunk in with the guards and sundry strays but I phoned one of the guys who'd fortunately not yet gone asleep so kindly let me in!

Sleep deprivation's the biggest issue here, if it's not low flying helicopters, it's the guard change, local feral cats fighting or the muezzin reciting the 5am call to prayer from the local Mosque...still, it reminds you where you are :o)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Eagle has Landed

spent an hour at Baghdad immigration, been picked up by close protection team and travelled the infamous Route Irish to her temporary abode kitted out in very fetching body armour and an over-sized helmet which wibbled round on her head prompting the thought that it probably wouldn't be much kop in an emergency, and at best would probably result a headache and 'helmet head'. Now immersed in Gantt charts and redundancy selection criteria so pretty well the 'same old' despite the surroundings...

Friday, 18 November 2011

Off to play in the sandpit again tomorrow

This trip's been on and off more times than I can count, and with the destination changing from Baghdad to Basra, to Baghdad and Basra which couldn't be organised due to internal flight availability resulting in the suggestion of a road move between the two....which I less than politely declined as 6 hours each way across potentially IED strewn areas seemed too much like Russian Roulette to me! So then it was suggested I drive to Heathrow and travel via Oman which would be 3hrs in the car to add to a missed nights sleep, and the same palaver on the way at that point I lost it!! Upshot = Baghdad return! Sigh of relief....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

When the Victorians built the somewhat grandiose Cheltenham Town Hall little did they know that the Balls & Concerts they had planned for the venue would one day be replaced with a healthy Stand-up circuit.
Stinkysox & I went to see Ed Byrne's 'Crowd Pleaser' tour and it lived up to it's name exceptionally well. He covered a huge range of subjects from being a nerd (pointing out his name is an anagram of "be nerdy") and a rant about drunk particle physicists (of all things), before observing mankind's treatment of our fellow man, as opposed to cats. He chatted animatedly about the trials of dealing with his wife's 'pregnancy brain' and joys of parenting which included hilarious observations about projectile pooing, and why he gets frowned at when he burps yet his son gets applause....Maybe I have spent too much time in the company of scientists, engineers and other mothers but it all resonated with me & I spent most of his routine dissolved in tears of laughter.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Whilst at check-in at the airport heading back to the UK, it suddenly struck me I need to go to Iraq next week and I don't have enough blank pages in my passport. To enter what was once called Babylon, one needs a minimum of 3 empty sheets, and as I'm transiting Dubai yet again which prompts a visa stamp, that's one page gone before I even head across the Gulf in the vague direction of Baghdad. As a result I'll be heading up to Liverpool on tomorrow with a completed application form and piccies in my sticky mitt in order to get a new passport rather than risk hitting Baghdad International Airport and being denied entry!!
Much as every girl wants to be front page news, perhaps that's not the best route to fame! ;o)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

'Young Blood'

as she appears to have been nick-named by the Middle Eastern Correspondent, experienced a less than favourable trip back spending most of it in the bog chucking her guts up. As the dutiful mother I am, I spent the same amount of time standing patiently outside the convenience ensuring she didn't pass out etc. and forgoing the delights of airline food on the basis that the sight and smell would send her off to the smallest room yet again.

I am pleased to report that she made a full recovery as soon as we hit Brum and promptly demanded fish & chips. The Middle Eastern Correspondent is under the impression she needs tutoring in the dark art of drinking and has offered himself as holder of 4 Masters in said subject, as well as Rallyman as his Research Assistant.

Ironically we have spent most of this morning discussing Masters but not of that variety :o) The debate is whether she applies for a course in Human Rights & Genocide, and if spending that much extra dosh is likely to actually result in a job in a field she's interested in...

Friday, 4 November 2011

Double Acts in Dubai

As a result of clocking up a whole heap of air miles I eventually had sufficient to actually utilise some of them to book a couple of flights for myself and the Strident Student (who is no longer a student but in search of a new moniker).
We stayed at the Sofitel in Jumeirah and had a lovely couple of days mostly just lounging by the pool but with a brief bit of sight-seeing, culminating with dinner with another Double Act; The Middle Eastern Correspondent and his partner in crime, Rallyman. The plan had been to do so much more but Young Blood was seeking Arabic Culture which Rallyman believes is an oxymoron; informing us that anything of interest was demolished 30 years ago and the Emirate is now "Las Vegas without the fun".