Monday, 23 December 2013

A Middle East Christmas....

Saudi Gazette - Snow in Tabuk, KSA
This will be my second time spending Christmas away from home, I spent one in Germany some years back and it snowed and was good fun, it was a change from the normal Christmas chaos that goes on back home.
This is my third Christmas as an Emigrant now, though my first not being home in Ireland to see the boys open Santa’s gifts on Christmas morning, however, I will be home just after Christmas and before New Year’s Eve.

Christmas here in Saudi, well,  just isn’t really Christmas !, the word isn’t used at all in this devoutly Islamic country, I’ve heard many references in recent week s to “end of year holidays” or “December vacation”. Unlike UAE, for example, even the commercial aspects of the season aren’t really apparent here, so you can actually just get on with life and forget about it until you’re on that flight home, which is pretty much my strategy this year !

The Muslim Holidays of Eid-Al-Fitr & Eid-Al-Adha are the big family holidays here and those of you who are familiar with the Hijri Calender will also know that the dates of these holidays move backwards every year as the calendar is lunar and not solar as the gregorian one is. This is the time of year, when you will see the street decorated and plenty of business being done at the shopping malls and families preparing for large gatherings at home, sound familiar ?

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Region is however not without some festive cheer, in the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of our Christmas Party in Dubai, eating outdoors by the Marina in very un-Christmassy weather, also a wonderful Breakfast at the Irish Embassy here in Riyadh, a smaller festive gathering of some Irish ex-pats and a really nice trip to Abu Dhabi last weekend to catch up with some old friends and also visit the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

I am of course however, really looking forward to seeing my boys in Ireland in a few days, even if it’s after Christmas Day, to catch up on what Santa brought, eat together, talk together and catch up, also a chance to catch up with others close friends on the short visit home. It’s amazing how Ireland has changed so much in the past few years and how so many are taking similar trips home this time of year, and sadly others who either can’t go home for Christmas or can’t get out of Ireland either to find work and improve their lot.
As for snow, well as you can see from this photo taken in the northern region near Tabuk, it does snow in Saudi Arabia !!!

Nollaig Shona Dhuit !

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Life for an Afghan is random, ruthless and unforgiving.....

An Article I wrote for – 3rd July 2013

Life for an Afghan is random, ruthless and unforgiving....

After living in Afghanistan, I got to see first-hand what the people of that country go through, writes Noel Scanlon, who says he wishes he could be more optimistic about the country’s future.

IMAGINE FOR A moment what it feels like to be within a few hundred metres of bomb blast. I had this experience back in 28 July 2011, just one month after arriving at the Forward Operating Base at Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan, Afghanistan.

A group of insurgents attacked the government’s compound not far from the Main Gate to the Base at midday with lots of locals about. More than 20 people lost their lives that day, many of them innocent women and children, and a local BBC correspondent.

This was a moment that will forever stay with me from my time in Afghanistan, a normal hot July day, temperatures running over 50, still struggling to adjust to the new strange and alien environment I was now working in.

Bomb blasts
Suddenly a blast, which you instantly knew was not the “normal” controlled explosions that regularly happened on base, went off. This did not have a warning and had that shock factor about it, that puts fear in you. Here I was in the middle of this never-ending and nasty conflict – here we had Afghan killing Afghan.
I reflect on my time in the country from where I’m now based here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, particularly when I heard about the formal handing-over of security control to the Afghan government and the recognition of the Taliban’s new office in Qatar, along with the announcement of imminent talks with both the US and the Afghan government.

The real impact of these past 12 years is on the country’s people, on their lifestyle, their expectations, their incomes and their families. These are a grizzled and tough people who have known nothing else only war, conflict and poverty for over 30 years. What will these latest developments mean for them?

Ismael – a hard worker with enthusiasm
Ismael is from Tarin Kowt and worked with us on the Base every day, he would arrive each morning around 8am after taking an hour to get through the regular and rigorous security checks and would immediately change out of his traditional dish-dash into jeans and a branded t-shirt that we had given him and then set about his daily chores with great enthusiasm.

His job was to clean the public areas, toilets, recreation room, showers and the office, and then would assist in the kitchen with preparing vegetables and assisting our Indian cook for lunch. His hard work and enthusiasm always impressed me and he would only stop to eat dinner and pray. His English was not so good but he always came with a broad smile every morning and would ask Abdul to communicate with me about how much he like working for us and the difference it was making for his family.
In the evenings he would collect the leftover cardboard and packaging waste that we had and would set off back home to his family with it which would be used for bedding and fuel.  I also recall returning once from leave and meeting him and being greeted with a warm smile, handshake and a hug, and he was bursting with excitement to tell me that he was getting married and was again thanking me that it was his work with us that allowed this to happen, as marriage here involves payment of a “dowry” to the family of the bride.
He arrived a little late one morning and was without his normal warm smile, I enquired through others later in the day who explained to me that an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) had been left in a trash can in the town and that Ismael’s uncle has been working close by when it exploded and killed him. This unfortunately is life for an Afghan, random, ruthless and unforgiving.

Abdul – fluent in six languages and a good businessman
Abdul is from Kabul, a father of ten, and also worked with me in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan. He was one of my primary suppliers and someone I had to build a working relationship with early on as getting building materials, fuel, transport to and from Kandahar and indeed food were absolutely crucial for us on camp.
Abdul is a qualified engineer having studied in Russia and spoke fluent Russian, Pashtu, English, Dari , Farsi and Urdu. He loved to visit regularly and always wanted to talk about his love of music and dancing (and indeed would often demonstrate his dancing abilities around the office). He worked hard under very stressful conditions and was always positive, he was a good businessman and understood our need to have materials on time and he loved nothing more than a good old haggle over some lunch in our camp kitchen.
He spoke proudly of his children, and even more proudly that he had five of his daughters going to university, this meant everything to him and was the reason why he came from Kabul in the north to work here in the hostile south, people like Abdul are the exception rather than the rule and he yearned for a time when Afghanistan’s youth could have sustainable education and where they could re-build the country.
Sadly, he was also pessimistic and had a view that regardless of what NATO and Karzai got up to, the real power in the country was with the local warlords who were now being legitimised and given uniforms and titles such as Chief of Police or Governor, and that ultimately these were power hungry local chiefs who lacked the vision and leadership to really make a difference in the country. A very impressive man that I still think about sometimes.

Over 30 years of conflict
Afghanistan is now over 30 years in a state of conflict of some kind or other – be it the Soviets, their own internal factions, the Taliban, or indeed the US/NATO/ISAF in more recent years.
So what will these new developments do for the Abduls and Ismaels of Afghanistan? In my opinion, very little and if anything, it’s even possible that their lives will become even more challenging. The Multi-National Base at Tarin Kowt is being demobilised as I write this and will be handed over to Afghan control along with most other Forward Operating Bases in the country. Gone with them will be the business opportunities for Abdul and Ismael’s employment and, some would say, also the security that was provided by NATO.
This is a harsh land where making a living is difficult at the very best of times and we now have a scenario where the Afghan government have to take control of security – a task that many say is either many years off or even beyond their capabilities entirely.
I know that this outlook is somewhat pessimistic, and I genuinely feel that the people of the country deserve much more than this and have been let down by so many people in the past, however it’s a honest personal view from my experience of being there, and I can only wish the very best for my colleagues Abdul and Ismael.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Across the King Fahad Causeway...

Last week, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Saud of Saudi Arabia  decreed that the weekend in the Kingdom would align itself with its Gulf neighbours (Friday / Saturday) from the normal Thursday / Friday weekend in Saudi Arabia, which means we had the advantage of a three day weekend last week so we took the opportunity to take a road trip to Bahrain…..

Bahrain is a small country made up of islands that sit just off the east coast of Saudi Arabia close to the cities of Dammam and Al Khobar in the Eastern Province. Its just a little larger than the Isle of Mann and has a population of 1.2 million, some 500,00 of whom are non- Bahraini’s, so it feels a lot like its Gulf neighbours, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
King Fahad Causeway

It is connected by bridge / causeway to Saudi Arabia via the King Fahad Causeway which was built back in 1986, so one can drive from the Riyadh to Manama, the capital of Bahrain in five or six hours.

We set off (four of us) in a hire car from Riyadh at 4:30am on Thursday morning last, heading eastwards on the large open highway through the desert, and took an early coffee at one of the rather chaotic, stark and rather untidy service stops, the logic for the early start being that we knew that traffic volumes hitting the causeway at the weekends can be high and given we had a longer weekend, was likely to be much busier.
Manama Skyline

We hit the Causeway in four hours  and parked up the car at the border which is in fact on a man-made island halfway across (the causeway is some 24 km), where we met our pre-arranged Bahraini taxi and were over the formalities in about 30 mins and by 11am were in our hotel in Manama relaxing, we later heard that the afternoon queues at the Causeway were running at five hour delays…

Bahrain is a typically modern Arabian city with a very multi-national feel to it, there are some very fine hotels, restaurants and bars and we even found a rugby club to watch the Lions second test against Australia on Saturday afternoon before we returned back to the Kingdom….a good weekend.

Sunset in the Eastern Province

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Haya Tours....

I attended a really excellent presentation last evening at the Irish Embassy by Ms. Salwa Al Qunaibit , who is the owner and driving force behind Haya Tours, a business she founded a few years back .

Tourism in Saudi Arabia is in its infancy and as Salwa explained in her presentation, needs a lot of development and support.

She spoke how on her visits to Ireland where her children came to summer school to learn English, she came across various bus tours and day trip operators such as Paddywagon Tours were major influencers on how she envisioned how Haya Tours would be run.

Haya operate city trips, day trips and weekend trip right across the Kingdom, from trips around Riyadh to visit Masmak Castle, Shoura Council and Al-Diriyah to more adventurous trips to Al Ahsa and the UNESCO site at Mada’in Saleh.

Salwa spoke about the use of local Saudi tour guides to provide the most authentic travel guide experience with expert knowledge of the history and culture of the various provinces.

She also explained that the Arabic word “Haya” essentially means, “Lets Go”, her presentation was very impressive and I was taken by her passion and vision for the business , her aims of building effective Teamwork between the various Governement Officials and other stakeholders for the future and her desire to see the industry develop in the Kingdom.

I wish her well and would ask you to view the site and the excursions offered here….

The images here are all Haya Tours Images from various trips © Haya Tours

Monday, 17 June 2013

Saudi, Diabetes & Junk Food....

I’ve been struck in my time in the Kingdom at the problem of obesity here, just on visual evidence, there is a larger than normal proportion of adults that are clearly overweight, I have discovered that the result of all this is that Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest prevalence of Diabetes, with figures between 25% - 30% of adults having the condition. Studies are calling it an epidemic...

Diet and lack of exercise are given as major factors in Diabetes and this is clearly evident living here. The over-bearing conditions and urbanization of the country in the last 30 years have made the cities very “car orientated” with very few public parks or pedestrian areas to walk and exercise has made people much more sedentary.

I have only seen about three areas in the city where you could actually go for a walk, and that’s in a city with over five million inhabitants, cycling here would be like playing Russian roulette as there are no lanes or parks to cycle and even less driving skills and etiquette on the road.

Saudi culture is also not necessarily supportive of women exercising and sport among females is seen as taboo, remember all the media noise about the first Saudi female athletes at the last Olympics, this means that it’s not at all straight forward for females to exercise in any kind of open manner though I understand that this is changing…

The other major factor here is diet and as I shop regularly here in Riyadh, I’m completely taken aback at the sheer volume of chocolate, cakes, and sugar laden food on the shopping shelves, its actually startling, the picture above was taken in a typical Riyadh Supermarket….shelves and shelves of the stuff……

Saudi Arabia, having been very influenced by American culture is also overrun with Fast Food outlets, they are literally everywhere in every city, McDonalds, Dunkin-Donuts are on every street and every mall and you have to look a bit harder to find the healthier options…… 

I'm not saying that I know better as I've seen similar issues back home in Ireland but here given the culture and climate is certainly at a different scale and is something that definitely needs to be tackled.......

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Irish in Riyadh….

It occurred to me recently how effective Irish people are at sticking together, socializing regularly and generally being there for each other wherever they are in the world, Riyadh is no different ….

After being here for a year now, I have found that I have built a decent network of people, not all Irish of course, however in this conservative society, even the Irish have developed great ways to meet, eat, play sport and have fun together.

The Embassy of Ireland in the Diplomatic Quarter, currently resided by HE Dr. Niall Holohan and his wife Felicity are very open and generous hosts and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting both the embassy and indeed their home on a few occasions and they are extremely welcoming and helpful to all comers but of course always have a kind word for recently arrived Irish, they regularly host various events including a fantastic event on St. Patrick’s Day last when some 400+ Irish from right across the Kingdom attended.

Riyadh also has a GAA Club, Naomh Alee GAA Club has been running successfully here for many years and has both Men’s and Ladies Team’s who compete with neighbouring clubs here in the Gulf, and the club not only attracts Irish ex-pats but also has Australians, New Zealander’s, South African’s and Germans playing gaelic football and regularly host kids events too. Patrick Moynagh from Cavan is the current chairman and we had the pleasure of attending the end of season get-together last week, which was another great opportunity for the Irish (and many others) to get together for a bit of “craic” as we say back home.

On a smaller scale, there are many other smaller gatherings held in homes across Riyadh from time to time, much more informal gatherings with some good food and company, and telling stories of how long they’ve been in the Kingdom, how their work is, how the kids are doing, when were you home last ? etc., or to discuss the latest encounter with the “Religious Police” perhaps….

It struck me also that Riyadh and Saudi Arabia is a very transient place. At each gathering, I meet people who have been here many years, have just arrived recently, are back for the second time or are heading home for good in a few weeks, a kind of “Airport Terminal Waiting Lounge” of sorts here in the Middle East.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Remembering Jim....

When I first arrived here in Riyadh exactly a year ago in fact, I had but few contacts here, one of whom was introduced to me by a colleague back home. I met Jim Cooper at the Kingdom Tower in my first week in Saudi Arabia and we chatted about life here, culture, food, everything that one would need to know about life in Riyadh.

He later invited me to visit the Power Station he was building West of Riyadh in Dhurama, I wrote a post about it here on the Blog  “Powering Ahead in the Desert”.

We also had some social gathering’s with Jim’s colleagues and also some of mine here in Riyadh and we had some super Bar-B-Q’s and a very memorable Dune Bashing afternoon in the desert north of Riyadh which I also blogged about at the time., “Dune Bashing…”

Sadly, Jim departed this life some weeks back, and I’d like to remember him as a great friend to me and others here in Riyadh and thank him for his time and kindness, he is sadly missed….
Also to express our great sympathy to his wife and family back home in the UK.

“Is feidir suaimhneas siorai da anam – May he rest in peace...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Camp Holland, 5th August 2011

Today was seriously hot, hitting 50 degrees celcius, extremely difficult to work in, This week is also the start of Ramadan, where those of the Muslim faith observe fasting from sunrise to sunset, I have got to know some local Afghan's here who supply us here, one in partricular in a fascinating gentleman, he explains to me "Mr. Noel, the problem in this country is Education, 95% of the population of no education, this is why we have so many problems"- he himself was educated in Moscow back in the day when the Russians were here, he goes on to tell me that he has 10 children, 7 daughters and 3 sons, and he proclaims very proudly that 5 of his daughters are in University In Kabul, he himself is a Civil Engineer, and he runs a very good business here in Camp Holland, if you want something, he can get it !, and as you can imagine, we need a lot of stuff, everything from plumbing fittings, to renting a car, we can hardly survive without him up here, he also takes care of our supply lines from Kandahar which is a tricky matter !

I met him today in this heat and he was really physically struggling, as the combination of fasting and heat was taking his toll, he had cut back his beard and was covering his head even more to protect himself, I enquired about a delivery we are expecting and he beckoned, "This is no problem, I bring tomorrow for you material, inshalla"- inshalla being "with the help of Allah" - so we wait until tomorrow !

I have attached an image above which shows you a view of Camp Holland, which was established here by the Dutch until they handed it over last year to the joint command of the US & Australia, Its a very raggle-taggle set-up and appears very temporary by nature though I imagine it will be here for many years, we have a deck here in our compound which allows me to take some great images of the breathtaking landscape around Tarin Kowt, I will post images from time to time-

Sunday, 31 March 2013

An Easter Gift from Oisín........

Its Easter Sunday back home in Ireland, and I'm working away here in Riyadh...

This morning, I received a lovely gift from one of sons back home, he sent me an Easter Card, which I have shown here, Oisín is 8 eight years old and rather creative, he is always to be found, wtriting stories or creating new ideas, colouring in etc.

His Room at home is full of his stories of super-heroes and villians and their daring feats, he also like his music, and on this Easter sunday morning, he decided that he would re-write the Lyrics of Katy Perry's "Fireworks" but would make it "Easter Egg"- Enjoy the tune......... I have inserted it here


Easter Egg

By Oisín Scanlon

Do you ever feel like an Easter egg
Drifting through the wind, wanting to eat again?
Do you ever feel , feel so chocolate thin
Like a house of ginger one bite from cravv-ing

Do you ever feel already gone off
Scream but no seems to eat you
Do you know that there’s still an Oreo in you
Cause there’s a nut in you

You just gotta ignite the bar and let it shine
Just own the egg like the 31st of march

Cause baby your an Easter egg
Come on, show ‘em what your worth
Make ‘em go “yum yum yum “
As you shoot across my tum-um-um

Cause baby your an Easter egg
Come on let your flavours burst
Make ‘em go yum-yum-yum
Your gonna leave like yum-yum-yum

You don’t have to feel like a wasted bar
Your cool original dor-it-os
If you only knew what the egg holds
After a bad bar comes a good one

Maybe you reason why all the eggs are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect nut
Like a table your egg will stay the same
And when it’s time you’ll know

You just ignite the bar and let it shine
Just own the night like the 31st of march

‘Cause baby your an Easter egg
Come on show ‘em what your worth
make ‘em go yum-um-um
As you shoot across my tum-um-um

Baby your an Easter egg
Come on let your flavours burst
Make ‘em go yum-um-um
Your gonna leave ‘em all in yum-um-um

Yum, yum, yum
Even nicer than the ore-o
It’s always been inside of the egg egg egg
And now it’s time to let it digest est est

‘Cause baby your a Easter egg
Come on show ‘em what your worth
Make ‘em go yum-um-um
Your gonna leave ‘em all in yum-um-um

Baby your an Easter egg
Come on let your flavours burst
Make ‘em go yum-um-um
As you shoot across ,my tum-um-um

Yum, yum ,yum even nicer than the ore-o
Yum, yum, yum even nicer than the ore-o

So, a nice gift to receive on this Sunday morning, a long way from home........

Thanks Oisín , Made My Day Buddy !!!!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Dubai has really grown on me.......

In my time in this region, I have passed through the city of Dubai some 15 times at least, either in transit to somewhere else or for a short break there, so I have had some time to get to know this city which we have all marveled at over the last 10 years….
On my first visit, the newness of the city can be a little off-putting, as we Europeans tend to be very used to preserving our heritage and we are always seeking out, the older, cultural parts of a city, but of course, Dubai is not like that, which is not to say the place does not have heritage or tradition, it’s just that you have to go and look for as its not immediately obvious..
A City that’s rises from the desert, and is spread out for many miles along the Arabian gulf coastline, Dubai is in fact one of seven Emirates that make the UAE which is now in its 41st year as a State here, and came together as a grouping of smaller Kingdoms in this region, encouraged by the British, the seven are (for the quiz buffs) Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain. The best known and largest Emirates are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the other ones are much smaller, Fujairah only 1,700
The scale of development of Dubai and the vision of its Leader Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum or “Big Mo” as he is known affectionately locally, is very impressive, as the city now stands as a very modern, cosmopolitan city and very forward looking.
Dubai Metro
What strikes me about the city (and UAE generally) is how efficiently and impressively everything works, there are three airport terminals which handles literally millions of passengers a year as Dubai is now a Global air travel hub. On leaving Dubai on Friday evening last, I got from the front door of the Terminal 2, through check-in, passports , security and was at the gate in a little more than 10 mins, granted Terminal 2 is much smaller than the other larger Terminals, this is still impressive.
Taxi’s are clean, drivers uniformed and fares fixed, which is in contract to other cities in the region, where you have to haggle at times and the drivers can sometimes require a good scrub, not to mention, I recently had a spin in a taxi in Riyadh which only had 3rd and 4th gear !!
I also took a ride on the new Metro System in Dubai, which is immaculately clean, the stations are futuristic is design and style and yes , it was on time and excellent value.
View from Burj Khalifa
Dubai of course has the world’s largest Shopping Centre (Dubai Mall), Tallest Building (Burj Khalifa) and even an indoor Ski Slope !
Burj Khalifa is well worth a visit, get a ticket to the viewing platform on top for sunset and watch the dancing fountains below, it’s very impressive. Some photos here from the viewing platform, note, there are a further 70 floors overhead.
Culturally Dubai and the UAE are unique, only approx. 20% of the population are in fact Emirati’s so you have this phenomenon where 80% of the population are ex-pats, which makes for a fascinating  mix of everything in city life. Arabic, Asian, Far Eastern, European, Persian , African and American.
I can’t complete this post without mentioned “The Irish Village”, a really super Bar / Restaurant attached to the Tennis Stadium in Dubai, where I enjoyed a late brunch of rasher, sausages fried egg and opint of Guinness last Thursday morning, it’s a very popular social venue in the city and regularly hosts stars such as Tommy Tiernan & Bob Geldof who played here in the last week, staff are super, food is good, its a nice atmosphere and there are even a few ducks quacking about the place….
Dubai has grown on me over my many visits over the last almost 2 years, and is to be congratulated for being such an impressive place to visit, I look forward to my next visit….

Irish Village

Monday, 4 March 2013

The "Normality" of Working Abroad and Coming Home !

It’s funny how coming home to Ireland can start to feel so “normal” after a while, I was home for a break recently and it occurred to me that though I was so looking forward to getting back, It’s not at all like it felt when I made my first trip home from abroad in October 2011.

On this occasion, I left Riyadh after work on a Wednesday night and headed straight to Riyadh airport where I caught a flight to Jeddah to connect to an overnight flight to Paris and a final connection on Thursday morning to Dublin, then jumped in a rental car, had some late breakfast and headed off down to East Clare to be home around 4pm.

The contrasts on these journeys are remarkable. On the flight to Jeddah (which is the main airport that’s serves the holy site at Mecca), I encountered many people going on the “Umrah” pilgrimage, which is similar to the Hajj pilgrimage later in the year but not as busy. Men and indeed their sons checking into their flight wearing only flip-flops and simple traditional robes/towels for their journey to Mecca, this is a sign of their equality and humbleness before God, as I am advised by my Saudi colleagues , to the more cosmopolitan Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris and on to the very familiar Dublin Airport , all in the space of 13 hours.

It also occurred to me on the car journey down from Dublin how the “weight” of the economy is resting on everyone back home and though Irish people are resilient and hard working and are as always doing the very best they can, it still seeps through on radio and in everyday conversations. The recession is still very much biting in Ireland and despite of the steps taken in the past two years and our stellar report cards from IMF / EU, it’s hard to escape that things are still very challenging in Ireland….

I also had a fabulous weekend in Youghal, Co. Cork with my boys which was fantastic, we rented an apartment by the sea, cooked food, walked by the sea, played video games and watched DVD’s and also I got a guided tour of the Titanic Experience in Cobh from my sons who have been there before. I really treasured the time with them to talk about school, their friends, their stories, their feelings and everything else going on with them and to just relax and enjoy each other’s time, including playing Hip Hop music (Black Eyes Peas !) at full blast in the car on the road out of Cork City…

I also enjoyed the simple things like baking a cake with Daithí for a school project (those of you that know me know how much fear this would instill in me !), indeed, it was Daithí teaching me rather than the other way around, and also doing homework with Oisín and helping him learn his Irish poem, simple but absolutely brilliant….

I also had the pleasure of celebrating my 40th birthday on this trip home at a really nice evening in Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty. It was super to catch up with so many friends and neighbours who made such an effort to be there, thank you all so much…

I left Ireland again after that to start back on my way to Riyadh and I can’t help feeling how much my life has changed in the last few years and how I have come to know this as being ordinary, though its anything but ordinary. 
Such is life at the moment for so many Irish people of all ages and many in very similar situations, and rather than get gloomy and down about it, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work every day and provide for those at home, and of course to pay a mortgage and look to making progress out of the mire so many of us found ourselves in after 2008, yes, it’s hard to be away from my children but I know this is the right thing in the long term and I feel it every time I make the journey home, It’s great to be home but right now, but from a practical point of view working over here is definitely the better option for the moment…..