Well Contented

21 Aug, '04

Now that our first family vacation (ever!) is over, and the house move is almost completed, let me take a few minutes to share with you at least the status of the house move. The vacation’s happenings will have to wait for a while, but I promise to post a few pictures and maybe a video once the editing is complete.

We arrived back on the island on the night of Friday August 6th, I posted to that effect. What I didn’t say though is that I was so itching to go and see the progress on the various things we wanted done to the house that I dragged Frances out at 1AM to go and have a look! That’s how desperate I was to get to the new house, start a new life as a home-owner and get rid of 18 years of paying rent!

Most of the stuff we needed done were done quite nicely. We got a picket fence around the garage so I don’t drive over the bloody dogs, they now have a large and air conditioned kennel which they have taken to quite readily when you consider that the average daily temperature now to be around 48C (that’s over 110F to you yanks), the swimming pool is filled and clean, both the outside and inside storage rooms have floor to ceiling shelves which Frances will take no time to chock them up, and my tools and stuff of course have been moved to the water tank room at the edge of the garden!

The gardener has done a good enough job with the garden, it is extremely surprising that anything at all grows in this weather, but when I got the first ever water bill for the house I understood why: BD 95 (US$250) for water alone! I discovered that the bastard comes in at 4AM, switches all the sprinklers on and then goes around and turns on all the garden taps and places the water hoses all over the garden then buggers off until he comes back again around 5PM! By that time there is no water left in the bloody tank (and it’s a huge one as well) and complains that there is no water pressure in the afternoons!

I clobbered him over the head (gently) and roasted his ass for that. Now he waters the garden for an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon. Let’s see what the next bill is going to be like. The garden is about 400 square meters and it is thirsty.

There was a firetree growing by the pump room which I stupidly told him to move to another location. Again by the process of discovery I found that the twit cuts the roots too narrowly (ie, dig the ground and sever the roots to just about 15 centimeters from the trunk) that there is no chance in hell that anything will grow. That’s dead. Thankfully we collected enough seed from the tree and we have a few saplings coming up nicely. Let’s see how long it takes him to kill them off.

We also had quite a number of what the locals call “American” trees. I have no idea if that’s actually a correct name, I’ll find out later I guess. Anyway, they were planted to provide privacy as they are very fast growers, but there were too many. So I told the guy to move them to the pavement outside the house. 4 days later the outside of our house has a lot of colour, it’s like Autumn in Scotland! The lovely shade of green has changed to brown, and when you touch the leaves they crackle and disintegrate in your hand. Yep, 4 more trees are no longer with us. Damn!

We thought that he couldn’t screw up a local tree that thrives in the hot Bahraini summer, so we planted our cuttings of Frangipani by the front gate (again on the pavement, which is a natural thing to do in Bahrain) and various locations in the garden. They’re now very sad looking. Not dead yet, but there is hope… if my Frangipanis die, I’m going to bloody well bury that piece of shit gardener under one of them, maybe his decomposing body can breathe life into them.

Not content with the gardener, it has been quite a frustrating story with the stupid plumbers. I’m not sure what amount of threats, phone calls, screaming blue-murder, or even cajoling it would take to get those bozos to get their job done. The house was not occupied since new and it’s now about 18 months old. With the salinity of the water here, the water heaters’ internals change to that of stalactite infested caves. Obviously that’s not very good for water pressure coming out of them, if any comes out anyway. You turn the hot tap on and it spits at you for about 5 minutes, and then it oozes some sort of stuff very close in smell, constitution and condition of diarrhea.

Ok, change the bloody things then, they must be still under warranty? No chance. The warranty on the house expired 6 months ago! How can a developer give a warranty on a house for one year only? Yes, that includes everything in the house, walls, foundation, fixtures, etc. I’m still looking at the structure side warranty as I have been told that the government forces all developers to guarantee their houses for 10 years, so how come these people only give one? No idea, and this is a house which was built and supervised by one pre-eminent architect.

Anyway, I told them that I would be happy to pay for the bloody heaters, just change the blasted things. What about the pipes they asked? What about the pipes I asked? They said that the pipes might also either be replaced or flushed with acid to clear them up of salt build up! WHAT? God help me, I’ll kill someone!

And in between all of the above we discover some superficial cracks around the house. The developers were good enough to fix them up well enough. What the bastards didn’t do however is fix a bigger crack running down the wall at the roof! And I’ve been chasing them for a couple of weeks to attend to that…

After 18 years of living in various places, we have accumulated an inordinate amount of junk. I never realised that a small family would collect that much stuff. We had 3 big 6-wheel trucks and a crew of 10 to move the things we wanted to keep into the new house, but Frances has been dragging me every single bloody day back to the old house to get more stuff moved! That actually started much before the movers came in: her idea is that she doesn’t want anyone to touch her kitchen, crystal, clothes, bedding, towels, plants, and “important” pieces of furniture! What the hell remains after that then? My idea was to hire a company, bring a crew of a hundred, pack everything and move the goddamn things into the new house. We’ll tell them where to put the various items, get them unpacked and re-assembled… no bloody chance. I’ve worked like a coolie since we’ve come back and we’ve STILL got boxes in various states of unpacking! That considering that we have bought completely new living room furniture as well we 4 new bedrooms, breakfast nook table and chairs, pool furniture and various other bits and pieces. I said I would leave my study to the very end where I could get what I want, unpack my stuff, connect my computers and close the fuckin’ door!

I got fed up so I went furniture shopping for my study instead. Got fantastic rose-wood bookcases (Basset, American stuff, love it) and they came and installed them yesterday. I took one of my leather sofas from the office and brought it to my study. The computers are connected (but not on yet, read on) and got a couple of camel seats to use for tables at the moment. Door firmly shut, and the Cohiba cigars are OUT. What a wonderful feeling! Until both Gnasher and Phoebe come round to my French windows and tear the fucking fly screen off its hinges to try to come in!

Batelco and the Northern Municipality are a major pain in the ass. They must have heard of my troubles with various “professionals” so they thought they would add to my state of health…

Because of a dispute between these two entities, the Northern Municipality is not allowing Batelco to dig anywhere in our area without paying a (exorbitant) fee. Batelco is refusing to do that. We end up with no telephones and no internet in the house. Ok, so when is this tizz going to end and when are we to get connected? No idea, they said. If we’re lucky we’ll be connected in 6 months! Bastards.

Now I’m looking into satellite internet and see if I can get one in Bahrain. Not sure if we have such a thing, but I’ll look into this as soon as possible. I’m not waiting for 6 months to connect to the internet for anyone. 8 weeks without a regular connection has taken its toll on me. Yes, I am an internet junkie.

We don’t have curtains on the windows yet. They take 3 – 4 weeks to get done! Still, we’re not letting that little thing put us out. We’ve been living there for 10 days without curtains and can survive without them for another couple of weeks I guess. I’ll just have to tape newspapers or something on the windows I think, at least on the front facing windows. Maybe tonight. But going around and doing that for 30 windows is a bit much. The pisser though is that I have been up every single day at 5.30AM! That’s when the sun decides to play a game on me… our bedroom faces the East, and when the sun comes up, it decides to shine directly in my eyes! I am absolutely knackered from waking up every day at that time. I’m a night person, not a bloody morning person! Better get on the phone to the curtain people to harass them a bit more…

Friday is for rest right? Wrong! I was dragged in the afternoon by her who should not be named to the old house to move everything that is left over there into the living room to prepare for the house sale next weekend. And of course to price everything. What should I care for God’s sake? They’re things we have not taken, so we don’t need and hence junk, why try to sell the blasted things? Just give them away if they’re in approximately good shape and be done with it! Had to do it though. So I went around last night and put ridiculously low prices on everything (anyone wants a Laser Disk player for BD 20? How about 50 laser disks for one dinar each?) Hopefully that will get rid of the junk. But it ain’t gonna get out of the door by itself right? Right. We’re going to be in the old house next Friday trying to flog the stuff. I have a feeling that next Friday night I’ll be talking to Mr. Smirnoff quite a lot!

Apart from all of that, we’re really well contented with what we have. It’s a lovely house, lovely finishing, lovely garden, and we are absolutely thrilled to be living in it. Home sweet home!

Now I need another vacation… this time by myself!

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Comments (31)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Ash here – forgot me password 🙁

    Moving is a nightmare at first but fun once the worst of the chaos is over. I went through the same palaver in February. Our house still needs another 2 years worth of decorating and organising, but we’re getting there slowly and I’ve learned how to say “Yes, dear” without moving my lips.

    My brother got back from Bahrain last weekend. He had a great vacation there and was very impressed with the friendliness of Bahrainis, the beauty of the desert and the wonders of subaqua diving.

  2. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Two thoughts occuur to me about your gardener:
    1) The Sorcer’s Apprentice, and the Walter Disney anination version of the same.
    2) The Jewish Legend of the Golem of Prague. This was a creation of clay that do what you told it to do, not what you wanted it to do, just like some of the computer programs I have written.

  3. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    roflmao…..warned ya about being home-owned hehehehe…..instead of murder I recommend a big punching bag in the shed with several pictures to be placed on it (think gardener, various busines entities, etc., etc.) and a big stick! This relieves pressure and guards against excessive paperwork!
    Have fun!
    River

  4. anonymous says:

    Home, Sweet Home

    It’s good to have you back and in fighting trim! I chuckled throughout and LOL at your confession that “8 weeks without a regular connection has taken its toll on me. Yes, I am an internet junkie.”

    Sissy Willis
    [url]http://sisu.typepad.com/[/url]

  5. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Moving house is never easy, but I am so glad you are now installed.
    Have you considered getting a water-butt to collect used water for putting on the garden? It might help to keep your domestic water bills down. The waste water from baths, showers, dishwashers and laundry washers can safely be used on most plants. Soapy water can even be beneficial in keeping aphids under control. If that doesn’t work, you could always drown your gardener in it.
    Best wishes
    Meggie

  6. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Mahmood,

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (And please understand, I’m not laughing at you, I’m genuinely laughing WITH YOU.)

    Oh my God, you would fit in SO well here in the States…these are things I could hear about from my next-door neighbor, let alone from someone from Bahrain! It really does go to show that we have a lot more in common than many people think…after all, misery loves company, right?

    Somehow I have this bizarre vision of a ME version of Tim Allen from “Home Improvement” putting in all the fixtures to your house…do you have the slightest idea what I’m talking about? If not, let me sum it up succintly…Tim Allen is the LAST person you’d want to be looking after your abode, and sadly there are too many Tim Allens (in ALL so-called “civilized” countries) doing the dirty work for good people like yourself!

    The other thing I keep picturing, while looking at the very nice picture of you smiling on this blog, is how that smile must be developing many cracks in it right about now. Believe me, you have my utmost sympathies, my friend. Trust me, one of these days it will be worth it…at least, that’s what I keep telling myself when life throws one of its’ little roadblocks in my way! Keep your chin up…after all, there’s really not much else you can do in the long run, is there?

    By the way, once the satellite is up, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of our North American (so-called) “entertainment”. Until next time…

    –Michael from Los Angeles

  7. markdoenitz[deleted]1101322982 says:

    Well Contented

    [quote]I was dragged in the afternoon by her who should not be named to the old house to move everything that is left over [/quote]

    Don’t you mean …by her who should not be named AND OBEYED?

  8. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    “average daily temperature now to be around 48C (that’s over 110F to you yanks),”

    I like 48, it sounds better, where’s my jacket? 🙂

  9. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Well Contented

    Mahmood,

    I can tell you right now your soil does need to be airated and the salt content is through the roof. Bahrain sits on LIMESTONE and salty sand. Not the best growing mediums. You are better off than the other end of the pier! Both problems can be fixed (in time)and I would be glad to help you with them. Too damn hot to be working outside on the garden now anyway.

    If you want any of the plants I emailed you let me know and I will put them aside in the greenhouse for you and bring them with me in a few weeks.

    Ciao!
    Mark aka Bonsaimark

  10. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Well Contented

    Hi again:
    I hope I can help. I know when I planted my bougainvilla (sp?) that I had to come to grips with acid and alkaline treatments for the different plants, especially here in Scottsdale, where it is just as hot as ya all! My hibiscus and bougie need an alkaline balance where my tomatoes an acid. You can buy a feed system you can attach to a hose which sprays the appropriat mixture the trees or plants need. Also, for trees there are spikes you put in the ground around the root system whereby the plant can feed the proper nutrition. I would type in the plant or tree and find out its needs on the internet. We have “Dave the garden guy” on Tv and he is so good as to a knowledge base. You can find these guys on the www. Desert soil can contain something my dad called “calechee”, a very hard lime deposit that is murder on plants. Bonzai Mark may not know of this stuff if you have it, so you may have to upgrade his reservoir of mental “stuff”..teehee
    Anyway, my plants are infinitely friendlier to me now, that I have tried to understand them more properly..We desert rats have to try harder. My mom had a place in Laguna where all I have to do is throw something out and it thrives…the ocean breeze so vastly benevolent. Many blessings
    Iamwithyou

  11. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    OOps, also when they lay the cement for thedriveways there is usually a large leaching of lime into the area from spills etc. that can affect the area too. Iamwithyou

  12. mahmood says:

    Re: Well Contented

    I stand corrected! 🙂

  13. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Hi Mahmood
    Welcome back and in such a fit wit!
    How about checking the acid balance of the ground for your trees, there may have been
    a problem with alkalinity or acidity. Iamwithyou.blogspot.com

  14. anonymous says:

    Re(2): Well Contented

    Iamwithyou

    Where did your Bougs come from? The ones I have brought back from Bahrain (bare rooted, shoved in my golf bag) have never had any problem adapting for me. Too bad they are not winter hardy, but they can take a helluva beating.

    Ciao
    Bonsaimark

  15. mahmood says:

    Re: Well Contented

    Thanks..

    How would you do that? Frances and I were discussing the garden this morning and we came to the conclusion that at the very least the flower beds need to be airated and soiled as they are very hard packed. For that we’re going to get a couple of forks and turn them over.

    The plan after that is to get one of the garden shops to bring a couple of truck-loads of garden sand and put it all over the grass areas, mix it with some soil, airate that part of the garden as well then spread some good grass seed. But that will have to wait until the end of September because the weather now is just too damn hot.

    Or maybe I’ll wait till October and get BonzaiMark to break his back AGAIN!! 🙂

  16. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Bougies were bought at aome Depot in Az and have done fine until they starte drooping and had to add alkaline feeding and perked right up. They are hardy and get better the rougher they are trimmed-REALLY don’t like winter, but make it thru the AZ winters ok..Iamwithyou

  17. markdoenitz[deleted]1101322982 says:

    Re: Well Contented

    If you would like a couple of rooted cuttings from the ones I have drop me an email and I will send them to you. I rooted a few hundred of them this year and have a few left over. The parent tree is from Bahrain and it survived being dug up, bare rooted, shoved in my golf bag and stuffed into the belly of a 747 for long flight back to the US. Tough plant. Though it has not bloomed for me in the US. Even in the greenhouse it won’t bloom. Grows like a weed but won’t bloom. So if you want to add to your collection let me know.

  18. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Thankyou so much; I am just packing for a trip to Calif, then to Northern Ariz. but as soon as I get back I will email you. I love the greenery the bougies can make especially the torchierre model; they are fabulous and picturesque when planted with a porpoise to your purpose! Iamwithyou.blogspot.com

  19. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    mahmood, i gardened in Phoenix Arizona where it also gets over 100. over 110. heh. What i was told worked really well for the plants. Water in the early morning or the early evening. that way the water has a chance to get to the plants without just evaporating

    So beat your gardener about the head and shoulders and then tell him to water that way.

  20. mahmood says:

    Re: Well Contented

    that’s what the poor guy does. He waters the garden at 4am and then again at around 5pm.

    On a very happy note, the Frangipani that he transported from the old house is showing signs of growth. I found very small leaves starting to sprout from some branches yesterday and that thrilled me! My wife and I love that tree especially since we rescued it from being thrown away after a rather heavy storm uprooted it a few years ago. It now lives in a corner of the garden..

    here’s a picture of the old lady.

  21. mahmood says:

    Re: Well Contented

    Meggie this is a wonderful idea! I know a guy who a few years ago imported his whole house from Australia because it was completely designed as an evironmentally friendly environment! Everything is re-used, everything is efficient with solar panels and re-usable water for the garden.

    I’ve looked at the plans of the house and talked to the plumbers and it looks like the sources you’re talking about are actually designed and installed completely separately from the effluent waste, so it might be doable. Once we get really installed and settled I’ll look into this idea.

    As we had a power blackout yesterday, Frances and I were discussing the feasability of installing solar panels for hot water and electricity at the house, so this and your suggestion are now on the medium-term todo list.

  22. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Well Contented

    Thanks Mark. The gardener of his own volition yesterday started digging the hard-packed ground yesterday! Must have read our minds! But it needs much more I think as the whole garden I think is very hard-packed.

    I’ve called Jassim Trading and Jassim Garden Centre here to see if they would quote me an irrigation system, get a couple of truckfulls of sand and get one of their machines to really airate the garden.

    About the plants you suggested, I’ll leave the selection to you as I am not a gardener and don’t even know what they look like! You can be a better judge.

    Tell you what, I’ll take some pictures of the garden as it is now this afternoon and post them (if I’m brave enough and allowed!) or email them to you to have a looksee.

  23. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Well Contented

    Thanks for the advice. I completely forgot about the alkalinity or acidity that the plants need. I don’t even know the names of most of the plants that we have inherited. I need to get to know them soon. But I guess they were put in there by the developer to sell the property, rather than with any garden sense really, so some of them will have to go.

    We’re waiting for the weather to cool a bit to really have a good plan for the garden. I know that Frances is itching to get started but she is infinitely more patient than I am. I want to just press a button and see some flowers pop up!

    Mark lived in Bahrain for a while, both of his parents are here, so he knows about the island and its ideosyncracies a lot more than even some locals! Therefore I’m looking forward to his advice (if we don’t drink each other under the table that is!!)

  24. mahmood says:

    Re: Well Contented

    We discovered another good thing about the house yesterday… At noon when we abandoned the office due to the power cut and decided to just go home, I arrived to a cool house! The house is obviously well positioned and well insulated that it actually kept the cool of the air conditioners. The temperature inside our house was around 81F (according to my alarm clock thermometer!) so it was great to go back home.

    We also kept really cool by all of us jumping in the pool for a couple of hours.

    The dogs were suffering a bit due to the heat, but by dousing Gnasher every 15 minutes or so with water he seemed to have enjoyed himself and almost jumped in the pool with us! Imagine what the filter will be chock full with had he done just that!

    Phoebe, our other dog, doesn’t like the water so she kept well away from the pool and the splashing!! We think that she’s manufactured wrong, she should have been a cat!

  25. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Hi Mahmood – welcome back! I can empathize with your new-house difficulties as we just moved into a new-used home. Arrghh! The difficulties for us are more with the things IN the house rather than the structure itself but either way, it’s frustrating, huh? Time will smoothe things out and you’ll laugh about it later (er, maybe MUch later, but still). I’ve moved about a dozen times in 4 states here in the US and it never gets easy. 🙂 Also, kudos to ALL the ME women who are participating in the Olympics! They all deserve medals for just BEING there (at some risk to life and limb, mayhap).

    Betsy (I can’t find my info to sign in – duh)

  26. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    Me again .. that’s SOME tree. Wow! We lost what I thought was a huge tree recently due to Charley, and I cried when they cut her down. But your tree is AWEsome.

    Betsy

  27. anonymous says:

    Well Contented

    oooh my gosh what a beauty!!!Also, what about mulching good soil around your plants and trees before planting?

  28. anonymous says:

    Gardening

    Does anyone know of a Middle East gardening magazine they could recommend – in either English or Arabic?

    Failing that are there any leisure or other magazines which have decent gardening sections?

  29. markdoenitz[deleted]1101322982 says:

    Well Contented

    Not only is the general climate of Bahrain hostile to growing things, (low rainfall, blistering heat) the soil is highly saline, salt crusts on the top layer that are also low in soluble salts. The PH is on the alkaline side of the scale and the soil is VERY poor in organic matter. In essence the soil is lifeless and lacking the mycorrhizae needed for proper growth. To give you an idea of just how tough things are for home gardening,or even small scale farming, line up 3 to 5 of your favorite houseplants, dissolve 4 oz of salt into your watering can and water those plants. Welcome to Middle East gardening. Yet some species flourish in these conditions. Palms and acacia trees do very well. Perhaps Mahmood has a pic of the “Tree of Life” a 1000+ year old tree in the middle of the desert. A sight to see.

  30. anonymous says:

    Re: Well Contented

    LOL Mahmood, i have just discoverd your blog and it is great, i would just like to point out this statement you made prior to your movein, just in case you forgot, lol tee hee hee.

    “It’s almost sad that we have to go on holiday rather than start moving! But my plan is that we’re coming back on August 7th, and the BBQ is declared for August 8th, by the pool! Frances and the kids can do the moving part, I’ll just sit around the pool, sipping some amber liquid, smoke a Cuban or two and give instructions!”

    When i read that the first time i had a good laugh!! Cleasrly you are not not used to moving with a wife. lol you have months of works left, you just dont know about it yet.

    signed,

    laughing wife.

  31. mahmood says:

    Re(1): Well Contented

    Damn! This blog is a bad idea, people actually remember what you say!!

    So, OUCH! Yes, I was a bit blaze about it and didn’t really appreciate all the things that needed to be done, being a first-time-home-buyer (excuses excuses!) I guess I’m learning!

    BUT, we have done an AWFUL LOT with the house so far, in what… 20 days we have fully furnished it (curtains to be installed next Wednesday, and that’s the last of the “big” pieces left) and then we REALLY should get the BBQ out of hybernation!

    I hope you’ll join us at our first ever BBQ at our new home, say next Friday?

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