A long, sunny afternoon walk

Posted: August 31, 2017 in 2015, France





Posted: August 31, 2017 in France

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A beautiful French hamlet with historic village hall and farm buildings made in redbrick and weathered grey slate- roofs are surrounded by apple orchards, pasture land and fields of maize with a pond and Boules green at the centre.

The fortified church of Saint Médard and stable block dating back to the to the 17th century is the centrepiece of the small cluster of building our home for the 2 weeks over Easter.

Betws Y Coed – Snowdonia

Posted: September 10, 2016 in Wales

Betws Y Coed is a beautiful village in North Wales where the River Conwy meets its three tributaries flowing from the west, the Llugwy, the Lldr and the Machno. Much of it was built in Victorian times and it is the principal village of the Snowdonia National Park.
Set nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains, mature trees <including the infamous giant Douglas Fir>, cascading waterfalls, hill-top lakes, river pools and ancient bridges with a stunning 14th century church of St Michael’s which is one of the oldest in the country.

Pont-y-Pair (the bridge of the cauldron) in the centre of the village was built in 1468 and provides amazing photo opportunities of the cascading water and rapids. At the far end of the village is the Thomas Telford’s iron Waterloo Bridge built in 1815 another notable place for a photo

Snowdonia National Park

Posted: September 5, 2016 in Wales

Fabulous day walking up Snowdon – Pyg up and Miner down

Stunning views and fresh clear air,

“My lungs have never felt so good”

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Roman Roads – The Fosse Way

Posted: August 8, 2016 in 2016

The Fosse Way is a Roman road linking cities of Lincoln <Lindom> to Exeter <Isca Dumnoniorum> passing through Ilchester <Lindinis> Bath <Aquae Sulis>  Cirencetser <Corinium> and Leicester <Ratae Corieltauvorium


The road originally marking the western frontier of the Roman iron age after the invasion of AD 43 probably starting life as a huge defence ditch or front battle line. It can be surmised as the Romans conquered further West and North it’s use changed to a reserve route and highway to move large numbers of soldiers and supplies from 100 – 200 AD

The Fosse way is a remarkable example of Roman roads almost following a straight line for almost 200 years with no more than a 6 mile deviation off centre!


Fabulous cycling with a historic narrative 🙂


Saudization meets reality

Posted: June 17, 2016 in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi ruling shoura council has embarked on the process known as ‘saudization’ over recent years which has now been brought further into public focus with the much hyped 2030 National Strategic Development and Diversification Plan. Basically this is Saudi Arabia seeking to develop an economy not wholly dependant on oil and foreign workers – which in of itself is a fanciful dream by many

That’s the plan but here’s the reality…


Suppliers of goods and services, in this case mobile phones and accessories, refuse to supply and deal with Saudi Nationals. Some are quoted as saying they fear  limited legal recourse for non/late payment, low productivity and poor attendance/work ethic. Many Saudi’s only wanting to ‘work’ 5-8 hours 5 days a week – whereas ex pats often work 12 hours – 6 days a week to maintain productivity, profits and targets

In response the government are considering punitive measures such as increased rents and taxes for violators

So where does that leave the proposed initiative to replace thousands of foreign workers with young Saudi’s? The target of 50% saudization for the telecommunications sector seems way off – currently it is estimated that around 10% of employees are Saudi


As an employer choosing to employ a Saudi will often face a reduction in meeting targets, work efficiency and productive hours… Basically they can expect to become less profitable. This simple fact – verifiable by speaking to anyone – is the reason saudization will never work and possibly bankrupt the entire economy if ‘forced’ by the ruling elite.

Consider labour intensive sectors of the economy e.g. construction and a saudization goal of 50%. For example a building company may employee 50 builders and labourers and a couple of Saudi managers and architects. To hit the prescribed criteria they would have to either employ 48 more Saudi managers to balance labourers or sack 48 Bangladeshi/Indian or flippino workers. Either way the construction will very quickly go backrupt. The government constantly espouse the willingness of young men in this country to work – in the case of hard physical labour this is utter balderdash. It is obvious to any idiot that exceptions are going to have to be forthcoming to avoid the proverbial wheels falling off this bus!

Watch this space..

About bloody time

Posted: June 5, 2016 in Still Saudi Arabia

At last, someone is taking steps to sort out this filthy dump


Perhaps this direct assault on the wallets of the locals will bring about a significant – long overdue – change in their mindset


The major reason so many expatriates work in KSA is to earn decent money – tax free – to save/send home to family in their Native countries. Owing to the enormous financial liquidity crisis currently being experienced by oil producers, they are desperately clamouring to remedy the situation by finding *extorting* alternative sources of revenue


The latest suggestion to be discussed by the shoura council – Saudi Arabia’s government assembly chamber – is to slap a 6% tax on remittances leaving foreign nationals bank accounts – this is on top of currently administration charges levied by the banks. Thus the notion of a ‘tax free income’ somewhat undermined

Saudi Arabia was sat on a 950,000,000 – almost 1 trillion US dollar – nest egg before oil dropped from well over $100 a barrel to $30. Over the last 18 months thus figure has been decimated and currently is estimated to be around 500,000,000!

Also up for debate are stricter capital controls on physical hard currency literally being carried out in people’s luggage/on their person

Dr Muhannad Al- Zabn an obstetrician working in King Fahd Hospital in Riadyh was shot shortly after overseeing the delivery on a woman’s baby in the maternity ward. The husband, angered at another man seeing his wife naked, shot the doctor after surreptitiously arranging to meet him in the hospital to thank him for safely delivering his child


Welcome to Saudi Arabia

Tales of hard lessons learnt by an English teacher at a National University in Saudi Arabia:

A question of professionalism and ethics…


Teaching here in Saud Arabia is often quite an eye opener. The international and widely accepted concepts such as professionalism, integrity, honesty and academic rigor are sadly absent within many higher education institutions

Below is a list of observations during a term at a National University in the English department…

Being given no induction, orientation or welcome tour on arrival at university – sitting on my own for the first week before even being introduced to my manager or meeting the team

When requesting appropriate teaching material for relevant classes I was given used, riped, second-hand books and told to make do. When challenging this saying it was not acceptable to give me thrown out, hand me downs and was advised ‘if you don’t like it then quit’

Management inability to respond or take direct responsibility for a given situation, preferring to give excuses and delegate rather than solve the problem or give solutions. Often being sent to a subordinate who refers inquirer back to said manager

Being given classes to teach with no notice whatsoever, no attendance register or back ground information as to their current level, ability of expected outcomes/goals – clearly having little or no understanding of the planning and time it take to plan and produce academically suitable and content engaging lessons. It appears management have little or no back ground in education/teaching from their ill thought out decisions and unrealistic expectations

Management handing out duties and responsibilities to staff who are unable to perform said tasks e.g. informs teacher to update online attendance register but with no log on details, access or knowledge of the operating system/software

Being given mutiple/conflicting timetables with no explaination and then being blamed for missing lessons and student absenteeism

Producing and photocopying exam material moments before the exam – totally slap dash and unprofessional. Rather than discussing issues and problems about examination weeks before students sit exams, heads of depart bursting into exams that are in progress conducting polls and asking students when they would like to sit said papers. Allowing some to remain, some to delay and some to decide later

English exams strewn with grammatical and language errors – even after being checked and agreed by departmentals heads, thus undermining the entire examination system on which they solely rely

Key members of staff never in their office and rarely available to deal with issues – relying on WhatsApp to run their departments. As teachers were are expected to start work at 8am and finish at 3 or 5pm – 5 days a week. Aforementioned people arriving anytime between 10 and 11.30am leaving well before 3pm – usually around 2pm. This having been witnessed by various teachers virtually everyday

Everything is filthy with cleaners spending vast amounts of time sat round on Facebook – no oversight that teaching facilities are being maintained and cleaned meaning teachers are forced to work in filthy surroundings. When teachers ask for a clean room being advised to clean it myself or resign

Discussing next terms teaching material amongst themselves and students without consulting the teachers who have used said materials in earlier postings

Managers assigning overtime duties to staff then fraudulently applying for these hours themselves, when they haven’t even satisfied their contractual hourly work obligations

Welcome to the world of incompetence, unprofessionalism and fraud