with 4 Comments

The end of the teenage years

This week: Carry on blogging; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013: 2014:

Winter sunset
Winter sunset

This is my 52nd Blog of 2019. At the end of the year is is usual to look back, but in this case it is also the end of the decade. The end of the teenage years of the 21st Century so I thought I would look back over the past ten years.

With a digital camera – and a good filing system – it isn’t difficult to do, even though there are thousands of photographs to go through.


Carry on blogging

Although I only started the blog when I came to Dol, for many years I had sent an annual Christmas Photo Album, with images taken throughout the year. This was before the first Blog had been invented, before Social Media and a host of other on-line platforms which today we take for granted.

Starting in the late 1990’s I uploaded annual albums to various on-line platforms. I think I chose them badly, because none are still available.

Google+ has gone, as has MSN.Groups, but I do still have the photos. I keep all my photos backed up onto external hard disk drives, just in case…

What did surprise me was my consistency. Every year there are felines, DiY jobs, history, plants and gardens, together with innovation in different areas. I very seldom take photographs of people!

Although by year the order may differ, the same threads are clearly there throughout the prose.

I recently looked at trying to load all the blogs from the past five years, so they are available in one place. I gave up. The time it would take to find and format the photographs, edit and load the text and link everything, for the number of people who might read one just didn’t seem worthwhile.

Without further ado, here is a photo essay look-back over the first half of the 21st century’s teenage decade.


2010

At the start of 2010, I began my fifth year working for Abu Dhabi Police. Here the police HQ, before construction work started on the old Civil Defence site to double the available space.

Abu Dhabi Police HQ
Abu Dhabi Police HQ

I had opted to live in a villa, close to my Bateen office, because it had a garden.

18th Street Villa
18th Street Villa

The tree which shaded the villa is a Manilla Tamarind. The local kids used to pick and eat the fruit.

Mannila Tamarind
Mannila Tamarind

My Emariti neighbour had his trees removed when he moved in. He asked me one day if I had trouble with the Djinn (Genie / الجن) who live in trees. I told him no, but there was a local cat burglar who used the tree to come in when he was hungry…

Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear

I had my weather station set up. 37ºC outside was a standard spring and autumn temperature. 30ºC inside was normal when the air conditioning stopped working, which it often did.

I can see you
I can see you

The reinforced concrete walls though acted as a Faraday Cage, so the weather station, being wireless, often lost the signal from outside sensors.

I created a modification to add an external antenna. Just a bit of electronic open heart surgery, but it worked. This is the same station I am using today.

Modification in progress
Modification in progress

I encouraged wildlife and fed the local birds on my study windowsill. All the windows were one way glass.

One way glass
One way glass

My office was at the police helicopter base, where there was a small air force of 17 helicopters..

Office view
Office view

Being the Interior Ministry police aviation adviser was an immense privilege. I got to go flying and see the Emirates from the air.

Leaving Abu Dhabi Island
Leaving Abu Dhabi Island

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with the grounds still being landscaped in 2010.

Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

A laser straight highway dissects the ever shifting sand dunes.

The real desert
The real desert

When on the unfenced highways, you would often see camels, here with their young.

Camel train
Camel train

Along with colleagues, I was involved in planning and stress testing the police operation for the first Abu Dhabi Formula 1 race, at the then brand new Yas F1 track.

F1 Yas Island
F1 Yas Island

Abu Dhabi city is built on an island. Here the Al Maqta bridges cross the tidal race with the centuries old watch tower in the centre.

Al Maqta watch tower
Al Maqta watch tower

As everywhere, New Year is celebrated with fireworks.

New Year fireworks
New Year fireworks


2011

After five years in a 25 year old (ancient by Abu Dhabi standards) villa, I had started to look for somewhere else. The neighbourhood was changing and the owner didn’t want to do maintenance.

Looking for a new villa
Looking for a new villa

I used to go out on Friday mornings and drive around looking for “to let” signs.

Lots of options
Lots of options – few with gardens

Through one of the senior staff at the helicopter unit, I found somewhere nice, in Khalifa City, opposite Masdar City

Finally somewhere
Finally somewhere

The place was HUGE, but so was the garden. The felines each had a bedroom with ensuite and there was still a guest room too.

Huge garden
Huge, but with a huge garden
A place to call home
A place to call home

On May 1st, Risha came to tell me something had happened. The stray who had hitch-hiked from the old villa had had kittens under the settee. Callie was one of three sisters. She is on my knee as I write this…

New arrivals
New arrival Callie, just a week old and already the adventurous one
Mum
Mum, Callie and her two sisters

I needed to fill the available space, so had my container from Spain sent out. It arrived at Dubai in June and all the boxes were delivered on pickup trucks.

The container arrives
The container arrives from the UK

At work I was becoming involved in several special projects, for example organising the annual Earth Hour celebrations.

Earth Hour
Earth Hour March 2011
60 minutes
60 minutes

Then there were the discussions about measuring inputs, outputs and outcomes. A difficult concept to explain in English. Infinitely harder in Arabic!

Explanation
Explanation required

But at home I could relax in the garden, enjoy the pool and plant suitable shrubs to cover the bare compound walls.

Sundial
Garden sundial from the container
Desert rose
Desert rose
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea
Double Bougainvillea
Double Bougainvillea
Ipomea
Ipomea – morning glory

I was still taking photographs and experimenting with low light and time lapse photography.

National Day
National Day laser display, Emirates Palace Hotel

At the end of the year, I was invited to a friend’s home in Al Ain. Here the barbecue has been lit and the air blower is creating a fire genie from the sparks.

Fire genie
Fire genie


2012

With heat, soil and water most things will grow. In a little under a year from planting, one morning I came down to find one of the banana plants had produced a flower.

Banana flower
Banana flower

It then took five months for the fruit to grow large enough to harvest and eat.

Banana fruit
Banana fruit

Other plants I grew were Karkade, Hibiscus sabdariffa, used to make Hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus
Hibiscus

It didn’t rain often then in Abu Dhabi, but when it did, everything flooded. The first 15 months I lived there, we had no rain at all.

When it rains
When it rains, it floods

As well as the helicopters, I also worked with the police ambulance service, developing a performance management system.

Police ambulances
Police ambulances

I tried to interest air support with the idea of air portable rescue equipment, to support the police crash rescue vehicles, but there was little interest.

Ambulance rescue vehicle
Ambulance rescue vehicle

The police set up a complete USAR team, which did include air portable vehicles, for deployment to disasters across the region and beyond.

Abu Dhabi USAR team
Abu Dhabi USAR team

2012 was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee.

Queens Jubilee
Queen’s Jubilee

As part of the celebrations in this former British Protectorate, a parade of British made vehicles, representing each year of her reign was assembled. I drove a Mini Clubman 1275GT, in British Racing Green. The finale was a two lap concourse round the Yas Island F1 race track.

Mini Clubman
Mini Clubman

Home is what you make it. However I realised that no matter how long I was in Abu Dhabi, it would never really be “home”. So I started to research where I might go next.

I had and have no intention of returning to the UK to live, so using all the on-line resources available, I began to look at different countries.

Home is
Home is what you make it
Somewhere comfy
Somewhere comfy with some toys

Another of the special projects I was involved with was the VGT. This is a group of law enforcement organisations who work together on combating child abuse.

In 2012 Abu Dhabi hosted the annual conference. It was very interesting working on such an international gathering.

VGT Conference
VGT Conference


2013

There is something about photographing the solstice sunrise. Many people see beautiful sunsets. Fewer are around for beautiful sunrises.

January 1st
January 1st
UAE Flag
UAE Flag

Abu Dhabi was changing before your eyes. I saw it before sky scrapers dominated the skyline and when there were still just two bridges on and off the island.

The rate of progress was blistering. In 2013, all the streets were re named and at every junction QR codes were on display to help visitors to navigate.

The old buildings, going back to the very beginnings of the country were steadily being removed, mostly to be replaced with new. The growth was exponential.

Abu Dhabi Changing
Abu Dhabi Changing

The tiny corner shops with the Indian or Pakistani owners were closed, to be replaced by Baqala. These were strictly controlled, with refrigerated cabinets and new displays. Gone were the floor to ceiling piles of flour sacks and the old ways of selling.

Baqala
Baqala

I had decided to move to Croatia. It was to join the European Union in July 2013 so I made several visits, at different times of the year and to different regions, before selecting the island of Hvar.

I then had some more visits to look at properties which were for sale. I had a criteria. Somewhere that I could develop. Somewhere with land attached and a room with a view.

Needs some work
Needs some work

To describe some of the places as “ruins” would be an understatement!

Building with character
Building with character
Has a garden
Has a garden

Back in Abu Dhabi, the year moved on. Summer was as always, hot and humid.

A summer evening
A summer evening

But taking an afternoon nap comes naturally in this heat.

Relax mode
Relax mode

The gardens around my villa were maturing and some of the special plants, like the Travellers Palm were settling in and starting to thrive.

Desert rose flower
Desert rose flower
Travellers palm
Travellers palm

The Spider lily’s were forming thick clumps.

Spider lilies
Spider lilies

And trees like the Flamboyant Tree, Delonix Regia, were in flower for the first time.

Delonix regia
Delonix regia

Autumn saw the annual GITEX exhibition in Dubai, where I was working on the police stand.

Gitex Dubai
Gitex Dubai

Every kind of new technology was on display for the world to see.

Supercar
Supercar

December 2nd is UAE National Day, when buildings across the country are lit in the national colours.

National Day at HQ
National Day at HQ – The Forensic Science building

Even in winter I had plants in flower in my villa garden.

Winter Poinsettia
Winter Poinsettia

It was also the official opening of the MoI Child Protection Centre

MOI CPC
MOI CPC
CPC staff
CPC staff

Another of the projects I worked on, through the CPC, was improving school bus safety

School bus project
School bus project

But I still had time to practice Kite Boarding at the beach. The Arabian Gulf is warm even in winter.

Seascape
Seascape
Winter
Winter
Reflected sunset
Reflected winter sunset


2014

Working with colleagues from all the different countries, meant lots of invitations. Like this one to the Australia National Day celebrations.

Australia national day
Australia national day

Climate change was not a phrase that was on everyone’s lips, but my weather station was recording changes to the local climate.

Weather station
Weather station

Storms were becoming more frequent.

Dust storm
Sand storm

However it was time to start packing for the move to Croatia. Not everyone was happy about this.

Packing up
Packing up

But everything (and everyone) had to go.

Everything must go
Everything must go

Apart from the plants.

Spider lily
Spider lily

It was a shame because the mango and grapefruit trees I planted had their first fruit on them.

Alfonso mango
Alfonso mango
Grapefruit
Grapefruit

At the end of May we waved bye bye to Abu Dhabi, after almost 9 years and set out on our travels again.

Abu Dhabi sunset
Abu Dhabi sunset

The arrival in our new home was uneventful. It had been planned well.

Our new home
Our new home
Old house - new home
Old house – new home
Exploring
Exploring
Meeting the neighbours
Meeting the neighbours

But there was immediate work to be done. 13 cubic meters of space was taken up with wine vats, capable of holding 1,000 litres of wine. I needed the space!

Making space
Making space

And a month later my container arrived from Abu Dhabi. That’s me done roving!

Container arrives
Container arrives
800 boxes and packs
800 boxes and packs

The summer of 2014 rained a lot. My neighbours said I had brought it with me.

Rainy summer
Rainy summer

It helped focus attention on urgent tasks – like fixing some guttering…

Quick win - guttering
Quick win – guttering

Building work began by removing and replacing the kitchen roof.

Demolish the old kitchen
Demolish the old kitchen

There was history plastered into the ceiling – old newspapers from 1913.

Discover some history
Discover some history

With new walls and a leak proof roof, the things which came in the container started to be assembled.

Then rebuild
Then rebuild
Add tiles
Add tiles
Make everything level
Make everything level
Square the walls
Square the corners
Add tiles and voila
Add wall tiles and voila – a finished kitchen

Other urgent jobs included making doors which were water and rodent proof.

Remove old hinges
Remove old hinges
Fit new doors
Build and fit new doors

Then there was the spaghetti mess of the wiring.

Wiring's a mess
Wiring’s a mess
Behind the fuses
Behind the fuses

I had identified re-wiring as an urgent task, so everything I needed had come in the container.

Needs some ingenuity
Needs some ingenuity
and a new Consumer Unit
and a new Consumer Unit

I got the local electrician to come and do wiring in the new kitchen. After his first visit I fired him and decided to do everything myself.

Fired the electrician
Fired the electrician

Planning the orchards was fun. I decided to plant trees immediately, then they could settle in while I was doing all the other jobs.

Planned and planted the orchard
Planned and planted the orchard

Even though I had looked at the angle of the sun, I was surprised how the trees to the south reduce sunlight hours around mid-winter. And of course, trees get taller every year….

Mid winter sun
Mid winter sun

Next week I will finish the look-back. NRC

4 Responses

  1. Dave
    | Reply

    Norm:
    Thoroughly enjoyed your look back. Interesting excursion.

  2. Marcy Fletchall
    | Reply

    Thank you for that look back. I loved the pictures especially the ones from Abu Dhabi. I left in late December 2014. Was quite an adventure. I was there for right at 10 years all total. I miss it sometimes.

    Wishing you a healthy, joyous and peaceful New Year. Marcy

  3. Steve G
    | Reply

    Hi Norman. Certainly enjoyed your pics of ADP time, good memories for both of us. Best wishes from Victoria and me. Have a fantastic 2020, when we hope to see the extension under way. Steve

  4. carole
    | Reply

    Enjoyed walk down memory lane in UAE and initial time in Croatia.We remember your lovely garden there and enormous house( with police museum). Wishing you well for 2020 and looking forward to hearing about your future projects.Carole and Iain.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.