Monday, 24 October 2016

GEMS Wellington - 2016 Winter Fair - 19th November

Winter Fair
GEMS Wellington School

19th November 2016

10 am - 2 pm

With many stalls for gifts, arts and crafts, plus plenty activities to keep the kids entertained, come and visit the GEMS Wellington School Winter Fair on 19th November 2016.

Build-A-Bear-Workshop are hosting a Magic Show at 12 pm.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Maintenance Time - Waste Disposal Unit!

While I was offshore, Nadia informed me that the kitchen waste disposal unit had died. She raised it with the compound maintenance team, but they said they do not do these anymore, but would happily remove it and return the sink to being just a normal drain connection.

I thought that there must be somewhere in Doha that has these, as there are kitchen sale rooms all over the place.

I removed the old unit and checked for size etc, and it looks like a fairly standard arrangement. I was convinced it was exactly the same layout as the one in Aberdeen, so thinking it might be a standard fit.

Original Faulty Unit
I checked the manufacturer data on the label and it was rated at 2.25A, 220-240vac, so I would expect the resistance of the motor coil to be around ~100 Ohms, however, when I put my multimeter across it, there was only 30 Ohms. 

Posting on the Facebook group When, Where and How in Doha, yield no results, so it was a time to just head out in the car.

Dropping the kids off at school in the morning, I was originally going to start off in Barwa Village, as there are literally hundreds of shops and many hardware type places in amongst them, however, Nadia thought I was heading to the massive Ansar Gallery first (Industrial Area Road), so we ended up there. There are a lot of roadworks in the area of the school, and I had asked what she thought was the best way to go, and guess we never got near Barwa Village, and it wasn't until we were at Barwa City, I thought something wasn't quite right! Not to worry.......

Instead we went into Ansar Gallery first, they have a huge kitchen area, but they didn't do disposal units. next followed the road along and stopped at every kitchen/bathroom sale room, and nobody had anything. Next stop was Salwa Road, and again, driving down the service road, stopping at all the kitchen places we could see. Nothing........eventually, a possible glimmer of hope. One of the sales guys in one of the kitchen showrooms, explicitly mentioned a shop by name and where it was. So off we went, unfortunately, when we came onto Salwa Road, we had already passed this shop, and that is why we missed it! We arrived at the shop, Teka, it was closed for lunch, argh!. Couldn't believe it was already 12.30.......we dropped the kids off at school at around 7.30! By this time, we were worn out and hungry, so just headed home to the villa.

I went onto Google and did a search for Teka Doha and found the relevant website. They had an online pdf of their Teka kitchen sink catalogue, and sure enough in the accessories list was a waste disposal unit...Yah!

I went back out when they re-opened (4pm) and into the showroom, and success, they have them, but not in the showroom. The woman didn't have any to show me, but simply showed the catalogue pictures and confirmed the sink hole size requirement. So I purchased one, and it would be available to collect from the showroom the next morning. 1650 QAR, discounted to 1500 QAR, that will do nicely.

Next morning, after dropping the kids off at school, we headed back to the shop, but it wasn't in yet, the woman said around 9.30, so we head home, and then I went back to collect at 11am. Arriving in the shop, the same sales woman, opened the box and let me see everything. It looked fairly standard, came with a whole bunch of fittings etc. so I was fairly convinced there was success in the making.

Getting back to the villa, I opened up everything and laid it all out. This one also came with an air activated switch, which was optional to fit, but thought it would be better than having to turn it on/off at the wall switch all the time like had to with the old one, will need to think about that.

First, up, was removing the old sink connector that the original unit was attached to. The new one was easy to fit, but needed 2 people, as it was difficult to hold in place while trying to clip on a large circlip ring that held the clamping arrangement in place. Once that was done and all tightened up, I removed the spare tap connector hole on the sink, perfect, it is the same size as the air switch button!

Clamping the new disposal unit onto the sink mount, and centralising, it was time to focus on the drains. It looked like everything was just going to slot into place, until I discovered that the fixed pipe that went to the drain system (i.e. the one that is permanent under the sink) was a few millimeters larger diameter than all new new stuff. I took the old trap I had removed and played around with all the bits on the floor to see what i could potentially cobble together, then it dawned on me just to use the old connection directly onto the new disposal unit, after all it 'looks' like they are in the same place. Sure enough, it all just aligned up perfectly, problem solved!

The air hose from the air switch was pushed onto the connector at the bottom of the unit, and the excess hose would round the neck of the unit just in case I needed to trim back in the future.

Next up was the electrics. The old unit had a wire that was terminated directly into the unit. The new one however came with a fixed, sealed flex and a european 2 pin plug. I thought I was going to have to go and get a wall socket and box from the supermarket, but then remembered I had kept the single socket I had removed from outside when I had replaced it with a double. Perfect, mounted it high under the sink, terminated the wire from the wall. Cut off the european plug and fitted a spare UK 13 Amp plug I had in my toolbox.

First test.....on with the leaks, success!

Second test.....switched on the breaker in the supply cupboard, turned on the wall switch, put on some water and pressed the air switch......yah! It works and how much noticeably quieter is this thing!

New disposal, new socket, original pipework and fittings.
As you can see in the picture above, the air hose at the top left, which is connected to the air switch mounted in the sink using one of the spare unused tap holes.
Air Switch
I could have also messed around with the pipework a bit more, and tried to hook in the existing dishwasher drain and fitted a new overflow to the sink, but they are all as original going to a different drain connection so just left them alone for now. Never know, if I come to redo the kitchen, it might get sorted out then........

Overall, a relatively painless swap out, the hardest part was finding a supplier!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Summer Holiday? That's all folks!

Well that is it. Summer is officially over, or more precisely, summer is after all still toasty here in Qatar!

It all started way back in the last week of June, Nadia and the kids jetted off to Florida for a 3 week break. The following week, I joined them after I had finished my offshore trip.

What is it with hire car companies? Or in this instance, Avis. When you have bought and paid fully up front for the full 3 weeks, told them when you arrive etc. and yet this still do not have the car you ordered available and try to give you a car instead of a jumbo SUV as ordered. That is bad logistics planning on their part and need to get their act together! I mean, how would their boss like to book a holiday to a 5-Star all inclusive resort to turn up at the door and be told, "Here is your tent, and a bow and arrow, you have to catch your own dinner, you can go and pitch it yourself in that jungle over there..." Anyway, ended up being upgraded FOC to a slightly smaller, but more luxury SUV, so it was as if it wasn't the end of the world, but certainly not what the wife needed after a 17 hour journey and two flights.......

We rented a villa down in Solterra Resort, which is a relatively new community, and only partially completed. The villa (see this link) was nice big 6 bedroom, private pool so just fine. The resort is adding more villas, expanding the facilities, currently has a clubhouse and community pool, adding in Lazy River etc. We had taken a larger one than we actually needed, as there was a possibility of some other friends coming, but at the time of booking was unconfirmed so just to be on the safe side. Add to this, that we were already really late booking anything, so choices were becoming more limited each day.

As you can see on the map below, Solterra is just south of the Disney area, off the I-4, which made access to everything quite handy. With nearby supermarkets for everything you would need in the villa, and also not far from places like Celebration, if you didn't fancy a Disney day and could wander around somewhere else for a change. You could also head straight up the I-4 and head right into Orlando for all the shops and eateries on International Drive, or at one of many along the 192.

Cool off in the fountain opposite the ice-cream shop (delicious!) in the heart of Celebration!

As you can imagine in the theme parks, it was hard to tell who had more fun, the kids or the parents. I think this next picture pretty much speaks for itself, and we were breaking the kids in gently on the coaster at LegoLand. So you can imagine what they were like on the bigger ones that we did manage to get them on!

The flights we took were from Doha to Boston, then Boston to Orlando. I'm convinced that clearing immigration in Boston was a lot quicker than going through Orlando, and having read all the concerns in the press about the queues, it didn't appear all that bad. Being a domestic flight from Boston to Orlando also meant that it was just a quick bag pickup at the Orlando end.

After the few weeks in the USA it was time to head back, and after an overnight stay at the villa in Doha, it was over to the UK. I went over for just 1 week, the wife and kids went over until the end of August. 

The biggest shock I had, was how much Aberdeen has changed in 1 year since I was last over, probably mostly down to the oil price crash. Thursday is usually the busiest shopping night, and the place was just empty. Even on the Friday when I went out for a few beers around town, the place was pretty quiet. I do hope it recovers soon! The construction work is really coming along with the Bypass, the chaos around the Airport roads, and construction at the Airport. I mean to say, an International Airport with a single temporary baggage carousel outside in a portacabin!

It was great to catch up with everyone who we managed to see, and as usual there is always some that are away or have other things on that you just have to say, well there is always next time! At least I managed to get a decent steak in at the Marcliffe!

I arrived back in Doha for a couple of nights then headed offshore for a 4 weeker. My back to back had asked to do rota shuffle so we both ended up with a 4/4 trip. The trip went surprisingly quickly. I guess keeping myself active with a lot, I mean, a really lot of walking, helped to pass the time. 
Came home after the 4 weeks and a it was time to get my survival refresher done again. This time I was doing it in QISC in Doha, makes a change from Aberdeen! The rota swap worked out fine with the Florida holiday, but certainly not looking forward to going back offshore after only 2 weeks at home.

So the family made it back to Doha, and after about a week it was back to school. The eldest has now moved from Gems American to Gems Wellington (British), and at the same school as her sister, which simplifies things slightly. The 2 schools were next door to each other, so no big change really.

Boozy BBQ's, blood, sweat and tear's, DIY repairs, new car.........and all Nadia is happy about is getting Great British Bake Off on the telly thanks to some internet modifications at the villa, but that is a whole different post!


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

"Magic Hose" anti-climax!

On the balcony we have a hose for washing down. Unfortunately, it is a really cheap one, with ultrathin walls and it collapses/kinks really easily and cuts the water flow off.

I was walking through Carrefour and noticed in the gardening section the "As seen on TV" "Magic Hose". They had them in a couple of different size, but opted for the small one as it was only to reach this and the other balcony.

The next day, I thought I would open it up and give it a try and get the balconies cleaned.

The tap end was screwed straight onto the tap connection and the other end screwed onto the provided spray head. It also came with another adapter for using with a snap on type connector.

Turning the water on, the hose started to expand and then I immediately noticed a leak, and then a 2nd leak, and the hose stopped growing. In fact, the water leaks were so bad from the hose, that the hose wouldn't expand at all after the 2nd leak.

Talk about disappointing!

I pinched the hose before the 2nd leak and the upstream section expanded further and the 1st leak was even more obvious!

I don't know if the hose had been sat in a warehouse for a long time and has perished internally or is a manufacturing defect, but think I'll be taking it back.....

See for yourself......

Friday, 1 July 2016

AC Fixed!

As posted yesterday, the upstairs AC was broken, so had to sleep downstairs as it was 32'C up in the bedrooms.

This morning, I got up and started to poke around the system, There was a very slight cool air flow coming in the vent on the stairwell and it also sounded like the fan was on in the ducting, but just very very quiet.

The maintenance guys were on the day off today, but I did request the security to get a hold of them yesterday evening, but no sign of them by lunchtime.

I went back to security gate again today and asked them to get hold of the maintenance guys as I need it fixing now.

10 minutes later, the guy turned up. I apologised for getting him out on his day off, but needs must and all that!

Maintenance had been 2 weeks earlier as the same fan was rumbling and I asked him if it was him that came round and he confirmed that yes it was him and it was one of the belts had snapped causing the rumbling.

He took the ceiling to bits in one of the bathrooms were the fans are in the void space and came out a while later and confirmed that one of the belts is stretched compared to the new one fitted before and they are not working together. He headed off to get a replacement, came back, fitted it and bingo we now have a proper sounding fan and lots of cool air from the vents.

Just to be on the safe side he also went out the garden AC units and topped up both of their gas pressures.

6 hours later and the temperature has only dropped around 3'C. There is so much heat stored in the walls and floors that it is taking ages to cool down! Another night on the sofa it is then!

I am not surprised it takes so long considering that it reached 49.4'c on the garden thermometer in the shade.

Slipped him a few bob for his troubles/disturbing his day off and away he went a happy man. :-)

Upstairs temperature ~6 hours after AC fixed.