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.

AC failed upstairs.....and kids, NO FOOD UPSTAIRS! ANT ALERT!

Arriving home on Thursday evening to an empty villa. The wife and kids are away on holiday.

I went to dump my bag upstairs and get changed, and as I went up the stairs I was hit with a wall of heat.

At first I thought the upstairs AC system had been accidently turned off, but checking the controller it was on. I have a temp display sitting on it and it was 32'C!

Went to the security gate and asked for them to let maintenance know and get someone over as soon as. Well, it would be already knocking off time and tomorrow was their day off, so didn't hold out much hope. The security were also just shift changing and were in the middle of yapping, so guessed they would be distracted by their own chat and also forget.

Sure enough it is now Friday morning, 11.30am and still no sign of them.

Needless to say I slept on the sofa downstairs, as the AC was still working on the lower floor. It was quite comfy, but no curtains so when the sun got up at stupid o'clock I soon knew about it.

Last Night and Probably Tonights bed!
Later this morning I also noticed some tiny ants on the floor next to the sofa in the upper hall. They appeared to be coming in near the patio, but then after the initial check, found them wandering elsewhere. Full scale search mission was initiated!

They met up with their buddies just past the sofa and headed off on a wonderful journey!

The first ant motorway headed from the balcony patio door and through the hall to the stairs to the roof, the path went halfway up the stairs and then up the wall and disappeared into where the water tank is.

The second motorway headed from the intersection at the stairs, and towards Maya's bedroom and under her desk where they were settled down at 'Crumb cafe'.

The third motorway was a junction off the second into Sasha's bedroom where it headed towards her desk for another small eatery.

And finally the fourth motorway took another branch off the third and headed to Trump towers where Sasha has stashed some food cartons in the lower floor storage and then up the floors to the penthouse where they chowing down at an open Chocolate cafe!

Time to take out the RAID and then the Pif Paf. - Kill them off then I guess I'll be in cleanup mode!

This will maybe help the kids understand why we keep saying no food upstairs!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Well this changes things for the future!

The Al-Shaheen field is operated by Maersk Oil in a Production sharing agreement with Qatar Petroleum (QP) and the contract is due to expire in mid 2017.

QP put out a tender for the field and last night it was announced that Maersk have been unsuccessful.

This could make for an interesting year coming up as the transition is all worked out and implemented. The Maersk Oil website has the following announcement:

Maersk Oil to leave Qatar in 2017 following Al Shaheen decision

27-Jun-2016 20:25

In July 2015 Qatar Petroleum (QP) invited a number of international oil companies to participate in a competitive tender process regarding the future development of the Al Shaheen oil field in Qatar. Presently Maersk Oil is the operator of the field and the current 25 year production sharing agreement expires in July 2017.

Earlier this year Maersk Oil submitted its bid in the tender. QP has today communicated that they have selected another oil company as partner for the future development of the Al Shaheen field.

“Maersk Oil presented a highly competitive technical and commercial proposition based on more than 20 years of technical knowledge and experience working with the Al Shaheen field,” says CEO in Maersk Oil, Jakob Thomasen.

During the past 24 years Maersk Oil and QP have together developed the Al Shaheen Oil field into Qatar’s largest off-shore producing oil field. Under the terms offered by Qatar Petroleum, a minority shareholding for Maersk Oil in the new joint venture would have created a marginal impact on the Maersk Group earnings in the years ahead.

Maersk Oil will continue to operate Al Shaheen until the end of the current license in July 2017. Leading up to the expiry of the existing production-sharing agreement Maersk Oil will work together with QP to support a safe and efficient transition of the existing operations to the new operatorship.

“Maersk Oil is growing as a result of improved operating performance and with major projects like Culzean in the UK and Johan Sverdrup in Norway, we continue adding new production through to the end of the decade. We will continue to deliver in the years ahead based on a strong operational performance and cost focus and ensure that our major projects are executed on time and on budget,” says Jakob Thomasen.

Maersk Oil will be redeploying a number of its employees which today are based in Qatar elsewhere in its global organisation. The majority of remaining employees in Qatar are expected to be offered employment by the new operator.

A.P. Møller - Mærsk A/S’ financial outlook for 2016 remains unaffected and no need for write-downs will occur. The Group’s reserves and resources (by end of 2015 2P + 2C of 1,141 million boe) will not be impacted by the expiration of the agreement.