Tuesday, 9 February 2016

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Elements - Excellent service, very tasty, but overpriced small portions

Friday evening dinner with the wife and another couple, the restaurant was empty, the staff were excellent and the food was very tasty. Cannot fault the service.

The portion sizes however I felt were a touch too small, The 1/2 Crispy duck starter was no where near the size expected, so it must have be a small duck to start with! I had the tenderloin beef as a main course, but again, not quite enough to satisfy my stomach and I am a very slim build individual, so anybody larger would have been left starving!

Given this and the cost for the meal I felt it was not that great value for money and can get on par food quality at lower prices for bigger portions elsewhere.

I would consider going back again, but it would be one that jumps out and screams at me to return.

Review posted at: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294009-d9777038-r346176973-Elements-Doha.html#

Monday, 8 February 2016

GEMS Wellington Sports Day 2016

The first sports day for the school since it opened at the beginning of October 2015. After an initial technical hitch with the sound system, the staff got the events underway, with the initial parade out of the pupils in their various house groups, followed by a selection of events and then a parade of the pupils back to their classes led by the winning house - Emerald.

The weather was perfect, with the temperature not too hot and fortunately things had warmed up from the recent cold spell, by Qatar standards!

Photos below and some Videos at the end.

PTA Stall for drinks and snacks. 
Mr Dey, School Principle, Opening Speech 

Sasha 1st Place in the Year 4 Hurdles

Ruby House Group

Onyx House Group 
Diamond House Group

Emerald House Group

Mr Dey Awarding Trophy to the winning house - Emerald

Emerald House Captains holding up their trophy!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Mangrove Kayaking

One of our friends invited to go kayaking with them and thought it would be good to do something new in Qatar with the kids on a fine day. Then I heard it was in the mangroves up North.....I never knew they had anything like that here!

We got the message from the organiser that we were all going to meet up at a supermarket car park just north of Al Khor at 9am the next morning, I had no idea how long it was going to get there. I also needed to get petrol. Add the sometimes manic queues at the petrol station and unpredictable traffic I made us get up early and aim to be out the door by 7.30. We weren't far off this mark, but needless to say there was moments of 'parent - child tension'.

After filling the car with petrol we headed on north towards Al Khor to the meeting point in the Al Meera supermarket car park at Al Dhakira.

As we were heading up the main highway north, I was looking at the outside temperature praying it was going to start warming up....it was only 17c and the thought of being in the sea at that temperature wasn't very appealing.

We met up with the guys from the company running the event Entalek and waited for the others to turn up. With a final pop into the supermarket for snacks and to use the facilities, everyone was ready to go.

Following the guides through Al Dhakira, we headed out onto the sands and a drive round the outside of the mangrove area to the base camp at the opposite side of the bay. As you would expect with a group of males drivers and a collection of 4x4's so 'messing' about on the sands was inevitable.

Arriving at camp, the guides gave the usual expected introduction, basic how to kayak and we split up and into the kayaks. some solo, and some paired up and those with the little ones had 3 seaters.

I had my youngest with me purely as a passenger sitting on the front seat in the kayak.

We headed out onto the water.........it was COLD......and took some adjusting. The outside temperature was around 21c by now, but with the cold water and light breeze coming of the sea there was a definite chill in the air. Ok, maybe fine by some standards, but after being use to high 40s over the whole of summer I could have done with it a bit warmer. There was no goosebumps or shivering, so it was acceptable...just!

Headed out onto the sea and paddled up the coastline until the opening into the mangroves appeared, heading in, it was more sheltered and really quite pleasant. it started to get narrow and shallow after a while, and about an hour in, the guide said it was time to turn round as it was only going to get shallower further in. The kayaks were already starting to bottom out on occasion on some of the sand banks.

We got back to the camp, changed out of the soaking wet clothes and it was time to start the BBQ, the guides had fired up 3 small BBQs and everyone just cooked there own food etc and sat around enjoying the food and company.

It was time to head back, so packing up the car with the cool box etc. back out onto the sands again. This time, the messing about, was a bit more extreme much to the kids amusement.

After taking a wrong junction and a bit of a detour (poor navigator in the passenger seat!) we got back to the villa after an excellent morning/early afternoon!

Sasha having a go at paddling 

Base Camp

Monday, 1 February 2016

Garden Furniture additions.....Getting ready for summer!

Back in October you may recall this post: http://qatar-is-calling.blogspot.qa/2015/10/front-garden-furniture-time.html which I added a new seating area to the front garden after tearing out the old rotten impractable shelter.

Well that left a lot of space, and really needed somewhere to sit to eat at a table. After looking at a few shops and seeing who had what, and what was in stock, we settled on a 9 seater 1.6m diameter round table, which had 3 double bench seats and 3 single seats round the round table. The table also had an additional revolving glass tray in the centre.

We purchased the table and chairs (Dallas Dining Set) from Apollo Furniture on Salwa Road as their website listed it a lot cheaper than another reseller in the city (who we were standing in at the time!), on top of this the actual price paid was another 15% off once we were in the shop.

During the high sun in summer there is also the need for some shade, but didn't want a permanent shade like over the seating area, so opted for an umbrella, again the various shops had different styles and colours, but elected for a FR-02-UM28-U201 one similar to the YG-Um34 model from Fiore-Rosso (next door to Landmark Mall) that you can see on this page here: http://www.fiore-rosso.com/products/yg-um34/ The large 3.5m umbrella has a winder for opening and closing the umbrella, the winder handle then detaches and can put into the base for raising and lowering the wheels to move it around, it is a sturdy heavy base that has 4 water tanks in it to provide the weight.

You can also see in the photo above that we also have a couple of sun loungers and a small table these were also purchased from Fiore-Rosso and are really comfy and already had a couple of afternoon snoozes on these!
Loungers + Cushions Model: FR-04-SL01-SL-WI:LR-WF1031CU
Loungers Side Table Model: FR-04-SL01-ST-WI:LR-WF1031

I moved the BBQ to just behind the white fencing next to the shed, which gives easy access to the kitchen via the back door or to the eating area at the front.

Up on the main balcony there have also been a couple of loungers and accompanying small table, as well as a couple of chairs with footstools and a small table, again from Fiore-Rosso. At least up on the balcony you get more of a light breeze(when there is one) to keep you cooler during the summer when the garden itself can be toasty due to being fully enclosed.

All the prices shown in the Fiore-Rosso showroom also were discounted by 20% at the time.
Sofa Set Model: FR-03-SF40-WI-9352-80F-CU:40061-0011-2

As you can see in the photo above the balcony is quite shaded, but this is early in the morning of January, in the summer the sun is on here from about 9 am.

Both Apollo and Fiore-Rosso was excellent, everything was delivered next day first thing in the morning. There was a slight hitch with the dining table set as some of the bolts for the chairs were missing, but the delivery team who were assembling it telephone their office and sent someone out with some more, but they had problems with them also. They said they would be back first thing in the morning with the correct one, but later the same day they turned up again and finished assembling the chairs.

Next up is to maybe add a small table and chair at the back door for breakfast time, or maybe a little private retreat up on the roof :-)