Monthly Archives: November 2013

Birds Flying High

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Israel is geographically placed in birdwatchers heaven.  Sitting on the The Rift Valley running from Syria and Mozambique, Israel is not only poised for earthquake it is also a bridge between Europe and Africa for the millions of birds that use the warm air funnel to reach their winter or summer destinations.  Every spring around April/May and every Autumn around October/November the skies are full of migrating birds.  There are areas that these birds stop for a rest, in the North in the Hula valley and in the South in the Arava and Eilat.  The hundreds of cranes, storks, cormorants and pelicans can also be spotted at any point between North and South.

Last week I visited the Hula valley to see who had dropped in for a pit stop.

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Even if you are not a birdwatcher (which I don’t think I am),  you can’t fail to be

impressed by the sheer numbers of giant birds swarming and swooping in to the drained marshlands of the Hula Valley to eat and rest before they continue their journey south for the winter.  Hula Valley became a sanctuary for the migrating birds only around 10 years ago, before that the birds had been coming since the beginning of time, only these days the birds are fed (to keep them away from the crops), tracked and protected, it is also a visitors dream; where you can bike, walk or electric cart the flat paths around the shallow lakes, spotting the coypu in the waterways and the kingfishers hovering, all under a sky resonating with the calls of a thousand birds.  

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Coypu – native to South America and brought to Israel for a prospective fur trade back in the 50’s.

On our visit it was cranes that were settling down for the night, a couple of weeks ago it was the pelicans and before that the storks.  There are in fact more than 230 species of birds that fly over Israel during migration seasons, some stay longer than others – rather like myself.

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On my very first trip to Israel way back in ’98 I visited the Hula valley and saw storks and pelicans, I visited the Golan and saw the vultures and eagles and we also took our hire car off-roading when we spotted flamingoes in the salt pools outside Eilat.  And no, I am not a birdwatcher, I don’t own a pair of binoculars but I must admit the more I see the more I am amazed by not only the birds themselves but the marvel of nature: The ability of the migrating many to know where to go, when; where to stop and when to rest and to keep doing it again and again, year in year out, for all those thousands of exhausting miles.flamingo

Red Sky at Night

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There are certain times of year when I am very happy that my home is in the Middle East.  November is one, February the other.  To me these were always the most depressing of months in the UK.  November with only a bonfire and fireworks to brighten the dull grey skies and chilly long nights.  The clocks are on winter time and the coats are out.

In Israel I finally pulled the duvets from their summer residence (the back of the cupboard) a week ago and to be fair we don’t really need them yet.  I have been sporting jeans rather than shorts but again, through want, not necessity (everyone else is in Autumn clothes so me too).  This morning is the first morning the childers requested a sweatshirt to go to nursery in.  It is in fact 24 degrees and sunny and tomorrow’s forecast is 29 degrees.  Am I gloating?  Yes, a little.  I think that it is small recompense for all the other crap I deal with from ‘choosing’ to live here.

We have spent the last three Saturdays at a beautiful beach just south of Haifa with assorted friends, buckets and spades, picnics and swimming costumes (the childers anyway, end of September signals the end of my desire to wear a bikini) and I am glad that I am not looking forward to the next ‘100 days of Arctic conditions’ in the UK.  I am happy that I am not leaning against a radiator that’s covered in drying socks, getting chilblains when returning home from work.  I do slightly miss the need for a winter coat and boots but hell, I can get over that and wear them anyway come January when (if) the thermometer dips below 16.

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Next month when I am mourning the loss of Christmas and fairy lights I would do well to remind myself of the joy of being able to pick strawberries in November, wearing flip flops and sunning my shoulders.  If any one ever needs a time to come to visit, now is it, leave the cold and grey behind and feel the warm again.

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The Joys of Parenthood

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One overheated room, one five-year-old at a swimming lesson, two three-year-olds trying to get into pool to join said swimming lesson.  Just another Monday afternoon chez nous.  Last week after overheating the twins for half an hour whilst trying to hold them back from the water (without someone calling social services) we all went outside to the play park to blow off some steam.

Back in my youth our local play park, the ‘rec’, installed a new fangled roundabout that us kids lovingly named the sick machine.  It was bright orange and could turn way faster than any run of the mill roundabout.  The play park at our swimming pool has a strikingly similar roundabout.  

On this particular visit the name became a reality. After some excited spinning(‘more, ‘faster’) No. 2 son complained his throat hurt and he wanted to get down; he waited just long enough for me to pick him up before he let rip and projectile vomited all over me.  Down my shirt, on my jeans, in my hair, on his shorts, down his t-shirt and in his hair – I did say it was projectile.

Love is managing to say ‘there, there, it’s OK, you’re OK, Mummy’s here’ when in reality you want to scream a swear word followed by ‘eugh’, ‘yuk’, ‘gross’, ‘oh my god’.

I changed his clothes – mums of 3-year-olds always travel with a spare set – and then peeled off my sodden, stinking, only worn once shirt, covering my dignity with my cardigan which a) didn’t have buttons and b) didn’t fully meet in the middle (fashion you know).  I then carried the poor chicken home, cursing roundabouts and flashing the motorists.  Of course the other 2 wanted to stay at the park and their brother’s obvious distress wasn’t enough to convince them otherwise.  Empathy is not children’s strong point.

 

Once home I ran a bath, plopped poorly boy in it and then discovered on removing my underwear that a warm puddle of lumpy stinking sick had collected in my non so ample cleavage.  Cue Mummy’s turn to throw up.  I hastily showered us both with way too much soap and thought that it was over.  Wrong.

You see when you have twins everything is in twos and lo and behold 2 hours later when sleeping in her bed, his sister started making strange coughing sounds.  She also kindly waited until I was holding her upright in her bed before she projectiled all over me.  (yes I know it’s not a verb).

Mummy is covered again, so are the sheets, the pjs, the poor little half asleep princess who found herself in the shower whilst half asleep.   Back to bed, clean and washed and bleurgh, it happened again but by this time the munchkins had got their timing sorted and tandem vomiting ensued.  More dirty sheets, more dirty pjs, more upset and confusion, 2 sleepy children, 2 exhausted parents, a terrible smell of disinfectant and one fast asleep 5-year-old who didn’t stir throughout.

I am happy to report that by 7am the twins were fully recovered and eating their body weight in cornflakes.  Their mother on the other hand was slightly nauseous, battle weary and dealing with an awful lot of washing.

Ah, the joys of parenthood.

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