Sunday, 29 March 2009

Tuzla has an airport!

Apparently, and I'm not holding my breath because this is Bosnia and because I'm not going to get my hopes up, but apparently, Tuzla not only has an airport (which I knew) but said airport now operates international flights. Sadly, not to the UK which would be so exciting it would probably kill me, but to Frankfurt which is at least a big airport with lots of connecting flights to useful places.

Since BA stopped flying to Sarajevo in October, any flight back to England requires a transfer somewhere en route. Stopping over seems so much more alluring without children. A cup of good coffee in Budapest? Yes please! But if I do have to run the gauntlet of an airport transfer with 2 small boys full of hyperactivity having been sitting still for at least an hour and hyped up on rubbish food, the prospect of the flight is hugely improved by not having to drive 3 hours to Sarajevo before we even get onto the plane.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Bosnian strays

The number of stray dogs in Bosnia is a recognised problem. There are a lot. Around Tuzla you occasionally see packs of them, 10 or more, roaming together looking for food. They can be quite frightening, incidents of packs of dogs attacking people in the Balkans is not uncommon (another Balkan blogger Balkan File recently wrote about some dog attacks in Belgrade). The way the Bosnians deal with them vary. Many just ignore them. Others semi-adopt a dog, leaving it food, setting up shelter. Some of the strays are so well fed they will turn up their nose at substandard offerings (note to Jessie, you do not actually have to eat everything that is edible just because it is there). There are so many dogs and puppies that it is difficult not to lose your heart to at least one. Dog Homes are few and far between, and those that are around are poorly funded and unsupported by the government. Susan Johnson's article in Animal Welfare Institute Quarterly tells me that despite many peoples best efforts to persuade governments otherwise, the official government policy to deal with dogs basically consists of the periodic rounding up of the strays and killing them.

We often go up to the hills behind Tuzla, to the woods of Illincica to walk with the boys and Jess. There are a couple of strays who live up there and we've sort of made friends with them. One had puppies back in October and three of them survived the coldest part of the winter. Everytime we saw them, they seemed well fed, sociable dogs always pleased to see new people but not so confident as to be a pain. I had a particular soft spot for one of the puppies, a lovely, shy, leggy lady always wanting to please.

As Jess has been recovering from Lyme's Disease, we hadn't been up to Illincica for a while. This week, the snow melted, the sun came out so we ventured back up there. I didn't see the dogs. So I asked the owner of a restaurant up there where they were. The hunters came, he said. I told them not to, but they shot them anyway.

Sometimes I find this country very difficult to deal with.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Idle Parent

I was idly reading the Times website the other day (trying to ignore the chaos going on behind me) and came across a book review for a book called The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson. I haven't actually managed to get my hands on a copy to actually read the book yet, a copy is awaiting my return to the UK, but the review struck a chord.

Essentially, he is advocating allowing children to have more time and space to themselves to create their own play. He thinks that many parents spend too much time standing over their children in adult organised activities, ensuring that things are done just so, and that many of these activities are too educationally orientated. I was reminded of a conversation I had last year with another member of the Mothers Union as we watched other mothers being very engaged with their children in the playground whilst we gossiped and our children were last seen investigating bugs in the hedge. We confidently agreed that we had made a decision to parent our children in this way, to allow them space to explore and create for themselves, but then we secretly whispered to each other that maybe it wasn't so much a conscious decision but shhh .. maybe... just maybe.. we might actually just be a bit lazy.

Fast forward a year and I find myself in a culture where this type of parenting is the norm. The Bosnian kids are afforded a remarkable amount of freedom in comparison to British ones. They play outside, the boys on bikes and with footballs, the girls walking around arm in arm whispering and giggling. All ages mix together, they all know each other and they are, on the whole, beautifully behaved. Exuberant sometimes, loud often, they engage with each other, taking the resonsibility to look out for the younger ones and without fail respect the adults. It seems to me that this mixing of ages and backgrounds leads to a real development of a social awareness that can be lacking in British children who seldom have the opportunity to engage with youngsters outside of their own age range.

So, now that spring is arriving (at least the days are getting longer even if there is still snow on the ground), I'm looking forward to watching the Bosnian children enjoying themselves. I'm not sure that I am quite prepared to let my two head off on their own, they are only 2 and 3 after all, but I am looking forward to possibly reading a book on the porch whilst they create havoc in the garden and not feeling guilty that I ought to be organising something.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Hot water tanks

It was only once we moved to Bosnia did I realise how spoilt we had been with our combi boiler in the UK. Hot water, straight away, for as long as we needed it. A long hot shower where I could just stand either belting out the hits or resting my head on the wall depending on my state of mind and, crucially, where I could avoid all small children, husbands, dogs wanting walks and generally regroup my thoughts.

Here, the hot water comes from tanks on the wall above the bath. To make sure that there is hot water the boilers must be switched on a good hour before the hot water is required which requires forethought, planning and organisation from me, generally sadly lacking. The number of times bathtime appears without any hot water is annoyingly high. Furthermore, the size of the tanks means that there is only a limited amount of hot water. If I am quick I can get some shampoo and conditioner through my hair but it means moving faster than Isiah Bolt runs the 100m. A long soak is a possibility, but only when supplemented with pots of boiling water from the stove. And don't get me started on the microscopically small tank of water which supplies the sink where we do all the washing-up (and with no dishwasher, trust me, it is ALL the washing-up, and usually in freezing cold water too).

Anyway, as mentioned before I got sidetracked in a rant about lack of hot water, the tanks are all attached to the walls above the bath. At least they were. The other night, at 3.30am, one of our tanks came off the wall. It made the most almighty crashing noise. Dave and I shot out of bed, and into panic. We couldn't find where to turn the water off. We couldn't find the right fuse to stop the flow of electricity into the tank. We were half awake and in our night-time attire. We ran around in disarray looking for anything that might help, the dog joining in the fun. There may have been some shouting (particularly when we couldn't get the right fuse). Eventually, using chairs, brooms and a mop, we managed to concoct some form of prop to keep the boiler up.

The boys, who usually awake at the sound of a feather floating down outside their window, snored throughout. They couldn't believe the trail of destruction that greeted them when they got up in the morning and were thrilled at the drama of it all. The arrival of Crampy the plumber (an extremely round man) was additional fodder for their excitement. They watched, wide eyed and enthralled as he put the tank back onto the wall. I'm still eyeing it warily and dreaming of a combi boiler. The things you miss when you are abroad!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK. This took us by surprise, without the prompting of retailers we didn’t have a clue it was coming. So no cards, breakfast in bed or flowers for me. I don’t mind, Dave has taken the whole lot out for the morning allowing me a few precious hours to myself to do what I want to do. That is bliss beyond comprehension, just a few hours to not have to wipe a bottom, separate a mass brawl or have my ear drums assaulted by a squawking recorder is really special.

There is a Mothers Day competition being run by a British Company MamaBabybliss, which has challenged mothers to write about their ‘me’ time, how they pamper themselves. Apparently 93.6% mothers long for more time to themselves.

How I identify with this. But, I do find it wildly annoying that everyone presumes that when I get half an hour to myself what I really want to do is to lie in a perfumed bath having a manicure. That's not to say I don't love a long hot soak with a good book, I do, but I can do it with the kids in my life. In the evenings, once everyone is in bed there is a whole load of stuff that I can do. I can have a glass of wine. I can go out to a restaurant with a friend. I can read a book. I don’t have enough time to do it as often as I would like, but I can do it, particularly when I decide not to care that the house looks as if a bomb has hit it.

No, what I miss, and what I really long for is the stuff that I can’t do any more. I long to ski really fast, just edging towards being out of control, down an exposed mountainside, wind and cold biting and fingers turning white. I miss the feeling of being really fit and going out for a run on a beautifully crisp day and having one of those days where it all just clicks, the legs feel great and I can luxuriate in the feeling that my whole body is just as it should be, my muscles working just so. I also miss going out for the day with no fixed plan and just seeing where we end up, spontaneity leading us to places we would never normally go and getting lost and not being able to find somewhere to stay and being starving before all is resolved and we have a story to enter the family history books.

But, given that a weekend on the Sarajevo ski slopes is out of the question, I’m not fit enough to go for an enjoyable run and spontaneity always leads to me not having enough nappies and grizzly children in the back of the car, I've settled for listening to The Archers Omnibus followed by Desert Island Discs on IPlayer, and you know what, it is a very pleasant way to spend my Sunday morning. I’ll save my long hot soak for this evening when I’ll be one blissed out Mummy.

****** UPDATE******

The boys and Dave came back from their walk shortly after I'd posted this post. They burst in full of pride and excitement and clutched in their hot little hands were a bunch of plastic flowers, a Beethoven CD full of Mozart's music and the Wall-E DVD. The best that Tuzla had to offer at short notice. I am genuinely thrilled. All the adreline inducing ski runs in the world don't match up to my plastic bunch of roses presented by two beaming little faces.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

First day of spring?

Are you thinking gentle temperatures, delicate flowers or going outside without a jacket on?

That was last week. Today it snows.

Enough already.

Friday, 20 March 2009

talking bosnian

Thursday nights are our Bosnian language lessons night. It has to be said that we do not rock at Bosnian. In fact we rock about as much as a toy sailing boat becalmed in a mill pond. We are not very good students and are terrible at actually sitting down and doing the amount of learning that is required. We forget from week to week what we did last week. We don't have a very good idea of how English is put together, which makes learning grammar even harder. But ultimately we aren't putting in the desk hours needed to improve.

Abject laziness is not the only reason we are not progressing as fast as we ought to. The sheer complexities of Bosnian fry our brains, particularly if the day has been long or taxing. I won't go into the difficulties of the language except to give one example. An adjective has to agree with the noun. Seems sane enough. Memories of distant French lessons come back to me - masculine, feminine words. Yes. Not too difficult. Then comes Bosnian. There are the three genders - masculine, feminine and neuter. So far so good. But then comes the kicker. The words change when they are put into different cases. Memories of distant Latin lessons, but just about hanging in there. Then I realised that there are 7 different cases. SEVEN! I haven't even mentioned yet that there are a singular and plural versions. Put the lot together and there are FORTY TWO different possible endings to the word. And that is the ones that I know of. Instant brain mush. Bosnian has a trick of just when you are getting the hang of it it brings in a new rule - like if there are more than 5 of the item it all changes again. Or if you are talking on a Tuesday every second word must end with a u. I might have made that last bit up but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a rule like that.

Anyhow, the combination of the complexities of the language and our distinct failure to actually apply ourselves properly to learning it mean that we are not making much progress. Dave confessed that he doesn't use Bosnian at all beyond ordering a coffee in his day to day life. I do use it a lot more but have amassed a very particular vocabulary. I bet not many other newbies to the language have cry, paint, potty, poo, baking powder and tick in their vocab.

The boys are going to run rings round us and will soon have an ability to converse with each other without us understanding what they are saying. This is an alarming development indeed and may provide me with the kick up the backside to do the learning.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


I'm not one for haircuts. I should probably re-phrase that. I am one for haircuts but recent circumstances (children mainly and lack of ready cash) means that I haven't had very many recently. I splashed out just before Adam was born, 3 1/2 years ago and had a very nice one done. The next haircut was 18 months later, just before Luke was born, scarily meaning having babies was as frequent an activity as cutting my hair. Then I cut it again just before we came out here; another 18 month gap.

My hair had got to the lengths where it was starting to get really irritating. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured forth, last night to submit my locks to a Bosnian hairdressers scissors. She was recommended by a friend of mine who always looks glamourous and has amazing hair. Even better, she lives downstairs from said friend and she could cut my hair in the evening. So, having put the boys to bed off I went.

Now, I have a few conditions for any haircut which can be summarised as follows:

1. I must be able to tie it back out of my eyes.
2. If it needs blow drying or any form of styling product of any form then it is a disaster
3. It needs to be able to grow out well - given my previous record it is likely to be 18 months before I get to the hairdressers chair again.

So, I sat down, went through this list of conditions and said off you go. Now, I am the proud possessor of a sleek bob (currently tied back... obviously!). It wasn't totally what I was expecting, but it was a job well done. And at 5 KM who's to complain?

Next stop, sorting out the boys. Luke isn't looking too bad, a hairdresser came round the nursery not so long ago and I signed him up. He was the only one who didn't cry and reappeared looking very smart. Adam, on the other hand, screams blue bloody murder whenever he sees a set of scissors approaching his flowing locks with the result that the only person to have cut his hair since we left the UK has been me. I am totally untrained, never even had a teenage cutting my own hair phase and find trying to address a wriggling, caterpillar-like child with his hands covering as much of his hair as possible to be unconducive to my attempts to learn the trade. It has been a case of cut what I can where I can, giving up after a set period of time and trying not to mind that my child looks like a street urchin who has never in his life had access to a set of scissors.

We are booked in for Saturday morning.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

visas ... or maybe not

The quest to obtain the proper permission to remain in this country continues. This has been going on since we got here and is becoming so unbearably bureaucratically mind numbingly dementedly dull that all we can do is laugh, shrug our shoulders and mutter, as the Bosnians do, 'this is Bosnia'

Our tourist visas ran out again so we made the trip to Serbia for coffee on Sunday (see my previous post from the last time we had to do this, deludedly thinking that that would be the last time). Dave's company is now officially registered and he has a Bosnian bank account, a Bosnian employee and a Bosnian salary. The big step forward is that company is now permitted to employ him, the creator of the company, as of last week. This is a process that has taken 8 months. Now we can start the process of obtaining temporary residency visas. Having seen the application form we suspect this will take us another 8 months. We also need to re-obtain a load of documentation, such as UK police checks, that we had already obtained before we left the UK as they are now, apparently, out of date.

Back to the police station we must go, where we will be told off, again, for not having a residency visa. We will be told, again, that as we only have a tourist visa we really ought to leave the country for 3 months before we are allowed back in again. We will be told, again, that this is the last time they will renew our visa but not until we point out that we simply cannot move this process along any faster, and it is not our fault that it is taking so long. Once again, the boys will use the corridors as 100m racing tracks and we will be told off by some scary looking policemen having cigarettes. Really, it is so frustrating and such a waste of everyones time and energy. If the powers that be in Bosnia really want people to invest in this country, and create companies which generate income and employment, they really do need to sort this process out.

Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Monday, 16 March 2009

A Fat Dog

Two trips to the vets later and it looks as if we have managed to stop the Lyme Disease in its tracks. We caught it early and Jessie is now bouncing around, has yellow pee and all is on the mend.

However, the vet did stick Jess on the scales and we have discovered that she now weighs 6kg more than she did in August when we arrived. A whole 6kg (that is approaching 14 lbs for the less metric minded amongst you). This is a whole lot of weight on a dog.

We knew that she was getting fatter, and were not surprised. In the UK she would usually get 2 hours of walking every day. Here she gets just one; the walks are not as energetic and she seldom meets a dog who wants to play which is the best from of doggie exercise out there. We had been restricting her food accordingly, giving her very few scraps or little extra doggie treats.

To our great surprise she carried on getting fatter. We really restricted her food, the recommended amount for a dog was 400g a day, Jessie has been getting 260g. But still the weight was piling on.

The trip to the vet clinched it for us so we went out and truly investigated what she was up to when she was sniffing around in the garden. And the results surprised us.

Jessie has developed her own network of friends. Many of them buy food for her and toss it into the garden for her 'second breakfast', 'post lunch snack', 'post post lunch snack' etc. One woman was buying her a LOAF of bread every day - I couldn't help feeling that really her 1km per day could be a lot better spent than feeding our overfed mutt, but each to their own. Our neighbours have been throwing scraps out of their window for her, which includes a small mountain of potatoes, extra meat and the odd vegetable. Jess isn't fussy, she hoovered up the lot.

I talked to everyone I could. I explained that the vet had told us off because she was fat, fat retrievers are much more likely to get arthritis and could they please, please stop feeding our dog. She would love them just as much as she did before, honest. She might even stop barking at the neighbours window to get them to give her food.

On the whole most people agreed. One neighbour though looked pained. And asked if he could just carry on feeding her one thing. And he held up an enormous jar of boiled sweets bought just for her.

No wonder she is on the podgy side. The diet is on.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Tick Fever

We were right to be worried about ticks. Despite regular Frontline applications, constant grooming and total obsessing about ticks, it looks as if our dog, Jessie, has contracted Lyme's Disease. The symptoms started to show yesterday after our walk when she couldn't jump into the back of the car. I knew it was serious when I put a piece of bread in the boot and she still couldn't get into the car. She seemed not so much lame, but stiff, and there was no obvious reason why, nor any particular clatter that we could remember that might have caused stiffness.

One trip to the vet, 3 injections, 2 thermometers up her bottom and instructions to get a urine sample later we are wondering how we are going to cope with the ticks. We are not even into the tick season proper yet; everyone says it is going to get worse. Already the boys are starting to look like they are beekeepers when we go on a walk as I take tick paranoia to new levels. But, I can not work out how Jessie is going to get her walk AND we are to remain tick free. There are ticks everywhere from the woods on the hills behind Tuzla (to be expected) to the more manicured central park of Slana Banja in the middle of town (more surprising).

In the meantime, Jessie is visibly improved after her vet trip and almost has a bounce in her step. Lyme Disease is a nasty disease but very treatable so fingers crossed that that is what it is. She has most of the symptoms, except for the one which involves not eating, neatly demonstrating that our tales of her food obsession are not exaggerated.

I spent an interesting morning trying to obtain a urine sample from a female dog whilst attempting to hold a form of conversation, in patchy Bosnian, with a neighbour curious to know what exactly I was doing. It can be difficult to maintain any form of dignity in these situations. The life of a mother, nothing but glamour.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Adam appeared at full speed from nursery yesterday full of news.

- Mummy, mummy - I did a painting today. I used lots of colours. It was a monster.

Brilliant. Adam isn't always keen to get involved with the painting, drawing, crafty side of things. He's more of a kicking ball, running fast, climbing anything kind of kid. The nursery is obviously starting to really draw him into all their activities.

- I made it specially like you. It's a Mummy monster

Instantly I feel flattered. Most pictures made by my two are of Daddy. I'm calling the latest bunch of their pictures 'The Daddy Series'. We have Daddy, Daddy's Leg, Daddy's Head and most bizarrely, Daddy in the swimming pool x 2 all hanging up around the house at the moment. Daddy is obviously thrilled. I was just starting to feel a little put out that there were none of Mummy in the swimming pool or Mummy doing anything much.

- It's a picture just like you.

Now I'm feeling pretty touched, damp eyed almost. A picture of me! By my son! This is a first, he hasn't ever drawn a picture of me before. OK, it's a monster picture, but I'm pretty pleased with that.

- I did it for specially for you

more melting and gooeyness

- It's got a big tummy and huge ears


OK so I haven't been to the gym for a very long time and the old running shoes ain't seen much action recently, but my tummy isn't that big, is it? And big ears? Where did that one come from. Been trying to check out my reflection in the mirror ever since.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Come on you Blues!

One of the great things about being English is that wherever you go in the world, you can always find an interest in the English Premier Football league. Here, this means that I can still watch Chelsea on TV and even have people to dissect the match with afterwards. So last night I was glued to Juventus vs. Chelsea even though my understanding of the commentary was, at best, patchy. Then I could chat about the brilliance of Didier Drogba to my football loving friend who was also watching the game.

D, not a football fan at the best of times, refused to watch. He was listening to England's attempt to beat the West Indies in cricket and was refusing to talk to anyone at all.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Different lives

One of the things I like about living in Bosnia is the way in which life seems that much, um, closer. There is no hiding from the fact that sometimes life isn't very nice. From the Roma kids begging at traffic lights, to the amputees sitting outside of the supermarket in subzero temperatures, to the very visible levels of poverty there is plenty of evidence that life can be very very hard.

Adam is curious about all of this. He regularly asks questions along the lines of why is that boy is begging? why does that man not have a leg? why are people cutting down the trees in the park? why can't that boy buy a new toy scooter? why doesn't that girl have a Daddy? Why does that dog not have a home? We discuss all his questions and I try to explain in language that he understands that not everyone is as lucky as we are, sometimes these not very nice things do happen. He does think about all these conversations and I'm often surprised when a few days later he returns to the topic to talk about it a bit more. I try to be open and honest about everything and have been amazed by his ability to process what we are talking about. He is genuinely interested in what is going on around him and has a young child's natural curiosity to take on board all these different things.

Having watched all this, I have been following with a degree of interest the furore surrounding the appointment of a disabled presenter for the BBC's childrens channel, CBeebies. Some adults have complained that she gives their children nightmares and are preventing their children from watching the channel when she is presenting (see more here about this story). As you might imagine, a whole lot of people have had something to say about this. On the whole people support the presenter and rightly add that children need to be exposed to difference in order to counter future prejudice and discrimination. But I would add that further to that, children are interested in the world and to ban them from seeing something that makes that world a more diverse, and therefore interesting, place seems to me to be a real shame.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Woman's Day

Yesterday, March 8th, was Woman's Day. This occasion had previously passed me by, but in Bosnia it is a BIG deal. All day I saw men wandering around clasping flowers, chocolates, little cutsie trinket things for the women in their lives. Women are allowed to finish work early and they go and have their hair done, wear new outfits and generally glam it up. When I dropped the boys off at nursery this morning their teachers rushed up to wish me a Happy Woman's Day. It's a sort of combination between Valentines Day and Mothers Day, and I have to say that I quite like the idea of having one celebration for it all, that everyone can participate in.

Obviously I spent the day relaxing at a spa, to return to a clean house, walked dog, cleaned and fed children before relaxing in a bath of rose petals supping champagne and luxuriating in my own gorgeousness. Or maybe not.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

letting some steam out of the pressure cooker

The pressure cooker that is the Bosnian political world appears to have eased somewhat in recent days. The American Assistant Secretary in charge of the Balkans, Stuart Jones, met with the President of the RS (the Serb half of Bosnia) and following the meeting talks of splitting Bosnia in two appear to have stopped. Experienced followers of Bosnian politics have commented wryly that the Bosnian Serb leader, Dodik, is an experienced political operator so the majority are taking a 'we shall wait and see' attitude. The Bosnians, whilst enjoying a relaxation in the tensions, haven't missed that it is the Americans who have managed to provide a respite and the European Union who has control of OHR, and is therefore responsible for overseeing the country, seems to be without political will to act in Bosnia. More on this here). As an aside, the saga of the appointment of a new High Representative continues. Rumour has it that the Russians and Serbs opposed the appointment of a Brit to the post, and now an Austrian is in the running - see more here.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The TV1000 game

When we were thinking about coming out here we amassed a vast collection of DVDs that we could watch in the evening, thinking that we would be unable to watch much TV here. Turns out we were wrong. Not only can we get pretty much any film and TV series here on DVD for a fraction of the price (and I mean a tiny tiny fraction) but most of the films shown here are in English with subtitles so we can watch them anyway.

We also have Cable TV which has a number of English speaking channels. There is the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and some other ones that I don't know what they are. To get our news fix we can sometimes catch the English language Al Jezera news channel and we did once manage to get Sky News. Otherwise newswise we are left with CNN which raises my blood pressure nightly and I have to resist throwing things at the TV, particularly at the weather reporters who take annoying to a whole new level.

There are a few film channels too: Turner Classic Movies, TV1000 and a few others all show decent films. We've had a Robert de Niro season, a Britflicks moment, Thrillers weekend, Moulin Rouge and other musicals.

We have no idea where to get a schedule for what is going to be shown on these channels, so it is a bit hit and miss whether we actually work out what is on and when. We do know that TV 1000 will always start a new film at 10pm, so a new, unmissable game has developed. Whatever else we are doing at the time, D and I congregate in front of the TV to name that film as the opening credits roll. We are helped in our mission that TV1000 does like to show the same films a lot, so before the studio name has faded from the screen we have already guessed 'Robocop!' 'Die Hard!' 'Die Hard 2!' ' Terminator' and bizarrely 'The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover!'

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

boys will be boys

Adam is newly obsessed with guns. Everything he has that can be pointed at someone is now a gun. Occasionally we branch out and it becomes a sword, but mainly it is a gun. Because Adam is obsessed with guns, Luke is too so I now have 2 small boys running around at full speed trying to shoot everything that they see.

Accompanying the shooting noises are shrieks of delight and screams of "oooby ooooby". For quite a long time I thought this was a part of the made-up language that Adam quite often uses when he is playing (which I do find quite interesting; he doesn't understand everything that is going on around him, so he makes up his own words and sounds instead). It was only yesterday that I actually listened to him and realised that ooooby oooby was in fact ubi! ubi! - Bosnian for Kill! Kill!

On the bright side he is undoubtedly talking to the other kids and learning Bosnian.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A British Ex-pat DISASTER

A great catastrophe has occurred, that only a British ex-pat can truly understand. It is making me wonder if we should go home. Life as I know it can not really continue. It has been an oversight of such catastrophic proportions that I can't believe I didn't see it coming. I'm in deep mourning and feeling pretty jittery.

We have run out of Marmite.

(note to the non-British readers of the blog who don't have a clue what marmite is: it is a black tar like substance which we spread, thinly, on toast. No one outside of the UK can understand the obsession with it and most non-Brits think it is utterly disgusting. It does look pretty foul and doesn't really smell that great either. We adore it.)

Monday, 2 March 2009

spring into actions

Last weekend we spent most of our time building snowforts, throwing snowballs and sledging. This weekend we haven't needed to put on a jacket.

Spring has arrived, and although we're not ruling out a return to some miserable weather, right now the good people in Tuzla are out enjoying the sunshine, seeing to their gardens, doing a spot of DIY, having picnics, congregating in the cafes which have suddenly appeared outside and generally enjoying the first day of spring.

It would appear that with the arrival of warmer weather comes the season of citizen protests and actions. We popped along to one such event on Saturday. The Tuzla Blind Association had organised a day of action to highlight how difficult it can be to negotiate some of the streets in central Tuzla when you can't see. They were putting blindfolds onto people (including a number of fairly high level politicians) and letting them try to walk along the Korzo (the central pedestrianised drag in town).

Adam was intrigued. He didn't want to try it out himself, but he was thrilled to be able to help guide me when I was temporarily without sight. He took his responsibilities very seriously and negotiated me up and down the Korzo at some speed, rather faster than I was totally comfortable with, but with no accidents.

Having shown our very responsible and helpful 3 year old at his best, Jessie then let the side down somewhat. Spotting an abandoned chicken wrapper across the way, she charged across the flow of unsighted people and gave us a clear demonstration of exactly why she will never be a guide dog for the blind.