Sharmed Out!

People ask me why I go diving in Sharm el Sheikh twice a year.  Here are three good reasons to go diving in Sharm:

  1. It is a relatively short flight (5 hours) to get to an area that is warm all year around and the closest place to the UK with coral reefs.
  2. Most of the dive sites are healthy with beautiful corals and a wide variety of colourful fish.
  3. It is relatively cheap.

I just came back from my 10th or 11th trip to Sharm.  I normally go for two weeks twice a year, but this time I went for three weeks.  My partner was going to finish his Dive Master the first two weeks with one week of fun diving with me.  Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan.

I was feeling slightly under the weather the day we left the UK and I ended up with a bout of sinusitis.  I managed to complete my first (and 200th) dive on the first day with no problems.  However, when attempting my second dive of the day, I felt stabbing pains around my eyes at three meters and had to come back to the surface.  Not good!  I attempted to dive on the second day, but couldn’t get past a meter, so the rest of that day was spent sleeping on the boat and the next couple of days were spent by the pool.  A hard life you may think, but if you have purchased a 15 day dive package over three weeks, it kills you to think of losing any diving days.  I spent my days by the pool (in the shade), reading a book, and napping, while my partner and friends were out on the boat diving and enjoying themselves.  By the time I was feeling better, my partner was feeling worse and got what I had.  He had to put off his Dive Master course and fun diving as he wasn’t able to clear his sinuses.  The poor soul is sitting here next to me still all blocked up!  At least he managed to get a week of diving in before it all went pear-shaped.

So, what is a soul to do in a diver’s paradise when they can’t do any diving?  Fuck all really.  How much time can you spend surfing the net, sunbathing, going to the gym, sleeping, reading, drinking, eating, etc?  I can manage two days tops.  My partner had to endure about two weeks.  We are action people, which is why we go diving.  We get up early to go diving.  You can sleep on the boat in between dives.  There is not a lot to do in Sharm.  There is no culture.  It is a resort, not a town.  There was nothing there when people first started diving in that part of The Red Sea.  Development for tourism really didn’t take off until the early 80’s.  The place is full of hotels, some of which will never be completed.

When you have paid for and organised your holiday around diving, it can go against the grain to spend any more money on excursions that don’t live up to the hype.  Shopping  for cheap tat is also not an option.  There is nothing that we want to buy as we really don’t need anything.  All that was left to do was to suck it up and accept the situation as best as we could.  I had a day off after my first full week of diving in order to keep my buddy company.  I took the opportunity to have my legs sugared!  It killed an hour.  The rest of the time we hung out by the pool and took advantage of the all-inclusive.  Meaning:  we started drinking at 11am.

There is nothing to see and nothing to do.  How people who live there can say they are living the dream is beyond my comprehension.  The last few years, most of what I have heard is negativity and a lot of complaining.  If living in the sun and diving every day is your dream, great!  However, I can think of better places to do it, where you can actually do things and get a bit of culture to boot.  A few people I know that have left to go back to the UK say that the only things they miss about Sharm is the diving, the weather, and their friends.  Nothing else.  I think that sums things up.

I realise that my frustration about Sharm probably has more to do with the fact that I have been going to the same place for too long and twice a year.  If I only went for a week once a year, I might not feel the same way.  I personally like more variety in my life as I feel that there are so many places to visit and things to do.  I have dived most of the dive sites at Sharm, and although you can do the same dive site twice and it will be different each time, it can get monotonous.  If anything, this trip has taught me that I need to try something else and go somewhere different.  I doubt that diving in Marsa Alam or El Ghouna is going to offer anything on the culture front, but at least the dive sites won’t be so familiar to me.  I might even consider doing a Live-aboard in the future.

Being ill on this trip has showed me that I need to re-think my holidays in order to get more out of them in case things don’t go according to plan.  Diving will still be on the agenda, but it will be a long time before I go back to Sharm again.  I can’t say the same for my partner as he will now have to go out again in May to complete his Dive Master course and then go straight in to do the Instructor’s course.  It can be a tough life for some, eh?

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Stealing from Charity!

No, I didn’t actually steal anything, but I almost feel like I have.  Note the word almost.   I got such amazing bargains that it almost felt like stealing.

I have been working on a beast of a piece of furniture for my dining room and needed a much needed break from it.  So, I did what I usually do on a sunny day when I am not working for money, I hit the charity shops!  It is a form of entertainment for me and I never know if something will jump out at me and ask me to take it home.

Just so you know, I actually don’t really need anything.  I do have an idea to expand a piece of furniture and took some measurements before I went out, just in case I saw something I could use.  I also thought it might be nice to find some interesting artwork.  I am always on the lookout for a lovely painting.  I don’t think you can own too much art.  Charity shops are great places to score some nice paintings or frames.  Sometimes I find nice things that I didn’t even know I wanted!  Anyway, I had two intentions when I went out:  I was looking for a bookcase of sorts and I was looking for artwork.

It didn’t take long before I scored big time on the artwork.  Here is what I got today:

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1) I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spied this painting by Nigel Greaves for £20!  The picture frame is worth more than £20!  And the painting is definitely worth more than that.  I should know because I own one of Nigel’s paintings.  I felt sick with excitement and felt like a naughty schoolgirl when I handed over my money.  How this painting came to be in a charity shop I will never know.  Usually, something of this worth gets given away when someone passes away and the relatives don’t like it or don’t know its value.  Although other people’s abstracts are really not my thing unless your name is Kandinsky, I do like this painting and have the perfect spot for it.  I still would have purchased it even if I didn’t like it.  I would just stick it on E-bay otherwise.

2)  This is a postcard of the All Saints Convalescent Hospital in Eastbourne and was sent to someone in London postmarked 1916.  I need to find a frame for it.  I like collecting historical items like this.  This little gem cost £1.50!  I am amazed that it found its way back to Eastbourne!  The building still stands, but it has been turned into very expensive apartments.

3)  I found this chess set for £2.00!  This chess set is nothing special, but it is just the right size and I want to learn how to play again.  I need to find a little box for the pieces.  This was one of those things that I didn’t even know I wanted!

4)  This painting was half price, for £2.00!  It’s a pretty watercolour of ‘Christmas Roses’ by Brian Neylan.  From what I could find on the internet, Brian Neylan was a resident of Eastbourne.  He passed away in 2001.  That was all that I could find out about this man.  This painting was done in 1999.  There is something really lovely and simple about this painting and I was surprised to see it going for a song.  Brian may be gone, but now he won’t be forgotten.

So, I now have a few more pieces to add to my collection.  You never know what you are going to learn about that little gem you take home with you.

What interesting things have you discovered in a charity shop?

Clearing the clutter, again!

I have been a big fan of space clearing for many years.  Karen Kingston is the queen of space clearing.  I might not do things exactly the way she does things, but I give it a good go.  Even though I have downsized to a two-bedroom house, I still find myself decluttering on a regular basis.  Getting rid of unwanted or unused items makes room for things you might actually need, provided you have the space.

Sometimes, you don’t want to replace items.  You just want to get rid of stuff to create space and flow or to just get better organised.  While getting down the Christmas decorations from the loft, I realised that I could have better storage boxes (i.e. smaller) to lug up and down the loft ladder without killing myself.  I made a mental note to re-organise everything and buy some new storage boxes (see through) when it came time to put everything away.   While emptying the boxes, I also did a decoration purge, and I still didn’t use them all!

Today was the day that I was going to put all of the decorations away, so I hauled down all of the boxes I had been using to store them away.  They were all cardboard and all different sizes.  It was a bit awkward taking down the boxes as I really couldn’t get a good grip on them.  I am glad no-one saw me do it!  Before putting everything away, I realised that I had things in clear storage boxes that needed to be looked at first.  It was interesting going through items I had put away for the kids.  It can be very dangerous opening up a box with items from the past, especially if you are trying to get rid of stuff.  Your heart wants to keep things while your mind is telling you that it is essentially clutter as it is no longer being used by anyone.  I really did enjoy looking at all of the cards my children had given me over the years and won’t be throwing them out.  However, I did get rid of a lot of other stuff and ideas came to me on how to utilize these sentimental items in the future.

I had to draw a line about the box with photos. I swear that I will go through them and make a collage or put them in albums.  Some I will frame, I swear, truly.  I found things I had forgotten I had put away and other things that I couldn’t believe I put away.  I found documents and photos that can be shredded and re-cycled.  After going through all this stuff in my loft, I ended up with two empty boxes that I can use to store the Christmas decorations!  I call that a result!

It took me all day to go through everything.  It probably would have taken less time if I had help, but then I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much by indulging in a bit of nostalgia.  (I also did laundry, made a panettone pudding, and did some cleaning!)  Tomorrow I will be going to B&Q or Homebase to buy some storage boxes for my decorations and then I can start looking for other things to clear out!  I think I saw some shoes and clothes I no longer need…:)

January seems to be a good month to have a good clear out with it being the start of a new year.  Out with the old and all that.  You never know what wonderful thing will come into your life when you make some space for it.  Here is to another New Year and a new beginning!