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Indoor Greenery Required
Back in the UK I’ve always had a garden, all be it at times a very small one. Even on the boat I managed to keep some herbs growing but here in Bahrain there’s no balcony and no house plants provided so shortly after we moved in I promised myself a house plant or two. Before I set off for Oman I’d purchased some herbs in pots for use in kitchen but by my return they’d long been consigned to the bin. Neither the basil nor the rosemary were actually very healthy when I acquired them, reduced price in the supermarket, probably having not survived the long journey from Holland but at least they contributed some flavour to a few meals.

I had also visited several flower and chocolate shops that seem to be Bahrains version of a Florist but was not inspired by what was on offer. Mostly Devils Ivy, Diffenbachia and Yuccas. Then I tried the garden centres on eitherside of the Manama end of Budayia Highway. Nice plants but very few ornamental pots to put them in and I didn’t fancy the black plastic look.

Plant Hunting
On my return from Mumbai I was determined to track down an attractive plant or two and some pots I was ld willing to give houseroom to. I asked several of my new girlfriends and other acquaintances (sorry guys, no sexism intended but I just don’t think this was a topic you’d be able to contribute on) and was recommended a garden centre further out in Budayia itself by the librarian at the Brit Club.

Today Kevin had meetings in Qatar so I could have the car as long as I made a 5:30am trip to the airport to drop him off.  It was worth the effort. Jassim Trading and Agriculture is an Aladdins cave, not only a varied selection of house plants but garden furniture (not that we need any), a large range of pots and much of the selection of garden tools, seeds and potions you’d find in the average UK DIY store. After browsing and much indecision I choose two plants, one big and one more suited to a table top plus two pots with trays. The staff were extremely helpful, finding a trolley and saying “Choose a pot style you like madam and I’ll find you the right size pot”. Then offering, for a small price (2 BHD) to pot the large plant directly into the decorative terracota container I’d choosen. Both plants were carried out to the car and safely ensconced behind the front seats for me. Service with a smile. Ok the plants cost a bit more than in the UK but the pots were cheap and smiles are free. I’ll definately be going back.

So let me introduce you to Boris – a zamioculcas zamiifolia or ZZ Plant, apparently the latest thing in office decor in the UK. Boris likes dry, slightly shady conditions and prefers winter temperatures to be above 65 degrees F / 18 degrees C. I don’t think that last requirement will be a problem even outside here. The other new resident is an asparagus fern which when it gets a little larger, I hope to pot up in an “amphora” style pot on/in a stand, similar to the attractive display of pots outside the Intercontinental here. For now though its new home is on one of the sofa tables.

Kevin remains a sceptic and claims anything will die in the extreme heat, the chill of the aircon or the combination of both that this flat cycles through most days as we usually turn the aircon off when we are out. Lets wait and see, I’ll let you know how Boris and co are fairing from time to time.

Is There A Bank Holiday Coming?
Meanwhile there may or may not be a “bank” holiday in Bahrain on Sunday (as I’ve mentioned before Sundays are like Mondays in Europe). This was mentioned to us yesterday by a fellow ex-pat. And today’s  Bahrain Tribune states “… May 1 falling on a Saturday.. and with the expected announcement of Sunday as a day off for all government workers…” So that’s it then; there may be a holiday on Sunday but not for banking staff only for civil servants. The official government tourism website lists dates for 2005/6 and the central bank of Bahrain lists Saturday so I’ve no idea how this info will be communicated to the public at large, presumably you have to know someone who is a government employee to find out.

Apparently we can expect a huge increase in traffic as the Bahrain Tribune article is headlined “Causeway traffic plan in place for Labour Day weekend” as everyone (who has the day off) will be driving across to Saudi and on to the other Gulf States to visit family. Quiet weekend in Bahrain then? I somehow doubt it and anyway Kevin is flying out to Dubai on Friday night so is currently trying to juggle things to ensure he gets at least some sort of “weekend” this week. Meanwhile the official poster for Labour Day shows a seedling cradled in some hands!