Seven Secret Smiles


Each week, I will be recording some of the things that have made me smile. Our current location can be tough so it’s easy to focus on the negatives. I’m hoping this will help refocus the mind a little. I’ve chosen seven to reflect the days of the week. (Inspired by Three Beautiful Things.)

15th March 2015

1. Pow. Pow. Pow.

2. A morning surprise of yellow tulips and heart shaped cookies.

3. The confident smile from a new Couloir Extreme enthusiast.

4. An industrial chain footrest.

5. A cuddle with a napping dog during a haircut.

6. Green wigged singers.

7. Heavy snow laden branches.


8th March 2015

1. A little boys love for an old school friend.

2. Hand written letters.

3. A walk in the woods.

4. Seeing rubber ducks on the top of a mountain.

5. The mobile adventures of a plastic sledge and a crutch.

6. A quiet coffee.

7. Unicorns and Lynsey Dyer.


1st March 2015

1. A paper aeroplane note saying sorry.

2. A man’s love for a campervan.

3. An operatic view.

4. The sight of heavy snow laden branches.

5. Friends far and wide.

6. Sunshine.

7. Seven cow onesies on the slopes.


26th October 2014

1. “Looking out a dirty old window…

2. Being held captive by a real fire.

3. Hearing the ocean.

4. Screaming on snow.

5. The forced slowness of a 1970’s chairlift.

6. Catching myself gasp at the sight of snowcapped volcanoes.

7. Bumping into a lovely Australian couple *again* – second country, third occasion.


19th October 2014

1. Nosey meerkats.

2. A ‘proper‘ supermarket.

3. A music student practicing on his saxophone.

4. A Charlie Chaplin armband tattoo.

5. Recognisable chart music.

6. The sound of student bars.

7. Rowdy yoofs listening to high volume…. Jazz…. in the park.


12th October 2014

1. Later with Jools Holland.

2. Local children running alongside our train.

3. Big, long, pom-pom-plaits.

4. The global sound of the happy birthday music.

5. Peruvian potato farmers in a-line skirts.

6. Making new friends.

7. Our son, L, telling a stranger he has “a sweet tooth and a golden eye”.


5th October 2014

1. Orderly Peruvians queuing for buses.

2. A bath.

3. Mouth-ulcer-cream-charades.

4. A man walking along a street playing guitar to himself.

5. Being asked how people can “live without wifi?”.

6. Cats in trees.

7. Structured clothing. Hmmmm….. structured clothing.


Sept 28th 2014

1. Decent wifi. (I will never complain about BT again.)

2. Lenny Kravitz.

3. Needing to explain what a ‘ghetto-blaster’ is.

4. Dual-language charades.

5. A returned jumper. A return(ing) watch. Good people.

6. The woman with a tiny, sparkly shoulder ‘purse’ in the Galapagos.

7. Our son, E, asking why most songs are written about love.


Sept 21st 2014

1. White bedrooms and matching linen.

2. Onions, washed up on the beach.

3. Seeing old style VW Beetles.

4. A(nother) good cup of coffee.

5. Waves.

6. Explaining that the boys are not in fact the twins for the 23rd time this trip.

7. Our son, L, asking if the glass window was “see through?” when people waved at him. (No two way mirrors for you just yet!)


Sept 14th 2014

1. Our son L, seeing a local church on Isabela and asking if it’s “a mosque or something?”

2. Kids using our backpacks to do tortoise races.

3. Laughing at the wildlife – we are literally stumbling over animals and birds on the pavements here.

4. Trying to keep up with a Swedish 71 year old on a 6km beach hike.

5. Watching the sea lion and pelicans fight over left overs at the fish market.

6. The lady in the launderette knocking off 50 cents as we’re ‘regulars’.

7. Feeling truly scared for the first time in a long while – I came face to face with a sea lion while snorkelling (the smile came later).


Sept 7th 2014

1. Being ‘good jobbed’ before even leaving the plane in the US.

2. The ‘Airport Pawn & Guns’ shop in Miami.

3. Clean clothes and tumble dryers.

4. Driving past Ocean Five Hotel, Ocean Drive. (My brother, sister and I stayed there several years ago – we were asked if we were related to Princess Diana.)

5. Pulling up at the lights outside TGI Fridays on Ocean Drive just in time to look in and see England score.

6. A good cup of coffee.

7. Arriving in Quito, Ecuador (i.e. the equator) wearing shorts, only to be picked up by someone in a puffa jacket. (#underdressed).


August 31st 2014

1. Overhearing “My sister met her husband in here… at the fruit machine”: Railway Tavern, Burgess Hill.

2. Belly laughing with a friend about ‘Good luck coils’.

3. Nailing a three point turn in a barge.

4. Seeing happy tears on a birthday morning.

5. Hearing our two sons, on separate occasions, humming and singing to themselves.

6. Being asked if we wanted ‘ice and a slice’.

7. Street communes and chavvy front garden water fights.


August 24th 2014

1. A framed photo of us – welcoming us to ‘Beryl’s house’.

2. Needing to borrow clothes for a night out – feeling like I was 17 again.

3. Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin…

4. Having breakfast in a beautifully nurtured garden.

5. Grandpa dutifully wearing his loomband bracelet all day.

6. Effortless family gatherings.

7. Having lovely, lovely friends.


August 17th 2014

1. Our son L, seeing Harrods with its striking domed roof and asking if it’s a mosque.

2. A perfectly timed drive into London – resulting in the changing of the guard happening right in front of us.

3. Discovering the perfection that is a ‘packing cell’.

4. Allotments.

5. Receiving an after eight mint at the hairdressers.

6. The innocent use of the word ‘pest’. Massively under used I’d say.

7. Hearing the boys properly belly laugh at Top Gear.


August 10th 2014

1. My mum’s never faltering memory for wedding anniversaries.

2. Walking in the British countryside – in the rain.

3. Watching our children standing on iPads in Clarks to get their feet measured.

4. Airing cupboards.

5. Beef in bags.

6. Radio one. Live.

7. The sound of a car horn. Just once – in a whole week.

August 3rd 2014

1. Street cricket being played on Doha’s wasteland.

2. Brighton.

3. Polite British drivers, waiting their turn.

4. Catching up with old, old, happy friends.

5. Our children waving at cyclists in a bike race as it went over the M25, just in case one was their uncle.

6. The BMX community – quickly coming together to check on a boy that took a bad tumble in the skate park.

7. Our son L holding halloumi cheese to his ear to hear if it squeaks.


July 27th 2014

1. Seeing rice fields way up high from a river way down low.

2. Holding an impromptu loom bracelet workshop in the Green Village, Bali.

3. Seeing a local Qatari couple holding hands and then releasing their grip when they came into public view.

4. Our daughter plaiting my hair.

5. Our children playing hide and seek amongst the packing boxes.

6. Opening an emergency can of spaghetti hoops with a pen-knife.

7. Our son E replying “No, I’m not that old”, when I asked if he knew a Black Eyed Peas song.


July 20th 2014

1. Hiking, kind of by accident, in flip flops to the top of Gili Trawangan.

2. Hearing Jack Johnson.

3. Seeing our son L catching crabs in an empty water bottle with a young French boy – neither could speak each other’s language, but they got by.

4. Playing on a swing with our daughter, both twisting our swings around and around and then letting go. Haven’t done that in years.

5. Hearing our son E listen intently to his dad and then share the same opinions, jokes or facts that his dad had shared a little while later.

6. Seeing sunsets and volcanoes.

7. Gili Meno. Just Gili Meno.


July 13th 2014

1. Watching two transfixed children watch couples dance the tango.

2. Having ‘Happy Birthday’ by Altered Images played to me at breakfast.

3. Being serenaded by a yodelling Balinese band (their version of  ‘Hey Jude’ a la Vic and Bob style was also smile worthy).

4. Watching surf videos on beach beanbags sat alongside new surfers.

5. Our daughter being given a rose by a little girl (who sells bracelets on the beach), 24 hours after our daughter had given her a loom bracelet.

6. Being properly hugged back by our non hugging son.

7. Needing three attempts to guess the day of the week correctly.


July 6th 2014

1. Homemade welcome signs held up by my family at the airport, when I was simply expecting a driver and a name board.

2. Talking about our first cars with our children and still remembering the VW-Beetle-no-worries-sign.

3. Hearing the words “Lubbly jubbly” when we say we are from England.

4. Finishing a book.

5. Being thrown in the pool against my will.

6. Seeing beautifully dressed women riding side saddle on scooters on their way to the temple.

7. Watching waves. For hours.


June 29th 2014

1. Seeing the ‘Play Me’ piano being used (well) at Heathrow airport.

2. Listening to Sam Smith live at a local park in the sunshine.

3. Seeing holiday cornrows in our daughter’s hair.

4. Being ‘welcomed back’ by Doha immigration.

5. Learning the term ‘Hijab camel humps’. Google it.

6. Receiving some lovely words from a total stranger about the blog. Thank you.

7. Some silly late night antics with a wooden wheelbarrow.


June 22nd 2014

1. Hearing ‘Making your mind up’ by Bucks Fizz on the local radio.

2. Learning that our son’s post-football-tournament shin pads were “steaming with smell”.

3. Seeing a young couple stop their car and hand out bottles of cold water and cans to local workers – who were building a road in 46 degree heat.

4. Trying (and failing) to fry eggs on our car and metal drain covers. It’s clearly not that hot after all!

5. Washing bikes together with the boys.

6. Listening to children’s mixed up stories: When talking about Ramadan, one of our Australian friends told us that “Aboriginals get shot in the head if they come out during the day to eat.” (Me: “When?”) “All the time.”

7. Just simply knowing that Glastonbury is on.


June 15th 2014

1. A simple, yet perfect, bend it like Beckham goal.

2. Listening to our boys and their friend discussing their new band name. (They don’t have a band.)

3. A French man dancing in our bedroom to help demonstrate its size.

4. Belly laughing at friends wearing children’s swimming goggles.

5. Hearing “It’s alright today, the car says it’s only 45”. How quickly we adapt.

6. Discovering stick-man-for-a-nose dog pictures in our daughter’s room. A girl’s right of passage perhaps?

7. Listening to a dad and his son as they walked laps of the pitch while his elder son played football. On the first loop they discussed Cuba, the second they practiced maths and on the last lap… they talked about friendship. Warmed my heart.


June 8th 2014

1. A new favourite Spotify playlist. (‘The new music playlist’ for anyone interested.)

2. Waking up to a beautiful note that M secretly put next to me (this time) while I slept.

3. Watching live music, not once, but twice.

4. Dancing in the sand like no one was watching.

5. Falling asleep in a cuddle with L.

6. Reenacting the birdie song for a demo of national dances of our time.

7. Belly laughing at the arrival of a bowl of blackberries to our table, genuinely offered to rectify the problem of a lost mobile phone.


June 1st 2014

1. Learning over dinner, that the Libyan flag is one of the easiest in the world to colour in.

2. Hanging a new piece of art: Monochrome Arif. (A camel.)

3. Wonderful, confident performances at the school inter-house drama event.

4. A midweek roast dinner to nourish some tired bodies.

5. A beautifully thoughtful, hand crafted, get well note that M secretly put next to her dad while he slept.

6. Belly laughing about knuckle waxing.

7. An innocent ankle scan, from a less than innocent ankle owner.


May 25th 2014

1. Screaming at the top of our lungs at the Aquaventure waterpark and running around like we were all kids.

2. Soul nourishment by the incredible Kings of Leon – live in Dubai.

3. Drinking a glass of wine on a balcony overlooking a pool of sharks.

4. All kissing a dolphin.

5. A new Qatar friend was incredibly kind to our family.

6. The babysitter at the hotel drawing pictures for each of the children to see when they woke up in the morning.

7. Seeing ‘The World’ from the top of the Burj Khalifa.


May 18th 2014

1. I spoke to and saw my brother on his birthday.

2. L tap dancing in his sister’s shoes.

3. Handing down a princess tiara, wand and fairy wings to the next worthy princess on the compound and making her day.

4. Sitting in the garden one evening, with a glass of wine, an electric fan and a good friend.

5. Eating breakfast outside in the sunshine.

6. Publishing the first post on this blog. Albeit the welcome page – but I finally did it.

7. Making new friends in the queue to buy One Direction tickets.  And no, I’m not 14.


  1. Hi Aimee, have been following your travels with great interest, we feel so proud of you and the family, what a wonderful life experience, maybe you could write a book containing some of the great photos you have taken , a wonderful legacy for the family. Hope to see you some day love to you all. Buon viaggio e tutte.xxxxx♥

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s